When the alpha came for him, it was at the library.
Stiles had always thought that when his time came it would either be because he ate too many curly fries, challenged Erica to an ‘all-stakes’ game of truth or dare, or accidentally got himself killed after pissing off a vengeful witch or something.
He always thought he’d either die in an idiotic or a heroic way. But dying at a library had never occurred to him. Stiles didn’t want his dad to find his body surrounded by chemistry books and empty water bottles, attempting to work through the homework that Harris had assigned to them weeks ago.
Though, Stiles really didn’t want his dad to find his body at all. But then he made the mistake of grabbing a stack of boring books, finding an isolated corner in the library, and then accidentally falling asleep.
When Stiles woke up again, the lights had gone off. It took him a long moment to realize that he’d slept straight through closing hours and clearly, the librarian hadn’t bothered to make sure no one was tucked away in one of the library’s corners.
Stiles blinked a few times and then groaned. He hadn’t gotten anything done. Harris was going to give him detention for a month at least.
He pulled his stuff together and moved around, putting the books back where he’d found them. Rubbing a hand over his face, Stiles slung his backpack over his shoulder and glanced around one more time, before shaking his head and starting out of the building.
Maybe he could get Lydia to hand over a few answers. She was the only person Stiles trusted with his grade after all.
The library parking lot was empty and silent. The moon was nearing full and Stiles shivered, tugging on the neckline of his sweatshirt. He was pretty sure he deserved to sleep through this entire coming weekend.
That’s when he heard the growl.
Stiles froze and whirled around, squinting hard against the darkness. He couldn’t make much out other than the shadows, but then one moved and he froze, staring at glowing red eyes that peered out at him. He chucked nervous, shifting from foot to foot.
“Derek? Okay, dude, you’re hilarious, so incredibly funny. Now stop being a creeper and come out here, would you?”
For a moment, nothing moved. But the alpha did and it definitely wasn’t Derek.
The man was tall and strongly-built. His eyes glowed bright red in the night and there was a cruel smirk that danced along the edges of his lips. Stiles retreated a step back, heart leaping into his throat, and tried not to immediately panic.
“You’re not Derek.”
“And you’re not the werewolf I came looking for.”
Stiles blinked dumbly at him. The alpha’s smirk widened.
“But you do smell like him, though, don't you? It clings to you like a stench. I didn’t come out here searching for the Hale alpha’s bitch, but that’s what I’ve come across, isn’t it?”
Stiles straightened. “Wait, what? You’re looking for Derek?”
“Was. Implying that now you’re…”
Stiles thought it was a pretty good thing he’d stocked up on books. Because before the werewolf could react, Stiles pulled his backpack off and threw it at the werewolf with all of his strength, making the man grunt in surprise and stumble backward. Stiles turned on his heel and ran, making for his jeep as fast as he could. And he very nearly made it.
Very nearly. But not near enough.
A hand wrapped around his ankle before Stiles could yank the driver’s door open and suddenly the world was tilting sideways. He hit the ground hard, tasting blood and seeing stars as his skull cracked against the asphalt. Stiles groaned and he was flipped onto his back, a pair of claws touching the underside of his neck. His breath caught in his throat and he froze.
“Running from me, Little Red?”
“What the hell do you want with Derek?”
“Do you know how an alpha werewolf challenges another for their territory, boy?”
Stiles groaned again. “Oh my god, that’s what this is? Werewolf politics?”
“It can be done many ways,” the alpha continued, undeterred by his response. “A challenge for pack leadership. A duel. Or by proving one’s power and taking away something the current alpha loves.”
“I hate to break it to you,” Stiles said. “But the only thing Derek loves is his Camaro.”
The man blinked, tilting his head slightly. He was listening to his heartbeat, Stiles realized. He shifted and smirked with bloody teeth.
“So terribly sorry, but you’re not getting anything out of killing his token human. At least, nothing to hurt Derek with.”
“Then that doesn’t make you very useful then, does it?”
Stiles’s blood turned to ice. The alpha’s eyes bled to red again and he snarled, face shifting. Stiles squawked and squirmed again as the man raised a clawed hand, struggling to get loose.
He managed to wrench his leg free, driving his foot into the alpha’s stomach. The man howled, stumbling back, and Stiles scrambled up, making for his jeep again.
He knew there was no way he was escaping by car. Instead, Stiles grabbed his baseball bat from the passenger seat and went retreating backward, swinging as hard as he could as the alpha leaped forward, all fangs and teeth.
It connected against the man’s side and he pitched sideways, snarling again. Stiles backed away a few more steps, raising the bat behind his head again. The man straightened and sneered, eyes glowing.
“Of course. The boy who runs with wolves defends himself with a baseball bat. Has no one ever told you to go with something more practical?”
“Come a little closer,” Stiles said. “I’ll show you practical.”
“You amuse me. I almost hate having to kill you.”
“I’m not here to be amusing, asshole.”
The alpha leaped forward again and Stiles swung. Since his last attempt— and failure— to take a werewolf out with a baseball bat, Stiles had upgraded. He now lugged around a grade A metal baseball bat that was always coated with wolfsbane. Scott hated it, refusing to be around when Stiles brought it along. But Stiles thought it was a pretty good investment.
He especially thought so now.
The bat cracked against the man’s outstretched clawed hand and he roared, yanking it into his chest. Stiles took that moment to swing at his head full force. There was a sicking noise of metal meeting bone and the werewolf dropped. Stiles flailed back, suddenly feeling sick.
For a moment, he just stared.
The werewolf was still. The faint tang of blood filled the air and Stiles stared at him for a moment before cautiously creeping forward. He clenched his jaw and resisted the urge to hurl at the sight of the man’s skull; he didn’t think it should look like that. Blood matted the man's hair and his skull was slightly deformed. Closing his eyes for a second, Stiles debated calling his dad or one of the pack members, and tried to think of his back-up story.
He… he could call his dad. And see the shock in his eyes followed by the inevitable disappointment. He could call Scott, but Stiles was terrified to see how the boy would react to the body currently lying at Stiles’s feet. He could call Derek, maybe, but that might—
Suddenly, there was a pair of claws sinking into his ankle.
