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For as long as he could remember, Stiles had been the quirky but undeniably smart kid in the room. His peers hadn’t known him well – all of them bar Scott, of course – but they had known that.

They knew he aced his tests and barely ever had to work in class, which was a good thing since his attention span was close to zero. They knew he was the only reason Scott studied at all, and they knew the only person who could match his grades was Lydia Martin. They knew teachers loved him for his natural abilities but couldn’t stand his inability to focus.

Stiles’ supposed intelligence had influenced a good chunk of his life, of his interactions with other people, of his friendships. Scott always leaned on him when he needed help, because he trusted Stiles to do right by him and come up with a somewhat-sane plan. His dad relied on his good grades to grant them a scholarship when the time came for him to apply for college.

His new friends – friends being a very loose term, since Stiles wasn’t sure they even liked him – had caught onto his smarts just as fast as everyone else, and Stiles had once again become the one they trusted to help them with just about everything.

Unfortunately the one thing everyone forgot to take into account was that, for all that he was objectively smart, Stiles also tended to be oblivious when it came to what other people deemed obvious.

He hadn’t realised Scott and he were best friends until his dad had asked him about that ‘best buddy’ of his completely seriously, talking about that kid he had met at school three months earlier. He hadn’t realised he could have crushes on people until Scott had told him about the way he watched Lydia, a small and awed smile on his face. He hadn’t even realised how bad his mom had gotten, how close she was to leaving him, until he was holding her hands in his and watching the life drain out of her eyes.

So really, someone should have known he would walk into the Hale pack the same way he walked into everything else in his life: completely unaware. They should have known he wouldn’t realise something was going on until everything single sign in the world was pointed in the obvious answer’s direction.

But no one did, which meant Stiles was left to struggle through what felt like months of strange behaviours both on his part and everyone else’s around him.

At first, it had just been the way Scott was a little more tactile, a little more prone to getting his hands on Stiles when he was around. He had put that off to Scott being a werewolf and had, for the most part, been right. So when their other friends – Isaac then Erica and Boyd, Jackson, even Derek and eventually the little wolves like Liam – started doing the same thing, he didn’t think anything of it.

He also didn’t think anything of it when he started doing it. So what if he liked to cuddle with his friends a little more than necessary? So what if he liked taking in their scents and letting them wash over him soothingly? Their friendships had always been weird, so Stiles just chalked it up to another quirk in his life.

After that, the clues had kept piling up without Stiles ever realising there were clues to find. The way he was always antsy when none of his friends were around. The way he listened to Derek even when his plans to deal with problems were absolutely ridiculous. The way he preferred sleeping with someone rather than without, even though he had always been the type to hate company before. He hadn’t noticed the absurdity of it all, because all of his friends had been doing it too.

Of course, his brain had forgotten that his friends also happened to be werewolves.

In the end, the moment that changed it all for him was a party. His dad had left the house for an entire week, and his friends had jumped on the opportunity to organise a party. He had let Lydia and Erica do most of the planning, only checking in with them to make sure they weren’t inviting the entire school.

He had felt jumpy the entire time they had talked about the party but had thought he was just nervous about his father finding out and grounding him for life. When people had started showing up to his house for the event of the month, however, he had quickly realised something else was up. He was highly strung, and not in the way that would suggest he was just worried about his dad coming back early.

No, he was anxious, itchy and, although he wanted to party with his friends, he found himself locked up in his bedroom barely twenty minutes into the night. He had known he wouldn’t get away with it and wasn’t even surprised when Isaac showed up ten minutes later, his eyes wide and inquisitive.

Of course they had sent Isaac. He was the hardest one to say no to, and all of his friends knew it.

“You smell wrong,” he said as he walked into the room and threw himself onto Stiles’ bed, his head resting on the brunet’s lap. Instantly – inexplicably – Stiles felt himself settle slightly. “What’s up with you? I know you were excited about tonight, even though you were worried about the Sheriff, but now… It smells like you’re about to jump out of your own skin.”

“You can smell that?” Stiles gaped, rolling his eyes when Isaac levelled him with a ‘duh’ kind of look. “Don’t act as though that’s normal, dude; I wasn’t aware you guys could smell my different levels of anxiety.”

