Work Header

Sleeping Dogs

Chapter Text

An all new type of weird gets added to Stiles's life, which he had actually thought was completely full of weird already, when he stumbles into his room after a long day of school and lacrosse practice to find Derek Hale asleep on his bed. The man doesn't even stir and his breathing remains deep and steady, his whole body relaxed in a way that Stiles has never seen before.

"What the...?" he mouths, somehow managing not to make a sound, and backs the hell out of there, until he's all the way downstairs, in the living room. Then he finds his phone and texts Scott.

Dude, Derek Hale is asleep in my bed.

He doesn't have to wait long for the answer.

I'm happy for you?

"What," Stiles says, and then texts Scott back.


I don't know how I'm supposed to answer a text like that! I thought you hated him!

"Oh my god," Stiles says and calls Scott. "Oh my god," he says to Scott. "Dude, you saw me like five seconds ago. I am not the Flash, I did not have time to get home and have sex with Derek freaking Hale, make him fall asleep and then text you about it. For one, I would never text you about it. Well, at least not right after, because that's just not gentlemanly behavior."

"Okay, sorry, your text was just really weird," Scott says. "What is he doing there then?"

"Sleeping, apparently," Stiles says. "I don't know! He's just there, completely dead to the world, like this is a thing that we do! I mean, he didn't even stir when I got home and I didn't exactly tiptoe around."

"Did you check if he's even alive?" Scott asks.

"Well, he was breathing okay and he didn't look hurt," Stiles says. "Do you think he might be, like, sick or something?" Because, obviously, Stiles's bedroom is the most logical place for sick werewolves to be in. Or maybe it is, in Derek's magical land of werewolf logic, Stiles doesn't know.

"Maybe you should check up on him?" Scott says hesitantly.

"Dude, if this is some kind of magical sleep-inducing sickness, I am not playing the prince to Derek's Sleeping Beauty," Stiles protests.

"Because that's totally the first thing that comes to mind," Scott says, and damn it, he's not supposed to use sarcasm against Stiles. That's just not how this friendship is supposed to work.

"I am going in," Stiles says, squaring his shoulders. "If I don't call you back, he's probably killed me while I tried to wake him up. This is a straight up violation of the 'let sleeping dogs lie' rule. I want lilies on my grave."

"I will bring fresh ones every week," Scott promises.

When Stiles gets back upstairs, though, Derek is gone.

Chapter Text

It's almost two weeks later when Stiles sees Derek again.

He's wearing one of Stiles's shirts.

"Oh, hey, I thought I lost that shirt in the locker room like a week ago," Stiles says. "But apparently not. Apparently we have graduated to shirt stealing while I wasn't paying attention."

Derek shrugs. "I needed a shirt and your place was the closest."

Stiles sighs, because of course Derek did. "Couldn't you at least, I don't know, leave a little note that said something like 'borrowed a shirt, will return it washed and whole asap'?" Stiles asks. "Common courtesy and all. And I liked that shirt, damn it. Were you planning on ever returning it?"

Derek shrugs again, looks around them and sniffs the air. "I forgot," he says.

"You..." Stiles starts, but then changes his mind. "Okay, whatever." It's not like it's news to him that these people don't care about Stiles, Stiles's things or what Stiles wants. It's a waste of his time to get upset about it at this point.

"Oh my god, would you two please cut it out?" Erica snaps at them. "The hunters are getting closer and we still have to find Scott."

Derek nods and turns away from Stiles and then they are all running through the woods and Stiles concentrates on breathing and not tripping on tree roots.

They find Scott. And the hunters don't catch them.

Yay for Team Wolf.


"Soooo..." Stiles says and sits down next to Isaac at the cafeteria table the pack has pretty much commandeered all for themselves. "Does Derek borrow your clothes? And then not return them, so instead of borrowing, it's just plain old stealing?"

"Yes," Boyd says, deadpan.

"All the freaking time," Isaac nods. And then adds: "No."

Erica rolls her eyes. "Of course not."

"Yeah," Isaac says. "It's just you."

"Congratulations," says Boyd. "You're special."

"And to think that for a moment there, I had hope," Stiles mutters and gets back up. He's not exactly worried about Derek or Derek's sanity, but he is a bit worried about the state of his own wardrobe and his own sanity.

Well, at least it isn't the life-threatening type of weird this time.

At least not yet.

"He stinks like you all the time," Erica says and makes a face of distaste. "It's like he's been rolling in a pile of your used clothes. Which," she makes another face, this one slightly more disgusted-looking than the first, "is an image I didn't actually need in my head."

"Or maybe he's been rolling around on Stiles's bed?" Isaac suggests. His head is cocked to the side and he's grinning at Stiles, and, ugh, Stiles really doesn't know why Scott thinks Isaac is a bundle of fluffy awesome.

"Are you having a secret love affair with Derek?" Boyd asks. "Because that would explain so much."

"Ugh," Stiles says and makes a face of his own. It's probably a lot less attractive than Erica's scrunchy little nose thing, though. "You are all crazy and I hate you. Go away." Then he turns and goes away himself because it's still their table and he's supposed to be sitting on the other side of the room with Scott, Lydia and Jackson anyway.

"Deflection!" Erica calls after him.

Please tell your puppies that we aren't having a secret love affair. Stiles texts to Derek when he sits down next to Scott at their table. Also, give me back my damn clothes. You are such a weirdo.

Derek, completely predictably, doesn't answer.

Chapter Text

There's a plastic bag from the local grocery store on Stiles's porch when he gets back home from school. In it, there are five t-shirts and one hoodie that he had thought he had just lost somewhere, but that apparently had instead been appropriated by Derek Hale. They have definitely been worn and not washed, but the smell isn't bad, just a bit musty. They smell a bit like the outdoors, the forest.

Stiles just throws the shirts back into his dresser. Derek didn't bother washing them and Stiles sure as hell won't be doing Derek's laundry for him. Stiles isn't a slob, but he isn't that enamored by the idea of laundry either.

At least there is no blood on the clothes.

He has no idea when Derek had the time to grab any of this stuff, though. But since he has found the guy in his room more than once before, it's not that far-fetched to think that Derek just lets himself in whenever it pleases him. Which. Well, it's worrying how lax the security in the sheriff's home apparently is. They need to invest in some better locks.

Only... Stiles doesn't really mind. Which is stupid, because he should be worried about his safety, but. But. It's just Derek. (And Scott more often than not.) And even if it would be nice to get at least asked if it's okay to invade his home, Stiles just... Okay, he kind of likes it. It makes him feel slightly less alone, like he's actually wanted around the pack, which is such a depressing thought to have that Stiles is embarrassed of himself.

But he has his clothes back, there is no Derek in his bed and all is well in the world.

Until it, of course, isn't anymore.

It's the middle of the night and Stiles wakes up to a werewolf in his room. It's none of the usual suspects, though. It's Peter Hale and, wow, the situation is now creepy in so many different levels. Stiles squeaks and pulls his covers all the way up to his chin.

Peter rolls his eyes. "Come on, Stiles," he says. "I need your help."

"What," Stiles croaks. His throat is completely dry and he's still both groggy from sleep and light-headed from the shock of waking up to Peter freaking Hale. "Did Derek fall down a well again?"

Peter gives him a tight-lipped smile. "You could say that." He sits down on Stiles's computer chair. "He's missing. Which, quite frankly, is getting old very fast. And I can't track him by his scent because lately he hasn't really been smelling like himself." Peter gives Stiles a significant look.

"Oh, crap," Stiles says and gets out of bed. He puts on the first shirt he can get his hands on, which, coincidentally, is one of the ones Derek had been wearing. The fabric still smells unfamiliar when he drags it over his head. "Oh," Stiles says and digs up the hoodie that had been with the shirts. He offers it to Peter. "Here, this should help." Then it occurs to him that Derek might not want to be found at all, that he has been using Stiles's scent to mask his own on purpose. He makes a move to pull the hoodie back, but Peter already has his hand on it. Stiles really hopes he isn't doing Derek a huge disservice here.

"So, is he in trouble or did he just want a vacation from you?" he asks, aiming for casual, like Peter in his room isn't making him uncomfortable at all. He pulls some jeans on while Peter sniffs the hoodie. "Maybe he just wanted some Derek-time away from any crazy zombie family members?"

Peter just gives him a look. Stiles shuts up and steps back, just in case there's a possibility of his back meeting the wall once again. He's okay with Derek pushing him around, because, honestly? Derek's all bark and no bite (well, at least when it comes to anyone that isn't actively trying to kill him), which you couldn't really say about his uncle. Peter's definitely the one he wants to stay away from as much as possible. Compared to him, Derek's a sweetie. "Um," he says. "Maybe we should get the pack together. We can cover more ground that way."

"What for? I can track him now."

"I don't know, maybe you could use some backup?" Stiles snorts. "If Derek's in trouble, the thing that is giving him trouble is obviously strong. A couple of more werewolves couldn't hurt." He grabs his phone from the table. "Besides, it always increases the chances that I make it out of this alive."

"You think you can keep up with me?" Peter asks.

"Not on foot, no," Stiles shrugs. He's not being left behind, though. "But we're taking my Jeep." He grabs a hoodie and his keys and readies himself for the sneaking-out-without-his-dad-waking-up part of the night. "Come on, let's go. For a big bad alpha wolf, Derek needs a lot of rescuing."

"I have noticed," Peter answers him dryly.


Stiles calls Scott when they are on their way and the trail is very obviously leading into the Beacon Hills Preserve. Because of course another night of Werewolf Rescue wouldn't be complete without some quality time spend running around in the woods.

"You're alone with Peter?" Scott asks, alarmed. "Stiles!"

"Yes, I am aware of this," Stiles grits out and turns away from the main road. "He's the Lassie in this scenario, what can you do. We might need some help, so call the others and get here. Any backup would be awesome. We're heading towards the river."

There's a low churning panic brewing in the pit of his stomach. It's been building slowly all through the drive and Stiles really hopes it's just worry about Derek and not a premonition of his own demise in the hands of Peter Hale or whatever it is that is supposedly keeping Derek occupied. He really hopes he hasn't just fallen for some kind of elaborate scheme. With Peter involved, it could be just about anything.

Finally, when the road they have been following dwindles down into a path, they can't continue in the car anymore. Right after Stiles climbs out, a deep roar comes from the forest. Peter's head snaps up in a very canine fashion, but Stiles doesn't have time to even find it hilarious. The 'Squirrel?' jokes just have to wait. "Derek?" he asks.

"Yes," Peter says and jogs into the woods. "Try to keep up."

Peter doesn't drop down on all fours and just take off, and Stiles is grateful for that. He has enough trouble keeping up with him as it is. They don't have to go far but by the time Peter stops, Stiles is already covered in sweat and breathing heavily. He stumbles after Peter and finds himself on the river bank with Peter, Derek and a thirty foot snake. Which is a scenario he wasn't expecting, even though he probably should have.

The snake is coiled around Derek, squeezing him around his rib cage and legs, keeping him immobile. Derek's eyes flash red and he's still snarling and wolfed out, but Stiles can see how tight the snake is getting around him. It's probably getting very hard for Derek to keep breathing.

Peter roars and launches himself at the snake, but he's swatted away by a flick of its tail.

"Oh no, not again," Stiles groans and picks up a rock. He's had it with all the supernatural reptiles in this town. "No, bad snake!" he yells and lugs the rock at its head. "Let him go!" The rock hits the snake on the head, but it doesn't seem to do much damage. What it does accomplish is that now the snake is staring at him with its dead reptilian eyes. Flaming red reptilian eyes. ("What is it, an alpha weresnake?" Stiles thinks hysterically.) Its tongue flickers out, tasting the air, and it sways a little towards Stiles. He can't be sure, but it looks like its hold on Derek is loosening while it watches him. From the corner of his eye, he can see Peter picking himself up from the ground.

"Oh, crap, I'm going to get eaten by Nagini," Stiles says and stares right back at the snake. He feels too petrified to move, but it's not like he could get very far even if he tried. He is afraid to even blink, just in case that's what will finally prompt the snake to strike at him.

And then Derek manages to get his arms free. He slashes at the snake with his claws right at the same time that Peter is also charging back in.

It happens very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that Stiles misses most of it while he's busy scrambling out of the way. He trips and falls backwards, straight onto a root that digs painfully into his lower back. But, hey, what's one more bruise to him? He hears the stomach-turning sound of flesh being ripped apart and he's actually glad that he's currently staring at the tree tops and the sky instead of whatever carnage is happening few feet away from him. He does not need any more nightmares.

Then Peter is next to him, covered in blood, pulling him back up from the ground, and there's a lot of headless dead snake slipping into the river. Stiles looks around and spots Derek lying on the ground few feet away. He makes his way to him. "Are you okay?" Stiles asks, offering his hand to Derek. And then adds: "What the hell was that?"

"Both of my legs are broken," Derek says from where he's still lying on the ground, ignoring Stiles's hand. "Some ribs too, I think. Give me a minute."

Stiles slumps down next to Derek and takes a long breath, sucking in the cold night air. The forest around them is so quiet that Stiles can hear the ringing in his ears.

"That was a Nhang," Peter says from somewhere above them. "An Armenian river monster," he adds before Stiles can ask.

"Awesome," Stiles says. "I wish it would have stayed in Armenia, though. Or is Beacon Hills just the place to be for supernatural reptiles? I might be developing a phobia of scales," he sighs. "I think I need to move. Does Canada have huge, man-eating snakes?"

"There's always the sasquatch," Peter says.

"God, I'm really hoping that you're joking right now," Stiles says.

"At least they don't have scales," Peter offers.

Stiles kind of reels from the sudden realization that he's having banter with Peter Hale, when Derek grunts: "Okay, I think I can move now," and grabs Stiles's arm to hoist himself up. Stiles drags him to his feet and is about to let go when Derek curses and slumps against him.

"Still painful?"

Derek doesn't answer, just moves to straighten himself, pulling away from Stiles, but it's clear in the way his jaw is set that he's still in great deal of pain. So Stiles just huffs at him, grabs Derek's arm and wraps it around his shoulders, pressing their sides back together. "Just lean on me for a while," Stiles says.

Derek doesn't say anything, but he presses his cheek on Stiles's shoulder and just breathes for a few moments.

Peter gives them an amused look and turns to leave.


They are half way back to the car when Scott comes crashing through the forest with Boyd. Stiles's muscles ache from supporting Derek, but he isn't about to let go or even ask for help. He wasn't very useful this time, so it's the least he can do. When they stop, Derek presses his body against Stiles's immediately, his head drooping to the side, his cheek pressing again on Stiles's shoulder. He's stopped grimacing every other step by now, but Stiles lets him lean most of his weight on him anyway.

"Great job, guys," Stiles says dryly. "You provide awesome backup."

"Is everyone all right?" Scott asks, his eyes snapping from Stiles to Derek and back again. He gives Peter a suspicious glance. "I couldn't reach Isaac or Erica. I guess they turned their phones off before going to sleep."

"Aw, damn. I got up for nothing?" Boyd sighs.

"Yup," Stiles says cheerfully. "You totally missed a fight with a giant snake!"

"What?" Scott says, his eyebrows raising in surprise. It's pretty entertaining to watch.

Derek turns his head a little and pushes his nose into Stiles's shirt, muffling a snort. Then he just stays there and Stiles has the uncomfortable notion that he's being sniffed. "Dude, are you all right?" he asks, keeping his voice low while Peter tells the others what happened. "Are you sniffing me?"

"No," Derek says and steps away from Stiles. He tests his legs but it seems that they have finally healed enough not to hurt anymore. Stiles lets his arm drop from Derek's waist and narrows his eyes at him.

"You were sniffing me," he accuses.

"No," Derek says again and glances around them. "You smell like me," he then says, which just proves that he was lying. What is his problem? Seriously.

"Uh, you mean that you smell like me, right?" Stiles says. "And it's the shirt." He picks at the collar of his t-shirt, waving the fabric around. "It happens when you borrow someone's clothes and then not wash them before returning them."

Derek just frowns at him, like he's scandalized that Stiles didn't do the laundry or something.

"Whatever," Stiles sighs. His back is aching and the small cuts in his palms and forearms sting. It's all getting worse now that he doesn't have Derek to focus on. "I'm bruised and tired and it's the middle of the night. I just want to go back home and sleep for a year without needing to rescue anyone from giant snakes."

"You didn't have to come," Derek says, sounding a bit sullen. "You're just a human."

Stiles lets out a short, unamused laugh. "Yeah, well, excuse me, but this puny little human is the reason why you aren't dead three times over. And, by the way, you haven't even thanked me for any of those times."

"No, I meant," Derek says, frowning. "I meant that you can walk away from all of this if you want to. You can stop involving yourself."

"I'll stop involving myself when you guys stop needing me to rescue you," Stiles says. "God, is it so hard to grasp that I don't want you to die? I would hate myself forever if I just stood around and did nothing. If I can do something to keep you - any of you - alive, I have to do it." Stiles pauses, taking a deep breath. "Well, except for Peter. I was pretty comfortable with Peter being dead."

"Stiles, you wound me," Peter says, and that is pretty much the moment he realizes that he has an audience. The others have stopped talking, and now everyone is just standing around, staring at Stiles with varying levels of confusion and amusement. Great.

"Um," Stiles says. He bugs his eyes out at Derek, who doesn't say anything and just keeps staring at him. When he realizes there's no help coming any time soon, he turns to Peter. "Uh, dude, it's your own fault. You put Lydia in the hospital so I will hate you forever."

"Well," Peter says and claps his hand on Stiles's shoulder. Stiles really wishes he would stop touching him. "I for one am glad that Stiles is here. This evening has been very entertaining." Then he turns and starts walking again, forcing everyone to follow him. They stumble through the woods in silence. (Well, Stiles stumbles. The others barely make a sound while they walk. Stupid werewolves.)

"Besides," Stiles says to Derek when he spots his car from between the trees. "Half of the time you come to me, asking for help."

"You could always say no," Derek says.

"Yeah, because that has worked for me so well before."

Derek doesn't say anything else, just frowns some more.

Stiles ends up having to give a ride home to every single stupid werewolf there.

Chapter Text

Finding Peter Hale proves to be a lot easier than Stiles initially expected it to be. He just walks into the ruins of the Hale house one afternoon and there he is, sitting on the charred living room floor like some very zen ghost.

"Hello, Stiles," he says, not the least bit surprised that Stiles is there. "How nice of you to visit me."

"Not a social call," Stiles says. He takes a few steps further into the room, mostly just to prove himself that he can. He tries to keep his nervousness from showing but going by the amused look Peter gives him, he's pretty sure he isn't doing a great job of it.

"I didn't think so," Peter says, lazy and slow, and gets up. He reminds Stiles of a big cat stretching before a hunt. "What can I do for you?" Stiles feels an undercurrent of threat in every single syllable and if he wasn't already so on edge, it would have definitely put him there. He resists the urge to just back away slowly and get the hell out of there.

"So," Stiles starts and by some miracle his voice doesn't waver. "I have questions. I didn't bother to go to Derek with them because that would just have been a waste of my time. Either the dude doesn't know anything or he refuses to tell me any more than is absolutely necessary. So, I thought, why not try talking to his crazy uncle? At least you explain things from time to time." His heart is hammering in his chest and he's breaking out in nervous sweat. This is the first time he has ever actively searched Peter out and he can't stop worrying about the consequences. He's pretty sure there will be consequences. But Peter just smiles at him indulgently and nods, urging Stiles to go on. "The giant snake monster thing. I did some research but the legends don't really match the truth, do they?"

"Not entirely," Peter says, shrugging. "A Nhang is a shapeshifter. She can change shape from a snake to a seal or a woman. She usually lures lonely men to her, drowns them and then drinks their blood."

Stiles swallows. "So first: we killed a girl who could turn into a snake?"

"No. We killed a snake that could turn into a girl," Peter says. "There is a difference."

"Yeah, okay," Stiles nods, feeling a lot better about all of it. Then he moves to the next question. "Just lonely men? Did it know Derek was a werewolf? And Derek's not alone." He's vaguely offended by the idea, actually. As much as Derek seems to try to push people away, he has a pack, it's not like he's all alone in the world.

Peter smiles again, and it just won't stop being creepy to Stiles at all. "Oh, she knew he was a werewolf. She would have considered the blood of an alpha werewolf a delicacy. And Derek's alone in the sense that he doesn't have a mate. Not even anything resembling one."

Stiles nods. It does make sense, in the way that any of this supernatural crap ever makes sense. He's just going to sidestep the issue that Peter used a word like 'mate'. For now. There is still one question to ask, though. "Why... why did it turn its attention to me then? There were two werewolves there, I was just throwing rocks at it. I wasn't exactly a threat."

"This is just my guess, but I think she got confused."

"Confused?" Stiles says, raising his eyebrows.

"Yes. Nhangs aren't very bright. They hunt by scent. She smelled two people there. Two people that smelled more or less the same," Peter says and cocks an eyebrow at Stiles, waiting for him to catch up.

"So... It thought me and Derek...?" Stiles says. Peter just nods. "Wow. Okay. Wow. Even Armenian river monsters think we're dating."

Peter barks out a laugh and claps Stiles on the shoulder. "This is why you are my favorite, Stiles," he says.

Stiles tries not to feel completely creeped out, but fails. Spectacularly.

"So it thought I was Derek's... whatever, when earlier it had thought Derek didn't have anyone. So, what? Is this the same kind of deal as the kanima and its 'kill only killers' rule? And can it smell loneliness or what? How does it even choose its victims? It's a monster that only hunts sexually frustrated men? Because that's kind of funny, in a sad way, and just affirms my need to get a date as soon as possible," Stiles babbles, trying to keep his nervousness at bay. Peter is standing way too close to him. "Is there a supernatural rule book somewhere that I could maybe take a look at?"

"You have the bestiary," Peter says.

"Awesome. More fun with Archaic Latin," Stiles mutters. But, hey, at least it's an excuse to see Lydia.


Lydia is not happy to see him. She hasn't been really happy with him ever since the incident in his room when he lost it and yelled at her. And finding out that her friends had been lying to her for months didn't exactly help his case either. Stiles doesn't really blame her. They have reached some kind of tentative state, though, where she doesn't glare at him all the time and only requires some groveling. He pleads with her for a while and tries to bribe her with coffee drinks and chocolate and it kind of works.

"Fine," Lydia finally sighs. "I'll translate the text. Though I don't know how you will ever repay all these favors I do for you and your little friends."

"You have my undying adoration," Stiles says. It's true. Maybe not in exactly the way it was before, but it's still true. Lydia Martin is amazing and deserves every bit of adoration she gets. And then some.

"Damn right I have," Lydia says and flips her hair over her shoulder. "I should probably just sit down and translate the whole bestiary so I wouldn't have to endure you more than I have to," she says, but she gives Stiles a smile and punches his arm. It's pretty awesome. "It would probably be good to know things before something actually happens. It might save you some bruises, at least. So, now you're going to tell me why I'm reading about monstrous snakes that drink blood."

And Stiles does. It's freeing, being able to tell her anything and everything. It's like he finally has an ally in the supernatural shit show that is their life now. And Lydia even shares some of the chocolate with him.


The bruise on his back has turned into a wonderfully attractive shade of green by the time Stiles realizes that the amount of werewolf in his life has suddenly shrunk to just Scott. It's been over a week since the last time any of Derek's pack has contacted him for any kind of research work or even for some casual violence and mayhem. It might be that nothing exciting is happening, or it might be that he is being excluded from things. Stiles would bet good money on the latter option. There's not much of a chance that the wolves are keeping out of trouble.

He wavers between being relieved and annoyed. Then he gets worried, because he doesn't exactly have trust in their abilities to survive without him. There's a high possibility of someone chopping off someone's arm if he's not there to disapprove their life decisions. And being worried makes him feel annoyed all over again, so he ignores it and tries to enjoy being able to do his homework and getting an uninterrupted eight hours of sleep every night. (Okay, maybe not eight hours every night because the Internet is huge and sometimes you just have to read about things like Poland and Papilionidae on Wikipedia until three in the morning. But it's the fact that he could sleep all night if he wanted to what's important here.)

He lasts until the next Saturday and then snaps when he calls Scott and learns he's currently in the woods with Isaac. He grabs his keys, stalks out of his house and drives to Derek's stupid warehouse lair.

"So you've been avoiding me," he says to Derek as a greeting. The warehouse is empty except for him and Stiles feels vaguely relieved that he can chew Derek out without having to worry about baby wolves getting offended that he's making their alpha cry.

Derek just looks at him like he's disappointed that Stiles is there and couldn't take the hint to stay away. Stiles crosses his arms and stares Derek down.

"And everyone is still alive," Derek finally says. "Go home, Stiles."



