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Loyalty In Their Blood

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Landon Summers is no Jackson Whittemore but he is a dick.

Well, at least Scott thinks so, Stiles on the other hand is completely enraptured. The first time they’d met Landon, Stiles had been speechless, wide-eyed and absolutely stumped like he hadn’t been since they’d stumbled across Derek Hale all those years ago when they’d been looking for Scott’s inhaler in the Preserve. That day always seemed like such a distant memory, but the way Stiles looked at Landon, it triggered that exact moment to flash into Scott’s mind and suddenly it felt like it had only happened yesterday.

It didn’t take long for things to escalate after that. Stiles isn’t exactly a subtle person and for once his eagerness and overenthusiasm paid off; Landon paid attention. Honestly it was hard not to, not with the way Stiles stared and babbled and outright made his presence known, but it was different with Landon – Landon stared and reciprocated the excitement. It was much more subtle - Landon is a quiet and stoic guy, stocky with an intense gaze, some unbidden power always seeming to lurk underneath if he looked at you sideways, but when he looked at Stiles, his brown eyes seemed to glisten somehow, almost warm, like Landon never seemed to be with anyone else.

It was the latter that baffled Scott. It’s not that he doesn’t love Stiles, he is his best friend after all, but it usually took a while for people to get used to Stiles, to adapt to his consistent energy, to see past the uncontrollable excitement to really learn to appreciate the guy.

And Landon was immediately popular. Scott didn’t quite get it, and Stiles definitely did not understand why someone so unquestionably accepted into Beacon Hills High would pay him any form of attention, but despite Landon’s stern and sturdy persona, he was still liked by everyone.


For quite some time Stiles is ecstatic. He’s exuberant and more over-the-top than usual, his wit happy more than his usual sarcasm, and he’s rarely without a smile on his face.

It thrills Scott to see his best friend this way; finally happy and seeming to settle into himself.

It hurts though, the way Derek slowly withdraws from the pack. It’s like the happier Stiles becomes with Landon, the more sullen Derek grows. It’s slow but it’s obvious, the way their Alpha is almost regressing back into who he once was, and the pack are all feeling the effects. It’s weird and worrying and Stiles questions Derek on it more than once but to no avail.

The landslide begins the day Stiles turns up to a pack meeting, rushing in over half an hour late and reeking of sex. Scott almost hurls. The stench is overpowering for their werewolf senses and he honestly wants to be anywhere other than there in that moment. He knew, objectively, that one day this moment would come, but he honestly didn’t expect it to be so intense, and he definitely never would have expected the underlying touch of disappointment that is marring Stiles’ scent.

Stiles doesn’t miss the way all the wolves flinch, the way Scott actually turns his nose up in disgust and even the way Lydia is smirking at him like she knows all his secrets, but it’s Derek who surprises him the most. The way their Alpha completely freezes, eyes darkening, scowl intensifying… Stiles never expected that and he has no discernible idea what the reaction might even mean.

“Sorry I’m late. I- I-” Stiles stutters for an explanation. It’s obvious what exactly he’s been up to but he also doesn’t really want to admit to it, not with the way the wolves are pulling faces at him.

“It’s fine, Stiles.” Derek cuts him off and Stiles isn’t sure whether to be pissed or grateful so he takes it as the out it is and joins Lydia on the couch.

The meeting passes by in a blur, Stiles can’t concentrate on much of what the others are saying. Allison’s telling them all the latest news from her father but all Stiles can manage to focus on is Derek’s frown, the way his mouth is falling a little terser than usual, and how the narrowing of his brows doesn’t seem to lessen the entire time.

Derek’s pissed, they can all feel it, but Stiles isn’t exactly sure why. It’s not like he’s the first one to have ever been late to a meeting.

Next he knows, everyone’s starting to move. Derek’s up and out faster than he can even blink and Stiles briefly contemplates going after him but he’s sure Derek’s already half way across the Preserve, deliberately avoiding the rest of them.

Stiles finds himself alone with Scott without any of his own doing but he doesn’t really mind. Scott’s familiar and comforting and he has the most tact out of all of them when approaching awkward subjects.