“Of course we can,” Isaac huffed. “How else would we be able to take proper care of you? You can’t smell us, so the least we can do is make sure we can smell you at all times. Derek basically gave us a training session when the pack truly formed and he stopped being so afraid of seeing us all at once.”

“Huh,” Stiles said, gratitude and warmth flooding him as he thought about Derek, actively trying to protect him and make sure he was safe. “That’s sweet of you guys.”

“I- I guess it is,” Isaac said, clearing his throat as though he wasn’t sure what to do with the feelings Stiles was projecting his way. “That’s not the point, though. The point is that I can smell something’s up, and so can the others, which means something is definitely wrong given how bad Erica usually is at this. So come on, what is it?”

“I don’t know,” Stiles sighed, raising his hands placatingly when Isaac threw a disbelieving look his way. “I swear, I have no idea what’s going on. I was completely fine before the party, even though I wasn’t sure about having everyone here whilst my dad is away, but… Look, I wish I could tell you what was wrong so we could all find a way to fix it, but I can’t. All I know is this room is the only place I want to be in right now, so I’m going to stay until you clear the place out.”

He didn’t notice how strange his words were until they were out in the open and Isaac was nodding at him as though he was making complete sense. Something about them sounded familiar, but he couldn’t quite place it. It was almost as though he had already heard someone say something along those lines, which was strange because those words were absolute nonsense. Thankfully, Isaac seemed to have enough of a clue for the both of them, because he nuzzled into Stiles’ stomach for a second longer before standing and smiling at the brunet softly.

“It’s the first time you have people over since the pack got together,” was the only thing Isaac said before leaving, and it really didn’t help Stiles any more than the rest of their strange and short conversation.

He wasn’t wrong, of course, since Stiles rarely had anyone other than the members of Derek’s pack over, but it didn’t explain why Stiles was feeling so… So what, exactly? He wasn’t sad about the party, and he definitely wasn’t angry either. He wasn’t nervous about people breaking things, because he had threatened all of his friends lengthily at the beginning of the night. He wasn’t annoyed at anyone, wasn’t worried about the alcohol or the cops or anything at all.

He was just anxious and, although Isaac seemed to understand what was going on, Stiles didn’t. Which obviously brought him to the conclusion that it was a werewolf thing. Or at least Isaac thought it was a werewolf thing and had inadvertently applied it to Stiles, forgetting that, unlike the rest of their merry little band of friends, he was very much human.

Still, it couldn’t hurt to try and understand whatever theory Isaac had come up with whilst Stiles rambled. The only thing he had explained was how anxious he felt and how his bedroom felt like a safe space compared to the rest of the house. His bedroom, in which he was mostly isolated from the party’s noises, and in which there was no one other than himself. Himself and the memories of his friends.

His friends, whom he had never had a problem with having around. They had shown up one day, all at once, and he hadn’t even hesitated before letting them into his house and his life, even though they had only spent time at Derek’s before. He knew his friends were different for many reasons, but none of them should have been big enough to explain the slight panic crawling underneath Stiles’ skin.

Someone opened his bedroom door and he startled – badly – as Scott stepped into the room fully and stared at him with concern written all over his face. Stiles still wasn’t sure what his spike of anxiety was about, but his friends clearly did, and they were also clearly determined to make sure he was alright.

“Are you okay in here?” Scott asked, his voice warm and familiar and exactly what Stiles needed. He didn’t even realise he had made some sort of distressed noise until Scott was smiling fondly and climbing into bed with him, lacing their legs together and resting his head on Stiles’ shoulder. “Yeah, I know it’s not fun the first time. Well, it’s never really fun, but the first time is the worst. There are all these scents that shouldn’t be there, all these people that don’t belong, and your brain just goes into over- Why are you looking at me like you have no idea what I’m talking about?”

“Because I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Stiles answered simply, frowning at his best friend when he leaned away and stared at Stiles seriously. “What’s going on, man? Isaac seemed to know what was up with me, and you do to, but I honestly don’t know what’s up.”

