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The Hale Beast

Chapter Text

Stiles parked his jeep in the parking lot at the bottom of the hill where the castle holding the upper city rested.  On the wall sections between the towers were hung green banners that had the familiar Argent family crest, but these were now dwarfed by the larger red banners bearing the gold Hale family crest.  Seeing those banners on the familiar walls in the setting sun deflated Stiles and filled him with apprehension.  The last of the merchants were closing up their stands and clearing out in preparation for the feast as he trudged the long climb up the hill.  The mood of the merchants was not dire as it was with the residents of the city.  It did not matter what monarch ruled the land, their lot would not change.  One ruler was the same as the next.  When he got to the gates of the upper city he found the entrance blocked by guards.

"Halt!  Who goes there?" barked one of the guards at the gate.

"You know who I am, I work here," replied Stiles with an eye roll.  "But tonight I'm here for the banquet as the guest of my father, the Sheriff."

"The banquet isn't for a couple of hours."

"My father wanted me to help him with some things.  Shall I bring you up with him while I'm at it?"

They looked down at their list, found his name, and drew their staves aside.

The upper city was buzzing with activity preparing for the feast.  The buzzing was nothing new, they had been at war for over ten years, but the tone of it was different and unnerving to Stiles.  Stiles made his way into the castle inside the city.  The walls of the castle no longer felt like a place of safety to Stiles, they felt like a trap.

Stiles went from one side of the castle to the other looking for his father.  One of this men would lead tell him to go to the armory and then the men at the armory would tell him to try the kitchen.  He found himself waiting in the hallway of the living area of the royal family, because his father had reportedly gone to the King's quarters to discuss last minute plans.  Stiles was not about to knock on the King's chamber door.  He looked down at his phone and saw that he got no service.  Why the Argents hadn't put a cell tower in the upper city was beyond him.

"It's atrocious what those monsters are doing!  Forcing Lydia to marry the Hale Beast!"

There were voices coming from the Queen's chamber.  Stiles was sure the voice he heard was Lady Anne, the Queen's sister.

"It's very kind of them to accept her as Lydia is adopted and not an Argent by blood.  They could have forced Allison to break off her engagement."

Stiles recognized the Queen's voice.  Her tone was very even and every word she spoke was carefully measured.  The woman was always in control.  She might not be the best military leader, but she knew how to run a country.  Stiles himself was not a royalist, but he held an affection for her despite never having spoke with her personally.  She was the mother of his country and that had given him strength after his own mother passed.

"He's a monster!"

"A monster that is heir to the throne, not that he'll ever sit on it, but his children would.  We're lucky the Hales have even left us alive all things considered."

Stiles knew that they were referring to the Hale Beast, Prince Derek.  He was a werewolf so animalistic, so feral, that he never spoke and never took human form.  His human face had not been seen publicly since he was a boy, when his parents and younger siblings were killed in an Argent attack led by Princess Kate.  On the battlefield it was said he would tear through an entire platoon of soldiers armed with wolfsbane weapons in under a minute.  It was if he was immune to the herb that felled other werewolves.  As part of the terms of the Argent surrender, Stiles' lifelong crush, the strawberry blond goddess Lady Lydia would marry the Hale Beast.  It's not like Stiles had a chance with her, the only words he'd ever spoken to her were "Yes, your Highness."

A statesman Stiles recognized came out of the King's chamber and he asked after his father.  He was informed that the sheriff was not in the King's chamber, had he tried the banquet hall?  He had, but he decided to try it again.  This time his father was in the banquet hall finalizing security arrangements.  Stiles asked him what he needed help with, but his father had already set someone else to the task because Stiles was late in finding him.  Since the library was closed, Stiles decided to find a corner to hide in and play games on his phone until the welcome banquet began.

The local guests all arrived by 7pm and were ready to receive the Wolf nation royals and their court when they arrived at 8pm on horseback.  The Regent, Prince Peter, his adopted son Prince Isaac, and of course, the Hale beast.  Stiles had seen werewolves before, mostly on television, but there was something extra terrifying about the Beast and he joined the crowd in the collective gasp when the Beast rode into view.  Objectively he may have been no bigger than the other wolf soldiers in his entourage, but his presence dwarfed everyone around him.  He did not seem like a man with a monster's face, he seemed like a monster that stood like a man.  A chill ran down Stiles' spine and settled into his bones.  What would life be like with creatures like this ruling the kingdom?

There were speeches and ceremony acknowledging the formality of Hale sovereignty over Argent lands.  Smiles were faked and pictures were snapped.  A warm accepting face was laid over generations of hatred and resentment.  Stiles was glad when the feast itself actually began and he could distract himself with food.  Being his father's dinner companion was quite boring as he was there in an official capacity.  Stiles kept writing texts to Scott, but because of the lack of signal they sat in his phone's outbox.  When his father left to talk to someone at another table, Stiles snuck over to spend time with Boyd, a teen from a prominent merchant family that he sometimes played online games with.  He was usually good for some fun.

*****

It was his laugh that Derek noticed first.  Through the clamor of the party he could hear that happy laugh.  It was the only honestly happy sound in the entire hall.  Derek scanned the room until he found the source.  It was a young man, barely a man, more of a boy.  He wasn't sure what it was that made his laugh sound like Laura's, but it did and he wanted to hear more of it.  The young man did not wear the false smile that everyone else was wearing, especially the young woman they were trying to mate him to.  He was honestly smiling and laughing a genuine laugh and it reminded him of Laura.

*****

Stiles father came up behind him, squeezed his neck a little too tightly, and ordered him back to his seat.  This was a formal affair in the presence of his country's rulers, not some after school pizza party.  Stiles found his way back to his seat, only to find himself once again bored and ignored.  He made a brief survey of the room and his heart stopped when he saw that the Beast was looking in his direction.  Stiles had made a point to use the right fork and not wear any deodorant that might have some kind of animal musk in it, he did not want to attract the attention of werewolves.  It was most likely that the Beast was looking at his father, who was the sheriff, or some other dignitary they might be sitting by.  Still, it felt a little creepy.

Stiles decided to text Scott about it, but since there is no signal in the walled city it just went to his outbox with the rest.  Normally he spent his time in the upper city working at the library so he would just IM Scott if he needed to communicate with him, but the library was closed.  He wondered if maybe he could get a signal if he went up to the top of the city wall.  He told his father he needed to use the restroom and excused himself from the table to find the nearest staircase up.

He passes a couple of guards who don't seem that interested in him as he climbs several stone staircases.  Once on top of the wall he checked his phone to see if there's any signal.  Nothing yet, so he started walking toward the South wall that faced downtown in the lower city.  Once at the South wall he saw that he got one bar of signal, some of the time.  Not wanting to wait for Scott to slog through all of his texts, he decided to just call.  The ringing stopped, but he doesn't hear anything.

"Scott?  Can you hear me?  Scott?"

There was nothing, then a blast of static drenched noise, and then nothing again.

"Dammit!"

Stiles looked up and right there less than twenty feet from him was the Hale Beast.  It felt like someone poured ice water down his back.  He looked up and down this side of the wall and there was only he and the Beast.  There was a highly important state dinner with the leaders of both countries present and not a single guard on this section of the city wall?  He was alone with the Beast.  His heart started pounding its way up into his throat.  A burst of static came from the phone.

"Scott!  Oh my god!  He's here!  The Hale Beast is here with me and I'm alone and no one is here to witness when he kills me...to death!"

*****

Derek could smell fear coming off of the boy.  He didn't want the boy to fear him, he wanted the boy to laugh again.  That laugh had made him feel a lightness in his heart.  The young man's golden brown eyes weren't dark like everyone else's, they were full of lightness and hope.  Against the darkness of war this young man had found a way to be happy.  The boy was saying something in human speech, but to Derek they were just sounds.  He had long since stopped caring what people said, their actions were what was important.  He moved over to the boy and pressed himself against him.  Derek inhaled deeply, pulling the boy's scent into himself.  He nuzzled his face into the boy's neck to let him know that he meant him no harm.  He rubbed his face against the boy's face and neck, putting his scent on the boy so that other wolves would know this young man was his.