Stiles screamed and tried to yank away but they sank in deep, curling in through flesh. For the second time that night, Stiles found his feet yanked out from under him and his back cracked against the asphalt, pain cutting through him like a knife. The alpha loomed over him, eyes bright and manic. Another cry cut from Stiles’s lungs as the claws yanked out of his leg and sunk into his shoulders, pinning him against the asphalt.
“The boy who runs with wolves,” the man snarled, blood staining his teeth and lips. “Did you think you could kill me? Did you really think you could kill an alpha?”
Stiles squeezed his eyes shut, clawing at the hand twisting in the flesh of his shoulder. He tried to yank it out but the alpha only laughed.
“I’ll tear you to pieces and use that as a challenge to your pathetic alpha. Think he’ll scream too? When I rip out his throat?”
Stiles managed to pull the claws out of his shoulder, eyes snapping open again. The man only sneered, reaching for his throat instead. Stiles used both hands to keep the claws from meeting the fragile flesh of his neck, heart pounding against his chest.
The alpha’s eyes flashed brighter. Blood dripped onto Stiles’s skin and pooled on the ground around him.
He turned the man’s hand with a crack and this time, it wasn’t Stiles who screamed. Before the alpha could even react, Stiles was shoving the man’s claws forward and yanking them sideways. Straight through the werewolf’s neck.
Blood splattered across his face.
Stiles barely felt the weight that collapsed on top of him. He managed to roll to the side only seconds before he was dry heaving, grateful for the first time that day that he’d forgotten to eat since breakfast. He gagged and choked out broken sobs, pain wracking through his entire body and making him see stars. He couldn’t breathe right. His throat was too tight and he could feel blood staining through his sweatshirt.
He couldn’t— he couldn’t—
Stiles could already hear the sirens. Could see his dad’s terror and feel the cold metal of handcuffs as they wrapped around his wrists. Scott would never speak to him again. The pack would turn him away. Stiles would be nothing but a killer and a disappointment and he couldn’t, he couldn’t—
Stiles rolled the body off of himself and stumbled to his feet, terror crashing over him in waves. He couldn’t call his dad. He couldn’t call Scott.
There was a body at his feet. Mangled, bloody, and broken. One that looked less and less human by the second and soon, Stiles was looking at the body of a wolf. A red furred wolf, with blank eyes and teeth still bared in a snarl.
It was the body of a werewolf that Stiles had just killed. That hit him like a punch to the gut over and over again. Stiles had just killed a man. A werewolf. An alpha.
His stomach flipped. He spun around again, heaving into the asphalt.
The rest of the night was a blur. Stiles stuffed the body— the wolf— blooded and torn into the back of his jeep. He broke down in the driver’s seat, gathered himself back together again around dawn, and left the parking lot behind before anyone else could show up.
His entire body hurt. His head was spinning. He couldn’t breathe right.
Stiles dumped the body in the preserve. Then he attempted to throw up two more times. There was blood in his jeep, blood on his clothes. Covering his skin and drying underneath his nails.
There was blood everywhere.
Stiles came home to an empty driveway and went upstairs to scrub away the evidence in a broken haze.
Because he’d just killed a man.
Derek recognized when something in Beacon Hills changed.
It was a change of scent in the air at first. He sat straight up, turning his nose into the air, and realized it was something beyond his pack. The handful of werewolves curled up not five feet away, all wrapped around each other, the colors of black, gold, and grey pelts melding together, hadn’t moved. It wasn’t the smell of wolf, but that of cinnamon and autumn leaves. Soured by terror.
Derek turned his nose toward the door and sat still for a moment. The scent changed, heightened, and then all but vanished.
There was nothing left.
Derek didn’t find it easy to fall back asleep that morning.
Stiles blinked a few times, buried in his covers. His dad leaned against the doorway of his room and Stiles was awake in a second, nearly spilling out of bed. He caught himself at the last moment and ran a hand through his hair, blinking a few times.
The occurrences of the past night filtered through his head slowly. The library. The alpha. The blood. The blood. The blood.
Cold terror curled through Stiles’s stomach as he looked at his dad, wondering if his secret was already out.
“Y… yeah pops?”
“We got a call early this morning,” the man said, eyes sweeping over Stiles’s face. Once more, he was almost too terrified to even breathe. What if there was still blood on his face? What if he hadn’t cleaned it all off?
Stiles was surprised his voice wasn’t shaking.
“A jogger found a body out in the preserve,” the man said, nodding. “Wolf. Brutalized. It was bad. I don’t know if this is something on… your side of the world or not, but I figured I should say something in case any of you try to get involved.”
“Try to as in we shouldn’t?”
“Try to as in I want to know if any of you do.”
Stiles swallowed hard and nodded, hating the releif that coursed through him. He managed a smile even though he was pretty sure his dad would know it was fake. “Sure, pops, we’ll let you know. That’s all part of the agreement, right?”
Stiles knew his dad still struggled with the supernatural side of things. When he’d first found out about Derek and Scott, it had been Stiles’s promises to never keep another secret that had kept the man from packing their things up and just leaving altogether. He’d made a promise and up until now, he’d been determined to keep it.
His dad nodded. “Part of the deal.”
Stiles felt worse.
The moment the man left, Stiles was on his feet again. He locked the door and then stripped off his clothes, moving toward the mirror. A single glance showed a pale body clean of any marks; there was nothing. No claws marks marring his shoulder, no torn-up ankle. Stiles had been covered in bruises and scars yesterday but now, it was like it had all been a bad dream.
Stiles wished it had been a bad dream. He wished so hard it had been nothing but a nightmare.
He also knew better.
Stiles sank to the floor, pulling his knees into his chest. He was trembling all over, he realized. When did it happen? When did things start?
Could he kill someone else? Could he hurt his dad?
Stiles tried to take calm, deep breaths and focus on when Scott had first started to change. Two years ago, Stiles’s best friend had gone through the same thing and he’d been fine. Occasionally furry, yes, but fine.
He… he’d just needed an anchor. Scott had Allison. Stiles needed an anchor.
