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That Depends On How You Define Werewolf

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It started on a quiet Saturday. Stiles was admiring the endangered species known as the ‘peaceful moment’, rarely sighted and often hunted down in his little town of werewolves and hunters. These days, Stiles’ more common activities consisted of frantic research, running for his life and ramming monsters down with his Jeep. It wasn’t often he had the time to just laze around at home, clicking through Wikipedia and Tumblr tags.

To no one’s surprise, that was the day teenage hunters descended on Beacon Hills.

Fucking teenage hunters. The hunter–wannabes were hellbent on taking out any and all werewolves to prove their worth and be accepted into the secret hunter circle. After kanimas and mermaids and sorcerers, did they really have to deal with teenage hunters who used the show Supernatural as their guideline? For awhile there, they were even convinced Stiles was a crossroad demon. What sort of Supernatural fanboy would mistake Stiles as a crossroad demon?

Stiles rubbed the back of his head as he sat up slowly. It was completely dark and he couldn’t see anything, so he groped around for a few minutes. Then, he wished he hadn’t, because what he found was bad. Really bad. Derek was so going to kill him, even though it wasn’t his fault at all. The hunters had been after Scott, and it was a sound plan for Stiles to lure them away by pretending to be Scott, because they couldn’t hurt Stiles after he had told them that he was just a harmless human being. Not if they still wanted to be accepted into the elite circle of hunters. That had seemed logical right up to the moment the overachieving teenagers pistol-whipped him.

Well, it looked like the hunters might not kill Stiles outright, but they must have other plans for him. Because he was in a cage. It was dark, and his eyes were still adjusting to the lack of light, but he could feel bars behind him and to his side as well. It was a big cage, but that didn’t negate the fact that he was fucking caged. Stiles tried to calm his breathing. His initial analysis still stood. They wouldn’t kill him.

Unless they killed him and then buried his body in the woods. Because a dead Stiles would get them nowhere with the Argents, but as long as no one found his body, the teenaged freaks would get away with it. Oh god, he was going to die and his father was going to be heartbroken and it was going to be all Stiles’ fault. No wait, they would have killed him already if they wanted to. No point wasting a perfectly good cage on him if they planned on killing him. So they weren’t going to kill him. Stiles wasn’t going to die. Maybe. What was that sound upstairs? Was he in a basement? A cage in a basement was such a bad sign.

Fuck, when was his last dose of Adderall? Was it still the same day anyway? He could feel his concentration fragmenting, and he was practically jittering on the spot. It could be his ADHD kicking in. Or maybe the concussion. What were the symptoms for being whacked on the head too many times?

A small doorway opened, filling the room with light before it shut again. It introduced noise to the silent basement. A lot of noise. There was growling and snarling, vicious and threatening. This wasn’t Scott and Isaac play-fighting, this was the sound of a werewolf out for blood. Stiles would usually feel comforted, because werewolves meant safety most of the time — and what was his life, that dangerous, fanged creatures of the night meant safety? However, along with those crazed sounds, there were people talking and swearing. Stiles thought he recognized the irritating voices of the steroid-loaded teenagers who had attacked him, and they didn’t sound like they were being ripped apart by werewolves, which was very, very bad.

“Fucking hurry up!” shouted one of them.

“You do it if you think it’s so easy!”

Stiles backed into a corner. He didn’t want to imagine what they were planning to do.

There was a clang of bars and a loud scuffle in the corner opposite him. Stiles’ eyesight was starting to adjust to the low light, and he realized that he was sharing his cage with someone else now. No, something else.

He could barely see the huge and furred form in the dark, accompanied by the growling that was growing in volume. He wanted to cry out Derek’s name, because it had to be Derek, Stiles could recognize him even in the dark, but he didn’t want to give the hunters any more advantage. Maybe they didn’t know about their connection.

Something was wrong as well, Stiles could tell. Derek’s head was swinging from side to side, as if he couldn’t get his bearings. He didn’t come over and snuffle over Stiles immediately to check on him. Instead, he was pressed against the other side, snarling and almost frothing at the mouth, jumping and snapping at the air in front of him.

“Fucking monster, can’t even get this part right,” muttered one of the hunters, and this was bad. This was very bad. Stiles would know exactly why as soon as his brain stopped gibbering in fear and started working again.

He saw an arc of light, blinding in the dark, and it was accompanied by an enraged roar. Derek’s huge, hulking form thrashed away from the bars, but the light and the sharp crackling sound continued.

“Stop it! What are you doing to him?!” shouted Stiles, jumping forward instinctively. “Derek, Derek, stop— just come here!”

He heard one of the men laugh. “Yeah, go to the idiot. Go on.”

The crackling sound intensified and a horrible, burning stench filled Stiles’ nose. But Stiles was starting to understand what they were trying to do. He could see Derek throwing his body to the other side, still roaring in pain. His head wasn’t tracking right, just swinging all over the place and his limbs were snapping out in mad, senseless attack. Stiles tried to back away, to huddle into his corner, but it was too late.

Claws caught on his shoulder, spinning him to the side, and Stiles screamed in terror, because Derek was confused and in pain and Stiles was going to die.

Sharp pain engulfed his side, a heavy weight pinning him to the ground. His breath was knocked out of him as his head jarred against the concrete floor, and there was just pain, pain and tearing pain around the right side of his belly. He gasped, tiny and unheard in the chaos around him, and felt suffocated by the heavy weight trapping him against the floor. His grasp on consciousness faded as a despairing howl filled his head.

# # # # # # # # # #

Stiles woke to clamoring pain and confusion, but the hand on his forehead belonged to a familiar presence that soothed his aches and hugged him when he was hurt.

“Go back to sleep, son.”

So he did.

# # # # # # # # # #

Low light filtered through the room when he woke up slowly for the second time. He was glad for his closed curtains because his head ached and his eyes felt dry and gritty.

“Whuuu…” he mumbled. He didn’t get drunk last night, did he?

Then his dad’s tired face filled his vision.

“Dad? Wha—” Apparently, coherency was still beyond him.

“You’re okay, Stiles. Everyone’s okay,” said his dad. It said a lot about their life choices that his dad knew to reassure him this way the moment he regained consciousness. Now if only he could remember why they were potentially not okay…

His brain came back online slowly, but came back it did, so he remembered the dark room and crazed snarling in a rush.

“Oh shit-” Stiles swore, hand went to his side.

His dad caught him around wrist. “It’s healed. You’ve been asleep for almost twenty hours.”

A deep bite wouldn’t heal in just twenty hours, which meant that Stiles was a werewolf now. Fuck. He looked at how tired his dad seemed and felt a pang of guilt. His dad never signed up for this. They’d had to tell him, after all the shit had gone down right before their senior year, and there were too many lies to hide anymore. He’d traded his lies for his dad’s constant worry instead. His dad reminded him more than ever to be careful, always told him to call if he needed anything, anything at all. Now, Stiles had gotten himself turned into a werewolf. As if their lives weren’t complicated enough.

A thought occurred to him. “It wasn’t Derek’s fault! Really, he didn’t, I mean, he did, but he didn’t have a choice, well, he couldn’t see—

“I didn’t shoot him if that’s what you’re worried about,” said Stiles’ dad. Then he smiled wryly. “Though I did push him against the wall and threaten to strangle him with my bare hands.”

Stiles gaped at his dad, because Derek…was Derek. And the Stilinski men weren’t exactly buff. They were built more slender and agile, though Stiles was still waiting for the agile part to kick in.

His dad huffed at the look of surprise. “Yeah, I did. The bastard didn’t even have the decency to look afraid.”

“He probably was deep inside. Really deep. He just has limited facial expressions, like he can’t use more than three a day or they deduct his werewolf points, so it’s hard to tell that he’s quaking in his leather boots,” explained Stiles, glad to share one of his many theories on Derek.

That earned him a chuckle, and a hand smoothing over his forehead again. “You must be feeling better if you’re running your mouth already.”

He was feeling better. Even his headache was fading, probably courtesy of his newfound healing abilities. He didn’t want to think about how bad his head injury must have been to have taken this long to heal up. But his werewolf healing kicking in didn’t mean all good things.

Stiles sat up awkwardly, scooting back on his bed. “Dad, you shouldn’t be here. Or you should have at least chained me to something first. Not handcuffs, those aren’t good enough.”

His dad cut him off, “Derek and Scott are downstairs. They’ll be in here in a blink if anything happened. In any case, they told me that the change is much more gradual than that. You should be fine for now.”

“We shouldn’t be taking chances.” Because if anything happened to his dad, if Stiles hurt his dad, he could never live with himself. Never.

“We aren’t,” said his dad firmly. “We had a lot of time to talk about this while you were busy lazing around in bed. The full moon is three days away, and we’re going to use that time to concentrate on helping you control your— your wolf. I told Derek that I’m going to handle this, but because he’s supposed to be the pack leader, and this happened because of him no matter what they did, he’s going to step up and help you too.”

It was amazing how pushy his dad was with an Alpha werewolf. Stiles licked his lower lip. “What did he say to that?”

His dad huffed again. “He said of course and gave me a look like I was crazy.”

Stiles smiled. “That’s one of the three expressions he’s allowed to use in a day.”

“I suspected as much. Alright, come on. You’ve been sleeping for long enough. Come downstairs so we can discuss this together,” said his dad. “I have a feeling I’m going to be seeing your friends around here a lot more than I want to.”

“Aww, dad, you love them, admit it!” Stiles got out of bed, feeling a lot stronger already and warmed on the inside with love for his dad.

# # # # # # # # # #

There were hugs — from Scott, not Derek — and a stream of words filled with concern and relief. Derek apologized in his stilted manner, obviously needing more practice being a real boy instead of just a constantly angry wolf. It wasn’t like Stiles was going to hold a grudge. He wasn’t sure if he really wanted to be a werewolf, but he knew that Derek had been out of control. Even now, Derek’s face was a little splotchy with healing, irritated skin, which was a sign of how great his injuries were for his accelerated healing to be taking so long.

