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The Werewolf Companion

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The knock came from the other side of the door. It started off strong but grew feeble by the end, petering out into a few light taps.

 

Losing their nerve, Derek thought. Not surprising. “Enter,” he called out from the hallway, just loud enough for non-wolf ears. Another pause. Then the doorknob turned, only to abruptly turn back into place, as though the person on the other side had lost their grip. A few soft curses, then the knob squeaked and turned, the door cracking open. A mess of brown hair and large amber eyes followed.

 

The young man squinted into the dark hallway. Derek moved his hand farther up his own arm to attract his attention. The young man’s gaze caught on him instantly.

 

“Oh!” he said, his slightly open mouth snapping shut on the word. “There you are. Um, kinda dark in here. Didn’t see you, man.”

 

Derek reached out and flicked on the light. He forgot half the time. It wasn't like he needed the light on to see clearly in the dim hallway. Despite what humans often claimed, werewolves couldn’t see in absolute darkness. But then, it was never truly dark, not even out here. The ambient light from outside was enough for him to see by most nights as he moved through his house. He never read anything that wasn’t on a screen, so he didn’t need table lamps. Just the bare, overhead bulbs when a human visited at night. Like this one.

 

The man’s soft mouth had fallen open again. He stared at Derek, his eyes going from his face, to his arms, back up to his face. Then his eyes diverted around the hall, as if checking to make sure all the walls were there, before heading back to Derek again, this time in the vicinity of his belt, before popping back up to meet his gaze straight on. The man swallowed.

 

“Hi, uh. I’m Stiles.” Derek nodded once. He already knew.

 

“Did they tell you what’s expected?” Derek hadn’t meant to ask so bluntly. He had meant to introduce himself first, though he knew that the committee would have told Stiles what Derek's name was. But, as always, his default setting was 'gruff and aloof' when he was nervous. He supposed the plus side was that he always seemed self confident, even when he was anything but.

 

Stiles’ eyes scattered all over the hallway again. “Yes? Not really? I mean, we talked about werewolf, uh, proclivities in school… I took a whole course on werewolves in college, though I’ve never been a, uh, a comfort human-”

 

“Companion.”

 

“-companion for a shifter before. My best friend is a bitten wolf, and he used to crave puppy piles,” Derek cringed at the phrasing, “from all his friends, sort of a makeshift pack? A comfort sort of thing? And he gets really protective when any of his friends are hurt. He never used to be aggressive, like, at all, but he gets these moods where he just wants to growl at everyone who’s not pack. But uh,” Stiles paused for breath, making a fumbling gesture through the air towards Derek, before his arm fell by his side. “I've honestly never been around a born werewolf before. You guys are kinda rare.”

 

Derek stared at him, masking his emotions. Born wolves were more rare than most humans knew. Information that he kept to himself, just like everything else.

 

Stiles’ eyes were growing larger by the second. “I mean, that’s cool, you know? I feel, uh, privileged.” He swallowed hard, obviously at a loss for what to say. Derek decided to help.

 

“I require stand-in pack,” he started, trying his hardest not to show any emotion whatsoever. “The Conservation Committee approached me last year to try and arrange a companion. I didn’t need one at the time,” a lie, “but circumstances have changed and I agreed to give it a try on a trial basis.”

 

Stiles nodded eagerly. “I couldn’t believe it when they asked me to volunteer,” Stiles said. It was so genuine, Derek’s chest constricted. “They said that my extra werewolf courses at school, not to mention my experience with Scott, made me a good candidate. But hey, look, I apologize in advance if I screw up. I really don’t know much from firsthand experience. I mean, there’s stuff you read and uh, and see on the internet.” Stiles’ face flushed an instant, beet-red and Derek forced his eyebrows not to skyrocket, wondering just what sort of werewolf porn Stiles had been watching. “So when they said to come by and meet you to see if we’re, well, compatible or whatever, I didn’t know exactly what they meant?”

 

Stiles’ voice went high at the end, his eyes wandering nervously over Derek before snapping back to his face. Derek forced himself not to shift his weight or run his hands through his hair like he so desperately wanted to do. God, the kid thought he might have been sent as a stand-in mate, for fuck’s sake. Stiles was obviously super uncomfortable with the idea. Though he had still shown up. Derek took a deep, calming breath.

 

“I need someone my wolf views as a pack member,” Derek attempted to explain. He had hoped that the committee would have already outlined the basics to the kid. Apparently not. “Born wolves feel the pull for family and pack strongly. The wolf side can sort of… waste away and become sick without pack.”

 

“Okay,” Stiles said, nodding slowly. He was obviously thinking a mile a minute, trying to take what he’d learned in college and from his friend (and probably from porn), and mash it into what he thought Derek was talking about. His bugging eyes said as much.

 

“I need to scent you,” Derek said plainly. “It’s the most basic pack trigger for the wolf.” Stiles’ eyes got even larger. “But,” Derek went on to explain, trying to make it seem like wolf-Derek and human-Derek were two different entities and not the same mixed-up doofus, “the wolf can’t tolerate a threat to pack.”

 

Stiles’ was nodding again. His mouth had completely fallen open. Derek forced his eyes away from the glistening lips and the hint of tongue that was just barely visible.

 

“Meaning,” Derek said, knowing that this was the make-or-break moment, “if you agree to this, you can’t let Scott scent you.”

 

Stiles’ eyebrows scrunched up.

 

“You can still be around him,” Derek said quickly, trying not to make it sound like the half-truth that it was, “but you can’t let him touch you too much. No actual scenting. Nothing my wolf would pick up on and trigger a defense response.”

 

Stiles’ face cleared. “Oh, no problem! Scott doesn’t really scent people anyway. Maybe his wife, but I told him years ago that he had to keep that to himself.”

 

Wife. So Scott wasn’t a threat in that way. Derek let out a silent sigh. Though, that brought up another issue. 

 

“Other werewolves are the biggest problem,” Derek continued, “but smelling like anyone too much when you head over here isn’t a good idea. Family is different. The wolf will recognize family as non-threatening. But, if you are in a relationship, I will need you to shower before you come over.”

 

Stiles went red for the second time. Derek could actually feel the increased heat of his skin from across the empty space between them in the hallway.

 

“Um, not a problem,” Stiles admitted after a moment. “I’m not currently in a relationship right now, so...”

 

Derek gave a controlled nod, squashing down the tremendous relief that flooded through him at that admission.

 

“Would you like to enter a trial period as my wolf’s temporary pack member?”

 

Stiles gave him a small smile, suddenly shy. “Yes.”

 

Derek held out his hand and they shook on it.

 

“Sorry,” Derek said, dropping his hand and leading him into the living room. “I didn’t want to let you into the main part of the house until after you’d agreed to the trial. It would be confusing for the wolf, having your scent in the den when you weren’t planning on coming back.”

 

“Oh,” Stiles said, “I never would have thought of that. See? You are going to have to teach me so much, like seriously. Please tell me if I do anything stupid. I never would have thought of any of the scent stuff. I mean, we went over it in school, but not the practical side of it. All they taught us was that ‘smell is very important to werewolves.’ I’m starting to think that doesn’t come anywhere near to explaining what a big deal it is. And Scott was sorta sensory-lacking before he was bitten, so maybe his senses aren’t even as keen as a normal bitten wolf.”

 

Stiles had a jittery sort of energy, bright and quick, looking over Derek’s bookshelves and the TV cabinet housing his small movie collection, all while chattering animatedly at him.

 

“Or the significant other thing. Man, I know nothing. Why did they think I’d be a good candidate for this?” Stiles chuckled, grabbing a book off the shelf and turning it over in his hands before setting it back, unconsciously marking the space as partly his while he did so. He really didn’t know a lot about the practical side of being in a wolf’s space. He also failed to notice that Derek didn’t answer his question. “So, what first? Do we sit on the couch and talk some more or- oh! Okay.”

 

Stiles snapped his mouth shut as Derek stepped into his space and took his head firmly in both hands. He’d meant to hold off, meant to do this gradually. Talk about boundaries first. But Stiles had been touching his things, talking away like they already knew one another, and the whole time there had been an itch growing in the back of Derek’s skull. A desperate need to touch and be touched. It had been so long. When was the last time? 

 

Derek slammed the door shut on that thought and leaned into Stiles’ warmth.

 

Stiles blinked at him, his gaze going soft and fuzzy around the edges, even as his heart rate started picking up. He tilted his head towards Derek, his mouth opening slightly, as though he were expecting Derek to go for a kiss. Instead, Derek’s thumb slipped under his jaw, tilting Stiles’ head to the side, while his other hand slipped down his throat, maintaining full contact, spreading scent, finally coming to rest on Stiles’ shoulder.

 

Derek paused a moment, looking at Stiles’ face out of the corner of his eyes. The human was all but panting, his heart racing now, eyes fluttering as Derek’s mouth hovered over his fragile skin. Was Stiles worried that Derek was going to bite him? Was he reconsidering this whole venture?

 

Derek felt a flare of possessiveness over the thought of Stiles changing his mind; of the human just wandering away and not coming back. Internally, Derek despaired. It was already happening. This is why he’d put off the committee's demands for so long. He was already far past the point of no return. He just hoped that Stiles wouldn’t figure out how much and be scared off. No one really understood how intense born werewolves could be. Not until it was too late and they already had a wolf trailing at their heels, ready to follow for life. Most humans, in Derek’s admittedly limited experience, didn’t take kindly to having a werewolf for a shadow.

 

He bent his face to the side of Stiles’ throat, higher up, just over his fluttering pulse point. Derek turned his head at the last minute, rubbing the scruff of his cheek against the tender skin. Stiles let out a gasp, then held his breath as Derek trailed first down and then back up the side of his throat. Derek turned his nose to nuzzle behind his ear and Stiles squeaked, his hands flying up to grab Derek’s shoulders for stability. 

 

Derek huffed several times, breathing Stiles in and also rubbing his own scent - his shaving cream, his soap, his natural oils - as thoroughly into the reddening skin as he could. Pulling back a few inches, Derek inhaled deeply, mouth slightly open to also taste the air, satisfied that Stiles did indeed smell like him. Derek rubbed his hands up over Stiles’ cheeks and then into his hair for good measure, before stepping away.

 

Stiles looked like he was ready to collapse. Derek put a hand out to steady him just in case. The whole side of Stiles’ throat was a bright, burning red. His eyes were glazed over even though he was blinking like he was trying to clear them. His heart was still thundering away at an unnaturally fast pace, though it was slowly tapering off as he settled. 

 

God, Derek must have really scared him.

 

“Sorry,” Derek said, grimacing internally at how growly his voice sounded. “I should have warned you.”

 

“That's what real werewolf scenting is like?” Stiles managed to slur out, his eyes slow to settle on Derek as the human tugged on his clothes, pulling them to rights where Derek had managed to twist them sideways in his eagerness.

 

Derek made a gruff noise that approximated agreement.

 

“Okay. Yeah. Wow. College taught me jack-shit. Scott has never, ever done that to me.” Stiles rubbed his eyes, then his entire face. He winced when he touched the beard burn on his neck.

 

“Sorry,” Derek said again, helplessly. He wanted to feel bad about it. He did, on some level. But he also felt so much relief. Years of pent up tension had melted away while he was breathing Stiles in, touching him. It had been even better when Stiles had touched him back, even if it was just to steady himself because Derek was pushing him too far to the side and he was losing his balance.

 

The yearning he felt for more prompted Derek to speak before his desire to touch Stiles ran away with him. “If this is too much, I understand. Being pack with a werewolf can be overwhelming and-”

 

“No, no,” Stiles rushed to assure him. “I’m good. Just a little... uh…” his long-fingered hand paddled through the air, seeking the word that had escaped him. “Surprised. And annoyed at myself for knowing nothing, apparently. I wouldn’t be offended if you wanted someone who actually has experience-”

 

“You’re fine, Stiles.”

 

The human gave a nervous giggle, shuffling and ringing his hands suddenly. “So now, should we, um-”

 

“Can you come over again this weekend?” Derek asked, trying to keep the damn hope out of his voice. He really hated being a werewolf sometimes. Most times. So needy. So easily attached.

 

“Oh. Yeah. Sure.” Stiles said, his face dropping in disappointment for a moment before he schooled his features. Maybe he’d already had plans.

 

“Later next week would work too if you can’t make it.”

 

“No! Nope, all good. This weekend? Like… oh, Friday night?”

 

That was a lot sooner than Derek had dared hope. He nodded. “That’s fine. Friday works for me.”

 

Stiles broke into a smile. It was tremendously reassuring.

 

“I guess I’ll see you Friday then.” He turned to go. “Oh!” he said, turning back so quickly he almost ran into Derek’s chest. “Phone number.” He held out his hand and Derek fished his cell out of his back pocket and unlocked it for Stiles. No need to tell him that the committee had already given Derek all of Stiles’ contact information. Not if it meant Stiles touching more of his things. And this was why sane people really hated being in relationships with werewolves. Neediness personified.

 

Derek forced himself not to smile when Stiles handed his phone back, after texting himself to get Derek’s number.

 

“Please promise to text me stuff that I need to know so I don’t commit werewolf social suicide next time I see you, dude. Please please promise.”

 

“I promise,” Derek said solemnly, making his face as much of a neutral mask as possible.

 

“Okay,” Stiles said, backing towards the door to the hallway. “Friday then?”

 

“Yes.” Derek trailed after him to see him out.

 

“Okay,” Stiles said again, his voice a little bit slow, eyes lingering on Derek’s face before turning away. 

 

Derek pretended not to notice Stiles touching his throat as he walked out the front door to his Jeep. 

 

And Derek absolutely did not sniff the lingering scent of Stiles’ shampoo on his hands after he watched him drive away into the night.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

"What did you think of him?"

 

Derek squeezed the phone so hard it creaked in his ear.

 

"He's fine."

 

"Uh huh." Derek could actually hear Erica Being Patient. "So, you think he'll work out? He was a good choice?"

 

Derek took a deep breath. He owed Erica. Out of everyone on the Conservation Committee, she understood him the best. It helped that she was also a werewolf; bitten, not born, but she got his need for privacy in a way the human members didn't. The humans meant well, but because of their concern over his secluded state, not to mention their awe over him as the one born werewolf in the town, they could be suffocating. That was why everyone but Erica was forbidden to call him for anything less than a dire emergency.

 

"Yeah, he'll work out fine. If he sticks around," Derek mumbled.

 

"Oh, you're not that bad," Erica said, the smarmy smile evident in her voice. "Just try other expressions besides scowling. That usually helps." She paused. "You're scowling right now, aren't you? I feel it. I feel the scowl."

 

"Erica."

 

"Okay, fine. I'm supposed to give you a survey, by the way."

 

"No."

 

"On a scale of one to five, one being the lowest and five being the highest, how would you rate your first impression of your temporary werewolf companion?"

 

"Three," Derek lied.

 

"Five, right. Okay next question."

 

Derek groaned.

 

"How would you rate your temporary companion's overall knowledge of werewolves?"

 

"Five."

 

"Two, got you. Next question-"

 

"Do we really have to do this now?"

 

"How would you rate the quality of your interaction?"

 

"Negative one million."

 

"And another five, that's great!"

 

"Why don't you just fill it in for me?"

 

“Fine.” It was Erica's turn to sigh. "He really is adorable, Derek."

 

Silence.

 

"You're lucky I already have a pack, because I would be all over that scrumptious little nugget of Were bait-"

 

"Erica…"

 

"But no, seriously. You have good taste."

 

Derek's chest seized up. "Erica, you can't-"

 

"Calm down wolfikins,” she sing-songed through the phone. “No one will tell Stiles that you requested him. And only when we forced you to choose someone. So that you wouldn’t die. You know, when you were actually hospitalized."

 

"I don't want him to know any of that."

 

"I get it. It's sorta your style. Repressed. Weird."

 

"Thanks."

 

"No problem!"

 

"I'm hanging up now."

 

"Fine. But if anything exciting happens I want all the details and-"

 

Derek hung up.

 


 

Friday night, there was a knock on the door. It was a lot more confident than last time.

 

Derek had been antsy for the past hour, practically walking around in circles looking for anything to take his mind off of the second meeting with Stiles. Now that Derek knew Stiles didn't have any real knowledge of born wolves or what it was like to spend a lot of time around one, he had to keep reminding himself not to pounce on him as soon as he was through the door.

 

But the terrible, heavy feeling that had fallen away when he had scented Stiles a few days before had come back. Not as a weight, but as a vague, tickling headache. It had grown every hour that he and Stiles had been apart, until it was a raging, burning itch in his brain. 

 

It was torture. He wanted the numb weight back. He didn't want all these instincts flaring to life now that he and his wolf were making an effort to create pack ties. Even if it was only temporary and brand new, he already needed Stiles. What if he left? Would Derek's brain flash-fry in his head?

 

Derek’s hand hovered over the door knob. He wanted to open it himself, like a normal person. Like any other twenty-something-year-old man would have done, werewolf or human, when a guest had arrived at their door. 

 

But no matter how much he steeled himself, he just couldn’t touch the handle. In his mind, it burned ember-red. So hot, his skin would melt the minute he touched it.

 

Repressing a snarl at his own weakness, Derek stepped back into the hall, away from the door.

 

“Come in,” he called, from a cowardly distance of about ten feet into the darkness. He remembered to snap the light on at the last second.

 

Stiles grinned at him from the doorway and something in Derek settled. The insane itching simmered down to a point of hot pain in the back of his skull. Present, but manageable.

 

"Hi," Stiles said, still smiling as he made his way inside, reaching back and shutting the door. Before he could even turn all the way back around, Derek had moved forward, his hand up, silently asking permission to touch. Stiles leaned into his hand immediately, and Derek ran his fingers up the side of Stiles’ throat, the same place he'd scented before. 

 

Stiles hummed and closed his eyes, not flinching away from Derek's touch. He even nuzzled into Derek's hand when it reached as far up as his cheek.

 

Derek let out a long sigh, the relief intense and sudden, crashing through him like pleasure, like-

 

He startled and pulled his hand away, turning abruptly towards the kitchen. Stiles followed him in silence, though Derek could sense the sudden tension all around them. He avoided Stiles’ eyes as he turned on the kitchen light. 

 

“Would you like something to drink?” Derek asked, doing his best to remember how his mother had treated guests. He wondered what she would think of his pathetic attempts. Cringing at the thought, but doing his best not to show his discomfort, Derek wrenched open the fridge. “I have water, orange juice, and sparkling water. Or I can make tea.”

 

“So healthy,” Stiles said, attempting a light tone but falling short. His expression grew even more strained as Derek turned his serious gaze on him. “Um, what flavor is the sparkling water? Maybe I can pretend it’s soda.”

 

Soda. Stiles must like sweet things. Derek should have asked what his preferences were when he was here last time. He should have texted him like he promised he would. He could have asked then. Derek was so bad at this. Failing already.

 

“Uh, strawberry-mango,” Derek supplied, looking back at the box of cans sitting on the fridge shelf.

 

“Sure, I can work with that. Give me one of those,” Stiles said, again trying to lighten the mood. Derek appreciated the effort, though he had no idea how to reciprocate. 

 

He handed Stiles the cold can, the two of them awkwardly staring at one another, until Derek realized that he should get something too, at least for the sake of having something in his hands. He reached back into the fridge and grabbed a bottle of plain water, before leading them out to the living room.

 

He motioned for Stiles to sit on the couch before he took his own seat in the matching armchair. Stiles opened his drink, took a sip, then carefully set the can down on a coaster on the coffee table. Derek did the same, instantly regretting letting go of the bottle when his hands had nothing to do and he had to clasp the arms of the chair to keep from fidgeting.

 

“So,” Stiles began, already the brave one in this weird arrangement. “How was the rest of your week?”

 

A perfectly normal, polite question. Neutral. Something Derek should have thought to ask.

 

“Fine.”

 

Stiles nodded at him encouragingly, waiting for more. When Derek remained silent, he could see the beginning stirrings of panic in Stiles’ eyes. He rushed to say something to save the situation.

 

“How was yours?” Not the most inventive, but at least it was a question that made sense. Derek ground his teeth.

 

“Ugh, long! And boring!” And then Stiles was off, rattling off the details of his week, and Derek was just so… grateful. He had been sure for a minute that Stiles was about to call off the arrangement, even before the trial was over. Not that they had set any specifics on how long the trial was. Yet something else they should have talked about. And there was paperwork they should have signed. Instead, Derek had just shaken his hand and then practically knocked him over in his rush to scent him. God, he was so bad at this.

 

Derek made an effort to tune into Stiles’ account of the last few days. He had such an engaging way of speaking, his eyes roaming all over the room as he recounted conversations he’d had with coworkers or his father, only to come back to Derek to make eye contact while he laughed, before his eyes drifted away again. 

 

It was so much more relaxing than having to maintain direct eye contact, something that was difficult, both for Derek as a person and as a wolf. Derek read it as confrontation, as an attempt to dominate, no matter how well-meaning the person was who was speaking with him. He could meet other people’s eyes, but only for short periods of time or he started feeling the need to confront them, his inconvenient wolf-instincts raising their ugly head.

 

But Stiles was just so natural at sidestepping all of that wolf hierarchy nonsense and welcoming Derek into what he was saying. Inviting him to join Stiles in his world for a little while with no expectations. Warm eyes on him just long enough to read Derek’s reactions and smile at him, before he was back in his own head, spinning the next story.

 

Derek slowly relaxed, his grip loosening on the armrests as he settled more easily into the seat. Soon he was half-smiling at a rambling story about some asshole named Jackson falling down the steps at Stiles’ graduation ceremony, while Stiles cackled in glee, his face lit up in remembered triumph.

 

“So his girlfriend at the time, Lydia, who he did not deserve ever in his life, and was planning on breaking up with him anyway since she was going on to get her doctorate and he was moving to like, Bumfuck Nowhere, walks up to him at the party afterwards, downs an entire flute of Champagne with her pinky out, hands him the empty glass, and walks out the door. And, and,” Stiles laughs so hard he snorts and half chokes, “to this day, he thinks she broke up with him ‘cause he fell down those damn stairs! Scott and I have done everything we can to keep him thinking that.”

 

Stiles wipes the tears out of his eyes, his laughter winding down to a long sigh, a smile still lighting up his eyes.

 

“Anyways, sorry about that. I haven’t gotten to tell that story to anyone new in like, months, and it is my absolute favorite thing that happened in college.”

 

“You graduated last year?” Derek was determined to make conversation. He could do this.

 

“Yeah. Now I’m working at the station with my dad. I’m not sure if I’ll go into law enforcement specifically. My ultimate career goal is to help supernaturals who are victims of discrimination and violence. That’s the main reason I took that werewolf course in college. Well, that and Scott, I guess.”

 

Derek’s heart started racing. He broke into a cold sweat all over, fighting to keep his panic off his face. There was no way Stiles could know how strong of a reaction Derek would have to being reminded that he had been a victim himself. Stiles had no way of knowing that Derek was a victim. Those files were sealed. Unless the sheriff had mentioned it to him… but no. There was no hint in Stiles’ eyes that he had just said anything significant. He was just telling Derek about himself and his job plans. And Derek wanted to know as much as he could about Stiles. So he got a handle on his feelings and reacted as normally as he could.

 

“Are you going to specialize? Larger cities have whole units dedicated to supernaturals.”

 

“I mean, maybe? I don’t know if I’d want to move out of Beacon Hills though. My dad and Scott and all. And who knows? I might be horrible at it. It’s not like I’ve shown any great expertise when it comes to werewolves, and my best friend is a wolf, for god’s sake.”

 

“I think you’re doing fine.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yeah.” Derek offered a small smile, there and gone. It was the most emotion he dared to let out without the cracks showing in the facade he was desperately trying to keep in place.

 

Stiles smiled at him. He had such an easy smile, warm and welcoming. Derek hadn’t seen anyone smile at him like that in-

 

Nope, he was not thinking about that.

 

Stiles cleared his throat. “So uh. You sorta already did the scenting thing, right, at the door? Um. I was just wondering what else I should be doing? I mean, I read the pamphlets at the Center and everything, but they pretty much all said that each werewolf is different, and not expect the same things of a born wolf as of a bitten one, cause the instincts are different, and usually not as strong in bitten wolves, so. Well, like I said, Scott doesn’t scent anyone, not, not like, like that. But he does like to cuddle with our group of friends when he’s stressed. Are you… is that something you would like? Would it help the wolf feel the pack ties and stuff?”

 

Derek swallowed. He’d gone stock still, resisting the urge to stare at Stiles with wide eyes. Instead, he pulled himself together and tried to appear like he knew what he was doing.

 

“Actually, I was going to suggest that. It would help.”

 

“Oh yeah?” Stiles’ face was surprised. “You mean I actually got something right about this whole companion thing?” He chuckled, shaking his messy head of hair back and forth. “Okay, so how do we do this?” he asked, sitting up straighter on the couch and tugging his clothes into place, like he was ready to spring into action as soon as Derek said the word.

 

Derek swallowed again, trying to get his heart out of his throat and back in his chest where it belonged.

 

“The couch is good,” Derek rasped.

 

Stiles nodded and settled back, before looking at Derek expectantly. Derek rose from his seat and sat down close to Stiles, feeling awkward as he reached out to cup the back of his head and draw Stiles slowly to his chest in a loose hug. 

 

Stiles was right, he did need this. He had needed it for years. Needed it so bad that the hurt had twisted up inside him, until he was so used to the aching loneliness and the isolation that it was unsettling for the pain to vanish when he touched Stiles. The absence of the ache felt like intense pleasure, even though, in reality, it was the absence of sensation. A release.

 

Derek pulled Stiles closer instinctively, losing his uncertainty as he wrapped him more securely in his arms, his nose seeking Stiles’ throat. He hadn’t scent-marked him nearly enough by the door, and the wolf huffed in agitation. Derek attempted to rectify the situation, nuzzling in and sweeping his face along the smooth expanse of skin under Stiles’ jaw. 

 

With one arm wrapped securely around Stiles to keep him close, Derek moved his other hand to guide Stiles’ head, so that they completed a slow, sweeping circuit in tandem: Derek’s face sliding up Stiles’ throat from his collarbone to his ear, while his hand guided Stiles’ head back down in an opposite motion, before reversing the movement and guiding Stiles’ head up while his slipped down. The resulting friction mixed their scents completely, meaning that this time, Derek would smell as much like Stiles as Stiles did of him.

 

After a moment, Stiles understood the motion and no longer needed Derek to guide him, moving less carefully against him and with more enthusiasm now that he knew what Derek wanted. Derek knew this was a weird thing to ask of a human, but Stiles didn’t seem to mind and it was lighting up Derek’s brain like a fucking power station, so he pushed all remaining thoughts out of his head and turned his face into Stiles’s skin.

 

Derek’s scruff was longer today. Softer. It was still raising a fierce blush to the surface of Stiles’ pale skin, but it didn’t seem to be hurting him. Derek pushed in harder, rubbing the side of his throat against Stiles’ luxurious hair, as Stiles made the slow, downward motion that Derek had showed him.

 

Derek pushed forward even more, chasing the scent and the warmth, the soft rub of Stiles’ freshly shaven face and throat, the skin butter soft. So soft. Derek brought his forehead to the side of Stiles’ face, feeling the warmth over his eyes, his eyebrows rasping softly and he rubbed his whole face against him, feeling so much better, so much more than before. He felt good. This was what good felt like.

 

He pushed too hard on his next pass and Stiles’ overbalanced, one long arm flying out behind himself to the couch cushion, his back bowing as Derek followed, still rubbing his face against him, too enthralled to stop. Derek clambered over him, vaguely aware of arranging Stiles’ body beneath him, of slipping between his knees so that he could rest his weight on him, drench him in scent. His hands reaching into his hair, cupping his head to encourage Stiles to keep moving.

 

Derek left the hot, abused skin of one side of Stiles’ throat and switched to the other, bracing himself so that their chests maintained contact, his weight pushing Stiles down into the yielding cushion below. He could vaguely feel Stiles’ knees bumping his hips where Stiles’ legs were drawn up on either side of him, Stiles’ outside foot resting on Derek’s calf to prevent himself from needing to brace it on the floor. The couch was too narrow for this. Derek briefly considered hauling Stiles to the carpet, but decided against it. At least the couch was soft.

 

The opposite side of Stiles’ throat felt cool in comparison to Derek’s flushed face, and he was finally able to slow down and rest his forehead in the dip where Stiles’ neck met his shoulder and just breathe. He listened to Stiles’ thumping heart, running fast and strong like it had last time, though the body under his was loose where he could feel Stiles against him; chest, face, arms.

 

Derek moved them and Stiles went like a rag doll, letting Derek tuck him against the back of the couch, Stiles’ head cradled on Derek’s bicep as Derek reached under him and curled his arm around, the fingers of his hand brushing Stiles’ bright red ear. He was stretched along his side, just barely managing to stay on the couch, protecting him from anything that might come through the living room door. 

 

Tucking Stiles’ soft head of hair under his chin, Derek settled in, holding Stiles loosely enough for him to breathe, but otherwise pulling him close. Stiles’ was insanely warm, and Derek was sweating from holding him so tight, but it also felt amazing. Like sunshine on a freezing day. Derek nuzzled in impossibly closer.

 

Long minutes went by of just the two of them breathing, their heart rates settling. Stiles made a twitching little movement, his fingers making a soft sound against Derek’s shirt where his arms were folded up between them.

 

“So,” Stiles murmured, sounding half-asleep. "This is what real werewolf cuddling is like.” He chuckled to himself, shaking his head back and forth as much as he could in the space he had. “I am a complete idiot,” Stiles mumbled, before tucking his head in tighter beneath Derek's and going limp.

 

They stayed like that for nearly twenty minutes before Derek finally scraped together enough brain cells to climb off the couch. He watched Stiles reposition himself on his back, scooching up so his head rested on the arm of the couch. He was rumpled and sleepy and looked so warm and soft.

 

“Are you hungry?” Derek asked.

 

“Yes,” Stiles groaned, rubbing his face. “But I also really, really don’t want to move.”

 

“I’ll heat something up. You stay there.”

 

“Mhm. Okay,” Stiles mumbled, his eyes falling closed.

 

Derek slipped quietly into the kitchen and immediately set about making up something simple and quick. He didn’t have a lot of food in the house at the moment, but he did have some zucchini, onions and garlic that he could saute in olive oil and add to noodles along with some jarred sauce. It wasn’t fancy, but with some extra spices, it should taste pretty good.

 

It wasn’t until Derek was squeezing lemon juice over the sauteed zucchini while the noodles bubbled in the large pot on the back burner, that he realized he was actually enjoying cooking. For the first time in years, the idea of food seemed like something to be excited about and not just a necessity.

 

Derek gently roused Stiles when the food was ready, and they ate mostly in silence. Stiles blinked heavily but ate with enthusiasm, only stopping to tell Derek that it was great and that he wanted seconds.

 

Later, after Stiles had helped clear the table, they stood in the kitchen eating canned pears- the only thing sweet enough to count as dessert that Derek had in the house.

 

“Okay, next time let’s watch a movie,” Stiles said, slurping juice off his spoon. “I’ve seen your collection. Everything is at least ten years old. Now, don’t get me wrong. You have amazing taste. But there were no Marvel movies, dude. None.”

 

“Fine.”

 

“You’ll let me bring the Avengers over? I can bring snacks too! What’s your favorite?”

 

“Uh…”

 

“Oh, come on. You have to have a favorite snack. Everyone has a favorite snack.”

 

“Twizzlers,” Derek admitted, finally.

 

“Ew. Really? Twizzlers?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“Ugh, you’re so weird. Okay, I’ll bring you your gross Twizzlers and then I’ll also bring good snacks.”

 

Stiles set his bowl in the sink and patted down his pockets, checking for his phone, keys and wallet. He turned and headed for the front door, Derek trailing after him.

 

“So, Sunday?” Stiles asked, eyebrows up. “You won’t die of lack of Twizzlers till then?”

 

Derek snorted. “It’s just one day, Stiles.”

 

“Okay fine. But be prepared to try some snacks with flavor too. And to praise my movie selections. 'Cause we can’t be friends if you don’t respect my superhero obsession and-”

 

Derek pulled Stiles into a hug mid-sentence.

 

“Alright, okay,” Stiles said, putting his arms around Derek and hugging him back. Derek took one more deep breath of the two of them together and then let Stiles go. 

 

“See you Sunday.”

 

“Yeah, and I’m serious about you texting me, okay?”

 

“Okay.”

 

Stiles turned and headed for his Jeep. As soon as Derek knew he was safely inside and that the Jeep had started, he nudged the door shut with his foot. He wanted to keep as much of Stiles' scent in his den as possible.

 

Chapter Text

 

The forest was dark. Not silent, not to a born werewolf, but very peaceful. 

 

Derek left his house on Saturday at the usual time, starting well after sunset, even though he couldn’t sense a human or another wolf for miles. That didn’t mean he would take any unnecessary risks by leaving his den during the daytime. That was just asking for trouble.

 

It was the same routine as always. He shifted inside his house and squeezed through the large dog door in wolf form, heading straight back into the forest that grew right up to the back of the house. He did the usual circuit around the house to make sure no one was nearby or had been on the property without his knowledge, before striking out for the forest path.

 

The trail took him past the old house. He still lived on the family property, though he couldn’t bring himself to rebuild the original house. He paused at the edge of the clearing, small trees and shrubs beginning to slowly take over the yard. Derek paused for longer than usual, his canine eyes peering into the shadows, recalling memories.

 

He knew he couldn’t actually smell charred flesh. It was a battle he fought over and over again with himself. There was no smell of death here. A little bit of char from the rotting wood, but more mold and decay than anything else. No skin. No flesh. That was all in his mind.

 

He turned away silently, like always, continuing the perimeter search. He raised his head at the sound of deer making their way to the creek that ran to the north of the property. It was the same family of deer he always attempted to avoid, knowing that they wouldn’t come this way in peace if they knew there was an apex predator prowling their forest. He heard the mother’s small hooves, followed by her yearling and her new fawn.  He picked his way carefully along his own trail, making sure not to cross theirs, until he was far out of range of their senses.

 

Derek got back to the house later than usual. The moon was up, not yet full. His paws and muzzle were damp. He shook off in the yard as best he could before crawling through the dog door again and shifting back to his human form. He paused to listen, the same routine every time. He scented the air and looked cautiously around himself before checking all the rooms, one by one, then listening again. Satisfied that no one had made their way inside while he was out on the property, he at last allowed himself to take a hot shower, banishing the lingering chill in his hands and feet.

 

Afterwards, dressed in a pair of soft cotton pants and a T-shirt, Derek felt human enough to check his phone. It was three in the morning, later than his usual bedtime. He had missed several texts from Stiles.

 

Stiles [10:28 pm]: omg i can’t find your stupid twizzlers anywhere

Stiles [10:29 pm]: i mean they r pretty gross but I know that people besides you eat these things

Stiles [10:29 pm]: derek did you go out and buy up all the twizzlers just to thwart me 

Stiles [10:53 pm]: i found them! I had to go all the way to walmart but i found you a family sized pack

Stiles [10:54 pm]: heh heh pack

Stiles [10:54 pm]: well i have them now so i guess we have to go through with movie night

Stiles [10:55 pm]: see you tomorrow dude

 

Derek thumbed the reply box on pure adrenaline, feeling the need to respond to Stiles immediately. His pack member, temporary or not, had tried to contact him and he hadn’t been available to answer. Now Stiles was most likely asleep and Derek had lost his chance of reciprocating in the one way Stiles had asked him of so far.

 

(Promise you’ll text me, Derek.)

 

He swallowed around the tightness in his throat, willing himself to calm down. He stared at the blinking cursor.

 

It was okay. Stiles wasn’t in any danger. He wasn’t expecting an answer. He hadn’t even asked him a real question. He’d just been… teasing him. 

 

Derek could text tomorrow and everything would be fine. It would be fine. It was okay.

 

Taking a few deep breaths through his flared nostrils, Derek switched over to the one other active text conversation in his phone. The one he had been trying to forget all day.

 

Erica [9:45 am]: Hey, heads up that the committee wants to do a placement followup interview with you regarding Stiles

Derek [9:53 am]: No.

Erica [9:54 am]: I’m stalling them as long as I can and it’s not like someone will show up unannounced or anything

Erica [9:55 am]: They have to make sure he’s doing the job he’s qualified for… oh, that’s right he has no qualifications at all

Derek [9:57 am]: No interview. Stiles is fine. He’s doing fine.

Erica [9:59 am]: Look I know he is. But there are rules about this sort of thing

Derek [10:02 am]: Werewolves are legally allowed to select any willing party as pack. Pack members don’t need qualifications.

Erica [10:04 am]: Duh, I’m in a pack, I know how it works. But Stiles was sent thru the center. We’re supposed to only send qualified candidates. The only reason you got away with this at all is because Fran has a soft spot for you

Erica [10:05 am]: You could sue us

Derek [10:08 am]: I’m not going to sue the Center.

Erica [10:09 am]: I know that and Fran knows that. Still doesn’t make it completely legal. Or ethical

Derek [10:12 am]: Then you should have trained him first. I told you it was okay to put him through courses first if that’s what he wanted to do. 

Erica [10:13 am]: You didn’t have that long, don’t kid yourself

Erica [10:13 am]: Look, I'm really glad it worked out, okay? I know it’s working out. I mean, fuck, you’re actually texting me back

Erica [10:14 am]: But this is a thing the center needs in its records so that they can legally cover their butts

Derek [10:18 am]: Can you do the interview?

Erica [10:19 am]: No promises, but I’ll try my best. It won’t be for another week at least

Erica [10:19 am]: Please don’t stress too much. Or, more than usual for you, okay?

 

Derek closed out of his messages and plugged the phone in to charge next to his bed. He hated not knowing if it was going to be Erica doing the stupid interview or not. It would still be stressful even if it was her, but manageable. If it was anyone else, he didn’t know how he would react. He would almost rather call off the arrangement with Stiles than have a stranger here, asking all sorts of personal questions. Almost.

 

After doing his final door and window check of the night, Derek curled up in bed, a pillow clutched to his chest. It was the only way he had been able to fall asleep for months. One of the warning signs, according to the experts at Beacon Hills Hospital. Derek rubbed his face into the pillowcase, searching for a sense of security he couldn’t find. Only the knowledge that Stiles would be coming over the next day, and that he needed to get as much sleep as possible so that he could be alert while his temporary packmate was in the den, allowed Derek to finally drift off to sleep.

 


 

Derek [8:02 am]: I’m sorry I missed your texts last night. I was out on the property without my phone.

Derek [8:05 am]: Walmart was the one place I overlooked when devesting the town’s stores of candy, as I had hoped you would have higher standards than that.

Stiles [10:15 am]: oooohhh a sense of humor 

Stiles [10:15 am]: i see how it is

Stiles [10:16 am]: no more holding back

Stiles [10:16 am]: and how can you stand to be ‘funny’ so early in the morning

Derek [10:22 am]: Eight in the morning is a respectable time to get up.

Stiles [10:23 am]:  ugh i regret my movie choices cause you are gonna relate to captain america wayyyyyy too much

Derek [10:24 am]: To who?

Stiles [10:25 am]: OMG u just made me spill coffee on myself

Stiles [10:25 am]: pls tell me you r joking

Derek [10:26 am]: Maybe a little.

Stiles [10:26 am]: u had me worried

Stiles [10:26 am]: well i have ur gross non-candy

Stiles [10:26 am]: plus some actual good stuff

Stiles [10:27 am]: and a ton of movies so we should start early so we can watch at least 3 of them

Stiles [10:27 am]: so what time is good

Derek [10:31 am]: Five?