*****

Oh my god! thought Stiles who was doing everything he could not to call out or just start crying.  He's going to rip my throat out with his teeth!  The Beast had his arms wrapped around Stiles and was rubbing his face against his neck and face.  Stiles figured he was probably trying to find the tenderest meat on Stiles' neck before starting to tear into him.  He knew it wasn't good to show fear around wild animals, but he also knew that werewolves could smell fear so putting on a brave face was only going to give him so much traction.  He slowly put his hands on the Beast's firm solid body and gently pushed at him.  To his surprise the Beast backed up about a foot.  Against his better judgment Stiles looked the Beast in the eyes.  What he saw there wasn't violence or anger, but a searching gaze that seemed to be trying to make sense of Stiles.  Maybe he could find a way to live through this.

"You know I'm not food right?  I'm not part of the meal, I'm a citizen of this country and as such I have the right to not be eaten."

A rumble came from inside the Beast's chest.  It wasn't threatening, but Stiles wasn't sure how to interpret it.  The Beast pushed into him again and seemed to be rubbing his face against Stiles' neck again.  If Stiles didn't know any better he would think that the Beast was nuzzling his neck.  The Beast didn't seem to be threatening him so he pushed at the Beast, who backed up again, and then he slid sideways out of the werewolf's grasp.  The Beast looked concerned, but did not stop him.

"I'm going to head back downstairs now to where there are witnesses and stuff.  It was super meeting you and all and maybe we can do this again never."

Stiles had slowly and steadily moved down the wall to the nearest stairway.  The Beast had started to slowly move toward where Stiles was, but as soon as he got around the corner out of the Beast's view he took off down the stairs as fast as he could and back into the party.  It was only once he was surrounded by people again that he dared to slow down and look back.  The Beast was nowhere to be seen.

His father seemed to be talking to one of the foreign ministers and Stiles decided that it was high time he took an intense interest in his father's work.  His throat was parched from his recent brush with death, but his sense of self-preservation told him that he'd rather handle a dry throat within the sphere of safety around his father than risk going to his seat to retrieve his drink.  He pushed his way through the crowd toward his father.

That was when the world exploded.

Stiles felt the shock of the explosion that knocked him down more than heard it and everything was pretty quiet except for a ringing in his ears.  He saw and felt more flashes of light.  Dust was filling the air and people were running around.  There was too much information to process.  He rose to his feet, but his balance was shaky.  It was as if each foot was on a separate boat on a choppy lake.  It took everything he had just to keep upright.

White flashes.  People running.  Soldiers pouring into the castle from the walls above.

The castle was being attacked.  The realization came to him very slowly.  Stiles was standing in the middle of a battlefield and he was going to die.  A masked soldier turned to him with a rifle in his hands.  He raised the rifle to his shoulder and pointed it right at Stiles.  Stiles wondered how much it was going to hurt to die.

Stiles felt pain in his midsection as the wind was knocked out of him.  He was no longer on his feet and he felt like he was flying.  When he looked down at his midsection, he didn't see blood or bullet wounds.  He saw an arm.

An arm with a clawed hand pulling him through the air.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Stiles!?!  Have you seen my son?  Stiles?"

"I'm okay Dad!  I'm okay!" he tried to yell, but it barely came out of his mouth.  He wasn't sure it was actually true anyway.

There was still some faint gunfire in the distance, but it was no longer close.  The air was still thick with dust.  From where Stiles was lying he could see the outline of the Beast's back in the doorway being lit by the emergency lights.  He was snarling at anyone that got too close.  There were bodies and parts of bodies near the doorway of the room the Beast had pulled him into.  It was a thick walled room in one of the reinforced parts of the castle.  There was no other way in or out of the room other than the doorway where the Beast now stood.

More than anything Stiles wanted to get to his dad.  He wanted to know he was safe and he wanted his dad know he was safe too.  Ever since his mom died, his father had become a bit frantic whenever he didn't know where Stiles was.  He was sure his father helped him get a job in the royal library because it was in a reinforced part of the upper city near the castle's keep.  He pushed himself up the cold stone wall until he was standing and then began making his way toward the door.  The closer he got to the door, the stronger the smell became.  Stiles realized that this smell was coming from the shredded bodies laying at the feet of the Beast.  The smell was from fluids that are supposed to stay inside the human body, but that were now in puddles all over the ground.  This was the smell of war and death.  It made Stiles want to vomit.

"Don't go near him!"

A few Argent soldiers could be seen through the part of the doorway the Beast wasn't blocking.  It seemed that one of the wolf army soldiers had also joined them and was slowly moving toward the entrance.

"What are you doing Derek?  Why aren't you letting anyone near that room?  Are you protecting someone?  Princess Lydia perhaps?"

The Beast snarled, but not the way he had at the Argent soldiers.  It was brief.  More communicative than threatening.  The wolf soldier moved closer to the Beast and exposed his neck.  Stiles could then see that this was no ordinary wolf soldier.  This was Prince Isaac.  Once he had put his fangs near Isaac's neck and smelled him, the Beast seemed to no longer mind that Isaac was so close to him.  The prince then peered past Derek into the room.

"Is someone in there?  Are you alright?"

Stiles tried to speak, but found his throat was still dry and filled with dust from the explosions.  Then there was the smell from the mangled bodies.  He moved closer to the entrance and swallowed several times to try and get his throat working.

"I'm alright I think.  Just a little freaked out."

"What's your name?"

"I'm Stiles.  Stiles Stilinski."

"The sheriff's son," offered one of the Argent soldiers.

"Go find him, he's been calling for his son" said Prince Isaac.  "Is there anyone in there with you Stiles?"

"Nope, just me.  He kinda yanked me in here when the explosions started."

"Derek did?"

"Yeah, the..." he wanted to say Beast, but he wasn't sure how Prince Isaac would feel about that.  "Derek pulled me in here when the fighting started."

Prince Isaac slowly put his hand on the Beast's shoulder and looked him in the eye.

"Derek?  I need to get Stiles out here where people can check on him.  Do you understand?  His family is looking for him."

Isaac was trying to move the Beast over to the side a bit and had started to reach into the room toward Stiles.  The Beast started snarling a bit, not letting Isaac push past him.  Stiles moved closer to the doorway, but stopped when he got within an arm's length of the Beast.

"Derek?  I'm going to bring Stiles out now okay?"

Stiles looked from Isaac, to the Beast, and back again.  The last thing he wanted to do was piss off a snarling, claw and fanged out werewolf.  Isaac was quietly beckoning him forward.

"Don't worry Stiles.  I don't think he wants to hurt you.  I think he's trying to protect you."

"Why me?"

"I don't know."

Stiles thought about how he had nearly been shot by the soldier, but the Beast had pulled him away.  He thought about how he was inside this reinforced room, with the Beast keeping everyone away from him.  He thought about up on the wall when the Beast hadn't hurt him, just sort of rubbed up against him, and had let Stiles leave when he'd pushed him away.  It was a lot of actions that told him that he probably wasn't going to be food.  What he couldn't understand is why the Beast would want to protect him.

Stiles closed his eyes and took a deep cleansing breath to calm himself.  He opened his eyes and stepped forward to take the hand that Prince Isaac was holding out to him.  Isaac slowly pulled Stiles forward while simultaneously trying to calm the Beast.  Stiles has his arm out the door and his body was brushing up against the Beast's.  The growling intensified into a snarl, but it didn't seem to be directed at Stiles.  It was directed toward Isaac.  Just as Stiles' body was about to clear the room, Isaac shifted his grip from Stiles' hand up to his shoulder.  There was a flurry of movement that Stiles couldn't see, but he could feel himself being grabbed.  Isaac was thrown across the corridor into the far wall and there was an arm around Stiles' chest holding him tight against the Beast.

Isaac slowly reached up and touched a hand to the back of his head.  He looked up at Stiles.

"You okay?"

"Physically yes, but that was so scary I almost crapped my pants."

Prince Isaac smiled and slowly pulled himself to his feet.  "I will do what I can to prevent that from happening."

Isaac approached them with his hands up in a decidedly non-aggressive position.

"I'm not going to hurt him Derek, but you need to let him go.  Derek?  You need to let him go okay?"

Isaac tried to reach for the arm that was holding Stiles, but the Beast snarled and took a swipe at him with his free hand.  That's when his dad arrived with several guards behind him.

"Stiles!"

His dad raised his gun at the beast and all of his men followed suit.  The Beast snarled, pulled Stiles back, and turned himself so that his body was blocking Stiles from the guns.

"Dad please be cool!  Put your guns down!  Do not freak him out okay?"

"Please Sheriff, we have this situation...mostly...under control," said Prince Isaac.

"Dad?  Please?  Just chill out for a second."