Derek and Scott filled Stiles in, about how Derek had been whacked in the face with an electric baton, after he had been dosed with high amounts of a type of hallucinogenic wolfsbane. In pain and tripping as high as a werewolf could, it was no surprise that Derek didn’t know who was in the same cage with him. The only reason why Stiles was still alive was because Derek had recognized him the moment he bit down, which was strange because Stiles was sure that Derek had never tasted his blood before that, but that was a question for another day. Stiles didn’t blame him, but Derek didn’t meet his eyes when he stopped at that point of the story, and the moment was awkward and silent.

“Well, at least the hunters are locked up now,” said Stiles, unable to stand the silence for long. “I always knew having a Sheriff as a dad was good for something.”

His dad snorted. “Never mind all the other times I bailed you out of trouble.”

It turned out that after the others had realized that Stiles and Derek had been caught — and Derek had been caught because he had been stupid and charged right in to get Stiles — Allison had called her dad and Lydia had called Stiles’ dad. The Argents and the rest of the pack had overpowered the teenage hunters and used wolfsbane to force Derek back into his human form. Beacon Hills’ Sherriff department had arrived to arrest the wannabes for kidnapping and torture. All’s well, that ends…mostly well. No more crazy teenage hunters who wanted to be Sam and Dean. The only collateral was Stiles’ claim to fame as the number one resident handler of mountain ash and his badge of honor as the Pack human. Now he was left to deal with his newfound status as a ‘mythical’ creature in the middle of senior year.

Stiles looked Scott up and down. “I would ask, ‘what now’ except I don’t know what you can teach me that I didn’t teach you about controlling your werewolf. I still remember your Stiles-chasing in the locker room, buddy.”

Scott gave him sad, puppy eyes. “You said you had forgiven me for that.”

“Doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten. You weren’t the epitome of control back when you first changed,” said Stiles, before raising an eyebrow at Derek. “And you display a lack of sensible teaching abilities for an Alpha. No way I’m signing up for lessons on manpain or torture restraints.”

Derek didn’t even try to counter the accusation that he was a shit mentor or scowl at Stiles for being so blunt about it. That was definitely a sign that his guilt was going strong. “Scott is here because he’ll be the most familiar werewolf to you, and we want your wolf side to acclimatize to the presence of Pack as well as Alpha as soon as possible. As for lessons…our circumstance is less fraught with immediate danger right now, and we know now that there are easier ways to go about learning control.”

Stiles sighed. “I suppose I should start working on some meditation exercises.”

Stiles’ dad walked back in with sandwiches for everyone. “We’re in trouble if we’re going to have to rely on your meditation skills.”

Stiles would protest except it was so true. They were totally screwed. Along with the fact that Stiles was now an ADHD werewolf, he also had no anchor. This wasn’t good at all, and not even his favorite chicken, egg mayo and cucumber sandwich could make him think otherwise.

# # # # # # # # # #

The hours went by without anything much changing. Stiles didn’t feel particularly angry or strong or out-of-control. It was the weekend so he didn’t have school, but even if he had school, his dad would have let him skip it. Scott eventually went home for the night, and Stiles holed up in his bedroom trying to distract himself while Derek took a shower, because he did not need to think about Derek in his shower. Naked. Naked Derek in his shower, using Stiles’ shampoo and soap. Naked Derek rubbing soap over his pecs and arms and— Nope. Not thinking about it.

Derek was going to be bunking in his living room for the time being. Stiles didn’t want to think about that either, but he couldn’t deny that he felt safer with Derek staying in the same house as him and his dad. It must be all those times they had taken turns bailing each other out of trouble; some sort of demented emotional attachment was to be expected, right? And now Stiles was going to stop thinking about that too. There really wasn’t much he could safely think about Derek.

Stiles opened his browser on his computer and started going through his tabs again. There were a lot of tabs — he had taken his Adderall that day, but sometimes, it was so hard to resist the impulse to click on all the things — and he flicked through them until he stopped on a Tumblr page. Baby sloths, dawwww. He was man enough to admit that baby animals were difficult to resist. The tag he had been looking at before that was baby bunnies, which he had to leave really fast, because there were the unexpected appearances of anime porn and Playboy bunny porn. He liked porn as much as the next teenage boy. He just couldn’t deal with pictures of naked crying girls with bunny ears appearing right after pictures of fluffy baby rabbits. That was just weird.

“Stiles.”

He made a face at Derek’s voice. “You really need a bell on a collar. What?”

Silence was his only answer, so he turned around to face the door.

There was no one there.

“Uhh, what the fuck?” he said to the empty doorway. Did Derek just say his name and walk away?

“There will be an adjustment period, but we’ll help him through it.”

That was Derek’s voice. Stiles could hear him, like Derek was right next to him. But there was no one there.

“I didn’t want this for him. He’s not supposed to have it so hard. He’s still so young.” And that was his dad’s voice, sounding tired and sad.

“We’ll all be here to help him.”

“I expect no less. Just remember, you’re his Alpha, but I’m still his father.”

Stiles was floored now, because he was starting to understand that he was listening to a conversation happening downstairs probably, like it was happening right in front of him. Just like that, it seemed like the realization really kick-started his werewolf hearing, because he could hear more than just his dad and Derek talking.

A cacophony of noise descended on his ears. He could hear their hearts beating, a mismatched pair of working organs. He could hear the hum of electricity in the wires, the almost thunderous sound of his computer working. There were crickets outside roaring, the creak of his house a loud rumble cutting through the shriek of owls and lizards and all manners of horrible animals lurking outside. Derek’s voice and his father’s voice blended in with his neighbors’ from both sides, screaming into his ears and Stiles screamed in return.

His hands clutched his ears shut, trying in vain to shut out all the noise, so much overwhelming noise. Hands closed around his, trying to help him seal the chaos away. But he could still hear.

“Is he okay?” It sounded like his father was roaring. He whimpered in response.

“Whisper, don’t talk, John,” said Derek. “Stiles, you have to focus, pick something to focus on. Listen, listen to your father’s voice.”

Stiles could feel his dad pressing in from the other side.

“Hey, listen to me, kid. You’re okay, you’ll be fine,” his dad said, maybe whispered because it sounded like it was normal volume instead of a shout.

Hemmed in by both his dad and Derek, he was even more aware of the rush of their blood and the rhythmic thudding that was their heartbeat. Slowly, it became all he could hear. He listened to the unsynchronized beating until, at an achingly slow pace, everything faded. He realized how tense he was, crouched in his chair and hands clapped over his ears. He blinked his wet eyes, and looked up at his worried dad and Derek’s impassive face.

He licked his dry lips before whispering. “I didn’t—” God, it sounded so loud. “I didn’t think it would be so bad. Scott never said he could hear things like electricity in the wires and God, there are so many insects around. How does he, how aren’t you all more spaced out?”

Derek stared at him. “He can’t. You shouldn’t be able to hear down to that level.”

Which. Well. That wasn’t good.

# # # # # # # # # #

He wore ear plugs for the next three days. After the first day, he didn’t need it as much as his hearing seemed to settle, and he didn’t hear everything all the time. He learned how to concentrate to sharpen his hearing when he wanted to, but his control was still spotty. When he didn’t have the plugs in, he had occasional flashes of his hearing just kicking in so he heard everything, but he was learning to focus on just his dad’s heartbeat or Derek’s to slowly filter everything out again. It was pretty amazing, because it seemed like he could hear their heartbeats wherever they were in Beacon Hills. He was keeping that particular tidbit to himself, because it was maybe a little stalkery.

Derek said he had never heard of any werewolf’s hearing being so good. He had looked a little perturbed when he said that, but whatever. Maybe Stiles’ body was compensating, because nothing else had kicked in. He wasn’t super strong yet; he had tried to lift his Jeep in the middle of the night when no one was looking, just to see if he could, but the results were disappointing.

Now, it was the night of the full moon, and Stiles had no idea if all his attempts at meditation had helped. He didn’t feel particularly short-tempered or out of control, like how Scott did when he had been turned. Stiles just felt like…Stiles. With great hearing. Derek had been glaring at him a lot, like it was his fault that his body wasn’t cooperating by turning into a rage monster at the drop of a hat.

His dad had just rolled his eyes and said, “Stiles, how is it you can’t turn into a werewolf like all the other normal werewolves out there?”

Now they were out in the woods, and Stiles had manacles around his wrists that were attached to chains. The chains looped around a huge oak tree, with deep roots and a thick trunk. His dad wasn’t happy to leave him alone, but Derek had said it would be less complicated if Stiles was on unfamiliar ground and if there were fewer people around. Apparently, newly turned werewolves tended to feel dominant if they were on homeground, which in turn made them more aggressive.

“Dude, is this even necessary?” Stiles sulked as he shook his chains. “I don’t even feel like I’m losing control.”

“It might just be coming on slowly,” said Derek, leaning against a tree while facing Stiles. “And don’t call me that.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Whatever you say, wolf boy.”

“I can still rip out your throat even though you’re a wolf now,” said Derek, casually, like he was talking about the weather.

Those threats used to work on him once upon a time. Stiles shrugged. “Well, my dad knows I’m with you, and he knows how to find you now, and he would totally shoot you. With wolfsbane bullets.”

Derek only bared his teeth at Stiles in response. How was that so attractive when it was so stupidly barbaric? You would think Derek was raised by real wolves, rather than a family of werewolves who, according to his dad, were perfectly courteous.

It was almost completely dark, but Stiles didn’t really feel anything. “Do you feel the pull of the moon already?”

“Yep,” said Derek, sitting down against his chosen tree.

“Hmm, I don’t feel anything. Actually, I do feel a little— Nope, that was just an ant. Ugh, that tickles, that so tickles, okay, gone now.” He stopped fidgeting when he was clear of bugs again. “Still nothing from my end then. Hey, is your anchor still anger?”

Derek’s eyes flashed red at him. “Yep.”

Stiles leaned against his chains, trying to look at Derek from a closer vantage point. “How’s that working out for you? I mean, you’re still very ‘grrr, I’m the angry wolf man’ but really, you’ve mellowed a bit since we first met. You hardly throw me against walls anymore.”

Derek said in a measured tone, “I don’t know. You still seem to be doing a pretty good job of pissing me off.”