Stiles [10:31 am]: 5 it is

Stiles [10:31 am]: see you then

Derek [10:32 am]: I’ll see you then.

 


 

Stiles came in lugging four full grocery bags. Derek got a warm smile for taking three of them out of his hands as Stiles closed the door. He followed Derek into the kitchen, talking to him the whole way.

 

“So I saw that they had a movie candy sale and I couldn’t pass up getting the usuals, alright? So we may have Raisinettes, Sno-caps, Junior Mints, Dots, Milk Duds, Whoppers and Mike and Ikes, but I did not get any chocolate covered peanuts. Oh, man, though now that I think about it, you probably like those too, don’t you? Well I did get some pretzel Combos with peanut butter, so… that’s something right? Oh, and Reese’s Pieces. For all your peanut needs.”

 

They made it to the kitchen and both started unpacking the bags, Derek keeping an eye out for anything that needed to be refrigerated. As expected, one of the bags was cold to the touch and revealed several tubs of Ben and Jerry’s, fruit popsicles, three boxes of assorted Bagel Bites and a six pack of Cherry Coke.

 

Stiles already had a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos open and was munching happily while unpacking a bag full of pretzels and still more chips.

 

“As promised,” Stiles announced, triumphantly smacking down a large package of Twizzlers on the counter in front of Derek. “Though I also caved and got you these,” he added, pulling out a bag of baby carrots and a tiny bottle of ranch dressing. “So you can pretend we are being healthy.”

 

Derek almost made Stiles drop the bag of carrots when he dove for him, rubbing his palms up both sides of Stiles’ neck and into his hair. The instinct, which had seemed paramount only a moment before, faded once it had been satisfied, leaving Derek mortified in its wake.

 

Stiles set the carrots down heavily. “Right,” he said, blinking at Derek. “Scenting. Sorry, I forgot by the door. Too excited by snacks.” His eyes fell to Derek’s mouth, weighted and slow. Derek wasn’t sure Stiles was even looking at him. He seemed lost in his own world.

 

“This all looks good,” Derek tried, forcing himself to remember what people said when others brought them food. “Not healthy, but uh, tasty.”

 

Stiles blinked and his gaze returned to Derek’s eyes, a smile blossoming over his face. “Did you just say tasty?” Stiles broke into a laugh.

 

“Shut up.”

 

Stiles just laughed harder. “Okay, okay. Pick out your ‘tasty’ treats and let’s get started. You have a lot of Marvel to get caught up on, starting with Iron Man.”

 

Derek took the Twizzlers, the carrots and the pretzel and peanut butter Combos. Stiles would not stop laughing at him and repeating “I knew it,” to himself as they got settled.

 

At first, Derek tried to sit in the arm chair and give Stiles some space on the couch, but Stiles just pointed at the spot next to him and said, “Uh-uh, I am so getting some of those Combos before you eat them all.”

 

Derek gave a pointed look at the mountain of snacks on the coffee table directly in front of Stiles, but caved easily and sat next to him. Stiles started opening bags and popped his Coke can open, while Derek started the movie.

 

The beginning of Iron Man was difficult. He had actually seen it when it first came out, but his life had been a lot different then. Now, he had a hard time watching the scenes with Tony Stark being tortured. He fiddled with his snacks instead, and went back to the kitchen for a bottle of water, taking the remote with him ‘on accident’ so that Stiles wouldn’t hit pause for him. 

 

The rest of the movie was much easier. He liked listening to Stiles laughing at all the jokes, grinning like an idiot every time Derek looked over at him. He didn’t keep up a running commentary throughout the movie, which surprised Derek, who would have bet money that Stiles was one of those people who insisted on talking over every scene. He did, however, consume a staggering amount of calories with ease, going back to the kitchen for a new can of Coke twice before the first movie was over.

 

He made sure that Derek stayed put for the post-credits scene and then turned to him, beaming. “So?” he urged, nudging Derek’s knee with his. “Off to a good start?”

 

“Yeah. It was good.”

 

“Just good?!”

 

“It’s good. I liked it.”

 

Stiles made a “go on” gesture with his hand.

 

“Tony Stark is… funny.”

 

Stiles’ mouth fell open in aghast horror. “Tony Stark is funny? Yes, and the sky is blue and water is wet. Oh my god Derek!”

 

“I’ve heard that he’s even funnier in the movie where they are all together.”

 

“‘The movie where they are all together.’” Stiles looked like he might cry. “Okay, you know what? Challenge accepted. If you aren’t quoting Marvel movies in a month, they can revoke my companion status for good, cause I will have failed.”

 

Derek found himself quietly laughing at Stiles determined expression, and when Stiles caught him at it, the huffy personna he had been using to tease Derek dropped away, leaving a fond, bemused look in its place.

 

“Dinner,” Stiles said, getting to his feet.

 

“Dinner?”

 

“Yeah, dude, Bagel Bites!”

 

Derek groaned. “Please let me make you a salad at least.”

 

Stiles shrugged. “I mean, okay, if you want to. Don’t worry though, I get plenty of nutrition.”

 

“Oh really? From where?” Derek followed Stiles back to the kitchen, picking up empty wrappers as he went.

 

“Vitamin drinks.”

 

“No.”

 

“No really. So many vitamins.”

 

“I’m making you a salad and you’re eating it.”

 

“Only if I can also have Bagel Bites.”

 

Derek caved, still mildly horrified. “Okay, fine. Just as long as you eat an entire serving of salad beforehand.”

 

“Fine.”

 

“Fine.”

 

Stiles talked about his dad, the sheriff, while Derek washed romaine lettuce and chopped vegetables. Stiles lounged against the counter, sipping a bottle of water, after Derek had practically knocked his fourth can of Coke out of his hands.

 

“I actually watch my dad’s diet pretty close. Like, yeah, I brought all this junk food over here, but none of it can come home with me unless I hide it in my backpack and smuggle it to my room. He’s all I have family-wise, and I’m keeping that stubborn bastard alive as long as possible.”

 

Derek gave Stiles a small smile from the sink where he was rinsing some spinach to add to the other greens. “You’re a good son,” he said quietly, looking back at his hands under the running water, missing whatever expression passed over Stiles’ face. “You moved back home after college?”

 

“Yeah,” Stiles said, coming up to the counter right next to the sink, to lean and watch Derek working. “It made sense. I could probably afford a small place, but what's the point? My dad claims he doesn’t mind me living back at home now that he thinks he doesn’t have to keep a close eye on me,” Stiles threw Derek a tiny wink at that and Derek rolled his eyes.

 

Getting Stiles to actually eat the salad was not as difficult as Derek would have imagined. Stiles shoveled it in just like he had with the junk food, barely pausing to breathe. Derek sat on his side of the couch, holding a plate with a large serving of salad and three Bagel Bites arranged primly on the side, while Stiles came up for air from his mixed monstrosity of a plate, ranch dressing everywhere and half the Bagel Bites accidentally stirred into the greens.

 

“Seriously? Only three Bagel Bites?” Stiles asked around a cheekful of food.

 

“They taste like cardboard.”

 

Stiles gasped. “How dare you!”

 

“Do you want mine? You can have them.”

 

Stiles narrowed his eyes at him as he stuck out his plate towards Derek to receive the rejected food. “I’m blaming this on the werewolf thing, dude. Otherwise, this might be the one flaw that breaks up our working relationship. And we haven’t even seen my favorite Avengers movie yet.”

 

“Which is?”

 

“Nope, no, not telling. You have to guess.”

 

“Guardians of the Galaxy.”

 

Stiles’ whole face went comically lax. “Wha- how? How could you possibly know that? Have you seen it already?”

 

“No.”

 

“Are you secretly a comic book nerd? You’ve read all the Marvel comics ever published, haven’t you?”

 

Derek was having a hard time containing his smile. “Nope.”

 

“Then, how?”

 

Derek shrugged.

 

“Oh you are so telling me,” Stiles proclaimed, setting his magically emptied plate down on the coffee table. “And I’m going to guess yours. And I’m going to be right.”

 

“I have to see them all first.”

 

“Yes, you do.” Stiles acted put upon, wiping one hand down his face. “Well, it’s only seven-thirty. Think you can stay up for another film, grandpa?”

 

Derek insisted that they clean up before starting the next movie, chuckling to himself as Stiles whined about it the whole time, though it only took a few minutes. They settled back on the couch to watch Iron Man 2, but only after Stiles went through an entire one-sided debate as to whether the Incredible Hulk ought to be included in their marathon or not. 

 

Once the movie started, he fell silent, the blue light from the screen flickering over his face as the sunlight faded and disappeared outside. Derek listened past the sound of the movie, monitoring the darkness outside. No sounds of a threat. Just the occasional small animal. A few scattered cars passing a mile away on the road, never slowing or stopping, just continuing on into the night.

 

Derek inched towards Stiles before he could think about whether or not it was a good idea. Stiles’ eyes left the screen in a flash, taking in Derek’s now still form where he had awkwardly halted on the couch. Stiles swallowed heavily as they both stayed frozen.

 

“Um,” Stiles managed, his voice slightly higher than before. “Do you… Do you want to uh, werewolf snuggle?” Derek lowered his eyebrows at the phrasing, but nodded. “Okay. Good. Sounds good. How would you like me to-”

 

Stiles ended with a small squeak of surprise as Derek dragged him over his thigh so that he was sitting in the V of Derek’s legs. He had a brief, very werewolf, moment of enjoying the feeling of Stiles trying to regain his balance, squirming in his hold, before coming back to himself with a small frown.

 

Derek clamped his legs against Stiles’ hips, so that he couldn’t wiggle back and discover the reason why Derek always carefully kept their lower halves apart. He stuffed a throw pillow between their bodies, not subtle, but effective, before pulling Stiles back into his chest and bear hugging him from behind.

 

He let out a rumbling groan at the sheer relief that washed through him at touching Stiles again. The movie played on in the dark room, the sound effects too loud for his sensitive ears, but Derek didn’t really care. He rubbed his face into the soft fabric of Stile’s T-shirt, his beard rasping over the cotton. Putting his nose to the side of Stiles’ neck, he huffed him in while his arms drew even tighter. 

 

Stiles made another small noise, completely caught in Derek’s grip, unable to move. He squirmed just for a second, before sighing and giving in. It felt like Stiles was a marionette and his strings had just been cut. Derek’s armful of human went limp, dead weight shifting into his arms in a more complete way, like he was filling in the empty corners.

 

Derek grumbled against his skin, leaning back so Stiles could let his weight rest against Derek’s chest. He checked him over, fussing until Stiles was resting comfortably, his arms trapped under Derek’s, his head lolling against Derek’s shoulder and the back of the couch, eyes blearily aimed at the TV screen.

 

At last Derek sighed, his body relaxing, going almost as limp as Stiles except for the secure hold he had around him. Derek spent the rest of the movie with his nose ruffling through the short hair at Stiles’ nape and around his ear, his lips just brushing the flushed shell before he would catch himself and sweep his cheek down the side of Stiles’ throat. He felt the elevated thump of Stiles’ heart though the human’s back, reverberating through Derek’s chest, thundering against Derek’s steadier beat.

 

The movie credits rolled and the screen went back to the opening menu, music playing on a loop. Derek spared long enough to switch the TV off with the remote, before dropping it on the couch cushion, and returning all his focus on Stiles. He released Stiles’ arms from beneath his own, making Stiles moan as he flexed his muscles after nearly two hours of immobility. Stiles moaned again, much more urgently, when one of Derek’s hands pressed against his chest, holding the human captive against Derek’s body, while the other hand crept into Stiles hair and gently pulled his head to the side.

 

Derek rumbled involuntarily at the warm expanse of skin held tautly in front of his face, and Stiles moaned again, one hand fluttering over Derek’s where it was pressed over his heart, which had taken off in a gallop. 

 

He didn’t seem to be afraid. The small part of Derek’s brain that wasn’t completely taken over by his instincts hoped Stiles wasn’t actually afraid of him.

 

The part of him that was completely hijacked by his werewolf instincts was reveling in how thoroughly muddled their scents were. It was almost perfect. Almost. Their scents could be stronger, more infused. And though he now knew what Stiles smelled like, what they smelled like together, he didn’t know how Stiles tasted.

 

“Ah!” Stiles gasped at the first pass of Derek’s tongue along the side of his throat. “Oh my god!” Derek paused, unsure for a moment. “N-no, go on. It’s okay,” Stiles breathed out, his eyes rolling back when Derek complied and licked again.

 

His fingers unclamped in Stiles’ hair, only to grip harder and angle his head more to the wolf’s liking. Stiles’ fingers trembled over Derek’s as he held his hand flat to Stiles’ chest, one peaked nipple brushing against his inner wrist as he lapped at Stiles’ pulse point.

 

He tasted salty. A little sweet. Amazing.

 

Derek licked up behind his ear, exploring, seeking out new sensations for his tongue. Stiles was panting and trembling and Derek loved it. He had never felt so complete. He swirled his tongue over the intricate pattern of Stiles’ ear before licking in. Stiles whole body jerked in his arms as he let out a cry that only spurred the wolf on. 

 

Stiles’ body was bowed so far over to the side from Derek’s grip on his hair, that the wolf finally gave into the temptation, rolling Stiles down into the cushions on his stomach, the werewolf following close behind. His chest pressed against Stiles’ back, pinning him, the human's body sinking into the springy softness of the cushions below.

 

Derek had enough of his senses left to keep the pillow between his crotch and Stiles’ ass, before helplessly grinding down against him, licking and then gently biting at Stiles’ throat. The human’s head was turned to the side, eyes fluttering as he moaned and gasped oh my god, oh my god, so quiet, Derek could barely hear him above the urgent pounding of blood in his ears.

 

“Stiles,” he rumbled, his voice half-shifted, coarse and deep. Stiles just moaned louder and Derek swept his tongue up his straining throat, his cheek, lapping at the corner of his mouth. Stiles couldn’t turn his head any further, though he seemed to be trying, his moaning gasps becoming more urgent as Derek’s tongue flashed in the sweet corner of Stiles’ mouth.

 

Derek could feel the shift of Stiles’ hips beneath him, the motion causing the pillow wedged between them to move - too soft, not enough - against Derek’s straining erection. Derek ground down harder, still not getting enough, though it felt good. So good. He wanted it to be Stiles, Stiles naked and writhing, sweaty and panting beneath him.

 

He nipped at Stiles’ jaw, his throat. He could feel the tickle of his fangs in his gums, and that’s what made him realize just what instinct he was following. This was no pack bonding drive. It was the mating instinct. The wolf wanted to mate the squirming human trapped under him. Stiles, his hips jerking with intent against the couch and who was saying Derek’s name, the pitch getting higher, frantic. Moaning as Derek licked and sucked at the corner of his mouth, his eyes squinted up tight, his whole body projecting building tension. Derek whined as he tried to slow down, tried to think. Stiles had no idea what it would mean to be considered mate  by Derek’s wolf. It would change everything and he didn't know-

 

Stiles cried out beneath Derek, his hips pistoning. Derek could feel him come, could smell his release. His own instincts came back online full force. He grabbed the pillow from between them, flinging it to the floor and grinding down directly against Stiles’ clothed ass. They both moaned at the feeling, Stiles’ long and drawn out, soft. Derek’s was high and needy, just that small increase in intimacy and closeness feeling euphoric. The thought of actually being inside Stiles, both his cock in his ass and his teeth in his throat, the tugging at his gums and the root of his dick as he would strain forward-

 

Derek’s face dropped against the slick skin of Stiles’ throat as he came, long and devastating, grinding down against the pliant body beneath him. 

 

By some miracle, Derek didn’t bite him.

 

“Stiles,” he panted, coming back to himself slowly, face still nuzzled into Stiles’ skin, seeking comfort now rather than release. “Stiles, are you okay?”

 

Stiles feebly nodded his head. He cleared his throat but didn’t try to move. “I am very. Very. Okay.”

 

They drifted together for a few more minutes, before Derek realized how much weight he was resting on Stiles and moved off of him reluctantly. Stiles groaned and sat up, peering at where Derek had collapsed in the armchair with bleary eyes, squinting in the dim light. Derek remembered suddenly that he could see Stiles much better than Stiles could see him. He stood up and flicked on the overhead light.

 

Stiles recoiled at the sudden brightness, then groaned and rubbed his eyes. “I definitely need to clean up,” Stiles mumbled, sounding like he was waking up from a long nap.

 

Derek nodded and led him to the bathroom, before heading to the kitchen to clean himself up hastily with paper towel. He attempted to appear to be doing something useful when Stiles emerged from the bathroom, his hair damp where he’d run water from the tap through it to straighten it back into order.

 

“Um,” Stiles said, “was that, uh, a pack thing? Or…?” He let the sentence hang there unfinished, his eyes suddenly shy, flitting from Derek’s face to the walls and back. It reminded Derek so much of the first time they’d talked in the hallway, back only a week ago, when Stiles admitted not knowing anything about born wolves.

 

Needy little slut, he heard whispered in his ear by a different voice. A dead voice. Humans didn’t like being mated to born werewolves. They really, really didn’t like it.

 

Derek swallowed. He stared into Stiles' large, amber eyes. And lied.

 

“It’s a pack thing. Sorry if it was weird. I got carried away. We don’t have to do it again if-”

 

“No, no, it’s fine.” Stiles’ face was doing something complicated. Derek tried to decipher the emotions running like shadow and light over his features. Then Stiles squared his shoulders and the play of emotions vanished. He smiled at Derek, bright. A little fake. “What are pack members for?” he said lightly. “Don’t worry about me, I didn’t mind it.”

 

Something in Derek’s chest twisted at the words, stabbing deep. It was okay. He knew this about humans. That’s why he had lied in the first place. Humans didn’t… Stiles didn’t need Derek in his life that way. It was okay, they still had the arrangement. Unless Stiles wanted to break it. Derek was too much of a coward to bring that possibility up right now. He just wanted Stiles to stay.

 

“Well, I should probably get going,” Stiles said, leading them into the living room. “Wanna watch Thor next time?” Next time. Derek nodded eagerly. There would be a next time. “I’ll just leave it here, then?” Stiles turned questioning eyes towards Derek, who nodded again. 

 

Stiles picked up the remainder of his things, stuffing a few bags of unopened candy into his bag. Derek promised to save the rest for next time and then he was walking Stiles to the door. Stiles said goodbye and so did Derek and then the door was closing. The sound of the Jeep starting up, gravel under tires, the sound fading down the driveway and then down the road, until Derek couldn’t hear it anymore.

 

He waited another five minutes and then ran to the back door, threw off his clothes, shifted to wolf form, and bruised his ribs in an effort to get out the dog door and into the woods as quickly as possible.

 

Chapter Text

 

Erica tapped a pen on her clipboard, staring both Stiles and Derek down from the armchair in Derek’s living room.

 

Why Derek had thought it would be easier for Erica to do the interview, he had no idea. He could have intimidated or sweet talked a human, but Erica was not taking any of his shit. Next to him on the couch, Stiles wiggled and fidgeted with his water bottle.

 

“So, you’re saying that I shouldn’t be wearing anything scented when I come over?” Stiles was asking, his long fingers moving restlessly over the crinkling plastic.

 

“That would be ideal, yes,” Erica said, coming off as terrifyingly professional. Derek narrowed his eyes at her. She was up to something, but he couldn’t figure out what. He’d expected her to show up as, well, maybe not a friend, but much less formal than she was now, sitting there in a tailored pair of pants and an expensive looking blouse. “Most temporary companions find it easiest to make the full switch to unscented products while they are working with a wolf.”

 

Erica lifted a few pages on her clipboard, as if validating a question she was about to ask. Derek knew that she already had everything about himself and Stiles memorized. His eyes narrowed further.

 

“I see here that you are part of a bitten wolf pack?”

 

“Yes.” Stiles was practically sweating and they’d just started the interview not even five minutes ago.

 

“Scott McCall,” Erica drew out the name slowly. “Yes, I know the name. And how does Scott feel about your work with Derek?”

 

“Oh, fine,” Stiles answered quickly. Derek could feel the nervousness coming off him in waves. It made him want to put a hand on him, steady him. But he wasn’t sure if that would help or make Stiles’ anxiousness worse. “Yeah, no, he actually supports it. I mean, it’s not like we’re a real pack or anything-”

 

“Not a real pack? What do you mean?” Erica raised one slim eyebrow, and Stiles nearly flailed off the couch.

 

“Er, I mean just that we don’t have any sort of order or pack rules or anything. It’s just Scott and his wife and our friends and me. I guess you could say it’s more like a really close-knit group than a pack. We stay in touch a lot, and when we’re together, Scott likes a lot of attention, like hugging and stuff. I guess it’s like, nothing official keeping us together, like pack structure or anything. Not like what we learned in college.”

 

Erica made a show of jotting down a few notes, then looked back up at Stiles. “There are no wolves other than Scott in your pack?”

 

“No, just him.”

 

“And he’s never tried to seek out other wolves as friends?”

 

“Uh… actually, now that you mention it, I don’t think so? He’s honestly not a lot different from the way he was before he was bitten personality-wise, I guess? I mean, he’s healthier and a lot stronger and not a clutz anymore, and his senses are enhanced. And he can do a beta shift and grow claws and his eyes glow sorta amber and he gets the sideburns and fangs, but I’ve honestly only seen that a few times and only after I begged.” 

 

Stiles bounced his knee up and down, looking so nervous and anxious to please that it made Derek bite his inner cheek to keep from interrupting or touching him. He noticed Erica’s eyes on him and turned away from Stiles - when had he turned his entire body towards him? - to give her a stern look.

 

“And Scott is also married to a human?” Erica asked her expression unimpressed. 

 

“Yeah.”

 

Erica nodded and studied the papers in her hands again, letting Stiles sweat. “I don’t see any record of you working with other wolves before?”

 

“N-no, Derek is my first.” There was a pause, during which Stiles seemed to realize the other possible meaning to his words and his face flamed bright red. Derek could see the glitter in Erica’s eyes as she suppressed a smile.

 

“And you haven’t been around a born werewolf before?” she asked, thankfully moving the conversation on before Stiles could try and stutter out any sort of explanation or apology like he so clearly wanted to.

 

Stiles glanced at Derek before speaking, something he’d been doing the entire interview, as if verifying that Derek was alright with him answering. Whether he was doing it on purpose or not, Derek wasn’t sure, but it settled something in him every time Stiles did it.

 

“Not really. I mean, we had a guest speaker in school, who came in and talked a little bit about the differences between born and bitten werewolves, and about the different pack dynamics that can result.”

 

Erica considered him for a moment. Derek started to get nervous.

 

“And the guest speaker, did they discuss the dynamics of a pack consisting of one human and one born wolf?” 

 

Stiles’ eyebrows raised at Erica’s question. “Uh, no?”

 

“Stiles, how many packs do you think there are that consist of only one human and one born werewolf?”

 

“Uh…”

 

Erica raised an eyebrow at him again, effectively capturing his full attention. “I have been doing this job for five years and I’ve been a werewolf for ten years,” she said, watching Stiles intently as he gaped at her, “and let me tell you. I have not once heard of a pack like yours and Derek’s.” 

 

She paused to let that sink in. Stiles looked over at Derek, his mouth still hanging open in shock, and the urge to touch and reassure him was so strong, Derek brushed his fingertips momentarily down Stiles’ forearm and then away, resisting the urge to grab his hand. Stiles swayed towards him momentarily, and then caught himself and looked back at Erica, who was studying them intently.

 

“That, to me, means two things, a pro and a con,” Erica continued, leaning forward slightly and ignoring her clipboard for the first time, its usefulness as a prop having come to an end. “The con, obviously, is that none of us has the faintest idea how this type of pack dynamic works, or if it even works.”

 

Derek had the urge to block Stiles from Erica, as if she was about to pick him up and carry him out as some sort of failed experiment.  Erica caught his eye and gave him the tiniest of smirks as if reading his mind.

 

“However, there is a real opportunity here to learn about a ‘one human, one born wolf’ pack dynamic,” she continued, and Derek relaxed slightly. “But I must stress,” she said, looking darkly, first at Stiles, then at Derek, “that if Derek’s condition worsens, we are going to have to look into other possibilities for him.”

 

Stiles’ throat clicked as he swallowed, looking anxiously over at Derek. “Wor-worsens?” Stiles managed hoarsely, and goddammit, Derek did not want Stiles to think of him as some invalid. He snarled silently at Erica and she raised her lip slightly back, not quite challenging enough for him to take action. Though they were in his den, she was an invited guest, and was not actively trying to take Stiles away. So he dropped the snarl, but watched her closely.

 

“Yes,” Erica said, turning back to Stiles, “his condition cannot be allowed to worsen.” Thankfully, she gracefully sidestepped what that condition was. “So I need to ask you a few questions about how the trial is going, to see if any adjustments need to be made.” The clipboard made a reappearance, and she tapped her pen on it, as if calling class to order. “First, are you doing only daily scentings, or do you stop to see Derek more than once a day?”

 

Stiles’ jaw once again went slack. “Daily?”

 

“Yes, of course,” Erica said, for the first time some real worry slipping into her gaze. “Stiles, you are seeing Derek at least every day for scenting, aren’t you?”

 

“Um…” Stiles looked at Derek then back at Erica. “I mean… I’ve been coming over about twice a week?”

 

“Twice a week?” Erica’s face was disbelieving. She glared at Derek and then back at Stiles. “You are seriously only seeing him twice a week?”

 

Stiles fidgeted while Derek used all his focus to keep from moving a muscle.

 

“Oh my god,” Erica said, rubbing a hand over her face, but miraculously not smearing her makeup. “Stiles,” she said, leaning forward in the armchair. “You have to see Derek every day. I don’t think you realize, most temporary companions move in with their wolf.”

 

Stiles’ face was shocked. He obviously had no idea that moving in was the usual method of pack bonding. Derek hadn’t wanted to scare him away by mentioning it, and when Stiles hadn’t brought it up himself, he let it drop. Erica obviously sensed that this was Derek’s fault and glared daggers at him.

 

“Oh,” Stiles said, his voice small. Derek shifted minutely closer to him.

 

Erica visibly collected herself, putting her professional guise back on, though it was strained.

 

“Stiles,” she said, gently. “Is this too much to handle right now?” She met his raised eyes and gave him a sympathetic smile. “Maybe you didn’t understand the commitment involved in taking this assignment.” 

 

Derek winced. That’s what he was after all. An assignment. He knew that. So why did it hurt so damn much to hear it out loud?

 

“No!” Stiles protested, pulling himself together. “I mean, yeah, I messed up, but just because I didn't know. Not because I don’t want to.” He turned to Derek. “Listen, I am so sorry. I just… I didn’t…” He turned back to Erica, panic on his face. “I can come see him every day. Now that I know, I can totally do that.”

 

Erica waited a moment, evaluating the earnest expression on Stiles’ face. Just when it seemed the tension couldn’t mount any higher, she smiled at him. “Okay, good,” she said, as Stiles slumped in relief. Her eyes flicked to Derek and then back to Stiles. “If you can, I would like you to come over twice a day for a while, whenever possible.”

 

“Yeah, I can do that,” Stiles responded quickly, nearly falling out of his seat with how much he was leaning forward. The smile Erica was giving him was soft and amused. 

 

“And,” she added, pausing, no doubt for dramatic effect, “you may want to consider spending the night occasionally.”

 

“Oh.” Stiles looked at Derek. “Oh,” Stiles said again.

 

“We’ll talk about it,” Derek told Erica firmly, and saw Stiles’ shoulders relax a fraction.

 

Erica nodded. She went about the process of putting her clipboard back in her large purse before standing up and leaning over towards Stiles, a card in her hand.

 

“Stiles, I’d like you to call me in the next few days, alright? There are some things we need to discuss.” Derek growled at her. She rolled her eyes. “Not about this lunk,” she said, pushing Derek’s shoulder and managing to move him a few centimeters with her enhanced strength. “But I think that you could benefit from some training, focusing on born wolves. The colleges mainly teach courses on bitten wolves. And, as you are learning, born wolves are completely different.”

 

The three of them made their way to the front door, Stiles walking next to Erica, and Derek bringing up the rear.

 

“Seriously,” Stiles complained, “I can’t understand why the courses lumped born and bitten wolves together. Derek isn’t anything like Scott.”

 

Erica glanced over her shoulder at Derek, smirking. “He isn’t, is he?” she said, throwing fuel on Stiles’ indignant fire.

 

“No,” he stated emphatically. “It’s almost like born werewolves are some sort of secret or something and I don’t know why… oh my god, why are you two looking at each other like that? There is something to that, isn’t there? Are born werewolves part of a conspiracy theory? Am I like, in an actual episode of the X Files? I mean, more than I already was, what with the werewolf thing and all-”

 

“It’s not some big conspiracy, Stiles,” Erica huffed.  “Most born wolves prefer to keep a low profile. There are laws in place to protect them, and part of that is not making their vulnerabilities more public than necessary. There are… groups,” Derek repressed a shudder, “that don’t like werewolves, especially born wolves. So there’s an ongoing effort made by organisations like the Committee to keep born werewolves out of the spotlight. For example, both Derek and Scott’s drivers licenses say “werewolf.” There isn’t any distinction between the two except for the records kept by the local werewolf services and medical facilities.”

 

“I had no idea,” Stiles said, looking intrigued.

 

“Well, I guess we’re doing our jobs then.” Erica smiled at Stiles, and Stiles smiled back, and both of them had such twin expressions of devilry that Derek deeply regretted them meeting. “Oh!” Erica said, searching her pockets and then her bag. “I forgot my phone. Stiles, could you see if I left it in the living room?”

 

“Sure!” Stiles said, eager to help, and bounded off back to the other room. 

 

Erica was in Derek’s face lightning quick, her finger buried painfully in his chest. “He is absolutely, one hundred percent, exactly what you need, and if you screw this up, so help me, I’ll- Oh, thanks Stiles! Perfect. Well I’ll be going. Bye Derek. Bye Stiles.”

 

“Bye Erica!” Stiles called out the door, waving like a little kid. “I’ll call you!”

 

“You’d better!” she hollered back, opening her car door. Under her breath Derek could hear her mutter, “Don’t fuck this up, Hale,” before the door slammed shut and she was headed back towards the main road.

 

Derek let out a long breath.

 

“That wasn’t so bad,” Stiles said, shutting the front door and turning back to Derek with a smile.

 

Derek glared. “It was awful.”

 

Stiles looked torn between wanting to console him and wanting to tease him for being so pessimistic. In the end, he did neither.

 

“It’s almost dinner time. Wanna eat?”

 

“Yeah,” Derek agreed, and followed Stiles back to the kitchen.

 

He pulled ingredients for sandwiches out of the fridge while Stiles got down plates and made some lemonade from concentrate. Not as good as fresh, but it had to be better for him than soda, right? 

 

Derek had taken pains to make a grocery order that had a lot of the quick, simple foods Stiles gravitated towards that weren’t absolutely lacking in nutritional value. So he had ended up with a fridge full of sandwich makings and cut up veggies and ranch dressing, a freezer full of sweet potato fries and organic mexican entrees, and cupboards stocked with pudding cups, fruit cups, and beetroot chips. Not the healthiest options out there, but he decided that anything resembling actual food was a step in the right direction.

 

Stiles finished making the lemonade and rummaged for glasses. “So,” he said, his heart rate picking up slightly. “Every day, huh?”

 

“I didn’t want you to feel pressured,” Derek muttered to the bread he was spreading mustard on.

 

“But Erica was right? You need me to stop by every day?”

 

Derek shrugged, not looking at him. “Only if you can. No pressure.” He sensed Stiles rolling his eyes.

 

They ate on the couch, the TV off for once, both of them lost in their own worlds. Derek liked the way Stiles’ heart sounded in his den. It wasn‘t exactly a steady beat, as it would pick up from time to time, or stutter slightly for seemingly no reason (though not enough to make Derek worry that there was anything medically wrong with him). But the sound of a second heart, beating out of rhythm with his own, was more soothing than he could have imagined after all the time spent alone.

 

Plus, he liked feeding Stiles. Liked watching him eat the food he provided. Liked doing more than just his own dishes after a meal. It was all incredibly calming.

 

And the way Stiles smelled. He was still using scented body wash and hair products, and the fabric softener they used at the Stilinski home was something that was probably advertised as smelling like mountains or rain or something as equally crazy seeing as it smelled like chemicals to Derek. But he still smelled good, even with all the fake scents. Even the chemical, human scents made Derek feel better. It reinforced that it wasn’t just him, just one neurotic werewolf, sitting in his den anymore. 

 

Besides, he could still smell the real scent of Stiles underneath the perfume additives. Where his pulse beat in his throat, the skin exposed and not hidden by his loose T-shirt, the rich blood running close to the surface, there was a unique scent to his flesh and blood. Derek had gotten to breathe it in a few times now, though it was never enough. Even running his tongue over that spot hadn’t been enough.

 

He thought of the taste of Stiles on his tongue, the unique blend of soap and natural oils and the deep, siren call of hot blood. He thought of their mixed scent and the way it had lingered on his lips and tongue afterwards. That deep feeling of completeness that had washed over him, that had stayed with him, until it at last faded with the lingering taste of Stiles.

 

He did need to see him every day, wanted it. Wished he would never leave. God, the smell of him. The feel of him.

 

Derek was shocked back into awareness by a hand in his hair and a moan in his ear. Apparently, in his longing fugue, he had made his way across the couch cushions to Stiles and was now actively scenting that delicious spot he’d been obsessing over. The one near Stiles’ ear but just below his jaw.

 

Encouraged by the hand in his hair, Derek pressed his lips to the spot, lingering. He opened his mouth slightly and drew a breath, the cool air moving sharply over Stiles’ skin as he inhaled. He felt Stiles shiver and heard his voice in his ear, high and insistent. Derek could taste him this way, Stiles’ scent filling up his lungs and sinuses, catching in his throat and making his spine prickle with need.

 

He loved how Stiles went boneless for him, becoming malleable and heavy, letting Derek move him how he wished. So perfect, Derek thought, refusing to let the words escape.

 

Instead, he let his fangs slowly drop, their manifestation not hurting so much as pinging an electrical switch in the back of his brain. His teeth felt insanely sensitive, as if something in Stiles’ scent had triggered a completely different physical response in their manifestation, the nerves wired differently to his brain. Not for violence, this time, but for sex.

 

Derek let out a whole body shiver, the feeling too intense. The air rushing past his fangs as he huffed in Stiles’ arousing scent was sending shocks down his back, inside his brain, to the root of his cock.

 

He leaned in, seemingly on instinct, and touched the blunt length of his fangs to Stiles’ skin, the points curving back towards Derek’s half-open mouth and away from the fragile skin. At the shock of the heat of Stiles’ throat on his teeth, Derek had what could only have been a dry orgasm. He shook bodily, a tremor running through him as his eyes rolled back and he pressed forward, closer to Stiles, closer to the warmth and scent of him.

 

He was holding Stiles blindingly tight, though Stiles just went even more limp, more trusting, in his arms. He was holding onto Derek loosely around his shoulders with one arm, his other arm being pinned to his side where Derek held him, allowing full access to his throat and that spot that was making Derek lose it.

 

Derek began tonguing the few inches of skin that gave him the most of Stiles’ essence, the front of his fangs still pressed bluntly against his throat. The flavor coating his tongue, he licked over the backs of his fangs as he swiped at Stiles’ skin. Again, his eyes rolled back and his whole body convulsed. He would have sworn it was a small orgasm, though he didn’t ejaculate. His dick strained in the confines of his jeans, pulsing with the current of his inflamed blood, but he hadn’t actually come.

 

He whined and pressed closer. He’d never felt anything like this before, never knew it was possible to feel like this. He lapped at Stiles’ skin and his own fangs, tonguing them both insistently, feeling a shivery ecstasy in every nerve ending.

 

Derek had the back of Stiles’ head in his hand, careful to keep his claws retracted and only manifest his fangs, the rest of the wolf tucked away. He resettled them on the couch, kneeling over Stiles, the man’s arm still hooked around the back of Derek’s neck, pulling him down, keeping him close.

 

He pulled back, just for a brief moment, to look at the spot he was worrying into intense heat on Stiles’ throat. It was bright red, throbbing. It looked incredibly sensitive. Derek tested it by blowing cool air over the mouth-shaped mark. Stiles’ keened, his hard cock brushing Derek’s as he arched up off the couch from that small bit of stimulation.

 

Stiles’ blinked hard several times when Derek didn’t immediately go back to devouring that spot on his throat, too caught in Stiles’ expression of intense pleasure. He wanted to put that look on Stiles’ face again and again. He would never get tired of seeing it.

 

The human gasped for breath. “More,” Stiles managed, his voice broken and ragged around the edges. Then “Derek!” when he went for that pulsing red mark again, the skin so sensitive against the firing nerve endings of Derek’s fangs and tongue, his entire mouth suddenly an erogenous zone.

 

Swallowing down his saliva, rich with Stiles’ natural skin oil and pheromones, made even his throat constrict with pleasure. He had a sudden image of what it would be like to take Stiles’ cock into his mouth, into his throat. The feeling of being fucked raw when he was like this, hanging by a thread and ready to come at any moment.

 

The thought had him grinding down into Stiles’ pliant body, his hard length practically scraping Stiles through their jeans. 

 

Then, suddenly, there was a long-fingered hand fumbling at Derek’s button and fly. Stiles moaned when he didn’t find any underwear in the way, Derek’s cock falling into his palm bare. Derek wasted no time in opening Stiles’ jeans and pulling the elastic waistband of his boxers down and under Stiles’ balls. Then his hand was around the smooth, cut length of him, Stiles wailing and writhing in his loose grip.

 

Stiles turned his head, dislodging Derek’s mouth from his throat. But then Stiles’ own mouth was there, not so much kissing Derek as licking his fangs and mouth. Derek cried out, the twin sensations in his mouth and cock overwhelming. 

 

Derek thrust down into Stiles’ hand, the human not so much jerking him off as providing a tight space for him to rut into.  Derek loosely pulled at Stiles’ beautiful cock, glancing down between their bodies when he could spare a moment from the all-consuming feeling that was Stiles’ hand around him and his tongue in his mouth.

 

Kissing back was impossible, not only because Derek’s brain was offline, but also because he was so conscious of biting Stiles that he didn’t move his own mouth much. Instead, he let Stiles’ work his tongue over his lips and fangs, the wetly-rough texture of Stiles’ tongue wrapping around the tips, catching, but not tearing, on the points.

 

The noises Derek was emitting  were truly embarrassing. He let his mouth go passive, letting Stiles do what he liked. In turn, Stiles’ hand remained still except for the occasional twist, his palm wet from Derek’s steady stream of precome. 

 

Derek jerked Stiles slowly, worried that he would get carried away and hurt him with his focus so solidly on the sensations shooting into his brain from his mouth and his cock. 

 

At first it was an overwhelming rush of sensation, swamping him all at once, assaulting him from his mouth and from between his legs, pinging back and forth and lighting him up with unbearable pleasure. But slowly, over the course of a few blissful, mindless minutes, Derek felt the concentration of sensation shift down, settling in the base of his cock. 

 

His forehead bunched in concentration. Stiles’ hand felt amazing gliding slickly over his hard flesh, but there was an urgency coalescing in his hips and thighs, a need he didn’t understand, to snap into Stiles’ welcoming grip, fast and hard. He followed it blindly, just mindful enough not to hurt the fragile human below him.

 

“Uh!” he said, the sound ripped from him by the sudden uptick in sensation his pistoning movements were bringing him, his flesh feeling like it was splitting from pleasure. 

 

Stiles’ hand grew tighter, vise-tight. It was unbearably tight. No, wait. It wasn’t Stiles’ grip, it was him. He looked between their bodies just as Stiles’ gasped, “Oh my god, Derek, are you knotting? Is that your knot?”