The Sheriff and his men did not look happy as they put their guns in their holsters.  Their postures still looked primed to fight.  Stiles closed his eyes and took another cleansing breath.  That was when he remembered his first encounter with the Beast up on the top of the city wall.

"Let me try something," Stiles said to Prince Isaac.  He turned his face to look at the Beast and put his hand up onto the arm that he was holding him with.  "Hey...Derek?  You need to let me go now.  I need to go okay?  My dad is worried.  You see?  That's my dad."

Derek pulled his eyes away from the soldiers to cautiously look at Stiles.  There was a hint of worry in the way he looked at Stiles.

"That's my dad, my father, my family.  I need to be with my family.  Do you understand?"

The Beast's brow was furrowed, but Stiles could feel the arm holding him relax.  He slowly pulled the Beast's arm away from him and moved himself out of the embrace.  As he moved out of the Beast's arms he turned so he was facing the...Derek.  He needed to starting thinking of him as Derek.  He placed a hand on Derek's chest.

"I'm okay see?  I just need to see my dad okay?"

Stiles backed away slowly.  Derek made small steps toward him, but the aggression was gone.  Stiles saw Derek tense just as he felt arms grab him tightly from behind and pull him tight.

"Stiles!"

For a moment it looked as though Derek might pounce, but Stiles' outstretched hand kept the werewolf at bay.

"Hey Dad."

Stiles relaxed into the embrace and pulled his father's arms around him tighter.  When he was sure that Derek wouldn't attack he turned around and embraced his father back.  As soon as his father pulled back to get a look at his face one of his father's medics was on him running his hands over him looking for injuries.  Stiles suddenly became very aware that every eye in the hallway was on him, not least of which were those of the Princes Isaac and Derek.

Prince Isaac leaned toward Stiles and seemed to be smelling him.  Stiles pulls away a bit and gives Isaac his 'why are you being creepy?' look.

"He scent marked you."

"Who what?"

"Derek.  He scent marked you as his."

Stiles kind of knows what that means and he's not sure he likes the sound of it.  From the look on his father's face he definitely does not like it.

A not unfamiliar voice roared through the castle.  "Where are my son and my nephew!?!"

"I assure you all of the Hale royal family and courtiers are accounted for and in good health!"

Stiles recognized that second voice.  It was King Argent.

"If any harm has come to the Hale family because of this incident the health of the Argent family and their rule over this land will be both temporary and fleeting!"

An entourage led by Prince Peter and immediately in his wake, King Argent, turned the corner at the end of the hallway.  The second Prince Peter's eyes fell on them he moved almost faster than Stiles' eye could see to be standing in front of Isaac.  Peter was running his hands over him in the same way that the medics had done to him.

"Isaac?"

"I'm fine father."

Peter had a hand on the back of Isaac's neck and pulled him close until their foreheads were touching.  They both inhaled deep.  Seemingly satisfied he pulled away from Isaac and appraised Derek's condition and nodded toward him.

"Derek."

During all of this a gorgeous sturdy blond with curly hair from the Prince's entourage had been talking into her earpiece while she typed away with one hand on the large tablet she had in her hand.  She wore tasteful leather with silk, held herself with a certain regality, and seemed to be completely unfazed by anything going on around her as if this sort of thing happened to her every day.  Stiles couldn't help but be impressed with her.  He imagined this is what a Valkyrie might look like if she was armed with satellite Internet enabled devices.

Peter turned toward the Valkyrie.  "How are you spinning this?"

She looked at him with no deference, as if she had no fear of Prince Peter or his station.  "What's to spin?  Anti-werewolf racists attempted to disrupt the peaceful merging of the two kingdoms.  It writes itself."

That seemed to please Peter.  He then seemed to notice most of the focus in the room being on Stiles.  "Who are you?" he said haughtily.

The growl that came out of Derek surprised Peter more than anyone.  Derek took steps closer to Stiles so that he nearly between he and Peter.

"This is my son Stiles," said the Sheriff to Prince Peter with thinly veiled hostility.

Prince Isaac pulled his father over and whispered in his ear.  This time when Peter's eyes slid over Stiles they were filled with curiosity.

"Interesting."

Prince Peter walked over and smelled Stiles in the same way that Isaac had.

"Very interesting."

Peter smiled at Derek.

"Sheriff I think we have things to discuss.  Come!"

And with that he twirled on his heels and headed down the hallway with the wolf entourage in tow.  King Argent looked straight at Stiles' father and gestured with his head for him to follow before joining the group.  The Valkyrie stayed behind as did the Princes Derek and Isaac.  Stiles' father grasped him by the shoulders and looked him in the eyes.

"You sure you're okay?"

"Yeah Dad, I'm cool.  You gotta get going."

The Sheriff appraised him once more before moving down the hallway.  Most of his men followed, though some stayed behind with Stiles and the assembled wolves.  Isaac turned toward Stiles and put a hand on his shoulder.

"Sure you're alright?"

Stiles nodded.  Isaac looked at the Valkyrie.  "Do you have this?"

"Go.  Before your father does something we all regret."

Isaac smiled and rolled his eyes a bit before turning to follow the others down the hallway.

The Valkyrie was tapping away at her tablet.

"I'm Erica and if you're sheriff Stilinski's son then you must be Ge--"

"Call me Stiles," he said cutting her off.  "Everyone just calls me Stiles."

"Alright Stiles," she said with a little smile as she gave him the once over.  "Let's go somewhere we can talk."

*****

The sheriff was not comfortable seeing Prince Peter sitting on the throne and his king standing deferentially next to him, his eyes grazing the floor.  Peter was arrogant, even for a royal.  He was much less comfortable with what was coming out of Prince Peter's mouth.

"Sheriff Stilinski, I don't think you see the significance in this."

"You're right.  I don't."

"Derek is a creature of instinct.  And rather than defend his pack or his intended mate or go on the offensive against an invading force, his instinct was to protect your son."

The Sheriff shrugged lightly and his expression was somewhere between angry and perplexed.

"Then he scent marked your son."

"Explain it to me like I'm a simple human that doesn't understand the meanings behind the actions of a psychotic werewolf."

Peter pulled a placating smile across his face.  "My nephew Derek has taken a liking to your son.  Something he hasn't done to anyone since the death of his sister.  Derek having an anchor to his humanity would be extremely beneficial to the crown."

"You want my son to become his chew toy?"

"I was thinking more along the lines of...playmate."

*****

Stiles was in a room he'd never been in before, by all appearances it was some sort of sitting room for the royals and that's exactly what he was doing: sitting.  Everyone else was standing up however and it made him a little uncomfortable.  There were three wolf soldiers, four Argent soldiers, Derek, and Erica who was occasionally asking him questions, taking notes on her tablet, and looking up things.  What he couldn't figure out is why they were so interested in him.

"So you're a librarian?"

"A library clerk.  I'm studying to be a librarian."  Stiles was very tired and wanted his bed.  "You asked me that already," he added.

"What cologne do you wear?  Do you use a body wash?"

"I wear classic Armani and I don't use a body wash.  Just soap."

"That's the same cologne Prince Danny wears."

Stiles blushed at that.  He wore it because he'd read in an interview that Prince Danny wore classic Armani."

"What brand of soap?"

"I dunno...Irish Spring?  Why are you asking me these questions?"

Erica looked up from her tablet to meet his gaze.  "I'm trying to establish a profile for you as well as trying to figure out why Prince Derek has taken such a liking to you."

"Why is that so important?  Maybe he was just hungry?"

Erica smiled at him.  "He's not a cannibal.  And it's important because maybe you are a plant by the Argents to subvert the Hale Royal family."

"Me!?!" squealed Stiles.  "I'm not an anything!"

Derek made a quick movement closer to Stiles who flinched away by instinct.  Erica took an aggressive stance toward Derek and pointed a finger at him.

"Down!"

Derek didn't step back, but he did adopt a deferential posture.  This woman commanded respect from the Alpha of Alphas.  Stiles liked her even more.

"I don't smell anything on you and developing an artificial pheromone that would attract only Prince Derek is beyond the scientific capabilities of the Argent nation.  There are people who can be trained to avoid lie detection, but you're not one of them.  They keep their heart rate steady while yours is all over the place.  If you're a plant, you don't know about it."

"Wow," said Stiles.  "You're impressive and...kinda scary."

That made Erica laugh.  "Thanks.  I do what I must for crown and country."

Stiles is feeling very tired by this point and his yawn does nothing to mask that fact.  Erica looks at the time on her tablet.

"God...1am.  Look, I gotta hit the ladies, you think you can hang out here until I get back?"