Stiles closed his eyes and tried to take a deep breath. Opening them again, he gazed into the mirror. But nothing changed. Nothing about his features shifted. Something twisted in his gut and Stiles swallowed a shout of anger, shoving himself back up.
He pulled on clothes quickly. The last thing he wanted was to be caught by Scott, Derek, or one of Derek’s betas. They’d smell his change in an instant, wouldn’t they? Stiles couldn’t help but remember how quickly Scott had smelled Isaac’s change. He just had to keep them at an arm's-length until he figured things out. He could do that.
He could do that, right?
The knock on his window startled Stiles right out of those thoughts. He had just finished pulling on a shirt and spun around to see Scott waiting outside of his window, head tilted slightly.
Stiles’s heart stopped. His first thought was ‘he knows.’
Still, his feet moved on their own accord. Stiles crossed the room and carefully pulled his window open, letting the boy in.
Scott shifted his feet and gave him a long look. Stiles braced himself, waiting for the comment on his change of scent, the confused look Scott was bound to give him, dread coiling in his stomach as Stiles glanced down involuntarily at his hands, seeing phantom blood still coating his fingers.
“... Yeah, Scotty?”
Stiles’s eyes snapped back up. He stared blankly for a moment and then blinked again. Scott ran a hand through his hair and began to pace the room, a blur of words spilling out of his mouth. But Stiles was too shocked to understand them. The longer he started the more he realized there was something… different about Scott. The boy smelled like gunpowder and the faint hints of female perfume. It all clung to him like an invisible aura and Stiles found himself shying away from it, his skin itching at the overwhelming scent.
Suddenly, Scott stopped. The boy blinked at him and Stiles snapped back to reality, blinking a few times.
“Bro! What am I supposed to do?”
Stiles continued to stare. Suddenly, Scott leaned forward and sniffed, and Stiles went stock-still again, his heart pounding even harder against his chest. Scott’s brows furrowed together and the alpha tilted his head.
“Have you been around Derek’s pack lately?”
“You smell different.”
Scott wrinkled his nose and pulled back, shaking his head. “I dunno. Bad, strange. Different. Like when Derek used to come over a lot.”
Stiles felt like he’d been punched. He nodded silently and Scott shrugged, returning to his ramblings. Stiles swallowed hard, glancing back toward the window and when he snapped back to reality, Scott was looking curiously at him again.
Stiles blinked. “Sorry, what?”
“I didn’t get a lot of sleep,” Stiles said quietly. He kept waiting for the ball to drop or for Scott to realize there was something different. Something wrong. But it never happened. “Maybe just talk to her?”
Scott’s face brightened. He moved across the room and clapped Stiles on the shoulder, nodding. “I’ll do that!”
“Great, dude,” Stiles said, forcing a smile. He watched as Scott pulled himself right back out the window and then sunk onto the edge of his bed, burying his face in his hands.
He just had to figure things out. That’s all he had to do.
Stiles felt like he was breaking apart.
Derek was awake late into the next night. Every time he tried to close his eyes or take a deep breath, he was struck by the feeling that something was wrong. Something had happened. And it was like an itch underneath his skin that he couldn’t scratch.
Something was wrong. Derek just didn’t know what.
He found himself giving up on sleep around two in the morning and wandering into the kitchen. As he made himself a cup of coffee, figuring he might as well just not sleep at all, the sudden scent of terror and pain flooded through his nose.
Derek froze, a packet of sugar half-tilted over his mug. His eyes bled to red and tracked around the room as he slowly turned around, scenting the air. For a long moment, he couldn’t smell a thing. Nothing other than his pack and uncle, that was.
Then there it was again. Derek stepped out of the kitchen to see the loft door wide open and— his heart stopped. A pair of red eyes blinked in. But the wolf was full shift, an unfamiliar scent crashing over him. Except at the same time, some part of it was familiar. Some part of it Derek did recognize.
His blood turned cold then. The alpha growled.
“What have you done to Stiles?”
The wolf snarled again, raising its hackles. Derek snarled right back, his fangs slotting down although he didn’t shift himself. Instead, he studied the wolf in front of him. Tawny-brown fur and amber-red eyes. Fangs that gleamed in the moonlight streaming through the windows and the faint scent of Stiles clinging to the air around it.
Derek’s stomach twisted. He snapped his teeth, glaring.
“What the hell have you done to Stiles?”
And then the wolf was taking off. Away from the loft, racing down the hallway. Derek didn’t even give himself a chance to think before he was moving after him. Shedding his human form as his paws hit the floor. He thought he heard Erica’s faint sleepy voice but Derek didn’t pause, racing after the wolf that vanished down the stairs and out of the loft.
The cool night air was crisp and fresh. Derek stretched out his limbs for the first time in weeks and raced after the wolf; it was heading for the preserve, he realized. Derek tore after it, determined not to let the alpha escape.
If Stiles was hurt-- if something had happened to Stiles--
Derek was pretty sure he would rip the alpha’s throat out. He knew that Stiles had never committed to his pack and there was nothing holding the boy down, but Derek would kill anyone that ever dared hurt him. And this wolf reeked of Stiles. The scent of the boy bled off him in waves. And Derek was terrified to linger on what that meant. That Stiles was hurt or worse.
He didn’t remember the last time he’d been on a chase. But the wind sung in his ears now and the darkness bled around them. Derek knew the preserve much better than the other wolf, he could already tell. It ran blindly.
It was heading toward the Hale house.
Derek caught up before they reached the porch. Springing forward, he tackled the wolf to the ground and snapped his teeth right above its throat. The alpha whined, kicking out useless limbs, and Derek locked his teeth around the wolf’s shoulder.
It barked a cry of pain then. And as blood filled his mouth, Derek’s senses flooded with one word.
He was yanking back in a second. The wolf snarled and leaped for his throat but Derek moved back even more and they circled each other. He looked into amber eyes and realized that he recognized them. Recognized them outside of the dark red color. There was a whiskey tint hidden from sight. One that Derek would recognize anywhere.
But that couldn’t be— that shouldn’t be—
The wolf snarled at him, baring bloody teeth. Before it could leap forward again, Derek threw back his head and howled. The sound struck through the night, startling a nearby owl, and the wolf growled for a moment before joining in with a broken sound.
