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How Do I Live Without the Ones I Love?

Chapter Text

~I Think About Why I'm Alone~

 

Derek wasn't in the mood for this. He'd called Scott earlier, because he'd needed help tracking a strange scent that had appeared in the woods overnight. But the call had gone to voicemail, so Derek had grumbled and growled and followed the scent until he'd lost it at the highway. He tried calling Scott again, and this time the teen answered.


"Why didn't you answer the first time I called you?"


"Couldn't," Scott grumbled back. "I've been really busy, and you called during school!"


Derek ground his teeth together. "There's an unfamiliar scent in the woods. I followed it to the highway."


"Look," Scott replied, sounding distracted. "I don't have time for this, okay? Allison promised to help me study for my Spanish test."


"Scott!"


Scott hung up. Derek growled and resisted flinging his phone away from him with the reminder that if he did that, he'd just have to go look for it later. Fucking teenagers. He clenched his fist and rolled his shoulders. The alpha turned and stalked back into the woods, resigned to the fact that he was going to have to turn to Stiles.


It wasn't that Derek hated the kid, or anything. Stiles was actually really helpful - ridiculously intelligent. He was just...frustrating. Really frustrating; frustrating in a way Derek wasn't used to dealing with. Derek exhaled hotly through his nose and adjusted his path so that he was headed towards Stiles's house.


The Stilinski house, when he reached it, was dark and quiet. The Sheriff was gone, probably still at work, and Stiles's was the only heart Derek could hear. Derek made his way around, found himself outside Stiles's bedroom window, and tried to open it.
It wouldn't budge.


It was locked.


It'd been close to a year since Peter bit Scott, close to a year since Derek found himself back in Beacon Hills with the bitter taste of death and ash. In all that time, in the months since Stiles began to trust Derek, and then Scott began to trust Derek, Stiles's window had never been locked. Derek had always been able to get in.


Derek peered in through the glass, glowering at the things he could see inside. There was Stiles's desk, his laptop closed on top of it. The chair Derek spent most of his time siting in whenever he'd have to wait for Stiles to get home. Stiles's bed, with Stiles lying face-first in it. Derek listened closely; Stiles was awake.


"Stiles."


The teen didn't jump, his heart didn't stutter or speed up. He didn't move. Derek growled, annoyed, and his eyes flashed red briefly. If it wasn't for the fact that the kanima had been dealt with, that Jackson was now a werewolf, Derek would be concerned. As it was, he was only growing more and more pissed.


"Stiles. I will break this window."


Stiles moved just enough so that he could glare at Derek. His eyes were red and puffy, ringed with dark circles. The pale moonlight caught on what could only be tear-tracks running down his cheeks. "Go away, Derek. I'm not... I don't want to deal with you, today."


Derek did not have time for this shit. If Stiles was dumped he was going to have to suck it up. The alpha growled again, pressed closer to the glass, and glared intensely at the teenager. "Too bad."


"Jesus, no. Derek, get fucking lost, okay? I can't deal with you and your shit today. Come back tomorrow. Call someone from your pack, they're werewolves, not me." Stiles moved his head, pressing his face into his pillow. "Today is a really bad day, Derek. Go the fuck away."


The alpha narrowed his eyes. "Scott won't answer his phone, Jackson is still on vacation with his parents, and the other three are rotating between keeping an eye on Peter and Lydia." Derek bit out, annoyed and frustrated and really close to breaking the window so he wouldn't have to be dangling in front of it. "Just open the window, Stiles."


Stiles flew up, his heart beating out a furious cadence, and he met Derek's glare with one of his own. "No, Derek. I'm not going to open the fucking window so you can come in here and dump your new werewolf problem onto my lap! Not today. Any other day, fine, but just not today!"


"I don't have time to deal with your post break-up drama." Derek growled, his eyes narrowing even more.


Stiles barked out a bitter laugh. "This isn't post break-up drama, you fucking asshole!" He flailed a hand out towards a picture of a woman that hadn't been in the room before. "Today's the anniversary of my mom's death, okay? So just go away."


Derek's stomach dropped, and his hands clenched on the windowsill he was clinging to. He'd known, in the back of his mind, that Stiles's mother was out of the picture. He'd known she had died, but the knowledge hadn't ever registered in Derek's brain. He stared at Stiles's pale face, tear stained, at the ridiculously large brown eyes filled with muted pain.


His own eyes softened. "I'm sorry."


Stiles's eyes widened, his mouth dropping open into a small "o" of surprise. Derek disappeared from view, contemplating his next move when he heard Stiles give a hitching gasp. Derek winced, maneuvered around, dropped to the grass, and found an open window on the ground floor. He didn't give much thought to what he was doing; he was just running on instinct, letting the wolf closer to the surface. Stiles was pack, and Stiles was hurting, and Derek kind of wanted to punch Scott in the face for not being here for Stiles.


The teen jerked into the headboard of his bed, his Bambi eyes flying to Derek when the alpha shoved his way into the bedroom. "D-Derek!" Stiles whisper-shouted, his voice rough with unshed tears, and his heart gave a stuttered lurch. "What the hell, man?"


"Shut up, Stiles." Derek grumbled. He kicked his shoes off, shed the leather jacket, and dropped down onto the bed next to Stiles. Stiles gaped at him, his confusion a citrusy scent, though still easily drowned out in the sharp, ashy scent of muted years-long grief and sorrow. Derek reached out, gripped Stiles's shoulder gently, and pulled him down until Stiles was laying back down, curled into Derek, his head pillowed on the werewolf's chest.


Stiles was rigid for several minutes, his muscles vibrating beneath his skin with nervous energy. Derek just kept his breathing calm and deep, staring up at the ceiling while his right hand methodically massaged the nape of Stiles's neck soothingly. Another tense minute passed by before Stiles let out a stuttered breath and practically melted into the comfort Derek was silently offering him.


Derek was curious, because this was something he thought Scott would actually take the time out of his own drama to keep Stiles company for. Derek wondered, not for the first time in all actuality, why Stiles hadn't punched Scott in the face, or something else. From what Derek has seen, Scott's been a shitty friend to Stiles.


"I thought you hated me." Stiles mumbled into Derek's shoulder. His heart was steady, and the tone of his voice conveyed seriousness. Derek frowned up at the ceiling and squeezed the back of Stiles's neck gently. The alpha kind of wished, in that moment and in many previous moments, that he'd offered to turn Stiles. He still could offer, but it would only put the entire pack in danger of the hunters. Again.


"I never hated you." Derek grumbled after a few minutes of semi-awkward silence. His frown intensified as he glowered up at the ceiling. "You're just annoying."


Stiles barked out a startled laugh. "Dude, I'm so aware of that. I annoy the fuck out of everyone. I talk too much, I can't help but stick my foot in my mouth all the damn time, I'm a snarky, sarcastic asshole with too much pent-up energy. I'm spastic as hell, and way too damn nosy for my own good."


Derek snorted. "Yeah." He felt Stiles press his face into the solid muscles of his shoulder, could feel the wetness from Stiles's tears. "That's not why you annoy me anymore."


"What?"

"You throw yourself into unnecessary danger all the damn time."


Stiles tried to sit up, but Derek kept him pinned against his chest. "I only do it to save your pack's asses, and yours too, damn it. I don't find that unnecessary in the least."


The alpha growled softly and rolled his eyes. "It pisses me off when any of you are in danger." Derek exhaled harshly; he was reluctant to say any of this, but he was pretty sure this was something Stiles needed to hear. "Scares the fuck out of me."


"Derek - "


"I don't want to lose my pack again."


"Oh..."


Stiles pressed closer to Derek's side, his right hand fisting in the fabric of Derek's Henley. He trembled a little. Derek could smell faint hints of surprise and understanding and hesitant joy. He wondered if Stiles even knew he was part of the pack. The alpha scowled deeply. Probably not; he'd been a shit alpha, especially in the beginning.


"You're pack."


The teenager's heart skipped a beat. "S-seriously?" Stiles asked, shy in a way that surprised Derek. He couldn't ever really remember Stiles being shy.


"Mm." Derek squeezed the nape of Stiles's neck again. The sun sank in the sky, the shadows in the room grew longer. It was the longest silence Derek's ever experienced with Stiles. Derek wondered if Stiles was this quiet every year, or if Scott or the Sheriff kept Stiles talkative. Then he wondered why Scott wasn't here with Stiles, why Stiles was alone when he clearly didn't want to be.


"Do you like eggplant?"


Derek's head jerked minutely, not enough for Stiles to notice, caught off-guard by Stiles's question. He cocked an eyebrow at the ceiling. "Depends. Why."


Stiles huffed. "Seriously, Derek, learn some inflections when you ask questions." He nuzzled Derek's shoulder, eliciting a stunned blink out of Derek. Stiles didn't notice. "I was thinking about making eggplant lasagna, and thought you might like to have some. Either way, I haven't eaten since yesterday morning, so I'm pretty sure I need to eat something."


"Yes."


"Um, yes to me needing to eat or yes to the eggplant?" Stiles griped into Derek's shoulder. The teen's scent was a pleasant mixture of contentment and amusement with only the slightest hint of the sorrow and grief he'd been drowning in earlier. Derek chuckled, giving a small smile to the ceiling, pleased despite himself.


"Both, Stiles."

Chapter Text

 

~And Tease Them All By Sucking On Your Thumb~

 

Stiles pushed his food around the lunch tray with his fork, glaring forlornly at the mess he'd made. He was tired, the cafeteria was too loud, and Stiles was feeling abandoned and morose. It'd been three days, and Scott was so wrapped up in Allison he hadn't even realized what time of the year it was. It was the first time, ever, that Scott had left Stiles alone.


"Not like I needed the company or anything, anyway," Stiles muttered under his breath.


A peal of laughter from Allison echoed from a few tables away, followed by Scott's chuckle. Stiles chanced a glance up to see Jackson's narrowed eyes trained on him, and Lydia's adoring gaze trained on Jackson. Stiles looked away.


There was a soft clatter from another lunch tray being dropped onto the table. Stiles looked up in time to see Boyd sitting down across from him. Soon after Erica slid into the seat next to Boyd. Stiles blinked at the two betas, caught between confusion and some twisted form of relief. He didn't want to be alone, but he really wasn't up for sitting by Lydia. He still wasn't over her.


"Um?"


Boyd cocked an eyebrow. "You looked lonely." He offered before methodically eating his fries. Erica stole one from Boyd's tray and leaned her head in her hand as she chewed, giving Stiles a thoughtful look. Her blond hair was a lot shorter than it had been last year, but the look suited her.


"Yeah... I guess." Stiles returned his gaze to his uneaten food. He was unusually quiet.


"Derek said you probably wouldn't be very talkative." Erica said, raising her eyebrows at him. "He didn't say why, though. It's really irritating, actually. He had us chasing down some strange scent in the woods all weekend, and he comes back smelling like you, which tells me he didn't bother following the scent or the scent led to your house and he was watching over you."


Stiles scowled and stabbed the cooked carrots with his fork. "He showed up Friday night all pissed off, probably there for my help I guess, but I told him to get lost."


Boyd gave him a disbelieving look. "He was gone the entire weekend, and he came back this morning reeking of you." Erica replied skeptically.


"I never said he listened to me," Stiles defended. Erica hummed thoughtfully and studied Stiles. The human shifted in his seat nervously. "Jesus, he kept me company all weekend, yes, okay? He stuck around because he knew I didn't want to be left alone. The anniversary of my mom's death was Friday, and my dad was gone all weekend."


Erica frowned and Boyd continued to methodically eat his fries. "...Oh."


Stiles sighed and glared down at his lunch tray. "Yeah, 'oh'." He pushed the tray to the side and rested his head against the table top. "So, did you guys find the source of the strange scent?"


"Isacc tracked it out of town after he picked it up a few miles down the highway Derek lost it on." Boyd answered. "Derek told us to keep an eye out, but he's hoping that whatever it was was just passing through."


"Good. I don't think any of us could deal with anymore supernatural crap right now." Stiles muttered, pressing his cheek against the table even harder. Erica and Boyd were both pretty good at hiding it, but after what happened at the end of last school year they both had some serious issues to work through. They were always on guard and tense, even if they looked relaxed.


The bell rang, and a cacophony of noise followed as everyone scurried off to their next class. Stiles groaned softly and followed Boyd to their shared English class. The entire pack shared at least one class with each other, following Derek's suggestion. Derek wanted them to be safe in case they were ever attacked in school, so Danny had hacked the system and set it up, but only after he forced Derek and Jackson to tell him the complete truth.


"Derek was really concerned about you," Boyd murmured as they entered the classroom. Stiles's jaw dropped and he stopped in the doorway, blocking the rest of the class trying to get into the room. Boyd continued on to the table he shared with Stiles, sitting down and cocking an eyebrow at the human.


Stiles spluttered, blushed, and rushed over to the seat. "What d'you mean Derek was concerned about me?" He dropped down into the chair and kept his gaze fixed on Boyd's amused expression.


"You're part of the pack," Lydia answered primly as she sat at the table in front of theirs, turning to pin Stiles with an assessing gaze. "He's alpha, so of course he's going to be concerned about the members of his pack."


"..." Stiles gaped at Lydia, his blush intensifying. "Um...right." He shook his head and stared down at his hands. "Good point, but then, you're always making good points. And why wouldn't you, you're brilliant and amazing and a goddess and you're totally going to go to college at, like, Harvard or MIT or someplace amazing and I need to stop now..."


Jackson, who'd sat down in the middle of Stiles's ramble, scowled at Stiles and wrapped an arm around Lydia's shoulders. Stiles flicked his gaze out the window, still blushing, and reminded himself that he needed to not be affected by the couple. The rest of the class took to their seats, and Stiles lowered his head until his overheated cheek was pressing against the cold surface of the table.


"Do you want to come over to my house after school to work on our project?" Boyd asked at the end of class, shoving the book they were reading into his bag. "I have a few ideas for the presentation."


"Um, yeah," Stiles blinked and gave the werewolf a hesitant smile. "That works for me." He shouldered his own bag and followed Boyd out of the classroom. The two teenagers met up with Erica and Isaac and the four made their way to the library for their free period.


They sat at one of the larger tables, each delving into their homework. Stiles twitched every now and then, jittery and filled with too much energy. The human frowned down at his pre-calculus homework, frustrated and annoyed with the abundance of energy. He huffed and absently tapped out the beat to some random pop song, staring contemplatively at the back of Jackson's head.


Erica looked up at Stiles, glanced over her shoulder to see what he was staring at, and rolled her eyes. "It was mostly the idea of her, Stiles. You were in love with the idea of her."


Stiles startled and fixed his wide eyes on Erica. "What the hell are you talking about?" He hissed, blushing hotly and glaring at Erica, feeling all kinds of offended and defensive of his feelings.


The blond rolled her eyes. "I spent almost as long watching you as you spent obsessing over Lydia. Yeah, you know a lot about her, but you don't really know her, do you?" Erica returned her attention to her homework, leaving Stiles alone to mull over her words.


When Stiles glanced back over Erica's shoulder Jackson was glaring at him. Stiles looked away, sinking down into his chair. His mind was racing, picking up Erica's words and running off with them like his life depended on it. It kind of pained him that Erica had a point. He hadn't really known Lydia all that well before everything, and he'd only spent a few weeks hanging out with her before she'd saved Jackson. Stiles sighed and began to tap the beat out to some sad song he'd heard on the radio on the way to school that morning.


Boyd nudged Stiles's foot with his own and nodded towards the irate-looking librarian glaring daggers at the human. Stiles blinked down at his hands before snatching them away from the table top and shoving them into the pockets of his red hoodie. He spent the rest of the period staring out the window, watching as the freshly growing leaves waved with the breeze.


At the end of the day Stiles climbed into his Jeep and fiddled with the radio while Boyd climbed into the passenger side. The human grinned up at Boyd and started chattering about the evil that was school. Boyd smiled indulgently and directed Stiles to his house. As he drove, Stiles tapped his fingers along to the beat of whatever was playing on the radio.


"Do you play the drums, by chance?" Boyd asked as he climbed out of the Jeep, leading the way to the front door of his house.


Stiles flailed a little, startled, and jogged after Boyd. "I, um, not anymore? I mean, I learned how to play the drums when I was little, but I haven't played in years... Why? That question was totally out of nowhere, Boyd, which is really strange for you, I think... Um. I used to play the drums, but not anymore."


Boyd smiled and shook his head, unlocking the front door and stepping into his house. "I only asked because you're always air-drumming or drumming your fingers on the steering wheel when you're driving."


"Oh." Stiles flushed and followed Boyd to the werewolf's room. "I don't ever realize I'm doing it, I guess."


"Hm." Boyd set his bag down on his desk and opened the window. "You don't seem to realize what you're doing a lot of the time, huh?" Boyd smiled knowingly at Stiles. "The window is open Derek, stop lurking on my roof."


Stiles flailed backwards into the door as Derek lightly landed on the floor just in front of the window. Boyd's smile grew and he sat down at his desk, pulling out his notebook for English. Derek ignored Stiles in favor of asking Boyd a slew of questions that probably pertained to the strange scent he'd discovered on Friday.


The human ran a hand over his head and settled himself on the end of Boyd's bed. He pulled his own notebook out of his bag and waited for Boyd and Derek to finish their discussion. Stiles fidgeted a little, alternating between chewing on the sleeve of his hoodie and chewing on his bottom lip, and glanced over to see an acoustic and electric guitar sitting in stands in the corner.


"You play the guitar?!" Stiles blurted out, jumping up and going over to the guitars. He knelt beside them, running his hands over the air above the electric guitar. The silence registered, and Stiles realized that he'd interupted Boyd and Derek discussing wofly business. Stiles blushed and glanced over his shoulder at them, his expression sheepish.


Derek looked unimpressed and Boyd just looked amused. "Yes; playing helps me relax."


The alpha huffed and glared at Stiles a little before refocusing on Boyd. Stiles ducked his head, muttered an apology for interrupting, and went back to studying the guitars. He didn't know a whole lot about Boyd, and knowing that the werewolf could play the guitar made Stiles extra curious. Was Boyd any good? If he was, why hadn't he ever advertised the talent? Tons of people would've crowded around the teen, vying to be his friend, if they knew Boyd could play the guitar.


Stiles blinked. Well, if that was the only reason why they'd bother with Boyd, Stiles could understand the deterent to advertising his ability. But still, Boyd could've totally lured someone in with the guitar skills and then shocked the shit out of them with his wit and humor. Boyd was a chill guy to be around; he was, like, the master of Zen or something. Stiles had never seen the other teen wolf out except for the full moon and to defend himself. It was kind of amazing.


"You know, I'm beginning to think that Erica was right," said Boyd from right behind Stiles. Stiles shrieked and fell sideways onto his ass. He glared up at Boyd, and the wolf just laughed.


"What was Erica right about?"


Boyd's grin grew. "You have an oral fixation."


Stiles flushed and yanked his fingers away from his mouth. "I do not have an oral fixation."


"You do, Stiles. You're always chewing on something." Boyd grinned and helped Stiles to his feet. "Erica told me it used to distract the hell out of her in class."


"What? Distract? Me? What?"


Boyd shrugged and turned back to go over to the desk. Derek was gone, Stiles noted as he sat back down on the edge of Boyd's bed. Boyd turned the computer chair to face Stiles, his notebook in his lap. "I don't know why it would distract her. Danny, yeah, maybe, but she doesn't really have anything for you to suck."


"Oh my God!" Stiles squawked, blushing to the tips of his ears. "What the hell, Boyd?!" He hid his face in his hands. "Did you just... Did you just imply that I want to suck cock?"


"No. I just said Erica doesn't have a dick for you to suck, so there was no reason your oral fixation should've been as distracting as it was for her. She didn't have anything to imagine you sucking on, as opposed to Danny or any other guy who could imagine you giving them a blowjob."


"Oh, God, stop talking! Can we not talk about this?" Stiles moaned woefully and threw a withering glare at Boyd. Boyd just laughed and started talking about his ideas for their English project.

Chapter Text

Boyd kept his face blank as he stepped up behind Stiles, listening as Derek slipped from his bedroom window. That was never not going to be weird. Did Derek not know how to use doors? Was he allergic to them or something?

"You know, I'm beginning to think that Erica was right."

Stiles shrieked and fell over. Boyd couldn't stop the laugh when the human glared up at him from the floor. "What was Erica right about?"

He could still hear Derek nearby, obviously listening in. His grin grew wider. "You have an oral fixation." There was a strangled noise followed immediately by a crash outside, too quiet for Stiles to have heard.

The human blushed and pulled his hand away from his mouth like it'd been burnt. "I do not have an oral fixation!"

"You do, Stiles. You're always chewing on something." Boyd grinned and reached down to help Stiles to his feet. He could still hear Derek outside, so he took great enjoyment out of what he said next. "Erica told me it used to distract the hell out of her in class."

"What? Distract? Me? What?"

Stiles was blushing harder. Boyd shrugged his shoulders and hid his shit-eating smile by turning to walk back to his desk. He sat down and schooled his features before turning the chair to face Stiles. "I don't know why it would distract her. Danny, yeah, maybe, but she doesn't have anything for you to suck."

"Oh my God!" Stiles squawked at the same time there was the distinct sound of a werewolf body slamming into a tree. Stiles's blush spread to the tips of his ears. "Did you just... Did you just imply that I want to suck cock?" Stiles's voice ended on a strangled note, and Boyd could hear Derek's choked off curse.

"No. I just said Erica doesn't have a dick for you to suck, so there was no reason your oral fixation should've been as distracting as it was for her. She didn't have anything to imagine you sucking on, as opposed to Danny or any other guy who could imagine you giving them a blowjob." Boyd raised his voice just enough to insure that Derek heard him at the end. He should have recorded the look on Stiles's face to send to Erica, and Derek, because it was too precious and there was no way he was going to be able to describe it to them later. Not that Derek was going to want to hear about the look on Stiles's face. (He totally was, Boyd knew better than to believe him if he said otherwise.)

"Oh, God, stop talking! Can we not talk about this?"

Stiles looked tragic and Boyd laughed at him, and at Derek. He wondered, momentarily, what Stiles would say if he knew Derek had heard that entire conversation, but Boyd liked his throat and wasn't in any hurry to get it ripped out. He just smiled and started talking about their English project.

Twenty minutes later Boyd recieved a text from Derek. It read:

im disowning you

To Derek:
no u wont. im ur fav. ull thnk me l8tr.

From Derek:
>:[ no i wont

Boyd smirked and refocused. Erica was going to love this. He could just imagine all the ways she was going to torture Derek. And people thought he was a nice guy? They clearly didn't know him that well.

"Boyd, your smile is starting to scare me..."

Chapter Text

 

~I Feel You Creepin', I Can See You from My Shadow~

Derek's phone vibrated in his jeans pocket as he jogged through the trees, headed towards the Stilinski house to play Halo with Stiles. It was the sixth time Stiles had asked him to hang out since Derek had cuddled with Stiles. The alpha slowed down to a walk and pulled his phone out, glaring at the display screen.

Peter.

"What," Derek growled after flipping the phone open. He continued to walk towards his destination, rolling his shoulders to loosen some of the tension. The alpha still didn't trust the older werewolf, not after everything that went down, and Peter still seemed insane more often than not. Death hadn't really done anything good for Peter.

"Tsk, how have you not learned manners yet, Derek?" Peter drawled. "You're nearly twenty-one-years-old, and yet you possess the manners of a troll."

Derek growled. "Get to the point of this call before I hang up on you."

Peter chuckled, and then grew silent. Derek could hear Peter crunching along the dead leaves from last fall. "Isaac and I were out running; he caught the trail of that scent you had your other betas tracking a few weeks ago." Peter's tone was low and distressed. Derek's hackles rose and he stopped mid-stride.

"You know what it is."

"I've come across this scent before." Peter's teeth ground together, the sound echoing through the phone. "It's a skinwalker."

Derek frowned at the trees. "What... A what?"

"Skinwalker. I don't really know all that much about them, just that they supposedly have the ability to turn into any animal they so please." Peter sounded frustrated, and a tad distraught. Derek's eyebrows rose incredulously. "You should have Stiles do some research."

"Yes," Derek started walking again, his pace picking up. "I was on my way to his house anyway."

Peter let out a bark of laughter. "Sorry, looks like I've ruined your date, haven't I?"

Derek growled. "It's not a date, Peter. Just playing some video games, keeping him company while his dad works the late shift tonight." Derek paused by the roadside, glaring up at the Stilinski house for several seconds while Peter scoffed at him over the phone.

"No one would blame you if you wanted him, Derek. He's a very attractive boy."

"Jesus Christ, shut up. He's underage, Peter." Derek crossed the street and crunched across the gravel before taking the steps up the porch to the front door. Knocking on the front door would certainly shock the human enough to amuse Derek. "And you're old enough to be his father!"

Peter laughed. "This is true. But it is also true that Stiles is very beautiful. I was once tempted to make a Little Red Riding Hood joke when I first met him. My, Stiles, what large eyes you have - "

Derek yanked the phone from his ear and snapped it closed. He gave a disgusted huff and rapped his knuckles against the wood sharply. The alpha could hear Stiles stumbling around the house, muttering under his breath about why werewolves couldn't learn to use the front door like normal people. Derek grinned.

"I'm sorry, but I'm not interested in anything you're sell-" Stiles mumbled politely as he pulled the front door open. He froze, his eyes going wide and his mouth dropping open in shock. Derek's grin grew into a full-blown smile.

"Sorry, I'm not a hooker."

Stiles spluttered, choked, and pointed his finger incredulously at Derek. "Dude! You... You... That... What the hell!? Not only did you knock on the front door, you made a joke!" Stiles flailed and poked Derek's chest in mock outrage. "Is the world coming to an end?"

Derek rolled his eyes and pushed his way past the teenager. "Funny," he growled, still smiling as he started towards the stairs.

"And you smiled!" Stiles screeched, slamming the door shut and running after Derek up the stairs. "You smiled, Derek, the world is totally ending and I'm gonna die a virgin! And, also, rude!"

"Shut up."

Stiles pouted. "Dude, I even opened the window for you so you wouldn't have to bother, and you just decided to use the front door. Rude!"

Derek frowned. "I'm beginning to wonder if I can return you and get my money back."

"What the hell!?" Stiles squawked and flailed his arms. "Did you just imply that you picked me out in some freaky werewolf store where you can buy seventeen-year-old humans that saves your werewolf ass on a regular basis, or, like out of a sex catalogue or something equally creepy that involves paying someone for sex?"

The alpha rolled his eyes and followed Stiles into the teenager's bedroom. "No. You're more like that scary festive sweater old, harpy aunts gift you with at Christmas that you're obligated to keep in the back of your closet because your parents would be stupidly disappointed in you if you threw it out."

"Rude!"

Derek laughed, earning a startled smile from Stiles. "And I don't even want to know why your mind jumped to sex catalogues, is that even something that exists outside of craigslist?"

Stiles flushed and dropped down into his computer chair. "You're the one who made the joke about hookers, asshole. And yes, sex catalogues are a thing that exists outside of craigslist. There's a bunch of websites you can go to where you can, like, put in your preferences down to a person's toenail length - which, gross! - and they'll pop out some cheesy porn name and a picture and you can set up times to go have sexy timez with them!"

The alpha stared at him blankly, his mind warring with incredulous disbelief and amusement. "How do you even know that?"

The human's blush grew darker. "I'm a bored teenager with access to the internet, Derek. Also, I'm a bored teenager with no sex life to speak of, and I'm a teenager with stupidly raging hormones."

Derek rolled his eyes. "Every day I ask myself why I thought it would be a good idea to start a pack by biting a bunch of teenagers. Every. Day."

Stiles smiled. "Don't even pretend like you don't love us!"

"Boyd, definitly, Erica, sometimes, Isaac, most of the time, Scott, almost never, Jackson, no." Derek smirked. "As for you, I'd have to say nope."

"Not even some of the time?" Stiles pouted, twisting his expression to one of mock-hurt.

Derek's lips titled into another small smile. "Nope."

"Rude," Stiles laughed and twisted in his seat to grab the XBOX controller. "I'm going to train you up in Halo until you're stupidly good and can kick Boyd's ass at it, that way I won't feel so bad when I beat the shit out of you."

"You only picked Boyd because you still can't beat Erica." Derek took the controller and sat down on the edge of Stiles's bed. Stiles made an indignant noise and stood up to set the game up.

"Why do I even like you? You're all kinds of mean to me." Stiles knelt down to fiddle with the XBOX and muttered something about Batman and how it would feel wrong to beat Erica at Halo.

Derek's phone vibrated in his pocket once, and the alpha huffed a small sigh. He pulled it out and glared down at the screen, torn between opening the text and deleting the message without reading it. Derek sighed and opened the message, unwilling to risk it being something about the skinwalker.

From Peter:
hanging up on me was rude! I was also going to say something about his ridiculously full lips that he constantly draws attention to. I don't even think he knows hes doing it either

To Peter:
im not disinclined to killing you again!

Stiles glanced up at Derek's sharp growl, his brow furrowing. "Dude, what's wrong? You look like you're ready to rip someone's throat out!"

Derek glowered at the phone as it lit up with another text message. "I'm very close to doing just that if Peter doesn't shut his mouth." Derek growled. Stiles squeaked and raised his hands placatingly, quietly begging Derek to not rip his throat out and that it was totally cool if Derek left to rip Peter's throat out.

From Peter:
touchy. ;)

"What's pedo-wolf saying to piss you off so much?" Stiles asked, edging forward and trying to see what Derek was reading.

Derek lifted his head to glare and pointedly turned his phone off. "Not anything you want to hear."

"Aw, man, now I really wanna know!" Stiles whined. He dropped down onto the bed next to Derek and flopped backwards, throwing his arms out so they were spread across the blankets. His shirts - and how many shirts did Stiles think he needed to wear, seriously? - rode up his abdomen just enough to give Derek a peak of pale flesh and dark hair leading down from Stiles's navel.

"No, you really don't," Derek grumbled and forced his gaze back to the phone. He ran his thumb over the buttons for a moment, mentally berating himself because this was all kinds of stupid and he knew that.

"Oh, God, is he like, telling you about his sex life or something?" Stiles lifted himself up onto his elbows and stared at Derek in horror. "Because that's just... That's just terrifying, and I wouldn't blame you for ditching me to go kill him. I know I wanted to kill Scott for over-sharing about his sex life with Allison. God, I know more about the fucking birthmark on her thigh than I ever wanted to! I didn't know it was possible for someone to describe a birthmark as a 'perfectly shaped pear with a unique texture when licked'."

Derek's left eye twitched. "I think I'd rather shoot myself with a wolfsbane bullet than be subjected to listening to anyone's sex life, thanks." Derek shoved his phone into his pocket and sighed. "And no, he's not talking about his sex life. I don't even know if he has one, and I don't ever want to find out..."

Stiles shuddered. "Yeah, no, I don't want to know either. But seriously, what was he texting you about then?"

The human's phone went off with the most obnoxious song Derek's ever had the displeasure of hearing. He didn't even...

'Overload! Overload! It's a cute, overload!'

Stiles flailed, blushing hottly, and answered the phone before the song could play again. Derek stared at Stiles disbelievingly, his eyebrows somewhere near his hairline, because, seriously? Did he even want to know?

"Isaac!" Stiles hissed into the phone, shooting Derek mortified looks. Derek was definitly judging him. Isaac, really? That was Isaac's ringtone? The alpha was suddenly curious to know what his ringtone was, slightly terrified about what it could be because there were way too many stupid werewolf-related songs Stiles could've used.

"No, darling, it's Peter. I don't have your phone number, and Derek won't answer his phone." Derek heard Peter's voice, saccharine and purring, and groaned. "I hope I haven't interrupted the two of you." Stiles shot Derek a horrified look, his eyes wide and disbelieving as Peter continued to talk. "I need you to tell Derek that the scent led us into town."

"Uh, yeah, can do, pedo-wolf!" Stiles squeaked into his phone.

Peter chuckled on the other end, clearly amused. "Please Stiles, you wound me! I promise you I have no desire to touch you in a sexual way. I like being alive again, and I fear if I did try something with you my precious nephew would make good on his promise to kill me. Again."

"Ooookay!" Stiles hung up and avoided Derek's gaze, the tips of his ears bright red. "That was all kinds of creepy, and now I really don't want to know anything about what the hell he meant by that... But, um, scent?"

Derek swiped a hand over his face. "Peter called me while I was walking over; he and Isaac ran across that strange scent again." Derek scowled and set the game controller on the bed between him and Stiles. "Peter said something about having run across the scent before. He said it was a skinwalker."

"Ugh," Stiles groaned and bounced his head against the mattress. "I totally jinxed us. I never should've said anything about the scent leading out of town to Boyd and Erica." Stiles whined and covered his face with his arm.

"Hopefully we can avoid d-"

"No!" Stiles shot up and slapped his hand over Derek's mouth, looking terrified. "No, don't say it! You'll jinx us even more!"

Derek glared, his mouth pressed into a thin line behind Stiles's hand. Stiles glanced at his hand, then Derek's eyes, and then back down to his hand before ripping it away like he'd been burned. He jumped from the bed and scuttled over to his computer, opening the laptop and typing in his password to unlock it.

"So, research!"

"You don't have to do that now. We can play Halo for a while, maybe even order a pizza." Derek frowned at Stiles's head. "This isn't life-threatening at the moment, Stiles. You can relax for a little while."

Stiles turned the chair to face Derek, a small smile playing at the corners of his lips. "What kind of pizza do you want?"

"Hawaiian's fine." Derek hid his smile at Stiles's delighted shout.

Chapter Text


~Pictures and Some Memories Will Have to Help Me Through~ 

 

"Why weren't you at the lacrosse meeting today?" Scott demanded almost as soon as he'd entered Stiles's bedroom. His hair was still wet from the showers in the locker room, his lacrosse gear hanging from his shoulder. Stiles ignored his friend, finishing up the paragraph he was working on before turning to glare at Scott.

 

"Seriously, Scott?" Stiles rolled his eyes. "I don't really have any desire to play sports, or to sit on the bench all season. It's not fun."

 

Scott frowned. "Why does it smell like Boyd and Derek in here?"

 

Stiles groaned. "Because Boyd was here yesterday and Derek dropped by this morning to update me about the movements of the skinwalker and listen to what I found out about skinwalkers."

 

The other teen's frown intensified. "But Derek's scent seems even more ingrained in everything, like he's been here increasingly and for a lot longer than he normally would be."

 

"Probably because he has?" Stiles rolled his eyes and saved his essay before shutting the lid to his laptop. "Derek's been hanging around whenever my dad has to work late, been keeping me company so I don't have to be alone."

 

"Since when? When'd he start doing that?"

 

Stiles scowled at his desk. "Since January, when he first picked up the scent of the skinwalker and came to me after you wouldn't help out. Since he showed up to my locked window and ate eggplant lasagna because he stayed with me after I told him to fuck off because it was the anniversary of my mom's death."

 

Scott flinched back so violently Stiles instantly felt horrible for his harsh tone. He didn't really blame Scott for having forgotten about it. Scott had a lot on his own plate he needed to worry about. Like, for instance, Allison and not getting murdercutionated by her father. Chris Argent, saner than the rest of his family, was one scary motherfucker. And he had a creepy, if not seductive, smile.

 

Stiles, horrified, shut down that train of thought before it could go anywhere. Or be word-vomited out.

 

"I'm sorry I forgot, Stiles. You have no idea how sorry I am about that!"

 

"I know, Scott, relax." Stiles waved a hand at his friend tiredly. "You've been really busy with all the werewolf stuff and not getting a wolfsbane bullet to the head from Chris Argent because you keep sneaking into Allison's bedroom." Stiles slumped forward, leaning his upper body against the desk. "Which, by the way, Erica and Boyd still have some issues with Allison. I mean, they realize that she was crazy with grief and all that, but still. And I don't blame them."

 

Scott scowled, his eyes flashing gold. "Her grandfather was manipulating her!"

 

Stiles jerked around and glared daggers at his friend. "Yeah, I get that, we all get that. But it's still a little hard to trust her after what she did to Boyd and Erica. It's still hard for me to not see Boyd and Erica in that basement, strung up and terrified!"

 

A growl ripped out of Scott's throat, and the werewolf clenched his fists and shook his head. "Don't you think she made up for her mistakes over the summer?"

 

"No." Stiles replied easily, turning away from Scott to rifle through the junk littering his desk. "Not yet. You haven't, either, by the way. And it's going to take a lot for Derek to trust you even a little, which you aren't helping by ignoring him when he asks for your help, just so you're aware."

 

"I never wanted this life!"

 

Stiles closed his eyes and counted to five. "Yes, I know, and I'm sorry, okay? I know you don't want to be a werewolf, that you want to be a normal human and not have to worry about all this supernatural shit. I know. But this is your life now, and you can't go back in time to change things."

 

"I should've never followed you into the woods last year. None of this would be happening...we wouldn't be having this argument." Scott muttered, his shoulders slumping and he dropped onto Stiles's bed.

 

Stiles's heart clenched, and he winced. Yeah, he was more than aware that he ruined Scott's life, thanks. He knew Scott hadn't said it to hurt him, either, but it killed him all the same. Scott hadn't even really wanted to go looking for Laura's body that night, but Stiles had talked him into it - manipulated him into following after Stiles.

 

"Sorry..." Stiles whispered, hiding his face in his arms.

 

"It's okay, dude. It isn't your fault I got bit." Scott frowned, and then brightened. "Dude! Isaac and Danny are dating!"

 

"Wha- huh?" Stiles floundered for a minute, blinking in blank surprise. "Danny and Isaac are dating? Really? But... I thought Isaac..." had a thing for you? "How the hell did you find that out?"

 

Scott grinned and winked. "Isaac confessed it to me when I asked him why he smelled like he rolled around in Danny's Armani. They just started dating a couple days ago. I knew it was only a matter of time, though. They've been circling each other for weeks."

 

This was his life now. Scott had noticed Isaac's apparent love interest weeks ago, but he hadn't realized that Stiles was growing really close with Boyd, Erica, and Derek. There was a distance growing between them that Stiles wasn't sure how to feel about. Logically he knew he should feel at least a little abandoned and sad that Scott was seemingly drifting away, but in reality he didn't. Not really. Besides, he was over feeling abandoned by Scott. It'd been happening since Allison came into the picture, more or less, on an increasing frequency. He had been ditched more times over the summer than he cares to remember.

 

"Huh. Well, good." Stiles smiled. "Isaac deserves someone who'll treat him right, someone who'll make him happy, as does Danny. Plus, it doesn't really surprise me that Danny would wanna date Isaac. I mean, have you seen that guy's face? And that hair? Jesus, he's too adorable."

 

Scott blinked and stared at Stiles disbelievingly. "Um?"

 

Stiles flailed, froze as his eyes caught on one of the papers scattered across his desk, and he let out an unrecognizable sound as he burst into a flurry of flailing limbs and annoyed shuffling. "I'm such an idiot!" Stiles shouted before flying out of his seat and scrambling out of his bedroom. Scott stared after the human for a long moment before running after his friend, so confused. Scott had been friends with Stiles for years, but he still didn't always understand the way Stiles's brain worked.

 

"Stiles?"

 

"Dude, Scott, there's a bunch of Native American lore on skinwalkers!" Stiles nearly tripped down the stairs, stumbling at the bottom until he'd caught himself against the wall before he was off like a shot towards the basement door. "I bet my mom's books will have information about it!"

 

Scott paused at the steps to the basement. "Your mom?"

 

Stiles glared up from the bottom of the steps. "Yeah, my mom was half-Cherokee. My grandpa gave her a whole bunch of notebooks and stuff that he filled with lore and other things that're usually passed down orally so that she'd always remember where she came from when she moved to San Diego for college!" He moved further into the basement, tripping over something decidedly hard and pointy. "From there she started collecting lots of other lores and stories from different tribes. There might be something down here that could help!"

 

The werewolf flipped the lightswitch and followed Stiles as he made his way to the very back of the basement. Everything smelled musty, like mothballs and mold. Scott sneased and covered his nose, looking offended when Stiles moved a box and a dust cloud lifted into the air. Scott was kind of amazed that Stiles wanted to go through his mother's stuff, even if it would help the pack out. Stiles had actively avoided doing anything that would remind him of his mother more than he all ready was on a daily basis.

 

"Aha!" Stiles crowed. He closed the flaps to the box he'd been investigating and lifted it up, staggering beneath the weight momentarily before he waddled his way back towards the stairs. He bumped into an old coat rack, knocking it over. It crashed into something that gave a strange sound Scott belatedly placed as that of a cymbal. Stiles froze mid-step, stuck like that for a long moment before he slowly turned his head to stare at the drumset hiding in the corner.

 

"Stiles?" Scott called, studying Stiles's face for a moment before turning his gaze to the drumset. He could see, in his mind's eye, an eight-year-old Stiles sitting on the little stool with a wide, shit-eating grin on his face as he showed his new best friend how well he could play the drums.

 

"No way! You can play those?"

 

"Yeah! My mom taught me when I was little. She said it's'possed to help with my 'hyperactivity' or whatever. It's way cool, right!?"

 

Stiles shook himself and continued towards the steps, his gait a little faster than before. Scott followed after him, wondering absently when the last time Stiles had touched a drumstick had been. His phone vibrated in his pocket when they reached the top of the steps, and Scott pulled it out to see who'd sent him a text.

 

From Allison:

u wanna g2 the movies w/me

 

Scott grinned and fired off his reply before looking up to catch Stiles watching him with a blank expression. Scott smiled sheepishly at him and waved the phone. "Allison wants to catch a movie with me..."

 

"Yeah, go have fun with your girlfriend-person-friend-whatever-you-two-are-right-now." Stiles waved his hand dismissively and climbed up the stairs without waiting for Scott's reply. Scott frowned at his friend's back for a moment before shrugging and leaving.

 

Stiles dropped the box on his bed, glaring half-heartedly at the other-wise innocent inanimate object. He dropped back into the computer chair and stared at his father's shaky handwriting scrawled across the side of the box.

 

Anwen

 

When Stiles was ten, when his mom was lying in the hospital bed looking frail and sick, he'd researched the meaning and origin of his mother's name hoping...hoping for what he still didn't know. He'd found a website that gave the etymology of names. It had said that Anwen was Welsh for 'very beautiful'. Stiles had then, because it had been close to his birthday, talked his father into buying his mother a pendant of a feather - because she'd always joke about how she wished she could fly - and had her name, the origin, and meaning of it etched onto the back.

 

The necklace was kept in a small wooden box etched with wolves running across the top (a gift from his grandfather when he was four and the only one other than his mother and him who could actually pronounce his given name) on the shelf in his closet. He could still see the tears in her eyes as she'd opened the jewler box and read the etching on the back of the feather. It was the last time he ever really saw his mom happy.

 

Chapter Text

~False Pretense, You're Letting Go~

Lydia slid into the seat across from Stiles at the public library, gracefully setting down a pile of ancient-looking books. Stiles blinked up at her, silently assessing his reaction and discovering that he wasn't any more excited by her appearance than he would be if Boyd or Erica suddenly showed up. That surprised him, but he pushed that knowledge away in favor of trying to see what the books Lydia had were about. Lydia smiled, her gaze sharp and knowing, and pushed them towards Stiles.

"Jackson told me you were scouring the world for information on skinwalkers." Lydia offered, tapping the top book with a sharp, red-polished finger nail. "I'm guessing Derek didn't come to me because I refuse to go to pack meetings, right?"

Stiles shrugged. "He doesn't trust easy," he said as he marked the page of his book and set it aside. "I have my theories on why that is, but I'm not stupid enough to ask him about it. And as for you not coming to pack meetings, he understands, and he doesn't blame you." Stiles looked up, met Lydia's eyes. "No one blames you."

Lydia arched a perfect eyebrow. "Oh, and does that include Peter?"

"Yes, actually." Stiles kept her gaze for several seconds before turning his attention back to the books she'd brought. "I'm not saying you should, you know, become best friends with him or anything. Hell, I'm still wary around him. But... But Peter was insane; the fire had pretty much destroyed any sanity he had."

"And you're saying that, what, he's suddenly sane again?" Lydia asked archly as she opend the first book and turned it so that Stiles could read.

Stiles shook his head and sighed. "No, that isn't what I'm saying. I'm saying that Peter is slowly getting better, and actually trying to make up for what he's done, even though he never could. I'm pretty sure Derek hates him most days, actually."

"Hm." Lydia hummed and pulled her phone out of her pocket to answer a text. Stiles pulled the book closer to him, his eyes narrowed as he took in the microscopic text on the page. Around their table pages rustled and people whispered to each other or wandered amongst the rows of books. Stiles unconciously began tapping out the beat to 'Stereo Hearts' as he read, totally absorbed in the text.

An hour later, Stiles glanced up. He jerked backwards, choking back a shout of surprise to see Erica sitting across from him in Lydia's place. The human blinked, confused. When the hell had Lydia left? He hadn't even noticed.

Erica cocked an eyebrow at him. "I've been sitting here for forty-five minutes."

Stiles blushed and glanced at the clock. "Oh." He furrowed his brow and stared at the other books in the pile Lydia had brought him. "When did Lydia leave?"

"The same time I got here." Erica grinned and reached out, patting Stiles's hand. "Congratulations, Stiles, you're finally starting to move on from your epic crush on Lydia Martin."

"...Yeah..." Stiles rubbed his eyes. "I know, it's...weird. I just..." He sighed and slumped against the table. "I guess I realized that you were right, about how I was in love with the idea of her. I mean, yeah, she's a great person under all that bitchiness, but she's still all sorts of terrifying." Stiles shrugged, which was awkward given his position, and stared up at Erica. From this position he could see up her nose, and, hello? Awkward.

Erica smiled. "Yeah, she can be pretty frightening from what I've seen." She shoved her bangs out of her face and leaned her head in her hand. "But it's good that you're realizing this, Stiles. I don't like seeing you look so miserable all the time, you're my friend."

Stiles grinned. "We're pack."

"Yeah, we are." Erica's smile widened. "But anyway, Derek sent me to check up on you because you weren't answering anyone's texts and he was busy trying to negotiate a better price for the removal crew."

"Removal crew? Is he finally getting someone in there to tear the rest of the house down?" Stiles bounced in his seat. "Jesus, finally! That place is terrible, dangerous, and the setting for, like, all of my nightmares as of late!"

Erica rolled her eyes. "Yeah, I guess Peter threatened to take a baseball bat to the Camaro if Derek didn't do something about the house." She grinned, looking a little too pleased, and refocused her gaze on Stiles. "So why weren't you answering your - ...Stiles, what the hell are you doing?"

Stiles blinked slowly at her, confused. Erica grabbed his left wrist, pulling it away from him and effectively yanking the knuckle of his thumb out of his mouth. Stiles blushed and looked away from her incredulous expression. "Sorry?"

"Jesus Christ, Stiles, do you even realize how obscene your mouth is? It's, like, pornographic!"

"What?!" Stiles squawked and flailed, yanking his wrist out of the werewolf's grasp. "What the hell do you mean by that? My mouth isn't obscene! What does that even mean? Oh my God! Boyd wasn't kidding when he said you were distracted by my 'oral fixation'! Oh my God! I do not have an oral fixation! Why are you staring at my mouth anyway? I thought you were dating Boyd now?"

Erica blinked. "Relax, Stiles." She leaned back in her seat, watching Stiles warily, like he was going to explode on her any second. "I am dating Boyd, yeah, and I wasn't staring at your mouth, sheesh. I just happened to notice you practically sucking your thumb, which is kinda abnormal for a seventeen-year-old."

Stiles pouted. "I wasn't sucking my thumb, asshole." He glanced up at the clock once more before gathering all the books on the table and shoving them into his bag. "I've never sucked my thumb, not even when I was a toddler. My mom told me I used to suck on the corners of my blanket, or on the ear of my stuffed wolf - "

"Stuffed wolf?"

Stiles's doe-eyes widened comically and he flushed scarlet. "No, no stuffed anything! I only ever owned action figures and comic books and video games! No stuffed animals for Stiles what-so-ever!"

Erica threw her head back and laughed at him. "Oh my God, you had a stuffed wolf when you were little! That's just... That's just too perfect!"

The human glared and shouldered his bag. "Shut up, Erica." He stalked away from the table, Erica followed behind him, still cackling gleefully.

"Oh my God, I bet you were so adorable as a toddler, cuddling your little stuffed wolf and sucking on the corner of your blanket!"

"Oh my God, Erica, I hate you!" Stiles whined, shoving his way out the front doors of the library. He froze mid-step, staring in horror at the three werewolves standing in the parking lot around Derek's Camaro and Stiles's Jeep.

Jackson was smirking smugly, Boyd was hiding a grin behind his hand, and Derek just stared at Stiles, his expression caught between amusement and disbelief. Stiles sputtered for a moment, mortified, before rushing down the steps and glaring daggers over his shoulder at Erica.

"You are an evil, evil person, Erica Reyes." He grumbled, yanking the door to his Jeep open and throwing his bag over to the passenger seat. "You're evil and I hate you."

"Aw, Batman, you don't hate me." Erica cooed, petting the top of Stiles's head.

Stiles groaned, Jackson cackled, Boyd smirked, and Derek wondered why he thought it was a good idea to bite a bunch of teenagers. Erica grinned and slung an arm around Stiles's shoulders, dragging him closer to the other werewolves, staring up at Derek expectantly. Stiles tried to duck out of her hold, only to find Boyd's arm slung across his shoulders as well. He glared sullenly up at Boyd, and Boyd returned his look with a placating smile.

"The skinwalker took on the shape of a bear." Derek said, his scowl firmly in place once more. "I came across it yesterday afternoon, but it got away before I could catch it."

"A bear?" Stiles frowned. "What other forms has it taken?"

"I don't know for sure. It never smells like any animals; it just smells wrong." Derek glared, apparently frustrated by this. Stiles didn't blame him.

"I saw a deer lurking around Danny's house a few days ago, but I couldn't smell deer. It smelled like the scent we've been chasing fruitlessly for weeks." Jackson supplied, looking sullen and tragic, like his life was over because he hadn't been able to scent a deer. Stiles supressed his snicker to analyze the bigger picture.

"You think it's casing us, don't you? Learning the pack's habits and movements." Stiles frowned and sunk into his thoughts. Derek's scowl intensified and he straightened his spine. Jackson glared at them all, looking bored again, and Erica supressed a grin when the knuckle of Stiles's left thumb found its way to his mouth.

Oral fixation, she mouthed at Derek, smirking when his eyes darted to Stiles and then away. Stiles was oblivious to the short exchange.

"Peter thinks its looking for something, or someone," Derek offered, snapping Stiles out of his mental musings mid-ramble.

"Huh," Stiles blinked and wriggled out of Erica and Boyd's hold on him. "All the lore I've read suggests that skinwalkers are violent and evil." He rolled his eyes. "I'm having a really hard time picking apart the complete bullshit from what may actually have some validity. Most of this stuff is based in Native American legends, which aren't ever written down, so..."

Derek pinched the bridge of his nose. "I'll ask Peter if our family had any connections to Native Americans, see if we can maybe find someone who knows those stories."

Jackson frowned. "I might know someone who can help." He crossed his arms over his chest, looking suddenly uncomfortable under the others' scrutiny. "Lydia was me helping do that whole family tree thing for one of my college applications. We found out that my father was full-blooded Cherokee Indian, so I contacted someone..."

Stiles stared wide-eyed at Jackson, his jaw slack. The others stared at Stiles, completely confused by the human's reaction. Stiles flailed suddenly, his scent a mixture of enthusiasm and curiousity. "You think this person can help?"

"...Yes, he might be able to." Jackson replied hesitantly, staring at Stiles like the teen had grown an extra head or something equally strange. "I can give him a call tomorrow morning; it's too late where he lives for me to make a social call."

Derek nodded his approval. "No one goes out alone, and I want at least one other wolf watching over the humans at night."

"What!?" Stiles shrieked. "Dude, privacy! How am I supposed to have 'Stiles Time' if I know there's a werewolf with super-hearing close by?"

"Seriously Stilinski?" Jackson groaned, dropping his head and hiding his face with one hand. Erica cackled, Boyd sighed, and Derek growled.

"How the hell can you think about sex when you know you're in potential danger?" Derek demanded.

Stiles flailed. "Dude, if you hadn't noticed, I'm a little messed up in the head!" Stiles flushed crimson and stalked back to his Jeep. "Fuck you all. Whoever gets stuck with me, you're gonna have to deal with 'Stiles Time' because teenage hormones do not care about me potentionally dying." He flung himself into his Jeep and started the engine.

Derek huffed in irritation, motioning for Boyd to follow after Stiles. He turned back to the Camaro, Jackson and Erica climbing into the car after him, and drove back to the Hale house to see how the deconstruction was coming along.

"What the hell is up with Stilinski?" Jackson asked Erica, turning around in his seat to face the blond.

Erica smirked. "Well, I think there're a lot of things Stiles is dealing with right now. I know for a fact that one of them happens to be him coming to the realization that he really doesn't want to bone your girlfriend."

Jackson glowered. "Good. I'd kill him if he tried to."

"No." Derek growled, making a sharp turn onto a back road. "You wouldn't kill him. If you did, I'd drop you on Argent's doorstep all wrapped up with a bow and note wishing them a happy, if early, Christmas."

Chapter Text

Boyd relaxed against a tree as he settled in for a long night in the woods outside Stiles's house. He could hear the human puttering around in the kitchen, clanging things together and muttering curses under his breath. Sheriff Stilinski was in the dining room, quietly reading something Boyd figured was for work. The scent of waffles made its way to Boyd, and the werewolf grinned a little.

Breakfast for dinner.

"Scott hasn't been around lately," the Sheriff said, sounding so casual it was anything but. Boyd blinked at the house, listening closer when Stiles's heartbeat sped up a little.

"He's been...really busy with Allison."

"I thought you said they broke up?"

"I don't know anymore. It's... I feel like he's on one side of this canyon and I'm on the other, and he's just shrugging and turning his back and walking off into the sunset with Allison and Isaac while I'm just kinda standing there staring after him going 'what about the eight years of friendship?' And it's all just... I don't know." Stiles sounded sad, resigned, like he came to the conclusion Scott was going to be on the fringes of his life a long time ago.

Sheriff Stilinski made an understanding noise, paper shuffling around and the chair scraping against the floor. Boyd figured the Sheriff was standing up, probably to pull Stiles into a hug. Those two hugged each other like they were all the other had left in the world. It was really depressing, because in some ways that was true.

"I'm sure Scott and you'll work things out."

"I doubt that, dad. He blames me for a lot of stuff that happened last year... Besides, I've got really great friends other than Scott. Boyd and Erica are pretty amazing, and I honestly wish they'd been in my life a lot sooner than this."

Boyd blinked, a little shell-shocked and pleased. He was glad Stiles thought highly of him. The werewolf certainly thought highly of Stiles. He could still remember the look on Stiles's face when he'd found them in the Argent's basement, and the sound of Gerard Argent's fist against Stiles's face, and Stiles's voice as he baited the older man. He could still remember the scent of Stiles's panic and concern.

"At least they're in your life now."

"Yeah. Yeah, they are." There was a clatter that sounded like plates being dropped onto a table. "I'm really grateful to have them, too."

'You treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough...'

"I think your phone's going off, Stiles."

"Uh, yeah, that's Scott..."

"Go ahead and answer it, Stiles. I've gotta get back to the station after I finish eating anyway."

Boyd frowned and listened to Stiles make his way up to his bedroom and the Sheriff finish eating the waffles. Stiles's phone went off again, and Stiles cursed softly. His bedroom door banged against the wall, and Boyd flinched. Stiles's heart was fluttering angrily, and the Sheriff was making his way out of the house and to his car.

"Scott - "

There was a few moments of heavy silence, puncuated by Stiles's heartbeat and uneven breathing. Boyd wondered what Scott was saying, if it had anything to do with the skinwalker or werewolf business in general. His musings were cut short by Stiles's indignant shout.

"What the hell, Scott!? Have you forgotten that I'm human and squishy and cannot recover from death? ... I, no, Scott, I know that! I'm sorry your life sucks so hard because you risk death whenever you're with Allison. ... Scott! ... I'm sorry...I can't...Derek said it wasn't safe for any of the humans to walk around without a wolf with them. Dude, I'm sorry, okay?"

Boyd pulled his phone out of his pocket and opened up a blank text message, listening as Stiles's voice grew sadder and guiltier. Scott was an idiot, and Boyd was damned if he was going to go easy on the other werewolf at the next training session. Stiles was an asshole most of the time, but he still had a pretty good heart when it came to the people he cared about, people that included Scott. Whatever Scott was saying was hurting Stiles, and that's really just not how you treat a friend, a pack-mate.

To Derek:
wth is scotts problem?
From Derek:
whats going on?
To Derek:
he called stiles & theyre arguing about something

"Dude, I've fucked up a lot this last year, I don't need the reminder that your wolf problems are one of those fuck-ups, okay?"

To Derek:
why does stiles think its his fault scott got bit?
From Derek:
im on my way

Chapter Text

~All the Problems That You Made in Your Own Head~

Derek slowed his pace to a walk when he reached Boyd. The house was quiet except for the muffled hitching breaths coming from Stiles's bedroom. Boyd met Derek's gaze, his eyes determined and concerned, and the younger werewolf smelled like stagnant water. Boyd was pissed off.

"I'm pretty sure Stiles forgot I was going to be out here tonight." Boyd said after a few moments of silence, his gaze locked on the Stilinski house. "He hung up on Scott about ten minutes ago."

"Go home, I'll watch over Stiles tonight." Derek squeezed the back of Boyd's neck lightly before making his way over to the Jeep, pulling his phone out as he went.

"I'm going to beat the shit out of Scott at our next training session." Boyd declared before he disappeared. His parting words had been a promise, and Derek wasn't going to stop Boyd from fulfilling it.

Derek dialed Stiles's number and leaned against the Jeep, waiting for the teenager to answer the call. He wouldn't be able to tell Stiles's mood until he heard the human's voice, and he wasn't exactly willing to intrude if Stiles didn't want the company.

'Earth's gift, back to the meaning! Back to the meaning! Of wolf! And man!'

So that was his ringtone.

"Hey Derek," Stiles answered, his voice rough. Derek frowned up at Stiles's bedroom window as he listened to it echo from the phone a split second later. "What's up? Is something wrong?"

"Not particularly." Derek replied. "You sound upset."

Stiles chuckled mirthlessly. "I don't have any reason to be upset."

Derek bit back the growl and sighed softly. "I'm sure there are plenty of valid reasons for you to be upset, Stiles. They range from stress over school to Scott to worrying about things you really shouldn't have to worry about, but do anyway because you were sucked into this world just as thoroughly as your other friends."

The human sucked in a breath. "Scott wouldn't... Scott would never have been bitten if it wasn't for me, Derek. I...kinda feel like this whole fucking thing happened because of me. I was the one that talked Scott into running around the woods at night looking for half of a body- ...Shit! I'm sorry!"

"I'm standing by your Jeep, Stiles. Is it all right if I come in?" Derek asked, ignoring Stiles's frantic apologies. Stiles's face appeared at his window, pale and nervous, and he pointedly opened the window before hanging up. Derek made his way over and climbed into Stiles's bedroom, flinching a little when the scent of Stiles's hurt hit his nose.

"Derek - "

"Shut up, Stiles," Derek sighed and dropped down onto the end of Stiles's bed. He bent down and began unlacing his boots. "I'm not mad at you, so calm down." The alpha glanced up to see Stiles studying him nervously, the knuckle of his left thumb in his mouth whilst the fingers of his right hand twisted in the bottom of his shirt.

"I'm sorry!" Stiles blurted around his knuckle, a blush creeping across his cheeks. "I was an insensitive prick, and I never should have acted the way I did last year. She was your sister, not just some body!"

Derek sighed and shrugged out of his jacket. "Yeah, she was my sister, but you didn't know her, or me, at the time. I'm not mad at you for being curious, though you are an idiot for wandering around the woods in the dead of night." Derek stood up and reached out, pulling Stiles into a hug by his shoulder. "I appreciate your remorse for acting like an asshole, though. But, seriously, it's not your fault. Any of this."

Stiles sniffled and hid his face against Derek's shoulder, his hands clutching at the fabric of Derek's shirt. "I've always been a prick to people I don't know or care about," Stiles mumbled. "But what I did last spring was so unacceptable, Derek. I dragged Scott into the woods with me and that unleashed a giant shit-storm on him, and my dad, and I just kinda hate myself."

"Don't," Derek murmured. He palmed the back of Stiles's head, his other arm wrapping around Stiles's waist comfortingly. "You and Scott were idiots for going into the woods, but it wasn't your fault Peter bit Scott. And Scott doesn't blame you for what happened, Stiles. No one blames you."

The human sagged into Derek's embrace, eliciting a surprised grunt from the werewolf as he took on the full brunt of Stiles's weight. Stiles was a lot lighter than he would have thought, considering how much food he seemed to shove into his mouth at any meal. Derek maneuvered them until he could lean against the wall, supporting Stiles against his chest as the human silently cried through the guilt he'd been carrying for months.

Derek was a little shocked, if he was honest with himself. This was so far away from how he thought things might turn out when he fist came back to Beacon Hills. He hadn't planned on staying, of making a pack, of becoming an alpha. He hadn't planned on caring about the idiot teenagers in his pack, hadn't planned on caring about Stiles, with his incessant chatter and flailing and complete disregard for himself.

Stiles would make an excellent ma-

He yanked himself away from that thought so fast it physically ached at the base of his skull. Derek refused to even admit it mentally; it was something he'd been subconsciously thinking, at first on a level of merely recognizing it as fact, and then it grew out to his subconscious recognizing Stiles as his. Half the time Derek didn't realize how Stiles eased something inside of him until hours after Stiles went home and Derek was half-way asleep.

It kind of terrified Derek.

"I blame me, though," Stiles whispered, effectively snapping Derek out of his reverie.

Derek blinked and frowned, hugging Stiles closer. "Don't," he murmured. "If you need to blame someone for all of this, blame me." Derek froze the instant the words left his mouth. Stiles tensed against him, his scent growing citrusy with his anger.

"Dude, no, you didn't set your house on fire therefore turning your uncle into a psycho bent on revenge!" Stiles whispered angrily against Derek's shoulder, his voice almost a snarl with the intensity of Stiles's belief.

"No, no I didn't, but I slept with her."

Something loosened in Derek's chest after the words escaped his throat. He felt...lighter, almost. Stiles made a distressed sound and tightened his hold on Derek, like he thought the werewolf might fall apart if he let go. It wasn't entirely unplausible, but it made Derek feel warm in a way he hadn't since Laura died, knowing that someone cared enough to want to keep him from falling apart at the seams.

