Stiles exchanges a look with Scott before whispering, “But why is he here?”
Shrugging helpfully, Scott says, “I don't know? Maybe he’s confused or something? I found him running down the road. I can't get him to switch back.” His eyes are wide, imploring Stiles for help.
“Derek.” Stiles tries talking to the wolf currently lying on the floor of his living room. “Buddy, you need to turn back human. I know you love the broody thing, but not being able to talk at all is really not helpful here.”
He hasn't wanted to get too close to the wolf—Derek—since Scott showed up with him trailing along. Stiles has no idea if the wolf version of Derek has manners or even recognizes them as anything other than potential food. Yeah, Stiles knows wolves don't make a habit of eating humans, but he also knows how shitty his own luck is. Why push it?
Derek doesn't move except to raise his eyebrows where his head is lying between his front paws. Jesus, they're huge. Stiles momentarily spares a thought for the scratches those claws might leave in the hardwood floor. His dad is gonna be pissed.
Snapping his fingers, Stiles coos, “Change back, boy! You can do it! C'mon!” If he can't get Derek to respond to reason, at least there's always anger and insult to rouse Derek.
Nothing though. Well, except for Derek letting out a sigh.
“Stiles.” Scott crosses his arms. “He's not an actual wolf. And wolves aren't dogs.”
“Are you really…” Stiles huffs. “I know he's not a freaking dog, dude. He's huge and he's clearly a wolf. But he isn't turning back. This is bad, and calls for drastic measures.”
Scott grimaces. “Do you need me for this? I mean, he's been like this all day, and he hasn't hurt anyone. He's been chill…”
“Oh God. You have a date tonight, don't you?” Stiles shakes his head. “And you want me to doggysit.”
Scott raises his eyebrows. “He's not a dog!”
Stiles can't help the fond grin that spreads over his lips. “Yeah, yeah. I'll stop with the dog jokes the day I die.” He glances down at Derek. “Or maybe even if he morphs back into a real boy.”
The expectation and hope radiating from Scott is almost palpable. With a sigh, Stiles shoos him away. “Fine. Go. Leave me with the beast. I'm sure my dad won't have any questions about a two hundred pound wolf in the house.”
Scott grabs his jacket off the back of the couch and is already at the front door before he hesitates, “Are you sure?”
Stiles rolls his eyes. “ Go .”
“Thanks!” Scott grins at him, all sunshine and excitement. If Stiles didn't love him so much, he'd have to smack him.
After Scott leaves, Stiles looks back over at Derek. “Well, come on then.”
Derek lifts his head expectantly. So he understands Stiles to some extent. Good.
Stiles had been attempting to do Calculus homework when Scott showed up with Derek. Since conversation isn't really an option right now, that's what Stiles goes back to doing in his room. Derek curls up on the floor by the bed and doesn't move for a long while.
So long that Stiles almost forgets he's there until Derek starts making these whimpering noises. They have Stiles whipping around in his desk chair and peering at the distressed wolf. Derek is panting, eyes looking around the room, and letting out a whine every so often.
“Uh, that's not good.” He stands up quickly and runs a hand through his hair. There is no obvious threat, but Stiles is all too aware that he’s lacking heightened senses that most of the people he spends time with have. “Now would be a really great time to turn human again. You know—so you can tell me what's wrong?”
Derek whines again and doesn't talk. He gets up, however, walking over to Stiles and sitting so close his side presses against Stiles's legs. Before Stiles knows he’s doing it, his hand is on Derek’s neck.
His fingers slide through the thick, rough fur, and the heat radiating off him is intense. It’s a solid and comforting kind of heat. He massages his fingers against Derek’s hide. “Hey,” he says softly, “It’s okay. Whatever’s bothering you, it’s going to be okay.”
Derek doesn’t audibly respond, but his large head drops onto Stiles’s lap. His hazel eyes are still so quintessentially Derek when he gazes up at Stiles.
It makes Stiles’s heart clench in his chest. This is ridiculous. “Okay, come on. I can’t get through this homework. Let’s just watch some TV. And if you feel comfortable, you can think about changing back to your human self.”
Derek isn’t very cooperative when Stiles tries to push him off, but he does eventually give into the firm but gentle shove Stiles uses. The wolf sits and watches Stiles move around the room putting away books and setting up his laptop on the bed.