When Derek looked forward again, there was a naked boy curled up in the leaves. Stiles’s shoulder was stained with blood and he was shivering, eyes squeezed tightly closed as he muttered unintelligible things Derek couldn’t catch.
But it… it was Stiles. It was Stiles.
It was his Stiles.
Derek shifted back and just stood there for a moment, staring. Blood ran in rivets down the boy’s chest, dripping to the leaves, and Derek didn’t know what to do. He could still taste it on his tongue. Could still smell the scent of Stiles— wrong— Stiles— in his nose.
Stiles’s eyes suddenly snapped open, staring unseeing as the boy cried out a soft ‘Derek’ leaving his lips. And then Derek was moving forward, scooping him up and wincing as Stiles cried out again.
“I’m sorry,” Derek whispered. “I’m sorry.”
Stiles didn’t answer, head lolling against Derek’s shoulder. His heart beat too fast and the more Derek concentrated on his scent the more he realized it was Stiles. Stiles with a touch of something else; iron and electricity. Power.
Derek’s heart lodged in his throat and he realized he was terrified to linger on that thought. Instead, he turned away from the Hale house and started the long walk back toward the loft. Stiles only stirred in his arms a few times, letting out quiet whimpers whenever he did. It struck Derek to the core every single time.
He didn’t… he didn’t… he didn’t know when this had happened. When was the last time Derek had pulled himself through the teenager’s bedroom? During the Alpha pack attack, he thought. Before they’d defeated Deucalion. Before Stiles’s father had been taken.
But he thought— he hoped— he would have known about this sooner. It couldn’t have been months ago. Derek had realized something was wrong not two days ago and Stiles— Stiles should have come to him.
A pit formed in his chest as Derek realized Stiles hadn’t come to him. Had the boy been too afraid? Too stubborn? It was Stiles, so Derek supposed it could be either.
Had Scott known?
There was a werewolf in his arms. Stiles Stilinski; an Alpha werewolf. The once ‘boy who ran with wolves’ was now a wolf himself. Derek’s stomach twisted. Stiles had never asked for it. The bite. And Derek had never even considered offering it because he knew Stiles’s stance on being bitten.
Some part of him didn’t think this had been a choice at all. And that only made Derek feel worse.
He got back to the loft within the hour and the betas were waiting for him. Derek took one look at their shocked faces, eyes flitting from him, to Stiles, and back, and knew this was a conversation for tomorrow. When Derek’s shirt wasn’t covered in blood. When Stiles didn’t smell like he was dying.
When the boy was conscious.
This was a conversation for tomorrow and Derek was kind of terrified for it.
Stiles remembered trying not to go to sleep.
He paced his room and then turned on Netflix, going through shows he had already seen a million times before. When he felt his eyelids growing heavy he groaned and pushed himself back up to go downstairs and get a snack.
If he didn't fall asleep, he figured nothing could happen. His dad was on a night shift so Stiles was free to keep all the lights on and do everything he could to stay awake. Because Scott’s first days… he’d gone straight to his anchor, hadn’t he? It’d been an Allison stalking spree. But Stiles was determined. Determined not to hurt his dad, determined not to lose control.
He had settled back on the couch and tried turning on the TV. He didn’t remember falling asleep but he must’ve.
Because when he woke up again, he was in an unfamiliar room.
Stiles was awake in a second. He sat straight up, the blankets catching around his legs as he flailed sideways out of the bed. He heard the sound of footsteps, was overwhelmed by a scent of aftershave, mint, pine, and then there were careful hands trying to pull him back up.
Stiles was shifting in a second, eyes bleeding red and fangs slotting down. And he felt it. Every single change, every single new addition. The sounds around him were too loud and the scents crashing down on him over and over again were too much. It hadn’t been like this yesterday. Stiles hadn’t experienced any of this yesterday.
It was too much.
He didn’t realize he was fighting back until Derek’s voice reached his ears. The man pinned him down, shouting his name over and over again. Stiles stopped fighting and felt his fangs slide away again, like a slight itching of his gums.
He blinked back tears. Derek’s grip loosened and the man’s face shifted back to normal too.
“Stiles, I need you to breathe for me. Can you breathe for me?”
“What the hell is happening?”
“You’re adjusting to the change,” Derek said. “It'll take some time. Days, weeks, months. But you need to keep your heart rate down right now.”
“No,” Stiles said, shoving the man off and scrambling up. He retreated until his back rammed against the wall and then stared at him. “What the hell is happening? I’m… I’m at the loft. Why the hell am I at the loft? How did you know?”
Derek’s brows furrowed. “You came here last night.”
Stiles stared at him. He didn’t remember that. He didn’t remember anything past blinking tiredly at Star Wars reruns on the TV and trying to drown himself in mugs of coffee. He remembered seeing Anakin cutting someone’s head off and then nothing. Darkness.
Fear gripped him like a fist around his heart. “My dad. Derek, my dad.”
“Your father is fine,” Derek said. “I called him this morning and said you spent the night at the loft.”
“Did you tell him?”
The man raised a brow. Stiles swallowed hard.
“Did you tell him why?”
“That’s not up to me to do, Stiles.”
“He can’t know,” Stiles said, shoving himself up. “No one else can know. I can mask it, Derek, I can keep it secret. My dad can’t know, Scott didn’t realize, no one else can—”
“Wait," Derek said, cutting him off. “Scott doesn’t know?”
“And he won’t.”
“But he’s seen you. Since the change?”
Stiles’s mouth went dry. He swallowed hard and nodded slowly, and Derek’s face went through a number of different expressions. Stiles was surprised that when the man’s eyes bled to red, he didn’t feel the shivers he normally did. This time, instead, he wanted to get closer. He wanted to leap at the man’s throat.
He wanted to prove to him who the real alpha was.
Stiles whimpered at the back of his throat and shook his head. He couldn't— he shouldn’t— these weren’t his thoughts. This wasn’t his head. Stiles wasn’t a killer.
Derek’s eyes were normal again, but Stiles still wanted to know how much it would take to make the man submit. He stumbled away, out of the bedroom, and out into the rest of the open loft.