“You don’t? But the scents-” Stiles cut him off before Scott could get any further than that, not particularly wanting to sit through a stumbling explanation of what was happening.

“I can’t smell anything different, Scott,” Stiles reminded him, gesturing at himself as though the simple movement was enough to explain everything. Thankfully, because he was Stiles and Scott was Scott, it was enough.

“Oh, right, human,” Scott pursed his lips, opened his mouth, shut it again, and then shrugged inelegantly. “Then I don’t know, man, maybe it’s just your anxiety acting out?”

“Maybe,” Stiles said slowly, not quite as willing as Scott to dismiss whatever was going on in his mind. “Just tell me, why were you bothered the first time you had people at your house after… After the pack came together, I guess?”

“Well, it didn’t feel right,” Scott said simply, as though his answer was completely obvious. When Stiles only stared at him blankly, he flailed around for a few moments before grunting and sprawling himself out on Stiles’ bed. “It’s not something I can really explain, especially not to someone who can’t smell scents the way I can, but… My house smells like the pack, alright? It smells like everyone mixed together, and it smells like home, so when other people came, I freaked out. I got…”

“Territorial?” Stiles suggested, his eyebrows flying up as he realised that was exactly what he had been feeling all night, no matter how impossible that was. Impossible, because he wasn’t a fucking werewolf who relied on his senses and created himself a den out of nowhere. “Yeah, I think it’s fair to say that’s not what’s going on with me, especially if it’s a pack thing.”

“If it’s a werewolf thing, you mean,” Scott corrected him.

Stiles’ frown deepened as he thought over his own words and wondered why Scott had felt the need to replace pack by werewolf. Yes, part of the reason why he couldn’t feel territorial was because he couldn’t smell things the way Scott and the others could. But the main reason why he couldn’t feel territorial was because he wasn’t part of the pack, not in the way the others were, so there was no reason for him to freak out about the extra people in the house.

Well, no reason but his ever-looming anxiety. Maybe Scott was right; maybe it was just a bad case of him panicking over nothing again. Maybe he was just feeling jumpier than usual and didn’t want to see anyone other than his friends.

He tried not to think about why his friends were so good at calming him, tried not to connect the dots between what Scott was saying and all the little quirks he had noticed over the past few months, but he knew he was failing miserably. Even as Scott spoke, telling him to just relax and forget about everyone else, telling him they would kick everyone out before one, telling him they would be around to get him through it, Stiles’ mind was elsewhere.

He was feeling territorial.

He didn’t want anyone in his house, because his mind believed the space belonged to his dad, himself, and the Hale pack. The pack he couldn’t be a part of because he was human. Except…

Except he wasn’t sure that was completely true, and he was starting to think he had been living in denial for the past few months, and he wasn’t sure he appreciated that. He wasn’t sure he appreciated the thought of having been as clueless as he always was, just when he had started to think he was past that aspect of his personality. He had thought, after the whole werewolf thing, he would start seeing things for what they truly were.

Surely, he would have noticed if he had somehow been taken in by a pack of wolves, right? He would have noticed that level of comfort, the participation in pack activities, the deference to an Alpha, the need to be around his packmates, the scent-marking, the closeness, the-

Shit.

It had been right there in front of him. It had been so obvious that none of his friends had thought informing him was a necessity. It had been so clear to everyone else that none of them had even thought for a second that Stiles might not be aware.

When Stiles was done having his internal crisis over whether or not he was part of a werewolf pack and whether or not that was the reason he was feeling so antsy about the party, he was going to kill Scott. His best friend should know better than to trust Stiles’ instincts, since they were often completely shot when it came to the obvious things in his life.

For now, though, he only waved Scott out of his room and sent off a text to the only person who could help him with this new and slightly disturbing information. His friends – his pack, his mind whispered quietly – were all busy getting drunk on wolfsbane and having fun with the rest of their classmates, which meant Stiles could only bother one person.

And really, the fact that he was willing to talk to Derek Hale – of all people – about his problems was the only proof he needed to see how truly oblivious he had been this entire time.

 


 

Stiles wasn’t sure when he had begun trusting Derek Hale with his life and secrets.

