“You ready to get going?” Stiles asked, not willing to move from where he laid.
Derek was stretched out beside Stiles, one arm slung over him as if to keep him close and his head buried in the space between Stiles’ shoulder and neck. As Stiles spoke Derek’s hold on him tightened a bit. “Don’t know,” he murmured, sighing into Stiles’ skin.
Stiles grinned, grabbing hold of Derek’s hand from where it was wound across him. He rubbed his thumb across Derek’s knuckles. “You think they’ll go for it?”
Derek took a pause—presumably to think. “I’m not sure. We’re a young pack with young members. And Scott is a very young Alpha. They might see that as—they may see us as childish.”
Stiles snorted, turning so that he was facing Derek, lacing their fingers together as he did. “Scott explained some of the resent occurrences in this area. He told them what we were capable.”
Derek leaned forward to press his forehead to Stiles’ as he breathed softly. “They might not believe him.”
“Then why’d they agree to meet?” Stiles demanded in a light tone.
“Don’t know,” Derek shrugged. “Doesn’t really matter. It’s not like we really need them. There are lots of packs we could create relationships with. Not as old, but that hasn’t really been our thing, has it?”
Stiles gave him a knowing look. “It matters to you so it matters to me.”
Derek tensed a bit, opening his eyes to look at Stiles. “How’d you know?” he asked in a bare whisper.
“Found a copy of the treaty in the vault. Why did you think I pressed it?” Stiles gave him a light kiss on the lips before shutting his own eyes again. “They were close to your family once upon a time. Some of the members probably knew your family pretty well—have some pictures or something. Of course it matters.”
Derek seemed to sink into the mattress. “Thanks.”
Stiles scooted closer to Derek, burrowing himself into his boyfriends’ warmth. “Yeah, yeah. You’d do the same for me.”
Derek smiled softly, moving his arms to help Stiles closer until they Stiles could rest his head between Derek’s neck and shoulder. “I’d do anything for you.”
“I know,” Stiles admitted, kissing Derek’s shoulder and then rubbing his cheek softly against the bigger man’s shoulder. “I love you.”
Derek shut his eyes again, content and happy. “I love you too.”
“We’re so sappy,” Stiles said, yawning. “It’s awesome.”
Derek snorted, turning his head then so he could rest his nose on the top of Stiles’ head, breathing in his scent. There was a long stretch of silence between the two of them before Derek broke it. “They probably won’t like you very much.”
“Who? The visiting pack? Is it because I’m human?”
Derek smirked at him, pushing up a bit to roll over a bit, looming over Stiles. “Because you’re a human that acts like he’s co-alpha with Scott.”
Stiles raised an eyebrow, smiling back. “Yeah? Scott needs help and I’m good at it. That offend their delicate wolfy egos?”
Derek leaned in close, flashing his eyes as he chuckled. “Something like that.”
Stiles shrugged and then wrapped his arms around Derek’s neck. “So I’ll sit this one out.”
“Hey,” Derek growled lowly. “That’s dumb. You wrote that damn agreement—this is all you. Besides, I don’t want to go without you.”
“I don’t want to screw this up,” Stiles muttered, frowning up at his boyfriend. “Quit frowning or your face will stay like that.”
“I want you there. And our Alpha would throw a hissy fit if you didn’t come. Scott needs you,” Derek pointed out. “Besides, you’d know if they tried pulling something.”
Stiles grinned up at him, pulling Derek down for a kiss. “Alright, alright. I’ll just stand back then. Unless something happens.”
Derek kissed him back, putting his hands on his hip, humming happily in agreement at the compromise.
“But what if I say something stupid?”
“Scott,” Stiles groaned, rubbing a hand down his face. “You’re going to be fine. Just don’t’ be rude. You’re a naturally nice guy. Should be easy.”
“I’ve been hanging out with you for too long! Sometimes I say really sarcastic, mean things!”
Stiles looked offended. “Hey! I’m not mean!”
“They’re coming,” Derek rumbled by Stiles’ ear. “And you’re a bit of an asshole.”