Pulling at his chains in another direction, Stiles said, “I won’t take that personally, because all conversation pisses you off. If there was a police force to uphold silence, you would be the captain.”

“If there was a police force to uphold logical conversation, you would be thrown in jail.”

Stiles noted the slight uptick at the corner of Derek’s lips, and gave himself a point for scoring a half-smile. “Awww, you made a joke that wasn’t all sarcasm and death threats. It was pretty lame but A for effort.”

Derek huffed. “Study your Chemistry, Stiles.”

Stiles made a face at him, but subsided into enthusiastic highlighting of his Chemistry textbook. He managed to put in half an hour’s worth of reading, noting but ignoring the surrounding noises in the woods and Derek’s quiet breathing as he read his own novel. Derek had been going through the Stilinski book collection like water in the past few days.

Bored with the reading on polymers, Stiles commented, “You know, being a werewolf helps my ADHD so much. It’s like taking Adderall, except hundred times more effective, which is a good thing, seeing as my hearing is more than a hundred times better now which makes everything so distracting.”

“You stopped taking your medication,” said Derek, not even a question.

“What would be the point? They wouldn’t work on me right, since alcohol does nothing for werewolves and wolfsbane works on you in mystical, science-defying ways. I figured that meant that most modern medication would have zero effect,” said Stiles. “I did take a pill on the first day, but I didn’t feel any different. So my theory is sound.”

Derek nodded. “Lycanthropy cures most human ailments and restores some balance to the body.”

Stiles tapped his fingers against the soft earth. “Yeah, but I still have ADHD I think. I mean, I don’t know firsthand what it’s like for people without it, but I’ve read that filtering out the unnecessary distractions comes naturally. Right now, I’m aware of every cricket in our vicinity, and the owl rustling up in the tree above me, and the moonlight reflecting against that little smooth pebble over there, and the smell of deer that were here an hour ago, and the way you rub the paper between your fingertips before you turn the page.”

He saw Derek’s eyebrows go up and realized that the last bit might have sounded a little strange, so he hurried on, “But I can just focus on boring old Chemistry even with all those things running in the background of my brain, which is great because I think all the Adderall in the world couldn’t compete with all the input I’m getting now with my enhanced five senses. Not that I’m the pinnacle of single-minded concentration just yet; the other day I was playing Halo 3 when I just had to stop because I could see a strange shadow beneath my bed and I ended up organizing all the stuff under there. I still can’t help myself sometimes.”

“Thank God you have so much focus and impulse control right now,” said Derek, sounding so dry that Stiles rolled his eyes. “You should use some of it on that textbook of yours.”

Stiles grumbled, “I hate Chemistry.”

“Because Harris is an asshole to you.”

Stiles looked up in surprise. “I never told you that.”

Derek shrugged. “Scott told me. Harris was already teaching Chemistry when I was in school. He used to pick on the mouthy smart ones back then too.”

“Yeah, and the Sherriff’s kid as well apparently. He told me that it’s payback for my dad investigating him about the, um.” He didn’t want to bring up the Hale fire. He never wanted to bring it up, because Derek’s face would tighten, and his eyebrows would turn down even more, and it was just…sad. Then another thought occurred to me. “Hey, you think I’m smart?”

“You should report him. That’s an abuse of his authority,” said Derek, voice stormy with discontent at Harris and obviously ignoring Stiles’ last question.

“Man, no way I’m going to be a snitch. That would just make my life harder in school,” said Stiles, marking his textbook disconsolately.

After a short silence, Derek just said, “Then you should study harder. Don’t give Harris a chance to single you out; and you have a Chemistry test next week.”

Stiles ducked his head to hide a smile. It never failed to amuse him when Derek let slip his knowledge of his Pack’s school life. Stiles was used to being the one thinking about Scott’s grades and helping him study. It was strange, but sort of comforting, to have Derek take an interest in the Pack’s grades. It had also felt pretty good to talk to Derek over the last few months about which university Stiles was applying to and to hear Derek encouraging — pushing really, the guy was really pushy — him to go to better ones.

The night passed with random bouts of studying and more aimless conversation with Derek. He dozed off a couple times, startling awake to see red eyes gleaming in the dark, watching him. Stiles passed creepy werewolf comments, but Derek seemed less and less interested in responding as the night wore on.

Finally, it was dawn, and Stiles felt no different than before, other than a faint buzzing beneath his skin. He stared up at the faint yellow light spreading across the dark blue sky.

“I’m not a werewolf,” said Stiles.

Derek stared at him. “We don’t know that. Maybe— Maybe it’s something else.”

Stiles shook his head. “No, there are too many differences, and I just went through the full moon without the slightest hint of a change. I’m not a werewolf. Fuck, Derek, do you know what that means?”

You don’t know what—”

“I must be a kanima. That’s the only thing left. Jackson changed whenever he had to. I must be a kanima, but I haven’t found my master yet, that’s why I haven’t—”

Derek was suddenly up-close, eyes flashing crimson even in the fading dark. “Calm down, Stiles. You don’t know that.”

Stiles shouted, “I know, alright? What else could I be?! I haven’t been changing or acting like a werewolf! The only other thing is the kanima! God, I don’t want to kill people, Derek! I don’t want to be a murder weapon! You have to— You have to stop me. You have to lock me up or maybe, maybe—”

“No!” snarled Derek, shoving him up against the tree, fangs out and face morphing into familiar, lupine features. “No, we’re not doing that!”

Stiles’ heart was thrumming, beating so fast that it was like a continuous vibration in his chest. He gasped at the flashing teeth and constant growl ripping through the air from the predator before him, and he couldn’t help but wince back, flinch away. The chains clattered, loud metal clanging that jarred his sensitive ears, wringing a whine out of him. Derek reacted with another snarl, trying to pin him down against the tree, but Stiles didn’t want that, not like this. He cried out, a sharp, strange high pitched noise, and twisted his body.

The world felt at once blurry and huge, with everything sharpening on the growling and snarls, the bright red eyes and threat in those sharp teeth. He was trapped with metal and couldn’t go far, except he was shifting, still shifting, until the traps around his wrists slipped off as his changing hands and he ducked beneath those grabbing arms.

Then he was gone.

# # # # # # # # # #

He was running, fleeing up rocky paths and leaping down in huge, surefooted bounds. He leapt over obstacles, pushed off from low-hanging branches. His erratic jumps and hops amidst the desperate running kept him ahead of the huge, hunting predator behind him. His heart pounded with fear, with the instinct to runrunrun, go to safety, go home.

A steady beat filled his ears.

Home.

He swerved and started cutting through the thick shrubbery, aiming for tar and concrete and people. Home, with the steady beat, you’re okay, you’ll be fine, kin family home, he would go there.

His heartbeat slowed down with the remembered calmness even as his limbs pushed harder. The tar and machines and oil were just ahead now, soon to lead him home.

A loud, long howl broke out behind him.

Where before there was only panic and fear coursing through his body, the calming heartbeat of home soothed his instincts enough that he could really hear that howl, understand the rising pitch in it for what it really was. It was anger, but it was also worry, and fear, and family, and stop, and come home. Come back to me.

His paws faltered. There was the steady beat of home that filled his ears, but another rhythm joined it. It was faster, angrier, worried, threaded in with the howl, and it came from behind him.

Predator, but not.

More than just a predator.

Just like how he was more than just prey.

His faltering steps were hesitant enough. He cried out as the crushing weight landed on his back, forcing him to the ground and pinning him down. He wasn’t panicked and frightened anymore, but he didn’t like it, didn’t like being immobile and held down. He yipped, high pitched, and twisted so that he was on his back, facing the dark, furred form that loomed over him. He yipped again and pushed against the wolf who only flattened him down further.

But he wasn’t just prey.

The two different heartbeats singing in his ears reminded him. He was…Stiles. Stiles who wasn’t going to run anymore, who had to tell that to the wolf.

Leaning up, he licked the nose before him.

The wolf blinked.

Stiles yipped again. He was Stiles, but not just Stiles. He was…sound and fur and energy and curiosity and he didn’t want to be just pinned down and stared at like that. He yipped a few more times, batting at the wolf’s face with a furred paw, before licking him again. The glowing red eyes stared at him for a moment, before the wolf — DerekwolfDerek — was suddenly leaning down and nudging his face to the side to lick his cheek with wide swipes. Stiles squirmed and made a ‘mrp’ sound, allowing the sudden grooming.

This was alright. He could feel his pulse slowing down to finally match the two heartbeats, his ever-present anchors.

# # # # # # # # # #

When the rest of the pack slowly crept into their vicinity, drawn in by the earlier howl, Derek had moved on to licking behind his ears. The second heartbeat was with them, family walking closer with no hesitance.

“Oh my god, this is adorable.”

Stiles turned his head to the side, ignoring his grooming Alpha, and looked and looked until his eyes fell on familiar features. He mrrped in greeting and his family — Dad — bent down and ran a hand over his furred side.

“Stiles, you silly ass, this is not how a werewolf looks.”

A rumble of contentment snaked through his body, filling the cool, dawn air. He leaned his face into that comforting touch.

“Is that purring?” said bestfriendwolfScott. “Is he actually purring?”

“His ears are huge,” said wolflizard.

“Stiles? Stiles, do you understand me? Can you turn back?” said his dadfamilyanchor.

He rubbed his cheek against the soothing hand, allowing Derekwolf to nudge his face and sniff behind his ears. Another hand joined the patting, and suddenly, there were wolves, all the wolves, and humans but pack, family and friends, all stroking over his face and paws and nose and shoulders and he was so warm and content and—

“Stiles, come back to us,” whispered his anchordaddad.

Stiles, he was Stiles, a Stiles that was hugged and patted and loved and he turned to the warm hands and wanted to tell them that this was nice, they should do this more, why didn’t they have more group cuddles—

Stiles blinked. It was like stepping into a pool. Everything was still sharp and clear, but it was sharper and clearer before. His hearing, his vision, his instincts… Now his thoughts were sharper instead, a trade off, and he wasn’t just sound and fur and energy and instinct. He was a boy.

