Derek had to blink multiple times before his eyes adjusted properly to the light. He heard a girl's voice shout his name. "Laura," his brain thought groggily.
There were nine teeangers huddled around his hospital bed. Where was Laura? A girl with long blonde hair and huge eyes was leaning close to his face. "Derek?" she whispered cautiously and he recognized her voice as the one he'd mistaken for Laura's moments ago. She reached out a tentative hand and he flinched away. She straightened up, rolling her eyes, "same old Derek."
He tried to sit up, but a hand with long, skinny fingers pushed him down. "Whoa there, dude," a voice said, "take it easy." He looked up at the smiling guy. Something inside him clenched and his nose twitched as he got a whiff of the tangy smell of family. He reached up on instinct and grabbed the teenager around the neck, pulled him down into a hug. "Uh," the kid hesitated a second before patting Derek awkwardly on the head, "happy to see you too."
Derek burrowed his nose in his neck, sniffing. "Smell like pack," he mumbled into the teen's hair, "Mate."
The boy jerked back. "What did you just call me?"
Derek blinked at his confused face. "You're my mate," he said, watching the teenager's amber eyes as they flicked to the concerned faces around the room, "aren't you?"
The kid sighed and softly, so soft Derek thought he seemed like he was almost scared, touched Derek's hair. Derek nuzzled into the touch. "Do you know my name?" he asked gently.
Derek shook his head. "But you're my mate," he insisted, "I can smell it."
The boy inched closer, his face so close their noses bumped. "I'm Stiles," he said. He stood upright, and motioned to the blond girl that had addressed Derek earlier. "This is Erica. She's like a little sister to you." The girl wagged her fingers at him. "Scott," Stiles said, putting a hand on the shoulder of the boy next to him. He pointed around the room at each person, "Boyd, he and Erica are together; Lydia and Jackson, Allison, Scott's girlfriend; Danny and Isaac. Isaac's your favorite, but we're not supposed to know that." He grinned down at Derek, who looked overwhelmed. His smile slipped. "You really don't remember, do you?"
Derek shook his head again. Erica placed a hand on his shoulder. "We're your pack, Der."
"Derek," Isaac said slowly, "you're the alpha."
"My dad's the alpha."
"Oh my God," Stiles mumbled. He rubbed a hand through his hair, causing it to stick up all over. Derek smirked at the sight, despite the look of worry on the boy's face. All the teens were exchanging looks of pure agony, but Derek wasn't worried. How bad could things be, after all, if he had his mate with him? Stiles smiled sadly down at him, "Sleep now. We'll explain everything later."
Derek woke up in his own bed with his ma- Stiles sitting next to him. He grinned drowsily. "Hi," he murmured.
Stiles glanced at him and then back to his computer, shutting it firmly and scooting closer to Derek's bed. "Hey, big guy."
Derek took his hand; Stiles looked surprised but didn't pull back. "You didn't know we were mates, did you?" Derek asked guiltily.
Stiles shrugged. "Was news to me."
"Is it okay?" Derek asked. "I mean, did you want me before? Do you want me now?" He looked at Stiles shyly, whispered the last question.
"Yeah, I wanted you before. I thought you hated me, though, even though we were friends." Stiles kissed his knuckles. "And of course I want you now." He smiled wide. "Who wouldn't."
"Why'd you think I hated you?"
Stiles mulled it over, choosing his words carefully. "You were kind of, uh... sour."
"Sourwolf," Derek said and then looked up abruptly. "You called me that," he said slowly.
"Yeah, I did. You remember?"
Derek shrugged. "Just remember you saying it."
"Anything else?" Stiles probed.
Derek rolled his eyes to the ceiling as he thought. "I..." he latched onto a memory, but was sure it was wrong, "I told you to shut up a lot."
Stiles smiled and nodded eagerly. "Yeah."
"What happened to me?" Derek asked after a moment, "Why can't I remember?"
"We were fighting witches," Stiles started, "They cast a spell on me." He hesitated. "You want to know?"
"Yes. More than anything."
"Okay, well, they were evil. I mean, hello, witches. They kidnapped me from school-"
"School?" Derek interrupted, "We're in highschool?"
Stiles shook his head. "I'm in highschool. You're twenty-one."
"How old are you?"
"Seventeen," Stiles paused, "How old do you remember being?"
"Sixteen," Derek answered, "I'm a sophomore. And Kate-" he stopped himself, could feel his face turning red. Where did Kate fit in his life now, now that he had Stiles?
Stiles gave him a look like he knew something Derek hadn't told him. "Do you want to hear the rest?" he asked. "I understand if it's too much."
Derek tightened his grip on Stiles' hand. "No, please."