 

“Yes,” Derek gasped against  Stiles’ lips, still not properly kissing him, too caught up in the new sensations clawing through his brain. “I’ve never… oh god,” he panted, feeling like he was being ripped apart and put back together over and over. “Oh god, oh god,” he babbled, driving like a sledgehammer into Stiles’ fist, on the edge, but not coming. He should be coming.  Why was he not coming? He had to come. He had to. “Ah! I have to! Stiles, please please please!”

 

He had no idea what he was begging for until Stiles unwrapped his arm from around Derek’s neck and reached between them, switching his grip and grabbing Derek’s knot with both hands. He squeezed. Hard.

 

“Ah!” Derek screamed. He stilled for a full five seconds, before losing his mind and drilling into Stiles’ clenched hands. He was going to. He was so close. He was. He was. He was coming. Oh god, he was coming. 

 

It was nothing like anything he’d ever felt. He knew he had the potential to knot, as a male born werewolf, but. No one had told him. He had no idea. No idea it would be like this.

 

“Stiles,” he gasped into his human’s throat. “Stiles, Stiles,” he murmured, thrusting languidly now, feeling hollowed out.

 

“Are you still coming?” Stiles whispered, sounding awed and breathless.

 

“Yes,” Derek growled into Stiles’ throat, feeling his orgasm crest and subside. Crest and subside. He growled his euphoria into Stiles’ skin.

 

“Holy fuck,” Stiles said, his voice barely audible.

 

He was covering Stiles in his come, their hips pressed together, just enough room for Stiles to get his fists around Derek. He had let go of Stiles’ cock when he had realized he was knotting, afraid of the very real possibility of hurting him. But now that he was more lucid and in control of his own strength, he took Stiles’ throbbing cock in his hand again and began to pump him from root to tip, his own come slicking the way.

 

Stiles still hung onto his knot, his jerking movements as Derek brought him to the edge causing Derek’s ongoing orgasm to spike. They both groaned in pleasure and relief when Stiles’ thighs spasmed and he came with a cry, legs shaking around Derek’s hips.

 

Derek remained braced above Stiles, staring between them, at Stiles’ come mixed with his, Stiles’ hands slowly relaxing from their grip around his knot. 

 

His knot. Jesus, it was huge. Nearly the size of one of his fists. But so tender, so sensitive. He had never come like that. Ever.

 

Following pure instinct, once Stiles’ hands had fallen away, he ground down on Stiles’ softening cock, mixing their come together, spreading it over both their groins. The sensations of Stiles jerking in overstimulation beneath him brought him through his final climax.

 

He hunkered down over Stiles, just careful enough to allow him to breathe, but otherwise crushing him into the cushions.

 


 

The clean up was as brief and silent as the last time, Stiles using the bathroom while Derek cleaned up as much as possible with paper towels in the kitchen. Though this time, he would definitely need a shower once Stiles had left.

 

Stiles emerged a few minutes later, bashful and exhausted. He promised to see Derek the following day, as per Erica’s instructions. Then he said goodbye and left.

 

Because Derek let him go without a word.

 

Because last time, Derek had said that his craving for Stiles was nothing more than a pack thing. 

 

Because Derek was an idiot.



 

Chapter Text

 

Stiles showed up the next morning before work, the sun barely above the treeline. Derek heard him shuffling outside on the porch for a minute, before tapping on the door and then letting himself in.

 

He gave Derek a bleary smile and shuffled right into him in the hallway, thumping softly into Derek’s chest and tilting his head to the side in offering. Derek's stomach did a small flip at the gesture. He wanted to wrap his arms around Stiles' warm body and drag his nose through his soft hair, still slightly damp from the shower.

 

Instead, he held himself back and leaned in politely, delicately skimming his nose over the offered skin. He breathed in deeply and Stiles’ pure scent enveloped him. He smelled incredible.

 

Derek rubbed his cheek down the side of Stiles' neck, then zoned in on some of his strongest natural scent points, breathing in behind Stiles’ ear then under his jaw, all while trying not to grab at him or get carried away. He moved around to the other side of Stiles’ straining throat, and that’s when he saw it: a mouth-shaped blotch, darkly blooming on Stiles’ neck. 

 

Derek’s mark. 

 

A multitude of emotions swam through Derek’s gut at the sight, and he burned with a sweetly-sick possessiveness. He only meant to scent over the mark, hoping to appease the wolf and let Stiles leave for work. He hadn’t meant to cage Stiles against the wall and lick his throat. Stiles moaned.

 

“So, you like the scentless products, huh?” Stiles asked, squirming against Derek’s body, like he was trying to scent him back. Derek buried his nose in Stiles’ hair, smelling the natural scent of him and and then rubbed his stubble through the soft strands, mixing their oils together.

 

“I like smelling you,” Derek agreed, rumbling in his chest and going back to lick at the hickey on Stiles’ throat.

 

“Oh good,” Stiles said, one arm twisting around Derek’s neck while the other hung at his side, clutching a plastic shopping bag. “I stopped at the drugstore on the way home last night- oh god your fangs.” Stiles held still as Derek brushed his elongated incisors against the mark, huffing in the scent of him. He slotted a thigh between Stiles’s legs as he leaned in, grabbing Stiles’ hair and twisting his head to the side so that he had more room.

 

The bag Stiles had been holding fell to the floor with a clatter. A small tube rolling across the hardwood floor caught Derek’s eye. He pulled back from Stiles to squint down at the packaging.

 

“Concealer?” Derek asked, straightening up and peering at Stiles’ flushed face. His eyes dropped to the dark mark above Stiles’ work uniform. “Oh,” Derek said, beginning to realize the significance of what he’d done the night before. 

 

Humans didn’t mark, not on purpose, usually. And when they did, it wasn’t something they shared with others. Derek cringed inwardly. He often got human and werewolf behaviors and customs mixed up. While his parents had tried to teach him the correct way to behave with each group, it had been too long and the lines in his head had become blurred. 

 

Stiles wouldn’t want his coworkers to see the mark on his neck. Or his friends. Or his dad.

 

“I’m really sorry,” Derek said, feeling both anger and guilt wash over him. He wanted Stiles to display his mark. He wanted every other werewolf, every other human, to know his claim on Stiles… except Derek had said they were nothing but packmates. And that mouth-shaped mark on Stiles’ throat was no ordinary pack marking.

 

“I hope you don’t mind if I put this on in the bathroom?” Stiles asked sheepishly, disentangling himself from Derek’s lax grip and swooping down to snatch the makeup off the floor. “I wanted to let you scent me first before I put it on. I hope that was the right thing to do.” His eyes went to Derek’s face and then quickly away, fidgeting with his uniform.

 

“Yes, that was a good idea,” Derek said, his voice rough, wanting nothing more than to press Stiles back against the wall. Instead, he trailed after him to the bathroom, watching while Stiles tore into different packages.

 

“I wasn’t sure what to get,” Stiles said, products sprawled all over the counter. “I found a YouTube tutorial for covering up hickeys that seemed easy to follow, so I just got some of the things that she said to use.” Stiles fumbled in his pocket, emerging with his phone. “Hey, do you mind holding this while the video plays? And pausing it for me when I need to? I just know that I’m going to get makeup all over my phone otherwise.”

 

“Sure,” Derek said, taking the phone from Stiles carefully. “I shouldn’t have marked you like that. I’m sorry.”

 

The look Stiles gave him seemed genuinely surprised. “Oh, no, no. Don’t worry, I actually like it. Er, getting it especially. I uh,” Stiles laughed nervously. Derek’s stomach clenched. “I mean, it’s a pack thing right?”

 

Derek grit his teeth. “Right.”

 

“Yeah, I thought so. Maybe next time, uh, if you do it again? Maybe below collar level?”

 

Derek swallowed heavily and met Stiles’ eyes in the mirror. Both of them looked down at the glaring mark on Stiles’ creamy skin, several inches above where his shirt hugged tight to his throat.

 

“Of course,” Derek managed. He quickly hit play on the video, holding at a good angle, and then watched as Stiles painstakingly covered up his claim.

 


 

Derek was pacing. He paced a lot. Not leaving the den during daylight hours had been hard on him for the past decade. But it was even harder now.

 

There was a feeling in the back of his brain, persistently reminding him that Stiles was out there somewhere, vulnerable, in a line of work that could potentially put him in danger. Even if what he mostly did was sit behind a desk, as he had told Derek. 

 

What if a werewolf was brought in, feral and enraged, and saw how beautiful and vulnerable Stiles was? What if Derek hadn’t scented him well enough? He’d started to in the hallway, but then he had stopped when he realized that Stiles intended to cover up the mark on his neck. And the makeup that he’d put on, while it didn’t reek of perfumes, it still obliterated Derek’s scent under layers of chemicals and pigment.

 

Another wolf might not even realize that Stiles was under a werewolf’s protection. They might try and take Stiles for themselves, or hurt him if they thought they couldn’t have him. 

 

Derek made another circuit through the kitchen, down the hall, into the bedroom, then back toward the living room, his hand held over his mouth to keep whatever sound wanted to escape locked up tight.

 

He had already texted Stiles once to make sure he’d gotten to the station alright, and Stiles had texted him a series of photos from the breakroom of a box of donuts disappearing. Then he’d sent, Stereotypical, but true, and I only had three!

 

Since then he had gone quiet. No doubt working. An ordinary day for him. Nothing to worry about. Nothing to-

 

He was just starting another pass from the hall into the living room, when there was a knock on his door. Derek stopped in his tracks. He had been so consumed with his worry over Stiles, he hadn’t even processed the sound of an engine getting closer to the house. Though now that he had been pulled from his reverie, he recalled the sound of a vehicle getting closer.

 

His eyes snapped to the clock on the TV in the living room. It was just after lunchtime, much too early for Stiles to be coming back, if he was even going to make it over tonight. He’d already stopped by that morning and they hadn’t made plans. Derek had hoped, but…

 

Besides, that hadn’t been Stiles’ Jeep. Derek knew that vehicle by now and it wouldn’t have slipped his attention so easily. Derek didn’t have any deliveries scheduled for that day, and besides, the delivery people knew to use the back door and set everything inside the porch. They never knocked on the front door.

 

“Come in,” Derek called from the dark hallway. He braced himself, feeling his fangs tickle in his gums and his fingertips itch with the points of his claws.

 

The door swung open, a tanned arm following it, and then Derek stood squinting into the bright sunlight streaming over Sheriff Stilinski’s shoulder.

 

“Derek,” Stiles’ dad nodded gruffly at him. “You and I need to have a conversation about my son.”

 


 

Derek handed John a cup of coffee, setting his own on the coffee table in front of the couch, having deferred the large armchair to the sheriff. John thanked him and took a sip, his weathered eyes crinkling in the corners.

 

“So,” John began, businesslike. “Stiles is your temporary companion.”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

John nodded. “He’s always been interested in werewolves. Even before Scott was bitten. And afterwards, it was Stiles that did all the research and helped Scott adapt to the changes. So I know for a fact that he is comfortable with werewolves.” John took another sip of black coffee. “However, I don’t recall him signing up to officially become someone’s temporary companion.”

 

They sat, staring at one another. 

 

“Look,” John said, when Derek continued to sit frozen to the couch cushion. “Derek, you have to know that I’ve been pulling for you - my whole staff has been pulling for you - since that night. We couldn’t stop the attack from happening, and I’m sorry for that. But since then, the people responsible are either dead or in jail, in a large part because my officers went above and beyond to bring those bastards down. So believe me when I say, I believe that you deserve a break. I think you deserve happiness. But listen. Stiles is my son. And it’s my responsibility to make sure he’s safe, even if he’s twenty-three and not a kid anymore.”

 

Derek didn’t move. He didn’t take his eyes off the sheriff. He could see him from that night, the older man superimposed over the younger version in Derek’s memory. The soot and grime that covered all of them as ash rained down from the burning house, sticking to sweaty skin. Derek, panic-ridden and afraid, restrained in special cuffs to keep him from running back into the collapsing ruin of the house. John leaning in, blocking Derek’s view of the fire, not saying anything, just holding his forearms gently, trying to stop Derek from pulling against the metal until he bled.

 

“I’m sorry,” John said. Both Johns. And then Derek was blinking and he was back in the present. The afternoon light seemed too bright, and he shut his eyes, surprised to feel the wet squeeze of tears.

 

“I-” Derek started, alarmed that he couldn’t get any more words out. John gave him a moment, sipping his coffee and looking away to let Derek compose himself.

 

“Stiles told me he was helping you, back when he first started coming out here,” John said once Derek had gotten himself under control. “I admit, I was surprised, but mostly pleasantly so, since Stiles, unique as he is, is a great person and loves to help. And I’ve always hoped you would start to rebuild your life. 

 

“It wasn’t until I saw Stiles sneaking in last night with a bunch of makeup because he thought he could hide the most insane werewolf hickey I have ever seen in my life,” John continued, turning almost as bright red as Derek, though he probably didn’t want to curl up and die as badly as Derek did in that moment, “that I realized he might be in over his head. That maybe you both are in over your heads.

 

“So this morning I went to the hospital and talked to Dr. Deaton. He isn’t allowed to give me details, of course. But he told me enough.” 

 

John set the mug aside and moved forward in his chair. He reached out and laid a gentle hand on Derek’s wrist, were there would have been marks from the cuffs all those years ago if Derek was able to scar.

 

“Derek, I’m sorry it got that bad. I’m sorry that you were hospitalized. And listen, I know Stiles must seem like your whole world right now and that you have to keep him at all costs. Protect him no matter what,” John sat back, letting go of Derek before he could feel too awkward. “And look, I don’t know a lot about wolf culture besides what I know about Scott, and he doesn’t have strong wolf instincts, or so I’ve been told. But Derek, even I know that wolves don’t mark up their pack members like that.”

 

Derek curled into himself. “I’m sorry, sir.” He rubbed his hands over his face, not knowing what to say. He drew breath to say more, but John held up his hands to stop him.

 

“Please no details. Do not do that to me. I have enough gray hair as it is. I told you what I saw because I don’t want either of you to get hurt. Stiles seems to think that this is some platonic pack thing, god knows why, and I can see by your face that you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. No offense.”

 

Derek shook his head. “None taken,” he ground out, his voice feeling like broken glass. He had no idea why John wasn’t just shooting him in the head with a wolfsbane bullet and burying him in a shallow grave in the woods after seeing Stiles’ neck, but he was becoming cautiously optimistic that this meeting wasn’t going to end in his grisly death.

 

“Okay, I’m almost done with my spiel, and then I’m gonna head back to the office and pretend I don’t know that my son is wearing a pound of foundation on his neck.” John rubbed at his face, his eyes screwing up. “God, I need so much therapy at this point. You have no idea what raising Stiles has been like.”

 

“He’s… spirited,” Derek tried, hoping to god that John wouldn’t somehow take that the wrong way.

 

“That’s one way of putting it,” John huffed. “I would have also accepted ‘possessed.’” 

 

Derek snorted and John gave him a small smile, shaking his head. 

 

“Anyway, the thing I came to say is just, be careful. Don’t get hurt. Don’t hurt Stiles. And also, while I realize this might be hard for you to accept, there are people who care about you, Derek. You aren’t as alone as you think.” John started getting up. “Also, you’re invited over for dinner. And I’m not taking no for an answer.”

 

Derek swallowed harshly, trying to think of a way to protest that didn’t sound rude as he followed John to the door.

 

“Thank you, sir, but I really can’t-”

 

“Make it work,” John said, opening the front door. “I don’t want the two of you isolated out here. And don’t put any more marks on my son, understood?”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“Alright then. Thanks for the coffee. Be seeing you soon for dinner.”

 

John pulled the door shut behind him, leaving Derek stammering in the dark hallway.

 


 

“My dad came to see you?! Oh my god, really? And you’re both still alive?”

 

“I would never hurt your father.”

 

Stiles flapped his hand at him. “I know, I know. And actually, my dad is a pretty chill guy, but Jesus! I can’t believe he drove out here after lunch to interrogate you.”

 

“He didn’t interrogate me.”

 

“Then what did he do?”

 

“He invited me over for dinner.”

 

Stiles stared at him from where he was perched on a stool in the kitchen, watching Derek cook while drinking a glass of wine. He blinked at Derek and then burst out laughing.

 

“Of course he did,” Stiles managed to huff after a moment, shaking his head fondly. “Oh my god. Well you gotta come over now. I was going to invite you, you know, but I thought it would be awkward. This is actually perfect. I can cook for you for a change and-”

 

“I can’t go,” Derek said, concentrating hard on caramelizing the onions in the pan in front of him and not looking at Stiles’ crestfallen expression.

 

“Sure you can. My dad wouldn’t have asked if he hadn’t meant it and-”

 

“I can’t go, Stiles,” Derek said, moving the pan to a cool burner with a clatter and clicking off the stove. He glared down at the half-finished meal, trying to remember the next step, ignoring the fact that his hands had started shaking.

 

“Hey, hey,” Stiles said softly, getting up from his stool and standing next to Derek, letting their hips and shoulders touch. Derek wondered where he’d learned to do that. He immediately felt calmer at the touch of Stiles’ body, but he wasn’t closing Derek in or controlling him in any way. Stiles gently rubbed his cheek on Derek’s shoulder and he relaxed even further. “Are you able to explain to me why?”

 

God, Stiles was so good at this. Derek knew he was using special calming techniques, but it felt so natural. From anyone else, the soothing body posture would have made him even more upset, but Stiles… Stiles was really good at this.

 

Derek took a deep breath. “I don’t-” he started, before stopping again, briefly scenting Stiles’ soft hair to calm himself. He tried to find the words. It was so difficult to explain. It was hard enough to tell the doctors. So far, he’d avoided telling almost everyone in his life, though he assumed Erica knew, with the way she treated him. His ears burned and he felt the hot flush of shame and guilt stealing over him.

 

Stiles slowly raised his hand to Derek’s back and began to rub soft circles over his T-shirt. Derek turned his face into Stiles’ neck, the side without the makeup, and breathed deep.

 

“We can go sit on the couch to talk,” Stiles said, but Derek was already shaking his head.

 

“I want to finish making dinner,” he said, though his voice was choked and he sounded pathetic in his own ears. With trembling hands he replaced the onions on the burner and turned on a low flame. He moved away from Stiles to get the ground sirloin out of the fridge. Stiles helped him measure the spices to mix into the meat, and then helped him form the meat into patties with a slice of cheese tucked in the center, where it would melt when the burgers were cooked. 

 

They worked quietly until Stiles started to gently tease him about the fancy burgers, and a large portion of the remaining tension fell away from Derek’s shoulders. He was grateful that Stiles let him finish dinner. He also appreciated how Stiles was actively helping, but that he wasn’t taking over, as if Derek couldn’t handle it himself. 

 

Derek knew it didn’t matter in the large scheme of things but, to him, abandoning dinner was equivalent to admitting that he couldn’t be relied upon to feed Stiles. That he was a terrible pack mate. That Stiles should move on, leave him behind. It made no sense to anyone but him and his wolf, but Derek was going to finish dinner and feed Stiles. He had a task to complete. He breathed slowly and concentrated.

 

It wasn’t until he was slicing tomatoes, his hand finally steady, that Derek was able to talk. “I don’t usually leave the house during the day,” he said, looking down at the cutting board, concentrating on the knife so that he didn’t over-process what he was saying. “I’d like to come have dinner with you and your dad. But I’m not sure I could.” He finished slicing the tomato, adding it to the hamburger buns before rinsing off the romaine lettuce. 

 

“Can you leave the house after dark? Is that easier?” Stiles asked, his voice carefully neutral. Derek didn’t like it, but it was so much better than the indignation and confusion he had gotten from the few people who knew about his agoraphobia who weren’t Deacon. Derek shuddered inwardly and pushed it out of his mind. He was with Stiles right now, and Stiles needed an explanation.

 

“I can leave the house after dark,” Derek said slowly. He had told very few people this part. Actually, he had only ever told Deacon. “I go outside and walk through the woods most nights.” 

 

“Okay,” Stiles nodded. “Would it work if we made sure that the dinner was later in the evening, after sundown?”

 

Derek let out a long sigh, adding the caramelized onions to their burgers and picking up their plates to carry over to the table. “I…” he sighed again and stood behind his chair after putting down the plates, staring at the food and not wanting to look at Stiles, who had followed him over with the wine bottle and a second glass for Derek. He appreciated the gesture, though he wouldn’t be gaining much from the alcohol. “I don’t leave the house like this,” he said, making a small gesture to indicate himself.

 

Stiles nodded, still neutral. Derek could see him trying to process what Derek meant. It would be so much easier if Stiles could just guess what Derek was trying to explain so that he didn’t have to say the words. But Stiles hadn’t been around born wolves before. He had no way of knowing what Derek was talking about. To give himself some more time, Derek sat down heavily in his chair and started eating. He sipped the wine Stiles poured for him, nodding at Stiles in thanks, still without looking at him.

 

Stiles took a few bites, making an appreciative noise that made Derek curl his toes. After a few minutes of eating, Stiles, still wearing a look of pure concentration, asked, “So, do you dress a certain way? To leave the house?”

 

Derek gave a small snort and shook his head slightly. “Um, sort of.” Why was it so hard to say out loud? (You freak, you’re nothing but an animal.) “I don’t leave the house in this form.”

 

Stiles blinked at him. He slowly took a bite of his burger, his large doe eyes watching Derek calmly while the wheels turned in his head. Swallowing suddenly and straightening up so fast he almost knocked his wine glass over, Stiles gasped at him. “No!” he said, his mouth dropping open and his eyes going huge. “No! Oh my god. Please, please tell me it’s true.” A huge smile seemed to be threatening to burst out on Stiles’ face. “You can turn into a wolf, can’t you?”

 

“Well…”

 

“Can’t you?!”

 

Derek gave a little shrug. Stiles leapt from his chair with a whoop and practically started dancing in place. “Can I see?! Please tell me I can see! Oh my god, oh my god!”

 

Okay, so maybe telling Stiles wasn’t going to be as big an issue as Derek had thought.

 


 

After they had cleaned up from dinner, Derek finally gave into Stiles’ pleading, heading into his bedroom alone to shift into his wolf form. Stiles’ squee when he emerged made Derek’s sensitive ears ring and flatten to his skull, but his packmate quickly made up for that by falling on his knees and petting him all over, tugging on his ears, and burying his hands in the thick fur ruff of his neck.

 

“I love dogs!” Stiles proclaimed happily, petting him, having no idea how that came across to a werewolf in full shift. Derek snorted through his long nose, but didn’t pull away. Stiles had no way of knowing, and his reaction was one of such pure delight, there was no way Derek could take serious offense. “I’m sorry, Derek, but it’s true,” Stiles said in response to Derek’s huff. “Dogs are the best! Just the best!”

 

Derek put up with the petting and the cooing for another several minutes before trotting back to his bedroom, ignoring Stiles’ disappointed whining. He shifted back in privacy and pulled his pants back on, before heading out to the living room, pulling on his shirt.

 

“So do you think you could-” Stiles started, but let the rest of the sentence hang there as he caught sight of Derek before he had his shirt all the way pulled down over his chest and stomach. And okay, maybe Derek had done that a little bit on purpose, wanting Stiles to show a bit of appreciation for his human form. Apparently, Derek was jealous of his own wolf. Well wasn’t that just great. Another weird and upsetting thing to tell his therapist the next time he was forced to do a mental health check-up.

 

Derek sat next to Stiles on the couch, and for a moment Stiles looked a little bashful, trying to stare at him without looking for too long. Attempting to hide his fond smile, Derek gently took ahold of Stiles’ upper arms and pulled him into his lap. Stiles, still a little shy for some reason, straddled Derek’s hips and laid his hands lightly on Derek’s shoulders. He settled in and sighed when Derek ran his hands over his face and hair, scenting him carefully.

 

“I was going to say, do you think you could come over to my house as a wolf?” Stiles asked, his thumbs brushing the ribbed neck of Derek’s T-shirt. Derek went still under him, considering.

 

“I don’t know,” he said at last. “I’ve never tried leaving my family’s property in wolf form before.” 

 

“Wanna try?” Stiles asked, smiling down at him from his perch in Derek’s lap. Derek loved the weight of him. He loved feeling his nervous energy as he shifted in his lap, his legs on either side pressing down into the cushions. Derek looped his arms loosely around Stiles’ waist.

 

“We can try,” Derek said. 

 

Stiles punched the air above his head. “Yes!” He started to squirm in earnest, excitement radiating off of him. Derek felt flattered despite his reservations.

 

“No promises though,” Derek said, finding he could be light about it for once, as he carded his fingers through Stiles’ hair.

 

“I’ll be happy for you just to give it a go,” Stiles said, painfully sincere, his warm brown eyes large and searching. Derek felt a fluttering warmth in his chest. Stiles ruined it the next moment. “Plus, you are the most awesome dog ever! You’re like, huge! And soft. So soft. And black, like your hair.” Here Stiles got distracted petting Derek, his long fingers stroking over his scalp and then down to cup the sides of Derek’s face, his thumbs feeling the coarse texture of his short beard.

 

Their eyes locked, and Derek wondered if this was the moment when a human couple would kiss. Instead, he turned to nuzzle Stiles’ wrist. He could smell the warm blood beneath the thin skin, and Stiles’ heart was picking up, beating faster like it usually did during scenting.

 

His lips against Stiles’ inner wrist, Derek looked up at him earnestly and asked, “So, you’re saying you like my wolf form better than this one?” Then he put his mouth against Stiles’ skin and held his wrist to his face, rubbing his stubble over the fragile skin of Stiles’ arm, before moving back up and taking two of Stiles’ fingers in his mouth.

 

Stiles’ breath punched out of him. “N-no. No. That’s not what I meant. Uh. Oh Jesus. I can’t think of words while you are doing that.”

 

Derek gave a hint of a smile, feeling the corners of his mouth twitching up, before focusing on the fingers in his mouth. They were so long and delicate, tasting faintly of dish soap but mostly of skin. Stiles’ nails were trimmed short and didn’t scrape on his tongue but for the tiniest scratching sensation as Derek licked around them and between them.

 

Stiles was staring at him open mouthed, his eyes half-mast and glassy. Derek met his gaze and laved up the underside of the two digits, sucking them gently, feeling content and dreamy. Derek blinked heavily, the tip of his tongue stabbing between Stiles’ fingers, lapping at the join where the digits met his hand, the soft flesh yielding slightly to the pressure. 

 

He whined in his throat when Stiles leaned in and started kissing his neck, leaving a hot trail down to his shoulder. The boy was already breathing hard, his hips beginning to rock, shuffling further forward to press against Derek’s erection. Derek shuddered and pulled Stiles closer by his hips, directing his movements and encouraging him to move harder, faster.

 

Stiles moaned against Derek’s neck, only to whimper when Derek pulled off Stiles’ fingers, needing something else in his mouth. He grabbed Stiles under his arms and half stood up, controlling Stiles’ fall onto his back on the couch. Leaning over him, Derek started fumbling with Stiles’ work pants, pushing up his shirt and nuzzling and licking Stiles belly.

 

Stiles seemed to realize what Derek had in mind and let out a moan. He reached down to help Derek get his belt open and then his pants unbuttoned and unzipped. From there, Derek was able to do the rest, pulling down both pants and boxers, sliding them to Stiles’ ankles, before burying his nose in the crook of Stiles’ thigh, breathing in his strong scent.

 

Stiles’ legs fell open, welcoming him in, and Derek greedily scented him, rubbing his beard against Stiles’ pubic hair and humming in happiness at the intimate feeling and smell of him. Stiles was so vulnerable like this, and there was a tug under Derek’s ribs at the trust he was being given.

 

Stiles had his fingers entwined in Derek’s short hair as best he could, holding on when Derek’s nuzzling became licking. His soft sighs cut off into a frantic moan when Derek moved from licking the crease of his thigh to take Stiles’ cock into his mouth.

 

Derek barely spared a thought for adjusting to the taste or to consider that this was the first time he’d ever had his mouth on another man. None of that mattered, because this was Stiles, and his taste and scent were so much stronger here, mixed up with the salty tang of precome and the musky scent of sex.

 

He growled with possessiveness and Stiles screamed in response and writhed beneath him, pleasure and desperation radiating off him in waves. Derek swallowed and Stiles’ thighs began to tremble. 

 

It wasn’t long before Stiles was pulling at his hair and trying to tell him he was close, all while Derek ignored him and went on swallowing around him, bracketing is thighs with his arms while he gripped Stiles by the hips, his big hands spanning the slim expanse of him easily. He rutted down against the cushion beneath him, one of Stiles’ legs over the small of his back and his other foot on Derek’s thigh, undoubtedly feeling the motion of Derek’s hips.

 

“Derek!” Stiles’ stomach tensed and his legs started to shake, and then he was straining backwards with his shoulders into the couch, lifting his hips and pushing into Derek’s mouth as far as he could go, spilling down Derek’s throat and crying out wordlessly.

 

The taste of Stiles hit his tongue and then Derek was tripping over into orgasm in Stiles’ wake, rubbing down hard against the couch and feeling his release turn the inside of his jeans slippery. He didn’t knot, likely because Stiles’ wasn’t touching him directly, but it still felt incredible. His brain continued to cascade delicious chemicals as he came down, his head cradled against Stiles’ inner thigh, long fingers slowly stroking through his hair.

 


 

Derek’s face and chest were so warm, so perfectly comfortable, he didn’t want to move. He was surrounded by the most delicious smell. Comforting. Arousing. But the rest of him felt cramped, his legs uncomfortable and his arm and shoulder jammed up underneath him in an annoying way.

 

Blinking, his eyelashes brushed over warm skin and soft, sparse hair. His pillow giggled. Derek jerked the rest of the way out of his haze and sat up. Stiles groaned.

 

“Aw, but you were such a good blanket.”

 

Derek rubbed his eye and tried to tame his hair where it had been smashed up against Stiles’ thigh for - he looked at the clock on the TV - about half an hour. He turned back to Stiles who was still sprawled on the couch looking the picture of happy and content even with his uniform pants around his ankles.

 

Derek swallowed.

 

Sometimes werewolf companions choose to spend the night. God, he wished that Erica had elaborated on that point more when she was here. Maybe made it a strong suggestion like she had with the daily scenting. There was nothing he wanted more than to wrap Stiles up in his bed.

 

Stiles made a feeble movement, tugging at his hopelessly wrinkled uniform. “I suppose I should head home and sort this out,” he sighed, slowly sitting up to reach down towards his twisted pants.

 

Derek knelt down next to the couch and blocked Stiles’ progress, hands going to Stiles’ belly of their own accord. “I promised I wouldn’t leave marks,” he heard himself saying, justifying his wandering hands as he examined every inch of Stiles’ skin.

 

“I mean,” Stiles said, sighing when Derek’s hand smoothed up his flank, pushing his shirt farther up, “I'm sure it would be okay if no one could see them.” He smirked at Derek from the arm of the couch, and Derek gave him a small smile in return.

 

“Maybe,” Derek managed, petting Stiles’ happy trail with one hand while he kissed over his stomach and then followed his hand down, ending with a small nip to his hipbone and earning a gasp. He gave the soft spot under his belly button one final kiss before tugging his shirt down and helping him to get his boxers and pants back up his long legs.

 

Stiles gazed up at Derek, his eyes soft and somehow far away, before seeming to realize that he was now fully dressed again, save for the open belt buckle lying over his waist. He sat up, beginning to fumble with his belt before thinking better of it and getting up to use the bathroom.

 

Derek trailed down the hallway to his bedroom for a change of clothes, in desperate need of a shower. He waited for Stiles to finish up in the bathroom and then slipped in after him, Stiles dropping his eyes to Derek’s filthy jeans and giving him a smirk as he brushed past him on the way to the living room. Derek heard the TV click on as he stepped into the shower, and something in him settled down knowing that Stiles would wait for him.

 

They stood in the hallway twenty minutes later, Derek completely unnecessarily scenting Stiles all over again and Stiles graciously allowing him, grinning ear to ear like he had some private joke. Derek looked at him questioningly, but he just shook his head and ran his fingers through Derek’s hair one final time before heading out.

 

“Text me what day works for dinner with the old man!” Stiles called back at him, before the door closed and he was alone. He listened to Stiles’ Jeep until it was out of range, before heading out on patrol.

 


 

The deer were back, wandering down to the stream, picking through the underbrush. Derek followed along, carefully downwind, listening to the fawn’s clumsy stumbling and the animals’ slow progress down to the creek bed. He listened for a while longer, certain that there were no predators other than himself in the vicinity, before moving on.

 

He paused at the usual spot in the clearing by the ruined house, but didn’t linger, following the path up towards the highest point of the property, a treeless space covered in rocks and weeds. He sat at the top of the ridge for a long time, scenting the air and watching the shadows shift under the passage of the half-moon. 

 

Derek felt different in wolf form tonight. Lighter, more connected. Usually, he tried to block out his human side while he was shifted, shutting out the difficult, weary thoughts of his daytime-self.

 

Tonight, though, he couldn’t help thinking about Stiles’ arms around his wolf form, so easily accepting and so obviously delighted. His simple joy at discovering that Derek could turn into a “dog.” 

 

Derek huffed, shaking his head as if trying to throw water from his fur. Stiles meant no disrespect. To him, dog was the highest compliment, not an insult. And maybe Derek could get used to hearing the word directed at him by Stiles, and leave that other voice behind in the murky past where it belonged.

 

He felt so connected to his human side just then, out under the stars and thinking of Stiles, that he considered changing forms. It only needed to be for a moment, just to know that he could do it. He stared down at his paws, thinking of them transforming into human hands, of standing up tall and bare under the light of the moon, breathing in the fresh air, the world dimming slightly with his half-human vision, but still clear. Still safe.

 

He wanted to. He leaned into the edge, the full body shiver of transformation tickling at the edges of his perception. 

 

In the end, though, he couldn’t fall over the edge. Couldn’t take that final step.

 

Next time. He could try again next time.

 

He trotted home in his wolf form, feeling foolish about his reluctance to make the shift, even though he knew he was safe; nothing but a family of deer for miles. He wasn’t totally dejected, though. Maybe he hadn’t managed to shift in the open but, for the first time in years, he had seriously considered it.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Erica [11:12 am]: Stiles is going to start taking classes at the Center

Erica [11:17 am]: Are you panicking? Stop panicking

Erica [11:24 am]: You know that I can see that you’ve read these messages right?

Erica Calling

 

“Stop panicking.”

 

“He should take the classes,” Derek said, pacing and avoiding thinking about why he suddenly felt like hitting things. “It’s what he wants to do with his career.”

 

“He’s not going to suddenly drop you just because he learns some of the weirder stuff about born wolves,” Erica said. “I mean, I’m still friends with you.”

 

“You’re also a werewolf.”

 

“A bitten werewolf. It’s not the same.”

 

“To humans it is,” Derek argued.

 

“Not to a human who is best friends with a passive, bitten wolf, and then gets stuck with your alpha ass, it’s not,” Erica replied. 

 

“Don’t tell him I’m an alpha.”

 

“He’s going to figure it out, Derek. He’s going to be taking classes. Real ones this time. And if he starts taking the online courses to prep for his degree in werewolf psychology and sociology at the Academy, he is definitely going to know.”

 

Derek paced faster. What he wouldn’t give to be able to walk around outside right now. This pent up energy almost hurt.

 

“He’s not going to drop you when he finds out, Derek,” Erica repeated, her voice taking on a consoling edge.

 

“He might.”

 

“He won’t.”

 

“Alphas are demonized in the media. We’re no better than monsters to most people.”

 

“That’s bullshit and Stiles will know that.”

 

“But-”

 

“Stiles is smart, Derek. And for some reason, he likes you. You really think he’s going to wash his hands of your stupid wolf butt just because your eyes glow red and the news ran a story about a feral alpha several years ago?”

 

“But Scott was bitten by that alpha.”

 

“Oh. Right. Still-”

 

“Don’t tell him yet. Please. Just… I really don’t want a different companion assigned to me. I’m used to Stiles.”

 

“Used to him, huh? Nothing more than that? You’re just used to him?”

 

“Erica,” he growled. He was sweating. Why was he sweating? His hands clenched.

 

“Derek, relax. We aren’t running the next class for two weeks. There's plenty of time to tell him all the stuff you really should have already told him.”

 

Derek’s hand gripped tight around his phone.  The tendons in his neck felt like they were about to snap.

 

“Okay,” he mumbled.

 

“He’s probably going to tell you all about how excited he is over the classes next time he sees you, so, you know, be supportive.”

 

“Of course I’ll be supportive. I’ve already said he should take them.”

 

“Just don’t give him the look.”

 

“What look?”

 

“Is there a mirror nearby?”

 

“No.”

 

“Well, it’s the look I’m positive you’ve got going on right now,” Erica sighed. “Something along the lines of mild food poisoning and paralysis.”

 

Derek scowled. “Erica.”

 

“Yeah, okay, I know. I’m going now. Love you, sugar lump!”

 

Derek hung up.

 


 

"Hey," Stiles said. Derek looked up at him, his tail tucked tight and his ears flattened with worry. Stiles chuckled softly. "You know, you're way more expressive like this."

 

Derek hunched further down. Emotions came much purer in wolf form. He was nervous about getting into Stiles' Jeep with him. He trusted Stiles, or he would never have agreed to this. But he was leaving his den and his property for the first time since the hospital, and those were not good memories.

 

They stood in the hallway in front of the door. Stiles had a backpack slung over his shoulder that Derek had packed earlier with the ridiculously optimistic idea that he might be able to shift back once he was at Stiles’ house, and he had wanted clothes, just in case. Now though, staring at his own front door from waist-height, he thought he might not be able to take the first step.

 

He watched as Stiles’ hand reached for the knob, and he instinctively leaned his weight into Stiles’ thighs, his furry shoulder thumping into Stiles’ jeans, gently knocking him to the side. He didn’t want Stiles to touch the handle. He didn’t want Stiles to get burned. He didn’t want to see what was on the other side. 

 

“It’s okay,” Stiles said, hand ruffling over the smooth fur on the wolf’s head. “We’ll only be in the open a few seconds, and then you can hop right into the Jeep.” 

 

Without further ado, Stiles tugged the front door open and was herding Derek out onto his front porch. Derek strained his ears for signs of danger, finding nothing but the usual night sounds. He huffed at the air, and it was grass and dirt and small creatures in the underbrush and Stiles.

 

The passenger side door of the Jeep creaked open and Stiles honest to god patted the seat to get Derek to jump up. 

 

“I put a blanket down for you and everything!” Stiles chatted, getting into the driver’s seat once Derek was settled and starting up the engine. “Do werewolves shed? I don’t know if werewolves shed. I don’t even know if normal wolves shed. I mean, it would make sense that you would, right? Don’t they have to breed dogs specifically not to shed all over the place? You know, for people with allergies, or maybe OCD or something.”

 

Derek was so busy giving Stiles an unimpressed look, he didn’t even notice when they drove past his family's property line.

 


 

The sheriff blinked down at Derek before raising his eyebrows at his son. Derek sat with as many good manners as he could, tail curled around his paws and back straight, while Stiles fumbled his shoes off in the entryway behind him. He resisted the urge to sniff the air, though there were so many new smells it was difficult to keep his nose from twitching.

 

“So, I know you made me promise never to just show up with a dog,” Stiles said, coming to stand next to Derek, “but this one followed me home. Can we keep him?”

 

The sheriff snorted and Derek flattened his ears and stared hard up at Stiles, but his chest squeezed uncomfortably at Stiles’ words. The thought crossed his mind briefly that he could just stay in this form. It would be easier if he was the family dog. If they could just keep him, simple as that. It was a ridiculous fantasy that didn’t last more than a few seconds, but the yearning to belong remained. Derek straightened up even more, determined to behave.