He supposed it had happened around the same time he had started falling in love with the alpha, back when Derek had finally learned how to take care of a pack and a bunch of teenagers.

It wasn’t like Stiles had hated the man before. Sure, he hadn’t been sure about his intentions and had framed him for murder and had been a little bit of an asshole at times, but he had never hated Derek. He had also found him unfairly attractive, remarkably witty, and had been convinced there was something more to the surly werewolf than insults and snark and all those things he covered himself in.

And when Derek had finally proved that yes, there was something more to him, Stiles had been helpless to do anything other than fall for him. He hadn’t made it too obvious at first but, when he had realised the alpha hadn’t been opposed to spending time with him one-on-one… Well, Stiles hadn’t been about to deny himself the perfect opportunity to get to know the unfortunate object of his affections. Which, of course, was why Derek’s sudden appearance in his bedroom wasn’t a surprise.

He had learned months ago that Derek liked to utilise the windows rather than the doors. Everyone in the pack – his pack, his traitorous mind whispered again – had gotten used to it fairly quickly, and Stiles was no exception. And there it was, yet another piece of the puzzle Stiles was only just putting together.

“The others were right,” Derek wrinkled his nose in Stiles’ direction before closing the distance between the two of them and leaning over the bed, letting his head rest on top of Stiles’. “You smell even more anxious than you do when your father calls you in the middle of a meeting. You should have told us you didn’t want to host the party. You know we would have called it off immediately, right? The others may want to have fun once in a while, but they’ll always put your well-being first.”

Because that was what pack did went unsaid but for the first time, Stiles heard it clear as day.

“I didn’t know I was going to react like this,” Stiles murmured sheepishly, looking down at his sheets. He knew Derek wasn’t disappointed, but his heart always panged guiltily when he did something that made Derek and the rest of their friends mother him. “I just- I didn’t even realise- I was- Never mind. I didn’t think it would be like this; I just thought I was worried about my dad showing up or the cops calling him, or something like that.”

“We should have known,” Derek sighed, letting his fingers trail up and down Stiles’ arms lazily, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. Stiles knew – he knew – this was something Derek probably did with everyone else, but it still never failed to make his heart beat faster.

And now that he knew Derek probably considered him pack… Now that he knew he truly wasn’t alone anymore, that he had an actual group of people at his back who would do anything to see him safe and happy? He wasn’t sure his heart would ever stop racing around the alpha – his alpha.

Because the only person who could have truly made Stiles a part of the Hale pack was Derek. Derek, who had never given any indication that he cared about Stiles any more than he cared about the rest of the pack, who had never even tried to make it clearer that Stiles was pack, as much as the others were, even though he was a human.

And really, maybe that was it. Maybe the answer was as simple as that, for once. No one had thought to talk to Stiles about it, because they had assumed he would know the way the rest of them did. Because they were werewolves and their senses were heightened, and they could probably tell that he thought of them as family.

“When did I become pack?”

The words slipped out before Stiles could stop them. He was asking because he needed confirmation that he wasn’t making this all up, but mostly because he was curious and needed to know when Derek had first started thinking of him as someone worth saving, as someone he wanted by his side, as someone he might even trust, as-

“Stiles.” His name had always sounded better when it came from Derek, but something about his tone made this time different. It made it sound like his name itself was something to be cherished, and Stiles’ breath hitched when he pulled away from the alpha’s embrace and looking into those warm hazel-green eyes. “Stiles, you were always part of the pack. Is that what’s been bothering you tonight? Do you feel like we need to stake a bit more of a claim on you? Have we not been obvious enough about the scenting?”

Derek had never been much of a talker, even once he had opened up to the pack and started telling them about plans and pack business and little pieces of his life. However, he had always been the type to ask questions, especially if he knew the answers would make someone feel better, safer, heard. Stiles had been on the receiving end of his interrogations enough times that he knew lying would be an exercise in futility.

That didn’t mean he couldn’t try to stall Derek for a few minutes. If there was one thing he knew about his alpha – his mind preened happily – it was that Derek was weak for the people he cared about. And although Stiles had only just realised he had probably been a part of his pack all along, he had never doubted that Derek liked him, trusted him, and cared as much about him as he did their other friends.