"You heard me," Stiles says and walks further into the room. It's still just as dank as before, with rust and dirt and grime, but there's also a ratty couch and a coffee table, currently full of empty Chinese take away containers and print outs of what looks suspiciously like his research on fox shapeshifters from two months ago. "You can't just decide one day that I'm not part of your little club anymore. This is not how this works. You want Scott, you get me too. We're kind of a package deal." He drops down on the couch and studies the sheets of paper on the table. It's kind of cute how they have been trying to do their own research. Stiles spots some info from a site he knows for a fact to be completely incorrect.

Cute, and vaguely terrifying. "Oh my god," he moans. "You are going to get yourself killed without me around." He grabs a stray pen from the table and violently crosses out the offending paragraphs. Then he writes 'WRONG!' next to them in thick block letters, just to make sure.

"None of us are your responsibility," Derek says.

Stiles rolls his eyes. "Scott is."

Derek frowns. "Scott is doing well. Very well, actually. You don't have to worry about him."

Stiles looks up from the papers and glares at Derek. Talking to him is like pulling teeth. It's frustrating and kind of painful and slow work and frustrating. Why can't he just get it already?

"See, I know that. Scott is off embracing his wolfy nature all by himself, being generally awesome and stuff. That doesn't mean that the fact that his life has turned into a spin off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has magically stopped being my fault. There has been a lot of pain and death and general trauma in our lives lately and it's my fault. So excuse me while I do anything I can to keep it from getting even suckier. Or possibly ending in his death before we're out of high school. Because. It's. My. Fault."

"Stop saying that," Derek says. He's looking progressively angrier and angrier the longer Stiles keeps talking, which isn't exactly anything new so Stiles just ignores it.

"Well. I was the one who convinced him to go into the woods to look for a body. Spoiler: it ended really fucking badly for everyone involved."

Derek shrugs. "Kept me alive."

Stiles is stunned into silence for a few seconds. Because, yes, that's kind of true. Stiles doesn't even want to think about where Derek would be now without Scott and everyone else around him. Also, was Derek thanking him? Was that a thank you? "Got you into a lot of trouble too, though," he says. It's a pretty pathetic argument, but he doesn't really know how to continue being pissed off anymore. And, really? It sounds a lot like he's trying to give Derek more excuses to be angry with him instead of the opposite like he should probably be doing. It's all a bit backwards.

"It doesn't matter," Derek says. "If it hadn't been Scott, it would have been someone else instead. And I can't help but think that things would have gone a lot worse that way."

"Um," Stiles says. "I can't really think of what to say to you right now. You're kind of freaking me out with all this niceness, to be honest."

Derek sighs. "Why did you come here anyway?" he asks and, yeah, that sounds a lot more like the usual, grumpy and slightly hostile Derek that Stiles has grown to appreciate. This Derek is a lot less confusing to deal with.

"I have Questions," Stiles says - because, hey, why the hell not? - and spreads his fingers out in front of him, giving Derek some kind of vague attempt at jazz hands.

"Of course you do," Derek says, sounding resigned. He sits down on the couch next to Stiles and grabs the papers Stiles had been going through, setting them aside and out of Stiles's reach.

Stiles ignores him. "I talked to Peter about the Nhang-"

"You talked to Peter?" Derek says and looks suddenly alarmed.

"Out of the two of you, he's the one actually capable of answering questions with complete sentences, so yeah," Stiles says and glares at Derek. "I don't like him either, he really creeps me out, but I didn't have that many options at that point. He told me about the lore but I want to know, like, specifics. Like how did it manage to lure you out or did you actually go looking for it, because that was such a stupid move, dude. Seriously. You don't have to do these things alone, you know."

"Stiles," Derek says, sounding a bit strained. "Don't go to Peter with these things. Don't seek him out."

Stiles rolls his eyes and opens his mouth to say something when Derek cuts him off.

"Please," Derek says.

And now they have definitely entered the Twilight Zone. Stiles narrows his eyes at Derek. "There's something you guys aren't telling me about Peter. Because Scott keeps freaking out on me every time I mention him too. I know the dude's not all there and I definitely know that he's got some kind of agenda of his own. No way that guy would act this friendly and helpful towards people who killed him and took away his alpha status otherwise. But he is being helpful right now, so why not take advantage while we can?"

"I just don't think that you should be spending time with him. At all," Derek grinds out. "He killed Laura. He could..."

"And what would he gain from killing me?" Stiles says. "Nothing. He might be crazy but he has his own twisted sense of logic."

"You don't know everything!" Derek barks out.

"So tell me!" Stiles yells back.

Derek back-pedals immediately. "It's not important. It doesn't matter."

"Yeah, Obviously not," Stiles says dryly but lets the subject drop. Right now he's a lot more interested in the Nhang than whatever weird issues Derek has anyway. "So can we get back to the part where you tell me about the giant snake that almost ate you?"

"What do you want to know?"

"It preys on lonely people?" Stiles says. And, okay, maybe there's another way to ask this, but Stiles can't come up with it right now. And he doesn't really care about Derek's delicate sensibilities anyway. "Are you lonely?" he asks. "Is that why it was able to siren song you out there all by yourself?"

"What does it matter?" Derek asks. "It's dead."

Stiles rolls his eyes. "If it happened once, what is preventing it from happening again? I need info, give me info," he wheedles. He doesn't mention that he has maybe started writing his own bestiary, with a little more emphasis on how all the creatures they have been encountering relate to werewolves. For future generations, of course. One day Scott will have little hairy werewolf babies of his own and Stiles is damned if he lets them be as unprepared for any of it as their parents and uncles had been.

Derek hesitates. Stiles groans. "Come on, man. This is exactly why I asked Peter first."

"...It caught me in a... weak moment," Derek says and makes a face, like the words taste bad on his tongue. "Kept me chasing it through the woods for a while. It was purely instinct. I couldn't really get back to myself." Derek shrugs. "It was a chase - I didn't even really want to. It started feeling wrong only after..." Derek trails off.

Stiles nudges him with his elbow to make him go on. He's going to get it all out of Derek, damn it. This is progress, they are sharing things. Derek is using words. He's not going to let it go to waste.

"After I was in the woods and it attacked me," Derek finishes.

"So, it probably has some kind of pheromones that mess with your control?" Stiles mutters. "That sucks. I wonder if there's some kind of antidote for that."

"Only thing I can think of is having a mate," Derek says, looking annoyed. "And I don't really see that happening."

There's that mate-thing again. One of these days, Stiles is totally going to ask about it. Not right now, though.

"Aw, dude, maybe this was all just a big sign that you should start dating again," Stiles teases. Then he gets the mental picture of Derek on a classy date, wearing a suit to a fancy restaurant, buying flowers for some girl, and starts laughing.

"What?" Derek says, surly and unhappy.

"Oh my god, I'm just picturing you on a date," Stiles wheezes. He glances at Derek and then imagines him looking at his date with the same kind of glower he has going on right then and loses it all over again.

"I'm glad you find this amusing," Derek says.

"No, no," Stiles says. "I'm sure you're a great date. Complimenting her on her outfit, making small talk and sharing your life's story over dinner... And I'm sure lot of people out there totally find your scowling extremely hot. You're so mysterious." There's more laughter threatening to spill out, but Derek is starting to look more and more uncomfortable and unhappy, so Stiles reels himself in. "I'm just teasing you," he says, smiling, and nudges Derek's shoulder with his own.

"You really think I'm hopeless," Derek says and Stiles can't interpret his tone at all.

"Nah, it's just funny how much your face does not match the rest of you," he says. "Besides, it's not like I have any right to judge. Never been on a date in my life, you know." He had other things to ask about the Nhang, but he feels strangely relaxed so he lets Derek distract him from getting his answers.

He can't remember the last time he laughed like that.

The couch is kind of sagging so that anyone sitting on it seems to slide towards the middle, so when Derek leans back next to him their shoulders and arms press together. It should probably feel weird because they are practically cuddling on the couch, but Stiles doesn't mind it so he side-steps the awkwardness by bumping their knees together on purpose.

Whatever, it works for him so it doesn't have to make sense.

They don't talk, but Derek is warm and solid next to him and it calms Stiles down, so he doesn't feel much need to break the silence. He kind of wants to rest his head on Derek's shoulder, but that would totally constitute as cuddling and he thinks he might not get away with it. The warmth seeping from Derek is pleasant and Stiles wonders if this is how pack feels to the werewolves.

It's a thought. He'll ask Derek about it some other time.

He's almost asleep when Derek suddenly gets up and stalks to the opposite end of the warehouse, apparently with no other purpose than to get as far away from Stiles as possible. "Wha-?" Stiles gets out, but then the door clangs open and Isaac walks in.

"Oh, hey, Stiles," Isaac greets him. Then he glances over at Derek, who's just standing around, not even pretending to have anything to do, and grins.

Stiles gives him a half-hearted wave and gets up. "So how was your play date with Scott?" he asks just to make Isaac scowl at him and distract him from Derek. He stretches his arms over his head and pops his back. All his joints feel warm and loose, like after a good nap.

"It wasn't a play date," Isaac says and pouts. "We went for a run."

"Uh-huh," Stiles nods. "That's how you got leaves in your hair. Because that's what happens when you go for a run. Jogging totally includes rolling around on the ground, play-fighting like puppies."

"Shut up, Stilinski," Isaac says and rubs a hand through his curls, dislodging some leaves and a twig.

Stiles grins at him. "Okay, I'm off, see you guys later!" He beats a hasty retreat before Isaac can focus on him and Derek again.


It's only a couple of days after that - on a school night! - when Stiles finds himself at the warehouse with Erica's laptop propped on his knees and Scott and Erica on conference call on his phone, yelling about leprechauns. (They aren't really leprechauns, though. They remind Stiles more of the freaky baby monsters in the Silent Hill movie. Leprechauns are supposed to be fun and green and have pots of gold, not sharp teeth gnawing at your shins. He's so glad right now that Derek glared him into not going with them.)

"Okay, okay!" Stiles shouts into the phone. He can hear Boyd in the background, yelling something, though he can't make out the words. "Get the hell out of there! I'm doing this as fast as I- Wait! Iron! Use iron!"

Erica just hangs up on him and Scott says: "Oops, gotta go," before ending the call.

"Oh, gratitude," Stiles says. "It's a good thing I don't do this for validation."

The warehouse door slams open and Derek comes in with Isaac. "Did they find anything?"

"Oh, hey! I was just going to call you. You gotta head back!" Stiles says, flapping his hands at them. "Grab some iron and get to where they are. By the sounds of it, I'm guessing they found their home mound."

Derek shoots a look to Isaac, who immediately starts looking for something to use as weapons.

"I am seriously researching Aos Sí, Derek," Stiles says. "Genuinely, without any irony. Fairies, Derek. Fairies."

"Please don't call them fairies, they are sidhe," Derek says, walks to Stiles and leans down to look at the computer screen over Stiles's shoulder.

"I prefer fairies, it sounds a lot less like we're battling something sinister that way. When you say sidhe, I just imagine light saber battles. You know those always end up with someone getting their arm cut off and I have a personal problem with that kind of behavior."

Derek lets out a short huff that could be a sound of amusement, even though Stiles can't be completely sure. It might be annoyance too, but he thinks it's not. But Derek's hard to read when he's not behaving like he should be.

"Ready, Derek!" Isaac calls.

"Alright, go save the day," Stiles says and waves Derek off. "I'll just stay here, saving your asses with my huge brain, quick fingers and awesome Google skills." He hates it all; getting left behind, not knowing what is going on, all the worry and uncertainty. Being alone. But Derek has got more important things to do right now than stay and argue about it with Stiles, so he stays quiet and starts going over the info again, just in case he missed something useful.

Derek gives him a soft nudge to the back of his head and then jogs after Isaac. "Okay then," Stiles says to the empty room and prepares himself for some heavy duty worrying.

It's an hour or so before the wolves limp back. The clang of the door startles Stiles from gnawing at the side of his thumb and he looks up. He sees Derek carry Erica into the warehouse, closely followed by the rest of them. They all seem more or less whole, with just some tears and blood stains on their clothes. Werewolf healing saves so much money on bandages, Stiles has to give it that.

"Is she okay?" Stiles asks and jumps up to help. Or hover. Whatever.

Erica just gives him a look and then turns to glare at Derek. "I'm fine. Let me down, you're scaring Stiles."

Derek reluctantly lowers her down.

"What happened?" Stiles demands. "This is exactly why I hate getting left behind. Something always happens!" He brushes his hands over Erica's shoulders, or tries to, because Erica just shoves him away.

"Nothing happened," Erica says. "We kicked some ass and one of them chewed on my leg. It's healed already. Seriously."

"You could have called me when you were done!" Stiles whines. "I really appreciate the extra twenty minutes you let me worry here over nothing."

"Her leg was in shreds," Scott offers and comes to give Stiles a hug, which Stiles appreciates, but he's still not forgiving them. "It was kind of gross."

Stiles takes a deep breath. Scott smells like earth and dirt and... honey? Stiles doesn't even know. Then he pulls back and shoves at Scott. "You are a jerk, all of you are. I'm never going to be left behind ever again."

"Okay, all of you, go away," Derek says. The others scramble, moaning about showers and food and sleep, but Stiles takes his time to gather his things, waits until the others are out and away. There's something he has been meaning to ask Derek and he thinks he's earned some compensation for a night like this.

Derek watches him for a while before finally biting out: "What?"

"Did you do it on purpose?" Stiles asks.

"Do what?" Derek says, sounding like he isn't really listening to Stiles at the moment. His eyes look a bit unfocused, staring at something over Stiles's left shoulder. He's almost as grimy as Scott, covered in dirt and what's probably a lot of Erica's blood. He looks as raw as Stiles feels.

"The smelling like me thing? Was that on purpose?"

Derek's eyes snap to him and he looks a bit panicked now, like Stiles caught him doing something he wasn't supposed to do.

"Oh my god, you did," Stiles says. "Did you try to confuse the snake monster with my scent?" he squeaks. Talk about being collateral damage. Except... it doesn't make any sense. Derek was doing it weeks before the Nhang showed up and even then... Derek hadn't known about it being around. At least Stiles is pretty sure he didn't. He would have told his pack about something like that, right? "No," he says and Derek snaps back into attention when he had already been relaxing again. "That's not it. Did you try to hide from someone? Peter said he couldn't easily track you when you didn't smell like yourself anymore. Were you hiding from him? Or from something else? Oh, please, tell me there's nothing even bigger and badder around and that you just haven't told anyone about it because you're a compulsive secret-keeper, oh my god."

"Stiles, relax," Derek says. "It's nothing like that."

Stiles narrows his eyes. "But it's something?"

Derek looks decidedly shifty. "It's not..." he mutters and is back to looking at the wall over Stiles's head. "You don't have to concern yourself."

Stiles snorts. "Yeah, because an alpha werewolf sporting l'eau de Stiles isn't going to get me all kinds of supernatural attention. And when I say all kinds, I just mean murderous."

Derek sighs and rubs a hand over his face and then through his hair, dislodging some dirt. It floats down over his shoulders. "I know. I'm sorry."

And now Stiles is getting worried. There's something going on with Derek and he's not telling anyone about it. It stings unpleasantly behind Stiles's lungs, taking space from breathing. "Dude," he starts and then corrects himself. It doesn't feel like a 'dude' kind of conversation. "Derek, I know something's going on with you. Are you in trouble? Because I keep telling you, you don't have to do things alone anymore. You have a whole pack around, ready to roll over and do whatever you want. Well, more or less. And, hey, you kind of involved me too, choosing to use my scent for... whatever this thing is. Please, tell me what's going on so I can, I don't know, prepare for it. Or help. Please."

Derek lets out a small, distressed sound from the back of his throat. "I can't. It's not dangerous, it's not something that my pack can help me with. It's not something you can help me with either." He gives Stiles a wry smile. "It'll stop after a while. I just need to..."

"What? Ignore it until it goes away?" Stiles says, incredulous. "Usually I might totally vouch for that plan, but... I don't know! That plan is a stupid plan that never ever works! I'm speaking from personal experience here."

"Stiles," Derek says and grabs him by the shoulders. "Stop. It's fine." He's staring at Stiles like he's willing him to drop the subject, his light green eyes focused and serious. Still, it's not a closed off look, which makes it nearly impossible for Stiles to ignore. It's like a hundred times more intense cousin to Scott's puppy dog look. Stiles is pretty much screwed.

Stiles sighs. And rolls his eyes. And sighs again. "Aw, crap," he finally says, letting his shoulders relax under Derek's hold. "But if this comes back to bite us in the ass, I reserve the right to say I told you so. And I'll be really annoyed with you if I end up dead because of it."

Derek's hold on him tightens for a second. "It won't. You won't," he says and then lets him go.

Stiles goes home and tries not to worry.

Chapter Text

For a while, things go back to normal. Derek still makes himself scarce, but that’s not actually anything new. It wasn’t that long ago when Stiles and Scott had to practically drag Derek out of his corner of misery and brooding if they wanted to talk to him. He has apparently lifted whatever ‘do not engage’ rule he had put on his pack about Stiles, though.

Stiles isn’t sure if this is actually an improvement.

His pack is making Stiles's everyday life as annoying as possible. Sometimes they even drag him to eat lunch with them, which leaves Scott casting hurt looks at him until Stiles rolls his eyes and waves him over too. It would be nice, if Stiles wasn't slightly concerned about his whole expanding social circle being comprised of nothing but werewolves.

And the fact that Derek keeps away makes Stiles cranky, even though he isn’t completely sure why. Not that long ago he would have loved not having to associate with Derek. Now his absence is just annoying. It's making him twitchy.

Well... twitchier than usual.

"It's like when you don't want to see him, he's everywhere. And when you don't actually mind him creeping around like a grumpy werewolf-shaped shadow anymore, he decides to vanish completely," he complains to Scott one afternoon when they are avoiding homework at Scott's place.

"Wait," Scott says and looks up from his phone where he was texting Allison (Stiles strongly suspects. They're still not back together, but they have been hanging out again, as just friends, even though Scott is never going to be 'just' friends with Allison, that much has always been clear) or possibly Isaac. He's still not entirely sure what happened there and made them bros, but Scott is obviously awesome, so he can at least understand why Isaac likes him. "Are we talking about Derek?"

"It's just that I feel better when he's somewhere where I can see him," Stiles grumbles. Less chances of getting a heart attack from suddenly appearing alphas for one.

"Uh-huh," Scott says. Then he turns thoughtful. "He has been acting really strangely, though."

So it's just Stiles Derek's avoiding. Yay. Not that he hadn't been already suspecting it, it's just nice to have confirmation. "Strange like what?" Stiles asks, because Scott might have some kind of werewolf insight into the situation.

"He keeps appearing all around the place, randomly demanding to know that my friends are okay, that everything is normal and nothing strange is going on. And he looms," Scott says. "And then he demands that if anything happens, I'll tell him straight away. I keep reminding him that he's not my alpha, but it's not exactly getting through. I think he might be finally losing it."

Derek Hale lost it a long time ago, is Stiles's opinion. He doesn't voice it though.

"And," Scott continues. "I'm not completely sure, but I think he might be sniffing me."

Stiles rolls his eyes. "Finally, someone else that gets the patented Derek Hale treatment," he says, trying to distract himself from the little pang of jealousy. It was like their thing, and now Scott's included too? Then another thought occurs to him. "Hey, you remember that thing with him and my clothes?"

Scott nods, looking confused.

"Does he still... you know? Smell like me?"

"I don't really..." Scott starts. "I don't go around sniffing Derek, okay? But, yeah, he kind of does. Not as strongly as before, though. Like, I have been thinking that you guys have been hanging out, but that he's stopped stealing your stuff."

Stiles shakes his head. "I haven't seen him at all after the thing with the fairies."

"Okay," Scott says and turns his full attention to Stiles, even going as far as putting his phone back into his pocket. "What is going on with you two? The thing where he keeps asking about my friends? I'm not that stupid, you're practically my only friend and it's not like Derek cares about Allison or Lydia enough to be worried about them."

"I don't know what's going on!" Stiles says and waves his arms around for emphasis.

Scott nods, looking thoughtful. "Let's go over all of it like it's just another mystery," he says. Stiles wants to point out that it actually is just that, but he doesn't interrupt because Scott has his game face on. (Not the one with the fangs, but the one he uses when they are trying to get through their math homework in record time so that they can play video games instead.) "First there was the crashing in your bed thing," Scott starts.

Stiles nods. He still hasn't asked Derek about that. He should have, but he's been kind of fixated on the smelling like Stiles thing, because that's somehow freakier to him? He doesn't even know. "Maybe he just needed a place to sleep for a while? It's not like his usual lurking places are designed for rest and relaxation."

"Yeah," Scott says. "But he's totally one of those guys who can't sleep in a place they don't feel comfortable in. Like, safe or something. I don't know, I think it might be a territory thing? Like a wolf's den?"

"My bed is not Derek's den," Stiles says, scandalized.

"Of course not. But he came to you when he needed to rest. Your room is obviously a safe place for him."

"What are you even saying?" Stiles asks.

"I don't know! Just pointing things out," Scott says. "It's probably because you keep saving his ass, though."

"Okay, fine," Stiles says. "What about the clothing thing?"

Scott grins. "Totally scent-marking, okay? It's another territory-thing. Like maybe he's been trying to send a message."

"Message of what?" Stiles huffs. "This is an all new type of werewolf crazy for me here!"

"Message to other wolves, duh," Scott says like that was obvious and Stiles kind of hates him. "He's been making it seem like you're part of his pack, which means that you are off limits to any wolf that comes sniffing around. Because harming you would just invite a smackdown from a whole pack of pissed off werewolves."

Stiles just stares at Scott.

"What? I would've totally done the same, except we smell like each other anyway because we're always together. And I'm not actually an alpha, so it wouldn't really count."

"God," Stiles says. "This is making sense. Why is it making sense? He's not supposed to care about what happens to me!"

"Dude," Scott says and now he looks a little pissed off. "We all care about what happens to you. You are like everyone's favorite person." He flings an arm around Stiles's shoulders. "Well, except maybe Isaac's, because I'm totally Isaac's favorite."

"You're my favorite too," Stiles says and digs his elbow into Scott's side.

Scott stops and levels Stiles with a serious look. "I know," he intones, but he can't really keep a straight face so he cracks into a dopey grin in about two seconds.

"Dude!" Stiles says. "You are not the Han Solo of this relationship! You're obviously Luke Skywalker, so that makes me Han!"

Scott's grin turns wicked. "So who's Leia?" he asks. "Because I could think of-"

"Shut up!" Stiles says and launches himself at Scott, who runs away, cackling. They crash out of Scott's room and down the stairs, Stiles trying to grab hold of the back of Scott's shirt. He gets Scott briefly into a headlock at the bottom of the stairs, but Scott wrestles free in the living room and pins him against the couch. "Okay, okay!" Stiles wheezes. "You win! God, I hate werewolf powers."

"Even without werewolf powers, I could still take you," Scott laughs. His knee is digging painfully into Stiles's side. Stiles tries to push him away but the bastard doesn't budge. "Seriously, though," Scott says. "You should talk to Derek."

Stiles sighs. "Yeah, you're probably right." Then he twists his hips and Scott tumbles down, off of Stiles and the couch, landing on the floor with a satisfying thud.


Knowing he has to do it doesn't make it any easier to get into his Jeep and drive to the warehouse, though. He doesn't do well with this kind of confrontation. Not when it's about him more than anyone else. So, okay, Derek's been avoiding him, but Stiles has been kind of avoiding Derek right back. He could have just driven there any time and talked Derek out of it again, but he hadn't. It's just that whenever he's talked to Derek lately, he's only gotten more and more confused about everything. And, sure, that makes Stiles a coward, but Derek isn't much better.

They keep shifting from enemies to almost-friends and then back to enemies and now they are on the upswing once again, only this time it feels like it could stick. But this might just as well be the thing that pushes them over the edge again, into enemy territory, if Stiles goes too far. Only this time it would be Stiles who did something stupid, so yeah, he isn't exactly looking forward to this.

And then there's always the completely terrifying idea that he has got it all wrong and Derek will laugh to his face and tell him that of course he wasn't trying to protect Stiles. That it was just him covering his own ass.

So, the drive to Derek's warehouse is completely horrible. Stiles has to stop half-way there to have a safe freak out on the side of the road so that he won't crash his Jeep out of sheer anxiety.

He really hopes this will end up with him and Derek getting back to their reluctant partners in crime routine again, with minimal bloodshed. He kind of misses the snark. It would be safest that way, on so many different levels.

It's getting dark when he finally parks his car in front of the warehouse. He kills the engine and takes a deep breath. He's faced giant snakes and insane alphas, he should really be able to handle unexpected new friends better than this.

"Let's do this," he mutters to himself, rubs his hands over his cheeks, and gets out of the Jeep.

Stiles pushes the warehouse door open and steps in. The place smells like sweat and the inside of Stiles's gym bag. It's obvious the pack was in the middle of some kind of werewolf boot camp because everyone is wearing their gym clothes and Stiles spots fading bruises and scratches on the betas. They probably just called a halt to it when they heard his car park outside. Isaac is drinking greedily from a water bottle and Erica's hair is up in a ponytail, strands of it sticking to her neck. Boyd doesn't even have a shirt on, his skin practically gleaming with sweat. Stiles is alarmed with how many muscles there are on display. It's kind of distracting.