 

“Welcome to our home, Derek,” the sheriff said with a smile. “I’m glad you could make it. Please make yourself comfortable.”

 

“Should I have bought a doggie bed?” Stiles asked in mock horror.

 

“Stiles,” his father warned, though his eyes crinkled up. Derek pulled his tail in tighter over his front paws.

 

“I’m going to put your stuff in my room,” Stiles said to Derek, tossing his hoodie on the back of the couch. “You can look around if you want.”

 

He turned to go up the stairs to the second floor and Derek was instantly at his heels. Stiles stopped and looked down, a confused frown on his face.

 

“I think he’d be more comfortable going with you,” the sheriff said, admirably trying to keep the smile out of his voice.

 

“Fine, but you chew on any of my shoes and we’re going to have a problem.”

 

“Stiles!”

 

“Yeah, yeah, sorry dad. Sorry Derek.” Derek fixed him with a superior look, before intentionally gazing off into a random corner. “It’s so creepy that I know exactly what you’re thinking and you can’t even talk,” Stiles muttered, continuing up the stairs. Derek followed right behind him.

 

They reached a room saturated with Stiles’ scent, and he felt instantly relaxed. It took all of Derek’s willpower not to climb into the bed and hunker down for the rest of the evening. There was no danger here. He had the Stilinskis to protect him, and he was there to protect them. Safety. Pack.

 

“So, you wanna, uh, get changed?” Stiles asked, looking down at him. “I mean, we could always serve you a plate on the floor but…” Derek started nudging Stiles out of the room by headbutting him in the thigh until he got the hint and left, closing the door behind him until there was just enough room for Derek to push it back open with either a paw or a foot. “See you downstairs,” Stiles called through the crack in the door, unnecessarily loud. He still didn’t seem to grasp the extent of Derek’s enhanced hearing. Stiles' pack member, Scott, had apparently taught Stiles absolutely nothing of importance about wolves.

 

He felt less secure with Stiles gone. Not for the first time, he felt the inadequacy of not being a born alpha. He was emotionally still a beta, with all the natural instincts of a pack member, not a pack leader. He was overly protective, but he had always been like that. It was a personality trait, not anything he’d gained from becoming the new alpha as the last surviving member of his pack.

 

With no human eyes on him, he was free to drop pretense and snuffle around the room. Emotions lingered in Stiles’ discarded clothing, as well as the scents of other people and places. Stiles’ uniform from that day smelled like stress, determination and pride. It smelled of the police station and patrol cars, of a coffeehouse and a diner. There were multiple food smells: donuts, coffee, french fries and ketchup, a burger for lunch. He could smell where the sheriff had put his hand on Stiles’ shoulder and the pride and love in that touch. He could smell faint remnants of other people, none of them too threatening. But most of all he could smell them together, him and Stiles. His human form scent, distinct from his current form’s more wolf-like scent, and Stiles sweet-salty smell, overwhelmingly perfect.

 

Derek backed away from the closet, knowing that he had spent a lot longer than was polite investigating Stiles’ things. He stood in the middle of the carpet and shifted back before nerves got the best of him. He refused to think of what it meant that he was shifting outside of his den for the first time (voluntarily) in years.

 

But he felt… safe here. Surrounded by Stiles’ scent, it was like an extension of his own den. He stood for a moment, naked and oddly vulnerable, despite being the most dangerous creature within hundreds of miles, possibly in the entire Northwest. Not that humans couldn’t figure out a way to destroy him. He knew that only too well.

 

He dressed quickly, taking a moment to indulge by rubbing his face in Stiles’ pillow, coating his clean, dryer-fresh clothes in a layer of his packmate’s soothing scent. It made him feel braver, more secure. Some alpha, he thought to himself, before cautiously nudging the door open with his foot and going to fix his hair in the upstairs bathroom mirror.

 

He headed down to where he could hear Stiles complaining about his father’s stubborn refusal to buy a leaf blower, while his dad complained about Stiles’ apparent inability to use a rake. The kitchen was filled with the cheerful clattering of plates and the metallic sound of silverware being jostled. Derek could smell the lasagna in the oven and knew it was done, along with the ever-so-slightly burned garlic bread.

 

Home. Not his, maybe, but still a home. His heart stung.

 

“Derek, can you help Stiles with the glasses?” John asked, refusing to acknowledge his change in form or the open look of longing that must have been on his face in that one, unguarded moment. Stiles stopped talking about stubborn old cops who didn’t love their sons enough to pay for a modern convenience and spun around, his face breaking into a huge grin when he saw him. 

 

They busied themselves setting the table and filling glasses with water. Stiles opened a bottle of wine and Derek set out the juice glasses the Stilinki’s used instead of wine glasses. “Stiles broke them all,” John admitted. Stiles stared at him in betrayal.

 

The meal was lively, though Derek didn’t participate much more than answering questions and laughing at Stiles’ indignation when his father called him out for something ridiculous he’d said or done. At one point, when they were finishing up and Stiles was smacking his dad’s hand away from taking a third helping of lasagna, Derek laughing openly at the look of fond exasperation John threw his son, Stiles caught and held his eye. Stiles smiled at him, slowly, a little dopey, his amber eyes sparkling.

 

“I like seeing you laugh,” Stiles said. Derek felt his face heating.

 

They cleaned up the remnants of dinner while John headed up to his room to change for his night shift at the station. “Alright, I'm heading out,” the sheriff announced as Derek finished drying a pan and Stiles put the last of the leftovers in the fridge.

 

“Okay dad, stay safe,” Stiles said, taking a few steps over to his father and giving him a quick side hug.

 

“I will. You boys have a good evening and remember what I told both of you.” John leveled them each with an imposing Dad Look. Right. No marks. Derek’s ears got hot and Stiles rolled his eyes. 

 

“Get out of here, old man. Love you.”

 

“Love you too, son. Night, Derek.”

 

“Goodnight, sir. Thank you for dinner.”

 

John nodded and was out the door a few minutes later. Derek listened as his car pulled out of the driveway and down the street.

 

“He’s really gone?” Stiles asked in a whisper, noting Derek’s cocked head. “Not spying on us from the front window?”

 

Derek managed a small smile. “No, he’s really gone.” 

 

Stiles grinned. “Good! Let’s play video games and eat junk food. I have a whole stash.”

 

“I know. It’s in your bottom dresser drawer.”

 

“You snooped in my room?!”

 

“Hard not to notice the fog of chemicals pretending to be food coming from that corner,” Derek replied steadily.

 

Stiles gasped. “How dare you! Now I have to decide if you deserve the Twizzlers I bought especially for you.”

 


 

“You’re terrible at this,” Stiles complained half an hour later. “I thought that your superpowers would translate well to video games. But no, Derek, I was so misguided and wrong. How are you this bad?”

 

Derek shrugged. “This is the first time I’ve played since I was a teenager.”

 

“But still. You’ve held a controller before, right?”

 

Derek snorted. “Yes, Stiles. I’ve held a controller before.”

 

“Then how?”

 

“I played sports. And my sisters liked the PlayStation more than me, so. I only played when they didn’t have anyone else to play with.”

 

Stiles shook his head. “Look, you need to come over more, if only so you can learn to play this without embarrassing yourself.”

 

“I’m not embarrassed,” Derek said, as his character keeled over and died. Again. He wasn’t quite that bad. He might be hamming it up a bit to get under Stiles’ skin. He got so flushed when he was exasperated. And he smelled stronger. He moved closer to Stiles on the couch, still holding the controller as he leaned his head over and breathed in by Stiles’ ear. “But I’ll come over more if you want me to.”

 

Stiles’ face went slack instantly as his mouth dropped open and his eyes went glassy. On screen his character dropped dead as Stiles swayed closer to Derek.

 

“You could stay. Tonight. Here,” Stiles said, his eyes dropping to Derek’s mouth, then scanning down his body before looking back into his eyes.

 

Derek swallowed. “Would your dad be alright with that?”

 

“I mean, yeah. I told him what Erica said about, about sleepovers being good for you.”

 

Derek couldn’t help but snort. “Well, if it’s for my health.”

 

“Is that a yes? You’re gonna stay?” Stiles’ face lit up. “I don’t mind driving you home if you need to go-”

 

“No, it’s okay.” Derek’s fingers twitched. “That is, if you actually want me to stay. If not, then-”

 

“No! I do, I totally do. Uh, you want to get ready for bed then? You’re terrible at video games, so maybe we can watch a movie instead?”

 

“Sure.”

 

Derek trailed after Stiles upstairs to the bathroom, following him right inside. “Uh, okay,” Stiles said, looking around the small space for a moment with wide eyes. “Let me get you a toothbrush.” He fished around in the medicine cabinet. “Here’s one the dentist gave me last visit. Sorry it’s not as cool as mine,” he said, waving his bright yellow toothbrush at Derek, the handle shaped like Tigger. “They were out of the Batman ones,” Stiles said, shrugging and reaching for the toothpaste. At least it wasn’t bubblegum flavored.

 

They brushed their teeth side by side, taking turns rinsing their mouths and brushes. Derek ended up going first when the mint toothpaste made him sneeze. Stiles laughed at him, somehow managing to get toothpaste on the mirror. 

 

Once they were finally cleaned up from that incident, Stiles headed to his room, Derek a few steps behind. As soon as the door was closed and Stiles started rummaging around his dresser, presumably for his snacks, Derek stripped out of his shirt and pants and proceeded to make himself comfortable on Stiles’ bed. He took a second to just breathe, feeling the sensation of pack and safe wash over him, before he started getting the bed ready to share with Stiles.

 

It was a full mattress rather than a twin, thank god, and Derek chose the side closest to the door for his own spot. He rearranged the pillows and blankets so that Stiles could wedge himself comfortably in the corner for watching a movie on his laptop. He fussed for a bit longer, getting everything to lay right.

 

The room was too quiet. He looked up to see Stiles standing halfway to the bed, a load of extra sheets in his arms. He had a change of clothes over one elbow, probably what he preferred to sleep in, and a pack of Twizzlers hanging from his clenched fingers.

 

Derek reached out for the extra bedding, grunting his thanks for the thoughtful gesture, and began adding the new items to the blankets and pillows he’d already arranged. It was much more comfortable after the additions had been prodded into place. That accomplished, he turned back to Stiles and took the candy out of his grasp, setting it in the middle of the bed to share while they watched.

 

“Okay,” Stiles was whispering. “Okay… right.”

 

Derek reached out and tugged the clothing from Stiles’ grasp and examined it, finding two T-shirts and two pairs of pajama bottoms. Derek held up the largest shirt and raised his eyebrows. Stiles nodded. Derek held it up to his own chest, but he could tell it wasn’t going to fit, so he added it to the bedding instead.

 

Stiles was still hesitating and fretting, so Derek stood up, pulled him forward by his waist so that he was standing right in front of him by the bed. He made quick work of the buttons on Stiles’ flannel shirt, which wasn’t buttoned all the way up anyway, and slid it off his shoulders, tossing it on the bed with everything else. He reached for the hem of Stiles’ T-shirt next, and Stiles made a small noise, something like a startled yip.

 

Derek paused to look at him. He was flushed and staring down at Derek’s chest, watching the muscles shift while Derek worked his shirt up over Stiles’ torso. His eyes flicked up to Derek’s just before his face disappeared behind a wall of cotton fabric as Derek tugged the shirt off over Stiles’ head, tossing it to join the rest of the bedding.

 

Stiles was staring at him, a little dazed, as Derek situated the fresh T-shirt so that he could help Stiles into it. The processes took longer than necessary, because Stiles didn’t seem to know where to put his arms and got stuck, but eventually he was wearing the shirt he had chosen to sleep in.

 

Derek sat down on the edge of the bed and something like disappointment crossed Stiles’ face when he stopped touching him. He didn’t allow himself to think about it too carefully, just like he hadn’t let his hands wander all over Stiles’ slim chest and belly. He was being a responsible packmate, and he didn’t want to mess it up.

 

He pulled Stiles forward by the waist, holding him between his knees as he unbuckled his belt. Stiles let out another noise, sort of a gasp, but Derek tried not to get distracted. He pulled the belt out of the loops and set it aside, since it would be uncomfortable digging into their backs if he left it on the bed. 

 

By the time he had Stiles’ button undone and the fly unzipped, he was having a resurgence of very non-pack member thoughts. Getting ready for bed together had always been a family activity for him, one that never involved sexual intent, just caring and reassurance. And yes, normally his family did not actually undress one another, just helped when elbows got stuck or hair got caught, but it felt so natural to take over for Stiles. He was able to scent him this way as he put the fresh clothes on him, so that they smelled like one another. He liked doing this a lot. Maybe too much.

 

It was hard not to lean in and bury his face in Stiles’ warm belly and rub his scruff in the warm crease of his thigh where the hair smelled musky and so, so good. He distracted himself by helping Stiles out of his pant legs, which required some patience, as Stiles had seemed to forget how to use his feet.

 

As soon as his legs were free, he helped him into the soft pajama bottoms and pulled them up over his boxer briefs, coming to rest under his hip bones. Then he stared at his own hands on Stiles’ frame, his thumbs under his navel. He tried to block out how easy it would be to yank the front of his clothing down and pull him close so that he could get his mouth on him. 

 

Swallowing heavily, Derek instead asked Stiles to grab the laptop, which he nearly dropped on the way back to the bed. Derek took it from him and set it near the Twizzlers, then grabbed Stiles and pulled him over his own body and set him in the corner he’d made comfortable for him.

 

“Okay,” Stiles said again, his eyes dropping to Derek’s chest, his stomach, his thighs, then back up. Stiles pulled a pillow into his lap. “What would you like to watch?”

 

They settled on Netflix’s Daredevil, since Derek hadn’t seen it and Stiles was a huge fan. Stiles inched closer until Derek wrapped an arm around his back and hauled him in, Stiles’ head resting comfortably in the dip between Derek’s shoulder and pectoral muscle, his cheek and ear warm against Derek’s skin. He got distracted rubbing his beard over Stiles’ hair, feeling the soft strands catch and release, catch and release, lulling him into full relaxation. One final scan of the surrounding area, hearing nothing but normal human and small wildlife sounds, and Derek was finally able to rein in his focus, center it completely on Stiles.

 

He realized that Stiles was turning his head into the motion of Derek’s face, rocking his head slowly on Derek’s chest as he did, his breath ghosting over Derek’s nipple. Derek sucked in a breath, shivering.

 

Deftly, Stiles reached out and closed the laptop. Derek picked it up along with the unopened candy, and set them on the nightstand. He looked at Stiles again, just in time to see him take the nipple near his cheek into his mouth. 

 

Derek groaned, his whole body pulsing with the electric shock of it. No one had ever done that to him before. He never even touched his nipples when he got himself off. He had no idea he was that sensitive. “Oh fuck,” he whispered when Stiles sucked harder, humming against his chest.

 

Stiles shifted them around, nudging and pulling at Derek, until he was stretched on his back, Stiles straddling his hips, bent over him to get his mouth back on his nipple. Derek ran his hands through Stiles’ hair and down over the knobs of his spine, then back up his flanks. Stiles got his hand on Derek’s other nipple, and Derek arched up, moaning.

 

He wondered if a real alpha would allow this. If a real alpha would even enjoy this. But the thought was vague and half-formed. He couldn’t think through the pleasure. He cupped Stiles’ face, his hands cradling his skull and jaw, not holding him down or repositioning him. Derek just wanted to be connected, wanted to feel Stiles’ motions against him as he sucked and licked. One of his thumbs crept down to the corner of Stiles’ mouth, so that he could feel Stiles’ tongue working. They both moaned and Stiles started working more urgently, his hips beginning to rock.

 

Derek was already blindingly hard and leaking, wondering if he could come from having his nipples sucked and pinched by Stiles’ talented tongue and fingers. He felt the pleasure building, burning, a little bit like having his cock stroked, though not as direct. The pleasure in his groin was muted, spread out. It was diffused throughout his chest and down between his legs, the current connected and pulsing, concentrated in his nipples, tapering down to his cock in a dull aching throb that kept building.

 

“Stiles,” he whispered, wrecked. 

 

Stiles groaned and sucked harder, his free hand scrabbling up Derek’s shoulder to his neck, then his face, two fingers slipping into Derek’s mouth. His fingers didn’t go to Derek’s tongue like he expected, but felt along his teeth until he found his incisors, stroking down them encouragingly.

 

Derek moaned low and deep when he realized what Stiles wanted. He focused as much as his sex-addled brain could, manifesting his fangs slowly so that he didn’t accidentally slice Stiles’ fingers. His human canines sharpened to points, then started a painfully slow descent until they were full length and throbbing.

 

Stiles’ attention to his nipples waned as he focused on Derek’s mouth, stroking the front of the curved fangs and making appreciative noises. Derek shifted under him and Stiles’ attention returned to his chest, sucking and rolling and pulling… all while stroking his fangs and letting Derek lap at his fingers in bliss.

 

It was building, building slow and steady. Different from having his cock touched, but very real, very close. Derek had started up a low, urgent keening, one thumb still in the corner of Stiles’ mouth, the other gently holding his shoulder, silently asking him not to stop.

 

He was hovering on the edge, blissful, feeling Stiles’ lower belly lightly drift over his trapped cock as Stiles idly humped his thigh and worked Derek’s body inescapably towards climax.

 

“Ungh,” Derek groaned deep, his core tensing up tighter and tighter. “Stiles,” he urged, his whole body winding up. “Stiles,” he said again, the word slurred past Stiles’ wet, stroking fingers and his sensitive fangs. “Stiles! Stiles!” 

 

The tension finally snapped as he came in his boxers, shifting against Stiles’ stomach to help him focus on his pulsing cock, the orgasm rolling on and on as it reverberated through his chest and mouth, back down to his groin. It was as if his nervous system was confused as to where the release was happening, and kept searching for it in a loop.

 

“Oh god,” he murmured, panting hard into Stiles’ hand.

 

Once he could think again, he pulled Stiles off his nipple, his body spasming with oversensitivity, and sucked on the fingers in his mouth, his teeth once again blunt and human. Stiles looked down at him with dark eyes, his mouth open and flushed red. Derek growled, low and possessive, then reached out a hand and cupped Stiles through his pajama pants.

 

It didn’t take long for Stiles to get out of his pants and boxers, though they stayed hooked around one ankle in his haste. He was still straddling Derek, though he’d repositioned himself higher up, his plush ass resting in the cradle of Derek’s hip bones, just above his softening cock.

 

Derek reached for him, sucking his fingers back into his mouth, growling gently when he realized how much it turned Stiles on. He stroked Stiles’ cock, bare and dry, his touch feather-light, loving the smooth fragility of Stiles’ skin.

 

Stiles didn’t seem to mind the lack of spit or lube, as Derek kept his touch light, gentle, just enough pressure and movement to get him there. Stiles stared at him, his gaze going in and out of focus as he concentrated on the pleasure of Derek’s hand on him. 

 

Derek was convinced that Stiles’ face was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. He wanted him like this all the time. His addiction, his obsession.

 

He took Stiles’ balls into his hand, rolling them carefully in time with his strokes up and down his cock, his mouth following the same motion as he sucked Stiles’ long fingers. Then Stiles’ eyes were snapping shut, his head falling back, as he groaned and pulsed up Derek’s chest, Derek arching as Stiles’ come burned against the skin of his bare throat.

 

Stiles sat heavily on him, his jaw slack, trying to catch his breath as he came down. Derek was more than content to lie there, stretched out under him, taking in the scent that was sex with Stiles. 

 

He took Stiles’ wet fingers out of his mouth and gently guided them to the spatter of come  on his throat. Moving Stiles’ hand under his, he massaged Stiles’ release into his skin, feeling the intense relief of being claimed in return. 

 

Even if it wasn’t official, or even a conscious act on Stiles’ part, Derek was branded as his, and he was happy.

 

He was home.

 

Chapter Text

There are red eyes following him as Derek struggles through the woods. He’s panicked, shifting first into wolf form, then into human, back and forth until he’s a jumbled mess of limbs, not man, not wolf, not even beta shift, but something gruesome and wholly other.

 

He struggles after the two boys ahead of him. Always just out of reach. His stomach turning over in the need to get to them. But his legs are a painfully fused mess of canine and human biology. Utterly useless.

 

He can’t move forward. The dark stretches; a cold tunnel between the trees. The boys still running, up ahead, their feet no longer touching the ground, but hovering above it, paddling in vain through the empty air.

 

The red eyes in the dark are gaining and Derek is shrinking, being pulled into the earth. The red eyes multiply, becoming a thousand tiny flames, merging and building into a raging inferno-




Derek jolted awake at the sound of a car door slamming outside in the driveway. A soft snore caught is attention on the pillow next to his as Derek listened to the sound of keys turning in the lock downstairs, followed by two thunks as shoes hit the floor in the entryway.

 

He was grateful that he and Stiles had cleaned up the night before when, instead of continuing down the hall towards the bathroom as he had expected, John opened Stiles’ door and walked in, already talking to his son about plans for the day. Derek was instantly regretful that Stiles failed to talk him into borrowing a pair of pajama pants.

 

“Oh god,” John said to the sight of Derek spooning his son in his underwear. In Derek’s defense, Stiles was fully dressed in pajama bottoms and a T-shirt. Also, Derek was a werewolf and easily overheated, which was why he was lying on top of the covers rather than underneath them, half-mooning the sheriff of Beacon Hills.

 

Stiles’ tousled head popped up at the sound of his dad’s voice. “Why is the heat up so high?” he demanded immediately, clearly not awake even though he was talking at full volume.

 

“That would be your werewolf blanket, son,” John said, looking like he had made a huge mistake coming home.

 

“Derek?” Stiles asked no one in particular, his eyes still closed, sweat beading on his upper lip from the inferno of body heat under the covers.

 

“Do you honestly not realize he’s in bed with you? Jesus, kid.”

 

“Oh hey!” Stiles said, his eyes cracked in Derek’s direction, craning his head over his shoulder. “Hi Derek,” he grinned.

 

“Christ,” the sheriff said, rubbing a hand over his tired face. “I’m going to bed. Don’t wake me up for any reason.” With that he closed the door with a bang and stomped down the hallway to his bedroom.

 

“Didn’t you hear him come home?” Stiles asked, yawning and stretching his arms over his head, nearly bashing Derek in the eye socket.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

 

“I didn’t know he was going to open the door.”

 

“Oh. Yeah, he does that. I like to think it’s because we’re close and not because I have ever been less than completely trustworthy.” Stiles flipped over so he was facing Derek, flopping an arm between them on the blankets. “You’d think he would have learned by now,” Stiles added, yawning again. “He needs enough therapy for what he sees as a cop, let alone what he’s caught me doing.”

 

Derek raised one eyebrow.

 

“No, nope, nu-huh, you really do not want to know,” Stiles teased, his head heavy and listing to the side where he had himself braced against the mattress with one elbow, a grin splitting his face. 

 

Derek’s chest squeezed.

 

Stiles struggled out of the covers and proceeded to clamber over him, nearly faceplanting when he tripped over his laptop’s power cord. He recovered quickly and went to his dresser, rummaging around for clean clothes. 

 

Derek tore his eyes away and searched through the bedding for all the clothes he’d stashed the night before. He sniffed the clothes as he gathered them, pleased that they smelled so much like both of them. It made the prospect of getting up and facing the day a little less daunting.

 

“Shower, then coffee,” Stiles mumbled from across the room, nodding to himself as he wandered out into the hallway. Derek followed with his armful of scented clothing and was startled when Stiles nearly shut the bathroom door on his foot. 

 

“Oh!” Stiles exclaimed, looking more alert as he opened the door wide for Derek. Stiles watched, his mouth partly open, as Derek closed the door behind him and quickly sorted the clothes he was carrying, hanging them up on the pegs on the back of the door. He turned back to Stiles, who yanked his gaze up and flushed red.

 

“You have a tattoo,” Stiles squeaked. Derek nodded. “That–that’s really cool. Tattoos are cool. I want a tattoo. But I’d probably flake out and get a stupid one, like a My Little Pony dancing on a rainbow or something, so I've never trusted myself to go into a tattoo parlor. At least not alone. But hey, maybe you could give me advice or something. Like, I’d ask you to go, but well,” his fingers twitched through the air, “the tattoo guys might not let me bring a dog in, and even if they did, they’d probably refuse to give me a tattoo after they saw me asking my dog for advice, so-”

 

Stiles’ flow of conversation didn’t seem likely to end any time soon, so Derek leaned into the bathtub and turned the shower on to warm up.

 

“-maybe we could pick a design out online and then I can show them and that way I’ll get something cool instead of something from an eighties kids’ cartoon, not that I don’t love My Little Ponies and Care Bears, it’s just not what the cool kids are getting nowadays. Not that I need to fit in or anything-”

 

Derek dropped his underwear and reached for Stiles’ clothes, tugging at them gently but insistently until Stiles let himself be manhandled out of them.

 

“-and I get that being worried about popularity is so high school and I’m a college graduate, but Derek, please don’t let me pick out a tattoo alone.”

 

“I promise,” Derek assured him, taking him by the upper arm and guiding him over the bathtub ledge and under the shower. He followed behind, pulling the curtain closed and triple checking the water to make sure it wasn’t too hot. Then he began assessing the different bathroom products. It looked like Stiles really had gotten a bunch of non-scented stuff. He found a fluffy, purple loofah hanging from a plastic hook stuck to the tile, and dribbled some of the body wash over it, lathering it with his hands.

 

When he turned his attention to Stiles, the human was looking back over his shoulder, watching Derek’s every move. His amber eyes were wide and disbelieving, his mouth open in shock.

 

“A-are you going to-” Stiles started, cutting off when Derek began rubbing the sudsy sponge over Stiles’ back. “Oh my god, you are.”

 

Derek watched the white foam spread across Stiles’ creamy skin, the light and dark moles spattered down his back like they were intentionally placed for artistic effect. He let his other hand follow the pattern across Stiles’ back, touching softly. Stiles shuddered and he wondered if he was tickling him. He knew by now that Stiles was sensitive.

 

Stiles stood quietly and let Derek rub soap all over him, not talking a mile a minute the way Derek thought he might. Nor did he relax into it and give himself over to Derek completely. Instead, he watched him as if studying what he was doing. He met Derek’s eyes as the werewolf raised Stiles’ arm above his head and washed his armpit, lathering up the hair and skin there thoroughly. 

 

“Is this a comfort thing?” Stiles asked, his arm still over his head. His voice managed to pull Derek up towards the surface from where he had been pleasantly drifting somewhere out in the ether.

 

Still not completely present, Derek rumbled deep in his throat, a pleased sound rather than a warning, reaching out to his packmate in a werewolf way. No words. Words complicated things. Letting Stiles’ arm bend back to his side, he pushed the suds with his fingers, watching them catch in the streams of water running down Stiles’ flanks and thighs, leaving the skin glistening wet and clean.

 

He pressed his own body against Stiles’ back, his chest pooling water where it intercepted the streams cascading over Stiles’ shoulder. He wasn’t clean like Stiles. He still smelled of the two of them together. He swept his cheek down Stiles’ damp neck, his beard getting wet, the short hairs trailing through the water droplets as he moved in a parody of scenting, though the water immediately washed all traces of scent away.

 

His cock slotted perfectly against Stiles’ ass as he held him close by his belly, pulling him back securely. Stiles was panting, his head thrown back, as Derek moved to wash the front of his body. He used the loofah to soap Stiles’ front, reaching between his legs, lathering the creases of his thighs, behind his balls, and finally moved his hands to Stiles’ dick, rigid and straining against his fingers as he lightly brushed over him, cleaning his body rather than fondling it.

 

“Derek, please,” Stiles whispered, his eyes straining in the corners to meet Derek’s.

 

Derek rumbled again, pleased and happy, though he felt like his job of washing wasn’t complete yet. He still had Stiles’ legs and feet to go. An argument could be made that the warm, sudsy water that had been flowing over them while Derek was paying attention to Stiles’ upper body had theoretically cleaned his legs already.

 

Stiles took the purple loofah out of Derek’s hand and hung it quickly back on the hook, then pried one of the werewolf’s hands off his wet belly to place it around his cock. Stiles gasped and arched back into Derek’s unmoving chest. He was careful to hold Stiles up, knowing that he wouldn’t slip but that Stiles was likely to.

 

After a few strokes with just water to smooth the way, Stiles blindly flailed at the conditioner on the ledge next to them. Derek understood and grabbed the bottle, clicking it open and squirting a small amount into his hand. Stiles gasped as Derek’s cool handful touched his straining erection, the rest of him warm from the streaming water and the werewolf heat behind him. He nudged Stiles forward a few inches so his dick was aimed out of the flow of water, allowing Derek to keep him slippery and not have their makeshift lube washed away.

 

As Stiles twisted and squirmed in Derek’s arms, one of his hands tight over his mouth to keep from making any noise loud enough to reach his dad’s room, Derek was reminded once again that they were nearly the same height and that he could-

 

He stopped his ministrations on Stiles just long enough to grab the conditioner bottle again and get another small handful. He swung Stiles around so that Derek’s back was taking the brunt of the water. He rubbed the conditioner over his own cock and then reached between Stiles’ legs.

 

“Wha-what?” Stiles asked, alarmed, attempting to twist in Derek’s grip to see what was going on. His foot slipped, and only Derek’s arm around his waist kept him from going down.

 

Derek hushed him, his lips finding Stiles’ ear, then his neck, licking the skin there to soothe his squirming human. When it began to work and Stiles settled, Derek braced his feet and slid himself forward into the inviting channel between the tops of Stiles’ thighs.

 

“Oh,” Stiles said. Then his hand was slapped back over his mouth to smother a heartfelt moan as Derek reached around him and started pumping Stiles’ cock. He slipped in and out of the heat between Stiles’ legs, trying to find an angle where he could both rub the root of his cock against Stiles’ heat and also thrust the head up into the space behind Stiles’ balls. 

 

It wasn’t until Stiles’ other hand crept down from the front, his long fingers helping to press Derek up along his entire perineum, that Derek was able to maintain the steady thrusting he wanted. Stiles rubbed at Derek’s inflamed cockhead every time it pressed up under his scrotum, swirling his finger pads as he directed him up into his body heat. 

 

Derek couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to slip back and up. To catch the tip on Stiles’ rim. To sink into him and feel him from inside his body, his heartbeat that much closer, the thump of it all around his cock. His knot. Squeezing and squeezing as Stiles thrashed against him, wailing out his pleasure.

 

His fangs dropped and he pressed them to the join of Stiles’ neck and shoulder as he pumped his hips forward, his rhythm starting to falter. He twisted his hand around Stiles’ weeping cock, the body in his arms writhing and silently begging to come.

 

Derek realized that he was pressing too hard with his fangs, that the tips were threatening to part the flesh beneath. He desperately wanted to bite, to claim. To feel the electric-hot rush of blood.

 

But somehow, impossibly, Stiles trusted him. Stiles was here with him, letting Derek act like this, not pulling away even though he literally had a bloodthirsty monster at his throat. That trust meant more than anything else. It was something that had been missing from his life since his family died. No one had trusted him. He hadn’t trusted anyone else, let alone himself, and yet here was this vulnerable, fragile human in his arms, trusting him with his life.

 

Derek pulled back from the partial shift with an effort, recalling his fangs and forcing his teeth to remain human as he buried his face in Stiles’ neck, as he began working them both up again after the brief pause he’d taken in his movements. Stiles’ hand, which had wandered into Derek’s hair, stroking him when he’d gone still, slapped back over his mouth again as Derek started thrusting in earnest.

 

Stiles’ fingers between his legs were able to rub more of Derek as his thrusts got deeper and he stopped pulling back as far. His head dropped to the back of Stiles’ neck and he watched between their bodies as he pounded forward in short, hard jabs. Stiles’ ass bounced with the force of the impact of Derek’s hips, and Derek sucked in a breath, watching, mesmerized, as the smooth flesh rippled and shimmied with each smack of his body.

 

God, but he wanted to be inside him.

 

“Derek,” Stiles gasped between his fingers. “Derek, please.”

 

He felt it then, at the base of his cock. He hadn’t known what it was the first time, but there was no mistaking it now. “I’m going to knot,” he said into Stiles’ ear, his voice low. He marveled at how quiet they were managing to be, though he supposed the white noise of the shower helped muffle the sounds they were making.

 

Stiles clamped down on a whine, nodding desperately. “Yes,” he managed through his fingers. “Fuck yes.”

 

“Gonna knot,” Derek repeated senselessly, though it made Stiles moan behind his hand. “Gonna knot you, Stiles.”

 

Instinct took over and Derek found himself grinding hard between Stiles’ tightly clamped thighs, his own precome slicking the passage where the conditioner had started to wash away. His teeth were on Stiles again, human this time and without the pressure needed to bruise, but he had a desperate need to have incisors against Stiles’ skin. 

 

Stiles’ magnificent fingers kept rubbing at his swollen ridge, pressing him tight to his own perineum, and Derek remembered just in time to move his mouth away from Stiles’ neck to farther down his shoulder, before he sucked hard at his skin, marking.

 

The ascent into orgasm began slowly, tickling him with the promise of release. His skin felt hot, stretched, even across his lower belly and thighs, concentrating at the base of his cock. He could feel it engorging, becoming more and more sensitive. Without the knot, the main concentration of pleasure was in the head, the next few inches of his shaft also felt good, but not as intense as the ridge around the tip. But the knot was like a second ridge, larger, spreading the growing feeling of orgasm wider and closer to his body. His entire pelvis felt like it was on the verge of orgasm. 

 

Holy fuck. 

 

It was the most physically blissful thing he’d ever experienced and he hadn’t even climaxed.

 

“Stiles,” he said, his voice sounding oddly in control, while inside he was a raging inferno of livewires and desperation. “You’re incredible.” Derek slid his hand up to the head of Stiles’ cock while he slowly massaged and squeezed it in his palm. Stiles undulated in his arms, stifling his sounds. “You’re the only one that has ever made me feel like this.” 

 

Alarms were going off in his brain, warning him that he was way too close to revealing things he was determined for Stiles never to know. Though he couldn’t remember why in that moment, with his brain flooded with electricity and the smell of Stiles.

 

“If I was inside you right now,” Derek spoke feverishly to the side of Stiles’ flushed face, “we would be locked together. I wouldn’t be able to pull out. Wouldn’t be able to move.” He pressed his knot against Stiles’ hole from the outside, feeling Stiles clench and flutter against the sensitive skin as Stiles vehemently nodded against Derek’s cheek and then came in Derek’s hand. “Yes,” Derek gasped, milking him until he had a palmful of Stiles’ come. He reached between their bodies, carefully cupping his handful until he could wrap his fingers around his knot, twisting and rubbing Stiles’ spend over the tight bulge.

 

“Fuck,” Stiles gasped, clenching his thighs even tighter around Derek, as the werewolf sucked hard at his shoulder blade and came for all he was worth. Taking a deep breath against Stiles’ wet skin, he twisted his hand around his knot and came again. Dazed, he did it again, the orgasm not as intense, but still enough to punch the breath out of him. He screwed his hand around his knot a total of three more times, reaching three more orgasms, each one decreasing in intensity, until he shakily pulled back from Stiles.

 

He realized with a shock that the water was cold.

 

They rinsed off under the chilly spray quickly, Stiles shivering by the time they stepped out, but smiling huge and sleepy as Derek wrapped him up in a towel. Derek paused a minute, once the water was off, listening for signs that they had been overheard. The steady thump of the sheriff’s heartbeat indicated that he was sound asleep. A low snore a moment later confirmed it, and Derek turned his attention back to Stiles.

 

“He’s asleep?” Stiles asked quietly.

 

“Yeah,” Derek confirmed, grabbing a towel for himself.

 

“Oh thank God,” Stiles chuckled. “He does not need another item on the ‘Things My Son Has Done That I Need Therapy For’ list.”

 

Stiles moved over to Derek and slung his arms around him, staring dreamy and sated into Derek’s eyes.

 

“Stay for breakfast?” he asked.

 

Derek nodded.

 


 

Derek ended up staying the entire day. Stiles never mentioned driving him home, and Derek would never leave again if it were up to him, so he ended up following Stiles around the house, luxuriating in the scent of them together. When Derek had offered one of the scented shirts, Stiles just shook his head and sighed, accepting the wrinkled garment good-naturedly and pulling it on.

 

They made breakfast and Derek helped clean up afterwards. Stiles had some laundry to do (this Derek was already well aware of) so he trotted up the stairs after Stiles even though Stiles had offered him the TV remote and told him to relax.

 

They sat on the carpet in Stiles’ bedroom, sorting through the mountain of dirty clothes, towels, and sheets that were piled there. “You need to stop eating at the diner so much,” Derek said, holding up yet another uniform shirt that smelled like burgers and fries.

 

“Hey, no fair!” Stiles squawked, grabbing it back and throwing it in the pile with the others. Derek smirked at him and Stiles just shook his head, stealing all the work shirts from the unsorted pile before Derek could grab them.

 

The sheriff got up around four, and thankfully made no mention of anything that may have disturbed his sleep, letting Derek breathe a silent sigh of relief. They ate leftover lasagna for dinner, all sitting around the dining room table, Stiles and his dad lobbing gentle insults at one another.

 

It wasn’t until Derek and Stiles were in the living room, watching an old black and white movie and folding the last of the laundry, that the most perfect day that Derek could remember having, perhaps ever, came to an end.

 

“Stiles,” John said, walking through the doorway, tension radiating off him. “Have you checked your messages?”

 

Stiles stopped snapping the flowery kitchen towel at Derek, which had been his favorite pastime of the last three minutes, and looked at his dad with worried eyes. He glanced around frantically for his phone, finally locating it under the coffee table. His face only grew more troubled as he read.

 

Pocketing his phone, he turned to face his dad, his expression looking bereft. “It’s him again, isn’t it?” he asked, an edge of anger creeping into his voice.

 

John sighed, obviously just as frustrated as his son. “It looks like it. I’m heading over there now. How soon can you drop Derek off and meet us?”

 

Stiles’ gaze flashed to Derek, his face doing something complicated. “Forty minutes if we hurry,” he said, shoving the laundry basket aside with his foot, and motioning for Derek to follow him as he raced for the stairs.

 

“Okay, stay in contact. I’m going now.” Without a backwards glance, the sheriff was out the door, practically running. A lead weight dropped in Derek’s stomach. He turned to Stiles only to see him already at the top of the staircase scrambling to get to him room.

 

Following quickly, Derek watched, helpless, as Stiles struggled into his uniform. He caught Derek’s eye for just a moment, another nameless expression flitting over his face.

 

“I’m sorry, Derek,” he said, grabbing for his gear and strapping a radio to his hip which he switched on, keeping the volume low. Derek could still hear the people talking, though not the words. The voices were professional sounding, but not as detached as he imagined they ought to be. Something had happened. Something bad.

 

Though it wasn’t a memory that stood out to him, not like the fire and the metal cuffs and Sheriff Stilinski, he could still remember the scrambled sounds of voices over the police radios as part of the background noise as his house burned. This sound was much more immediate and defined, breaking the silence of Stiles’ bedroom, alien and unwelcome.

 

John’s voice cut through the static over the radio as he confirmed he was en route to the site, and Stiles jumped, spurred to action once again. Derek had just enough time to grab his things and rush after Stiles to the front door. Stiles grabbed his coat and keys, flung the door open, and ran out to his Jeep. The door bounced off the wall from the force of Stiles’ momentum, swinging mostly closed, before the cross-draft from the open kitchen window slammed it shut.

 

Derek stopped dead in the tiled entryway. He looked around wildly. His shoes were there, lined up with Stiles’ sneakers and a pair of worn flip-flops. He had his bag under one arm, ready for Stiles to shove the rest of his clothes inside once he’d shifted.