A very naked boy. His eyes widened. “Um.”

The hands on him pulled back from his bare skin.

“Stiles!” his father said with some relief.

“Uh, well, I’m naked, in the woods, with a wolf crouched over me, no don’t move! You’re the only thing keeping me from being completely naked in front of everyone right now, thanks, Derek,” said Stiles with wide eyes. He was still calm and warm from the remembered affection earlier, but that didn’t mean embarrassment wasn’t fast seeping in. “Do you ladies mind turning around? And um, Scott, buddy, best friend of mine, do you mind getting me some clothes?”

Now they were all snickering, amused by his sudden predicament. Lydia and Allison kindly turned around like the wonderful ladies they were, but Erica just crossed her arms and continued to look at him with an evil smirk on her face.

“I don’t know what you have to be ashamed of. You’re hiding a very nice pair of biceps there,” she said.

Stiles’ dad made a face. “Erica, maybe leave the mental torture for later when I’m not around to hear you passing comments on my son’s body.”

She had the decency to look slightly abashed and even turned around halfway.

Stiles was about to sigh in relief, except his dad reached out and flicked something above his head, which made Stiles jump a little. “You’re not entirely human-looking yet, kid.”

Slowly, Stiles pulled his hands out from under Derek’s furry chest and reached up to the top of his head.

He blinked. “What the fuck.”

Derek licked Stiles’ fucking huge ears in agreement.

# # # # # # # # # #

According to the others, Stiles’ full animal form was slightly smaller than a German Shepherd. Derek’s wolf form, which they were all well-acquainted with, was much larger than the average human and he could pass for a small horse rather than a wolf, at least in terms of size. Which was just great. Derek got to change into a huge, threatening wolf, while Stiles changed into a smaller, unknown canine with freaking huge ears. How was this remotely fair?

And why did he even turn into a full animal anyway? None of the other Betas did. It made no sense.

Stiles mulled over all this as the others collected his clothing that were littered across the forest from where he had shed them while running away from Derek. They didn’t find all of it — his underwear, to his eternal shame, was probably enshrined forever in a bird’s nest — but enough to cover him up again. While Scott and Isaac had been collecting Stiles’ clothes and Jackson stood around unhelpfully because he was too good for menial tasks, Boyd had ran off to get a pair of spare jeans for Derek from the Camaro, since Derek’s clothes were unsalvageable. Derek had exploded out of his clothes when he had changed into his full Alpha wolf form to chase after Stiles.

Unlike Stiles, Derek had no sense of modesty, and he would have probably turned back into his human form immediately if Stiles wasn’t still using him as a sort of wolf-shield to protect his dubious virtue. So Derek had waited until Stiles had gotten dressed, and then only did he move away to shift. He was too busy pulling on his jeans to notice that the girls had all turned a little to peek at his naked human form. Alright, the girls and Stiles. He wasn’t blind, okay? He could appreciate a fine specimen of man meat when it was standing there in all its naked glory.

And oh boy, was it glorious. Derek was a shirt-optional kind of guy, but his broad shoulders, tapered waist, and chiseled abs weren’t something you just got used to. Now, he also had on display thick, muscular thighs and absurdly toned, firm handfuls of ass. When he bent over to pull up his jeans, they could just catch a glimpse of heavy, swinging balls and—

Stiles’ dad cleared his throat and glared until they all stopped ogling Derek. Bless Erica for her more blatant ogling which saved Stiles from getting the evil eye from his own dad.

After that, they were all bundled into all the different cars that had been used to get them here. Stiles pulled his hood over his big ears and ducked his head down for the rest of the ride back in his dad’s car. He retold the events of the night to his dad, glad when all the weirdness was taken in stride.

The moment he reached home, Stiles bounded up the stairs and headed for his bedroom. He wrenched open his closet door to stare in the mirror.

He looked really, really strange. And he was definitely not a werewolf.

Stiles didn’t have the heavy, frowny brow of a werewolf, and his eyes weren’t glowing some shade or other, instead he had depthless black eyes that gleamed and turned up at the ends. They were also distinctly almond-shaped, and did they seem larger as well? His face was sharper and a little narrower, while his nose was upturned and pointed. The biggest change, winning the top spot in Weird Shit That Happens In Beacon Hills category, were his ears. His ears spanned from the side of his face where his normal human ears would be, going almost all the way to the top of his head. They were big and covered in light fuzz. He touched them tentatively. No wonder his hearing had improved so much.

Actually, there was something very familiar about all this. His brain churned as he listened to the others coming in downstairs and talking about what happened and how Stiles looked. His dad was sitting down, tired from all the excitement, and Derek was retelling the events of the night.

Something clicked in the back of his mind, and Stiles leapt to his computer. He almost slammed into his desk and managed to knock over his chair, because he really had literally leapt, in one great bound and almost hit the ceiling too. Right. Okay. Have to control his excitement.

“I’m fine, I’m fine!” he yelled down when he heard his dad startled downstairs. “Just…getting used to things.”

He brought his computer out of hibernation and started shifting through his tabs until he found Tumblr. He hadn’t used it much since that day he was bitten; he’d been preoccupied with, well, turning into a werecreature of some sort. Stiles hit the Back button over and over again until he found what he wanted. He hadn’t just been looking at baby bunnies and sloths the day he had been turned. He had arrived there by surfing Tumblr tags.

Fucking woah.

# # # # # # # # # #

Stiles leapt down the last five steps.

“Allison was just saying that you looked like a fox when you were in full…well, fox form. You had a fluffy tail and everything,” said Scott, unperturbed by Stiles energetic arrival into the living room.

“Just because you’re a werewolf or weresomething, doesn’t mean you’re not going to be taking the stairs normally,” ordered his dad, rolling a beer in hand.

Stiles made a face at him. “What are you talking about, dad? I jump down the stairs all the time.”

His dad smirked. “I was hoping you had forgotten, and I could get you to walk down it instead.”

“Geez, way to abuse your son’s new condition,” said Stiles, before turning to all of them. “Anyway, whatever! Allison is right, but I’m not just any fox, I’m a, insert drumroll here please, fennec fox! Look at this!”

He flailed at them with his print-out until Derek grabbed his wrist and extracted the paper from his grip.

“Sit down, Stiles,” ordered Derek as he yanked him onto the couch by his wrist. Stiles collapsed into it in a bundle of limbs, just managing to avoid plunging straight into Derek’s lap. What a shame. No wait, not a shame at all. He didn’t want to plunge into Derek’s lap, no Sirree, not him.

“It does sort of look like him,” said his dad from where he was looking at the photo along with Derek.

“Except cuter,” piped up Erica from where she had came up behind them to look as well.

Derek gave her the picture to pass around to the others.

Lydia didn’t even need to look at the print-out before she was already wondering aloud, “Fennec foxes…the smallest of the canid family. It makes sense that you shrink when you turn into a fox then. It’s a good thing you didn’t shrink into actual fennec fox size, because they’re tiny.”

Stiles nodded. “Yes, great, it’s not like that was emasculating enough, let’s theorize about how much smaller I could have turned. The real question is why did I turn into a fennec fox? Why aren’t I a werewolf? Is this going to be kanima take two, with different horror effects and stupid rules to go by this time round?”

It was something that was really worrying him, enough so that he was being short with Lydia, goddess of all woman kind. He might have waved goodbye to the extended crush on her last year, but it didn’t mean that he didn’t recognize a deity — a scary, possibly cold-blooded deity who could extract his spleen with a few choice words — when he saw one.

Scott looked up from examining the picture of the fennec fox. “It’s like what you said before, isn’t it, Derek? It happens sometimes, where people who are bitten don’t necessarily always change into werewolves.”

Stiles raised his eyebrows. “What? Why? Why didn’t anyone tell me this?”

“Because it happens very, very rarely,” said Derek, turning to look at Stiles, hazel eyes tracing over his changed face. “We’re all shapeshifters at the core, and sometimes, the form we take reflects who we are on the inside instead of who bit us.”

“So Stiles is a fox? A small fox? I guess that makes sense. He’s always been a cunning little shit,” said Jackson with a sneer. He got along better with them after he grew closer to the Pack, but he and Stiles interacted through 90% insults and 10% sneers. Habit was hard to break.

“Hey, people who turned into big freaking lizards and rampaged around town have no room to talk, okay,” said Stiles, even though he knew it was a jab under the belt.

“Okay, enough already, children,” said Stiles’ dad while shooting a glare at Jackson. He never did like Jackson, which was another reason why his dad was awesome. Turning to Derek, his dad asked, “So, what does this all mean for Stiles? You’re all werewolves, and he’s a were…werefox thing.”

Derek said immediately, meeting his dad’s eyes, “Stiles is still one of us. He just takes a different form, but he’s still Pack.”

Stiles felt warmed and comforted by the notion that he wasn’t on his own with this.

“It might be easier on him,” said Isaac absently, taking his turn with the print-out. “You said he didn’t turn with the moon, right? And he doesn’t seem to have the same anger management issues.”

“No, he didn’t. He turned when he was…afraid,” said Derek, looking a little uncomfortable.

“I panicked, you wolfed out, and there was the whole flight response going on. I wasn’t all there at the start, but when I calmed down, I could sort of think again,” said Stiles.

Scott asked, “Did you need an anchor?”

“Yeah, my dad’s heartbeat. Loud and clear.” He jerked a thumb at his dad, who smiled at him. The Stilinski men were such sops. He noticed that Scott, Jackson, Isaac and Lydia looked vaguely uncomfortable, and remembered their troubled relationships with their dads. Fuck, the Pack was full of daddy issues. He tried to defuse the situation with a joke. “Which means, dad, I’ll be tightening the rules on your bad eating habits since I need that ticker of yours beating steadily so that I don’t freak out and fox out.”

His dad groaned. “What did I do to deserve this?”

Stiles pushed to the back of his mind that when he had been panicking, he had calmed down listening to two different heartbeats, and one of them belonged to Derek.

“We’ll have to test your abilities and put together a different sort of training for you,” said Derek, ever the wet blanket.

“Dude, let’s leave that for tomorrow. Today, we celebrate the fact that I didn’t turn into an out-of-control raging wolf and eat someone. Score one for the Stiles team!”