"Sure," Stiles says nodding sleepily.

Erica exits the room and Stiles becomes vaguely aware that all of the remaining eyes in the room are on him.  It's not something he is comfortable or familiar with.  He gets up and walks over to the wolf soldiers standing between himself and the door.

"I need to use the bathroom."

He does need to use the bathroom, but more than that he just wants to hide in the stall for a moment so that he can collect himself.

"No leaving the room at this time."  Two wolf soldiers form up to block his way.

"C'mon man, please?"

"I'm sorry we can't have you going anywhere right now."

"I just need to use the can for a minute alright?"

Stiles tries to gently push through the two of them and the wolf soldiers push him back, maybe an inch with their bodies, nothing major.  Suddenly there is a growl and Derek has leapt forward and knocked all of the wolf soldiers flat on their backs.  A jolt of fear shoots through Stiles as Derek turns toward him, but before he knows it he's in a fireman carry over Derek's shoulder as he races through the castle.  The sound of shouting follows them through the halls of the castle.

Stiles used to think a little manhandling on a date was a good thing.  Now he's starting to reconsider that idea.

Derek deposits him in a room with a heavy door and then puts the bar across the door.  It's one of the most human things Stiles has seen Derek do, the first time besides riding a horse that he's seemed like more than a two legged dog.  He then turned to Stiles who barely has time to throw his arms up in protest before Derek has his arms around him and is again nuzzling his neck.  He flinched at first.  It was still a little much for a young man whose closest brush with danger was sitting inside a bomb shelter during an air strike to now have the deadliest creature in two kingdoms brushing his fangs up against his neck.

"We're back to this huh?"

There's a cushioned bench that Stiles finds himself maneuvered onto near the side of the room.  He's a little surprised to discover that his fear of Derek is diminishing rapidly.  Derek isn't hurting him and now that he thinks about it Derek hasn't done anything to harm him ever.  If he looked at his actions the way Prince Isaac had mentioned, he did seemed to be trying to protect Stiles, even if his methods are a bit misguided.  He remembers seeing a video of a gorilla at a zoo who grabbed and protected a human baby who had fallen into the gorilla enclosure.  She kept the other gorillas at bay until she could hand the human child off to the zookeepers.  Derek had seen the other wolves actions toward him as a threat and overreacted by nabbing Stiles and pulling him to safety.

Where are zookeepers when you need them?

******

Derek was getting addicted to the smell of the young man, but was disappointed that he hadn't heard him laugh again since the horrible party earlier.  He was gentle and kind, nothing like the wolves he was surrounded by who were always playing at games of domination and submission.  The wolf in him longed to be near the boy, to curl itself around him, but there was also the man in him that wanted to be close to him and that was something he could barely remember feeling.  It had been so long since Derek's human side had seen much of the light of day.  It was so much easier to be the wolf.  Being the wolf was simple and being human was complicated and made his head and heart hurt.

The young man talked a lot, talking seemed to be important to him, so Derek was trying to listen better, to try and make sense of all of the words coming from him.  The wolf was not good with words, but the man could be.  The man could talk with him and maybe even get him to laugh again.  That's when Derek decided for the first time in a long time to pull back the wolf.

******

Derek whined into his neck.  It made him sound so vulnerable that Stiles turned his head to look at Derek and thought he noticed something different.  He pulled back a bit to get a better look and saw that Derek's face was no longer in its wolf form.

"Hey you're human...and kinda hot."

He smiled at Derek who then smiled back and then leaned in to started licking the side of Stiles' head.  Stiles pushed at him and said "Stop."

Derek looked at him with a worried look on his face.  Stiles face melted into a little smile.

"Just don't lick my head okay?"

Before he realized what he was doing he pulled Derek back toward him, who went back to nuzzling into his neck.  This instinctive action made Stiles' head spin.  Why had he done that?  Here was Stiles in a heavily fortified room in the castle keep being snuggled by an incredibly hot guy who also happened to be the deadliest being in two kingdoms.  There was a big part of Stiles that wanted the world to stop so he could take stock of everything and process a bit, but then there was the part of him that just wanted to relax into Derek's embrace and just live in this moment.  He'd hooked up with hot guys before, but they left before any kind of cuddling happened.  With girls he'd had plenty of first dates, however all of them decided they were better off as just friends.  Here was someone who wanted to hold him and protect him.  That was a pretty good feeling.  When Stiles fantasized about the person he was to end up with, his mind wasn't filled with grand gestures or amazing sex.  It was about holding someone and being held.  It was about them being there with him.

Which was not unlike what was happening with Derek at the moment, except his fantasies never included a sharp brick from a wall poking into his back.

A pounding on the door made Stiles jump and Derek snarl, his face shifting back into a wolf.

"Stiles?  Are you in there? " called his father through the door.

"I'm fine!  Just don't make too much noise and freak him out."

"Is everything alright in there?"  His father's voice was tight with concern.

"I'm cool.  He's not raping me or anything...just sort of mildly non-consensual cuddling."

"Has he harmed you in any way?" If Stiles wasn't mistaken he could have sworn that voice was the Wolf nation regent Prince Peter.

"Nope."

Derek was pushing his face back into the curve of Stiles' neck and began licking him again.  It wasn't a sexy licking, more like a dog licking.  Stiles did not find the licking on his neck to be entirely unpleasant.  In different circumstances, with a guy that wasn't a monster, he might even find it enjoyable.  Oh god, where did these thoughts come from?  Stiles pushed back on Derek and shook his head no.  Derek seemed to understand.

"Can you tell me what he is doing?"

"He's just cuddling me and licking my head sometimes."

"What?" asked his father.

"That means he's trying to tell you that you're safe with him.  He wants you to feel comfortable around him," said Prince Peter.

"Flowers or an iTunes gift card might have been a better tactic."

The crowd outside the door burst into laughter.  Stiles was glad they found this funny.

"We'll have to see if we can work on that won't we?"

"You know he's not bad looking when he's not all wolfed out."

The voices on the other side of the door got eerily silent.  After a moment Peter asked "Derek is wearing his human face?"

"Not now since you pounded on the door and spooked him, but he was earlier."

There was indistinct whispering happening on the other side of the door.  Stiles turned his head from the door to Derek and noticed that the werewolf was staring at his face with a fond expression.  Stiles smiled back.

"Stiles," said Derek slowly, like he was trying out the feel of the name in his mouth.

"Did...did he just speak?" asked Peter through the door.

"He just said my name."

There was more indistinct muttering.

"Stiles?" said a voice that he was pretty sure was Prince Isaac.  "Do you think Derek would let you leave?"

"Hang on."

Stiles surveyed Derek's face which looked a lot like a dog that doesn't feel as though it's getting enough attention.  He put his hand upon the side of Derek's face and the werewolf leaned into it, features slowly melting back into human.  Stiles took Derek's hand in his and slowly pulled out of his embrace and lead him toward the door.  He cautiously slipped his hand from Derek's and lifted the bar from the door.

"I need everyone to be completely chill when we come out okay?  No weapons got it?  Nobody spook him okay?"

There was some rustling on the other side of the door and when it settled down Stiles reached up to open the door.  Derek took a protective step toward him, but he relaxed when Stiles reached down and took his hand.  Stiles opened the door and stepped out into the room.  A few people gasped and many had looks of shock on their face.  Stiles immediately felt self-conscious, but then realized that they weren't looking at him.  They were looking at Derek.  He turned back to see that Derek hadn't returned to his wolf form.

"Oh Derek..."  Prince Peter's eyes became glassy as he stepped forward and Stiles was sure the prince was close to tears when he reached up to touch Derek's human face.  "I haven't seen this face since you were a boy."

His father and some of the others looked as though they were going to approach, but Stiles held up a hand to keep them back.  Derek was doing well surrounded by a large number of people and Stiles didn't want anything to spook him.  Derek was looking a bit unsure of the situation and didn't seem entirely comfortable with his uncle's affections if Stiles was reading him right.  He suddenly felt protective and wanted to put himself between the two of them, but bodily putting himself between two werewolves was probably not on the list of the smartest things he could be doing at this moment.

Feeling uncomfortable being in the middle of all of this attention, Stiles slipped his hand from Derek's which caused the werewolf to break from his uncle and step right behind Stiles and place a hand on his shoulder.  Stiles turned to put a reassuring hand on Derek's chest.  "It's okay.  I'm right here."

