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The swish of the curtain seemed too loud in the quiet room.
Brennan tugged the chair closer to the bed and sat carefully.
            "You're not in any pain, are you?  Your arm?"
He sounded so sincere Taylor couldn't help but glance to him. 
            "I've had worse," he mumbled.
Much worse really.
Brennan frowned.  He reached out, Taylor flinching.
Brennan's hand jerked back and he glanced away.
            "I can help," he said quietly.  "I don't want you to be in any pain, Taylor.  Please."
            "I'm fine." 
Brennan sagged visibly and Taylor felt a slow rise of guilt.  He fought against it.
First of all their meeting had been permanently traumatizing and secondly this nicey nice act would only last so long.
            "So…you didn't…want to leave today?"
Taylor didn't answer.
He didn't know what he wanted.
Part of him wanted to go home but that was ridiculous.  Verging on suicidal.  He didn't want to go home.  He was just scared. 
Not so much of what had happened, but more what could happen.
What would happen. 
"Okay," Brennan sighed. 
After another moment he pushed back out of the chair.
Taylor let himself watch Brennan leave. 
Just for a moment.

It was another day before Taylor agreed to actually leave the infirmary.
Of course he really should have expected that he would be expected to move in with Brennan.
It was a nice house, bigger than he expected too.
            "So this will be your room," Brennan said, gesturing to an open doorway on the left. 
            "Mine?" Taylor questioned sharply, surprised.
Brennan looked uncomfortable.
            "I can't fully understand your hesitation," he said carefully.  "But I recognize that things are different for humans.  I would like to make you comfortable."
Taylor snorted.  He was quite suddenly – irrationally – angry. 
            "Comfortable?" he demanded, derisive.
            "Yes." 
            "How can I be comfortable?  How do you even expect me to sleep down the hall from you after what you did?"
Brennan's eyes widened and he took half a step back.
There was a painfully long silence.
            "I'll let you get settled in."
And that was it.  He walked away.
Taylor was left wondering what it even was that he wanted.

Lunch was tense.
Taylor was quite practiced in silences and pretended it didn't bother him.
Brennan obviously was not the same.
            "Is that really how you feel?" he questioned, eyes locked on his plate.
Taylor quickly decided to pretend he was obtuse.
            "Is what how I really feel?"
            "That I forced you," Brennan said.  His free hand curled on the table top.
Taylor chewed slowly.
He didn't owe Brennan anything.  He didn't.  And maybe he wasn't ready to admit anything anyways.
He lifted one shoulder in a shrug, wincing as it twinged his arm.
Brennan looked down, exhaling sharply.
"Then I'm sorry," he said.  It was a long moment before he looked back up.  "I'm sorry," he said more intensely. 
Taylor didn't know how to react, staring at him stupidly.
            "Sorry for claiming me?" he questioned, unable to forget the look in Stiles' eyes when he'd said his mate didn't want him.
He supposed he should have seen this coming then. 
At least Stiles wasn't damaged goods.
            "No," Brennan said, distracting him.  "No I'm not sorry for that.  I'm sorry I hurt you.  I'm sorry you regret it."  He seemed to say this last part slowly, careful of the words.
Regret implied choice Taylor supposed.
"I don't want you to be scared of me Taylor."
            "You're kinda a werewolf," Taylor protested, laughing once.
            "I know," Brennan said softly, teasing?
Taylor couldn't be sure.

He went back to eating, just in case.
It was a few minutes before Brennan spoke again.
            "Can I ask you something?"
Taylor shrugged.
"Will you go to the pack meet with me tonight?"
            "Pack meet?" 
Brennan nodded, dimples showing just slightly.
            "It's a party basically.  Food, campfire, stuff like that."
            "Like summer camp?" Taylor questioned.
He was embarrassed immediately, dropping his chin as his cheeks flushed.
            "I guess so," Brennan said, "yeah."
Taylor took a big bite of his sandwich, chewing slowly again. 
"Did you like summer camp?" Brennan asked.
Taylor didn't answer, still watching the table top.
He didn't want to think about that.  It'd been so many years ago.
Not to mention he'd only gone for a weekend sampler, too homesick to go for a whole two weeks.
But he'd been a child he reminded himself.
He was allowed.

            "Taylor?"
There was no way he was talking about this. 
"Taylor?" Brennan tried again.  "Come on, we were doing so well."
Taylor focused back on his food.
"Taylor?  Tay?  Tay Tay?" 
Taylor shot him a quick glare, surprised when Brennan grinned.
"At least I know how to get a reaction out of you." 
            "If you ever call me Tay Tay again," Taylor threatened, unsure how to finish.  "And I don't want to talk about it."
            "Okay.  Then say that.  We'll talk about something else."
Taylor squinted at him.
            "Just like that?"
            "Yeah," Brennan said easily.  "Just like that.  We're never gonna get anywhere if you keep shutting me down." 
Taylor wasn't sure that he wanted to get anywhere.
But at the same time he wasn't in a huge rush to go home.
"So pack meet?"
            "Yeah…I guess."
            "Okay," Brennan said, "great."

Brennan offered to clean up, which was nice really, but it left Taylor feeling unbalanced and restless.
He drifted back upstairs and into his room, closing the door softly behind him.
He didn't know how much good it did with a werewolf downstairs but maybe it was more habit than anything else.
It made him feel better at least.
Taylor crossed to the bed, nearly twice the size of his back home.  It was made up with a striped comforter and blue sheets, half folded back in a way that almost made him want to climb in.
But he'd spent the past two days in bed.
Taylor moved to the dresser instead, tugging open one of the drawers with a blank sort of curiosity. 
There were clothes inside.
Clothes he knew.
Taylor's eyes were straining wide in disbelief. 
He shoved a hand inside, pushing the fabric up and out of the way.
Yes, he knew them all.
His heart was beating out a painful staccato against his ribs.
How?
This shouldn't be possible.  It wasn't – it wasn't possible.
His stomach turned and contracted until he felt sick with it.

The door opened quietly but Brennan lingered in the doorway, as if unwilling to intrude on this.
Whatever this was.
            "These are mine," Taylor said.
            "Yes."
Taylor nearly snarled.
He needed more than that.
            "Why," he bit out.
Brennan at least had the decency to look uncomfortable at that.
            "Sometimes it's easier making it look like they ran away.  They'd already taken these anyways and I thought it might make you more comfortable so I went and got them for you."
Taylor wondered if the entire dresser was full.
They'd brought nearly all his clothes if it was.
            "No one would have looked for me either way," Taylor admitted finally.
He couldn't bring himself to look at Brennan's reaction.
"Waste of effort really."
Brennan was silent.
            "Maybe," he said eventually, "maybe not."
Taylor closed the drawer slowly, unsure what to say to that.

Things between them were weird but it was different with the others.
The atmosphere was sort of euphoric and Taylor had no idea what to do with so many happy people.
it was unsettling in a way that he didn't quite mind.
And it seemed easier to be near Brennan.
Taylor had no clue why.
Maybe it had something to do with pack mentality. 
Or maybe he just preferred Brennan over total strangers.
He didn't know.
Aubry and Chase joined them, Chase and Brennan jostling each other good naturedly. 
They'd grown up with each other apparently.
Taylor wondered what it was like to have that kind of friend for a few moments.
And then Brennan distracted him again.
The touches were tentative at first, Brennan watching his reactions with an intensity that left Taylor feeling self conscious and off balance.
By the second hour Brennan was nuzzling his neck before ducking away again.  Nearly like a puppy playing.
Taylor almost expected his face to be licked next.
It didn't inspire the reaction he thought it should.
By the time the sun went down Brennan had kissed his cheek twice, making him jump the first time, fed him by hand, and held him by the fire.
Taylor wasn't sure this was his life.

He was happily warm by the time they went back to Brennan's, letting Brennan tug off his sweatshirt when they got inside.
He wondered how long he'd been smiling.  His cheeks ached faintly at the thought.
            "I might be a little drunk," he realized.
            "A little," Brennan agreed, grinning down at him.  He draped Taylor's hoodie over his arm and Taylor hummed a bit at that.
He couldn't decide if it was thoughtful, patronizing, or presumptuous. 
"Did you need some help, or are you good on your own?"
            "Hm?"
Brennan pointed towards the stairs.
"Oh." 
            "Have you been drunk before?" Brennan questioned, quietly amused.
            "Pfft.  This is not a big deal," Taylor said.  "I walked back, didn't I?"
            "That was mostly level," Brennan pointed out.
            "I will be fine," Taylor insisted, waving him off.
For the first three steps he was.  But then he wavered backwards dangerously, mildly surprised to feel firm hands on his back.
            "I've got you," Brennan said.  He moved up beside Taylor carefully, looping Taylor's arm over his shoulders.
They moved up the rest of the stairs slowly and Brennan edged them into Taylor's room.
He sat Taylor on the edge of his bed.
"I'll be right back." 
Taylor nodded at that, kicking off his shoes and struggling out of his shirt.  He'd managed to open his jeans when Brennan returned, glass of water in hand.
"Aspirin," Brennan said, offering him two small pills as well.
            "Why do you have aspirin?" Taylor mumbled.
            "Came in my human kit," Brennan said, offering the pills again.
Taylor wasn't sure if he was kidding, shooting him a quick glare anyways. 
Brennan just laughed at him though.
"Take these and drink this and I'll let you go to sleep."
Seems reasonable Taylor mused.
He held his palm open for the aspirin, tossing them both into his mouth and reaching for the water.
Brennan took the glass back when he was done, smiling again.
"Goodnight."
Taylor hummed again before falling backwards.
His feet were lifted into bed and the covers were tugged over him, patted down. 
Taylor found himself smiling as the door clicked closed.