Even Derek has sweated through his shirt.

"Okay, kids, scram," Stiles says. "I need to talk to your daddy."

"Uh oh," Erika says. "Mommy's mad." And, yeah, Stiles totally walked right into that. Whatever, it's basically true anyway, going by the amount of babysitting he does. He still glares at her until she gets up and slinks out, dragging Boyd and Isaac with her. The guys look more relieved than anything else, probably just glad to have their training cut short.

Derek sits down on the couch, looking equal parts annoyed and confused.

"Tell me when they are far enough not to eavesdrop," Stiles says to him.

"Hey, no fair!" he hears Erica call from the other side of the door and he has to smirk at that, because annoying Erica has become one of his more satisfying goals in life. It’s part playful and part payback from the posturing and the violence she had been displaying earlier in their relationship. Mostly, Stiles just finds it incredibly fun.

There's a brief pause, while Derek listens to his pack going away and Stiles just listens to the silence. "You can't just order my pack around," Derek finally says.

"Whatever, dude. They obeyed anyway. Which means I totally outrank them, doesn't it?" Stiles grins. "Hey, if we're going with how long we have been involved in this werewolf business, I even outrank Scott because I figured it out before he did."

"That's not how it works, Stiles."

"Yeah, yeah, I know." Stiles shrugs and falls silent. He shifts his weight from foot to foot and tries to find a way to start the conversation. He knows what he came here to do, but it's proving difficult to find the right words. Sure, he has plenty of words from which to choose, but none of them feel quite right.

"They are out of range," Derek says. "Why are you here?"

"Um," Stiles says. "I have more questions? Just, different ones," he tries. He'll play this by ear, as usual, he decides. Maybe he'll stumble upon the right words if he just keeps going. That, or he'll just blurt out "I want to be friends!" like a needy little kid and then promptly die of mortification.

Derek sighs. "What do you want to know?"

I want to know if I'm your favorite person, Stiles thinks, but doesn't say. I want to know if Scott and I got to the wrong conclusion and if I'm setting myself up for disappointment and future mockery.

What comes out, though, is this: "Did you know that your uncle offered me the bite?"

Derek's eyes flash. "What," he says, his tone completely without inflection, but Stiles can see the fury rising in him, just below the surface. It’s a reaction he wasn’t really expecting.

"I said no, obviously. Um. It was when he was still the alpha and he kidnapped me to find you. I half expected him to do it anyway, but he didn't. Oh my god, put the fangs away. You're making me nervous,” Stiles babbles.

Derek's eyes are glowing red and there is definitely too many teeth for Stiles to feel comfortable with.

"I am going to kill him," Derek spits out and gets up from the couch. He walks to the train car, stops and then walks back to Stiles, the muscles in his arms flexing like he's desperate to punch something.

Well. That's some kind of an answer, Stiles supposes. "Calm down, dude. Sit," he says, actually worried that Derek will lose it right in front of him. He does not want an up close and personal look on alpha werewolf transformation.

Derek's jaw clenches but the fangs disappear and the red in his eyes fades away. He slumps back on the couch, glaring at Stiles like this is all his fault. It's doing a good job at dissolving Stiles's nerves and replacing them with annoyance.

"It's really sweet how you are trying to protect my virtue," Stiles says.

Derek just keeps glaring at him.

"You can stop that thing your face is doing right now. I know your secret," Stiles says. "You're secretly a nice person."

"I'm not nice," Derek says, but his eyebrows aren't looking as mad anymore.

"Well, okay," Stiles amends. "You're not nice, but you're sweet.”

"That sentence doesn't make any sense," Derek says.

“You're a total sweetie. Don't try to deny it, I'm onto you," Stiles ploughs on. “To tell you the truth, I kind of prefer it when you aren't being nice anyway. And it's better now that I know that you actually like me enough to go on some kind of protective rampage over something that happened ages ago and didn't even have any real consequences."

"What's your point, Stiles?" Derek grinds out between clenched teeth. But, hey, at least he's not denying anything.

"I'm trying to say that I don't mind," Stiles says, trying to order his thoughts in a way that will make sense to Derek without him needing to make a fool out of himself. "Scott explained that you were trying to make it seem like I'm part of your pack to protect me. I am completely on board with this mutual protection thing. We can totally be bros. And now that I know you're a goober, you don't even have to hide it anymore!" he gives Derek a grin he hopes doesn't look too manic. Then he sobers up. "And I'm trying to say thank you."

He goes and sits down next to Derek on the couch. "I really, really appreciate everything you're trying to do for me. So, um, thanks."

Derek eyes Stiles like he thinks a thank you is some kind of hairy beast out to get him. Or possibly a trap. Then he sighs and leans back against the couch, letting his head drop backwards. "But?" he asks and closes his eyes.

"What? There's no but. That's all."

Derek lifts his head back up just to raise an eyebrow at Stiles.

"Okay, so maybe I would have preferred that you would have told me what was going on, instead of sneakily stealing my clothes," Stiles says, rolling his eyes. "Because what if I had got the wrong idea? And started thinking all kinds of stupid things?"

"What kinds of stupid things?" Derek asks.

The stupid couch is sliding them together again, and Stiles didn't mean to say any of what got out. This was supposed to have been resolved with the thank you. His whole body hums like a live wire, but he tries not to fidget too much. "Just general stupidity that is bound to happen with me," Stiles says, trying to lighten the mood. He grins but Derek's not playing along. Instead, he just watches while Stiles fidgets.

"What things?" Derek asks again.

So this is the point where Stiles either mans up or chickens out. He glares at the clutter on the coffee table and hates that Derek's making him do this. "Like maybe I would have gotten the idea that you really wanted me as a part of your pack, even if I'm just a human, haha," he says.

"Yes," Derek says after a small pause. "That would have been a stupid thing to think. You already are a part of my pack. Have been for some time now."

"Since when?" Stiles asks. Because, what?

"Since the first time you saved my life, basically," Derek says, shrugging.

Stiles turns to look at him, incredulous. "But that doesn't make any sense! We didn't even really know each other! I didn't even like you back then! You didn't like me! And after that, there was even more mutual dislike!"

"Yes, but it isn't the same with human pack members as it is with werewolves. Leaving a pack is easier when you're a human. Entering one is easier too, in some ways. You have been in and out of my pack by your own choice too many times now for me to keep count. But you're still basically the first person who was on my side after my sister died,” Derek says, his eyes flitting around the room, but avoiding landing on Stiles.

"Huh," is all Stiles can say to that.

"I didn't like it back then," Derek says. "I resisted the idea for a while, until the night in the pool. It's been kind of impossible to ignore after that."

"You need to tell me these things, Derek," Stiles says quietly. "I don't just instinctively know and Google is only good for certain types of things. That are not things like this. I don't even know what this thing is."

"I tried to keep you away from all of it, because my life is in chaos and it just doesn't settle at all. It wouldn't be fair to make you get into it too. Especially when you don't have to."

Stiles snorts. “Sorry to burst your bubble, but you're not the main source of chaos in my life. You’re a footnote, you’re responsible of maybe ten percent of it all. In case you hadn’t noticed, Scott was turned into a werewolf. At least you’re marginally more capable of taking care of your own crap.”

Derek raises his eyebrows and opens his mouth to say something but Stiles waves him quiet. “Anyway, you act like I have some choice in the matter. Even if I sometimes wish I could walk away, I can’t. Scott is practically family, I can’t just leave him. And even if I could just choose to walk away from all this supernatural crap, it still wouldn’t be your choice to make. I have to be the one to decide. You can just make sure I make an informed decision, really. So, yeah, I aren't going to forgive you for keeping things from me yet." He nudges Derek's shoulder with his own.

Derek nudges him back. "It seemed like a good decision at the time."

"It's a good thing you're pretty, Hale," Stiles says, grinning. "But I can kind of see where you're coming from. It's practically exactly what we did to Lydia. Which was also totally misguided, but at least she didn't know about freaking werewolves back then. I'm kind of in the loop already, you know."

"Yeah," Derek says and straightens himself, making Stiles slump a bit more into the middle of the couch. Stiles watches him as he gets up and paces a little. "Something needs to be done about Peter soon. If he keeps bothering you..."

"It's not like he can give me the bite anymore," Stiles says and shrugs.

"He could still kill you," Derek points out.

"But then he would have you and the pack to deal with, right?"

"Yes," Derek says, voice heavy with sarcasm. "But you'd still be dead. I would kind of like to prevent that."

"Hey, no arguments from me," Stiles says and raises his palms up in front of him in a placating gesture. "I'd very much like to remain not-dead too. But what can you really do? You won't kill him again, not the way things are right now. You could kick him out of Beacon Hills, I guess, but how long would he keep away? He knows you'd kill him if he harmed anyone, right? Because I think he prefers being not-dead as much as I do."

Derek sighs and scowls at the wall. "You're right."

"We just need to keep watching him. And we'll take him down when he slips up."

"I don't like this plan," Derek says.

"What, it's fine for you to have vague plans, but when someone else does, you don't like it?" Stiles grins. He might have another plan forming, but he's not going to tell Derek about it. It's not really a Derek kind of plan at all.

"Shut up, Stiles," Derek says, but there isn’t much force behind it.

"Ha ha. Just because I'm in your pack doesn't mean that I will roll over and do whatever you tell me to do," Stiles says, sticking his tongue out at Derek.

Derek blinks at him and then shakes his head and turns away. "Of course not," he mutters, heading towards the train car.

"And I'm not going to start wearing your gang leathers either!" Stiles calls after Derek's retreating back. The door swings shut after Derek and Stiles gets up from the couch. He thinks this talk went well. At least he didn't mess anything up and the snark is back, which was all he wanted... Right? "Okay, see you later, wolfman!" he yells and turns to leave.

The train car door swings open and Derek's back. This time he's shirtless, holding a replacement shirt in his hands, and shirtless. Stiles maybe loses a couple of seconds to this, even though he's not going to admit to it, ever, because he honestly should already be used to this happening.

"You're going?" Derek asks.

"Uh... yeah? I thought we were pretty much done here, right?"

"Oh. Yes. Right." Derek nods.

Stiles gives him a mock salute and turns to leave again.

"Hey, Stiles?" Derek calls after him.

"Yeah, Columbo?" Stiles says, turning to face Derek, but keeps walking backwards towards the door.

Derek gives him a look, but Stiles just shrugs at him. He can watch classic tv shows if he wants to. (Okay, so his dad owns the box sets, whatever.)

"You should come back. Here. Next Friday," Derek says. "The others are coming too. And you can bring Scott, if you want."

Stiles stops. "Aw, crap," he moans and smacks himself on the forehead. "Scott's going to love this. What am I going to tell him? 'Scott, I just totally agreed to be in Derek's pack without asking you about it first?' And you even called him my alpha!"

"Yeah, I did, though I'm starting to think it's the other way around," Derek mutters.


"Never mind. Scott can just deal. Nothing's really changed anyway. You don't even have to say anything to him."

Stiles just rolls his eyes. Of course he has to tell Scott. It's still a total betrayal, even if it was mostly by accident. Stiles just hadn't been thinking of Scott at all. He had been thinking of himself and Derek (well, mostly of himself) like no one else could fit into the equation. Which... yeah, is kind of worrying. But there are a bunch of other people involved too, it's not just a Stiles and Derek show. He doesn't know why it's so hard to remember sometimes.

When he leaves, he still feels like the situation is somehow unfinished, like gearing up to a sneeze that doesn't come. He’s not sure what more he could have said or done to make it feel more complete, though, so he tries to let it go.


The next day at school, Stiles grabs Scott and pushes him into an empty classroom. He grabs hold of Scott's shoulders and sighs.

"Woah," Scott says. "Deja vu."

"What?" Stiles asks, momentarily distracted from his guilt.

"I used to do this a lot with Allison," Scott says. "Empty classrooms and making out. You're not going to try to make out with me, though, are you? Because I totally love you, dude, but not that much."

"Ha ha," Stiles says. "You're hilarious."

Scott grins at him.

Stiles sighs again. "You might want to remember that love, though," he says. "I did something you won't like but I have to come clean before the guilt destroys me. So, I went to see Derek yesterday like you suggested-"

"If this is about Derek and making out, I don't really need to know about it," Scott says.

"What? No! There's no making out involved! At all!" Stiles shouts, a little bit hysterically, and then he remembers that he's supposed to keep his voice down. He cringes at himself. "Stop thinking about making out," he hisses. "And for the love of god stop making me think about making out and Derek in the same context. I don't deserve this."

"You broke his heart?" Scott says, sounding genuinely horrified. "Stiles! The fallout is going to be epic and I'm going to be the one who has to deal with it!"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Stiles asks. "No one broke anyone's heart, okay? Derek and I are totally bros again. That's kind of the thing why I now have all this guilt, though."

Scott frowns at him, but doesn't interrupt again.

"So we had our little talk and it might have come to light that Derek's been considering me as part of his pack since forever ago. And that the scent-marking thing was actually genuine instead of just a clever ruse, which I should have suspected right away because Derek's never been one for clever plotting." Stiles pauses to let out a deep breath. "And I didn't actually tell him that I'm not in his pack. I might have actually said yes to him. More or less. So now it's kind of official. Or something. And we're both invited to some kind of pack thing next Friday."

Scott just keeps staring at him.

"Please say something," Stiles says. "From one to ten, how mad are you?"

"Stiles," Scott says. "None of this is actually new information."

"What?" Stiles screeches and then slams his hand over his mouth in a desperate attempt to keep himself from alerting the whole school of his current location.

"Okay, so I got the fact that you being in his pack was supposed to be some kind of secret, so I didn't say anything. And it isn't like I was sure about it because it kept shifting and you're human so it isn't the same, I think. But it's been kind of implied for weeks now. And you've always worked really well with him. And once in a while he can even silence you with a look, he's totally your alpha." Scott shrugs. "It's all kind of confusing and not really my business."

"Scott," Stiles whines and thumps his forehead against Scott's shoulder a couple of times. "I'm firing you as my best friend."

"I didn't think you needed my help," Scott says. "You've been a lot better with all this werewolf stuff than I have. And the stuff between you and Derek is always been kind of private anyway."

"Fine," Stiles sighs and gives up, because all of that is actually, kind of, true. "So are we going to the pack thing next Friday?"

"Sure," Scott agrees easily. "We're a package deal, right?"

"Yeah, we are," Stiles says and grins.

"Good," Scott says and pushes Stiles out of the classroom. "And now we're both late for Chem."

Stiles suffers through Chemistry and the rest of the day and the detention that resulted from being late to Chemistry. (There is way too much Mr. Harris in his life, Stiles concludes.) Then he goes through the rest of the week and then it's Friday, which comes way quicker than Stiles would have liked. He isn't in the mood for Erica and Isaac's comments or Boyd looking at him. He's sure there will be more than enough of both in his near future.

"So we're inviting McCall and his plus one into these things now?" Erica says when they step into the warehouse.

"Hi, Scott!" Isaac calls. Stiles rolls his eyes.

"No," Derek says. "I invited Stiles."

"Yeah, I'm Stiles's plus one," Scott says happily and waves at Isaac.

Boyd snorts and Erica's frown melts into a grin. "Ohhhh," she says.

Stiles decides that it's probably best for his mental health to ignore everyone. "So, what's up?" he asks and plops down on the couch next to Erica, immediately tipping sideways into her. "Dude, you have to get a better couch," he says to Derek while Erica tries to shove him away from her. "This one forces cuddles on everyone. Unless that was your purpose when you dragged it here from whatever street corner you found it on."

"You are welcome to find a new one if it bothers you so much," Derek says, a corner of his mouth quirking into half of a smile.

Stiles ignores him and moves to the edge of the couch so that he doesn't slide into the middle as easily. "Why are we even here?" he asks instead and Derek goes all business again.

"We need to re-establish our territory," Derek says. "The reason why we have had so much trouble from all kinds of creatures lately is that the old Hale pack territory lines haven't been maintained properly. I don't know about you guys, but I don't particularly want to drag Scott out of another fairy mound."

"Wait, what?" Stiles says. "Drag Scott out of a fairy mound? No one told me about that!" He turns to smack Scott to the back of the head.

"I was okay!" Scott protests and pouts at Stiles, rubbing his head like he actually got hurt. Stiles didn't even hit him that hard and he's a freaking werewolf anyway. It's not like he bruises.

"Stiles," Derek says.

Stiles huffs but turns to pay attention to him again. "What are you going to do? Pee in a circle around Beacon Hills?" he asks.

"No," Derek says. "We are going to use the Hale pack symbol to warn them off from settling down here."

"Symbol?" Stiles asks, but gets it even before he has finished his question. "You mean your twirly tattoo thing?"

"It's called a triskelion, and yes," Derek nods. "It has represented the Hale family for centuries. We have to circle around all of Beacon Hills, though. I have marked some locations in these maps," he continues, handing out little tourist maps of the town and the surrounding forest. "They show where the old marks used to be. If we just go over them again, it should work."

"Suddenly the reason why I'm here comes to light," Stiles says, incredulous. "You need my car!"

Derek rolls his eyes but doesn't actually deny anything. "Boyd, you're with Erica. Scott with Isaac and Stiles with me." He tosses the keys to his Camaro to Scott, which makes Stiles pout.

"Aw, man, I don't even get to ride in your awesome car?" he whines.

"Do you want to let someone else drive your Jeep?" Derek asks, which is a good point, unfortunately.

"I'm just a glorified chauffeur to you!" Stiles protests, but follows Derek out anyway.

The drive to the forest is quiet. Because of course Derek wants to go to the forest when the others are able to mostly use actual roads. Because dragging the only human of the group for a hike through the nature preserve is obviously the most logical thing to do. Because Derek just wants to make Stiles's life as difficult as possible. So Stiles keeps quiet out of pure spite, even though it might have the opposite effect than he'd hoped, because Derek seems relaxed, staring out the passenger side window into the forest rolling past them. Like he's actually enjoying himself.

They park at the parking lot that is the starting point of the actual hiking routes in the forest. The weather is sunny and warm with a slight breeze that clears the air enough for it not to be stuffy. It's almost cheerful.

Stiles stares forlornly at his pair of Converse. "I did not dress for a hike in the woods," he sighs. "Maybe I should wait in the car. I'm just going to slow you down."

"Come on," Derek says and hauls him forward with a hand on his elbow. "The first few marks aren't that far from the path."

"Seriously, with me, this'll take hours. You could probably just run through the places in a fraction of that time."

"Probably," Derek says and sounds suspiciously cheerful about it.

"I don't even want to know," Stiles says and just goes along with it. "The way you derive amusement from my pain is disconcerting."

After twenty minutes of walking, he's already sweating in the red hoodie he had put on as a general 'fuck you' to everyone (he is actually daring someone to make a joke about it, he's just waiting for that day), so he pulls it off, as well as the long sleeve under it, so that he's just in his ratty old The Who t-shirt.

Derek stops and glances at him and then looks away. "There," he says and points at a tree that looks like every other tree there, until Stiles spots the carving in the bark, roughly the size of his palm and a foot or so from the bottom. He walks to it and traces his finger over it, brushing out moss and general forest debris. A small spider runs over his finger and Stiles watches it go until it vanishes in the cracks of the bark again. "So what are we supposed to do with it?" he asks.

"That's it," Derek says from behind him. "Just touch it, clean it up if it needs to be cleaned."

"Shouldn't you be the one to do it, though?" Stiles asks. "I'm not a werewolf."

"You'll do just as well," Derek says. "Come on, let's get going."

"Wow," Stiles says as he starts to follow Derek again. "This has to be the least complicated thing I've ever done that has involved werewolves. It's kind of underwhelming. And possibly making me paranoid that something bad is going to happen soon, because nothing is ever this simple."

"Don't jinx it," Derek says. Stiles can't see his face, but it sounds like he's smiling.

Stiles bites his lip, trying not to grin too, but it's impossible to stay annoyed when the lines of Derek's back look relaxed and there's the hum of general easiness all around them. So he just jogs until he catches up with Derek and falls into step with him.

They find two more marks before Derek suddenly stops and halts Stiles's chatter with a hand on his shoulder. "What's wrong?" Stiles asks, tensing. He tries to listen but he can't hear anything, not even the birds in the trees and that's supposed to be a bad sign, right?

"I can smell gun oil," Derek mutters and steps close to Stiles, so that their sides are pressed together.

"Hunters?" Stiles asks even if it's pretty obvious.


Then Stiles hears the crackle of footsteps and Derek's pushing him back a little so that he's standing partially in front of Stiles. Stiles peers from around Derek's shoulder and spots two men he doesn't recognize, followed closely by Chris Argent. When the hunters see them, they stop, hands going to their weapons.

Chris Argent steps forward. Stiles can see the moment he notices him, because he frowns, confused. "Derek," he says, voice level, calm like he's trying to soothe a wild animal. "Stiles."

"Argent," Derek says and Stiles can feel the tensing muscles on Derek's back. He doesn't remember putting his hand there, but there it is, fingers splayed over the spot where Derek's tattoo is. He leaves it there.

Argent smiles a tense smile that is in no way friendly. "There have been reports of strange noises in the forest. Animals turning up partially eaten. Something scaring dog walkers and joggers."

"Not us," Derek says.

"Maybe it's a mountain lion," Stiles snarks from behind Derek, which only makes Argent turn his disconcerting smile on him. Derek grabs his wrist and shoves him back so that he's almost completely behind Derek.

"Now what would you be doing out here in a company like this, Stiles?" Argent asks pleasantly, like this is a completely normal conversation and like Stiles can't see three hands hovering near three guns at all times. A shiver runs down his back without his permission and then he's suddenly angry. He refuses to let Chris Argent intimidate him.

Stiles shakes Derek's hand off from around his wrist and steps to stand next to him. "None of your business," he says cheerfully, trying not to think about the fact that there's a bullseye on his chest. Literally. "Just taking an afternoon walk in the forest. It's pretty nice out here."

"Really?" Argent asks. "I wonder if your father knows about what you're doing and who you're doing it with."

Stiles drops all pretense of cheer. "You stay away from my dad," he growls. "After the stunt your side pulled at the police station, you're lucky I didn't just tell my dad what I saw you doing there and with whom." Stiles watches with satisfaction how Argent's smile freezes. Then he grabs Derek's wrist and tugs at him until he starts moving with Stiles. "Anyway! It's been awesome but we'll just leave you to your... whatever you're doing. Hunting. Prowling. I don't really care unless you're opening fire on innocent people again. Bye!" Then he speed walks them the hell out of dodge.

"You boys be careful now!" Chris Argent calls after them, apparently just to get the final word, and the other two chuckle. And, seriously, how old are they? Five?

Stiles feels their eyes on his back until the path turns and they are hidden from view.

"Well," Stiles says, letting himself relax. "That was intense." And then he's pinned against a tree, rough bark scratching his neck and the spot on his lower back where his shirt has bunched up enough to reveal skin. "Woah, I did not miss this at all," he says to Derek, who's about two inches away from him. Their noses are almost touching, which makes Stiles think of doggie kisses. And, just. No.

"If I tell you to stay out of it, stay out of it," Derek says, stressing every word with a little push that presses Stiles against the tree a little more.

"To be fair, you didn't actually say anything like that to me," Stiles points out. "And it was Mr. Argent, he's a lot less likely to shoot me than he's to shoot you."

"Ugh," Derek says and lets go of Stiles, stepping away. "Do you have to be so difficult all the time?"

"Yes," Stiles says, reaching out to pat Derek's arm reassuringly. "I'm here to make your life just as difficult as you make mine." He steps away from the tree, brushes a hand over the back of his head and straightens his shirt. "Let's get out of here before they come up with some stupid notion of following us."

They find two more marks before Derek calls a stop. "The sun will go down soon," he says, looking at the blue sky over their heads. "We should head back. If Argent was telling the truth, there's something else in these woods and I don't really want to risk it."

"Yeah, and I'm hungry," Stiles says. "How long it'll take us to get back? We have been walking for hours."

"The path circles back," Derek says. "We're not far from the parking lot."

"You're buying me dinner," Stiles decides. "All this outdoorsy stuff is too much for me. I miss my computer. I deserve to get fries or pizza out of this. Possibly fries and pizza. I haven't decided yet." To tell the truth, he doesn't mind. Aside from uncomfortable run-ins with hunters, the day had been almost pleasant. The added bonus of no Erica, Isaac or Boyd had been nice too. A day spend avoiding unnecessary leering and jibes at his person is a day well spent. He probably has to invite them to the food, though, because not sharing food would just be mean.

When they finally get back to the parking lot and the land of better cell reception, he fishes out his cell phone. He calls Scott first.

"Hey, how's it going?" he asks Scott when he (finally!) answers.

"This is kind of boring," Scott says. "We're almost done. You?"