They’re silent for a little while, Scott obviously not sure what to say, fidgeting where he sits, and Stiles is desperate to avoid the conversation all together. It’s just as he’s trying to think of something else to talk about, to try and starve off the inevitable, when Scott beats him to it.

“So, you had sex.”

Stiles shifts almost nervously but nods, unsure how else to really react. The whole situation seems odd but Stiles knows the pack are unsettled with the smell of someone unknown (someone not pack) clinging to him. He can’t empathise, not with purely human senses, but he definitely understands that it’s making them uncomfortable.

“I thought you would have been more excited. Wasn’t he any good?”

Trust Scott to try to make light of it.

“He was fine! It was… it was fine.”

“I can smell it on you, you know?”

“I guessed that by the way you all stared at me for the last hour.” Stiles scoffs, almost grinning but not quite being able to manage.

“I meant the sadness. What happened?”

“Nothing happened, Scott. It just… It wasn’t bad, I just thought there’d be like… fireworks, you know?”

Scott’s face softens and he smiles gently, “It’s not always all it’s cracked up to be. I mean, Allison’s amazing, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it’s just sex. And my first time was awkward as hell.”

Stiles shrugs, obviously wanting to leave the conversation well alone, “Yeah, maybe that’s it.”


The first time Derek encounters them together happens to be in town. It’s only something simple, Stiles and Landon are just out picking up some Chinese food for dinner, but when Stiles climbs out of the jeep, he immediately feels a presence, a familiar one, and whirls around trying to find the source. It takes him a few moments (and he hates to admit that it took him longer than it probably should have; he needs to step up his game) to spot Derek, wandering down the other side of the street, his gaze locked onto where Stiles and Landon are standing at the front of the jeep.

“Hey, isn’t that your friend? That weird guy.”

Stiles bristles at Landon calling Derek weird, and he can see Derek do the same even from the other side of the street, but considering Stiles had thought Derek a serial killer when they’d first met, he feels like he should be lenient.

“Yeah, that’s Derek.”

Immediately Stiles’ hand is grasped by Landon’s and he’s being pulled across the street with a soft ‘oomph’.

Stiles isn’t exactly sure why but the closer they get to Derek, the heavier dread falls into the pit of his stomach. The way Derek’s eyes narrow, sharp and focused on where Stiles’ hand is joined with Landon’s, makes him want to jerk away, push Landon as far away as he can and scream at him, wondering what the hell it is he thinks he’s doing.

It’s an odd thought and Stiles has to physically shake himself to cast it aside.

Derek slows as the couple approach, Stiles offering a wide smile in greeting.

“Stiles.”

“Hey Derek.” Stiles bounces on the balls of his feet and Landon pulls him closer, almost tipping Stiles off balance as Landon snuggles him close to his side.

“This is Landon.”

Landon lifts his free hand in greeting, his smile friendly, but Derek only raises his brows in response and otherwise ignores Landon all together.

“I thought you’d be at Scott’s.”

“Yeah I was but then Allison called and you know how he is. So Landon and I decided to spend the night together.”

Derek nods, seeming almost disapproving somehow, and Stiles hates that face. Derek stopped having that face, he relaxed into the feeling of pack and he settled. Stiles misses that Derek. And he misses the nights where he and Derek used to just hang out for the sake of it. He hasn’t thought about it in months, but as it occurs to him now, he realises they haven’t hung out since he and Landon started dating.

“We should…” Stiles trails off and glances at Landon, but he and Derek are friends. He and Derek have been friends much longer than Landon’s been around and this should be a problem for him to say, “We should catch up soon.”

“We should.” Derek nods, his gaze unwavering for a few moments where it’s locked on Stiles, before he glances towards Landon then back again, “Whenever you’re not too busy.”

They stare at each other too long, Stiles knows that, but he’s trying to get a read on Derek. He’s not sure what’s been happening with him lately, despite his numerous attempts Derek refuses to talk about it, and Stiles hates that Derek’s a mystery he can’t solve. Derek stares right back, almost eerie and almost off-putting, but Stiles finds he’s missed it and he promises himself to get to the bottom of whatever the hell is going on.