There was another cup of water on sitting on the nightstand when he blinked his eyes open.
Taylor regarded it a while before rolling over and going back to sleep.
When he woke again there was a persistent ache in his gut that pushed him out of bed.
It was a few minutes before he made his way down to the kitchen, passing Brennan at the table.
He glanced up from his laptop, offering a smile.
            "How do you feel?"
            "Sleepy," Taylor admitted.  "Time  's it?"
            "Nearly three." 
            "Oh," Taylor exhaled, a bit shocked.  "Is there food?"
            "I can make toast." 
            "Toast."
            "Yeah I can't cook," Brennan admitted, glancing back to the screen and typing something before closing it.
            "I cook," Taylor said, pushing from the chair slowly and moving for the fridge.  "What do you have?"
            "Uh," was all Brennan offered before, "I can go get some supplies."
            "You have eggs," Taylor told him, glancing past the open fridge door.
            "And water." 
Taylor sighed. 
"Okay, what can I get you?" Brennan asked, standing. 
Taylor thought a few moments.
            "Well a skillet," he said, "first of all.  Cheese, butter, some bell peppers, maybe some mushrooms and onions too."
            "Oh, is that all?"
            "Shouldn't it be in your human kit?"
Brennan laughed sharply.
            "You're not supposed to remember that."
            "I told you I wasn't drunk."  He paused.  "You didn't have to take care of me."
            "Maybe I wanted to."
            "Yeah okay," Taylor brushed him off. 
Brennan watched him a few seconds.
            "I'll be back."

True to his word Brennan wasn't gone long, coming back with what looked like a reusable shopping bag over his arm. 
The handle of a skillet was sticking out.
            "Perfect," Taylor said, pushing away from the counter to warm the stovetop. 
            "I got everything," Brennan said and he sounded smug about it.  He set the bag on the counter and began pulling things out.  "And my mother wants to meet you." 
Taylor stumbled at that, hand landing awkwardly on the burner. 
He jumped in shock too late, hissing in pain.
            "Fuck!  Why is your stove so efficient?" he swore. 
Brennan was there in the next second, grasping his wrist gently.
The skin was turning pink but Taylor thought it was more shock than anything else.
The burner really couldn't have been that hot.
            "Here," Brennan said, and then Taylor's wrist was flushing with a pleasant heat as black started seeping into Brennan's hand and disappearing.  Brennan moved to take his other hand too, avoiding the cast neatly. 
There was more heat and a surprising amount of black.
"Better?" he questioned quietly.
            "Uh.  Yeah," Taylor managed.
Brennan didn't release him immediately and Taylor could feel himself blushing.
"What did you just do?"
            "Nifty little werewolf trick," Brennan told him with a flash of teeth. 

He gripped Taylor's cast and cracked it three times against the edge of the counter with no warning, breaking the plaster.
            "Hey!  Ow!" Taylor protested, even though it didn't really hurt.  At all.  "What," he managed blankly.
Brennan released his arm before flexing his own fingers and rolling his wrist.
            "I would have done that earlier but you freaked out."
            "You healed my arm," Taylor said, still unable to process it.
            "I also broke it," Brennan reminded him cheerfully.  He cracked the plaster further with his bare hands, easing Taylor's arm out of it.  "Can I help with breakfast or did you not want me touching anything?"
Taylor gaped at him.
"Out of the kitchen?" Brennan guessed, stepping back.
Taylor reached out to grab a fistful of his shirt.
            "Hey," he said, "thank you."
Brennan frowned slightly, head tilting to the left.
            "I'm only trying to take care of you," he said, as if that was just common sense or something.
Taylor lost control of his body then.  He must have – because he pulled Brennan closer and leaned up to kiss him.

It was barely more than a chaste press of lips but Taylor felt warm with it.  Dizzy and close. 
He didn't know how to react, couldn't think to. 
            "Okay," Brennan breathed out as they parted again, "not that I don't…appreciate that…but you know you don't owe me-right?" 
Taylor blinked up at him, flush slowly seeping back out.
            "Wow, don't make me feel like a whore or anything." 
Brennan's jaw worked soundlessly for a moment.
            "What?  That is not what I meant-"
Taylor still wasn't in control of his body, shifting forward and stomping on Brennan's foot.
There was a bark of disbelieving laughter and then Brennan stared at him before leaning down to grasp his foot.
Taylor was a bit in shock too.
Did he really just do that?
"I was only," Brennan gritted, "saying.  You don't owe me.  For healing you." 
            "I know that," Taylor huffed, pushing at him.  "Get off me." 
He was hot with embarrassment now, wanting Brennan to just go.  Quietly. 
            "You weren't complaining a second ago, when you pulled me back and kissed me." 
            "You just healed my broken arm!" Taylor protested, arms crossing over his chest. 
            "Ha!  You do feel like you owe me," Brennan smiled a split second, still looking pleased when his mouth relaxed. 
            "I do not I just – wanted to."  He sighed internally.  God, that sounded lame. 
Just because Brennan was nice to him?
Not desperate for attention at all.
"And now I don't," he said, half reminding himself, making shooing motions with both hands. 
            "At least you're still talking," Brennan mused.  "That's an improvement."    
            "I have a skillet," Taylor reminded him, face still far too hot. 
Brennan was smirking at him again.
            "I'll leave you and your skillet alone then." 
And Taylor was finally alone again, still wondering over his life. 

      

Chapter Text

Chase
i

 

Chase didn't want to admit it – and he certainly wasn't admitting it out loud – but he was worried.  He was worried about Aubrey.  He was worried about himself.  He was worried about Genevieve.  And then by proxy – Aiden. 
Genevieve wasn't just going to let this go.  And he used to admire that fire in her. 
But he'd always thought that she understood the way he felt.  And he always thought that she was going to wake up and see Aiden right in front of her.
But here they all were.
Or more specifically here he, Aiden, and Brennan were, standing by the fire. 
Taylor, Stiles, and Aubrey had left just a few minutes ago and Chase had to force himself to stop listening for their footsteps. 
It was impolite, Aubrey had informed him.
He was inclined to agree but he was just so…incandescent. 

He'd loved her on first sight – had never believed it possible, but how wrong he was. 
He'd loved her before he even knew if she would be selected, if Ross would agree to bring her.  And it had probably been wrong of him to hope, selfish even but he couldn't help it.
He'd hoped for her, deep in the parts of him that he didn't talk about to anyone. 
And there were still so many questions. 
He still hoped for things that he shouldn't.  He still wanted things he shouldn't. 
Then again, he thought Aubrey wanted things she shouldn't want too.
The way she had just- but he caught Genevieve's scent, cutting off his stream of thoughts. 
Chase tensed on instinct, struggling with a wince when Aiden and Brennan echoed him. 
Genevieve would be thrilled by that reaction, no doubt. 
Lifting his beer, he took a cautious sip.
            "She run off already?  That was surprisingly fast," Genevieve commented, slipping between Brennan and Aiden seamlessly. 
Aiden shifted away slightly, if Genevieve noticed she did nothing to give it away. 
Chase felt a flash of sympathy and a burst of irritation in rapid succession. 
What did she think she was playing at? 
            "What do you want Evie?" 
She only smirked at Aiden's wounded tone and Chase had to suppress a burst of anger. 
This was why they'd never really been friends he thought, she just had to needle and needle until something blew up. 
It never mattered what that something was either.

            "I don't want anything."
A lie if they'd ever heard one.
"I'm just here for the party.  Isn't everyone having fun?" 
Brennan arched a brow and Chase could all but hear his internal comments. 
He nearly smirked himself. 
"I mean look at the two of you…all mated…to humans," she said, the words deliberately slow.  "Aiden and I are the only bachelors left I guess."  She added this with a slight pout, head cocking towards his shoulder. 
Chase winced purely on Aiden's behalf. 
            "Maybe you should move on Gen." 
Her eyes flashed and it was only then that Chase realized the double meaning. 
He'd opened his mouth to say something, perhaps some sort of retraction, but it was too late he knew.
            "Maybe you should," she said, jaw clenched. 
He forced himself not to roll his eyes. 
            "I meant from the three of us.  Right now." 
That earned a snarl. 
Chase's fingers tightened on the label of the bottle in his hand.
"Do you really need me to say it out loud then?" 
He waited just a smattering of seconds before continuing.
"I don't feel that way about you," he said, "I never have.  I never will.  I would hardly even consider us friends.  And your behavior now – towards my mate – is reprehensible."
There was silence around them, if there had been any doubt of people listening in, it was gone. 
            "I wouldn't have minded," Genevieve began, elongated teeth gleaming between her dark lips, "I wouldn't have minded if she was at least pretty.  But that cow of a girl isn't worth a space in our pack let alone your time and how she ever got you to-" 
Chase lunged, vision tinged red as he utterly lost control. 
It was disorienting when Aiden yanked him back by the elbow and Chase lashed out without thinking, a snarl breaking his lips.       
It was a collision of teeth and skin, bones grinding but over quickly. 
Somewhere in a crevice of Chase's mind thought resumed. 
This was Aiden.  One of his best friends.
He hauled himself back, yanking a hand through his hair and gritting his teeth until they were flat again. 
His chest was aching with the effort to breathe by the time he was human again.
It was only then that he realized he tasted blood.

            "Okay?"
Aiden grimaced but nodded once. 
Chase's relief was short lived. 
Predictably, Genevieve was nowhere to be seen.
The silence around them was broken up as people began shifting again, Aubrey, Stiles, and Taylor moving through the gap created.
            "What happened?" Aubrey snapped.
Chase inhaled slow, letting himself relax.
            "Nothing, we're fine." 
Okay, we're was relative.
            "Don't try and sell me that line of shit Chase."
But he nearly smiled. 
There she was, tough in a way that Genevieve could never be.
A hard edge curled around the way that she cared.
The way that she cared for him?
It was harder not to smile.
He moved towards her, skin singing out to be against hers.
            "We're fine."  He let his fingers curl over her shoulders, regretful of the denim jacket she wore.  "Tempers flared and we had a little fight but now we're fine." 
But Aubrey wasn't just going to take that either.
            "Why are you fighting your friends?" 
            "I lost my temper," he said, softer and with a tiny smile.  "I told you." 
            "That's not like you," she told him, eyes narrowed.
No, it wasn't. 
But she brought out things in him that he hadn't known existed. 
Aubrey arched a brow and pursed her lips, evidently waiting for his response. 
            "It could be like me," he offered, "you've only known me a couple days."
 