"Peachy," Stiles says. "I am making Derek buy us dinner. You in?"

"Pizza?" Scott asks. "Because if it's pizza, no pineapple."

"Yes, I know. I have known you forever and you tell me that every freaking time. At my place in an hour or so? Tell Erica and Boyd, I'm not going to call them."

"Okay!" Scott says.

"Your place?" Derek asks when Stiles hangs up.

"I'm not eating at your warehouse lair," Stiles says. "That's just unsanitary. And don't worry, my dad's not home yet, you can totally eat and then flee before he gets home if that's what bothering you."

Derek quirks an eyebrow at Stiles and it seems like he's almost pleased, which is just weird.

"Do you think five family size pizzas will be enough?" Stiles asks.

Stiles drives them to his favorite pizzeria and Derek buys enough food for a small army. Then, on their way home, he makes Stiles stop at a gas station and pays for Stiles's gas too, and the whole thing is just a string of bizarre occurrences. Stiles doesn't know what to think, though he suspects he's actually enjoying it. It feels that way, underneath all the confusion. He kind of grins stupidly at the road all the way home.

Scott and the rest of them show up almost at the same time as he and Derek do. They barely have time to take their jackets off before Scott's there, sniffing at the pizza boxes. "I smell pineapple," he says, sounding absolutely wounded about it.

"It's only on one of them," Stiles reassures him and then rolls his eyes at Derek where Scott can't see.

"This has been the most boring day ever," Boyd says and grabs the pizza box on top of the pile. "I'm taking this and going to the living room to watch TV," he announces and then goes.

"Don't get cheese stains on my couch!" Stiles calls after him.

It feels a little like a party. Stiles sits on the couch between Scott and Erica and debates the merits of the new Star Wars movies. (Erica is against, Scott is for and Stiles doesn't really care, is in it only for the argument.) He eats so much pizza that it feels like he's going to burst if he even looks at another slice for too long.

They are all still there when Stiles's dad walks in.

"Oh," he says, looking at the congregation of teenagers in his living room. "Hello. I thought that was an unusual amount of cars in front of my house." Then he spots Derek and frowns.

"Dad!" Stiles says and climbs over the back of the sofa, waving his hands like that could make his dad forget about Derek. "We saved you some pizza, it's in the kitchen." He herds his dad away before anyone manages to say anything.

"So, care to tell me what Derek Hale is doing in my living room?" his dad asks when they are in the kitchen.

"I, uh, invited him?" Stiles tries. His dad just gives him a look.

"He's bad news, kid. You know this."

"Yes, well, no. Not really," Stiles tries again. "He looks like he's bad news, but he's okay. He's cool." He hears Erica burst out laughing in the living room, because of course they are all listening in on the conversation.

"And Isaac Lahey too, Stiles?"

"Hey, now, Isaac was totally innocent!"

"As opposed to Derek who isn't 'totally innocent'?" his dad says.

"Aw, now you're just twisting my words! Don't use your sheriff powers on me!" Stiles groans. "The
point is that they are my friends and I like them. They aren't bad people, dad. If there's someone you should be worried about being a bad influence on me here, it's Erica. She's way worse than Derek, seriously."

Before his dad can say anything, Derek's at the doorway, looking incredibly uncomfortable. "Stiles?" he says. "We're going now."

"Derek, come here," Stiles's dad says. "Stiles, go say goodbye to your friends."

"Dad!" Stiles tries to protest, but there's not much he can do, so he goes.

"Someone tell me what's going on in there," he hisses at the others, who are all milling around in the hall, ears practically twitching from how hard they are eavesdropping on the conversation going on in the kitchen.

"Derek's trying to reassure your dad that he can be trusted around his son," Isaac says.

"Aww, now that's almost sweet," Erica says, obviously commenting something being said in the kitchen.

"What, what?" Stiles whispers. "What is happening?"

"Wow, Derek's nailing it," Scott says, eyes round with wonder. "He's telling your dad how much help you've been to him after his sister died. Your dad is starting to buy it."

"Hell, even I'm buying it," Boyd says.

Stiles tries to strain his hearing, but all he can pick up are some vague sounds.

"Now there are dinner invitations, I can't believe it," Isaac says.

"What the hell is Derek telling my dad?" Stiles groans. He feels like he could die of embarrassment even without hearing a word of the conversation going on. It just feels like that kind of conversation. "I know I'm going to pay for this after you're gone," he says morosely.

"It's not that bad," Scott tries to console him. "It's okay, really." Stiles takes the comforting pat on the shoulder, but doesn't let himself be too optimistic about his immediate future. Then Derek and his dad are coming out of the kitchen and Stiles spends a few seconds trying to find an expression of something on Derek's face. He mostly fails. Derek is almost violently expressionless. Well, at least that tells Stiles that he's feeling the discomfort too.

He waves them goodbye.

"So, you're friends with Derek Hale, then?" his dad says when the front door closes after the pack.

"Uh, yeah," Stiles says and leaves the 'kind of' out. It would probably do more harm than good at this point.

"Have you been spending a lot of time with him?" his dad continues, putting one arm over Stiles's shoulders, effectively making it impossible for him to flee.

"Well... it really depends on your definition of 'a lot'," Stiles hedges.

"Hmm..." his dad hums. "The boy was laying it a bit thick on me there."

Stiles had known his father wasn't that easy. He had known it. His dad couldn't be fooled with just a short talk, because his father is awesome and also the sheriff. Stiles believes that his dad can basically smell bullshit, like that's some kind of sheriff super power.

"Although, I'd really like to know how you went from getting him arrested for murder to being friends. But at least he obviously cares enough to try and make a good impression on me,” his dad sighs. “And it's not like I can forbid you from seeing him, so I might as well try to get to know him a little better."

"I have a bad feeling about this," Stiles mutters.

"He's coming to dinner next weekend," his dad says cheerfully.

"Dad," Stiles says. "You are kind of awesome. But also really terrifying."

"I try," his dad says. "Now, what about this pizza you said you saved for me?"


Stiles gets almost two days of comparative normalcy before things kick off again. He wishes he could say he used those days sensibly, doing school work and research, but honestly? He spent most of his time playing video games with Scott. And Isaac, which was a bit of a surprise, but Stiles won’t complain. Mostly because Isaac sucks at video games and gets satisfyingly snappy when he loses. Which is a lot. It’s pretty funny.

It’s ten in the Monday evening and Stiles is home alone, his dad on the night shift (Again. Seriously. Stiles kind of wishes that his dad would find another hobby than collecting night shift pay. Like dating. Or knitting. Anything a little less potentially lethal would be good.) when Peter Hale materializes in his bedroom. One moment Stiles is happily debating between doing his English essay early and watching some crappy free porn on the Internet, and then Peter is there, leaning over his shoulder, peering at the computer screen.

“Oh my god,” Stiles says, jumping halfway up from his chair and slamming his shoulder painfully on Peter’s chin. Peter lets out a small grunt and quickly backs away.

“Ow,” Peter says and rubs his chin. “You have exceptionally bony shoulders.”

“You don’t get to complain when it’s your own fault," Stiles gripes. “And it’s not like you bruise or anything.” He glares at Peter and rubs his shoulder. “What do you want?” he asks.

“I need your help.” Peter’s smile is razor sharp.

Of course he does. Stiles doesn’t really care.

“Wait. Let’s go into the kitchen,” Stiles stops him. “I need to bring this somewhere where it doesn’t feel quite as creepy as you randomly turning up in my bedroom.” He gets up and marches out of his room, not bothering to make sure that Peter follows.

“You don’t mind when it’s Derek, I have noticed,” Peter says.

“Oh, I mind,” Stiles says. “The difference is that I can deal with him and his poor social skills. You’re being creepy on purpose.”

That makes Peter laugh. Stiles wonders why he’s in such a good mood, but a cheerful Peter is a much better option than a homicidal Peter, so he doesn’t ask. Peter seems almost amiable, which is kind of disturbing, actually.

“Do you want a drink?” he offers when they reach the kitchen.

Peter shrugs so Stiles pours him a glass of juice from the container labeled: "Dad! Don't drink! Contains CARROTS!" and puts the glass in front of Peter. "So what did you need my help for?" he asks.

"Well..." Peter says and takes a drink.

Stiles watches him swallow before he cracks a smile. He hadn’t wasted all his time with video games that weekend. Just most of it.

"So, here's the thing," he starts. "I'm not your errand boy, or your leverage or your anything, really. That juice you just drank? It's my own recipe. Carrots and apples and distilled wolfsbane extract.” He pauses to watch Peter‘s reaction. He looks mostly like he doesn‘t believe Stiles, but there‘s alarm slowly creeping into his expression. “Don't worry, it's not strong enough to kill you, but you might start feeling really horrible in a moment."

"Stiles," Peter growls, but before he can even rise all the way from his chair, he groans and drops to his knees on the kitchen floor.

"Yeah, here we go," Stiles nods. He watches as black ooze starts to leak from Peter's mouth. "While you're down there, you might as well listen. If you want my help for anything, you go to Derek, since he's my alpha and all. Like, you know, it's supposed to be done. Only acceptable time you can come to me without his consent is when he himself is in trouble. And even then only if you have the rest of his pack with you."

"I should kill you for this," Peter snarls and then gags, vomiting more black onto the tiles. It flows slow and thick, and Stiles is already annoyed at the thought of having to clean it up before his dad comes home.

Stiles gasps in mock horror. "But I thought I was your favorite!" he says, pressing one hand to his chest. Then he gets serious again. "Yeah, good luck with that. You harm me and Derek will kill you. Again. And I'm pretty sure that this time he'll make damn sure you're not coming back. Also, don't think that this is my only trick. Derek might not want to kill you without a reason because you're the only family he has left, but I don't really share his sentiment."

Peter doesn’t say anything, just gags and spits out another mouthful of black onto the floor. Stiles digs out his phone from his pocket and dials Derek.

"Stiles?" Derek answers on the first ring. "Is something wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong," Stiles says. "It's just that your uncle came to visit and now he's not feeling very well. Maybe you should come pick him up."

There's a three second silence before Derek grinds out: "I'll be there as quickly as possible."

"Sure," Stiles says and hangs up, settling down to watch Peter drip some more black stuff all over his floor.

Derek is at his door in under twenty minutes, which is pretty impressive. Peter has mostly stopped vomiting by then, but he has started hallucinating, which isn't as fun as it sounds because Peter hallucinates the fire. "I'm so glad to see you," Stiles says to Derek, feeling a sudden wave of relief. It's so strong and unexpected that it almost knocks him off his feet.

"Where is he? Are you okay?" Derek asks, grabbing the sides of Stiles's neck before brushing his hands over Stiles's shoulders.

"I'm fine, he's not," Stiles says. "In the kitchen. You might want to brace yourself."

Derek walks into the kitchen but stops when he sees Peter, sobbing on the floor. He turns to look at Stiles, his eyes wide. "What happened?"

"Mild aconite poisoning," Stiles says. "Although..." he says, walking to the cupboard under the sink. He pulls out a small bottle from behind the drain cleaner. His dad never touches the bottles there that he doesn't know the contents of, so it's the best place to hide things. Like Stiles’s alcohol and magical poison antidotes. "If he hasn't got it out of his system in a couple of hours, make him drink this." He presses the bottle into Derek's hand. "It's the antidote, but it's kind of hard to make so if you don't have to use it, don't. I'd rather use it on someone I actually like when they inevitably get their stupid self poisoned." He makes a face when Peter starts babbling again, this time thankfully just a string of incoherent sounds. "I didn't know there would be hallucinations, though. Tell him I'm sorry about that."

Derek's watching him, something in his eyes that Stiles doesn't recognize, hasn't seen before. Stiles looks back down at Peter. "You should get him out of here so I can clean before my dad gets home."

Derek just nods and collects his uncle and then goes, leaving Stiles alone again.

He gets down on his knees on the floor, starts scrubbing at the black gunk and waits for the inevitable panic attack. There's a lot of adrenaline coursing through him and his hands are shaking, but the panic attack doesn't come.


It's four hours later, when Stiles is already in bed and listening to his dad snoring from further down the hall, when Derek climbs through his window. Stiles had been suspecting he might show up so he doesn't even startle. "Hey," he whispers and sits up, squinting at Derek through the darkness. "How did it go?"

"I didn't use the antidote," Derek says. He walks to Stiles and hands him the bottle back. It's warm to the touch from being in Derek's pocket and Stiles curls his fingers around it. "The poison left him in a few hours."

Stiles bites his lip. Derek looks... shaken, is the right word. He looks like he isn't completely sure of what to do. "I'm sorry," Stiles says. "Seeing him like that and having to listen to his hallucinations probably wasn't much fun for you."

"You think?" Derek bites out. "How long have you been planning this?"

"Since that time when we talked about what to do with him," Stiles confesses and twists his fingers into his comforter. "I didn't say anything because I knew you wouldn't like it."

"Stiles!" Derek hisses. "What if it hadn't worked? What if it had just made him unable to control himself and he'd attacked you?"

"But it worked," Stiles says. "I did my research, I brewed the poison myself. I knew what I was doing."

"And still you didn't know about the hallucinations!"

"None of my sources mentioned it! Didn't mean the rest of it wasn't accurate!” Stiles protests, leaning forward. “Maybe it was a side effect of him being a zombie werewolf, I don't know!"

"Anything could have happened!" Derek says, a little bit too loudly, and Stiles has to slam a hand over Derek's mouth.

"You're going to wake up my dad," Stiles hisses straight into Derek's ear, and, woah, okay. They are in each other's spaces again. It's obvious he's losing his grip on the situation when he can't even remember moving closer. Derek glares at him and Stiles snatches his hand back and leans slightly away. "Anyway," he continues, "nothing happened. Everything went according to plan. Mostly. You just have to accept that I'm awesome and move on."

Derek glares at him some more, but Stiles just glares right back.

"After the poison had burned away, when I told him that you were sorry about the hallucinations, he started laughing," Derek says quietly, sitting on the edge of Stiles’s bed. "He said to tell you that he will play by your rules, for now. Whatever that means."

"Awesome," Stiles says, scooting forward so that he can sit next to Derek. "It means that I scared him off."

Derek frowns. "He also told me to tell you that you are still his favorite."

That makes Stiles grin, because even if Peter is completely crazy, he's also kind of funny. "Of course I am. I have it from a reliable source that I'm pretty much everyone's favorite." Then he nudges Derek with his elbow. "Am I your favorite?" he asks. He makes a joke of it, because, yes, it's a joke, but some part of him wants it, without any humor. He can accept that much about himself, at least.

Derek rolls his eyes and pushes his knuckles gently against the back of Stiles's head. It's a gesture that is starting to become familiar and that Stiles associates with fond exasperation. "Sorry to disappoint you," Derek says. "After tonight’s stunt, you should be glad you're even in my top three. Boyd is my favorite. At least he knows when to shut up."

That's pretty much what Stiles expected to hear, but there's still a tiny little pang of disappointment over it, which is just silly. "Don't think that I missed how all your protests over my plan were about the chance of me getting hurt," Stiles says, because he apparently has a death wish. "It's been kind of a running theme lately." And, yeah, all the playfulness drains away from the situation quicker than Derek manages to pull away from him.

"It might still happen," is all that Derek says, though. "He'll want revenge."

"Probably, but if I know him at all, it'll be some kind of grand, convoluted plan and served very, very cold. He isn't going to climb through my window tonight and slash my throat." And then Stiles gets it. "That's why you're here now, isn't it? You thought that he might come back here so you came over to protect me? Really?"

"Stop laughing at me," Derek says and he sounds pained and looks kind of miserable. Which is new and completely unexpected and suddenly Stiles isn't sure what's going on at all.

"What?" Stiles says stupidly. "I'm not laughing at you, what are you talking about?"

"I get it already," Derek continues. "It's not the same to you. How could it be? You don't feel-- Just... stop acting like it's funny that I'm trying to keep you safe."

"What is going on?" Stiles asks, bewildered, but Derek's out the window before he can even finish the sentence.

Chapter Text

It's not actually very hard to figure out. Even Stiles has limits on how much in denial he can feasibly be before he needs to admit things to himself. It doesn't make it any less bizarre, though.

Stiles gets about seventy minutes worth of sleep that night. The fact that he now feels guilty about hurting Derek Hale's feelings, that he's apparently in a position to do that now, robs him of all sleep. He tosses and turns, trying to will the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach to go away, until it's almost 6 A.M. and he can't take it anymore.

So he calls Scott.

Never mind that he's apparently turning into a thirteen year old girl over this (although he's pretty sure even thirteen year old girls are cooler about this stuff than he is), he just needs to talk about it and Scott is obviously the best choice for that. Well, Scott is his only choice, because who else could he call at six in the morning? No one, so it's good that Scott seems to get this kind of thing.

"Stiles?" Scott mumbles into the phone when he finally answers it. "What's wrong?"

"You like Derek, right?" Stiles asks.

"Uh... I guess? He's pretty okay nowadays," Scott slurs, relaxing again now that he knows Stiles isn't in trouble and just being, well, Stiles. Normally Stiles would understand but even though he's not in actual mortal danger, this is still important. Also, he sat bravely through the dozen or so late night or early morning calls from Scott that came when he and Allison broke up the first time. Scott owes him, damn it. "He's still not my favorite person or anything. Dude's not exactly likable." And that's obviously a completely incorrect statement, but just proves that Stiles knows Derek better than Scott does. Or, well, it's possible that Stiles might be a little biased.

Stiles takes a deep breath. It'll be better if he just lets it all come out, right? "And if I said that I think he's more than okay and that I like him? Maybe more than... You know? You'd tell me you understand and wouldn't disown me or anything?"


"I've been really stupid," Stiles says. "Like I can't even believe myself right now. It's just that I thought no way that's possible and then just dismissed all subsequent evidence because the situation is just that impossible to comprehend."


"Fuck," Stiles groans and buries his face in his pillow. "I need to talk to Derek about this, don't I? I'm going to die. I need to actually face him and figure things out and try not to let him distract me with mortal danger or fairies or something. Oh my god, I can't believe this. I'm going to die."

"Uh," Scott says, sleepy and obviously just on the verge of dropping back into dreamland. "Good luck."

Then he hangs up on Stiles.

"This wasn't supposed to happen," Stiles groans into his pillow. "This was definitely not in my ten year plan." And then he's laughing at himself, and the situation, and everything's hilarious because it's 6 A.M and he hasn't slept at all. And maybe he feels the slightest bit relieved and at ease with the world again.

And then he falls asleep.


Going to school with one hour of sleep is awesome. The first couple of hours are actually all right but then the clock hits ten thirty and suddenly every noise is too loud in Stiles's ears and things like desks and walls and other students are there only to trip him up or slam into him. He drops his backpack twice on his way to English. It just slips right through his fingers like he can't quite manage the complicated task of holding on to things.

"So did you call me this morning or did I dream it?" Scott asks from him at lunch, while Stiles is valiantly trying not to fall asleep in his fries.

"Yeah," Stiles sighs and stares at his plate. "I freaked out."

"Want to talk about it?" Scott asks, glancing over Stiles's shoulder at the table where Stiles knows Erica, Isaac and Boyd are sitting. "Later?"

"Yeah, maybe after I've gotten some sleep and can think straight again," Stiles says and gnaws on a fry.

Scott groans. "That was a weak attempt at a joke, dude."

"Yeah, I know," Stiles sighs, even though he has to go over his words again to spot the joke, and drops his fry back onto his plate. He can't eat. It's not because he's nervous, he's just not that hungry, he decides. "I really need some sleep. Even my jokes are tired."

"That was slightly better," Scott says and offers his fist for Stiles to bump. "There's hope for you yet, young padawan."

"Didn't we already establish our roles in this movie franchise?" Stiles asks, but bumps Scott's fist anyway. "You can't just mix your Star Wars references like this. It's disgraceful."

"I thought that you once said that the more Star Wars references you can cram into a conversation, the better," Scott says.

Stiles has to admit that Scott has a point. "You are a wise man, Scott McCall," he intones and pops another fry into his mouth. "At least when you're quoting me."


"Why is it that if I want to have any secrets nowadays, I have to meet you clandestinely in empty classrooms? This is the shadiest thing ever," Stiles whispers to Scott in the deserted Chemistry lab.

"How do you think I feel?" Scott asks. "Me and Allison made out in this room too." Scott sighs and looks like a sad puppy.

"I hope you aren't using me as your rebound girlfriend," Stiles says and narrows his eyes. Scott isn't allowed to start mooning over Allison right now.

"There's no rebounding from Allison," Scott says gravely. "It's impossible to get over her."

"Dumbass," Stiles says fondly.

"Anyway," Scott says and his expression goes serious. "I was pretty much asleep for most of your phone call, but I have a memory of being really confused and you saying that you like Derek? That part wasn't a dream, right? Because I'm pretty sure you also said something about unicorns and zombies working together to take over the Beacon Hills police department."

"Dude," Stiles says. "I've said this before, but I really want to be in your head and watch your dreams like movies. Your brain has the best stuff."

"Stiles," Scott whines. "Focus."

Stiles sighs and rubs a hand over his face. "Yes, right. I said that I liked Derek. That's exactly the questionable life choice that I was freaking out over."

"But why? I mean, I get that he's pretty good looking, I guess, but he's Derek." Scott looks confused, like he honestly can't see the appeal at all. Which he probably doesn't, because this is Scott and Scott likes sweet, nice people like Allison. Stiles sighs again.

"Look, you're better at this stuff than I am, can't you give me any tips? Like, what did you do to make Allison date you?"

"Uh, I asked her out? On a date?" Scott says.

Stiles hates Scott a little. "Yeah... That's not going to work with Derek. This isn't helpful at all."

"So... do you think Derek likes you back?" Scott asks and then lets out a frustrated groan. "Oh, man, I can't believe I'm having this conversation."

"I'm, uh, pretty sure?" Stiles says. Last night, in the dark, when Derek practically fled his room, he had been so sure, but the longer he spends thinking about it in the daylight, the more unsure he feels. "I don't know? This whole thing is so weird!" he says when Scott pulls a frustrated face at him.

Scott sighs like he's in pain, but he sets his jaw and gets a determined look on his face. "Okay, so my mom gave me this advice and it's about girls, but I think it works for your situation too," Scott says and squares his shoulders like he's about to go on a stage to give a speech. "Just tell him how you feel," he starts, face so earnest and open that Stiles wants to pinch his cheeks. "He doesn't know how you feel and he needs to know, so... You know. You need to tell him."

Well, Scott had a solid beginning, at least. "Wow, how did I not think of that?" Stiles rolls his eyes.

Scott huffs, exasperated. "No, you don't get it. There's no other way around it. You can't just, I don't know, buy them presents and hope that they'll get it from that. You need to actually tell them. With words."

"Well, that's easier said than done," he says. These are the two things he knows about himself: he's a coward and a liar. And Scott is the opposite of him. Stiles has always known that. It's one of the reasons why he loves him so much. Scott can go for what he wants directly, without circling endlessly around it.

He tries to imagine it, standing in front of Derek and just telling him, to his face. It's almost impossible.

"It's pretty simple, actually," Scott says, apparently reading Stiles's expression correctly. "Either you can live with not telling him or you can't. If you can just let it go and move on, you probably should do that. But if you can't... You know."

Stiles takes a deep breath and nods. "Yeah, I know. Feelings suck."

"Tell me about it," Scott says and wraps his arm around Stiles's shoulders. "Well, you could just jump him and hope for the best, but that doesn't really work out in real life. Like, there's this thing called consent and everything."

Stiles kicks Scott in the shin and enjoys his outraged yelp of pain.


Derek doesn't answer his phone. Of course he doesn't, why would he make it any easier for Stiles? No, Derek's MO is coming in through windows completely unexpected and making Stiles's life hard. He isn't at the warehouse like Stiles had thought he would be. He only meets a slightly puzzled Boyd there, who tells him that he hasn't seen Derek all day. So he drives to the Hale house, because that is the only other place Derek could be hiding at, at least as far as Stiles knows. It is disconcerting to realize that even after all this time, he really doesn't know what Derek does all day.

"Derek! Are you home?" Stiles calls from where he is lurking at the Hale house front door. The house looks just as deserted and haunted as it always does, but something feels a bit off, like Stiles has somehow developed a sense just for knowing when Derek is lurking in the shadows instead of just not being there. The house feels Derek-less, but he still steps inside. His gut is telling him something isn't right, and he tends to listen to his gut nowadays. You have to start trusting something that is literally never wrong.

"Derek?" he tries again and steps into the wrecked living room. Someone has tried to prop a table up on its wobbly legs and a chair or two have been straightened from the last time Stiles saw the place, but it's still a total mess. "Peter?" he calls next, a lot more cautiously, because it would be just like Peter to stay silent until he's in the optimal position to scare the crap out of Stiles.

He really wishes Peter isn't around. He doesn't particularly want to meet the guy alone ever again.

He hears a creak of the floorboards from behind him, from the direction of the stairs, but he can't even turn around before someone is grabbing him.