Stiles stuck his tongue out at Derek, before giving him a bright grin. “Jerk,” he muttered back, then turning back to look at Scott. “You’ll be fine, Scotty.” And then he stepped back up to stand beside Lydia, Kira and the others. He didn’t mind, not really. He was human and he was used to being underestimated. Besides, there was some truth in it. No, he wasn’t a werewolf and maybe some things were best left to those with claws.
Scott and Derek stood side by side, just in front of their pack when the Alpha and her second came to stand before them.
The visiting Alpha was a woman in her late thirties or early forties by the look of it. She stood with her shoulders pulled back like the string of a bow—as if the rest of her body were an arrow ready to strike. But her face was as friendly as it was fierce. Her mouth carved into a smile when she met Scott’s eyes.
Her second was a smaller girl with a thin body and long red hair. Her eyes were bright, narrowed and calculating. She stood less tight, not ready to move but as if she were already moving even as she held still.
“Welcome, Alpha Morrison, Beta Rogers to the Beacon Hill pack territory. We hope you have found everything…comfortable,” Scott said slowly, trying his hardest to stay calm. “I am Alpha Scott McCall and this is my second, Derek Hale. I’ve heard that you knew his family.”
The woman smiled with white teeth that seemed to catch the sun as she looked between the two wolves before her. “Thank you, Alpha McCall, it is a lovely area. And yes, I did know the Hale pack. Beacon Hills was once home to a very strong pack.”
“And it is again,” Derek said in what sounded like a fierce and strong. But his eyes were lit with something like pride.
Alpha Morrison glanced beyond Scott’s shoulder where Stiles and the rest of the pack stood. “Yes, we’ve read from your letters about your many…adventures these past years. But you are a young pack of a small size.”
Scott looked a moment to Derek before answering, “Perhaps we are small in size but we are a strong pack that has been through much together.”
“Mmm,” the Alpha hummed noncommittally, scanning the pack behind Scott now. “I’m sure it feels that way. You’re young kids and a couple of scraps can feel like an entire war when you’re so young.” She smiled then, as if she were not being incredibly condescending.
“It was nasty business after the fire,” she said, giving her attention to Derek. “I am sorry about your loss. And then with Peter. I can imagine that was very hard for you.”
Derek nodded shortly, muttering, “thanks” neatly from where he tensed up beside Scott.
“I must say I was impressed when I heard from a friend of mine about the Vodník. We heard one of your wolves figured out what it was and took it down without a single casualty,” she told him slowly. “That is why we have come to…consider an agreement between our two packs. We wanted to meet this wolf of yours for ourselves. To have a beta with such…potential is promising for your pack.” Her eyes raked over Derek again, appraising.
Scott scoffed softly, shaking his head the slightest. “Well, that’s not entirely accurate I’m afraid,” Scott told her, casting a look at Derek with amusement. “There was a Vodnik. But it wasn’t one of my betas.”
“No?” she questioned, not shaken by Scott’s amusement. “It was you then?” There was a calculating glint in her eyes, as if she were sizing Scott up.
Scott’s face pulled a deep grin and he shook his head again, “no, no that uh—that wasn’t a wolf. It was a human in the pack.”
Alpha Morrison raised a thin eyebrow in a questioning way before tilting her head to get a better look beyond Scott again.
Finally, Stiles rolled his eyes and stalked forward. He pushed past Scott a bit, slapping his best friend’s shoulder as he stood just in front of him so that he was between Scott and the Alpha, slumped in an unimpressive way with his hands buried deep in his hoodie pockets. “That would be me. Sorry, nothing really all that exciting.”
Derek tried to repress the grin that fought to peel across his face. Stiles was evidently as tired with this whole thing as he was. Good.
The second—Rogers tilted her head. “A human? You expect us to believe a human took down a creature that an entire, well-established pack would struggle with? We’re not that stupid.”
Stiles raised an eyebrow slowly. “Believe whatever you like. But I’m not a liar.”
The alpha regarded him with interest. “What is your purpose in the pack, Human?”
“Purpose?” Stiles repeated, shrugging. “Scott has been my best friend for a long, long time so it was only natural that I’m a part of his pack. But I’m just here for comic relief.”
Derek snorted at that, as if on cue, but the rest of the pack remained silent, no one daring to interrupt the long stare the Alpha was giving Stiles.