 

He heard the Jeep’s engine start. Frantically, he pulled his shirt over his head, some of the stitches popping in his haste. He shifted as soon as the last of his clothes fell to the floor, whining at the doorknob. Even if he shifted back, he wouldn’t be able to turn it. He needed Stiles to come back for him. 

 

He needed Stiles.

 

He heard the gears shift in the Jeep, and then Stiles was backing out of the driveway. Derek barked once, so loud he made himself jump. He could hear his phone start to ring in his coat pocket on the hook by the door.

 

He shifted back to human form and answered quickly.

 

“Derek!” came Stiles voice, worried, upset. There was a blast of staticy voices in the background, his police radio turned up now so Stiles could hear.

 

“Stiles, I just need you to let me out. I can go with you, I-”

 

“No, no, it’s okay. Do you mind staying there for awhile? Oh my god, I’m so sorry for just leaving you like that. I would never but it’s an emergency-”

 

A voice cut over his just then from the police radio, every word horribly clear. 

 

“Eight-year-old male has been found alive. Believed to have a broken arm and possible concussion. Ambulance on the way. Five-year-old female still missing. Brown hair, brown eyes. Last seen wearing a pink sweater and-”

 

“Oh god,” Stiles said, his voice full of emotion. “This sick fuck has done this before and we didn’t have enough evidence to keep him in custody. I knew this would happen, I just knew it.” He took a steady breath over the phone. “I’m so sorry, I was going to drop you off at home first, but if there’s any chance of us finding her alive, it has to be in the next few minutes.”

 

Derek inhaled, deep and painful, but when he spoke his voice came out steady. “I can help.”

 

“What? But-”

 

“Stiles, I can help. I just need you to come back and get me.”

 

“But how-”

 

“Wolf, remember?” Derek said, the humor he’d meant to convey getting choked up somehow, dozens of emotions sinking their hooks into him, trying to drag him down. He shook his head and tried to stay focused. “If she’s still in the area, I can find her. A lot faster than you can, even with the help of tracker dogs.”

 

He could hear the sound of the Jeep slowing down, turning around. “You’re right, I know you’re right,” Stiles said. “I’m headed back, two minutes.”

 

“Just open the door for me, we can leave my stuff here.”

 

“Will do. Almost there.”

 

Stiles hung up and Derek shifted back to wolf form, waiting.

 


 

“Don’t let anyone see you,” Stiles cautioned as they neared the property, pulling to a stop along the tree line before getting within sight of the main house. 

 

Derek peered with his enhanced sight through the dark trees on either side. Stiles had said this was a large property. The forest was dense and there were numerous tiny hills and valleys, easy for someone to hide.

 

“We don’t have tracker dogs here yet, so you don’t have to worry about them. There are officers searching, but you should have no problem avoiding them.” Derek nodded, the motion feeling strange in wolf form. “I’ll drive up to the main house. If you find anything, come get me or my dad, I’ll let him know what’s going on.” Stiles leaned over and opened the passenger door. Derek leapt out, already scenting the air, picking up traces of multiple humans and… something strange. 

 

“Oh hey,” Stiles said just as Derek was about to head into the woods. “If you need our attention but we’re with other people, flash your eyes. I’ll be on the lookout.”

 

Derek’s ears flattened and his tail drooped, but Stiles wouldn’t have been able to see him in the dark, black on black. Stiles pulled away and Derek refused to think about it further, needing to concentrate on finding the thing he could smell; the thing that smelled off.

 

He picked his way silently through the trees, avoiding the officers that were searching through the underbrush for the little girl. The men and women he passed in the dark smelled as they should. They smelled like sweat and laundry detergent and stress. Normal. Human.

 

The scent he was catching was strange, but it wasn’t the smell of another supernatural creature. He would have sensed anything magical that had been lurking around town. This scent was much more subtle. And it was familiar somehow. Something about it setting his hackles rising and his teeth gnashing.

 

The scent increased and he knew he was getting close. His skin was crawling, his coat twitching. Everything about the scent was wrong and yet it was somehow stuck in his mind, tugging and pulling. A memory, one from behind his carefully constructed wall, was threatening to break loose and bring all the others crashing down on top of him.

 

Derek crouched down, hearing two heart beats. One slow and steady, slower even than the searching officers. Wrong. 

 

The other was light and quick. 

 

He slunk forward, peering over a ridge in the earth into a shallow, bowl-shaped valley. The trees weren’t quite as dense here, but the undergrowth was more plentiful. Derek heard shuffling and an off-kilter voice. It was… humming?

 

He saw him then; the man. He was human. No whiff of magic. As powerless as all humans. But that horrible smell. Derek wanted to rub his paws over his delicate nose. This close it was staggering. The scent would have been undetectable to other humans. It might not have meant much to Derek, except that he had smelled it before.

 

The man was bent over, sifting through the leaves and fallen branches on the forest floor with his bare heads. He didn’t have any sort of light, and must have been relying on the meager moonlight, barely filtering out from behind the clouds. 

 

After a moment, he straightened up and walked over to a clump of dry fern, reaching out again. There was a sharpness to his shape, an oiliness to his movements. The fur along the ridge of Derek’s spine stood up on end.

 

“I know you’re heeee-eeeere,” the man sing-songed. “Little giii-iiirl,” he called again. He laughed softly, the sound ugly. Moving forward again. Hunting.

 

That’s when Derek saw her curled up behind a tree, only twenty feet from the searching man. She looked so tiny and alone, balled up and gripping her sweater tightly around her small body, shivering and terrified. One hand was over her mouth, trying not to make a sound, though Derek could see her eyes straining in the dark. She was tensing up all over as the man plodded closer, likely getting ready to run.

 

The man laughed again. He was having fun, Derek realized. He could smell it underlying the other smell. The scent of happiness, in this context, was as revolting as the stench of the man’s rotten brain chemistry.

 

The smell of Kate, burning his family alive.

 

Derek felt the dizzying effect of vertigo hitting him, the scent of madness and evil intent recalling the night he lost his family so vividly, he listed to the side and stumbled on his suddenly nerveless legs. Kate had smelled strange to him, always. Not bad, not at first. He hadn’t known what the smell was- something hot and sweet, sickly-sweet the longer he knew her, until it was like a cloying perfume.

 

His form rippled with black waves of fur. He could feel his eyes flaring red, anger and sadness and loss all mixed up with gut-churning sweet scent of death-lust. Logically, somewhere far away in his rational brain, Derek knew it was all biologically, scientifically explainable. What was the mind but cells and chemicals? 

 

He was simply hyper-attuned to the scent of madness.

 

The girl gasped, seeing his glowing eyes in the dark. She scurried back, away from both of them, trying to get up and run, but she wasn’t able to get to her feet quickly enough.

 

Derek cursed his lack of control. He cursed his trembling limbs and his hazy, in-and-out focus on the scene before him. For an absurd moment, he saw Stiles as he had been as a teenager, running through the woods after Scott, screaming at the red eyes in the dark that hunted and hunted and would not stop.

 

The man swung towards the small girl’s movement, stalking her way instantly. His gait seemed inhumanly fast to Derek’s muddled brain. The man had started humming again, some half-remembered lullaby. He was smiling. Gloating.

 

He was going to-

 

The impact from behind slammed the man into the rocky ground before he could take more than a few steps, his head ricocheting sickeningly as it struck the earth. There was no time for him to call out or look around. It was unlikely he’d realized, even for a moment,  that he wasn’t alone with his prey.

 

Derek tensed, holding him down. Waiting for him to struggle, but he didn’t move. He could still hear the man’s heart beating. He could feel his lungs expand under his paws. Derek longed to rip his throat out, to remove him from the world forever, no longer a danger to children. He hesitated, balancing precariously between his need to kill and the knowledge that the police were here to take this man to prison. To lock him away from the rest of humanity.

 

Stiles was here, just a quarter mile away where Derek could hear voices and the engines of vehicles. He was close. Derek needed to bring the man to Stiles, so that Stiles would make him go away forever.

 

A little voice came out of the dark, shaken but hopeful. “Doggie?”

 

Derek swallowed down his rage, pulling the alpha red out of his eyes, though he knew she’d already seen; knew that the sight of his burning coal eyes would haunt her dreams for years to come.

 

Reasonably certain that the man on the ground wouldn’t get up as soon as he’d shifted his weight off of him, Derek left him face-down in the dirt and walked a few paces towards the little girl. Her eyes were wide and her face was stained with tears, but she seemed unharmed. She smelled scared, and there was the slightest graze of disgusting sweetness on the sleeve of her sweater, as though the man had reached for her but she’d managed to get away.

 

Trying to look as nonthreatening and dog-like as possible, Derek came up to her slowly with his head down, giving a few waves of his tail. He wasn’t prepared for the choking force of her arms around his neck as she hugged him with all her strength. 

 

“Good dog,” she said with vehemence. “Good dog.”

 


 

She let Derek walk her back to the house, her small fist wrapped up tight in the dark fur near his shoulder. He was worried that she would insist that he accompany her into the busy yard, bustling with cops and first responders. But as soon as she caught sight of her dad, who was frantically arguing with the sheriff that he should be allowed to go search with the police, she let go of him and went flying towards her father.

 

“Daddy!” she called, stumbling once over a toy in the yard, before regaining her balance and continuing her sprint. Her father turned sharply, his whole face crumpling when he caught sight of her. He went down on his knees right as she reached him and he swept her up into a fierce hug, sobbing brokenly and rocking her back and forth. His daughter, who hadn’t cried once the entire time she was with Derek, started wailing, clutching his neck.

 

“It’s okay, sweetie,” he heard the father say. “It’s okay. I’ve got you.”

 

Derek watched from the shelter of the trees as Sheriff Stilinski radioed his team to tell them that the girl had been found, but that the suspect was still believed to be hiding in the area. Stiles came out of the house just then, taking in the scene in front of him, relief flooding his face, before peering into the treeline.

 

Derek thought about the man lying unconscious in the woods. He wondered how likely it would be for the officers to find him before he came to and wandered off, looking for another victim.

 

He thought about Stiles. The easy trust he’d shown him that morning, baring his throat to a monster. A monster that had a drive to bite. Who had the ability to turn him. 

 

What would Stiles do if he knew the truth?

 

And what would he think if he knew that Derek had let the man in the woods walk free, simply because he was afraid?

 

Knowing it would change everything, Derek looked straight at Stiles, and flashed his eyes.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The three of them were beyond exhausted by the time they collapsed in the Stilinski living room. No one made a pretense of getting something to drink or even turning the TV on for background noise. They simply slumped and stared at the vague nothing in front of their faces.

 

Derek, for one, welcomed the numbness. It meant he didn’t have to think. He couldn’t bear to think right now, not after that. He felt hollowed out with nothing left to give.

 

It had all been a blur after he’d flashed his eyes at Stiles. He’d tried not to notice the jolt of surprise or the way Stiles’ body had recoiled at seeing red when he must have expected gold. Instead, he concentrated on leading Stiles and his father back to where the child predator lay sprawled on the forest floor, slowly regaining consciousness, before Derek silently dissolved into the darkness.

 

Two hours later, Stiles finally pulled the Jeep up to the agreed-upon meeting spot. It was long after the suspect had been taken into custody, the crime scene still being combed for evidence and photographed; bright pops of light deep in the forest. Derek had needed to hide a few times when patrol cars and other vehicles had driven slowly past where he lay crouched in the weeds, and he was beyond relieved to see the familiar blue Jeep pull to a stop along the road.

 

Stiles opened the door from the inside to let him hop in, then reached back around him to pull it shut again, his shoulder brushing the fur on Derek’s chest. Derek’s paws pushed into the bucket seat, trying to give him room in case Stiles didn’t want to touch him, and then they were pulling away from the weedy embankment, heading back to town.

 

Stiles didn’t say anything about Derek’s eyes. He didn’t say anything at all.

 

The silence stretched on until Derek wished that Stiles would scream at him, that he would just cut him to ribbons with his feelings of betrayal and loathing. Anything, just so that he could hear Stiles’ voice and know that he wasn’t doomed to being frozen out and ignored. He would have preferred anger, even violence, to this long, drawn-out calm nothingness that he was unable to read.

 

Stiles smelled tired and anxious, though the night had been stressful for everyone involved. Derek couldn’t tell the difference between one type of stress and another, not without an additional emotion mixed in, such as fear. Stiles didn’t smell afraid. He smelled like stress, exhaustion, relief… but he didn’t smell afraid. Not exactly.

 

They walked into the Stilinski house, feet dragging, and Stiles had gathered Derek’s clothes from the hallway and taken them into the downstairs bathroom so Derek could shift back and get changed in private. Derek looked at his human face in the bathroom mirror for several long, painful moments, before steeling himself to walk back out and join John and Stiles in the living room.

 

On the couch next to him, Stiles finally stirred, stretching and yawning for all he was worth. “Bed,” he announced, looking from Derek to his father, who gazed back at him with weary eyes.

 

They clambered to their feet, and the sheriff wrapped his son up in a heavy hug, the two of them leaning on each other. Pulling apart, he ruffled Stiles’ hair with a fond smile. 

 

“You two go on. I'm going to lock up down here.” 

 

Stiles nodded and headed for the stairs, Derek turning to follow him, when he felt a hand on his shoulder. John drew him in for a hug as well, more careful than the one he’d given Stiles, but warm and heartfelt. “You did a good thing tonight,” he told him earnestly. “I’m proud of you, son.”

 

Derek could only nod his thanks and then he was being released back onto shaky legs. He stumbled up the stairs after Stiles and crept self consciously into the bedroom behind him. Grabbing the spare blanket off the foot of the bed, Derek turned to go back down to the living room, intending to bunk on the couch.

 

Stiles grabbed his wrist and tugged Derek along behind him as he climbed into bed. “Sleep here,” he mumbled, staring intently at Derek with blood-shot eyes and a slight pout. 

 

Relief crashed through Derek so suddenly that his eyes stung from the impact, making him hide his face against Stiles’ throat when the human pulled him in tight. 

 


 

“I should probably drop you back at home tonight,” Stiles sighed, rubbing his hands over his tired face the next morning. He sat on the mattress, leaning against the wall, his feet tucked under Derek’s side.

 

Derek reached out tentatively, circling Stiles’ slim ankle lightly with his hand. He was waiting for the words he knew were coming. Maybe Stiles would wait to say them until he dropped Derek off that night. I’m sorry, but I didn’t realize that you were an alpha and this isn’t going to work…

 

“It’s going to be insane at the station for the next few days,” Stiles groaned, letting his head tip back and hit the wall. He gazed at the ceiling and Derek gazed at him, so much longing and grief in his chest he could scarcely breathe. His hand tightened on his ankle, causing Stiles to smile down at him.

 

“Paperwork?” Derek asked, hoping Stiles would ignore the rawness of his voice.

 

“Yeah. So much paperwork. And I’m not even a real cop yet. I would feel worse for my dad, but he has me help with his reports. I swear it’s the only reason he lets me work for him.”

 

Stiles’ voice was slower this morning. Tired. There was a sadness to his scent that had Derek wanting to comfort him, though he wasn’t sure how to go about it in a way that wasn’t wolfish. He rubbed his thumb over the knob of Stiles’ ankle and wished he could be for Stiles what Stiles was for him.

 

They took separate showers by unspoken agreement. Stiles went first, and then Derek traded the bedroom for the bathroom when Stiles came back, half-dressed for work and toweling off his dripping hair.

 

Both Stilinski’s were in the kitchen when Derek finished up his shower and headed downstairs, dressed once again in the clothes he’d brought over for dinner two days before. He caught fragments of their conversation over the sound of running water and clanking pans that promised some sort of breakfast.

 

“He’s a hero, dad,” Stiles said, sounding frustrated. “He saved that little girl. There’s no way we would have found her in time. He even took the guy down without killing him. He’s fucking amazing.”

 

“You know I agree, but it’s safer for him if we leave him out of the official reports.”

 

“But he deserves to be recognized for-”

 

Derek walked into the kitchen, determined to pretend he hadn’t caught any of their conversation. Stiles, however, took for granted that he had, turning his exasperated face towards him and letting his hands follow through with the placating gesture he’d been aiming at his father. Despite himself, it made Derek’s lips twitch in a small smile.

 

“Right, Derek?” Stiles demanded, shoving a mug of coffee into his hands before going to flip the bacon that was sizzling and popping on the stove. “You totally deserve commendation for helping. You managed to get that creepy asshole without ripping his throat clean out. I mean, Jesus, I probably would have just shot him.”

 

“Son, you can’t just-” John started, looking pained.

 

“Therefore making you a much better candidate for law enforcement than myself,” Stiles interrupted, looking all sorts of vindicated.

 

Derek made himself as small as he could in a kitchen chair. “If you can leave me out of the reports, I would appreciate it,” he said in a low voice.

 

John nodded and Stiles heaved a frustrated sigh. 

 

“But you’re a hero!” Stiles said.

 

“Stiles,” John warned, his voice taking on a stern edge. “Derek has asked to be left out of it, and we are going to do him the honor of listening to him, capiche?”

 

Stiles swallowed the rest of the argument that he was visibly straining to let fly and nodded, his eyes flicking over to Derek. “Okay,” he sighed. “But just know that I think you deserve credit for taking that guy down, alright?”

 

“Is she okay?” Derek asked after a moment, staring down at his plate of bacon and eggs while the Stilinski’s buttered toast and fought over whether John should have jam.

 

“Yes,” John said. “Maddie is going to be fine. She talked a lot about the big dog that saved her in the woods, but since none of your footprints were found at the crime scene,” here John and Stiles shared a guilty look, “there’s no evidence that you were actually there. It will likely be chalked up to her imagination. She was scared and alone, and it’s not uncommon for children to remember things incorrectly under those circumstances.”

 

“I don’t want her doubting herself, though,” Derek said, a twisting feeling in his gut.

 

“Derek,” John said, leaning over and placing a rough hand briefly over his. “You saved her life. She wouldn’t want you to be in danger because of that. If she could understand the circumstances, she would agree. But she’s five. And she’s been talking so much about the friendly dog in the woods, I think her parents will probably end up getting her a puppy.”

 

“What about the other child? From the radio, over the phone. There was an eight-year-old boy?”

 

John nodded. “Her brother. They were playing outside before bed, chasing one another around the house, when the perp made a grab for Maddie. Her brother defended her and got the guy’s attention while she ran away. The perp threw him against a tree, but he’s going to be okay. They kept him overnight at the hospital and last report I received, he’s got a slight fracture in his wrist but no concussion.”

 

“Okay,” Derek said slowly, his throat feeling oddly tight. “Okay, good.”

 


 

“You’re alright with hanging out here until we get home?” Stiles asked, pulling on his coat, his keys jangling in his hand.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Hey, are you doing okay?” Stiles asked, stepping closer to where Derek was standing, his shoulders bunched up. Derek could see the dark circles under Stiles’ eyes and could sense the roiling emotions under Stiles’ skin. He knew, somehow, that Stiles wasn’t alright either. But now wasn’t the time. Stiles had to get to work.

 

“I’m okay,” Derek said softly. “Just tired.”

 

Stiles reached out and rubbed his hand down the side of Derek’s neck. “Not sure how necessary scenting is since we slept in the same bed,” Stiles tried to joke. It was brittle somehow, a tension creeping in between them that wasn’t there before.

 

“You took a shower though,” Derek responded, following Stiles’ example and trying to keep it light, though his stomach felt like lead. He brushed his fingers gently down the column of Stiles’ throat before pulling away. If he didn’t stop, he would wrap Stiles up in his arms and never let him go.

 

“There’s food in the fridge,” Stiles called out from the doorway. “Help yourself. I’ll be back around six.”

 

The door closed, and Derek had a horrible moment of deja vu. He breathed slowly, willing it to pass.

 

Then he sat on the couch and turned on the TV, determined to make the day pass as quickly as possible. He ignored the ache that was not having Stiles near, not having scented him properly, not being able to protect him like a proper wolf.

 

Stiles hadn’t broken off their arrangement yet, but it was coming. It was coming, and Derek could barely breathe through the panic.

 

By lunchtime, he wasn’t even able to pretend to be watching the show that was playing on the TV, his eyes constantly tracking back to the closed front door. He kept picking up the sounds of the neighbors, not extremely close, but much closer than any other humans were to his own house in the woods.

 

Derek made himself a sandwich. He ate at the dining room table and then washed the dishes. He swept the floor. Then he mopped it.

 

He paced. Up the stairs, down the hall, checking every room. He didn’t enter John’s bedroom, already feeling like a creep for peering in, but he needed to make sure no one was hiding just behind the slightly ajar door, which he nudged gently open with his foot. Just wide enough to see the empty room.

 

Stiles’ room, as always, called to him before too long, and he ended up sitting on the floor by the bed, his head resting on the mattress, surrounded by the scent of them together. He was dropping off into a light doze around three in the afternoon, when his phone pinged at him.

 

Erica [3:03 pm]: I’m calling you. Pick up. Or else.

Erica calling

 

“Hi.”

 

“Hi, Der,” Erica’s voice was doing something complicated. Derek was instantly on his guard. “How was your night?”

 

“Fine. How was yours?”

 

“Oh, just fine, thank you.” There was definitely something going on. Derek got to his feet, paced around the bedroom once, then finally settled in Stiles’ desk chair. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay. I heard that the whole police station was out on a manhunt last night. Parish even called Fran to find out if she knew of any werewolves willing to track down a missing girl and her abductor.”

 

Derek stayed silent.

 

“And even though the Center didn’t have enough time to get together a search force before the girl was found, it seems some kind-hearted wolf acted alone and found her after all.”

 

“What do you mean?” Derek cringed at his own voice. He shouldn’t have said anything. His tone of voice sounded suspicious even to his own ears.

 

“Well, funny thing,” Erica said, and Derek could practically hear her narrowing her eyes, “the little girl who was abducted? Her mother called us this morning asking if there are any werewolves known to be in the area.”

 

“Well, obviously, there’s a few small packs of wolves in Beacon Hills-”

 

“Any alpha werewolves,” Erica said, cutting him off.

 

Derek swallowed, his throat suddenly tight.

 

“It seems that her daughter is convinced that the dog she saw had red eyes. Weird, right?”

 

Silence.

 

“Erica-”

 

“Of course we reassured her that there are no feral alphas, or feral werewolves of any designation, in the vicinity of Beacon Hills, but that we would look into it. You know. To be on the safe side.”

 

Nothing but the quiet hiss of white noise from the speaker pressed to his ear.

 

“You saved her life, Der.”

 

“I asked them, Stiles and the sheriff, not to put anything about me in the report.”

 

A long pause.

 

“That’s probably for the best.” Erica sighed, weary all of a sudden. “While it would be great publicity for pro-were activists, it could also stir up a new wave of hate crimes and violence against wolves. God, people can be such morons.”

 

“I won’t argue with that.”

 

Erica snorted. “I don’t know whether to warn you off from helping on Stiles’ cases or not,” Erica mused out loud. “I really don’t know. I mean, on the one hand, it could lead to legal issues with the police force because you don’t have the official qualifications to be a consultant, and a conflict of interests with Stiles being your companion if you are also offering him assistance with his job… But on the other hand, oh my fucking god, you saved a little girl’s life!”

 

“That… feels pretty good.”

 

“You’re a hero!”

 

“I don’t know about that-”

 

“I at least owe you dinner or something. We have to celebrate you being a secret agent badass.”

 

“Erica, I didn’t do anything special. I just have a keener sense of smell than humans. That’s it. That’s my party trick.”

 

“Uh-huh. So you didn’t overcome major anxiety and PTSD in order to help out a stranger, all while keeping your wits about you and not straight-up murdering a horrible pervert who deserved to have his throat ripped out? Plus, that little girl loves you. You didn’t even scare her, you big softy.”

 

“She saw my eyes though. She’ll probably have nightmares and-”

 

“You’re right. She will have nightmares. But they aren’t going to be of you, Derek. You saved her.”

 

His throat closed up and he couldn’t find words or even take a breath.

 

“So let me bring over some damn dinner and bubbly to celebrate, okay?”

 

Derek swallowed painfully past the lump in his throat.

 

“Okay,” he managed.

 

“Yay! It’s a date! I’ll text you later and we can make plans for sometime this week.”

 

“Okay,” he said again.

 

“Bye, Der.”

 

“Bye.”

 

He ended the call and set the phone on the desk, feeling strangely weak all over. His eyes wandered aimlessly over to Stiles’ closed laptop, candy wrappers and half-empty mugs. His mouth quirked up in a small smile for his human tornado. The smile dropped. Well, not his human. He couldn’t afford to think like that. Not when their arrangement would be coming to an end.

 

He started gathering the trash and mugs from the desk, planning to clean up and kill some more time, when his eye caught the title of a book that was hiding under a plate. Psychology of the Modern Werewolf. There were about forty brightly colored sticky notes littering the edges of the book’s pages, making it look like a preschool art project gone terribly wrong.  

 

Derek watched as his hand crept out with very little input from his brain, and flipped to a random page graced with a bright orange tab. It was a section on pack dynamics, specifically on beta/beta interactions within a modern pack structure. 

 

The margins were filled to the edges with Stiles’ messy, but legible, scrawl. Next to a highlighted paragraph about pack bonding rituals, which stressed the importance of trust building and dominance testing through roughhousing and other physical interaction between pack members, Stiles had written: Sex as a form of trust/dominance? Pack sexual attraction- allowed by alpha? Beta pairing acceptable as pack structure? More research needed.

 

Derek felt his shoulders rounding in, the feeling of a cold weight settling in his stomach as he continued to read Stiles’ cramped notes.

 

Scenting by licking- seems to be strictly a mates activity. Pack included in licking? Betas seem to only rub necks + faces, hands on shoulders/arms/neck. Betas nuzzle- yes. No mention of licking.

 

Isolated weres- more possessive of packmates?

 

Full shift unheard of in bitten wolves, born wolves about 50%- genetically passed down from parents

 

Sexual activity occurs within packs- tho usually results in a bonded pairing between two wolves. No mention of platonic sexual interaction here, try finding book specifically on sexual interaction in packs

 

Werewolves mate for life

 

Derek closed the book with trembling fingers.

 


 

“It’s so nice in here!” Stiles announced, tossing his shoes off in the hallway. “You didn’t have to clean, dude!”

 

“I needed to kill time,” Derek shrugged. He had arranged himself back on the couch with the TV on, attempting to look as normal as possible and not like some creeper who had read through Stiles’ notes without permission. Even now, there was a fine tremor running through him, the ghosts of four words floating in the dark when he closed his eyes. 

 

Werewolves mate for life

 

“Did you eat yet?” Stiles asked, smiling at him. “I had some food at the station a few hours ago. Dad bought subs for everyone, so that was nice, even if I had to take the meatball one away from him and give him turkey. Not sure if he’ll be speaking to me yet by the time he gets home.”

 

“I had a sandwich,” Derek said, not bothering to mention that it had been for lunch, nearly six hours ago. He couldn’t face eating right now. He looked with trepidation at his packmate, but Stiles’ face was nothing but open and friendly.

 

He couldn’t help but wonder - had been obsessing over it all afternoon - what the notes in Stiles’ book would have said if Stiles had known that Derek was an alpha when he wrote them. All his research had been about betas, both with each other and with human companions, though the later information seemed much more limited. Derek hadn’t been able to bring himself to read what the book had to say about alphas. Probably along the lines of: avoid at all costs.

 

“Okay, maybe we can grab a snack later.” Stiles headed for the stairs, looking back at Derek and pausing, like he expected him to follow. A small ache throbbed in Derek’s chest at the gesture, the look in Stiles’ eyes clearly inviting Derek into his space.

 

Derek shadowed him up the stairs, trying to get as close as he wanted to be, which essentially meant he was all but plastered to Stiles’ back. He just longed to be close to him. For however much time was left.

 

Stiles headed for his room, laughing when he saw that it was now clean enough for a house showing. “Um, not sure whether to be grateful or horrifically embarrassed. Oh dude, you even finished my laundry from yesterday? You are a brave, brave man. I’m sorry for any permanent damage done to your sniffer.”

 

“I like the way you smell,” Derek admitted, partly against his will. His emotions were making him reckless.

 

“Um. Thank you,” Stiles said, turning away quickly and stripping off his deputy’s shirt and pulling on one of the freshly washed flannels.

 

Derek turned away, drifting back towards the desk. He shot an anxious look at the now exposed book of werewolf psychology. It fluttered it’s notes back at him mockingly. Derek lay down on Stiles’ bed, rubbing his cheek into the pillows and not so covertly trying to soak up every scent he could, while he was still allowed.

 

“Want me to spend the night?” Stiles asked, grabbing a backpack from his closet.

 

Derek sat up. He hadn’t heard that right. “What?”

 

“I could, um, spend the night?” Stiles asked, less confident than before. “If you, uh, wanted me to.”

 

“Sure,” Derek said, about a million miles left of the casual he was aiming for. “If you want to.”

 

“I mean, yeah? It would be convenient and… nice. I think. Don’t you?”

 

“Sure. Convenient.”

 

“Okay.” They stared at one another awkwardly. “I guess I’ll pack a bag then?’

 

“Yeah. Yes, that would be good.” Derek’s fingers dug into the bedding. Was this Stiles’ way of letting him down easy? To spend some time together, maybe explaining to Derek why he couldn’t be a companion to an alpha, let alone an alpha that had lied to him about normal pack dynamics. Who kept lying by omission. Who couldn’t face the possibility of Stiles thinking he was in any way indebted to Derek.

 

If Stiles could just keep believing that he could walk away at any time, that Derek wasn’t more attached than he should be, that Stiles could be substituted for someone else and Derek would be fine… then Stiles was still free. And Stiles maybe, hopefully, wouldn’t feel disgusted by the depth of Derek’s need for him. For Stiles. Not just a companion. Specifically for Stiles.

 

He cleared his raw throat. “Pack some of your gross human toothpaste. I only have the werewolf stuff without the weaponized mint flavoring.”

 

Stiles huffed indignantly and sputtered about the virtues of Crest, tossing a balled up shirt at Derek and cackling, all while Derek’s heart stuttered and stumbled, restarted only to fail again, losing its natural rhythm to the cadence of Stiles’ laughter.

 


 

Derek walked through his front door like a man returning home after a long sea voyage. Stiles, who had let them in with Derek’s key, flailed his hand against the wall, searching for the light switch. The light clicked on, and Derek looked around him, wondering in a daze whose house it was, with its harsh light and bare floors.

 

His own scent still lingered, combined with a small amount of Stiles’ sweet scent, though both had faded. After having been wrapped up in Stiles’ sheets for two nights, the scent in his own den barely registered.

 

He did his usual cautious search, looking for signs of a break in. Everything was in order. He checked once more, just to be on the safe side, while Stiles puttered around in the kitchen, making cheerful, welcoming noises at the snack collection in the cupboard that had somehow become Stiles’ personal hidey-hole for treats.

 

Derek opened his mouth to tease him about how quickly he had created a nest egg of junk food in his den, before a terrible pain flashed through his chest, winding him. Not after tomorrow. After tomorrow, it would just be Derek again. Derek making a stoic, understanding face as Stiles terminated their contract. Bearing with a call from Erica and pretending to be fine. To not need a companion. And then… and then what? His mind shuddered away from answering.

 

They ate a few snacks in front of the TV, neither of them paying much attention to what was on the screen. Stiles talked a little bit about his day. He told Derek the next steps they were taking for prosecution of the predator, whose name was apparently Jim Wently, for his crimes. He was wanted in Oregon and Nevada as well, and was being transferred to San Francisco for the time being. Stiles and his dad, as the arresting officers, would likely need to testify. Though it would be months, if not years, before it came to trial, as it was a complicated case involving at least three victims, with many others predicted to come to light.

 

“Thank you, Derek,” Stiles said, once he’d run out of curse words to call Wently. Derek gave him a questioning look. “If you hadn’t offered to help… God, I almost left you trapped in the goddamn house! Maddie would be dead. She would be dead, Derek. I didn’t work the other child victim case in Beacon Hills, but my dad did. And he couldn’t sleep. For weeks. It was… it was so horrible. And without you, Maddie would have… she would have been…” a shudder wracked through Stiles’ frame. “But you said you could help, and you did. And I’m so grateful. And I’m so fucking sorry. I almost left you there, and, and-”

 

“Shh, it’s okay.” Derek, who had been gently holding Stiles’ shoulders since he started trembling, carefully pulled Stiles into a hug. Not demanding or forcing it, but steering him towards an embrace, if that’s what he wanted. His sweet, tactile mate. Pack mate. Derek gulped. 

 

Stiles practically threw himself into Derek’s arms, nearly strangling him in his exuberance. “God I love- love that you offered to help.” Stiles pulled back a bit, snuffling, his eyes bright but not spilling over. “I couldn’t have lived with myself knowing that she had died. That I let her die.”

 

Derek pet Stiles’ hair and then down over his back, quickly, repeating the motion several times. Trying to soothe him while he himself was still so agitated.

 

“You wouldn’t have, Stiles. You would have found her.”

 

“Not in time!” Stiles looked up at him with huge eyes, blinking as Derek slid his hand over his hair. “I just… thank you, Derek. I mean it.”

 

“Of course, Stiles.” He blamed the high emotions and adrenaline for adding, “Anything for you.” 

 

And then they were kissing. 

 

For the first time, Derek realized, shock buzzing down his spine. Stiles had licked into his mouth a little before, to get at his fangs, but this was actual kissing: hungry and desperate. He had no idea who had started it, but he moaned into it desperately, gathering Stiles to himself as much as possible, ignoring their awkward angle on the couch, their knees pressing together painfully as they tried to devour one another.

 

“Derek, bedroom,” Stiles panted. And then they were rushing down the hallway, Stiles stumbling in his eagerness.

 

They reached his bedroom, Stiles venturing inside for the first time. Derek pulled his own shirt off over his head, his higher brain functions shutting down, his only need to hold Stiles to him, skin on skin. Stiles fumbled out of his flannel, the cuffs getting caught on his hands, and Derek had to help strip the shirt the rest of the way off, ducking the inch needed to put his mouth on Stiles’ again.

 

He licked and kissed and groaned, pulling Stiles’ clothes off as he went. Not fast enough to rip, but eagerly, submersed in the moment. Impatiently he pulled his mouth away from Stiles long enough to discard his pants and boxers, pulling Stiles' slim body back to his as soon as Derek was naked, a streak of precome marring the front of Stiles’ jeans.

 

Stiles’ long fingers tore at his own button and fly, Derek trying to push the fabric out of the way even before the zipper was undone. “Mmm,” Derek hummed, feeling bare skin under his hands as Stiles kicked off his pants and underwear. He scooped up handfuls of Stiles’ asscheeks, rubbing his thumbs down over the sweet flesh, making white trails as Stiles’ cheeks rippled smoothly under his pawing hands.

 

“You’re perfect,” Derek heard himself say, before licking into Stiles’ mouth, making the human groan and buck up into him, their cocks jolting together.

 

“Ah!” Stiles exclaimed, arching. “Yes!”

 

Derek broke away from him just long enough to crawl onto the bed, then reached back for Stiles, who went with no hesitation, his arms thrown out to Derek for the werewolf to reel him in and pull him across the covers. Stiles flipped onto his back and Derek braced over him, immediately falling back into a biting kiss.

 

Stiles’ hands where wildly running over Derek, feeling everything they could reach with both soft and urgent touches. One of those long-fingered hands found its way between Derek’s legs, and Derek pulled back far enough to look down and watch as Stiles fondled him. He seemed to weigh Derek in his palm for a moment, the human’s head also coming up so he could see between their bodies. Then his hand traveled up Derek’s length, which was straining and already dripping onto Stiles’ stomach.

 

“God,” Stiles whispered, reverently. “You’re so fucking gorgeous.” He continued to look down at Derek’s straining cock, his knot beginning to pulse to life, just the merest hint of a bulge around the base, throbbing and aching for a strong grip. Stiles tipped his head back and looked into his eyes, his gaze burning and direct. “You are so, so gorgeous, Derek. Do you know that?”

 

Derek was speechless. Breathless. 

 

In answer, Derek kissed him one more time, luxuriating in the feeling of that pert, pink mouth, before ducking down to grasp Stiles under his thighs and lift him up, Stiles’ spine curving away from the mattress and his legs hanging in the air. He gave Stiles one more heated look from between the boy’s splayed knees, taking in the wide amber eyes opening even larger in disbelief, before he dove down and ate him out for all he was worth.

 

Time slipped away, along with all of Derek’s thoughts that weren’t heat and yes and Stiles.

 

Stiles was screaming. And screaming. And screaming. His voice was getting hoarse, breaking, raspy. His cock twitched and bobbed and tried to come without direct stimulus again and again. So close, but not quite enough. Every now and then one of his feet would kick, beyond his ability to control.

 

He had ahold of Derek’s hair and he pulled and pulled, forcing Derek’s mouth onto him, his tongue into him, as deep as Derek could penetrate with his tongue alone. Stiles sobbed, his thighs quivering.

 

How long had it been now? Derek was usually so good at keeping track of time. Five minutes? Ten? Fifteen? His superhuman strength meant that his jaw didn’t ache, his tongue didn’t get tired from where it fought against the tight muscle of Stiles’ hole; the sweet little ring finally giving up and going soft, trembling under the sweeping lap of his eager tongue.

 

“Derek, Derek, Derek…” How long had Stiles been whispering his name like a plea?

 

“Mmm,” Derek rumbled in response, his tongue pulling back long enough to run up Stiles’ perineum, to lick up the sweat and salt there, to just feel the softer give of Stiles’ scrotum before delving back into his hole, sucking and licking and plundering like he would die without it.

 

“Derek, please,” Stiles begged, for the second time or maybe the twentieth. “Derek, I’m so close. So close.” Stiles’ pretty cock was leaking onto his stomach, a clear trail touching down were Derek had left his own precome, the two joining in the soft happy trail beneath Stiles’ navel. “Oh god, please. Please. Derek.”

 

Derek rumbled against him, his lips slick and swollen, loving this moment; the motion and the taste and Stiles’ pleading. Never wanting to stop. Stiles, inexplicably waiting on him, not taking his cock in his own hand. Enjoying the sensual torture as much as Derek.

 

He swallowed, suction briefly pulling on the inside of Stiles’ hole. “Ah!” Stiles called out, his cock bobbing, straining, going still again. Not quite enough to tip him over the edge.

 

“Please,” Stiles said, real desperation in his voice now. Tears welling up and spilling over; one hand holding Derek’s head to the hot juncture of pleasure between his spread legs, as the other twined in the bed covers rather than touch his own cock and bring himself release. Even though Derek hadn’t told him he had to hold back. Never even insinuated that he wasn’t allowed to touch himself. Stiles, allowing his alpha to decide when he came.

 

Derek’s vision nearly whited out with the thought that Stiles might be giving this to him on purpose. He felt the pinprick of tears behind his vision, threatening. He pulled back, enough to briefly lick his own fingers, before gently plunging two of them into Stiles, slowly easing them in search of what his tongue couldn’t quite reach.

 

“Derek! Derek! Derek!” Stiles screamed, thrashing. He felt Stiles clamp down as he rubbed his prostate, his lips pressing his perineum from the outside, kissing and applying pressure, wet and slippery.

 

Stiles clenched. Once, twice, and then he was coming, his red cock jerking and shooting down over his chest from where he was doubled over, Derek’s hand keeping his trembling thighs aloft.

 

His eyes closed after they rolled back into his head. Stiles looked dead to the world, his cheeks flushed crimson and his mouth slack. Derek gently lowered his legs back to the mattress, softly rubbing his hips and sides, trying to work out any tension in the muscles from the strain of being folded in half for so long.