She didn't respond for a few seconds.
            "Don't treat me like I'm stupid Chase," she finally said with a little huff.
His hands dropped away and he stood a bit straighter. 
            "I would not," he informed her. 
She arched that damned eyebrow again. 
            "Everyone knows exactly who's causing trouble here and why you and Aiden, of all people, would be fighting." 
Chase couldn't help a quick pout. 
Damn all these werewolves and their penchant for gossip.
He made a quick effort to fix his hair before sighing quietly.
            "Well people will just have to adjust." 
It was simple to say it like that, even though it shouldn't be.
Because firstly, people didn't have to adjust.
And secondly, that was assuming that things were just going to fit together and Aubrey was going to stay with him.  That she was going to want to stay.
But he supposed he could hope.     

Chapter Text

Brennan
i

Brennan woke first, nostrils flaring as he took in the pounding heart and panting breaths down the hall.
            "Taylor," he realized aloud, as if he needed the reminder.  With a quick snort to himself that was nearly a snarl he tore out of bed and bolted down the hall to Taylor's room. 
There wasn't anyone in the house but them and when Brennan shoved the door to Taylor's room open his suspicions were confirmed; a nightmare. 
He approached the bed slowly, placing one knee on the edge of the mattress to get closer.
"Taylor?" he tried quietly, wary of trying to touch him. 
Taylor's head flinched back into the pillow, heart rate quickening even more.  He groaned through clenched teeth.  The air was sick with the smell of fear. 
Gritting his teeth himself, Brennan reached out and grasped at Taylor's shoulder.
"Taylor, wake up!" he said, unable to keep the urgency from his voice.
Taylor woke with a start, dragging in a huge gasp of air and hurling himself away from Brennan, curling in the far corner of the bed.
            "No, no, no," he chanted, hands pressing hard against his ears as he tried to shut the world out. 
Brennan reached out again, jerking back when Taylor's fear spiked at the touch. 
            "Taylor it's me," he said loudly, no idea if Taylor could hear him.  "It's just me, you're safe."
Brennan could only stand it for a few more seconds before he reached out to pry one of Taylor's hands away.
            "No!" Taylor yelled, pulling out of his grasp and spilling onto the floor.  He scrambled to the wall next, panting for air and burying his head in his arms. 
Brennan eased back off the bed and crept forward carefully.
            "Taylor, it's me.  It's just me.  You were having a nightmare but you're okay now.  I promise." 
When Taylor didn't react to that he tried again. 
            "Don't!" Taylor yelped, "Don't touch me." 

Brennan rocked back on his heels, fists clenching tight.  His wolf was a tactile creature.  He wanted nothing more than to pull Taylor into his arms and make everything better just by being near him, just by holding him. 
But he couldn't do that. 
And he didn't know what to do. 
            "Okay," he tried, swallowing before continuing, "okay I won't.  I won't touch you.  I won't hurt you Tay." 
Taylor cried quietly but each hitched sob was like another yank on his ribcage. 
Finally he lifted his head, swiping at his eyes uselessly. 
            "Can you go please?" 
Brennan dug his teeth into his lip. 
            "Are you okay?" he stalled, needing to be close to his mate but wanting to give him whatever he needed at the same time. 
            "I don't," Taylor tried, breath hitching again, "I hate…people seeing me cry."         
            "Well I've already seen you cry," Brennan pointed out quietly.  "I just need to make sure you're okay, Taylor please." 
            "I'm fine," Taylor said.  He shook his head quickly.  "It's just a bad dream." 
            "You're not," Brennan took a single step forward, watching Taylor carefully; "it's not."
Taylor smiled even as another tear snuck out.
            "Yeah.  I guess." 
Brennan took another step.
            "It's okay," he said, "to admit that you're not okay."
            "It never has been."   

Brennan couldn't stand it then.  He couldn't stand it at all.  He crossed the rest of the space between them and sank onto the floor right next to Taylor, just close enough for their shoulders to brush. 
            "It is now," he said firmly. 
Taylor glanced to him before looking away. 
            "If we," he finally said, tongue flicking out to lick his lips, "if we don't…work out or whatever…can I stay?  Can I stay anyway?" 
            "I don't know," Brennan said, unwilling to lie about this when it was clearly important. 
            "Don't send me back," Taylor whispered, swiping at his eyes again.  "Please don't." 
            "I won't," Brennan told him, and he didn't even have to think about it.  "I promise.  You never have to go back there Taylor." 
Taylor leaned into him then, cheek pressing to his shoulder. 
Brennan quickly moved to wrap an arm around him. 
"It's okay," he said, "it's alright."          

The silence in the room was heavy and Brennan didn't know what to do with it. 
Ross was still watching him expectantly. 
            "I was wondering," Brennan said, hesitating.  "Uh.  Well.  If Taylor and I don't mate…could he still stay?" 
Ross frowned at that.
            "I thought you two were getting along well?" 
            "We are," Brennan was quick to assure.  "I mean.  Sort of."  He blew out a sigh and sagged a bit.  "It's just…I don't want him to mate with me because I'm the better option." 
            "Ah," Ross said.
He leaned back in his chair, fingertip pressing to his chin briefly. 
"If Taylor doesn't want to return home we won't force him.  Of course." 
Brennan smiled, even if it was a bit weak.
            "Okay.  Good." 

When he made his way back home Taylor was in the kitchen, slicing up vegetables for dinner. 
            "Hey," Taylor offered, not looking up. 
            "I talked to Ross," Brennan said, before he could lose his nerve. 
            "Oh?" Taylor's hands paused as he met Brennan's eyes, knife hovering. 
            "You don't have to go back." 
Taylor didn't react to the words immediately, eventually looking back down to the cutting board.  He still didn't resume though. 
            "Thank you," he said quietly. 

Brennan had expected a bit more than that – he was disappointed.

Two nights later Taylor's nightmares resumed. 
Brennan paced outside his door, unsure what to do. 
Maybe Taylor didn't want him right there the second he woke up terrified. 
But didn't it make more sense to wake him up rather than letting him struggle through each horrifying moment? 
Taylor's nightmares were becoming a nightmare for him as well. 
Before he'd made a decision Taylor woke up by himself, panting before muffling the sound in his pillow. 
Brennan's hands curled into aimless fists. 
He debated knocking for what felt like forever. 
As Taylor's heart rate slowed down Brennan sighed and made his way back down the hall. 

Taylor slept late the next morning, Brennan leaving before he'd even stirred. 
By the time he'd made it home Taylor had migrated downstairs but he was still in a too big t-shirt and baggy sweatpants. 
            "You alright?" 
            "Tired," Taylor mumbled after a moment. 
Brennan hesitated.  It felt like that was all he was doing lately.
            "I didn't know if you wanted me to-"
            "It's fine." 
            "I don't want to pressure you," Brennan tried. 
            "I said it's fine." 
            "I want to help you," Brennan said, earnest.  "I do.  But I want you to choose me.  Do you understand?"
Taylor wouldn't meet his eyes, shifting a bit on the couch. 
            "I thought I already did," he said very quietly. 
            "I just want you to be sure," Brennan told him gently. 
Taylor didn't say anything to that either. 
Brennan stifled a sigh. 
"Are you hungry?  How about dinner?" 

It was the next night that Taylor woke himself up screaming. 
Brennan was still in bed, body tense with the shock of it.
He took a slow breath in and held it. 
That one sounded bad. 
He tossed his blanket off, wanting – needing – to go see Taylor.
But Taylor was on the move.
His feet hit the floor at the same time and he hurried to his door, throwing it open and rushing through.    
Brennan's breath caught in his chest.
Was he going to run? 
Maybe he could follow along at a safe distance if he did.  Maybe he could get Chase or Shane to help.  It would be fine. 
He forced an exhale.
Maybe-
            "Hey," Taylor said, leaning in the open doorway, "can I, uh, come in?" 
            "Yeah," Brennan nearly shouted with the relief of it, "yes.  Yes you can." 
He shifted over to make space, tugging the blanket back over his lap at the last second. 
Taylor approached slowly, tugging at his sleeves as he did. 
            "Thanks," he said, slowly easing into Brennan's bed. 
            "Do you want to talk about it?" Brennan questioned, resisting the urge to reach for him. 
Taylor shook his head violently.
            "I-I don't think so…at least." 
            "Alright."
Brennan tried to settle his hands in his lap before crossing his arms over his chest. 
            "You can," Taylor said very quietly, "if you want." 
His cheeks were flushed pink, eyes dropping away from Brennan's as he glanced down. 
            "Can what?" 
Taylor's teeth tugged at his lip then and after another moment he settled just a bit closer.
His fingers slipped up under Brennan's palm, warm and slightly slick. 
Tears?  Sweat? Brennan wondered, heart slowly cranking up at the touch. 
Taylor tugged Brennan's arm over his shoulder, settling even further into his side. 
"Okay," Brennan managed very quietly. 

He didn't know how long they sat together like that before Taylor spoke.
Brennan knew nothing except his own sense of contentment. 
He was warm.  He was happy. 
            "It was the night of the run," Taylor said. 
Brennan couldn't help tensing a bit at that. 
"Everything happened the same," he added with a quiet, hollow laugh.  "You were there.  And the tree happened.  And I was laying on the ground, so much pain, but you weren't there to fix it," he broke off, swallowing quickly.  "I dreamed it was him," he said.  "And he-" but he cut off again, unable to finish. 
Brennan tugged him just a bit closer, fingers through his curls, and pressed his lips to Taylor's sweaty brow. 
            "I'm sorry." 
            "He didn't," Taylor forced out.  "He didn't do that to me, j-just in the dream." 
I'm glad Brennan thought but didn't say, holding Taylor just that much tighter. 
            "Did I scare you that badly during the run?  I know you were scared at first but I could smell your arousal, once I took the pain away – and we were just…so close.  Sharing the same air.  Remember?" 
            "What do you mean you could smell it?" Taylor demanded, wide eyes meeting his. 
Brennan offered him a small smile. 
            "Werewolf, remember?" 
Taylor huffed.
            "Yes I know that, jesus." 
            "When emotions are strong, we can smell them." 
            "Well okay, I didn't know that," Taylor admitted.  "Embarrassing," he added. 
            "Kinda flattering actually," Brennan corrected gently.  "That you didn't really want my wolf.  That you wanted me." 
Taylor was blushing then and Brennan had to smile again. 
            "Shut up you know you're good looking.  And after a wolf chasing me," he lifted the shoulder not nudging Brennan's ribs in a shrug.  "And you were really gentle and nice and yeah maybe things got a little out of hand." 