There were no betas in sight. But Peter lounged on the couch and the moment Stiles saw him, he straightened. The man’s scent hit him in a rush; thoughts of smoke, ash, death, and... and… beta. Pack. Part of him.
Stiles gagged, racing toward the kitchen. He could’ve sworn Peter was grinning.
Stiles shuffled through all the shelves of the refrigerator, grabbing some of the first things his gaze landed on. By the time he turned back toward the counter, he had an array of the oddest things in his arms. Derek came in after a moment too, raising an eyebrow at Stiles’s choices of food.
Stiles glared at him. “I’m hungry.”
“Like, starving hungry, dude. I need sustenance.”
He could’ve sworn there was the hint of a smile tugging at the man’s lips but Derek only nodded again, arms folded over his chest as he leaned against the doorway. “I know.”
“Please don’t tell me it’s a werewolf thing.”
“It’s werewolf thing.”
Stiles snarled and dropped everything on the counter. Abandoning his loot, he shoved past Derek and flipped Peter the bird, stalking straight out of the loft. He could’ve sworn Derek called his name but Stiles ignored him, trying to shove down the array of scents, sounds, and feelings that continued to hit him over and over again.
He felt like a stranger in his own body. He felt like he was doing something wrong.
He didn’t feel like he was the real one in his head.
Stiles made it outside and swallowed the urge to throw back his head and scream. Or maybe howl. His fingers curled into fists and after a moment, Stiles felt a slight stinging followed by something warm sliding down his skin. He heard the steady ‘drip drip’ and glanced down to see his nails had sliced straight through his palm.
Stiles swallowed a cry, his claws shooting back into his nails. As he watched, his skin stitched back together, and it looked so wrong.
Suddenly, there was a hand on his shoulder. Stiles spun around, claws coming right back out, and pinned Derek against the outside loft wall. The man grunted, face tightening in pain, and Stiles’s heart leaped into his throat as he realized his claws had buried deep into his shoulder. He made a strangled noise, stumbling backward again, and Derek started to move forward.
Stiles raised his hands, blood on his fingers.
“Don’t, Derek, oh my god, please don’t. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to, I didn’t mean to—”
“Stiles,” the man said, cutting him off. “I know.”
Stiles just shook his head again. He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t go home like this but he also clearly couldn’t stay around the loft. He had to go somewhere far away. Maybe he could leave Beacon Hills or lock himself up somewhere deep and dark. Away from all of those he could possibly hurt.
Stiles felt sick. His head spun and his throat constricted. He ran his fingers through his hair and whined— actually whined— feeling the urge to maybe run or change or shift—
Stiles looked sharply back up. Derek’s eyes had turned red again and Stiles knew from first-hand experience that would often make the betas submit. But he didn’t feel a single urge to back down or flash his throat. Instead, he snarled and flashed his own eyes and to his surprise, Derek moved back a little, the red bleeding away from his own.
Stiles blinked a few times, dropping his gaze to the ground. He was trembling, he realized. But before he could even react to that, Derek was stepping forward and there were careful fingers underneath his chin, tilting his face up.
“Stiles, you’re okay. You hear me? You’re okay.”
“I don’t feel okay, Derek.”
“I know,” the man said. “But you’re in control and you can keep it. Okay? Tell me your anchor. Have you figured that out yet?”
“M-my dad, I think. I don’t know, I haven’t tested it out yet, I can’t stop the shift from happening—”
“Hey,” Derek said, cutting through his panic again. Stiles looked up, meeting the man’s firm gaze and this time, it was human. No red, no bleeding, no alpha-voice or shifting expressions. Just Derek. Derek and his grey-green eyes, locking on Stiles’s like they were determined to keep him in place. Stiles breathed out shakily and focused on that, on them. On Derek and his gentle touch underneath Stiles’s chin, keeping him steady where he stood.
“It's okay, Derek. I’m okay.”
“Okay,” Derek said quietly. “It’s going to be overwhelming for the next few days. But if you can, I’d like to know how it happened. How long, how many shifts you’ve gone through, how much you remember.”
“Nothing,” Stiles said. When Derek looked confused, Stiles ground his teeth together and glared at the ground. “It happened two days ago. I don’t think I shifted at all the first night and I wasn’t planning on doing so last night. I didn’t mean to fall asleep.”
Derek’s face softened with what could only be called pity. Stiles hated it.
“I didn’t want this, Derek.”
“I don’t want to be this.”
The man visibly flinched a little at that. Stiles figured he should feel bad— because wasn’t this Scott’s same reaction when he’d been turned? Stiles had always been on the outside looking in. He’d never understood exactly what the boy was going through. But suddenly, Stiles felt like he was being thrown through a loop. He wasn’t an outsider anymore. He wasn’t the token human or the ‘boy who ran with wolves’.
Stiles was a wolf. He’d never wanted to be a wolf.
It was going to kill his dad.
“Let me guess, Sourwolf,” Stiles said, attempting a smile. “The bite is a gift?”
The man’s face didn’t change. “You killed an alpha. Didn't you?”
Stiles felt sick all over again. He closed his eyes and realized he’d started to tremble again. His stomach twisted and churned as he remembered the deformation of the alpha’s skull. The blood that had dripped from his lips and the feeling of ripping the man’s throat out with his own claws.
Stiles had killed the alpha. It was that or him.
Maybe it should have been him.
“Stiles,” Derek said quietly. “I need you to talk to me.”
“No,” Stiles said. “I uh… no, Derek. Not now. I need somewhere to stay and I need to be far away from my dad. The full moon is coming up and unless I have control by then, I can’t go anywhere. Not anywhere that he might be.”
Derek looked sad. But still, the man nodded, and Stiles risked meeting his eyes again. The grey-green and smell of warmth. Of pine.
His head felt a little more clear. Stiles swallowed hard. “Can I stay here?”
“Even with the betas?”
The man nodded quietly. Stiles offered a small smile and hesitated before ducking back around him. He was terrified; there was no lying about that. Stiles was truly and utterly terrified and he had no idea what was coming. But he knew he had to figure things out. He had to keep his dad safe. Stiles had to keep his dad safe from himself.