Boyd was reading over Isaac and Erica’s shoulders, murmuring to himself, “Turning into a fennec fox seems pretty specific.”

Stiles actually had a theory about that, and it was developed from Jackson’s previously scaly condition. For all that human love saving the world made for a great storyline, Stiles thought it was a little too simplistic and that there had been a sort of logical balance at work too. Jackson had been going through a shit time, his mind in turmoil and completely anchorless since he’d cut himself off from Lydia, when Derek, terrible judge of people that he was, had bitten him. Matt’s evil murdering thoughts in the near vicinity was strong enough to turn the anchorless Jackson into a kanima, a creature that needed a master, someone else to take complete control and be his anchor for him. It was only when Jackson found his true anchor before he was killed and revived, that he let go off his kanima form.

So the state of mind might have more to do with the form taken than most people realized. Maybe Stiles always had the potential to become something smaller and agile, quick-footed and quick-witted, rather than a roaring, snarling, all fangs bared werewolf. But the fact that he had been looking at fennec foxes the day he was bitten probably cemented his potential form in place. Sure, thoughts probably only had a small influence on his shifted form, otherwise there would be much stranger werecreatures out there. Scott would have probably turned into a Pomeranian, or something, instead. But it had been enough to tip Stiles over in the scales of werefoxness. That was totally a real word now.

All this was well and good, but it was only speculation. Stiles would bring it up with Deaton some day to get his feel on it. It would be interesting to learn about other people who’d taken on rare forms.

“Alright, so this has been a great talk, but I think there’s something we’re forgetting,” announced Lydia. Stiles blinked as he realized that his mind had strayed from the topic at hand.

Derek sighed and stared at Stiles.

“What?” Stiles asked.

“Why haven’t you turned back into a full human?” asked Lydia.

“Oh. Um. Well.” Stiles mumbled. “I— I don’t really know how to?”

Derek sighed harder, like the grumpy wolf that he was.

“Okay, Yoda me up, guys,” said Stiles, crossing his arms. 

# # # # # # # # # #

To Be Continued

Some visual aid:

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Chapter Text

After trying for two hours to shift back to his completely human form, he had given up and everyone had gone back to their respective homes. It was with much relief that Stiles woke up the next day 100% pale and nerdy-looking sans giant fox ears. He really needed to get complete control over his change. He couldn’t exactly go to sleep every time he wanted to reset his status from enhanced werecreature-with-big-ears to au-naturale human.

Despite this little bump in the road, Stiles had managed to wheedle his dad into letting him go back to school that day. Since his change wasn’t hugely controlled by the moon or anger, Stiles wanted to see how he would fare among more people. The rest of the Pack had promised to stay by his side, so it wasn’t like it was a big risk.

By lunch break, he was cursing his excellent persuasion skills.

The shift into his fox form had obviously brought all his senses screaming to life. His hearing was amazing, but at least he had better control over that now, able to tune into one thing and filter out most everything else. But his nose was in overdrive, and he had to try hard not to flinch away from anyone wearing perfume or cologne. The combination of alcohol, jasmine, roses, sandalwood, musk, ocean salt, and the myriad other things in artificial scents drove him crazy. He could hardly focus in class since his eyes and instinct latched onto every single movement in his periphery. His brain refused to stay on one track, jumping from the board, to the ticking in the lights, the smell of teenage musk, the crinkle of paper under his own hand, Greenberg’s constant pen clicking…he was starting to feel fizzled out by the time he stumbled into the cafeteria.

“How do you guys do this?” moaned Stiles, pillowing his head on the table. It was bad when he didn’t even feel hungry, just stretched thin and scattered.

Scott scratched his head. “I wasn’t distracted by all those things. I mainly had problems when I was just…angry.”

Isaac shrugged. “It was the same with me.”

“Urgh, I don’t feel angry. I just want to…chase all the things. Or hide from all the things. I don’t even know. I feel so twitchy,” Stiles whined, clawing at the table weakly with his still human fingers.

Erica commented between bites of her chicken, “I felt horny when I first changed. Maybe you just need to jerk off.”

Scott choked on his apple juice and through some miracle, managed not to spray Jackson with his mouthful. He swallowed between spluttering, red-faced with shock. Jackson gave him an evil glare, warning him silently of certain death if Scott didn’t keep his drink in his mouth.

“No one wants to hear about your lonely masturbation, Erica,” said Lydia. Just like how Scott and Jackson couldn’t seem to help their subconscious struggle for dominance over the other, it was the same with Lydia and Erica. Except maybe less subconscious and with more evil purpose.

“Bitch, everyone wants to hear about it,” said Erica with a slow, red-lipped smile that spoke of dirty, dirty bedroom things.

Stiles sighed without even lifting his head. “Hello, guys, for once, this is actually about me, not any of you. And I already did, Erica, thanks for the advice.”

Jackson growled, “We really don’t want to hear about you and what you get up to alone, limp dick.”

“Stop fantasizing about my dick,” said Stiles with half-hearted annoyance.

Jackson was about to reach over and try to rip his throat out when Scott leaned in and hugged Stiles from the side.

“Woah, dude.” But Stiles didn’t get much further than this short protest before Scott had him completely wrapped up. Then Scott pulled him in so that his face rested between Scott’s neck and shoulder.

“Breathe in slowly,” said Scott, more a rumble in Stiles’ ears.

He did and he suddenly felt his nose latching on to the familiar scent of boy sweat, grass, dogs and cats, wild and urban at the same time. It was Pack.

By the time he pulled back, his mind was a lot quieter, and he suddenly felt like he was processing his surroundings again, instead of just being battered from all sides by everything. He didn’t even care that they drew a few stares with the sudden hug, which probably lasted more than fifteen minutes considering how people were leaving the cafeteria. Wow, time flew when he was being cuddled.

“Scott, I never thought I would say this, but you’re a genius,” breathed out Stiles in quiet relief. “How did you know to do that?”

“Derek told me that close contact might help. It always makes me feel better when I use your bed in your house while we’re studying because everything smelt familiar. So I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try it.”

Allison looked like she was half a second from hugging Scott, with the way she was dimpling at him and stroking his shoulder. Stiles totally knew how she felt. His usually clueless friend was growing brains. He felt moved and proud at the same time.

“Thanks, man. It totally worked,” said Stiles, giving Scott a fist bump.

Boyd got up from the table, laying a hand on Stiles’ shoulder as he walked by. “Alright, guys. Time to go before we’re late.”

It was like Scott’s hug opened the dam to constant physical affection, and Stiles let the Pack sooth away his tension all day with spontaneous hugs, fist bumps, manly back pats and casual shoulder nudges.

Later in the afternoon, he heard a familiar heartbeat in the car park. His mind slowed to a complete calm, falling into the easy rhythm of learning that he had always loved. The comforting, steady rhythm stayed there for an hour, before moving slowly away again. Stiles felt almost completely normal for the rest of his day at school.

# # # # # # # # # #

Banging in through his front door, Stiles made a beeline to the kitchen and the Holy Grail that was his fridge. He dropped his bag on the floor and started digging around for the ingredients to a delicious sandwich. In a matter of minutes, he was trying to extract ham, cheese, avocado, butter and a cucumber from the fridge without dropping anything. He was just straightening up with his armful of food items when he felt the hair on the back of his neck rise. The faintest scraping sound scratched across his ears — rubber soles against floorboards — and he whirled around.

All the food went flying as he was pinned against the fridge, his hands coming up in reflex to push away his attacker. He bared his teeth and claws sank into broad shoulders before he recognized the scent and stupidly handsome face.

“What the fuck, Derek?” demanded Stiles.

Derek didn’t flinch despite Stiles’ sharp claws sunk into his skin and flesh. “You need to use your senses better.”

Stiles glared, pulling his hands free and making a disgusted face at the blood under his claws. He wiped it on Derek’s T-shirt. “You attacked me just to test my hearing? I just fucking turned less than a week ago. Cut me some slack.”

“And to test your control over your fox-side. Your ears are out again,” pointed out Derek, making a face at the bloodstains on his T-shirt. He didn’t even look at the small claw wounds on his shoulders as they were already healing up. He also didn’t back off from his position well within Stiles’ comfort zone.

Stiles said, “My fox side came out, because I heard something creeping around behind me. It’s defense. You can’t growl at me for not hearing your creeping, and then growl at me for hearing your creeping and reacting.”

Derek leaned closer, heavy brows coming together in an angry frown. “The problem is that you aren’t paying attention to what you’re hearing, even though your hearing is ten times better than a werewolf’s. What’s going to happen when some idiot sneaks up on you in school as a prank? Or someone comes to pat you on the back a little too fast? You’re going to turn into a fox in the middle of school?”

Derek…had a point. But his method of execution left a lot to be desired. It was too much like Scott’s early werewolf days all over again, where Derek seemed to think that growling and intimidation made for a great teacher. At least he wasn’t tossing teenagers around now, expecting them to magically gain werewolf skills. But it still pissed Stiles off that every time he entertained tentative, good thoughts about Derek, this type of shit happened all over again.

“I’m trying, okay? I just found out that I turn into a fox last night, and it’s the first day back at school today. You couldn’t give me one freaking day to settle down first before scaring me so badly that I just lost my perfectly good meal all over the floor? I know regular meals are optional to you, but think about the rest of us lowly, non-Alphas in your Pack. We need sustenance,” snapped Stiles.

Alright, so half his anger was also due to hunger. He was starving and now there was wasted food on the kitchen floor. It wasn’t like the Stilinski family stocked a lot of food in the house, so there wasn’t much left to make a sandwich.

Derek growled and pinned him harder against the fridge. “I think about my Pack. This is me thinking about how to keep you safe.”

“Yeah, well, that’s a funny way of showing it!”