Brennan nosed at his temple, tempted to brush another kiss across it. 
            "More like you chose me instead of me choosing you." 
            "Maybe I did," Taylor said. 
            "Because if I mated you you could stay," Brennan said, trying to pick the words carefully.
            "Yeah." 
            "And that's why you didn't want to talk." 
            "Basically," Taylor sighed.     
            "Smart," Brennan told him, giving in and kissing Taylor again. 
Taylor shrugged again, still blushing a bit. 
"So now that you're here and I'm here and I know why you're here…why don't we start over?" 
            "Start over?" Taylor prompted.  "What?  Right here in your bed?" 
Brennan arched a brow and Taylor laughed. 
            "How about we start over tomorrow?  I don't want to move yet." 
            "Okay."  

Chapter Text

Aiden
ii

Aiden had barely left his room in days.
As much as he was trying not to mope…it was too obvious when you lived with werewolves. 
Even if he kept his expression perfectly blank they could monitor his breathing – whether or not it was despondent.
Then of course there was always smelling him.  Even if the emotion was subtle there were a few that could still smell it on him. 
So he was mostly staying in his room.
His dad stopped by to check on him about twice a day, sometimes even working from home just so he could.
            "Dad," Aiden groaned as he paused in the doorway again, only partly visible.  "I'm not getting any better by you standing there, okay?" 
Ross sighed and pressed the door open a bit.
            "You're going to meet someone else.  You know that." 
            "Yes, logically speaking, I know that.  But I don't want to meet anyone else." 
            "I know that," Ross sighed.  "But what you need to realize is that Genevieve still has the emotional capacity of a child.  She never had to grow up because everyone and their brother knew that if it came down to it she would have your protection.  I know you never meant to but you created your own monster." 
Aiden groaned again and dragged a pillow over his head. 
            "Go away, I don't like you." 
Rather than doing as he asked, Ross entered his room and tugged his pillow away before sitting on the edge of his bed.
            "I've been tip-toeing around this for nearly two weeks now.  It's time to face the truth Son." 
He squeezed Aiden's knee briefly.
"She had time to change.  In fact she had a month and a half to change.  Rather than admit that she'd been wrong and try to start over – she bolted.  She has put herself over you in every single instance.  You deserve better." 
Aiden blew out a sigh. 
His dad was most likely right but it still sucked. 
"Tomorrow you're getting up and doing something useful."
It was decided then.
Aiden sighed again as Ross left, leaving the door open.

Nearly two weeks later they opened up once again for their annual visitors. 
The mating run was only a week away and as much as Aiden thought he had been doing better, it was inevitable to drag him back down. 
He was actually going for a lot of runs. 
So far his dad hadn't bothered him about it but Aiden was sure he was going to have to suck it up in the next few days. 
He was walking slow, legs feeling a bit slack and stretched like taffy, filling out his lungs as he inhaled carefully and let it back out. 
            "Hey, can you tell us where to go to get a room?" a light voice called out. 
Aiden turned just slightly, something catching in his gut at the girl walking towards him.
Two gold rings glinted over the swell of her bottom lip, shifting as she smiled.  Her skin was a dark golden brown, eyes caught somewhere between brown and green. 
She was beautiful. 
            "Yeah," he said belatedly, "uh, yeah.  Just go into the big building with the white pillars, talk to Jim." 
            "Great," she said, tucking a tangle of curls behind her ear perfunctorily. 
            "I'm Aiden."
            "Kia," she said, teeth flashing as she smiled.  "This is Kaden." 
Aiden felt his eyebrows shift in confusion, looking over his shoulder.
Oh he thought vaguely. 
            "Twins," he said.
            "Good guess," Kaden said, offering his hand, which Aiden moved to take. 
            "You look very similar," Aiden said, trying to ignore the way his stomach was curling.
If he wasn't careful he was going to start reeking of heat or arousal. 
            "We're fraternal," Kaden said, "most people don't jump to twins."
            "You smell the same," Aiden explained, lifting a shoulder. 
Kaden hummed at that, nostrils flaring obviously. 
Aiden forced out a laugh.
            "Don't do that, I've just gotten back," he said, stepping back. 
Even as he got further from them both he wanted to draw closer.
Kaden was so tall, perhaps only shorter than Shane. 
His mouth was even fuller than Kia's, eyes a shade or two lighter as the sun caught them. 

But Aiden didn't know why they were here.
Twins were rare, especially if they were both wolves – which he thought they were.  And they were both strikingly beautiful.
So why were they having trouble taking on mates?
            "We'll see you soon," Kia said, taking Kaden's hand and pulling him along.
Kaden's lips twitched at that, just before he turned away. 
Aiden watched them go with a strange little tug low in his gut.
He bit at his lip and took a deep breath.
            "Weird," he exhaled, more to himself than anything.

Rather than going straight home he dropped into the diner, maybe to try and clear his head.
Chase and Taylor were there, a seat between them and Aiden assumed they were waiting for Aubrey and Brennan. 
Aiden dropped into a chair one away from Chase, tugging a hand through his hair. 
            "What's this?" Shane questioned, one ridiculously large hand resting over his chest, "Aiden Ramsey…out in public?  Socializing…with us?  What is the special occasion?" 
Aiden could feel his lips twitching against his will.
            "Oh shut up and get me something to eat." 
Shane grinned at him, leaning a hip against the counter rather than moving toward the kitchen. 
            "What's up?" Chase asked, leaning closer a moment.  "You smell different." 
            "Shut up," Aiden said again.  "I do not."
But he was willing himself not to blush at the same time. 
            "No you really do," Shane said.  "You smell…like you're on the hunt."
            "I am not," Aiden protested.  It was too loud, even to his own ears.
His face was definitely too hot now.
            "C'mon then, if you can't tell us who are you gonna tell?" 
Aiden rolled his eyes.
            "It's nothing.  I just met some people coming in." 
            "Some people," Shane said, unimpressed.
            "Twins," Aiden admitted. 
He shifted uncomfortably on his stool. 
            "Twins," Chase echoed, making it sound a bit dirty.
Shane let out a low whistle. 
            "Twins?" Taylor echoed too, frowning over the word. 
Shane and Chase laughed then, quickly and quietly. 
            "What?" Aiden snapped, knowing if he looked in a mirror just then his cheeks would be stained with blood. 
            "Twins have been known to take the same mate," Shane said, eyes still amused.  "If they're still looking…I'd assume that's what they want."     
Aiden snorted.
            "Well I met them and they were attractive.  That's all." 
            "Can't lie to werewolves, come on," Chase laughed. 
Aiden spared him a very short glare before sliding off his stool and pushing out the door.

Unfortunately, or fortunately – Aiden hadn't decided yet, that wasn't all.

Kia and Kaden weren't everywhere.  But they popped up a lot.
Even worse – Sophia was immediately enamored with both of them. 
How was he supposed to defend himself against his six year old sister asking him about 'Kia and Kay'?
On one occasion he'd found Kia having a tea party with Sophia on the back porch. 
The way she watched him over the edge of her plastic teacup had been anything but innocent.
Then there was Kaden joining him on his runs, keeping pace with him easily – half because Aiden didn't want it to look like he was trying to run away. 
He didn't remember when his life had gotten this difficult.
But even worse than that…he wasn't really bothered by it. 
It was sort of exciting.
Even if it was sort of horrible too.    

Aiden had to admit, even if it was just to himself, that he may be a bit charmed by them. 
But he wasn't sure that he wanted a mate – let alone two.

The day of the run, just as the sun was setting, Chase knocked on the door.
            "Come on," he said easily, "I'll walk you down."
Aiden had to smile, reminded why Chase was his best friend.
            "I don't think I'm going," he admitted, hesitating in the doorway. 
Chase frowned at him.
            "What are you talking about?  Of course you're running.  You know Kaden and Kia are interested.  You're interested.  So why aren't you running?"    
            "Because I just met them.  I can't just-  Two mates Chase really?  Like I'm not gonna fuck that up?" 
            "That's why the run is only the first part.  You know that." 
But Chase stopped, falling quiet and watching him. 
"Do you really not want to run or are you scared?" 
            "If I was just a distraction-" Aiden tried, embarrassed to feel his throat close up.  "If they don't-" he tried again, breaking off and shaking his head. 
            "Hey, that's not gonna happen." 
            "Don't you mean it's not gonna happen again?" Aiden said, careful to keep his tone light.
There was still a flash of guilt in Chase's expression and Aiden reached out to squeeze his arm. 
"You know I don't blame you," he said quietly.  "You know it's not your fault." 
            "It's not yours either." 
            "Maybe if they come back," Aiden offered feebly. 
            "C'mon Aiden.  How many people come back?" 
            "It's only a couple months," this was even more feeble. 
            "Twins," Chase said, arched eyebrows nearly making it a question. 
Aiden sighed.
"I think you should run," Chase said, "but it's your decision." 
            "I'll think about it?" 
Chase pulled him into a hug, arms tight enough for Aiden's back to crack under the pressure. 
"Jesus," he laughed weakly, "get off me." 
            "I'll see you later?"
            "Course," Aiden said, leaning in the doorway just long enough to watch him go.

Aiden didn't run though.
By the time he thought that maybe he should he realized the chances of finding either Kia or Kaden were ridiculously small – not with all the wolves they had running tonight.
It was pointless really.
So he took a long shower and curled up in bed early, though it was hours before he slept.