The panic set in, though, when the citrusy scent of Stiles's anger intensified. He regreted opening his mouth; shit, he'd never actually told anyone. Derek whined low in his throat, because he couldn't...couldn't lose Stiles's friendship, couldn't lose Stiles. Despite everything, Stiles was important to him. Stiles was his best fucking friend, and he'd just opened his mouth and -

"No. Derek, I know exactly...no." Stiles snarled, his fingers curling in the material of Derek's Henley. "No, none of this, nothing, not your family's death, not Peter's insanity, or Laura's death, none of it is your fault! Don't you dare, Derek. Kate fucking Argent abused you. She was a psychotic bitch from hell. Derek, she's the real defintion of a monster!"

"Stiles - "

"No! ...Things make a lot more sense, and I wish she was alive so I could kill her again. Slowly." Stiles whispered vehemently, pressing his forehead against the curve of Derek's shoulder forcefully. "I want to kill her ten different ways to Sunday."

Derek shuddered and dropped his head so that it was resting against Stiles's shoulder. His world... Well, the world was still turning. It didn't end, didn't stop, like he'd always thought it would when finally told someone. His world hadn't imploded, and he felt...better.

Chapter Text

 


~Who's On First, What's On Second, I Don't Know's On Third~

"No! Why do you do these things to me?" Stiles wailed, dropping his head to the desk with a loud thud. "I will forever love you, but you break me with the epic badness that is your general playing ability." Stiles whined and softly thudded his head against the desk again.

 

Derek paused half-way in the window, staring at Stiles. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

 

Stiles shrieked - it was a manly shriek, damnit Derek! - and spun around on his chair to glare at Derek, his hand over his heart dramatically. "You utter asshole, are you trying to give me a heart attack?"

 

The alpha snorted and dropped the rest of the way into Stiles's bedroom. He glanced over the human's shoulder, blinking at the laptop screen where the video feed had momentarily frozen. 

 

"Are you watching baseball?"

 

"Um, yes?" Stiles turned to glare at the laptop. "Yes, I am, and I am wailing because my Mets are losing horribly and I am eternally sad because of this. But, I am a die-hard fan, and I will love the Mets until my untimely demise at the hands of supernatural creepers, a heart attack from creepers sneaking up on me, or death by Mets-induced despair."

 

"Why are you so dramatic?"

 

"Why are you a creeper who creeps creepily on other creepily creeping teenagers who creep on poor Stiles?!"

 

Derek blinked. "What the hell..."

 

"Sorry, I think I overdosed on my Adderall this morning..." Stiles twitched and closed the internet window. "On that note, I did more digging around in my mother's old books - she has a huge collection on all sorts of Native American myths! - and, from what I gathered, the most common theme is they can shapeshift into any creature they want, they have scary glow-y eyes in human form...and..." Stiles rifled through a bunch of papers. "Whenever I search on Google, they come up with the related topic of Navajo lore, so, I don't think any of the stories my grandfather recorded for my mom'll be much use. Which is disappointing, because my grandfather always liked being useful... Of course, that doesn't mean I'm not going to read everything he wrote for my mom, because this shit is so cool and - "

 

"Stiles!" Derek pinched the bridge of his nose, looking pained. "Relax. Don't worry so much about it. Peter is digging around for information, Jackson's friend was pretty helpful, and you look like you haven't slept in days."

 

Stiles fidgeted and frowned. "Um, I might've been up for a couple of days? It was a long weekend and I spent most of it in my basement trying to dig out some more of my mom's books. And then I spent a lot of time going over what I all ready uncovered, and trying to make sense of the shit people put on the Internet."

 

Derek frowned, glanced at the clock in the corner of Stiles's laptop screen, and then outside. Judging from Stiles's scent and his over-all twitchy-ness, Stiles wasn't going to go to sleep anytime soon. Stiles really needed to relax. "There's a night game in San Francisco. If we leave now, we can get there before the end of the first inning."

 

"What?" Stiles gaped at Derek. "Are you asking me to go to a baseball game with you? You like baseball?" The human grinned, the expression lighting up his eyes, and bounced excitedly in his seat. "Holy shit, what's your favorite team? How many games have you gone to? Do you play baseball? I bet you'd be good at, like, every position!"

 

The alpha grinned and shook his head, watching as Stiles jumped up and ran over to his dresser. The human continued to mutter increasingly excited questions as he rifled through his clothes. Derek hadn't really had anyone to talk baseball with in a long time. He used to go to Peter for those conversations. He wasn't even sure if Peter still liked sports.

 

"Before we moved to Beacon Hills my dad signed me up for Little League. I wasn't all that good, I couldn't really sit still when I had to sit in the dug out, and it drove the coach absolutely nuts. I'm pretty sure he hated me, because he wouldn't let me play the position I wanted."

 

Derek raised an eyebrow. "Which position did you want to play?"

 

Stiles glanced up, a dark blue shirt in his mouth, his eyes wide. He spat the shirt out of his mouth. "Catcher." The human shoved the dresser drawer closed and rushed out of the room. Derek blinked, kind of shell-shocked, and wondered if Stiles even realized how any of his rant had sounded.

 

Derek doubted it.

 

Eventually they end up in the Camaro and on the highway. Stiles stared incredulously at Derek when the werewolf slapped his fingers away from the radio. There was definitely a pout there, too.

 

"No."

 

"Dude, there's no way in hell I'm not listening to music on the way! I can honestly only talk so much and, honestly, chattering at you isn't going to be all that fun if you can't do your whole eyebrow-of-doom thing at me in response." Stiles griped, glaring at the side of Derek's head.

 

"What." Derek glowered at the red tail lights in front of him. "Eyebrow-of-doom?"

 

"Yeah," Stiles smiled a little. "It's a lot like Gauis's eyebrow-of-disapproval!" Stiles blinked, and then pouted some more. "Ah, hell, and now I totally made myself sad with the feels."

 

Derek blinked. "What the hell are you talking about?"

 

Stiles flailed a little. "Those bastards! They started the fifth season last fall, but I had to wait until January to get to see any of it because it's a British show, so, fuck them, because they totally ended the entire fucking show on Christmas Eve!"

 

And then Stiles was off on a rant that Derek had no clue about. The human kept whining about magic reveals and eye-fucking and Gauis and wishing he could write, but that despite his lack of writing skills he could still write better than the writers for this show. Derek tried to tune Stiles out, and he managed for the most part.

 

"And I don't want them to kill off Arthur!" Stiles wailed at the end of his rant.

 

Derek glanced over at Stiles, and then at the gas gauge. He sighed and pulled off the highway, finding a gas station with relatively decent gas prices and pulling into it. "You sound like you know how the show ends?"

 

"Dude, tumblr. I lost a chunk of my Christmas vacation sobbing grossly as I scrolled through my dashboard." Stiles sighed forlornly and slithered out of the Camaro. "I'm going to grab something to drink, do you want anything?"

 

"Just some water."

 

Stiles nodded and scurried into the station while Derek preoccupied himself with the gas pump. The smell was obnoxious, which was nothing unusual, but it was a scent that still brought a mild panic to Derek, flashes of memories of standing outside his house as firefighters ran around, making sure the fire was totally out while he watched helpless, his life nothing but ashes around him and Laura. 

 

The sudden, frantic up-tick in Stiles's heartbeat ripped Derek out of his thoughts so suddenly his claws raked against the back driver's side of the Camaro as he spun around and focused on the station. He couldn't see Stiles, and the human wasn't talking, but his heart was racing frantically, and there were too many scents for Derek to actually pinpoint any of Stiles's emotions. The alpha forced himself to draw the wolf back, because he was still in public and wolfing out would be a very, very bad thing to do. There was a rough voice murmuring truly, horrifically vulgar things, but Derek wasn't entirely sure where the voice was coming from exactly.

 

"Very pretty lips indeed, made for sucking cock. You'd look really good on your knees, you know? I don't typically go for your type...but I think I'll make an exception to that. What d'you say, Bambi?"

 

Derek sneered, because he sometimes really wished he could just pick and choose what he heard. He did not want to hear the prelude to public sex. Stiles's heart didn't stop racing, though, and he couldn't actually leave the Camaro unattended without proof that the human was in danger. For all Derek knew, Stiles could've seen an attractive woman, or found something that had gotten him excited - like curly fries.

 

He listened for Stiles's voice and yanked the pump from the Camaro, sealing off the gas tank and... And nearly ripping the pump hose from the actual pump. Derek managed to put the knozzle up properly before he stalked his way into the station. He'd all ready paid for the gas at the pump, but he knew he hadn't mistaken Stiles's voice.

 

"C'mon Bambi, you'd look so good with your lips wrapped around my cock. ...Oh my, your blush is a gorgeous thing too. I'll be damned."

 

"Oh my God, what the hell do you think you're doing? Dude, bad touch! ...Ow, fuck, stop! I'm fucking underage!"

 

"Even better."

 

The cashier looked bored, flipping through a magazine lazily. There wasn't anyone else inside the gas station proper, and Derek had half a second to wonder before Stiles's distressed cry ripped a snarl from Derek's throat and the alpha all-but charged the small bathroom Stiles's scent was coming from.

 

The acrid scent of Stiles's fear and panic was entwined with his shame - and why the fuck did Stiles feel ashamed, holy fuck Derek was going to murder someone - and the cloying scent of the bastard's arousal, mixed with the stench of drugs. The cashier was shouting something at Derek, but the werewolf ignored the idiot. He nearly ripped the door off the bathroom, the metallic screech telling him he'd probably busted the lock, and snarled at the man pinning Stiles to the wall. 

 

"Holy hell," Stiles squeaked, and Derek could smell the salt of tears. His eyes flashed red and he growled angrily, ripping the guy off of Stiles violently. He put himself between the two humans, baring his fangs. The man, now reeking of terror and anger, scrambled backwards looking like he was one snarl away from pissing himself.

 

"Okay! Bambi has a boyfriend! Got it!" The human choked out before turning tail and running like the little bitch he was. 

 

Thirty seconds later, Derek blinked and turned to stare down at Stiles. The human was stuffed into the corner between the sink and the wall, tears in his eyes and bruises starting to form on his wrists. The alpha could still smell the other man on Stiles, and his wolf snarled viciously. Derek reached out and drew Stiles into a loose hug, partially to rid Stiles of the foreign scent, mostly to comfort the both of them.

 

"Bambi?" Derek asked hesitantly, hoping to lighten the mood but frighteningly uncertain of how. Bringing up the man's words probably wasn't the correct way, but Derek was still as socially awkward as Stiles.

 

Stiles gave a strangled laugh. "Said I have Bambi eyes. I don't know..."

 

Derek's mind latched onto an old memory and the words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. "Is on third."

 

"What?"

 

"No, What's on second."

 

Stiles was silent for a moment before he hugged Derek tighter and pressed a smile to the werewolf's shoulder, laughing so hard Derek had to hold him up. Derek smiled, because it was pretty damn nice to be able to make a reference that Stiles got, and to drag Stiles's mind away from what had just gone down.

 

"Who's on first."

 

"Naturally."

 

Derek smirked and pulled Stiles out into the station proper, yanking out a couple of waters and a bottle of 7-Up for Stiles, putting them on the counter and glaring down the cashier. The cashier squeaked, his eyes darting between the werewolf and the bathroom door in the back. Derek narrowed his eyes, his grip on Stiles's wrist tightening reflexively. Stiles gave a soft whine, gently tugging at Derek's grip.

 

"Jesus, my wrists are sore, please let go?"

 

"Um...your drinks are free of charge considering what happened to your boyfriend in our bathroom."

 

"What!? Derek isn't my bo-"

 

"Thank you." Derek growled and grabbed the drinks before stalking back outside to the Camaro. Stiles gaped for several seconds before scrambling after Derek.

 

"What the hell was that?" Stiles squawked when he'd managed to flail his way into the Camaro's passenger seat. 

 

"Free drinks is the least the store can do after what just happened." Derek grumbled. He started the car and pulled away from the station, making his way back onto the highway in silence. After a couple minutes of strained silence pierced with the occasional shock of static from the radio, Derek sighed and relaxed himself back into the driver's seat. "You throw the ball to Who?"

 

Stiles, his face turned towards the passenger window, gave a small smile. "Naturally. That's it. Same as you! Same as YOU! I throw the ball to who. Whoever it is drops the ball and the guy runs to second. Who picks up the ball and throws it to What. What throws it to I don't know. I Don't Know throws it back to Tomorrow, triple play. Another guy gets up and hits a long fly ball to Because. Why? I don't know! He's on third and I don't give a darn! What? I said I don't give a darn! Oh, that's our shortstop."

 

Derek blinked in shock. He'd seen Stiles flailing his hands along with his recitation out of the corner of his eye, and the werewolf didn't really know what to think. After a moment, he grinned and passed a Mack truck. "I don't know why I'm so surprised you can recite that."

 

"I have the whole skit memorized," grinned the human. "My mom showed it to me when I was little and it made me laugh so hard I peed myself."

 

The alpha huffed a laugh and shook his head. "Peter played it for me when I was seven, and the next spring he and I put on a performance for the younger kids. Peter played a good Abbott."

 

Stiles smiled, a pleased expression. "Why doesn't it surprise me that you did Costello's part?" The human's smile grew. "Oh my God, I can't even picture an eight-year-old you, dude. I mean, holy shit, it just seems weird 'cuz I've only ever known the old you."

 

Derek rolled his eyes. "I'm twenty."

 

"What?" Stiles looked over at the werewolf, his brow furrowed. "You're seriously only twenty?"

 

The alpha snorted. "Yes, Stiles, I'm seriously only twenty. I'll be twenty-one in October."

 

"Huh," Stiles frowned thoughtfully. "For some reason I always thought you were older." The human studied Derek for a moment. "Wait! That means you're only, like, three years and nine or so months older than me!"

 

"...your point?" Derek glanced at Stiles quickly, trying with some difficulty to keep the amusement from his expression and voice.

 

"I don't know, actually." Stiles grinned and turned his attention back to staring out the window. He fidgeted for a few moments, the silence growing until Stiles groaned loudly. "Dude, Derek, please put some music on? I don't care if it's folk music or something equally terrifying!"

 

Derek smirked and rolled his eyes. "My iPod is in the glove box, along with the adapter."

 

"Sweet!" Stiles crowed and dove for the glove compartment, digging through it until he'd pulled out an iPod classic and the adapter. His smile grew as he plugged it into the car's radio and turned the iPod on. "Can't wait to see what kinda crap you listen to."

 

"No one asked for your opinion on my musical tastes, idiot." Derek smirked and passed another truck.

 

Stiles rolled his eyes and proceeded to go through the iPod's music library. Blue October... Breaking Benjamin... Crossfade... A bunch of bands Stiles had heard of but never listened to. Frank Sinatra... "Sinatra? ...Good Charlotte? And Godsmack, and the Gorillaz? Dude, seriously, this is not what I was expecting at all." 

 

"I only have the first three albums for Good Charlotte, and I have an eclectic taste in music, Stiles. Keep looking." Derek huffed.

 

"P!nk? ...Oh my God! You like Panic! at the Disco? Holy shit, that's awesome!" Stiles flailed excitedly and smiled as he selected Panic! with an enthusiasm Derek hadn't exactly expected. "I hope you realize, now, that I'm going to steal your iPod sometime in the near future to fully explore your musical taste."

 

Derek rolled his eyes. "Break it and your face will be reintroduced to your Jeep's steering wheel."

 

"Rude!"

 

"Would you rather me break your fingers?"

 

"...Nope, no, I'm fine with keeping my bones intact and unbroken!" Stiles reached over and turned the stereo up. "Now hush, we must listen to the genius that is Brendon Urie!"

 

It wasn't until half-way through 'I Write Sins Not Tragedies' Derek realized he'd talked about his family, about something he used to do when he was younger, about before the fire. He'd talked about it, and it hadn't been instantly followed by the grief and guilt and self-hatred. The werewolf wasn't entirely sure how to feel about that.

 

Chapter Text

~'Cuz We Like Having Fun at Other People's Expense~

Sheriff Stilinski let Boyd and Erica in the front door, blinking at them in mild confusion. Boyd had been over several times all ready, but Erica hadn't really shown up before. The teens smiled, kinda nervous-like, and the Sheriff smiled back.

"Good afternoon, Sheriff Stilinski."

"Afternoon, Boyd, Erica." The Sheriff smiled. "Stiles is in the basement. Again. I'll go get him."

"No, it's okay, we'll just go downstairs with him?"

The Sheriff shrugged. "Sure, but it's a total catastrophe. Stiles has been... I don't even know what he's been doing down there, actually."

Boyd's smile grew. "It's okay, Sheriff Stilinski. We don't mind." The werewolf waved and started towards the closed door to the basement, his head tilted ever-so-slightly to the side as he listened to the muffled sound of drums.

"Is that...drums? Is Stiles playing the drums?" Erica whispered, an amused smile on her face.

"Yeah," Boyd opened the basement door, and the sound amplified. The werewolves winced and made sure to close the door behind them before taking the stairs down into the dank, musty space. They glanced around, their expressions torn between fond exasperation and horror at the chaos.

"Sheriff Stilinski really wasn't kidding..." Erica murmured as she picked her way around unidentifiable piles of junk. She glared over to the far corner where Stiles was hiding with his drum set. He had headphones on, presumably playing along with whatever he was listening to. He hadn't even noticed the two werewolves.

"He's really good." Boyd blinked and stopped beside Erica a few feet away from Stiles. He frowned and tilted his head again, picking out the song Stiles was drumming along with. "I recognize the voice, but I don't know this song."

"He's..." Erica stared openly. "He's playing 'A Little Piece of Heaven'...that's supposed to be a really hard song for the drums."

Boyd frowned thoughtfully. "Did the song just start over? Does he seriously have it on repeat?"

"Stiles!"

Stiles yelped and jumped backwards, cracking his head against the wall directly behind him. "Holy fuck!" The human cried and rubbed at the back of his head, grimacing. "What the hell, guys?"

"We've been here for ten minutes."

"Oh... Sorry, I was concentrating." Stiles turned the song off and set the drum sticks to the side. "What time is it?"

Boyd checked his cell phone. "It's seven."

"Shit," Stiles smiled sheepishly. "Sorry. I lost track of time, I guess. I've been down here since noon."

Erica cocked an eyebrow. "I hope that wasn't the only song you've been focusing on the entire time?"

"No, I was working on 'Beast and the Harlot' earlier." Stiles smiled and stretched his back, groaning as his spine cracked loudly. "I stumbled across a video on youtube of drum covers for the songs, and they both looked really time-consuming to learn."

"Have you ever listened to the actual songs themselves? Or seen The Rev playing?" Erica smiled, looking a lot more excited than Stiles had expected. "He was a really good drummer, you know? He died back in 2009, which sucks so much, but the song you were just working on? The other person singing about stabbing people?"

"You mean this part?" Stiles played for a few seconds.

Erica's smile grew and she nodded. "Yeah, that part. The person singing that part? That was The Rev. Look up the live version of it, watch him. He's always bent at some awkward angle and drumming like a crazy person at the same time."

Stiles blinked. "I'll have to do that later." He smiled and stood up, dancing around the drum set and nearly fell to his face. Boyd reached out, catching Stiles before he could acquaint himself with the floor. "Thanks, Boyd." Stiles rolled his shoulders and stretched again before using his over shirt to swipe the sweat from his face.

"How do you not smell completely gross right now? You're drenched in sweat!" Erica wrinkled her nose and poked Stiles in the center of his chest. "It's kinda ridiculous, Batman."

"You're serious?" Stiles sniffed at himself. "You're telling me I don't reek after spending seven hours sweating?"

Boyd snorted and rolled his eyes. "You smell like fresh cut grass and salt. It's weird."

Erica nodded and walked around Stiles to study the drum set closer. "You guys should play together. Like, you could suggest songs to each other to learn, go learn the part, and then just play together. It'd be really neat."

"Yeah, maybe, like, challenge each other to see who can learn their part the fastest, or play their part with the fewest mistakes!" Stiles enthused, grabbing Erica's idea and taking off with it at a dead sprint. "Oh my God, that'd be awesome!"

"Sounds like it could be fun," Boyd agreed with a broad grin.

Stiles fist-pumped the air once before pinning Boyd with wide eyes. "I smell like grass and salt?"

Boyd and Erica exchanged a dubious, uncertain glance before Boyd nodded hesitantly. He was pretty convinced that if anyone ever wanted to be able to follow Stiles fluently, they'd have to take a twenty-year, college-graduate-level course in Stiles. The werewolf still floundered around sometimes when Stiles jumped from one topic to another like this.

"Yeah, the fresh cut grass thing is the strongest part of your scent. You only ever smell like salt when you're sweaty, so..." Erica frowned at Stiles. "You always, always smell like...like home, though. You've smelled like home, like family...for several months now."

Stiles flushed and ducked his head. "That's...really weird?"

Erica huffed and moved to wrap an arm around his shoulders. "Not really. It makes sense, I think. Ever since the pack started to fully bond, since last summer, you've always been like a pseudo-parent the way you just sort of... I don't know, you've always been quick to offer advice and help and loyalty. Plus you're always ready to call any of us out if we act like assholes."

"You're kinda like Derek's second-in-command, if you hadn't noticed. Everyone defers to you whenever Derek is MIA or otherwise indisposed. Even Jackson defers to you." Boyd added thoughtfully.

"If we were all actual wolves, you'd totally be the other alpha, Batman." Erica grinned, the look borderline evil, and Boyd knew she was thinking vulgar, dirty things. He smirked and nodded in agreement, because yeah, Boyd saw it. Boyd totally saw it, and someday everyone else would see it too.

Stiles squeaked and blushed harder, ducking out of Erica's embrace. "You guys are so... Ugh!" Stiles whined and scurried over to the stairs. "I don't know why I like either of you!"

Boyd gave Stiles that smile that, more often than not, scared the hell out of him. It was like the other teen was plotting the end of the world, and enjoying every second of it. "I don't see why telling you how the wolves see you is any reason for you to get so flustered, Stiles. We were just trying to explain why."

Erica smirked. "It wasn't like we were suggesting you go up to Derek and ask him to breed you or something."

"What the fuck!?" Stiles shrieked and blushed to the roots. "Oh my God, Erica, I hate you so much! Why would you say something like that!?"

"I'm not entirely sure that's how it works, Erica," the other werewolf said, trying in vain to suppress his chuckling. "Plus, unless Stiles secretly has a uterus, I don't think we're ever going to get little Stiles and Dereks running around."

"I will shoot you in the face!" Stiles screeched, covering his ears and running up the stairs. Erica and Boyd collapsed against each other, laughing so hard tears streamed down their faces.

Chapter Text

The Sheriff paused beside the chips, eyeing them as he debated whether it was worth his son's wrath to sneak a bag of Lays. Stiles had been extra strict with his diet lately. He reached out and grabbed two different bags, studying them both intently. He could maybe buy the baked chips and point out that they were supposedly healthier than the regular kind.

"Caleb?"

Caleb startled and dropped the chips before he turned his head and blinked at the other man in shock. The Sheriff hadn't expected to run into him...ever again. Hell, the last time Caleb had seen him had been at Anwen's funeral.

The Sheriff flinched away from that thought. "Peter?"

Peter smiled and moved closer. "Caleb Stilinski, Sheriff of Beacon Hills." His smile broadened and Peter reached out, wrapping Caleb in a one-armed hug. "I'm sorry I haven't tried getting a hold of you sooner."

Caleb rolled his eyes and pulled Peter into a proper hug. "Is it really safe for you to be running around in public? You're technically missing, presumed dead, and all that."

"Yes, well, I doubt anyone will recognize me." Peter leaned down to pick up the chips. "Besides, it's hellishly boring lurking around the woods. My nephew is much better suited for that."

"So you have been in contact with him, then." Caleb took the bag of baked chips and dropped it into his cart. "I had to haul him in last spring for questioning. Were you aware that Laura died?"

Peter flinched. "Ah... Yes. I... That was my fault." The werewolf frowned and put the other bag of chips on the shelf before following after Caleb. "I may have been a little...unstable when I came back to myself."

"I don't wanna know, Peter. The less I know about how your world works, the better." Caleb pushed the cart down the cereal aisle. "It was bad enough finding out back then."

"Mmm. I can imagine." Peter leaned closer to the human, sniffing at him.

Caleb scowled. "Peter, are you smelling me?"

"Scenting." Peter smiled. "I thought I caught the scents of my other pack members on you. I'm guessing they're visiting with Stiles."

"Oh, hell, don't tell me my son managed to get dragged into your world?" Caleb sighed and scowled some more. "Of course he did. That boy is just like his mother in that regard."

Peter smiled sheepishly. "That's my fault too, actually. Though, at the time, I didn't actually know who he was, or that he'd be dragged into it in the first place." Peter shrugged and watched the Sheriff scowl at a box of Cheerios. "I assure you, though, that he is still human."

"That isn't entirely reassuring, considering he's probably running around with a pack of wolves." Caleb's scowl deepened as he threw the box of Cheerios into his cart. "Ah crap, he's been running around with a bunch of werewolves for almost a year, hasn't he?"

"Indeed, but you don't really have to worry about anything, Caleb." Peter plucked a box of Pop Tarts off the shelf as they passed it. "Our Alpha is particularly protective of Stiles. He's saved your boy's life numerous times since the supernatural shit-storm hit Beacon Hills."

"And who is your Alpha now?" Caleb asked, resigned, as he studied the expiration dates on the milk. "I'm guessing it isn't you..." The Sheriff frowned and turned his gaze to Peter.

"Derek."

Caleb blinked. "Isn't Derek a little young to be leading a pack?"

Peter shrugged. "He's older than the rest of the pack. I will admit that I questioned his choices in the beginning, but the kids he offered the Bite to turned out to be pretty good."

"I don't wanna know." Caleb shook his head and grabbed two gallon jugs of milk. "I really don't wanna know."

"Eventually you'll be informed, I'm sure." Peter frowned at the yogurt. "Stiles hates lying to you, and Derek becomes extra broody when Stiles is upset."

Caleb sighed. "We're going to be in-laws of some sort in the end, aren't we?"

Peter smirked. "Probably."

Chapter Text


~And I'll Beg For Forgiveness (Your Sins Into Me)~

Derek glowered at his betas, waiting as patiently as he could for Stiles and Lydia to show up so they could start the meeting. He was half a step away from throwing Scott into a tree, but he was worried he'd break the poor tree with Scott's stupid, stubborn head. Isaac kept shooting Jackson terrified looks whenever he wasn't smiling down at his phone. Derek wanted to bash his head against a brick wall a few times.

 

Why had he thought making a pack out of teenagers was a good idea, again?

 

"Dude, Jackson, quit glaring at Isaac like you're going to kill him!" Scott growled after Isaac whined softly, obviously distressed by his pack-brother's anger directed solely at him.

 

Jackson bared his fangs in a silent snarl. Scott bared his fangs in turn, subtly moving until he was standing between Jackson and Isaac. Isaac gave another distressed whine, this one a little louder than before, and reached out to tug at Scott's shirt.

 

"C'mon, Scott, stop it," Isaac murmured, his eyes lowered and unchallenging.

 

"No, this asshole needs to knock it off. Danny is allowed to date you, you're allowed to date Danny. This dick has no say in the matter!" Scott growled.

 

Derek groaned internally. "Scott, stop trying to challenge Jackson. Jackson, stop trying to scare the fuck out of Isaac."

 

Jackson huffed and turned his back on Scott, ignoring everyone else in favor of dicking around with his cell phone. Scott snarled, his eyes glowing yellow. Derek growled once in warning, and Isaac wrapped his hand around Scott's wrist.

 

Boyd sighed long-sufferingly and propped himself against a tree. "You three need to sort out your issues with each other when there aren't important things about to happen."

 

"I still can't see what Stiles sees in Scott," Erica whispered to Boyd, glaring at the teen in question. Derek silently agreed.

 

"Lydia is on her way." Jackson declared after a long moment of awkward silence. He turned towards the entrance to the clearing, a soft smile fading from his face.

 

"Is Stiles with her?" Scott asked, looking kind of annoyed. 

 

Jackson sneered at Scott. "Why don't you ask him yourself? He is your best friend, right?"

 

Scott growled and lunged at Jackson, wolfed out. Jackson dodged the other teen effortlessly; he reached out and caught Scott in the face with a punch that probably broke the werewolf's jaw. Isaac whined again, Boyd sighed, and Erica grinned.

 

"Jesus Christ," Derek muttered as he scrubbed his face with his hands. This was the product of terrible life choices. Well. Okay. This was the product of Peter's terrible life choice, but still. This was also his life, now.

 

But Derek actually kinda pitied Scott; the teen wasn't exactly the brightest, and his priorities were all fucked up, and he was going to lose Stiles if he kept being an ass. Most of the time Derek just wanted to smack Scott upside the head until the teenager opened his eyes and saw that, hey, he was hurting Stiles. Jackson had a point, though. Derek wasn't entirely sure, but from what he knew Scott and Stiles hadn't spoken more than a handful of times in the last month.

 

"Or are you abandoning him again?" Jackson taunted. Derek blinked in shock, and everyone else just kind of...froze. "Are you leaving him to drown or get the shit beat out of him so you can spend even more time with Allison, or spend time with Isaac?"

 

Boyd and Erica both flinched, and Scott snarled angrily. "I never abandoned Stiles!"

 

Jackson sneered again. "If you hadn't been so busy trying to crawl your way back into Argent's ass, Stiles would never have been hurt over the summer! He wouldn't have that jagged scar running across his hip; he wouldn't've had cracked ribs, and he wouldn't've looked at me like I hung the fuckin' moon when I found him in the woods that night!"

 

Scott recoiled, looking horrified. 

 

Isaac, Boyd, and Erica were whimpering and baring their necks, and it took Derek ten seconds to realize it was because he was growling angrily. The alpha hadn't actually known how the Alpha Pack had managed to attack Stiles. None of the humans were supposed to be alone last summer.

 

Derek silenced himself and reached out to the three whimpering betas, offering them comfort in the form of a hand resting against the nape of their neck. Jackson continued to glare at Scott until the other teen turned his head away, looking caught between guilt and anger. Derek bared his fangs at Scott until the teen bared his throat to him, too.

 

Jackson just turned his head away, looking unhappy, which was strange. Any other time, Jackson would've looked smug. Derek studied the blond for a moment before the sound of Stiles's Jeep caught his attention.

 

The moment Stiles's Jeep could be seen, Peter glided out of the half-built house covered in a layer of saw dust. He smiled serenely, his eyes calm and sane. Derek blinked at his uncle, uncertain, as Stiles managed to stumble out of his Jeep. Lydia gracefully slid from the passenger seat and made her way over to Jackson.

 

"Afternoon, kiddies!" Peter smiled again and gave a small wave before turning towards the tree line. "I'm off."

 

Lydia narrowed her eyes, her distrust and hatred a severe, overpowering scent on the air. "Planning on psychologically scarring any more teenagers this afternoon?"

 

Peter flinched, and Derek barely managed to keep his jaw from dropping. Everyone else tensed, preparing for a fight. The alpha glanced over to Stiles, because the human's scent was a jumble of pride and concern but his heart was going no faster than normal, he wasn't actually worried. His uncle turned on his heel, facing the rest of them, and Derek had to suppress the flinch.

 

"I have no intentions to do so, no," Peter sighed, his tone sad and resigned. "Not that you'll believe me, but I don't blame you for that either." The older man frowned, and Derek felt like someone had sucker-punched him in the kidneys, because Peter looked like he did before the fire, and Derek wanted to cry.

 

Stiles was at his side then, nudging Derek slightly until he could slip underneath Derek's arm and cuddle against the alpha's side. Derek didn't really know what to think of the offered comfort, but he wrapped his arm tighter around Stiles's shoulders and looked away from Peter because he couldn't see his uncle looking like that. It was painful and a shitty reminder that Derek had destroyed more than just his life by bedding Kate Argent. His betas all made distressed sounds of concern, and Stiles nuzzled against his chest comfortingly.

 

Derek palmed the nape of Stiles's neck and squeezed once in a silent thanks as he forced himself away from the guilt gnawing at him. Lydia was studying Peter intently, her eyes narrowed to slits of suspicion that Derek couldn't blame her for. Derek didn't think he could ever trust Peter again, and he really hated that.

 

"It's hard for any of us to believe you when you disappear to do mysterious things." Lydia finally declared, her tone glacial. "Your behavior tends to be sneaky and manipulative."

 

Peter smiled wanly. "I'm not doing anything mysterious," he replied with a false lightness. "I'm merely going back to the hotel I've been staying in to wash up and change clothes so the restaurant doesn't turn me away when I go on my date in a few hours."

 

Derek's gaze jerked back over to his uncle, and everyone else stared at Peter in shock. "You have a date?" Scott demanded. "I told you to stay away from my mother!"

 

Stiles hissed at Scott. Peter rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. "I don't want anything to do with your mother, Scott. She is very beautiful, yes, but she is not exactly my type."

 

Derek narrowed his eyes, because Peter wasn't lying, but it also made no sense. His uncle glanced over at him, and Stiles, and gave a soft smile, a content look of approval that floored Derek. His own eyes flicked down to see Stiles studying Peter, his liquid-amber eyes calculating as they locked with Peter's gaze. Whatever Stiles saw in his gaze made the human blink in surprise, his jaw dropping just a little.

 

"You - "

 

"Sorry," Peter interrupted before Stiles could finish his thought. "I really do have to go get ready for my date. If it comforts you, I'll even call every half hour so that you know I'm not up to anything more than a long over-due dinner." The older werewolf waved and disappeared.

 

"Send a picture of your date to prove it." Lydia replied calmly.

 

"Sorry, no can do! My date isn't comfortable with anyone knowing quite yet! But I promise you'll have your proof sometime soon!"

 

Derek frowned again and pressed his nose to Stiles's hair without much though, scenting the human subconsciously as he tried to process. His phone vibrated in his pocket a moment later with a text from Peter.

 

From Peter:

you should consider bringing stiles dad into the know

 

"Stiles, Boyd found a great song for you two," Erica called out, breaking the silent tension.

 

Stiles nuzzled Derek's shoulder a bit before pulling away to scamper over to Erica and Boyd. Jackson tilted his head to the side a bit, looking very interested in the other teens' conversation. Derek frowned down at his cell for a long moment before flicking his gaze up to Stiles.

 

Scott was frowning at Stiles when Derek's gaze skittered over to him. The alpha's frown intensified, and he may have tamped down on the urge to growl a warning to Scott when he realized Scott was moving towards the human. Scott was opening his mouth when Jackson snarled and planted himself between Scott and the other three teens.

 

"No."

 

"What the fuck, Jackson?" Scott growled, his eyes flashing yellow.

 

Jackson's eyes flashed blue in response and he bared his fangs. "No. We have shit we need to discuss, McCall."

 

Derek inhaled deeply, gave a harsh exhale, and rolled his shoulders. "Enough. This is getting ridiculous. Jackson, Scott, the two of you are going to show up here tomorrow morning at seven and you're going to work out your problems."

 

"Uh, did I miss something?" Stiles whispered, which was pointless when everyone but Lydia could hear him clearly anyway. "I thought Jackson and Scott were cool?"

 

"We've never been 'cool', Stilinski," Jackson replied, sneering at Scott. "I've just been relatively polite and quiet about my disdain for McCall recently."

 

"I don't get why you hate him, though," Stiles frowned.

 

Jackson tensed, his back going ramrod straight so fast Derek cringed in sympathy for the teen's spine. Lydia eyed her boyfriend, evidently curious. It became apparent rather quickly that this was something she didn't know either, and it quite obviously bothered her. Jackson's scent thickened with nerves and avoidance, and the beta crossed his arms over his chest defensively.

 

"No one's business but my own."

 

Boyd sighed and nudged gently at Stiles. "Maybe we should start talking about what we all came here for?"

 

"Right." Stiles turned his gaze to Derek. "Is the house okay to do this in? It's supposed to rain and I do not wanna drive home in wet clothes."

 

Derek stomped down on his errant thoughts before they could fully form and nodded. Stiles turned on his heel and made his way to the front porch; the rest of the pack waited for Derek to follow Stiles up the front steps before following after them and into the barren living room. They formed a circle, sitting down on the floor. Stiles was on Derek's right, and there was an empty space to his left.

 

"So, from what I've managed to piece together, we have to be even more careful with this skinwalker than with anything else we've come up against." Stiles sighed, slumping into Boyd's side exhaustedly. "They're supposedly stupid-hard to kill, and they have the ability to sound like anything or anyone. So. We need to, like, come up with some form of code."

 

"Will Deaton be able to get a hold of White Ash?" Jackson asked, his eyes locked on Derek and Stiles even though the question was probably directed at Scott or Isaac.

 

"White Ash?" Isaac repeated, his nose scrunching up in confusion.

 

"White Ash is the only thing that's supposedly able to kill it when it's in animal form." Stiles elaborated, straightening up and pinning Scott with a look. "Do you think Allison..."

 

Boyd and Erica winced and Lydia frowned fiercely. Scott scowled at the other two werewolves and shrugged. "I don't know. What would you need from her?"

 

Stiles chewed his bottom lip, shooting Erica and Boyd a concerned look before glancing back over to Scott. "Just...bullets. We're supposed to dip the bullets in White Ash."

 

Derek's eyebrows shot up his forehead. "And where the hell are you going to get guns to shoot these bullets from?"

 

"Um," Stiles fidgeted and flushed, tilting his head just a bit to expose the side of his throat to Derek. "I was... I don't trust the Argents - "

 

Scott snarled. "Allison is trying, damnit!"

 

Stiles's head whipped around and he pinned Scott with a fierce glare. "Goddamnit, Scott! I know Allison is trying. She was in a rough spot, she had horrible things happen, her grandfather was a psychotic bastard who manipulated her! I get it! Congratulations on her! You can forgive and forget all you want, but the rest of us aren't as forgiving because the rest of us are not so obsessed with her that they think she hung the moon!"

 

The room went silent for several minutes before Scott's face crumpled and he ducked his head. "I just... She's my mate, okay? I'm sorry..."

 

Derek's jaw clenched, and Stiles leaned against his shoulder, studying Scott and smelling guilty and hurt and slightly satisfied. "Yeah, Scott buddy, I know, but that doesn't make anything okay."

Chapter Text


~I Knew I got it Tattooed for a Reason~

Stiles flopped backwards onto his bed and closed his eyes, listening to the song Boyd had suggested. He liked the song so far, but he wasn't too sure if it would be all that worth it to cover the drums. Then again, just because there weren't drums playing within the first five seconds of the song didn't mean anything. He bolted upright fifteen seconds into the song, and he stared at his laptop as the lyrics poured out of the speakers, his laptop, this song none the wiser to what it was doing to Stiles.

 

Two minutes and twenty seconds later Stiles was scrambling back to his desk, falling into his chair and bringing up a new tab on his browser. He googled the lyrics for the song and stared at the words for a long time, suddenly swamped with memories from the summer before, memories of the Alpha Pack. The Alpha Pack had been werewolf purists, each and every one of them born werewolves and they were repulsed by the bitten wolves, and they'd detested the human pack members.

 

The humans weren't supposed to go gallivanting around anywhere without a wolf, with the exception of Allison who could just shoot the Alphas full of wolfsbane. It wasn't too hard for Lydia or Danny to pull off; Jackson was so terrified for their safety he'd talked his parents into sending his humans off to visit Danny's family in Hawaii for the summer. How Jackson had talked them into it with the knowledge that Jackson would be staying was something Stiles still didn't understand.

 

Stiles had been the only human in need of protection - and it still annoyed Stiles - that summer. He hadn't been able to walk two steps out of his front door without Isaac or Scott right there with him. Except the one time he had been left alone because Isaac'd been with Derek and Peter tracking Erica and Boyd's scent, Stiles hadn't been entirely comfortable calling Jackson while the teen was working, and Scott wouldn't answer his phone.

 

There'd probably been things Stiles could've done differently that day, like actually staying behind the mountain ash circle he'd put up around the house. But he'd been frustrated and angry and desperately bored, so he'd gotten into his Jeep and drove over to Deaton's clinic. Stiles hadn't made it to Deaton's clinic, though. One of the Alphas had chased him off the road.

 

He woke up in the woods, bleeding and in agony, Jackson's pale and worried face hovering just over his. Stiles hadn't exactly registered anything a first, just that he was so damn happy Jackson was there. Jackson's voice was rough when he'd asked how Stiles had been grabbed, why he'd been alone. The werewolf's face had gone murderous when Stiles smiled up at him and said Jackson had been working, he'd been unable to get a hold of Scott, and he'd needed to talk to Deaton about something.

 

It wasn't until Jackson had carried him to Deaton's clinic that Stiles remembered everything. The Alphas had done a number on his self-esteem and self-worth (not to mention his very human body), and Stiles had been stupid-lucky they hadn't bitten him as a big fuck you to Derek. Needless to say, Derek had been ten different kinds of pissed off when he found out that Stiles had been caught, had been hurt, had been left alone. After that, Jackson had made sure, in his own douche-bag way, that Stiles was never left unprotected the rest of the summer.

 

When Stiles first saw the scar running along his hip after the wound had healed, he'd cried. The Alphas had intentionally done it, as a permanent reminder that he was lesser because he was human and breakable. They hadn't taken him for any other purpose than to prove a point that humans were a weakness, something to be used and tossed aside when play-time was over. Stiles was grateful he'd gotten off with broken ribs and the scar, in the long run, though. Given what they'd implied while they'd been taunting Stiles, it could have been so much worse.

 

"Hey, kiddo," Sheriff Stilinski rapped his knuckles against his doorframe before leaning against it and crossing his arms over his chest.

 

Stiles startled and nearly fell out of his chair. "Hey dad!" He smiled and shook away the thoughts that'd been trying to drown him. "Get out of work?"

 

"The other deputies practically threw me out last night." The Sheriff smiled. "Told me to go get cleaned up and enjoy the entire weekend. They're nosy codgers and I fear for the future of our department."

 

Stiles contemplated the computer screen. "Don't pin this one on me, dad. I haven't bugged them about your health this week." He frowned at the lyrics, his insides quivering as a piercing, driving need filled him. "You know, you promised me that you'd take me to get that tattoo if I still wanted it after mom died."

 

Caleb went still, his eyes going wide. "I did."

 

"Yeah," Stiles grabbed a notebook and pen, turning to a clean page and copying out the lyrics he wanted. "You still willing to do that?"

 

"That's actually gonna require driving out of state, Stiles." Caleb sighed, dropping his arms to his sides. "You can't legally get a tattoo until you're eighteen, even with my permission, in the state of California."

 

Stiles nodded. "Yeah, I know that. I've actually got a list of parlors up in Oregon that are literally only a ten minute drive across the state line."

 

Caleb pinched the bridge of his nose. "It is Saturday morning, and you're exactly like Anwen." He gave Stiles a small, soft, fond smile. "Print off the directions for our adventure and I'll go pack a bag. We can rent a room somewhere and make it a father-son weekend. Haven't had one of those in a long time."

 

"Yeah," Stiles smiled and watched his father disappear before he turned back to his laptop and violated google maps. He wondered sometimes how it was his father knew that Stiles had to do something. His father'd always said, whenever he was drunk enough to talk about his mom, that Anwen had gotten the same way; that she'd just feel this fierce, unrelenting need to do something. It was apparently how she'd ended up with a couple of her tattoos. The most prominent was the one she'd gotten a month before she'd gotten pregnant with Stiles.

 

Stiles could remember being four and staring at the black ink against her pale forearm in awe, at the thick black lines that had formed an animal he didn't quite recognize at first. He'd pointed to  the creature and asked her what it was; she'd taken him in her arms and said that it was him. That hadn't made much sense to him, because she'd gotten the tattoo before he was conceived, so of course it couldn't be him. But she'd just kissed the crown of his head and whispered that it really was him, and she'd gotten it because she knew he was coming to her soon. Stiles had looked at the tattoo again, and the lines had formed a coherent animal and if it was him, he'd thought at the time, he was gonna grow up to be beautiful like his mom, and that tattoo.

 

It had been beautiful, and Stiles decided that he'd find the original sketch over the week. His cell phone screeched out Katy Perry, making Stiles flinch. He really needed to change Jackson's ringtone sometime soon.

 

'You walk around like you're oh so debonair; you pull 'em down and there's really nothing there'

 

"Hey, Jackson?" Stiles answered and trapped his phone between his ear and shoulder as he started stuffing clothes into the duffel bag he kept in his closet. He glanced up at the shelf, biting back the sad smile that tried to crawl across his face as he stared at the ratty stuffed wolf he'd had since he was two.

 

"Stiles," Jackson sounded irritated, his voice gruff and slightly pained.

 

"Wait, weren't you supposed to be beating the shit out of Scott or something?" Stiles asked as he turned his laptop off and packed the power cord into the duffel bag. "I thought Derek ordered you and Scott over at the ass-crack of dawn or something? I distinctly remember that."

 

"Yeah, and we're supposed to be working shit out, and that isn't gonna happen until I have a long talk with you." Jackson replied, his tone resigned. Derek probably ordered Jackson to do whatever he had to do in order to sort whatever it was out with Scott. "So, are you free?"

 

Stiles winced. "Um, actually, no. I'm going on an overnight trip with my dad, bonding time and all that." He cushioned his laptop between some shirts and zipped the duffel bag up. "I don't know when I'll be back tomorrow, so...um, maybe we could hang out after school on Monday?"

 

Jackson sighed on the other end, then made some sound Stiles wasn't too sure of before sighing again. "Yeah, I'll come over to your place after lacrosse?"

 

"Sounds good to me..." Stiles gave a small smile, shouldered his duffel, and moved towards his bedroom door. "I'll see you in school on Monday." He stopped in the doorway and turned around, glaring at his room a moment before going back to grab his phone charger, the directions and lyrics, and his bottle of Adderall.

 

"Enjoy your weekend, Stilinski." Jackson hung up and Stiles nearly tripped because the douche bag had sounded sincere. What the actual fuck? 

 

"Ready, Stiles?" The Sheriff called from downstairs.

 

"Yeah!" Stiles shoved the phone charger and Adderall into the duffel before racing downstairs to meet his father. The Sheriff smiled warmly, shook his head, and ushered Stiles out to his rarely-used pick-up. Stiles hopped into the passenger side and settled the duffel at his feet before shuffling the papers around so he could read the directions properly.

 

A half hour later, they were on the highway, Stiles staring out the window as the scenery zipped by in a blur of greens and silvers and other colors that could only ever come from man encroaching on nature. Steel and concrete. His father had on an oldies station, the volume just loud enough to be heard over the air rushing into the cab from his opened window.

 

"Dad?"

 

"Yeah, kid?"

 

"I never understood why you'll just go along with stuff like this, sometimes." Stiles murmured, resting his forehead against the glass. "Sometimes I'll be bouncing around and demanding that I need to do this, like with your diet, and you'll just give me this look like you understand and then you just let me do my thing. I honestly thought you were gonna make me wait until my birthday to get a tattoo, but instead you just decided to take an overnight trip up to Oregon so I can ask someone to inflict pain on my person to create a permanent mark on my skin."

 

Caleb turned the radio down. "Those were things I know you needed to do. I knew they'd drive you insane if you couldn't do them."

 

"Yeah, but how? I don't ever remember telling you something like that."

 

"No, you never did. But you didn't have to." Caleb frowned and gave a sad sigh. "You're just like your mother, Stiles. You know that she got her last tattoo a month before you were conceived, right? She just sat up in bed one night, looked over at me, and said she had to go to her friend Andy. He designed beautiful tattoos, she'd said, and she had to get this thing she'd just dreamt about on her. I had to work, so she ended up going with her best friend. I got home and she smiled at me with these shining amber eyes and showed me her right forearm, said in this dreamy voice that he'd be with us one day."

 

Stiles gaped at his father. The sheriff stared resolutely at the road, his face softened by an almost-smile as he contemplated the past. Stiles's heart clenched, and he'd never missed his mother more than in that moment. They were quite for several long moments, just the air rushing by and the soft hum of the radio.

 

"She knew, on some level I'll never be able to understand, that we were going to have you. That tattoo was yours, for you, only you. Just like she had the feather on her ankle for her. She had the paw print of a German Shepard on her hip; she'd gotten it a couple months before she met me. The first time I saw it I asked her about it, because I thought it was strange that she'd have a paw print on her hip. Anwen just gave me this sweet little smile and said she'd had a dream about a German Shepard wearing a goddamn police badge, and when she'd woken up she had to get the tattoo, or she'd literally go insane. I thought she was a little insane, and then the week after I asked her to marry me, she showed me the Hebrew meaning of my name.

 

"I was a little confused, because I had no idea what that had to do with anything. Anwen just gave me a long-suffering sigh and said that she'd had a dream about me before she'd ever met me, that I'd just shown up in her dream as the translation of my name." Caleb smiled wryly. "I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be offended or creeped out."

 

"The Hebrew translation of your name is German Shepard?" Stiles asked incredulously.

 

Caleb chuckled. "No, Stiles, the translation is dog."

 

Stiles blinked, then smiled a little. "I think she had an affinity for men with a name that translates back to something canine-related."

 

His father snorted and turned off on their exit. "When we talked about children, that first year of our marriage, I agreed that our first son would be named after her father, no matter that I had the hardest time pronouncing his name. She'd said it was just something that...had to happen. You couldn't be named anything else; give you any nickname in the world, just so long as you answered to that name when she called it."

 

They were silent for a while again, the Sheriff focusing on the road and Stiles staring out at the trees zipping by. His mind raced, churning and lurching from one thought to the next. It was so odd. Stiles had always had these weird compulsions to do certain things, coming on so suddenly and violently sometimes that it gave him whiplash. It'd only really started after his mother died, and he never quite understood why they happened, but he'd learned to just cope with them. In all honesty, going into the woods that night to look for Laura's body had been one of the compulsions he couldn't avoid.

 

He looked over at his father and contemplated the older man, curious. It was the first time his father had talked about his mother while sober, and he didn't look like he was itching to wrap his fingers around the bottle. Something had changed, and Stiles wondered what it was. He opened his mouth to ask, but his father beat him to it.

 

"Is this tattoo going to have anything to do with what's been going on this last year?"

 

The air rushed from Stiles like he'd been punched in the gut. He stared at Caleb with wide eyes, trembling slightly. This was something he could be honest about, right? He didn't have to lie about this; he could be honest without saying exactly what prompted it. "...Yeah..."

 

Caleb's shoulders slumped. "I thought so. Stiles... I wish you would tell me what's going on. I've spent a year worrying about you, praying it wasn't drugs or something else that you got caught up in. Whatever it is, I know it involves Derek Hale and your friends."

 

Stiles stared down at his lap, his heart thundering in his ears. "I... I want to tell you, but I can't. Too many reasons why I can't. One, you'd never believe me; two, it...isn't my secret to tell." He fidgeted and brought his fingers up to his mouth to chew nervously on his thumbnail.

 

His father sighed, sounding so disappointed, and it broke something in Stiles. He wanted to cry, and he wanted to be able to soothe his father's fears and worries. He didn't want his dad worrying about him on top of everything else in life. It hurt, like a constant and unrelenting, piercing pressure against his sternum, whenever he thought about it.

 

"I'm more open to any explanation than you'd ever actually think, Stiles." Caleb murmured. He darted a quick look to Stiles. "I'd believe you, whatever it was."

 

Stiles shook his head. "I doubt that," he replied dubiously. He pulled his cell from his pocket and brought up a new text, staring at the keys for a long moment before tapping a message out.

 

To Derek:

my dads asking ?s about supe & i dont wanna lie anymore

 

"You shouldn't, kid." Caleb muttered and jumped onto the exit they needed. "I'd happily believe anything you tell me as long as it's not along the lines of 'hey dad, I've been secretly making meth in the basement' because I'm pretty sure I'd have to haul your ass in for that no matter what."

 

Stiles snorted and leaned his head against the window. "No, I'm not cooking meth in the basement. ...I've been playing the drums, again, actually."

 

Caleb smiled. "I know. I forgot how much I enjoyed that until I came home and heard you playing one night. You left the door to the basement open, and I honestly thought I was back in 2004."

 

His cell vibrated in his hand, and Stiles opened the text message.

 

From Derek:

tell him the truth then

 

Stiles's heart lurched into his throat; he glanced over at his father, who looked tired and concerned as he drove along the highway. Derek gave him the go-ahead to tell his dad, and he really didn't want to lie anymore, but how the hell was he supposed to tell his father without sounding like he escaped from a psychiatric ward? Shit.

 

From Derek:

i have it on good authority he'll believe you

 

What?

 

Stiles stared down at his phone, his mouth hanging open. What? What the hell did Derek mean by that? He snapped his mouth shut and scowled.

 

"Stiles?"

 

"If I tell you what's been going on over the last year, do you promise not to try and take me to the nut house?" Stiles worried his bottom lip, resolutely staring out the passenger window like all the answers to life's questions were in the trees zipping by.

 

Caleb snorted softly. "I highly doubt anything you have to tell me will make me question your sanity, Stiles." His mouth quirked up in a crooked smile. "Besides, I already started doubting your sanity the day you decided Stiles Stilinski was a normal-sounding name."

 

"Hey!" Stiles cried indignantly, glaring over at his father. "I was five, dad! No one could actually pronounce my name save for mom and Ududu. It was annoying, and Stiles just popped into my head."

 

"Hm," Caleb hummed thoughtfully. "You sure it wasn't just one of those instincts telling you to give yourself a nickname?"

 

Stiles frowned. "Um, maybe? I don't know... I was five. I don't remember all the reasons why."

 

"Okay," the Sheriff smiled and switched lanes to pass a really slow van. "So you gonna tell me?"

 

"Yeah, just... Can it wait until we get to the hotel? This...isn't something I should say while you're driving." Stiles glanced nervously over at his father. "I'd really rather not die in a car accident." That would be the dumbest way to die after surviving all the shit I survived over this last year.

 

The Sheriff nodded his head and switched back into the right lane. "Sounds good to me, son."

Chapter Text

Jackson turned to glare at McCall for a moment before sighing and turning to Derek. "Stiles is going somewhere with his father for the weekend; we agreed to talk after school on Monday."

McCall frowned fiercely. "I don't see why you have to talk to Stiles before anything else."

"Because Derek alpha-ordered us to work our shit out and I can't do that until I do talk to Stiles!" Jackson growled.

"Derek, I need to talk to you in private." Peter called from the tree line.

"We don't have to worry about you trying to kill him, do we?" Erica growled from her spot on the front porch, relaxing back against Boyd's legs as he ignored everyone in favor of staining the wood of a bookshelf Derek had apparently built earlier that week.

Peter huffed and rolled his eyes. "I have plenty of reasons to keep him alive, dear Erica."

Derek sighed, long-suffering, and waved his hand at Erica before jogging over to Peter and disappearing with him into the trees. Jackson scowled and shoved past McCall to walk over to Erica and Boyd. He stopped in front of the only female wolf in their pack and studied her for a moment, fighting internally with himself for several seconds while Erica stared up at him with a smirk and quirked eyebrow.

"What is it, douche-wolf?" Erica grinned when it seemed Jackson wouldn't say a damn thing. It was bad enough Derek pulled shit like that, with the looming and the glaring and the general creeping (though he had backed off on doing that to anyone who wasn't Stiles in a while).

Jackson scowled and shoved his hands in his pockets. "I overheard you and Boyd talking to Stiles last night about doing a cover for some song. I was just...curious about it."

Boyd turned his head to study Jackson for a moment. "Stiles plays the drums, and I can play the guitar. We decided not that long ago to take turns picking songs to cover, kind of like a competition to see who can play it with the least mistakes or who can learn it faster."

Erica hummed and stood up, assessing Jackson. "Why d'you wanna know?"

Jackson shrugged and looked towards Isaac fiddling with his cell phone. "Well... I was thinking about how Stiles and Derek are always on us about pack bonding, and I thought maybe I could join you guys in your little cover endeavors. I can play the bass."

Erica's eyes lit up. "Holy shit, that's a great idea! And Stiles would love it, too. He's been trying to figure out ways to get you more integrated with the pack, y'know, 'cuz it only ever seemed like you just tolerated us at pack meetings and training and that the only reason you're even part of the pack is because you know you'd be killed if you were an Omega."

"I think it sounds like a good idea," Boyd added, turning back to his project. "We could even record ourselves and put it on Youtube or something."

"Why would you put up a video of three guys doing an instrumental cover of songs without vocals? That's just bad form!" Erica winked and moved to lean against the column supporting the roof over the porch. She studied Jackson for a moment. "Can Lydia sing?"

Jackson snorted. "If you want your eardrums to rupture."

Boyd choked on a laugh and Erica gaped at him for a moment. "She aware of your feelings on her singing?"

"Yeah. She's of the same opinion as I am about it, too." Jackson smirked and crossed his arms over his chest loosely. He glanced over to Isaac, his expression neutral, and nodded in his direction. "What about Lahey, can he sing?"

"Nope!" Isaac called over, flicking his gaze up briefly before going to back to his cell.

"Erica can sing," Boyd murmured with a fond smile. "She sometimes forgets that I can hear her when she's in the shower."

Erica shot Boyd a betrayed look. "I so cannot sing!"

"Prove it."

"You are an ass," Erica glared and crossed her arms over her chest. Boyd and Jackson both gave her unimpressed looks and she sighed, deflating a little. "Ugh, fine, I'll prove that I can't carry a goddamned tune in a bucket."

Boyd smirked. "It's cute that you really think that."

Erica bared her teeth at him before shaking herself out and closing her eyes. "Give me a second, I need to think of a song I know really well."

Jackson moved until he was leaning against the column across from her. "Whenever you're ready, blondie."

"Okay," Erica blew out a breath, smelling nervous. "I tried to kill the pain, but only brought more (so much more) I lay dying, and I'm pouring crimson regret, and betrayal...I'm dying! Praying! Bleeding, and screaming! Am I too lost, to be saved? Am I too lost?"

"Ho-ly shit," Jackson's jaw dropped and he stared incredulously at Erica. "You are a filthy liar, Reyes. You can sing."

"Um, yeah, you really can!" Isaac and McCall called.

Erica flushed and ducked her head. "I...really? Boyd wasn't just being a sappy boyfriend?"

Boyd made an offended noise. "I wouldn't lie to you, Erica. You know me well enough to know I'd tell you if you had a crap-tastic voice."

"Crap-tatstic?"

"...I've been spending too much time with Stiles, haven't I?"

McCall growled and Jackson shot him a withering glare. "Fuck off, McCall. You're the one who kept ditching him."

Boyd's face went stony and he glared at Scott, his expression almost as unsettling as Derek's glares. McCall flinched and looked away, his shoulders slumping. Isaac reached out and squeezed Scott's wrist comfortingly. Erica made a disgusted noise in the back of her throat and leaned back against the porch again.

Jackson sighed softly and tipped his head back against the wood. "You and Stiles have been best friends since the third grade. You two will work it out, I'm sure."

What the hell, was he seriously comforting McCall?

"Jackson is right," Isaac murmured. "C'mon, Scott, why don't we head over to your house and play some video games or something? You and Jackson aren't going to be working out anything right now."

Scott nodded and followed Isaac into the trees. Jackson sneered at their backs. Erica huffed and kicked at the corner of the top step. They waited for several minutes - until they could no longer hear Isaac and Scott - before Erica let out a frustrated growl.

"How is he still alive?"

"Stiles, for the most part, from what I've heard." Boyd offered, closing the lid on the can of wood stain and carrying the brush over to the hose. He rinsed out the stain, a fierce scowl on his face. "Stiles is literally the only reason Scott joined the pack last summer. I heard Stiles and Scott arguing about how, after the Alpha pack left and Derek found Erica and me, Stiles wasn't leaving the pack but Scott was free to, again."

Jackson shook his head. "Like I said, him and Stiles will eventually work everything out. They were inseparable up until Allison showed up."

"Last year was a giant cluster-fuck of bad. Scott still hasn't figured out how to balance any of his relationships." Boyd sighed, sounding resigned, and walked back up to the porch, setting the brush down on top of the wood stain. "We'll just have to hope Stiles will be better at balancing all his friendships."

Erica smirked. "And his relationship with Derek, when that happens."

Jackson cocked an eyebrow. "You think Stiles and Derek are going to get together?"

Boyd chuckled and stood next to Erica. "Watch them sometime, especially Derek's reaction whenever Erica or I point out Stiles's oral fixation. It's hilarious."

His phone vibrated angrily in his pocket and Jackson fished it out, smiling a little when Lydia's name flashed on the display. Erica and Boyd grinned to each other and went over to sit on the porch swing Peter had installed earlier that morning while Jackson opened the text.

From Lydia:
you & mccall beat each other up yet?

To Lydia:
no...on hold til i talk 2 stiles

From Lydia:
come get lunch w/me then

Jackson fired off an affirmative before looking up to see Boyd and Erica watching him. "So...I say you two pick out a song to cover, text me and Stiles your decision, and then we'll just show up at Stilinski's place with our instruments and a camera when we're all confident we learned the song."

"Sounds like a plan to me." Erica smirked and waved her fingers at Jackson. "Go have some fun with your girlfriend, douche-wolf."

Jackson smirked and flipped her off before jogging over to his Porsche, running through different ways he could avoid answering the questions he knew Lydia was going to fire at him.

Chapter Text


~I'm Only Human~

Stiles flinched slightly as he smoothed the A&D ointment across the tattoo, glaring at his reflection in the spotted mirror hanging over the sink in the bathroom of their hotel room. He'd waited the hour, cleaned it with antibacterial soap, and Jesus fuck it hurt. He'd read, on several different occasions, how after sitting so long under the tattoo gun people would get high off of endorphins. The prolonged exposure to the pain triggered something in the brain that said hey! have some endorphins, bitch!

 

Yeah, no. Not for Stiles. No endorphins for Stiles.

 

He scowled and washed his hands. All in all, the black ink curved just beneath his clavicles really did look good. He really liked what the artist had done. He liked it a lot. But it still hurt like a goddamned bitch.

 

"What do you wanna grab for dinner, Stiles?"

 

Stiles chewed on his lip a moment, then pulled his shirt back on over his head before tripping out of the bathroom. His father was relaxing against the headboard of his bed, legs crossed at the ankle, looking relaxed and content. Stiles smiled softly, hiding it behind his hand when the Sheriff turned his head to quirk an eyebrow at Stiles.