That was a terrible, terrible thought.
Stiles didn’t like being left alone with Peter.
Derek left to ‘clear some things up with Deaton’ which Stiles also didn’t like the sound of. But he hated it even more because now he was left with the Creeperwolf himself, glaring every time the man even dared breathe.
Peter seemed perfectly fine with them being left alone.
The werewolf kept giving him calm, smirking looks and Stiles hated it. He fixed his eyes straight ahead and refused to look back. Refused to retaliate. To even acknowledge the Creeperwolf’s existence at all.
Peter broke the silence first.
Stiles hated him. “Shut up.”
“Oh, you’re sounding more and more like Derek as time goes on.”
Stiles snarled at nothing, feeling a bit of fang poking at his lower lip. He quickly tried to force it away; thinking about his dad. About the tired, exasperated face he always got when Stiles was up to new mischief. The way the man used to hold him close and talk him through nightmares after his mother’s death.
Stiles focused on those things as hard as possible. But it was only when Peter’s voice caught his attention again and Stiles thought about how he wished Derek was here to kill his uncle, that he started feeling calm again.
The other man was watching him in amusement, head tilted a little. “Looks like you nearly lost it there, Stiles.”
“What, do you want me to kill you?”
“Well, I wouldn’t be your first.”
Stiles flinched violently. He curled his fingers into the couch cushions and debated ripping Peter's throat out just because. Surely Derek wouldn’t miss his uncle that bad. Peter chuckled.
“Relax, Stiles, I’m not going to try and provoke you.”
“Oh, that’s not what this is?”
“You’re more on edge than usual,” Peter said, shrugging. He clasped his hands behind his head and relaxed back into his chair, throwing his feet up on the coffee table. “It’s unnerving.”
“Well, excuse me for being a little anxious about all of this.”
“It’s not like it’s much new,” Peter said. Stiles narrowed his eyes at the man and Peter smiled, all teeth. “Don’t tell me you haven't seen it before. Who do Derek’s betas go to when they need a shoulder to cry on? Who does Derek turn to for the big decisions? Certainly not Scott. Consider this as an upgrade with improved healing and fangs, not a new status.”
Stiles continued to stare. He’d like to say he understood a single word that had just come out of the man’s mouth but that would be a lie.
Peter rolled his eyes. “I wonder how you’re still alive sometimes, Stiles.”
Stiles grunted and turned his eyes away again. He tried to focus on anything else. The holes in the wall, the irritating crack that cut off mid-way across the ceiling. The bookshelf full of old authors that Stiles couldn’t believe Derek would be caught dead reading. The scents of the betas clinging to the furniture, the scent of home that seemed to suffocate him, the feeling of being watched—
Stiles glared back over at Peter. The man smirked.
“I’m about to commit murder.”
“Shut the hell up,” Stiles hissed. He felt his eyes bleed to red, felt his claws sharpen and dig into the couch cushions. But Peter only looked more amused. And more… hungry.
It hit Stiles like a punch then.
“You want it,” he said, words a snarl. “You want the alpha spark, don’t you?”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“What,” Stiles said, shoving himself up. “What’s your game, huh, Creeperwolf? How do you want this to go? Wait, let me guess. You rile me up, get me mad, I lose control and attack, right? Then it’s only self-defense. Derek can’t kill his last remaining family member for protecting himself.”
“You fail to understand what Derek would do for you.”
Stiles snarled. “Shut the hell up.”
“What, am I lying, Stiles?” Peter rested his hands on his chest, raising an eyebrow. He didn’t look perturbed at all, even at the way the air had changed so quickly. “You can hear my heartbeat now, alpha. Tell me if I’m lying. Listen real hard and tell me it’s a lie when I say that Derek would kill anyone who touched a hair on your head.”
Stiles was across the room in a second, catching Peter by the neck and pinning him to the wall. The man’s eyes flashed bright blue but he only grinned wickedly, delight in his expression. Stiles snarled, flashing his own eyes red. “I said shut up.”
“But it feels good, doesn’t it? The strength, the power. There is nothing I want to take from you, Stiles, but even if I did, Derek would hunt me down and rip my throat out for a second time if I did. But you know I wouldn’t. You can feel it, can’t you? The pack bond.”
“I don’t want any sort of bond! Especially to you.”
“Your wolf has already decided against that, Stiles.”
Stiles tightened his grip and watched his claws start to poke at the tender flesh of Peter’s neck. It sent him back two years when Stiles was the one in this position. Dragged off of the lacrosse field, leaving Lydia to bleed out. A pair of claws underneath his chin and the whispered threats of a maniac in the night.
Peter seemed to read his thoughts because the man’s face tightened. “I was out of my mind.”
“I could kill you,” Stiles said. “Kill you for everything you’ve done.”
“Well, Deucalion did agree that was the best way to gain power.”
Stiles’s throat tightened. He came snapping back to himself like a rubber band stretched too far, the anger and rage dissipating. But before he could make a move, say another word, the door behind him slammed open and the scent of metal, perfume, anger, came flooding into the loft.
Stiles yanked away from Peter, stumbling back. When he turned around, Scott was looking at him in horror.
Stiles stiffened in panic. Crimson bled into his best friend’s eyes and Scott stalked forward, anger on his face.
“You are different. You have changed. Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
“I didn’t— I didn’t want—”
“You killed someone!”
Stiles flinched like he’d been slapped. But before he could react, Peter was stepping between them with a snarl on his lips. It wasn’t aimed at anyone except Scott, though, and the boy blinked in confusion at that.
“I'm afraid I can’t do that.”
Scott scowled, looking at Stiles over the man’s shoulder. “Does your dad know?”
“You can’t tell him yet, Scott. You can’t tell him.”
“He could be in danger!”
“I’m learning to control it!”
“Oh,” Scott said. “Like you obviously controlled it with Peter? You were about to kill him!”
Stiles swallowed hard, shaking his head. “I wouldn’t have… I wouldn’t...”
“Scott,” Peter said calmly. “I suggest you leave.”
“There’s not room for three alphas in Beacon Hills,” Scott said, ignoring him. Stiles stared.