The next morning, late the next morning, Aiden dragged himself out of bed and down to the kitchen.
His mother was just setting a plate on the table for him. 
He pressed a kiss to her temple in thanks. 
It took several bites of egg to muster up his courage.
            "So did they claim anyone?"  Aiden wasn't sure why he tried so hard to sound casual about it.  For one his mother could see right through him.  For another he just sounded tired. 
            "No," she said, one hand resting at the crown of his head for a moment.
            "They didn't?" he asked, nearly dropping his fork. 
            "No," she repeated, moving back towards the kitchen.  "They circled the house half the night.  You didn't hear them?" 
Aiden could have sworn his heart stopped at that.
            "They what?" 
            "You can still smell them if you don't believe me.  They must have fantastic focus," she added, offhand. 
Aiden felt sick.
His mother returned with a cup of coffee in hand, taking a seat slowly. 
"They haven't left yet," she said, lifting her cup to take a sip. 
            "Do you think I should-"
            "Yes," she said, cutting him off.
            "Right," Aiden said, abandoning his breakfast.

He went after Kia first – which was a mistake.
She wouldn't even look at him.
A bit disheartened but still needing to at least say something he sought out Kaden.
He was in his borrowed room, folding clothes and placing them in a duffle bag.
Kia's bag was already packed on the opposite bed. 
            "I'm sorry," Aiden said.
He figured an apology was the best place to start. 
            "It's fine," Kaden said. 
He wouldn't look at Aiden either.
            "No really I-"
            "It's fine.  It's too much, too scary, too disgusting," he said, lip curling.  "If you think we haven't heard it before you're wrong." 
            "It's not that," Aiden protested, chest aching, "I swear.  It's me." 
Kaden slid a glance to him, more of a glare than anything else.
Aiden shrank back half a step and forced himself forward again.
"My last mating run – my only mating run…the girl I thought-" he paused, swallowing and smiling bitterly, "she laughed," he said very quietly, "and pushed me off.  Before going after my best friend."  He glanced up to Kaden, who was folding slower, before continuing.  "And I thought that if you had changed your minds or if you weren't serious or I don't know-I don't know I thought a lot of things I guess.  But I thought if any of them happened that I would die." 
            "Well you might have turned out right," Kaden said slowly.  "But I guess we'll never know, will we?" 
And that hurt. 
More than Aiden liked. 
            "Yeah.  Alright."  He felt strangely disconnected from his body though.  From the words he was saying too.  
            "Stop," Kaden sighed – before he'd even moved.  "I didn't mean that."  He turned towards Aiden, hands falling to his sides.  "Of course we would have claimed you.  Of course we would have.  But if it wasn't what you wanted then I'm glad it didn't happen.  I guess if it wasn't meant to happen then I am doubly glad it didn't." 
He was quiet a moment, just watching Aiden.
"We'll keep looking." 

But Aiden didn't want that.
Not any part of him.
            "Will you come for a run?" 
Kaden looked pained but only for half a second.
            "I think I've had enough running actually." 
            "A walk then," Aiden said.  "Just come with me.  Please?" 

They weren't very far from where he'd found Kia when Aiden stopped.
He turned to face Kaden, taking a deep breath.
Kaden stopped too, watching him openly.
Aiden couldn't help shifting restlessly, one hand tangling in the hem of his shirt before tugging at it.
            "Do you still want…" but he trailed off, leaving it open – because what if he didn't?
            "Not without Kia," Kaden said.
His hands balled at his sides before uncurling and hanging loosely.
            "I know that," Aiden said, frowning then.
            "Are you sure?" Kaden asked then, sounding just a bit angry about it.
Not that Aiden's timing was ideal.
"Be sure," Kaden told him, stepping closer.
Aiden nodded, breath stopping as Kaden's fingers caught at the back of his neck.
            "Kaden please," he exhaled, "I want to – kiss me god kiss me I want to -"
Try he thought, fingertips seeking out the heat of Kaden's body and stopping just short.
"Kiss me," he said again, because I want to try seemed so shallow in comparison.
Kaden's body moved nicely, guiding Aiden back until he was pressed into a tree.
Kaden's hip pressed into his stomach, fingers tightening their hold.
Aiden had to stretch up, toes of his sneakers digging into the earth almost ridiculously, and Kaden still had to meet him.
But his lips were so warm, his mouth so big against Aiden's.
Aiden sighed out and their lips pressed together again.
            "I hope he's not forcing himself on you," Kia said, dragging them apart.
Aiden flushed hot, shaking his head and biting at his bottom lip.
Kaden stepped back and Aiden nearly fell off the tree at the separation, catching himself just as his ankle rolled awkwardly.
Kaden gestured to him with one hand, touching his mouth with the other.
Kia launched herself at Aiden, his hands barely catching her thighs, kissing him quickly as if she was afraid to lose her chance.

She was all bite where Kaden was kiss.
The metal in her lip was cool but slick, digging into Aiden's mouth as she bit down slightly, tugging at his lip with her teeth.
            "You do know what we need, right?  You understand?  Because I feel like we should cover our bases here," and maybe it was ridiculous, with her entirely wrapped around him, lips still wet with each other's mouths, but he supposed it was no more ridiculous than a mating run.
            "Tell me," he managed, wondering the next second when he'd lost his breath completely.
His fingers stretched over the swell of Kia's hips idly.
            "Kaden needs someone he can pin down," Kia said, smile wicked.  "And I need someone who can pin me down…but not all the time, understand?"
            "And can I ever pin Kaden down?"
            "You can try," Kia hummed, laughing.  "Still want us to claim you Mr. Ramsey?"
            "Yeah," Aiden said, pushing down everything – everything – except the want in his gut.
Kia grinned again, teeth gleaming sharp, before digging them into the meat of his neck.
They tore through skin like paper and her mouth worried at the bite for a few beats before she slipped off him.
Aiden lifted fingers to his neck gingerly, wondering if it needed to be quite that hard.
            "That's for making us wait so long," Kia said, reading him easily. 
Aiden rolled his eyes and she laughed, one hand smearing a dab of blood still on her lip.
Kaden approached again, slow, looming over him.
Aiden's breathing grew shallow as he looked up at him.    
            "You're sure," Kaden paused to check, watching Aiden intently.
            "I don't want you to leave," he said, "I don't want you to look for someone else.  I want you." 

Kaden lifted Aiden's shirt up and off, barely needing any help, and Aiden shivered at the cool air and hot press of Kaden's hands.
Next Kaden lifted him by the hips and pressed him into the tree again.
Aiden nearly groaned at the bite of bark at his skin.
His feet weren't even close to touching the ground, legs tangled around Kaden instead.
Kaden bit just at the start of his ribs, nosing under his left arm to do it.
He was gentler than Kia then too.
Aiden sagged a bit, perfectly happy to be boneless and let Kaden do the work.
Kaden lowered him carefully when he was done, one broad hand still helping steady him.
            "I know," Kia said, "he tastes so sweet."
Aiden was blushing again, only going darker when Kaden said,
            "I wonder if he does everywhere."

No one looked all that surprised when they made their way back, Aiden still smelling of blood and looking so obviously debauched.
And no one seemed as amused as Ross, much to Aiden's horror.
            "Really I should have seen this coming," he said, "Aiden and Kaden?  Sophia and Kia?"  He broke off to laugh.  "Somehow this was clearly all planned out."
Aiden was blushing once again, each hand caught in one of his mate's.
Still having Ross' blessing made him feel strangely good about the whole thing.
            "You do still have a perfect record," Aiden admitted, sighing even as Kaden and Kia squeezed his hands in sync. 

Chapter Text

Henry
ii

Henry knew he could break out of the handcuffs, quite easily too, but the thing was – he didn't want to. 
He was more than content to keep his back carefully arched as he bounced up and down.
His thighs were bracketing the thicker thighs attached to the man beneath him and this was Henry's favorite position for fucking a human. 
He didn't have to worry about hurting them or them tiring out – he could just go.  And really the handcuffs were just an added bonus because he didn't have to worry about breaking anything or scratching anyone. 
Not that the man Henry was with thought that he was human.  He wasn't that stupid.
The handcuffs were just…sexy. 
            "You trying to kill me?" the man beneath Henry questions, equal parts amused and strained and Henry pauses, lowering himself down to laugh quietly.
            "If I was trying to kill you – it certainly wouldn't feel like this."
He gave his hips a slow rotation, huffing out another laugh as the chair beneath them creaked dangerously. 
"You sure this thing's gonna hold?" Henry questioned, taking a moment to glance around the office. 
            "Maybe not," he admitted, "it's been here longer than I have." 
            "So like, at least fifty years," Henry teased, circling his hips again. 
William tugged his chin down, sealing their lips together a long moment.
            "Don't remind me I'm old enough to be your father, yeah?" 
Henry let his back bow out, curving down to lick back into William's mouth.
            "Older brother," he reminded him, swiping his tongue across his bottom lip, "not father." 
            "I'm still your boss," William said. 
Henry thought he was trying quite hard to look stern. 
He didn't quite pull it off. 
Henry tightened his thighs and pushed himself up – just until the head of William's dick was tugging deliciously at his rim. 
            "I know," he purred out, meeting William's eyes.  "Kinda hard to forget with the badge right there on your chest."  And then he slipped back down, filling himself up sharply enough for it to hurt. 
Henry gasped out, letting himself sag against William's chest as he closed his eyes. 
            "Easy, Henry, easy," William said, one hand gripping tight at the back of his neck. 
Henry sagged even further, something sparking in his hindbrain. 
Safe his brain sighed.  Warm, safe, whole.     

And, of course – that was when he woke up. 