So when he pulled out his best pout and puppy eyes, he knew Derek’s snort and complete lack of sympathy had nothing to do with him and everything to do with the fact that Derek knew his pack too well to be fooled by their antics. He sighed heavily and grinned unrepentantly in Derek’s direction; it had been worth a try.

“I hadn’t realised I was part of the pack,” he mumbled softly and quickly, wondering if there was a chance Derek’s super-hearing might have missed this particular tidbit of information.

There wasn’t, of course, and Stiles had to fight back a pained wince when Derek’s eyes widened incredulously. He knew now that he had been stupid, that he should have realised something was up as soon as his friends had started marking him and treating him the same way they treated each other. He should have, but he hadn’t, and now he was going to have to deal with a lifetime of teasing from his packmates.

Perhaps he would have been more frustrated at himself if his annoyance wasn’t erased by the reminder that he had packmates. His friends weren’t just his friends, couldn’t just abandon him when they found someone better, because they were his pack. They were the people he would always be able to trust, the same way they would always be able to trust him.

He had known that for months, of course, but he hadn’t realised the implications before that night, and now it felt like his heart was overflowing with love and repressed emotions and everything else he had denied himself.

He was human, incapable of scenting emotions, helpless in a physical battle, oblivious when it came to the things that truly mattered, and more than a little in love with his alpha, but he had a pack. For some reason, this group of supernaturals had chosen to take him in, and they had done it without hesitating. Not even for a moment.

Because not only was he part of Derek’s pack; he had been part of it all along.

“You hadn’t- What? Stiles, for god’s sake, even if it wasn’t for the fact that Scott would never have joined if you weren’t included, you were always going to be mi- ours,” Derek breathed out, shaking his head exasperatedly as Stiles bit down at his bottom lip to hide his delighted smile. If the werewolf thought Stiles had missed that slip-up, he was just as much of a fool as Stiles himself was. “Seriously, how could you not have known you were part of the pack? Is that why you were so oblivious to all of my attempts? And here I was thinking you were just being deliberately thick.”

“Your attempts at what?” Stiles frowned, suddenly wondering if his obliviousness had had more consequences than just a terrible party and a spike in his anxiety and – apparently – territorialism. “Am I missing something else here?”

“You’re missing a lot,” Derek chuckled. A year ago, Stiles would have called the sound unkind, but now all he could hear was fondness and a little something more he wasn’t quite ready to explore. “I should have known not to trust Scott when he told me you were aware of what was going on. And I should have known inviting you to pack meetings and making sure you had all our scents on you all the time wouldn’t be enough for you.”

“It is enough!” Stiles exclaimed, not wanting Derek to think he was ungrateful for everything he had been given over the past few months. All the advantages and the care and the friends and everything. “Seriously, buddy, you don’t need to worry about me not having enough when it comes to the pack. Except if you mean clues. Oh, you definitely meant you should have dropped more hints about me part of the pack, didn’t you? Forget about me, then. And just so you know, the only thing that would have made me realise I was part of this is an actual explanation. Seriously, all the clues in the world wouldn’t have helped with this.”

“But you figured it out tonight, didn’t you?” Derek raised his eyebrows, waving his hand at Stiles’ phone, the screen still lit up on their brief text conversation from a few minutes earlier. “Unless one of the others called you pack to your face and you finally made the connection, but I have a feeling that’s not the case.”

“Not really, no,” Stiles admitted. “But Isaac and Scott were both acting like me feeling territorial was completely normal even though I’m not a werewolf, and Scott mentioned something when I unconsciously excluded myself from the pack, and I just… How could I not know?”

“Well, you aren’t exactly the brightest person I know,” Derek sighed, as though it pained him to inform Stiles of such a thing. The younger man let out a low laugh and slapped Derek playfully, having learned how to tell Derek’s banter from his insults a long time ago. “And you’re also human, which means you don’t have the same cues as we do. You can’t smell yourself on us, and you can’t tell when the boys have their silent moments of posturing and try to include you even though you never really react, and you just don’t have the same instinctive reactions as we do. Pack is something you feel and, even though you could feel the connection between us, you couldn’t tell it was different than what you have with family or your other friends.”