 

"I was thinking we could go for some Chinese or something?" Stiles fidgeted with the sleeves of his shirt. He was totally bribing his dad with the Chinese, with the offer of stuff Stiles would never normally suggest. He was bribing his father, and he was terrified. He couldn't back out of telling his dad now, he'd promised an explanation when they reached the hotel. They were at the hotel. 

 

And Stiles had no way to prove what he was about to tell his father. So, shit.

 

Caleb smiled and shut the crappy hotel television off. "Hm, maybe we could run through Burger King. I could go for some onion rings."

 

Stiles nodded quickly. "Yeah, yep, sounds very good to me!" He all but ran from the hotel room and out to his father's truck. "Nice, greasy onion rings and burgers every once in a while never hurt anyone. And you've been working so hard, and putting up with me, so I think you totally deserve some fast food! And even if you'd had a lazy time at work recently, you still totally deserve fast food for driving me all the way up to Oregon for a tattoo!"

 

Twenty minutes later the Stilinskis were seated on their beds, the rustling of food wrappers and paper bags filling the heavy silence as Stiles panicked internally. Eventually, the Sheriff sighed and crumpled the wrapper to his burger up before tossing it into the trash can between the beds. Stiles fidgeted, the fingers of his left hand toying with the hem of his shirt while he chewed on the knuckle of his right thumb.

 

Caleb fixed his son with a stare, and Stiles shifted beneath it uncomfortably. "So..."

 

"Werewolves!" Stiles blurted, his eyes going wide when he realized exactly what he'd said.

 

The Sheriff stared at Stiles a bit longer, his face empty of emotions. Stiles felt the beginnings of a panic attack creeping up on him, his chest tightening and little black spots blinking around his vision. He reminded himself to breathe and drew in a shaky breath of air. Why wasn't his father saying anything?

 

Stiles laughed nervously. "See, yeah, no, I... Uh, I told you. Werewolves. They're a thing. They are a thing that exists, and I've been running around with them for the last year, helping them, protecting their secret, and occasionally saving them because they are so dumb sometimes!" Stiles's voice was high-pitched and frantic by the end, cutting off in a choked-off hysterical giggle.

 

How the hell was this his life?

 

"Relax, Stiles," Caleb grinned a little. "I know werewolves exist. I've known that for, oh, about twenty years now. So, who all is in this pack of yours, kid? You told me earlier that it involved Derek Hale and your friends; are all of your friends werewolves, or just some of them?"

 

"Derek's the alpha, and then there's Boyd, Erica, Scott, Jackson, and Isaac who're all - " Stiles froze, his eyes widening even further. "Hey! Wait...hold on! What do you mean you knew werewolves exist!? How do you know? You've known about werewolves for twenty years!?"

 

Caleb waved a hand dismissively. "Peter Hale's my friend, Stiles. I've known him for nearly twenty-three years." He relaxed against his pillows and kicked his shoes off. "So, Lydia, Allison, and Danny are all human? And you're human too, you haven't taken the bite?"

 

"I...yeah, the four of us are human...wait... Just, wait a minute... P-Peter...Hale? You're friends with Peter Hale?" Stiles shrieked, his world-view fracturing. "You've known him for twenty-three years? How the hell can you be friends with Peter Hale?"

 

His father scowled fiercely, startling Stiles into silence. "Peter is a good man, Stiles."

 

Stiles snorted. "Yeah, right, and I'm unicorn." He yanked angrily on the blankets underneath him. "He's so far from being a good man it's ridiculous. You... You have no idea what he's done."

 

"Stiles," Caleb warned, his voice dangerous. "I know a lot more than you think."

 

"W-what?" Stiles squeaked, shrinking away from his father's anger.

 

"Peter has told me much of what's happened." The Sheriff's fists clenched in his lap. "I know he came back to himself after having been trapped in his mind for years, I know that when he came back to himself he was mentally unstable. I know how much he hates himself for killing Laura, and that he bit Scott, and that he tried to kill you and your friends. I know what Derek did to save you all, that Peter wishes he could've spared Derek that."

 

Stiles gaped at his father, shaking just a little as his father's voice rose to a near-shout at the end of his speech. Guilt crashed through him anew, because his father's voice was filled with hurt and anger and indignation, and Stiles knew that some of that came from Stiles's lies and inability to tell his father about any of it.

 

Caleb must've seen something on Stiles's face, because he deflated and moved around until he was leaning towards Stiles's bed, his elbows on his knees and his chin resting on his laced fingers. "Stiles, don't feel bad for not saying anything about the werewolves. I know you were trying to protect me, and that it wasn't even your secret to tell in the first place. Those are some of the same reasons I never told you."

 

"I - " Stiles bit his lip and lowered his gaze to the blankets. "Sorry, I'm just... You said you knew Peter before the fire, and you've obviously talked to him since his resurrection. It's just that... I only know the crazy guy who bit Scott, and tried to kill me and my friends, and nearly killed Lydia, and then possessed Lydia and nearly drove her insane..."

 

"I can imagine how much that would make someone not want to give a person the chance to make up for his crimes." Caleb said thoughtfully, studying Stiles intently for several seconds. "Have any of you tried to give him a chance?"

 

Stiles flinched. "Um, not exactly? No one trusts him, at all. Dr. Deaton is convinced Peter's back for some nefarious purpose that will involve all of our violent deaths if Derek trusts Peter. I just kind of see the psycho-wolf who used me to find Derek, offered me the bite, and just acts mysterious and creepy over-all. I mean... He hasn't exactly done anything recently to warrant suspicion, except for last night... He left before the pack meeting, and Lydia tore into him about being sneaky and acting suspicious but he just said there wasn't anything mysterious about his departure, that he was merely going to his motel to clean up and change for a date and that was just so weird, because Peter Hale has a date and last I knew he was creeping on Scott's mom and I don't even - "

 

He cut off mid-ramble, his eyes snapping up to his father's face, but Caleb's expression was bemused and relaxed, like he found Stiles exasperatingly hilarious. Which, yeah, Stiles was, but his dad's expression didn't match the choked noise that had stopped Stiles in the first place. It just made Stiles even more suspicious.

 

"Dad?"

 

Caleb quirked an eyebrow. "Yes, son?"

 

"...Um?" Stiles fidgeted and furrowed his brow. "You okay?"

 

"Yeah, why wouldn't I be?"

 

"It's just... I thought I heard you choke or something?" Stiles worried his bottom lip a bit. "I mean, maybe I was just hearing things because I've been prone to do that lately, so, um..."

 

The Sheriff waved a hand at Stiles, smiling at him. "Relax, Stiles, I'm fine." He moved back to his earlier position, relaxing back against the pillows and headboard with a contemplative look. "So, would you be willing to tell me all of the werewolf-related incidents that explain all of the injuries you had last year?"

 

Stiles flinched a little. "Ah, yeah... Well, um, there was all of that stuff with Peter while he was the alpha, and then something was up with Jackson that kept him from transforming into a proper werewolf when Derek bit him, so he turned into this thing called a Kanima, which is this giant revenge-lizard that has this stuff on his claws that paralyzes you, which is why Scott and I pulled that stunt with the transport van, and, I mean, the Kanima was the reason for a lot of strange things happening and it had trapped Derek and I in the pool at school one night, which was why I needed a new phone, and, um... That night I went missing after the game, and I showed up later that night covered in bruises?" Stiles stared down at his hands as they fussed with the sleeves of his shirt. "That... That was Gerard Argent."

 

"Gerard Argent?"

 

"Ah, yeah, he's, uh, he was a hunter. A werewolf hunter, and, um, he kidnapped me after the game? Beat me to send a message to Scott, and, um, he had Boyd and Erica there too, so... It was all just, really bad." Stiles shivered and wrapped his arms around his torso. "They...they got out, though, and then this pack of alphas caught them and held them for months. It... When I figured out that they'd disappeared, and I went to Derek, he was... I bugged him into looking for them, and their scent was leading back to the Hale house, but they never made it there and after that Derek and I worked out a plan to save them, and I got Scott to help, and then... It was all really dangerous, so Jackson talked his parents into sending Danny and Lydia off to Hawaii for the summer, and so I was the only human they really needed to worry about protecting, which, that's still so annoying, but it was going fine.

 

"But then Scott, he...he wouldn't answer his phone, and I... I just, I had to go talk to Dr. Deaton about something, and Derek was out of town with Isaac and Peter, tracking Boyd and Erica, and Jackson was working, so I did the stupid thing and went out alone." Stiles pressed his chin against his chest, and yelped when the movement sent a shock of pain from his tattoo. "I... A couple of the Alphas ran me off the road, and... There was a lot of violence involved."

 

Caleb, who'd been frozen in shock, jolted into movement when he saw the tears sliding down Stiles's face. He shot over to Stiles's bed and pulled his son into a gentle hug, his heart thumping madly. "Shh, you don't have to say anything more right now, Stiles."

 

Stiles trembled a little and hid his face against his father's shoulder. "It... They were these psycho werewolf purists, dad. They despised humans, and bitten wolves just disgusted them, like... I was nothing but a toy for them to play with, and... They could've bitten me, could've turned me and forced me to submit to them as a giant insult to Derek. I mean, they could've done so much worse to me, but all they did was give me a scar on my hip and... Just... I can hear them, sometimes, taunting me, can hear what they'd been saying while having their fun, and... It's so stupid, because their words shouldn't have had this effect on me!"

 

"You're allowed to be affected by what they did to you, Stiles." The Sheriff all but growled against the top of Stiles's head. He pressed a kiss to the short hair there and closed his eyes tightly as Stiles trembled. "There's nothing stupid about what you're feeling, kid."

 

They were both quiet for several minutes after that, Stiles composing himself and the Sheriff wishing desperately there was some way for him to keep his son safe from the horrors he's faced and will face in the future. It was one of the millions of times he wished Anwen were still with them. Anwen would've been able to help Stiles with all of this so much better than him; her introduction into the world of the supernatural had not been gentle in the slightest. Caleb wouldn't have ever been told about it if it wasn't for the fact that Peter had worn this hunted look just before he'd moved back to Beacon Hills to help his sister; from what Caleb understood, Anwen had been insistent that Peter tell him a week before Peter left San Diego, and had taught Caleb how to defend them against hostile werewolves if their first defense - a token displaying the Hale pack's protection - failed them.

 

"And all of that's just on top of school, and... I just..." Stiles sighed heavily and pulled away from his father to flop back onto the bed. He was blushing fiercely and the words were out of his mouth before Stiles could really stop them, because he'd been thinking about it a lot whenever his mind wasn't occupied with werewolf crap and skinwalkers and homework and his dad's health and the pack's health. "I've been seriously questioning my sexuality, because...I just... I can... People...they're... Ugh!"

 

Stiles flung an arm out in a vague gesture of his frustration. Caleb stared at his son with wide eyes, trying not to let the total embarrassment show on his face. This was something he'd never really thought about, something he never really worried about, because Stiles had always had a huge crush on Lydia, but then, Peter had mentioned Derek...

 

"I just... I don't understand what's going on with my mind, my feelings. Like, I'm so completely over Lydia Martin by this point, just... I'm so done with any romantic feelings I had for her. She's super smart, and amazingly pretty, but, I just... Lydia is just...not for me? And, I know now that most of how I felt was just this fascination and probably obsession with the idea that we would be really good together because we're both smart. And, it took Erica's special brand of blunt to point it out, and that was so unpleasant, but I'm grateful for it because I can actually look at Lydia and Jackson and not feel hurt or jealous, just mildly disgusted because at least their relationship isn't as gooey and rainbow-y as Scott and Allison's Romeo and Juliet."

 

Caleb studied Stiles for a moment, sitting back down on his own bed. "I'm not... Are you trying to tell me you think you're gay? Or bisexual?"

 

Stiles groaned and closed his eyes, covering them with his left arm. "I don't know, and that's the problem. Like, I recognize Erica's attractiveness, and other girls from school attractiveness, but it doesn't really...do anything? I just...always thought it was because I had this massive crush on Lydia, but now I just...don't know, and it just...it bothers me a lot, because this is something in my life that I'd like to have a handle on, something to make me feel at least a little normal."

 

"I'm kind of surprised you haven't done any research on this."

 

"I've...been afraid to, actually. It's irrational, I know, but I'm just...really afraid that there isn't going to be anything out there that can tell me, that can help me figure this out."

 

The Sheriff considered Stiles for another long moment before moving to relax against the headboard again. "You could try talking to Derek? He might be able to help, yeah? Don't give me that look, he's a few years older than you, right? Derek was in New York for a while, and he might actually know some things, or know people who could help you if he can't."

 

"I..." Stiles frowned, blushing fiercely, and moved his arm to shoot his father a look that was a cross between mortified, impressed, and betrayed. "That actually makes sense."

 

"I am capable of doing that some of the time," Caleb deadpanned.

Chapter Text

 


~And You Are Something to See~

Stiles made his way out to the Jeep, mumbling about the different methods there were to kill skinwalkers - there really weren't many - under his breath as he dodged his peers and tried not to think about Scott's wounded look from lunch when he'd ended up sitting between Boyd and Jackson at the other side of the cafeteria, leaving Scott, Allison, and Isaac looking rather awkward until Danny showed up and sat next to Isaac with a warm smile and zero surprise to see Jackson glaring murderously at Scott whenever it looked like the other werewolf was getting ready to come over to their table. Honestly, it felt kinda nice to have someone angry at Scott and his behavior on Stiles's behalf. It made him feel like less of a jealous asshole or whatever.

 

Derek was leaning against the Jeep, his hands shoved into his front pockets, when Stiles reached his vehicle. He didn't notice the werewolf until he reached out to open the Jeep's door, his hand freezing a few centimeters from Derek's hip as his brain finally registered the alpha propped up against the driver's door. Stiles looked up to meet Derek's gaze, and his breath hitched at the warm concern in Derek's eyes.

 

Holy shit, Derek's eyes were ridiculous, and ridiculously beautiful.

 

"H-hey, Derek!" Stiles stuttered, eternally grateful that his face was already flushed from the chilled spring air and the light jogging he'd done to get to his Jeep.

 

Derek gave Stiles a small smile, just one corner of his mouth tilting up, and pushed off the Jeep to stand up straight. "How did the conversation with your father go? I would've come over last night, but your text said that you were really tired, so I figured I'd let you sleep."

 

Stiles blinked and fought back the pleased smile trying to work it's way onto his face. "It went really well, actually. I... I learned some things I didn't know about, and dad knows everything now, so, that's good. I don't have to feel like the worst son in the world anymore, now."

 

"That is indeed a good thing," Derek dipped his head in a small nod of agreement and moved so that Stiles could get into his Jeep. "What exactly did you learn?"

 

"Oh, nothing much, just that my father was apparently good friends with Peter." Stiles huffed and slung his book bag into the back before slouching down in the seat. "I guess Peter told my dad about a lot that happened, about Laura and Scott and hurting Lydia. I don't... My dad was really...defensive of Peter, which bothered me, now that I think about it, but..."

 

Derek frowned and closed the driver side door before walking around the front of the Jeep and getting in, settling himself in the seat as comfortably as he could. "I don't know about your father, but... If I were in his position, looking in from the outside, only hearing what happened after the fact, and trying to reconcile the crimes with the criminal, trying to believe that someone I've known for a very long time did these horrendous things, I don't think I really could. If I hadn't been here to see any of this shit, I never would have believed my uncle capable of any of the things he'd done."

 

Stiles stared at Derek for a moment with wide eyes. "I...uh, yeah. I, that...makes sense, I think. I'll, um... I'll talk to him about it sometime. Maybe."

 

"No, not maybe. You will, because if you don't you're going to let it sit and fester and it's only going to serve to destroy your relationship with your father." Derek frowned fiercely at Stiles. "That's not what you want happening, otherwise you never would've told him about any of this, right?"

 

"I..." Stiles flushed and he turned his attention back to the Jeep, turning the key in the ignition and letting the engine warm up a little. "Yeah... I guess the whole 'ignoring it until it goes away thing' doesn't actually work, huh?"

 

Derek snorted. "No."

 

Stiles pulled out of the parking lot and tried not to feel so nervous, biting his lip to insure that he didn't actually talk without realizing it. He wanted to find a way to ask Derek for advice or something about Stiles's confused sexuality that wasn't word-vomited. 

 

Of course, biting his lip to keep quiet didn't stop his heart from racing with nerves. Derek shot Stiles a concerned look and Stiles fervently cursed werewolf hearing. He drummed his fingers against his steering wheel and hummed along to the radio under his breath, ignoring the concerned looks Derek kept shooting him.

 

"Stiles."

 

Oh crap.

 

"Stiles, what's wrong?"

 

Stiles shook his head, because he knew better than to deny that there was anything wrong. Derek would know it was a lie, and Stiles just...he couldn't lie to Derek. That was something he was never going to be able to do, not after Derek told him about Kate.

 

Derek was scowling at him, fiercely, and his eyes were glittering with concern and annoyance. "Stiles - "

 

"I may have told my dad that I'm questioning my sexuality and he suggested I ask you for help!"

 

Shit fuck damn. Stiles felt himself begin to panic as the silence stretched and Derek just stared at Stiles like he didn't know what the hell Stiles even was. And, well, Stiles couldn't really blame Derek, because, holy shit the way he'd said it hadn't come out right at all.

 

"Um, fuck, no, not...not like that." Stiles squeaked and allowed himself to thump his head against the steering wheel when they stopped at a stop sign. "He just figured, because you were in New York for a while, that you might be able to help me talk it out, or...direct me to someone who could if you couldn't?"

 

Stiles was panicking. Panicking was a thing that was happening to him, right at that very moment, along with mortification. The human wished that he was actually capable of shutting up when his mouth decided his foot tasted particularly scrumptious. Jesus, seriously, Stiles was tempted to cut his tongue out to avoid situations like this.

 

"Oh, Jesus," Stiles groaned. "I'm sorry, this is like... Shit, that's the most judgmental, assuming thought to ever be thought. So incredibly rude, to just automatically think that because you've traveled outside of Beacon Hills, you just went off and joined some LGBT something-or-other. I don't even - "

 

"Relax, Stiles," Derek smirked and reached out to gently cuff Stiles's shoulder. "I don't really understand why you're panicking. You haven't offended me, if that's what you're worried about. It's actually nice to know your father automatically assumed I would or could help you with this."

 

"Well, it would be rude to just assume you're straight," Stiles shot back. "That's something my parents taught me when I was little, for reasons."

 

Derek cocked one of his expressive eyebrows at Stiles. "Your parents did a good job raising you, I think, sometimes, anyway. It's rude to assume anyone's sexual orientation." The alpha slid from the Jeep and waited for Stiles to unlock the front door. "But, Stiles, just relax, okay? I honestly don't know why you're getting so worked up over bad wording. I knew what you meant from the start."

 

Stiles scowled. "You're an asshole. You're an asshole, and you like watching me squirm, you dick!"

 

The werewolf snorted and dropped down into one of the chairs situated at the kitchen table while Stiles rummaged through the pantry. "Actually, I was just surprised that your father told you to talk to me."

 

"I dunno," Stiles shrugged and scowled at the bag of baked potato chips. He'd told his father that no, baked does not equal healthier countless times. It was obviously going to be an endless battle, and Stiles didn't know why he hadn't taken over shopping for food completely. Obviously he couldn't trust his father to stick to a diet of healthy foods.

 

Derek smiled, softly, as he watched Stiles shove the bag of chips to the far back of the shelf and pile other things, like boxes of whole wheat noodles, in front of the obviously outlawed snack. "I don't know how much help I personally can be, except to direct you to one of Laura's friends." He leaned back and linked his fingers behind his head. "I know what I know about me, and that's about it. I don't know the intricacies of the sexual orientation spectrum."

 

Stiles turned to study Derek with a curious gaze. "Okay? I don't know that I understand exactly what you mean; are you, like, telling me that you...what, never questioned your sexuality or something?"

 

"I know what I like," Derek rolled his eyes. "It took me a bit to figure it out, for multiple reasons that involved a lot of unresolved issues."

 

The human turned to the fridge, hiding his pout as he yanked out the carton of milk. "Dude, why does it sound like you're purposely avoiding a committed answer to anything? Are you afraid I'm going to flip my shit or something? 'Cuz, seriously, that's totally rude. You're my friend, I'm not gonna care if you're only interested in, like, selkies or merpeople or some other supernatural creature, or if you're asexual, or if you'll fuck anything with a pulse."

 

Derek snorted. "I know that. I'm not trying to avoid anything; I haven't been in a relationship since, well..." Derek shrugged, uncomfortable, and shifted his gaze so that he was glaring out the window. "I wasn't anywhere near ready to let anyone close enough for sex until a few months before I came back to Beacon Hills, and then I just slept around and experimented and learned that I very much don't care what sex organs are involved, so long as an orgasm is achieved by both parties."

 

Stiles nearly dropped the carton of milk when he tripped over himself. "Oh, well... Anyone else feeling incredibly awkward right now? And not because of the, uh, just...because this conversation maybe brought up topics that are super heavy and all around depressing? Like...I just feel very awkward now, because I maybe should have known bits of that?"

 

The werewolf just huffed out a small laugh and shook his head. "I'll give Ryan your number and tell him you need his all-encompassing knowledge on the crisis that is your confused sexuality."

 

"Yeah," Stiles frowned and poured himself a glass of milk before putting the carton away and pulling out a can of ginger ale for Derek. "I think I'm just really disconcerted because there isn't anyone, not even celebrities, starring in my fantasies?" Stiles flushed as soon as the words were out of his mouth, but, eh. Too late to take them back, so might as well continue. "When I still had that huge crush on Lydia, well... I never bothered fantasizing about anyone else, because I'd convinced myself that she was it. So. I don't know, it's just... I feel like it's really weird not to look at, say, the really attractive person working at the library and not wonder what it'd be like having sex with them."

 

"You do realize there's more than one person that works at the library, right?"

 

Stiles pulled a face. "Yeah, and I was talking about Ash, but it's just as rude to assume someone's gender as it is to assume someone's sexual orientation. Ash is super attractive, and very androgynous, and I'm also terrified to insult zim by asking if ze has a preferred pronoun..."

 

"How old were you when you learned gender neutral pronouns?" Derek smiled and shook his head. "Personally, I was ten, because my oldest sibling told us one day that ze was gender-fluid and it was just easier to use gender neutral pronouns with zir than try to define zim as a he or a she."

 

"Huh," Stiles sat down across from Derek. "Interesting."

 

Derek hummed in agreement before taking a drink of his ginger ale. "It took all of us younger kids a while to learn; Peter sat Laura and me down and explained that while Sky understood that it was an adjustment for us kids, we needed to learn so that we didn't hurt zim by making zim feel as though we were rejecting zim or the way ze saw zirself."

 

"That's really... Sheesh, why couldn't he have come out of his coma and stayed nice?" Stiles sighed and slumped against the table top. "Then life might not've gone to shit and I wouldn't resent his existence, or the fact that he's actually really important to my dad. Like, my dad was telling me this story about Peter and how my mom made them slow dance with each other at their wedding reception. It was the first time he ever talked about my mom, and their wedding, and didn't look like he was ready to sink into a bottle of Jack."

 

"It certainly would've been nice if Peter had come back to himself and been sane." Derek watched Stiles. "But, your dad is really good for him, I think. Peter is looking saner with each day, and he actually looks like he's not totally gutted by the fact that our entire family is dead. Peter was really close to Sky and my little sister Annie. When we were clearing out the house before it was tore down, Peter happened across one of Annie's dolls and I kinda just wanted to...not exist anymore."

 

Stiles fidgeted and played with the hem of his shirt, trying to think of something that he could change the topic to. He felt honored, special, that Derek trusted him enough to talk about his past and his family and his pain; Stiles was happy that Derek was able to talk to him about it at all, but those conversations always left Stiles feeling twitchy and with the strong need to do something to make the hurt in Derek's eyes go away. And Stiles really didn't have an idea as to what could ever do that, which just made Stiles even more twitchy. He wanted to help, wanted to see Derek happy, because he was Stiles's friend, best friend, even, right up there with where Scott sat, still, despite Scott's douche baggage-ness.

 

"To be honest, though, I don't really understand why you're freaking out over your sexuality, Stiles. You're seventeen, you don't have to have it figured out right now." Derek smiled warmly at Stiles, the open affection flooring Stiles, leaving Derek the opportunity to continue talking without the human interrupting him. "The only thing you really need to worry about, need to try to figure out, is where you're going to go to college or if you're gonna try and find a summer job."

 

"I - " Stiles frowned and huffed. "Yeah, I... I get that, but it's just super unsettling to me to not have this figured out. It was something I was confident about for so long, and then I just wasn't anymore, and I tried to ignore it but it was obviously something that'd been eating at me seeing as I blurted it out to my father. It's just...kinda genuinely upsetting to me that I don't really know this about myself. I thought I'd learned everything about myself earlier, and that the most shocking thing I had to discover about myself is how okay I am with running around with a bunch of supernatural creatures that could snap and accidentally kill me without breaking a sweat or something."

 

Derek snorted. "None of the wolves'll ever actually be able to hurt you unless something damages their psyche to the point they become feral. And the only thing that can do that is prolonged exposure to extreme torture, or exposure to a rare strain of wolfsbane."

 

"Huh."

 

"Mm," Derek took another sip from his soda. "But, I think I understand what you mean. I think, if I hadn't had the giant pile of issues that was my life to distract me, I would've probably freaked out a little bit more than what I did."

 

"Ah," Stiles took a large gulp of his milk and thunked his head against the table again. "So, do you have any idea what Jackson needs to talk to me about?"

 

"No," Derek frowned down at his can of soda. "And I don't intend to invade is privacy. If he wants me to know why he needs to talk to you before sorting his shit out with Scott, then he'll tell me. Otherwise, it's just not my business, unless it creates an even bigger problem."

 

Stiles's head shot up. "You don't think it will, do you? I mean...I don't know what he'd have to talk to me about that could create a problem. I honestly cannot figure out why he has to talk to me first; what the hell do I have to do with his issues with Scott? I mean, he's always been a complete douche to Scott, I don't think he's ever liked him."

 

'Made a wrong turn, once or twice. Dug my way out, blood and fire. Bad decisions? That's alright. Welcome to my silly life.'

 

Derek blinked and Stiles flailed backwards, nearly toppling out of his chair, and dug his phone out of his pocket. He accepted the call and sent Derek an amused grin. "Hey Erica, what d'you need?"

 

"There's a new song you need to learn. I sent you the link to the version of it you need, and Boyd found some sheet music for it, so he sent that to your email, too."

 

"Uh..."

 

"Have a nice talk with lizard-boy! Boyd's looking horny, so I'm gonna hang up on you and go blow him under the bleachers before he changes!"

 

"Oh my God! Erica!" Stiles shrieked, but all he heard was the dial tone. Stiles whined and thumped his head against the table. "Ugh, too much information."

 

Derek's shoulders twitched, and he looked a little horrified. Stiles felt grateful that he hadn't been the only one scarred, though he could only imagine how much worse it was for Derek to hear that. Derek treated his betas like they were his little brothers and sister.

 

"Jackson is at the end of the street." Derek declared before standing and finishing off his ginger ale, setting the can on the counter beside the sink. "I'll head out, make my rounds around town. Text me if you need anything."

 

Stiles stared up at Derek from his prostrate position sprawled over the table top. "Okay." He pushed himself up and out of his own chair to follow Derek to the front door. "Hey, you should come back over for dinner. We'll be eating a little late tonight, probably around seven or eight."

 

"Maybe." Derek grinned, just a little, and waved before strolling down the front steps and across the street.

 

Jackson parked his Porsche on the side of the road, watched Derek as he disappeared into the tree line, and turned the car off. He cocked his head to the side and waited for a couple minutes before sliding out of his car and walking up to Stiles's front door.

 

"Hey, Jackson." Stiles smiled and pushed the door open wider to let the other teen in. "How was lacrosse?"

 

"Violent." Jackson replied, looking incredibly tense.

 

Stiles frowned. "Dude, relax, you look like you're waiting for someone to pop out of the hall closet and shoot your pretty little face full of wolfsbane bullets or something."

 

Jackson scowled. "You'll forgive me for feeling uncomfortable," he snapped. "But I'm about to have a discussion with you I never wanted to have, ever. Ever. At all. I would've preferred to never tell anyone, and now I actually have to tell you. It was okay when it was just Danny that knew, but that was because he's been my friend since we were six, and he knows me so well I didn't actually have to tell him, and he never mentioned it after the first time."

 

"Uh..."

 

"Can we go sit somewhere comfortable?"

 

Stiles nodded and led Jackson into the living room, dropping down into his dad's armchair. Jackson sat down on the couch, looking even more uncomfortable and refusing to meet Stiles's eyes. The human waited for a couple minutes, fidgeting, before he sighed and slapped his hand to his forehead.

 

"Dude, you actually have to talk, you know? I don't have the slightest fucking clue what's up; I've been trying to figure out how I have anything to do with your beef with Scott."

 

Jackson shot Stiles a glare. "You're the only reason I even knew Scott existed."

 

"Huh? Wha- Huh?" Stiles gaped at Jackson blankly, totally confused. "Um? What the hell?"

 

"Jesus Christ, why do you have to be so unobservant?" Jackson groaned and rolled his eyes. "You moved to Beacon Hills in the third grade, a week after school started, and you were put in my class."

 

"...Yeah?"

 

"You were annoying and twitchy, and had ridiculous Bambi eyes, you still do actually, but that's not the point." Jackson huffed, his face turning pink, and he turned to glare at one of Stiles's school pictures hanging on the wall. "You were smart, though, and I wanted you to be my friend. But you sat next to Scott and then you two were instant BFFs."

 

"Were you jealous?" Stiles gaped, incredulous. "You were jealous of Scott?"

 

Jackson narrowed his eyes and glared harder at a picture of Stiles from the seventh grade. "I started picking on McCall because I was jealous, yeah. It did the opposite of what I'd wanted, obviously, but then one day, in seventh grade, in art I caught myself staring at you and your goddamned mouth."

 

Stiles's eyes went wide, his jaw dropped, and he blushed furiously. (Seriously, what was it with people and his mouth?) There was no way in hell he was actually hearing Jackson right. Seriously. No way in hell, because this was sounding an awful lot like Jackson was attracted to him.

 

"I freaked out, and started acting like an asshole to you too. Totally didn't stop the huge fucking crush I had on you, and it just made me angrier with McCall, like it was his fault. It was like, if you were my friend you'd see how awesome I was and maybe you'd like me back or something. It was stupid, and my crush on you made me hate Lydia, and made me wish I'd won that spelling bee back in the third grade."

 

"Uh... But you're in love with Lydia, now. You don't like me at all, now." Stiles blinked repeatedly, trying to make sense of everything.

 

Jackson smirked sheepishly and turned his gaze back to Stiles. "Yeah, I no longer have a crush on you. But, I only asked her out freshman year to get your attention."

 

Stiles snorted, despite himself. "Dude, seriously, probably the worst possible way to get me to notice you as anything but Scott's bully."

 

"Yeah," Jackson grinned and shrugged. "I'm well aware of that, now. Danny pointed it out once he realized my motives behind it, but I was too stubborn to actually listen to him. And, now, I'm really glad I didn't."

 

"That's...huh." Stiles scratched the back of his head. "I'mma be honest here, I was not expecting that. Like, at all. Of all the possibilities that I'd gone through in my head, you having a massive crush on me had not occurred at all. I really don't know what to say."

 

Jackson shrugged again. "Don't say anything; just know that I've always liked you, and now it's just as a friend, but when McCall started acting like a dick to you I just wanted to punch him in his stupid, crooked jaw."

 

"Jesus," Stiles sighed and sprawled back against the chair. "So. Fucking. Weird."

 

"It's been a lot worse, lately, too, because I've actually gotten to know you. So, you know, I like you even more than I ever did when I was a jealous ass bullying your best friend on the playground. You're a snarky bastard who cares way too much about the people you're closest to. It's nice."

 

Stiles blushed and flapped a hand at Jackson. "Dude, cut it out. I'm nothing special, really. Just a sarcastic human running around with a pack of idiots. Granted, you're all my idiot friends, but still. Idiots. Always getting your furry asses into trouble, needing me to come save you at the last damn second with spastic flailing and too much luck."

 

"You mean a lot to everyone in the pack, asshole," Jackson rolled his eyes. "You're funny, and actually give a shit about all of us. I know some of us have a lot of people who care, but then there're people like Derek and Isaac who've only got the pack."

 

"Yeah..." Stiles smiled, a little bit sadly, and crossed his ankles. "So, how're you gonna fix your problems with Scott, then?"

 

Jackson relaxed, his shoulders losing the last bit of tension. "I'm not too sure yet. The original idea was to just beat the shit out of him until I felt better, but I don't know how well that's actually going to work."

 

Stiles shrugged. "No clue." He glanced at the TV, and then at the shelf stuffed with movies. "Wanna watch something? There's a bunch of movies, and we have a couple seasons of a few different shows."

 

"Hm," Jackson perked up and glanced at the entertainment system. "Do you have season five of Supernatural? I'm just really in the mood to see the episode with Famine, and Castiel's obsession with hamburgers."

 

"Oh my God," Stiles cried and jumped up and tackled Jackson into the couch before the werewolf knew what was happening. "I think I had a huge, seven-year crush on the wrong person!"

Chapter Text


~Analepsis: But Here Comes Goodbye~

The first thing Peter registered, stepping off of the elevator, was the scent of death. It made him uncomfortable, and his wolf whined softly because he knew, he knew that this particular death-scent belonged to Anwen. A pack-mate was dying, and it made him stop short, gasping as he tried to reel in the panic and heartache.

 


Jesus.

 

After he managed to compose himself, Peter straightened and debated a short moment before shrugging and bypassing the nurse's station to walk straight to Anwen's room. He hadn't been able to visit her, had been so busy with trying to stop a territory war before it started, that he hadn't been around. If Melinda hadn't called Peter, told him to leave the negotiations to their cousin, told him to come home... Peter never would have known that Anwen was sick.

 

Melinda's voice hadn't betrayed a damn thing, either. His sister had never told him how bad it was, just that Anwen was in the hospital and Peter needed to come home now because Anwen didn't have much longer. Peter wasn't sure how to feel, that he'd been kept out of the loop, that neither Anwen nor Caleb had called him. But he wasn't going to blame them, because Anwen would wait until she was on her death bed before worrying him, and Caleb was so devoted and in love with his wife it was highly likely Caleb was too destroyed to think to call Peter.

 

Still, knowing that Anwen was dying hadn't prepared Peter in the least when he knocked lightly on the door and entered Anwen's hospital room. He froze in the door way, stared with his mouth hanging open slightly, his heart fucking breaking. Anwen, her ridiculous golden-brown eyes dulled from pain and sadness, glanced up at Peter and smiled tiredly.

 

She looked like a corpse.

 

"Hey, creeper-wolf," Anwen croaked.

 

Peter practically collapsed into the room, shutting the door behind him before stumbling over to sit in the chair situated between her bed and the wall. Her bed was situated so that Anwen could look out the window and see the January scenery of Beacon Hills. The dying sun did nothing to make her look the slightest bit alive like it used to when they were in San Diego, sharing an apartment and arguing about the virtues of precognition while the setting sun reflected off of Anwen's long black hair. The werewolf's gaze flitted away from her bald head and sunken face, down her long throat to catch on the glint of a chain.

 

A feather pendant rested against her sternum, shiny and new and smelling of desperation and love and sorrow.

 

Anwen lifted a hand, touched her fingers to the pendant, and smiled softly. "'S a gift from Stiles; conned Caleb into going the jeweler over Christmas, had my name etched onto the back, along with what is apparently the Welsh meaning of my name."

 

"Very beautiful," Peter said, trying not to cry because Jesus Christ. "Your name means 'very beautiful', yeah? Where did Stiles learn that?"

 

"Stiles, my beautiful little boy, is scary good at finding things on the internet. He's my little research ninja." Anwen smiled fondly, her fingers still toying with the feather. 

 

Peter settled further into the chair, tried not to flinch as Caleb's scent wafted up from the material, tainted with grief. Peter could only imagine how much Caleb was hurting; didn't want to think about it, because it left a separate  burning ache in his own chest - twin sorrows battling each other to tear Peter apart, because Peter was losing his best friend while at the same time he watched the man he loved lose his wife. Peter ached for Caleb, and for Anwen, and for the little ten-year-old boy called Stiles, and he ached for himself too.

 

"Melinda didn't tell you how bad off I was, did she?" Anwen asked wryly, her humor there despite the weakness in her voice.

 

"No," Peter flinched. "I had no idea. She just...called me back from Oregon and told me you were in the hospital, that it was bad and I needed to come say goodbye."

 

Anwen's eyes softened, and Peter knew to his marrow that Anwen was sad for everyone she was leaving behind. Anwen had never been afraid of death, even when she was eighteen and cornered in some seedy San Diego alley by a feral Omega. She'd just thanked Peter for saving her life, smiled crookedly, and shrugged her shoulders at the dead werewolf lying at their feet. She'd accepted that death's inevitable long before she should have, but it, perhaps, made her all the kinder, all the wiser.

 

"Don't you dare start blaming yourself, Peter."

 

Peter huffed. "I'm going to anyway, Anwen. I'm always going to think back to the Summer of 2005 and wonder if, had I taken you up on the offer of one quick lunch before my flight for Oregon, would I have been able to smell it before..." Peter trailed off and glared at the blankets swathed around Anwen's legs.

 

"Peter, please don't blame yourself." Anwen sighed softly, reaching out for Peter. The werewolf gripped her small, frail hand in his and tried not to cry. "I've known for a while that I was never meant to be alive for very long. I'm thirty-four, and it's completely unfair, but I knew, Peter. I don't know, it was never anything we talked about, what you werewolves think of death, about afterlives and gods and a bigger picture. I knew, when I was six, Peter, I was six and I had a dream about a loving husband and beautiful son, and that I would leave them when the time was right because my purpose was fulfilled, and that they were going to have to experience this pain and loss, that my death was also a purpose.

 

"I built the foundation for what's to come," Anwen looked so sad, like she knew what was to come was even worse.

 

The calm before the storm. Her dying was the calm before the storm.

 

"Why didn't you ask Melinda for the Bite?" Peter asked, deliberately ignoring Anwen's words because he just couldn't. It hurt too much, hearing Anwen talk like that, that she thought that way. It broke something inside Peter to think about. 

 

Anwen huffed and rolled her eyes. "Because I'm not meant to take the Bite. It would have killed me."

 

Peter gaped at her, the tears he'd been fighting since Melinda called him welling and escaping his eyes. "Don't... Anwen, you can't just..."

 

"Hush, Peter, please," Anwen closed her eyes and squeezed the werewolf's hand weakly. "You know I'm not lying to you; and you know your grandmother recognized something within me, something other, that has been passed down to Stiles. I dunno what it is, if it's just these dreams and strange feelings and urges, or if it'll be more for him. But he has them, I have them, and you know better than to doubt them, to doubt this. Whatever it is, it's been telling me for years, and I'm okay with dying, Peter. I would love nothing more than to spare you all from the pain, but I know that I'm not supposed to live."

 

"Anwen - "

 

"Peter, no," she tipped her head back. "I... If I could, Peter, I'd live. I want to watch Stiles grow up, and fall in love, and I want to meet Derek and Laura and Sky and Annie. I want to see you happy, fulfilled, with a mate."

 

Peter flinched and flushed. He'd never felt bothered to look for any kind of relationship. In love for fourteen or so years, celibate for nearly ten. Peter had never seen a point in looking; he was content with his neices and nephews, and content with the friendship. He glanced up and froze beneath Anwen's knowing amber eyes.

 

She smiled warmly and squeezed Peter's hand again. "It's alright, Peter. You've loved him almost as long as me, I know."

 

"I..."

 

Anwen quirked her lips in a tired smile. "Oh, shush, I knew before you figured it out. It didn't bother me, it never has bothered me. And the knowledge that he returns your feelings, or is on his way their, at least, doesn't bother me either. After all, when I first dreamed of Caleb, your wolf was right there with him, watching over that stupidly adorable German Shepard puppy running around with that police badge stuck to his collar."

 

"...What?"

 

"Honestly," Anwen snorted and smirked. "If circumstances had been different, I wager the three of us would have had great threesomes."

 

Peter gaped at Anwen, a furious blush crawling its way up his neck and cheeks. "Anwen!"

 

"What? It's the truth. But we weren't dealt that hand, so I don't bother dwelling on it unless I'm feeling particularly bored." Anwen grinned wickedly, and the expression was as familiar as it was devastating in her deathbed. "It was one of my favorite fantasies in the beginning, never mind that I didn't actually want in your werewolf pants."

 

"Jesus," Peter coughed and swiped his free hand across his mouth, embarrassed.

 

Anwen's smile faded, and her eyes were serious as she meet Peter's gaze. "Peter, I need you... I have two promises I must ask you to make. I... Please, it's going to take Caleb a while, he's going to be hurting for a long time, but please, he truly does have feelings for you, too, Peter, and I want you to believe him when he comes to you. Just. Be there fore him until then?"

 

Peter choked back the sob that threatened to escape and nodded. "Of course, Anwen; I... If you know me so well, know how much I care for him, then you know I'll be there for him always."

 

"I know," Anwen smiled and squeezed Peter's hand again. "'S one of the reasons I love you, my creeper-wolf. You're the best brother I never had."

 

The werewolf whimpered and bowed his head until it was pressed against her arm. "You're the best little sister ever, Anwen. I never thought you'd be so important to me when I saved your ass that night so many years ago."

 

"Funny how the world works, huh?" Anwen smiled sadly. 

 

Peter nodded and sniffled into the soft, worn wool of the sweater Anwen was wearing. He pressed a kiss against the fragile, brittle skin of her wrist. "You said...there were two promises?"

 

Anwen sniffled and sagged back against her bed even more. "Yes. I. Growing up, I never really believed my father. He spun the story like any of the other lore of our people, so I just figured it was superstition. Because, honestly, who the hell makes a pact with a violent creature promising said violent creature the first born child of the next female heir?"

 

"What are you - ?" Peter lifted his head to stare up at Anwen in confusion.

 

"There's going to come a time, Peter, when Stiles will be in serious danger. I don't know how old he'll be; hell, he could be an old man by the time it happens, but he's going to be in danger. I don't..." Anwen sighed and tears filled her eyes. Peter's insides turned cold, because he'd only ever seen her cry in joy; she'd never cried when she was scared, or sad, or any other emotion but joy. And Anwen was clearly terrified, and so very sad.

 

"Anwen?"

 

"Someone's going to come, and they're going to be looking for Stiles. They're going to look for him, look for him by his given name. It's a supernatural creature, Peter, and it's gonna ask for Wayaadisi." The tears broke free. Peter brushed them away gently, concerned and frightened. "Please, Peter, you have to protect my baby boy."

 

Peter leaned up and pressed a kiss to Anwen's temple. "I'll protect Stiles, Anwen, I swear it. I will do everything I can to protect Stiles. I swear to you. Just...can you tell me what it is that's coming after him?"

 

Anwen shivered and clutched Peter's hand against her heart, her other hand pressing against her eyes. "It's mostly Navajo legend; I dunno if there's any Cherokee legend about it, I never thought to look."

 

"That's maddeningly unhelpful."

 

She snorted, despite herself, and sighed again. "My father called it a skinwalker."

 

Chapter Text

~Suddenly My Eyes Are Open~

 

Derek crouched down next to Isaac, listening as the beta listed off all the things he needed to correct before his next go at tracking Boyd and Erica. Scott was sitting on the porch steps, staring out at the trees sullenly while he waited for Jackson and Lydia to show up. Derek glanced up at Scott, biting back the sigh; Isaac followed his gaze, frowning a bit.

 

"He doesn't like any of this, with Jackson. Jackson's always been mean to Scott, ever since, like, the third or fourth grade." 

 

"They're meant to work their issues out, the both of them, not just Jackson." Derek replied, standing up, and sent a pointed look to Scott. "I didn't Alpha-order them into this with the intent of making Scott look like the bad guy. I knew there was bad blood between them; I never knew why, still don't on Jackson's side, but I want them to work it out because they're pack and they need to be able to trust each other as well as everyone else."

 

Scott's glare wavered as Jackson and Lydia pulled up to the new house. Lydia was smiling with a ferocious, victorious glint in her green eyes. Derek decided that he didn't want to know, because Lydia and Jackson's relationship was something he didn't want to think about beyond acknowledging that her love had saved Jackson and the werewolf was so whipped when it came to her.

 

"Lydia," Jackson whined, looking mortified and defeated as he watched Lydia sashay up to Scott. "Seriously, please don't."

 

Lydia turned her head to pin Jackson with a look. "If he knows, then he can't actually bitch about this, or that you had to talk to Stiles first."

 

Derek pinched the bridge of his nose while the rest of his pack stared at Lydia curiously. Jackson scowled and crossed his arms over his chest, looking petulant and like a child. Derek questioned his life choices almost all the time, but never so much as when he had physical proof of why he should. Seriously. Children.

 

"Why did you have to talk to Stiles first, Jackson?" Scott stood and pinned the other teen with an angry gaze. "What does Stiles have to do with any of your issues with me and my existence?"

 

"Because he didn't even know you existed until the third grade," Lydia ticked off on her fingers. "Because he noticed the new kid with the funny name; because you were the one sitting next to the empty seat; because Stiles noticed you and you noticed Stiles and became the most sickeningly fluffy platonic boyfriends ever; because Jackson pined for Stiles since age seven."

 

"What?"

 

"Lydia!"

 

"Oh my God."

 

"This is hilarious."

 

"Never thought I'd see someone actually break Scott."

 

"Oh my God, it was his mouth, wasn't it?"

 

"Seriously, Erica? You're still obsessed with his mouth?"

 

"I can't say that I blame her. His mouth is obscene."

 

"Seriously, Isaac, seriously?"

 

"Aw, Isaac, I bet you imagined his lips around your di-"

 

"Okay! Can you all shut up!" Derek grimaced and covered his eyes with his hand. Jackson looked like he wanted the ground to swallow him, Erica was smirking, Boyd looked a cross between amused and disbelieving, Isaac was blushing and glaring at Erica, and Scott looked. Well. Derek was pretty sure Lydia actually did break Scott.

 

"You're telling me you've had a crush on Stiles for as long as he had a crush on your girlfriend?" Scott asked after a moment of silence. "Because, honestly, I find that hard to believe."

 

Derek clamped down on the scathing retort he had, because Derek was pretty sure Scott hadn't actually meant that the way it sounded. Of course, Derek's self-control didn't really matter. Jackson's eyes flashed blue and he snarled. Derek was pretty sure the beta was offended that Scott inadvertently called Lydia a liar.

 

"You telling me Stiles isn't good enough for someone to have a huge, unrequited crush on him for ten years?" Jackson hissed.

 

...Or he was pissed off and offended for Stiles.

 

Scott's eyes went wide. "What? No! I meant... You were mean to us, to him! It's just hard to believe that you liked him!"

 

"Pigtail-pulling, Scott," Isaac offered helpfully.

 

"Okay..." Scott frowned. "That doesn't exactly explain what any of this has to do with me."

 

"He was jealous of you." Lydia snapped derisively, staring at Scott like she didn't quite understand how he'd survived life this far.

 

Jackson's shoulders twitched and he gave a short, soft growl. "I was jealous of you over Stiles, then I was jealous of you because you were suddenly a shiny new lacrosse star. Then I was just ticked off at you because you were so obviously hurting Stiles with your shiny new girlfriend. Then I was pissed at you because your decision to ignore your phone when you weren't supposed to nearly got your best friend killed!"

 

Scott flinched and his jaw tightened, his eyes flashing yellow. "I never intentionally hurt Stiles," he murmured. "Stiles has been my best friend for so long; he's always been there for me, even after Peter bit me and our world went to shit." He hunched his shoulders and glared down at the grass.

 

Derek straightened and motioned for the other betas to get lost. This wasn't something they needed to be a part of, because it didn't concern them, it wasn't their problem. Erica glared petulantly as Boyd steered her to his truck and Isaac frowned at Scott before following Boyd and Erica. The clearing was quiet, and Derek listened until Boyd's truck left his hearing range.

 

Jackson was glaring at Scott's bowed head, and Lydia was leaning against the hood of Jackson's Porsche  looking contemplatively between the two werewolves. Derek sighed and moved over to them, running through and discarding several different ideas. He was still pissed with Scott about the Alpha Pack incident; no one had actually told Derek anything more than the basics: Stiles had been alone and caught out by a few of the Alphas, Jackson had found him bloody and delirious in the woods and he took him to Deaton. 

 

"I didn't think Stiles would actually go out on his own." Scott said after a long stretch of silence. He sounded truly guilty and upset, and Derek remembered how Scott and Stiles were in the very beginning, how close they'd been and how much they cared for each other. It wasn't hard at all for Derek to believe that Scott regretted what had happened.

 

"He can be stupid like that, you know. He's Stiles. He has no sense of self-preservation. No survival instinct what-so-ever." Lydia said matter-of-factly. "If he did, he would've stayed far away from all this supernatural crap from the start; he wouldn't antagonize creatures capable of killing him with minimal effort."

 

Scott lifted his head and pinned Lydia with an intense look. "True. And he would've stopped trying to get your attention a long time ago. Because, let's face it, it killed him that you wouldn't give him the time of day while his world practically revolved around you." 

 

Derek felt jealousy burn sharp and hot in his gut. The emotion stopped him short, and he stomped down on it before Jackson or Scott could sense it, because. What. What even. Derek wanted to know when he even had time to develop feelings for Stiles. When had he gone from acknowledging Stiles attractiveness and ridiculous loyalty and sarcastic wit and uncanny research abilities and astounding intelligence (okay, he's starting to get the picture here) to...actually wanting to be with Stiles.

 

When the hell had that happened, and why hadn't he noticed it before?

 

"Do we need to fight, or have you gotten everything off your chest? 'Cuz dude, as much as you bullied me when we were younger, I forgive you for that." Scott shrugged. "You were a real ass to me before werewolves became a reality in our lives, but that's in the past and while it's not exactly okay, I don't particularly care about it. And I don't want or need anything from you but the knowledge that I can trust you to have my back."

 

Jackson narrowed his eyes and studied Scott for a long moment. "I'll have your back; you're pack, and I suppose some day we might actually get along and be friends. But, until then, just fix things with Stiles. He wants you in your life, God only knows why, even after all the idiot shit you've pulled."

 

Derek backed away from the two betas, turned on his heel, and walked over to the treeline. He was beginning to panic because he wasn't panicking. He'd always thought, whenever he'd actually bothered to consider future romantic relationships, that he'd panic about falling in love again, about giving himself over to someone else. After all, look what had happened the first time he'd done it.

 

"I'll have your back, too. As painful as it is to admit it, you're pack. You're still an asshole, but whatever." Scott snarled and stomped off into the woods, headed out towards the main road. Jackson scoffed and turned to face Lydia, who was watching Derek as the alpha paced, agitated, by the trees.

 

"I'm pretty certain Scott's head is still stuffed up his ass." Jackson grumbled and sat down next to Lydia's legs. "What the hell is it going to take to get through to him."

 

"Someone he respects sitting him down and talking to him." Lydia replied.

 

The alpha took a deep, calming breath. There wasn't a reason to panic over the lack of panic. That was just ridiculous. Besides, he had feelings for Stiles, but that didn't exactly mean he'd gone and fallen in love with him yet. Yet. No. Derek was just in the process of falling in love with him.

 

Holy shit.

 

And he was okay with it.

 

Derek's phone vibrated angrily in his pocket, startling the alpha out of his thoughts. He grumbled wordlessly as the second verse from My Chem's 'Na Na Na' screeched at him as Derek pulled the phone from his pocket. Of course Stiles would call him while he's in the middle of processing the fact that he has feelings for Stiles.

 

"Stiles."

 

"Sorry, but Stiles is tied up at the moment. I'm rather disappointed, actually, that Bambi-eyes associates with werewolves. Makes me kind of sick to the stomach to think I wanted to fuck him."

Chapter Text

~It Comes Awake and I Can't Control It~

 

"So, you're freaking out because you're not sexually attracted to anyone?"

 

Stiles crossed out another project idea glumly. "Shut up, Danny. We can't all be a like you and perfectly okay with their sexuality." He sighed and dropped his head down on the desk. "Sorry. I'm just. Derek gave me this guy's number to talk to, right? And I did, and this guy was ridiculously cool and understanding. He didn't even yell at me for the random tangents and panicked mumbling."

 

"Stiles, relax," Danny smiled and patted the top of Stiles's head. "So you're not straight. Or gay. Big deal."

 

"No, I'm just..."

 

Danny sighed and squeezed Stiles's shoulder comfortingly. "Stiles, there isn't anything wrong with being, ah, demisexual? That's what..." Danny made a vague gesture with his hand. "Stiles, I don't get why you're freaking out about being demisexual, okay. I don't see what the deal is."

 

"I..." Stiles frowned and pressed his forehead against the desk harder. "There isn't anything wrong with it, no. It's just. I'm panicking because it's going to be even harder for me to actually form a romantic relationship with someone. And...I'm just...afraid, because what happens if I fall in love with...someone, and...and they only see me as a friend because I've never shown interest in them sexually?"

 

"We're teenagers, Stilinski, what're you worried about romantic relationships for?" Danny grinned, trying to cheer Stiles up. A distressed Stiles usually ended with a distressed pack and Isaac moping because Derek was extra surly.

 

Stiles flapped a hand at Danny. "Meh, excuse me for the desire to have a future-fantasy that involves another person and not fifty cats."

 

Danny snorted and thumped Stiles's shoulder amiably. "Relax, Stiles. You'll cross that bridge when you come to it, and all that. Now. What are we going to focus on for this project exactly? I refuse to write about the history of circumcisions, or anything else that involves the cutting of dicks."

 

"Dude," Stiles flailed. "Rude! That was really fascinating, okay? Don't judge me!"

 

"Stiles."

 

Stiles smiled and held out a text book he'd checked out from the library. "I was thinking, seeing as this is a history class, we could do a project on the history of homosexuality in ancient Greece."

 

Danny blinked and pulled the book to him so he could better read the table of contents. "Why?"

 

"Because, Danny my man, it's both very interesting and it'll make Mr. Sherman apoplectic the creepy, closet-homophobic bastard. And he can't fail us because he knows how that'll look, not to mention I'll scream and scream until the school board has no choice but to fire him."

 

"I'll agree that Mr. Sherman is a bastard, but why exactly do you think he's homophobic? And what exactly did he do to you that put him on your shit list?" Danny flipped to a random page and nearly dropped the book when he looked down to see a picture of a painting on one of those Greek vases depicting various stages of sex.

 

"Dude, he lives on my block and has called Scott and me fags too many times to count. Not. Cool." Stiles huffed and shuffled through his pile of papers. "Dude, can I ask you a question?"

 

Danny grimaced. "Does my answer really matter?"

 

"Do you top or bottom?"

 

"Stiles, what the hell?"

 

"Hey!" Stiles blushed and flailed. "It's a valid question, dammit! I'm trying to figure it out, because Isaac is a werewolf, but I kinda always imagined you topping. But I don't know. Isaac can get pretty dominating sometimes. So, you know, I was just curious."

 

"Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?" Danny glowered at Stiles for a moment before rolling his eyes and directing his attention back to the book in his hands. "Besides, we haven't... I want to take this slow, and this is Isaac's first relationship, so. We're waiting."

 

Stiles hummed. "Good call, dude." He propped his head in his hand. "How did you two start going out, anyway? I wasn't even aware that you two were into each other. I honestly always thought Isaac had a huge, unrequited crush on Scott."

 

Danny choked and dropped the text book he'd been holding, turning wide eyes onto Stiles. "He did."

 

"...Oh."

 

"Yeah," Danny smoothed a hand down his face, sighed softly, and bent to pick up the book. "It was...that's how it happened, kinda. I've had this huge crush on Isaac almost as long as you had that crush on Lydia, or Jackson had that crush on you - "

 

"That will never not be weird!"

 

" - and I was honestly just trying to console him, because Scott had just... Allison had finally decided she could date Scott, again, and Isaac was upset. I just told him that he'd get to be happy like that someday." Danny scrubbed a hand through his hair. "That was last fall. I didn't go out after that, and we just hung out all the time, got close."

 

Stiles smiled a little. "Slow and steady, man."

 

Danny hummed and tapped a finger against a poster, a picture of burning heart in the bottom left-hand corner, the flames licking up to meet the quote emblazoned in a fancy font: Love is friendship set on fire. Stiles studied the poster a moment, chewing on his lip absently, and gave a little smile. Danny grinned and pulled his phone from his pocket when it vibrated angrily.

 

"I think," Stiles murmured, "that my life will be lived by this quote."

 

"Stiles, you're going to fall in love with someone, not even realize, probably, and then one night the two of you'll just be sitting on the couch playing video games or something, and they're going to say or do something and you're going to freak out because you suddenly realize how badly you want to kiss 'em or something sexual that I don't wanna think about you doing." Danny smiled at Stiles. "You always used to ask me if I found you attractive, Stiles. I do, you are attractive, but I couldn't just tell you that. Jackson's my best friend, and he would've been betrayed if I'd ever expressed interest in you."

 

Stiles snorted and waved a hand at Danny. "Dude, stop talking so casually about that. I'm still trying to, you know, wrap my head around the idea, because, honestly, why would Jackson have a crush on me? I always thought, if Jackson had any homosexual inclinations, he'd go for you. He flirted with you all the damn time, after all."

 

"Oh," Danny rolled his eyes. "Please. Jackson only flirted with me to get your attention. Seriously, the first time he did I had a fit because I was trying to get Isaac to pay attention to me. It was horrendous, and I might have vomited in my mouth a little."

 

"Uh..."

 

Danny smirked and winked. "You spend thousands of nights together, watch him pick his nose when he was eight or talk about other vaguely disgusting things little kids talk about and tell me you'd wanna hit that. I don't see you trying to get into Scott's pants. I don't think getting with Scott was ever a thought you had."

 

Stiles shot Danny a truly horrified look. "No! Ew, he's my brother."

 

"Exactly." Danny nodded and focused on his phone, talking as he tapped out a response to whatever text he'd received  "Jackson is my brother. I grew up thinking of him as my brother, there was no way in hell I could ever not think of him as my brother. Besides, he was so obsessed with you it was just...ugh. I'm just glad he was really subtle about it, even if he pined as badly as you pined for Lydia."

 

"Oh, man," Stiles frowned. "Now I feel kinda bad. No one deserves to pine like that."

 

The other teen snorted. "Sometimes it's worth it, though." Danny smiled, fluffy kitten-cute, and stuffed his cell back into his pocket. "So, Isaac wants to come over and watch some Tales From the Darkside. It was something he used to watch with his brother."

 

"Ah," Stiles smiled sadly and started packing up. "Got it. I'll leave you two alone, maybe go bother Derek, or see about learning the new song Erica demanded I look up."

 

"Yeah," Danny smiled knowingly at Stiles. "You and Derek are pretty close, aren't you?"

 

Stiles shoved the books into his bag and zipped it shut before slinging the strap over his head, settling it on his shoulder. "Yeah? We kinda, um, bonded? Over dead family members? I, uh... He showed up on the anniversary of my mom's death, back in January, and spent the weekend with me when he learned what was up. So. I mean, he's. Great. Derek's great."

 

"So you say." Danny smiled and walked Stiles to the front door. "I'm pretty sure you're his favorite, just so you know. He lets you get away with so much shit, it's ridiculous."

 

"Nah, I'm pretty sure Boyd is Derek's favorite." Stiles chuckled and rolled his eyes at Danny. "He's blatantly told me that Boyd is his favorite."

 

Isaac popped up on the doorstep, startling Stiles, and wrapped his arms around Danny like a giant  curly-haired, adorable fucking octopus. "Nope, you are Derek's favorite. Boyd is his second favorite, so long as he's not helping Erica torment Derek."

 

Stiles flailed a little and flapped his hand at Isaac, the other one clutching his chest. "Damn it, I'm going to buy all you wolves bells. Jesus, why do you all find it hilarious to scare the shit out of me?"

 

Danny snorted and pressed a kiss to Isaac's cheek. Ugh. Next to Allison and Scott, they were the most disgustingly fluffy couple ever. Stiles was convinced that, if he ever had to go on group dates with them like Jackson and Lydia did, he'd come back with cavities. Seriously. So. Much. Sugary. Sweetness.

 

"I'd like to see you put a bell on Derek. That'd be funny."

 

"No, Derek'd let him. I'd like to see him put a bell on Erica."

 

"Nope. No. Not happening. Ever." Stiles shuddered and waved before loping over to his Jeep parked on the street. 

 

He replied to Lydia's demand about some shopping excursion Stiles was slightly terrified of as he started the Jeep, caving and agreeing to let her drag him to the mall over the weekend. Apparently, because he had once harbored a huge crush on her and now saw her only in a platonic light, he was the perfect person to ask for advice about dresses. Because prom. Stiles didn't really want to think about prom. He couldn't even go with a friend as just friends because they were all paired off like they were boarding Noah's ark, and Derek would probably just shove Stiles into a wall if he asked.

 

Stiles then, as he pointed the Jeep towards Hale property, briefly imagined himself in a dress. He blushed as soon as he realized what he was imagining and promptly shut down that train of thought before it could go even further. Not that he had anything against drag or people wearing drag, but Stiles wasn't exactly ready to consider anything else about himself. Trying to work out his sexuality was enough for the time being.

 

He didn't see the car until the only thing he could do was swerve, slamming on his breaks so he wouldn't slam into the trees. The Jeep groaned and lurched to a stop a few inches away from wrapping around the thick trunk of an oak. His head cracked against the steering wheel, hard, and Stiles groggily decided that he rather missed Derek slamming his head against the steering wheel, because Jesus fucking Christ, at least Derek knew how to be gentle.

 

What the fuck?

 

Derek slamming his head against the steering wheel the year before was gentle? Shit. Stiles was pretty sure he probably, maybe, definitely had a concussion. Shit. He groaned, lifted his head just enough to see a dark outline before time swam.

 

When Stiles came to, coherent  he was tied to a fucking metal folding chair in a dank room with a single bare light bulb dangling over his head. Stiles rolled his eyes, because fucking cliche, and categorized his various aches. His head throbbed in time with his pulse, he thought his nose might be busted, and the seat-belt left a painful bruise across his chest. Damn. It. 

 

Stiles idly wondered if it was bad that he knew he'd been abducted by hunters. He was convinced it probably was, and he vowed to tell Chris Argent that hunters needed to change their game because they were too predictable, seriously. Oh. He also vowed to not get kidnapped a-fucking-gain

 

"Ah! Glad to see you're awake, my darling Bambi-eyes!"