Henry was bathed in what felt like several layers of sweat, sheets in a mess under and around his body, and of course achingly hard in his boxers. 
For nearly thirty seconds he lay still, panting. 
If he jerked off right now everyone in the house would know, probably within four hours, but he thought it would be worth it. 
He was drawn so tight…he didn't actually see another option. 
Henry struggled out of the sheets, shoving them toward the edges of the bed before tugging the elastic away from his hips and shoving his boxers down too. 
He spread his legs, propping his feet on the mattress before wrapping a hand around his dick. 
It felt almost as good as getting fucked and Henry gritted his teeth, working through it silently. 
In that moment he didn't care that he was literally dreaming about his boss – Stiles' father for fuck's sakes – fucking him.  He didn't care how very wrong it was on many different levels and he didn't care that nothing would ever happen because William wasn't really even okay with Derek and Stiles being together and there was just no way in hell he was ever going to even consider…what?  Fucking a werewolf?  Because even imagining anything further than that was lunacy. 
Henry didn't usually give in to fantasies like these – ones that he knew were impossible.
He was realistic and he was practical and this was ridiculous. 
Only his dick wasn't much listening to reason. 
He was rough and fast and it was hardly two minutes before he was streaking across the sheets, biting the insides of his cheeks hard enough that blood seeped into his mouth. 
Henry swallowed with a quick wince and gasped for air as he let his body fall lax again. 
            "Fuck," he sighed aloud. 
It was pointless to keep it in his head where it would just keep circling.  Anyone awake would already know exactly what he'd been doing.
Henry tossed his arm over his eyes and breathed out slowly again. 

He was able to sleep for maybe two more hours before Henry gave up and headed for a shower. 
After that he went for a long run, threw some knives at one of the targets for a while, ate some breakfast, and had another shower. 
It was nearly eight by the time he made it to the station and, of course, the sheriff was already in his office. 
By the sounds of things they were the only two there and Henry immediately tried to calm his heart. 
Not a big deal he reminded himself it's not like you haven't had these types of dreams before
He shook himself off very quickly before heading to the coffee maker and tugging two mugs off the drying rack.
William had either just gotten in and hadn't stopped for coffee or had been in long enough that his coffee was currently going cold beside his computer.
Henry knew him very well by now. 
Each mug got a splash of milk and two sugars, Henry stirring both and leaving one before heading for William's office. 
            "Morning," he offered, rather glad to see the sheriff was apparently buried in something on his computer.
He hummed noncommittally. 
Henry replaced the mug on his left side, put out of easy reach so it wasn't spilled on any files, and took away the half empty mug that was cool to the touch.
            "Deputy," William acknowledged, sparing a moment to smile up at Henry. 
            "Sir," Henry answered automatically. 
William only rolled his eyes at that.
            "I think we know each other well enough by now to knock that off Henry." 
            "You started it," Henry pointed out, very maturely. 
            "You've been spending too much time with Stiles." 
Unexpectedly, the remark stung a bit more than Henry would have thought it should. 
He supposed he should be trying to act more mature, at least around his boss. 
Rather than saying anything back, Henry nodded and rounded the corner of William's desk. 

            "Henry?" William called out, stopping him just at the door. 
Henry turned back with a silent sigh, one eyebrow up in question. 
"You feeling okay?" 
            "Yeah," Henry lied, shifting the mug to his free hand casually. 
For something to do.
Only the porcelain slipped right out of both hands and even though Henry scrambled for it – the mug shattered on the floor spraying coffee all over his boots, pants, and about a two foot radius of the floor. 
There was a long beat of silence. 
            "Uh huh," William exhaled, a tone usually reserved for Stiles. 
Henry was rarely glad William was human – but this was definitely one of those times. 
He was disgustingly embarrassed, fighting off a blush as he took in the coffee again. 
            "I just…didn't get much sleep," he said. 
Which was true.  Mostly. 
William slid his glasses off his nose and pushed out of his chair. 
He stepped right through the puddle and took hold of Henry's arm, tugging him forward and pushing his office door closed. 
He led Henry to a chair and gestured for him to sit before returning to his own chair and bracing his elbows on the edge of the desk. 
            "More hunters?" he asked, shoulders drooping slightly as the words hit the air. 

Henry tensed, hands curling where they rested in his lap.
            "No," he said, firm. 
            "Henry I want you to be honest with me." 
            "I am." 
            "You weren't last time," William pointed out, jaw clicking tense. 
            "You weren't ready to hear it," Henry told him, honestly.  "You're still not." 
            "So there are hunters, but you're not telling me." 
            "There aren't hunters," Henry insisted.  "But I probably wouldn't tell you.  No." 
            "Great," William snapped, "very comforting, thank you." 
Henry shoved out of the chair, wincing when it clapped to the floor with the release of his weight. 
            "My world and your world are not the same thing.  You can't place your rules on my world William."  He paused to take a deep breath.  "Here you kill after someone has done something wrong – rarely.  That's not an option in my world.  One hunter leads to more hunters.  If any get too close – they die.  That's how we operate because that's what works.  It's not pretty and it's not perfect but it's what I do to keep my pack safe.  It's what I'm good at it's what I'm good for and I'm not going to stop – not for anyone."
            "You brought your world into my world," William pointed out. 
            "By necessity," Henry said. 
He hated how low his voice was.  He felt so defeated, before anything had even begun. 
Henry turned toward the door – almost had to.
"Do you really want me to tell you?  Do you really want to know each time I kill someone?" 
Nearly two minutes passed but William didn't answer him. 
Henry supposed he didn't know how to answer. 

He stepped to the door, glancing down to the mess of coffee and broken mug for a moment. 
I'll clean this up he was about to offer, when William spoke.
            "Maybe take a few days off Deputy." 
Henry didn't allow himself to react to that, not outwardly. 
Instead he opened the door again and stepped through it. 
He walked back out of the station – not remembering his coffee sitting on the counter until hours later. 

The house was empty when he got back, though Henry thought he could hear some form of target practice going on a few miles off.
He ignored it. 
He had to get out of here.  He had to leave. 
This was insanity. 
What was necessary to the pack's survival could never be questioned or challenged but he was questioning it – simply because William was. 
And he couldn't do that.  He couldn't…do this. 
William wasn't even pack.  He wasn't born into a pack.  He didn't understand what it was like.
Henry was packing before he even realized it. 
It was a habit he was familiar with.  Everything fit nicely into one bag and he was good to go. 
Always.
Only glancing around his room he wasn't sure when he'd started accumulating so much…shit. 
There was a sweater hanging haphazardly from one of the knobs of his dresser and a collection of knick knacks on his desk.  When had that even gotten there?  There was even a target pinned to his wall, nearly torn apart by the cuts and holes in it. 
You've settled here he realized absently. 
The thought sent him into even more of a frenzy.
Henry tore the target down and crumpled it before tossing it toward the trashcan. 
It missed, of course.  Henry strode to the trashcan and dropped the balled up target in before heading back to his desk.  With one sweep of his hand every knick knack crashed in.  After another moment the sweater joined them, loopy threads hanging over the edges as it spilled out.  Henry tried to push it down with one hand, giving up when the fabric, so soft to the touch, surged right back up.

His door pushed open without warning and Henry cursed himself for being so distracted. 
Curtis leaned easily in the frame, glancing around the room carefully.
            "Henry, what are you doing?" 
Henry ignored the punch of shame in his chest.
            "I'm – packing.  Shit.  What does it look like?" 
            "Did something happen?" 
            "William asked me to take a few days off because I kill hunters," Henry said – mostly snarled really, "he doesn't get it." 
            "I meant something back home," Curtis said, frowning at him.  "William the sheriff William?" 
            "Yes," Henry said, nodding sharply.  He tried to calm his heart, tried not to feel anything. 
            "He's human," Curtis said, "he didn't grow up in a pack." 
            "Yes I know," Henry snapped out.  "But the way he looks at me…"
            "What?" 
Henry sat down on the bed, dropping the trashcan to the floor before letting his body sag.
            "It's killing me," he admitted softly. 
Curtis didn't move to join him and part of Henry wished he would.  He wished for a moment – or two – he could be the weak one and let someone hold him. 
            "Do you want to quit the station?  Run checks from home?" 
Henry shrugged at that, looking out the window. 
Curtis sighed, shifted his weight. 
"If you really feel like you need to go home, you can.  But we need you more here." 
Henry nodded.
He knew that.  He knew there was no one to replace him. 
            "I just wish he understood." 
            "Give him time." 
That was all Curtis said before leaving and Henry found himself staring down at his trashcan, alone and feeling a bit pathetic.          

Chapter Text

ii
Curtis

 

Curtis didn’t know what to do with himself. 

His clothes were a lost cause. 
He reeked. 

He wanted to crawl out of his skin. 
Except he’d already done that. 

Anger flushed through him all over again. 

He wondered again if Grace had already gone back to the house. 

Though it really didn’t matter either way. 

He rolled his shoulders and started the run back. 

Landon and Eden were downstairs when he got home, Henry and Derek out back. 

Curtis wasn’t sure where everyone else was and he didn’t care. 

He went straight up the stairs, pulling on clothes. 

His pack had gone quiet around him. 

 

Curtis bit down on a growl. 

            “If anyone says anything,” he said, “I will rip your arms off and feed them to you.” 

He could only imagine the shit that Aaron would say if he were here. 

At least this happened in California and not back home.

Small favors. 

Curtis inhaled and exhaled again. 

What was he going to do now? 

He could take a shower but it wouldn’t do much good. 

The thing was – it had been Grace for as long as he could remember. 

He just assumed that one day they would work out their shit. 
And about twenty minutes ago he thought they finally had. 

But that was twenty minutes ago. 

One of them is going to have to leave. 

It’s not a conversation with his father Curtis was looking forward to. 

 

Curtis curled his hands. 
He worked not to punch the wall.     

This was supposed to be his test run.
His own mini pack. 

And he did this. 

They’re a small group. 
A tight unit. 

They couldn’t afford this type of dissonance. 

He felt so stupid. 

Derek was climbing the stairs. 

Curtis crossed back to his bed and dropped onto it, sighing.

Derek entered without knocking and Curtis sighed again. 

            “You alright?” 

            “No,” Curtis said.  “I’m an idiot and I’m going home.” 

            “Grace called,” Derek said after a moment. 