The moment is broken when Landon clears his throat gently and pulls on Stiles’ attention, dragging Stiles’ attention back to him.

Stiles glances to the side immediately, smiles, and speaks, “We should be getting going. We’re starving after practice.”

“Sure. I’ll see you around.” Derek agrees easily and then he’s wafting past them, unconcerned and not glancing back.

They don’t say anything for a few moments, the pair just continue their trek to the Chinese shop in what Stiles believes to be a comfortable, companionable silence.

That is until Landon speaks and his voice is laced with something edging on annoyance, “He wants you.”

“What?” Stiles is honestly baffled. “No he doesn’t.”

“You two ever been a thing?”

The anger burning in Landon's eyes is new, Stiles has never seen him truly angry, but it sets him on edge a little and makes him wants to take a step back. He fights the impulse.

“No, Landon, Derek and I have never been a thing.” Stiles rolls his eyes and tries to inject humour into his voice to try and diffuse the situation but it falls slightly flat.

Landon simply stares for a few moments before nodding and climbing into the jeep, silent the whole way back to Stiles' house.

And if Landon fucks him a bit too hard that night, then no one but Stiles really needs to know and Stiles doesn’t really mind anyway.


The second time is a lacrosse game that Stiles has finally, finally, made first-line for.

Scott’s ecstatic on Stiles’ behalf and at the pack meeting a few days to prior to the game, it’s pretty much all he’ll talk about. Isaac and Scott will be playing alongside him but all the others promise to be there as well, cheering him on and showing their support. Derek remains suspiciously quiet during the discussion, though, and Stiles promises himself to not get his hopes up.

It’s unfounded though, his doubt, because sure enough Derek is at the game, sitting in the bleachers between Erica and Boyd, Lydia and Allison beside them with his Dad tacked on the end.

When the team run onto the field, the cheer from those special six is louder than the rest of the crowd, cheering for Stiles, whooping and carrying on like children, and Stiles absolutely beams. His grin is so wide it almost hurts his face and when he turns to look at them, his Dad waves, the girls stand shaking a special sign they’ve made specifically for Stiles, and Derek outright smiles.

It’s the last that has Stiles’ heart fluttering inside him chest and intensifying the butterflies already wreaking havoc on his stomach.

Landon bustles up beside him, dragging Stiles’ gaze away from the stands, and smiles at him. It’s encouraging and endearing and when Landon squeezes his hand and wishes him luck, Stiles feels like he can actually do this.

The game is quick and intense and Stiles can’t believe they’re actually winning. Landon and Scott have both scored two each, Danny only letting one past him into the goals, and the team spirit is high and the energy between them feels natural.

They’re almost at the end of the game, time ticking away all too quickly, when Stiles sees an opportunity. He’s still not great, and he honestly doesn’t expect the ball to really get anywhere near the goal, but he focuses his mind, imagines the ball going exactly where he wants it to go, flings his arm and hopes for the best. He hadn’t realised his eyes were clenched closed until he opens them, blinking stupidly at where the ball rests inside the net, and screeching cheers reach his ears. His team are on him in a heartbeat, Isaac and Scott latching onto him, the others shaking him and yelling, adrenaline pumping through all of them.

Stiles’ gaze flickers to the crowd and amongst the mob he finds his pack. The girls are squealing and shaking, his dad beaming with pride, and even Derek is standing, clapping along, wearing a smile that Stiles hasn’t seen in way too long.

A thrum of pride bursts through him that doesn’t feel entirely like it’s his own, but then they’re back to the game and Stiles doesn’t have any more time to ponder over it.

After that the game feels like it’s over in a moment. The whistle blows and the team are yelling, Landon is on him immediately, pulling off his helmet and kissing Stiles with everything he has. His body tingles with excitement, adrenaline making everything seem like so much more. It’s only there a few moments, only a few seconds of pure glee, before discomfort and displeasure runs through him, an undercurrent beneath the happiness that is fighting to stay most prominent.

When Stiles pulls away from Landon, Scott and Isaac are on him, thumping him on the back.

“Stiles, we won!” Scott is exuberant, the over-excited puppy he usually is, and Stiles has to share in his excitement.