 

Yeah. No. Stiles stiffened, forced himself to not flinch, and leveled a glare that could probably give Derek's death-glare a run for its money. He was not. Amused.

 

"I see Mr. Creepy is a hunter." Stiles replied, false-cheerful, and met the hunter's gaze. Bastard was just as creepy as before, and Stiles stopped the shudder before it could work its way down his spine. Because, seriously, of course wannabe-pedo-bathroom-groper was a fucking hunter. Of. Fucking. Course.

 

"Yes, indeed, I am." Mr. Creepy smiled and sauntered up to Stiles, stopping a few inches from him. "I was so very disappointed to discover that you, sweet little Bambi-eyes, ran with wolves. Appalling, really. They're vile, rabid little wastes of lives."

 

"Oh my God, seriously?" Stiles groaned - he never did learn to shut the fuck up when he should, because Stiles was Stiles and would always snark. "Do you know how many times I've heard that speech? Seriously? Here's what you're going to do. You're gonna go home, write some shit, make it suspenseful, and then you can come back."

 

Mr. Creepy glowered at him for a moment before turning his head to bark orders at the asshole by the door who'd snorted at Stiles. Stiles felt just a little smug, because he didn't actually know many people who'd actually catch the 8 Mile references. His mother had loved that movie, and she used to sit with Stiles - on days he was home sick or school was canceled - and watch all sorts of movies about different music artists. Music had been her passion, right behind learning native lore and trying to teach him Cherokee.

 

"Think you're funny, don't you, my Bambi-eyes?" Mr. Creepy leaned down and caressed Stiles's cheek. "How precious."

 

"I'd ask you if you followed the Code, but given my track record with hunters and the Code, I'm just going to go ahead and say that you don't." Stiles narrowed his eyes. "Jesus, why can't you guys - and I cannot believe these words are coming out of my mouth - be like Chris fucking Argent with his creepy as fuck smile. Oh my God, I'm getting seriously tired of this. It's always the same crap with you guys. How the fuck are you more insane than Chris Argent? I mean, his family takes the goddamned cake for insanity, but how is Chris Argent the sane one?"

 

Mr. Creepy scowled. "You know Argent?"

 

"Uh, yeah?" Stiles huffed and wriggled in the seat. "Dude's daughter is practically married to my best friend, and he likes to threaten bodily harm to my pack on a semi-regular basis, mostly for appearance's sake, I'm guessing, but I distinctly remember his fondness for shoving me into walls like the pissy little bitch all hunters seem to be."

 

"Mind your tongue, boy," Mr. Creepy snarled, and then back-handed Stiles.

 

Stiles clenched his eyes and took slow, deep breaths through the throbbing in his head. He seriously needed to contemplate the idea of learning when to shut the fuck up. "Yeah, yeah," Stiles muttered. (He apparently wasn't starting that now.) "What exactly do you want with me, anyway? You do realize my pack is going to realize I'm missing, and that is going to royally piss them all off?"

 

"That's the plan."

 

"Ugh," Stiles sighed and slumped further into the chair. "Seriously, you guys need to get new material."

 

Mr. Creepy held up Stiles's phone. "Maybe. Which number is your alpha's?"

 

"You really think I'm going to tell you that?"

 

"See that kid back there," Mr. Creepy hooked a thumb over his shoulder. "He's very, very tech savvy. Can bounce cell phone signals to different towers, make it difficult to track down the exact location. I'm well aware of who you are, Stilinski. Maybe I should, ah, dial 911 and leave the phone on while I torture you, make sure I call your name out so they know just who's screaming and begging for mercy, hm? Bet that'll keep your father up for years, hearing his only son being tortured."

 

Stiles paled, his heart lurching. That...that threat was a new one. Mr. Creepy smiled, victorious, and held up Stiles's phone. "Don't you think it's a tad morbid that your pass-code is the date of your mother's death, Stiles? 0-1-2-5, four numbers, and my tech guy back there didn't have much problem figuring it out once we really thought about it. You're pretty good a playing well-adjusted, kid. But, truthfully, you're still stuck on mommy's death."

 

"Fuck. You." Stiles snarled, rage clawing at his gut.

 

"What's your alpha's number, Stiles?"

 

Stiles was vibrating in the chair, his eyes flashing angrily. The guy by the door stepped closer, and held something out to Mr. Creepy. "I don't think he's gonna cooperate, Nazario."

 

"You're probably right." Mr. Creepy pressed the nine, then the one.

 

"Costello!" Stiles panicked. And he hated himself, he hated himself so fucking much. So goddamned weak.

 

Mr. Creepy smirked and cleared the numbers, pulled up the contacts, and tapped the icon for Costello, putting the phone on speaker while the other guy moved around and gagged Stiles. Stiles shrieked uselessly, muffled against the fabric in and duct tape suddenly over his mouth. Derek picked up on the third ring.

 

"Stiles." Derek's voice was tense, possibly angry.

 

"Sorry, but Stiles is tied up at the moment. I'm rather disappointed, actually, that Bambi-eyes associates with werewolves. Makes me kind of sick to the stomach to think I wanted to fuck him." Mr. Creepy smirked at Stiles.

 

Derek roared. Stiles struggled uselessly, trying to tell Derek to stay the fuck away. Keep the pack away.

 

"Yes, yes, I know," Mr. Creepy drawled. "I took away your precious toy. Don't worry, Hale, I'm not going to touch him. Just the knowledge you've had your nasty little paws on him is enough to turn me off of Stiles and his delectable-looking body."

 

"Where. Is. He."

 

"I think we're in one of your old hideouts, actually. Looked like a werewolf stayed here for awhile, at least." Mr. Creepy drawled. "Don't keep me waiting, Hale. The only reason I got your number is because I threatened the Sheriff, but I'm not disinclined to go through with it. I think it'd be funny to record Bambi-eyes's screams."

 

Stiles screamed into the gag, thrashing violently. Fuck. No. His dad was not going to be subjected to that. Derek snarled something and Mr. Creepy hung up with a smarmy chuckle. Stiles glared at the hunter, and wished he could just fry the bastard's ass with laser vision or something.

 

"Go stand outside; Hale has fifteen minutes." Mr. Creepy smiled at Stiles and followed the younger hunter out of the room.

 

Frustrated tears gathered at the corners of Stiles's eyes, and he squirmed against the ropes binding him to the chair. He was terrified, and being alone amplified all of the sounds. It was so damned quiet, and Stiles was trying not to panic.

 

He didn't know how long it'd been since Mr. Creepy called Derek. It felt like it had been an eternity and five seconds at the same time. There weren't any windows, he had no clue how long he'd been held captive before he'd woken up. And it was so close to the full moon, which meant the werewolves' control was going to be even more strained. 

 

The silence was ripped apart by a long, echoing, enraged howl, a single howl that was so loud it made Stiles's ears hurt, and he knew it was Derek, that the alpha was there, and people were going to die. The sound sent a thrill up his spine, and the hairs at the back of his neck stood up. Stiles shivered once, violently, and redoubled his efforts to get out of the ropes. The sudden thunder of a gunshot had his heart momentarily stopping in his chest.

 

Stiles cried out, shouted for Derek, his voice strangled by the gag. The door exploded inwards, and Mr. Creepy tumbled into the room followed by a snarling wolf - a huge-ass wolf - snapping its jaws at the hunter, eyes burning red in the dim light. Stiles could hear the betas outside, fighting with Mr. Creepy's minions.

 

"Nazario! The bullets are in box on the table!" Someone hollered and smashed the butt of their rifle onto the wolf's back. The wolf snarled, and Stiles shrieked and strained harder against the ropes binding him. Mr. Creepy lurched further into the room, bleeding heavily from a wound on his right shoulder, and nearly fell on top of the table the other hunter had indicated.

 

"Gotcha," Mr. Creepy snarled and loaded the clip into his gun. 

 

Stiles managed to worm an arm free, and he ripped the duct tape off his mouth. "Derek!"

 

Mr. Creepy fired a shot off and caught Derek - holy fuck, Derek was in his alpha form - in the shoulder.

 

"Derek!" Stiles screamed, his voice nearly out of range of human ears. Scott and Jackson slammed into the hunter in the doorway, taking him down easily at the same time. Derek stumbled, and Mr. Creepy fired off another shot, catching Derek's back leg. Jackson and Scott snarled, and tried to move around Derek to get to the hunter, but Derek snarled warningly at them.

 

Scott snarled back but stayed behind his alpha, eyeing the surroundings. Jackson locked gazes with Stiles, and his jaw dropped, his glowing blue eyes widening. Mr. Creepy took aim, his finger squeezing the trigger, and, for a moment, Stiles swore time slowed. He howled, terrified and desperate and enraged, and the gun went flying from Mr. Creepy's hands with a crack of thunder.

 

Derek lunged, blood on his muzzle and matting his fur, and closed his jaws down on Mr. Creepy's throat. He held still for a moment, Mr. Creepy screaming and beating against Derek, before clamping his jaws down, snapping Mr. Creepy's neck. He dropped the hunter's lifeless body, swayed, stumbled a few steps towards Stiles, and collapsed.

 

"Derek!"

Chapter Text

Peter sat down across from Caleb with a small smile, watching the human as he sorted through the files scattered around the table. Derek and his wee little wolves were at another training session, and Stiles and Danny were off doing homework for their end of the year project. It was the calm before the storm, Peter knew, and it wouldn't last for much longer. Still, it was pleasant and Peter was determined to spend the calm with his oldest friend. Keep Caleb smiling, now that his shoulders weren't hunched over with the knowledge that Stiles was hiding things.

 

"What are you staring at, Hale?" Caleb sent Peter a smarmy smile that didn't suit him at all. "Trying to figure out how exactly to justify our dinner the other week a date?"

 

The werewolf nearly choked. "I suppose Stiles had a bit of a mental break when confronted with the idea that I have a social life?" Peter rolled his eyes and relaxed back against the kitchen chair. "I only called it a date because I knew it'd get a rise out of the rest of the pack."

 

Truth.

 

Caleb met Peter's gaze. "Do you want it to be a date?"

 

Yes.

 

"Maybe."

 

"Just as infuriating as always," the human sighed and closed one of the files. "You never were one to give straightforward answers when you weren't exactly comfortable with what those answers would get you."

 

Peter shrugged. "You've never complained about it before." He pushed up and away from the table, moving until he was situated with his back against the wall, leaning and crossing his arms over his chest as he studied Caleb from a new angle. "Nor have you ever gave any indication that you'd be interested in knowing about my feelings when they regard you."

 

Caleb blushed and met Peter's gaze resolutely. "I visited you in the hospital every week from the time you were admitted until the time you disappeared."

 

The werewolf blinked. "I know."

 

The Sheriff opened his mouth, snapped it shut, and blinked at Peter in shock. "You...know. You... Were you aware I was there, every time I visited? Could you hear me?"

 

"In the beginning, yes, and then at the end, when I came back to myself." Peter pushed off of the wall and walked around the table, moving into the living room to study a family picture, the image of Anwen smiling softly out at him as she hugged a young Stiles to her while Caleb smiled happily down at his wife and son. "You begged me, those first few weeks, not to leave you alone; you said you couldn't lose me too, that I had to come back because you needed your friend."

 

Caleb's heart was beating rapidly, irregularly, to a tempo of nerves and embarrassment that was at once familiar and strange as Peter listened to it. It was a pattern that Peter had learned, long ago, meant that Anwen was a short bit away, or that Anwen was looking particularly beautiful, or that Anwen had done something that had Caleb feeling particularly happy. It was the cadence Peter had heard when he'd first met the other man, a happy sound tattooed to Caleb's sternum when Anwen had led the human to the apartment she'd shared with Peter.

 

(It had been a stipulation Anwen had agreed to readily, introducing Peter to her dates so that Peter could meet them and determine they wouldn't harm her. Caleb had been more than willing to prove to Peter that he had no intention of hurting Anwen. The human had smelled of affection, and determination, and the beginnings of love.) 

 

"Everything I told you was the truth," Caleb murmured, standing a few feet behind Peter, studying the picture over the werewolf's shoulder. "Still is the truth."

 

Peter inhaled, deeply, scenting the air. "Anwen wasn't lying," the air rushed from his lungs. He turned to face Caleb, studying the human. "You do."

 

"Anwen never lied," Caleb agreed and turned to sit down on the sofa. "She always knew, it was strange. She left me a letter, you know? Gave it to me the day... Told me not to read it until I was ready; ready to hear what she had to say, ready to let her live in my memories without the whiskey."

 

The werewolf stood frozen to the spot, staring wide-eyed at the human, the man who'd been an important feature of Peter's life for twenty-odd years. Anwen had fallen in love with Caleb almost from the first time she'd met him after locking her keys in the rental car and he'd helped her rescue them. Caleb had fallen in love with Anwen within the same time-span. And Peter could remember Anwen forcing Caleb in front of Peter at their wedding reception, demanding that Caleb dance with her best friend, that Peter dance with her husband, because it would be adorable and ridiculous and hilarious.

 

Caleb had been so uncomfortable.

 

Peter had realized how in-fucking-love with his best friend's husband he was.

 

"I'm not exactly... I pushed everything to the back of my mind, forced myself to ignore it, because... Anwen, she held my heart, she was my everything, until my everything expanded to include Stiles. I never allowed myself to accept that my everything included you, too. I couldn't." Caleb sighed and relaxed back against the sofa, running a hand through his hair.

 

"I... Don't know how to respond, here. Caleb, what..." Peter flushed and took a shaky breath. "Did Anwen tell you how long I've been in love with you? I've... I hate thinking of it as pining, but that's probably what it was. You met Anwen in 1991, married her in 1992. I tucked tail and ran right after the wedding, Caleb, because Melinda needed my help with Sky and Laura, and Derek when she had him, and because I realized, while we were slow dancing at your wedding reception that I was in love with you. I can't tell you when it happened, when exactly I fell in love with you, but I realized it at your goddamned wedding reception."

 

Caleb opened and closed his mouth for a moment, his eyes wide. "S-she told me...said that your heart belonged to me, that it had since '92."

 

Peter shivered and turned to look at Anwen and Caleb's wedding picture. "It was... Anwen, that day I visited her, she said that you were either already in love with me or in the process of falling in love with me. And you know how she segued into that? Told me she wanted to live to see Stiles grow up, to meet my nieces and nephews, to see me happily mated."

 

"Oh," Caleb choked a little, his eyes wet. Peter winced. "But..."

 

"Anwen was...she knew a lot about how werewolves work. So, I don't quite know how she would've managed to see me happily mated." Peter turned and pinned Caleb with glowing electric blue eyes. "A werewolf...we have a natural instinct to stay with one person for the rest of our lives. We fall in love, the wolf in us sees the other as mate, and if we're lucky, the other person'll fall in love with us in turn. Not much unlike humans, really. Except for when that love is unrequited, or the person is ripped from us through death. We don't exactly...get over it."

 

"Wait, you're...you're saying that..." Caleb swallowed thickly, looking distressed. Peter closed his eyes, clenched them tightly. "What are you telling me?"

 

"I'm not going to ever get over you, Caleb. I tried. The first four years, I tried. I tried because you loved Anwen, and she loved you, and I couldn't." Peter shuddered and dropped his gaze to the floor. "I slept with so many different people, trying to get you out of my head, to forget the way your arms felt wrapped around me, the feel of your hand in mine. But, I only made myself sick, made me hate myself more. It didn't work. I stopped trying the night Stiles was born."

 

Caleb's eyes went wide. "That's...commitment." He frowned, looking a little confused, a bit angry, jealous, and blushed. "You..."

 

Peter smiled darkly down at the carpet. "Yes. I fucked a lot trying to forget you. It never worked. I stopped fucking. I was in a bar the night Stiles was born; it was a full moon night, and I was restless with it. I planned to take some stranger to a hotel, but I didn't. I stopped. I stopped because I just...you and Anwen were my best friends. And I was tired of feeling disgusted with myself, so I went home and played with Derek and Laura."

 

"I...see." Caleb's frown intensified. He smelled angry, and sad, and guilty.

 

"Don't," Peter growled. "Do not feel guilty, Caleb."

 

Caleb growled, the sound so close to lupine that it startled Peter, and jumped up from his seat to stalk up to the werewolf. His eyes flashed, defiant, and he backed Peter up against the wall, looming over the werewolf even though there was only an inch of difference in their height. Peter's eyes flashed blue again, and Caleb reached up, pinning Peter's shoulders against the wall of his living room.

 

"You can't tell me how to feel, Peter," Caleb murmured, almost harshly, and pressed closer to Peter. "I'm going to feel guilty, that's just the way I am. You'd be the same, if our roles were reversed. I know you, Peter. I care about you a hell of a lot, and it hurts to know that you were so sad for so long because you love me."

 

Peter shuddered, closed his eyes, and turned his head to the side, baring his throat to Caleb. The human sucked in a shocked breath; he paused for a moment, then leaned down and pressed his lips against the soft skin of Peter's throat, parted them and set his teeth against the vulnerable flesh there. Peter gripped Caleb's hips, and gasped when the human bit down.

 

"Caleb - "

 

"You fell in love with me, picked me as your mate, right?" Caleb asked against Peter's throat. Peter whimpered softly and nodded, breathing heavily. "Good. That makes you mine as much as I am yours."

 

The werewolf groaned, the sound punched out of his chest, and turned his head to join his mouth with Caleb's. The human growled possessively, his left hand moving to curl around the back of Peter's neck and angle the werewolf's head to slant their mouths together better, and pressed his body against Peter's fully.

 

"I fell in love with your smile, and your snark," Caleb murmured against the curve of Peter's mouth, pressing another kiss to the smile that tilted the werewolf's lips up. "Though, whenever Stiles asks me to define something I wish I could kick you."

 

Peter gave a startled laugh. "I was only around him a handful of times, when he was a toddler. I don't even remember doing that."

 

Caleb pulled back a little to pin Peter with a glare. "Stiles was in his playpen in the living room of our apartment, you showed up and told Anwen that the apartment smelled gross. She shot you one of her looks, and I told you, sarcastically, that you were blunter than usual. You asked me to define blunt. I said I defined it as being unsubtle, straight-to-the-point, then I asked you how you defined it. You said you defined it as - "

 

"As a point or edge that isn't sharp." Peter grinned and chuckled. "I thought he was sleeping."

 

"No, and that isn't the only time you've done that in front of him." Caleb kissed the corner of Peter's mouth. "You've done that with the words: gross, lounge, lean, and lying. And now Stiles does it to me, and I blame you."

 

"But Stiles doesn't even remember me." Peter whined, though the effect was defeated by his grin. "I'm sure Anwen did that too."

 

Caleb rolled his eyes. "No, she didn't. You were the only person, ever, to do that."

 

Peter huffed a laugh and dipped his head down to press his nose to Caleb's throat. "You cannot blame me for his sass, though. He got that from the both of you."

 

"More so from Anwen, but yeah, I can't deny that." Caleb smiled and leaned his cheek against Peter's head.

 

"Anwen was one sassy lady."  Peter smiled, sad and fond, and nuzzled into Caleb's embrace.

 

Caleb closed his eyes and pressed a kiss to Peter's temple. "I'm sorry."

 

Peter inhaled deeply, pressing his nose against the skin behind Caleb's ear. "Please don't be, Caleb. It wasn't your fault."

 

"Ah, the clichéd can't help who we fall in love with."

 

"Mm-hmm." Peter signed. He listened to Caleb's heart, a beloved rhythm, for a long stretch of time, the warmth of contentment curling around his own heart and in the pit of his stomach. It was nice, and it drowned out much of the guilt he carried around with him.

 

The hairs on the back of Peter's neck stood on end a few seconds before a fierce, piercing howl echoed from where he knew the new house was, ripping through the peace. He went rigid in Caleb's arms, cocked his head to the side, and focused on the howling. Caleb pulled back with a frown, shaking Peter's shoulders gently, trying to find out what was wrong. Peter felt his fangs drop down into his mouth, his muscles trembling with the need to shift.

 

"Something..." Peter lisped around his fangs, frowning fiercely. Caleb cupped the werewolf's face with his hands, trying to call Peter back, concerned. Another howl rended the air, and Peter sucked in a startled breath. That howl...that was the sound of a promise; a promise to destroy whoever was foolish enough to abduct the alpha's mate. A promise to rend whoever dared threaten the alpha's mate limb from limb.

 

"Peter?"

 

"Derek... That was... Someone kidnapped Stiles."

 

"What?" Caleb shouted, reeling backwards. "What do you mean someone kidnapped Stiles?! How do you know?"

 

Peter shivered as Derek's will raced down his spine. "Derek, he's the alpha, his howls travel further. I need to go."

 

"I'm coming with you!"

 

"Caleb - "

 

"Stiles is my son, Peter. You're not keeping me out of this!" Caleb snarled, shoving passed Caleb to run for the front door.

 

Peter ran after Caleb, forcing his features to melt back to human. "Caleb... Derek is going to kill whoever took him."

 

Caleb wrenched the door to his police cruiser open and flung himself behind the wheel, shoving his keys in the ignition and starting up the cruiser. He pinned Peter with a fierce gaze, waited for the werewolf to slip into the passenger seat, and said darkly:

 

"Good."

 

"Caleb," Peter started again, but the human threw the car into reverse and pulled out of the driveway, putting it in drive and turning the lights on.

 

"Where?"

 

Peter closed his eyes. "Abandoned train depot."

 

By the time they arrived, the fighting outside was over. Peter flung himself from the cruiser and sprinted into the building, following the sounds of shouting and gunshots, Caleb hot on his heels. They reached the room in time to see a wolf collapse a few feet from Stiles, and Stiles's eyes glowing alpha-red.

 

"Derek!"

 

Peter stopped in his tracks, Caleb crashing into his back, and watched Stiles stumble over to the wolf - Derek in his alpha form - dropping to his knees and shaking. Stiles shouted at Scott or Jackson to grab the fucking gun, his eyes flashing dangerously. Jackson lurched to the hunter's body, grabbing the gun and handing it over to Stiles with trembling hands. There was a fierce pull on the pack bond, the energy directed at Derek, and Peter knew.

 


Protector.

 

"Stiles, we need to get him to Deaton!" Scott shouted, his voice panicked.

 

"Shut up, Scott!" Stiles snarled, and his hands shook as he pulled the clip from the gun and took the bullets out. "Jackson, break these and pour the powder into separate piles. We need to light them on fire and put the ashes in the bullet wounds."

 

Caleb pushed his way around Peter and stepped into the room. "Stiles - "

 

Stiles's eyes snapped up to meet his father's gaze, his eyes - once more his usual amber - wet with tears. He was shaking, so obviously terrified that Peter didn't need to scent the air to know, and gave a short, hysterical laugh. "D-dad." Stiles's voice shook. "Can't... I can't lose him too. Not gonna happen."

 

Erica, Boyd, Isaac, and Allison crowded up behind Peter. Peter suppressed a snarl and moved further into the room so the four teenagers could get passed him. Allison moved to Scott, let him wrap her in his arms. Boyd and Erica moved to stand beside Jackson, and Isaac stayed behind Caleb.

 

There was another pull on the pack bond, more energy going into Derek as Stiles pressed the ashes from one of the bullets to the wound in the wolf's shoulder. Peter shuddered and focused on Stiles, watched his hands tremble as he pressed more ashes to the wound in Derek's hind leg. Stiles was muttering frantic prayers, terrified as he whispered about adrenaline and how close the wound in Derek's shoulder was to his heart.

 

Peter wasn't sure how wolfsbane effected alphas when in their alpha form. He watched the wolf convulsive on the concrete floor, and wondered why Derek wasn't shifting back. Boyd and Jackson lifted Derek, Erica grabbed Stiles before he could stop them, and carried the wolf towards the doorway.

 

"Did you come in a car?" Boyd asked Caleb, voice calm despite the fear in his eyes.

 

"Yeah," Caleb nodded. "Deaton's?"

 

Isaac picked Stiles up, cradled the human against his chest long enough to deposit him in Caleb's arms, and helped Jackson and Boyd out to the cruiser. Stiles cried against his father's shoulder, clutching Caleb's neck as the older man carried Stiles out to the cruiser. Peter followed his mate and helped Derek's puppies settle him onto the backseat. Stiles struggled in Caleb's hold, and sat down in the back with Derek's head in his lap, his long fingers stroking through the fur on the wolf's muzzle.

 

"We'll meet you at Deaton's after we take care of this mess," Boyd said before ushering the others back towards the building.

 

Peter climbed into the passenger seat and gripped the back of Caleb's neck soothingly when he slid into the driver's seat and maneuvered the cruiser back onto the street. They drove in relative silence, Stiles's muffled crying in the background. The inside of the car was growing thick with Stiles's mounting panic. 

 

Another pull on the pack bond.

 

Stiles didn't even know he was doing it, Peter was sure. He probably didn't even know what he was capable of. Anwen hadn't known much about her own powers, just that she had them, and that they'd been passed down to Stiles. But this...this was different from what Lydia or Deaton possessed. Stiles was a Protector.

 

"I haven't seen my son this fucking panicked since Anwen was put in the hospital. His panic attacks were never this bad," Caleb murmured, his voice shaking with fear for his son.

 

Peter turned around to meet Stiles's eyes. "He's alive, Stiles. Try to calm down some, take deep breaths. Keep believing that he'll make it."

 

Stiles nodded, wide red eyes staring back at him, and took several deep breaths. He threaded his fingers through the fur over Derek's side, pressing gently over where he could feel Derek's heart beat weakly against his ribs, and bit his lip.

 

Derek let out a soft whine, finally, pressing his head back against Stiles's abdomen in reaction to Stiles's terror and panic, a reassuring gesture. Stiles let out a relieved gasp and curled over the wolf's head, whispering pleas for Derek to be okay. Peter pressed his head back against the headrest and closed his eyes, listening to the steady beat of Caleb's heart.

 

"Caleb," Peter murmured after a short stretch of silence. The human hummed softly in reply. "It was your intelligence, and your smile. You were fresh out of the academy, and ridiculously smart. And your smile is gorgeous."

 

Caleb snorted softly and parked as close to the clinic as he could. Deaton opened the door, gave Peter an assessing look, and moved to help carry Derek into the clinic. Stiles watched the veterinarian warily, his amber eyes narrowed as Deaton and Caleb maneuvered the wolf from the back of the police cruiser, and climbed out to follow them into the clinic.

 

"Keep close to him, Stiles. A hand in his fur, something physical so he knows you're safe." Peter called after Stiles as he climbed out of the cruiser and leaned against the hood. "Keep a towel or something handy to cover him up in case he shifts back."

 

"He's gonna be okay?" Stiles asked, paused in the threshold to the clinic.

 

Peter bowed his head, hiding a smile. "He'll be fine. You did good, with the bullets. He just needs to heal his other wounds, recuperate. It was his first shift into his alpha form, and it took a lot out of him. Derek just needs some sleep."

 

Stiles stood still for another moment. His shoulders slumped, and the scent of his relief floated across the air. "Thank you," he whispered before disappearing into the clinic.

 

"No, Stiles, thank you," Peter replied to the air. He didn't think he could handle it if he lost his last living relative. 

Chapter Text

Correspondence: A Letter to My Dearest Caleb

January 24th, 2006

My Dearest Caleb,

 

My dearest love, I imagine you've waited years to read this. I imagine that I've been long since gone, my ashes spread as we agreed years ago when this  reality was nothing more than a far off nightmare. There are so many things I wish I had the time to tell you, and so many things I wish I had the time to witness. But I have to live in this reality, and I do not have that time. There are things you must be told.

 

Some things, you knew about in small, scattered details. You knew of my bloodline, that my father was full-blooded Cherokee, that he married my mother - against the wishes of his family - and that I ran from the home he built in Oklahoma. I ran away because I had to; it was one of those desires I couldn't ignore, like with my tattoos and the other oddities you've seen. I knew, Caleb, from a very young age that I played a part in something very important. Important to people I had never met, yet, people who would need both myself and my unborn child. 

 

I moved to San Diego, and I met Peter. His was the snarling wolf across my thigh, Caleb, but I don't think that future has yet come up. I fear for Peter, because the dream that gave me Peter's wolf was not something of happiness. Peter is going to need you, Caleb, but if you don't read this in time to know, do NOT blame yourself. Besides, I could be wrong.

 

I knew this would happen, Caleb, that I would die before any human should. I've told you countless times, too, that this was my time. My part in this life is over, my love, and nothing the doctors, or Melinda, could have done will save me. I agreed to the treatment so that I would have time to say goodbye to you all. I'm sorry that I hurt you. But, I know, Caleb, that you will be okay. I know that, while I write this, you hide that part of your heart, a heart I share and am so happy to share. And I do not mean with our precious boy, Caleb. Do not worry; Peter's heart belongs to you, too. It has since 1992. I want only for you to be happy, Caleb. It's okay.

 

I will have died loving you, Caleb.

 

But, there is something you need to know. Maybe you've suspected it, now, in the past, the day before you read this. Stiles has inherited the gifts that have been passed down through my father's family for generations. Each generation manifests differently. I have visions, and an inexplicable instinct that guides my path. My father could communicate with the forest. I do not know how Stiles's gift will manifest, not exactly. But, Caleb, I have Seen him, always, as a wolf. Before I got pregnant, when I first saw the newborn wolf cub in my dreams, his guardian a large, black, red-eyed wolf. I knew, not when or who, but I knew. 

 

And, Caleb, last night, I saw him again. Stiles, a beautiful wolf with reddish-brown fur, came up to me in my dream. Came up to my hawk, and his eyes were nothing that I had seen before. They glowed a deep, forest green, and there was a white circle around the pupil. He howled once, a sound of joy, and led me into the trees, to a pack of seven wolves, a fox, a falcon and a phoenix. You were there, too, Caleb, laid down, curled around the phoenix lazily; you looked more wolf than German Shepard, though, caught between the two as if your decision has yet to be made. If you chose it, Caleb, you will survive it.

 

There was a cub, Caleb, a wolf only a few months old, colored white like the Arctic wolves. I don't think I have to tell you what this means, Caleb. But Stiles, he led me to this cub, who was trying to get the guardian wolf to play with her. The guardian wolf looked upon me, and howled softly in greeting, and the rest of the pack joined in. Each of the pack, the fox and falcon too, greeted me with scent marking and joyful barking and the melodious bird-song. The last to do this was the guardian wolf and the cub; he spoke to me, the guardian wolf, and told me that this cub was named for the great beauty of the hawk that brought to him his anchor. The cub nuzzled me - gently, so wise at such a young age - and her eyes shone with such love. She asked me to look after her when I join her, so that she may safely come to her parents.

 

(Of course I agreed. I will do so, Caleb. She, this sweet little cub, is waiting for me to make good on my promise. I have purpose on the next step of my journey.)

 

She then led me to you, and to the phoenix. I could see the happiness in your eyes, Caleb. The phoenix spoke, and told me of the fires, and of the deaths, and of the pain to come. He promised, though, that the end was happy. Then the wolves, they sung into the night, a departing promise to meet again.

 

Stiles, he was born of love, and of belief, and under the Wolf Moon. That is what they call it, Caleb, the full moon in January. Whatever dangers he faces, he will survive them. Don't worry too much about Stiles, my love. Just, do not be surprised by anything that happens around him, anything that happens and cannot be explained. It is the way of the world. We all have many paths on which we could follow; your love for me led us down this path, gave us our beautiful child. It started him on his own path, with his own choices - some compelled, others freely taken. It will be his own choice to love, whether it truly is that girl he speaks of, or someone else. I do not think it will be her, though.

 

Caleb, please find happiness.

 

Can you do that for me?

 

Ah, I'm sorry my love. I think I've been rambling throughout most of this. Just. Find happiness, and try not to panic too much when it comes to Stiles. He'll be okay. You'll be okay, too, but only if you let yourself. I love you so much, Caleb. So much. To quote Sirius from the third movie, 'The ones that truly love us never really leave us.' I'll always be with you, Caleb, in your heart.

 

Love always and for eternity,

Anwen

Chapter Text


~Well If You Wanted Honesty (That's All You Had To Say)~

Derek came back to himself slowly, the cold metal under him jolting his senses. He tensed, wary, and extended his awareness. Being in Deaton's clinic wasn't a good thing, and he nearly panicked before the soft cadence of Stiles's heart registered, just before Derek inhaled and was hit with the spicy warm tinge to Stiles's usual scent. The werewolf opened his eyes and lifted his head enough to see Stiles slumped over the cold metal of the examination table by Derek's hip, his head cradled against his arms as he slept.

 

Other things started to filter in, once Derek was assured that Stiles was safe, and the alpha cataloged his various aches as he listened to people moving around outside the room he was in. Deaton was somewhere - probably his office - talking softly to someone; judging by the lack of response, Derek figured Deaton was on the phone. Boyd, Erica, and Jackson where in the front of the clinic, sleeping by sound of the slow cadence of their hearts.

 

"You still haven't told me how you knew it was Stiles that was taken."

 

Derek blinked and focused his hearing, because that voice belonged to the Sheriff, and the older man sounded weary and intrigued. Derek was intrigued. He wondered when the Sheriff had been called, and who had called him. The last thing Derek remembered was snapping that hunter's neck between his jaws...

 

He'd managed his alpha form.

 

"The howl. If one of the others had been taken, or if he'd been attacked, it would have sounded different."

 

That was Peter.

 

"Does he have a different howl for each pack member in danger, then?"

 

"No. Caleb, what were we talking about in your living room before I heard my alpha's call?"

 

Derek stilled, blinking up at the ceiling, and listened to the Sheriff sigh heavily. It hit him, kind of suddenly, why he'd always thought the Sheriff's scent was familiar. He hadn't noticed it when he was being arrested and the Sheriff was yanking Stiles out of the squad car, but it'd struck him when he'd hid out in Stiles's bedroom and he'd never been able to figure it out. Now, though, he got it. The Sheriff's scent used to cling to Peter for a couple days after his uncle would get back from his weekend trips to San Diego, when Derek was young and Peter would drive down Friday morning and get back late Sunday night.

 

(He'd asked his mother about it, once, and she'd just smiled and said that Uncle Peter was visiting friends he'd had since before Derek or Laura was born. When she wouldn't say anything else, Derek went to Sky because Sky was older than them and would know about their uncles friends. Sky sounded a little bitter when ze said they were Uncle Peter's pack, humans he met when Sky was really little.)

 

"We were discussing mates and - " The Sheriff's voice cut off, suddenly, and the bottom dropped out of Derek's stomach, because fuck.

 

It was different, thinking of Stiles as someone who would make a good mate, and actually thinking of Stiles as his mate. It was...a permanent thing. Different from acknowledging that he was a step away from irrevocably in love with Stiles. It was terrifying, because he could remember how his mother would whine softly and wrap herself around Peter sometimes, when he'd come back from San Diego with the scent of resigned sorrow and loneliness, or when he'd come home late at night smelling like others and disappointment. Derek hadn't quite understood - not until he hit puberty and his father started talking to him about mates and sex and mating (a humiliating conversation for all parties involved) - that Peter hadn't ever brought anyone home, mated with anyone, because he was already committed to someone, had already, accidentally, formed a bond with someone, and that person didn't have the first clue. Incomplete bonds were particularly devastating, and it terrified Derek because Peter was implying that he had that with Stiles.

 

"Yes, exactly. As with me, Derek never realized it, never knew that he was forging a bond with Stiles. Primal instinct, when he shifted fully into his alpha form...he knew instinctively that someone was threatening the person he sees as his mate, and he reacted accordingly."

 

The Sheriff made a choked noise. "That's just... And Derek doesn't know? This is just... I can't... Peter, your nephew is an idiot. He should've waited for help. From what Scott told me, Derek just rushed in without checking for traps or anything."

 

His uncle hummed softly, a sound meant to soothe, and Derek wondered what exactly his uncle was doing, if he was hugging the Sheriff. "He was running on pure instinct by the time he reached that place, Caleb. And, I'll admit, even if he hadn't been Derek's always done stupid things to protect your son."

 

"Is that so?" The Sheriff sounded irritated and thankful. "I'm sure Stiles appreciated every time, but I'm also pretty sure he traumatized my son tonight, Peter. Stiles thought Derek was dead or close to it, and I haven't seen my son that distraught since Anwen was put in the hospital and he realized that she wasn't coming home. I never wanted to see him like that, Peter. Never again."

 

Derek forced himself up enough to look at Stiles, his heart clenching when he noticed the drying tear tracks on Stiles's face, the way his left hand clutched at the small blanket thrown over Derek's hips - and he hadn't even registered the fact that he was naked, damn it all - with something akin to panic, even in his sleep. It was - It was something else, to know that Stiles cared that much if he lived or died. Derek knew, he did, that Stiles cared. They were friends, after all. They'd spent a lot of time together over the last couple of months, a lot of time bonding over baseball and music and exasperation over the rest of the pack. They were friends, and... 

 

He shut down that train of thought and reached out, brushing his fingers up Stiles's arm, across his shoulder, to gently grip the back of Stiles's neck. Derek closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, taking in the astringent scent of disinfectant and the cinnamon spice he belatedly placed as Stiles's worry. Stiles's scent started to even out, mellowing down into the usual coffee and oranges of his contentment.

 

"Caleb..." Peter sighed, the sound muffled like he was pressing his face against someone's shoulder. "See, I think Derek's gone these last few years with this idea that life was meant to be a certain way for him, that he wasn't allowed to keep anything or be happy, so he acted gruff, acted like an ass, to keep people out so he wouldn't be hurt again. But then Stiles flailed into his world, and stomped all over Derek's world-view by staying and helping and risking his life for Derek - while they both still pretty much hated each other - and it fucked with Derek, left him confused and floundering and now he just wants to keep Stiles safe so that he can continue to stay."

 

"That, and he's fallen in love with my son."

 

Derek made a choking sound and jerked, nearly toppling off the exam table. The sudden movement startled Stiles into consciousness  and he blinked a couple times before smiling so wide Derek thought it would literally split his face. "You're awake!" He crowed and jumped into a flurry of motion, which resulted in a specatuclar stumble. Derek grabbed his arm and kept Stiles upright, pulled back tight against Derek's chest where he stood beside the table.

 

"I keep hoping you're going to grow into your limbs one day," Derek grinned and steadied Stiles.

 

"Har har, asshole," Stiles sniped and turned around, his mock-glare melting off of his face to be replaced with a fierce blush and wide eyes. "Uh...dude? You're kinda...naked."

 

"Ah," Derek blinked and knelt down to grab the towel that'd been covering him. "True."

 

"Um, yeah..." Stiles chuckled nervously and turned towards the door. "I'm going to see if I can find you some, uh, some clothes. You just...sit down and relax."

 

The werewolf snorted. "I'm not sitting on cold metal. I'll be fine standing."

 

Stiles flailed a little and pointed at Derek. "You were shot, Derek, full of wolfsbane, and you didn't wake up even after I shoved the ashes into the bullet wounds! So... So sit down and relax, okay? I don't care if you're a werewolf with super cool healing powers, you still need time to recuperate!"

 

Derek blinked, his eyes widening, and nodded. "Okay, Stiles, I'll sit, just calm down, please." The alpha grimaced as he sat down on the frigid metal. "Please find me some pants?"

 

"...Yeah," Stiles frowned and disappeared from the room. 

 

Peter stepped in a moment later, and his expression was knowing and pained. Derek set his face into his default scowl and watched Peter warily. His uncle leaned against the wall with his arms crossed, and gave a slight smile when Derek jerked in shock as Peter settled fully in Derek's alpha bond. Peter's words my alpha echoed in his head and Derek stared at the older man with wide eyes. His uncle smiled back at him, and it was an expression that Derek hadn't seen since he was going through puberty and Peter was teasing him and Laura about their hormones leaking.

 

"I'm pleased to see you're awake."

 

Derek nodded mutely and smiled a little hesitantly back, because Peter had always been his favorite uncle, his mother's only sibling that hadn't spread out or married into a different pack. Peter used to tell the best stories, werewolf fairy tales and about his adventures in San Diego, and would sympathize with Derek and his siblings whenever they thought their mother was being too overprotective by telling them about how Melinda wouldn't let me stay in San Diego by myself until she got pregnant with Laura, and I was twenty, okay, I was twenty-years-old and my big sister was mother henning me! He'd always shoot her a mock-glare filled with too much fondness and everyone would laugh, and his father would pop in to tease Peter about being wrapped around Sky's fingers so much he bought Sky a puppy. The aforementioned puppy - grown up - would then proceed to bark excitedly, like he knew he was being talked about, and jump into Peter's lap and lick his face enthusiastically.

 

And that Peter was standing in front of Derek, a complete member of his pack when Derek thought it'd never happen because Peter was insane when he'd killed him, and Peter nearly drove a sixteen-year-old girl insane to come back for reasons only Peter knew about, like a fucking phoenix resurrecting from the ashes. Derek's smile stretched, fuller and sincere, and he relaxed his shoulders. Peter's own smile grew until it was sparking in his eyes, and Derek felt like he'd been transported back to when he was eight and watching Peter pack for one of his weekend trips from his uncle's bed, asking the older wolf if he'd ever get to go to San Diego with him some day.

 

"How are you feeling?" Peter asked, sincere and sounding exactly the same as he did after Derek's first full moon shift.

 

"Honestly? A little shell-shocked."

 

"Whoa," Stiles gasped, standing in the doorway, and stared at Derek. "I don't think I've ever seen you smile like that..."

 

Derek blushed, because, well... Stiles's eyes went wide and a delighted grin split his face. "Oh my God, I just embarrassed you! That is awesome." He turned his head and faltered at the sight of Peter, just a bit, before turning back to Derek and holding up a pair of sweats. "My dad found these stuffed in the trunk of his cruiser. I, personally, don't wanna know why he had sweatpants stuffed in the trunk, but hey, at least you don't have to run around naked!"

 

"Thanks," Derek replied dryly and took the sweats when Stiles held them up. "Much as you like to say that I'm allergic to clothes, that's really not true."

 

"You're allergic to shirts, I said. You're always running around shirtless. Your abs should be illegal, Derek," Stiles grinned and mock-punched Derek's stomach. "Your abs are also ridiculous."

 

"Stiles," Derek sighed, exasperated, and rolled his eyes. "You are ridiculous, now let me put these pants on."

 

"Ah," Stiles blushed and flicked Derek's shoulder. "Yeah, I'll go wake your puppies up. They were really worried."

 

"Except Scott, because he's still an asshole." Peter quipped and pushed off of the wall. "I really wish I'd been in my right mind; I never would've bitten him, otherwise."

 

Stiles scowled and pinned Peter with a look. "Insanity isn't an excuse for the shit you pulled, you know."

 

Peter smiled sadly and nodded. "I'm aware. I don't think any of you know how much I regret everything."

 

"...Um, yeah..." Stiles flinched and looked away. "My dad still has a hard time believing you did all those things."

 

"I've known him for twenty-two years, Stiles," the Sheriff said. Derek met Caleb's eyes, frowning, and watched the older man pin Stiles with a look. "Tell me, if you were me and Scott was Peter, do you think he'd be capable of that?"

 

"No!"

 

Peter shook his head. "Caleb, please don't compare me to Scott. He's intelligent in his own rights, but he's got a terrible sense when it comes to his priorities."

 

Derek sighed and gave the other three a flat look. "Can I please get dressed?"

 

Stiles flailed and nudged his father back into the hallway. Peter smirked and followed him out, stopping and turning back to Derek. "Derek, I know nothing I could ever say will make up for everything, but I'm truly sorry. If I could go back, I'd change everything; I never would've killed Laura, never. I regret it every day, and I wish I could've spared Lydia. But, of everything that happened, I'll never regret killing Kate Argent, for what she did to our family...and for what she did to you."

 

He turned and shut the door behind him, leaving Derek frozen in shock.

Chapter Text


~Called It My "Furry Little Problem" In Company~

Stiles pushed the fridge door shut with his hip, glancing over his shoulder to watch his father and Peter lean over a worn notebook paper and mutter quietly to each other. He was curious, and he'd definitely try to figure out what they were discussing if Scott wasn't upstairs with his serious face on, because, despite Peter acting like a sane person, and his father trusting Peter explicitly, Stiles was still cautious when it came to the older werewolf. He'd watched Peter maul Lydia, try to kill Derek and Scott, and be an over-all psycho. Stiles liked to believe he had the right to be a little cautious. But, he was still inclined to give the werewolf a chance. For his father's sake, at the very least.

 

"Caleb, you can't actually be serious about this?" Peter quirked his eyebrow and flattened his hand against the paper. The Sheriff leaned his arms on the table and gave Peter a flat look. The werewolf huffed and rolled his eyes heavenward. "Of course you're serious."

 

"What'cha guys talking about?" Stiles asked and readjusted his grip on the can of soda.

 

Peter smiled warmly - which, well, it was kinda disarming, okay, like Derek's smile only with a fatherly edge - and stared expectantly at Caleb. His dad made a face at Peter (Stiles loved that his dad turned into a giant teenager whenever Peter was around) and shrugged one shoulder. "We're discussing my health."

 

Stiles's eyebrows shot up. "Your...health?" He blinked and turned to look at Peter. "Does that mean you're going to keep him from eating things that are unhealthy and detrimental to his continued existence on this planet?"

 

"I'm quite dedicated to Caleb's continued existence." Peter replied, his eyes intense. His father squirmed and avoided their eyes, and Stiles decided to be oblivious.

 

"That's reassuring," Stiles commented and fled the kitchen before anything could become even more awkward. He took the stairs two at a time and steeled himself before entering his bedroom to talk to Scott.

 

Scott looked up from his cell phone, frowning and looking like he swallowed something really vile. "I'm sorry."

 

Stiles paused for a moment before sitting at his desk. He frowned as he passed Scott the soda, trying to figure out what it was Scott was apologizing for. They were silent for a moment, and finally Stiles gave up with a sigh. "Dude, why are you sorry?"

 

"Because," Scott shifted uncomfortably and frowned at the window. "You've been struggling with a lot of crap, and I haven't really been making it easier on you, huh?"

 

"Dude," Stiles furrowed his brow and sat forward. "Why does this sound like a goodbye?"

 

The werewolf fidgeted. "It's not," he reassured, eyes wide and regretful. "It's not a goodbye or anything, I just... I need to talk to you? But, I mean, you're still stressed about other stuff, and I feel bad?"

 

Stiles waved his hand. "No, man, you're my best friend, no matter how dickish you act. I'm always here for you."

 

Scott smiled, like a damn puppy, and his shoulders sagged a little. "I'm pretty sure everyone in the pack hates me. And Allison. And, I know, I mean, yeah, they all have the right to be upset with her? But, you guys are giving Peter a chance, aren't you? And he did way worse stuff."

 

"I... Yeah?" Stiles wilted a little. "Yeah, you're right."

 

"Yeah, and, well, I was talking to Allison about it, and she's on the fence, but...I was, um, thinking about leaving the pack?"

 

"What!?" Stiles shot up out of his computer chair. "Dude! What the hell? Why?"

 

Scott flinched and clenched his jaw. "Because, I don't know if I want to be part of a pack that can give murderous, undead werewolves a second chance, but not teenage girls who were emotionally manipulated. It isn't right, okay?"

 

Stiles flopped back into the chair, his shoulders slumped. "I... I don't think it's a good idea. I mean, dude, don't you remember what happened when the Alpha pack showed up and you were running around without an actual pack? You nearly died!"

 

"But stuff's been pretty peaceful lately."

 

"And everyone is still tracking that skinwalker! They haven't caught it, yet." Stiles groaned in frustration and pulled at his hair, longer than it had been the year before. "What if it attacks you? Everything I've read so far has said that skinwalkers are pretty much impossible to kill!"

 

"Stiles, calm down," Scott walked over to him, reaching out and squeezing his shoulder. "I didn't say I was gonna, just that I'm thinking about it. I wanted to talk to you about it because you're my best friend and I've always been able to tell you everything. But I'm supposed to be meeting Allison and her dad and my mom for dinner."

 

Stiles deflated. "Yeah, okay. Everything's been such shit since Gerard Argent, probably before that, but, dude, everything just sucks. I don't want you to leave the pack, man. I mean, the pack...it's...it's great. It's slow going, but we're coming together, kinda like this mix-and-match family and it's really nice."

 

Scott sighed and leaned down to pull Stiles into an awkward hug. "Hey, dude, it'll be alright. I promise, it's just something that's being considered right now. I'm not making any drastic decisions spur of the moment or anything."

 

"Ugh," Stiles sighed and hugged Scott back. "Just promise me you'll keep talking to me about this?"

 

"Of course I will." Scott pulled away and smiled at Stiles. "And, dude, don't worry too much about Derek? I know he's been avoiding you, but I'm pretty sure he's just seriously freaked out about that hunter kidnapping you. The guy seemed to think you and Derek were together?"

 

Stiles flushed and crossed his arms over his chest. "Dude, not cool. And how did you know he's been avoiding me?"

 

"Because neither of you smell like each other all that much anymore? It takes, like, several days for scents to wear off like that. So." Scott shrugged and squeezed Stiles's shoulder once more. "He'll either come around, or Boyd or Jackson will chew him out. Just give him a little space to freak out."

 

"Stop being reasonable and go have awkward dinners with your girlfriend and respective parental units." Stiles pouted and Scott chuckled, waving and hopping out his window. "Oh my God, Scott, use the damn door!"

 

"Stiles, your friends are in the living room!" Caleb called up the stairs about a half hour later, startling Stiles from his mullish contemplation of the window. He didn't want Scott or Allison to leave the pack, despite all the crap cluttering everything between them and everyone else.

 

"Argh," Stiles made a face at his window and pulled on his hoodie - a bright red one that Erica had demanded he wear a few days before under pain of over-sharing her sex life - before going back downstairs. He paused in the threshold to the living room, contemplating his life, and eyed the six teenagers sitting around the room.

 

"Danny's going to set up a youtube account for us, and Lydia and Isaac are helping with all the recording and stuff." Erica grinned gleefully and tossed a throw pillow at Jackson's head. Stiles would be pissed about being dragged into the whole cover band thing if he didn't like the idea so much.

 

Stiles sat down on the couch, between Danny and Jackson, leaning over the other human's shoulder to watch him work his magical computer skills on youtube. It was kinda ridiculous how much of a computer genius Danny was. Still nice to have him on their side, though. Made some things a lot easier to do, like, say, making sure everyone in the pack had every class with another pack member.

 

"You're totally wasting your talents on us, man." Stiles grinned and nudged Danny with his elbow.

 

Danny rolled his eyes and smirked in reply, nudging Stiles back hard enough to knock him into Jackson. Stiles squawked indignantly, and Jackson wrapped his arms around him, koala-style, and proceeded to shake him like a rag doll, because Jackson was crazy and Stiles was really confused. Isaac giggled and Danny's smirk grew. Stiles flailed a little, because random, and tried to escape the koala-hug Jackson had him in.

 

"You're bad at scent-marking in a stealthy manner, Jackson." Lydia pointed out with a vicious grin.

 

Stiles flushed and shoved his elbow in Jackson's ribs. "Oh my God, is that seriously what you're doing right now?"

 

Jackson grinned and let Stiles go, reaching over to grab Lydia's hand and lace their fingers together. "Maybe."

 

"Dick," Stiles laughed and relaxed into the back of the couch, watching Erica climb into Boyd's lap like a giant puppy. Boyd dropped a kiss to her temple and went back to reading sheet music, ignoring everyone else.

 

"So, we need to come up with, like, nicknames so people can identify us and know who we're talking about," Erica said, her smile taking on an edge of pure evil.

 

"Agreed," Stiles nodded, watching the she-wolf warily.

 

"I vote for Jackson's to be Lizard Boy."

 

Erica grinned. "I second that."

 

Jackson sneered at Erica. "I vote Erica as Blondie."

 

"Seconded!"

 

"Traitor," Erica hissed and punched Stiles's leg playfully.

 

Jackson smirked and settled back against the couch. "What about Boyd? What should his nickname be?"

 

Boyd leveled Jackson with an even look. "I dare you."

 

The werewolf faltered and Stiles snorted before snuggling against Jackson with an enthusiastic smile. Jackson scowled and tugged on Stiles's hair, his eyes a lot more amused than his scowl would have one believe. Stiles grinned and elbowed Jackson lightly. 

 

"I literally can't think of anything that isn't borderline offensive, other than BAMF, because you are totally BAMF." Isaac declared.

 

Stiles flailed and sat forward with a sudden burst of energy. "Oh! No, I've got one even better!"

 

Boyd leveled him with an intrigued eyebrow. "Do tell, Stiles."

 

"Lupin!"

 

Erica sat up. "That's excellent!"

 

"Exactly!" Stiles fist-pumped the air. "Boyd is literally the Lupin in this adventure! He's a total BAMF who loved his friends and rolled his eyes at them at the same time!"

 

"I like it," Boyd smiled and moved the sheet music off to the side so he could wrap his arms around Erica's waist. "It'll be fun telling you guys how done I am with your shit in a British accent."

 

Isaac snorted and hid his face against Danny's knee. "I can't imagine you with a British accent, Boyd, it's too funny."

 

Stiles nodded, satisfied, and settled against the couch again. Danny nudged him closer to Jackson, making room for Isaac to sit next to him on the couch, and Stiles propped his head against Jackson's shoulder. Jackson bumped their knees together amicably and pulled Lydia fully into his lap, hooking his chin over her shoulder with a content smile. Warmth uncurled beneath Stiles's ribcage, because Jackson was still prickly most of the time and it was awesome to see him relax around everyone.

 

"So where exactly is the rest of us?" Danny asked while he tapped away at his laptop.

 

"Ugh," Stiles grimaced and slouched down further. "Scott and Allison are having dinner with their parents and Derek's being an asshole."

 

Lydia turned enough to study Stiles with a quirked brow. "He's always an asshole."

 

Stiles's frown deepened. "Not always, but he's been avoiding me."

 

"Oh my God, he's an idiot," Erica muttered and turned her face into Boyd's neck, grumbling discontentedly into his throat. Boyd sighed and shook his head with a despairing look at the ceiling. Jackson made a dissatisfied noise and Isaac snuggled into Danny's side with an assenting noise when Danny asked if this was why Isaac'd been hiding out at his place.

 

Peter propped himself against the doorjamb and frowned thoughtfully at the teenagers, catching Stiles's attention. "My nephew probably thinks he's keeping you safe by avoiding you. That hunter took you thinking that you were Derek's mate."

 

Stiles scowled, a bit startled by Peter's reassurance and over-all random appearance in the living room. "Well...that's seriously stupid." He slouched even further into the couch. Jackson nudged Stiles with his knee again, moving his arm to wrap around Stiles's shoulders comfortingly while simultaneous shooting the others venomous looks daring them to comment. Stiles leaned into Jackson - shut up, he liked cuddles a lot more than he ever thought he would - and sighed heavily. 

 

"Hunters are known to kill a werewolf's mate," Peter scowled. "It's debilitating and makes the werewolf stupid, thus an easy kill."

 

Isaac shrank against Danny's side and Stiles scowled back at Peter. His father's head poked around Peter's shoulder, his eyebrow raised at the cuddling, and nudged the older werewolf with a nod towards the clock. "Dinner reservations."

 

Stiles narrowed his eyes further and watched Peter disappear into the hallway behind his father. Erica grumbled something more about idiots and Lydia hopped off Jackson's lap. "Well, Stiles, I expect to see you on my front porch tomorrow morning, just so you know."

 

"What?"

 

"We have a shopping trip to commence."

 

"...Damn it." Stiles groaned and squirmed until he could hide behind Jackson.

 

"No one gets out of shopping with her, Stilinski," Jackson cackled and stood up to kiss his girlfriend. Stiles squawked indignantly and threw one of the pillows at Jackson's head.

 

"You guys think you're ready to make your first video?" Danny asked with a smirk at Jackson.

 

Erica paled and stabbed a finger at Danny. "You better not post it if I sound like a beached whale."

 

Stiles choked on his laughter. "Boyd, Jackson, and Isaac all said you have a great voice!"

 

"She does," Boyd confirmed and maneuvered her until he could stand up with her still in his arms. "You're not going to sound like a beached whale, stop pretending your voice is terrible."

 

"Cavities!" Stiles shrieked and fled to the basement before Erica could retaliate. The others blinked after him for a moment before laughing, getting up to follow Stiles downstairs. 

 

"Hey, so, don't you guys think the rest of us helping you guys needs a nickname too?" Lydia asked, her smile turning wicked.

 

"You're right, you guys do!" Erica nodded in agreement and flung an arm around Isaac's shoulders after wiggling her way out of Boyd's hold. "And on this day, I dub thee, Isaac Lahey, Curlz."

 

Stiles snorted and situated himself behind his drum set. "It suits him."

 

"Yeah, but we could also call him Bambi," Jackson added, narrowing his eyes at Isaac. "He's got the eyes..."

 

"Please, let's not," Stiles winced and avoided everyone's gaze.

 

"We'll stick with Curlz," Erica snapped and smacked the back of Jackson's head. 

 

Jackson nodded and rubbed his head, frowning apologetically at Stiles. "Right. Curlz works for me." He turned his gaze to Danny, and the wicked grin was back. "As for Danny here, no one gets a choice. He's Rainbow Brite and has been since we were eight."

 

Stiles choked and gaped at Jackson. Danny scowled and punched his friend's shoulder. 

 

"Oh my God, please tell me you're not that much of an ass!?"

 

"Jesus," Danny rolled his eyes. "He gave me that nickname when he came over and caught me watching the TV show. It's unfortunately ironic given my orientation, all things considered."

 

Jackson smirked and nudged Danny with his elbow. "Hey, you blushed the first time I called you Rainbow Brite, and it was a pleased blush, man."

 

"Shut up, asshole, I was just excited someone gave me a nickname, despite how utterly mortifying it was." Danny sniped back and flicked Jackson's nose. "Bad dog."

 

Lydia laughed, pressing her face into Jackson's shoulder, at her boyfriend's outraged expression and scratched his scalp lightly. "Almost as great as telling Scott you had a crush on his best friend."

 

Stiles flailed right off his stool. "Oh my God, I can just picture the look on Scott's face!"

 

"It was pretty priceless." Erica agreed.

 

Isaac snorted and helped Danny set up the tripod. "I think that's an understatement, but yeah, his expression was great."

 

"Stiles, our shopping trip tomorrow?" Lydia smiled, her tone sweet, and fluttered her fingers at him. Stiles nodded warily. "I'm fixing your wardrobe. I've already got my prom dress."

 

"Excuse you, there isn't anything wrong with my wardrobe." Stiles narrowed his eyes at her and plucked reluctantly at his flannel shirt. "Nothing at all."

 

"Sure, if you don't mind looking like you were spit out of a thrift store."

 

"Rude," Stiles sniffed and glared at Lydia. "I take back every nice thing I ever said and or thought about you."

 

Lydia shrugged and turned to help Danny with something. Erica smirked and perched on a metal folding chair a few feet away, her lips curling further into the realm of wicked. It made Stiles squirm, because that expression was not something he ever enjoyed when directed at him. Boyd quirked an eyebrow at him, clearly amused, and handed his Ipod to Stiles.

 

"That's got the song on it, minus your part." Boyd explained with a shrug. "I figure you can use that seeing as we're trying the recording this way first."

 

Stiles grinned. "Thanks, man." He tucked the Ipod into his front pocket and stretched his arms over his head. "I'm pretty sure this whole thing is either gonna be awesome or a giant fail."

 

Jackson chuckled and leaned against the wall by the drum set. "No kidding. Danny and Lydia had to test the stupid video camera on me to make sure there wasn't any werewolf shit messing with the captured image, like with pictures."

 

"Oh, dude, I never even thought about that." Stiles blinked. "Is there?"

 

"Nope, apparently it's just with flash."

 

"Huh," the human scrubbed a hand through his hair thoughtfully. "I always wondered about that. I should maybe ask Derek...or, well, Peter might know better than Derek. And, you know, the butt hole actually has to stop avoiding me first."

 

"I'm sure he'll get over himself soon," Erica smiled sweetly. Stiles was of the impression that sweetly for her really meant scary.

 

Jackson and Boyd both nodded in agreement. Stiles smiled, something warm unfurling in the pit of his stomach. It felt awesome knowing someone other than Scott or his Dad would stick up for him. And knowing that they cared that much for him, that they'd actually stand up to their alpha? It just intensified the fondness he felt growing for the three wolves.

 

"Oh God, Stiles, I can smell the affection." Erica whined and covered her nose with an exaggerated grimace. "Put the emotions away."

 

Stiles made a face at her, and Boyd laughed. Stiles's smile grew, quietly pleased, because Boyd hardly laughed for anyone other than Erica, and even those seemed rare. Isaac hid a happy smile in Danny's shoulder, and Stiles wondered, not for the first time, if Isaac liked seeing the rest of the pack so happy because the last few years of his life had been horrible. Jackson frowned over at his best friend, and Stiles watched Jackson.

 

"Okay, Stiles, let's do some test runs?" Danny smiled and motioned for the others to move. Stiles fidgeted, nervous because he'd only ever knowingly played in front of his parents and Scott, and nodded to Danny. Danny fiddled with the video camera for a moment. "Go ahead whenever you're ready, Stilinski."

 

"Alright," Stiles inhaled and plugged his earbuds into Boyd's Ipod. "Here's to not looking like a total ass."

 

Erica snorted and pressed her face against Boyd's arm, her shoulders shaking. Boyd grinned and curled his arm around her shoulders. "Good luck with that, Stiles."

 

"Oh, screw you Lupin," Stiles smirked and started the song.

Chapter Text


~Come GIR. (Let Us Rain Some Doom Down Upon the Heads of Our Doomed Enemies)~

Derek rolled his shoulders, equal parts tired, tense, and too wired to properly relax. He shut the door to the Camaro as softly as he could and grimaced when Erica, Jackson, and Boyd went silent somewhere in the house. After the day he'd just had, Derek wasn't sure he could handle any of his betas. He was too raw, emotionally, and he really just wanted to ground himself. Alone.

 

(Not that Erica could ever take a hint, blatant or otherwise.)

 

"Derek!"

 

"Nope," Derek replied and walked around the house, disappearing into the trees. He walked until he couldn't hear anything but the natural ambiance  letting the sounds of birds and small animals soothe him. 

 

Jackson showed up a few hours later, sitting down across from Derek. Derek kept his gaze locked onto the tree tops, focusing his other senses until he could hear ants climbing up and down the tree he was leaned against. Jackson's heart was steady, and he smelled like pack and relaxed happiness and protectiveness and a little wariness. He smelled like the Stilinski house, too, and Stiles.