“From the sounds of how you handled that Vodník you don’t just sit on the sidelines.”
“Only in Lacrosse, Ma’am,” Stiles offered a small smile. “And when situations call for a more…delicate and formal touch than I’ve ever been capable of. I just want to make sure my pack is safe.” He looked back at his friends and his eyes went soft with fondness. “They’re not the brightest…”
“Hey!” Lydia shouted before she was shushed.
Stiles sent her an apologetic smile. “…but I’d do anything for these guys. That’s what pack is, right?”
Alpha Morrison inclined her head slightly. “You’ll have to excuse me, I am just a bit floored that you are…”
“Human?” Stiles filled in for her.
There were a few growls behind her as her pack seemed to dislike a human taking to their Alpha with such a relaxed tone, but neither Stiles nor Alpha Morrison paid them any mind. Even when Scott’s pack growled back.
“Your humanity is no asset, why not receive the bite? Surely if you are close to your Alpha he would not withhold it from you,” she paused, looking Stiles up in down in his red hoodie, torn jeans and dirty sneakers. “Would you not serve the pack better if you were not so…fragile? Doesn’t the reward outweigh the risk?”
Scott’s growl rumbled quietly, low in his throat—a warning. Derek seemed to have more restraint, merely offering a dark glare at the words.
Stiles, on the other hand, seemed completely unoffended. He simply shrugged again and grinned, saying, “Someone needs to be able to pour the mountain ash. Besides, I like being human, not that there’s anything wrong with being a were. It just suits me.”
The woman considered his words for a moment before huffing softly and shaking her head. “I mean you no offense,” she said, her eyes darting between Scott and Stiles with a sort of amusement. “Certainly, packs often have humans. It’s just that with a pack so young I fear for its extinction. You are human, yet you dive right into the fray like those of your pack members who bare less of a risk. Usually the pack members that retain their complete vulnerability are not those so dead set on fighting.”
“I’m not one to sit around and watch, but I know when it’s best to let my pack mates deal with a situation,” Stiles told her, tilting his head slightly as if to study her in return.
“So I ask again, why not leave the human jobs to those who do not have your mind and courage?” she asked, leaning closer, to lower her tone. “I do not understand why you would cling to your humanity. What good does it for your pack? And your pack…well it does seem to need all the help it can get.”
“You do not believe what tales Scott has told you…or you think he’s…embellishing a bit.” It wasn’t a question. “You don’t think they’re really very capable at all.”
“It is not uncommon for an Alpha to exaggerate pack history in order to try to establish connections with larger, more powerful packs. I am not insulted,” she placated sweetly. “But you…we’ve heard stories of you and the Vodnik from another pack. I find you interesting.”
Stiles stilled then, as if he had decided something. He leveled his eyes so that they met hers before his hands went for the zipper of his hoodie. He pulled it off slowly before reaching for the hem of his shirt. He lifted it up quickly, casting it lightly on the ground. Stiles ignored the questioning stares and whispers in favor of saying, “Why am I human, you ask? I am the record keeper. Werewolves, as you know, cannot scar. But as a human…well, I’ve got a collection.”
It was only then that people began to pay attention to the skin of Stiles’ lean body. He didn’t have the abs of a were, but his body told a story that the werewolves in his pack could only explain in words.
“This here,” Stiles said, pointing to a long, white scar that ran from the bottom of his rib down to the right side of his hip, “was from the claw of a Kanima.”
The Alpha stared at him, her eyes going round with comprehension. She stepped closer to see as Stiles began to point on.
“Here,” the two inch scar along his collar bone, “was from a hunter named Gerard Argent.”
A murmur of recognition shot through the crowd.
“And this is from a rogue Omega a few months back,” Stiles pointed to the claw-like scars just over his chest. He turned then, presenting his pale back. “This here,” he jabbed towards his lower back, “was from when the Alpha pack came. Ethan and Aiden could morph into one giant alpha monster.” Stiles grinned then, as if amused by the memory. His finger moved upward until they grazed the skin on his back that was raised slightly. He could feel it, but he couldn’t see it as he looked over his shoulder. “That was from a succubus that went after Liam,” he trailed his fingers to his side, “this one’s from…I think this one was from the wendigo but it might by the one right beneath it? The other of these two is from the fairies but I can’t remember which is which.” He sighed, rolling his eyes.