The group continue celebrating with others while Stiles pulls away. He drags himself from the grasp of his teammates and makes his way to the bleachers, his dad enveloping him in a bear hug as soon as he’s within reach.

“I’m proud of you, Stiles.” John is beaming and Stiles mirrors him.

“What a goal!” Erica’s excited yell morphs Stiles’ grin into a laugh and suddenly he finds himself enclosed all on sides by the three girls. Lydia tries to maintain the image of perfection but even she too is laughing excitedly and grinning like mad.

“Well done, Stiles.” Derek’s deep husk hits Stiles in the core.

The girls pull away so Stiles can look at the Alpha, and Allison, Erica, and Boyd make their way onto the field to congratulate Scott and Isaac.

“Thanks, Derek.” Stiles says as they’re left almost alone, the Sheriff busying himself by talking to other parents standing nearby.

“Good goal.”

“Well, you know what Deaton says, I just have to imagine I can do it and I can.”

“I don’t think he was referring to lacrosse when he told you that.”

“Well,” Stiles smirks and it feels natural, talking to Derek like this, feeling friendly and comfortable, “Whatever works, right?”

Derek chuckles and looks away almost shy. It’s then that Landon approaches.

Stiles notices the way Derek’s entire body stiffens before he even hears Landon, and once he’s joined them, Derek has almost completely shut down once again.

“Hey Derek.” Landon smirks like they’re playing some sort of game and Stiles hates it. He wishes they could just get along.

“Landon.”

“I didn’t expect you to be here.” Landon raises a brow as he speaks, his voice perky but even Stiles can tell how false it sounds.

“Wouldn’t have missed it.” Derek’s face remains impassive, not giving anything away, but Stiles can feel how unsettled he is by the interaction. It’s obvious how much the pair hate each other but Stiles just can’t figure out why.

“Just thought you didn’t care enough to show up to things like this.”

“I don’t think you really know anything about me. Especially what I do or don’t care about.”

Landon’s eyes narrow only for a moment, perceptible only for a moment and then Stiles blinks and he’s back to normal.

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”

It’s awkward and tense and Stiles just wants to be anywhere but there. His elated mood is now all but crushed and he hates that these two people who mean so much to him just can’t get along.

They’re silent for a few moments, Stiles isn’t sure how to move past their uncomfortable state, before Derek speaks up again.

“I’ll see you later, Stiles.” He murmurs then he’s leaving, his back turned to everyone else as he skulks towards the edge of the woods.

“Derek!” Stiles calls but gets ignored, then suddenly Derek is gone and Stiles still isn’t sure how to process anything.

He shakes himself out of it and turns to Landon.

“What the hell was that?” He demands, angry that things have turned to shit yet again.

Landon shrugs, unconcerned, “I don’t like him.”

He throws Stiles a wicked grin, like he got what he wanted by Derek leaving, and then he turns and returns to the group, seemingly happy with what just transpired.


The third time is the worst and it’s when shit really hits the fan. Derek and Landon don’t even really interact, but the crux of the matter is that they can’t really stand each other to begin with, and that seems enough to ignite their burning anger into complete cataclysm. It’s probably made all that much worse by the fact that it’s Stiles’ birthday, but they all knew it was coming eventually anyway.

Lydia had offered to throw the party at her house, to treat Stiles right and celebrate his birthday the proper way, as thanks for being a great friend.

The words had touched his heart, all the better as they were so unexpected coming from Lydia, and as such he couldn’t refuse. Even if he would have preferred to have the pack hang around his dad’s place, eating pizza and playing old school board games...

But if there’s anything Lydia knows how to do better than anyone, it’s throw a party.

The night is wild - people drinking and laughing, yelling after too much beer; music blaring, thrumming through their bodies like nothing else even matters. Everyone seems to be having the time of their life.

It takes four beers for Stiles to stop searching the crowd for Derek and when he finally does it’s only because he’s convinced himself the Alpha isn’t coming. A year ago there wouldn’t have been any doubt, hell Derek probably would have been the awkward person who showed up right at 8 o'clock although the party clearly didn’t start for at least another hour. Now though... Now, Stiles isn’t exactly sure what’s changed but he knows something is different and he just wishes he could figure out what it is.