Stiles turns when another whimper escapes Derek. He’s been leaning over his bed to plug the power cord into the socket, and he looks over his shoulder to see Derek shivering a little. Then a flash of light catches his attention through his open window blinds. Lightning .
“Is that why you’re stuck in your wolf form? The storm?” Stiles plops back on his butt to look at Derek’s hulking form. “You’re scared of a thunderstorm?”
Derek, predictably, still doesn’t answer. He’s huge and objectively impressive looking, but the whimpers and shivers undercut all of that with vulnerability. It makes Stiles soften, lose the teasing words sitting on the tip of his tongue. He remembers how his own childhood dog had been freaked out by storms, thinks it’s because of the air pressure change or something. But if Derek’s mind has regressed to a more primal one while in his wolf state, Stiles isn’t going to fault him for succumbing to the fear.
“Don’t worry about that. Storms are scary, but we’re inside and safe.” Stiles forces himself not to let his mind wander to thoughts of supernatural elements related to rain and dark skies. There’s no good reason to assume something bad is going to happen, even if having the local alpha seemingly stuck in wolf form is alarming. It could just be a coping mechanism for all Stiles knows. And Scott hadn’t been worried.
Sure, that thought comforts Stiles.
He gets his laptop connected and signed into Netflix before patting the space on the bed next to him. “I don’t know if you’ll be able to enjoy it, but come here. We can watch The Office for a while.”
When Derek steps—because he’s a freaking huge wolf —onto the bed, the mattress slants towards him. The springs groan under the combined weight as he settles. Stiles had placed his computer on the end of the bed in anticipation of making sure there would be enough room for Derek to see the screen comfortably, but Derek doesn’t lie down facing the screen. He turns and gingerly lies next to Stiles with his head next to him, nose half buried beneath the edge of pillows Stiles has stacked behind his back.
“Uh,” he mumbles, taken by surprise. “Sure, that works too. I’m just gonna...” Stiles trails off when Derek turns into his side and is once again pressed up against him. “Is this like a pack thing?”
Stiles hesitantly reaches out and strokes his hand along Derek’s side and flank. The fur closer to his stomach is softer, everything is so warm . Thunder crashes outside, causing Stiles to flinch. Derek, oddly, doesn’t react past the slight tremors that have been shaking through him for the past several minutes.
“It’s alright,” Stiles comforts again. It’s an empty promise, but he hopes his tone soothes Derek anyway. “We’re okay. Nothing bad is going to happen.”
Derek is panting next to him, but he seems to relax just the slightest. It’s progress.
He doesn’t know exactly what wakes him, but Stiles startles early the next morning, anxiety coursing through him as he remembers Derek. In his disoriented state, a leg kicks his laptop off the bed and he nearly brains himself on the shelf above his bed. It’s hot under the sheets that he doesn’t remember pulling over himself, sweat has gathered at the nape of his neck and his shirt clings slightly to his chest.
“Stiles,” Derek speaks calmly but authoritatively. His hands wrap around Stiles’s upper arms to stop him from doing any more damage.
Stiles blinks at him, not understanding for a second. “You can talk.” He wets his lips, sitting up straighter in Derek’s grasp. “You—you’re you again!”
Derek gives him a flat look before allowing it to soften into a smile. “I’m no longer shifted.” He lets go of Stiles. “Thank you for letting me stay. I didn’t...” If Derek actually had the ability to look sheepish, Stiles would say that Derek was acting that way. He watches as Derek clears his voice. “Yesterday was a hard day. For me.”
Stiles frowns. “Why? Did you get cursed by a witch? Or did you get attacked? Why were you in wolf form?” He squirms where he sits, as if he can go find and figure out, physically, what happened. He can feel the phantom weight of his baseball bat in his hands.
“No. It was,” Derek shakes his head. “It was the anniversary. Of...the fire.” He pulls into himself, stoic to the bone as always.
Stiles slumps. “Oh,” he says dumbly. “Did it help? Shifting?” He thinks about his own loss and how much it gouges him from the inside out. Yeah, he could see the draw in shifting into a form that didn’t allow higher thinking.
“At first, and then not really, but I sort of lost myself to it for a while.” Derek’s voice is soft, pensive. He looks frustrated and sad in turn.
Stiles almost reaches out to stroke his hands though Derek’s hair. He’s just as warm as he was last night when he was a wolf.
Derek speaks, oblivious to Stiles’s inappropriate thoughts. It’s not like he asked to stay the night with Stiles or to have Stiles pet and basically cuddle him like a family pet.