Stiles didn’t correct him on the ‘other friends’ part of his speech, since Derek probably knew Stiles didn’t have any friends outside of the pack and was just trying to make a comparison that would help him understand. It did, so that was all that mattered. That and the fact that Stiles was part of a pack. A pack.

Who cared how long it had taken him to realise it, and who cared that he couldn’t feel everything the same way everyone else could? He was part of a pack, and Derek was his alpha, and he wasn’t feeling anxious because of his messed up brain, he was feeling anxious because his overprotective werewolf friends had rubbed off on him and scented his house to the point where even he felt like it was pack territory.

“So I’m not a werewolf, but I’m getting some of your traits just from hanging out with you guys?” Stiles asked, just to make sure. He didn’t think he was getting this wrong, but he also didn’t think he had all the information quite yet, so he wasn’t going to jump to conclusions too fast.

“In a way,” Derek answered slowly, cautiously, almost as though what he was going to say next was going to be even more mind-blowing than Stiles being part of his pack. “But it mostly has to do with spending time with me, specifically. You picked up on the protectiveness and the need to be with everyone from the entire pack, but anything scent and territory-related probably comes from me.”

“Because you’re my alpha?”

Derek shivered violently at that, and Stiles gulped at the desire he saw reflected in those dark eyes. He had known, subconsciously at least, that Derek wasn’t unattracted to him, but he had never payed quite as much attention to the man as he currently was, so he had never seen anything like the hunger and want painted all over his features at Stiles’ words.

He wondered if this was a regular thing, or if the name simply did that to Derek. He didn’t think so, since he never looked at Scott like that when he called him alpha, but who knew how Derek worked, honestly?

“No,” Derek answered, and Stiles’ eyebrows flew higher than he had thought was physically possible at the unexpected response. “Humans don’t get extra skills just because they spend time with werewolves or alphas. However, if they’re being courted by a wolf…”

He let his sentence trail off, and it took Stiles an embarrassing minute to catch onto what Derek was trying to say. Once he did, he gaped at the man widely and tried to make his mouth catch up to his mind. He needed to make sure he wasn’t misunderstanding anything, needed to make sure he wasn’t dreaming this whole thing up, needed to make sure Derek wasn’t making something up on the spot.

He swallowed past the dryness clogging his throat and spoke softly, his hands grasping at his sheets even as they yearned to close around the warm fabric of Derek’s shirt.

“You’re courting me?” He waited for a nod. “And you’ve been courting me for a while now.” Another nod. “And you thought I was… teasing you? By not answering.” Another nod, this time accompanied by a wry smirk. “Because you thought I knew about pack things and would realise you were doing something different, but I didn’t because I didn’t even realise what everyone else was doing wasn’t normal, but now that I think about it… Is that why you’re the only one who scent-marks my neck? Wait, is this why I’m not allowed to wear Scott’s clothes anymore? And is that what all the getting to know me and- Oh my god, Derek, have you been taking me out on dates?”

His mind flashed back to the numerous times when Derek had dragged him out of his bedroom without warning him beforehand and had led him to mysterious but beautiful places. Stiles had let himself dream that Derek had had romance in mind every single time, but then Derek would talk about the pack or mention something about the future or the threats gathering around Beacon Hills, and Stiles would assume it was nothing more than Derek being an alpha.

Except it hadn’t been, because Derek had been trying to show Stiles they could lead together – if he was reading the situation correctly this time, and he really thought he was. He had been trying to woo him, and Stiles had just wasted months of his life pining after someone who was apparently pining right back.

Maybe not pining, since Stiles couldn’t imagine Derek doing anything of the sort, but the sentiment was the same. They both liked each other, but Derek had been waiting for Stiles to acknowledge his offer of mating or courting or whatever, and Stiles had been waiting for the goddamned man to kiss him already, and they had reached a stalemate without even realising it.