"I don't want my last thoughts to be about Peter," he thinks and then someone hits him on the head and everything goes black.


When Stiles wakes up, he's still alive. He's also tied to a chair and his head hurts so the situation isn't as ideal as it could be. If it had been, he'd have woken up with his head in Lydia's lap, her staring down at him with a concerned look while Derek pummeled the person that had hit him into dust in the background. Now that would have been ideal. But when does he ever get what he wants?

"Ugh," Stiles groans. "Getting knocked unconscious really sucks. I know, because that happens to me so much that it's actually starting to worry me. All I'm saying is that this is better be worth the potential brain damage." His words come out slurred and it feels like his mouth is filled with cotton, but he hopes the message was still received properly. He makes a quick wish that it won't be hunters this time. Then he opens his eyes.

"Uh," a thin, unassuming man in a sweater vest says. The only remarkable thing about him is his messy, thick, dark brown hair that puffs up from his head like the rules of gravity don't apply to it. "I'm sorry?" It sounds like a question.

This is definitely not what Stiles had been expecting.

There are two other people in the room, both of them women. The older one has long, silver hair in a thick braid and a face that was probably stunning when she had been young, still is, in an old lady way. Now she's at least seventy years old, but her body still looks strong and her eyes shine in the darkness of the room. She's also clearly a werewolf. There's no doubt about it. It's not just the eyes, though Stiles doesn't exactly know what it is that made him so sure. Maybe it's also the way she's holding herself; powerful and slightly predatory. Stiles is starting to recognize that particular way of standing, even Scott sometimes looks like that. The other woman is younger, Stiles guesses around thirty years old, with hair as dark and thick as the man's. Her stance is fake-casual, her arms crossed in front of her. Their features are all similar enough that Stiles thinks they are all related. Which probably means that they are all werewolves, even though he struggles to understand what kind of werewolf wants to dress in a sweater vest. The other two are wearing a more traditional werewolf getup, with lots of leather.

"Do you need anything? Food? The bathroom? Tea?" the werewolf in the sweater vest asks with a look on his face that is earnest enough to hurt Stiles's soul. These people definitely aren't professional kidnappers. They can't even pull off threatening when he's tied to a chair and outnumbered. Not even when they are werewolves. Mostly they just look uncomfortable and nervous.

"This is the least intimidating kidnapping ever," Stiles says. He's not particularly scared anymore. "Or the most aggressive way to try to make friends, I'm not sure."

The man visibly wilts under his judgment. "I'm really sorry I hit you on the head," he says, like that will make Stiles rethink his opinion. "I didn't expect you there but then you were there and we had a chance. And I took it and I'm really sorry."

Stiles tries not to feel stupid about getting knocked out by a guy that looks more like a cliché of a computer programmer than a dangerous werewolf, but it's difficult. He hopes Derek and the others never hear about this.

"You know who I am," Stiles says, because obviously. "So you know about my pack and that you're trespassing in our territory. So what the hell?"

"We need your help," the younger woman says, stepping up to stand next to the man.

That's the second thing Stiles hadn't been expecting. It baffles him enough that he falls silent and just stares at the trio for a while. "What?" he asks. "Why?"

"Because we're in trouble," the man says.

Stiles stops to think for a second. "Wait. Are you the ones that are chewing up innocent woodland creatures and scaring joggers?" he asks. "Because if you are, I have to tell you, you really picked the wrong place for it. Hunters have noticed and are very interested. Is that it? You know who the resident hunter family here is, right?"

The werewolves cast nervous looks at each other, which is pretty much as good as an answer for Stiles.

"It's just..." the woman starts and then sighs, her fingers flexing where she's holding her biceps. Her nails are painted bright red, but the polish is chipped, shineless. "Jacques. He's five and going through his feral phase. It's been difficult. It's better if we let him hunt and... chew on things once in a while." She looks tired. It's the kind of tired that Stiles recognizes. Too little sleep and too much worry, tired like she hasn't quite managed to take charge of the things in her life. Like it's all a little too much. Stiles is very familiar with that look.

"You have a kid with you?" Stiles asks, equal amounts of intrigued and horrified. He's not an expert - how could he be when no one tells him anything, ever - but he suspects coming to another pack's territory with a little kid in tow is not something werewolves usually do. "Feral phase? What's that?" He adds, but he can read in the tightening expression of the older lady (Stiles is pretty sure she's their alpha), that he has too many questions. It's hard to force himself to quiet down.

"Can you help us or not?" the alpha asks. Her voice is raspy, something that could belong to an aging cabaret star with too much whiskey and cigarettes in her past, if that was a thing outside of old movies, that is. "Can you talk to Hale?"

"Sure, I can talk to him," Stiles nods, partly because he'll agree to anything so that these people will let him go and partly because if they really have a freaking kid with them, he doesn't want anyone to end up gutted and dying on the floor when Scott and the others inevitably manage to come to his rescue. "I'm pretty sure that he'll be pissed about the kidnapping and violence that took place while you tried to ask for help, though," he can't help but add.

"You don't understand," the sweater vest guy says, swiping a hand through his hair and making it stick up even more. "I don't know how much you know about the history, but the Hales are an old family and they've always been very territorial. And then there were the rumors about them..." He shudders. "The Hales are intense. We needed something to bargain with. Or someone else to talk to first. You're human and his second-in-command, so you were the logical choice."

"Wait, wait, wait, what?" Stiles says. He would be waving his hands too, but they are still tied behind his back, making it difficult to express the whole force of his incredulity. He tries anyway. "I'm not his second-in-command or anything. I don't even know how you got that idea. That doesn't make any sense!" He laughs a little nervously. Maybe these people are actually delusional and possibly completely insane. Maybe he should be worried about his life after all.

The man gives him a dubious stare. The alpha lady bursts out laughing.

"Oh, this pack is amusing," she giggles. Actually giggles. "And very weird."

"You're the weird one, lady," Stiles mutters.

"How does the Hale boy rule his pack?" the alpha smiles, still amused. At least she isn't giggling anymore, it was creeping Stiles out.

"With the power of his glares," Stiles grits out. He's starting to get irritated with these people. It's none of their business how Derek does things. They don't know. "Hey, could you maybe untie me so we can get this done and over with?"

The man steps forward, but the alpha makes a sound of warning and he stops. "We need protection," she says and steps closer. "We need a permission to stay inside Hale territory. We need an asylum and we need amnesty," she says, stressing every point, like it's important that Stiles remembers the exact words. "We let you go in good faith," she finishes and rips her claw through the ropes around Stiles's wrists.

"Please," the younger woman whispers when Stiles stands up. The alpha steps in between her pack and Stiles, facing him, and puts her hands on his shoulders. She presses down firmly but carefully, sliding her palms over his shoulders and down his arms, and then steps back.

Stiles isn't sure what happened there, but he knows it's something, some kind of werewolf ritual, maybe. It leaves him feeling uneasy and jittery.

"Derek will want to talk to you before making a decision," he says and takes one more step away from the werewolves. "How can we get in touch?"

The man moves forward and reaches out, handing a small piece of paper to Stiles. Stiles takes it, mostly on instinct, and is once again surprised when he finds out he's holding a business card. There's a phone number and a weird swirly symbol printed on it. It's more intricate than Derek's triskelion, but Stiles recognizes the similar pattern.

"A phone number?" he asks, incredulous. "You're telling me we can just call you, instead of doing some kind of mystical mumbo-jumbo or howling in the woods?"

The man eyes him with clear confusion. "Well. Yes," he says. "Wouldn't that just be overly complicated?"

"Oh my god," Stiles mutters. "I'm reconsidering my life choices right now. I can't even tell you how this makes me feel."


When he steps outside, he finds out that he's been held in one of the leisure cabins that sit near the preserve border. He's three or four miles away from Derek's house and there's no sign of his Jeep anywhere. For a second, he considers going back into the cabin to ask for a ride, but then thinks better of it. Even if this pack hadn't been very threatening, they still make Stiles feel uneasy. He can walk back.

When he finally, finally, gets back to the Hale house, he finds Isaac sitting on the front porch, frowning at Stiles's Jeep. The moment he senses Stiles there, his head snaps to him and he gets up, throws his head back and lets out a long howl.

"Stiles!" he calls. "You're okay!"

"Yes," Stiles says, unable to keep all the frustration out of his voice. He just had to walk miles and miles, he's a little tired. "What's up?"

"Everyone's out looking for you," Isaac says. "Derek got here and there were traces of you and two strangers. We thought you had been kidnapped or something. Derek kind of went crazy."

Stiles rolls his eyes. "So that howl was to call them back?" he asks.

Isaac nods. "We just got here, they can't be very far yet," he says and then Scott is trashing through the forest towards them.

It only takes about ten minutes before the whole pack - except for Derek - is there, panting and staring at Stiles like he's responsible of making them run around for nothing. Stiles's head aches. There's a bump on the back of his head. It had felt tender when Stiles had poked at it while he was walking back, but he isn't bleeding. He doesn't think the others have noticed it yet, so he keeps his hands away from it and tries not to show them that he's actually in pain.

"What happened?" Scott asks for the sixth time. He's the only one asking questions. The others are clearly waiting for Derek. Stiles waits for him too, because he doesn't want to explain this twice, not while his head is killing him.

And then Scott asks: "Is that rope burn on your wrists?"

The expressions on everyone's faces instantly go from mildly irritated to concerned.

Stiles is saved from answering when Derek finally appears."Stiles!" he barks and strides towards them. Then he suddenly stops, still a few feet away from their group, and frowns. He takes two more steps towards them and Stiles can actually see his nose twitching. His frown deepens and turns into a full blown glare and then he takes another two steps towards them. Then suddenly he's so far in Stiles's personal space that their noses are almost touching and Stiles is treated to an extreme closeup of Derek's furious eyes. His heart makes an uncomfortable lurch in his chest.

"What the hell, dude?" he asks and tries to take a step back.

Derek's hands land on Stiles's shoulders, his fingertips digging into Stiles's skin. "What. Happened," he grinds out.

"Totally not my fault, you can ease up on the righteous fury," Stiles says and tries to shake Derek's hands off him. The movement jostles his head and he can't hide the wince.

"You're hurt," Derek says and lets him go.

"Just a bump on the head," Stiles says. "You need to chill out, though. I'll tell you what happened, but I need you to stop glaring at me. I have a headache and you're not making it better."

Derek lifts one hand like he's about to brush it over Stiles's head, but backs down when Stiles glares at him. "So we kind of have a situation," he says and then tells them everything.

"You're sure they used those words exactly?" Derek says after he has finished. "Protection, permission, asylum and amnesty?"

"Yeah," Stiles nods and winces when his head throbs. "It sounded weirdly formal."

"That's because it is," Derek sighs and runs one hand through his hair.

Stiles waits for a while but Derek doesn't say anything else. "Care to elaborate?" he finally says.

Derek shakes his head. "Take off your hoodie."


"Ugh, just do it, Stiles," Derek says and holds out a hand.

Stiles rolls his eyes, but obeys anyway. It's not worth fighting over, not when Derek has got that mulish expression on his face. He hands it to Derek, who yanks it away from him, stalks to Stiles's car, pulls a door open and throws the hoodie inside with so much force that it slams against the passenger side window.

"What did my poor hoodie ever do to you?" Stiles asks when Derek gets back. "Such mistreatment!"

"Okay," Derek sighs, still ignoring Stiles. "Let's get inside. We need to figure this out."

The others all start walking towards the house, but Stiles heads for his jeep. His backpack is there and he is pretty sure he has some painkillers there somewhere. He rummages around until he finds the pack of pills. He pops two into his mouth and swallows them down dry. By the time he's done, the others have all went inside. Except for Derek.

When Stiles crawls back out of the car and straightens up again, slamming the door behind him, he sees Derek standing on the porch, watching him like he's afraid to let him out of his sight. It makes something swoopy wake up in Stiles's gut, but he ignores it because, well, so not the time right now. He stuffs his hands in his pockets and walks to Derek.

"So..." he says, keeping his voice low so that the others inside the house have a lesser chance of overhearing. "Are you ever going to tell me anything or are you just going to make me guess everything on my own?"

"It doesn't matter," Derek says after a small pause and Stiles isn't sure if he's talking about the other pack or not. Or if it's more of a general answer. Or... Well. This might be the vaguest little conversation Stiles has ever had and it's making his headache worse.

"I'm choosing not to take offense at that answer," Stiles says firmly. He's sure Derek didn't mean to imply that Stiles doesn't matter. Well... pretty sure. "One problem at a time," he says and grins, going for reassuring but not entirely certain that it works because Derek's frown just deepens. He turns away from Derek and goes inside.

"It's an ancient pact," Derek says once they are all gathered in the living room. "A weaker pack can seek a stronger pack's protection temporarily, if they are being threatened. It goes back centuries ago to when the packs were smaller and not as established as nowadays." He shrugs. "It's a survival thing."

"What's in it for the stronger pack?" Boyd asks, frowning.

"The payment could be anything the two packs agreed on. Territory, magical items, even pack members," Derek says. "They don't really have much to offer us."

"But we're going to help anyway?" Stiles asks. "They have a kid with them, we can't just kick them out of Beacon Hills."

"It's not our problem," Derek says but then hesitates. "But.."

"But?" Stiles prompts. He's getting tired of having to pull every little morsel of information out of Derek by force.

"But they got to you. Their alpha left her scent on you," Derek says.

"So?" Stiles asks.

Erica huffs. "They want our help but then they keep threatening us? They are practically begging for us to hand their asses to them."

Which... yeah. The way the alpha lady had gotten handsy and the way Derek had made Stiles take off his hoodie like it had personally offended him suddenly make a lot more sense. Stiles is starting to get a little annoyed with them. There's also something a little unsettling in the way they are doing things, making it hard for him to think of them as helpless as they seem to appear.

"They're desperate," Scott mutters. He looks at Stiles like he's ashamed that he's pointing that out, like he thinks he should be screaming revenge over the fact they hit Stiles on the head.

Stiles rolls his eyes. "Yup, definitely desperate. And probably not very bright. But I think they're just trying to protect their kid."

"From what, though?" Boyd asks.

"Exactly," Derek nods. He flashes a small, proud grin at Boyd, wide-eyed and open, like he still gets surprised about Boyd's awesomeness, and Stiles has to look away before he's overwhelmed by it. He rubs a hand over his head just to have something to do with his hands and flinches when he hits his bump. He hopes he doesn't have a concussion.

His concentration is shot to all hell, although he isn't sure if that's the fault of the injury or just Derek.

"Well, that's not ominous at all," Erica says.

"Before anyone gets really paranoid, I have to say that it's probably just hunters," Stiles says and doesn't think much about how that is nowadays almost a relief, some kind of normal after giant snakes and fairies.

"We'll find out when I talk to them," Derek says.

"Oh, right!" Stiles says and gets up. He gets a head rush from standing up too quickly and sways a little when he goes to Derek.

Derek eyes him warily when he digs out the card Sweater Vest Guy gave him. "Here, their phone number. I think the symbol is their mark, you know, like your swirly thing."

Derek frowns down at the card before taking it. Their fingers brush and Stiles has to actually stop himself from letting out a nervous giggle. He is going to be completely useless until this thing has been resolved. He kind of misses denial.

"Scott. Take Stiles to the hospital to get checked out," Derek says and continues to frown down at the card.

"No, hey, you haven't told me your plan yet," Stiles protests when Scott gets up and grabs Stiles's arm, ready to haul him out of there right away. Stiles flops his arm around, trying to get rid of Scott's hand, but it's no use.

Derek raises his eyebrows. "I'll talk to them."

"That's not a plan, Derek," Stiles says sternly.

Derek rolls his eyes. "I'll talk to them, hear them out. Then I'll come to tell you what they said and we'll discuss what to do."

"We'll talk about it, right?" Stiles presses. "You're not just saying that and then going off and deciding on your own, right?"

Derek's face does the pinched, completely put upon, bitchy face of doom that Stiles secretly thinks is adorable, and then he sighs. "Right."

"Pinky promise?" Stiles says just to be obnoxious, holding up his pinky. Derek huffs and pushes him away from him, towards the door.

Stiles lets Scott drag him out.

They don't go to the hospital, though. Scott drives him to his house, where Melissa checks him for concussion while Stiles tells her that he was chasing Scott and fell down the stairs. He's not sure if she buys it. She doesn't say anything or even glare more than is appropriate for that story, but it's hard to tell with her sometimes.

"One day you'll learn how to control your limbs," she says. "And on that day, I'll organize a parade down main street for it."

"It's good to always have hope," Stiles tells her cheerily.

He doesn't have a concussion, so that's something at least. His head still hurts and he commandeers Scott's bed for a nap. He has school tomorrow, the clock is nearing seven and he hasn't even thought about his homework yet, but Stiles doesn't really care. His dad is on the evening shift that week, so he won't be back before midnight, at the earliest. So he just stays at the McCall's, and it's not because he's worried about going home to an empty house, it's just nicer to be with people. It has nothing to do with kidnappings and strange werewolf packs. Absolutely nothing.

"You can stay over," Scott says when Stiles finally gets up and starts fishing around for his backpack.

"Yeah, like your mom will let me stay on a school night," Stiles snorts.

"She knows something's going on. She'd let you stay if we asked," Scott whines. "I don't like the idea of you being alone right now."

"I can take care of myself," Stiles mutters. He can. He has set up traps all over his house in case Peter comes knocking again and he has stuff there, things he can use.

"But..." Scott says.

"I just want to go home and get some sleep. In my own bed." His headache is mostly gone, but he still feels tired. Too many things have been keeping him awake lately. It doesn't help that he barely slept the night before. Actually, he's pretty surprised he hasn't just keeled over from exhaustion yet.

"I'll drive you home," Scott says and Stiles lets him, because, yeah. Sleep deprivation.

They are halfway to his house when Scott clears his throat and Stiles immediately has a bad feeling about everything. "So... did you talk to him?" Scott asks.

"What? No. I didn't exactly have time," Stiles snorts. "And there are more important things going on right now."

"But you are going to? You're not just using this thing with the other pack as... I don't know. An excuse to get out of it?"

"No, I will. I'll talk to him," Stiles says firmly, trying to make himself believe it too. Because this is so totally his MO that it's kind of depressing.

Scott eyes him like he knows exactly what he's thinking. "I think you should," he says. "I think you really, really should."

Stiles bites down on his lip and doesn't answer, tries not to think about it.

"I just..." Scott says softly. "I think you might be surprised."

Stiles groans and closes his eyes, like that somehow would stop Scott talking about it. Miraculously, Scott drops the subject.

Scott makes him surround his room with mountain ash before he agrees to leave Stiles alone. It's going to be a hell of a thing to explain to his dad if he sees it before Stiles has a chance to clean it up in the morning, but he's so past the point of caring. When he's finished, he stumbles onto his bed still fully clothed and decides to just give up on homework altogether.


His incredibly obnoxious Big Bad Wolf ringtone wakes him up a little before midnight. It's a struggle to get his phone out of his jeans pocket, mostly because he refuses to roll over from his stomach.

"What?" he croaks half into the phone and half into his pillow. His voice is raspy and lower than usual. He sounds exhausted even to himself.

There's a long pause before Derek answers him. "I talked to them."

"Yeah, and?" Stiles says and rubs his face on his pillow, trying to wake up enough for the conversation.

"...Did I wake you?" Derek asks instead of answering, because of course he does.

Stiles sighs. "Yes, Derek. Yes you did. I didn't get any sleep last night and in case you didn't notice, today was a bit rough on me. So I was asleep. In fact, I think I might still be asleep. So will you tell me what happened or do I have to come there and beat it out of you?"

"You couldn't beat me even if you had werewolf powers," Derek says. It sounds like he's actually amused by the conversation, and isn't that a novelty?

Stiles snorts, because it's somehow incredibly funny that the words 'werewolf powers' came out of Derek's mouth. "I bet I could, even without any powers. I fight dirty," he says and grins into his pillow. He's totally flirting with Derek Hale. He's completely ridiculous.

There's another long pause before Derek speaks again. "Are you okay?"

"Yup. Mrs. McCall said I didn't have a concussion. Just a big bump on the head and a killer headache. Nothing I haven't dealt with before. I'm peachy. I'm just really tired."

"Okay. Good. I'll talk to you tomorrow," Derek says and hangs up without as much as a 'bye, Stiles'.

"...Were you just checking up on me?" Stiles asks from his silent phone.

The screen blinks out without providing any answers.


Stiles sleeps through his alarm (actually, he's not sure if he even set it before going to sleep) and would have probably missed most of the school day if his father wouldn't have dragged him out of bed.

At least he feels somewhat refreshed now. There's no papers due that day at school and Stiles can bullshit his way through unfinished math assignments like a pro. School he can handle. Now that he can stay awake through it, at least.

What he can't handle, is the sight of Derek Hale leaning against his Jeep when he stumbles out of the school at the end of the day. He is staring at the school doors, frowning. The line of his body, the way he leans on Stiles's car, is honestly pretty suggestive, though Stiles is almost positive Derek doesn't realize it. People give him looks as they pass him, varying from alarmed to appreciative. Seriously, Stiles is pretty sure he actually sees one or two sexual epiphanies there too. Derek, of course, doesn't pay any attention to any of it. If he even notices.

It's really kind of awkward to walk the distance between them when Derek refuses to look away from him. Stiles gives him an awkward wave when he's about half way there and then just hurries his steps so that he doesn't do anything more embarrassing than that.

"Heyyy, Derek... What's up?" he asks and bounces a little on his feet when he finally gets to Derek.

"What are you doing here? You need to stop ambushing us at school!" Scott says from next to Stiles, his voice gone high and whiny which is a sure sign of annoyance, and oh yeah, Scott is there too. Stiles had actually forgotten about him. Which tells how well he's dealing with everything related to Derek right now. God, he really needs to just say something to the dude and get given a list of reasons why it's a bad idea and maybe then he could move on.

Not the important issue right now.

"Go home, Scott," Derek says.

"Like hell!" Scott . "I--"

"Oh, whatever," Stiles sighs, interrupting the glaring match before it even has a chance to get properly underway. "I'm assuming you're here to talk about the newcomers, right? And whatever you refused to tell me on the phone last night."

"Yes, Stiles," Derek says, his tone snappy. "Now, can we go somewhere else to have this conversation?"

Stiles looks around himself, and, yup, people are still staring. He takes a deep breath and rolls his shoulders. He doesn't have the energy to argue. "Go home, Scott," he says.

Scott makes a noise of protest and Derek just looks at him, practically oozing smugness. Stiles is so irritated with both of them, he doesn't even have the words. "You," he says, turning to Scott. "I'll talk to you later. And you," he turns to Derek and pokes a finger at his chest. "Get in the goddamn car."

"We'll take my car," Derek says and pushes himself off of Stiles's Jeep, heading for the Camaro parked a few spaces further down. He doesn't even check if Stiles follows.

"Oh for the..." Stiles mutters and shoves his car keys at Scott, which at least makes Scott frown a little less at him. "Don't scratch her!" he warns and then hurries after Derek.

"Like I would!" Scott calls after him.

Stiles climbs into Derek's car, which, he has noted, always seems to be spotless and impressively shiny. (Maybe that's what Derek does all day!) His heart blips from excitement when he settles on the passenger seat. Derek frowns at him like he heard it, but Stiles just grins back. He isn't embarrassed to admit that he has a crush on the car. Him and the Camaro are meant to be.

"Someday I will get to drive this car," Stiles tells Derek, patting the dashboard in front of him. "It's my destiny."

"In your dreams," Derek says. "I'm not insane enough to let you behind the wheel."

"Give it time," Stiles says. “Stiles induced insanity is a thing that creeps on you slowly.”

"Seatbelt," Derek says and then he pulls out of the parking lot.

Stiles remains quiet until they are turning away from the school. "So where are we going?"

"I arranged a meeting," Derek says. "I need to see the cub."

Stiles turns his head so that he can more effectively stare at Derek, because, really? "The cub? Seriously?" he asks.

Derek just rolls his eyes and doesn't answer. "You need to be there because you've already met them and it's kind of a delicate situation, so..."

"You're bringing me? Into a delicate situation?" Stiles laughs. He doesn't really know how he could contribute, apart from just possibly accidentally offending everyone. "I don't know anything about werewolf politics!" Maybe he's there to even out the odds. The other pack has a five year old and their pack has a Stiles. It's not a very flattering thought.

"You're good at... dissolving tension," Derek says. His mouth twitches like he is trying very hard not to grin.

Stiles honestly doesn't know how to react. Was that innuendo? Or just a comment about his inability to shut up? Both? Something else? Stiles has no idea, so he decides to just ignore Derek, turning to look out the window. "So it's us two against their whole pack if things go sour? What if they don't even have a kid with them and this whole thing was some kind of weird plot?" he says to the buildings flashing by. They are heading to downtown Beacon Hills. Huh.

"I don't trust them either," Derek says. "But they can't do anything to hurt us." Then he slows down and pulls to a stop in front of a local family restaurant.