"So they kidnapped me, put a spell on me so I couldn't talk- which was torture- and set me free. They told me to find you; said I had twenty-four hours and I would die. But I didn't have a way to tell you to go talk to them. I was jumping up and down, trying to mime it, ya know. And you handed me a pen and paper." Stiles chuckled a bit. "It was kind of funny, actually."
"What happened next?"
Stiles swallowed. "They tortured you. I thought..." he turned away from Derek's gaze. "I thought you were dead."
"Why aren't I?"
"I don't know," Stiles admitted. "But they must have taken your memories."
Stiles looked him in the eye. "Another way to torture you," he mumbled.
Derek leaned forward. "Stiles," he whispered urgently, "Where's my family? Laura?" He had to bite down on his tongue to keep from asking about Kate. Even though he knew Stiles was his mate, he could still feel the way his heart skipped a beat when he thought of her. Did he still love her? He must. But where was she? Where were all of them?
Stiles opened his mouth, closed it again, took a deep breath. "The nurses say to try and let you remember on your own," he said. He chewed his bottom lip as he debated.
"Stiles," Derek practically whined, "Please."
Stiles sighed. "Fuck," he whispered, "I can't, Derek, I-"
"Are they in trouble? Did something terrible happen? Did it?" Derek demanded.
"Hey," Erica said as she sauntered in, followed by her packmates, "He sounds like his old self."
Scott rested a hand on his arm. "Have a breakthrough?"
Derek sensed the worried feeling his betas were sharing. He jerked away from Scott's touch. "What aren't you guys telling me?" he asked angrily. He flashed his red eyes, looking from one face to another.
Erica laughed. "There's the alpha we all know and love."
Boyd smirked. "Yeah, abusing his power to get what he wants."
"Your family's dead," Isaac blurted.
The pack faced him. "Isaac!" Stiles yelled, horrified.
Derek's face blanched and he rose shakily to his feet. Stiles was next to him instantly. "Derek..." he trailed off.
Derek looked down at the face of the person he trusted most in the room "Is it true?" he asked, willing it to be some sort of sick joke. One look on Stiles' eyes was all he needed. "How?" he barked to all of them.
"My aunt," Allison stepped forward, "My aunt Kate-"
"Kate?" Derek cut her off, "Kate Argent?" She nodded. He sat down on the edge of the bed, dropping his head to his hands. It was all too much. "No, no, no," he whispered to himself. His head snapped up, eyes trained on Allison. "When? How long ago?"
Allison shook her head. "I dont-"
"You were sixteen," Stiles broke in, "She seduced you. Fuck that, she raped you. She hired guys to light your house on fire. Only you, Peter and Laura survived. Peter spent six years getting better. He killed Laura so he could be alpha and kill everyone responsible for the fire. Including Kate. Then you killed Peter. You became the alpha. You turned Isaac, Erica, Jackson and Boyd. Jackson was a kanima. You saved him. We all live here, in this house that you built. We, you and I, we take care of this pack, our pack. You provide for all of us. You pretend you don't care, but you listen and give advice. You protect us. You love us. You are the best goddamn alpha the world has ever known. And I will not have you going back to the self-depricating, self-loathing, closed-off human being Kate fucking Argent turned you into." He sunk to his knees in front of Derek and took the werewolf's hand in his own. He hooked a finger under Derek's chin, forcing the alpha to look up. "I love you," he murmured, "I waited for you to get your head out of your ass long enough to notice me, and there's no way in hell I'm going to watch you shove it back up there again." He smiled lightly.
Derek looked at him a moment before he set his jaw firmly. He pushed Stiles away roughly and rose from the bed, ran from the room.
After a minute of silence, Scott asked, "What now?"
Stiles sighed, still looking at the door Derek had disappeared from. "Now," Stiles said, "Well, now, we've lost him."
Derek didn't come home for three days. He wandered around the woods, his memories slowly returning to him. It was like watching a movie, and he found himself yelling at the Derek in his mind's eye for being such an idiot. Why had he trusted Kate? Why had he thought he'd be a competent alpha? Why had he let his family die? Why hadn't he avenged them like Peter did? Why had he dragged all these young, defenseless kids- because that's what they were, really- into this mess with him? Why hadn't he let Stiles in, trusted him until now, when it was probably too late? He knew he was different now. Could Stiles love him this way? Would the pack accept him? Should he go home?
And the most disturbing question of all: how was he supposed to be who he was when he was almost positive he hadn't liked himself the first time around, let alone now?
"I get that, Dad," Stiles was saying into his cell, "I'm just really worried about him." He paused as John talked. "No, not boyfriend. It's a werewolf-" The front door banged shut. "I have to go, Dad. Love you, bye." He raced down the stairs, through the kitchen and into the front hall, calling Derek's name as he went. He stopped short when he saw the alpha standing in the doorway. "Derek?" he questioned gently.
Derek looked up, his eyes sad. "I remembered," he said gruffly, "I remember everything."