The wolves behind Alpha Morrison and her second began to shift with disbelief. Stiles’ heart wasn’t missing a beat.
Stiles lifted his left arm up to show the reddish scar that rang along his forearm. “That was from a vampire who fought with knives.” He snorted, “What a loser. What self-respecting monster fights with a knife?” He shook his head and rubbed his hands over his wrist, “this was the razor cuffs. They were built from Rowan so the others couldn’t just break out of them. Took me ten minutes to get out of mine so I could get the pack, but those fuckers cut deep.” He moved to his other arm. “Troll.” Another scar. “Supernatural Assassin.” Another pause. “Ohh…yeah that sucked. Burn mark from a dragon.”
And then Stiles is grabbing the buckle of his pants and taking his jeans right off without hesitation.
He stood there, in the middle of a clearing, surrounded by supernatural creatures at night, clad only in his batman boxers.
They would have laughed. A couple people would have chuckled at the sight of his superhero boxers. They’d have snorted at his skinny, very human legs. But they didn’t. No one dared. Not when they saw the long, purple scar that ran from the top of his thigh and disappeared beneath the fabric.
But Stiles ignored that scar, moving to others along his legs, saying, “that was also from that vampire asshole” and “Funny enough, that was from Kira—but she was being mind controlled at the time” and “that was a bullet from hunter-wannabes.” He kept going, pointing out the small, the large and those in between. Finally, Stiles looked up again to give the Alpha a smile.
He pointed to the obvious scar that seemed to roll down his leg, “That was from when a Vodník kidnapped me in order to make the pack listen to his terms.” Stiles’ eyes flickered to his pack only momentarily, dark with amusement and an echo of something he would rather pretend wasn’t in all of them. “By the time my pack showed up to save me, I’d already carved that son of a bitch into pieces.”
Now, these are just from the encounters where I was in the middle of it...” He looked back to the Alpha, straightening again and holding himself tall. “You see, I keep my humanity because it is an asset to my pack. People who come across these parts know this pack is fairly young. They look at the ages of the members and the number of betas in the pack. They make assumptions about the strength of this pack. Those people don’t tend to survive very long.” And then Stiles grinned with white teeth and narrowed eyes. And for a moment, he looked just as much a wolf as the rest of the monsters in the clearing. “And then they make assumptions about me. The weak human. That is why they all lose. They underestimate me. Because these scars are not a collection of times I almost died, it is a collection of the times I won. I keep my humanity because I’m not ready to lose my trophies just yet. Not when I earned them so well.” The smile split across Stiles’ face, sharp and bright—almost painful to look at. “And if this is the human, imagine what the wolves are like.”
And then, just like that, Stiles just leaned down to pick up his shirt. He casually threw it back on, covering the scars across his torso up. He pulled his jeans on, fastening the belt once more. He zipped his hoodie half way, shoving his hands in his pockets, and began to walk away from the Alpha.
There was a faint gasp from somewhere as Stiles turned his back on the woman, but Stiles kept walking until he stood beside Derek and Scott. He spun then, facing the other pack once more. He leveled a careful look at the second of the other alpha before looking back to Alpha Morrison. “Scott thinks it’s important to have as many friends as you can, even if you can take care of yourselves. I would take advantage of his offer if I were you.” He lowered his voice then, his tone almost icy. “But what would I know, I’m just the token human-best friend.”
The woman blinked down at him and then looking carefully at the rest of the pack assembled behind Scott. She opened her mouth slightly and then shuts it firmly. Her eyes flickered to her second who was open-mouth staring now.
“Well,” Scott said slowly, “we’ve prepared a lunch to eat out here for a barbeque. We’ve got plenty of food to go around. So, why doesn’t everyone settle in?” Scott’s eyes zeroed in on the other Alpha. He offered her a charming smile, saying, “And then we can continue discussing what our arrangement would mean.”
“I—” she looked rather lost, her fingers twitching at her side like she wasn’t sure if these were friends or enemies. “That—that sounds lovely. Thank you, Alpha McCall. I think an agreement between our packs would be mutually beneficial.”