"We're meeting them at Lisa's?" Stiles asks.


Stiles narrows his eyes. "It was their idea, wasn't it? You were completely prepared to meet them in an abandoned warehouse or a parking garage, weren't you?"

Derek huffs and gets out of the car, but he isn't denying anything either.

"Dude, everyone in the world is better socially adjusted than you!" Stiles calls after him and then hurries to catch up. Derek holds the door open for him. Stiles suspects it's just to be contrary, but he pretends not to notice. He waves at the waiter and they are shown to a table.

"Hey," Stiles says when he sits down. "Can we order something and eat while we're waiting for them to show up? I'm starving."

Derek sighs, like it's a great personal tragedy that he has to deal with Stiles, but takes the menu the waiter is offering him.

"Thanks, Nina," Stiles says when she tries to give a menu to him. "I'll just take the special, please."

She grins. "Sure thing, Stiles. What about your friend?"

Stiles glances up at Derek and finds him scowling at him over the top of his menu. It's not an angry expression, though. It's more confused than anything else.

"Dude, I come here all the time with my dad. This is basically cop central, especially during lunch." The realization comes while he's still speaking. "Huh." The diner is probably the safest place to do this thing in the whole town that isn't the actual police station or within a circle of mountain ash. Stiles narrows his eyes at Derek. Maybe it wasn't the other pack's idea to meet there after all.

"Coffee. And the turkey sandwich, please," Derek says and gives the menu to Nina without taking his eyes off of Stiles, not breaking their impromptu staring contest.

"Coming right up!" Nina says cheerfully but Stiles doesn't miss her sly glance between him and Derek. Suddenly he's pretty sure that his dad will hear about this. Damn it.

"So when are the others supposed to be here?" he asks.

Derek blinks and loses the staring contest. "We're early. You have time to eat." Then he falls quiet again.

It doesn't take long for their food to arrive. Stiles digs into his huge bacon-and-vegetables omelette and tries to ignore Derek's stare. Because Derek seems to be content in ignoring his sandwich in favor of watching Stiles eat. The intense scrutiny is making him feel self-conscious. Thankfully he has perfected the strategy of grossing people out, he has had a lot of practice with Scott. He glares at Derek and then proceeds to chew with his mouth open until Derek's forced to look away in disgust.

"That's right," Stiles says, his mouth still half-full. "You just eat your damn sandwich." He finds Derek's leg under the table and kicks at it.

Derek sighs and takes a sip from his coffee. Then he touches his foot against Stiles's. Stiles would think of it as retaliation, but it's too gentle for that. It’s almost a caress and there is a distinct possibility that Stiles has accidentally slipped into playing some sort of tentative, stilted form of footsie with Derek. It makes his heart jump and speed up. He gets about two seconds of hope that Derek didn't notice before Derek gives him a strange look. Stiles looks away and wishes that at least Derek won't comment on it.

He has almost finished eating when he hears the door open. He looks up and sees the alpha lady with the girl and a kid that looks too much like the girl to be anything else than her son. He's holding her hand and when he spots Stiles and Derek his huge brown eyes get even wider. It's hard to not find him completely adorable. Damn little kids, it’s like they’re Stiles’s kryptonite.

They pause at the door until Derek gives them a small nod. Only then they make their way to them.

"Take a seat," Derek tells them, but frowns when the alpha lady sits down next to Stiles. Stiles kind of shares the sentiment. He'd rather be sitting next to Derek and not across from him right about now. He bumps his foot against Derek's boot again.

"Hello, Stiles," the alpha lady says. She sounds friendly enough, but Derek's frown just deepens.

"Hi to you too, uh," Stiles says. "I don't actually know your names."

"I'm sorry," the alpha says, still all amiable and honestly creeping Stiles out a lot. "My name is Marie and this is my daughter Jeanne and her son Jacques."

"Okay, yes. Nice to meet you, Marie, Jeanne. Jacques." He gives the boy a small smile, without showing teeth, because the boy looks spooked enough already without Stiles possibly threatening his wolfy side or whatever. He doesn't actually know if it matters, but better safe than sorry. When he hears his name, the boy turns his wide-eyed stare from Derek to Stiles. The effect of his stare is devastating. Stiles resists reaching out and ruffling his hair, but only barely and mostly because he'd have to lean over Marie-the-alpha-lady to get to him.

"Why are you here?" Derek says. His voice is low and deeper than usual and everyone's attention immediately snaps from Stiles to him.

The smile drops from Marie's face. "We are being hunted," she says.

Hey, score one for Stiles.

"Any kind of help you can give us," Jeanne says. There's a definite note of desperation in her voice. "Any kind. Would be appreciated."

"So you ask for help by kidnapping my... one of my pack?" Derek says.

"A mistake," Marie says. "I'm very sorry for that." She turns to look at Stiles, raising one of her hands to touch him on the arm, but stops immediately when Derek makes a noise in his throat. It could almost be called a growl. "I'm sorry, Stiles."

Stiles shrugs. He can't say anything or do anything, not when he has to concentrate on not letting everyone know how confused he is right at that moment. Or how much Derek's growl affected him. Or showing anything at all. Derek's leg touches his under the table again, and Stiles knows Derek's trying to reassure him, but it's not exactly working. He's Derek's... what? What did Derek almost call him?

The alpha lady is too close to him. He wants out of there so badly. "Hey, dude," he says to Jacques and clears his throat. "Do you want some ice cream? Because I want some." He glances from Derek to Marie and then to Jeanne, seeking permission. "Maybe we could go talk to Nina and see if she'll give us some?"

There's a pause in the conversation. Derek and Jeanne frown, but Marie gives a small nod and Jacques's face clears into a wide smile. "Come on, buddy," Stiles says and gets up. "If we both give her the puppy eyes, we're definitely getting ice cream." After another glance at Marie, he holds out his hand for Jacques to take. Jacques hesitates for a second, but then takes it and lets Stiles steer him towards the counter.

Jacques doesn't talk much, and his voice is quiet when he tells Stiles that his favorite ice cream flavor is strawberry. Mostly Stiles is just glad he doesn't have to sit at the table with three werewolves anymore. He has a hard time thinking of the little boy as someone who goes furry once in a while and is apparently going through his 'feral phase' right now. They sit at the counter and eat their ice creams in silence. Stiles keeps one eye on Derek, just in case he needs help, but he's deep in hushed conversation with the two women. He glances up at Stiles from time to time, but doesn't give him any kind of sign that he should get back.

When they finish their ice cream, Stiles offers his hand to Jacques again, and the kid takes it, doesn't even hesitate this time. They walk back to the table. Derek is still frowning, but the atmosphere isn't as suffocating anymore. Stiles grabs his chair and pulls it closer to Derek before sitting down. He doesn't even care if he's being rude. He's close enough now that their elbows bump together and it calms him down a little. "That was some good ice cream," he says and grins. "What's up?"

"Your alpha has graciously given us permission to stay in his territory," Marie says.

"And we will offer assistance if the hunters find you," Derek says. "But you stay away from my pack and keep a low profile."

"Of course," Marie says, nodding. Her eyes flicker to Stiles, but quickly return to Derek.

"Awesome," Stiles says. "Just, one question."

"Yes?" Marie says, raising an eyebrow. "What is it?"

"How many hunters are after you? I need specifics, I don't want to get any nasty surprises when they eventually sniff you out."

Marie blinks. "Five," she says. "A party of five hunters. They have been on our tail all the way from Louisiana."

"Okay," Stiles nods. "How likely is it that they will go to the Argents for help?"

Marie's expression darkens. "Very," she growls.

"Oh, that's good," Stiles says and grins. "We’re used to dealing with the Argents." Then he gets up. "It's been... Well, not fun, but you know how it is." He turns to look at Derek and keeps the grin on his face. "You're totally paying for the food, by the way. Bye Jacques." He waves at the little boy, who, to his surprise, waves back at him.

Stiles doesn't relax before they are back in Derek's car and at least five blocks from the restaurant. "Well, fuck," he says and leans back against the car seat. "That was weird, right? Everything about that was weird. This is not good."

"What?" Derek asks. He's still frowning, has been frowning all the way from the restaurant.

"You know what I'm talking about," Stiles says. "If the hunters are willing to go to Chris Argent for help, it probably means they follow the code."

"...Yeah," Derek says. Stiles can see his jaw tightening when he grinds his teeth together.

"Or, hey, look at the bright side. Maybe they are planning to lie to Chris and nothing has actually happened."

Derek just gives him a quick, dark look.

"...Yeah, this is bad," Stiles sighs and closes his eyes. "What did they say when you asked them about the reason they were hunted?" he asks, although he's pretty sure it doesn't really matter. At least not to Derek, who he's certain would always take the side of the werewolves over the hunters anyway, whatever they had done.

"They said that the boy had lost control on a full moon," Derek grinds out. "That they had got to him in time and nothing had happened but it had exposed them."

"Oh. Okay." Blaming it on the kid. Classy. "What are we going to do next?"

Derek shrugs. "We wait."

Stiles resists the urge to roll his eyes. "We need to prepare. You offered them our help, so we're going to help them, at least until we are sure that they are lying to us, right?"

"Yes," Derek says. He looks less than thrilled about it, which is understandable. Even Stiles feels uneasy with other werewolves in town, and he's not even one himself. He can't imagine how much it bothers Derek.

"Our pack is bigger and better prepared to fight than them. I'm pretty sure we could kick their asses," Stiles says. "You could have just said no to them and driven them out of town."

"No, I couldn't. I really couldn't," Derek says from under his breath, but doesn't elaborate. And that's just bullshit. Stiles doesn't have the patience for this.

"No," Stiles says firmly. "I'm not doing this cryptic bullshit with you again." He straightens in his seat so that he can properly glare at Derek. "What is it? Spit it out. You know I'm just going to bug you until you do."

"They would have sought revenge," Derek says and doesn’t look at Stiles. "Maybe even before anything happened to them. They could have..."

"What? What could they possibly do to make you agree?"

Derek lets out a long breath and glances at Stiles from the corner of his eyes. But he doesn't say anything.

"What? Oh..." Stiles breathes out when the meaning behind Derek’s look hits him. "Seriously? Me?"

"You," Derek says and doesn't say another word until they are in front of Scott's house, with Stiles's Jeep in the driveway.

Stiles grabs his backpack from the backseat and then slips out of the Camaro. He leans back in to talk to Derek, but then doesn’t actually know what to say. “Uh, I,” Stiles says and pauses, trying to find out what he wanted to say. “Thanks for the food, I guess?” He feels a little uneasy about letting Derek out of his sight, possibly because he doesn’t want him to run off to do something stupid that Stiles can’t prevent. So he lingers a bit. “And, you know, taking me with you.” He licks his lips nervously and lets out a short laugh at his own awkwardness. “I guess I see you later?”

Derek nods and then, just as Stiles is about to straighten up and head for the McCall front door, he mutters: “You need to be careful while they’re in town, Stiles. They might be weak right now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try something.”

“Dude, I’m always careful,” Stiles says and laughs when Derek gives him a dubious look. “Okay, maybe not, but I get it. I do.”

Derek doesn’t look reassured or particularly happy, but there’s nothing Stiles can do about it. “There’s an alpha werewolf I don’t actually trust here now. It’s not like I haven’t spent last twenty four hours thinking about how that could affect me,” Stiles says and pulls away from the car before he has time to register the expression on Derek’s face. He jogs to Scott’s front door and waves at Derek before going in.


They don't even have to wait a full 24 hours before things go wrong. The only consolation is that at least this way Stiles doesn't have the time to worry himself to death.

He's still at the McCall’s, dividing his attention between his Econ homework and Scott's Young Avengers comics while Scott despairs over his chemistry book. Scott's phone pings and he dives for it like a man desperate for anything else to do than homework.

Stiles knows it's Allison just from the way Scott's whole face transforms like someone had suddenly pulled the curtains open to reveal green meadows and rainbows, cartoon bunnies hopping and bluebirds singing. But then the happy look melts away and Scott's eyebrows pinch together.

"Allison says there's trouble," he says and that's the moment when Stiles hears the howl.

Both of their heads snap towards the window at the same time. The howl continues for a long time, ripping through Stiles and sending his heart pounding. "Was that?" he asks and Scott nods.

"Derek's calling the pack."

Stiles can feel the howl tugging at something just below his rib cage, making him want to move. The feeling is extremely unsettling, and if it's even a fraction of what the werewolves feel when their alpha calls them, he's suddenly a lot more impressed with Scott's control from when he had been just turned. "Yeah," he says and he sounds strained and embarrassingly eager, even to his own ears. "Let's go."

They get up and hurriedly pull on shoes and jackets. It's not until they're already sitting in Stiles's Jeep when Stiles pauses. "Oh, dude, I need to swing by home first, all my crap is there."

"Stiles," Scott whines. "We don't know what's going on, we need to move quickly."

Stiles groans, frustrated, and starts the car. "That's exactly why I need my stuff, I can't just magically pop out claws and fangs. You can run ahead of me if you need to, I can't--"

"No," Scott says, grim and decisive. "I'm coming with you."

"Okay," Stiles breathes out, trying not to show how relieved he is that Scott’s sticking with him. "Okay. Good."

He drives as quickly as he dares, parks the Jeep sideways in front of his house and then runs into his room, grabs little pouches of wolfsbane, mountain ash and hex bags he has prepared for situations like this. He almost doesn't take his newest creation, not sure if it will actually work, but then changes his mind and grabs the small vial from his sock drawer, stuffing it in the front pocket of his hoodie. It's as good a time as any to test it.

"You might want this too," Scott says when he gets back to the car, and shoves a baseball bat into Stiles's arms. Stiles recognizes it from all the times when someone with the name McCall has tried to hit him with it.

"What? Dude, are you insane? What use this is going to be against werewolves?" he asks and puts the bat in the back seat with his bag of goodies.

"Well, I'm just saying, you might want to hit a hunter instead," Scott shrugs. "I don't think a bag of wolfsbane would do much against them." He's trying to seem nonchalant, even if Stiles can see straight through that. There's a hint of hurt there, and now that Stiles thinks about it, he has been a little bit too preoccupied with worrying about werewolves when humans are the ones usually doing the most damage.

"Okay, yeah, you’re right. Thanks. Team werewolf, go!" He says and nudges Scott with his shoulder as an apology before climbing back into the car.

“How are we going to get to their exact location, though?” Stiles asks when they are halfway out of town. He’s been following Scott’s vague directions to head towards the preserve, because that’s where Scott told him the howl had come from. He doesn’t have more than the general direction and Stiles really hopes Scott has some kind of a plan to find Derek other than just driving aimlessly around until they get lucky.

When he asks Scott, he just rolls his eyes and sticks his head out of the window.

“Really?” Stiles asks, incredulous. “You’re going to sniff them out?”

“Shut up, my nose is awesome,” Scott says.

Scott’s nose is awesome and they find everyone in the parking lot where Stiles had been with Derek only a couple of days before, for the Hale territory check. It’s deserted, apart from two black SUVs that obviously belong to the hunters and Derek’s Camaro. It’s also really hard to miss the six hunters and a bunch of werewolves taunting each other in the middle of the lot. At least Stiles doesn’t see Jacques, which is good because there are guns trained to heads and extended claws and eyes flashing. He can sense the tension in the air, thinks it’s almost at its snapping point. No one really pays any attention to them, at least not until Scott marches right in the middle of the two groups, raises his arms like he’s trying to push both groups back, and yells: “Stop!” from the top of his lungs. “Stop right now!” As plans go, it’s pretty bad, but at least it confuses everyone and diverts their attention from the brewing fight.

“No, Scott,” Derek growls, but Scott doesn’t even acknowledge him.

And, damn everything, Stiles knows he has to follow Scott into this, he has to, there’s no way he can let Scott try to diffuse the situation by himself. He takes a long breath, squares his shoulders and marches right in the middle of it all, stopping only when he’s standing next to Scott. “Yeah, seriously,” he drawls, giving the hunters an unimpressed look, tapping the end of the bat against the ground near his sneaker. He spots Chris Argent towards the back of the group and recognizes two of the men as the ones he met in the forest. "We have got to stop meeting like this," he says when he catches the eye of one of the hunters who seems to recognize him too. He doesn’t see any of Chris’s men, though, which probably should reassure him, but it just makes him more nervous.

“He’s human,” Argent says, loud enough that everyone hears him, “lower your weapons.”

“Yeah, that’s me. Completely, one hundred percent human,” Stiles nods and lifts the bat to rest on his shoulder, twirls it like it’s an umbrella and they're in the middle of a musical number.

“Stiles,” Derek says from somewhere behind him. “Get out of the way.”

“So, here’s the thing,” Stiles says, ignoring Derek. “This pack is under our protection. You are trespassing, and, also, outmatched. Who thinks any of this is a good idea? Raise your hand.”

No one raises their hand and now everyone is glaring at him. Stiles can almost feel Derek’s eyes burning holes in the back of his neck.

“Really,” Scott says and Stiles knows without even looking that he has his pleading puppy dog face on. “Everyone needs to calm down before something bad happens.”

One of the hunters, a man with a closely cropped grey hair and a beard to match, snorts. “Something bad has already happened. One pack, two packs, it doesn’t matter to us. Get out of the way, boy,” he says to Stiles. There’s steel in his eyes when he looks at Stiles, giving him the distinct impression that he wouldn’t be very broken up about one werewolf-friendly human getting killed in the crossfire.

“I feel like there needs to be more communication here,” Stiles says. “More talking, less violence. Let’s all try to be civilized people here.”

That gets him a laugh from few of the hunters, though Stiles doesn’t really count it as a positive thing.

“I don’t see any civilized people here,” one of the hunters smirks. “These beasts are not even people.”

“Hey, that’s just hurtful,” Stiles says.

“Enough!” Derek cuts in before Stiles can say anything more. There’s a hint of the alpha voice there, and Stiles tries not to shiver from how it echoes in him.

“Finally,” he hears Marie mutter. “I was beginning to think your alpha would let a human boy do all the talking for him.” She sounds unimpressed and on edge, making Stiles wish he wasn’t forced to keep his back to her.Then there’s a warm hand on his shoulder and he’s being showed back, behind Derek, just like last time. And just like last time, he places his hand flat against Derek’s back in the vague hope that it'll keep him from doing something colossally stupid.

“Do you follow the code?” Derek asks from the hunters.

“Yes,” the same hunter that had talked to Stiles says. Stiles knows Derek’s listening to the lie, but he feels Derek’s shoulders tense even more under his hand and he knows the hunter is telling the truth.

“Tell me,” Derek says and takes a step forward, so that now Scott too is standing behind him. Stiles lets his hand fall back down and doesn’t move with Derek.

"She killed someone," the hunter says to Derek, gesturing towards Jeanne with the hand that isn’t wrapped around a gun. "We have a right to hunt her."

"Shit," Stiles thinks. He knew there was something. There's always something. He slips his hand inside the front pocket of his hoodie and closes his fingers around the small vial there. He has a feeling he is going to need it soon.

"No!" Jeanne yells and grabs Stiles before he can even react to the shouting. But, honestly, he isn’t even surprised. It’s like he has ‘fragile human pack member, feel free to maim!’ written on the back of his hoodie. She drags him back, away from everyone and towards her pack, like Stiles is wide enough to shield them all. "I can't leave him! I can't just leave my son!" One of her arms is squeezing around Stiles’s chest like a vice, making it hard for him to draw full breaths. "I will kill this one if you try to come any closer!"

Stiles can see everyone stiffening, the hunters pulling their weapons closer, standing ready to react immediately when something happens. Scott is crouching low, ready to jump at someone's throat and Derek's almost vibrating, his eyes shining red. Someone is growling.

Stiles has the insane urge to warn Scott and Derek that they've turned their backs to the hunters, like they think him being in danger is a valid reason to suddenly turn stupid.

"Jeanne," Marie says, a growl of command coming into her voice, but it doesn't seem to affect her at all.

"The hunter threatened Jacques," Jeanne sobs against the side of Stiles's face. "I had to do something. I had to kill him. He was going to kill my baby." Stiles can feel her sharp nails even through his hoodie, slowly digging through the fabric and into his skin. Her right hand is right over his heart. Maybe she’ll try to rip out his heart, that would be new.

Someone lets out a deep growl. Stiles thumbs the stopper off the vial and replaces it with his thumb before letting his hand drop from the pocket, the vial hidden in his palm.

"I can't leave him," Jeanne says and she's crying now. Stiles can feel wet tears where their cheeks are pressed together. "He needs his mom. Help me. Help me, Hale, or I will kill this one."

Stiles meets Derek's eyes and gives him a shaky grin. Derek's now completely wolfed out and Stiles realizes that the steady, threatening growl he can hear is coming from Derek. He has to act quickly before anyone tries to attack Jeanne and get him killed in the process. He closes his eyes, holds his breath, waits for Jeanne to let out another sob and dumps the contents of the vial over his shoulder, straight at her face, right when she's drawing a breath.

She screams and her nails dig into Stiles's chest and his left bicep. Pain flares, immediate and sharp. It makes his head spin and his eyesight go blurry for a second. Stiles drops to his knees, feeling his flesh tearing even further before Jeanne finally lets him go, staggering backwards. She howls and Stiles rolls away from her, staying low. He can't stop the whimper from escaping when he presses his hand over his heart.

"The deal is off," Derek growls and it's in his alpha voice, the full force of it going straight through Stiles, vibrating in his rib cage.

Everything explodes into chaos.

Someone lets an arrow fly and Jeanne screams again. There are shouts and growls. Stiles can't see what's happening because his whole vision is filled with Derek who is suddenly there next to him, his arms going around Stiles. He shoves Stiles down and wraps around him like he's trying to bodily shield him from everything going on around them. Stiles feels a sticky dampness trickling down his arm and chest.

"I think I'm bleeding," he mutters against Derek's leather jacket.

"Stay down," Derek says, his mouth right over Stiles's ear. It makes a shiver run down Stiles's sides and he presses closer to Derek.

"They're running!" one of the hunters shouts. Stiles tries to twist so that he can see, but Derek tightens his hold on him, making it impossible for him to move at all. Stiles hears the hunters shouting, car doors slamming shut and engines roaring. Derek doesn't react when the hunters go after the other pack. He allows himself one breath, just a second of silence, before he speaks.

"They aren't bad people, Derek," Stiles says quietly, even if he isn't actually sure about that.

"I don't care," Derek says and doesn’t move.

"They're just scared."

"I don't care."

"They have a little kid with them," Stiles says.

"I don't care," Derek repeats again. Stiles can feel Derek's fingers curling against his back.

Stiles knows what Derek means. It’s not like he agrees with the other pack, or approves of their way of doing things. He doesn’t even like them, he has too many bruises from them for that, but.

"He's going to lose his mom," Stiles says. He doesn't really care about what happens to Jeanne, but the thought of the quiet little boy curls something cold in the bottom of his stomach.

It's hard to breathe.

He can feel Derek lift his head to look at their pack, who have been very quiet the whole time, so quiet that Stiles had almost forgotten they were there. "Make sure they get away," he says to them. "And make sure they leave our territory."

"Stiles?" he hears Scott ask. He sounds unsure, ready to ignore Derek's order to... what? Hover worriedly over Stiles and Derek until he's sure Stiles is going to be okay? Probably.

"I'm fine," Stiles says to Derek's chest. His nose is pressed into Derek's jacket and he can smell leather and rain. He doesn't really want to move. "Go make sure no one kills anyone."

There's a pause and then Stiles hears running footsteps going away. Everything goes so quiet that he can hear his ears ringing. He curls his fingers in Derek's jacket lapels. "We're alone," he says. "You can probably let go now."

"Yes," Derek says and doesn't move at all.

"I'm still bleeding, you know," Stiles points out, which seem to be the magic words for getting Derek to snap out of it. He lets Stiles go and pulls the sleeve of Stiles's hoodie gently away from the claw marks on his bicep. The fabric sticks to the blood, making Stiles hiss when it yanks at his wounds.

"They're not that deep," Derek says, relieved. Then he's pushing Stiles's shirt up to check on his chest. "These are even shallower," he says and pulls the shirt back down before Stiles even has a chance to blush.

"They still hurt like a bitch, though," Stiles mutters, trying to distract himself from the feeling of Derek's fingers on his skin. It's easier than it could be: he just got clawed all to hell and it hurts, no matter what Derek says.

"They need to be cleaned up and dressed, but I don't think they'll even scar that much. I have a first aid kit in my car," Derek says. He gets up and pulls Stiles to his feet. He's being surprisingly gentle, very carefully trying not to disturb the wounds. Then he lets go of Stiles and turns towards his car, and it feels too much like a loss. Stiles can’t take it.

"Derek," Stiles says. Derek stops and turns back to look at him.

Stiles hadn't known he was going to do it before he actually goes for the hug. He just sways into Derek, wrapping his arms around Derek's neck, even if it pulls at his wounds. His whole body gives an involuntary shudder and he buries his nose in Derek's collar. There's a moment of hesitation and then Derek puts his hands tentatively on Stiles's waist.