Stiles tried to shove back to no avail. They might be the same height, but Derek was much broader and densely built. He pinned Stiles across the shoulders with ease, and it was only then that Stiles realized how close they were standing together. His knees and thighs were pressed in place by Derek’s, and he could feel Derek’s breath against his face. He couldn’t help it; his eyes flickered down to Derek’s lips at the thought. They were parted, as if ready to start snarling again. When he wrenched his eyes back up to Derek’s eyes, the clear hazel color was tinged red near dilating pupils. He could feel his heartbeat thrumming to the same rhythm’s as Derek’s, imagined he could feel Derek’s pulse through his chest and not just in his ears.

Then the sound of a familiar car pulling up onto his driveway jerked the two of them out of the intense stare. Derek pulled away and Stiles straightened up from the fridge.

“Your fox side retreated,” said Derek quietly.

Stiles touched his ears and realized they were round, human ears again. He wondered when that happened, and how he could trigger a similar change in the future.

“Stiles, you in there?” his dad called from outside.

Stiles brushed past Derek as he headed for the front door. “We’ll continue this conversation later.”

“Nope,” said Derek, because he was an asshole.

Stiles growled as he stormed out of the house. The low, wordless threat emerging from his throat surprised him enough that he stumbled down the front steps and blinked blearily in the late afternoon light at his dad.

“What’s up,” he said to his dad, trying to cover his embarrassment. His anger was fast fading, now that he was away from Derek. Something about the guy never failed to rev him up, sparking strong emotion with the least amount of effort.

His dad opened the back door of his patrol car. “We’re getting rid of some old books from the station’s private library. I thought you would like first pick before we started a book sale. It’s mostly about criminology, so that should appeal to a budding criminal like you.”

“Haha, dad,” said Stiles, eyeing the giant box teetering off the backseat with greed.

“Take it in then,” said his dad, already heading for the door.

“Thanks for the helping hand,” called out Stiles. “Why did you bring it home? I could have dropped in at the station.”

His dad was inside the house already so Stiles sighed and pulled the box out. Damn, it was heavy! He staggered under the weight and wobbled a bit before he got a good grip on the wide box. Then he stumbled into the house, trying not to trip over anything as he could barely see over the box. He finally lowered the box slowly onto the living room floor. He stretched out his arms over his head and raised his eyebrows at his dad.

“That’s a lot of books,” he said.

His dad smiled. “You don’t know half of it. It took three big burly men to carry that out to my car, and they barely made it. Congratulations, you’ve got enhanced strength out of the deal after all.”

Derek chose this moment to come in from the kitchen. “Less than an average werewolf, more than a regular human.”

Stiles gaped at his dad. “That was a test? Were there even books in there, or did you just fill it with rocks?”

His dad said, “You don’t think my men would find it strange that I’m asking them to carry rocks around in a box? Of course there are books in there. I just didn’t pack them all into smaller boxes.”

“What is this, Test Stiles Day?” grumbled Stiles, but not letting this discovery get in the way of his curiosity as he knelt down to open the box.

“Something else happened?”

Derek explained, “Yeah, I tested his ability to withstand surprise without shifting.”

His dad said wryly, “I can guess that it didn’t go well. Stiles hardly withstood surprise well even before he was bitten.”

“He’ll do better with more training.”

“I guess I should start sneaking up on him too.”

“I don’t think I like the two of you ganging up on me,” said Stiles as he sifted through the first few hardcover books. No wonder the box had been so heavy. He really should have realized that he wouldn’t have been able to carry a box that large filled with books on his own if he didn’t have supernatural strength now. Did werecreature powers reduce IQ points? That would so explain Scott and Derek’s lack of strategizing skills.

His dad squeezed his shoulder. “You’ll appreciate it when you aren’t locked up as a science experiment by the age of twenty-one.”

“What happens after twenty-one?” asked Stiles, squinting up at his dad.

“You’re on your own, kiddo,” he said with a grin. “Can’t coddle you forever, you know.”

“I’m feeling the parental love,” said Stiles as he started removing books from the box to read their cover jackets.

His dad nudged him in the side with a knee. “Hey, don’t make a mess in the living room. You’ll take ages to decide, so take the box up to your room and do it there. Consider it exercise.”

Sighing, Stiles packed the books back into the box and hefted it up. He smiled at how cool it was to be stronger than normal now and headed for the stairs.

“You get to pick ten,” said his dad.

Stiles called over his shoulder, “Come on, dad, ten? That’s nothing—”

His dad continued over him, “And when you’re done, head up to the attic and get the old study desk down here, would you?”

“The desk you put up in the attic with aims to restore it eventually?” asked Stiles halfway up the stairs. “The desk that has been accumulating dust for years?”

“The very same. I think it’s beyond saving now, and I’ve been meaning to throw it away. Now that I have a conveniently superpowered son to carry it down…”

Stiles yelled down, “This is abuse of my supernatural abilities! I didn’t sign up to be a werefennec-fox slave!”

“Save the dramatics for someone who didn’t raise you from a baby,” called up his dad. “And stop yelling. We’re not barbarians here.”

Grumbling to himself, Stiles went to his room with his box of books. He put it down and sat down on his bed to start going through their blurbs. His stomach growled, but he ignored it. Might as well wait for dinner at this rate. He would pick out twenty books and hope he could persuade his dad to let him keep that many instead of just ten. The station could probably do with more petty cash from selling the books, and Stiles’ bookshelves were creakingly full, but twenty books weren’t that many, right?

“I didn’t realize that cleaning service was part of an Alpha’s role.” Stiles blinked as he realized that he was listening in on his dad’s voice downstairs. He was better at controlling himself at school, but around his dad and Derek, it was just too easy to zoom in on their conversations and heartbeat without conscious thought.

Derek’s voice came in loud and clear. “I was the one to surprise him. He’s forgotten about all this anyway.”

Oops. That must be the ingredients for his sandwich scattered around the kitchen floor. He stood up to head downstairs, because while it was Derek’s fault, Stiles’ dad probably wouldn’t see it that way. He could hear Derek moving around the kitchen, probably picking up the mess.

“You’re doing alright with Stiles,” his dad said, causing Stiles to freeze. “I appreciate that you’re looking out for him.”

“He’s Pack,” said Derek, simple and straightforward, like that explained everything.

“Yes, and he’s my son. So as his father, I’m obligated to acknowledge the effort you’re putting in to help keep him safe,” his dad said.

Derek answered, “It’s the least I could do.”

His dad said with obvious amusement, “Alright, I won’t dissuade you from thinking that way if it benefits Stiles.”

Ever the practical one, his dad. Stiles felt rather pleased to hear the bonding moment between his dad and Derek.

After a short moment of silence, Derek said, “He won’t be able to pick just ten books.”

Stiles pouted at no one in particular in his room. He didn’t think Derek would realize that.

“I know,” said his dad, which caused Stiles’ jaw to drop.

“Then why did you say ten?” asked Derek, echoing Stiles’ thoughts.

His dad chuckled. “Because he’ll come up with the most outrageous reasons to choose twenty instead. It always makes for good entertainment when there isn’t anything good on TV.”

Derek actually chuckled at this.

Stiles was outraged. Betrayed by his own kin! Just for that, Stiles was going to choose thirty books to keep, before letting himself be bargained down to twenty. But only twenty and no less; just for what they said! His dad was going to have to work for this. He headed back to the box of books and started going through them with renewed vigor. Derek could clean up the mess on his own.

Twenty minutes later, Stiles said to his empty room, “I can hear your not-so-quiet footsteps, Derek.”

Derek stepped up to his doorway from around the corner, dropping the deliberately quiet approach. “Good. You’re learning.”

“I’ve always been a fast learner,” Stiles said as he grinned up at Derek.

They stared at each other awhile longer than necessary. Then Stiles’ dad was calling up and asking about the old study desk, and Stiles had to go do some heavy lifting. Derek didn’t offer to help, only called out suggestions like an irritating backseat furniture-mover.

# # # # # # # # # #

By the time the weekend rolled around, Stiles was feeling less like a constantly hungry, bundle of overwhelming energy stuffed into a small human body and more like just a small human in a small human body. And he should never ever say that out loud, because it made no sense.

“You’re so adorable, I don’t know if I can handle it,” said Allison, flopping down on the ground to hug Stiles.

His control in his human form was getting steadily better what with all the surprise attacks being sprung on him by Derek and the Pack, but now Derek wanted him to work on controlling his changes and his abilities in his other forms. It wasn’t easy, since it had taken him an hour just to shift into his complete fox form.

“Hey!” Scott looked betrayed, but Allison was too busy patting Stiles behind his ears to notice. Laying his head on Allison’s thigh for more scratches, Stiles shot Scott a smug look.

Boyd shook his head. “That’s just wrong. Where’s your dignity?”

Stiles flicked an ear at Boyd, which earned a giggle from Allison and more pats. Lydia, who had tried so hard to look unmoved by his new form, knelt down and started patting his back.

“He’s like a dog-size fox, and yet, still so ridiculously cute,” said Lydia, sounding almost offended even as she dug her fingers into his thick scruff. He shivered and rumbled with pleasure. “Is he purring again?”

They all fell silent for a moment, listening to the low, constant vibration.

Isaac laughed, rolling off the couch onto the floor. He laid his head on Stiles’ back to hear the rumble from up-close. “Stiles, you’re completely shameless. It’s like a warm, furry engine here.”

“Lydia, stop patting Stiles. That’s just disgusting,” said Jackson, sounding immeasurably annoyed.

She merely shot him a contrary look and curled an arm around Isaac and Stiles.

“Aw, you’re still the resident pretty boy, even if the girls like Stiles better right now,” said Erica with faux sincerity.

Stiles made a chuffing sound in amusement, appreciative as always of Erica’s sass when it was directed at someone else. He stretched out on his side under Lydia’s and Isaac’s weight, wondering if he should abandon his dignity altogether to beg for a belly rub. He wasn’t sure if he would like it, but it would be nice to find out.

His vision blacked out suddenly when something big landed on him, startling the other two off him. He yipped and twisted off Allison’s lap, scrambling around whatever it was that was twisted around him, covering his face. Oh my god, he was caught, trapped, someone had trapped him, what were they going to do, no—

Oh wait. It smelled like Derek, woodsy and earthy with a touch of spice, the tang of hot metal. That calmed him down. Not the smell, of course, no, not that, Derek didn’t calm him down. But if it smelled like Derek, then it wasn’t dangerous. And likely, it was Derek that had launched it on him. He shoved his head around until his snout and eyes were out from beneath the fabric. When he could see again, he realized it was a towel. He growled in displeasure at Derek who was standing behind the couch with his arms crossed. He was wearing his infamous bitch face.