Curtis tensed. 

“She said something about going up to Washington for a bit.” 

Curtis curled his hands together again. 

            “She say anything else?” 

            “I didn’t speak to her,” Derek said. 

 

            “She said she wants me to make her choose me,” Curtis admitted before he could stop himself.  “What does that even mean?” 

            “I didn’t think Grace was the type to want anyone controlling her.” 

Curtis nodded.

            “Apparently we were wrong.” 

            “Maybe she meant something else,” Derek suggested. 

            “I was about five seconds away from knotting her,” Curtis said, refusing to feel embarrassed, “and I asked her – I asked her if I could bite her…and she shoves me off.” 

Derek looked pained but nodded anyway. 

“She said I shouldn’t have to ask.  She said that I should just do it – I don’t – you can’t just bite someone like that.”

            “Maybe she meant something else,” Derek said again.  “You two have been doing this for years now.  She came out here with you.  That means something, doesn’t it?” 

            “Maybe she was bored,” Curtis suggested.  “Maybe there was one final test and I didn’t pass.” 

            “I think you’re hurt and angry,” Derek said. 

            “I always thought it was gonna be her,” Curtis said. 

Derek nodded.

            “Yeah,” he said, “I know.” 

 

            “I can’t believe she did this to me.” 

            “Maybe she just got scared, maybe she wasn’t ready.” 

Curtis snorted.

            “How long is she gonna need to be ready?” 

Curtis stood and tore a hand through his hair. 

“I’m going to be the next Alpha of our pack.  I don’t have time for this bullshit.” 

            “I don’t think you can put mating on a timeline.” 

            “When did you get so old and wise?” 

            “Don’t know,” Derek teased, “maybe I’ll leapfrog you.” 

Curtis had to laugh, kicking Derek. 

“I think you’ve got two options here,” Derek said, “you can go after her and talk with your dick inside your pants – or you can accept that it’s not happening and try to find someone else.” 

            “I just-”

            “Always thought it was gonna be her,” Derek finished.  “I know.” 
He takes a breath before sitting down next to Curtis.
“But maybe the problem is that you always just assumed she would give in.  Maybe she wants more from you.” 

            “What else can I give her?” 

            “A little bit of your pride,” Derek suggested. 

 

Curtis drove too fast – but he wanted to be sure he’d get there before Grace. 

Ross came out to shake his hand and offer him dinner, which was nice and a bit unnecessary. 

            “Thanks,” Curtis said, “but I’m waiting.” 

Ross just smiled at that. 

            “I see.”  

Curtis dropped open the back of the truck, hauling himself up and sitting. 

He’d packed a thermos of coffee and some clothes for Grace to put on. 
Hopefully they wouldn’t be needing much else. 

Curtis took a long sip of coffee before settling in to wait. 

 

The gate opened about three hours later, Curtis might not have even heard it if not for the subtle hush that ran through the front half of the settlement. 

He supposed every pack had their own security measures. 

The gate was barely a quarter mile from where Curtis now sat and Grace’s footfalls got slower the closer she got. 

She’d smelled him then. 

Curtis stood and stretched quickly, popping his spine in two places. 

            “We need to talk,” he said, tossing the clothes to the ground. 

Grace came into view then, tail down but ears perked. 

Curtis didn’t look away as she changed but he did as she began to dress. 

            “I don’t want to talk,” Grace told him. 

            “I know.  But I do.  And when two people are in a relationship – they compromise.”

Grace rolled her eyes quickly. 

            “Didn’t know we were in a relationship.” 

            “Bullshit,” Curtis told her simply. 

Grace crossed her arms this time, looking away. 

            “What do you want, Curt?”

            “I want you to tell me what you want.  Because after the last conversation we had I’m a bit lost.” 

 

Grace scoffed at him. 

            “Of course you are.  I tell you want I want in plain English and you can’t deliver – of course.” 

            “No,” Curtis agreed, “if you want me to force you to mate with me, if you want me to make you pick me – then no, I can’t deliver.” 

            “That’s not what I want!” Grace hissed, stepping closer to him as her eyes flashed.  “I want to not have to think – I want to know deep down that we’re doing the right thing.  For the pack, for us.  I don’t want to have to question it.  I want to know.  Or I want you to know.  I want you to make me feel like it’s going to be okay.  One of the two.” 
She released a short growl of frustration. 
“Honestly Curtis, you’re so thick.” 

            “I can’t promise you that.” 

            “Then fucking lie to me Curtis!” 

Curtis inhaled and exhaled. 
He counted backwards from twenty. 

            “Why do you keep saying the opposite of what you mean?” 

            “Because,” Grace sighed, “I want impossible things.” 

Curtis laughed sharply. 

            “Yes,” he agreed, “you do.” 

 

            “Is it so wrong?” Grace snapped.  “Is it so wrong to want to be protected sometimes?  Am I supposed to feel bad for wanting to lean on you?” 

            “No,” Curtis told her, feeling the words like a slap to the face.  “I’ll do anything I can to protect you – of course I will.” 

            “Tell me we’re doing the right thing,” Grace exhaled shakily. 

            “I love you,” Curtis said instead.  “Do you love me?” 

            “Who else?” Grace laughed. 
She visibly swallowed.
“You think less of me?” 

            “For what?” 

            “Needing you to be my alpha,” Grace whispered. 

 

Something warm flared in Curtis’ gut at that. 

He stepped close enough to pull Grace to him. 

            “Can we go home now?  So I can get you in my bed?  Away from a bunch of people that don’t even know us?” 

Graced buried her face in his chest, laughing again. 

            “Oh god,” she let out.  “Shut up, I hate you.” 

            “And just so we’re clear,” Curtis continued, “you do want me to bite you later but you don’t want me to ask then.  You want me to be the alpha?” 

Graced shuddered in his arms.    

            “Yes,” she said, “that is what I want.” 

            “Gonna let me knot you this time?” 

It wasn’t dark enough to hide the flush in Grace’s cheeks. 

            “You’re the alpha – you tell me.” 

Curtis growled in his chest, finally catching her mouth in a kiss.        

Chapter Text

Will
ii

 

Will woke to his entire world being jostled.

Or, alternatively, Aaron jumping on the hotel bed he was sleeping in.

            “Get up little brother,” Aaron sang, “we arrive in Beacon Hills today!”

            “And we’re gonna be there for like three weeks,” Will groaned, slapping at Aaron with a pillow. “Let me sleep.”

            “I’ll let you sleep tonight!” Aaron said, only jumping closer to Will’s head.

Will snatched his ankle and pulled as hard as he could, sending Aaron tumbling off the bed with a quick scream.

            “You’re no fun,” Aaron huffed, pulling himself up and leveling a glare at Will.

            “Your definition of fun is literally insane.”

            “Don’t you want to see everyone?” Aaron challenged.

            “I’m seeing everyone either way,” Will countered, closing his eyes again, “I want to sleep.”

            “Fine,” Aaron agreed, too easily. “But the car is leaving in two minutes either way.”

He was out the door before Will managed a protest.
Will groaned into his pillow before forcing himself up.

They were at the Hale house for all of forty-five seconds before Will regretted coming.

            “Henry is at the station, if you guys wanted to pick him up he can show you the perimeter.”

            “I’ll go in the morning,” Aaron volunteered, flopping onto the couch, “Will can go though.”

            “Why do I have to go?” Will asked.

            “If you guys aren’t going to take this seriously,” Curtis said, both eyebrows up, “you can go home right now.”

            “Calm down, Junior,” Aaron snapped, rolling his eyes. “We are taking it seriously.”

            “Prove it,” Curtis said. “Before I leave, preferably.”

Aaron doesn’t move.

Will rolls his eyes this time.

            “Guess I’m going then.”

Curtis looks relieved at that and for a moment Will wishes he wasn’t so responsible.

Still – they can’t all be Aaron.

 

Will ran and then walked to the station.
He’d spent enough time cooped up in a car the last couple days.

It was easy enough to find the station once he hit Main Street anyway.

There was only one officer as he stepped in and Will was largely ignored.

He was alright with that.

As he walked, Will listened for Henry.

There was a shuffling sound, like a quick struggle.

Will hurried toward the door marked Sheriff.

            “I’m sorry,” Henry said.
His voice was tight with something Will couldn’t identify.

            “It’s fine, Deputy,” a voice answered him. “Henry,” he corrected.

Will opened the door, taking in Henry and Stiles’ father.

They both swung to look at him, Henry stepping back quickly.
The sheriff, in turn, righted his shirt.

 

            “Am I interrupting?” Will questioned after a long beat.

            “No,” Henry said.
Just as the sheriff said,
            “Good to see you again, Will.”

            “Curtis and Grace are headed back to Maine, right?”

Will nodded at this.

            “Quasi honeymoon.”

            “Right,” the sheriff agreed.
He looked to Henry.

Henry was determinedly not looking back.

            “We should go,” Henry said.

The sheriff reached out, grasping Henry’s wrist for the briefest moment.

            “I’ll see you tomorrow, Deputy.”

It was almost a question, but not quite.

 

            “So,” Will said as they hit the sidewalk.

            “How was the trip?” Henry cut him off.

            “Fine,” Will said, allowing it. “Aaron’s annoying.”

            “He is.”

Silence fell again.

As much as Will wanted to ask, he figured it probably wasn’t his place.

Surprisingly enough Will got to sleep in the next morning.

Derek was waiting for him downstairs.

            “Hey,” he said, smiling easily. “You wanna go for a run?”

Will smiles just as easily.

            “Hell yeah.”

 

They run for what feels like hours, stopping to wrestle and hunt as the urges strike them.

It was the kind of time Will hadn’t gotten to have with Derek in longer than he could remember.
If ever.

By the time they make it back to the house he’s unable to stop laughing.

Derek wraps an arm around his neck and tugs him closer gently, ruffling his hair.

            “Missed you, little brother.”

            “Missed you too,” Will giggles, poking at Derek’s ribs and squirming away from him.

            “We should shower, hit the perimeter, then we can pick Stiles and Scott up from practice.”