Stiles lets out a long breath. When he inhales again, he can smell blood and leather and Derek. "Oh my god. I hate life or death situations," he mutters against Derek's skin.

"You might want to stop putting yourself into them, then," Derek says.

"That's victim blaming," Stiles says and lets his lips brush against Derek's neck on purpose. They are pressed so tightly together that Stiles can feel the hitch in Derek's breathing. "This 'grab the squishy human' routine is getting old really fast. Good thing I'm at least fifty percent self-rescuing, I guess."

"Too bad you're also hundred percent trouble magnet," Derek says.

Stiles laughs and clings to Derek for a little while longer. It's surprisingly comforting, even though Derek is a lousy hugger, all stiff and unyielding and lacking in soft parts. Then again, maybe it's all the muscle that is making Stiles feel ridiculously safe. Or maybe it's just Derek in general.

It probably is just Derek.

"You're still bleeding," Derek says after a moment.

"Yeah, probably should... Yeah," Stiles says and steps away from him. They walk to the Camaro and Stiles goes to sit sideways on the driver's side so that his legs are stretched outside the car, while Derek goes through the trunk to find the first aid kit. "Aren't you supposed to be out there, being the alpha right now?" Stiles asks when Derek resurfaces. "You know, making sure that the kids don't accidentally kill anyone?"

Derek shrugs. "They can handle it on their own. Scott's in charge." He walks to Stiles and shoves Stiles's knees apart so that he can kneel in between them. And, okay, that's another thing for Stiles to ignore right now. He looks at Derek's face instead. He has a look of complete concentration when he cleans Stiles's wounds. The antiseptic stings, but Stiles can't help but grin. He's probably still high on adrenaline because he feels kind of giddy, almost too happy, considering the situation.

"What?" Derek says when he notices Stiles's grin.

"You don't need a first aid kit," Stiles grins happily at him. He wants to tell Derek everything now. Derek shielded him with his own body, he stayed behind to look after him when he didn't have to, when it would have made a lot more sense for someone else to stay. It's starting to become pretty obvious that this isn't just in Stiles's head. "You're secretly sweet and cuddly. And kind of bitchy, but that's not a secret. You nap in my bed when I'm not there and steal all my clothes because you suck at normal interaction. And it's completely useless for you to have a first aid kit in your trunk."

"And?" Derek says, raising his eyebrows like he wants Stiles to get to the point already. "Did you also hit your head?"

"Nope," Stiles grins and leans forward, pressing his mouth against Derek's.

Before this, he's kissed three people in his whole life. Although one of them was when he was four years old, so it doesn't really count. The second and third ones were Jessica Graham and Lauren Cox, last year, during a game of Spin the Bottle, so they don't exactly count either, even if Lauren had totally slipped some tongue in there. So it's not like the feeling of someone's mouth on his is a completely new experience to him. But none of the other times were even close to this.

Derek doesn't pull away instantly, which is the first surprise. He answers the kiss hesitantly at first, like he's not sure what's happening. Stiles lifts one hand to Derek's cheek so that he can rub his thumb over the stubble there. It's rough under his fingertips, but Derek's mouth is soft, softer than he had ever imagined. He drags his tongue tentatively over Derek's lower lip and Derek makes a small sound of surprise and opens his mouth for him, deepening the kiss. Stiles lets Derek take over.

It takes him a few moments to figure it out, to how to kiss Derek. It helps that Derek kisses him slowly, with deep concentration. He’s frowning, but his eyes are closed when Stiles sneaks a look at him. Stiles worries about where his hands are and about the sluggish trickle of blood still leaking from his wounds. He gets sidetracked when there's a hand suddenly pressing down high on his thigh. And then he just... suddenly gets it, what to do to make it better. He lets his thumbs rest on the curve of Derek's jaw and tilts his head a little and forgets about everything else than the kiss.

Stiles doesn't know how long they keep at it, and he really doesn't care. But eventually Derek pulls away, looking a little dazed and Stiles realizes that both of his hands are now somehow fisted in Derek's hair. He let's go.

"Um," he says but doesn't know how to continue.

Derek just stares at him for a moment and then pulls Stiles back to him and buries his face in Stiles's neck, one hand gripping the back of Stiles's head and one at his waist, effectively keeping him right where he is. Derek brushes his nose along Stiles’s neck and then presses it in the soft place just below his ear and Stiles can hear him sniffing there. "Oookay," he squeaks. Derek's hand moves from the back of his head to his neck, fingers splaying against his cheek and all the points of contact where skin touches skin are buzzing. Then Derek's moving back down but instead of his nose he now presses his lips on Stiles's neck. "Oh my god," Stiles says faintly and melts against Derek. It feels like his spine has suddenly liquefied and every touch of Derek's lips flows through him, pooling in the pit of his stomach. Derek pushes Stiles's head back gently, so that he is blinking up at the Camaro's ceiling, and presses kisses on the underside of Stiles's jaw. Then he presses his mouth on Stiles's Adam's apple and the dip between his collar bones and Stiles can't stop shivering.

His fingers are tangled in Derek's hair again and he has officially lost all control of the situation. Then Derek bites down on the thin skin right over his collar bone and Stiles lets out an actual, honest-to-god moan and tightens his fingers, pulls at Derek's hair.

After a moment of that, after Stiles has found at least three new kinks for himself, Derek looks up and their eyes meet and lock. Stiles gives a whole body shiver and he knows he's blushing, but he can't look away.

"What," Stiles whines. "Don't stop."

"Still. Bleeding," Derek says.

"Oh, right," Stiles mutters. He grins at Derek sheepishly, hating the way Derek still seems to be capable of rational thought while he's unable to think about anything else than getting Derek's mouth on him again. His cheeks are burning, but he's not sure if it's just embarrassment or also stubble burn. "Oh my god," he groans.

Derek's lips twitch like he's suppressing a grin, but he doesn't say anything, just goes back to cleaning Stiles's wounds. Stiles's right hand has dropped on his shoulder, fingers twisted in Derek's jacket, but since Derek's not objecting to it he just leaves it there.

"I was supposed to talk to you about this," Stiles mumbles when Derek is dressing the wounds. "Like actually say things instead of just... uh."

"Kiss me?" Derek says. His head is bowed so that Stiles can't see his face and he's suddenly paying even more attention to Stiles's wounds.

"Well. Yeah. I mean I was going to demand answers too."

"Too?" Derek asks, sounding way too amused about it, but - for once - Stiles lets it go.

"Uh, the main thing I was going to say was that. Um, that..." Stiles flounders and stares at his hand on Derek's shoulder mournfully. It isn't supposed to be this hard, especially after all that kissing and licking and teeth, oh god. Then inspiration strikes. "You're totally my favorite. It isn't even a competition, not really. I mean, Scott who?"

Derek huffs and it's totally a laughing huff. Stiles narrows his eyes. "Are you laughing at me?"

"No," Derek says and finishes fiddling with the bandages. "Not at you."

"Liar," Stiles says, but he can't put much indignation into it. It comes out kind of fond, actually.

Derek stands up and steps away from Stiles. "Come on," he says. "I'll drive you home."

"What about the others?" Stiles asks, but climbs out of the car and circles to the passenger side. He glances down at himself, at his shredded shirt and the blood stains and all his gory glory. "Oh, dude. Finally I can be the one bleeding all over your car. Now we can see how much you like that."

"Not much at all," Derek mutters and Stiles is pretty sure he wasn't supposed to hear that so he doesn't comment on it. Derek clears his throat and continues at normal volume: "The others will be fine. And they'll call if something goes wrong."

"Or howl, more likely," Stiles says.

"Probably," Derek says and starts the car.


Stiles's house, when they get to it, is dark and empty. "Crap," Stiles mutters. He glances at his watch. It's not even nine yet. "Dad has the evening shift this week. He won't be back home until midnight." Normally it wouldn't be a problem, but Stiles kind of hates the idea of being alone in an empty house right now.

"Okay," Derek says and gets out of the car. Then he follows Stiles all the way into the house.

"Wait a minute," Stiles says when Derek closes the front door behind himself. "You don't have to stay and watch over me until my dad comes home." Not even if Stiles kind of wants him to. "You have to be itching to get back out there and check up on everyone else. I know you want to."

"Not particularly," Derek says, shrugging like he isn't at all worried about his pack.

"Wow," Stiles breathes out. "Either you suddenly have a lot more faith in your pack than you usually do or I'm actually having the Allison effect on you. Either way, I'm kind of impressed. And worried. Worriedly impressed."

Derek rolls his eyes, but doesn't deny anything. "You're crazy if you think I'm going to let you out of my sight tonight."

He says it like it's a completely normal thing to say. Stiles... isn't sure how to react to it. His feelings answer with some sort of confusing swirl between relief, panic and nervous expectation with some actual joy thrown in there. He feels the whole jumbled mess of it all in his whole body.

"I, um, yes. I'm going to get a drink?" Stiles says. It comes out as a question and he cringes, flapping his hand towards the kitchen. "Uh, you?"

Derek's lips twist into another almost-smile. Or possibly it's more of a smirk this time. Then he shakes his head and turns away and goes to sit on the living room couch.

Stiles goes to the kitchen and takes an almost desperate drink straight from the milk jug. He doesn't know what to do.

Stiles fishes his phone out of his pocket and sends a quick text message to Scott.

Derek took me home. I'm ok. He's going to keep me company until my dad gets home. Don't worry.

Scott is still probably chasing the hunters and the other pack, so he doesn't wait for an answer before putting his phone away and heading to the living room.

Derek is sitting on the couch, his eyes closed and his head tipped back. He doesn't stir when Stiles enters the room. Stiles fidgets a little in the doorway and then he's suddenly angry with himself. He's an idiot. It's just Derek. There's no reason to get so uncomfortable now. He steels himself, straightens his shoulders and goes to sit on the couch. He's so busy trying not to be uncomfortable that he doesn't pay attention and ends up sitting too close to Derek, way too close. Their legs are pressing together. It makes Stiles nervous all over again.

Then Derek lifts his hand and pushes his knuckles lightly against the back of Stiles's head. When Stiles relaxes into the touch, Derek's fist uncurls and his fingers slide down until they are splayed against the base of Stiles's neck. Stiles bows his head a little and doesn't say anything.

"What was the powder you threw at her face?" Derek asks, breaking the silence.

"Huh?" Stiles is startled out of counting his breaths and wondering at the way they were synching with Derek's thumb stroking his skin. "Oh. Just some peppers and chilies and a little bit of ground and dried wolfsbane just to give it some extra kick. Nothing lethal, but annoying as hell."

Derek's hand on his neck stills. "You..." he chokes out. "You pepper sprayed her?"

"It's not like I was actually trying to kill anyone. So, yeah, kind of."

"Stiles," Derek says. His voice sounds strained and when Stiles lifts his head to glance at him, he's laughing.

It's mostly silent laughter, but Stiles can see his stomach jumping under his shirt and the corners of his eyes are crinkling and he's covering his mouth with his free hand.

Stiles grins. "It's not that funny."

"She screamed like she was melting," Derek says.

"She probably inhaled a lot of it," Stiles says, watching Derek in fascination. He has never seen him like this before. "I mean, I timed it so she would, so..."

"I can't believe you," Derek says, slowly getting himself back under control. "Stiles, you have no idea." He uses the hand still on Stiles's neck to haul him closer and Stiles goes easily. He's still mostly distracted by the laughter lines in the corners of Derek's eyes. It's kind of a pity that he's never noticed them there before. They are a concrete proof that Derek's face works just like any other person's, so they instantly go to the list of Stiles's favorite things about Derek's face. Second place, right after the eyebrows.

"I'm pretty unbelievable," he says.

And then they are kissing again.

It's easier now. So much easier. Derek's lips feel familiar already and it makes him feel surer of himself. Derek lets his hand drop from Stiles's neck, but Stiles keeps going and just climbs into his lap. There’s a startled little oomph from Derek when he accidentally knees him in the side in his hurry, but Derek’s pulling him closer before he has time to pause and apologize. So he just kisses him again instead.

"So..." Stiles says, pulling away from Derek, but only far enough so that he can speak. Derek hums and dips his head to lick at Stiles's throat. "Are you going to tell me about all the weird shit you've been doing lately? I kind of want some answers."

"Like what?" Derek mutters against Stiles's throat. Stiles feels teeth scraping against his skin. And, yeah, he can see that becoming a problem very quickly. He's already half hard from the idea of more teeth.

“Derek,” he practically whines. He rolls his hips forward, can't stop himself. He clutches at Derek's shoulders and just breathes for a while. "Like why?" he finally manages to say.

“I don’t,” Derek says, takes a long breath and then pushes it out like he’s steeling himself for something. “I couldn't... I get a little crazy when there's someone... Stiles," he whispers against Stiles's collarbone. Stiles tightens his hold around Derek's shoulders and keeps him close. The way Derek's words come out jumbled and incomplete and the way he's breathing, heavily against Stiles's neck, somehow give him a little more confidence. It's not just him that's overwhelmed. It's easier to admit now that he really wants this. So of course Derek drags his hands down Stiles's sides and sighs. "I didn't want to do this."

"You can stop sweet talking me any time now," Stiles mutters into Derek's hair. "This is making me feel so good about myself, you don't even know."

"You're so young," Derek says and his lips move on Stiles's skin, making him shiver.

"Yeah, there's not much I can do about that," he says. He hopes that Derek isn't succeeding in talking himself out of this, though. "But I say that if I'm old enough to be in mortal danger on a weekly basis, I get to be old enough for this. Things need to balance out somehow, you know."

Derek huffs a small laugh against Stiles's neck and his fingers tighten on Stiles's hips."Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's not how that works." He doesn't move away or let go or do anything else stupid, though.

Stiles wants to wrap himself all around Derek. He wants to keep him there forever, warm and solid and laughing, and not let anyone else touch him ever again. Which, yeah, is edging towards worrisome behavior, so he loosens his grip on him and pulls back, but just enough so he doesn't go cross eyed when he looks Derek in the eye. "So, are we going to make out some more now?" he asks. The urge to joke his way to a lighter mood is too much to resist. "Maybe there could even be some groping involved? I'd be down with that too. And I'm not exactly sure how far these things should go right away, but I'm just saying that a handjob isn't out of the realm of possibility here. Although, to tell the truth, it will probably be kind of crappy for you, since I have never done anything like this before."

Stiles thinks he can see honest-to-god panic flash in Derek's eyes. "Oh god, you're a..." Derek chokes out.

"Yeah, totally a virgin!" Stiles grins, because watching Derek's reactions is suddenly the funniest thing in the world and a little bit of personal embarrassment doesn't deter him from making Derek pull faces like that. Then the thought that it might be a deal breaker hits. "I mean, I thought you knew that," he says, suddenly insecure. "I thought pretty much everyone knew that."

"Yes, I... Just. Oh god," Derek groans and closes his eyes, pressing their foreheads together. "I'm going to hell. Your dad is going to kill me and I'm going to hell."

Stiles rolls his eyes. "Don't worry, I will protect you from my dad. At least my dad doesn't know to use wolfsbane bullets when he goes after you." Then another realization hits him. This one is even more horrifying than the idea of Derek backing out. Damn it, he hates sudden realizations. "Oh my god, you're coming to dinner next weekend! My dad is going to kill you if he finds out! And oh god, he's going to find out because you are kind of obvious."

"Fooled you," Derek mutters into Stiles's neck. "You didn't catch on until a few days ago."

"Yeah, but I'm obviously stupid about things like this. But my dad isn't," Stiles says. "He notices things. It's his freaking job! You better not even look at me funny or we're screwed. I don't even want to think about this."

"Stiles..." Derek says, but Stiles has had enough of that. He grabs Derek's head with both hands and pulls him into a kiss. "So we're just going to ignore all that?" he mutters against Stiles's mouth.

"Yup," Stiles says. He's banning thinking for a while. It hasn't done them any favors so far.


Sadly, there are no handjobs that night. They just make out forever, slowly sliding down until they are lying on the couch, Stiles leaning over Derek. And it's awesome. Especially after he gets his hands under Derek's shirt and Derek makes a noise.

He tries to get his hand into Derek's pants once, but Derek grabs his wrist and pulls it away from his fly. "No, Stiles," he says, but it's not unkindly.

"Sorry," Stiles says, because, yeah, he's actually kind of relieved Derek stopped him, now that he thinks about it.

"No, don’t apologize. Just," Derek says, shaking his head. Then he sighs and pushes Stiles off of him.

"Whaaat?" Stiles whines. "I promise I won't try that again, seriously."

Derek rolls his eyes. "It's almost midnight. I need to go before your dad gets back."

Stiles blinks at Derek and then reaches for his phone that he left lying on the coffee table. "Yes," he says. It's twenty to twelve, which comes as a bit of a shock. "Yes, you should really go now. You should definitely go. I'll see you tomorrow, though?"

Derek nods and then just looks at Stiles. Stiles kind of hopes he doesn't look as wrecked as Derek does. Derek's hair is standing in weird angles because Stiles could not stop pulling at it and his mouth is red and kind of swollen.

Who is Stiles kidding, though? He probably looks worse. He doesn't have any hair to mess up but, unlike Derek, the hickeys on him won't magically disappear right away. Nor does the stubble burn. Most of Stiles's face and neck feel tender to touch. It's awesome, but it will definitely be horrible if his dad catches sight of him like this. "You were going," Stiles says. "Your car is in front of the house."

"Yes, I'm going," Derek says and leans in for another kiss.

"Oh my god, we're that couple," Stiles jokes into the kiss, even though it's definitely too early for couple-jokes, and ruins it even further by grinning and making it impossible for Derek to kiss him properly.

Derek nips at his lower lip and then retreats. "I'm going," he says again and then actually goes.

Stiles stays to listen to the sound of the Camaro driving away and then scrambles upstairs. He goes to the bathroom to dab some shaving lotion on his face and hopes for the best. Then he goes into his room, gets a hand on his dick and comes in about two seconds. By the time he hears his dad come in, fifteen past twelve, he's cleaned up and is sitting in front of his computer, doing the homework he has been ignoring for two days. It's the most productive thirty minutes he has ever had.

"Stiles?" his dad calls, because of course he knows Stiles is still up.

"Yeah, dad!" Stiles shouts through the door. "I'm going to sleep now, just waited until you got home!"

"Goodnight," his dad answers.

"Goodnight!" Stiles shouts back and is very glad his dad doesn't feel the need to open the door and take a look at him.


"WHAT ARE THOSE?" Scott says and looks horrified. He points a finger at Stiles's throat and just opens and closes his mouth a couple of times.

"Good morning to you too," Stiles says cheerfully and hunches his shoulders higher, in an attempt to hide the bruises on his neck. It's not very effective. He tried wearing a scarf, but it just looked way too douchey on him. He was even more embarrassed to get out of the house wearing it than he was about all the hickeys being on display. And he didn't own any turtlenecks because of his personal vendetta against them, so he just avoided his dad until it was time to go to school and then walked around with his hood up over his head, so that his neck wasn't in full display. But of course Scott noticed.

Scott narrows his eyes. "So Derek was keeping you company last night, huh?" he says. Then he leans closer and very unsubtly sniffs at Stiles.

"Oh my god, keep your nose away from my business. Literally," Stiles groans and slaps his hand over Scott's face, pushing him away.

"You reek of him," Scott says and then licks Stiles's palm.

Stiles snatches his hand away, fast. "Dude! Gross!"

Scott just grins at him. "You told him," he says, sounding suspiciously happy about it.

"Well, kind of, yeah," Stiles says. If Scott found out what had actually happened, he would laugh and laugh and Stiles would never hear the end of it.

"And it obviously went well."

Stiles is pretty sure that's the understatement of the century. "Yeah," he says and grins back at Scott.

"Awesome," Scott says and this is why Stiles loves him.


"Although it's unfair how you two got to spend the night making out while we did all the work," Scott says and throws an arm over Stiles's shoulders.

"So now you know how I felt every time it was the other way around," Stiles points out, jabbing a finger at Scott's ribs. "And Derek can do whatever he wants. If he wants to spend his time making out with me, you can't tell him to stop. He's the alpha, you know," Stiles grins.

"Oh yeah," Scott says, rolling his eyes. "I really, really do know."

At lunch, Erica appears, flanked with Boyd and Isaac. They had obviously waited until Lydia and Jackson left so that they could corner Stiles with only Scott as his backup. Erica sits down opposite of Stiles, lays her arms on the table and rests her chin on her hands. "So," she says and grins up at Stiles. "Are you my mummy?"

Stiles groans and wonders how it's possible to both love her and hate her so much at the same time. She takes a very obvious, very long breath through her nose and her grin widens.

"You made Derek nervous," Isaac says and sits down next to Erica. His eyes are wide and his grin is crooked. It's the most delighted Stiles has ever seen him. Stiles looks from Erica to Isaac and then to Boyd, who is also smiling at him. It's creepy.

"You're making me nervous now," he says.

"He couldn't stay still at all last night," Erica tells him, sounding absolutely gleeful. "He kept pacing around like he wanted to drive back to your place and climb through your window. He almost left twice before he stopped himself." Erica cackles. "I think you broke him."

"He accidentally ate a slice of Boyd's pizza. With the chilies," Isaac grins. "It was hilarious."

Stiles knows he's beet red. "Oh my god, shut up and go away," he groans and resists the urge to bury his face in his hands.

They don't move and just keep grinning at him.

"Okay," Stiles sighs and tries to shrug the embarrassment away. It's definitely time for a change of subject. "If you're staying, at least tell me how it went last night."

Erica shrugs, even if the move is pretty difficult to pull off when she's still sprawled all over the table. "We caught up with the hunters and there was some violence, but nothing major. No one was really gunning for us anyway. I got shot with an arrow, which sucked. We stopped them from following and then we made sure that Marie's pack got out of Beacon Hills. I got to hit that bitch that clawed you, so that was good," she says and her smile turns satisfied.

“Good riddance,” Boyd mutters.

Stiles knows the hunters are just going to follow the wolves, even if they were slowed down. But at least there's a chance that they find another pack and do better at asking for help. They still have a chance of surviving and that's all Stiles really wanted to give to them. Mainly he just wanted them out of Derek's territory and out of their lives. They have enough problems of their own without adding another pack full of unstable werewolves to their mountain of suck, no matter how much of a loose end it feels like.

The claw marks on his arm and chest itch.


After the school day that left him jittery and unable to concentrate and lacrosse practice that was on the painful side because of Stiles’s inattention, he gets home, trudges up to his room and finds Derek in his bed. He's lying on his stomach, his hands shoved under Stiles's pillow, and he's out cold. Stiles freezes at the door with a strong sense of deja vu and too much giddy nervousness to handle. He places his school bag quietly on the floor and toes his shoes off. Then he shrugs off his jacket and tiptoes to the bed.

Derek doesn't stir, but he lets out a sleepy grunt, so Stiles climbs over his legs and slips on the bed next to him. It's a tight fit, his bed isn't very wide, but it's not like Stiles will complain about being forced this close to Derek. He's still mostly in awe that Derek actually allows him there.

"Is this going to be a thing now?" Stiles asks when Derek finally cracks one eye open. "Me finding you here just taking a nap like I actually invited you?"

Derek sighs and closes his eyes for a second more before opening them both. "I can go," he says and moves to get up.

"No!" Stiles blurts out and grabs Derek's shoulder, pushes him back down. He leaves his hand there just in case Derek is going to try to get up again. And also because it feels nice. Derek is only wearing a soft t-shirt and when Stiles slides his hand down a little, he can touch sleep warm skin. "Are you an idiot? Finding you here just made my whole day worth it. You." He points a finger at Derek's face. "Stay."

Derek gives him the unimpressed eyebrows. "You're so funny. No, really, the dog jokes are my favorite, Stiles," he deadpans, but the way he says Stiles's name sends something warm and crackling traveling down Stiles's spine. Then he leans forward and kisses the finger Stiles is still pointing at him.

Stiles stares. His mouth is hanging open, he knows, but he can't gather enough brain power to close it. And then Derek slips the finger into his mouth and suddenly Stiles's pulse is racing. He can feel Derek's teeth scraping along the side of his finger and his tongue pressing against the tip. "Oh my god," he says.

Derek lets his finger go and hides his smile inside Stiles's palm. It's stupidly adorable. "Did you just come here to sexually frustrate me some more?" Stiles squeaks.

"No," Derek says and sits up, letting go of Stiles's hand. "I came here to talk."

"Talk, yeah. Talk is good," Stiles nods and sits up too. "We kind of skipped a lot of stuff yesterday."

Derek just nods and doesn't say anything.

"Are we doing this? This... whatever it is," Stiles asks, gesturing between him and Derek. "Because if we are, you know things can't stay like they are now," Stiles says and wraps his arms around his knees. "This thing where you don't tell me anything and I have to figure it out by myself and then do all the work and then wait for your yes or no. You have to make an effort too."