“I didn’t mean to bother yoI. But in my state, I think my wolf was seeking out pack.” Derek’s eyes cut over to Stiles, a significant look that causes something warm to bloom in Stiles’s chest. “That helped, being with my pack, I mean.” He doesn’t break eye contact even though Stiles could swear Derek’s ears and cheeks pink up.
Stiles can feel his heart beating a little faster and knows Derek can hear it as well. “Dude, don’t even worry about it. Of course.” He laughs a bit hysterically. “You can crash here any time, as long as my dad isn’t home. I’m pretty sure he’d have some questions about why Derek Hale, ex-fugitive, is hanging out in my room.”
Derek rolls his eyes. “I was only a fugitive to begin with because of you and Scott.” But he’s smiling a little. “Thank you though. For the invitation.” The Derek is sliding out from the covers and standing. “I should go though. You’ve got school.”
Stiles doesn’t make an embarrassing sound, but it’s a close one. His eyebrows creep up his forehead and his mouth goes a little dry when he’s confronted with basically miles of beautiful, tan skin in front of him. Dear Lord, Derek’s ass doesn’t quit . “You might wanna borrow something to wear.”
Derek looks down at himself, genuinely annoyed when he realizes he’s naked. Like , oops, I didn’t think about how shifting from a wolf to human form would leave me naked as a jaybird . He mumbles a thanks and quickly grabs a pair of less than clean track pants from the floor. They’ve got to stink like Stiles, but Derek steps into them anyway. Stiles watches him pull on the t-shirt he wore to school yesterday. The seams stretch ominously, but Stiles thinks he’s willing to sacrifice his favorite Star Wars shirt to the altar of Derek’s body.
“I mean you could have borrowed clean clothes, but that works too.” Stiles finds his words. He stands up too, feeling way too off balance with the conflicting attraction that has re-emerged now that the mystery of Derek’s wolf form has been solved. He shoves his lustful thoughts away though. Now isn’t really the time, and he’s been trying to work on not being creepy when the person he’s creeping on is feeling vulnerable. Not that he’s had amazing results so far. At least he’s trying .
Derek runs a hand through his hair. “No, this is fine.”
Stiles tilts his head. “Were you freaked by the storm last night?” He thinks about how small such a large wolf was able to make itself, how Derek had needed to be right up against Stiles during the storm.
Derek looks away from him. “I don’t like storms, and my wolf distils most of my basic feelings.” It sounded like Derek was prying each word out of himself, confessing something he didn’t want Stiles to know but was willing to tell him anyway.
Stiles’s hand clenched at his side. He really wanted to hug Derek. “That sucks, I guess.”
Derek looks back at him. “My wolf brought me somewhere safe and kept me there though.”
That feels like a lot , but mostly it just makes Stiles feel good. He smiles and nods. “Cool.” His cheeks feel kind of warm, but he doesn’t think about it much. He’s too busy remembering how Derek’s wolf needed him and how, apparently, Stiles was actually able to give him the comfort he was seeking.
Then he thinks about how Scott was the one who brought Derek over, and some stupid, puny bit of not-good-enough starts to build up in the back of his brain. Second choice , he thinks, selfishly he knows considering Derek was in the middle of a pretty shitty day. Stiles’s feelings are so not the point here.
Derek had moved towards his window, like he was planning to climb out that way instead of using the perfectly suitable, normal door downstairs. He looks back at Stiles with a concerned expression for a moment before it smooths out. “Scott found me when I was running,” he says out of nowhere.
Stiles bites back the urge to ask, “You definitely can’t read minds, right?” But then he remembers how acute Derek’s sense of smell is and how he can pick out shifts in mood simply by sniffing the air and figures Stiles’s body is giving away too much info. He watches as Derek lifts the window open and swings a leg over the sill.
He isn’t looking at Stiles when he adds, “I was trying to get here.”
Derek is gone and the window is closed before Stiles can scramble to find the correct thing to say to that.
Later, when he’s in Harrison’s class, Stiles pulls his cell phone out and sends a quick text.
>> You don’t have to shift in order to hang out with me. Next time you need pack, just come over and we can Not Talk About It together. I’m an excellent cuddle provider.
Derek responds an hour later, after Stiles is sure he must have spooked him.
>> I don’t cuddle.
>> But okay.
Stiles snorts. When he gets a glare from his English teacher, he slides his phone back into his pocket. He can’t stop smiling the rest of the day.