 

Derek heaved a sigh after a half hour, resigned to the fact that Jackson wasn't going anywhere and he had considerably more patience than Derek. He redirected his gaze to Jackson's, meeting the beta's eyes tiredly, and quirked an eyebrow.

 

"What." His tone was flat, empty.

 

"You've been avoiding the house all evening." Jackson pointed out, all traces of his douche bag persona abandoned somewhere behind them. "Boyd had to talk Erica out of coming after you."

 

"How kind of him," Derek huffed and ran a hand through his hair. He took a deep breath, held it until he felt his lungs burn, and exhaled on a forceful sigh. 

 

Jackson rolled his eyes and pushed himself up, dusting his hands off on his jeans. "Really, he only did it because he was worried about Erica. He's pretty pissed at you, too." He sniffed, judgmental, and stalked off back towards the house.

 

Derek waited a few minutes before following Jackson back, feeling defeated. He wasn't even sure what he'd done, exactly, to have them all pissed at him. Actually, Derek could think of a few reasons why they were pissed at him. He just really didn't want to.

 

"I don't particularly care, Jackson." Erica snapped, her voice brittle with irritation. Derek paused in the kitchen, listening to her pacing in the living room. "Derek's being an ass, and - "

 

"And Stiles cares too much, even if he likes to pretend otherwise." Boyd interrupted.

 

"Stiles has always cared too much, once he's invested in someone."

 

Derek flinched and went up the back staircase. He slipped into his bedroom, locking the door behind him, and sat down heavily on the king sized bed situated in the center of his room. His emotions were thick, sitting heavy on his chest and squeezing his lungs, and Derek scrubbed his face with both hands until his skin stung.

 

The thick, grassy scent that seemed to make up Stiles's natural scent clung to Derek even after two showers, and he gave it up as a lost cause, smashing his face into his pillow. He'd never noticed how strong Stiles's scent on him was until the night before, and now Derek wasn't sure if he wanted to go back to not noticing it or not. It was...he liked that Stiles's scent clung to him, but, at the same time, it was a sweet kind of torture. He thought, briefly, about what exactly they'd have to do to make the scent even stronger, and rolled his hips down into the mattress twice before guilt clawed at his gut, sharp and bitter.

 

Derek's erection disappeared quickly after that, and he wanted to scream. He knew, logically, that there wasn't really anything wrong with wanting to be with Stiles in that way. And as much as Stiles liked to say that Kate was the monster, Kate hadn't actually raped him. Derek had been a willing participant in their sexual encounters. He'd been enthusiastically eager, high on hormones and the attention of a beautiful older woman. So, he hated that he associated his attraction and feelings to everything negative in his past. He understood, a little, why he might associate sex with his family's death, though. It was a vicious circle Derek wanted out of.

 

He needed help to do that. It was a sudden realization, when Derek finally had it later that afternoon. And once he'd realized it, he called Deaton.

 

"Derek?"

 

"Do you know someone I could...talk to...that, you know, knows about werewolves?"

 

"Talk to?"

 

Derek gritted his teeth and took a deep breath. "Like, therapy?"

 

"Ah." Deaton was silent for a long moment. "I can give you the name of a friend of mine. He has a practice in the city about an hour from here, and he comes from a family of werewolves."

 


"...Thank you, Deaton."

 

And Derek had called the number Deaton gave him, set up an appointment, and ended up going back every day for two hour sessions. Apparently Deaton had called after hanging up with Derek and suggested his friend set the session up for a little longer than normal. Derek was actually grateful Deaton had done so, even if he also felt like it'd been invasive. But Derek had been spending four hours out of the day - two in the therapist's office, two driving there and back - everyday for the last week, and he always felt too emotionally raw, vulnerable, to actively see any of his pack.

 

He'd fix that, though. Derek had started therapy because he wanted to be okay with wanting Stiles, to be more okay than he already was with letting his pack in. Avoiding Stiles and making him feel crappy about it? That was not in the plan. Neither was pissing off the rest of the pack.

 

Derek growled under his breath and glared out the window overlooking the forest line behind the house. Jackson and Erica were still arguing down in the living room, and Boyd stayed quiet throughout it. Derek wondered if any of them had noticed him entering the house, if they were arguing because they knew Derek was listening, or if they were arguing about what good it would do to say something to his face.

 

But, he didn't need it said to his face. Derek knew he was hurting Stiles, both instinctively and via disapproving texts from his uncle. He often wondered what it said about him that he forgave his uncle a lot faster than he could forgive himself for ever involving himself with Kate. But Peter had been a victim before he'd been a monster, and Derek a foolish teenager. He'd always hold more blame over himself for everything that happened.

 

He didn't register his decision to go talk to Stiles until he was standing on the front porch of the Stilinski house. Derek didn't even remember actually leaving his house, or the drive over. It startled him when Peter opened the front door with a quirked eyebrow and a no-doubt snarky comment on the tip of his tongue.

 

"Is Stiles home?" Derek asked before Peter could actually say anything. His uncle's mouth quirked up in one corner and he nodded.

 

"He's in his room."

 

Derek nodded and waited for Peter to invite him into the house. He wasn't even going to ask what Peter was doing there, or why Peter was the one to answer the door, or why the Sheriff let Peter answer his front door and let people into his home. Derek didn't want to think about what that meant, because it'd lead him to wondering about the past and what Peter meant to a woman who'd died and left behind a brokenhearted husband and son.

 

He climbed the stairs, following the sound of whatever pop song was playing. Derek recognized the song as he came closer, and wondered momentarily if Stiles was listening to a cover because that particular song was not sung by a guy. He knocked on the door and listened as the music cut out and Stiles tripped over something, stumbling into the door before it was yanked open and Stiles gaped at him.

 

"Oh," he blinked and snapped his jaw shut with a click, his eyes darkening with anger and hurt. "Glad to see you're still alive, dick. I was beginning to wonder after all that static silence, but the rest of the pack kept reassuring me you're just a huge assbutt." Stiles stomped back over to his desk and sat down with an angry huff, his shoulders hunched in as he resumed reading something on his laptop.

 

Derek grimaced and moved further into the room after a long, tense moment of questioning his life. Stiles didn't say anything, or even acknowledge that Derek was there, and Derek hated the hurt and anger he could smell, lingering in the teen's bedroom, overlaying the old hurt that'd been so ingrained in everything the further Scott and Stiles drifted apart. Derek bit back a frustrated growl, because this was already not going the way he wanted it to, and sighed heavily before he sat down on the edge of Stiles's bed.

 

"I'm sorry."

 

Stiles's shoulders twitched, and his heartbeat stuttered, but Stiles made no move to acknowledge Derek for a long moment. Derek glared down at the floor, working through what else he could say. There wasn't anything, he knew, that could make up for avoiding Stiles and ignoring his calls and texts. They were friends, and Derek knew that, even if Stiles would never admit to it, Stiles was always a little scared that the people around him would push him away one day. Stiles had spent so long with Scott as his only friend, and then Scott had gotten a girlfriend and his attention had been consumed by her, leaving Stiles out cold. And while what Derek had done wasn't exactly like that, it was a similar scenario and Derek had no doubts that Stiles had viewed the two situations the same.

 

"Stiles," Derek sighed softly, frowning fiercely at a patch of carpet just next to the desk chair. "I didn't... I didn't mean to avoid you, or ignore you."

 

"But you did, for no obvious reason!" Stiles snapped and spun the chair so he could glare at Derek. "You almost died, scared the hell out of me and the others, and then you woke up, acting kinda weird, and then you stopped talking to me and started avoiding me. I mean, I realize that it was partially my fault you were hurt, because seriously, why am I always the one getting kidnapped? But, dude, Boyd and Isaac told me you just rushed in without making a plan or anything. You were lucky those stupid wolfsbane bullets were in the same damn room, and that my dad and your uncle showed up!"

 

Derek hunched in on himself and glanced up at Stiles. "I know. I... I never meant to avoid you, Stiles. I panicked, at first, and..." Derek ran a hand through his hair, frustrated. "I started therapy, and I've been going everyday, and I always feel too fucking raw after the sessions. ...and it wasn't your fault I got hurt, damnit."

 

"...oh, dude," Stiles murmured, and the dark edge of his anger and hurt shifted to a soft, almost vanilla scent. "I didn't know, no one told me - "

 

"No one knows." Derek said before Stiles could finish, glancing up to meet the teen's eyes before looking away. "Other than Deaton, who recommended me to someone who actually knows about werewolves, no one knows."

 

"Oh."

 

"Yeah." The werewolf heaved another sigh, his shoulders feeling a bit lighter, and met Stiles's eyes again. "I didn't want to tell anyone, because it's...personal. I'm, I want to get better, because I realized a lot of separate things simultaneously."

 

Stiles relaxed back against his chair and started chewing on his thumbnail. "That's, well...it's good that you're trying, right?" He grinned around his thumb, his eyes a little lighter and a little proud. The expression made something warm curl up in Derek's belly, and Derek grinned back. "Dude, so, you're seeing a werewolf therapist?"

 

"Don't even, Stiles,"

 

"Or what, you gonna rip my throat out?"

 

"With my teeth, yes." Derek rolled his eyes and relaxed his shoulders.

 

The human snorted and kicked at Derek's foot. "Assbutt," Stiles smirked and twisted around to pick his laptop up. He carried it over to his bed, shouldering Derek until he moved so Stiles could stretch out on his stomach. "Lay down and watch some cartoons with me."

 

"Alright," Derek stretched out beside Stiles. "What cartoons do you have in mind?"

 

Stiles grinned and started the episode without a word. Derek grimaced and paused it before it could get a minute into the actual show. "Dude!"

 

"No, this is not a cartoon. This is a fucking monstrosity and if you say otherwise, I'll tell your father where to find the potato chips."

 

Stiles narrowed his eyes. "You wouldn't dare."

 

Derek smirked. "Sure I wouldn't."

 

"Fine," Stiles huffed. "What do you consider a cartoon, then?"

 

"Just about anything from my childhood."

 

"Dude."

 

Derek rolled his eyes and pulled the laptop over to him. "Shut up, I grew up with some awesome cartoons. Today's cartoons are utter shit and I despair for the youth of the world."

 

Stiles snorted and watched Derek sign into his email client. Derek filtered through several emails before opening one and clicking on the first link in the body of the message. Another tab opened and Derek grinned as he navigated his way to Ren&Stimpy, clicking to watch the first episode.

 

"Dude."

 

"I blame my uncle for this." Derek replied.

 

"What?"

 

"Peter and Sky used to watch this all the time, and Peter introduced Laura and me to it."

 

Derek could hear Peter tripping up the stairs, and he felt momentarily bad before Stiles distracted him with an indignant noise when Ren started talking. Derek pressed a smirk into his forearm and listened to Stiles's heart thump away. It was soothing, a balm to the rawness he'd been feeling since his therapy session. He realized, with a mildly frustrated roll of his eyes, that being around Stiles was actually helpful.

 

"What the hell, dude, why would Peter show this to you and Laura?"

 

"This aired on Nickelodeon." Derek chuckled and settled further into the mattress.

 

"Dude," Stiles said emphatically.

 

"Oh please, don't even pretend to be horrified. Old cartoons were so ridiculously violent, and you know it."

 

Stiles snorted and rocked into Derek's shoulder. "Bitch, I know," he laughed, the sound bright, and his entire body shook with it. "You know what cartoon I miss the most, though? Fucking Invader Zim."

 

"Yes." Derek smiled broadly. "Invader Zim is the shit. Anyone who says otherwise is a filthy liar."

 

"Yeah!" Stiles laughed, delighted, and Derek grinned. "Jesus, I haven't seen that show in so long."

 

The alpha nudged Stiles's shoulder with his own playfully. "The last time I watched it was with Laura. She owned the entire series. All the discs are in storage."

 

"Oh my God," Stiles whined and rolled onto his side, staring at Derek with wide, imploring eyes. "Is there any way you could get them?"

 

Derek hid his smile in the crook of his elbow. "Yeah, I can get them out, along with some other stuff."

 

"You are awesome, and a dick, but that's okay, because your awesome outweighs the dick in you."

 

"Did you word it that way on purpose? Because I promise you there isn't a dick inside of me." The werewolf smirked and shoved Stiles off of the bed.

 

"Asshole! I take everything back!" Stiles whined from the floor and threw a stray sock at Derek. "You're an evil creeper-wolf who is a great big bag of dicks!"

 

Derek snorted and closed the tab Ren&Stimpy was playing in. "I came in through the front door, not your window, so you can't call me a creeper this time."

 

"Nope, the amount of times you came in through the window is still greater than the amount of times you came in through the front door!."

 

"What about the time I came in through the back?" Derek asked nonchalantly.

 

"Oh my God!" Stiles groaned and thumped his head against the floor. "You are the absolute worst."

 

Derek laughed at him.

Chapter Text

~I Quit Running Away From Me~

It wasn’t that Stiles didn’t appreciate Lydia’s sudden desire to be buddy-buddy, it was that Stiles didn’t appreciate that that buddy-buddy stuff had to involve her dragging him around the mall. He didn’t quite understand why she was suddenly concerned with what he wore. Stiles wasn’t Jackson, she didn’t actually have to acknowledge his existence outside the pack more than occasionally, if she didn’t really want to. Lydia didn’t have to do anything.

 

Except for how apparently she did.

 

“No, honey, the point of this is to get you away from the plaid.” Lydia shook her head and shoved Stiles away from the shirt he’d been looking at.

 

Stiles sighed and let her drag him to a different rack. He was fiercely reminded of her dress shopping stint at Macys sophomore year, and how she’d shoved millions of dresses into his arms and expected him to follow her around like an obedient puppy. Which, okay, he had done that. And, well, if he hadn’t really gotten what Erica had told him a few months earlier, he certainly got it now.

 

“Oh, these would look good,” Lydia commented and plucked a red-brown henley and a dark blue v-neck shirt from their hangers. She held each one up to Stiles’s chest for a moment, nodded, and shoved them into his arms. “You’ll be trying these on.”

 

“Ugh,” Stiles groaned and let his shoulders slump. “Why do I have to get new clothes? What’s wrong with the ones I have now?”

 

Lydia spun on the pointy heel of her left foot and pinned him with a look. “There isn’t anything wrong with what you have now, Stiles. This isn’t to replace all of your wardrobe, or anything that drastic. I just want you to have clothes that don’t hide what you’ve got under all that plaid and the layers of shirts and hoodies.”

 

Stiles flushed. “Uh.”

 

“Please,” Lydia rolled her eyes and snagged a pair of jeans from the shelf they were standing beside. “Have you actually forgotten that Jackson had a crush on you? Once I pried that bit out of him, it was surprisingly easily to get him to talk, and he told me a lot. He was really grateful you never noticed all the staring he did in the locker room.”

 

“What?” Stiles choked a little and stared after Lydia as she trotted over to look through a rack of t-shirts. His face felt hot, and he was feeling a little more than shocked, even though it wasn’t all that uncommon for guys to subtly check each other out, though they normally only did it to see if someone else’s dick was bigger than theirs. He shook the feeling off a moment later, because honestly he didn’t exactly mind. It was a little flattering, at the very least. In a mildly creepy way.

 

Lydia glanced over her shoulder with an assessing gaze. “I’ll never understand the way your mind operates, Stiles. You always go on about how awesome you are, but the instant someone actually agrees, or compliments you, you get flustered and act as if you didn’t think anyone else really thought so.”

 

Stiles flushed and looked away. “No one ever notices my awesomeness, aside from Scott.”

 

“Stiles,” Lydia sighed, exasperated, and grabbed a dark green shirt off its hanger, then a purple one Stiles had been eyeing. She shoved them both into his arms and twisted to grab another pair of jeans. “You should know by now that isn’t true. Jackson’s apparently always seen how awesome you are, and same with Erica. Boyd likes you best, out of his friends, and Isaac looks like someone kicked his puppy whenever you scowl at him. I’d say something about Danny, but he’s nice to everyone and therefore doesn’t exactly count.

 

“And then there’s Derek, who wouldn’t talk to anyone for a week and a half, and then shows up at your house after Jackson says a few pointed words about how hurt you were.” Lydia rolled her eyes. “The whole pack adores you, Stilinski. Even if you are a giant asshole most of the time.”

 

“Yeah, well,” Stiles murmured, his face hot, and cleared his throat. “I mean, that’s a little different than having someone be interested in me beyond, you know, friendship.”

 

“Why are you even worried about that?” She asked and grabbed a sweater to shove into his arms. “From what I’ve seen, you don’t even know what you want.”

 

Stiles coughed and hid his face in the pile of clothes. “I don’t know.”

 

“Hmm,” Lydia hummed and grabbed a last shirt, handing it to Stiles before shoving him towards the dressing rooms. “You actually have to come out of that room to model each article of clothing I piled into your arms, just so you’re aware. You aren’t getting out of me objectifying you.”

 

“You’re supposed to be giving unbiased opinions about my appearance, not cataloguing it for later material with which you use to - ...Uh, yeah, I’m done talking now.” Stiles grimaced and fled into one of the rooms before Lydia could skin him alive or something.

 

A half hour and total humiliation later, Stiles owned everything but the leather pants Lydia had snuck into the pile. He didn’t actually know how to feel about it. He was also convinced Lydia had ulterior motives for their conversation. She kept directing it back towards his thoughts about Derek, and what made him decide she was just a friend, and why Stiles had suddenly grafted himself to Derek, Boyd, and Erica.

 

“I mean, I don’t spend any time around them, so I don’t actually know them. What I do know?” Lydia hummed and buckled herself into the Jeep. “I do know that Erica isn’t my biggest fan, and this pack is still splintered, just in different ways.”

 

Stiles sighed and pressed his forehead against the steering wheel. “Scott and Allison are thinking about leaving the pack. Scott’s pissed that everyone is kinda forgetting that Peter murdered a bunch of people and drove you to near insanity; Allison will probably always hate Peter for killing her aunt, despite the fact that Kate murdered Derek’s entire family. And I’m not so sure she’s worked out whatever issue she has with Derek, either. Oh, and I don’t think Erica actually gets along with anyone female.”

 

Lydia pulled the visor down to check herself in the mirror. “So sit everyone down, make them talk.”

 

“Yeah, right,” Stiles scoffed and shoved his key in the ignition. “See, I’m not babying anyone, and I’m not making everyone sit down and talk about their feelings. That’s not my job. No, see, my job is to be the sarcastic asshole people depend on for research.”

 

“You know you’re more important than that, Stiles. Don’t even try to act like you’re not.” Lydia raised a single brow at him. “You’re an asshole, and, honestly, a lot of what motivates you to protect us? That’s pure selfishness, because you don’t want to lose anyone else.”

 

Stiles flinched and glared at the speedometer. “Thank you oh so much for pointing out my horrible character traits. Yes, I’m well aware of what special kind of shitty I am. I’m selfish because I’m terrified of losing someone else. I’m absolutely fucking terrified to lose anyone else that I care about.” He exhaled harshly and put the Jeep in reverse without looking over at her.

 

“Sarcasm,” Lydia snarked. “Nice, fine. Avoid me, avoid my concern, avoid everyone elses’ concern. Because, as you’ve declared a few times, sarcasm is your only defense.”

 

“Obviously it isn’t,” Stiles sighed and drove them out of the mall parking lot. “If it was, none of you dicks would’ve become so fucking important to me.”

 

Lydia made a derisive noise and snapped her compact shut. “Exactly. It’s practically impossible to not care about someone when you spend an increasing amount of time in their presence in friendly environments and situations. Even more so when you face life-or-death situations with those same people.” She watched Stiles closely, her eyes narrowed. “It’s why you wouldn’t really hang out with anyone but Scott, before. After your mother died, you shut down and shut people out. Scott was your only friend, so you didn’t have to worry about getting attached to someone else, and having a crush on me made it easier for you to never have to look at someone else romantically, because if you were so certain we’d end up married with two-point-five kids, there wasn’t much point in considering someone else.”

 

Stiles stiffened, his grip on the steering wheel tightening until his knuckles were white, bloodless. There was a twin sensation of old hurt entwining with outrage, sparking in his chest and flowing throughout the rest of him until he was cold and trembling. His heart was thundering in his ears, and Stiles clenched his jaw to keep the barbed words behind his teeth.

 

He took several deep breaths through his nose, forcing himself to keep the speed limit, and turned onto his street. Lydia’s car was parked in his driveway, next to his dad’s cruiser, and Peter’s car was parked on the street in front of his house. Stiles kept his jaw clenched, eyes unwaveringly forward, and parked behind Peter’s 1998 Cadillac.

 

The problem wasn’t exactly what Lydia had said, but that she was right. She could have worded it differently, and maybe somewhere that wasn’t in a place he couldn’t escape to calm down. Lydia could have also, Stiles felt, not said it like Stiles was a shitty person for being afraid of getting hurt. Tons of people were afraid of getting hurt, and even more have done worse things to avoid it.

 

“Thank you, Lydia, for this wonderful shopping excursion,” Stiles ground out and shut the Jeep off. “But do me a favor, next time you want to talk about my emotional shortcomings? Don’t. I appreciate your concern, but my fears about someone I care about dying are mine to talk about when I want to talk about them.”

 

“Stiles,” Lydia sighed and reached out, her hand wrapping around his wrist in a comforting grip. “I didn’t exactly mean to do that, or even bring it up. But you frustrate me, damnit. This is the longest I’ve ever seen you and Scott go without being attached at the hip, and despite how it may look I don’t actually want the pack to fall apart at the seams because no one wants to be a grownup and talk about their feelings.”

 

Stiles sighed forcefully and slumped back into his seat. “That doesn’t mean you can expect me to fix it. I’m not magic; I can’t actually make people get along, and I can’t make them talk their problems out. And despite what Boyd and Erica like to say, I’m not pack-mommy. I’m not anyone’s parent, even if I act like their babysitter.”

 

Lydia pressed her lips together and studied him for a moment. “Wanting to keep the pack together, and doing something to keep it together? That doesn’t officiate you as pack-mommy or anyone’s parent. It just shows that you care about everyone in this pack and the pack as a whole and that you want everyone to be happy and okay with each other at the very least, if they can’t be as close as you’d like.”

 

“I haven’t seen you doing much to change it,” Stiles pointed out, his voice almost flat, and rolled his head on the headrest until he was looking at Lydia. “I don’t expect you to spend every waking moment around all of us, or to come around when Peter is there, but still.”

 

“It’s a more a matter of, if I tried getting everyone in this pack to hang out together at the same time, and to address interpersonal issues, do you actually think they’d listen to me?” Lydia raised an inquiring eyebrow and gave him one of her inquisitive frowns. “Allison is my best friend, Jackson is my boyfriend, Danny is a good friend but I only really know him because of Jackson, and I don’t know the other’s all that well at all.”

 

Stiles sighed. “Alright, point.”

 

She hummed approvingly and unbuckled her seatbelt, reaching down to grab her purse off the floor of the Jeep. “Stiles, with the way all of our lives went over the last year or so, who’s the common denominator in the pack? Derek, sure, he’s the alpha, but in all honesty the only people in this pack who trust him fully and spend more than a half hour with him willingly are you, and the four people he gave the bite to.”

 

“I know that,” Stiles unbuckled his own seatbelt and scratched a hand through his hair. “Boyd and Erica pointed it out to me, a while back, about how everyone else in the pack defers to me when Derek is MIA or otherwise indisposed. I’ve tried to be more aware of that.”

 

“It’s true. I think, maybe, out of everyone, Isaac and Danny are the only ones in the pack you don’t spend much time with.” Lydia shrugged. “Isaac spends a lot of time with Scott, when he’s not with Danny, and Danny, I think, still feels a little weird about the werewolf thing in general, so he kind of avoids most everyone except Isaac, Jackson, and myself.”

 

“Hm,” Stiles frowned and nodded. “I can imagine.”

 

“Yes, and so now do you understand why I say you, out of everyone, have the ability to make everyone sit down and talk? You didn’t just become Derek’s second-in-command because you’re his favorite.”

 

“Urgh, why does everyone keep saying I’m Derek’s favorite?” Stiles huffed and hopped out of the Jeep. He felt better, less ruffled after Lydia’s harsh words, and being out of the Jeep helped clear out the residual trapped, hunted feelings he’d had.

 

Lydia rolled her eyes and sauntered over to her car. “Because you are his favorite. Don’t try and deny it, Stiles.”

 

“Yeah, yeah,” Stiles flapped a hand at her and grinned when she pulled him into a hug, smacking a kiss to his cheek. “All the heavy stuff aside, today was actually kinda fun.”

 

“Uh-huh, I’m sure you had just as much fun this time as you did when I dragged you around Macy’s shopping for a dress for the formal last year.” Lydia smiled and unlocked her car.

 

“Psh, that was the epitome of great outings!” Stiles laughed. “But, you know, thanks, too. For the ‘make-over’, and don’t think I’m throwing out my old clothes because I’m not, and for being concerned in general.”

 

“You’re my friend, Stiles. I’m not that heartless.”

 

“Only about sixty-five percent.” Stiles smirked and ducked away from Lydia’s hand when she reached out to swat his shoulder.

 

“Shut up, I have to go over to Allison’s. I promised I’d help her re-organize her bedroom.” Lydia gave a little frown. “I get the feeling she’s not very fond of the apartment her dad moved them into.”

 

Stiles shrugged. “Can’t say that I’d blame her.” He directed his gaze over to his house, catching a glimpse of his father throwing something - it was too small for him to see from that distance- at Peter through the curtains. “Have fun with Allison.”

 

“See you later, Stiles,” Lydia slid into her car.

 

“Yup,” Stiles waved her off before turning and going into his house.

Chapter Text


~And Stories Full of Tears~

“How the hell would I know where he keeps his condoms?” Peter’s voice asked from the living room.

 

What, Stiles thought.

 

“What?”

 

“Oh, Stiles, how was school?” His father asked.

 

Stiles walked the rest of the way into the living room, his eyebrows raised at his father and Peter. “It was alright. Whose condoms are you looking for and why?”

 

“Scott’s.”

 

“Um, Scott’s? Why are you looking for Scott’s condoms?” Stiles’s gaze darted around the living room. “Why are you looking for his condoms here?”

 

“What? Oh, no, no, we’re not looking for his condoms anywhere. I was telling Peter about Melissa spending most of our lunch complaining about finding another near-empty box of condoms and having a teenage son, and I wondered aloud where Scott was hiding his condoms if Melissa keeps finding the box.”

 

Stiles raised his eyebrows. “They could be Isaac’s. He is living there.”

 

“Oh, that’s right,” Peter said. “I forgot about that.”

 

“Melissa said she found them in Scott’s room,” his father frowned and moved over to the couch, sitting down and kicking his legs out until they were propped up on the coffee table.

 

“Can I just say that walking into the house and hearing you guys talking about condoms is incredibly weird for me.” Stiles made a face. “And I’m going to go practice the newest song those cretins are making me learn, so that I can numb myself from the mental scars received from the brief moments I had to consider my father seriously discussing the need to find a condom.”

 

Peter tilted his head to the side, an amused expression on his face. “Just so you’re aware, there’s someone in your bedroom. They, apparently, have a rather strong aversion to using doors.”

 

Stiles groaned. “Jeez, why?” He whined and glared over at the staircase. “Whichever werewolf is in my bedroom, get your furry ass down here because I’ll be in the basement with my drumset.”

 

His father chuckled and swiped a hand down his face. “I feel like I should be more irritated about the fact that all of my son’s friends sneak in through his bedroom window.”

 

“At least Derek respects you enough to actually use the front door when you’re home,” Peter pointed out with an amused smirk.

 

Stiles narrowed his eyes at the two older men. “What is that supposed to mean?”

 

“It means Derek’s smart enough to realize that he’s a twenty-something dude who shouldn’t be sneaking into the sheriff’s underage son’s bedroom window?” Erica suggested, descending the stairs like a freaking Disney princess, followed closely by Boyd who was grinning like Erica was reciting the punch line to a well-known inside joke.

 

“Ugh,” Stiles made a face and waved to his father and Peter before turning on his heel and making his way into the kitchen and down the basement steps.

 

Erica and Boyd weren’t far behind him, following him towards the back where his drums were set up. Stiles threaded his fingers through his hair, slightly startled to realize that it had grown out, and turned to grab the sheet music Boyd had given him at school a couple days earlier. He waited couple minutes, absently wondering when exactly he’d last shaved his head and if he had made a conscious decision to let it grow out and just forgot, and then he waited another couple minutes as he studied over the first few bars and wondered how best to block the measures together to best learn the song.

 

“Okay, what’s wrong?” Stiles finally grumbled, setting the pages down on the music stand and directing his full attention onto his friends. “I have never experienced an Erica this quiet, and I’ve never seen you look caught between pissed off and concerned, Boyd.”

 

“None of us have heard from Derek in a couple days, and he won’t answer his fucking phone,” Erica snarled.

 

Boyd pressed his lips together in a tight line and squeezed Erica’s shoulder. “He mumbled something about driving out of town and disappeared, and we haven’t seen him or heard from him since.”

 

Stiles raised his eyebrows. “You all realize I’m not actually his keeper, right?” He sighed in exasperation and moved to sit down on the stool set up behind the drumset. “He’s fine, I promise.”

 

“If he’s fine, then where the hell is he? And why won’t he answer his phone?” Erica demanded, her voice taking on more wolf. “He’s our fucking alpha, and he can’t just leave without a word and refuse to answer his phone!”

 

“Hey now,” Stiles cringed and rubbed his face until it tingled a little. “No need to get wolfy on me, here. Just, it’s maybe not okay that he left without an explanation, but it’s gonna be okay.”

 

Boyd wrapped his arm around Erica’s shoulders and nuzzled her hair, whispering soothing words into the blond strands. Erica visibly relaxed into her boyfriend’s hold and released a drawn out sigh. “Sorry Stiles.”

 

“We wondered if you knew where he is,” Boyd said and pressed a kiss to the top of Erica’s head. “All of us figured, what with you being his second, he’d at least tell you.”

 

Stiles fidgeted. “I don’t know exactly where he is, just the general location. He’s fine, and he’d sense it if any of you wolves needed him.”

 

“What about the humans of this pack?” Erica quirked an eyebrow at him.

 

“I’m guessing yeah,” Stiles shrugged and picked up his drumsticks. “Look, I would actually explain this better, but what’s going on is none of my business and Derek trusts me not to say anything to anyone about it. He’ll explain when he’s ready.”

 

Erica huffed and Boyd frowned thoughtfully. Stiles chewed on his bottom lip for a moment before heaving a sigh and twirling the one drumstick with his right hand. “It’s not anything against the rest of the pack, if that’s something you’re worrying about. All of it is... Derek is just trying to get better.”

 

“Better?” Erica raised her eyebrows. “Is he taking secret alpha werewolf lessons or something? Because leaving his territory while there’s still a potential threat doesn’t seem like a wise decision.”

 

Stiles snorted and dropped the drumstick. “No.” He leaned down to pick his drumstick up. “He isn’t all that bad, now that he isn’t high off the level up and trying to defeat crazy werewolf elitists who think it’s their sovereign right to judge each and every new alpha; and Derek is still actually close enough to do something if one of the pack is threatened by the skinwalker. So, he’s getting better at the alpha thing, really. It’s a slow process.”

 

Erica laughed softly and sent Stiles a warm smile. “I guess. I mean, if you were to listen to Scott describe him, Derek is the most horrible person in the world.”

 

“Yeah,” Stiles frowned and tapped his fingers against the rim of the snare thoughtfully. “But Scott has never actually liked Derek.”

 

Boyd leaned against the wall, Erica dropping down to sit on his feet, and crossed his arms over his chest. “Why is that, exactly? I remember how pissed he was at the idea of me getting the bite, when he showed up at the ice rink to talk me out of it. He was angrier when he found out he was too late. At first, I thought it was because he wanted me in his pack, but Derek’d said Scott didn’t want anything to do with werewolves, period.”

 

“That’s,” Stiles started and then frowned down at the snare drum in frustration. “Back then, Scott was pissed off about being a werewolf. It did kinda destroy his life for a while. Peter bit Scott without his permission, and Derek and Scott did not see eye-to-eye right from the start. Actually, Scott was convinced for a while there that Derek was the one who’d turned him.”

 

Stiles shoved a hand through his hair, messing it up further, and groaned. “And then, Derek told Scott about a possible cure. That’s, um, kinda why Scott was so angry with Derek, after he killed Peter. Because Derek didn’t let Scott do the one thing that might cure him.” He shrugged again and chewed on his bottom lip some more. “So, Scott was stuck being a werewolf and being in love with a hunter’s daughter, who is now a sometimes-hunter herself, and Scott didn’t want Derek to bite other people because he emphatically doesn’t think the bite is a gift. I mean, now Scott doesn’t mind being a werewolf or anything. He likes it, most days, I think. But, he just doesn’t agree with Derek’s views on being a werewolf, still, and they’re both too damn stubborn to talk. Also, Derek had this incredibly bad habit of not telling Scott everything. He’d only give the bare minimum, if that, when he should’ve been telling Scott everything right from the start.”

 

“I think I understand why they’re never in the same room for more than an hour at a time,” Erica huffed and rolled her eyes in exasperation. “They’re both too stupid to function in proper society, christ.”

 

Boyd snorted and bumped his knee against Erica’s shoulder gently. Erica tipped her head back to smile up at him, her eyes soft and affectionate. Boyd’s face stretched into a small, loving smile.

 

“Ugh,” Stiles sighed and slumped dramatically off of the stool, his limbs akimbo on the basement floor. Erica and Boyd turned their attention to him, and Stiles made the sound of the aggrieved. “I have been killed by the sweetness that was that interaction.”

 

“Shut up, Batman, or I’ll purchase one of those supernatural creature-themed dildos and leave it sitting out where your dad’ll find it.” Erica grinned ferally and flashed a hint of fang at him.

 

Stiles made a wounded noise and threw one of his drumsticks at Erica’s face. “I will get Lydia and Jackson to help me to make you regret every decision ever, if you do that.”

 

“Fat chance,” Erica cackled and threw the drumstick back at him.

 

“Hn,” Stiles batted the drumstick away before it could hit him in the face and pushed himself into an upright position. “How much do you love your hair, Erica?”

 

“You. Wouldn’t. Dare.”

 

Stiles bared his teeth in a smile. “Try me, Blondie.”

 

Boyd rolled his eyes and heaved a sigh. “Okay, children, Erica and I have a dinner with my grandmother to get to.” He held his hand out and hauled Erica up as soon as her hand closed around his. Erica groaned out a protest and pouted when Boyd sent her an unimpressed look.

 

“But she hates me,” Erica whined and tossed her hair over her shoulder. “She called me a hussy.”

 

Stiles snorted and shook his head. “It’s because you hang out with all guys, isn’t it?”

 

Erica huffed and glared at Stiles. “She seems to think I’m in training to become a sex worker.”

 

Boyd let out a bark of laughter, but cut it off a second later, his face going blank. Stiles bit back an amused smile and Erica narrowed her eyes at him. Boyd just shrugged and gave a curt wave goodbye to Stiles before turning and going up the steps. Stiles raised his eyebrows at Erica, his mouth twitching against the smile, and Erica gave another feral smile before blowing him a kiss and taking off after Boyd up the stairs.

 

After he was certain Erica and Boyd were at least out of his house, Stiles buried his face in his knees and laughed until his ribs hurt. He wasn’t entirely sure why it was so hilarious, but it just was. He knew how glad he was that Erica was irritated with Boyd, and that he did not at all envy Boyd, because Erica’s wrath was scary and their prom was tomorrow, which meant she’d wait to exact revenge. (There was no way in hell Erica would do something that’d jeopardize their prom night.)

 

Several minutes later, he’d calmed down enough to settle himself on the stool again and study the music, absently chewing on the knuckle of his thumb. The song was Jackson’s pick, after he spent an afternoon bickering with Erica about what genres she was willing to sing, and what ones she wasn’t. Stiles had spent that day hiding out with Boyd in the mostly-finished living room of the Hale house. He was sure their argument was going to end with bloodshed in Derek’s back yard, but Lydia had shown up and suggested that, when it was Erica’s turn to pick a song again, Lydia would give her a list of all the songs Jackson loathed.

 

Ergo, Stiles was in the process of learning Elvis Presley. Which, he didn’t really mind, because Elvis was okay (his parents liked Elivs), it was just that... Stiles hadn’t really expected Jackson to like Elvis to the point he actually spent an afternoon arguing with Erica so heatedly. It was a little startling, because he’d seen the contents of Jackson’s iPod.

 

He was in the middle of going over the song for the fourth time - he kept flubbing a couple measures in the second line - when Peter propped himself against the wall and studied the drumset with sad blue eyes. Stiles pulled his headphones off and paused the song in the middle of Elvis telling him what wise men say.

 

“Um,” he mumbled, confused, and shoved his sweaty hair off of his forehead.

 

Peter’s smile was shaded with a heavy sadness that had the small hairs on the back of Stiles’s rising. “I didn’t realize you’d be using your mother’s drumset,” he offered and hopped up to sit on the edge of the billiards table that’d been covered in boxes for years. “I haven’t seen it in forever.”

 

Stiles blinked. “Ah, yeah,” he frowned a little and set the drumsticks on the music stand. “She taught me to play with these drums. I stopped playing after she...but, I mean, I wouldn’t let dad get rid of them.”

 

“She used to practice against the kitchen table in our apartment,” Peter chuckled softly, his mouth twisting down. “It used to drive me crazy.”

 

“Oh,” Stiles swallowed thickly, his eyes stinging, and stared down at the drumhead of the snare. “I didn’t know you lived with her.”

 

Peter nodded. “We shared an apartment for a year and a half in San Diego.” His smile turned somber. “I made her bring all her dates home to meet me. Your father was too taken with her to be properly terrified of me.”

 

“Didn’t stop you from threatening an officer of the law.”

 

Stiles jumped and glanced over to see his father standing at the foot of the stairs, his smile wistful and faraway. Peter hummed and shrugged, unconcerned. “I didn’t care who you worked for. You could’ve been a federal agent and I would’ve threatened you. She was my little sister.”

 

Caleb nodded. “I would have done the same.”

 

Peter tilted his head back. “Yes, Anwen invoked incredibly intense feelings of love and protectiveness. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t’ve died for her.”

 

They were all silent after that, lost in their own thoughts, until Stiles’s phone went off in his pocket. Stiles jumped and ducked his head when Peter quirked an amused eyebrow at him. He didn’t care what Peter thought, the ringtone was ironic. He answered it after the third ring.

 

Can I hide in your room?” Derek asked, his voice rough and cracking in the middle.

 

Stiles imagined Derek’s session with his therapist must’ve been especially hard, if his voice was breaking like that. “Yeah, of course, so long as you don’t mind the fact that your uncle is here.”

 

S’fine. I’ll be there in thirty minutes.” Derek said and hung up.

 

“Rough day,” Stiles declared and sighed heavily. “I’m sweaty and gross, so I’m gonna go shower.”

 

“I’ll go start dinner,” his father decided and turned to head back up the steps.

 

Peter nodded and jumped down from his spot on the billiards table. “I’ll run to the store, pick up the stuff to make spiced apple cider. I used to make it for the kids when they had a bad day at school.”

 

Stiles gave Peter a small, sad smile. “I think he’ll appreciate that.”

Chapter Text

~I Took the Low Road In (I'll Take the High Road Out)~

Derek narrowed his eyes at the kitchen counter, considering the apple cinnamon muffins Melissa had sent over with Stiles that morning, and sighed in defeat. They smelled ridiculously delicious, and he liked muffins. He took one out of the bag and peeled the paper off the bottom, biting into it while walking back towards the living room.

 

He had, after all, a new writing assignment from his therapist, and so he felt he deserved a goddamned muffin.

 

His therapist had realized incredibly quickly how much Derek didn’t like talking after that first week. They’d had to work through what ways Derek could express the things he didn’t want to say out loud. Painting (that was Sky’s thing, any form of art actually, with Peter). Music (more Laura’s thing) which wasn’t a half bad idea, but was more meant for the self rather than finding a comfortable way to open up. Writing (that was his father’s thing, he’d worked for the local newspaper).

 

He could write, for the most part. It was, not exactly easier, but...Derek didn’t choke on the words, when all he had to do was put them on paper. So he wrote, and then handed it over at the beginning of their session. And they’d talk about how Derek felt while writing, if he allowed himself to experience the emotions those particular memories evoked, or if he knew what they’d be and shut himself down before he could actually feel them.

 

Derek had written about Kate for the previous day’s session. (He’d kept away from the pack while doing it, because he wasn’t exactly ready, yet, to have to explain the emotional cocktail his scent always was when doing the writing assignments.) Then he’d talked about feeling sick the entire time, because he had thought about every interaction he’d had with her. And he’d explained how, it wasn’t how she used him to get to his family that made him feel sick, it had been how, even knowing the truth, there was still a sort of fondness for some of his memories. How everything was twisted and knotted together, the sorta fondness and the burning hatred and hurt. It felt like a betrayal to his family, that what she’d done hadn’t destroyed the few nice memories he had of her, of them.

 

Everything had been too...much. He’d hidden out in Stiles’s bedroom. Eaten the french toast Stiles brought up on a tray; drank the giant mug of spiced apple cider, with a twist of bitter irony because the only person who could’ve made it was Peter. Derek hadn’t spoken a word the entire night. He’d barely managed a thank you that morning.

 

He probably wasn’t, he figured, much ready to write anything else.

 

Derek sighed and leaned his head back against the sofa, staring up at the ceiling wearily. Everything was a twisted mess in his head, conflicted emotions still crashing over him. After another silent moment, Derek straightened up and started writing.

 

The thick cord of betrayal that had wrapped around his throat and knotted itself into the base of his skull slowly loosened, all the feelings Derek had shut down before were slowly flowing from the cage he’d stuck them in. Peter’s betrayal - even if Peter was doing all he could to make amends - and Scott’s; the way Kate had used him, and how Peter had instructed a possessed Lydia to use him, and how Scott had used him.

 

He shuddered under the stagnant hurt of it all. Any anger he’d had from the betrayals had long since been felt, utilized until the anger and rage stopped anchoring him to humanity. And the realization that anger hadn’t been his anchor for the last handful of months startled Derek out of his thoughts.

 

Peter’s car was coming up to the house, with the Sheriff in the passenger seat. Derek frowned and put his notebook away, moving into the kitchen to watch Peter’s approach from the window. Peter showing up at the house wasn’t all that surprising, as much as he was obviously uncomfortable around it. The Sheriff, though, was an oddity. He hadn’t been anywhere near the Hale property since Derek had the old house torn down.

 

“We’ve something we’d like to discuss with you, Derek,” Peter called from the front porch, and the Sheriff muttered something unflattering and sarcastic about Peter’s lack of faith in Derek’s intelligence.

 

Derek snorted and silently agreed with Caleb, rolling his shoulders to relieve some of the tension writing had put back in them. His uncle came in through the front door after a short pause, kicking his shoes off and padding into the kitchen with the Sheriff not far behind him. If Peter could smell the lingering cocktail of Derek's emotions, he didn't say.

 

Derek raised his eyebrows in silent question.

 

“If you have any coffee, that’d be great,” Caleb said, looking a little tired, and sent Derek a small smile.

 

Peter rolled his eyes. “Derek’s always got coffee, Erica and Jackson would whine incessantly if he didn’t.”

 

“How do you like it?” Derek asked over Peter, trying hard not to roll his eyes.

 

Caleb grinned and sat down at the small kitchen table. “Just pour it in a cup and hand it to me.”

 

“Stiles gets his taste in coffee from you, then,” Derek raised his eyebrows and turned to the coffee pot, setting it up. Lydia had demanded one of those single serve coffee makers around the same time Jackson whined about Derek not having coffee available for them when they were there working on the house.

 

“Actually,” Peter said as he slid into the seat next to Caleb. “They both get it from Anwen.”

 

Derek stilled and glanced over to his uncle and the Sheriff. As often as he’d been around the Stilinskis, he’d never actually heard her brought up. The most Derek knew was that she’d died, and that she wasn’t brought up very often. He’d had the vague idea that Peter had known her, too.

 

Caleb chuckled. “Yeah, she couldn’t stand anything in her coffee.” He smiled, a little sadly, wistful, and tapped his fingers on the table top. “She always forgot to put sugar in my coffee, when she made it, and after a couple months I got used to drinking it black and strong.”

 

The coffee finished, and Derek carried the cup over to Caleb. “Peter?”

 

Peter shook his head. “I’m fine.”

 

“Thanks, Derek,” Caleb nodded and took the cup, taking a large gulp of it like it hadn’t just finished boiling.

 

Derek frowned a little and moved to sit down across from them. “I’m a little surprised you’re not out patrolling, seeing as tonight’s prom night, Sheriff.”

 

“No, I took this night off because it’s prom night.” Caleb grimaced. “I’ve seen my fair share of things, patrolling other prom nights, and I want no part in the chance that I might catch my own son doing something stupid.”

 

“He’s always doing something stupid,” Peter smirked. “He’s running with a pack of wolves, without much protection for himself.”

 

Caleb ran his finger around the rim of his coffee cup. “Stiles is plenty protected, I think.” His eyes met Derek’s across the table, hard and assessing. “He’s got a lot of faith in the pack, and it hasn’t failed him yet.”

 

Derek fidgeted underneath Caleb’s scrutiny. “I suppose it hasn’t,” he muttered, a little rattled. He didn’t really know how to respond, because Stiles was still alive - if a little battered - and he’d survived the year and a half of all the shit that’d blown into town the night Peter killed Laura.

 

“You’ve got a point, Caleb,” Peter grinned mildly. “On top of that faith, is our alpha.”

 

Derek’s eyebrows rose and his face went hot at the implication. “Peter...”

 

Caleb sighed and rolled his eyes. “It’s no wonder I sometimes forget over a decade has passed, Peter, you still act like a giant child.”

 

Peter gave him an exaggerated pout. “Ouch, Caleb, don’t spare my feelings any.”

 

Derek let out a short bark of laughter, startled, and cleared his throat immediately after. Caleb snorted and took another sip of his coffee, ignoring Peter’s fond expression. They were all quiet after that, Caleb and Peter lost in their thoughts and Derek studying the both of them in turn.

 

“Right,” Caleb sighed a while later, shaking himself from his thoughts, and caught Derek’s gaze. “I’m here for a reason, otherwise I’d be at home where there’s a working television, watching whatever game is on and trying to forget my son is probably out getting drunk with his friends.”

 

Peter snorted and Derek felt his eyebrows go up. “Please, they’ll all end up here.”

 

Derek sighed. “If they get drunk, they’ll have done it before they get here.”

 

Caleb shook his head. “What I don’t know won’t get them arrested.”

 

His uncle grinned and winked at Caleb. The Sheriff rolled his eyes and finished off his coffee, which had by then gone cold. “Peter and I have been talking about the Bite, me becoming a werewolf.”

 

The silence afterwards was almost deafening, and Derek took a moment to process what he’d just been told. He wasn’t entirely sure he’d heard Caleb correctly. Derek blinked over at the Sheriff, then at his uncle. Peter sent him a wan smile and reclined back into his chair, looking entirely too unconcerned for it to be anything other than an act. Derek turned his gaze back to Caleb. “You want to talk to me about taking the Bite?” His voice probably sounded a bit incredulous.

 

Caleb nodded and ran a hand through his short hair. “Yes. I’ve been discussing it with Peter, and he said we needed to talk to you about it too, because the discussions were becoming more than just ‘what ifs’. He’s already given me all the facts about taking the Bite, but I’d still like to discuss this with you.”

 

“Well, okay...” Derek furrowed his brow, not really sure what else he could say.

 

“Pros and cons?” Peter offered with a slight grimace, after a long moment of semi-awkward silence.

 

“Pro: I won’t have to worry about my heart problems, which means Stiles won’t worry about my health.” Caleb smiled wryly, the expression around his eyes tired and sad.

 

“Con: You’ll pose a threat to Stiles until you learn how to control yourself.” Derek said, and his expression softened a little when the Sheriff winced. “Scott tried to kill Stiles a number of times before he learned how to control himself,” he added quietly, and Caleb nodded his understanding.

 

Peter flinched away from the words and lowered his chin to his chest, avoiding their eyes. Caleb glanced at him, frowning a little, before turning his attention back to Derek. “Pro: I would have you, and Peter, to help me through all of this; I’d have you two to help me learn control so I wouldn’t hurt my son.”

 

Derek nodded. “Pro: Werewolf healing will practically guarantee that you won’t die on the job.”

 

“Con: I’d have to have a lot of back-up cover stories for why I’m not dead if I ever do sustain serious injury while on the job.” Caleb grimaced a little and heaved a sigh. “That’d be a huge pain in the ass.”

 

“Con,” Peter said after a moment, his voice sly in a way that put Derek on edge. “You will always know when Stiles masturbates. Always.”

 

Derek jerked his gaze over to his uncle, choking on nothing as his brain tried to process what Peter had said. It was mostly a failure, the little men sitting at the controls screaming ‘Abort! Abort! Abort! Self-destruction in T-minus ten seconds!’ (he’d definitly been spending too much time around Stiles). Derek was torn between feeling horrified and punching Peter in the face.

 

Caleb groaned and leaned forward, thumping his head against the table top. “Peter, just for that, I am never blowing you again.”

 

Peter smirked, smug, and Derek dropped his head to the table. The noise that escaped him was reminiscent of a dying whale, and he kind of wanted to cry. Just, no. Derek did not, under any circumstance ever, need that mental image. Caleb’s words registered fully  - beyond the instant mortification Derek felt at the implication of his uncle’s sex life - a moment later and Derek’s head jerked back up to see the Sheriff blushing furiously.

 

“What?”

 

“Shit,” Caleb grumbled. “Please don’t say anything to Stiles? This is something he needs to hear from me, and I haven’t found the right way to tell him.”

 

Derek nodded, a little dumbfounded, even though he’d sort of known. Even if he hadn’t overheard that conversation outside Deaton’s clinic, Derek had been able to sense Caleb through his mate-bond with Peter. The only time that ever happened was if the bond was fully formed. Derek found it comforting, the knowledge that his uncle had someone who would keep him grounded and sane.

 

“Right, well,” Derek mumbled after another long pause, still feeling incredibly awkward. “Don’t make any decisions about taking the Bite until you’ve talked to Stiles.”

 

Caleb cleared his throat. “I was going to talk to him about it tomorrow afternoon.”


Derek nodded. “That’s a good idea.”

Chapter Text

~Interlude: Family Don't End With Blood, Boy~

Peter pressed his nose against Caleb’s throat and inhaled, running his fingers through the short hairs at the nape of Caleb’s neck. Caleb rested his hands at the small of Peter’s back and leaned fully against the front of the house, eyes on the road leading up to the Hale house. Derek was somewhere out back, splitting logs at a methodical pace. Their conversation had grown stilted after running through the pros-cons list, and Derek had given an awkward wave before disappearing out the back door.

 

“Are you going to talk to Scott tonight, then?” Peter muttered against his throat, rubbing his cheek against the skin there before pressing his nose to the skin behind Caleb’s right ear.

 

Caleb hugged Peter closer to him, his expression contemplative. “Tonight’s supposed to be a good night, I don’t really wanna ruin that.”

 

Peter pressed a kiss to the corner of his jaw and hummed thoughtfully. “I guess. But you shouldn’t be too concerned about ruining a single day that’ll pale in comparison to future good nights, like his wedding night or the birth of any children he might have.”

 

“True, I don’t recall much of anything from my prom night.” Caleb pressed his lips to Peter’s temple, brushing a kiss across the skin. Peter snorted and nuzzled further into his embrace. Caleb smiled softly.

 

“If this works out, Scott’s not gonna care that you brought up painful stuff on a night that’s supposed to be awesome,” Petter mumbled and pulled out of Caleb’s arms, reaching up to fix the human’s shirt where it’d rucked up. “They’ll be here in a few minutes, they’re coming up the drive now.”

 

Derek rounded the corner of the house, hauling a picnic table behind him. Caleb snorted and straightened up, quirking an eyebrow at Derek. The alpha shrugged and went up the front steps, disappearing into the house just as a couple cars pulled into the yard. Peter followed Derek into the house with a quick, guilt-ridden look towards Jackson’s Porsche.

 

Stiles hopped out of his Jeep, his suit jacket and tie discarded in the backseat, and raised his eyebrows at his father. “Hey dad, I thought you’d be home watching a game or something?”

 

Caleb shrugged and nodded towards Scott and Allison climbing out of the back of the Porsche. “I wanted to talk to Scott about something, actually, and Peter needed to pick something up from the house.”

 

Scott tilted his head and walked over to Caleb and Stiles. “What did you need to talk to me about, Sheriff Stilinski?”

 

“Something I’d prefer to discuss away from prying werewolf ears,” Caleb smiled fondly.

 

Erica and Boyd both sent him sheepish grins, and Jackson rolled his eyes. Caleb shook his head and watched the pack gather around the picnic table. He imagined they’d eventually make their way into the house, but it was still nice enough out that they could get away with staying outdoors.

 

“Okay,” Scott said, confused, and followed Caleb when he headed towards the treeline. “Am I in trouble for something?”

 

Caleb frowned a bit. “Yes and no, is the easiest answer to that,” he decided after a minute. “You’re not in trouble, but I am concerned about a couple things.”

 

“Oh God, is this about the condoms?” Scott whined and went red from his neck up to his hairline.

 

“No,” Caleb laughed and shook his head. “Jesus, no, any sex talks are your mother’s job, not mine. She, being a nurse, is much more qualified to give them than I am. Why do you think I made her talk to Stiles when he hit puberty?”

 

Scott grimaced. “I don’t ever want a repeat of that conversation.”

 

“My parents never gave me a sex talk.” Caleb mused and stopped in a small clearing after Scott confirmed none of the werewolves could hear them. Scott fidgeted in the ensuing silence, crossing his arms over his chest and scuffing the ground with his dress shoe.

 

“So...?”

 

“I wanted to talk to you about what’s been going on with you and the rest of the pack.” Caleb murmured.

 

Scott cringed and looked down, his eyes studying the grass underfoot, flashing gold briefly. “What’s there to talk about? Just not getting along is all.”

 

“C’mon son,” Caleb squeezed Scott’s shoulder comfortingly. “I’d just like to understand what’s going on, here. From what I’ve gathered talking to Stiles, you and Allison are isolating yourselves from the pack, and Stiles said you’re actively considering leaving.”

 

Scott grimaced and ducked his head. “I...don’t exactly wanna leave, but, I just... I’m really tired of the way everyone acts around and treats Allison.”

 

Caleb’s eyebrows met his hairline. “Okay? Care to explain what exactly you mean, Scott? Because I’ve only got half the picture, and I’d like to understand where you’re coming from.”

 

“Everyone in the pack is so quick to brush off what Peter’s done, but they condemn Allison like she’s the next Hitler!” Scott exploded, and in the next instant looked like a kicked puppy. “Sorry! I - I know you and Peter were, um, are close. It just...”

 

Caleb shook his head and clapped Scott on the shoulder comfortingly. “Scott, it’s alright. I know the reasons behind your anger regarding Peter. Stiles had the same complaints, probably still has them sometimes if not all the time. Peter was the one who sat me down and told me everything he’d done, to you, to Derek, to Stiles, and to Lydia. He told me about the murders, and explicitly described every sick thing he did to Lydia.”

 

The human grimaced and scrubbed a hand down his face. “I’m still coming to terms with it, trying to reconcile what he’s done with the memories of the man I knew and called my best friend, the man my wife loved like a brother. It’s difficult, and I don’t like thinking about it, and because I don’t like thinking about it I push it to the back of my head. But Peter, he knows there isn’t anything he could do to make up for his actions. He knows that, and the guilt eats him alive, and he’s slowly trying to show that he will never do anything like that again.”

 

Scott hunched his shoulders. “It pisses me off so much, that most of them just... Allison is trying, too. She was manipulated by Gerard, but the pack is so quick to damn her to hell for it.”

 

“I have to wonder who you mean by the pack, because you certainly don’t mean everyone in the pack,” Caleb said with a thoughtful look towards the house, even though they were too far into the woods to actually see it. “Allison is Lydia’s best friend, I see them around together all the time. Jackson is Allison’s friend, too, and so is Stiles.”

 

“I, yeah, they are,” Scott winced and his shoulders slumped a little. “But Derek, and Isaac and Erica and Boyd, they all act like she’s America’s most wanted criminal.”

 

Caleb wrapped his arm around Scott’s shoulders and hugged him to his side. “Well, look at it like this, kiddo: Peter bit you, and attacked Stiles and Allison and Lydia and Jackson, and he did truly atrocious things to Lydia. His actions are fresh in your memories, and it’s going to take an incredibly long time for you all to trust him and feel safe around him, if you ever do. Peter is Derek’s uncle, and a born werewolf, which means he was raised in a different culture. Derek values family and pack on a level some bitten werewolves and humans might not understand.

 

“Derek will be a lot more willing to forgive his uncle. And Erica, Boyd, and Isaac weren’t there to experience the things the rest of you did. It’ll be easier for them to forget Peter killed people and used a sixteen-year-old girl to resurrect himself. But, they were there when Allison was being manipulated by her grandfather. They were the ones she shot full of arrows, they were the ones she nearly killed, and they didn’t know she was being manipulated until after the fact. Allison tried killing Derek, and she’s not the first hunter to do so. Derek doesn’t have the same family/pack connection to Allison that he does to Peter.”

 

Scott furrowed his brow. “And the other three are going to be nervous around her until they’re certain she’s not going to turn on them. Is that what you’re saying?”

 

“Yeah,” Caleb confirmed and gave Scott’s shoulder a squeeze. “And before you say anything about how long it’ll take, try to remember how long it took you to feel safe at home after your father left, even with the threat of him gone.”

 

“That’s not...the same thing, though.” Scott whispered.

 

“No, it isn’t, but it was your instinct to be afraid of home, and it took you a long time for that instinct to die away. Those four, especially Derek, are instinctively afraid of hunters, because they were conditioned to be, just like you were conditioned to be afraid of your father.”

 

Scott made a noise and turned to hide his face against Caleb’s chest. Caleb wrapped his arms around Scott and hugged him tightly. “No one’s going to hate you for leaving the pack, if it’s something you have to do. They might be hurt, confused, but it’ll be worse if you don’t talk to them calmly. I’ll help you, if you need me to. You’re my son, even if we’re not blood related, and I will always be here for you.”

 

“Thanks,” Scott whispered into Caleb’s shirt.

Chapter Text

~(And) I'm Not Invincible~

Derek locked his notebook in the top drawer of his desk, safe from the curious eyes of his pack. Not that he thought they’d invade his privacy, but because he knew them all well enough. Boyd and Isaac would be incredibly concerned by the thick scent of Derek’s tumultuous emotions clinging to the notebook. Boyd would mention it to Stiles, which wasn’t a bad thing really, or he might mention it to Erica, who would proceed to butt into Derek’s life until she found out what was wrong. Isaac would worry and say something to Danny, and Danny was observant enough to know to say something to Stiles. The others would bring it up to Stiles, definitely.

 

Again, not a bad thing. But Derek didn’t want the others to bother Stiles about him, or put Stiles in a position where he was fielding questions from the rest of the pack. That wasn’t fair to any of them.

 

He scrubbed at his face and double checked that the desk drawer was locked before going back into the living room. Derek was strong enough to admit, to himself at least, that he was more frightened of his pack’s concern for him than the idea of them finding out what was going on in his head. That was probably something he should write about, soon. It certainly didn’t seem like a good thing, to him.

 

Peter came into the living room, shooting a glance towards the front lawn through the window, and sat down in the armchair across from Derek. Derek raised his eyebrows at his uncle, and Peter rolled his eyes back at him, like Derek should know Peter wasn’t going to talk about private things when the rest of the pack was within hearing range. He shrugged, because Peter did have a point, and picked up Laura’s copy (she’d bought it for him, after they’d settled into New York, but he refused to claim ownership of it because Laura had been the one to read it until it was a little battered at the corners) of The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, flipping to “The Pit and the Pendulum”.

 

“Don’t you think reading Poe is a little, hm, ironic?” Peter murmured. “Well, maybe ironic isn’t the right word. But really, Poe’s life was nothing but tragedy and madness. Your life has been pretty tragic.”

 

Derek sighed. “I’m pretty sure Poe’s girlfriend didn’t use him to get to his family, and then set them on fire.”

 

Peter shrugged. “Everyone he loved died.”

 

“Laura was the one who read this book all the time,” Derek replied, and Peter’s mouth snapped shut. Derek cringed internally, because he hadn’t meant to do that, but returned his attention back to the story.

 

They stayed quiet after that, the sounds of the rest of the pack rough housing in front of the house. Derek tried focusing on the book in his hands, but Peter’s humming kept distracting him. It took him a moment to place the song, and when he did he couldn’t stop the sad smile. He flicked his gaze over to his uncle, watching Peter relax into the back of the armchair, his head tipped back and his eyes shut.

 

“Are you ever going to tell me why you like that song so much?” Derek asked before he could stop himself.

 

“You still want to know that?” Peter asked, lips curling into a smile.

 

Derek huffed and closed his book, setting it aside as a lost cause for the night. “Of course I wanna know, you used to hum it all the time when I was a kid. It wouldn’t have been all that weird, except mom said you didn’t really like Elvis all that much.”

 

Peter blinked his eyes open and sat forward. “It’s true, I’m not an Elvis fan.” He cocked his head to the side, standing up a moment later. Derek heard Scott shouting about ammunition being in the trunk of Jackson’s car, and Caleb muttering about teenagers. “But, I happen to like that particular song.”

 

“And why is that?” Derek directed his attention back to Peter, studying his uncle’s profile.

 

“Because,” Peter turned his head and grinned at Derek. “It’s the song I had my first dance with Caleb to.”

 

Derek opened his mouth to say something, but Stiles’s outraged shriek cut him off. Derek’s eyes snapped over to the window in time to see Scott and Erica pitching water balloons at Stiles. Peter snorted and waved goodbye to Derek before disappearing out the front door and sweeping Caleb over to his car. A moment later Boyd was tossing a bright green water balloon at Stiles while Lydia and Allison ganged up on Jackson, and Isaac and Danny threw water balloons at Boyd.

 

“This is why I told you to bring spare clothes!” Jackson shouted at Stiles and ducked the balloon Lydia had aimed at his head.

 

“You’re all collosal assbutts!” Stiles shouted back and ducked around Boyd.

 

“Don’t do anything too incredibly stupid,” the Sheriff pleaded before Peter turned the car around and they disappeared down the drive.