"I know," Derek says.

"And you have to share things with me. I know trust isn't exactly your thing, but--"

"I trust you," Derek says, cutting him off. Stiles looks at him, surprised, but he's glaring at his feet instead of looking at Stiles.

"Since when?"

There's a pause while Derek apparently contemplates the poster near Stiles's bedroom door. "Since, maybe, after the night at the pool. At least that's where it started," he finally says, still not looking at Stiles.


"Because you let me go but then you came back."

Stiles snorts. "Of course I did. It wasn't like I was going to let you drown."

"Stiles... Just, that makes you pretty much the exception to the general rule," Derek says to the poster. "You keep coming back."

"So..." Stiles starts and pretends that Derek's words haven't left him reeling. He knows it's true, how even most of the people that Derek now considers friends have at some point let him down, but he has never really thought about what it actually means. The implications suck. He needs to stop thinking about it before he punches something. "How long have you felt like this... about me?" Stiles asks. It's hard to force himself say these things out loud, but he soldiers on in the name of full disclosure.

Derek groans. "Do we have to talk about this?"

"Yes," Stiles says firmly. "We are practicing the sharing thing and I really want to know. But, okay, let's start with something easier.... uh, how long have you been taking naps in my bed while I wasn't home? Because I caught you once. Which basically means that you had been doing it a lot, because you are a sneaky person with superhuman senses and won't be caught easily."

Derek groans again and wipes one hand over his face. "It wasn't like I was doing it all the time," he mumbles. "Just sometimes."

"Since when?" Stiles presses. He can see that Derek's horribly embarrassed and uncomfortable with the conversation and he almost lets it go when Derek finally looks at him again.

"Since the pool, basically," he answers. "Rarely at first, but then more and more. Not since you caught me, though."

"Okay," Stiles says and takes a deep breath. His chest feels like it's hollowing out, like there's a hole somewhere and he's leaking feelings all over the place. "Wow, there's really no hope for me," he breathes out. "Not when your creepy stalkerish behavior is actually making me happy. It's kind of worrying, actually. For the record, though? You have my permission to come over and sleep in my bed whenever you want. And that permission is retroactive, so you don't have to feel bad about it anymore."

Derek smirks at him. "I wasn't feeling bad about it."

"Of course not. Because you're a creeper," Stiles sighs. "And this is not the kind of supernatural romance where this is okay," he adds. Except it kind of is because apparently he finds Derek's creeperdom endearing. "When we're old and have become the kind of people who go to dinner parties where people ask us how we met I can't tell any of these stories to anyone," Stiles says and despairs a little. But then Derek's right there and kissing him, without any kind of reason for it at all, and Stiles stops despairing about their highly hypothetical, strange future since his whole brain has gone offline. He grabs Derek's head with both hands and kisses back, because no way he's going to refuse himself this, even if he's mildly confused about how he got it. It's open mouthed and sloppy and amazing, leaving Stiles panting into it.

"I think I'll never get tired of kissing you," Stiles gasps. "I thought I'd tell you, you know, since we're sharing things and all. Just so you know that it'll probably be a pain to try to get rid of me later."

"Sure," Derek says. Stiles tries not to make too much out of it, the way Derek goes with it so easily.

"Your turn," Stiles says. "Are we dating? This doesn't feel like dating, though. So far it's been just a lot of making out and confusion and hiding in my room. I kind of want dating. Um. If you want to."

"You want to go on dates. With me," Derek says. He sounds a bit disbelieving, like that hadn't even really entered his mind.

"Yeah!" Stiles nods and flails a little to cover up his embarrassment. "Of course I do."

"Dates. Like what?"

"I don't know. Normal stuff. I want to do normal stuff with you, in addition to all the death and mayhem. Movies. Pizza. I don't know." Stiles shrugs. "You like hiking. We could go hiking. Again. But without the magical werewolf territory element. Or the hunters. I'm also totally counting that time as a date, even though there were magical werewolf stuff and hunters, just so you know. It felt kind of like a date. Hey, you can even press me against a tree again, it'll be fun."

Derek just stares at him for a while, looking a bit like the proverbial deer in the headlights. Wolf in the headlights. Well, whatever. "I've... I've never been on a date," he finally says.

Stiles can't help the grin spreading on his face. He's surprised, but also secretly pleased. But there's also something in Derek's voice that tells him that maybe he shouldn't poke at this too much. At least not right now. "Amazing. Totally amazing. But hey, neither have I, so I guess we can do whatever and call them dates, since neither of us apparently knows anything about dating."

"I guess." Derek still sounds a little hesitant.

"I just want to flaunt you a little. All over town," Stiles says to that, because shock tactics seem to be effective when it comes to Derek.

Derek cocks an eyebrow at him. "I don't think that's a very good idea," he says.

It's not, if Stiles starts to think about his dad or one of his deputies seeing them. Or someone else who knows him or Derek. He was mostly joking anyway. But, still. "Your hotness is going to waste," he sighs, mock disappointed. "What's the use if I can't show you off to people and then tell them that you're mine and not theirs?"

Derek just gives him an unimpressed stare.

"Fine," Stiles laughs. "Apparently only you are allowed to be creepy in this relationship. No more joking about your incredible hotness. Got it." Then he sobers up. "Hey, you didn't actually say. Do you want to? Date me?"

Derek sighs and rolls his eyes, but he's blushing, just a little bit, over his cheeks and nose. The sight of it makes Stiles's heart beat faster. Something warm and exhilarating is humming through his veins, he can almost feel it at the pulse points of his wrists.

"Yes," Derek says. "Yes, I want to. Isn't it obvious by now?"

"I don't know," Stiles says and grins. "You might have just wanted to use me for sex."

Derek groans and buries his face in his hands. "I regret this," he mumbles. "I regret everything."

Stiles laughs. "Too late. You're stuck with me now." He nudges Derek with his elbow and then slides off the bed to dig through his backpack, just to have something to do.

Derek is quiet for a long time, watching while Stiles pulls out his homework and puts it down next to his computer.

"This is dangerous," Derek finally says, just when Stiles is trying to find something else to do. "I'm putting you in danger."

Stiles sighs and turns to look at Derek, who, despite his words, is suddenly standing right there in Stiles's space, like he can't keep away at all. He lifts a tentative hand to tug at Derek's collar. "It's nothing I haven't been already handling. I don't really care," Stiles says and finds out that he means it. He lets his thumb slide over Derek's collarbone. Then he slips his fingers under the shirt collar and moves it over to Derek's neck. His skin is warm and Stiles wants to press his mouth on it, to warm the tip of his nose against it. So he does just that.

"I just... I wish you didn't have to worry about me. Because you do. I know you do. I just wish that I wasn't so weak," he mutters into Derek's skin. Since they are sharing now, he might as well say it.

"You're not weak, Stiles," Derek says. It comes out harsh and so sudden that it completely wrong-foots Stiles. He takes one tiny step back so that he can look at Derek's face. And, yeah, Derek's scowling at him. He opens his mouth to point out the obvious: he's human and lacking in supernatural powers, when Derek's glare gets sharper. "Shut up, Stiles. I'm trying to say something important."

So Stiles closes his mouth and waits.

"It's instinct," Derek stars after a short pause. He's still frowning like he's having difficulties in finding the right words. "You're human so the predator instinctively sees you as the easiest prey, but... But the flaw in that is that instincts aren't intelligent. There's no real control over them." Derek falls silent and stares at Stiles, like he's trying to will him into understanding.

"So..." Stiles says. But he can't continue, because he doesn't get it. "I still don't get it."

Derek lets out a frustrated breath. "It's harder for us. For werewolves, to ignore our instincts. If she had grabbed any of us, our first instinct would have been either lash out at her or submit. But if you had done either of those... you'd probably be dead now. But you didn't. You had a plan."

"So you're saying that makes me... not weak?"

Derek rolls his eyes. "All of us have weaknesses, Stiles. All of us have huge weaknesses."

Stiles rolls his eyes right back at Derek. "Oh, great. Excuse me if I don't jump up and down in joy. I still don't see how sarcasm and brains are any use against claws and superpowers."

"Worked last night," Derek says, shrugging, and Stiles absolutely hates it when he's right like that, like it's completely obvious to him. Then Derek’s eyes go soft. "The point is that you are not the weakest member of this pack. You can outthink all of us," he mutters, glancing away from Stiles. Stiles tracks the movement of his Adam's apple when he swallows. He wants to put his mouth on it, scrape his teeth across Derek's throat, but he's not sure if Derek will let him. "You're the strongest person I know," Derek says then, not looking at Stiles, and Stiles can see a blush creeping up his neck and cheeks for the second time that day. It's almost hidden under the stubble but Stiles is too close not to notice.

And... yeah. That's pretty much it. The realization of it hits him hard, and he absolutely hates, hates it when they are so sudden, like Stiles is stupid and can't notice things before hit on the head with them. But it's there and it isn't going to go away. He's stupidly, impossibly in love. "I'm going to kiss you now," Stiles says and presses his whole body against Derek. Derek's arms go around him, but he bypasses Stiles's mouth and presses his nose against Stiles's temple, taking a deep breath.

"That's not a kiss," Stiles mutters into Derek's shoulder. "And, hey, are you sniffing me?"

"Yes," Derek says.

Stiles pauses for a while, listening to the small snuffling sounds Derek is making. It's kind of cute, actually. "Well, at least this time you're admitting it," he says.

"That night in the woods... with the snake," Derek says into Stiles's hair. "I heard you. I smelled you. All the way from your car, the moment you stepped out, even if that should have been impossible. That's what snapped me out of the trance. I called out for you and that's what saved my life. That's how you affect me."

And that... that isn't something Stiles had expected to hear. It feels huge, so huge that he can't quite wrap his mind around it. "Oh," he says and his voice sounds tiny to his own ears. He can feel his heart rate picking up.

Derek doesn't say anything else, but his hold on Stiles tightens.

"I hate that monstrous killer snakes know us better than we do," Stiles mutters.

"We?" Derek asks, sounding amused. "At that point I was well aware of what was happening. You were the only one who didn't know."

"Ha ha. Let's all make fun of Stiles for being emotionally stupid," Stiles says dryly, but it's hard to keep a hold on his irritation when Derek's hands slide down over his back until he is slipping his fingers underneath Stiles's shirt and pressing his palms against Stiles's skin. He tilts his hips forward until he's flush against Derek and drags his mouth over Derek's cheek until he can press their lips together. Derek sighs into the kiss and crowds Stiles against his desk. One of his hands is splayed against Stiles's back, his fingertips rubbing against the skin just beneath the waistband of his jeans. And... and, holy shit, Stiles might know where this is heading. There's a real possibility that he's going to have sex. In the afternoon. It's still light outside. There's absolutely no chance of fumbling in the dark for this. There will be nowhere to hide.

He makes a small, embarrassingly needy sound and grabs at Derek. His shoulders, his hair, anything he can reach. He wants to wrap his legs around Derek but he's not sure his desk would last under his weight. There's a clatter when something rolls off the desk and onto the floor. Derek is still under his hands, but yielding, allowing Stiles to touch where ever he wants. His heart is hammering in his chest like he's afraid, but all he feels is relief and a huge wave of affection that threatens to drown him.

It's a while before Derek breaks away from the kiss. The hand he doesn't have half way down Stiles's pants is resting over his heart. "Are you sure?" he asks.

Stiles rolls his eyes. "Yes, I'm sure. Do you want it in writing? Because I will write it down if you want. I, Stiles Stilinski, give my full consent to Derek Hale so we can have sex, lots of sex, so much sex that--" Derek huffs and silences him with his mouth. Which is awesome and Stiles completely approves of this method of making him stop talking. Not that it's completely effective. "So. Much. Sex," he mutters against Derek's mouth and feels it when Derek smiles. He's not sure if he's disappointed or happy that the smile gets lost in the kiss, that he can't see it.

Then Derek is backing up, dragging Stiles with him with a fist in his shirt. Stiles grins and goes easily, unable to look away from Derek's eyes and the intensity there. He's looking at Stiles like he's something desirable, like Derek's the one who can't believe his luck. Derek backs up until his shins hit the bed and then he sits down, pulling Stiles with him and into his lap. He presses his face into Stiles's throat, rubbing against him. Stiles can't stop a laugh escaping when he gets what it's about.

"This is some kind of scent thing, isn't it?" he asks. "Oh my god, like the clothes stealing! You fed me some bullshit about it, I can't even remember what it was right now."

"Most of what I said was true," Derek protests. "I just... left some things out. The scent thing, me wearing your clothes, us smelling like each other... It's not just a red flag and neither it is just for protection. I didn't do it just for that. If I had, it would have worked better if you smelled more like me than the other way around anyway."

"Yeah, I was wondering about that," Stiles says, even if he really hadn't been. Because he's an idiot.

"I did it because I needed to. I needed that link, even though you didn't seem to want it."

"Whoah," Stiles says, arching into Derek's touch. The idea of Derek needing that - Derek needing anything from Stiles - is coiling inside his stomach, winding him tighter and tighter. "That should not be as hot as I apparently think it is."

"This? What we're doing right now? It will only mix our scents even more," Derek continues. "And if we continue doing this, our scents will become indistinguishable from each other."

"It's like you're marking your territory," Stiles gasps. He should probably find the mental image of Derek rubbing himself all over everything in Stiles's life more amusing than he actually does. Mostly it's just hot, because everything about Derek is hot to him right now, it seems.

"I've been doing it longer than I've known that that's what it was." He licks a stripe down Stiles's neck. "The thing about my uncle is that he keeps crossing into my territory. I don't like it. He keeps leaving traces of himself on you. He was even in your room. It's unbearable."

"Jesus Christ, Derek."

"If I could, I would keep you away from everyone until you would only smell like me, until none of the other scents would take. And I know it sounds horrible, so I keep letting you go. But you keep coming back."

"I think there's a saying about that," Stiles mutters, but lets Derek shut him up with another kiss, this one a lot more frantic than any of the previous ones. Derek's biting at his lips and sucking on his tongue, and Stiles can't really do anything else than just let him. He groans into the kiss and grabs at Derek's neck, twisting his fingers in the short hairs there.

And then... And then. Derek grabs Stiles's shoulders and flips them over, pressing him down on the mattress, pinning him there with his weight. Stiles gets his wind knocked out of him and it startles another laugh from him. He gasps and giggles and tries to get himself back in control, but then Derek is kissing him and grinding their hips together, and Stiles is going to come without actually getting out of his pants or without Derek putting his hand anywhere near his dick. Or... Derek licks Stiles's earlobe and it should be ridiculous and tickly but it somehow really, really isn't. Stiles likes Derek's mouth on him, and his tongue...

"Oh god," Stiles breathes out.

"What?" Derek asks, his breath trailing hot over Stiles's cheek and neck.

"I'm thinking about you, oh god," Stiles gasps and arches up into Derek's body, seeking more friction. "Of you sucking me off. It's, nngh, it's a very vivid image."

"Stiles," Derek breathes out and it sounds a little bit desperate to Stiles's ears, like Derek wants to do it, is thinking about it right now.

His brain stutters at that and changes tracks completely. He starts cataloging what Derek likes, what Derek wants, like underneath the pleasure of Derek's mouth and hands on him, Stiles is trying to learn him. He tugs at Derek's hair gently and Derek moans against his neck, sending shivers down his spine, so he tugs again, harder. Derek presses his body down, all over Stiles and brings his mouth back up to kiss him again. It's a rush, a powerful, new kind of thing, and Stiles smiles against Derek's lips. "Move over," he mutters and pushes Derek off him and over, using the hold he has in his hair as leverage. Derek doesn't protest, just goes and lets Stiles push him down, climb on top of him. He leans down and props his elbows on each side of Derek's head, pressing their chests together, and smiles down at him. This is definitely a position he likes, pressing down against Derek, feeling all that muscle give into him. He kisses Derek lightly once, twice, three times and then slides his mouth along Derek's jawline, the stubble prickling against the sensitized skin of his lips.

Derek takes a deep breath through his nose and turns his head into Stiles's pillow, giving Stiles better access to his throat. "Oh my god," Stiles says, amazed and suddenly even more turned on, when he had thought that was already impossible. He trails his mouth down, tries to bite experimentally at the strong muscle on the side of Derek’s neck. Derek lets out another small sound, almost like a whine, so Stiles bites down harder and Derek's whole body trembles. "Oh my god," Stiles says again and goes back to kissing Derek, because he can't not. He's now completely hard and he hasn't even managed to get Derek out of his shirt, which has to be some kind of a new record because it really isn't difficult to get Derek topless. So he tries to keep kissing him while his fingers find their way to the hem of Derek's shirt, tugging at it. It doesn't really work. It's kind of hard to get a shirt off someone who is pinned to a bed. He pulls away to laugh and Derek follows him, sits up and kisses Stiles again and, yeah, this is better. Stiles pulls Derek's shirt up and over his head, tossing it aside.

As soon as Derek is free of the shirt, his hands go on Stiles's neck and his mouth follows them. Stiles slides his hands down Derek's chest and stomach while Derek is busy scraping his teeth along Stiles's throat, sucking another mark there. He has absolutely no idea how he's going to cover them all tomorrow, but right now he couldn't care less. "How are you even real?" he sighs against the side of Derek's head. "Even your muscles have muscles, dude."

"Stiles..." Derek breathes against Stiles's neck. He doesn't know if it's an order to shut the hell up or to get the hell on with it, so he does both. He pushes Derek back down and skates his hands over Derek's chest again, rubbing his thumb over a nipple, looking for the places that make Derek's breath stutter. Derek's hands are on Stiles's back, gripping fistfuls of his shirt.

Stiles wants to explore, map every inch of Derek with his hands and his mouth. He leans down and back and oh yeah, Derek's definitely hard. Stiles can't decide if he wants to hurry or go slowly. He doesn't even know if he has gathered enough courage to wander below the waistband of Derek's jeans yet. He pauses and licks his lips and watches Derek watch him.

"Stiles, it's okay. Whatever you--" Derek says and his voice is rougher than usual. He clears his throat. "Whatever is okay."

"It's kind of exactly my issue here," Stiles says. "I can't really decide what I want to try first."

Derek snorts. His hands smooth over Stiles's back and then up and down his thighs until they settle on his hips. "Anything you want, Stiles," he says.

"Oh my god," Stiles mutters because Derek's not just saying that to repeat some kind of a line, he really means it, that he's willing to let Stiles do anything. "Take off my shirt. It's ridiculous that I'm still fully clothed."

Derek obviously agrees with him because he almost rips it off Stiles. The shirt goes up and over his head in two seconds. It catches painfully on one of Stiles's ears as it goes, and he can't stop the laughter spilling out. The full realization of how incredibly nervous he is hits him then. He leans back down and presses himself against all the warm, bare skin. He giggles against Derek's neck and then goes back to kissing him because that's the part he's starting to get pretty confident in. He tries rocking his hips down against Derek's experimentally and Derek moans, which is so incredibly hot that the last bits of laughter die a swift death in his throat.

Derek's hands move from his hips to squeeze his ass, which makes him forget everything ever. He even forgets how to breathe properly and just gasps and presses his hips down again. Derek tries to force him into a rhythm but he resists and manages to shake his head and say: "No," into Derek's mouth. "No, I don't want you to come like this, let me touch you, oh my god, let me taste you," he babbles. Yep, he has definitely gathered enough courage to stick his hand into Derek's pants now. He brings one hand between them and rubs it over the front of Derek's jeans, where he is warm and hard. He moves to pop the button and just keeps talking. "I want to do all kinds of things to you and I want to let you do whatever you want to me. I want you to fuck me and I really, really want to fuck you and I bet your stubble would feel awesome on the insides of my thighs. And I want to lick you all over, which is totally weird, right? Like all over. Even your arm pits and belly button and..." He gets a hand into Derek's pants then and manages to wrap his fingers around Derek's cock, and yeah. He forgets what he was about to say next and does a couple of strokes, but it's awkward. The angle is weird and new. He stops and pushes Derek's jeans and underwear out of the way and it's a bit better when he can actually see. (Okay, a lot better. Because: erection! That Stiles made happen! Everything is awesome.) "Okay then, I'm definitely going to try this blowjob thing now," he tells Derek. "Say if I'm doing something that you don't like or just think is weird or something."

"At this point," Derek grinds out, "it might be impossible for you to do something that I wouldn't like. Unless you're going to just keep talking and not--"

Stiles rubs a thumb over the tip of Derek's cock, smearing precome all over it, which cuts Derek off. "Yeah, that's better. No bitching when I'm about to suck your cock, okay."

Derek just groans and lets his head drop down against the pillows.

Stiles just goes for it. He has absolutely no idea what he's doing, but at least he grabs the basic idea of mouth on dick. So he licks up the shaft and listens to Derek's reactions, which are helpfully very audible. A heavy hand falls on the back of his head when he takes the tip of Derek's cock into his mouth, and he looks up to see Derek watching him again. Derek's hand is just resting on his neck, not trying to make him move or push him down, which is good because Stiles probably couldn’t handle that. At least he thinks he couldn't. Maybe after he has practiced a few times, though.

From all the things he's done (or doing right now), Derek watching him really shouldn't be the thing that makes him blush. He can feel the heat on his cheeks, so he drops his gaze from Derek's eyes and goes back to what he was doing. He can't really take Derek too deep in his mouth, but he does what he can, tries licking and sucking and tries to be really, really careful with his teeth. He goes with it, finds out he actually likes it, likes to have Derek in his mouth, warm and heavy on his tongue, until his jaw starts to hurt and then he pulls away. Derek makes a disappointed noise at that, but pulls Stiles up and kisses him. "That okay?" Stiles asks into Derek's mouth.

Derek doesn't answer. He grabs Stiles hand and brings it on his cock, guides him to stroke once, twice, and then Stiles feels him coming, all over them both. "Wow, okay then," Stiles says and strokes him through it, with Derek's hand guiding him.

"God, Stiles, just let me..." Derek says after he's caught his breath again.

"Yeah, yeah, just," Stiles sighs and tries to rub against Derek’s thigh. It’s not really working, he still has his pants on, even. Derek pushes him away, off of him, and Stiles has a brief flash of panic, that Derek’s just going to leave now. But then Derek’s hands are on his knees, spreading his legs so that he can lean between them. Stiles watches Derek run his hands up his thighs, leaving trails of warmth behind, until his fingers find his fly and he’s pulling Stiles out. "Oh my god," Stiles says and leans back on his elbows and spreads his legs as far as they can go. His dick is sticking out of his pants and Derek’s watching him and it’s ridiculous and obscene and Stiles can’t remember ever being this hard. "What are you gonna--" he starts asking but then Derek takes him into his mouth and Stiles is reduced to one syllable exhales that aren't even real words. He can't do anything else than stare at the top of Derek's head and grasp at the sheets. And then Derek sucks and Stiles has to squeeze his eyes shut and slap one sweaty palm over them so that he can't see Derek's cheeks hollow out, because he will come, he will come in two seconds if he sees that.

"I really, really..." Stiles gasps and drops his hand from his eyes, pushes it gently through Derek's hair instead. "You are," he tries next, but complete sentences just won't come to him. Derek doesn't look up, but he pushes into Stiles's touch. "So much," Stiles says.

Derek's mouth is warm and wet and firm around him and Stiles wants to simultaneously push into it and squirm away. He doesn't know if he can handle all this, the way Derek's tongue presses against the tip of his cock, the concentrated frown of his eyebrows, the dark, long eyelashes against Derek's cheeks. He's getting a blow job from Derek Hale and he's choking on feelings. He can't even laugh at himself, because he can't do anything else than gasp and moan and pet Derek's stupid hair. Then Derek hums around Stiles's cock and Stiles just... tips over that edge, as easy as anything, and comes without much of a warning. He's almost surprised by it, both the suddenness and the force of it. Derek chokes a little and then pulls away, replacing his mouth with his hand and stroking Stiles through it.

Stiles just collapses on the bed and lets it happen. His head is hanging over the edge at the foot of the bed and he blinks at his upside down computer chair and tries to get his breathing under control again. Then Derek drags him fully on the bed again, hands gripping his waist, lips nuzzling at his neck.

"Was that okay?" Derek asks and makes Stiles laugh breathlessly.

"Oh wow," Stiles laughs and wraps his arms around Derek's shoulders, enjoying the warmth of him. "I wanna do that again. But maybe also try different things, like a sex buffet! A buffet of sex. I want to try everything. I want to do everything with you," he says and doesn't just mean sex.

Derek is laughing and Stiles can feel the vibrations of it all over his body. "Me too," Derek mumbles into Stiles's skin, and maybe Derek's getting it now. "Everything."

It's the most perfect thing ever.


Afterwards, long after Derek has fallen asleep, Stiles digs up his phone and texts Scott:

Dude, Derek Hale is asleep in my bed.

He doesn't wait for an answer, just turns his phone off, throws an arm and a leg over Derek and goes to sleep.



(The next weekend, half an hour into an awkward dinner, Stiles's dad totally calls it.)