He’s torn out of his thoughts by another beer being pushed into his hands and a soft kiss pressed against his lips, “Hey, where’d you go?”

Landon caresses his face as he asks, staring at Stiles almost adoringly, and it wipes all thought of Derek out of his mind. Fuck the guy; like Stiles wanted him at his birthday party anyway...

“Sorry, just thinking.”

Landon presses another kiss against his lips and Stiles smiles into it, happy to have someone who so obviously cares about him. It was never what he expected but he’s not going to question it.

It’s Lydia who breaks them out of their bubble, who invites reality back in to crash down around them.

She pats him on the shoulder and announces “Derek's here!” with a smirk on her face like she knows all the secrets to the universe.

Stiles isn’t sure why exactly this is news and he had to be informed immediately but he just shrugs it off as Lydia being Lydia.

Next to him Landon scowls, incredibly unimpressed, but Stiles can’t even begin to decipher that right now, not in his current state. Instead he kisses Landon one more time.

“I’ll be back. Just going to say hello.”

Stiles finds Derek inside, lurking in a corner of the kitchen, leaning against the cabinets, watching Scott, Allison, and Isaac down a series of shots each.

“You made it!”

He wasn't quite sure he believed it until he saw the man for himself.

The trio at the bar ignore him completely, he’s not even sure they’ve registered his presence, but Derek looks up at him and smiles his tiny smile.

“It’s your birthday, Stiles. Lydia would have killed me if I didn't.”

“Oh, so you're scared of Lydia now?”

Stiles moves into Derek’s personal space and he realises then they haven’t been this close in quite some time. It used to be normal for them, casual touching and being close, like Stiles was the only one that Derek could stand to be around sometimes, but it hasn’t been like that in too damn long and Stiles finds that he’s missed it.

“It’s your birthday, Stiles.” Derek repeats, voice softer this time, and he offers no other explanation, like that should be reason enough. He supposes it should be, they’ve been friends a long while.

“Well thank you for coming.”

Derek clears his throat suddenly and glances around like a thought has just occurred to him, “Where's Landon?”

“Oh,” Stiles steps back an inch, like he’s suddenly remembering that he shouldn't be so close, no matter how innocent, “He’s outside.”

Derek’s soft, easy smile falters immediately, his eyes flashing with some unrestrained dislike, and Stiles immediately feels his hackles rise.

“Okay, what is wrong with you?”

Derek’s eyes dart back to Stiles’, surprised by his sudden outburst, but when he sees his furious face, the clenching of his teeth and his narrowed eyes, Derek quickly looks away again.

“Oh, great, so just going to ignore me then?”

Stiles didn’t know he had so much anger built up in him but he’s just so goddamn sick of Derek blocking him out and treating Landon like he’s some sort of inconvenient piece of shit.

“Stiles.” Derek finally locks eyes with him, his voice gruff and unwelcoming and almost threatening Stiles to just let it drop.

“No, I’m not letting this go. You stopped being like this; you stopped being some asshole growly wolf and you actually cared about people. We became friends. What is wrong with you now?”

“Leave it.”

“No, Derek. You know me, you know I’m not letting this go. So how about you just tell me what your fucking issue is?”

He should have known. He should have known Derek Hale is incapable of talking about his issues and dealing with things like an adult. But he really, truly, honestly, did not expect Derek to turn away and walk out the door without another word, leaving Stiles speechless in Lydia's kitchen, alone with only his confusion for company, miserable on his birthday.

He stays quiet and solemn for only a few moments before he decides to find where the others have disappeared to and to down a few shots. He doesn’t want to think about Derek Hale anymore.

*

Three days later Scott’s calling him, demanding to know what the hell happened with Derek because apparently he’s going completely mental with their training regime.

Stiles refuses to comments, refuses to see any of them, and most definitely will not try to talk Derek down.

For one, he doesn’t want to talk to Derek right now, he’s still seething from how miserable he made him feel on the night of his birthday.

Secondly, he’s sort of, kind of, he supposes hiding from the pack right now. And he keeps telling himself it has absolutely nothing to do with the bruising circling both wrists but he knows that’s a flat out lie.