 

Stiles’ cock jerked a few times, the boy groaning softly as his orgasm receded, aftershocks making him spasm as Derek held his hips steady.

 

After a few more moments, Stiles lay still, blinking up at the ceiling, obviously floating. He squinted and sought out Derek’s eyes, meeting them at last with a murmured “fuck.”

 

He reached for Derek, and Derek went, wrapped up in Stiles’ arms, Stiles’ mess between them and Derek loving every second of it. Eventually Stiles pushed him up and then motioned for Derek’s thighs with his hands, too far out of his reach. Derek shimmied up Stiles’ body, as it seemed to be what Stiles was silently asking for.

 

Stiles hummed in satisfaction as Derek’s cock bobbed closer, grasping Derek’s thighs and encouraging him to inch even nearer. Having positioned him to his satisfaction, Stiles gave Derek a slow smile before reaching for Derek’s knot.

 

Derek jerked, his back spasming from the unexpected jolt of pleasure. He’d felt amazing rimming Stiles, but he hadn’t realized how close to the edge he’d gotten, so focused on Stiles’ pleasure. His knot was throbbing and tight, already large enough that it would have locked him inside Stiles if they had...if they were... 

 

His head tipped back and he clenched his teeth as Stiles squeezed him, the pressure mounting to something like pain, a deeply satisfying, tormenting pain. It ached and pulsed along with his heartbeat, along with Stiles’ undulating fingers.

 

He took a stuttering breath, his head falling forward, seeking out Stiles’ eyes. The golden-brown gaze caught his, still sleepy and submerged, though warm and welcoming. He gave Derek a soft smile, then angled Derek’s blood-flushed cock towards his pink mouth, and licked.

 

Derek moaned like he was dying. He watched as Stiles proceeded to give the tip small kitten licks, his tongue dabbing out almost lazily, his long eyelashes fluttering. All the while Stiles’ strong hands circled his knot, the pressure incredible, like the seizing heat he might find buried inside Stiles’ body, tight and unforgiving.

 

He had a small moment of clarity before the pleasure crested, reaching out to brush Stiles’ cheek, worshiping and fond. Sweet thing, he thought. Then he was coming like dam breaking open, Stiles gasping under the hot rush as Derek emptied himself over Stiles’ lips and throat, choking on his cries of ecstasy.

 


 

He cleaned Stiles off with care.

 

They’d needed to resort to the shower, Stiles covered in both their releases and Derek unwilling to leave him even for a moment.

 

The shower was short but constructive, both of them emerging from the steam clean and flushed. Stiles used his mint toothpaste and Derek used the flavorless werewolf kind. They kissed languidly a few times, both sated and loose-limbed as they climbed into bed.

 

Stiles paddled across the bed towards him, catching hold and dragging himself into the indented spot in the mattress at Derek’s side.

 

“We kissed,” Stiles said.

 

Derek snuggled in closer, holding Stiles tight, his face buried in Stiles’ chest, breathing him in and trying to stay calm.

 

“So, do you still want to pretend that this is just a pack thing?” Stiles asked, something sweet and sad in his voice.

 

A lump rose in Derek’s throat that he couldn’t swallow around. He held Stiles closer, pressing his forehead against him, blocking out anything that wasn’t his human. If he could dissolve into Stiles, he would. To swirl around Stiles’ system, mixed with his blood. To never be apart. Derek’s breath hitched on a half-sob.

 

“It’s a little bit more than that, isn’t it, Derek?” Stiles asked, running his fingers through his hair. 

 

Absolute terror raced down Derek’s spine. Stiles would leave, he would leave because no one wanted a born werewolf for a mate. Derek was barely acceptable as a packmate. Any claim stronger than that and Stiles would take off immediately.

 

And he should. He should. Because what did Derek have to offer him? A bunch of ghosts and neurosis, haunting his every step? He couldn’t even walk out his own front door as a human, for god’s sake. He was just a collection of anxiety and longing, wishing he were worthy of affection. He didn’t deserve Stiles. Stiles should go. He really should go.

 

Derek held on tighter.

 

“Hey, hey, it’s okay, shhhh,” Stiles said, rubbing Derek’s heaving back as he tried desperately not to break down. “We’ll figure this out, okay? Hey, I’m not leaving, I promise. Not until you want me to, alright, Derek?”

 

Never. I never want you to leave. Oh god. 

 

It took nearly an hour for Derek to fall asleep, exhausted beyond measure and shaking until he simply shut down and drifted off, Stiles rubbing his back the whole time while Derek clung to him.

 

Chapter Text

 

Derek woke to the sound of Stiles’ phone vibrating on the bedside table. Stiles groaned into the side of Derek’s neck where he had been nuzzled in, his head pillowed on his shoulder. His soft hair tickled Derek’s jaw as he shifted unhappily, finally reaching out for his cell, still more than half asleep.

 

“Hello?” Stiles mumbled into the phone after pawing at it to answer the call, already letting his eyes slide shut and turning to burrow back into Derek’s side. “Oh, hi dad,” he said, sitting up again, slightly more alert. “Is everything okay? Are you alright?”

 

Derek easily picked up the sheriff’s half of the conversation with his enhanced hearing. “Yeah, just fine, kid. Though I don’t make the coffee as good as you do, so I’m suffering a bit this morning,” John joked. “Hey, I was wondering if I could talk to you for a minute.”

 

“Oh, uh, yeah, sure dad.” Stiles glanced quickly at Derek, before turning back to the phone. “Can you give me five minutes? I’ll call you back.”

 

Stiles hung up and gave Derek a wavering smile. “The old man wants to yell at me about something,” he said, turning away from Derek and sliding over to the far side of the bed. “Let me get dressed and head outside for a moment. I’ll be back in a few.”

 

Derek nodded, forcing himself to give Stiles a small smile. Even he could tell that it was unconvincing, but Stiles returned it anyway, his eyes troubled.

 

By the time Stiles was pulling on his shoes to head outside, his phone clutched in his hand and one of Derek’s large hoodies pulled over his head, Derek decided to have coffee ready for when he came back inside. It was a chilly morning, and the central heating had kicked on in the night now that Derek kept it set for human comfort. He heard the front door open and shut, glad that he hadn’t had to witness Stiles touching the door knob, something that always sent a phantom pain of heat and panic up Derek’s arm. 

 

Derek worked at filling up the coffee machine reservoir with water and scooping Stiles’ favorite brand of grounds into the filter, the warm air from the heating vent under the kitchen cabinet washing over his bare feet. The heater made its usual soft thunking sound switching off, the white noise of the burner falling suddenly silent as the warm air petered out and then stopped altogether.

 

“- an alpha, Stiles.”

 

Derek froze, his hand hovering over the start button on the coffee machine. He could hear John’s voice, now that the house had gone dead silent. Stiles must have walked around to the back yard, though Derek couldn’t see him yet through the kitchen window.

 

“I know, dad,” Stiles whispered into the phone, obviously trying to compensate for Derek’s hearing. 

 

Derek shouldn’t be listening to this. He should start the coffee and head to the living room at the front of the house. Turn on the TV and drown out this conversation that he both wasn’t privy to and didn’t want to hear.

 

Instead, fear struck him so intensely, he physically could not move. All his muscles locking up and breath stuttering as his heart rate picked up.

 

“Son, I know you care about him,” came John’s voice, small but clear over the phone. “And you know that I care about him too. But this can’t be easy for you. Not after what happened to you and Scott the night he was bitten.”

 

Derek’s heart was racing, his stomach flipping. He felt like he was going to double over from the sudden pain.

 

Stiles sighed, slow and sad. “It… hasn’t been easy.” Stiles’ voice was still low. “I keep seeing those eyes in the woods. From that night. When I was sixteen and-” Stiles paused, and it sounded like he may have been rubbing his face, his voice briefly muffled behind his hand. “You don’t think that it could have been… that it could have been Derek, do you?” Stiles asked in a small voice, seeking reassurance.

 

Derek’s legs gave out and he was suddenly sitting on the floor, his arms wrapped around his knees, his head falling forward to rest on them as he rocked, just slightly, back and forth. He was dimly aware that his reaction did not bode well. That responding like this meant that he might be taken back to the hospital. That they would pull him out of his house again, a silver shackle around his neck, unable to shift even though it was broad daylight and he was outside in human form.

 

“It wasn't Derek, Stiles,” the sheriff was saying. “It was a different wolf. One that’s not a threat anymore. But you should get the story from Derek.” He could hear Stiles pacing through the fallen leaves along the treeline, just thirty feet from the house. The sheriff’s voice was still terribly clear. “Just... be gentle about it. All of that stuff that happened? And the years after the fire? All of that was really tough for him. In more ways than you might realize.”

 

Derek heaved in a breath, choking around his panic. His mouth tasted like metal. He swallowed harshly, the sound momentarily blocking out the conversation happening outside.

 

“-super busy at the station?” Stiles was asking.

 

“Yeah, sorry kid.” John’s voice over the phone was getting slightly louder as Stiles crunched through leaves and then onto the dry grass of the yard, heading back towards the house. He paused outside, and Derek could see where he cast a shadow onto the kitchen wall through the window, though Stiles himself wasn’t visible. “It’s a total madhouse and Parrish is still out recovering after he busted his ankle last week. I don’t want to, but I need to call you in, and you’ll be looking at a long few weeks…”

 

The voice began to fade again as Stiles made his way around to the front door. Derek leapt up in a flood of panic, hitting start on the coffee machine before heading unsteadily down the hall to the bathroom. He locked himself inside, his fingers flaring in remembered pain from touching the metal, just as he heard Stiles coming through the front door and then down the hallway to the kitchen.

 

Derek turned on the shower in an attempt to hide his ragged breathing, with no intention of getting under the spray. Still fully clothed, he leaned against the bathroom counter, his arms just barely holding his weight. He pressed his eyes closed so that he didn’t have to look at himself in the mirror.

 

A knock sounded on the bathroom door and Derek jolted.

 

“You in the shower, Der?” Stiles called from the other side. Derek choked back bile and self loathing enough to manage a response.

 

“Yeah.”

 

The doorknob jostled and Derek belatedly realized that he’d locked himself in and would have to open the door himself in order to get out. He shuddered, pushing it from his mind as unimportant at the moment. A dull sort of haze began creeping through his brain, his vision getting fuzzy at the edges. His hands didn’t look real where they clutched the counter.

 

The door handle stilled once Stiles realized it was locked.

 

“Okay,” Stiles said, his voice sounding concerned, but at least not suspicious. Not yet. Derek needed to keep it that way. If no one knew he was falling apart, then he would be left alone. Safe. No trips to the hospital in silver chokers.

 

“There’s coffee,” he managed, using that voice. The fake voice he’d used when… when she had gotten mad and he needed to keep her happy. Keep her from leaving him because he was misbehaving and “giving into his nature.” The voice he’d used later to keep Uncle Peter calm, when he barely recognized Derek as he’d aged from a baby faced fifteen-year-old to a grim faced twenty-year-old.

 

Derek hated that voice. Hated the feeling of it in his throat, the ringing falseness of the tone as it carried through the air. The sense of fake calm, careful to keep the sound of it neutrally upbeat. Gently persuasive yet normal. Nothing to see here. Nothing to worry about. It’s fine. I’m fine. Everything’s fine.

 

It’s fine.

 

Oh god.

 

He held his breath, clamping down on a sob as he accidentally met his eyes in the mirror, only to balk away in shame, the bathroom slowly filling with steam.

 

“I saw, thanks Derek! Smells good. It’s cold out there, by the way. Coffee’ll taste super good.”

 

“Good,” Derek echoed. It was easier than making up his own words. His brain felt heavy and toxic, like a cotton ball soaked in turpentine. “I’ll be out in a minute,” he forced himself to say, his voice ripping through his throat on its way out, though it sounded passably normal. He glared at himself in the mirror, watching as his traitorous eyes filled up with tears. He forced himself not to let them seep into his tone. He knew how to do this. He could do this. Act normal. Just for fuck’s sake, act normal and he will evantually leave. “Do you need the shower?”

 

“Naw, I should head out soon. I can get ready for work at home.”

 

“There’s a travel mug in the cupboard. Don’t leave without coffee.”

 

“Ha! You know me so well. I wouldn’t make it halfway back to town without it.” Stiles’ voice faded as he wandered off down the hallway towards the bedroom. A few minutes later his footsteps passed the bathroom again on his way to the kitchen.

 

Derek stayed staring at himself in the mirror until it was too fogged with steam to make out his features. He hung his head and waited, every sense tuned into Stiles’ wandering footsteps until they finally approached the bathroom door again.

 

“Okay, I’m taking off,” Stiles called to him.

 

“Okay, text me later.”

 

“Sure thing! Bye!”

 

“Bye.”

 

Derek held his breath until he heard the front door close. He turned off the water and listened as Stiles started the Jeep, letting it run and warm up while his music blasted. Derek could imagine him nodding along to the beat as he typed out a few texts to Scott or his dad. Then the Jeep’s engine noise changed pitch as Stiles put it into gear and slowly turned around in Derek’s driveway, heading for the main road.

 

He sat on the floor, wedged between the toilet and the bathtub, his brain alternately shifting between vague nothingness and jolts of panic. His hands shook and he wanted Stiles. Maybe he would have called him to come back, but his phone was in the bedroom.

 

Though it was probably better that he couldn’t call. If Stiles saw him now, he’d have no choice but to call the Center. And the Center would have no choice but to call Dr. Deaton.

 

It was imperative to appear normal. To seem fine. To be fine. 

 

When he couldn’t stand it any longer, he rummaged in the bathroom hamper until he found the towel Stiles had used the night before, greedily hugging it to his face. 

 

He got one good inhale of Stiles’ scent before he clutched the terrycloth to his face and let the tears flow.

 


 

In the end, it was Erica who found him and let him out of the bathroom. 

 

She had driven over after lunchtime when he hadn’t answered his phone or any of her texts. He heard her car pull up, and had briefly considered pretending not to be home. But he knew that she’d call Stiles next, to confirm that Derek wasn’t with him or at the Stilinski house, and there was nowhere else he’d be in the middle of the day. He’d also had several hours alone, which he’d used to calm down and start rebuilding his shaky control, as fragile as it was. So he took a deep breath, stood up, splashed some water on his face to remove the scent of tears, and then called Erica’s name.

 

The front door was unlocked and she let herself in, heading unerringly to the bathroom. Rather than bothering to pick the lock, Erica simply used her wolf strength and snapped the mechanism with one sharp turn of the knob.

 

“Thanks,” Derek said, ignoring the indignant look on her face as he quickly stepped past her on the way to the bedroom for his phone. He emerged with it in his hand, waving it at her slightly in explanation. “I could hear it buzzing,” he said, straining for normalcy.

 

Erica narrowed her eyes at him, but followed him without protest into the kitchen. “How long were you trapped in there?” She helped herself to a vitamin water from the fridge while Derek dumped the now burned coffee into the sink and started a fresh pot. He probably wouldn’t drink it, but it gave him something vaguely normal to do with his hands.

 

He’d looked at his phone while he’d been in the bedroom and knew that Erica had started texting and calling about an hour earlier. “Not much more than an hour ago,” he lied, timing a slam with the cupboard door to cover over the skip in his heartbeat. “I didn’t even realize that I’d locked myself in right away.” At least that was the truth.

 

“And you didn’t let yourself out because...?”

 

Derek couldn’t hide the way he flinched and pulled his hand back in a fist. Erica didn’t miss his reaction.

 

“It’s still that much of a problem?” Erica asked, starting to sound dismayed.

 

“Not really,” Derek evaded. It wasn’t that much of a problem because he had the dog door for avoiding the problem altogether. And when he needed to open the front door, Stiles would-

 

His heart seized in his chest. Erica took a step closer, but Derek held up a hand in what he hoped was a calming, as well as a stalling, gesture.

 

“Derek, are you okay? Did something happen with Stiles?” Her large eyes looked even wider as she studied him, concern morphing into outright worry. And worry usually progressed into suspicion… and suspicion led to the hospital.

 

Derek shook his head, offering a chagrined smile. Time to pull out everything he knew about how to get away with lying to werewolves. The main rule being: don’t. Not when skirting the issue with half-truths would work.

 

“I’m just not having the best day,” he managed. An old trick he’d used on friends and doctors for years: seem vulnerable enough to explain your behavior, but not so vulnerable as to need intervention. “I’m feeling emotional, which doesn’t help with the whole door situation.”

 

Erica studied him while Derek resolutely thought of nothing. Eventually she huffed, going over to the finished coffee pot and pouring a mug, which she handed to Derek. “Let’s go get comfy and talk,” she said, tucking the vitamin water under her arm and getting a cup of coffee for herself.

 

They arranged themselves in the living room and chatted for a while, as Derek slowly regained his equilibrium. He firmly shut the door on his panic, knowing he could contain it for long enough to get through this conversation. Then, later that night, he could run in wolf form until he face-planted in the dirt from exhaustion.

 

“I had a call this morning from the Kettle River Range Center up in Washington,” Erica said after returning from the kitchen with a coffee refill. The steam wafted around her golden head, catching the light. “They have a beta who has been staying at the facility for several months. His name is Isaac. He’s a bitten werewolf who was on the run from hunters for nearly a year before he was found in a barn, burned from wolfsbane powder. He’s made a full recovery, physically, but he isn’t responding well to the local pack, who are all betas.”

 

Derek took a deep breath, clenching his fists. She couldn’t possibly be saying that-

 

“They think he would respond better to an alpha,” Erica continued, watching him over the rim of her mug. “But because he’s so skittish, they can’t place him in a big, established pack. They think he would do really well at a Center that has a calm, gentle alpha willing to mentor him.”

 

Derek swallowed harshly, trying to keep himself in check.

 

“I don’t know if I’m the best candidate,” he managed, his pulse beating a frantic rhythm in his throat. “I might just mess him up more. And I can’t… I don't know if I can handle another werewolf that needs my attention, needs me to be strong... not after what happened with...with Peter, I just can’t-”

 

“I know, Der,” Erica said, softly. “But I don’t think that would be the situation here. Isaac is very capable. In most respects he’s a normal nineteen-year-old. He just can’t handle a lot of people and he withdraws into himself around most other betas. And…” She hesitated, making sure that Derek was meeting her eyes. “He might be able to support you in return, as far as he’s able to. I mean, having a beta to look out for, even if he’s not technically pack, might help with you feeling so isolated. I know it hasn’t been easy.”

 

Derek swallowed again. Then again. Trying to keep whatever the awful feeling was inside his chest pushed down.

 

“But I have Stiles,” he said, hating how tenative his voice sounded. How uncertain. Did he have Stiles?

 

“Of course,” Erica answered. Too quickly. Too brightly. “But Stiles works full time and he can’t be here as much as you need him. Did he ever consider moving in with you when I suggested it?’

 

“He never mentioned it,” Derek said, his throat dry. He took a small sip of coffee, forcing it down. “But I don’t need him to live here.” 

 

His heart skipped. He stopped dead, the coffee mug frozen in his hands where he was about to set it down on the table. They’d both heard it. The tell-tale missed beat. He had messed up. He’d lied to Erica’s face and he hadn’t even known it was a lie until that moment.

 

His eyes went up to hers lightning quick. Caught. She gave him a small smile, letting the moment diffuse slightly before continuing, as if she hadn’t even heard the skip. 

 

“Isaac works online doing computer tech support. He’s saving up for university. Then he may end up moving to a different Center or finding a more permanent pack when he decides on a college. I'd estimate that the Center is asking for eight months of your time, give or take. Maybe seeing him a few times a week. And that’s only if you guys hit it off and are willing to spend more time getting to know one another.”

 

Derek’s thoughts felt spread out like smoke. He couldn’t begin to comprehend the effort it would take to comply with Erica’s request. It seemed simple, but going to the Center as much as she wanted him to… he had no idea if he could. Would they work with his restricted hours? His inability to open doors? Would it all come out, how badly he was managing, even after all the resources they had assigned to him? Would they take Stiles away?

 

“How would this change the arrangement with Stiles?” he asked at last, unable to think of anything else once the thought had occurred to him.

 

“It wouldn’t,” Erica said. “Not from the standpoint of the Center. He would still be assigned to you.”

 

Derek couldn’t make a decision. Not now. Maybe not ever. He could barely handle the sheer amount of change that had happened since Stiles. Let alone a beta who needed support… “I’ll think about it,” he finally managed to say.

 

Erica beamed. “Thanks, Der.”

 

He nodded, still feeling numb. 

 

“I think you should tell Stiles, though,” she said, finishing the last of her coffee. “I mean, about why you can’t open doors.”

 

“I can open doors, I just-”

 

Erica cocked an eyebrow at him. “How long were you really in that bathroom?”

 

Derek fell back against the couch, all his strings cut. Why did he ever bother trying to deceive Erica?

 

“Since about eight this morning.”

 

“Uh-huh.”

 

“I would have gotten out eventually.”

 

“Why didn’t you just break the door down? You wouldn’t have had to touch the handle for that.”

 

“It’s not the handle.” His hand flinched. “Well, not just the handle. It’s… what I see when the door opens.” He flexed his fingers, feeling the intense shock of heat fusing his hand to the front door knob of his family’s home, the door lurching open, the nerves of his hand screaming as they died and regenerated, only to burn away again. And beyond the door-

 

His whole body shivered violently, pulling back from the memory. He blinked hard, trying to come back to the present; to his sleepy little living room, dust specks glittering as they drifted through the afternoon sun streaming in the windows. Erica shifted her weight, resettling on the couch and fussing with her blouse, giving him time.

 

“It might help him to know,” Erica insisted. “That, and why you requested him, and only him, as a companion.”

 

“No.” A pit of fear opened up in his gut. He sat up tall and flashed his eyes, leaning into an authority he didn’t feel. “If he knew I’d asked for him, why I asked for him, he would never agree to stay.”

 

Erica stared at him steadily. “Isn’t that exactly why you should tell him?”

 

All the air left Derek’s lungs. He deflated, crumpling in on himself like a deconstructed tent, nothing to hold him up from the inside.

 

He didn’t want her to be right. But he knew that she was.

 


 

Stiles [9:23 pm]: hi!!! sorry, it’s so crazy busy at the station

Stiles [9:23 pm]: i don’t know if i’ll make it back to your house tonight :(

Derek [9:26 pm]: No worries. Just make sure you get some rest.

Stiles [9:27 pm]: thanx man! see u tomorrow

 


 

Derek listened to the deer walking through the undergrowth. He had worried about them after so many days away from home. It was a relief to know that nothing had happened to them in his absence. Even though they had no idea he was watching over them, he felt like a part of their little family. He’d scared off the hunter that would have shot the mother before she’d had her first fawn. Ever since then, he’d checked on them nearly every day. He had expanded his usual territory check to include their path as well. So far, he’d managed to keep them safe.

 

Curled in the shelter of some dry ferns, Derek rested his head on his paws and listened to the tapping of deer hooves in the rocky stream and then on the path. Listened until they were out of earshot even for him, likely bedded down for the rest of the night. Then he listened to the gentle chirping and creaking of the nighttime forest, until dawn approached and he walked slowly home.

 


 

Stiles [7:12 pm]: hi derek!!! Ugh, sorry, but i can’t get away. i got talked into a dbl shift

Derek [7:14 pm]: That’s fine, though I’m worried you aren’t getting enough sleep.

Stiles [7:14 pm]: same! but this shouldn’t last too much longer. just that it’s a high profile case and we r dealing with the fbi and stuff. soooo much paperwork

Derek [7:15 pm]: Don’t drink too much coffee. Drink water. And eat a salad.

Stiles [7:15 pm]: ugh, FINE

Stiles [7:15 pm]: see u tomorrow morning?

Derek [7:16 pm]: Only if you can. You need to rest.

Stiles [7:16 pm]: ok i’ll try

Stiles [7:16 pm]: i’ll text you tomorrow

 


 

Stiles practically flew through the door at seven-thirty the next morning, his eyes bloodshot.

 

“Derek,” he sighed, walking straight into his chest and wrapping his arms around his ribs. 

 

Derek held him close, trying not to shake, nearly hyperventilating in an attempt to breathe him in all at once. He caressed trembling fingers up and down Stiles’ neck softly, still worried about scaring him away with the intensity of his need. Especially now, as any time could be the last.

 

It was Stiles who leaned in and pressed their mouths together, moaning desperately for more. Derek was instantly overwhelmed, begging Stiles with his mouth and his hands, knowing they didn’t have much time before Stiles had to leave for work, but unwilling to give up a single moment.

 

Stiles surprised him by dropping to his knees and fishing Derek’s cock out of his pajama bottoms. Derek was hard, he was always hard the minute Stiles touched him, and so Stiles wasted no time getting Derek in his mouth.

 

“Ah!” Derek cried out, electrified by the sudden deluge of sensation. Stiles’ mouth was wet. And hot. His tongue… and now he was sucking… and, and he had Derek’s knot in one hand and was tugging and rolling his balls with the other and, and- “I’m going to come, Stiles! I can’t, I- oh fuck!”

 

Stiles had the foresight to move to the side when he couldn’t swallow any more, holding Derek and massaging his knot so that his come hit the hardwood floor instead of his uniform. He knelt to the side, licking Derek’s knot between his fingers as he continued to palpitate it with his hands, startling Derek into tensing his stomach and coming again.

 

“Been thinking about this all week,” Stiles slurred, sounding half drunk. “You’re ‘mazing, Derek. So damn hot.” Stiles played with his knot until Derek stopped spurting, then took the head back into his mouth and sucked gently until Derek was clean and empty and whining pitifully.

 

As soon as Derek had his strength back, he pulled Stiles away from his own mess in the hallway, manhandling him into the living room and onto the couch, where he lost no time in getting his fly open and swallowing him down. It was only a few minutes before Stiles was arching and coming down his throat while Derek held his hips, angling him as deep as he would go.

 

Derek finally pulled off, regretful that it had been so quick, but grateful that Stiles had been willing. Derek felt a little more settled letting Stiles leave for the station now that he was so thoroughly drenched in his scent. Even if he would have rather kept him exactly where he was, boneless on his couch.

 

“I’ve missed you,” Stiles said, half-asleep as Derek cleaned him up with a washcloth and redressed him carefully, so that no human would be able to tell what they’d done. Derek searched Stiles’ eyes, the liquid brown of them shining with contentment.

 

“I’ve missed you too,” Derek said, holding back all the desperate words that wanted to come pouring out of his mouth.

 

Stiles laughed softly and then sighed, making a face when he finally sat up. “I’ll be late, but it was worth it,” he said, dragging himself to his feet.

 

“Only by a few minutes,” Derek reassured him. While Stiles washed his hands in the bathroom, Derek quickly threw together a yogurt and a granola bar, along with some fruit, and handed them to Stiles at the front door. “Eat something,” Derek insisted. “And drink water.”

 

Stiles rolled his eyes. “It’s like you want me to be a functioning human being or something,” Stiles complained, holding everything Derek handed him carefully, so he didn’t drop any of it.

 

“I’ll settle for fed, hydrated and rested,” Derek said, smoothing the back of Stiles’ hair where it had been rucked up by the couch cushion.

 

“Oh, is that all?” Stiles teased, giving him one more scenting touch on the side of his neck.

 

No, Derek thought. There’s so much more. But you may not want any of it. Not once you know.

 

Reluctantly, he let Stiles go.

 


 

Erica [10:03 am]: We’re setting up a meeting with Isaac. Would you be able to come to the Center?

Derek [10:07 am]: I’m not sure. Maybe.

Erica [10:08 am]: Okay, Fran and I talked about this, and we agree that it might be best if we don’t have you meet at your den for now, since he’s a strange wolf and he’d be changing the scent profile of your living space

Erica [10:08 am]: I’m texting Stiles to see if he’s okay with bringing you over to the Center after work

Derek [10:09 am]: I don’t want to impose on Stiles.

Erica [10:11 am]: He just texted back that it’s fine

Erica [10:11 am]: We’re on for tomorrow night

Derek [10:12 am]: typing...

Derek [10:13 am]: typing...

Derek [10:14 am]: typing...

Derek [10:15 am]: Okay.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

“Derek?”

 

He spun around from where he had been scowling at his reflection in the bathroom mirror of the Center, trying to get dressed after the wolf shift as quickly as possible, not wanting to invite unwanted commentary from the staff. He’d made it to the Center with Stiles’ help, cowering in the footwell of the passenger side of the Jeep, his wolf form barely fitting into the tight space. Now he was fully dressed, save for his shoes. Fighting to breathe normally, he crouched down to tie his laces, keeping the man in view.

 

“Hi Doctor Deaton,” he said gruffly, willing his hands to stay steady as he fiddled with his laces.

 

“It’s good to see you here,” Deaton said, once Derek had straightened up and was facing him. Derek had his back nearly pushed against the wall to put as much distance as possible between him and the doctor.

 

He steeled himself for the inevitable handshake, watching Deaton’s shoulder as the muscles bunched to move his arm forward. He took the doctor's hand when it was offered, holding on gingerly like it was a burning coal and not flesh and blood, his instincts screaming for him to wash the scent off as soon as he let go. 

 

Deaton might be considered a good doctor by human standards, but there were certain things about werewolves he never seemed to understand. Unless he did understand and was trying to force the feeling of a pack bond onto Derek through touch and scent.

 

“How have you been?” Deaton asked.

 

“Fine,” Derek said, fighting not to wash his hands right in front of the man. It was bad enough that he hadn’t scented Stiles before they’d left, and now he smelled like this man who - while he may have been trying his best to treat Derek - had made him feel violated on so many levels.

 

“Are you still making it to your counseling sessions?’

 

Derek’s jaw tightened. His heartbeat sped up. 

 

He wasn’t seeing his counselor anymore. But he didn’t want to tell Deaton that. Deaton should have known already, anyway. He was beginning to wonder if Deaton’s running into him while he was alone had been an accident.

 

He was just about to give in and mumble a defeated “no” and hope that Deaton wouldn’t suggest another stay in the werewolf treatment ward, when the door swung open and Stiles sauntered in.

 

“Oh, hey Derek,” he said casually. Derek instantly wanted to run his hands all over him. “I was hoping that I could introduce you to my tutor for the course. I just met her and she’s awesome! And she’s leaving in a moment so…” Stiles looked at Deaton for the first time. Derek noted with interest that Stiles didn’t introduce himself. 

 

“Of course,” Deaton said, nodding at Stiles and then looking at Derek. “I’ll check in with you later, Derek. Again, good seeing you at the Center. Excellent progress. Keep it up.”

 

Derek didn’t move until the door closed, then he spun in place and started scrubbing his hands under the hot water with the Center’s werewolf-friendly soap.

 

“You’re a lifesaver,” Derek muttered, not quite meeting Stiles’ eyes in the mirror.

 

Stiles bobbed his ruffled head. “I saw him heading in here and… I dunno… he gave me a creepy sort of vibe, you know? Thought I should check it out.”

 

“Thank you,” Derek said to the sink. He sniffed his hand. The scent was mostly gone, but he lathered them up one more time just to make sure. God bless the Center and its scent-neutralizing soap. “That was Doctor Deaton. He, uh. Treated me. When I was hospitalized.”

 

“That was your doctor?” Stiles asked, the disbelief and horror clear in his voice. Derek found that he had to agree with the sentiment.

 

“Yeah. ‘Fraid so.”

 

“Shit,” Stiles said, blinking at him. “Shit Derek, I had no idea…” he got that look on his face that meant he was thinking hard about something, a worried cast to his forehead that Derek wanted to smooth away. 

 

He dried his hands under the hot stream of air from the wall unit before turning eagerly back to Stiles. He hated not having a visual on him at all times. “Is your tutor really waiting for us, or-”

 

“She is, but just hold on a sec,” Stiles said. He reached for Derek’s wrists, taking each gently in his long fingers. Derek let Stiles direct his hands up to the sides of his long neck, encouraging Derek to scent him. Derek let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding as his palms caressed the warm skin.

 

“We don’t do this enough, do we?” Stiles asked, smiling softly at Derek, his eyes crinkled in the corners.

 

It was never enough. It could never be enough. Derek was too greedy for him.

 

He slipped his hands around, feeling all over Stiles’ throat and collar bones, his thumbs stroking over the slight texture of his moles. Derek leaned in, breathing them in together.

 

Derek felt Stiles’ throat bob as he swallowed. He took a step back, reluctantly dropping his hands. Stiles snatched one of them and held it fast, before adjusting his clothes with his other hand and finally leading him out of the bathroom.

 


 

Stiles’ tutor didn’t try and shake hands with him. Derek approved of her almost immediately. She was quiet-spoken with large glasses and a glint in her eye that promised a sense of humor.

 

After Stiles had collected his books and made arrangements for the start of his weekend classes, they said their goodbyes and then turned towards the main conference room where they’d be meeting Isaac for the first time. Stiles stayed close and wouldn’t relinquish Derek’s hand until they were right outside the conference room. Shooting him a nervous glance, Derek waited for Stiles to open the door, and then they were staring at a long table with Erica and two young men sitting at the far end.

 

Erica rose to greet them, as did one of the teenagers: the one with broad shoulders and a stoic expression. The other boy remained seated, as though frozen in place, his eyes averted. The greeting Erica had opened with died away into tense silence.

 

Derek turned first to the tall young man who was standing, watching them silently. Derek flashed his eyes and the other werewolf instantly responded, flashing beta gold. Derek met his gaze until the other man’s eyes dropped, giving a small nod. Then Derek turned to the cringing figure in the office chair, who was trying to make himself as small as possible.

 

He approached the boy slowly, but not slowly enough to appear like he was stalking him. Just a steady pace to indicate that he was not attacking, merely approaching. He pulled out the chair next to the boy - Isaac, he was sure of it - and sat down. They would have been nearly eye to eye if Isaac had been looking at him instead of being hunkered down into himself.

 

Derek thought of his mother. He had lost a lot of his memories, or suppressed them, after the fire. But there were certain things he recalled her doing when one of her betas was frightened or upset. Things she’d done for him and his sisters to make them feel safe.

 

Raising one hand, he left it hovering in the air between himself and Isaac. He could practically feel the nervousness and uncertainty pouring off of him, could see the minute twitches of his muscles as he tried to make himself even smaller and unnoticeable. Not a threat, Isaac’s body language was screaming, I’m not a threat. Please don’t hurt me.

 

Derek flexed his open hand, showing the blunt human nails and the empty palm. He rotated it slowly in Isaac’s view. Even though Isaac’s eyes were latched onto the table in front of him, Derek knew he was taking in everything Derek was doing. The strain of holding so still was causing sweat to break out on the boy’s forehead.

 

He leaned the arm that he wasn’t offering to Isaac on the conference table, shifting his weight to look less intimidating. Not coiled to attack. An at-rest posture, open and nonthreatening. Derek waited another moment and then let out a low rumble. Not so much a growl as a sort of rough purr. It was a noise his mother had used on them when they were afraid they were going to get into trouble for something. It was reassuring coming from an alpha. It meant acceptance: the offer of affection freely given.

 

A tremor ran through Isaac’s body. His dark blue eyes shifted in Derek’s direction for a brief instant before dropping again. Derek made the sound a second time, putting more warmth into the rumble, making it a question to be answered.

 

Moving like his joints had been frozen but were now cracking free of ice, Isaac jerked stiffly and looked into Derek’s eyes. Red met gold briefly, formally acknowledging roles and expectations.

 

This time when Derek raised his hand to Isaac, the boy’s tousled head dropped in acceptance. Derek laid his hand on the back of his neck gently, the vertebrae straining against the skin. He felt a shiver run through Isaac’s spine as he finally unspooled, going loose and giving into the care of an alpha. 

 

Isaac was breathing easier now, taking in deep, steady lungfuls of air. Derek kept his hand steady on his neck, not squeezing or petting, like a family member might, but just resting there in reassurance. You’re safe. An alpha is here to protect you. You can rest now.

 

Slowly, Derek became aware of the room. The other three had been silent during his interaction with Isaac. Erica was smiling and her eyes looked too bright under the fluorescent lights. The other beta werewolf was watching placidly, his stance more relaxed than before. And Stiles… Stiles looked like a child that had just witnessed their first magic trick. His eyes were wide and his mouth was open. He was fixing Derek with a look of such wonder, Derek felt his ears heat up.

 

Derek gently took his hand back and Isaac slowly straightened up in his seat, blinking like he was waking up. Erica introduced everyone officially and Derek learned that the name of the other beta was Boyd, and that he had followed Isaac to the Center and insisted on staying as his pack member. Derek could smell them on one another, a pack bond, recent and strong.

 

Boyd graciously offered his bare forearm, tugging up his long-sleeved shirt, and Derek placed the same hand he’d used to cup Isaac’s neck on the rich brown skin, smoothing down the length of his exposed arm. Derek moved back to Stiles, gripping his wrist for a moment to transmit the muddled scent of pack - even if temporary - to his first and foremost pack member. It would have been more traditional for Derek to cup Stiles’ neck instead, but his baser instincts saw Stiles’ throat as his, and his alone.

 

Scenting concluded, they sat down to discuss the new arrangements.

 

“Would you be able to visit again in a few days?” Erica asked hopefully. Derek tried to remember if he’d ever seen her look so genuinely sincere. “We could reserve one of the small recreation rooms for you, so you could hang out. This doesn’t have to be formal.”

 

Derek thought about Dr. Deaton and the very real possibility of running into him again. What questions would he try to trip him up with this time? Was he really so set on getting him back under his care?

 

Stiles, who was watching his face enough to know that Derek was uncomfortable, though maybe not the full reason why, reached for his hand under the table.

 

“You guys could meet at my house,” he piped up.

 

Erica's face brightened. “Stiles, that would be incredible! Would your dad agree?”

 

“Oh sure,” Stiles nodded confidently. “He totally wouldn’t mind. He basically loves Derek more than me anyway.”

 

Erica chuckled. Derek clenched the hand not holding onto Stiles’ slim fingers.

 

The Stilinski home was the closest thing he’d come to having a pack house in years. The cheap apartment he had shared with Peter after the fire hadn’t felt like a den. More like a prison; a jail cell with a slowly deteriorating roommate that he was shackled to for life.

 

“I don’t know, Stiles,” Derek began slowly. On his other side, Isaac tensed. Derek realized that Isaac must be extremely sensitive to any sort of conflict. He was probably reading the situation as heading for a fight between his new temporary alpha and the alpha’s primary pack member.

 

Stiles was peering at him with concern. “If you don't want to, we don't have to. I'd be happy to drive you if-”

 

Derek smiled at him, dropping his hand under the table and raising it to gently grip his shoulder, making sure that Isaac could see the gesture. An alpha who was caring, but still in control. He could see Isaac relax a fraction.

 

“Thank you, Stiles. We would be honored to use your house for a pack meeting. And mingling the new pack scent in a safe environment is important for Isaac.”

 

“Pack?” Stiles asked. His mouth dropped open as he looked from Derek over to Isaac. “Like, you mean... You consider Isaac pack? Already?”

 

Derek nodded. “It’s not official yet, but functionally, yes. They both agreed to be my temporary betas,” Derek explained, nodding to both Isaac and Boyd.

 

Stiles’ brow crinkled up, his expression morphing from confusion into something bordering alarm. He gave Derek a pleading, searching look, his amber eyes darting and switching focus to each of Derek’s eyes. Derek had never seen a look like that on Stiles’ face before. He leaned forward, intending to cup his companion’s face, to try and reassure him, even though he wasn’t sure what had caused such a reaction, but Stiles moved back before he could follow through.

 

A moment later the pleading look was gone, replaced by blankness.

 

“Okay,” Stiles said, completely neutral. “Let me call my dad. What day are you guys thinking?”