“Change back.”

Derek was allergic to fun and all things nice. Huffing, Stiles curled up in the towel instead, burying his face under it again.

“Stiles,” growled Derek. “It took you an hour just to turn into the fox. You need more practice gaining control over your shifts.”

Argh… All week, it was all about suppressing the fox in him so that he wouldn’t inadvertently change at school. Now, it was all about shifting. Why did Derek have to ruin everything? Stiles whined and pawed at the towel instead, rubbing his back against Allison’s legs in hopes of more pats.

Derek snapped, “Everyone out.”

He had put a little Alpha in his voice, and everyone was scrambling to their feet. Stiles started belly crawling out of the towel towards the door, but Derek started growling low in his throat, a threatening sound that shouldn’t be coming out of a still-human throat. Stiles stilled and flattened his ears back against his head, even though they weren’t visible with the towel over him.

“You’re going to be okay, Stiles?” asked Scott, who never did learn to properly fear Derek.

Stiles huffed and gave a short bark. It wasn’t like Scott could really understand him in this form, but the lack of distress was obvious. Scott left him to Derek’s less than gentle mercy.

Derek lifted the towel off his head and threw it over his lower body instead.

“Now. Shift,” said Derek, eyes glowing red.

Stiles whined.

It took another hour and a lot of growling from Derek and meditation from Stiles — God, he hated meditation — for him to shift back into a human. He stood there awkwardly with a towel around his waist and sulked in the cold. Derek no longer lived in his creepy, burnt house, but he still used it for training. The property seriously lacked the proper insulation against the brisk autumn air.

“Urgh, why is this so hard?” said Stiles, tucking the towel into place. He really wanted to put on some clothes since he wasn’t exactly comfortable being naked around Derek McMuscles, but it would be a waste of time when Derek wanted him to shift into his fox form again.

Derek crossed his arms, looking impatient. “Your shift isn’t as motivated by anger or high emotion. Most werewolves find it easier to shift after the first change, but you haven’t found the right trigger yet.”

Stiles mused aloud, “I think it was easier during the full moon. The moment I was startled, I shifted into a full fox form. The pack patted me, and I shifted back into my in-between state. This time, no amount of pack cuddles triggered a return to my human form.”

“You feel the full moon’s pull to some extent, just not as much as the rest of us. It’s no surprise, since you’re a shifter made by a werewolf bite,” pointed out Derek.

“Huh,” Stiles pondered. “You’re not actually bad at this werewolf mentoring thing, you know? A little patience and less pushy domineering, and you could totally make a great wolfcoach.”

Derek growled low in his throat in response.

Stiles’s heart tripped at the sound, but he shook his head. “Nope, sorry, you do that too often, and now I’m used to it. No trembling, sweating, knee-weakening fear from me.”

Those red eyes flashed at him. “You never did respond properly to fear.”

It was somewhat true. He babbled and flailed, but there was a big part of him that always pushed back and waved a red flag in the face of terror. When confronted with werewolves, crazed witches and aggressive hunters, he couldn’t suppress his inner asshole reaction, even when that had resulted in less than stellar responses. Thanks, Gerard and that psycho omega wolf that had clawed him up.

“Maybe it’s cause you’re not that scary,” said Stiles, exemplifying his problem when faced with intimidating night creatures.

Derek’s mouth curved into a grin. What should be a normal, friendly smile just looked toothy and fuck, very menacing on Derek, predatory even. “Stiles, I think we should go for a run.”

Stiles blinked rapidly. “A— A run? Okay, let me just, uh, let me get my clothes and—”

“Right now,” said Derek, his eyes gleaming with preternatural bloodlust. “Think about the fox while we go. I’ll give you a ten second head start.”

Despite his words, he was prowling forward towards Stiles, his shoulders slinking in a way that said that his wolf was seconds from pouring out of his skin. Stiles skittered backwards, edging towards the front door. “I, I don’t know if I’m all for naked running, just so you know, I don’t think it’s a good idea, it’s flu season, and I really don’t want to weaken my immune system to catch anything you know how that is or maybe you don’t know, oh my God, stop walking at me—”

Derek didn’t stop prowling forward. Were his, oh yes, they were, his canines were definitely elongating. He did a familiar crack of his neck that signaled his imminent change, before saying around his fangs, “One.”

Stiles turned tail and fled the house. He hit the treeline less than a second later, realizing that he had put on a burst of supernatural speed. Which was great, because he definitely needed it. Fuck, he just realized that he had dropped his towel and probably mooned Derek on the way out of the house. He imagined his pasty ass running away was like a bullseye target and whimpered at the thought of the stupid sight he must have made.

His ears picked up the quiet but distinct sound of four paws bounding on the ground, a quiet growl closing in behind him. Stiles’ heartbeat tripled, and he threw himself up a slope, pushing himself off a formation of rocks. Adrenaline surged through him, and his blood was pounding in his ears as his body twisted and roiled in mid-air, limbs shifting as the world expanded around him. He hit the ground on four paws, running at full speed.

Stiles widened the gap between them with the shift. Unlike his first full moon, he wasn’t just filled with blank, animalistic instinct to run away. Now, he could actually feel the wind against his fur, every grain of sand against his sensitive paws, and the animals in the woods fleeing the two predators. He didn’t feel just like prey, he felt like a hunter as well. A predator playing with another predator, and it was amazing.

He dashed between brush, squeezing into places with thicker undergrowth to slow Derek’s advance. He twisted and dodged through the woods, trying to widen the gap between Derek and himself. While Derek was more experienced, Stiles was faster and nimble on his feet. A rabbit rushed away from the bush, and he felt a spike in his blood, instincts suddenly revving up with thoughts of chasechasechase. He shouldn’t, he knew he shouldn’t, but he couldn’t help the way his head swung in the rabbit’s direction, body angled a little off track.

It was enough of a distraction for Derek to pounce at him. Stiles twisted to the side, missed being caught by giant paws, and bounced right off the ground several feet into the air. Derek’s second swipe missed him again, and he launched himself off a tree, and over Derek in full-wolf form. Now he was leaping in the direction from which they just came, Derek right at his heels. Derek tried to jump on him, but he twisted and circled, leapt and dodged like he was a freaking acrobat. It was insane how his body could move and bend, how quickly he went with hardly any thought.

He was running helter-skelter, not really using his wiles anymore, just listening to his thrumming blood and excitement of the chase. Derek snapped at his tail, and he bounded to the side. But the feint didn’t work, and maybe he was delighting too much in the jump, enjoying the weightless moment in the air, because Derek slammed into him from the side. They crashed to the grassy ground, tumbling and rolling. Stiles screamed, high-pitched and loud in surprise, and wriggled and rolled under the heavy bulk pinning him down. But Derek had a hold on him, and he wasn’t letting go.

Stiles was on his back, with Derek’s massive jaw closed around his throat. Instinctively, Stiles was trying to tuck his head down, but Derek let out a loud, warning growl. Well. End game. Stiles gulped in deep breaths of air, trying to clear his fox instincts to make room for some human thought. Derek was waiting for him, waiting for an acknowledgment.

Slowly, Stiles relaxed and tipped his head back in submission. Derek rumbled in contentment, easing up to lick his neck and lower jaw instead. Stiles twisted his face and allowed himself to be licked a little more around his jaw and ears. Derek mouthed his ear, earning a warning yip from Stiles. He glared up at Derek and received a laughing chuff in return. He closed his eyes as Derek nosed him, licked him again. His hearing was already attuned to Derek’s heartbeat, and he felt his own slowing to match that steady rhythm. He wondered how it would be like if he could pat Derek like how he was being groomed, run fingers through thick dark fur. It would be nice…

From one heartbeat to another, he found his body shifting, growing, paws changing into fingers that pressed up against a warm body.

Stiles opened his eyes. His world had narrowed down to just Derek, Derek who had shifted with him and was all human now. Their faces were pressed close together, Derek’s nose nudging against his cheek before he pulled back. His hands curved around Derek’s bare biceps, squeezing and enjoying the warm hard muscle under his grip.

Bare biceps.

Derek was naked above him. He was equally naked beneath Derek.

“I caught you,” said Derek, looking unacceptably attractive and smug with that stupid smirk on his face.

“I’m new to this, okay?” said Stiles grumpily. “Try again next week, and we’ll see how that turns out.”

“That means we’ll have to practise. I’ll have to chase you more,” said Derek, nose flaring as he took in a deep breath.

“I can set aside time for that,” said Stiles in his steadiest voice possible, but he couldn’t control the way his heart skipped a beat. He could hear his anchor, Derek’s heartbeat, speeding up as well, lighting a fire in his own pulse.

“My wolf likes chasing you,” murmured Derek in a distracted tone.

“Please, your wolf isn’t a separate entity,” said Stiles, staring at Derek’s pale, hazel eyes framed with ridiculously long, dark lashes.

Derek gave him a toothy grin. “We like catching you even more.”

Stiles’ mouth dropped open, and Derek’s eyes followed the movement avidly. Before Stiles could come up with something senseless to say, Derek was leaning down and kissing him. There was a moment when Derek froze, like he just realized what he was doing, but Stiles was a genius okay, and this was Derek. He moved his lips, pressing up while digging his hands into those arms caging him in. Then they were both moving, opening their mouths to slick, curious kisses. Derek curled his hands around the back of Stiles’ head, turning him for better, deeper angles. Stiles moaned and arched his back, and fuck, they were both naked. Very naked. He was rubbing off against Derek’s muscular thigh, and he would feel embarrassed except for the heavy weight of Derek’s cock that was getting hard against his hip.

Derek broke off to pant against his ear. “Stiles.”