Even if he could hide them, he knows the wolves would sense his anxiety and it would only take one wrong slip before someone figured it out.

He knows Landon didn’t mean to do it, he was just pissed that Stiles was so upset about Derek again. Stiles had made him mad and Landon had pinned him against the wall without thinking about it. The bruises would fade in a few days and they’d forget about it and no one would be any wiser, so why worry them at all...


Stiles is almost ashamed of how long it takes him, of how long he stays unhappy, with someone toxic. He hates himself for how long he’s kept so much from the pack. In the end he just can’t take it anymore. It’s one thing trying to keep stuff from his dad, but with a pack of wolves it’s almost impossible.

Stiles has honestly no idea how to deal with any of it, he can’t really think clearly beyond the shock fuzzing his brain and the throbbing of pain demanding most of his attention, and so he figures his best bet is to just show up and hope for the best. He doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to that plan but it’s all he has right now.

When he finally shows up at the house there’s an undercurrent of fear thrumming through him that the pack aren’t quite used to. Stiles is rarely scared, only ever so for his father’s life or for those of the pack. Stiles is very rarely scared for himself unless trapped in an intense life-or-death situation and he honestly sees no way out (and a pack meeting certainly doesn’t fit those criteria) and he’s never actually been scared of the pack, no matter how many times they may have wolfed out accidently or any other bizarre incidents that have happened in the past.

To smell fear on him now, however distant it may be, wrapped underneath the almost-sickly scent that is just Stiles, has Derek on edge before the boy even enters through the door.

When he steps through and the pack turn to greet him, Stiles’ smile is the oddly charming mix of sarcastic and kind that only he can seem to deliver so perfectly. It’s alarming though, the way it falters slightly and doesn’t quite reach his eyes.

It’s just forced enough for Scott to do a double-take but Derek isn’t able to peel his eyes away from the boy at all. He feels his wolf react quicker than his brain can comprehend what’s going on. His fangs descend and he claws lengthen, a growl escaping without his notice or permission, but then he’s out the door, shifting fully as he runs, acting purely on instinct.

“Derek!”

He hears the call behind him, distant and muffled beyond the roar of his wolf. All that consumes him is his instinct to protect and attack. He’s distantly aware it’s Stiles calling to him but his run doesn’t even falter, too blinded by pure rage and

*

“What happened?”

Scott approaches Stiles quickly, gaze laser-focused on the blooming bruise encompassing almost half of Stiles’ face. It’s a morbid blend of blue and purple, too bright against the pale of Stiles’ skin. There’s a dried drop of blood speckled on Stiles’ lip, a fresh cut swelling slowly before their very eyes.

“Look, it’s not important, we don’t have time for this right now. Scott, you need to go after Derek!”

“Stiles, what are you-”

“He’s going to kill him.” Isaac whispers distantly, listening to Derek through the connection of Alpha and Beta, drawing attention to him from everyone else in the room.

The energy in the room suddenly freezes; no one moves and they hardly even breathe, there’s only still and silence enveloping the space and it’s almost eerie, like time is happening in slow-motion.

It’s Stiles who breaks the mood. He bolts for the door, keys jangling in hand, Scott only a few paces behind him.

“Scott, go after him!”

As Stiles is climbing into his jeep he notices Scott out of the corner of his eye, shifting as he’s swallowed by the trees. He doesn’t even think about where he’s going, his mind on auto-pilot and he breaks numerous traffic laws to get to Landon’s house before Derek does.

It feels like a he’s sitting for a lifetime. Stiles can’t settle – his heart is thumping viciously inside his chest, his palms sweating where he grips the steering wheel so tightly that he sure it’s close to breaking even though he’s merely human. He can’t feel the bruises anymore either, too focused on everything else bombarding his senses. All he can hear is blood rushing in his ears, his breathing rushed and ragged, and the roar of the engine as it struggles under Stiles’ insistence to just go faster.

He’s just breaching the edge of the Preserve when he hears Scott’s howl. It’s close, closer than Stiles would have expected, and the tyres of the jeep squeal as he turns abruptly, following the sound.