Everyone in the room was watching them, but the wolves all acted like something very significant had happened.  Prince Peter was looking at Stiles up and down like he was trying to memorize his every detail.

"Messrs Stilinski, would the two of you join me please?" said Prince Peter before he turned and strode out of the room with several wolf soldiers following closely behind.  Stiles and his father exchanged confused glances.  King Argent looked like he might split in half as he gestured for them to follow.  Isaac gave Stiles a reassuring smile before heading that way himself.  Stiles and his father followed the crowd, with Derek right behind Stiles, until they were in the throne room where the wolf soldiers guided them to the center of the room.

Prince Peter ascended to the throne and spun around with arms open in a grand gesture.

"What began this evening as a horrid turn of events has become...a blessing.  Out of these terrible events it seems that my dearest nephew has found his True Mate."  Peter gestured to Stiles.

"Mate?" squeaked Stiles.

"Mate your majesty?" asked the Sheriff.

"I was hoping to mate Derek to an Argent princess, but this is a much better alternative.  If you can bring out the human in him enough then we could produce a Hale heir though a werewolf surrogate.  We would be able to maintain a much purer bloodline."

All eyes in the room were on Stiles and Prince Peter seemed to be addressing him directly.

"I don't understand."

"Derek has taken a strong liking to you, like he hasn't taken to anyone since his family was assassinated.  His sister used to be able to keep him in check, but when she was killed two years ago he lost the last tiny connection to his humanity.  If I'm not mistaken from the way he's been marking you, I believe he is courting you...in his own way."

"Mate." said Stiles.  "You mean like...mate.  As in to mate with."

"Now hold on..." said the Sheriff.

"Please Sheriff, I am addressing your son, who is a legal adult despite all appearances.  It's not unheard of in this day and age for someone of royal blood to marry a commoner.  Of course you'd have to be turned and given a title and lands first, but that could all be arranged."

Stiles found this to be one of those rare moments when he had nothing to say.  His mouth kept opening and closing, but nothing was coming out.

"Prince-Consort Stiles," said Peter.  He said 'Stiles' like it left a bad taste in his mouth.  "We might have to change your legal name to something more royal if you're to marry Derek."

"Wait...marry?  Become a prince?"

"Prince-Consort," Peter corrected with a smile.  "Does that entice you?"

"Are you kidding?  I don't want to be a royal!  I want to be a librarian!  I want to go home to X-Box and pizza for dinner, I don't want to spend my evenings saying the wrong things in front of a foreign dignitary!"

Peter smiled.  "Perhaps that is why you would be the best person for the job."

"That doesn't make any sense.  And marrying someone is not a job."

Peter looked at him seriously.  "When you are a royal it is."

"No."

"I'm sorry?" Peter said with just a hint of annoyance in his voice.

"No!" he shouted.  It was all too much and Stiles could not think of anything else to say.  Derek shifted to his wolf face and stepped protectively next to Stiles, but Stiles put up his hands between them and commanded "No".

Derek looked hurt, but Stiles kept his hands up between them and backed away from him before turning to leave the room.  The wolf soldiers moved to stop him, but Peter halted them with a gesture and Stiles escaped out into the hallway.

"It's late and we're all tired.  I think that young Mr. Stilinski needs some time to think about things.  Could you please escort your son home safely Sheriff?"

"I'll make it my top priority," said the Sheriff before turning to follow his son out the door.

Thankfully the Sheriff did nothing more than hug Stiles once he'd found him.  Stiles couldn't handle anything more than that.  Neither said anything on the ride back to the house and his father let him go up stairs with only another hug and a "good night".  Once in his room Stiles didn't bother with the light before he kicked off his shoes, pulled off his shirt and tie, and then unceremoniously flopped down onto the top of his bed.

Stiles phone started to blow up from all of the delayed texts he was receiving from Scott.  He put it on silent and tossed it onto his desk.  Maybe if he was lucky he would never have to get out of bed again.

*****

Peter was readying himself for bed when someone rapped on his door.

"Come."

The captain of the Wolf nation King's guard stepped into the room. "Sir, Prince Derek has gone missing."

Peter let out a long breath.  He had a feeling something like this was going to happen.

"Send some men to the Stilinski residence.  Tell them to watch the house, but keep their distance.  I don't want Derek spooked.  Just make sure that the Prince and the object of his affections are safe."

The guard nodded and excused himself.  Peter rang for a bottle of brandy to be brought to his room.  He was going to need some help sleeping tonight.

*****

Stiles heard a tapping at his window.  He lifted his head up from his pillow and saw Derek looking at him through the glass with his human face.  He dragged himself out of bed and went to the window.  Stiles had been safe at home, but now the craziness had followed him home.  He knew that if he let Derek in it wouldn't be easy to get him out again, but he looked at Stiles through the glass with such longing that it pulled at his heartstrings.  He unlocked and opened the window and Derek climbed inside.  He immediately pulled Stiles into an embrace and nuzzled his neck.

"Stiles..."

"Hey Big Guy."

They stood there for a long time and Stiles felt himself being filled with something he didn't know he needed.  This was the Derek he liked.  The gentle warm Derek he was when no one else was around.  So much power coursed through the werewolf and all he wanted to do with it was to envelope Stiles and create a space where only the two of them existed.

Derek lifted Stiles' face in his hands and brushed their noses together.  His eyes bored deep into Stiles.  Stiles opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out.  Derek moved forward and put his mouth on Stiles'.  It was gentle and soft and Stiles felt himself melting into Derek's kiss.

 

Chapter Text

There was a rattling at Stiles' bedroom door.  Then came some furious knocking.

"Stiles!?!  Stiles are you in there?  Are you alright son?  Why is this door locked?"

Stiles looked over to where Derek was asleep on his arm.  They hadn't bothered to get under the covers or pull their clothes off.  The heat coming off of Derek was more than enough to keep him warm all night.

"I'm fine dad!  Just needed to have some...'gentleman' time."

"Oh," said his father.  Stiles could hear him stifling a laugh on the other side of the door before he descended the stairs.

Stiles shook Derek awake.  He looked panicked and confused at first, but then his face softened when he looked at Stiles.  He moved in to start nuzzling Stiles' neck, but Stiles pushed him back.  He put his finger to his lips then gestured toward the door.  Derek's eyes opened wide in panic.  This amused Stiles because "The Beast" Prince Derek seemed infinitely more terrified of being caught in his room by Stiles' father than he probably ever did of a platoon of soldiers coming after him.

"I need to get back up to the castle soon.  Wash up quick so I can give you a ride," called his father from downstairs.

"Sure thing Dad!"

Stiles pointed at Derek and then toward the window.  Derek nodded once, gave Stiles' neck a quick nuzzle, then quickly grabbed his leather armor and silently leapt out the window.

How did this become his life?

After getting out of the shower Stiles paused before reaching for his usual t-shirt and flannel.  There was a strong possibility that he'd be brought into audience with some of the Wolf royalty today and maybe even some of the Argents.  He pulled out a nice shirt to wear and some slacks, but decided against wearing a tie.  He couldn't completely lose himself in all of this.

He and his father parked down the hill from the castle in the staff parking lot and made the trek up the hill together.  He felt that his father was being strangely quiet, but then he realized that he was normally the one doing all the talking and right now he didn't want to tell his father what was going through his head.  Stiles waved to the street vendors that he knew because he frequently bought his lunch from them on days he worked at the castle.  Life under the Wolf nation wouldn't change much for them, still doing whatever they could to get by.  Stiles noticed that there was a large group of people standing outside the castle gate with cameras.  He couldn't for the life of him figure out why they were all waiting there until one of them caught sight of him and ran up to take his picture.

"Stiles!  Look over here!" the guy yelled as he snapped more pictures.

Suddenly the rest of the photographers and news cameras were swarming around them taking photos and calling out his name.  They began shouting out questions at him, but all of the flashes and the shouting disoriented him.  His father pulled him close and began to push at the photographers maneuvering him toward the castle gate.  Then two of the castle guards were there flanking them and pushing their way through the photographers.  Once they got to the entrance to the castle, the gate guards pushed back at the mob and barred the photographers from entering.

Stiles heart was racing and he found himself shaking.  He was barely aware of what had just happened to him.  He hadn't expected to suddenly be swarmed by the press like some kind of celebrity.  Stiles was still looking over his shoulder at the group of paparazzi at the gate when he slammed into a wall that wrapped its arms around him.  The whiskers brushing against his neck told him exactly who this was before he even turned around.

"Hey Derek."