Stiles took a step closer. "Good."
Derek shook his head, once, and looked down. "No, it was terrible," he said, his voice cracking, "I... I wanted you." He looked back up at Stiles, who was standing directly in front of him. "Can I come home, Stiles?" he asked softly, innocently and Stiles heart broke, "Is this still my home?"
Stiles threw himself forward, wrapping his arms around Derek's neck, pulling the werewolf's head down to rest on his chest. "This will always be your home," Stiles whispered fiercely, "Do you hear me? You can always come home."
Derek nodded against Stiles' collarbone, his arms locked around his mate's waist. He started to nuzzle the skin there, then turned his head so he could bury his face in the crook of Stiles' neck. "Love you," he said, his words muffled.
Stiles hugged him tighter. "Oh, buddy, you have no idea."
"Stiles!" Lydia called as she unlocked and opened the front door. She dropped her bag on the table next to the door and kicked her heels off. She moved into the kitchen and started rummaging through the freezer. She pulled out two pizzas. "I'm making dinner," she shouted in the direction of the stairs.
Jackson came through the door as she was ripping the cardboard off the box. "Hey, babe," he said before he kissed her cheek.
Scott and Allison burst into the house next. Scott dropped his stuff carelessly next to the entrance. Allison rolled her eyes fondly as she smiled and bent to pick his stuff up and place it out of the way with hers. They went into the kitchen. Scott nodded at Jackson and Lydia in acknowledgement. He looked around. "Where's Stiles?"
Erica opened the door next, followed by Boyd and Isaac. "Hello?" she yelled as they toed their shoes off.
"In here," the two couples in the kitchen hollered all at once.
Erica flashed her smile at all of them. She leaned on the island, plucked a grape from the fruit basket and popped it in her mouth. "Where's Momma Bear?" she asked.
Lydia shrugged. "He didn't answer when I called to him."
There was a knock at the door. "It's open!" Isaac yelled and Danny greeted him with a kiss a moment later.
His brow furrowed. "Where's Stiles?"
Erica said, "that's just what we were trying to figure out."
"He usually has dinner already ready," Scott said.
Jackson rolled his eyes. "Of course all McCall is thinking about is food."
"I was just saying it's weird, is all," Scott said defensively.
"Think he went to look for Derek?" Isaac wondered aloud nervously.
"No," Lydia dismissed the thought with a wave of her hand, "He wouldn't."
"He's probably here somewhere," Erica pointed out. Everyone just looked at her. She grabbed Boyd's hand, saying "come on," and dragging him behind her. He shrugged at the others as he let himself be pulled into the hallway and up the stairs. Scott followed, Allison close behind. Lydia rolled her eyes and went after them, shooting a look over her shoulder at Jackson so he'd follow too.
Danny looked to his boyfriend. "So are we going with them? Or do we take advantage of being alone for two seconds?" he asked with a grin. Isaac offered a weak smile before he went back to chewing on the inside of his cheek. "Worried about Derek?" Danny questioned knowingly. Isaac nodded. Danny sighed and took Isaac's hand. "Let's go," he said and led Isaac up the stairs.
They found the pack gathered around the bed in Derek's room. "What are we doing?" Isaac asked from behind them.
The girls all turned to shush him, moving so Danny and Isaac could see what they were all staring at.
Stiles was lying on his back, with a certain alpha on his chest. Their arms were locked securely around each other. Derek snuggled into Stiles' chest once before his eyes fluttered opened. He didn't even look surprised to see the gawking betas and their mates. "Stiles," he said around a yawn, "We've got company."
"Hmm?" Stiles hummed as he opened his eyes. He, unlike Derek, jumped viciously when he saw all the teenagers staring down at him. "Jesus Christ, guys," he moved to sit up, but Derek was still latched onto him.
"Still tired," Derek mumbled.
"Don't move," Scott said, "I have an idea." He crawled over Stiles' and Derek's bodies and scooted so he was laying with his back against the wall. He motioned for Allison to lay next to him. When she hesitated, he said "Stiles told me about this. It's like scenting, but for a pack. It makes us famailar with each other again. Right, Stiles?"
Stiles smiled softly, "a puppy pile."
Scott motioned for Allison again, and this time she climbed over and snuggled into her boyfriend. Jackon sat at their feet, leaning against the wall. Lydia crawled into his lap, sitting between his legs, her back flush against his chest. Boyd and Isaac pulled the two armchairs that Derek had in the room so they were right next to Stiles' and Derek's side of the bed. Isaac sat in one, pulled Danny down on his thighs, arms wrapped around the dark headed boy's torso. They propped their feet up next to Stiles' arm. Boyd put his feet next to theirs, Erica in his lap with her legs draped over Isaac's.
Derek smiled as the almost sickly sweet smell of contentment filled his nostrils. "Good to be home."