It’s not much further along that Stiles finds them. Both Scott and Derek have their claws and fangs showing, Scott blocking Derek’s every attempt to get past him, Derek almost furious with his Beta for doing so.

“Scott, get out of my way.”

“I’m not going to let you do this, Derek!”

“If I need to rip you in half to get to him then so be it.”

“Derek!”

The sound of Stiles’ voice has the Alpha turning abruptly, focusing on the younger man’s voice instead of Scott’s attempts at blocking him.

“Stiles, what are you doing here?”

“I'm stopping you from hurting someone.”

An inhumane growl is the only response he gets.

“You need to get a hold of yourself. You just threatened to kill Scott!”

“He's in my way. That... He dared to put his hands on you. I'm going to rip his throat out.”

“Hey now, I thought that was our thing.”

Even after all this time Derek still only ever threatens Stiles with that particular injury, and just that little reminder of their friendship seems to have Derek calming ever so slightly. A tiny flicker of a grin makes his face twitch and Stiles counts it as a win.

“Come on, Sour Wolf. How about you settle down and I’ll explain everything?”

Derek’s roar is frightening and powerful and is most definitely not a sign of him settling down.

“Look, Derek, I know you want to kill him right now, but that won’t solve anything.”

“Yes it will. He’ll know his place.”

“Come on, Derek, I’m fine. You need to let this go and just listen to me.”

“I’m not just going to let this go! You’re my mate, Stiles, and he could have killed you!"

Stiles is actually stunned speechless for more than a few good seconds. Mate? What in the hell...

“I’m your what?”

Derek freezes all movement. It’s obvious he hadn’t meant for that to slip out and isn’t exactly sure where to go from here.

The anger is still evident but something in Derek settles slightly and he seems to slump into himself, defeated.

“You’re my mate, Stiles. I’ve known it from the moment I saw you.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Stiles knows all about the lore surrounding werewolf mates and pack dynamics, he’d research to his heart’s content when Derek had accidentally confirmed to him one day that mates were a real thing, and he feels a little stupid he hadn’t figured it out. And betrayed that Derek had apparently never seen fit to tell Stiles they are apparently mates, but still giddy nonetheless.

“I didn’t want you to feel forced. I figured if you felt it too then you'd work it out and maybe something could happen, but I wasn’t going to force it on you. I was going to just let you be and as long as you were happy that’s all I could ask for.”

"But, Derek-"

“This whole thing has been killing me but your happiness was more important. But I won’t let someone hurt you, Stiles. I can’t stand back and watch someone hurt my mate, I won’t do it. And if I ever see him again he’s as good as dead.”

“I broke it off with him.” Stiles says quickly, hoping to calm Derek's anger again. “I broke it off with him and he accused me of cheating on him with you and he flogged me one in the process.”

“But why would he think-”

“Because I felt it too, Derek.” The giddiness Stiles feels at finally being able to confess to it is overpowering. “I just didn’t know what it was.”

“You… But Stiles…” Derek shakes his head like he’s trying to figure his thoughts out, confused at the words he’s trying to process.

Stiles approaches him, slow and hesitant, not wanting to set Derek off again, but when the wolf doesn’t even flinch, Stiles lets his hand rest softly atop Derek’s shoulder.

“Derek. Listen to my heart. You know I’m not lying to you. It’s always been you.”

The words shock Derek even more because Stiles is telling the truth. There’s no falter to his heart, no skipped beat, and it feels like the most honest thing Stiles has ever said.

“Why now? Why not… Why now?”

“Because I hadn’t figured it out before.” Stiles hand bravely travels the path of Derek’s neck until it’s cupping his cheek, Stiles’ caress gentle and compelling. Derek leans into it ever so slightly and Stiles can’t help but lean even closer. “I get it now. And I hope you can forgive me for taking so long.”

Stiles doesn’t even wait for a reply before he’s kissing Derek. It’s desperate and fierce and perfect, and it’s so much better than anything he ever experienced with Landon. Something bubbles in his chest, something right and real and Stiles just knows that he’ll never have anything better than this; he’ll never have anyone other than Derek ever again.