 

They talked over the details and made tentative arrangements pending Sheriff Stilinski’s approval. All the while, Stiles sat rigid in his chair, refusing to look any of them in the eyes, his knuckles white where he gripped his stack of books.

 


 

The ride back to Derek’s was uncomfortably silent. Stiles didn’t even turn on the radio. He just drove, not looking at Derek, who was now perched in the passenger seat, tail wrapped tightly around his paws.

 

Derek sniffed surreptitiously, trying to figure out what was wrong. He smelled mainly anxiety. It was pouring off of Stiles so strong that he couldn’t scent out any other emotion that might shed light on why his pack member was feeling so distressed. He stopped himself from whining pitifully and turned his gaze back out the window, watching the night flash past.

 

Stiles must have been worried about the betas. Derek would do his best to reassure him that they wouldn’t hurt Stiles, that Derek would protect him even if they tried. He knew Stiles hadn’t ever been in a pack with structure before. He wondered if he should invite Scott to the pack meeting as well. It might help ground Stiles to have a representative of his longtime pack present. Though the mere thought of allowing a wolf with a prior claim on Stiles to come and mingle with the new pack made him shudder.

 

But it was Scott. And Derek… Derek owed Scott. He owed him more than he could ever hope to repay. And eventually they were going to have to meet face to face, because they both lov-

 

...they both cared about Stiles.

 

Before that though, Derek needed to talk to Stiles. Erica had been right when they’d had their heart to heart after he’d stupidly locked himself in the bathroom. Stiles needed to know. He needed to know that Derek had asked for him. Only him.

 

First, though, he would try and find out why Stiles was upset about the betas. Whether he was afraid of them or had noticed something about them that Derek hadn’t. Stiles was extremely perceptive. He may have picked up on something Derek had missed, especially since Derek had kept all his focus on Isaac during the critical first moments of communication. Perhaps there was something about Boyd that Stiles had picked up on, though Derek had read him as neutral.

 

Derek realized that his gaze had returned to the side of Stiles’ face. Repositioning his feet irritably, Derek forced himself to look away, planning for when he was shifted back to his human form so that he could try and comfort his most important - though still just as temporary - pack mate.

 


 

He didn’t have a chance to bring up the betas because the minute he’d shifted into human form, Stiles was on him, kissing him like his life depended on it.

 

Derek groaned in surprise and pleasure, letting himself be manhandled back against the entryway wall, his naked posterior hitting the wallpaper with a smack. He growled into the kiss as Stiles rubbed his whole body against him, his slender hands raking through Derek’s hair and down his neck and throat. Stiles pressed his knee between Derek’s legs, knocking them apart roughly before thrusting his hip and thigh in close. His hands moved down quickly, almost desperately, to grab and knead Derek’s ass, pulling him closer into the welcome friction of Stiles’ body.

 

Those impossibly long fingers dug into the meat of Derek’s ass, hefting the weight of it in a brutal caress. Derek could only moan, his head dropping back in a show of trust and desire, letting Stiles’ hot mouth frantically lick and suck at him. He shuddered as he released a sudden, hot burst of precome against Stiles’ shirt, his erection feeling sensitive against the harsh texture of Stiles’ jeans.

 

“I want you,” Stiles said against Derek’s throat, his spit-slick lips abraded by Derek’s stubble. He bit him gently, just enough to feel the points of his teeth, but Derek keened as loud as if he’d been offered an actual mating bite. “Yes!” Stiles said, his breath coming in short bursts like he’d been running. “Yes, Derek! Make more sounds like that, Jesus, you’re so-”

 

He cut himself off to dive back into licking Derek’s throat, biting down randomly and with varying degrees of pressure so that Derek had no idea what to expect. He felt the hot rush of precome again, slipping out of him without his consent or control, wetting Stiles’ lower stomach and turning cold in the open air.

 

Derek moaned again, his teeth gritted together, forcing the sound out despite his efforts to keep himself from flying apart. Stiles laughed, just once, high and strained and sounding a little hysterical. Derek looked Stiles in the eyes and saw them gleaming brightly in the dim light of the hallway, catching the yellow rays of the old bulb in the ceiling. Stiles was smiling oddly, a little maniacally, but the anxious smell was gone, replaced by the scent of want.

 

One of those strong, thin hands trailed over from its grasp on Derek’s ass and hooked against his entrance, making him jump and shiver. The feeling of the muscle being breached by the tip of one, dry finger had Derek arching and crying out. Stiles bit him at the same time, harder than before, though not enough to break the skin.

 

He climaxed hard, whimpering in pleasure and pain, pinned between Stiles and the wall, between the rough friction of Stiles’ jeans against his cock and the pinpoint of too much too dry at his entrance and the sharp, wet heat at his throat as Stiles held on with his teeth. 

 

He convulsed several times, his body trying to come back down from euphoria, stomach muscles clenching. Stiles was all but snarling into his neck, rocking against him in earnest, holding his cheeks apart with his hands as if imagining himself behind Derek instead. Derek thought about turning around, thought about letting him, just like that, but then Stiles was shuddering and grunting and the sharp, bitter smell of fresh come filled the space between them. 

 

They leaned against one another, Derek feeling weak from the intensity of his orgasm, the intensity of Stiles. Stiles’ legs were trembling, barely holding him up. Derek ran his hands over Stiles’ head, his soft hair tickling his palms. He did it over and over, liking the way it felt, his mind drifting as he concentrated on petting Stiles and staying upright.

 

Stiles finally sighed and leaned back, groaning as he stood up and stepped away from Derek. “I came in my underwear,” he complained quietly, shaking his head and looking down at himself.

 

“You can borrow some of mine,” Derek offered, just as soft.

 

Stiles shot him a shy smile. “Okay.”

 


 

“I’d like you to invite Scott to the pack meeting.”

 

“Uh, okay?” Stiles sat on the foot of Derek’s bed, dressed in a pair of Derek’s boxer-briefs, sweatpants and hoodie, all of which were just a little bit too big for him.

 

Derek had just come back from putting Stiles’ clothes in the wash, his hair wet from the shower they’d taken together. He could still feel the texture of Stiles’ skin under his hands; could feel the weight of him in his arms. He wanted him again already. He never stopped wanting him.

 

“I think it would be good to have him there,” Derek said. “And I haven’t introduced myself to him formally, which I should have done already.”

 

“Yeah, sure,” Stiles said, his forehead wrinkling up. Thinking too hard again. “I can call and ask him.”

 

Derek stepped in front of Stiles, pushing his fingers through his hair, never getting tired of doing it, over and over. “Thank you.”

 

“No problem. Um, I need to get going.”

 

Derek’s face fell in disappointment. “Okay,” he said, quietly. 

 

Stiles watched him for several long seconds, as if waiting for him to say more. Finally he sighed and stood up, gathering his things. “I'll grab my clothes later," he said, not meeting Derek's eyes. "See you tomorrow, then,” he murmured, before shuffling down the hall and letting himself out.



Chapter Text

 

Stiles [7:53 am]: i woke up so late! i’m sorry but i have to go straight into work :(

Derek [7:54 am]: Thank you for letting me know.

Derek [7:54 am]: I still have your clothes. I hung them up.

Stiles [7:55 am]: thanx! I’ll get them tonight. gotta run!

Derek [7:55 am]: Okay. See you tonight.

 


 

Stiles [2:15 pm]: omg, scott, whyyyy? he has tonight free but then is gone until next week! will tonight work for the pack meeting? my dad says it’s fine with him btw

Derek [2:26 pm]: What time tonight?

Stiles [2:26 pm]: how about 7:30? it’ll be dark but not too late

Derek [2:32 pm]: Okay, I’ll text Erica and arrange it.

Derek [3:03 pm]: It’s all set. She’ll drive Isaac and Boyd over to your house at 7:30.

Stiles [3:05 pm]: oh good! i’ll let scott know. pick you up at 7?

Derek [3:07 pm]: Would you be able to come over a little earlier? I was hoping to discuss a few things. Before the meeting.

Stiles [3:10 pm]: uh, yeah, sure. no problem. i’ll head over there as soon as my shift is done

Derek [3:10 pm]: Perfect. Thank you.

 


 

Stiles [6:05 pm]: UGH! sorry derek! i’m stuck out at a call on the other side of town. i’ll get there as soon as i can

Derek [6:05 pm]: No worries. Stay safe.

 


 

“Derek, I’m so sorry!” Stiles burst through the door at a quarter past seven, his eyes wide and panicked. “That call was a nightmare and I couldn’t get away. Then there was traffic and, ugh, we’re barely going to make it there in time.”

 

“I’ll text Erica and tell her to stall a bit. It’s okay,” Derek reassured him, though his own heart was beating frantically. He didn’t have time to talk to Stiles now. Not properly. He should have done it the night before. Should have asked Stiles to stay like he’d wanted to. Told him the truth. 

 

Instead, they were headed to a pack meeting with a fragile beta. The experience would likely make Derek feel even closer to Stiles, who was helping care for their new pack. It would make it so much harder on Derek when Stiles stepped out of the contract. The contract they hadn’t even signed. Jesus. Derek was such a screw up.

 

“I’ll text Scott,” Stiles agreed, fumbling his phone. “And we can talk on the drive over-”

 

Stiles glanced up, meeting his eyes just after Derek had pulled his shirt over his head to pack in his bag.

 

“Oh,” Stiles said, the realization that Derek would be in wolf form hitting him. “Oh right, of course. Sorry man, I didn’t think.”

 

“It’s okay,” Derek said, feeling a rush of renewed shame. His hands shook as he folded up his shirt and started stripping out of his pants. Stiles turned his back to give him privacy. Derek swallowed hard, watching the rise and fall of Stiles’ shoulders as he averted his gaze, before coming back to himself and stowing his folded clothes in his bag as quickly as possible. Stiles turned around once Derek had shifted into wolf form, grabbing Derek’s backpack and opening the door.

 

He hadn’t touched him once.

 


 

Stiles’ room was as inviting as Derek remembered, the scent welcoming him and telling his hindbrain that he was home. Derek shivered, his fur rippling. If he could only curl up with Stiles in his messy bed and stay there forever.

 

Stiles dropped the backpack on the unmade blankets and then hurried to the door. “I’ll be downstairs,” Stiles mumbled, not even glancing at Derek, and then he was gone, his feet thumping down the stairs in a mad dash.

 

Derek shifted, knowing that if he didn’t, he ran the risk of never changing back to human form again. And the offer of staying with the Stilinskis as the family dog had only been a joke. Just a joke. Derek swallowed down the sudden lump of emotion in his throat and pulled on his clothes. 

 

The hoodie and sweats that he’d lent Stiles the night before lay tangled in the rumpled sheets. He fought the instinct to rearrange them so that they would bracket Stiles’ body when he got back into bed. He fought the urge to rub his face in Stiles’ pillow. Stiles hadn’t touched him at all and Derek was desperate for him. Still, he refused to let himself give in. It would only make it worse later. He might never see Stiles again after the pack meeting, and he wasn’t sure he could stand crawling into his den with the scent of Stiles fresh on his face, stolen in a moment of weakness.

 

The doorbell rang and Derek jumped. He braced himself, trying to make his legs obey him, knowing he needed to head downstairs. His eyes landed on Stiles’ desk, already collecting clutter again. The new textbooks were in a sprawled mess, sticky notes everywhere and highlighters being used as bookmarks. The book on top was titled Pack Hierarchy: A Bitten Wolf’s Guide to Social Structure. Below it, the words barely visible on the spine was a smaller book, Claimed: Alpha Instincts in the Modern Era.

 

Derek flinched as though he’d been slapped. Suppressing the feeling constricting his throat, he laughed at himself instead, shaking his head. Of course. Of course Stiles was reading about alphas. He was studying for his career after all. Better that he learned to steer clear of alphas as much as possible.

 

Pulling himself together, Derek went downstairs to greet Erica and the two betas. Isaac was plastered to Boyd’s side, looking around with wide eyes, his nose twitching with all the new scents. He calmed when Derek stepped up to him with a soft growl, accepting Derek’s hand cupping the back of his neck. Derek used the same hand to grasp Boyd’s wrist. He turned to Stiles, whose eyes grew almost comically large when Derek reached out and gently grasped his bare elbow with his hand.

 

He understood Stiles’ reluctance to be touched, but Isaac needed the appearance of stability, and Derek needed to show that everyone in the Stilinski house was under his protection. He would tell them later, privately, why Stiles had left the pack. For now though, as far as they were concerned, they were having a normal pack meeting. 

 

Erica was about to take her leave, though Derek insisted that she was welcome to stay. “You’re honorary pack for the night,” Derek said, lightly touching her forearm, indicating that he was willing to protect her in the absence of her alpha. Erica must have heard his sincerity (along with the unspoken plea for support), giving him a nod and a soft smile before settling in with the two betas on the couch.

 

Derek took the chair closest to Isaac, trying to keep calm for the sake of the beta, who was still looking around, checking all the exits and glancing at Boyd often for reassurance. Stiles brought everyone a drink, then fussed about the living room, his movements twitchier than usual. His scent became more distressed every time he checked his phone.

 

The betas must have noticed, but didn’t say anything. Derek met Erica’s gaze and she raised her eyebrows at him. Derek shook his head very slightly and Erica gave a silent sigh and nodded. 

 

“Scott’s going to be late,” Stiles said, finally dropping into the other armchair. The one furthest from Derek.

 

“We can wait for him, it’s no problem,” Derek rushed to assure him. If anything, the scent of distress increased.

 

“No, he's going to be like, an hour late,” Stiles said, chuckling humorlessly. “It’s not his fault. He got stuck helping his boss with something last minute. He’ll be here later, but probably not in time for the meeting.” He gave an unconvincing smile and then rubbed his hands over his face in a move completely uncharacteristic for him, as though trying to hide tears.

 

Derek shot Erica a look and she nodded, turning to draw the two betas into conversation while Derek stood and gently urged Stiles to his feet and drew him into the kitchen. He shoved his own insecurities to the side as he pulled Stiles into his arms and held him tight. Stiles went with a hitched breath, holding onto Derek as hard as he could, his whole body trembling. 

 

“I’m overreacting,” he gasped into Derek’s neck, shaking his head angrily and spreading tears across Derek’s skin. “I know I’m overreacting but I can’t stop and there are guests here and I’m acting like a lunatic and-”

 

“It’s okay,” Derek said, gathering him up even more, rocking him a little while one hand smoothed up and down his back. “It’s okay to be upset. You haven’t done anything wrong, I promise.”

 

Stiles went limp in his arms, leaning in and taking comfort from him, and Derek felt like everything was right with the world. He rested his cheek against Stiles’ temple and soaked him in, breathing in his scent and luxuriating in his body heat, his weight, his touch.

 

“God, you’re so good at this,” Stiles murmured. “You’re such a good alpha.” Suddenly, the distress in Stiles’ scent spiked and he clung to Derek fiercely, hiding a wrenched-out sob against Derek’s clavicle.

 

Derek was overwhelmed with the scent of anguish and distress. He could feel the movement of Stiles’ face as his expression screwed up tight against his throat, his lungs expanding in one harsh breath, wet and ragged, before stilling as he fought to gain control. Derek hummed soothingly, stroking down over the back of Stiles’ head and neck, petting as much of him as he could.

 

If they had been alone in the house, he would have tugged Stiles back upstairs to his bed so that he could touch as much of him as possible all at once. Protect him and comfort him for as long as it took for him to feel safe and reassured.

 

He tamped down on the rush of anger he felt towards Scott, the anger that he felt at himself, the anger at there being two betas he needed to worry about in the other room. Derek thought of his mom, about how many more people she had needed to worry about and fuss over as alpha of a large family. He’d always admired her for that, but now he was positively in awe of her calm, caring attention to the entire pack. Derek had just three people to worry about, none of whom were even permanent pack, and he was beside himself with the need to care for all of them.

 

Derek tried to channel some of his mother’s calm energy, gently taking Stiles' overheated, wet face and smoothing his tears away with his whole hand. “Shh, shh, it’s okay,” he said softly, his heart jolting when Stiles reacted to his comforting with renewed tears, still clinging to his ribs like he thought that Derek was going to be taken from him. “It’s okay,” Derek repeated, letting Stiles hide against his neck again.

 

The voices in the living room were concerned. Erica was explaining Stiles’ unique situation of belonging to one pack while also being a companion to Derek. Boyd and Isaac both expressed surprise and understanding.

 

“His other pack member should have been here, work or no work,” Boyd murmured, a touch of anger in his voice.

 

Derek tucked Stiles tighter into his body, rocking him again now that he was starting to calm down, knowing that Stiles couldn’t hear the conversation in the other room, but glad to know that he had support from Boyd. He supposed that Boyd understood the importance of standing up for pack. He’d moved states in order to stay with Isaac, after all.

 

Stiles had gone boneless against him and Derek could tell that he was exhausted. The accumulated scents of his day clung to his uniform, and Derek could read the stress and anxiety that had likely dogged his steps from the moment he’d gotten ready for work that morning.

 

Derek carefully peeled back from him so he could see Stiles’ puffy face, his cheeks tearstained and his expression defeated. Derek stroked his thumb next to Stiles’ eye as if he could erase the evidence of the sleepless night that lay underneath the tears.

 

“Would you like to get changed and rest up a bit?” Derek asked softly, knowing that Stiles would likely want to wash his face before rejoining them, if he did want to rejoin them, that is. Derek thought it might be better for Stiles to text Scott not to come and for Stiles to get an early night. Derek could wrap the meeting up quickly and get a ride from Erica. But he would leave it up to Stiles. “You don’t have to join the meeting, Stiles, it’s okay. They’ll understand.”

 

A flash of pain contorted Stiles’ tired face and he squinted his eyes shut. He cleared his throat several times, before opening his eyes again. “Nah, I’ll pull myself together and then be back down before Scott gets here,” he said in a hoarse voice, pulling back from Derek and grabbing a paper towel to wipe his face.

 

“Okay,” Derek said softly. “We’ll have the meeting, and you can come down whenever you want.” Stiles nodded, not raising his eyes.

 

Derek left the kitchen first, letting Stiles use him as a shield so he could jog up the stairs without being seen from the living room, his scent embarrassed and sad. Once Derek heard Stiles’ bedroom door close, he rejoined the others.

 

Boyd gave him an understanding look. Isaac fidgeted. Erica glanced at the stairs and then at Derek. “He smells really distressed,” she said, as though she wanted to go after the boy herself.

 

Derek sighed as he lowered himself back into the armchair. “I think he needed his other packmate here more than he realized and it hit him hard. Let’s give him a little time and hopefully he’ll feel up to joining us,” Derek said, making his voice soothing and authoritative, ignoring how much he wanted to kick everyone out and wrap Stiles in his arms again. It felt wrong not having the human tucked up against him, safe and protected. 

 

Getting a grip on his thoughts, he turned to Isaac. Reaching out and carefully touching the young werewolf’s wrist, he did his best to project calming energy and was relieved to see Isaac’s shoulders relax. 

 

“So, Isaac,” Derek began, dragging up every ounce of ‘functioning adult’ energy he could find, “tell me all about the courses you signed up for next semester.”

 


 

It turned out that Isaac was not a shrinking violet once he got talking about his interests. After a few hesitant sentences with no one interrupting him, he was prattling on about his courses with gusto, visibly excited to be headed to college. He gave Boyd a huge grin when he announced that the beta was enrolled in some of the same classes as himself, and Derek breathed a sigh of relief at the knowledge. He caught Erica’s eye and gave a small smile that she returned. Isaac was going to be absolutely fine.

 

Just as the talk of classes was winding down, Derek heard a door open upstairs, and a few moments later Stiles’ familiar footfalls down the steps. He joined them with a freshly scrubbed face and a clean shirt that didn’t hold the lingering scent of tears and distress. It seemed that Stiles had learned a lot about werewolves since that first time he bumbled through Derek’s space, touching books and DVDs, leaving his scent behind. Derek’s heart clenched, inexplicably missing that naive boy.

 

Stiles gave them all a pretty convincing smile as he settled into the armchair by Erica. Derek must have been radiating disappointment loud and clear, because after Erica reassured Stiles that they were happy that he’d joined them again, she nodded over at Derek and made a shooing motion with her hand.

 

Stiles took one look at Derek’s face and shot up out of the chair. Derek opened his arms and Stiles collapsed into them with a sigh. He helped Stiles arrange his long limbs into a comfortable position, curled up sideways on Derek’s lap, his head resting on his shoulder. Derek buried his nose in Stiles’ hair, rumbling happily. This was what he wanted. He wrapped his arms around him, settling him more securely, before turning to the betas and asking after their life and the Center.

 


 

“This would be considered strange for humans,” Stiles murmured against Derek’s neck after the door had closed behind a very smug Erica. “Sitting in your lap during a polite social gathering in front of practical strangers. Not even seeing them out.”

 

“It’s completely normal for wolves,” Derek assured him, luxuriating in Stiles’ touch. Derek had one hand pressed to the back of Stiles’ neck, the other one snaked under his shirt, cradling his side. Stiles really was too tall to be held sideways on Derek’s lap in an armchair, but he was making a valiant effort to contort himself enough to fit and Derek could weep with gratitude. He’d never known skin hunger like this was possible. Yes, of course he missed physical contact with his pack, but he hadn’t known just how starved for another’s touch he was until Stiles.

 

“The others didn’t seem too weirded out,” Stiles agreed, snuggling in tighter and nuzzling his head into the side of Derek’s neck, tickling his jaw with his soft riot of hair. Derek couldn’t resist burying his nose in the soft strands, inhaling the scent of him. He needed to talk to Stiles. He had so much to tell him. Vital things. Things that would make all of this stop, forever. Instead, he closed his eyes and just soaked him in, feeling all the ties to the tangled briar of his thoughts snap away and drift off, suddenly unimportant. Derek would tell him in a moment. In just a moment. He matched his breathing to Stiles’, listened as their hearts began beating in sync, an overwhelming sense of rightness settling over him like a blanket. 

 

Which was why he was slow to react to the footsteps tripping up the outside steps, the door swinging open a fraction later, followed by a scent Derek hadn’t smelled since that night in the woods.

 

“Honey, I’m home! Stiles? Where are you, amigo?”

 

Scott came bouncing into the living room, happy puppy energy radiating off of him. His beta scent wasn’t threatening in and of itself, but it was the mingled scent of the alpha that had created him that had Derek swallowing down anguish. It blindsided him, the sudden longing for what was gone hitting him in the gut, making his chest stutter as his heart fell out of rhythm with Stiles, the two of them now separate creatures once again.

 

“Hey buddy!” Stiles offered, instantly welcoming the friend who had caused him so much misery before the meeting. Derek would have been upset about that immediate forgiveness if it wasn’t so damn beautiful. “This is, uh, exactly what it looks like, actually,” Stiles laughed, squeezing Derek around the neck, giggling bashfully, as he indicated himself and Derek with a sweep of his hand. “And this handsome hunk of wolf I’m sitting on is Der-”

 

“It’s you,” Scott said, stopping dead in his tracks, his top lip pulling back from his teeth and his eyes flashing gold.

 

And just like that, Derek couldn’t move. He couldn’t think. The longing he’d felt to accept Scott as pack mutated into fear. He would have reacted, but his muscles were frozen solid.

 

He hadn’t thought Scott would remember him. He had obviously been wrong.

 

“What?” Stiles asked, his scent switching from happy to confused, his eyes going from Scott to Derek, pulling away a bit so he could see Derek’s face clearly. “Whoa, big guy,” Stiles said, the confusion going sharp and concerned. “What’s the matter?” he asked, ignoring Scott for the moment as he watched Derek’s face intently. 

 

Derek wasn’t sure what Stiles saw, but his own vision was tunneling, a sickening vertigo spinning him around as everything stable and solid that had been propping him up since Stiles had cautiously rattled into the font hallway of his house shattered under the strain of Derek’s secrets, leaving him bereft and anchorless. 

 

Stiles cupped his face, speaking his name, but Derek could only hold him and will himself not to fly to pieces. He should have told him. He should have told him, should have told him…

 

“Scott,” Stiles said, turning back to his friend who was in a half-shift, fangs and glowing eyes but no fur. “What’s going on? Derek is... he’s just shaking. Like a leaf. What did you do to him?”

 

“Me?” Scott asked, disbelieving. He dropped back into full human form, as if the wolf shift took energy he couldn’t spare. “What do you mean, what did I do to him? Stiles, get away from him. He’s dangerous!”

 

Scott took a step forward, his scent all worry and protectiveness, as he tried to pull Stiles out of Derek’s frozen embrace. Stiles smacked his hands away, batting at him until he took a step back.

 

“He’s not dangerous,” Stiles said, flustered and indignant. “He’s fucking trembling, you asshole. And barely breathing. Derek? Derek, you need to breathe.” Stiles’ long fingers caressed his face. Derek managed to swallow, breathing in shallowly, his eyes flicking from Scott to Stiles and then closing, all of it spiraling and closing in. Too much.

 

I’m sorry, he thought. I’m sorry, I’m so fucking sorry.

 

“You need to get away from him,” Scott insisted. “Come on, come with me. You can stay at my place if you need to. You shouldn’t be near him!”

 

“Why?” Stiles asked, genuinely baffled by his friend’s behavior.

 

“Because he’ll turn you!”

 

Derek’s eyes flew open, and they both stared at Scott in shock.

 

“What?!” Stiles gasped. “He would never! Not unless I asked him, and maybe not even then. Oh my god, Scott!”

 

“I wouldn’t,” Derek managed his voice barely a hoarse whisper, his breathing light and rapid. The room lurched sickeningly as he recalled all the times he had longed to sink his fangs into Stiles. Not to impart the Bite, which took special intent to take, but to claim. He swallowed the rest of his words down, unworthy of defending himself. Unworthy of Stiles’ trust in him. He squeezed his eyes shut, wanting to both pull Stiles closer and push him away. He didn’t deserve this boy. Didn’t deserve his faith in him.

 

“Oh yeah?!” Scott was shaking now too, upset and shuffling on his feet, his eyes flashing gold, his nails growing sharp and jagged as he pointed at Derek. “Then why was he following you that night, huh? The other one was following me, the one with the red eyes. But that one, him!” He stabbed his clawed finger in the air towards Derek. “He was following you. The two of them were hunting us, Stiles! I told you there was another one, but you thought I was crazy. Well, that’s him!”

 

“What?” Stiles said, turning his confused face to Derek, their eyes catching and holding. He felt like he was carved out of ice and slowly melting, unable to stop shaking in Stiles’s arms. “Derek?” Stiles asked, gentle.

 

It was the gentleness that got to him. The bright amber eyes, their expression worried, still somehow trusting. The way Stiles was petting the side of his face as he waited for an answer had him gasping in a breath.

 

“I wasn’t hunting you,” Derek tried, his throat too tight, the words almost refusing to come. 

 

“I know you weren’t,” Stiles said, throwing a glare over at Scott before turning back to Derek. “You were there though, weren’t you?’

 

“Yes.” Derek squeezed his eyes shut, seeing the boys in front of him that night, the ache of not knowing what to do. “Peter was trailing you. I was trying to find him first. To stop him and bring him back”

 

“Peter?” Stiles asked. This time his glance at Scott was concerned as his friend tensed up.

 

Derek nodded, using the movement as an excuse to huff in a breath at Stiles’ throat, grounding himself as much as possible. “My uncle,” he managed.

 

“Your uncle?” Scott asked, his hand going to the site of the werewolf claim that had turned him all those years ago, his fingers fluttering as if he could still feel the fangs ripping his flesh.

 

“Yes,” Derek said, glancing at Stiles, who nodded to go on. “Peter. He was the only other member of our family to survive the fire. But he was… damaged. Physically and mentally. He was sort of… fading away. A little bit more, all the time. We lived together in an apartment at the edge of town. His choice, not mine. I was only fifteen when I moved in with him and-” he cut himself off, shaking his head.

 

It was as though, now that the words had started, he couldn’t bring himself to stop. He’d thought over and over about what he would say to Stiles. And now that the moment was here, he was mixing up thought fragments, saying everything all wrong.

 

“He deteriorated to the point where he didn’t always recognize me,” Derek said, trying to get back on track, to say it so that it made sense. He wasn’t sure it did. Too many times repeating it all in a loop in his head. What could he have done differently? What could he have done? “He was getting weak. Fading. He kept talking about finding another one. I wasn’t sure what he meant. Just, ‘another one.’ And then, one night during the full moon, he ran out of the house. I didn’t even know he could still move that fast. He was basically dying at that point, the way born werewolves do when… when…”

 

“When they’re all alone,” Stiles said, his voice soft and his eyes full of pain. He ran his hand through Derek’s hair again, soothing him enough to continue.

 

“I followed him. He must have picked up your scent,” Derek said, gesturing at Scott. “I found both of you in the forest, before Peter caught up with you, but you split up. I wasn’t sure who Peter was after. I didn’t know which one of you I should follow. I didn’t want to call out and attract his attention, but I should have. I should have.”

 

“You were trying to do the right thing,” Stiles murmured at him.

 

“I just wanted to get him home,” Derek said, fighting the feeling of his throat closing up. “I didn’t want him to hurt either of you, but I was also so afraid of what would happen to him if he was caught running feral through the woods. He wasn’t in his right mind and I know what happens to alphas who lose control.” Derek took a gasping breath. He found himself turning to Stiles, imploringly. “I just wanted him to die at home. With me. Where it was safe and no one could hurt him anymore. Not out in the woods, gunned down like a rabid dog. He was the last one of my pack, I-”

 

Derek broke off on a harsh intake of air that grated into his lungs like he was attempting to breathe underwater. Stiles rubbed his back and held him close, his scent gone watery and sad.

 

“So you… followed Stiles? Instead of me?” Scott asked, his tone softer now, no longer threatening.

 

“I didn’t have a choice,” Derek breathed out, so low he was surprised that Scott heard.

 

“Because he’s your mate,” Scott said, no hint of doubt in his voice. 

 

Derek squeezed his eyes shut. There was a blinding pain in his head. The word was out, reverberating around the room. And Derek hadn’t been the one to say it first.

 

“Yes,” he choked out. 

 

An old weight lifted from his shoulders even as he felt a new one settle in its place. Stiles would never stay now. No human in their right mind would want him around permanently. The scent of his own distress masked Stiles’ reaction, rendering Derek functionally noseblind. He didn’t know what to do or what to say to make any of it better, so he simply held onto Stiles and closed his eyes.

 

Several minutes must have passed before he came back to himself enough to overhear the two friends talking to one another quietly. Scott had collapsed on the sofa, all hints of aggression drained from him as he sat playing with a throw pillow. Stiles had given up trying to get Derek to respond verbally and had just pulled his head forward into his neck, where Derek more or less slumped uselessly and just held on, unable to get his body to do anything but shiver uncontrollably.

 

“Should we call someone?” Scott whispered loudly. “I’ve never seen this reaction before.”

 

“It’s a symptom of emotional shock in wolves, Scotty. You’ve just never been around any.”

 

“But I am one, you know.”

 

“Yeah, yeah,” Stiles patted Scott where he could just reach him on the arm, his fingertips tapping at his sleeve placatingly. “I should probably call Erica though. He’s non-verbal and that worries me,” Stiles said softly, petting through Derek’s hair. “You with us yet, big guy?” Derek burrowed in tighter, breathing against Stiles’ throat. “Okay, yeah. Scotty, can you hand me my phone?”

 

Stiles shifted around in Derek’s lap so that he could hold the phone to his ear. Derek kept breathing in his scent and clinging to him. He didn’t feel like he was all the way inside his own body, but he also didn’t really have any sense of watching himself from the outside. It was more like he was half asleep, unable to interact, unable to speak. He let Stiles’ words flow over him, through him, and listened to Erica’s replies as if from a great distance. He focused on the thump of Stiles’ heart and the way his voice rumbled in his chest, his hand over Stiles’ rib cage.

 

“No, he hasn’t said anything since agreeing that I’m his mate,” Stiles was saying, still petting over Derek’s hair and down his back.

 

“Oh my god, he finally admitted that?” Erica asked. Derek could make out some noises in the background of wherever Erica was: squeaky floorboards, a dishwasher running, the fridge door opening and shutting.

 

“Well, yeah. But Scott sort of blurted it out, and now Derek’s just, well, holding onto me, not making eye contact or speaking.”

 

“Okay,” Erica said. “Um, okay. I suppose we could call Doctor Deaton and see if-”

 

“Nope,” Stiles said, holding Derek tighter when he started shaking even more, trying to soothe him with the hand that wasn’t holding the phone. “I met that guy the other day, and Erica? He isn’t the right doctor for Derek. I meant to bring that up with Derek later, but, well. God, I am totally useless, Jesus. I can’t believe I didn’t bring up the doctor thing with him yet. But, anyway, yeah, no, he’s going to need someone else. I don’t know this Deaton guy well, but there is no confidence or trust from Derek’s side, at all. So, maybe no doctors right now? I mean, he’s calm except for the shaking. I think he’s mainly scared, and I can’t figure out why.”

 

“Has he talked to you at all about his past?” Erica asked.

 

Derek whined into Stiles’ neck.

 

“Just a little about his uncle. But I, yeah, I can tell there's more. Probably a lot more. But I’d rather he tell me about it, okay Erica? Unless, there’s something I need to know right now to help him through this?”

 

“No, of course. It might take him a while, but he should be the one to tell you the details. It’s just that he’s probably expecting you to, you know. Leave. Break the contract. Which, I mean, you have every right to do if you really want to, but well.” She sighed. “I knew we shouldn’t have agreed to send you. I knew it. Not without telling you, I mean, but he was so insistent that he didn’t want you to know. Kept saying that he wanted you to feel free to leave. And even though I thought it was a bad idea, the Center agreed because... he wasn’t doing well, Stiles.” She sighed, long and frustrated. “It was going so great at first, and I kept hoping he’d tell you but… Just, if you do decide to leave, please call me first? So that I can be there?”

 

“I’m not going anywhere,” Stiles said calmly. “But I‘ll call you if he gets worse. I promise.”

 

“Stiles, you are seriously the best. Let me know if you want me to come over, but it sounds like you two just need some time together. He’ll probably come out of it on his own once he realizes you aren’t running out the door first chance you get.”

 

“Thanks Erica, you’re okay too,” Stiles chuckled, laughing harder when he received an affronted gasp in reply.

 

After he hung up with Erica, he turned to Scott. “Ol’ buddy, ol’ friend, ol’ pal-o-mine,” he said with a tired smile. “Think I could talk you into picking up some food for me and my likely-starving werewolf here, and then letting us hang, just me and him?”

 

“Sure. Yeah, I can do that.” Scott paused, watching the two of them as he got to his feet and felt around for his keys and wallet, making sure they were still in his pockets. “I have no idea how he did it,” Scott said, sounding awed, as he pulled his shoes on. “I can’t go a day without seeing Allison.” He got all the way to the door before turning around suddenly like he’d been struck by lightning. “Wait, he was trying to save your life that night, wasn’t he?”

 

“I’m thinking so, yes,” Stiles responded, rocking Derek gently as he continued to rub a hand over his back.

 

“And then he didn’t even claim you. That’s… wow. He’s pretty tough.” With that Scott tripped back down the front steps and left to get them food.

 

“I bet you didn’t eat dinner, did you, big guy?” Stiles asked. Derek managed to rumble at him, feeling the need to respond but not yet knowing what words to use or how to make his throat and mouth work to form them. “I didn’t eat either. No time. Then I got all worked up and just forgot.”

 

At the reminder that Stiles had been upset, that he had been crying earlier, Derek made more of an effort to pull himself out of the haze he’d fallen into. Blinking hard, he looked into Stiles’ eyes. “You need to eat,” he managed.

 

Stiles’ face did an odd thing where it looked like he was smiling and holding back tears at the same time. “Yeah, I know. Maybe I’m just getting used to you making sure I eat actual food,” he joked, his voice not staying very steady though he seemed to be making an effort.

 

“I don’t cook for you enough,” Derek told him earnestly. It was something he’d been concerned about. He had the time and the money to make nutritious meals for Stiles. He should do it more often. Insist that the boy stay for dinner. They could watch the rest of the Marvel movies and-

 

Derek’s chest hurt. It hurt. And it was hard to think. To breathe. Even to move. They wouldn’t be watching the rest of the Marvel movies. This was it. The end. Stiles knew he had lied. He clenched his eyes shut. He didn’t know what he was going to do once he was back home.

 

“Hey,” Stiles said, his voice careful. He spread his long fingers over Derek’s shoulder. “Where did you go just now, huh? You were seeming a little more with it and now you’re pulling back again. What’s going on? Can you talk to me about it?”

 

“I…” Derek took a breath and it was like a sharpened blade under his ribs. “I want to watch the rest of the movies with you,” he managed, trembling again. He was such a wreck.

 

“Oh! Yeah, of course. We’re on, ah, Thor, right?” Stiles kept touching him, becoming more eager, a little bit more harsh, in his movements, like he was checking Derek over for an injury. His eyes were worried when he looked at Derek.

 

“I want you to bring me Twizzlers and be an ass about it,” Derek said, and oh God, what was his stupid mouth saying?

 

“I can definitely do that,” Stiles said with a smile that trembled on his lips. “You have terrible taste in candy.”

 

He pulled Derek in close and held him again and Derek pressed his forehead against Stiles’ neck and took deep, shaking breaths. He knew Stiles was just humoring him about the movies, but he wanted it so bad, he was just going to pretend that it was real. Just for a little bit longer.

 


 

When Scott got back with the food, they finally untangled from one another so that they could sit on the couch to eat. Scott rocked on his feet, hesitating as he watched Derek opening takeout containers.

 

“Your uncle,” Scott finally blurted. Derek looked up at him, a feeling of bone-aching tiredness sweeping over him. “What… what happened to him?’

 

Derek looked down, scooping some rice onto his plate. “He died.” His voice was oddly flat. “He was extremely weak when he gave you the Bite. That might be why your instincts aren’t as strong as other bitten wolves,” Derek said, voicing his thoughts out loud because he was simply too exhausted to be wary. “He made you. And then he died. I buried him in the woods. Near the old house,” Derek said, barely seeing the food he was spooning onto his plate. “I visit his grave sometimes. At night.”

 

Scott’s eyes were huge. He swallowed and nodded, letting himself out after he hugged Stiles and gave Derek a small squeeze on the shoulder.

 


 

The sheriff found them later, curled up on the couch. Stiles had cleared up the leftovers and was half-heartedly paging through one of his textbooks with the TV on as background noise, something playing with a repetitive laugh track. Derek was barely awake, awkwardly lying over Stiles’ lap as Stiles used him for a book rest while Derek clung to his torso and drifted out in space.

 

“Oh, hey kid,” John greeted his son. “Everything okay?” Derek couldn’t see the look that passed between them, but Stiles’ scent suddenly went relieved, obviously grateful that his dad was home.

 

“We’ve had a rough night,” Stiles said, setting his book aside and patting Derek’s back. 

 

He finally unwound himself from the death grip he had around Stiles. This was it. John would drive him home. Maybe give him the kindest version of the shovel talk he could. Ask him not to bother Stiles or come around the house anymore.

 

“There’s takeout in the fridge,” Stiles said. “But you have to eat the vegetables too,” he said with a fondness in his voice that made Derek ache for his pack. He barely restrained himself from grabbing Stiles again and holding on for dear life. Instead he forced himself to his feet, mentally bracing to go upstairs and pack his things before shifting in Stiles’ room for the last time. “Derek and I are headed for bed,” Stiles said, stretching and yawning. “We’re both dead on our feet, but I just wanted to make sure you got home alright.”

 

“Thanks kid. You didn’t have to wait up. I’ll lock up down here.” John threw a concerned look Derek’s way. “He looks like he’s sleep walking.”