“What do you want me to do then?”
“Get rid of it.”
“I can’t just get rid of it, Scott! Don’t you think I would have done that if I could?”
Scott just clenched his jaw. Stiles felt a little weak, like he wasn’t quite sure how much longer he could stay upright. This wasn’t losing control, he didn’t think. It was losing hope. It was losing his best friend.
“Your dad needs to know,” Scott said, retreating back. “And you need to stay away from him, and me, and Allison. Until it’s gone. Until you’re better.”
“So it's an infection then?”
“It isn’t you.”
“I didn’t ask for it, Scott! You’re the exact same!”
“I earned what I have,” Scott said, a snarl in his voice. He was still backing away. Making for the doors and Stiles was almost terrified to let him leave. Scott would tell his dad and his dad would never forgive him for keeping another secret. “I earned mine and you stole yours.”
Stiles didn’t move. Didn't say a word. Scott reached the door, turning around, but paused a moment more. When the boy turned back, his expression was almost piteous.
“I just want to do what’s best for you. You’re my best friend, Stiles. My human best friend.”
But Stiles couldn’t get the words out. And then Scott was gone.
Stiles’s knees buckled and he hit the floor hard. Because this wasn’t losing control, he thought. This wasn’t losing his hold. This was losing a pack.
And it felt like Stiles had lost a limb with it.
Derek gave the betas permission to come back to the loft later on that day and showed up before they did. The first thing he noticed was the assault of scents; the pain, the anger, the despair. The second thing he noticed was Peter lounging on the couch and the terrifying emptiness of Stiles.
Derek straightened. Peter glanced up from his book, raising an eyebrow.
“It’s about time you’re back, nephew.”
“Where the hell is Stiles?”
“Currently?” Peter glanced back down at his book. “Curled up in your bedroom dealing with the loss of his best friend and previous alpha. Well done telling him about Stiles’s shift, by the way.”
“He wasn’t very happy when he showed up.”
Derek stared for a moment. The only person he’d gone to was Deaton and… oh. Of course. Derek ground his teeth together and scented the room, but couldn’t find any traces of blood. So there hadn’t been a fight, at least.
“Mr. McCall doesn’t seem to appreciate his best friend becoming a murderer to attain an alpha spark.”
“We don’t even know what happened.”
“No,” Peter said. “We don’t. Because you keep failing to talk to the boy, Derek. He’s not going to retain control forever, you know, if he can’t even rely on his own anchor.”
“He refuses to see his father.”
“I wasn’t talking about his father, Derek.”
Derek blinked in confusion at the man but Peter didn’t even glance back up from his reading. With a small growl, Derek stalked past and moved into his room. It was cracked shut and when he slowly moved inside, he saw a bundle curled up on the bed. It didn’t seem to be moving but Derek could smell the scent of Stiles and hear the steady rhythm of his heartbeat.
He moved across the room carefully, sinking down onto the edge of the bed. Stiles didn’t move.
“It feels like losing a limb,” Stiles mumbled. Derek flinched. “That’s what your uncle had told me. I never understood it until now.”
“I should have realized Deaton would let Scott know.”
Stiles pushed down the covers and peered at him. The boy’s eyes were bloodshot and his face was pale. He smelled sick, even though Derek knew that’s not what it was. Stiles searched his face and then shook his head. “He’s going to tell my dad.”
“My dad is going to hate me.”
“No, Stiles,” Derek said softly. “I don’t think he will.”
“I lied to him.”
“He’ll forgive you.”
“He shouldn’t. Not again.”
Derek was quiet for a moment. Then carefully, he slipped into the bed next to Stiles and looked gently at him. The boy didn’t move. He just looked tired.
“I’ve kept more secrets than I can count,” Derek murmured. “I didn’t… I never told Laura about Kate. I couldn’t, not after the fire. I couldn’t tell her that the death of our entire family had been my fault.”
Stiles’s eyelashes fluttered. Derek swallowed hard.
“But I like to think she would have forgiven me. Laura loved her family and her pack more than anything else. She never would have anything hurt them. She would have made a good alpha.”
“I didn’t want this, Derek.”
“I know, Stiles.”
“He was going to kill me.”
Derek tensed. Stiles’s scent changed, turning even more sour, and the boy didn’t meet his gaze. He smelled wrong. He smelled guilty.
“He came here to challenge you. For territory or leadership… but he found me instead. He said things, Derek. And then he tried to kill me.”
Derek stayed quiet. Stiles looked nauseous, eyes looking blankly at nothing.
“I ripped his throat out with his own claws.”
“I’m sorry, Stiles.”
“I don’t want my dad to hate me, Derek,” Stiles said brokenly. “I don’t want Scott to hate me. I was so scared. I thought the pack would be angry. I killed a man. I killed someone.”
“You protected yourself.”
Stiles flinched. “Maybe I shouldn’t have.”
Derek’s chest hurt. He wanted to pull the boy into his arms and brush gentle fingers through his hair. He wanted to tell Stiles that everything was going to be okay. He was going to be alright. But instead, he laid there quietly and watched Stiles break in front of him, feeling more helpless than ever.
The silence reigned for a moment. Then Derek wet his lips.
“Do you know what happened? During your shifts?”
“I don’t remember anything.”
“Your wolf,” Derek said quietly. “It’s beautiful, Stiles.”
The boy’s amber eyes searched his face. Derek wasn't used to Stiles being the one to read his heartbeats but after a moment, Stiles’s face softened a little. “I don’t want to hate it.”
“It might take some time.”
Derek raised an eyebrow. Stiles studied his face and then lowered his gaze again.
“I don’t think my dad is my anchor.”
“Is it an emotion?”
“No,” Stiles said quietly. Derek blinked and studied his face, but Stiles was very firmly avoiding his gaze now. He resisted the urge to reach out and touch the boy’s face, focusing on the question at hand instead. His thoughts went to Scott for a moment, but that clearly wasn’t it. Derek remembered Lydia then. And he hated how his heart sunk a little.
“Stiles, do you know what your anchor is?”
“I think so.”
“Can you tell me?”
“I don't know," the boy said softly. "Would it be okay, Derek? If it was someone other than my dad?”