His nose brushed against Derek's as he turned to face him.  Without thinking Stiles' arms found themselves naturally slipping around the werewolf to embrace him back.  Derek's mouth was curled up just a bit at the corners.

"Stiles."

His father cleared his throat next to them, which made Stiles look away and notice that everyone in the courtyard was looking at them and every paparazzo with a decent angle was taking a photo.  He pushed Derek back and said "Not in public."  Derek looked hurt, but then took notice of everyone around them and nodded once.

"Son?"

"Gotta get to work.  Talk later?" Stiles said as he turned toward the royal library.  His father gave him one of those looks that definitely said they will be having a conversation later that he's not going to particularly enjoy.

Stiles stepped into the library, shortly followed by Derek.  Besides the librarian, there were only two people there.  The library is not open to the public, only available to the royal family and their staff.  The librarian, an older man who Stiles had come to adore, looked up at him from the computer terminal at his desk.  His brow furrowed as he seemed to look past Stiles, who turned and saw that Derek had followed him into the library and behind the counter.  Derek was wearing his wolf face, which Stiles had already forgotten to see as frightening, but the librarian, who might have never seen a werewolf up close in his life, was certainly not comfortable with the situation.  Stiles turned around and escorted Derek out of the staff area.

"I have to work now.  Go do whatever it is you do."

Derek gave him a quizzical look.

"Don't you have princely things to do or something?"

This line of questioning seemed completely beyond Derek.  Apparently going from 'killing machine' to 'killing and cuddling machine' was enough of a stretch for one day.

"Go," said Stiles as he pointed to the door.  "Go to Peter."

Derek looked a bit down about this proposition, but he nodded once before heading out the door.  Stiles turned back to the raised eyebrows of the librarian.  Stiles gave him the International Librarian Sign for 'I don't want to talk about it aloud at work' and got a quirked eyebrow in response.  The librarian picked up some newspapers and held them over his head.  Stiles walked over and took them to him before looking at what they said.

"Oh my god!"

The librarian shushed him so then Stiles mouthed 'Oh my god!' at him.  On the cover of the tabloids were pictures of him from his Facebook profile next to pictures of Derek with headlines that read things like Beauty and the Beast and The Werewolf Whisperer.  Everyone he knows, no...everyone in the kingdom was going to see those headlines.  Stiles felt his face flush and his head spin.  He was so overwhelmed by all of it that it took him nearly fifteen minutes just to slow his thoughts down enough to even read the articles.  From what he read it didn't seem that they had a lot of details.  Someone from the castle just selling gossip to the rags.  No statements from the Hale or Argent royal families so he assumed that Erica had not done a press release.  Over on the librarian's computer there was a video feed from one of the news networks that said "Just now at Argent Castle" and showed he and Derek hugging just a few minutes earlier.  Did these people not remember that the castle was attacked last night by rebel forces?  That they had been a hair away from war again?  Someone attempted to kill one of both or the royal families and they were going on about he and Derek.  How were they the leading news story and not an attack on the capitol?

Stiles was in the back of the library reshelving periodicals and trying to lose himself in his work when he heard someone come in and in a loud, not appropriate for the library voice ask "Is Mr. Stilinski here?"

Stiles poked his head around the stacks to see one of the castle pages standing there at the front desk.  He put the journals he was shelving back onto the cart and made his way up to the front.

"I'm gonna assume you're not looking for my father Sheriff Stilinski?"

"No, sir.  Your presence has been requested by his highness Prince Hale."

"Which Hale?"

"Prince Peter sir."

Stiles felt a twinge behind his eye and was sure that a headache was already starting to form.  "Do you know what he wants?"

"I believe he wants you to have lunch with him sir."

Stiles looked at the clock.  It was nearly noon and he had skipped breakfast.  As much as he would rather get a burrito from the food stands outside the castle, one doesn't turn down a request from the ruling royal family.

"Gimme a minute.  I need to get some ibuprofen first."

Stiles had no idea what fork to use.  He should have looked it up online before he left the library.  He was sitting at a large table with Isaac across from him, Derek next to him, and Peter at the head of the table.  He knew that the Alphas always eat first, then you can start eating.  He knows that much.  It dawns on him that he can just watch what Isaac and Derek do and he can follow their lead.  They pour him wine, which he thinks is probably not the best thing for him to be drinking when he's trying to be on his best behavior, but he's too scared to ask for a coke.

All of Peter's focus was on Stiles which was making him feel pretty uncomfortable, though Isaac gave him encouraging smiles which helped.  Derek seemed a bit oblivious to the whole thing and just seemed focused on Stiles.  He was also in wolf face which doesn't really help the situation.

"Stiles, you are studying to be librarian.  Why did you chose that?"

"I...uh...like books and...uh...I'm good at searching through information.  A lot of a librarian's job is about navigating through information."

"That's very interesting," said Peter in a way that told Stiles he really didn't think so.

The first thing they brought out was a soup course.  Derek grabbed the bowl and just tipped it back and drank it.  Probably not the example he wanted to follow.  After Peter began to eat, Isaac used the large spoon so Stiles followed his lead.  The soup was creamy and bacony and Stiles didn't think he'd ever had a better soup in his life, but then he remembered that all the soup he'd ever had before had come from a can so he was not sure if someone can really compare the two.

"So Stiles, how many children do you want to have?"

Stiles drops the spoon back in the bowl.  He was not sure why this question made him so uncomfortable.  "A couple I guess?  I was an only child and so I think I'd like my kids to have someone to grow up with."

"It's always good for an Alpha to have lots of children.  They're often killed off.  Derek had many siblings and he's the only one left.  All of the children I had with my wife were murdered with her by the Argents.  I just thank God I have my precious Isaac or I don't know how sane I would be."

Peter looked over at Isaac with genuine affection.  Stiles couldn't help but be moved.  Stiles had lost was his mother years ago and he wasn't sure he had really recovered from that.  He just learned to not think about it all the time so that he could go on with life.  Just having his dad in his life was like standing on one leg.  If he'd lost both of them he wasn't sure how he would have managed to keep standing.  Peter did it by adopting Isaac.

"Is that when...um..." Stiles wished he wouldn't have said anything because then Peter was intensely focused on him.  He looked over to Derek who he wasn't sure was entirely following the conversation.  "When my mom died, I just sort of shut down for a while.  I barely talked.  I was just wondering if...I mean...I've heard rumors that..."

"Derek was fifteen when his family was murdered," supplied Peter in a quiet voice.  "He withdrew into his wolf and hasn't come out since."

"He and Laura were the only survivors," said Isaac.  "Derek was very attached to her, she was the only one he interacted with after, but even she couldn't get him to shift back to a human.  After she was killed two years ago he just stopped connecting with people all together."

"Until now that is," said Peter.

Stiles wasn't sure why, but that statement made him feel very small.

"I don't understand.  I didn't do anything."

"There are those among werewolves who believe in the lore that a werewolf has a true mate that is destined to complete them.  Perhaps the moment Derek saw you he knew you were his true mate."

"But...we're..." stammered Stiles.  "Nothing's going on between us."

"Will Derek be spending the night at your house again tonight?"

"Uh..."

"Yes, I know where my nephew was last night.  We don't just let the heir to the throne run around at night unmonitored."

Stiles mouth opened because he wanted to reply, but then he slowly shut it because he had no response to that.

"The idea of the Prince finding his true mate in a human will help stem the desire for retribution by the Wolf citizens.  There will be much rejoicing in the Wolf Nation when you two are wed."

"I'm not sure I want to marry Derek."

Peter gave Stiles his tired condescending look.  "You don't really have much choice in the matter."

Stiles wanted to reply, but he felt trapped and out of control.  His palms were sweating and his pulse was thumping in his head.

Derek growled at Peter and then threw a protective arm in front of Stiles before shouting "No!"

Peter and Isaac's faces both froze in a state of shock.  Servants that had been heading toward the table stopped mid-stride.

"He spoke," whispered Isaac.

If this was any indication of what the soup course was like, Stiles wasn't sure he was going to make it through dessert.

When Stiles finally left the royal chambers to head back to the library, Erica was leaning against the wall not far from the door.  When she saw him she pushed herself off of it and intercepted his path.

"Mind if I walk with you?"

Stiles shrugged in response.  He figured she would anyway.

"How are you doing Stiles?"

"Just great for someone who is apparently being forced into a marriage to someone he barely knows."

Erica dropped her head into a smile.