            “Sounds good.”

Will thought it made more sense to hit the perimeter and then shower but they were already back at the house.

            “Stiles will want food,” Derek added from the stairs, “we can get something then.”

As he showered Will wondered what it was like to want to plan your life around someone else’s.
Maybe it was nice.

Derek certainly seemed happier.

Not that Will was overly concerned with finding a mate.

He’d just turned eighteen.

And he was mostly figuring he would just travel to Washington for the mating runs when he felt like looking for a mate.

If he did.

Either way Will was more concerned with protecting the pack for now.

 

He thought that was the way it should be.

Pack comes first.

Stiles seemed happy to see him, even happier that he wasn’t Aaron.

Which was nice.

Scott had a warm smile and Will didn’t mind sitting in the backseat with him.

            “Loaded curly fries, Derek,” Stiles demanded, clicking his seatbelt into place.

Derek only laughed at him.

“I just need you to know that I had a dream you wouldn’t order them for me and I kicked you in the face before ordering them myself.”

            “I don’t know that you can make it from that angle,” Derek said, pulling into the waiting line of cars.

            “I’m flexible,” Stiles protested.

There was a charged beat of silence.

            “I know,” Derek said, glancing to him.

Scott groaned and Will echoed him.

            “Guys,” Scott said, “please. Virgin ears back here.”

            “Yeah,” Stiles laughed, “two sets.”

 

Will’s burst of embarrassment was over quickly, as Scott rolled his eyes.

            “Either way,” Scott said. “Stop being gross. Will and I don’t want to hear about our brothers getting it on.”

            “We hardly even said anything.”

            “You said enough,” Will counters.

            “We could have been talking about training for lacrosse,” Derek pointed out.

            “I’ve seen him play lacrosse,” Scott said. “He really isn’t flexible.”

No one said anything then and it looked like Derek and Stiles were sharing a smile.

“Gross,” Scott repeated.

Will nodded in agreement.

Scott shared a goofy smile with him before offering his fist to bump.

Will obliged.

Scott and Stiles hung out at the Hale house and had dinner with the pack before they all sent Curtis and Grace on their way.

Then Derek drove Stiles and Scott home.

Apparently the sheriff was a bit picky about how much time they spent together.

Will thought it was a bit cute honestly.
They were mated for life.
Much better than being married.

But he supposed humans wouldn’t really understand that.

Maybe once they get married he’ll get over it.
Maybe not.

            “Come on,” Aaron said about an hour after sunset, “let’s run the perimeter.”

            “Sure,” Will agreed.

He didn’t want to bother arguing.
Knowing Aaron, it would be quicker to run the perimeter.

            “Split up and meet on the edge?”

            “Sounds great.”

            “Race you,” Aaron smirked.

Will didn’t answer, taking off instead.

 

Aaron beat him, somehow.

Will wasn’t fully convinced he didn’t cheat.

Still, there was a cooler waiting, Aaron cracking open a beer and taking a sip as Will approached.

            “What’s the point of drinking that?” Will asked.

            “Cause I feel like it and Mom’s not here.”

            “Did you bring anything else?”

Aaron toes open the cooler, nearly upending it in the process.

            “I’m not always an asshole, you know?”

            “Only when you feel like it,” Will agreed, grabbing a bottle of water.

He dropped into the grass next to his brother.

Aaron took a long swallow of his beer.

            “Can we talk about the fact that Henry is banging Stiles’ father?”

Will spat out his mouthful of water.

            “What?”

            “Alright,” Aaron amended, “trying to bang.”

            “Oh god,” Will said, looking at yesterday in a new light.

            “What,” Aaron asked, gleeful, “did you see something?”

            “No,” Will answered honestly. “Anyway this isn’t any of our business.”

            “It’s pack business,” Aaron said, mulishly.

            “Isn’t,” Will argued. “The sheriff is already pack.”

            “You aren’t even a little interested?”

            “I just hope it works out,” Will told him. “Stop trying to mess with people.”

            “I’m not trying to mess with people. I just might want to push Henry a little.”

            “Leave him alone.”

Aaron took another long sip of beer.

            “Listen,” he sighed, “either it’s going to work or it’s not. Hanging out in limbo only makes it worse for everyone involved.”

            “So you wanna get them together?”

Aaron smiles, tapping his bottle against Will’s.

            “Yeah, bro. We got three weeks.”

Oh god, Will thinks faintly.  

Chapter Text

Henry
ii

 

Henry spun his phone slowly.

He had sent the last text nearly half an hour ago.

But there hadn’t been a response so he assumed William was on his way.

It was only another four minutes before a key slid into the lock and the door opened.

Henry didn’t watch as William locked the door again and approached his desk.

            “You wanted to talk?”

            “I’m sorry,” Henry said.

Only then could he force himself to look up.

“About yesterday. I shouldn’t have done that.”

            “I was…surprised,” William sighed. “Certainly.”

Henry took a moment to breathe.

            “Were you really?” he asked. “Did you really have no idea how I felt?”

            “I know there’s tension between us,” William said, stiltedly.

 

Henry nodded.

            “I’m sorry for making things weird.”

            “Henry, it’s fine.”

            “I’ll resign.”

            “I don’t want you to do that.”

            “You want to work with me, knowing that I’m attracted to you?”

William laughed once, strangled.

            “You can’t,” he said, “not really. I’m old enough to be your father.”

            “Is that your only objection?”

The sheriff crossed his arms in response, leaning against the desk behind him.

            “No,” he said. “I haven’t been with anyone since Claudia – and that’s only the tip of the iceberg here. I’m not looking for anything, Henry.”

            “I wasn’t either.”

            “I don’t think it’s a good idea,” William sighed.

            “Look,” Henry sighed too. “Just…tell me it’s one sided. Tell me you aren’t attracted to me and you don’t feel anything. I’ll drop it.”

 

He shouldn’t be pushing this.
He knew that.

More than half of him was terrified and his life wasn’t even in immediate danger.

            “I can drop it,” he said again.
Maybe for himself.
“Just tell me.”

            “Stiles says Derek can tell when he’s lying,” William said after a moment.
His arms tense where they’re crossed on his chest.

            “We can hear heartbeats when we’re paying attention,” Henry agreed. “Yes.”

William doesn’t say anything.
He visibly swallows.

“It isn’t foolproof,” Henry added.

            “All the same.”

The silence was horrible.

He shouldn’t push this.

            “Are you?” Henry asked first. “Attracted to me?”

            “I’m not comfortable answering that.”

            “Do you feel anything?” Henry pressed, only feeling a little bad about it.

            “I don’t know,” William said.

It was the truth.    

            “I think you would know if you didn’t.”

 

William inclines his chin briefly.

Impossibly, Henry feels like they’re moving forward.

“Tell me what you want me to do,” Henry offered.

            “I don’t know what I want.”

            “You don’t know, or you’re afraid of it?”

William laughs shortly.

            “Both, maybe.”

            “Tell me what you want.” Henry breathed out. “What you want right now, tell me.”

            “Come here,” William said.

 

Henry stood slowly.
He crossed the distance between them even more slowly.

William’s arms dropped and he took half a step forward, standing straight instead of leaning on the desk.

Henry couldn’t help but slouch a little.

In this moment – he didn’t want to look intimidating.
He didn’t want to be stronger than William.

            “God,” William said.

His fingertips grazed Henry’s jaw.

He exhaled again, then he slanted his mouth over Henry’s.

 

It was immediately different than yesterday’s kiss.

Which was obvious, Henry supposed.

Yesterday was reckless and stupid, Henry grasping fistfuls of William’s shirt and kissing him.
Surprising he hadn’t torn the shirt, really.

This was slow – exploratory.

And Henry was more than willing to let William lead.

It was a chaste press of lips.

William didn’t take it any further, drawing back after another moment.

            “You taste like mint,” Henry sighed.

William only hummed in agreement.

“Hoping for this?”

            “A little scared of it, maybe.”

            “After yesterday,” Henry laughed without humor.

 

William was quiet but he reached out to squeeze Henry’s shoulder.

            “I don’t know how to do this.”

            “You could kiss me again,” Henry suggested quietly.

            “Are you sure you want me to?”

Henry smirked.

            “Pretty sure, yeah.”

            “Henry,” William whispered.

            “Just another kiss,” Henry returned. “That’s all for tonight.”

            “That’s all you want?”

The idea was laughable.

            “No,” Henry said.
He was determined to be honest with William.
“But it’s all I think you’re ready to give.”

            “Don’t act wiser than me,” William told him, eyebrow arched.

            “Wouldn’t dream of it.”

            “You would.” William’s eyes dropped to his lips. “You do.”

            “Kiss me?”

            “One more.”

 

Henry’s pulse fluttered as their lips connected again.

He never really thought this would happen.

It still seems impossible.

            “See you tomorrow?” William asked once he drew away.

            “Yeah.”

Henry left first, unable to stop smiling.

He might have been humming as he entered the house.
Possibly.

Aaron came halfway down the stairs, shock registering on his face.

            “Is that Stilinski I smell on you?”

Henry rolled his eyes.

            “Shut up.”

            “Oh my god,” Aaron laughed. “Are you blushing?”

            “I don’t blush.”

            “Tell your face that,” Aaron suggested.

            “I’ll stab you.”

            “And have your new boyfriend investigate my murder? I don’t know about that…”

            “He’s not-” Henry cut himself off. “Shut up, Aaron!”

            “I was gonna help you get some but damn, you got more game than I thought, Henry.”

            “If you don’t shut up-”

Aaron held up both hands.

            “Shutting up,” he said, laughing. “Good for you, Henry.”

Henry had to physically force himself to relax.
He unclenched his left hand and let his right fall away from his gun.

“Just one question,” Aaron said.

Henry already knew this wasn’t going to end well.

“Do you call him Daddy?”

 

Henry lunged for him, Aaron jumping over the bannister and bolting out the door.

He laughed until Henry couldn’t hear him anymore.

Henry punched a hole in the wall before sighing.

He probably should have seen that coming.