 

Derek resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “If you think you’re dragging water into this house, you’re all sadly mistaken,” he called out.

 

There was a muffled thud, some cursing, and Stiles tripping into the front door. “Sanctuary, bitches,” he crowed, and slammed the door shut just in time for a water balloon to break on the wood.

 

“That warning included you, too,” Derek declared and turned his head to fix Stiles with an unimpressed look. He regretted that decision instantaneously, because the dark red button up was soaked and clinging to Stiles’s torso in the most obscene manner, and his grey suit pants were stuck to his hips and legs in a way that left little to Derek’s imagination.

 

“I was ambushed,” Stiles grumbled, his hair flat and dripping water into his eyes.

 

He looked a little pathetic, and Derek decided to take mercy on Stiles, for both of their sakes. “Yeah,” Derek sighed and pushed himself to his feet. “I’m guessing you don’t actually have a change of clothes.”

 

No,” Stiles whined and followed Derek up the stairs. “I thought I was going to have time to stop at my house and change, but Erica jumped into the jeep with me and refused to let me go anywhere but here.”

 

“Of course,” Derek sighed and walked down the hall to his bedroom. “You can borrow some of my clothes.”

 

“Thanks,” Stiles muttered and followed Derek into the bedroom, kicking his shoes off and curling his sock-clad toes into the carpet.

 

Derek went over to his dresser, digging out one of his shirts. “It’s fine,” he said and tossed a grey Henley at Stiles, catching him in the face with it. Stiles spluttered and retaliated by unbuttoning his shirt and throwing it at Derek, who batted it away before it could actually hit him. Stiles scowled and peeled off the equally-as-soaked-through undershirt.

 

The flash of black ink across Stiles’s collarbones startled Derek enough that he dropped the sweats he’d pulled from another drawer. He had actually forgotten about the tattoo, had thought - when Stiles and his father left for that weekend a couple months ago - that it was purely for father-son bonding-hey-dad-werewolves-exist time. Derek could remember the startled shock he felt when he saw Stiles the following Monday, the fresh scent of ink and blood clinging to Stiles’s skin.

 

Now, though, Derek didn’t know how to feel.

 

Stiles glanced up, pulling Derek’s shirt down - the fit just a little too big in the shoulders. “What?” He asked, his face turning red. “Do I have balloon bits in my hair? What is it?”

 

Derek shook his head, eyes fixed on the bit of ink peeking out from the collar of the shirt. “Nothing, just... I forgot you got a tattoo. It’s the first time I’ve seen it.”

 

“Oh, yeah,” Stiles blinked and smoothed his fingers over the exposed ink absently.

 

“Why,” Derek paused, frowning, and stooped down to grab the sweats off the floor. He straightened up and held the pants out to Stiles. “Why those particular words?”

 

Stiles flushed a darker red and snatched the sweats from Derek’s hands. “The, well, it helps me remember,” he mumbled and went into the en suite. “I mean, I always seem to forget I don’t heal in five minutes like you wolves do.”

 

Derek frowned at the bathroom door. “You don’t necessarily get into any trouble that we couldn’t help you out of.” He grabbed Stiles’s shirt and shook it out of the tangled mess it’d become.

 

“Yeah, well, I need to remember that I’m more likely to get killed than you lot are,” Stiles came back out of the bathroom.

 

“I’d rather you not be hurt at all,” Derek pointed out and grabbed Stiles’s wet pants from him, hanging them and the shirt in the shower to dry.

 

“Aw you do care!” Stiles smirked, his tone teasing.

 

Derek scowled and crowded Stiles back against the door, feeling offended because that should’ve been obvious by now. Stiles swallowed thickly and met Derek’s eyes. The alpha pressed his fingers against the exposed skin, lightly tracing what he could of the ink. “Yeah, Stiles, I really do. Don’t make it into a joke; you’re important to me.”

 

Stiles’s eyes dropped to Derek’s mouth, then darted away. His scent changed, curled around them, washing Derek with a nervous/hopeful/confused concoction that had him leaning further into the human’s space. Stiles laughed a little nervous, breathless laugh and glanced back up to meet Derek’s eyes.

 

“I wasn’t... I mean, um, I know - I wasn’t trying to imply, just...” He stuttered slightly and bit off a frustrated noise. “I’m not invincible, I’m squishy. I...needed to remind myself of that.”

 

There was an embarrassed cough from the hallway. “Hey, Derek, where are the two liters of Dr. Pepper?” Isaac asked, standing just outside the threshold to Derek’s bedroom.

 

Derek jumped away from Stiles, startled, and shook his head before turning to blink at Isaac. “They’re not in the fridge?”

 

“...No?” Isaac frowned, his eyes darting between Derek and Stiles. “Maybe they’re, um, in the fridge in the basement?” He narrowed his eyes at Stiles, and then widened them to the point it was almost comical. “Oh! I forgot you had a tattoo.”

 

Stiles coughed and pulled the collar of Derek’s shirt up to cover the exposed ink. “Yup, I sure do.”

 

“Still not gonna let anyone see it, huh?” Isaac waggled his eyebrows. “It must be pretty embarrassing.”

 

“Actually it’s pretty depressing,” Stiles replied and shrugged, almost nonchalant.

 

Isaac blinked. “Oh, okay then. Well...I’m gonna go look for the Dr. Pepper.”

 

Derek turned back to face Stiles, his expression shuttered. Stiles stared back, his mouth slightly open, and stilled when Derek reached out to him. The alpha pulled the shirt collar down enough to expose the whole of Stiles’s tattoo, the weight of the words settling deep in Derek’s bones like a constant reminder that Stiles was breakable and strong and fragile and resilient. Dozens of conflicting descriptors, but the tattoo was a glaring reminder that no one was indestructible.

 

He figured, as his thumb smoothed over the flowing script of the ‘le’, that it was probably necessary, a good idea, at least. Derek doubted he’d ever actually forget how easily he could lose Stiles.

 

(and) i’m not invincible i’m not indestructible

Chapter Text

~What Started Out As Friendship (Has Grown Stronger)~

Stiles jolted awake, his boxers sticky, and blinked blearily up at his ceiling. He could hear someone clattering around in the kitchen, and Stiles wasn’t sure what it said about his life that he didn’t know if it was Peter or his father. Peter practically lived with them, and Stiles was so far in denial about where exactly Peter slept that he could probably find Narnia.

 

(He was tired, and probably mixing his metaphors. He really didn’t care.)

 

“I was not expecting this,” Stiles told the entirety of his bedroom and groaned. It was one thing to feel confused when Derek had him crowded against the wall, soft warm fingers stroking over his tattoo.

 

The rest of that night had been a giant blur. The only reason Stiles had even bothered driving home was because his father had asked him to before prom started. Apparently, they had Things they needed to discuss. Stiles was mildly terrified, because had no idea what his dad could possibly need to discuss with him. He hadn’t gotten into any trouble recently, and everything was - last he checked -eerily quiet on the supernatural front.

 

Stiles groaned again and rolled out of bed, letting himself flop onto the floor with a loud thump and a pained grunt. There were so many things Stiles wanted to avoid. School was almost out for the summer, and he had a skinwalker to find and he didn’t need to be focused on his epiphanies about alpha werewolves who also happened to be one of his closest friends.

 

There was a knock on his door, startling Stiles into a flail that ended with him banging his elbow on the bed frame. Stiles made a wounded noise and cradled his elbow to his stomach, cringing against the residual shocks of pain traveling up his arm.

 

“Ow, oh God... Uh, yeah?” Stiles called and shoved himself to his feet, rubbing his abused elbow.

 

His father pushed the door open and raised his eyebrows at him. “You about ready to get up, kiddo? It’s three in the afternoon.”

 

“Urgh,” Stiles groaned and ran a hand through his hair. “Yeah, I just...need a shower.”

 

“Alright, but I need to talk to you before I start my shift.”

 

Stiles nodded and his dad retreated into the hallway. He grumbled nonsense while he gathered clean clothes, hesitating over Derek’s Henley - he’d worn it and the sweats home without a thought, shucking the shirt off and collapsing onto his bed in an exhausted heap. With a defeated sigh, Stiles grabbed Derek’s shirt up off the floor and took it with him to the bathroom.

 

In the harsh light of day, he couldn’t avoid acknowledging, to himself at the very least, how much he’d enjoyed wearing Derek’s clothes while lounging around watching movies and playing Trivial Pursuit with the pack. It left a warm feeling in the pit of his stomach, spreading throughout the rest of him when Derek had sat beside him on the floor and whispered the answers to some of the History or the Arts and Literature questions in his ear. Stiles wasn’t sure if it was what he thought it was. He liked knowing he smelled like Derek, even just the littlest bit; he liked Derek’s heat and the softness of his hands.

 

Stiles sighed and took a quick shower, resolving himself to call Colin, because Colin would maybe understand why Stiles was... He wasn’t freaking out. Just, maybe, worried that he would accidentally destroy his friendship with Derek. He’d known there was a chance something like this could happen, that he’d start to find Derek attractive in the way he hadn’t when they first met. He had realized it was a possibility around the same time he realized that he was a lot closer to Derek than to Scott, which was something that hadn’t ever happened, not since the day Scott pushed Jackson off the swings for teasing Stiles about his Batman shirt. Scott had been his closest friend for so long. But now that Stiles had Derek in his life, had his friendship, Stiles didn’t want to lose him.

 

He didn’t want this new development to ruin everything, and he was passed being in denial about certain things. Stiles could admit to himself that that dream was very much about Derek, about the soft skin of his fingers against his tattoo and the intense look in his ridiculous eyes as he’d loomed over Stiles in his bedroom.

 

It had felt, in that moment, like the world had shut off. He’d thought, for a moment, that Derek would kiss him. Stiles didn’t know if he was relieved or disappointed when Isaac came up asking about the soda. He wasn’t sure what he’d wanted then.

 

Caleb yelled something about Walgreens at Peter, snapping Stiles out of his thoughts. He shut the water off and hopped out of the shower, drying himself quickly before pulling on a clean pair of boxers. He tripped into the door trying to get his jeans on, wincing against the sharp bolt of pain in his shoulder, and yanked Derek’s shirt on over his head. He took a towel to his hair, then ran his fingers through it a couple times.

 

“Peter, you can’t just leave the lube lying around!” The sheriff hissed, like he was trying to keep Stiles from hearing him. Unfortunately for the both of them, Stiles was halfway down the stairs, and his father’s voice carried a bit farther than intended. Stiles paused on the fourth to last step, horrified.

 

“It wasn’t lying around, Caleb. It’s in the Walgreens bag.”

 

“And why is the Walgreens bag lying around? Or was the plan to just traumatize my son by letting him find a half-empty box of condoms and a bottle of lube?”

 

Stiles died a little on the inside. “Can you not?” He whined and thumped his forehead against the hallway wall. “So many things I didn’t want to know, ever, and that’s at the top of the list.”

 

He took the last few steps and glowered at Peter’s smug smirk. His father had his hand over his eyes, the tips of his ears a bright red, and was shaking his head like the world at large caused him a great injustice. Stiles personally didn’t think his father had much right to look that traumatized. It wasn’t like he was overhearing stuff about Stiles’s sex life - lack thereof thus far, sure, but still.

 

“Well, I guess that’s one way to tell him,” Peter pointed out.

 

Caleb threw the box of condoms at his head.

 

“Oh my God,” Stiles dropped his head in defeat. “This is the worst.”

 

“The great thing about this is, it makes it ten times easier to have that discussion with Stiles now,” Peter continued over Stiles, setting the condoms on the mantle. “And so now I’m going to take my leave, because I have a few errands I need to run.”

 

Stiles glared at Peter as he walked out of the living room, rolling his eyes as Peter disappeared from sight, before turning his attention back on his father. “So... Telling me you’re sleeping with Peter isn’t what you wanted to discuss?”

 

The sheriff shot Stiles a look. “Would you like to discuss what I may or may not be doing with Peter?”

 

“Ah, no, nope. I’m good. We can definitely skip that talk.”

 

“Thought so,” his father snorted and gestured at the couch. “Peter and I, though - “

 

“Dad! You said you weren’t going to talk about it!”

 

Caleb rolled his eyes and sat down in the armchair. “I’m not, kid. But, we are together.”

 

Stiles made an embarrassed noise and plopped down on the couch. “I kinda figured, you know, what with the whispering about lube and the condoms and everything. And also how, when he sleeps here, it isn’t on the couch or in the guest room.”

 

Stiles,” Caleb sighed, exasperated. “Jesus. You didn’t want to overhear that, I didn’t want you to overhear that. Now let’s focus on the discussion I am trying to have with you.”

 

“Sorry, yeah, let’s,” Stiles rubbed his hands over his head, tousling his hair further. “So what do you need to discuss with me?”

 

“I know you’re pretty well-read on all that is werewolf,” the sheriff rubbed at his forehead thoughtfully. “Did you happen to learn anything about mates?”

 

“Yeah. I mean, there wasn’t all that much, but I know enough to understand that Allison is it for Scott, Lydia is it for Jackson, and Erica and Boyd are it for each other. No going back; at least, not without considerable effort.”

 

Caleb nodded. “Pretty much, yeah.”

 

“Wait, why are we talking about mates?” Stiles’s eyes went wide. “Are you like, giving me some kind of warning? ‘Don’t get too serious with a werewolf if you don’t see it lasting’?”

 

No, I’m not warning you off dating Derek or any other werewolf.”

 

Who said anything about Derek!?

 

Caleb raised his eyebrows. “As far as I know, Derek is the only single werewolf around Beacon Hills.”

 

Stiles flailed, his face hot, and shook his head furiously. “He is, but, uh, there isn’t, we’re not - I don’t, um.”

 

“Stiles, please,” his father shook his head fondly. “Can we focus back on the original topic? Mates, what you know about them. How, when a werewolf takes a mate, they are it for that werewolf, unless something incredibly drastic happens.”

 

“Yeah, okay, so...why are we talking about mates, then?” Stiles fidgeted and frowned at his dad. “Are you saying you’re Peter’s mate? Is that what this is?”

 

Caleb gave a small smile. “One of the things I wanted to talk to you about, yes.” He ran a hand through his hair. “The other is, well, I don’t know how you’re going to react to it.”

 

Stiles raised his eyebrows at his father, eyes widening in disbelief. “If you tell me one of the two of you is pregnant, I quit life.”

 

Jesus, Stiles,” Caleb choked and scrubbed a hand over his face. “Do I need to ask Melissa to give you a basic anatomy talk?”

 

No,” Stiles huffed. “But, werewolves. I’m not gonna dismiss anything until it has been proven false or whatever. Magic seems to be a thing, so. Magical werewolf sperm?”

 

“Jesus Christ, you are Anwen’s son through and through,” Caleb muttered and shook his head disbelievingly. “Peter hasn’t mentioned the possibility of male pregnancy, so I’m not too worried about it.”

 

“Oh, well. That’s good?”

 

Caleb glared at Stiles incredulously. “Why do you sound disappointed?

 

“I do not!”

 

“You do - God damnit,” Caleb sighed. “We’re veering off topic, here.”

 

Stiles gave a little smile. “Are we?”

 

“Stiles,” his father sighed. “Yes, we are. I am trying to tell you that I plan on taking the Bite and you’re musing about male pregnancy.”

 

“It is a valid concern,” Stiles protested.

 

Caleb fixed Stiles with a look. “We can talk about why that is a worrisome statement later.”

 

The sheriff’s previous words fully processed then, and Stiles nearly brained himself with his surprised flailing. “You wanna take the Bite!?” He demanded, his voice jumping an octave from shock.

 

His father raised his brows, patiently waiting for Stiles to work through his emotions. Shock, incredulity followed by confusion. Stiles opened and closed his mouth, trying to formulate a thought that wasn’t a repetition of You want the Bite!?!?

 

“I don’t... Is... Why?

 

Caleb rubbed his forehead absently and stared at a picture of Anwen hanging next to the fireplace. “I talked to your mom about it once, just before we found out she was pregnant with you. It’s the only reason I never brought it up again. I refused to risk either of your lives.”

 

Stiles blinked. “Oh.”

 

“Yeah,” Caleb smiled sadly and leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and his chin resting on his hands. “But, she must’ve remembered that conversation. She left us both letters, you know? I can’t give you yours until your eighteenth birthday, per her request, but...well, the one she left me was with the instructions to open it only when I was ready.

 

“And I was ready. I opened it and I read it, the day before that hunter abducted you actually, and Anwen remembered the conversation.” He rubbed at his eyes, then combed his fingers through his hair. “You and I, and Peter and Melinda and their grandmother, all know there was something special about your mother. She was always so certain of things, convinced they were going to happen. She would have dreams and wake up, give me cryptic messages that made sense days or weeks or months later. I learned to trust her instincts and conviction. I believe her, and in her. She thinks I’ll survive the Bite.”

 

Stiles’s eyes were stinging by the time his father finished speaking. He blinked against it, frowning at the empty fireplace. He wasn’t sure how to respond, what to say, what to think or feel. Several minutes passed in silence before they were both startled by the clock chiming the hour. Caleb glanced at it and sighed wearily, pushing himself up onto his feet.

 

“I have to go to work,” he murmured and studied Stiles, worried. “Are you going to be okay by yourself?”

 

“Y-yeah, yeah,” Stiles nodded rapidly, trying to be reassuring. Caleb clapped a hand to his shoulder and squeezed once before leaving the living room, his keys jingling as he plucked them from the hook they hung on. The door opened and closed with a soft snick and Stiles slumped back into the couch, sliding from the cushions in a boneless heap.

 

A few minutes later, Jackson’s ringtone - suitably changed to Hound Dog after the discovery of Jackson’s love for Elvis - startled Stiles from his muddled thoughts. He huffed and jogged out of the living room and up the stairs, cursing when the ringtone cut off. Stiles sighed and pulled his phone off the charger, checking his texts.

 

He answered Boyd’s text about the water balloons - revenge would be his - and Scott’s text about what he’d found on his latest patrol. The phone chimed with new texts from Jackson, and Stiles rolled his eyes when he opened it.

 

From Jackson:

answer your damn phone, stilinski

From Jackson:

get your ass to my house

From Jackson:

we’re marathoning Merlin

 

To Jackson:

fine. i’ll be there in 10

To Jackson:

but that means you get to hear me complain

To Jackson:

because i have things to complain about

 

He grabbed his keys, sent his father a text letting him know where he’d be, pocketed his phone, and headed out. When he pulled up in front of Jackson’s house, Jackson was waiting for him on the porch, leaning against his front door. His eyebrows went up when Stiles hopped out of the Jeep.

 

Stiles paused halfway to the porch, frowning at Jackson. “What? What’s with that face?”

 

Jackson shook his head with a smirk. “Nothing, I just didn’t realize you and Derek were sharing clothes now.”

 

“Oh my God, no, shut up,” Stiles grumbled, blushing, and walked the rest of the way to the house, shoving passed Jackson as he stepped up onto the porch.

 

“Hey,” Jackson sighed and bumped Stiles’s shoulder with his own. “I didn’t realize that was a touchy subject.”

 

Stiles frowned at Jackson as they walked through the front door and up the stairs to his bedroom. “What?”

 

Jackson shoved his bedroom door open and turned around, shrugging as he walked backwards towards the flat screen hanging on the wall across from his bed. “You two are really close. I’m not surprised you’re wearing his shirts, now. It was inevitable, considering.”

 

“Considering what?” Stiles demanded and flopped backwards on Jackson’s bed gracelessly.

 

“Considering the gooey emotional cocktail you two reek of whenever you’re around each other, or whenever the other is brought up around you two.” Jackson rolled his eyes and turned to turn the tv on and set up Netflix. “Like right now, you smell all embarrassed and confused, but under that you reek of fondness, affection, other rosey emotions. It smells like melted chocolate and hot apple cider.”

 

“That,” Stiles said, a dark blush spreading across his jaw and down his neck, “is incredibly creepy.”

 

Jackson rolled his eyes so hard his entire head moved with it. “Don’t avoid the issue, Stilinski.”

 

“There is no issue, why would there be an issue?” Stiles starfished out, ignoring Jackson’s stare. “I think you’ve been smoking a special strain of wolfsbane.”

 

“Uh-huh,” Jackson snorted and dropped down on top of Stiles, eliciting a pained grunt from the human. “And I think you’re avoiding the fact that you just realized how you feel about Derek.”

 

Stiles made a noise and shoved futilely at Jackson. “Shut your filthy mouth and watch the goddamned show.”

 

“It’s what you were going to complain about, right?” Jackson smirked and rolled off of Stiles, propping his head on Stiles’s splayed-out arm. “I noticed last night, after Derek gave you dry clothes and we all sat down to play Trivial Pursuit and shit, you seemed like you were lost in your head, and your scent was...heavier.”

 

“I,” Stiles mumbled, and stopped, frowning up at the ceiling. “I..maybe. I know it’s...different. Different from how I feel about you and Scott and Boyd and Erica, different from how I felt about Lydia. I plan on calling Colin later.”

 

“Colin? Who’s Colin?”

 

“Colin’s this guy Ryan - Laura’s friend - got me in contact with. Colin is demisexual too, so he understands what’s what better than Ryan could, gives me advice when I need it.” Stiles moved the arm Jackson’s head was propped up on. “For now, start the damn show so I can watch you bemoan the epic love of a silly sorcerer and his king.”

 

“Alright, alright,” Jackson huffed and started the first episode.

 

Stiles watched the tv absently, chewing on the edge of his shirt sleeve. “Actually I was going to complain about how my dad wants to take the Bite.”

 

Jackson made a confused noise and rolled his head so he was facing Stiles. “What?”

 

“My dad,” Stiles waved a hand at the air in front of him. “He wants to take the Bite.”

 

“What’s wrong with that?”

 

Stiles frowned. “I don’t know how I feel about it. I guess it’s something he’s wanted to do since before I was born, but he put it off when they found out my mother was pregnant.”

 

“So where’s the problem? If he’s wanted the Bite since before you were born, he’s obviously had a considerable amount of time to think of the consequences.”

 

“Yeah, I know that. I just...don’t wanna lose my dad.”


Jackson shifted on the bed until he was pressed against Stiles’s side comfortingly. Stiles relaxed against Jackson and focused on the tv, watching as Merlin mocked Arthur for the first time. He figured he could use a nice distraction, for a bit.

Chapter Text

~I Just Wanted You to Know (That I Love the Way You Laugh)~

Derek parked in front of the Stilinski house, behind Peter’s car. The cruiser was in the driveway next to Stiles’s Jeep, and Derek closed his eyes, letting his awareness of the pack bonds pour over him momentarily before getting out of the Camaro and going up to the front door. He knocked and listened as Peter and Caleb murmured something before one of them got up to answer the door.

 

Peter let Derek in and nodded towards the kitchen. “He’s in the basement,” he declared with a knowing smirk before turning to go back into the living room. Derek’s face went hot, and he glared at his uncle as he followed him to the living room, stopping in the threshold and giving a short wave to Caleb, who was sprawled out on the couch.

 

“How’s the control coming along, Sheriff?” Derek asked, too soft for human hearing, and smiled when the sheriff made an amused noise.

 

“Well, if it’s any consolation, I haven’t tried to kill anyone.”

 

Derek gave a quiet chuckle and walked into the kitchen. Stiles, who’d taken to pouring over every research material after school let out for the summer, had music going, loudly. Derek paused at the top of the steps, frowning thoughtfully as he tried to place what it was Stiles was listening to. It sounded familiar, but he couldn’t recognize the voice. After another moment, he realized there were two voices singing the same part, and that, yes, he had heard the song before.

 

You’re just a daydream away, I wouldn’t know what to say if I had you...

 

“I don’t know why I keep forgetting you like All Time Low, you have a poster hanging above your bed,” Derek teased as he made his way down the steps, startling Stiles from his spot on top of the billiards table, going through a cardboard box.

 

Jesus, can you not?” Stiles near-shrieked and slumped over the box with a groan. “I’m going to put fucking bells on all of you, I swear to God.”

 

Derek bit back a smile and walked over to Stiles’s laptop set up on a nearby crate. He paused the song and turned to raise his eyebrows at Stiles. “I’d like to see you try.” He joked, like he had a hundred times before. It was familiar and pleasant, and it always made Stiles’s scent curl and grow darker, like spiced apples but not quite.

 

Stiles narrowed his eyes. “Is that a challenge, Hale?”

 

“Would you like it to be?” Derek smirked and leaned back against the wall. Even after a few months, and the weekly therapy sessions, he found it overwhelming how much he wanted Stiles to always be happy and safe, how much he wanted Stiles, and how much he wanted Stiles to feel the same way.

 

“You mock my pain,” Stiles sighed exaggeratedly. “But seriously, you’re all going to kill me, sneaking up on me like that. I’ll die of a goddamned heart attack.”

 

Derek’s smirk grew into a fond smile. “Life is pain, Highness. Besides, you wouldn’t actually die. Maybe just...mostly dead.”

 

Stiles gaped for a long moment before throwing a book at Derek’s head. “That is beyond fair!” He squawked and tried to glare angrily at Derek; his mouth twitched at the corners, betraying his amusement. “You’re not supposed to know what I’m referencing!”

 

“You’re kidding, right?” Derek caught the book and turned it so he could read the cover. “That movie is a classic, and Sky used to watch it all the damn time. It’s Peter’s fault, though. Peter loves the movie. Also, I didn’t grow up under a rock.”

 

“Oh my God,” Stiles laughed and buried his head in his arms. “I don’t know why that’s so funny, but it is.”

 

Derek smiled and flipped the book open. Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales. “What are you doing anyway?”

 

Stiles took a breath to calm himself, trying, albeit unsuccessfully, to ignore the way his smile softened Derek’s face and lit up his stupid kaleidoscope eyes. Or the way Derek’s fingers wrapped around the edges of the book gently, his eyes skimming the pages between quick glances up at Stiles. He sighed, defeated because there was no way he was ever going to not notice. Colin had told him to be careful, to be sure of himself and his feelings, because if he wasn’t he risked hurting himself and Derek. And hurting Derek was unacceptable.

 

“I’m looking for one of the notebooks my grandfather gave my mom; he filled them with the stories and legends of the Cherokee,” he frowned down at the box. “I’ve been keeping an eye on the news, and something seemed really off...like, there isn’t anything all that strange about it, but I have this gut feeling that maybe I should look into it. And, I don’t know, I feel like the answer is in this stupid notebook I’m looking for.”

 

“Oh,” Derek furrowed his brow and absently stroked a finger over the page the book was opened to. “I thought you had all of those notebooks in your closet?”

 

“Yeah, I thought so too, but apparently not.” Stiles scowled at the box. “I’ve spent all morning looking for it.”

 

“What exactly caught your attention,” Derek asked and pushed up off of the wall, closing the book and placing it on top of another crate. He moved until his thighs were pressed against the edge of the billiards table, looking over Stiles’s shoulder into the box Stiles was glaring at.

 

Stiles leaned back into Derek’s chest a moment before moving around and hopping down from the table. “It might not...be anything. Just paranoia or something, I don’t know. I was reading a news article online, talking about the retired fire chief. He died the other night, he was pretty old so that wasn’t… I just, something about it doesn’t feel right.”

 

Derek made an agreeable noise and turned so he was leaning against the edge of the billiards table, crossing his arms over his chest. “So, nothing to do with the skinwalker then?”

 

“Ugh, no,” Stiles huffed and closed the lid of his laptop, sullen, and ran his fingers through his hair. “There has been no progress made on that front. I’m starting to get real tired of this shit, Derek.”

 

“And, what, you think I'm not?” Derek nudged Stiles’s foot with his own. “I’m tempted to drink three times my weight in rum.”

 

“Why’s the rum gone?” Stiles wailed dramatically and draped himself across Derek’s chest. “Why is the rum always gone?”

 

Derek snorted and pushed Stiles off of him. “Do you wanna go get something to eat? You can tell me more about this gut feeling you have, maybe we can figure it out.”

 

“Oh, God, yes please,” Stiles groaned and unplugged the laptop’s charger, grabbing the laptop up and juggling them until he could carry them both up the steps. “I’m starving.”

 

“Good,” Derek grinned and covertly stared at Stiles’s ass as he followed him up the stairs into the kitchen. “I was thinking about the diner on Fourth.”

 

Stiles turned around to smile at Derek. “Ooh, the dinner on Fourth has the best curly fries. I approve.” He turned back around and walked into the living room, pausing only briefly before moving passed the couch where Caleb and Peter were cuddling.

 

Derek followed Stiles into the living room, trying not to make a face at his uncle and the sheriff. It was still weird, and it was obvious Stiles wasn’t entirely used to it yet either, but Stiles shot a grin to Derek and paused in front of the staircase like he was considering a life-altering decision.

 

“Death cannot stop true love,” Stiles declared, turning his gaze to Peter.

 

Peter smiled and bowed his head. “All it can do is delay it for a while.”

 

Stiles gave a small nod and went up the steps, Derek following behind him. Derek was pretty sure Stiles had just given Peter his blessings. Or a test, maybe. Either way, he could smell the satisfied contentment, curling into a soft, almost-vanilla in Derek's nose.

 

“Do you really wanna hear me talk about my weird gut feeling while we eat?” Stiles asked over his shoulder as he pushed into his bedroom. He carried his laptop over to his desk, setting it down and grabbing his cell and wallet, stuffing them into his jeans pocket. “Because, you know, it’s probably not anything. Just me being paranoid.”

 

Derek rolled his eyes and knocked his shoulder into Stiles’s. “Shut up, we’ll talk about it.”

 

Stiles huffed and smiled, waited for Derek to step in front of him, and pushed Derek out of his room, his hands pressing against Derek’s tattoo. “You massive weirdo.”

 

“Hey,” Derek protested, voice playful, and turned to get his arm around Stiles’s shoulders, catching him in a loose headlock. “I am not the one who had a massive crush on Dib.”

 

“Rude!” Stiles growled and elbowed Derek. “Like you never had a crush on a cartoon character!”

 

“I made you watch my favorite cartoons, Stiles,” Derek said and flicked Stiles’s ear. “Do you really think I had a crush on a bunch of animals?”

 

Stiles snorted and shot Derek a smirk before taking the stairs two at a time. “Danny. Fenton.”

 

Derek narrowed his eyes, followed Stiles down the stairs, waited until Stiles was in the middle of shoving his left foot into his sneaker, and shoved Stiles - gently - into the wall. “You had a crush on him, too. And Sam, if I remember correctly.”

 

“You shut your filthy mouth, traitor,” Stiles grumbled without heat, smiling up at Derek as he slid down the wall until he was seated on the carpet. Derek laughed, catching them both off guard as he leaned against the wall to keep his balance. Stiles stared up at him, a blush working its way across his jaw, drinking in the way laughter lit up Derek’s face. It was one of the best things he’d ever seen.

 

A flash of amazed delight shot down the partial bond, the first hint of Stiles’s emotions Derek had ever felt from the half-formed mate bond since he first realized it was there. Derek’s own startled joy bled through the pack bond, earning confused happiness from the other wolves. Peter and Caleb made an inquisitive noise from the living room, and Derek shook himself from the feedback loop before he was sucked in, muting his own emotions bleeding through.

 

Almost immediately Erica’s ringtone sounded from Derek’s pocket, startling a laugh out of Stiles when he recognized Elvis crooning something about blue suede shoes. If Erica ever found out, she’d be furious. Derek answered, rolling his eyes when she demanded what was going on with him without so much as a hello.

 

“Hello to you too, Erica,” Derek snarked and followed Stiles out of the house. “Everything is fine, relax.”

 

I know everything’s fine, dick. That wasn’t terror or hurt or anger bleeding down the bond. That was unadulterated happiness.

 

Derek sighed. “I’m not allowed to be happy?”

 

Stiles shot Derek a look, narrowing his eyes at the phone. Erica made a frustrated noise on the other end, then there was a staticy rustling before Boyd’s voice telling Erica chill out. Derek sighed again and nudged Stiles towards the Camaro, shaking his head as Erica fought for control of her phone.

 

I think what Erica was trying to communicate is, you’ve never let your emotions bleed through like that before, and it startled her. And everyone else, probably. Jackson and Scott are probably going insane. Scott especially; he doesn’t seem fond of the way everyone’s emotions can bleed through, but that’s not the point. Point is, Erica’s just being nosey and now I’m going to hang up and get back to what we were doing a few minutes ago.

 

“Thanks for that,” Derek told empty air and grimaced, pocketing his phone and starting the car up.

 

“Hm?”

 

Derek shook his head. “Erica and Boyd…you really don’t want to know.”

 

Stiles wrinkled his nose. “No, nope, I don’t. I’ve heard enough, thank you Erica, to last me a lifetime.”

 

“I can imagine,” Derek snorted and pulled onto the street.

 

“There must be a neon sign that everyone but me can read saying ‘Come tell Stiles your sexcapades!’ because Scott overshares too. I know so much about Allison that I shouldn’t and...ew. Thankfully Danny and Isaac are pretty private. Lydia and Jackson would probably have sex in front of me and not bat an eyelash.” Stiles slumped into the seat and made a dramatic noise.

 

Derek grinned. “Your life is so horrible.”

 

“It’s weird, I don’t wanna hear about my friends’ sex lives,” Stiles scowled. “If you ever do it to me, I will rip your throat out. With my teeth.”

 

Derek choked a little, jerking the steering wheel sharply and almost taking out a mailbox. “Stiles, what the hell?”

 

Stiles flushed, and his scent was bitter and metallic with something Derek was hesitant to call jealousy, if only because he feared his own feelings were making him see things that weren't actually there. Like reciprocation. Derek glanced over at Stiles, his brow furrowed, and turned onto the road that’d take them into town. Stiles just shrugged, uncomfortable, and glared at the window.

 

“What…?” Derek shook his head, confused.

 

“We should go to a bookstore when we’re done eating; write little notes in our favorite books or something,” Stiles said, not-so-subtly changing the topic.

 

Derek blinked and shrugged. “So long as we don’t get kicked out. I like books.”

 

Stiles threw his head back and laughed, covering his face a moment later. “Dude, we’ll go to the Barnes and Nobles across from the mall. They won’t notice much of anything, and you won’t have to worry about being banned from your favorite bookstore.”

Chapter Text

~Bridge: And I'll Keep You a Daydream Away~

Derek sat his Coke down, staring at Stiles across the table. Stiles stuffed a handful of fries into his mouth, and Derek wondered why it took him close to an hour to realize it. “Why haven’t you told anyone you can sing?”

Stiles choked on the curly fries, coughing until his face was red and Derek was legitimately concerned he might suffocate. Stiles gulped down the rest of his drink, his eyes watering. Derek winced regretfully when Stiles leveled him with a glare.

Dude, what the actual fuck?”

Derek huffed, almost petulantly, and swiped a couple of his fries through the ketchup and mustard mixture. Stiles made a face, because apparently it was appalling to mix ketchup and mustard together for french fries. Derek rolled his eyes and finished chewing.

“When I showed up at your house, you were singing along with the song.”

“Yeah…” Stiles’s eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hairline. “And? What’s with the totally random change in topic?”

“Nothing,” Derek frowned and kicked at the table leg. “It was just an observation. You have a good voice.”

Stiles flushed and ducked his head. “Shut up, no I don’t.”

Derek shook his head and sighed, signaling for the check. He wasn’t going to argue with Stiles. It wouldn’t do him any good. “Tell me more about your gut feeling.”

“Dude, it’s nothing, really,” Stiles mumbled and scowled at Derek’s unimpressed look. “Like I said, I’m probably just being paranoid.”

“Stiles,” Derek sighed.

“Derek,” Stiles huffed and shoved his plate away. “Can we not talk about it? There isn’t actually anything I can point to and say ‘this is what’s wrong’. I don’t really wanna make you or anyone else think I’m even more paranoid than you all already do, okay?”

Derek frowned and nudged Stiles’s foot with his own under the table. “Stiles, you do realize that I trust you, right? I’m not going to dismiss something because you can’t prove it right now.”

Stiles ducked his head, his face coloring, and his scent edging into the warm cinnamon of pleased. “…I don’t know what it is, really. Just…an off feeling. That is literally all I can tell you. Something about the dude’s death seems off.”

“Did the article say anything about it?” Derek asked, frowning slightly in concentration. He’d notice if there was something supernatural running around killing people. Or not, maybe. They still hadn’t found the skinwalker, after six months of searching. Derek rubbed at his eyes tiredly.

“No, there was nothing abnormal about how he died. He was old, Derek, like eighty or ninety. He went to bed one night, and the next morning he was dead.” Stiles sighed heavily and ran his fingers through his hair agitatedly.

The waitress showed up then, slapping the bill down on the table and scurrying away before either of them could say a thing. Stiles spluttered and gestured at the bill, flustered, like the slip of paper held the answers to the greatest questions of the universe. Derek grabbed it before Stiles could, ignoring his incredulous muttering, and pulled his wallet from his front left pocket.

Dude,” Stiles hissed. “Did she just assume we’re on a date? Did that just happen? Normally they ask if the checks are separate or together. What the hell?”

“Stiles,” Derek said, exasperated, and rolled his eyes. He left a few dollars tip and slid out of the booth, carrying the check up to the counter and ignoring Stiles’s indignant sputtering.

Derek,” Stiles shoved Derek’s shoulder, another blush working its way across his jaw. “What are you doing?”

Derek gave Stiles a look. “Paying for the food.”

“Idiot,” Stiles scowled. “Tell me how much my half is!”

“Keep an eye open for any more deaths that are un-suspiciously suspicious to you. If we’re lucky, one of them will result in an autopsy.” Derek said and smirked when Stiles narrowed his eyes. “Just get in the Camaro, I’ll be out in a minute.”

Chapter Text

~Moving Slow, So It Resonates~

Derek paused in the middle of sanding the legs of the coffee table, frowning out at the trees as he listened to Erica bitching in the house. It didn’t seem like she was complaining about anything he could help with, but it was amusing listening to Jackson counter-arguing her like he thought it would work. Boyd was on the back porch - the one Derek and Peter had finished building in May - grinning and shaking his head, so obviously amused that Derek couldn’t stop the small, almost sad, grin in response. One of the things that made him happiest was the knowledge that the betas he picked were happy, that they had a family they could turn to.

 

Even if he hadn’t wanted to be around any of the pack, they made it easier for him to forget what day it was. When he’d woken up that morning, Derek hadn’t wanted to think about how much he wasn’t looking forward to the rest of the day. He hadn’t wanted to think about what day it was, or how he’d spent the last week purposefully ignoring this day’s existence.

 

The song is a duet, Jackson! I can’t actually sing both parts at the same time,” Erica growled, snapping Derek out of his thoughts, and a moment later Jackson was storming out the back door, pointing a finger at Boyd.

 

“You,” he said. “You talk sense into her! She is your girlfriend.”

 

Boyd raised both eyebrows, looking even more unimpressed than Derek ever managed to look, and relaxed back against one of the lawn chairs Lydia had forced Jackson to bring over. “She is my mate, and also correct. Erica can’t sing both parts, not if we’re going to record the way she wants.”

 

“Also,” Erica snipped, joining the two betas, “it is a duet between two different-sounding voices.”

 

“Is that the nice way of saying it’s between a guy and a chick?” Jackson asked, frowning at her.

 

No,” Erica rolled her eyes. “My point is, unless one of you guys can write Morgan’s part in an octave I can actually reasonably reach, I can’t sing his part.”

 

Jackson huffed and stared pointedly at Boyd. “Can you sing?”

 

“No.”

 

Derek wiped sweat and sawdust from his face and walked the few feet over to them. “Stiles can sing.”

 

The three wolves blinked at him for a moment, not quite comprehending what he’d said, before Erica and Jackson narrowed their eyes and Boyd raised a single brow. Derek raised his eyebrows, worried that he'd accidentally set Stiles up for a verbal beating. He wouldn’t put it past Erica to do so, at least.

 

“That little shit,” she breathed.

 

“Are you just being biased because it’s Stiles, or does he actually have a decent voice?” Boyd asked.

 

Derek scowled and hunched his shoulders slightly. “I’m not being biased because it’s Stiles.”

 

Jackson made a face. “Right, because he’s not your favorite and you don’t actually want in his pants.”

 

“Do I need to remind you exactly why you were so afraid of me?” Derek asked with a threatening smile, showing a bit of fang.

 

No,” Jackson grumbled, his face turning red. Erica snickered.

 

“Good,” Derek shot Erica a look. “But Stiles does have a very good voice.”

 

“Yes, fine, but the question is, can he sing and play drums at the same time?” Erica demanded, frowning at Derek. He shrugged and sat down in the lawn chair next to Boyd.

 

“I keep telling you,” Jackson growled, long-suffering, and threw Erica an annoyed look. “Danny is the one recording and editing everything. He is actually capable of putting everything together; Stiles can sing and play drums separately.”

 

Erica stuck her tongue out and slapped at Boyd’s chest until he leaned back, allowing her to sit in his lap. “Okay, I get it; relax, lizard boy. The question is, where the hell is Stiles?”

 

Boyd hooked his chin over Erica’s shoulder, wrapping his arms around her middle, and nuzzled into her neck. Jackson made a face at them before pinning Derek with a questioning look. Derek raised a brow at him.

 

“Do I look like his keeper?”

 

“No, but you do always know where he is,” Erica smirked and snuggled back into Boyd’s embrace while Boyd snorted and pressed his smile into Erica’s hair.

 

“He’s having lunch with his dad and Peter,” Derek mumbled, ignoring the others’ smug expressions. “He’ll be over around three.”

 

Boyd checked his watch. “You mean he’ll be here in about ten minutes.”

 

Derek shrugged. “I’ve been making furniture all day, don’t expect me to know what time it is.”

 

Jackson scoffed and jumped off the porch, twisting around to smirk knowingly at Derek. Derek sent him an unimpressed look in response, and Jackson’s smirk grew wider. Derek could sense the smugness coming off of the beta like he knew some great secret and was enjoying holding it over Derek’s head. He wouldn’t really be surprised if it were true, but it was irritating.

 

“I can force you to run until you collapse with one order,” Derek pointed out and sprawled his legs out in front of him. “I’m not afraid to do so.”

 

“What would Stiles say if he heard you threatening to abuse your power?” Jackson taunted.

 

“Stiles would say you probably deserved it,” Stiles replied as he rounded the corner of the house.

 

All four werewolves jumped, startled, and turned to stare at Stiles. He winked and bounded over to them. The scent of his joy was an almost-woodsy scent, mixing in with the forest around them in a strangely reassuring way. Derek glanced at Boyd from the corner of his eye, wondering if he’d noticed the way Stiles’s base scent was slowly changing.

 

“How the hell did you manage to sneak up on us?” Jackson demanded, poking at Stiles’s shoulder with a pout.

 

Stiles’s smile widened and he shook his head. “Nope, not sharing this secret with anyone. I actually wanna be able to do it again!”

 

Derek huffed, already admitting defeat, and slumped even further into the lawn chair. The other wolves made disgruntled noises, sending Stiles exasperated scowls tinged with fondness. A moment later, they all protested, and Erica was up and poking Stiles’s shoulder with a sharp look.

 

“Why didn’t you tell any of us you could sing?

 

“I cannot,” Stiles yelped, his eyes going wide.

 

“Derek said you can,” Boyd declared with a shrug. “He’s probably just biased, but it’s what he said.”

 

Derek rolled his eyes and pushed up out of the chair. “I’m not being biased. And you all know him well enough to take his opinion of himself with a grain of salt.”

 

Stiles flushed and shot Derek a mock-wounded look. “Dude, not cool.”

 

“It’s not like you told me to keep it a secret.”

 

“Rude,” he muttered and stuck his tongue out. “Alright, fine, Derek thinks I have a decent voice. I’m inclined to disagree with him on principle, but he seems pretty convinced of it. Wait, why does it matter if I can or cannot sing?”

 

Erica caught Stiles in a headlock. “It matters because someone actually requested a song, sent us a message and everything, but the song is a duet and I can’t actually do both parts, whether Jackson and Danny think otherwise or not.”

 

“Ugh.”

 

Derek bit back a sad smile, jumping down from the porch. “I’m going for a walk. Try not to destroy my house while I’m gone,” he called over his shoulder, strolling to the treeline.

 

He made it several minutes before Stiles was crashing through the underbrush after him. Derek smiled fondly and slowed down, absently kicking at twigs and rotted-out logs. Stiles caught up a few moments later, bumping his shoulder into Derek’s. The forest’s scent wrapped around Stiles, mixing with the woodsy scent Stiles’s base scent was slowly changing into, making him near-impossible to scent. It’d be more unnerving if Derek didn’t trust Stiles, but he knew Stiles would never hurt him.

 

“What’s wrong, big guy?” Stiles asked after catching his breath.

 

Derek glanced at the human from the corner of his eye. Stiles had his hands stuffed into his shorts pockets, beads of sweat dotting his hairline and upper lip, cooling in the shade of the trees. His shirt - one of Derek’s t-shirts actually, he hadn’t realized Stiles had commandeered another one - clung to his shoulders and back, dark with sweat. Derek forced his focus back onto the grass and tree roots.

 

“Derek?”

 

“Today’s Laura’s birthday,” Derek murmured softly.

 

“Have you been avoiding everyone until just now?”

 

Derek hummed thoughtfully. “More or less.”

 

“‘m sorry,” Stiles whispered, bumping his shoulder into Derek’s again. “I can go back if you want me to?”

 

“No,” Derek mumbled and stopped in front of an old California Black Oak, tipping his head back until he could stare up into the branches. “I want you to stay.”

 

“Okay, I can do that,” Stiles smiled softly and looked up at the tree with Derek.

 

They stayed quiet for a long time, eventually sitting down at the base of the tree, leaning back against the trunk. Derek listened to the steady cadence of Stiles’s breathing, closing his eyes and losing himself in the quiet rhythm his heart. The heat wrapped around them, and Derek tapped the beat of Stiles’s heart against his thigh subconsciously, his own heart synchronizing with Stiles’s.

 

“Erica reminds me of Laura, sometimes.”

 

“Hm?”

 

Derek blinked against the sunlight filtering down through the leaves. “Erica is a lot like Laura was, when we were in high school. Strong, stubborn, fierce. Laura had to grow up too soon, though.”

 

Stiles reached over and grabbed Derek’s hand, lacing their fingers together. “You both had to grow up too soon, Derek.”

 

“I suppose so,” Derek agreed quietly.

 

“Was Laura as free with her scathing affection as Erica is?” Stiles asked, his voice hushed, and leaned against Derek, resting his head against Derek’s shoulder.

 

Derek made a thoughtful noise. “Laura was a little more violent with her affection.”

 

“Is that where you get it from?” Stiles teased lightly.

 

“No,” Derek smiled and jostled Stiles’s head gently. “We both got it from my mother. Or so Peter claims. Apparently she used to bully him.”

 

Stiles hid his smile in the exposed skin of Derek’s shoulder, closing his eyes and relaxing into the werewolf. Derek inhaled deeply, holding in the warmth of the woods and Stiles and the easy affection, the contentment and the somberness of the moment. He exhaled and closed his eyes again, softly humming the chorus of one of Laura’s favorite songs. She’d learned to cope with the fire through music; there were dozens of mixed CDs for all her different moods, the best way for her to escape her head when it all got to be too much.

 

Derek had never really learned how to do that. It had taken him a couple years to find escape through punishing exercise regimes, working himself into the dirt just for a moment of quiet in his head. Then he’d come back to Beacon Hills, following after her, and he’d found Laura in pieces and a supernatural mess he hadn’t been equipped to handle on his own.

 

But he had Stiles, now, and a pack that was young, a new family and place for them all to come when they needed someone. None of them could ever replace Laura, or their parents or Sky or any of his dead kin. He knew that. And he knew they’d feel so much pain if they were aware of how long it’d taken him to let someone else in.

 

“Hey,” Stiles mumbled and bumped his forehead against Derek’s shoulder. “What’re you humming?”

 

“S’one of Laura’s favorite songs,” Derek said quietly. “I don’t remember the name of it.”

 

“Oh,” Stiles hummed and shifted against Derek’s side a little, squeezing Derek’s hand in his.

 

He nodded and slumped into Stiles, moving until he could bury his nose into the side of Stiles’s neck. Derek pressed his face against the warm skin there, breathing Stiles in as he let himself sink into the sorrow he hadn’t allowed himself feel in the weeks leading up to her birthday. Stiles made a soft noise and twisted around until his arms were wrapped around Derek’s shoulders, hugging him tightly as he eased them both down onto the grass.


Derek didn’t cry, but he stayed there until the air cooled and the sun closed in on the horizon, until he didn’t feel like he was choking on another layer of grief.

Chapter Text

~Don't Mind Us, We're Just Spilling Our Guts~

Stiles twirled his drumsticks nervously, watching Danny as he set up the recording equipment by his drum set. Derek had helped him haul it over to his house, and Jackson had helped him set it up in the library, where Danny had instructed them to put it. Stiles felt weird about everything.

 

He’d never actually sung in front of people. At least, not while he was aware there were other people to sing in front of. Actually, he hadn’t sung in front of anyone since his mother, when they’d sing along to her Marilyn Manson tapes, or her Elvis records, or to the radio when they played Hank Williams and Johnny Cash.

 

Erica kicked his foot with her’s gently, smiling reassuringly at him. “It’s not going to be as bad as you think it is, Stiles. If your voice isn’t actually as good as Derek says it is, we’ll just force Derek to sing instead.”

 

Stiles ducked his head to hide his smile. “Gee, thanks Erica.”

 

“Relax, Stilinski,” she cooed and kicked his foot again. “We all trust Derek’s conviction that you can sing. And also Boyd’s judgement.”

 

“What does Boyd’s judgement have to do with anything?” Stiles narrowed his eyes at Erica. “Erica?”

 

She smirked and patted his cheek affectionately. “I made Boyd sneak around your house and listen to you practice your part of the song.”

 

Stiles groaned and shoved her shoulder. “Ugh, I knew it was too easy, not having to sing in front you guys to prove Derek right.”

 

Erica’s smirk grew. “You should know better, Batman. You couldn't actually think we'd just have you sing without being reassured that you had a good voice, did you?”

 

“Shut up,” Stiles stuck his tongue out at her, like the mature almost-adult he was, and heaved a sigh. “I regret all of you so much.”

 

“No you don’t,” Erica sing-songed and ducked away from him before he could cuff her upside the head. She danced out into the hallway and disappeared around the corner, nearly knocking into Jackson as he lugged a tripod into the library.

 

Stiles huffed and moved to slump into the window seat, silently bemoaning his horrible choices in friends, and absently wondered how annoyed Boyd had to have been while stalking around Stiles’s house to listen to him sing. The mental picture was hilarious, and Stiles grinned up at the ceiling as he imagined Boyd’s inner monologue. There was a lot of dishonor on Erica and Jackson, Mulan style, and a couple expletives about where they all could shove it. Stiles wouldn't put it passed Boyd to imagine various ways in which they could all be tortured.

 

“Stiles, stop thinking about whatever it is you’re thinking about, because it’s making you look really demented and I don’t think any of us could handle you coming unhinged,” Danny sighed, long-suffering, and tossed a balled up paper at Stiles’s face.

 

Rude,” Stiles grumbled and shot a playful glare back at Danny, slumping further down into the window seat until he was basically lying across the cushion, his shoulders propped against one side and his socked-feet pressed against the other side. Danny just laughed and went back to adjusting the tripod Jackson had carried in.

 

“So what’re you thinking about that’s making you look like a psycho?” Danny asked a moment later, setting up one of the video cameras up, pausing to smile at Stiles.

 

Stiles rolled his eyes and stuck his tongue out like the mature person he was. “I was just imagining how annoyed Boyd had to have been, what with Erica forcing him to sneak around my house to eavesdrop on me practicing the song.”

 

Danny laughed. “Has anyone bothered telling you how weird you all are?”

 

"Hey now, don't be rude," Stiles said, mock-angry, and made faces at Danny. He grinned back at Stiles, hardly sparing Jackson a glance as he set a Nikon down on the desk Danny was standing next to.

 

Jackson gave the back of Danny's head a kicked puppy look and ducked out of the library again. Stiles raised his eyebrows, intrigued, and fixed Danny with a look. Danny scowled back and focused on his video camera like he thought he could ignore Stiles. Stiles thought it was cute, really. Danny should know better.

 

"So...what's up with you and Jackson, then? I never thought you could be angry with anyone for more than an hour."

 

Danny was quiet for a moment, frowning, before he sighed and dropped into a nearby armchair. "I’m not...not angry. Jackson and Isaac, just, they still don't get along. Isaac still hates Jackson for never doing anything when he heard Mr. Lahey beating the crap out of Isaac, and Jackson hasn't really done much to change Isaac's mind. And, well, I guess Isaac has the right to be pissed with Jackson. But, there's not much anyone can do now, so I don't really see the point in holding a grudge over it."

 

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I feel like they expect me to choose between them, and that’s just not going to happen. And then last night Jackson and Isaac got into a fight in my backyard; they’re lucky my parents were out on a date.”

 

Stiles frowned. “Have you talked to them about it?”

 

“No,” Danny shook his head and scowled at his hands. Stiles had never actually seen Danny that angry-looking before. “I’m not really sure how to bring it up without making them think I’m playing favorites or picking sides or something.”

 

“Understandable,” Stiles replied and scratched a hand through his hair. “But, dude, you gotta talk to them about this. It’s not going to magically get better. As awesome as their super senses are, they’re just werewolves with the ability to scent moods and shit. They’re not gonna know why you smell angry or upset around them unless you tell them. Neither one of them is a mind reader.”

 

Danny groaned and thumped his head against the back of the armchair. “You’re their pseudo-alpha, can’t you talk to them?”

 

Stiles snorted and flicked a piece of paper away from him. “Uh, dude, I could talk to them, but it wouldn’t be as meaningful as it would coming from you. I can’t exactly set them down and tell them to play nice because Danny doesn’t know how to feel about it. Isaac has legitimate reasons for hating Jackson’s guts, and Jackson has only two reasons for trying to make nice with Isaac. The pack, and you, and which of those two reasons do you think is most important to Jackson?”

 

“When the hell did you become so damn reasonable?” Danny grumbled and pushed himself out of the chair. “Fine, fine, you’ve got a point. Now, shut up and sit at your drums, we’ve got a song to cover.”

 

Stiles grinned, obliging Danny, and couple hours later he was rewarded as he watched Danny shouting orders at Jackson and Boyd. Lydia was staring at her iPad, looking unimpressed, and snapping out orders to Danny randomly, telling him to fix Jackson’s hair or Boyd’s shirt. Stiles wondered, briefly, when Lydia decided she needed to oversee everyone’s image. Isaac was in the corner, snickering and coughing to cover it up, with Danny’s video camera, looking like the world had given him a gift in the form of his boyfriend bossing around two werewolves. Stiles decided he didn’t want to know.

 

So,” Erica purred, snuggling into his side where he sat on the couch, and rested her head against his shoulder. “Are you busy tomorrow afternoon?”

 

“I don’t think so,” Stiles said, pretending to consult his mental calendar with a grin. “Why?”

 

Erica grabbed his hand and laced their fingers together, nuzzling his shoulder like a cat. “Well, I was hoping you’d be up to coming with me when I go to get my nails done. My grandmother sent me some money for Christmas last year, and I haven't spent any of it. I figure it can't hurt to see if growing claws will fuck with a manicure.”

 

“Why don’t you ask Lydia or Allison to go? It’d be a good bonding experience for you all,” Stiles frowned thoughtfully and turned his head to stare at Erica, slightly confused.

 

“Because I’m pretty sure Allison would prefer to stab with her pretty knife thingies. Or maybe shoot me full of arrows again, because of that stunt I pulled with Scott when I was first turned. Besides, my personality clashes too much with Lydia’s, anyway, and I’m still kinda angry about the way she treated you before, like you didn’t even exist.”

 

Stiles sighed. “I hate that I don’t know how to make it so everyone gets along. Also, Lydia kinda had the right to ignore my existence. I was kind of a creepy asshole.”

 

“Okay, yeah, you were being the stereotypical ‘nice guy’ who acts like you are entitled to her attention, but I’m allowed to be biased because I like you more than her.” Erica nuzzled Stiles’s shoulder again. “Also, it isn’t your job to make everyone get along and love each other.”

 

“Yeah, well, it feels like it is,” Stiles huffed and dropped his head down to lean against Erica’s. “Though I do hope that, someday, you and Allison and Lydia can all sit down at talk about why you all hate each other, or whatever.”

 

Erica snorted and elbowed Stiles’s side playfully. “I don’t hate them. Well, fine, I kinda hate Allison. But, I feel like maybe I’m allowed. She did shoot me full of arrows.”

 

“Things I don’t wanna think about,” Stiles groaned and slid off the couch in a pile of limbs.

 

“Oh yeah?” Erica grinned over the edge, her eyes glinting with playful fire. “I can always talk about how Derek slept naked when he was staying in the train car when he’d run out of clothes that weren’t bloody or torn.”

 

Stiles glared up at her. “You lie.”

 

“I don’t.”

 

“Stiles!” Danny called, before he could retort. “I need you back in the library.”

 

“Ugh,” Stiles sighed and shoved himself up from the floor, ignoring Erica’s smug look. “I regret all of you.”

 

“No you don’t,” Lydia said flatly and followed him up the stairs. “You only wish you did.”

 

"I'll pick you up tomorrow afternoon! Don't think you're getting out of it, Stiles!" Erica hollered after them.

 

Stiles made a face and went into the library, where Derek was frowning at the bookshelf behind Stiles’s drums. He turned to them, looking pretty unimpressed, and Stiles pointed at Lydia before Derek could open his mouth. “Hey, blame Lydia, she’s the one who decided what goes where for this.”

 

“I didn’t realize you guys were going to do this in my house,” Derek said, raising his eyebrows. “I was under the impression you were going to be outside.”

 

“Erica and Stiles will be singing outside,” Lydia explained, unconcerned, and shoved at Stiles’s shoulder until he moved over to the drum set. “So, you’re only partially wrong.”

 

Stiles tried to hide his laughter with a cough, and smiled at Derek. “Did you need a book from that particular shelf?”

 

Derek rolled his eyes and nodded. “Your dad wanted to read more about mate bonds,” he explained, ignoring Lydia’s derisive snort, and nodded at the shelf directly behind where Stiles was sitting. “It’s the small, leather-bound one with nothing on the spine.”

 

“Ugh, I don’t wanna think about my dad reading about mate bonds, oh god,” Stiles whined and spun around on the stool, scanning the shelf until he found the right book. He pulled the book down, frowning at it slightly as his mind shifted onto a different track. “Why does he need to read more about mate bonds?”

 

“I have no idea,” Derek shrugged and took the book when Stiles handed it over. “He never said, and I don’t really want to think about why he could want it, because he’s one marriage license away from being my uncle.”

 

“That is really, really weird,” Stiles sighed.

 

Lydia cocked an eyebrow at them both. “It’ll be much weirder soon enough.”

 

Stiles frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean?” He demanded, silently praying his face wasn’t red.

 

“It means Lydia should keep her mouth shut,” Derek said with a glower before Lydia could reply. She smirked, smug, and Derek hunched his shoulders and left the library, throwing a quick goodbye to Stiles over his shoulder before disappearing into the hallway.

 

“The hell?”


Lydia rolled her eyes and smacked Stiles’s hand away from his hair. “It isn’t my job to tell you.”

Chapter Text

~Would You be the Savior of the Broken, the Beaten, and the Damned~

Stiles groaned, rolling off his bed with a loud thump, and groaned again, louder, as he glared up at the ceiling. Boyd’s ringtone cut off, and then started up again a few moments later. He wasn’t entirely sure what time it was, but he was positive that it was too damn early for anyone to be calling him. Stiles answered his phone with a weird combination of a groan/whine to emphasize to Boyd exactly how early it was.

 

I don’t really want to know what you sound like when you’re getting off, Stiles,” Boyd said, unimpressed and entirely too unsympathetic. “Get dressed for running.

 

“Noooo,” Stiles whined and got up slowly. “It’s too early for running. I haven’t even had coffee yet.”

 

Boyd snorted. “You’re the one who asked me to go running with you in the mornings. A month and a half ago. It is morning. Get up and get to Derek’s so we can go running.

 

“So mean,” Stiles sighed dramatically and dropped his phone on top of his bed after Boyd made a derisive noise at him and hung up.

 

He muttered unflattering things about Boyd’s person as he rifled through his dresser, grabbing out gym shorts and one of the t-shirts he’d stolen from Derek several weeks prior. He had clean clothes stashed over at Derek’s house, and he could just shower there when he and Boyd finished their run, so Stiles got dressed, grabbed his phone, and left the house with a quick shout of where he was going over his shoulder. His father was still asleep, but Stiles knew Peter was in the kitchen fixing breakfast.

 

Stiles pulled up to Derek’s house several minutes later, a lot more awake than he’d been when he’d gotten off the phone with Boyd, and frowned over at the empty spot where the Camaro was supposed to be. Before he could think too much about it, Boyd knocked on his window and shot Stiles an amused look when Stiles jumped and shrieked. He scowled back at Boyd and hopped out of the Jeep.



“Asshole,” Stiles muttered, good-naturedly, and started stretching.

 

Boyd smirked and started stretching with Stiles. “Like you really have all that much room to talk.”

 

“Shut up,” Stiles grinned and bumped Boyd’s shoulder with his playfully.

 

“Make up your mind, Stilinski. You’re always complaining that I’m too quiet, now you’re telling me to shut up.” Boyd smirked and nudged Stiles back, harder, and took off at an easy jog down the trail leading into the trees.

 

“Not cool!” Stiles spluttered, laughing and balancing himself with a hand to the hood of his Jeep, and took off after Boyd.

 

They raced each other for a bit, until Stiles had to stop and brace himself against a tree, panting for breath as he leaned against the bark so heavily it scraped against the skin of his lower back where his shirt rode up. Boyd grinned, hardly sweating, and stretched while he waited for Stiles to catch his breath. Stiles shot the werewolf an annoyed look, his glare weak compared to the bright red flush on his face and the sweat sticking his shirt to his skin. Boyd’s grin widened and he started walking slowly, in the direction of a small creek the pack had stumbled over months prior. Stiles groaned and pushed up off the tree, following Boyd.

 

“You’re doing a lot better,” Boyd praised as they dropped down on the grass, a few feet from the muddy bank. “This is the furthest you’ve run yet, without a break.”

 

Stiles flopped onto his back, starfishing out. “Ugh. Why did I ask you to go running with me, again?”

 

“Because,” Boyd smirked and threw a pebble at Stiles. “You wanted to build up your endurance. It’s the same reason you asked Jackson to help you with hand-to-hand.”