“You could have just said something!” Stiles exclaimed, pushing Derek lightly and huffing when the alpha didn’t move an inch. “Dude, it took me two months to realise Erica and Boyd didn’t hate me, how did you guys not realise I was completely oblivious about everything else? How did you not realise I would have already accepted your offer to court me with your werewolf ways if I had been aware that was what you’d been trying to do?”

“Don’t blame this all on me,” Derek said gruffly, but Stiles could tell the tips of his ears were red and wasn’t fooled by his attempt to shove the responsibility on him, the one who had been – albeit accidentally – left out of the loop. “At the very least, the rest of the pack is also to blame.”

“I bet Lydia knew,” Stiles grumbled. “She’s not technically part of the pack yet, that much I know, but she’s also ridiculously perspective, and she probably found it hilarious to see the two of us floundering, so she just didn’t say anything. That traitor. I can’t believe I let her use my house to plan a party.”

“You wouldn’t have said no either way,” Derek pointed out, and Stiles gave into the urge to stick his tongue out childishly. He knew he wouldn’t have said no, but he was allowed to have a dramatic moment if he wanted one.

“I think the real lesson we can learn from all this is that your courting rituals need to be a tad more obvious,” Stiles said after a few seconds of silence during which he did nothing but stare at Derek, the man he loved in spite of his flaws – because of his flaws. The man who had apparently been just as interested, if not more, all along, but who hadn’t bothered to make his interest just a little bit clearer. “Seriously, going out with you felt like a strange mix between a date and a business meeting, and that’s- Exactly what a formal courtship offer sounds like.”

“I’ll admit I could have been slightly more assertive,” Derek appeased him, although something in his gaze was still a little too worried for Stiles’ taste. They had sorted out his anxiety, had fixed the issues he had had in his own mind, had confirmed that Stiles was part of the pack, so what was… Oh.

“You know I would have said yes from the very beginning if I had known, right?” Stiles murmured, looking up at Derek from underneath his eyelashes. The man was still half-standing, half-kneeling on Stiles’ bed, which gave Stiles the perfect vantage point to admire him. “I would have jumped on the opportunity to spend more time with you, even though I have a feeling this courtship is going to have a lot less making out than I might want.”

“You’re still a minor, Stiles,” Derek said matter-of-factly, and yes, Stiles knew that, but a man could dream. “However, you’re only a few months away from being eighteen, and if you’re still letting me court you by then, I’m sure I could find a way to twist our traditions until they allowed a little bit of kissing. For you, of course.”

“Ah yes, all for me,” Stiles laughed delightedly, pulling Derek down so he was sitting in front of him and burying himself in the alpha’s chest, sniffing sharply and trying to tell whether he was imagining his own scent mixed in with Derek’s or not. “Because you don’t want to kiss me.”

“Not at all,” Derek whispered, his breath ghosting against the shell of Stiles’ ear. “So I’ll take that as a yes?”

“Yes, you idiot,” Stiles chuckled softly, opening his mouth to say something else when Derek’s head snapped towards the door. “Wha-”

“You guys aren’t as discreet as you seem to think you are,” Derek said fondly, and Stiles couldn’t say he was surprised to see his friends pile into the room with sheepish but ecstatic looks on their faces as they glanced between Derek and Stiles. “Sometimes I wonder why I chose the lot of you to be my pack. I feel like my inner Alpha should be appalled.”

“But it isn’t,” Scott grinned, plopping himself onto the bed and shuffling everyone around until they could all fit on the dangerously fragile piece of furniture. Stiles just prayed it would hold up until his father came back. “Because you love us.”

“Unfortunately,” Derek rolled his eyes. When his gaze settled on Stiles again however, the two of them now separated by a soft-looking Isaac, his eyes were serious and glittering with something that looked suspiciously like- “I really do love you.”

And that was that.

Stiles had started the evening feeling unsettled and unsure, and he was finishing it surrounded by his packmates and the man who wanted to spend the rest of his life with him, even if it meant having to wait months before they could kiss. The party had winded down, everyone had been kicked out, and Stiles’ home was his home again.

He fell asleep to the sound of Derek’s familiar voice and a mix of smells he would recognise anywhere, werewolf senses or not, and Stiles had never felt like he belonged quite as much as he did that night.