"I understand.  It can be a lot for a commoner to take in.  Royals are born into a world where duty always comes before personal choice.  They are born into their jobs and often into their marriages.  They don't understand what life is like for the rest of us."

"Do I have a choice?"

"Officially?  Not really.  You're a citizen of a territory occupied by the Wolf Nation.  As such the only rights you have are those the Hale royal family as rulers of that nation choose to extend to you."

"That sucks."

"Welcome to adulthood.  At some point I'd like to sit down with you and build a profile on you.  Something I can release to the press."

"Why would anyone want to know about me?"

"Because of your involvement with Derek.  People want to know about you.  It's better to give them an official story you can control than let them dig up what they want about you.  Public image is everything in politics."

"Nothing about me is interesting," said Stiles.

"How did you meet Derek?" asked Erica with a grin.

"He followed me up onto the castle wall and then saved me from being shot by a rebel soldier."

"Prince Derek saved you from a rebel soldier!  It was love at first sight!  See...that makes good copy."

Stiles looked at her with a gaze that was heavy from everything weighing on him.  He glanced around to see if they were alone.

"Are you loyal to Peter?

Erica seemed to be appraising Stiles before she answered, "I'm loyal to the crown and I'm loyal to my country.  Right now that means helping Peter."

"But...?"

"But it might not always."

*****

Derek didn't like the way the other wolves sniffed around Stiles.  He didn't like the way they talked to him and he didn't like the way Stiles smelled when they were around.  When he was alone with him, Stiles wasn't afraid and seemed happy and smiled at Derek.  Derek just wished he could be alone with Stiles forever.

He was starting to remember more and more words and he was almost understanding the conversations people had around him.  Peter talked to Stiles a lot, which frustrated Stiles and it made Derek angry that he couldn't understand what Peter was saying to Stiles.  At first he just wanted to speak again because it seemed important to Stiles, but now he realized that if he was going to protect Stiles from the other wolves he was going to have to speak and understand their words.  Not everything was about fighting.  Stiles was of the world of men and the world of men was about speaking.

*****

Stiles walked up to the librarian around half-past four.

"So I was wondering if I could leave early today, ya know before any royal pages with dinner invitations arrive?"

"Go," replied the librarian with a look of complete understanding on his face.

Stiles collected his things and snuck out the back entrance where he knew the emergency door alarm didn't work.  He slid through the shadows trying to make it to the main gate unnoticed.  He was clearly not as sly as he thought, because as he was looking around a corner to check and see if the coast was clear a pair of arms encircled him.  His breath hitched, but it took only a second to know who it was that held him.

"Hey Derek."

"Stiles."

Stiles turned to face him.  "Look D, I gotta get going home.  I don't have time to hang out with your creepy uncle."

Derek took his hand and started to lead him in the other direction.  Stiles pulled back on him.

"Derek I need to go."

The look Derek gave him was such a look of hurt and need that Stiles felt his resolve crumble.  He was not doing a very good job of setting boundaries in this relationship.

"Alright, just for a minute, but don't take me to uncle Peter."

Derek instead led him back to what Stiles assumed was his private chamber.  The guards at the end of the hall pretended to take no notice of them as Derek led Stiles down the hall by the hand past them.

Once the door was closed Derek shifted back to his human face as he pulled him into an embrace and kissed him.  Not a light gentle kiss like they'd had before, this was a full-on movie star kiss that left Stiles feeling as though he might lose his balance if Derek weren't holding him up.  Stiles placed his hands on Derek's chest and slowly slid his hands down his torso, feeling every muscle through the leather armor until he reached Derek's waist.  There he snuck his fingers underneath to touch bare skin.  He wasn't surprised that someone who spent so much of his life fighting in a war would have this kind of musculature, what he was surprised about was that someone with a body like this wanted to be pressing it against him.

Derek slid his mouth down and kissed his neck.  Stiles relaxed into his embrace and leaned his head back to expose more of his neck, leading Derek to then liberally run his mouth over it.  The pleasure overcame Stiles and he let out a sharp gasp.  Derek found a place on Stiles' neck that caused him to giggle and twist in Derek's arms.  Once Derek figured out how to illicit this response from him he focused on this spot causing Stiles to erupt with squeals and laughter.

"You're mine," Derek breathed into his skin.  Stiles stiffened at those words and he pushed away at Derek.

"You can't just take me okay?  Just because you're a royal werewolf and I'm a human commoner doesn't mean that you can possess me alright!?!  I'm not property.  I'm a human being.  You need to remember that.  You can't just own another person.  You can only give yourself to someone else.  I'm so sick of everyone..."

Derek put his hand on Stiles chest which silenced him immediately.  The wolf looked hurt and confused.  He furrowed his brow in concentration.

"I'm yours."

"What?" Stiles whispered.

"I'm yours Stiles," Derek said moving back into Stiles' space and bringing his lips up to Stiles' ear.  Stiles did not push him away.  "I'm yours.  I'm yours.  I'm yours."

Stiles reached up and laid his hands on Derek who then enveloped him in his arms.  Stiles reached around and embraced him back.  He found himself in a bubble of Derek's warmth and scent.  He not only felt safer than he had since this all began, he felt safer than he ever remembered being.  He couldn't now believe that he'd ever thought of Derek as a beast when this Derek was the most open and loving person he knew.  He wondered if it would be possible to run away with Derek, somewhere the Hales couldn't ever find them.  He doubted it, with his luck Peter had Derek chipped or something.  Still...it was a nice fantasy.

"I like it when you talk you know," Stiles said to him softly.

Derek turned his head so that his nose slid up Stiles' cheek, tickling it.

"I'm trying."

After some time Stiles finally convinced Derek that he needed to get home where his father would be waiting.  He walked with Stiles toward the main gate of the castle. Over in the shadows Stiles saw Isaac having a very intimate conversation with Prince Danny. When he turned his eyes back forward, Stiles suddenly stopped short upon seeing the mob of paparazzi waiting there that he'd somehow forgotten about amongst all of the bizarre things that happened to him today.  Derek seemed to sense his apprehension and took his hand leading him away.  He led Stiles up flights of stairs until they found themselves up on the top of the castle wall near the back of the castle opposite from where they first met.

"Finally decided to eat me huh?" Stiles joked at him.

Derek slid his arm around Stiles' waist as he pulled him tightly against his body.  He then wolfed out.

"Derek?  What are you...Ahhhh!" Stiles screamed as Derek picked him up and leapt over the side of the castle wall.  Derek had caught himself on an arrow slit halfway down the castle wall.  From there he dropped to the ground.  He released Stiles who immediately clutched at his beating heart.

"Oh my god Derek!  You...warn me next time!"

"Sorry," said Derek with a smile that looked mischievous and not particularly sorry.  He shifted back to his human face and they slid down the hill the castle sat upon until they found themselves in a neighborhood below.  Some people looked at them as if they might recognize them, but they quickly made their way along until they eventually found themselves at the staff parking lot at the bottom of the hill where Stiles' jeep sat waiting.  Derek immediately went over to the passenger side door.  Stiles thought about telling him to go back to the castle, but he honestly didn't want Derek to leave.  He took a long look up at the crowd of photographers and journalists up the road by the castle gate before turning down the road toward home.

His father's patrol car was already in the driveway when he made it home so he parked on the street a bit away from the house.  He gestured for Derek to take window route which Derek did after nodding in agreement.

"Hey Dad!" Stiles yelled as he ran into the house and up the stairs to his room, shutting the door before crossing to the window to let Derek in.  Derek immediately wrapped his arms around Stiles and began to kiss him while slowly maneuvering him back towards the bed.  Stiles felt as though he should protest, but he really didn't want to.

"Stiles!" his father yelled from downstairs.  They both stiffened.

Stiles went to the door and opened it to stick his face out.  "Yeah dad?"

"Dinner is ready.  Would you and your werewolf houseguest please come down to the table?"

Wow.  Busted.  He hoped to god that his dad didn't know about Derek staying the night last night.  That would lead to a very awkward conversation.

"Yeah...uh...we'll be right down."

Stiles closed the door and looked over at Derek who was preoccupied sniffing one of his dirty shirts.  This was going to go over so well.  He could feel it already.  Like a race car over a cliff.

"You better wash your hands Derek.  I know where they've been."

 

 

Chapter Text

Stiles took some small comfort in that Derek had decided to wear his human face to the dinner table.  He followed Stiles down from his room and was being very quiet and reserved.  His shoulders were down and turned slightly in.  It seemed to Stiles to be a submissive posture.  Was this Derek's way of trying to make a good impression on his father?