 

“Yeah,” Stiles said, reaching out to rub Derek’s arm. “It’s been a really rough night.” The sheriff quirked an eyebrow, but Stiles just shook his head. “We’ll talk in the morning. Right now, sleep.”

 

Derek, confused, shadowed Stiles up the stairs and into his room. Stiles gestured at the bed with a tired smile, and then walked back out into the hallway. Derek fretted while Stiles was in the bathroom, not sure what to do until he got back. It seemed presumptuous to get on the bed. Derek thought that he should probably get his things ready to go and then shift into wolf form. But Stiles had told his dad that they were going to bed. Derek didn’t understand. He didn’t understand any of this. He had no idea why Stiles hadn’t kicked him out the moment he knew the truth.

 

Stiles came back a moment later, smelling of his overly-minty toothpaste, and unceremoniously stripped down to his boxers. Derek swallowed. And then swallowed again. Stiles smiled at him softly, coming over to where he was standing and gently lifting the hem of his shirt. When Derek still didn’t react other than to stare at him, Stiles' eyes went sad and worried.

 

“I didn’t even ask you if you wanted to stay,” Stiles said, his brow wrinkling. “You’ll stay, won’t you?”

 

“Yes,” Derek said, trying not to choke on his rising hope, the dread of losing Stiles still hooked into him with jagged claws. Even if this was just another short stay of execution, he would take it. He was drowning in emotions that he had no way to understand or deal with, and the only thing keeping him from going under right now was this boy.

 

“Okay,” Stiles said, smiling cautiously. He backed away towards the bed as Derek started stripping out of his clothes. He looked at the T-shirt in his hands awkwardly, not knowing what to do with it, until Stiles gave a soft laugh and grabbed it from him, adding it to the bed. Feeling a little less wrong-footed, Derek finished undressing, also snagging Stiles' shirt off the back of his desk chair, and tucked everything along the wall, so that Stiles would have insulation against the cold plaster.

 

Stiles crawled in, wiggling around to get comfortable. Then he opened his arms, and Derek flew into them, nuzzling against Stiles’ neck and chest, covering him with scent. Stiles held him tight, humming as Derek worked his throat a bright red with his scruff, scenting him like an ill-mannered pup.

 

If this was their last night, Derek wanted to stay awake for it. He wanted to experience every minute he had left. But his reserves were gone and his body betrayed him, simply sliding off to sleep as Stiles kissed his temple and pressed his cheek to his hair.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Derek woke to the feeling of Stiles climbing over him to get out of bed. He opened his eyes in time to see his slim form vanishing through the bedroom doorway, the latch catching quietly behind him. He was surprised to see bright sunlight streaming in the windows, as he hadn’t meant to sleep at all, let alone the entire night. He heard the sound of the bathroom door closing as he sat the rest of the way up in bed, feeling muddled and still half-asleep. He pulled on the T-shirt that had ended up wedged under Stiles’ pillow, followed by the sweatpants Stiles had borrowed two nights before and worn home. Stiles' scent surrounded him, helping him to feel calm, but no less muzzy-headed.

 

Stretching out with his keen sense of hearing, he listened intently for any signs of danger, finding nothing out of the ordinary. He could hear Stiles’ dad shuffling around downstairs in the kitchen, likely making coffee from the sounds of a spoon rattling and paper rustling, followed by the soft beep of the machine switching on to brew. Turning his focus to the neighborhood outside, Derek heard a few cars, a dog a few houses over, someone opening their squeaky garage door further down the street. Nothing dangerous. He tried to relax, but he still felt on edge. Drained but wired all at the same time.

 

Derek stood in the middle of the room for a moment, trying to convince himself that Stiles was safe even though he couldn’t see him. The water running in the shower and Stiles’ voice randomly blaring out song lyrics and scraps of dialogue from movies was reassuring. Though it wasn’t the same as being in the shower with him. Derek eyed the closed door with a frustrated sigh. 

 

He sat in Stiles’ desk chair, blinking heavily, wishing his brain would clear and his thoughts would stop feeling so wadded up and tangled. He turned his nose into his shoulder, breathing in the heavy scent of Stiles’ that clung to the sleeve. It helped. But it couldn’t stop the terror of wondering what would happen next.

 

He almost wished that he could go downstairs, talk with the sheriff, get coffee for himself and Stiles. But not only was that impossible because of a single closed door - Derek glared at it again - but that would also put him one step closer to being taken back to his own lonely house out in the preserve. Maybe the Stilinskis would be willing to wait for the sun to set, so that he could leave without falling apart, again, in front of Stiles. God, what Stiles must think of him. He probably couldn’t wait to get rid of this contract. He hoped he hadn’t ruined Stiles’ dream of working with werewolves. Stiles was so good at this, so intuitive and kind. He would be able to help so many wolves-

 

Derek only realized he was growling when the bathroom door opened and he cut himself off in surprise, swallowing heavily. Instead of heading back to the bedroom, Stiles went down to the kitchen. Derek heard him greet his dad, only for the two to start squabbling over why there was no flavored creamer in the fridge. Derek listened to them for a bit, his heart beating too fast.

 

He leaned on the desk, dropping his head in his hands, only for his elbow jerk to the side as a book slid under his weight. Derek grabbed it before it fell off the desk altogether, his eyes catching on the title: Helping Lone Wolves to Thrive: A Beginner Companion’s Guidebook. It was one of the new ones that Stiles had gotten a few days ago at the Center, but already it was weighed down with a full set of Post-It notes and pieces of scrap paper. Derek opened it to where both a pen and a lime green highlighter were straining the spine.

 

Chapter 12: When to say goodbye

The goal of all companions is to help their charge progress to the point of no longer needing temporary support. As discussed in the preceding chapter, some companions find themselves drawn to stay in the pack structure once their wolf recovers sufficiently and if the bond and circumstances allow. 

 

However, it is more likely to be the case that your wolf finds themselves strong enough, thanks to your support and guidance, to begin building ties to other werewolves by either reestablishing old pack ties or forming new ones. 

 

This chapter deals with the signs that it’s time to let your wolf continue progressing on their own, with the help of their new pack. 

 

Is it time to move on?

You should be proud of yourself and your wolf if they have advanced to the point where they are strong enough to forge ahead without the support of an assigned companion. Keep in mind that this was your goal from the beginning. A wolf needs ties to other wolves to thrive. You have likely played a large part in supporting your wolf while they form new bonds (or make reconciliation) with pack members.

 

You may notice that your wolf begins to take on more responsibility within their new pack structure, even distancing themselves from you somewhat. This is natural, and in no way means that you have failed. Quite the opposite! If they have progressed to the point of making pack a priority in their life, you have met with success as a companion.

 

It can, however, be a very stressful time for you as a devoted caretaker. Some wolves break ties quickly with their companion once they no longer need the support. Others may wait for you to make the first move to end the arrangement.

 

Derek’s eyes skimmed over the next paragraphs, landing on a section that was heavily underlined and covered in lime-green pigment, notes crammed into the margins and Post-Its obscuring half the page.

 

What to do if you are overly attached

It’s true that many companions are good at reading the signs of growing independence in their wolf and moving on gracefully to their next assignment. However, it is not unheard of for one-sided bonds to form between a companion and their werewolf charge. 

 

Due to the highly emotional nature of the work companions are engaged in with their wolf, it is completely natural to develop feelings of fondness, even love, for your charge. However, you must always bear in mind that the end goal of being a werewolf’s companion is to help your charge return to a fulfilling life as a wolf. This means creating pack ties and helping the wolf to stop self-isolating. If your charge does not show signs of welcoming you into the pack structure, you must respect this choice and allow them to move on without guilt. Pack ties are strong and highly specific. A wolf will know instinctively if they view you as temporary pack or true pack. 

 

As painful as it can be, if a wolf does not view you as true pack, you must respect their wishes and make every effort to end the contract on a positive note. As discussed throughout this text, the entire purpose of a companion is to help the suffering wolf heal to the point that they can function on their own within a traditional pack structure. Trust your wolf to know whether they are able to accept you as true pack. 

 

If you are struggling with feelings of depression or loss after an assignment, please reach out to your local Center. There are resources for handling difficult and confusing emotions caused by being a companion, including grief counseling. Remember that it’s only natural to feel attached to your charge, and feelings of fondness and empathy can be of great benefit to an ailing wolf. 

 

However, towards the end of an assignment, it is best to begin distancing yourself from your wolf so that they rely more heavily on pack. The next section will deal with some strategies for pulling back support gradually and helping your wolf adjust to reliance on true pack.

 

Derek swallowed heavily, his eyes flicking over to Stiles’ cramped notes. Footsteps sounded on the stairs and a moment later Stiles was attempting to open the bedroom door, fumbling slightly. He could do nothing but watch helplessly as Stiles finally made it through the door, clutching two mugs of coffee awkwardly in one hand. As soon as his eyes landed on Derek, he beamed. 

 

“Hey, you’re up!” Stiles set the mugs on the desk, ceramic clinking as he continued to talk. “I just realized as I was trying to open the door that I essentially locked you in here and I’m so sorry about that. I was just thinking of you trying to sleep in a bit more, you know? And werewolf hearing and all, and my dad and I forget to keep our voices down so-” 

 

Stiles reached out for one of the mugs, his eyes dropping to the open page in front of Derek. He froze in place, like all his gears had suddenly stopped turning. 

 

“Oh,” he said, still rooted in place. “That’s uh… homework. For class. I um, was reading it. You know. For class. And… you didn’t happen to see any of the notes or anything, did you?” he seemed to remember that there was coffee and grabbed a mug, taking a sip and hiding behind the cup, peering at Derek with huge eyes through the rising steam.

 

Derek’s gaze flitted back to the textbook, swallowing when he again saw the words ‘grief counseling’ circled and the Post-It with the Center’s support line scribbled down in shaky penmanship. He looked back up at Stiles, watching him intently.

 

“You thought that…” Derek looked back down at the book for the wording. “That it was time to move on?”

 

“Oh god,” Stiles said, sitting down heavily on the edge of the desk and nearly sending his other books flying. “I’m so stupid. We met Isaac and Boyd, and it was just amazing watching you, Derek. You knew right away what to do and with Isaac, and he just, like, transformed from this scared, cringy dude into someone relaxed and basically normal. I was in awe. It was obvious that you’re a natural alpha, and that you were meant to have a pack, and I… I couldn’t believe how fast it happened. I was so. So. And then I came home and read that,” he exclaimed, pointing an accusing finger at the book, “and I thought, ‘Oh my god, it’s happening fast.’ And then you wanted to meet with me before the pack meeting to talk, and I thought… I thought-” 

 

Stiles’ voice hitched, running out of breath, and he looked helplessly at Derek, his scent sharp with distress. Derek reached out and clasped his bare knee, grounding them both with the touch. Stiles gasped, his eyes squeezing closed, as he continued to talk.

 

“And I wasn’t ready, Derek. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. Not at all. But the book said that I had to be professional and put you first, and I want to do that, okay? I really really want to, but I just… the thought of not having you in my life anymore… I just couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t fucking breathe when I thought about it. And I made a total ass of myself before the meeting, and you were just so… so goddamned perfect. Holding me and making me feel so good and floaty and loved, and then I remembered that I didn’t get to keep that, and I just… broke. Into stupid little pieces. Just fucking shattered.”

 

He looked at Derek then, and his eyes were wide and nearly golden in the sunlight, his face open and soft. Stiles had been worried about him leaving? Why would Derek ever choose to leave?

 

“You’re my mate,” Derek said, the words slipping out in his confusion. “I never want to be apart from you.”

 

Stiles stared at him in shock, his eyelashes fluttering as he blinked. His mouth formed around words that he failed to give voice to.

 

“And I’m sorry for that,” Derek continued, staring up at him from the desk chair, Stiles both too far away and too stiflingly close. “I’m sorry for…” his throat threatened to close up, “for lying to you. I was just so,” (desperate, alone, dying) “selfish. I couldn’t keep going without you. And when they told me I had to have someone close to me, I just. You were all I could think about. All the time. And after the hospital they said, ‘Okay, that’s it, we’re sending someone’ and I could only think about you. Only you. I’m sorry. I’m so fucking sorry.”

 

Stiles stared at him, his plush mouth goldfishing for a long moment. “Just to be clear,” he ventured, “you want to keep me around? As pack?”

 

Derek’s eyes snapped to the phrasing in the book and then back to Stiles’ honey-colored eyes. “True pack,” Derek said, using the wording from the textbook.

 

“True pack,” Stiles said, his pretty, impish face breaking into a huge grin. He took in a deep breath and let it out explosively. “Oh thank God. Derek, you have no idea. I thought I was losing my flipping mind. I kept thinking, ‘I can’t be the only one feeling this,’ but then something would happen and I wouldn’t be sure again. But I didn’t want to be pushy if you were only being, uh, intimate with me because I was just the one that was there, you know?”

 

Stiles stopped long enough to chug some coffee before drawing breath and charging on.

 

“And the book talked about one-sided bonds, and I was all like, ‘Well shit, that’s totally what happened to me. I bonded with Derek, but he doesn’t feel the same.’ And I was all just, out of my mind with it, you know? And I kept thinking, having these crazy fantasies, that if we were really pack, stayed pack, stayed together, then we could be a crime fighting duo. You were so badass saving that little girl, Maddie, and you're hella smart, so I know that if you wanted to, you could one hundred percent pass all the necessary courses and stuff to become a supernatural consultant. I mean, can’t you just fucking picture it? We would be Mulder and Scully, man! Though way more attuned and also like, actually together…”

 

Stiles stalled at that, fidgeting with his mug and throwing Derek uncertain Bambi eyes. Derek was staring back in shock. He wanted that. God, he wanted that with Stiles. He wanted to be that with him, for him. Functional. Useful. Whole. 

 

“I mean,” Stiles said, once again hiding behind his now nearly empty mug. “Would we? Be together, I mean?”

 

Derek swallowed roughly, trying to find his voice. “Please,” he managed at last, reaching out and trailing his fingertips over the side of Stiles’ face. He nearly had coffee dregs sloshed onto him as Stiles fumbled to set the mug down at the same time as crawling into Derek’s lap. The flimsy chair groaned in protest, but stayed in one piece as Derek’s hand slid through Stiles’ damp hair and he pulled him forward into a desperate kiss.

 


 

Erica pulled up to the Stilinski’s house at a blisteringly early ten a.m. If nothing else proved to Derek that she really cared about their friendship, the fact that she was not only out of bed, but dressed and wearing makeup when she should have been sleeping in on her day off, ought to prove the endless fondness she had for the furry numbskull.

 

As she approached the front door, smoothing a hand over immaculately glossy hair, she could barely make out the sounds of a hushed conversation emanating from what must be Stiles’ bedroom. Smiling to herself, she knocked loudly on the door, causing a distinctive squeak from Stiles and the much nearer padding of slippered feet down the front hallway.

 

The sheriff opened the door, looking adorably mussed in his dad-robe and matching slipper-moccasin things that all fathers somehow ended up with. “Sheriff Stilinski,” she greeted, giving him a saucy wink just to see him squirm and try to pat down his fluffy hair.

 

“Hi Erica,” he said, friendly and bashful, stepping aside to welcome her in. She kicked off her ankle boots onto the pile of shoes by the door, noting with a quirk of her lips that Derek’s black monstrosities lay jumbled with the rest. It was turning into a proper pack entryway. Now they just needed hooks for all the hoodies and black leather bombers that were sure to add up if she had her way and Derek kept taking in strays from broken packs.

 

“Would you like some coffee?” John offered, still trying to pat down his hair, this time fighting a rebellious cowlick in the back.

 

“I’ll make it!” Stiles hollered as he came clattering down the stairs. “Hi Erica.” He walked straight into her arms for a hug, coming down to her height and molding his lanky body into a smaller shape to give her a proper hug without smudging her makeup. Seriously, if Derek ever decided he didn’t want this kid (which he would be absolutely insane to do), Erica would snatch him up in a heartbeat.

 

Derek came down the stairs at a slower pace, watching them all carefully. He looked younger, somehow. Like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders but he wasn’t sure how to balance without it.

 

“Welcome to Café Stilinski,” Stiles enthused, wrapping an arm over her shoulders and escorting her down the hall to the kitchen. “Thanks for helping last night,” he said quietly as they entered the room together.

 

“Any time,” Erica said, giving him a sincere smile.

 

“I’m going to make you all the most fantastically decadent coffee drinks to be had in any private residence in all of Beacon Hills,” he announced then, as Derek and John filed into the kitchen behind them. “Who likes marshmallow fluff and caramel sauce?”

 

They each ended up with mugs of caffeinated sugar, per Stiles, and omelets from Derek, who stood at the stove like it was his own form of zen meditation and created them each an individualized order of fluffy eggs and cheese. Erica watched Stiles watch Derek, his cute little elf face alight with adoration as Derek quietly and gracefully created their breakfast, not a movement wasted.

 

Erica wanted to tell him that such grace was common for born wolves. That most of them could make anything ordinary look like a complicated dance that they alone knew how to perform. But she couldn’t tell him that. Because she didn’t know if it was true. Derek was the only born wolf she’d ever seen in person. She’d never known his family. She’d never met a born wolf from outside of Beacon Hills. They were so rare as to be nearly legendary. Most people would go their entire lives without meeting one. She flicked her eyes back to Stiles’ dopey smile. It wasn’t important for her to enlighten him of that fact. She had a feeling he already knew Derek was special.

 

John dug into his breakfast with gusto, getting his omelet after Erica was served first, something he insisted on that earned him another wink and a smile. Stiles complained that his dad didn’t appreciate his efforts at making eggs nearly as much, but had to take it back when Derek finally set his plate down and he moaned rapturously at the first bite.

 

“I always forget how good you can cook,” Stiles said, his eyes crinkling at the corners as he grinned at Derek. “When I move in, will you cook for us every night?” Derek stared at him with huge eyes while the sheriff’s fork screeched across his plate.

 

“Move in?” Derek asked hesitantly into the sudden silence.

 

“I mean, if you want me to, I was thinking about going home with you? Tonight? I could just pack a couple bags and bring anything else over as it’s needed, no big move or anything. But. Um.” He looked around at all their faces, suddenly unsure. Erica was certain she was fucking beaming at him. The sheriff looked a little frazzled, but mostly resigned and supportive. Derek looked… Derek looked shell-shocked. “But, um, I totally don’t have to,” Stiles rushed to say when Derek still didn’t say anything. Or move. Or breathe. “I know that we didn’t discuss it and this is really sudden and I just assumed, again, oh my god, I’m so sorry-”

 

Erica kicked Derek under the table and he jolted back to life.

 

“I want you to,” he blurted, seeming no less terrified, but now with a look of awe and longing flooding his expression. “I… please, yes, please move in with me,” he somehow managed, and Erica wondered if he knew how much love he was projecting out of every pore, though she highly doubted that he had any idea.

 

John shot her a commiserating look when neither Stiles nor Derek seemed likely to stop smiling soppily at one another. “I still need you to come over twice a month and mow the lawn,” John announced with fake gruffness, before going back to his eggs.

 

“And I think we should still meet here for pack gatherings for a bit, if you’re okay with that, Sheriff?” Erica asked. 

 

“Fine with me,” John nodded.

 

That seemed to settle it and they all went back to their breakfasts and huge mugs of sweet coffee, Erica and John pretending not to notice when Stiles caught Derek’s hand under the table, or the werewolf’s ears slowly turning a flaming red.

 


 

Derek set Stiles’ oversized duffle bag in the bedroom, both of them pretending for the moment that the earth hadn’t tilted under their feet as they walked back to the living room. 

 

Stiles, living here, with him. Coming home to him after work. Staying the night. Eating breakfast here. Using his shower, his towels. Helping with the laundry, the shopping, the cleaning. Touching his things: his books and movies and clothes and dishes. Touching him . Derek couldn’t find his voice. Could barely breathe.

 

“Want to get snacks and watch a movie?” Stiles asked, stretching his arms over his head, grinning at Derek even though he smelled slightly nervous. 

 

“Sounds good,” He managed, though what he wanted to ask was: Are you sure? Are you sure you want to live with me? And: What will this be like? Tell me what it will look like to live with you. What shape will our days take when I can offer you nothing but my presence?

 

They raided the snack cupboard together, the ambience slowly shifting from outright terror (Derek) and gentle nervousness (Stiles) into something playful and less fragile. Stiles discovered that the family-sized bag of Twizzlers was over half gone and gasped in dismay.

 

“How can you eat these?” He wailed, dangling the crackling package up by the corner and shaking it at Derek. “You eat gross, healthy food all the time. Can’t you at least choose something delicious when you consume empty calories? Like, Reese’s Pieces. So good. Peanut buttery goodness.” He grabbed his own pack of candy and made goo goo eyes at it, before a look that probably meant trouble for Derek crept over his face. Batting his eyes and attempting to look the picture of innocence, Stiles turned to him with a feigned look of confusion on his face. “I thought dogs liked peanut butter?”

 

Derek growled at him, low and dangerous, delighting in the way Stiles’ eyes went round and his mouth dropped open. Setting down his snacks on the kitchen counter, Derek took a step towards him, telegraphing his movements. Stiles squealed and spun in place, making a break for the living room.

 

He ran after him, both of them pounding loudly down the hall, letting Stiles get to the middle of the room in front of the couch before nabbing him right off his feet, his long legs kicking in the air as he squirmed in Derek’s grasp. He didn’t smell frightened, though Derek could taste the adrenaline in the air, Stiles’ heart running along lickity split, panting in his arms even though he’d only run a few dozen feet.

 

Stiles groaned as Derek pressed his face to the curve of his long neck, scenting him deeply, his lips parted to take in the flavor of him. Stiles’ head dropped back as Derek sucked at the side of his throat and one of his hands slipped under the hem of his T-shirt and dragged up Stiles’ warm belly, fisting roughly in his happy trail, making him writhe in Derek’s grip.

 

Derek felt the part of his brain light up that said prey, while simultaneously telling him, mate. Growling deep enough to rattle their bones, he nipped at Stiles’ with blunt, human teeth, wanting nothing so much as to sink into Stiles in every way he could, to take and give and give and give until they were the same person.

 

“Yes!” Stiles said, as though reading Derek’s thoughts. “Yes, come’on!” 

 

Derek licked and sucked up his throat, still holding him tightly from behind as Stiles tilted his hips back into him, gasping when Derek’s erection pressed against the curve of his ass. Derek’s tongue flicked over Stiles’ jaw, then his ear, Stiles giggling feebly before groaning and arching back into Derek. He returned to Stiles’ throat after a moment, biting softly, wanting to break skin, to take, oh, so badly wanting it, but holding back like always, careful of the fragile creature in his arms.

 

“I want you to,” Stiles panted, as Derek worried a flushed mark along Stiles’ delicate skin. Derek paused, breathing hard against him. “I want you to bite me. There. On my neck. The place where you left the mark before.”

 

Derek froze in place, his hands gripping the warm, pliant body he was holding. “Stiles…”

 

“I know you won’t change me,” Stiles said, hearing the note of despair in Derek’s voice. “I’ve done a bunch of reading, and I specifically called my tutor and um… I know that it takes special intent for an alpha to turn a human. And I also know,” his voice dropped to a whisper. “I also know that there is a different bite. One that a wolf gives to their mate.”

 

Derek could barely breathe as he held Stiles to him, so tightly that he had to force himself to relax so that he wouldn't harm him. “I… want that,” Derek admitted, barely able to breathe with desire. There was more, of course. There was the fact that he didn’t deserve Stiles. That he’d kept the truth from him. That he was selfish and damaged and useless and Stiles should leave, he really really should just... leave. But. Derek wanted him more than he’d ever wanted anything in his entire life.

 

Stiles rolled back against him and let out a moan. “Oh god, I want you to be inside me when you do it.”

 

“Yes,” Derek rasped against the side of Stiles’ throat, his hips hitching forward, rocking against him.

 

Stiles pulled out of his arms and practically ran back down the hallway towards the bedroom, their bedroom, shedding his flannel shirt. He was kicking out of his pants by the time Derek reached him, panting in a desperate bid to keep himself from flying apart. Stiles crawled, naked and beautiful, onto the bed, turning to watch Derek strip out of his clothes.

 

“How do you make everything you do look like sex?” Stiles asked, awed, one hand drifting to his own erection, his pale fingers contrasting to the bright red of the shaft’s tip.

 

Derek didn’t answer, too distracted by the scent of Stiles’ naked body, his arousal and sweat and skin, to think of anything to say that wasn’t a possessive growl. As he dropped the last of his clothes on the floor, he realized that a deep rumble was growing in his chest after all, seemingly out of his control.

 

His mate had asked to be claimed. His mate. His mate.

 

Derek’s mouth flooded, his fangs turning wicked and sensitive in his mouth. He could feel his eyes gleaming red, hot points of flame in his head, showing off for his mate, proving that he was desirable, able to defend them and their den. The human part of him cringed at his primal posturing, but it also felt… freeing. He focused on Stiles, the raw rumble in his chest ratcheting up.

 

Stiles’ mouth was hanging open, his hand working with much more intent over his erection as he stared at Derek, gasping when he saw the red eyes and fangs, his hand working even faster.

 

“Oh, god yes,” he groaned. “Bring all of that over here now, Derek.”

 

Between one breath and the next, Derek was on his hands and knees over Stiles’ starfished body, running his tongue over his lips before moving to his throat, unable to kiss properly due to the fangs, which refused to melt away, his human side eclipsed by the supernatural, Derek not able to do anything to persuade his body otherwise.

 

The base of his cock was already tingling, sending out strange little shocks that grew and tangled in his abdomen, growing larger, hotter, tightening up his thighs and stomach. His knot forming. He pulled back to breathe, trying to slow his body down.

 

Stiles looked between their bodies and groaned. “I want that, Derek. I want that in me. Put that in me and bite me. Right. Now.”

 

Derek whimpered and hung his head down close to Stiles’ face, looking at him pleadingly, unable to find the words he needed. Only knowing that as much as he wanted Stiles, he wouldn’t risk Stiles regretting this, regretting him. Derek reached down and grabbed his knot, as if he could force it back, make it disappear. To be normal for Stiles. Not a needy, desperate animal. Just a normal man. One that Stiles could choose to leave, who wouldn’t follow Stiles to the ends of the earth. He was Stiles’ shadow, but Stiles deserved better, he deserved more.

 

“Hey, hey,” Stiles said, always able to sense Derek’s distress, even if he didn’t know the exact cause. “I have you Derek. I have you.” 

 

He pulled Derek’s body down to collapse on top of his own, his hands running over his back and through his hair. Stiles’ hips kept giving little twitches, like he couldn’t quite help it, though his voice was mostly steady.

 

“I researched this, Derek,” Stiles assured him, his fingers running down his arm and then back up, smoothing over his back tattoo and then down to the dip in his spine. “I know what it means to be your mate. And I want it. I’ve wanted nothing else since I met you. Okay? Do you believe me?” 

 

Derek had his face buried in Stiles’ neck, gnawing his own lip in an effort to keep his fangs off Stiles. He nodded against Stiles’ skin. What else could he do? If nothing else, he trusted Stiles.

 

“Do you…” Stiles’ scent suddenly dipped from the spicy scent of arousal and became almost acidic with doubt. “Do you actually want this Derek? You can say no. We don’t have to-”

 

“I want this,” Derek rumbled, barely human, wrapping his arms tightly around the lithe body beneath him. Stiles smiled at him, his scent soaring back up towards happiness, hot and lovely.

 

“Then I’m ready, big guy,” Stiles said. He winked. Derek gave a strangled chuckle, his head going light and effervescent. A feeling of fondness and gratitude so sharp, it felt like it was cleaving him in two, welled up under his sternum.

 

He dragged his tongue over Stiles’ lips and Stiles opened his mouth, allowing Derek to taste him before Stiles turned his focus to Derek’s fangs. He lapped at them delicately while Derek keened helplessly and tried to stay still, not wanting to cut Stiles with the sharp points. Stiles quickly worked out that the most sensitive part was where Derek’s fangs met flesh, and he tongued the ridge at Derek’s gums, until Derek’s cock was drooling between their stomachs and Derek was moaning, long and low in his throat.

 

Stiles pulled away long enough to flail over the side of the bed and reach into his bag, coming back with lube and a smirk, before affixing himself to Derek’s mouth once more. “Mmm, not quite done with these,” Stiles murmured, tossing the lube next to them on the bed and licking carefully over Derek’s fangs, before sucking on one just to get Derek to cry out, his body shuddering on top of Stiles. He tried to keep his full weight off of the slender body beneath him, fighting not to rut down wantonly.

 

He was only distracted from Stiles’ attention to his fangs by the hand that slipped between their bodies, gliding past their erections, Stiles’ fingers dipping down between his own cheeks. Stiles pulled away from the kiss, working his hand farther down, his arm twisting between them. Stiles’ face screwed up in concentration, before a strange, wet noise had Derek kneeling back and looking between Stiles’ legs. He was grasping a… a plug, Derek realized. He was pulling it from his body, the glistening silicone spreading him wide, wider, making him gape open obscenely before finally sliding free.

 

“When-” Derek gasped, gripping Stiles’ under his bent knees and pushing them up towards his chest, gazing in wonder at Stiles’ fluttering hole. His knot throbbed and his stomach muscles spasmed as precome dribbled from his slit.

 

“Been training up to it for a while now,” Stiles admitted, holding the plug up for Derek’s inspection, while his other hand searched for the lube. “Worked it in up in the bathroom while Erica had you distracted with pack stuff. It’s not as large as you, but it’s close enough for me to take your knot tonight with no trouble, big guy.”

 

Derek groaned. Stiles gave him a lopsided grin and then wrapped a handful of lube round Derek’s half-formed knot. His entire body clenched up with the shock of pleasure. He groaned as if in pain, shaking and thrusting into Stiles’ hand, which suddenly pulled away.

 

“Oh wow,” Stiles said, his eyes blown out dark and wanting. “You are going to go fast this first time, aren’t you? Okay, okay, we can work with that. That’s why I had the plug in to begin with so, uh, how do you want me?”

 

Derek whined and kissed him. Well, it was more like licking at Stiles’ lips and teeth while pressing the front of his fangs to Stiles’ warm mouth. He didn’t know how to answer Stiles’ question. His words seemed to have dissolved. He just wanted Stiles. Wanted his mate. His mouth left Stiles’ lips and he sunk down to the spot on Stiles’ throat that was like a siren call, brushing his fangs over it, receiving shocks in his mouth that relayed straight to his knot.

 

He whined again. “Stiles,” he managed around his fangs and all the saliva that had gathered in his mouth, flooding his palate in preparation. 

 

Stiles seemed to come to some decision on his own, smearing more slick across his entrance before flipping over on his stomach and raising his hips under Derek’s stomach. He slotted back so Derek’s heavy prick nudged between his spread legs.

 

“Go ahead,” Stiles gasped.

 

Derek hitched his hips back, his length sliding back along Stiles’ perineum. They both held their breath as Derek rounded his back, just enough to have the head of his cock slip up the slick trail leading to Stiles’ entrance, The tip rested there, slotting into the divot where Stiles’ stretched muscle waited, clenching and opening in anticipation.

 

Derek dropped an overwhelmed kiss of adoration on Stiles’ back. 

 

“Stiles,” he whispered reverently, looking down along Stiles’ spine, sitting back just enough to watch as he shifted forward and sank in slowly, his length, shiny with lube and dark with blood, disappeared into Stiles’ body.

 

Stiles was trembling and groaning below him, resting on his elbows, which he had pushed up next to his head, his hands fisting the bedspread to brace himself back against the initial slow penetration. “Unhhhh…mmmm,” Stiles gasped, his blissful moaning gradually turning into words as Derek’s knot met his rim. “Yeeees, ohhh... yes,” he moaned, his face turned to the side, vaguely searching for Derek’s eyes. Derek crouched down over him, straining forward to lick the corner of his mouth as he pressed forward.

 

Instinct had him wanting to push his knot into the perfect body adjoined to his, to sink in and in and in. His mouth throbbed, wet and hot and aching. He put his lips to Stiles’ throat, the spot he sought turned up towards his seeking mouth, Stiles straining to offer the perfect stretch of skin.

 

“Yes,” he cried out, as the points of Derek’s fangs pressed down and his brain flooded with powerful chemicals, his blood singing and calling out for his mate. Following pure instinct, Derek bit his own tongue first, letting blood and saliva mix in his mouth, before finally letting the tips break through Stiles’ delicate skin, spearing down into muscle, careful to pierce in the mating spot, where Stiles would take no permanent injury. He pulled back a fraction, letting his blood and spit flood the small wound, mixing with Stiles’ blood and-

 

Stiles keened, bucking back and impaling himself on Derek’s waiting knot. Derek pressed forward, meeting him, his knot slipping in, Stiles prepped body taking him perfectly in a grip like a vise.

 

Derek’s mind was flooded with Stiles. The feeling of him caught on his teeth, on his knot, squirming and begging beneath him, along with the growing sense of him in his mind: a white hot spark in the center of his consciousness, bright and all encompassing. 

 

Mate.

 

He slammed forward as far as he could, then pulled back the few inches the knot allowed, holding him fast within Stiles’ body, only to rut forward again. His breath stuttered out around his embedded fangs, the tug on his gums making his eyes roll back in delirious pleasure, the twin sensation echoing up from his knot, both caught within Stiles’ body. It was intense and powerful, his hips pistoning in short, jerking movements as Stiles screamed and came untouched. His mate’s body went limp and Derek gathered him up in his arms, holding him together tightly beneath his body as he continued to mate, all of the feedback he was receiving from Stiles encouraging him to keep going.

 

He knew he was close when his knot throbbed and Stiles moaned as it swelled slightly, his balls drawing up as all the muscles in his stomach and thighs pushed. Groaning deep in his chest, he stilled inside Stiles body and shook as he orgasmed. He felt Stiles coming again, clenching up around him and screaming into the mattress. He could smell his release, salty and sweet in the heavy air, making his own release roll on, past the point he would normally stop spasming, even the few times he had knotted due to Stiles’ touch before their joining.

 

But this. This.

 

Derek sobbed into Stiles’ sweaty skin. He could feel the echo off Stiles’ emotions, the awareness of his mate filling up the empty places that had left Derek hollowed out and alone for so long, finally filling up with nervous energy and sharp observations and so much love that Derek’s fangs finally released and he gasped into the side of Stiles head. He wanted to breathe in all of him, all of him, all at once. His mate. His Stiles.

 

Stiles was boneless beneath him, laughing and sobbing in turns. “Derek,” he kept saying, “Derek, Derek, Derek…”

 

He ran his tongue over the bite, coating it with his saliva. It was slower to work on a human, but eventually the edges healed to a raw set of puncture wounds. Stiles breathed wetly beneath him, the echo of his thoughts dreamy and content, filled with the echo of Derek’s sorrow and loss, but submerged in Derek’s overwhelming delight at having his mate at last safe and secure, wrapped in his arms.

 


 

The knot finally released, Stiles waking up from a doze to gasp and moan afresh at the gush of come flowing out of him, warm and ticklish as it ran down between his legs and over his tender balls. The bite on his neck throbbed delightfully, exactly as he had imagined it would.

 

He felt Derek wake before he actually moved, a bright, tender spot flaring to life in Stiles' mind. “I love you,” he thought at that growing bit of awareness. “I love you, goddammit, and you are not alone anymore and you are safe and loved and you are going to be surrounded by people who love you, always, and we will have adventures and save people and create a big pack and you are going to have so many people to protect and to love and who love you back and-” Stiles’ eyes filled with tears as Derek pulled him close and kissed him.

 

“I didn’t get all of that,” Derek said, pulling back just far enough to see Stiles’ eyes, his own eyes now the frozen green of spring caught in a sudden flurry of snow, deep and beautiful and just waiting for the sun to emerge. “But it felt… nice. Warm. Right here,” he said, tapping his own sternum.

 

“Good,” Stiles beamed, squirming close to him, stretching his neck just to feel the burn of his mate’s mark, before kissing him again. “I promise there’s lots more where that came from.”

 


 

Maddie clutched Wolf’s leash, the black lab mix panting happily as he trotted after her through the Center’s door, her dad holding it open for both of them to pass through. She glanced at Wolf for reassurance and he panted back, wagging his tail with his doggie grin.

 

It had been several years since the horrible man had grabbed her and taken her into the woods behind her family’s house, but she still got scared sometimes. Wolf made her feel safe. She liked dogs in general, but Wolf was extra special. He was good and smart and gentle. He was her best friend.

 

Her parents liked to pretend that it was Wolf who she’d seen in the woods that night, and for the most part, Maddie didn’t mind pretending that too. But Wolf’s eyes didn’t glow red, and he is too small to be the same dog. So. She knows that it’s just pretend to say that he was.

 

Maddie spotted Erica and they both squealed when they saw each other. Erica was great. She was pretty and nice and really smart. She tells Maddie all about werewolves and how most of them are really good people. Some of them are scary, but that’s why they have people like Stiles and Derek. Stiles and Derek keep the werewolves safe and the regular people safe. They can track monsters, whether they are human or not, and they save people like Maddie.

 

Stiles once asked her if she remembered meeting him from before, but honestly, she couldn’t. He didn’t say it, but she knows that he meant from that night. He must have been there. Maybe later too, when there were a lot of police officers around for a little while, and men in suits, asking questions and looking for things, for clues, out in the woods.

 

Her mom and dad told her that Stiles helped put the horrible man in jail, and he’s never coming back. She had asked Stiles and Derek about that later, when she and Wolf and her dad were visiting the Center one time after she was having a hard time sleeping. It surprised her when Derek was the one that answered. She really liked Derek. He seemed familiar somehow. But he was so quiet usually, just watching over Stiles and her when she visited, making sure she knew he was guarding them.

 

“He will never, ever leave that prison,” Derek promised her, looking very serious. He always reminded her of something when he did that, though she could never remember what. 

 

“But, what if he does?” she had asked. It had been a nightmare of hers for months afterwards, even when the horrible man was in jail.

 

“Then I’ll make sure he never gets anywhere near your house,” Derek assured her. “And Stiles will help.” He’d put a hand on Stiles’ shoulder then, and the other man had smiled at him all sweet and a little sad, like they were sharing some sort of secret. “And you’ll be safe.”

 

Maddie hugged Erica sideways around the waist. She was getting taller, but hugs with grownups were still awkward.

 

“Are the husbands here?” she asked, meaning Derek and Stiles. Erica smiled at the nickname.

 

“Sorry, kiddo. They’re getting a new pack member settled today. They’re taking her out on the Hale property, showing her around.”

 

“Are they showing her the deer family?” Maddie asked excitedly. Derek had taken her to watch them once. They’d had to leave Wolf behind, but that had been okay, because her dad and Stiles and Derek had been with her, and Wolf was safe in the house with her mom and her brother. So everyone had been protected.

 

“I think so,” Erica said. She motioned for them to follow her back to the rec room. “What would you like to learn about today?”

 

“I wanna learn more about being a hero like Derek. And Stiles,” she added, knowing that they were a team and did everything together. She felt a little guilty about always thinking of Derek as the hero and Stiles as his sidekick. She knew it didn’t really work like that in real life. Still. Derek was special.

 

“Sure thing, Mads,” Erica said, her smile fond. “And then we can draw pictures of Wolf. Derek and Stiles have a spot on their fridge that needs filling, and I think a Wolf portrait would be perfect.”

 

“Okay!” Maddie agreed enthusiastically. Erica had a sly look on her face that adults got sometimes when they were thinking of teasing other adults, but Maddie pretended not to notice. Adults could be so weird sometimes.

 

But wolves. 

 

Wolves were awesome.