 

Urgh,” Stiles groaned and closed his eyes. “I have made a horrible, terrible mistake.”

 

Boyd snorted and flicked another pebble at Stiles. “Whatever you say, Stiles.”

 

“Bleh,” Stiles gurgled childishly, ignoring Boyd’s derisive chuckle, and opened his eyes to stare up at the clouds he could see between the leaves. He let his mind wander, tripping over random thoughts and spinning around erratic trivia he’d learned during the nights he’d stay up researching only to get distracted and emerge five hours later on wikipedia articles about circumcision and Polka.

 

“Hey, Boyd,” Stiles mumbled sometime later, emerging from his thoughts with a stray curiosity. “Is Erica your first relationship?”

 

The werewolf was quiet long enough Stiles thought he wouldn’t answer, before making a dismissive sound. “No.”

 

Stiles pushed himself up onto his elbows. “Really?”

 

“Yeah,” Boyd shrugged and ran a hand over his scalp. “I sort of come from the same place as you and Erica and Jackson, though, which is probably why Erica and I got on so well before we started dating. I knew how she felt, having a huge crush on someone who didn’t even know you existed. And before you say anything, no I did not have a crush on you, or on Lydia.”

 

“Oh,” Stiles made a thoughtful noise. “So, wait, but you said Erica isn’t your first relationship? Having a huge, unrequited crush on someone doesn’t count as a relationship.”

 

Boyd rolled his eyes. “I’m aware of that,” he said, deadpan, and reached over to punch Stiles’s shoulder lightly. “I’m more realistic than you; I knew she’d never notice me, and even if she did she’d never return my feelings, so I decided to ask out this guy I was working with. We dated for a while, but his mom got transferred to some office in Boston, so he had to move.”

 

“Huh,” Stiles said, his eyes wide, and pushed himself into a full seated position. “That sucks though, about your boyfriend.”

 

“It happens.” Boyd shrugged. “Besides, I wasn’t really gone on him. I mean, I liked him well enough, and I was finally over Xerxies, but I wasn’t heartbroken that he had to move. We still Skype occasionally; he’s dating some senior at his high school now.”

 

Stiles furrowed his brow. “Who the hell is Xerxies?”

 

Boyd rolled his eyes. “Greenberg.”

 

“I...what?”

 

“Desdemona Xerxies Greenberg, dumbass. She’s on the lacrosse team? Coach Finstock as a hate-on for her.”

 

“Uh,” Stiles blinked, feeling a bit sheepish. “I, um, didn’t actually know her name.”

 

“I’m not really surprised. In kindergarten she demanded to be called by her middle name, Xerxies, and then somehow, for whatever reason I haven’t figured out yet, she just wanted everyone to call her by her last name.”

 

“I did not know that,” Stiles mumbled.

 

Boyd shrugged again. “Most people don’t. Why did you want to know if Erica was my first relationship or not anyway?”

 

“Oh, I was just thinking, you know, about how well it’d work out or if it’d end up something like Scott and Allison’s. I mean, as far as I know, they were each other’s first significant other. And, I mean, I had front row seats to the Argent-McCall angst fest, and she’s Scott’s mate so if she ever left him he’d never really move on properly. Same goes for Jackson and Lydia, or Isaac and Danny. You and Erica, though, you’re both werewolves and each other’s mates, so I was just thinking about how that might turn out compared to a werewolf-human mating.”

 

“That is an interesting thing to think about,” Boyd mused quietly and studied Stiles for a moment. “Have you been thinking about it a lot because of Derek?”

 

Stiles flailed, nearly braining himself with his left hand, and stared at Boyd with wide, slightly panicked eyes. “No!” He squawked and ran a hand through his hair. “I mean, no. I...my dad and Peter.”

 

“And Derek,” Boyd added after a moment. “Don’t pretend otherwise; he’s important to you, and you’re worried about somebody breaking his heart.”

 

“I - " Stiles flushed and ducked his head. “Maybe? I’ve been...mostly ignoring it. He’s my best friend, dude.” The pang of guilt shooting through his gut wasn’t new, but Scott would always be his brother. It was another thing he tried not to think about too much.

 

Boyd nodded like the information wasn’t anything he hadn’t already known, and plucked at the grass absently. “You know, I know why you won’t ever admit it in front of Erica or Jackson, or Lydia even, but you know I’m not going to mock you in any way, right?”

 

Stiles frowned down at his hands twisting in the material of his shorts. “I don’t… I wasn’t expecting this, dude. He...I...I wasn’t supposed to… He was supposed to be easy, like Scott, like how it is with you or with Jackson or Erica.” He made a frustrated noise and clenched his jaw.

 

“You can’t have actually expected anything with Derek Hale to be easy,” Boyd said, confused amusement in his tone.

 

“That’s actually the problem,” Stiles sighed and glanced up at Boyd. His mouth was twisted in a sardonic smile. “After January 25th, everything was easy. Perfectly, gloriously easy. Just not the way it was supposed to be.”

 

“Is that so bad, though?”

 

“No, yes, maybe?” Stiles scrubbed a hand over his face. “It’s okay for me, it isn’t like, if he rejects me, I won’t be hopelessly, grimly stuck on him for the rest of my existence. I mean, yeah, it’ll fucking suck and hurt and stuff, but...I’d be able to move on. But, Derek...he’s a werewolf, and he could...Peter said mate bonds are almost never intentional. Mate bonds don’t always happen, there’s no such thing as a predestined mate. It’s...as simple as falling in love, really. But, I’m fucking seventeen and I’ve never been in any kind of romantic relationship.

 

“I’m afraid that...if I were to ever try with Derek, if we were to ever get together, if I became his mate...I’m afraid I’d break his heart, and I can’t do that.” Stiles pulled his knees to his chest, resting his chin on top of them and wrapping his arms around his legs.

 

Boyd was quiet for a minute before sighing softly. “You’re already in love with him, Stiles. I don’t think you’d be the one to break his heart.”

 

Stiles felt his stomach drop, a new thought crashing through his mind - and he wondered absently why it had never crossed it before - with Boyd’s words. “What if he’s already got a mate, though?”

 

“C’mon, Stiles, don’t be dumb. You’re Derek’s best friend, too. He’d tell you. And, well, if he hasn’t, you can ask him.”

 

A thousand and one horrific possibilities scrambled for center stage in his mind. “I couldn’t,” Stiles whispered, because the most horrifying thought of all was the worst possible thing he could ever think to ask Derek. He couldn’t. Even thinking it hurt, somewhere deep in his chest, behind his ribs and lungs, a dark aching thing that made him want to resurrect Kate just so he could skin her alive, or maybe stick her in a vat of acid. Just at the possibility of it being true.

 

It might explain a few things, if it were. It might explain why Derek hadn’t seemed interested in anyone beyond platonic-pack-friends, or why it had taken him almost six years before he was willing to try having sex with anyone. And, Kate being Derek’s mate probably wasn’t anything Derek would want to say. To anyone. Ever.

 

“You’re not ever going to know unless you ask him,” Boyd pointed out, kindly not saying anything about the way Stiles’s heart had to have tripped over itself, or the way his scent had to have changed to the bitter fear-sorrow-rage-grief Stiles was feeling, all the emotions tangled in his head and just beneath his heart. “The worst he’ll do is say he doesn’t want to talk about it.”

 

Stiles hid his face in the small space between his knees and chest, trying to breathe through the panic. He wasn’t sure which idea was worse, Derek already having a mate who’d rejected him, killed his family and broke his heart, or Derek not having a mate and Stiles breaking his heart in the end. He bit at his bicep, squeezing his eyes shut, because he knew Boyd was right. He’d have to ask Derek about it. Not knowing would only make everything worse, it’d give him enough room to spin all the different ways Kate could’ve wormed her way into Derek’s heart and all the different ways Derek could have realized she was it for him.

 

“We should go back to the house,” Boyd said a bit later, and Stiles wasn’t sure how much time had passed. “Erica told me last night that she’s dragging you out with her to get her nails done. She’ll probably strong-arm you into getting a manicure.”

 

“Ugh,” Stiles groaned, voice hoarse though he hadn’t actually cried or done anything to make it that way, and let Boyd help him up. They jogged most of the way back, walking the last several yards to cool down. Stiles stretched some more, using his Jeep, and tried not to feel anything when he realized that Derek still wasn’t back. He didn’t actually know how long he and Boyd had been in the woods.

 

Boyd clapped Stiles’s shoulder, his smile gentle. “I’ll talk to you later, Stilinski. Try not to panic too much about it.”

 

Stiles smiled tiredly back. “Yeah, right. Emotions are terrifying and I kinda miss pining after Lydia.”

 

“My grandmother tells me all the time that being in love is the scariest thing in the world. And she’s right. But she says, and I agree, that it’s always worth it in the end.”

 

“Maybe,” Stiles mumbled and grabbed his phone from the Jeep before going up the porch steps on rubbery legs. “And then sometimes you end up falling in love with someone who’s been beaten and battered down, and beautiful, and...Jesus Christ, I need to shut up and go take a shower.”


He went into the house, and the screen door slammed shut behind him, sending a wayward deer skittering back into the woods. Boyd paused to stare after it, frowning, because he couldn’t remember scenting a deer at all.

Chapter Text

~Will You Defeat Them, Your Demons?~

Derek’s grip on the steering wheel tightened, the leather of it creaking in his hands, and he exhaled sharply. There was a sharp, almost-stabbing sensation, burning white-hot, just underneath his heart, like he’d been shot with a wolfsbane bullet and someone was pressing the proper ashes into the wound, only muted, and he knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was feeling residual flashes of Stiles’s emotions. It was almost disconcerting, because it changed the ‘what if’ to ‘absolutely’. It was terrifying, because he could still remember Peter’s scent and the miserable taste it left in his mouth, when Peter came back from his trips to San Diego. Derek just wasn’t sure if he was more worried about himself, or about Stiles’s reaction once he realized…

 

Maybe he wouldn’t. Derek hoped he wouldn’t. Not unless Stiles felt the same, and he wasn’t...sure. Peter had joked, a week or so ago, that Derek and Stiles were stealth-dating each other, with the outings to the coffee shop or that one time they’d gone to Barnes and Noble, left disparaging notes or raving reviews in books they’d read, or their walks through the woods just behind the Stilinski residence. It was half the reason Derek even brought up mates, in therapy that morning. His therapist had seen Peter, too, according to his uncle, and had helped him cope with the pain and the grief and the jealousy.

 

He didn’t know if he was actually ready to follow her advice. He’d said as much, too, and she’d told him if he wasn’t ready he wouldn’t have brought it up. He wasn’t so sure, but feeling an echo of Stiles’s hurt was enough to begin convincing him otherwise.

 

Derek wasn’t ready to talk about the mate bond, though. He couldn’t. It terrified him to think about it, because Stiles knew about them, had talked to Peter extensively about them and asked about them, because his father was a werewolf now and it affected the Sheriff, too. Derek was terrified to think about how Stiles might react if Derek told him about...about. Guilt, probably. Fear, maybe. He didn’t like to think about it, much. Would prefer it if Stiles reacted with happiness and excitement, acceptance, joy.

 

His phone vibrated angrily in the center console where he’d tossed it before his therapy session, startling Derek out of his thoughts. Derek answered it before it could go to voicemail, unease sharpening and dropping like a lead weight in his gut when Boyd growled something about a deer around the house.

 

“It’s weird, to see a deer hanging around the house. We all smell too much like a predator, a threat, there shouldn’t be any deer stupid enough to get that close. And this deer, I should’ve scented it when Stiles and I were coming up through the trail after our run, but I didn’t. I didn’t see it until the screen door slammed shut behind Stiles and the deer bolted the other way.

 

“Fuck,” Derek growled.

 

Do you think it’s the skinwalker?

 

“What else could it be?” Derek grimaced and started the Camaro. “Did you try following it?”

 

No, it was out of sight before I completely registered it was even there, and then I decided to stick around and wait for Erica to pick Stiles up, otherwise he would have been completely alone. Jackson is with Danny at the lacrosse field, and Isaac is with Scott, Allison, and Lydia at the movies.

 

Derek took several deep breaths, pressing his head against the headrest. “Okay, that’s good. I’ll be home in about an hour.”

 

Alright. I’m going to ask Peter and the Sheriff, if he’s free, to help me track the not-scent. Stiles might show up this evening, probably even a little traumatized. Erica dragged him to the nail salon with her for the afternoon.” Boyd paused for a moment, and then continued in a quieter voice, “You need to tell Stiles how you actually feel. We’ve all kept our mouths shut, out of respect for you, because we can smell it and we can see it, but it’s been four months and if you’re stupid enough not to realize how Stiles feels, you don’t deserve him.

 

Boyd hung up before Derek could say anything, and he was left staring down at his phone, feeling a little confused and a lot uncertain. Stiles had never altered his behavior, never given any indication that he felt anything more than friendship, and Derek knew if anyone could hide their feelings from werewolves it was Stiles, but he didn’t understand how all the other wolves seemed to notice something Derek didn’t. And Derek knew Stiles hadn’t had any type of feelings for Derek before the year started, before he sat with Stiles on the anniversary of his mother’s death.

 

If Stiles did want him and the other wolves caught on when Derek hadn’t, well, he felt very betrayed by his senses.

 

But none of that actually mattered, not in that moment, because there was a threat in his territory and the fact that it’d put Stiles in danger was unacceptable. Derek knew he couldn’t always keep Stiles safe, he did. But the idea of Stiles in danger? It was always going to set him on edge, make his hackles rise and his baser instincts harder to ignore.

 

Suitably reminded of that fact, Derek pulled out of the parking lot and made his way back to Beacon Hills. He violated several traffic laws on his way, arriving back in his territory in thirty-nine minutes. Right away he could feel Stiles, his bright happiness originating from the center of downtown, probably at the nail salon a few stores away from the coffee shop they always went to. It was reassuring to know that Stiles was, for the moment, as safe as he could be. The skinwalker hadn’t encroached that far into Beacon Hills, and Derek didn’t think it would this time.

 

Boyd, Peter, and Caleb were out in the preserve, from what Derek could tell, and the other betas were with their respective mates, probably all together at Lydia’s house. He debated calling Jackson, Isaac, and Scott, but decided against it a moment later. There was no way he’d be able to convince Scott and Isaac to leave their mates, Scott because he was stubborn and still fought against Derek about certain things, namely Allison, and Isaac because his mate-bond with Danny was still fresh. Jackson wouldn’t fight him, if asked to leave, but Derek wouldn’t because Jackson was the best at fighting and would be the best wolf to defend the humans, with Allison’s help.

 

He turned onto the road that led to the Hale house, rolling his window down to check for the skinwalker’s not-scent as he turned onto his driveway, following it back to the house. Derek parked next to Peter’s car, shutting the Camaro off and hopping out without much concern as he stripped down. A moment later, he was in full wolf form and taking off into the trees, following Boyd’s scent deeper into the forest.

 

Boyd was pacing next to a stream when Derek found him, looking worried, his eyes glowing gold with agitation. He paused next to a stump that smelled overwhelmingly of nothing, and Derek trotted over to his beta and what turned out to be a mountain lion carcass several days old. Boyd rolled his shoulders and started pacing again a moment later.

 

“Nothing could have caused this kind of damage,” Boyd said, gesturing at the dead mountain lion, and let out a harsh breath. “And none of us did this, either.”

 

Derek let out a quiet growl of understanding. The skinwalker probably had to eat, too, if that was the reasoning behind mutilating the carcass, but Derek was more worried about how likely it was for the skinwalker to start masquerading as a mountain lion. He could only imagine the havoc that would wreak, how quickly and easily the death toll would include humans instead of just animals.

 

Boyd’s phone went off, Erica’s ringtone, and he answered it before it could go to voicemail. Derek padded closer to the mountain lion, sniffing surreptitiously around its corpse and the grass around it. There was the distinct lack of a scent, covering everything else, and he huffed at the stream in frustration. There was no indication of which way the skinwalker could have gone, or how long ago it had killed the mountain lion.

 

“Derek,” Boyd called, and the wolf swung his head back around to give Boyd his full attention. “Stiles managed to talk Erica into coming back to the house to play Final Fantasy. Do you wanna go back?”

 

The alpha bobbed his head, once, and took off at a full run towards home. He made it back in half the time it took him to find Boyd earlier, hoping to beat Erica and Stiles. Derek tried not to growl in defeat when he saw the Jeep parked behind his Camaro, and he resigned himself to being mercilessly teased by Erica as he shifted back and slipped into his, now, mud-coated jeans. How his jeans were suddenly covered in mud, Derek didn’t know or care to think about.

 

Erica was in the living room, setting up Final Fantasy XII on the PS2 Jackson had so generously donated to the pack after Stiles whined about having to drag his gaming consoles from his house to the Hale house constantly. Derek paused in the doorway, glancing around for a moment before watching Erica fuck with the cords. She grumbled under her breath as she untangled them, barely acknowledging Derek’s presence.

 

“He was whining about his shirt smelling like a nail salon, so he’s in your room stealing another shirt.” She said before Derek could ask for Stiles, and Derek’s face went hot.

 

Derek’s newfound insight into Stiles’s feelings gave a whole new significance to Stiles’s clothes-stealing habit. He shoved down the pleased warmth growing in his chest, because he was still wary about getting his hopes up, and took the stairs two at a time. There wasn’t much noise coming from his bedroom, just the sound of rustling fabric and Stiles’s usual rapid pulse, soft breathing.

 

When he reached his room, Derek froze just inside the doorway, staring, dumbfounded, as he watched Stiles roll around on his bed. Shirtless. Rubbing his face into the pillows and wrapping himself in the sheets. The only thing Derek could think about was how Stiles knew what he was doing. Scent marking.

 

“Stiles.”

 

Stiles meeped and flailed, getting tangled in the sheets. Derek smiled against his will, stepping further into his room. He felt a burst of satisfaction as Stiles’s heartbeat sped up and his face flushed a dark red. It was like someone had removed the blinders, and he could see everything perfectly again. It was nice, and Derek reveled in it.

 

“Uh, h-hey, Derek!” Stiles stuttered, his face turning even redder, something Derek never would’ve thought possible, and he went limp in the sheets, clearly giving up in his struggle to escape them. “So, um, yeah I have no words.”

 

Derek snorted, his smile growing wider, and made his way over to the edge of the bed. He looked down at where Stiles was caught in his sheets, his eyes tracking over Stiles’s flushed face and down his throat, stopping to read the words of his tattoo before his gaze jerked back up to meet Stiles’s. The scent of Stiles’s embarrassment was sour, twining around the heady spiced cider that Derek had only caught hints of before, and Derek gave a small shake of his head.

 

“Boyd called me, to tell me about a skinwalker sighting,” Derek murmured, moved so that he was kneeling on the bed, and Stiles made a noise, moving his arm until it was hiding his face. Derek reached out and wrapped a hand around Stiles’s wrist, tugging until he could see Stiles’s face again. “And before he hung up, he called me an idiot.”

 

That startled a laugh out of Stiles, and Derek’s smile softened. The blush crept down Stiles’s neck and he glanced over Derek’s shoulder for a moment before meeting Derek’s eyes, licking his lips absently. Derek shuffled around until he was leaning over Stiles, taking in deep breaths of Stiles’s scent as the sour note of embarrassment faded and the spiced cider grew heavier.

 

“What’d he call you an idiot for?”

 

Derek shook his head fondly. “For taking so long to realize something that was apparently obvious to all of my betas,” he grinned and pressed his fingers against Stiles’s tattoo. It reminded him a lot of that night several months earlier, of backing Stiles against the wall and tracing the curling font of his tattoo. Isaac had interrupted them, then, and Derek had forced himself to forget about it, but now he wasn’t going to stop himself from leaning down those extra inches and he wasn’t going to acknowledge anyone who tried to interrupt them.

 

Stiles blinked up at him, his mouth parting just enough for his tongue to dart out again. Derek watched his lips for a moment, mesmerized, before huffing at himself impatiently. His fingers were still wrapped around Stiles’ wrist, and he stroked his thumb over the fragile skin. There was still a small fraction of fear, doubt, a small sense of nerves that he was completely mistaken.

 

He knew not taking the chance would be worse.

 

Derek leaned down, pressed his mouth to Stiles’s, and swallowed the startled exhale. He kept his eyes open, watching the emotions flit through Stiles’s eyes before they fluttered shut and he started kissing back. Derek let his own eyes slip shut, exhaling harshly through his nose as the rush of euphoria exploded across his senses. He darted his tongue out, licking softly at the seam of Stiles’s lips, asked for permission, and Stiles opened his mouth to him, the fingers of his free hand sinking into Derek’s hair.

 

It was the greatest feeling in the world. It was perfection and sweetness and the beauty of a sunrise and the warmth of the sun on a spring day and the sense of awe after the first snowfall. Derek had always known kissing Stiles would be the best experience in the world, or at least one of the best. He just never expected it to feel like an explosion, like the birth of a star was happening in the center of his chest.

 

When they broke for air, Derek pressed his forehead to Stiles’s, sharing the air in the scant space between their mouths. Stiles kept his eyes shut, his face the perfect picture of wonder, a blush high up on his cheekbones. Derek breathed in Stiles’s scent, listened to the loud thunder of his rabbiting heart, and sank into Stiles, allowed himself to forget the world for a moment.

 

“Oh,” Stiles sighed, and his fingers massaged Derek’s scalp tenderly. “Well, I think I need to send Boyd a thank you card.”

 

Derek chuckled softly and pressed another kiss against Stiles’s mouth. Stiles pressed up into it, his hand sliding down to wrap around the back of Derek’s neck. He wriggled against the sheets again, giving a frustrated huff when he couldn’t untangle himself from them, and nipped at Derek’s lip when the werewolf chuckled at him.

 

“Shuddup,” he mumbled and freed his other hand, wrapping his arm around Derek’s shoulders. “You weren’t supposed to walk in on me rolling around on your sheets.”

 

“Mmhmm,” Derek hummed and ducked down to kiss along Stiles’s jaw. “Did you think I wouldn’t notice your scent soaked into my bed when I went to sleep later tonight?”

 

Stiles made an embarrassed noise. “Would you have done something about it?”

 

Derek made a thoughtful noise before sinking his teeth into the tendon of Stiles’s neck gently, worrying the flesh a little before sucking a mark into it. Stiles’s fingers tightened their hold on Derek and he groaned softly, squeezing his eyes shut. After another moment Derek pulled back, pressing his thumb against the fresh bruise on Stiles’s throat with a satisfied smile.


“Answer your question?”


Stiles smiled happily.

Chapter Text

~Interlude: Even In Madness~

Peter was smirking before they’d made it to the front porch, and Caleb sighed, long-suffering. He knew what that look was for, he had werewolf senses. He could hear Stiles’s racing heart, matching tempos with another that Caleb was learning almost as quickly as he’d learned his son’s and Peter’s. Caleb cuffed Peter on the back of the head, hiding his own smile. Really, it was about damn time.

 

“Hi, sheriff!” Erica called brightly from the living room.

 

There was a loud thump from upstairs and Caleb snorted, amused. “Hello, Erica, Derek, Stiles.”

 

Derek appeared at the top of the stairs a moment later, his hair a ruffled mess. Stiles was right behind him, wearing one of Derek’s shirts, and Caleb pretended not to notice the fresh hickey or the stubble burn. Peter wasn’t as nice, and they both blushed when Peter sent them an over-exaggerated wink.

 

“We didn’t find anything,” Caleb told Derek, elbowing his mate as he walked around him and into the living room. “Peter figures it probably used that stream to lose us.”

 

Erica looked concerned, and Caleb brushed a hand over her head as he walked by, trying to reassure her. He didn’t know much about her home life, couldn’t imagine that she enjoyed it very much if she was always, always at the pack house or with Stiles in the Stilinski basement, but, as with Scott, and Boyd, and now Jackson, Caleb saw Erica as his own. She kind of reminded him of Anwen, in a way.

 

“Please tell me that coffee is fresh,” he begged, walking into the kitchen, and made a beeline for the coffee pot.

 

“It is,” Erica confirmed, popping up by his elbow, and grabbed a clean mug from the cupboard to hand to him with a sunny smile. “Stiles made it before disappearing upstairs to no doubt roll around Derek’s bed and steal one of his shirts.”

 

Caleb chuckled, listening to Stiles’s indignant protests, and poured himself a cup of coffee. Peter made puppy eyes from the doorway, and Caleb smiled as he ignored his mate’s ineffective begging. He could get his own coffee, as far as Caleb was concerned, seeing as Peter thought it would be a good idea to wake him up an hour before he needed to be awake.

 

“It’s been six months,” Stiles said, frowning, and slid onto one of the barstools. “Why hasn’t it done anything, if it was going to?”

 

Peter made a noise and grabbed a clean mug, filling it to the brim with coffee and sugar. Caleb eyed him, because that was Peter’s “I know something” face and he wasn’t saying anything. Peter avoided his gaze, glancing over to Derek leaning against the counter next to Stiles, and shrugged noncommittally at him. Caleb felt justifiably concerned.

 

“Maybe it isn’t actually going to do anything?” Erica suggested and hopped up onto the counter, knocking her heels against the cupboards lightly. “What if it’s just living in the woods?”

 

Stiles shook his head and leaned into Derek, pressing their shoulder together even as he avoided Caleb’s grin. “That doesn’t really make sense, or fit with what I’ve learned about them.”

 

“We’ll just have to keep up with what we’ve been doing,” Derek sighed and Caleb felt bad, because he was too damn young to look so tired.

 

Peter finished off his coffee and set his cup in the sink, turning to Caleb with questioning eyes. Caleb nodded and finished off his own cup of coffee, smiling at Erica when she took the empty mug from him. Erica beamed, hopping down and turning to the coffee pot.

 

“If you don’t need us for anything else, we’re going to head home,” Caleb said and ruffled his son’s hair. “Are you going to be home for dinner?”

 

Stiles glanced at Derek from the corner of his eyes before frowning apologetically and shaking his head. “Probably not.”

 

Caleb smiled and pulled Stiles in for a hug. “Try not to do anything stupid,” he teased and reached out to squeeze Derek’s shoulder before shoving Peter out of the kitchen, and out of the house.

 

“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” Peter called over his shoulder with a wink to Stiles and Derek, cackling at their embarassed shouts, and Caleb sighed, grinning, as he shoved Peter out the front door.

 

He waited until they were home before he cornered Peter in the living room. “What do you know that you’re not telling anyone?”

 

Peter froze for a moment before his shoulders slumped and he shuffled over to the couch, collapsing into the cushions like someone cut his strings. Caleb crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against the fireplace, raising his eyebrows questioningly. Peter ran a hand through his hair, looking exhausted.

 

“I’m quite certain you’re not going to like this,” he started. “It’s after Stiles.”

 

Caleb’s expression hardened. “What?”

 

“It’s here for Stiles,” Peter grimaced. “From the moment Anwen was born, and from the moment Stiles was born, this skinwalker has been waiting to make a move.”

 

“How do you know?” Caleb demanded, ignoring the stab of grief thoughts of Anwen always brought.

 

Peter pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes. “Anwen told me, the day I visited her in the hospital. She gave me a letter, and it had a copy of one of the stories from those notebooks her father gave her. I promised her I’d protect Stiles, which is why I haven’t said anything. If Derek knew, he’d concentrate everyone on protecting Stiles and the skinwalker would figure it out before we learned how to kill it.”

 

Caleb frowned. “The skinwalker doesn’t know who Stiles is?”

 

“No,” Peter confirmed, sighing. “I’m not sure if it knows anything about him other than his birth name, possibly Anwen’s name. If it knew which one of the kids was Stiles, it would’ve attacked already.”

 

“Well,” Caleb sighed heavily and moved to sit down next to Peter. “I guess it’s a good thing he goes by Stiles. I’m pretty sure we’re the only other people who know his name, anyway. That’s an advantage.”

 

Peter leaned into his side. “A weak one. All it has to do is figure out that Anwen’s not alive anymore, and then go look for her grave. As far as I can tell, there’s only one Anwen buried in the cemetery. After that, it’s smooth sailing, because how many Stilinskis are in Beacon Hills?”

 

“Damn.”

 

“We’re just lucky the skinwalker hasn’t seemed willing to come far enough into town to learn much of anything.”

 

They were quiet for a while, after that, lost in thought. Caleb didn’t know how to feel about his new knowledge. His son was in danger, and his mate had kept that from him for six months. He understood Peter’s reasoning, agreed with it even, but still. Caleb didn’t like it.

 

Caleb turned to study the side of Peter’s face after a sudden thought, nearly an hour later. “Is that why you did it?” He asked, his voice barely above a whisper.

 

Peter cringed and kept his gaze locked on the carpet. “If you mean, is that why I did unspeakable things to Lydia Martin’s psyche and used her and my nephew to bring myself back to life? The answer is yes. I made a promise to Anwen, and even when I was insane I remembered it. I didn’t realize, at first, who exactly Stiles was. Not until the end, after I’d attacked Lydia at their school dance and kidnapped him to help me find Derek. By then, I was just lucky Lydia was immune to my bite, and that she had a connection to the dead. It wouldn’t have worked otherwise.”

 

“Jesus,” Caleb sucked in a sharp breath, clenching his jaw. “I really don’t know how to feel about that.”

 

“Don’t ever tell Stiles,” Peter said, finally looking up to meet Caleb’s eyes. “He’d blame himself for what Lydia suffered, and it’s not his fault.”


Caleb nodded and leaned his head against Peter’s shoulder, suddenly feeling very tired.

Chapter Text

~On and On We Carry Through the Fears~

“So, tonight’s full moon is going to be a supermoon,” Stiles said, and Jackson and Boyd turned to look at him questioningly. Derek kept reading, and Stiles frowned up at him, his head in Derek’s lap. “Does it have any effect on you guys?”

 

Derek moved the book until he could see Stiles’s face, a thoughtful frown furrowing his brow. “A bit. It usually depends on exactly how close it ends up.”

 

Stiles grinned. “What kind of effects does it have on you, then? Do your eyebrows become even broodier? Or, well, you don’t usually have eyebrows when you’re wolfed out.”

 

Jackson laughed and Derek scowled, making Stiles crow victoriously. Boyd rolled his eyes, expression fond, and turned his attention back to his guitar. Derek huffed and flicked Stiles’s nose, trying not to smile as Stiles made an affronted noise and sat up, rubbing at his nose with a pout.

 

“It proves my point, though! Your eyebrows look extra broody!”

 

“Stiles does have a legitimately good point, though,” Jackson said over him. “What is it going to do?”

 

Derek reached out and settled his hand against the back of Stiles’s neck, his thumb absently stroking the skin there, as he considered Jackson. “You might have a bit more difficulty staying in control. I sent a text to the others, telling them to show up tonight just in case. Lydia, Danny and Allison are going to be here, with Stiles, too.”

 

Stiles made an amused noise. “If you think I wasn’t already going to be here for the full moon, you are very wrong. Ever since Boyd saw the skinwalker outside, my dad hasn’t let me go anywhere without a werewolf, or let me be at the house if he or another werewolf isn’t there. It’s kind of annoying, actually.”

 

Jackson scoffed and threw a blank, balled up sheet of music at Stiles. “Obviously, he’s your father and a werewolf. The instinct to protect family, pack, is really strong. Add onto the fact that he lost his, what the wolf part of him would view, first mate already, well, what do you think?”

 

“I think,” Stiles said, frowning at Jackson. His heart ached, lurching uncomfortably as he thought about how different everything would be if his mother was still alive. “I think you’re getting entirely too smart and just overall nice for my comfort. Stop it. I like you better as a douchebag.”

 

“Whatever Stilinski,” Jackson rolled his eyes and flopped back into his armchair. “Does that mean I get to point out the stubble burn all over your neck?”

 

Boyd grinned down at his guitar and Stiles squawked, launching himself at Jackson and tackling him over the back of the chair. Derek sighed and went back to reading his book, ignoring Stiles and Jackson’s laughter over Boyd’s strumming.

 

Derek could feel the moon pulling on his control, tugging at his instincts. Stiles was there with him, in his home, his territory, and it was hard to keep himself under control. All he wanted to do was drag Stiles up to his bedroom, do all the things that would mix their scents until they were StilesDerekStilesDerek and nothing else. Derek kept reminding himself that it was way too soon for that, both because their relationship was too new, still undefined, more or less, and Stiles wasn’t at all aware of the half-formed mate bond. They hadn’t...talked about any of it.

 

Not to mention Derek’s uncertainty about Stiles’s sexual interest in him. He knew Stiles was still learning everything there was to learn about himself, that Stiles was learning what being demisexual meant for him. It’d taken Derek a while, some experimentation in seedy clubs, to know what he knew about himself, and that...wasn’t actually all that much. He certainly didn’t expect Stiles to have formed any kind of the strong emotional bond that was generally referred to as necessary for sexual attraction - according to the bit of reading he’d done after Stiles had mentioned demisexuality one day.

 

“I will consume your soul!”

 

“What in the actual fuck, Stiles?”

 

“I spend a lot more time than I’d like worrying about your sanity, Stiles,” Boyd said over Jackson, his fingers stilling on the guitar strings.

 

Stiles stuck his tongue out and wiggled out of Jackson’s grasp, belly-crawling back over to the couch. “Do not judge me and my awesome, Boyd. That’s just rude.”

 

“Everyone judges you, Stiles,” Lydia declared, walking into the living room with Allison and Scott. Stiles flailed into the coffee table with a startled shout. Derek winced and reached out, pulling Stiles away from the sharp edges of coffee table, feeling a bit guilty that he hadn’t warned Stiles about the others’ approach.

 

“Ow,” Stiles whined and curled between Derek and the arm of the couch like a cat. “Jeez, Lydia, don’t sugar coat anything.”

 

Lydia rolled her eyes. “Don’t even start with me, Stilinski.”

 

Derek eyed Scott, feeling a little wary. He didn’t think Stiles had actually told Scott anything, about them, yet; they hadn’t actually told anyone, to be perfectly honest, Erica had told Boyd and Jackson had apparently only needed one look at Stiles the day after their first kiss, same with Lydia. But Scott wasn’t stupid, his senses would tell him if he didn’t catch onto the way Derek kept reaching out to get skin-on-skin contact with Stiles.

 

Scott’s nose wrinkled a little as he followed Allison over to Lydia and Jackson, eyes narrowed as he studied Stiles. “Dude,” he said, cheerful. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

“Uh,” Stiles blinked and blushed, brushing a hand through his hair. “Probably too busy wrapped up in my own head?”

 

“Congrats, bro!” Scott grinned and winked. “Even if it is Derek.”

 

Derek scowled and went back to his book. Boyd nudged his foot, and Stiles pressed into his side, while Scott started talking about some puppies Deaton took in at the clinic because the lady who’d had them couldn’t care for them for this reason or that. Derek had no hopes, no thoughts or expectations, that Scott would ever like him. He knew part of that was his own fault, but he was getting tired of taking all of the blame for their antagonistic relationship.

 

An hour later, Peter and Caleb pulled up to the house, Isaac and Danny behind them in Danny’s truck. The surge of contentment, so much like an extra kick of power, at having the entirety of his pack in one place settled deep in Derek’s bones, loosening muscles and relaxing the tight coil of worry in his gut. He pressed his nose to Stiles’ temple, drawing in his scent one last time before Caleb came into the house. It was a matter of respect that kept Derek from scenting Stiles as often as he prefered, whenever they were at Caleb’s house or Caleb was nearby, and Derek was certain Caleb appreciated it, even if he’d already given his okay.

 

“I ordered ten pizzas on the way over!” Isaac called as he crashed into the living room, piling on top of Scott, Allison, Lydia, Jackson, and Erica in front of the couch. “It should be here soon.”

 

“You’re the best!” Stiles cheered and kicked out a leg to drape across Isaac’s hip while Danny snuck in and settled next to Scott on the floor. Isaac beamed, and Derek spared a brief moment to wonder when Isaac and Stiles started getting along.

 

Caleb sat down in the chair, Peter squishing himself in beside Caleb a moment later. Stiles made a horrified noise, still overly embarrassed about his father’s decidedly non platonic relationship with Peter, and Erica cooed because she thought “old people love” was the most adorable thing.

 

“Who exactly is paying for the pizza?” Caleb asked, quirking a single brow, and Isaac grinned sheepishly.

 

“Jackson is,” Danny said, ignoring his friend’s indignant squawk of protest, and ruffled Isaac’s hair adoringly.

 

Derek ignored them and gazed between his uncle and Lydia, who was all tense muscles squashed between Jackson and Allison. He wondered for a moment if he’d made a mistake, having Lydia and Peter there at the same time, but Lydia relaxed a moment later and turned her back on Peter, focusing completely on Allison and their conversation about their trip to Paris next month. It was relieving, almost. Lydia was totally justified in her hatred of Peter, in any fear she held for him, and Derek didn’t fault or blame her for it; but the pull of the moon, a supermoon, would be too strong for Jackson not to have his anchor there, and Derek knew Caleb needed Stiles and Peter both with him to maintain control, and Stiles was his anchor, too, so.

 

“Lydia,” Derek said after a moment longer, going with what his instincts were telling him he had to do. “Can I talk to you in the study for a moment?”

 

Lydia narrowed her eyes at him, suspicious, but stood up and started towards the stairs before Derek managed to escape the couch. The others stared after them, and Derek sent them a warning look before disappearing after Lydia up the stairs. He shut the door behind them once they reached the study, turning the radio on a low murmur to cover any noise the sound proofed room didn’t keep from the wolves. This conversation was meant to be totally private.

 

“Is there a problem?” Lydia asked, voice a little clipped as she sat down in the small window seat.

 

Derek shook his head and leaned against the desk. “No.”

 

“Then what do you want to talk to me for, in private?” Lydia demanded, eyes narrowing.

 

He huffed and glanced at the floor, picturing his uncle squashed into the armchair with the sheriff. “I know you never wanted to be within a mile of Peter, and I wanted to apologize for demanding your presence. Then, thank you for showing up anyway.”

 

Lydia blinked at him, looking as shocked as Lydia could ever look. “It’s like you forgot what he made me do to you.”

 

Derek hunched his shoulders a little, shaking his head. “I haven’t forgotten, but then, it’s...easier for me to separate that Peter from this one, and the Peter I grew up with. He’s settled in the pack bonds, now; feels the way he did when I was a kid, only better because he has his mate. But that’s me, not you. You haven’t wanted anything to do with him since everything he’s done to you, and I understand that completely. When I asked for the entire pack to be here, I wasn’t giving much consideration to how you’d feel being stuck in the same house as him all night.”

 

“You didn’t have much choice. The supermoon obviously has a stronger pull than regular full moons, and as alpha you can force any of your betas to heel if one loses control. I’m Jackson’s anchor, he’s going to need me here. Peter is your beta, and his anchor is the sheriff, and the sheriff’s anchor is Stiles and Peter, and Stiles is your anchor.” Lydia shrugged, nonchalant.

 

“You’re,” Derek started, a surge of affection and pride he’d never before felt for Lydia swelling up, “so much braver than people give you credit for.”

 

Lydia blushed and glared. “There’s nothing brave about this. It’s the logical thing to do, for Jackson’s safety and the safety of the rest of the town.”

 

“There is everything brave about this. You carry so much strength in you, Lydia, and I’m proud to have you in my pack.” Derek watched Lydia, cataloguing as her scent sharpened. He didn’t know her usual base scents well enough to know what it meant, exactly, but he thought it might be a mixture of surprise and reluctant gratitude, a bit of pride and pleased.

 

She looked like she didn’t know what to make of Derek, like she was a bit off center because he’d done something she hadn’t expected. They sat in silence for a short moment before Lydia hopped up off the window seat with a determined nod. Lydia marched up to him, her eyes fierce, and stared at him for a long moment before wrapping her arms around his waist in a tight hug.

 

Derek blinked down at the top of her head, shocked, and hesitantly hugged her back. Lydia’s muscles relaxed, and she tightened her grip. A moment later she pulled away, smoothing down her dress and giving him a small smile before turning and striding out of the study.

 

Stiles was waiting for him at the bottom of the stairs, beaming at him like Derek hung the stars in the sky. “Erica and Isaac got into a wrestling match over the remote. Peter’s goading them on.”

 

Derek huffed and rolled his eyes, taking the last few steps and burying himself in Stiles’s arms and the comfort of his anchor, his instincts settling as Stiles’s scent wrapped around him. Stiles nuzzled his face into the crook of his neck, hiding a smile, and Derek closed his eyes, letting the pull of the moon wash over him, safe in the knowledge that he was in complete control.

 

It was exhilarating, and maybe the first time he’d felt this good under the full moon since the fire.

 

“We’re not watching The Notebook!”

 

“Yes, we are.”

 

Stiles chuckled into Derek’s neck, and in the living room Jackson and Erica gave indignant squawks. Derek sighed, fond, and herded Stiles into the living room in time to see Erica put Isaac in a headlock. He grinned and shook his head.

 

“We’re watching Monty Python and there’s nothing you can do about it!” Stiles shouted and jumped over Isaac and Erica, grabbing the remote out of Isaac’s hand and the DVD for Monty Python and The Holy Grail on his way to the entertainment system.

 

“You can watch The Notebook when I take the betas for a run later,” Derek offered, stepping over his betas to reclaim his seat on the couch.

 

Stiles shot him a look. “Don’t think I won’t put on shitty werewolf movies in retaliation.” He started the movie and picked his way back to the sofa, squeezing himself between Derek and the arm of the couch. “I’ll make you watch all the B horror movies featuring werewolves, don’t think I won’t.”


I’ll strangle you if you try,” Lydia smiled brightly and Stiles hid behind Derek.

Chapter Text

~So I'll Stay Out All Night, Get Drunk and Fuckin' Fight~

Stiles fell asleep not even half-way through The Notebook, face pressed into one of Derek’s shirts balled up into a pseudo-pillow, with Lydia’s fingers running through his hair. He slept through the movie, and then through Brave, Allison’s selection, and woke up to Nani chasing Lilo around while Jackson and Scott shouted at each other in the foyer. Stiles grumbled incoherently and pushed himself up into a sitting position, blinking blearily at Erica and Boyd slinking into the living room with Isaac hot on their heels.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

Isaac winced and curled around Danny in the armchair. “Scott and Jackson are arguing, again.”

 

“Violently.”

 

Stiles sighed and hopped up off the couch. “Hey! Would you two shut up?” Stiles stomped into the foyer. He glanced out the open door briefly, his dad, Peter, and Derek coming into view as they moved out of the treeline, before turning to get in between Scott and Jackson. “What the hell?”

 

Jackson bared his teeth at Scott, eyes flashing blue, and stabbed a clawed finger in the other beta’s direction. “He needs to remember his place in this pack!”

 

“Whoa, okay, what?” Stiles stepped fully between the two betas. “Tonight is totally not the night to be arguing over this.”

 

“Then tell him that just because Derek bit him doesn’t make him top of the hierarchy! The dude spent months trying to get me to join his pack!”

 

“Hey now,” Stiles started at the same moment Jackson snarled, his face contorting with his shift, and the next thing Stiles knew, he was bleeding and blinking up at his father snarling, crouched protectively over him. In the next second everything was loud snarling and growling and fangs until suddenly it wasn’t, Derek’s eyes flashing red and the alpha roar echoing throughout the house.

 

Stiles scrambled up onto his feet and brushed his fingers over the cut on his temple, wincing a little, and watched as Peter wrapped his hand around the back of his father’s neck and Allison and Lydia wrapped hands around their respective boyfriends, pulling Scott and Jackson to opposite ends of the house. Stiles blinked over to Derek, torn between reassuring him and reassuring his dad.

 

“Jesus Christ, Stiles,” Erica whined in concern, baring her throat to Derek as she moved closer to them, and reached out to hand him a washcloth.

 

Derek and the Sheriff crowded him, running hands over his head and neck. Stiles flushed and batted at their arms ineffectively. “Oh my God, I’m fine, I swear, I promise. Just a small cut! Head wounds bleed a lot, especially minor ones!”

 

“Stiles,” his father growled, exasperated and worried. “What - ?”

 

“What were you thinking?” Derek demanded, eyes a little wild, and turned to glare angrily at Scott - he was in direct view - before yanking the washcloth from Stiles’s hands and wiping the blood from Stiles’s face.

 

Stiles scowled and let him. “Well, I certainly wasn’t thinking that Jackson and Scott couldn’t put their differences aside for one fucking night.”

 

His dad turned glowing yellow eyes towards Scott, his own gaze a bit wild. “What were you two even arguing about? You’ve been at each other’s throats the entire run.”

 

“It’s okay, Dad,” Stiles reached out a hand, wrapping his fingers around his father’s wrist reassuringly. “Scott’s always a bit of a douchebag on the full moon.”

 

“Stop making excuses for him!” Jackson shouted from the kitchen.

 

“Shut up, Jackson!” Scott yelled back.

 

“Stop acting like a douchebag!” Jackson snarled, storming back into the living room, and Stiles spared a brief moment to wonder how they all ended up in the living room. “I give absolutely no fucks how much Derek wanted you in his pack when he first became alpha, because I fucking remember what happened the night I turned from a kanima into a werewolf!

 

Scott’s face went white and Stiles flinched back into his dad’s chest, his eyes snapping to Derek. Peter clenched his jaw, palming the back of Caleb’s head like he needed the contact to ground him, and put a comforting hand on Derek’s shoulder. The rest of the pack stared between Scott and Jackson in confusion, save Allison and Lydia.

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Erica demanded, crossing her arms over her chest.

 

“It’s nothing,” Derek said and turned his back to focus fully on Stiles, his mouth a tight, harsh little line hidden in three day old stubble, nearly a beard at this point. “It’s the past.”

 

Jackson scoffed and Scott snarled at him.

 

“It’s hardly nothing, Derek,” Peter said, but shook his head a moment later. “If you want to forgive and forget, that’s your choice. But I think, given the circumstances of the night, we could all do with going to our respective rooms.”

 

“How can you trust him?” Jackson snarled, flashing his eyes at Scott.

 

Scott bared his fangs. “I thought we were over this!?”

 

Derek growled, sub-vocal, and ducked his head down to press his face against Stiles’s shoulder. Stiles’s arms wrapped around Derek’s waist automatically, his eyes glued to the trainwreck happening in front of him, feeling disconnected from it all.

 

“We were, until I started remembering bits and pieces of my time as a kanima. Then, then, I remembered that night, when Lydia gave me back my house key and told me she still loves me.” Jackson looked a little pale, and Lydia wrapped her arms around his waist. “I remember,” he choked, gaze cutting over to Allison quickly before locking back onto Scott, “Argent using me, ordering me to hold Allison hostage while you forced Derek to bite that slimy bastard’s arm.”

 

Boyd and Erica made outraged noises, snarling, and Isaac stared at Scott with large, shocked, helpless eyes. Lydia looked a little disgusted, like she couldn’t quite believe Scott was capable of that, and Stiles tightened his hold on Derek. Behind them, his dad made a disbelieving noise.

 

Scott flushed with shame, shoulders hunching inwards for a moment before he straightened back up and glared at Jackson. “At the time, I didn’t think I had much choice. Gerard threatened to kill my mom, I didn’t trust Derek, and I knew Gerard had to be stopped. And besides, Derek and Peter planned on killing you!”

 

Stiles’s heart gave a pained lurch, lodging in his throat and choking him with months-old hurt he thought he'd buried deeper. “Dude,” he mumbled, and both Jackson and Scott’s gazes snapped over to him.

 

Drop it,” Derek growled, pulling his face out of Stiles’s shoulder and flashing his eyes at the pack. “It happened, nothing anyone says or does is going to change that. Just...go to bed.”

 

“Scott,” Caleb said, “have you even apologized for what you did to Derek?”

 

Scott’s face shut down and Derek went tense in front of Stiles. “I never thought about it,” Scott said, turning on his heel and stalking upstairs to his room with Allison chasing after him, his door slamming shut a moment later.

 

Stiles flinched and reached out, wrapping his arms around Derek again and hiding his face in his boyfriend’s shoulder. “So tonight was super successful.”

 

Derek snorted and relaxed against Stiles.

 

“That depends on your definition of successful,” his father muttered.

 

“How do you define it?” Stiles and Peter asked simultaneously, and Stiles sent Peter a startled look.

 

Caleb grinned tiredly and shook his head, brushing a hand over Stiles’s head before tugging Peter to the room Peter had claimed when Derek first started building the house. The rest of the pack disappeared, looking like they were in various stages of shock. Stiles tugged Derek over to the couch, stretching out with his back pressed against the back of the couch and Derek’s chest pressed against his own.

 

“I’m sorry,” Stiles muttered, curling around his boyfriend.

 

Derek huffed and shoved his nose into Stiles’s neck. “You have nothing to apologize for, Stiles.”

 

“Yeah, I guess,” Stiles muttered and ran his fingers through Derek’s hair. “At least no one died.”

 

“I didn’t know Jackson started remembering stuff from his time as a kanima,” Derek replied.

 

“Me either,” Stiles sighed and pouted. “Ugh, I had a plan and everything! I was gonna make everyone watch the cartoon version of The Hobbit ‘cuz it’s your favorite, and then I was gonna...um, talk to you about, ah, things.”

 

Derek pulled back enough to look up at him. “Things?” He asked skeptically, raising an eyebrow at Stiles.

 

Stiles blushed and scowled. “Shut up. And now is probably not the best time to have this conversation. We’re shelving it for another day.”

 

“Stiles, what conversation?”

 

“Ugh,” Stiles groaned and pulled Derek back to him. “The sex conversation. And, I swear to God, don’t you dare tell me we don’t need to have it or that it’s too soon to have this conversation, because we both know how stupid we were being about each other.”

 

Derek pressed his face back into the crook of Stiles’s neck and shoulder. “I wasn’t entirely sure you were interested in sex, yet. You said you’re demisexual, and all the research I did said there needs to be a strong emotional bond of some kind before sexual interest happens.”

 

Stiles gave an amused snort. “Dude, I promise you, there so is a strong emotional connection here. I’m...very much interested in you, sexually.”

 

“Jesus, Stiles,” Derek huffed. “You’re right, we’re shelving this conversation for another day.”

 

“Dork,” Stiles grinned.

 

They were quiet for a long while before Derek sighed and said, “I’m pretty sure Scott’s going to leave the pack.”

 

Stiles pressed his lips together and glared at the TV. “He’ll wait until we all graduate, if he does.”

 

“I don’t know what to do,” Derek confessed, voice small and a little frayed.

 

“Me either,” Stiles replied, upset. “I don’t want him to, he’s still my best friend, my brother, even when he’s being a raging dick or acting incredibly stupid, and I want him to be part of the pack with me.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Derek murmured, kissing Stiles’s neck.

 

Stiles squeezed Derek to him. “No, don’t do that, don’t apologize. You’ve been trying. I just wish I knew what the fuck’s going through Scott’s head.”

 

Derek sighed and rolled them until Stiles was laying on top of him. “I’ll talk to him when the moon’s call weakens, see if we can figure this out.”

 

“Yeah,” Stiles sighed and squirmed around until he could tuck his head under Derek’s chin. “You know, Scott never told me about what he was planning. I had no idea. If I had, I would’ve tried to talk him out of it, or something, gotten him to go to you.”

 

“Stiles,” Derek sighed and tightened his arms around Stiles, nearly crushing the human to him. “It’s...well, it’s not actually all that fine, really, but I’m in therapy for a reason. Scott isn’t exactly the first person to use my body to satisfy his own means.”

 

“Jesus Christ,” Stiles breathed and hid his face in Derek’s neck. “That’s…so unfair. God.”

 

“Yeah,” Derek agreed with a sigh and Stiles felt a kiss pressed to the crown of his head. “I’m dealing with it.”

 

Stiles made an unhappy noise and snuggled further into Derek. “Sleep time, now. No more talk of unhappy things.”

 

Derek chuckled and reached a hand up to pull a blanket off of the back of the couch, draping it over top of them. “Good night, Stiles.”


“G’night,” Stiles mumbled and kissed the side of Derek’s neck.

Chapter Text

 

~Your Eyes Make the Stars Feel Like They're Not Shining~

Derek rolled over, burying his face in his pillow, and pretended he was still sleeping, like that would stop anyone from bothering him, listening as his boyfriend rushed up the stairs and down the hall to Derek’s room. Stiles jumped up onto the bed a moment later, bouncing on his knees until he could splay across Derek’s back. Derek wasn’t entirely sure what time it was, but he didn’t exactly want to get up. He sighed into his pillow, making a disgruntled face, and focused his senses on Stiles, catching a hint of frustration curling around Stiles’s usual scent.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

Stiles grumbled a little and rolled off of him, flopping onto his back on top the mattress. “I still can’t figure out what the skinwalker is doing. It stayed off our radar for the longest time, and then out of nowhere it decided to come up to your house before bolting once it was noticed. What the hell? And no one’s been able to track it! The most we can do is plan for the worst.”

 

Derek scowled and grumbled in agreement.

 

“Ugh,” Stiles sighed and rolled onto his side. “Is it weird that it feels like a year since the skinwalker showed up, fucking with us?”

 

“A little, yeah,” Derek rolled his head so he could study Stiles’s face. “It hasn’t been more than half a year.”

 

Stiles made a face at him. “Well, it feels like longer, okay. Maybe it’s just the stress of not knowing why it’s here or what it’s doing.”

 

“Probably,” Derek agreed and rolled onto his back, sitting up a moment later and running his hands through his hair. Stiles made a muffled noise next to him and Derek glanced down with a raised brow, listening to the sudden uptick in Stiles’s heartbeat.

 

“So, it’s been a couple days, and we...still haven’t had that talk,” Stiles pointed out, pushing himself up to sit cross-legged beside Derek. “And, I really think we should.”

 

Derek nodded. “I, um,” he frowned and glared down at his hands.

 

Stiles shifted a little and reached out, grabbing one of Derek’s hands and lacing their fingers. “I know you probably have a lot of hangups about sex. And how a lot of them probably all hinge on my age?”

 

“You’re,” Derek started, his frown intensifying as he tried working through the jumbled mess in his head, “still young, but still older than...I was, when Kate happened. And, I’m not going to do you the disservice I did Scott by telling you that you don’t know what love is or what you want.”

 

Are you concerned about the validity of my feelings for you?” Stiles demanded, sounding incredulous and a bit hurt.

 

“What? No,” Derek grimaced and met Stiles’s eyes. “That’s not... I’m saying I trust you, and I trust that you know your own feelings.”

 

Stiles considered him for a moment. “Alright, but, that doesn’t tell me how far you’re willing to go. We’ve done a lot of making out, which is awesome, okay, I love it, but. We’ve kinda been lucky enough that things never got very far before someone showed up here, and your werewolf-y sensibilities stop us from doing more than cuddling when we’re at my house.”

 

“Your dad is a werewolf, do you really want him smelling what we may or may not be getting up to in his house?”

 

“Oh God, no,” Stiles grimaced and flapped a hand at Derek. “Reasoning understood. Besides, he did say no ‘funny business’ within hearing/smelling distance of him.”

 

Derek huffed a laugh and put a hand on the side of Stiles’s neck briefly before getting up and moving to his en suite. “Given what I can hear and smell of what he and my uncle get up to, I’m not surprised he’s uninterested in having similar knowledge of what you and I do.”

 

“Derek!” Stiles shouted, sounding scandalized and maybe a little traumatized, “I didn’t need to know you can smell what they may or may not get up to! As far as I’m concerned, they don’t do anything more than cuddle! Like sleepy puppies!”

 

“I think you’ll find that they’re grown men with sexual appetites,” Derek pointed out over the toilet flushing. He smiled at Stiles’s indignant shout.

 

“You are such an ass! I thought you never wanted to think about your uncle’s sex life! You said you’d rather take a wolfsbane bullet than hear about anyone’s sex life!”

 

Derek washed his hands and went back into his bedroom. “Really? Are you sure I said that? I don’t think I’d willingly take a wolfsbane bullet over anything that wasn’t for you or the pack.”

 

Stiles glared up at him. “I hate you.”

 

“No you don’t.”

 

“Ugh, you’re such an ass.”

 

Derek smirked and went over to his dresser,  going through the drawers. “I planned on going to the used bookstore today, did you want - ”

 

“Dude, yes!” Stiles interjected and hopped up off of the bed. “But we’re not done with the conversation, no matter how hard you try to deflect by bringing up my dad’s sex life.”

 

“I wasn’t trying to deflect,” Derek protested and pulled out a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. He shot Stiles a dirty look. “Shoo, go start the Camaro.”

 

Stiles rolled his eyes. “You’re such a baby, oh my God,” he grinned, a flash of teeth, and disappeared out the door before Derek could hit him with his dirty, balled-up tank top.

 

An hour later, Derek was watching Stiles reach for a book on one of the top shelves, his t-shirt riding up to expose a pale strip of skin on his lower back. There were six books in his arms, their thick, old-paper-and-glue scent filling his nose. Somewhere towards the front of the store, the owner, Millie, was complaining about the group of kids that’d knocked over a display as Derek and Stiles had come in. The heat outside was almost oppressive, and the bookstore didn’t have air conditioning, but it was surprisingly cool inside, and Derek was grateful for that.

 

“What exactly are you looking for?” He asked, eyes still glued to the exposed stretch of skin, committing everything of it he could to memory.

 

“Um,” Stiles said absently, dropping back onto the soles of his feet and frowning at the book he’d grabbed. “There’s this book my mom used to read to me, and I want to get another copy because the one she had is starting to fall apart and I don’t want that to happen.”

 

Derek hummed, moving close enough to bump their shoulders, and glanced down at the cover of the book Stiles was holding. “Do you remember the name of it or are you just hoping you’ll remember it when you see it?”

 

Stiles rolled his eyes. “I know what the book is called, I was just distracted by this book. I thought the title sounded interesting.”

 

“So, which book is it,” the alpha asked and shifted the books in his arms around so the bottom of the pile wasn’t digging into his stomach painfully.

 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

 

Derek blinked and frowned. “How is that in any way an appropriate book to read to a child?”

 

Stiles snorted and grinned at him. “Dude, my mother was all about being totally open and honest with me about stuff. Besides, she didn’t start reading it to me until I was nine. Before that she would read Harry Potter and Hans Christian Andersen, when she wasn’t reading me family stories.”

 

“Why on earth would she read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to a nine-year-old?”

 

“Because she offered to, after I found it on her bookshelf. The title was interesting and I wanted to read it. She found me hiding under my dad’s desk, ten pages in, and asked if I wanted her to read it to me instead, so she could help me understand the parts I didn’t get.” Stiles smiled sadly and started walking again.

 

Derek followed after him, tracking the sound of Stiles’s heart beating and the way he smelled surrounded by old books. His shirt was sticking to the center of his back, there was sweat beading on the back of his neck and on his temples. Derek wanted nothing more than to lick it from his skin, taste the salt of him and the rush of hormones.

 

“I...no penetration, not yet,” Derek said, startling Stiles so badly he dropped his recently acquired copy of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

 

Stiles spun around to stare at him with wide eyes, mouth dropping open. “Uh?”

 

Derek felt his face go hot, and he stared at Stiles in shock. “Um,” he coughed and looked down at the books. “I’m going to go pay for these.”

 

“No, no, wait!” Stiles grabbed his shoulder, his hand big and warm, and a blush worked its way across his jaw and down his throat. “I just...wasn’t expecting you to restart the conversation, especially in public? But, yeah...um, that’s...I’m fine with, with that.”

 

“I,” Derek frowned down at his books, jaw working, “don’t understand why you want me setting our limits, here, actually.”

 

Stiles’s eyes widened and he stooped down to pick up his book. “Because,” he said and met Derek’s eyes, “I don’t want to cross any lines, don’t want to push you too far. I’m a seventeen-year-old with no prior experience and a Derek-specific rush of hormones. And I trust myself to know when I don’t want to do something; I trust you to stop if I ask you to. I just don’t want to fuck anything up with you, okay?”

 

Derek swallowed, throat suddenly dry, and watched Stiles with wide eyes. “Okay,” he agreed faintly, his heart stuttering in his chest as a new wave of warm affection swept through him.

 

“Let’s go pay and, um, go for a walk maybe?” Stiles smiled tentatively and gave Derek’s shoulder a gentle shove, urging him to head to the front of the store. Derek listened to his racing heart as Stiles guided them to the cash register, centering himself and basking in the warm glow of the bond, allowing himself to forget for just a moment that it was only half formed.

 

After they made their purchases, Derek drove them back to the Hale house, parking beside Stiles’s Jeep and staring at the steering wheel. He shrugged a moment later, getting out and tossing his keys at the porch before nodding at the treeline. Stiles smiled and nodded, following him into the woods, reaching out and taking his hand, lacing their fingers together as he walked next to Derek.

 

Derek took them to his favorite spot in the woods, a small copse of trees set in a sort of circle where the grass was soft and sweet-smelling. Derek’s initials were carved into one of the trees, probably a decade old, and he brushed his fingers over the rough bark absently as he stepped into the center and looked up at the leaves. Stiles came up beside him, peering up at the leaves with a tiny smile on his face. Derek watched the shadows play over his features, breathing in everything around him.

 

“This place is really neat,” Stiles said, dropping his gaze back to Derek’s face.

 

“I found it when I was seven and playing hide and seek with Laura and Sky. I ended up falling asleep waiting, because Laura found Sky and then they both got distracted when Peter showed up with a cat.” Derek smiled at the memory, tugging Stiles down with him into the grass so that they were staring up at the leaves, catching brief flashes of blue through the gaps of green.

 

“Your family had a pet cat?”

 

“Mm, and a dog. I guess the dog was Sky’s fourth birthday present,” Derek frowned thoughtfully. “There used to be pictures of it, Sky in a princess dress cuddling this black, squirmy puppy in an apartment.”

 

“Apartment?” Stiles lifted up onto his elbows to raise an eyebrow at Derek. “A werewolf kid living in an apartment?”

 

Derek snorted and reached over to pull Stiles onto his chest. “No, the house was in my mom’s family for a couple generations. It was Peter’s apartment, from when he lived in San Diego to go to art school or something.”

 

“Huh, I guess that’s where he would’ve met my mom and dad,” Stiles furrowed his brow and folded his hands over Derek’s sternum, resting his chin on top of them as he studied Derek thoughtfully. “Isn’t it strange that my parents knew Peter before we were born?”

 

“A little,” Derek conceded, and rested his hand on the small of Stiles’s back, thumb rubbing circles against his spine absently. “There were pictures, used to sit on the mantle, of Peter and this woman with big brown eyes and really long, black hair. I think the only one of us, Sky, Laura, and myself, who knew who she was was Sky, and only because Sky used to talk to Peter on the phone twice a week while he lived in San Diego.”