It was his turn to be brave. Derek, who always played it safe when it came to his personal feelings, had made the first move, and it was time for Stiles to step up, even though it was so hard, hah, hard. He started talking, “I know I’m younger and inexperienced, but I have been thinking about you for awhile, like this, and not just like this, but in other, other context, and— Derek, I feel safe around you, even when you drive me nuts and growl at me.”

He probably would have said more except Derek turned his head and kissed him again, a short, gentling kiss. He murmured against Stiles’ mouth, “So all those sourwolf jokes, that’s how you were showing your affection?”

Stiles laughed, which wasn’t sexy at all, with how his whole body shook, and his mouth was wide open so close to Derek’s face. But those amazing eyes, looking like they were a deeper green now, were crinkled at the edges, laughing with him, and Stiles curled his hand in that wild, dark hair. “Yeah, you could say that.”

“Good,” said Derek, a little senselessly, kissing Stiles again.

It was quick and completely without finesse, but he didn’t care, and Derek didn’t seem to either with the way he was groaning low in his throat. They rutted against each other with abandon, hands too busy clutching at hair, faces, shoulders, arms, to even reach down to stroke their rubbing cocks. Stiles parted his legs, letting Derek fall further between them, and they were moving together in blood burning pleasure. They kissed again and again, Derek tilting Stiles’ head back and to the side for a better angle, to lick in deeper and harder. It was too much all at once, the taste and feel, tongue rubbing against tongue, stubble scratching against his cheek and the sinuous movement between his thighs. Stiles gasped into Derek’s mouth and came between them.

The smell of come was musty and sharp, and it seemed to drive Derek into a frenzy. His thrusts lost their even rhythm and his kisses were sloppy now, but Stiles took them all, still shaking from his own climax as he tried to match Derek kiss for desperate kiss. Then Derek was arching and growling and coming in seemingly endless spurts.

“Fuck,” gasped Stiles as he broke away for air, panting into the night.

Derek rumbled in agreement as he rubbed his face against Stiles’ cheek. His face was going to be rubbed raw with stubble burn, but the close contact and repetitive motion was too enjoyable to stop. Stiles combed his fingers through Derek’s thick hair, scratching at the shorter hair at the nape of his neck. He shifted and enjoyed the feel of wet, softening cock against his own. It was almost more intimate than the frottage they had just indulged in. He sighed in contentment.

Derek said into his neck, voice muffled. “You’re purring. Like a lap cat.”

Stiles blinked and listened to the continuous low murmur that sounded like an engine had taken up residence in his lungs. Derek stroked a hand down his side as if to press closer to the sound, but the touch was too light and Stiles squirmed as his ticklish spots were grazed.

“Don’t move like that,” said Derek, shifting his face out of the crook of Stiles’ neck.

“Like what?” asked Stiles, still squirming and fidgeting.

Derek’s eyes flashed red. “Like I should be pinning you down to stop you from running away.”

Ah, it was his prey drive kicking in again. Stiles stared up at him, stilling for a moment. Derek relaxed as he realized he had gotten his point through, which was just enough for Stiles to squirm onto his front and push out from under Derek’s heavy weight.

“Let’s see if you can catch this lap cat!” Stiles shouted as he flitted away, bounding over some bushes and darting around trees. He heard a loud growl behind him as Derek gave chase.

Stiles laughed as he ran like the wind in weaving paths through the forest, ran like a fox playing with a wolf.

# # # # # # # # # #

Epilogue

Stiles was lying on the couch, ignoring the huge eyes Scott was making at him from the other end. He plopped his feet onto Scott’s lap.

Isaac stood over the couch and crossed his arms. “You’re taking up too much space, Stiles.”

“Turn into a fox. We could do with a feet-warmer,” suggested Erica from where she was curled up against Boyd on the armchair.

Stiles groaned as he sat up so that Isaac could sit down too. “You just want to use me for my soft, wonderful fur.”

Isaac sat down so Stiles promptly leaned back against him, letting Isaac take most of his weight. Scott was still making huge, horrified eyes at him, which Stiles wouldn’t be able to ignore for much longer. At the moment, he was too busy eavesdropping on Derek’s phone call, just like every other werewolf in the room barring Scott. Half the pack was hanging out at Derek’s apartment when Stiles’ dad had called, and Derek had gone to answer his phone that he had left in his bedroom.

—a heart attack at age seventeen. Do you know of any unusual reasons that might be behind this?” asked Stiles’ dad, his stressor on ‘unusual’ meant he was referring to the supernatural.

Derek said, “It’s nothing I have heard before. I can ask Deaton and look into some of our books.”

It went without saying that Stiles’ could pull out his research skills as well.

His dad said, “Thanks. Don’t worry too much about it. It’s rare, but it could be congenital. I’ll wait to hear more from the autopsy and family medical history. How’s Stiles going with his progress?

Back to business as usual. And now, Stiles couldn’t ignore Scott’s worried expression anymore.

“You and Derek?” whispered Scott, a totally pointless endeavor in a room full of werewolves with enhanced hearing.

“Yep,” said Stiles, popping the ‘p’ obnoxiously.

“Really??” Scott squeezed Stiles’ bare feet in shock. “But…when did this start?”

Stiles made a face. “It just happened, alright? I haven’t been hiding this from you or anything. You’re my bro, I wouldn’t do that to you.”

It was Sunday, the day after Stiles’ first frolic in the woods with Derek. And first frolic in Derek’s old creepy house after an invigorating chase. And first frolic in Derek’s car after some light-hearted banter. Derek had banned the use of the word ‘frolic’ but Stiles was getting quite attached to it.

Scott looked a little mollified, while Erica spoke up a little mournfully, “I lost a hundred bucks because of this.”

“So did I,” said Boyd, a little miffed.

“And I’m rich,” said Isaac with shameless glee.

Stiles gaped at them. “What. What are you— Did you guys bet on our sex lives??”

“Not cool,” said Scott, and Stiles was about to thank him for the support when he continued, “You didn’t invite me in on the pool! I thought we were buddies, Isaac.”

Isaac shrugged, causing Stiles to wobble against him. “You wouldn’t have been able to keep the secret from Stiles.”

Scott paused, and then sighed. “True.”

That deserved a grin and a wink from Stiles before he went back to interrogating the others. “So you guys bet on Derek and me? I didn’t even know we were…well. That there was something.”

“That’s cause you’re oblivious,” said Isaac.

“I didn’t bet on the two of you. I bet that Derek had sworn to celibacy or had ED,” interjected Erica. “It was the only way he can look the way he does and not be hooking up with anyone all this while.”

ED? Stiles blinked before some corner of his brain helpfully supplied the phrase ‘erectile dysfunction’. Oh, no, Derek definitely didn’t have that. Stiles had physical evidence that he definitely didn’t have that. Mmm, and boy, was that some physical evidence

“Stop making that pervy face,” moaned Scott, but Stiles ignored him altogether to contemplate the fact that Derek hadn’t been with anyone in recent years according to Erica. And she would know, because not only did she have werewolf senses, but she was also incredibly nosy. Stiles had always thought that Derek must have been leaving a string of very satisfied one night stands around Beacon Hills. He didn’t know what to think about this new tidbit of information.

“I bet that Stiles would jump Derek a couple years down the line,” said Boyd.

Stiles stared at him. “Thanks for the vote in confidence, dude, but are you crazy? I’m not that brave. Or insane.”

Boyd held his gaze. “Please, you put yourself completely out there with Lydia, even when she had a reputation for destroying unworthy boys chasing after her.”

Okay. That was true. Sometimes Stiles did lack self-preservation when it came to matters of the heart. Maybe in a few years, if he had been more aware of the potential between him and Derek, he would have done something. But being turned in a werefoxthing had certainly sped up the process. Which reminded him—

“Hey, what should I call myself?” asked Stiles, abruptly changing the subject.

A big, warm hand clasped around the back of his neck, before sliding away. Derek asked as he walked around the couch, “Having an identity crisis?”

“Hardy har har,” said Stiles. “I mean, you guys are werewolves. I’m a werefennec-fox which is a ridiculous mouthful. I was wondering what I should call myself, or if I could just call myself a werewolf.”

Isaac got up, saying something about getting food from the kitchen. Stiles flailed a little as his back support disappeared, only to have another solid body slide into place on the couch. He turned his head a little to grin at Derek, who looked resigned instead of excited to be used as furniture. Rude.

Scott was giving him a befuddled puppy look. “But you don’t turn into a wolf. How can you be called a werewolf?”

“Well, that depends on how you define ‘werewolf’. Technically, if I’m in a werewolf pack, and I’m a shapeshifter—”

Scott groaned. “No, no, no, not your definition of things in Stiles’ world again.”

“Hey, I’ll have you know that one accepted definition of lying is to recline your body horizontally. And technically, being given less detentions could be defined as improved behavior,” Stiles protested, remembering all the times he had ‘defined’ words to his dad and Scott when he had been caught out in a lie.

“Stiles, you’re not a werewolf,” interrupted Erica. “That would be really stretching the meaning of the word.”

“Do you need to call yourself anything anyway? Who are you talking to about your werefennec-foxness?” asked Scott.

“I just like to know. In my head, I keep thinking werecreature or werething, which can’t go on,” said Stiles. “I need a proper assignation, at least for record-keeping.”

Derek nudged him with an elbow in the back. “How about ‘special snowflake’?”

Stiles tipped his head back to glare. “Wolf got jokes today.”

“Fox has too many questions every day,” Derek said in a deadpan tone.

“What’s wrong with just werefox? Keep it simple,” suggested Boyd.

Stiles thought about it and sighed. There really was no better suggestion. “Doesn’t quite have a ring to it as werewolf, but I suppose that would be acceptable.”

Derek murmured under his breath, barely an exhalation just loud enough for Stiles’ enhanced hearing, “You’re Stiles. That’s all you need for a definition.”

The uncharacteristically soft words almost brought a flush to Stiles’ cheeks. Almost. Letting himself go boneless, Stiles slumped entirely against Derek’s side with a laugh. He heard a huff of irritation, but Derek curved his body to better brace Stiles. Scott rolled his eyes at them, and Stiles grinned in return.

Stiles the werefox in a pack of werewolves. He was redefining everything again, but it sounded like it would be a good one this time.

THE END

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