“Even if it was someone who might not want it?”
Derek furrowed his brows, studying the boy. Stiles finally looked up nervously, searching Derek’s face once more. Quietly, Derek nodded and Stiles wet his lips.
“I might need you around, Derek. Through all of this, if that’s okay.”
Derek looked blankly at him. Stiles dropped his gaze again.
“If that’s okay.”
Then it hit him like a truck. Derek didn’t know how to react for a second but at the same time, his wolf was howling for joy. Stiles smelled terrified and Derek finally gave in to his earlier wants and pulled the boy in close, gentle fingers tracing along the back of his neck as he tucked Stiles’s face into his chest.
Stiles tensed for a moment and then sighed, relaxing into the embrace. If possible, that made Derek’s chest grow even tighter. He wanted to hold the boy close and never let go. There were thoughts spinning through his mind of Stiles, mine, and alpha and Derek just closed his eyes, holding him close. Letting Stiles tremble against his skin.
Stiles’s breaths were warm on his chest. Derek turned his face into the boy’s hair and inhaled deeply before nodding.
“Me too, Stiles.”
Stiles startled. Whined softly. And then went lax. Derek held him a little tighter.
And just for a little bit, nothing else mattered.
When Stiles woke up the next morning, the bed was empty. He blinked up at the ceiling a few times, the events of yesterday hitting him like a sledgehammer, and then he groaned, turning his face into the pillow. It still smelled like Derek; aftershave, mint, and pine.
Alpha, right, and his.
Stiles closed his eyes and took a trembling breath. When he finally shoved himself up and ran a hand through his hair, plodding out of the bedroom, he went stock-still to realize the apartment was not empty.
The betas were back, looking at him with wide eyes. And standing behind them, standing next to Derek, was his father. The man looked a little sad and a little tired. But it was him. He was here. Stiles faltered back.
Stiles was moving before he could stop himself, crashing into his dad’s open arms and wrapping his hands around his neck. He buried his face into his shoulder and just let the feelings and scents crash over him. The smell of burnt coffee and old car and floor cleaner. The smell of the Sheriff’s office and every scent he carried of home. Stiles let that relax him and bring him down from the edge, nearly melting into the comfort of it all.
“I’m here, Stiles,” the man said softly. “I’m here, kiddo.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“There’s nothing you have to apologize for.”
“I killed a man,” Stiles said, pulling back. “Dad, I killed someone. I killed them and things are different now and I know Scott said I should stay away but—”
“Hey,” his dad said, cutting him off. “You have nothing to apologize for Stiles, do you understand me? I prefer my son in one piece and I swear to god, I would have killed the man myself who dared try and hurt you. The only thing that matters is you’re alright. You’re still here.”
“I’m not alright anymore, dad.”
One of the betas whined. Stiles flinched.
“I’m sorry I lied.”
Once more, he was being pulled close. Stiles closed his eyes and swallowed hard, tracing careful fingers over the back of the man's neck. It felt right, somehow. Stiles didn't want him to ever smell different.
Stiles pulled back only to find himself being wrapped in a different pair of arms. Erica, tracing his nose over Stiles’s collarbone. Isaac whining softly as he wrapped himself around Stiles’s back. Boyd moving closer with a small smile on his face.
Everything from yesterday slowly died away. The pain, the loss. Stiles found his chest growing full of everything here that was right. Comforting.
It felt like home.
Stiles met Derek’s gaze over Erica’s shoulder and the man nodded once, arms crossed. Stiles met his dad’s gaze then, as the man’s eyes went from him to Derek, and then back. He’d been so terrified of what he might see in his father’s eyes. The anger or pain or disappointment. But the Sheriff’s eyes only crinkled and he nodded too, and Stiles nearly melted into the floor.
He was safe here. He hadn’t felt safe since the alpha attacked and Stiles had been pretty sure his entire life was ending. Even if he hadn’t been killed, he’d seen the endpoint from there.
Something in Stiles’s chest felt like howling. His eyes flickered red and he closed them softly, not to block away the light. Only to drink up the comforts around him more.
Warmth, safety, home.
Pack, family, his.
Stiles stood on the edge of the preserve and gazed out at the fading sun, waiting for the full moon to slowly rise. Blood thrummed in his ears and nerves itched underneath his skin and he fought the urge to turn and run away every time it hit, keeping his gaze fixed firmly ahead.
Derek stepped beside him, one hand gently covering the back of Stiles’s neck.
"It’s going to be alright.”
“I know,” Stiles said, turning to look at him. “I’m not worried about that.”
The man raised an eyebrow and Stiles felt his face grow warm, turning to face the horizon again. The coming darkness called to him like a hand around his heart and tugging. Stiles closed his eyes and breathed in deep, feeling all the scents around him.
He’d never known how much he was missing. All the things he’d never noticed before. Derek’s fingers flexed on the back of his neck.
“You’re gonna be good at this.”
Stiles smiled, eyes flitting over to the man's face. “Well duh, dude. I have my anchor with me.”
The man chuckled. The very sound made Stiles’s heart leap. He leaned into Derek’s touch and let the man guide his head sideways, foreheads touching together. Stiles closed his eyes and just smiled, red glowing behind his eyelids. Derek shivered a little. “Alpha.”
“Mine,” Stiles said again, moving forward to brush his lips against Derek’s. “And yours.”
Derek smiled against his lips. In the trees behind them, the sound of distant but familiar howls filled the air and Stiles felt the grip around his heart tighten. The pull grew stronger. He shuddered and felt fangs sliding down, nipping lightly at Derek’s lower lip. The man laughed, drawing back, and then Stiles was letting the shift take over.
Soon, he was looking at a giant black wolf with bright red eyes. Stiles grinned all teeth and nipped at him before taking off with a loud bark, ignoring the growl at his back. He made for the preserve, the greenery blurring around him as he raced toward the pull of the moon.
Scents washed over him. Dirt, running water, his distant pack. The moon, the falling dusk, the distant sound of his dad’s car running as he waited on the edge of the preserve. Derek, the giant black wolf loping next to him.
Warmth, safety, home.
Pack, family, his.
It was all his.