 

Stiles nuzzled his cheek into the cotton of Derek’s shirt. “So weird, dude. You got to see pictures of my mom, and you never knew who she was.”

 

Derek moved his free hand to Stiles’s head, weaving his fingers into the soft strands of hair. “I’m sorry they were lost in the fire.”

 

“Shuddup, ‘s not your fault,” Stiles huffed and bit Derek’s neck.

 

“Stiles…”

 

“Explain what you meant, back in the bookstore, when you said no penetration,” he said against Derek’s throat, his heart pounding in Derek’s ears and his scent thickening with nerves and want.

 

Derek’s face went hot and he moved the hand in Stiles’s hair down to wrap around the back of the his neck, thumb set against Stiles’s pulse. “I meant...no penetration?”

 

Stiles sighed in exasperation and buried his fingers in Derek’s hair. “Technically, blowjobs count as a form of penetration.”

 

“Jesus Christ, Stiles,” Derek exhaled sharply and shut his eyes. “I don’t...why did I not think you’d make life difficult in all areas?”

 

“Rude,” he bit Derek in reprimand again before lifting his head to give Derek a blinding smile. “You like it.”

 

“Yeah,” Derek murmured, staring into Stiles’s eyes like they held the answers to the universe, and smiled fondly back at him. “Unfortunately.”

 

Stiles huffed and stretched his neck just enough to kiss Derek, whispering so rude against his lips even as his eyes fluttered shut. Derek opened up to him, moving his hands down to Stiles’s back, shoving his shirt up until he could get skin-on-skin. He felt warm all over, like he was floating on cloud nine, Stiles’s scent wrapping around him completely.

 

They were the only living creatures around for a few miles, and Derek let himself get lost in Stiles.

 

He rolled them until he was on top of Stiles, pressing him back into the grass as their kiss intensified. Derek licked the sweat from Stiles’s neck, his hands sliding up the human’s sides, shoving his shirt up in their wake. Stiles shoved his hands up underneath Derek’s t-shirt, bitten-off nails biting into the skin of Derek’s back.

 

Derek bit kisses along Stiles’s jaw, swiped his tongue across Stiles’s lips until his mouth dropped open and Derek could tangle their tongues together. One of Stiles’s hands moved to Derek’s head, fingers weaving into his hair and tugging lightly before massaging the scalp. Derek growled a little, his left leg slipping between Stiles’s until his thigh was pressed snugly against Stiles’s groin.

 

Stiles whined and rolled his hips up against Derek, fingers clenching in Derek’s hair and on his back. Derek smoothed a hand over Stiles’s stomach, pressing a kiss to his jaw before moving down to suck a mark over his pulse, his tongue darting out to taste the salt and feel the racing beat of Stiles’s heart.

 

“Derek,” Stiles breathed, voice rough, “Derek please, oh my God, please just, just touch - ”

 

“Okay,” Derek near-growled, his hand going to Stiles’s shorts, “okay,” he unbuttoned them and pushed his hand in, cupping Stiles’s erection. His breath rushed out of him, like he’d been punched right in the solar plexus, and Stiles groaned like Derek was killing him, tugging at Derek’s shirt.

 

It was almost surreal, touching Stiles this way. Derek rubbed his dick through Stiles’s briefs, his other hand pinning Stiles’s hips to the grass, and licked his way to the other side of Stiles’s throat. Stiles cursed softly, gasping as his hands moved down to Derek’s shorts, fighting with Derek’s belt a moment before getting it unbuckled and the button on his shorts undone.

 

Derek groaned as Stiles gripped his cock, panting against Stiles’s neck as his hips jerked into Stiles’s hold, and Stiles choked out a startled moan, pressing his own hips up into Derek’s hand. Derek growled low in his throat, worming his hand into Stiles’s briefs.

 

Everything turned hazy, then, his hand stroking Stiles, and Stiles’s hand on him. Everything was heat and sparks of pleasure, a low burning in his gut and the heaviness of arousal in his nose. Stiles gasping into his mouth, eyes wide and startled as he stared up at Derek. He felt like he was melting, reshaping around this new spot inside him, a Stiles-shaped spot that made their bond thrum and glow.

 

Stiles came with a whine, and Derek swallowed the sound from his mouth like it was the best thing he’d ever tasted, working Stiles through his orgasm until he was shoving at Derek’s shoulders, too sensitive. A moment later, Stiles shoved Derek over onto his back, straddling Derek’s thighs as he worked his hand over Derek’s cock, watching Derek with heated eyes.

 

Derek groaned, his hands gripping Stiles’s hips as his own bucked up into Stiles’s grip. Stiles leaned down to bite at his neck, sucking a bruise into his pulse point, and Derek came with a hoarse shout, yanking Stiles’s mouth to his for a bruising kiss. Stiles groaned like Derek was killing him, and sagged against Derek, like his strings had been cut. Derek wrapped his arms around Stiles, panting as he came down from his high.


“We’re gonna regret not taking our clothes off, so much sticky, so much regret,” Stiles mumbled into Derek’s throat. Derek huffed, silently agreeing, and stared up at the leaves, content.

Chapter Text

~(I Know) We've Both Made Mistakes~

Derek heard Scott coming up the drive, sighed, and put his book away, going into the kitchen to grab a couple bottles of water before he went to stand on the porch. As he waited, Derek watched the treeline absently, focusing inward on the bonds, studying each one in turns. Scott’s bond to Derek, to the pack, had always been thin and frayed, fragile, and Derek was surprised it had lasted this long. Allison’s only connection to the pack was through Scott. Even though she had Lydia and Jackson, Scott was the only thing keeping her there, and Derek could understand that.

 

But things had remained stagnant, after the alpha pack, and Derek was tired of trying. Now, Derek really only wanted Scott and Allison to remain for Stiles’s sake. He didn’t think the others were too keen on Scott staying, and the only ones who probably would care if Allison stayed were Lydia and Jackson.

 

He pulled himself out of his thoughts and sent Stiles a text, mentally caressing their bond as he watched Scott move into view. Derek felt resignation settle as Scott came closer, and he sighed. He only hoped it wouldn’t turn into a vicious argument.

 

“Derek,” Scott greeted tersely, stopping just in front of the porch. There was a bruise fading on Scott’s cheek, and Derek spared a moment to wonder which of the betas he’d gotten into a fight with, if the fading bruises on Scott’s knuckles were any indication.

 

“Hello, Scott,” Derek sighed and handed Scott one of the bottles of water. “Who did you fight with before coming over?”

 

Scott’s frown intensified, his eyes flashing yellow for the briefest moment before he sighed. “Boyd.”

 

Derek hummed thoughtfully and stepped off the porch. “Are you planning on leaving the pack, you and Allison?”

 

“Are you kicking us out of the pack?”

 

“No,” Derek gave Scott an unimpressed look. “I probably should, but I’m not going to. You’re both important to Stiles, and Stiles is important to me. But, I don’t know if I can trust you, Scott. I need you to prove that I can, because this isn’t working anymore. There’s too much tension and hostility in the pack.”

 

“Not all of that is my fault,” Scott said, watching Derek almost warily.

 

“No, you’re right, but the things you do and say do not help. I wanted you as pack from the start, at first, and then I needed you in the pack, because it was the only way we were ever going to stop the alphas,” Derek sighed and scuffed his sneaker through the grass. “I’m aware you stayed for Stiles, and I want you to be part of this pack, for Stiles’s sake at the very least, but this can’t continue.”

 

Scott’s brow furrowed and he stared down at the grass for a long, quiet moment. “I am, you know, sorry, for what I did to you, using you as a weapon against Gerard. I, uh, had a really long talk with Dad, er, the sheriff? And, I...there really is no excuse, and I’m sorry.”

 

Derek blinked, gaping just a bit at Scott.

 

“But, you are right,” Scott continued, oblivious to Derek’s reaction. “The situation with the pack isn’t good, and...Allison and I are planning on leaving. She’s applying to colleges on the East coast, and helping me do the same. We need the break, her especially, and we’re planning on moving to her family home in France for a while, after college.”

 

They were both quiet for a while, after Scott’s admission. Eventually, Derek sat down on the bottom step of the porch and watched Scott kick at the grass. “If you tell me where you and Allison plan on going, I can talk to the local pack in that area. Most wolves are wary of omegas in their territory, even if the omega is there for school.”

 

Scott gaped at him. “Thank you…”

 

Derek tried not to be offended. “Even though maybe I should, I don’t actually hate you.”

 

“I wouldn’t blame you if you did,” Scott ducked his head, kicked a clump of grass and dirt away from them. “But...you’re, you know, okay with it? With Allison and I staying until the end of the school year?”

 

“I know how it feels, to be without a pack,” Derek said. “I know how it feels to have a pack. I can’t pretend to understand why you’d ever want to be without a pack, but I can offer you safety for as long as you want it.”

 

“It’s not that I don’t want to be part of a pack,” Scott hesitated for a moment, before sitting on the grass next to Derek. “...Or maybe it is? I don’t...know, really. I just don’t feel right, I guess. And Allison, she...well, she’s never been comfortable around Erica and Boyd, and she’s still wary around Isaac.”

 

Derek hummed. “I can imagine; shooting people full of arrows and stabbing someone is certain to make things awkward.”

 

Scott snarled, and bit it off a moment later. Derek watched him with raised brows, studying the way Scott took several deep breaths. He glanced up when he calmed himself, catching Derek’s eyes, and sent Derek an apologetic look.

 

“You shouldn’t forgive and forget so easily, even if she’s your mate, Scott.” Derek shrugged and ran a hand through his hair. “I know Gerard manipulated his way into her head, but that doesn’t excuse her. Allison is the one who shot arrows into Boyd and Erica, she’s the one who attacked Isaac that night in the warehouse, she made the decision with only half the information.”

 

“I,” Scott started, then gave a frustrated sigh. “I don’t like bringing it up with her, because she feels so guilty about everything that happened to them, and I don’t like to see her so sad.”

 

“No one wants to see their mate sad,” Derek nodded and picked at the hem of his jeans. “We tend to feel our mate’s sorrow as our own, their pain as our own, their anger as our own, their joy and pleasure as our own.”

 

Scott watched Derek, curious. “Do you have a mate?”

 

Derek sighed. “Not any of your business.”

 

“Is it Stiles?”

 

“It certainly isn’t you,” Derek said, raising an eyebrow at Scott. “Don’t worry about it, Scott.”

 

“But you’re dating Stiles,” Scott persisted, growing visibly upset. “If you have a mate and it isn’t him…You better not be stringing him along!”

 

“Scott,” Derek huffed, exasperated and a little fond despite himself, “I’m not stringing Stiles along.”

 

“...You better not be,” Scott narrowed his eyes, and nodded a moment later when he was satisfied Derek was telling the truth. “I don’t think he ever realized it, but he cared about you almost from the start.” He shrugged and rubbed a hand through his hair. “Stiles definitely had a crush on you, for the longest time.”

 

Derek watched Scott skeptically. “I’m pretty sure he hated me.”

 

Scott laughed. “Dude, Stiles never actually hated you. Sure he was indifferent at first, but Stiles doesn’t nearly drown himself for just anyone.”

 

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he nearly drowned himself out of stubbornness,” Derek muttered.


“He would,” Scott agreed, smiling, “but only because he cares.”

Chapter Text

~Interlude: Plans Of What Our Futures Hold~

Erica waited all of five seconds to smirk at Stiles, and she cackled internally as his face went completely red. She opened her mouth to make a comment, but Boyd put a hand on her arm and shook his head with a slight grin. Her mouth snapped shut and she smirked, nodding in silent agreement because oh yes, it was going to be so much more fun to tease them both.

 

“We’re waiting for Jackson,” Boyd told Stiles, and went back to strumming his guitar.

 

Stiles sighed and flopped down on the couch. “Anyone figure out what we’re going to do about the guitar situation?”

 

“Well,” Erica said and kicked her feet up on the coffee table. “Boyd’s been teaching me how to play, and I’ve been practicing the acoustic part.”

 

“Awesome,” Stiles grinned at her, and Erica felt a bolt of affection run through her.

 

She was grateful to have Stiles as a friend, and just as a friend. Boyd pressed his shoulder into her thigh, like he knew what she was thinking, and Erica brushed a hand across his shoulder affectionately. He smiled softly and went back to practicing, and Erica tuned back into Stiles chattering about how he thought for sure Erica was going to pick another song entirely.

 

“Not that there’s anything wrong with your pick,” Stiles added and scratched the back of his head. “I mean, I knew you’d pick something by Avenged Sevenfold, I remember you saying how much you like them, but I figured you’d pick Little Piece of Heaven, you know, just to dick with me.”

 

Erica smirked. “I had thought about it, but ultimately decided against it. Besides, I really like So Far Away, it speaks to me on an emotional level, even if I haven’t really lost someone the way you or Derek or even Allison have.”

 

Stiles’s expression turned thoughtful. “I can see that, I think.”

 

“See what?” Jackson asked, sauntering into the living room, and Erica huffed and rolled her eyes fondly.

 

“Ew,” she muttered and threw a balled up napkin at Jackson’s head. “I feel fondness for you, you utter douchebag, get out.”

 

Jackson looked affronted and Stiles burst into laughter, hiding his face in his arms. Boyd huffed, quietly amused, and Erica sent Jackson a sweet smile. Jackson rolled his eyes and put his bass guitar down, the case propped up against the arm of the couch. Erica let her smile curl into a wicked smirk, the only warning she gave, before she launched herself over the coffee table to tackle Jackson and put him in a headlock.

 

“What the fuck, Reyes!” Jackson shouted.

 

They wrestled for a few minutes before Erica successfully pinned Jackson, with a victorious smirk, and Jackson grumbled something about her joining the wrestling team. She let him up, clapped her hand to Stiles’s in a high five, and went back over to the armchair. Jackson scowled and smoothed his clothes down, but his face couldn’t hide the happiness in his scent.

 

Erica wished, not for the first time, that Stiles could scent it, too, and know that his pack bonding attempts were working on them, at the very least. It was one thing to just tell him, and hope he didn’t think they were trying to cheer him up. He’d been so down and worried about the pack since the clusterfuck that was the supermoon, and Erica didn’t like seeing him like that.

 

“Did you remember to bring your drum pads?” Jackson asked, dropping down onto the couch next to Stiles and bumping their shoulders together.

 

“It’d be surprising if he did,” Boyd said, expressionlessly. “Just look at all that stubble burn, it looks like it disappears into his shirt.”

 

Stiles squawked indignantly and Erica choked on a laugh, smacking Boyd’s shoulder because that was unfair. She was supposed to be the one to tease Stiles about it. Preferably while Derek was there too.

 

Jackson smirked and gave Stiles a once-over. “Get some, Stilinski.”

 

“Oh my God, shut up,” Stiles shoved Jackson’s shoulder. “You’re all horrible and I hate you. My drum pads are in the hall closet because I thought it’d be a good idea to leave them here.”

 

Erica laughed at him, dodged the decorative pillow he threw at her head, and wrapped her arms around her stomach, bending forward to press her face into her knees. Stiles muttered obscenities as he went into the hallway, smelling of nothing but affectionate exasperation and hardly any embarrassment. Boyd kissed the side of her head and played the first few seconds of Can You Feel the Love Tonight.

 

“Shut up, Boyd!” Stiles shouted from the hallway, but he didn’t sound all that sincere. Erica muffled a laugh in her hands and sent her mate a wink when Boyd kept playing. Stiles grumbled something about smacking them in their stupid, attractive noses with a rolled up newspaper, and Erica straightened up with an amused snort.

 

“So is Stiles singing harmony or are you?” Jackson asked as he pulled his bass out of its case and double checked to make sure it was in tune.

 

“Stiles decided he wanted to do harmony,” Erica replied and got up to get Boyd’s acoustic from where he stashed it in the corner. “This should be interesting,” she said, and put the strap over her head, settling the guitar against her comfortably.

 

Jackson raised one perfectly shaped eyebrow at her. “You never said you could play guitar.”

 

“Yeah well, Boyd’s been teaching me since last winter,” Erica shrugged and played the first few chords of the song.

 

Stiles reappeared with his drum pads and sticks, still muttering about asshole friends, and Boyd sent Stiles a satisfied smirk. Erica grinned down at her mate, bumping his shoulder with her knee, and waited for Stiles to get set up and comfortable. Boyd and Jackson plugged into the amps she’d helped Boyd set up earlier.

 

“Let’s see how well everyone’s learned their parts!”


“Count us off, Stilinski,” Erica grinned and winked.

Chapter Text

~A Final Song~

“Scott apologized,” Stiles said, almost nonchalantly, and peered up at Derek from his sprawled out position on the couch, head in Derek’s lap. “The other day, he stopped by and apologized for being a huge ass.”

 

Derek hummed, carding his fingers through Stiles’s hair as he watched a rerun of Elementary. “Is that a bad thing?”

 

Stiles snorted and turned onto his side, hiding his face in Derek’s stomach. “No, of course it isn’t a bad thing. It was just...unexpected. I was not expecting him to show up and apologize.”

 

“Scott cares about you, and he knows you’ve been upset with him,” Derek murmured. He brushed his thumb across the shell of Stiles’s ear, curling his fingers into the hair just behind his ear. “He doesn’t want you to be angry with him.”

 

“Yeah,” Stiles sighed and nuzzled his face into Derek’s stomach. “I’m not really angry with him anymore, just...disappointed.” He curled his fingers into Derek’s shirt, bunching the cotton in his hand before smoothing it out again, stroking over it with his thumb.

 

Derek switched off the TV and cupped Stiles’s jaw. “You’re allowed to be, you know.”

 

Stiles smiled a little, and turned his head just enough to nip Derek’s thumb. Derek stilled, and Stiles glanced up at the underside of Derek’s chin thoughtfully. It wasn’t really a conscious decision to suck Derek’s thumb into his mouth - he could probably blame his oral fixation. It was a conscious decision to turn the action sexual. Stiles wanted to make Derek feel good, and if he’d learned anything from that day in the forest, he made Derek feel good.

 

Stiles,” Derek murmured, his eyes going dark, and his other hand came up to run fingers through Stiles’s hair. Stiles smiled around Derek’s thumb, nibbling on it gently for a moment before flicking the pad with the tip of his tongue. Derek gave a quiet groan, his fingers tightening briefly in Stiles’s hair.

 

“Can I?” Stiles asked, voice low. “Please?”

 

Derek nodded jerkily, his pupils dilating and a dark blush crawling up his neck. Stiles rolled off of the couch and shuffled around until he was between Derek’s knees, his heart kicking up in anticipation as he smoothed his hands up Derek’s thighs. Derek’s hands framed his face, his thumbs brushing across his lips and then the arc of his cheekbones. Stiles pushed Derek’s tee up enough to trail his fingertips against the hard muscles of Derek’s stomach.

 

There was a small shard of hesitation, because Stiles had never done this before, and Derek must’ve seen it, because he leaned forward and caught Stiles’s mouth in a wet kiss. “You don’t have to,” he mumbled against Stiles’s lips, his left hand moving down to wrap around the back of Stiles’s neck and squeeze gently.

 

“Shut up,” Stiles mumbled, nipping at Derek’s bottom lip, “I want to.” He planted a hand on Derek’s sternum and shoved him back against the couch. “I want to, and I’m going to. So, if you don’t want me to, speak up now or forever hold your peace.”

 

Derek gave a strangled chuckle and shook his head. “I’m not gonna stop you,” he croaked, eyes wide and hungry.

 

Stiles’s face went hot and he grinned. “Well, good.” He cupped Derek through his basketball shorts, smirking when Derek moaned and rolled his hips up into Stiles’s hand. He squeezed gently, massaging Derek until he was fully hard. Stiles mouthed at Derek’s cock through his shorts, moaning softly as Derek ran his fingers through his hair.

 

Eventually he pulled Derek’s shorts down, tugging until Derek lifted up enough for the shorts to be shoved completely off. He was uncut, and Stiles took the time to fully explore the way he hadn’t when they’d been in the forest. Derek tasted like salt and sweat, and Stiles hummed contently as he licked up the underside of Derek’s cock while his fingers toyed with the foreskin.

 

“Shit,” Derek groaned, his fingers tightening briefly in Stiles’s hair before he moved his hands down by his thighs, fists clenched. “Shit, Stiles, fuck.”

 

Stiles glanced up at Derek through his lashes before wrapping his lips around the head of Derek’s cock, teasing his tongue into the foreskin. Derek clenched his jaw, his head dropping down against the back of the couch. Stiles pet his hand down Derek’s stomach, scratching lightly through the hair on Derek’s thigh before wrapping around the base of Derek’s cock. His other hand came down to massage Derek’s balls, squeezing lightly and tugging the way he liked to do to himself.

 

Derek whined, high in the back of his throat, and flexed his fingers against the couch cushions. His face was flushed a dark red, eyes nearly completely black as he watched Stiles intently. Stiles bobbed his head, taking Derek in as far as he thought he could, and then trying for a bit more. He could feel Derek shaking, like he was holding himself back from thrusting up into Stiles’s mouth, which Stiles greatly appreciated because dude this was his first time giving a blow job, and Stiles met Derek’s eyes and moaned around his cock.

 

Fuck,” Derek hissed, claws piercing the couch. Stiles smirked, pulling off of Derek’s dick to press kisses to his balls. Derek groaned, his eyes turning red, and Stiles found that a lot hotter than he probably should.

 

“This good?” He asked and went back to sucking Derek’s dick, pulling the foreskin back to lick at the head.

 

Yes,” Derek whined, his eyes clenching shut, and he bit his lip.

 

Stiles hummed happily and started bobbing his head, hand moving in counterpoint while the other kept playing with Derek’s balls. Derek gave a low growl, his hips giving abortive little rolls, and his thighs tensed. Stiles watched Derek through his lashes, ignoring the way his jaw was starting to ache. He wanted to be good for Derek, to make Derek feel good.

 

Derek growled, cursing, and yanked Stiles off of him, fighting with Stiles’s shorts while pulling him into his lap. Stiles made a strangled noise and dug his fingers into Derek’s shoulders. Derek got a hand around the both of them, startling a shattered moan out of Stiles, and caught Stiles’s mouth in a biting kiss.

 

A moment later Derek pulled back, eyes wide, panting, and shook his head like he was trying to clear it, his hand stilling. “Fuck, sorry,” he mumbled and hid his face in Stiles’s neck. “Are you okay with this?”

 

“Wha- ?” Stiles blinked. “I…”

 

“I shouldn’t just assume you’re okay with,” Derek started, pressing an apologetic kiss to Stiles’s throat. “Sometimes I forget you’re demi, and that just because we had sex once before, just because you were literally blowing me thirty seconds ago, doesn’t mean you wanted me touching you this time.”

 

Stiles wrapped his arms around Derek’s shoulder, hid his face in Derek’s hair, and took a deep breath. “You’re so amazing, God, how are you even real?”

 

“Stiles?”

 

Please, keep going,” Stiles groaned and rolled his hips against Derek. “Please, Derek.”

 

Derek groaned and tightened his grip around their cocks again, flicking his thumb over the head of Stiles’s dick while sucking a bruise into the junction of his neck and shoulder. Stiles whined and pressed his knees in against Derek’s hips, tangling his fingers through Derek’s hair and tugging lightly.

 

It wasn’t exactly what Stiles had in mind, and of course Derek would throw a wrench in his plans, but Stiles couldn’t find it in himself to complain. Derek forcing himself to stop and check in with Stiles warmed something in his heart, made it lurch up into his throat and skip a beat or five, and Stiles didn’t think there was any going back for him. He was officially in too deep.

 

He mouthed at Derek’s neck, sucking bruises that faded almost immediately and following the chords with his tongue. Derek did something spectacular with his hand, ripping a guttural moan from Stiles’s chest, and trailed his free hand up underneath Stiles’s shirt until his fingers could toy with a nipple. Stiles jerked in Derek’s lap, gasping, and gave a harsher tug to Derek’s hair, biting at the hinge of his jaw.

 

Derek groaned, the sound vibrating through his chest and sending a shiver up Stiles’s spine, and turned his head to place a bruising kiss on Stiles’s lips. Stiles moved his hands down to hold Derek’s face in place, pressing his tongue into Derek’s mouth and catching it on the tip of Derek’s fang. He moaned, tasting a hint of copper, and pulled back enough to bite lightly along Dereks jaw and down to his pulse point.

 

Stiles bit down lightly, at first, moving his right hand down to join Derek’s on their cocks, and groaned against Derek’s skin. Derek hissed, scraped a fingernail across Stiles’s nipple, and wrapped his hand around Stiles’s. Stiles used his free hand to shove Derek’s shirt up, brushing his thumb over a nipple, and bit down on Derek’s neck as hard as he could.

Fuck,” Derek growled and his hand spasmed around Stiles’s as he came, a long, low moan ripping from his chest. His free hand moved down to grip Stiles’s hip while his own hips rocked up into their joined hands, the feeling and friction setting Stiles off with a sharp whine.

 

He came back to himself a few moments later, slumped against Derek’s chest, Derek licking their come from his fingers, and Stiles groaned softly. “Der,” he slurred and pressed his face into Derek’s neck, “s’not fair. Th’t shouldn’t be hot.”

 

Derek huffed and propped Stiles up, pulling his shirt up over his head and using it to clean them up a bit. Stiles sighed softly and let Derek fix his shorts before flopping over onto the couch awkwardly. Derek pushed his leg out of the way and stood up, pulling his shorts on. He leaned over, coaxing Stiles onto his back to kiss him deeply for a few moments before heading in the direction of the downstairs bathroom.

 

Stiles stared up at the ceiling, feeling kind of float-y, and smiled dopily as he listened for Derek moving around the house. Derek came back after a few minutes with a washcloth, wearing a clean tank top, and wiped down Stiles’s stomach. He dropped another shirt on Stiles’s face when he was done.

 

“Change your shirt unless you want to walk around with come stains,” Derek teased.

 

“Jerk,” Stiles protested and sat up, pulling his shirt off and tossing it at Derek before pulling on the shirt Derek brought him.

 

“Never claimed not to be,” Derek responded, smirking as he caught Stiles’s shirt before it could smack him in the face, and carried the shirt and washcloth to the laundry room.

 

“S’cool,” Stiles mumbled and knee-walked over to the tv to plug the HDMI cable into his laptop. “I like you just the way you are.”

 

Derek came back into the living room and settled himself on the center cushion of the couch. “Oh, what a relief, I was so worried I’d have to try and change just for you,” he deadpanned.

 

Stiles narrowed his eyes at Derek over his shoulder. “Ass,” he declared, sticking his tongue out, and turned back to his laptop to pull up Netflix. “So, Courage the Cowardly Dog?”

 

“Do you even have to ask?”

 

“Thought so,” Stiles grinned and started up the first episode. He went over to the couch while the episode loaded, curling into Derek’s side contently. Derek wrapped his arm around Stiles’s shoulders, pressing his nose to Stiles’s temple and mumbling along with the opening as it played.

 

They made it through two episodes before Erica stomped into the room. She froze mid-step, nose wrinkling, and sent them a look. Stiles blinked at her, raising his eyebrows.

 

“Did you guys seriously have to do that in here?” She demanded, and Stiles’s face flushed. “Ugh, weirdos, now we’re all gonna be smelling it for weeks.”

 

Derek smirked.

 

“Ugh,” Erica made a face. “You’re a freak.”

 

“Is there something you wanted?” Derek asked while Stiles got up to pause the episode.

 

Erica huffed and clomped over the armchair. “Yeah, actually, I saw the skinwalker near the high school while I was going for a jog. It was a coyote this time.”

 

Derek sat forward, frowning, and scratched a hand through his stubble. “Are you sure it was the skinwalker?”

 

Yes, mom,” Erica rolled her eyes and leaned back in the chair. “The not-scent was all over the place and its eyes flashed white when it saw me.”

 

“Shit,” Stiles sighed and sat down on the edge of the coffee table. “Do you think the skinwalker’s gonna finally make its move?”

 

“Yeah, maybe,” Derek frowned.

 

“I imagine the fucker’s getting tired of waiting,” Erica added. “Just wish we knew what it was waiting on. And doesn’t that thing have perfect timing, too, fucking popping up a couple days after Lydia and Allison go visit France, ugh.”

 

Stiles snorted. “Oh yeah, definitely, the best timing in the world,” he muttered, and reached out to wrap his hand around Derek’s wrist reassuringly.

 

“We need to call a meeting for this afternoon,” Derek mumbled and reached around Stiles to grab his phone off the coffee table. “Erica, call Boyd and Jackson, tell them to be here at 3. Stiles, can you call Scott and your dad, and make sure Scott calls Isaac and Danny?”


“Yeah,” Stiles squeezed Derek’s wrist once more before getting up and going over to his phone.

Chapter Text

~Analepsis: A Last Request~

“You’ve spent the last eight hours in here, you skipped lunch, what are you looking for?”

 

Peter startled and knocked the stack of books next to his elbow over. He glared up at his sister, rubbing his red rimmed eyes. “How do we not have any information on creatures from Native American lore?”

 

Melinda shook her head and gave him a strange look. “Probably because we’re white and have literally no connection to any tribe? Why?”

 

“Anwen,” Peter mumbled, and Melinda’s face fell.

 

“Peter,” she started, voice soft and full of hurt.

 

Peter looked at her sharply. “No, don’t, please don’t.”

 

“I didn’t send you back because Caleb needs you,” Melinda growled, completely ignoring him, and Peter winced. “You’re the one the other pack prefers, they wanted you to come back. I told them you were grieving the death of a packmate and trying to comfort your mate - ”

 

“Shut up, Melinda,” Peter snapped and slammed the book he was reading shut. “Caleb buried himself in his work, and the most I can do is be here when he’s ready to talk, take him dinner at the station. In the meantime, I need to find something to...I promised her, I promised.”

 

Melinda wrapped her arms around his shoulders, and Peter hid his face in his sister’s shirt. “C’mon, Peter, tell me what’s happening. What did you promise Anwen?”

 

Peter took a deep breath, taking in the scent of his alpha until he was slightly calmer. Melinda scratched his scalp lightly, reminding Peter of when they were kids and she’d soothe him through his growing pains, or when she’d figured out his feelings for Caleb and he’d finally let himself cry into her hair. It hurt, thinking about it, how Peter couldn’t fix the pain Caleb was feeling no matter how badly he wanted, or how he couldn’t bring Anwen back, his little sister in all but blood.

 

“I promised Anwen that I would protect Stiles.”

 

“From what?” Melinda pulled back, frowning as she searched Peter’s face. “He lives in a town protected by a pack of werewolves.”

 

“Yes,” Peter said, and he could feel himself shutting down. “But given our complete lack of knowledge about the creatures in Native American lore?”

 

“Peter…”

 

“Can you tell me how to identify and destroy a skinwalker?”

 

“A what?”

 

Peter yanked at his hair in distress. “Exactly!”

 

Melinda flashed red eyes at him, growling subvocally. “Calm down! Peter, calm down and start from the beginning.”

 

“Anwen, you’re aware her father was Cherokee, right? Remember what Grandma said when she met Anwen? How Anwen wasn’t quite human, that there was something special?”

 

“Yes,” Melinda replied, drawing the word out in her confusion.

 

“Well,” Peter sighed and slumped over the desk. “I know what she is, Melinda, and what that means for Stiles.”

 

“Peter?”

 

“That legend, the one Grandpa Hale used to tell us when we were little, about the Protector,” Peter mumbled, looking up at his sister.

 

Melinda’s eyes widened. “Anwen, she - ?”

 

“Anwen’s father used another word for it, I think, I’m not… She gave me a copy of a letter he’d left her. In it, he retold a family legend, in which he gave the full story, told her it was all true, and then explained that because of the line she was born to, Stiles was in danger.”

 

Peter tugged at his hair frantically, heart racing as he pictured what exactly this thing would do to Stiles, if given the chance, and what losing Stiles would do to Caleb. Just the imagined pain made him half-feral, desperate to protect.

 

“Peter!” Melinda growled in her alpha-voice, and Peter bent his neck in submission before he even realized what was happening. The tug of pack in the back of his head became more insistent, likely because it was very rare for Melinda to use her alpha-voice on him, and a moment later Sky was bursting into the study, blue eyes glowing fiercely.

 

“Uncle Peter!” Sky shouted, zir voice tight with worry as ze wrapped zir arms around Peter’s shoulders, pressing zir face to the back of his neck. “Uncle Peter, you have to calm down!”

 

“Sky,” Melinda sighed, and moved over to shoo Laura and Derek away from the door while telling them not to worry before shutting it and leaning back against it. She left them alone, watching as Peter reached up and gripped Sky’s wrists.

 

“Hey,” Peter muttered as he calmed down, “it’s my favorite color.”

 

Sky huffed and pinched Peter’s neck. “Shut up, you dick,” ze grumbled.

 

“I miss you being not a twenty-year-old brat,” Peter complained half-heartedly.

 

“You’re such an ass,” Sky grumbled and knocked their heads together affectionately before ze let Peter go and moved around to look at the books Peter’d been going through before Melinda interrupted him.

 

“Peter,” Melinda said, pushing off of the wall and moving back over to them, brushing a grateful hand through Sky’s short hair. “Why is this skinwalker creature after Stiles?”

 

“The hell is a Stiles?”

 

Peter huffed and kicked at the desk. “One, Stiles is Anwen and Caleb’s son. Two, it’s after Stiles because, according to Anwen’s father, he’ll be the most powerful Protector seen in generations, and his blood…”

 

Sky tilted zir head, curious, and kicked Peter’s leg lightly. “His blood would what?”

 

“Nothing good,” Peter massaged his temples, feeling the frustration take hold once more. “Anwen’s father never explicitly said, just that any children Anwen has are in danger. I can only imagine what it could do with the blood of a Protector.”

 

“Protector, like...the Protector?” Sky demanded, zir eyes growing huge. “Like, the Protector from the legends?”

 

“Yeah, like the Protector from the legends,” Peter rubbed his face, spared a moment to glare out the window. It was closing in on the last days of winter.

 

Sky made a noise and ran a hand through zir hair. “There’s stories about Protectors, I’ve been reading up on that sort of thing during my stay with the pack in San Francisco. One of the stories is about a Protector who gave his life to keep an entire coven of witches from losing their magic.”

 

“Losing their magic?” Peter asked incredulously. “Since when is it possible for witches to lose their magic? It’s an inherent part of them.”

 

“Not really the point,” Sky said with an eyeroll. “The Protector gave his own blood, which is apparently very magically potent, to each of them; that’s how he saved them.”

 

Peter frowned thoughtfully and dug through the cluttered desk until he found the copy Anwen had given him that day in the hospital. “Blood, made stronger through the generations,” he mumbled and pressed his fingertip to the page so hard it turned white.

 

“Hmm,” Sky leaned over to see, after shooting Melinda a questioning look, and hummed thoughtfully. “What makes anyone think this particular skinwalker is even alive? This is obviously an old family legend, passed down through the generations.”

 

“Because this one is supposedly so strong it no longer needs to don the skin of the animal it wishes to turn into,” Melinda said, leaning over Peter’s shoulder to scan over the page.

 

“It doesn’t matter,” Peter said, and ducked out from underneath his sister, going over to stand by the window. “Maybe it’s dead, maybe there’s not actually anything to worry about, but I need to be prepared. I have faith in Anwen, in what her instincts tell her.”

 

Sky leaned back, arms crossed, and studied him. “What’re you going to do, then?”

 

Peter watched Derek through the window as he ran off into the woods. “What I can, I’m going to do what I can. Everything I can.”

 

“Okay,” Sky said, and stood up. “Wait here.”

 

“Sky?” Peter blinked and watched Sky leave the study. He frowned at Melinda, confused, but she just shrugged in response. Sky returned a few minutes later, a small wood box in zir hands. Ze shoved the box into Peter’s hands, looking determined.

 

“There pendant in there, it was a gift from one of my friends. It’s supposed to protect from most injuries. I figure you can give it to Stiles to wear, you know? It might impede the skinwalker, even for just a few minutes.”

 

“This,” Peter murmured as he opened the box. There was a triskele made out of what looked like bone and wood, a leather cord threaded through a small hole in one of the arms. “Thank you, my favorite color.”

 

Sky flushed and punched his shoulder. “The pendant can’t be destroyed either, or so my friend says, so.”

 

Peter hugged Sky tightly. “Thank you, this is perfect.”


“Well, Stiles is pack by proxy, right? He’s your mate’s son, he’s pack, we do what we have to, to keep pack safe.”

Chapter Text

~A Perfect Chapter Laid To Rest~

“How much longer?” Scott dragged the word out on a whine, hanging off the Stilinski couch upside down while Stiles dug through the movie cabinet. “How has Jackson not gone insane with Lydia so far away? I’m going crazy!”

 

“Jackson is going nuts. He either spends all his time here or, shockingly, with Boyd.” Stiles made a pleased noise and held up the first Star Wars. “I’d just like to remind you, like I reminded Jackson this morning, that, hey, at least Allison is safe all tucked away in France.”

 

Scott let out a noise of despair. “But Allison can totally take care of herself!”

 

“Dude, I never said she couldn’t,” Stiles said, and turned the VCR on. “Allison and Lydia both can hold their own. Allison is like fucking Hawkeye, okay, and Lydia knows how to make a molotov cocktail off the top of her head. Hell, we’re probably half fucked without them! But, you can’t tell me the thought that she’s out of immediate danger isn’t just a little bit relieving.”

 

“Yeah, I guess,” Scott sighed. “It means I can be worried about you and Danny getting hurt.”

 

Stiles huffed and flopped into the armchair. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

“At the very least, I can’t imagine how crazy Derek’s going, seeing as the skinwalker keeps showing up near Danny’s house and your house,” Scott continued like Stiles had said a thing. “It’s no wonder he reinforced your dad’s demand that you not be here without a wolf.”

 

“Ugh,” Stiles groaned. “Shut up and watch Star Wars with me,” he grumbled and hit Scott in the stomach with a box of raisins.

 

Scott maneuvered himself back up onto the couch and gave Stiles an incredulous look. “Why’d you throw raisins at me?”

 

Stiles shushed him and opened a package of Reese’s, his attention glued completely to the previews. It wasn’t until the credits were rolling that Stiles turned his attention away from the TV, only to startle so violently he fell out of the chair. Peter laughed and waved his fingers mockingly before returning his full attention back to the book in his lap.

 

“Whoa, where the hell did Scott go? When did you even get here?”

 

“About an hour ago, and Scott left to take dinner to his mother,” Peter replied, almost absently, and frowned fiercely at his book.

 

“Ugh,” Stiles huffed and rewound the tape. He listened to the VCR whir, watching Peter thoughtfully. “You know, I was going through my mom’s photo albums earlier, and there was a picture of you holding me when I was a baby.”

 

Peter looked up, eyes a little wide. “I moved back to Beacon Hills when my sister got pregnant with Derek. I used to visit your parents on the weekend, a lot, but a couple years after you were born I had to start traveling to different packs, re-negotiating treaties or mediating conflicts between other packs. It’s probably why you don’t actually remember me.”

 

“It’s still weird to me, that I never knew you were my parents’ best friend.”

 

“Understandable,” Peter agreed with a shrug, “but when you were younger, you probably didn’t pay any attention to who your parents associated with, and after...well, after, Caleb wouldn’t have mentioned anything.”

 

Stiles scratched his jaw. “Yeah, dad isn’t really one to talk about things that remind him of painful stuff. Did you know he didn’t start really talking about mom again until you came back into his life?”

 

“No,” Peter started, his brow creasing and head tilting to the side a moment later. Stiles felt a strange surge run through him, a sense of foreboding that set his teeth on edge, and Peter’s eyes flashed blue as he jumped up from the couch. “We need to go.”

 

“What? Go? Go where?” Stiles shouted in alarm. “Peter, what the fuck is happening?”

 

Peter didn’t reply, just grabbed his keys and tossed Stiles’s sneakers onto the coffee table. Stiles gaped at him as he rushed up the stairs, and then over at his shoes. After another silent moment of confusion, Stiles cursed everything and scrambled to get his shoes on. Peter reappeared at his elbow, wearing entirely different clothes, and waited until Stiles tied his shoelaces before grabbing his arm and bolting out of the house and over to his car.

 

Peter shoved Stiles into the passenger seat and vaulted over the hood of the car, throwing himself into the driver’s seat; he threw it into drive, speeding away from the curb before Stiles had the chance to say anything. He didn’t know if he wanted to say a word, though, because the look in Peter’s eyes was slightly frantic, and determined. It was terrifying, and pretty reminiscent of the last time Peter had forced him into a car like the fires of hell were on their heels.

 

“Okay, what the hell is going on?”

 

“The skinwalker,” Peter said, and made a sharp turn onto the main highway. “It’s spent months trying to find you.”

 

What,” Stiles snapped, confused, and turned to glare at the side of Peter’s face.

 

“The skinwalker, it’s been after you from the start,” Peter growled and flicked his gaze to the rearview mirror briefly.

 

“Why the fuck didn’t you tell anyone that?” Stiles demanded, his fingers tightening on the seatbelt. “How the fuck long have you known that?”

 

“Since the day before your mother died,” Peter hissed and swerved around a car, making another sharp turn onto a back road. “I couldn’t tell anyone - “

 

“And why the hell not?”

 

“Because Derek would have put more effort into protecting you, and the skinwalker would have noticed that,” Peter snapped over Stiles’s outrage. “That, then, would’ve told the skinwalker who it was looking for and we wouldn’t have had the time to find out how to kill it! It would have taken you before we knew what was happening!”

 

Stiles’s mouth clicked shut, his eyes widening, and pressed himself against the car door. “What the hell does it even want with me?”

 

Peter let out a frustrated sigh. “Your blood, Stiles. You’re human, and you’re vulnerable, but you’re also the strongest of your mother’s bloodline. Your mother’s abilities, and yours, those things have been passed down for generations. That’s what the skinwalker is after; your grandfather wrote down an old family legend in one of those notebooks he made for Anwen, and Anwen gave me a copy of that legend. I spent the months between her death and the fire researching, because I promised her I’d protect you, and what I found tells me two things.

 

“One, the blood of the protector is most potent in the offspring of females - example: you. Two, the blood of the protector can be used in rituals that would make the skinwalker completely immortal. The more potent the Protector, the more likely the ritual will succeed.”

 

Jesus Christ - "

 

Peter made another sharp turn, gravel kicking up as the car sped down a dirt road. “The thing of it is, you’re still human. Human limits, human mortality. I’ve only ever heard legends, about the Protectors. Your mother...I didn’t know what she was. There’s a Cherokee word for it; translates as protector, of course. I felt like an idiot, shit, not at all the point here.”

 

He jerked the steering wheel to the right, swerving the car around a large hole. “The point is, because of your connection to Derek, you have the ability to do more than just manipulate mountain ash.”

 

“Connection to Derek?” Stiles blinked, overwhelmed. “What the hell are you even talking about?”

 

“There isn’t any time to explain it in detail, Stiles!” Peter near-shouted, his voice cracking on Stiles’s name. “This is what you need to know: You have the ability to manipulate the power of the pack as a whole, you’ve done it before though that was subconsciously and only because Derek was dying.”

 

What!?”

 

“You need to do that now, because the skinwalker has Danny. It was between you and Danny, and the skinwalker chose wrong. Lucky for you, not so lucky for Danny.” Peter continued over Stiles, ignoring his indignant, frightened shout. “The problem is, you don’t know how to do it, and it’s likely the only thing that’s going to save your idiot friends, because apparently Jackson never received the White Ash he was supposed to get.”

 

“What about Deaton? Wouldn’t he have some? Why didn’t we even think to ask him if he had some?”

 

“Excellent question,” Peter grimaced. “But Deaton doesn’t trust me, and the others took off before anyone could think rationally. That’s what happens when someone in the pack is threatened like that.”

 

“That’s just...” Stiles sighed and slumped in the seat. He sat up fully a moment later, smacking his head against the roof of the car and yelping. “Wait! Is that what happened when that asshole hunter abducted me?”

 

Peter snorted and slammed on the brakes. The seatbelt caught Stiles before he could brain himself on the dashboard, and he winced. “That was a lot worse. Isaac managed to howl for the closest pack members. Derek took off after you without an explanation, and the feedback of his rage and terror was like a string pulling taut between him and the rest of the betas, dragging them along for the ride. I knew what was happening because, after he’d managed his alpha form on the way to that warehouse, he let loose a howl that meant certain death for the idiots who took you.”

 

He popped the trunk and shoved himself out of the car. Stiles jumped out of the car, meeting Peter by the trunk, baffled and anxious. The werewolf pulled out a duffel bag and rifled through it, the expression on his face near desperate.

 

“I’m a little confused, here,” Stiles said weakly.

 

“Doesn’t matter,” Peter replied absently. “Just, that’s all a conversation you and Derek need to have. What we, this instant, need to talk about is how to best tap into your connection to Derek, because if we can’t figure out how to do it everyone is fucked.”

 

“What do you mean ‘tap into your connection to Derek’? How is that going to help? What connection!?” Stiles demanded incredulously.

 

“Where the fuck is it?” Peter snarled at the duffel and dumped its contents into the trunk. He darted his gaze to Stiles’s face for a brief moment, his eyes glowing blue and filled with frustrated impatience, before settling back on the contents of the duffel. A moment later, he made a triumphant noise and snagged a pendant up from where it was tangled with the sleeve of a sweater.

 

“Peter!”

 

“An incomplete mate-bond!” Peter snapped back and shook the chain of the necklace out. “It has been there since before you were kidnapped by that hunter, and it’s what enabled you to draw on the pack’s power to save Derek’s life.” He slammed the trunk shut and grabbed Stiles’s shoulder, holding him still while he slipped the pendant’s chain around the human’s neck.

 

“What - ” Stiles started, and stared down at the wood and bone triskele pendant as it settled over his sternum.

 

“My best guess, you need to believe that you’re manipulating the allocation of the power,” Peter continued on and grabbed a hold of Stiles’s shirt sleeve, dragging him into the woods. “For instance, Scott is fighting the skinwalker one-on-one, maybe the others are knocked out or the skinwalker gave chase and the others haven’t caught up yet. Believe that the pack bonds, which generally give the alpha strength, is going to Scott for the moment, so that he can hold his own until backup arrives.”

 

Stiles stumbled after Peter, tripping over tree roots and slipping on dead leaves. “O-okay?”

 

“Like with the mountain ash, Stiles.” Peter caught Stiles as he tripped, steadied him, and then redoubled his speed. “If it helps, try imagining the bonds as different strings connecting everyone together. Each string has its own colored light - like an aura - which gets brighter whenever that particular string gets tugged on. The colored light is the power each pack member contributes, and the brighter the light the more power that’s being pushed into the spider web of connections that makes up the pack.”

 

Peter came to a halt, moving his hand to grip Stiles’s shoulder, and locked gazes with the human. “Will those colors to meet in the center, and from there will them to move down the line connected to whoever needs the most strength. Do you think you can do that, Stiles?”

 

Stiles swallowed thickly, and nodded, his eyes wide and his heart beating rapidly beneath the triskele pendant. “Yeah.”

 

Peter nodded back, and eyed the pendant. “Don’t lose that, it’s a protection charm. It should keep you relatively safe,” he said and wrapped his fingers around Stiles’s wrist, pulling him forward again at a full out run before Stiles could respond. All the exercise Jackson and Boyd had put him through over the last several weeks was suddenly the best thing in the world, and Stiles was grateful for it as he struggled to keep up with Peter.

 

They came to a halt by a lake, and Stiles was officially lost. He’d never been this far into the preserve, and if he had time to feel anything other than adrenaline-fueled terror, he’d be more impressed with the clearing. As it was, Jackson and Isaac were crouched protectively over Danny’s prone form near the opposite treeline, Erica and Boyd were circling around them, and Scott was pacing around Derek and a coyote fighting, trying to find an in to help Derek without hurting him.

 

Erica happened to glance over, catching sight of Stiles and Peter, and growled angrily. Stiles ignored her and sprinted towards them, nearly tripping over a hidden, rotted log. Peter was behind him, practically - and unnecessarily - herding him towards the pack. Boyd bared his fangs at Peter, dissatisfied, and wrapped his hand around Stiles’s wrist when he was within reach, shoving Stiles behind them and into Jackson.

 

“Stiles, it isn’t safe for you here!” Jackson snarled and shoved Stiles down next to Danny.

 

“Why the fuck would you bring him this close into danger?” Erica hissed at Peter.

 

Peter responded with his usual level of snark, and Stiles tuned them out to focus on Danny. He was bleeding from a wound in his thigh, and a cut on his temple, and he seemed to be out cold. It was disconcerting, but given that Isaac and Jackson both would be trying to tear into the skinwalker if Danny was dead, Stiles couldn’t stop himself from feeling a small bolt of relief.

 

Derek roared, and the cougar - when the fuck had it turned into a cougar!? - roared back. Stiles stopped himself from watching the fight, focused instead on Danny. He removed his belt and cinched it above the wound on Danny’s thigh, praying that whatever caused the wound hadn’t nicked the artery. There was shouting and snarling, and Stiles felt light-headed, the edges of his vision blurry. He really wished Allison and Lydia weren’t in France on their mini-vacation; the skinwalker, in Stiles’s panicked opinion, had incredibly shitty timing.

 

Danny groaned, his eyes fluttering open, and Stiles gave a relieved shout. “Danny! C’mon man, you gotta stay awake now! No sleeping for you.”

 

“Stiles?” Danny croaked.

 

Isaac whined and moved around until he was sitting with Danny cradled against his chest. His eyes were glowing, the distress and terror snapping Isaac’s control. He didn’t try to talk around the fangs, instead choosing to nuzzle Danny wherever he could.

 

“Wha - ”

 

“Relax, Danny. The skinwalker took you, apparently,” Stiles said, and double-checked the makeshift tourniquet. There was a loud crashing and more roaring behind him, and Danny’s eyes went wide as he focused on the fight. “We need to get you to a hospital, or at least to Deaton.”

 

Danny’s gaze moved slowly down to his injured leg. “Shit,” he cursed.

 

Jackson whined softly and knelt next to Stiles. He seemed to be in a little better control, his fangs and claws away, but his eyes were still the vibrant, electric blue. “Lead us to Peter’s car, we’ll carry Danny.” He demanded, glancing at Stiles quickly before focusing back on Danny.

 

Stiles cringed. “I can’t,” he whispered, his attention snapping to the sounds of the fight behind him. He wrapped his fingers around the triskele, the bone and wood warming in his palm. “That thing is after me.”

 

“All the more reason for you to lead us the fuck away,” Jackson snapped.

 

“I can’t,” Stiles hissed, his proverbial hackles rising. Isaac and Jackson snarled, and Stiles snarled right back. “Peter’s car is to the east, on the side of a dirt road.”

 

Stiles,” Jackson growled, grabbing at his wrist. “You’re not safe here.”

 

“I think I fucking know that, Jackson.” Stiles snapped and yanked his wrist free.

 

Jackson paused for a moment, his eyes wide. “Oh,” he breathed, and shook his head. “If you’re going to help, you have to focus on the fight, then, not on us.”

 

“Stiles, your eyes are glowing red,” Danny said uncertainly, wincing when his movements triggered more pain from his leg.

 

“So not the time to worry about that right now, Danny-boy,” Stiles shook his head and spun around to see what was happening in the field.

 

Erica and Boyd were further away from them, and Scott and Peter were circling around Derek and the skinwalker as they fought near the lake edge. The skinwalker had shifted back to a human form, its eyes glowing white and its skin covered in blood that could be Derek’s or Danny’s. There didn’t seem to be any visible wounds on the skinwalker. Peter caught Stiles’s eyes, flashing blue as he nodded towards Derek.

 

Stiles took a deep breath, closing his eyes for a moment as he imagined a spiderweb, like Peter had suggested. The strands of the web were different colors, one for each of the wolves and the humans, interconnected through the pack, family, and mate bonds.

 

There were noises behind him, Jackson and Isaac helping Danny up and away, but Stiles ignored them in favor of focusing inward. The strands were glowing brighter. He imagined the brightness shrinking down into a single bead, and then each individual bead moving closer to where everything connected, until they were pressed up against the glowing red of alpha. Stiles’s eyes snapped open in time to watch Derek lunge at the skinwalker.

 

The skinwalker dodged him, narrowly, and its eyes snapped over to Stiles a moment later. Stiles stared back, caught up in the cold terror that washed through him the moment those glowing white eyes met his, and the skinwalker’s mouth contorted into a snarling smile before it surged forward, shifting into a buffalo.

 

Derek snarled and jumped on the skinwalker, sinking his claws into its flank, and the thing made an outraged noise as it twisted into a mountain lion. Its claws slashed across Derek’s side, and Peter managed to find an opening, sinking his claws into the mountain lion’s back. The mountain lion roared, and Stiles focused inward to split the power between Derek and Peter.

 

A moment later, there was a loud splash from the lake. Stiles jerked back to full awareness in time to see a tree near the edge of the lake fall into the water, and the skinwalker bite into Scott’s left leg as Peter bit into the mountain lion’s flank. Stiles made a small, frightened noise, and forced himself to focus inwards again, shifting the power around until it was split between Peter and Scott, and then between them and Erica and Boyd, as the two betas managed to find an opening as well.

 

Stiles’s eyes snapped open with the weak tug on the only bond he’d been afraid of addressing, a glowing golden-white string that he knew led from him to Derek. It was thin, and fragile looking - probably because it was only a partial bond - and Stiles had kept away from it for fear of damaging it. But there was a weak tug on it, and Derek wasn’t anywhere in the clearing.

 

The last of the ripples from the tree moved slowly towards the shore, the tree itself bobbing innocently with the tide. Stiles made a wounded noise when he realized where Derek was, and sprinted across the clearing; the length of a football field, a voice in the back of his mind nattered hysterically, but Stiles didn’t care because Derek wasn’t fucking surfacing.

 

He ran full tilt into the water, focused on reaching for Derek through the bond, trying to find him in the dark water. He was reminded of the time in the pool, when he’d held Derek up for two hours and nearly drowned because he wouldn’t let Derek go, how he couldn’t let Derek go because of so many reasons, because he cared about Derek, because he’d known Derek was one of the only people who could stop the kanima, because he didn’t want Derek to die. But the lake water wasn’t clear like the pool water, and Stiles could feel himself edging into a panic attack as he tugged frantically at the half-formed bond, mentally screaming for it to work.

 

The snarling sounds of the fight behind him faded into background noise, faded into nothing as he dove underwater. The glowing of their bond was dimming, and bolt of a new, different kind of terror shot down Stiles’s spine and spread its way through his veins. He wasn’t sure how long Derek had been under, or why Derek hadn’t surfaced on his own. He didn’t really care. He refused to believe Derek was going to die.

 

It wasn’t happening.

 

He refused.

 

The bond flared brighter, blinding white-silver-gold, cold-hot, and suddenly Stiles’s fingers were tangling in the tatters of Derek’s t-shirt. Stiles yanked up on the material until he could wrap his arms around Derek’s waist, kicking his feet frantically as he pulled Derek up to the surface.

 

The sudden influx of light and air, the heavy heat of July, was startling. Stiles gasped and looked around, his heart beating frantically against his ribs, like it was trying to escape his chest cavity and burrow into Derek’s through his back. Stiles shifted his hold on Derek, wrapping his left arm tight around Derek and using his right arm to swim towards the shore. The snarling and roaring from before was quieter, somehow, and Stiles chanced a glance towards the source to see Peter fighting the skinwalker alone.

 

Scott, Erica, and Boyd were spread out, looking like they were half-dead as they lay in the blood-soaked grass. Stiles was only reassured they weren’t dead by the strength of their bonds to Derek. He made a desperate noise as he reached the bank, yanking Derek up onto the gravel and mud.

 

Derek wasn’t breathing, and his lips were blue, and Stiles was terrified.

 

Peter snarled several feet away, and Stiles felt a shock run through him. He could feel the panic welling up in a distant, hazy sort of way, and there was a soothing voice murmuring reassurances to him in his head. Stiles followed the voice, allowed it to pull him down into a trance, let it turn his focus away from the panic and towards what he knew, subconsciously, what he had to do if he wanted everyone he loved and cared about to come out of this alive. The voice sounded like his mother’s.

 

“Don’t you die on me now you fucking asshole,” Stiles whispered absently at Derek as he started chest compressions. “We need to have a Talk.”

 

He called up the image of the pack bonds again, splitting the power he could feel thrumming from them straight down the middle, shoving half at Peter and the other half at Derek.

 

He imagined, then, their mate-bond as a tangible, solid chain made of gold and silver and platinum, shining bright and hot to the touch. He imagined grabbing it between his hands, wrapping his fingers around the metal until his knuckles were white and the metal bit into his skin painfully. Then he imagined the other end of the chain anchored to Derek, to the center of Derek’s being, to Derek’s soul.

 

He could see the unfinished link, gaping open on his end, where it wasn’t yet anchored to him the way it was to Derek. Stiles took a deep breath, imagined pressing that last link into the center of himself, and pressed his very will - for Derek to be alive, for him to be okay and whole and happy and safe - into it, and he chased it down the chain to Derek, and pictured an explosion of silvery-white light as his will crashed into Derek’s soul.

 


 

Derek’s eyes snapped open and he surged up off the muddy bank like he’d been electrocuted, gasping for breath and searching frantically around him, his vision hazy but clearing as humid oxygen filled his lungs. Stiles was kneeling next to him, his eyes glowing bright red as he stared at Derek, terrified and awed and shocked. Derek stared back, equally as stunned, because Stiles smelled like petrichor and ozone and the forest and lightning, and his eyes were fucking glowing.

 

Peter was snarling somewhere behind them, and the memory of the fight crashed over him like ice water. Derek was twisting away and shifted into his wolf form before he’d made a conscious effort to, the instinct to protect Stiles surging up and rushing through him, dragging him along with it like the undertow of an ocean current.

 

Derek lunged at the skinwalker - which was back in a human form - with a vicious growl. He felt another rush of strength, like liquid fire in his veins, and Derek clamped his jaws down on the back of the skinwalker’s left thigh. Peter tore into its throat, ripping it out with a victorious snarl. Derek sunk his teeth deeper into its flesh, pulling until he felt the tear of skin and the snap of bone beneath his fangs.

 

The skinwalker gurgled, lashing out at Peter and Derek futilely. In a distant corner of his mind, where his human consciousness sat, he thought idly that it seemed like they wouldn’t need the White Ash Jackson was supposed to get in the mail after all. He didn’t care either way, so long as the skinwalker was dead. Peter used strength he shouldn’t have to rip the skinwalker’s head from its neck.

 

Derek released his hold on the thing, and it slumped to the ground in a pile of bloody limbs and the not-right-not-there scent he’d spent months tracking. Stiles made a noise behind him, and Derek turned in time to see his wide eyes stop glowing before fluttering shut. Stiles collapsed like his strings had been cut, and Derek caught him in his arms before he could hit the ground, cradling him to his naked chest.

 

Peter made a thoughtful noise beside him, swiping at the blood on his mouth, only serving to smear it further. “You might need some pants,” he commented with an amused look at where Stiles preserved Derek’s modesty. Derek glared back at him, and Peter smirked.

 

“What the fuck is wrong with him?” Derek snarled and curled over Stiles as his adrenaline dropped into terror.

 

“You need to calm down, Derek,” Peter said softly, walking around to check on the betas. “Stiles is fine, probably just exhausted himself.”

 

Derek rearranged them so that he was sitting fully on the grass, Stiles in his lap and propped up against his chest. “Why would you even bring him here?”

 

“Because he was the only thing that gave us a fighting chance against the skinwalker,” Peter explained, voice low and serious. “You remember the stories Sky and I would tell you, about Protectors?” He nodded at Stiles.

 

“Stiles?” Derek’s eyes were wide as he glanced between his uncle and his mate.

 

“Yes,” Peter gave a tired little grin. “There’s things we’re going to need to talk about later, but first we need to get these four to Deaton.”

 

Derek startled, glancing over to where the three other betas lay unconscious in the grass. He could hear them breathing, their hearts beating slowly, and Derek sighed in relief. It was right around then he registered the warmth in the center of his chest, nestled behind his sternum like his own personal little star. He jerked his gaze down to Stiles’s face. His heart skipped several beats as he fully realized what was happening, what Stiles had done, to save his life again.

 

“He completed the mate bond,” Derek mumbled in disbelief.

 

Peter stilled, hovering awkwardly over Boyd as he cast his gaze back to Derek and Stiles. “Derek?”

 

“Stiles, he,” Derek swallowed around the sudden lump in his throat, “he completed the mate bond. It’s fully formed, almost tangible in the back of my head. Peter, he’s seventeen.”

 

“He is,” Peter agreed. “He’s seventeen, and he knows enough about these bonds to make an informed decision.”

 

The alpha cradled Stiles closer to him, burying his nose in the human’s hair, taking in his scent and trying to calm himself down. Peter went back to waking Boyd, who seemed the least injured and the most likely to be able to get to Deaton’s under his own power. The forest seemed utterly quiet around them, and Derek shut his eyes against the silence.

 

Peter’s phone rang, and Derek had no clue how Peter’s phone survived the fight, and Peter answered it almost immediately. “Caleb, everyone’s alive, everyone’s fine,” he said the instant the phone was to his ear.

 

What happened? I heard the howl, but I was in the middle of a meeting,” Caleb said, voice almost frantic with his concern.

 

“The skinwalker, it took Danny, but he’s fine. Derek and I destroyed it.”

 

Stiles? He’s safe?

 

“Yes,” Peter looked over at them. “He’s currently passed out, used too much energy making sure Derek and I could kill the skinwalker, but he’ll be completely fine. However, we could use a ride to Deaton’s. Erica and Scott are a little worse for wear.”

 

Tell me where you are and I’ll come get you.

 

“We’re by Baskers Lake,” Peter eyed Derek disapprovingly. “And if you could bring Derek some pants, that’d be fantastic.”

 

Derek carded his fingers through Stiles’s hair, still wet from the lake, and shot Peter an annoyed look. Peter just smirked as he reconfirmed their location and directed a now-awake Boyd to check on Erica while he checked Scott over. Derek listened to his pack moving around, reached out through the bonds to check on Isaac and Jackson.

 

Oh, Peter, one more thing,” Caleb said, and his voice sounded stressed. It snagged Derek’s attention and he focused fully on his uncle and the cell pressed to his ear.

 

“Hm?”


What the hell kind of creature can remove the heart from someone without leaving a single mark?

~TBC~