The sheriff put plates in front of them in silence.  Derek reached for the food with his hands, but Stiles stopped him by clearing his throat and gesturing to the fork next to his plate.  Derek picked up his own fork and then quietly acknowledged the sheriff. 

"Thank you."

The sheriff looked a little surprised to hear Derek speak, but he just looked at Stiles who gave his father his best I'm pretending this isn't a weird situation grin.

"So...anything interesting happen today?"

"I had lunch with the Hale royal family...so that was fun."

"Really?" asked the sheriff.

"Absolutely not.  Prince Peter creeps the hell out of me."

"He has that affect on people."

"Dad...he's talking about marrying me to Derek."

Derek looked up as if now noticing he was being talked about.  His father studied him for a moment before speaking.

"You don't seem to be minding him too much."

"No, Derek's great," Stiles said, looking over at the werewolf who smiled appreciatively at Stiles.  "It's nice to know that you're not the only person I'm important to, but sometimes he's more like a pet than a boyfriend.  And I barely know him.  How am I supposed to marry someone I barely know?  What if we start hating each other?  What if he gets tired of me and decides to eat me?"

Derek looked over at them from where he was trying to eat a whole piece of chicken that he had speared with his fork.

"I don't think werewolves do that to their mates," said the Sheriff.

"I am his," Derek said to the sheriff with great certainty.

"Dad, please don't say the 'M' word."

"Marry or Mate?"

Stiles let his head fall forward until it nearly collided with his dinner.  "Either please."

"Mate," said Derek.  "Stiles is mate."

Stiles really hoped there was going to be ice cream.

After dinner Stiles steered Derek toward the living room and tried to get him engaged in a video game, but it only frustrated him so instead he settled on a movie.  He had a moment when he thought about trying some reality television, but that seemed a bit abusive.  It took Stiles a while to find something in his collection that didn't have fights or explosions because he didn't want to set Derek off, but he needed have worried because Derek just nuzzled into him on the couch and ignored the movie anyway.  His father even came in and watched for a bit before heading to bed.

"He's not staying the night."

"Oh c'mon dad...he feels safer here."

"You won't be having sex with your werewolf boytoy in my house."

"How about we keep my bedroom door open so you know nothing is happening?  Please...?"

The sheriff grumbled, but after more pleading and promises he finally acquiesced.  Once the movie was over Stiles lead Derek upstairs where they settled into bed and Stiles made sure that Derek didn't get past second base with his dad within earshot.

Having lunch with the Hales became a daily ritual.  Peter seemed to try to make him as uncomfortable as possible, Isaac attempted to deflect his father, and Derek started using utensils and the occasional three word sentence.  All of this seemed to please Peter though Stiles wasn't sure he could deal with this being part of his day for the rest of his life.  He found dealing with Peter to be exhausting.  He longed to get back to work where his life was about shelving books and repairing computers.

During one lunch Peter was going on about the powers and duties of being a regent.  Stiles wasn't sure if this was for he or Isaac's benefit or if Peter just liked to hear himself talk.  It did raise a question for Stiles, so he decided to interrupt Peter's monologue.

"If it's such a problem that Derek can't take the throne in his condition, why didn't you just kill him and take the throne for yourself?"

The plainness of Stiles' question puts a smile on Peter's face.

"In Derek's condition he is in no position to lead, so for all intents and purposes I am the king and will be until my death.  Derek and I are the last of the Hales.  I can no longer reproduce and Isaac is adopted so he cannot inherit the throne, nor will his offspring.  Derek producing a child is the only chance that the kingdom will stay under the rule of a Hale Alpha.  Should we both die without Derek producing an heir, the kingdom would fall into chaos with powerful packs fighting over which Alpha would take our place."

"Chaos?" asked Stiles.

"There are many Alphas who would be willing to wage wars that would kill millions in order to gain the throne.  Should the House of Hale fall there certainly would be a war with the most brutal and savage Alphas most likely coming out on top.  We Hales have only become so refined through generations of refinement and good breeding.  It is doubtful the more civilized of the Alphas would be who won the throne."

"And if they rule the wolf nation, then they rule the Argent Kingdom," said Stiles into his pasta.  He was suddenly no longer hungry.

"I can't imagine they would be as diplomatic as we have been," said Peter gravely.

Derek arrived at the library that evening about a half an hour before Stiles got off his shift.  He made a point to arrive wearing his human face and sit quietly by the door.  The librarian was no longer agitated by this and actually seemed to find it a little bit amusing.  When Stiles was done labeling the stack of new materials he proceeded to shelve until the librarian started turning off the lights and they ushered people out for the day.  When Stiles reached where Derek was sitting the werewolf stood up and pulled him into a kiss.

"Are you wearing cologne?" Stiles asked as he pulled away a bit to look at Derek in the face.  "And is that gel in your hair?"

"Erica and Isaac," Derek replied.

"They're playing dress up with you now?  What have I done?"

"Good night your Highness, Stiles," the librarian said to them as he locked the doors after they had all exited.  Derek nodded to him.

"Ready to head home?" Stiles asked.  He was very hungry now having lost his appetite during lunch.

"My room," said Derek.

"What delightful words.  Such a poet.  Don't think you're getting sexy times just because you're being so charming."

Derek leaned down and put his warm mouth on the spot on Stiles' neck that made him weak in the knees.

"Okay," Stiles whispered in a breathy voice as he leaned into Derek.  "You might be getting some sexy times."

Derek grabbed Stiles' hand and began to pull him through the castle toward Derek's room.  They walked right past Isaac talking with Prince Danny in the hallway.  Stiles raised a hand to say something, but Derek was pulling him past so fast that he didn't get any words out.

"Derek, I'm hungry.  I'm going to need food," Stiles reminded him.

When they got to Derek's chambers, he opened the door and pulled Stiles inside, pausing only for a moment to look at the guard and say "order pizza" before closing the door.

"Make it veggie with pepperoni!" Stiles yelled through the door.  "It makes delicious sense I swear!"

Derek's arms were wrapped around Stiles and his mouth was doing that thing on his neck that had quickly become Stiles' favorite thing in the world.  One hand found its way up underneath Stiles' shirt and was slowly moving up his back.  Stiles found himself rolling his spine to meet Derek's hand.  His hands ran over the thick, yet flexible, leather armor that all wolf soldiers wore.  Derek wearing it was a bit of a turn-on, but more so he wanted Derek out of it so that he could feel his skin.

"You smell good," breathed Derek into his ear.

"Good?  Like food good?"

"Like sex good."

Stiles would be a big fat liar who lies if said that hearing those words didn't electrify every square inch of his skin.

"Armor.  Off.  Now,"  Stiles commanded.

With Stiles' arms wrapped around his neck, Derek pulled at the straps holding his armor on. He started to walk Stiles backwards until his knees hit the bed and he fell backward.  Derek stood over him as he loosened the last strap and pulled the armor off over his head leaving only a t-shirt over tight muscles.  Stiles and Derek hadn't had sex yet, but Stiles was starting to realize that this would be a very good time to start.  Derek didn't look princely hot, he looked model hot.  Photoshopped model hot.  Did every werewolf become good looking?  He wondered if he should reconsider the bite.

Derek kneeled on the bed, hovering over Stiles.  Steadily and surely he unbuttoned Stiles' shirt, opening it up to expose white flesh and a constellation of moles.  Derek descended upon him, making his way up Stiles' body with his mouth.  Stiles began to squirm when Derek kissed along the side of his stomach.  Derek brought his hands down and started tickling him, a wicked grin on his face.  Stiles was defenseless against the tickle attack, squirming and trying to push Derek away while convulsing with laughter.  Finally Derek relented and fell onto the bed next to him.

"You really like tickling me."

"Tickle fights.  As kids."

Stiles looked at the faint smile and the fond sadness Derek held in his eyes.

"Laura.  Cora.  Caleb."  Derek seemed lost in thought, trying to remember names.  "Logan.  Alex."

Stiles wanted to say something, anything, but he had no words for this.  In that moment he wanted nothing more than to give Derek a family again.  He reached over to caress Derek's cheek.  The werewolf leaned into the touch.  Stiles pulled him into a kiss.

Derek rolled himself over onto Stiles.  He began kissing down his jaw, then to his neck, making his way down Stiles' body until he reached the top of his slacks.  Derek made quick work of Stiles' belt and started undoing his pants.

"Are we doing this?  Is this a thing?"

Derek reached up to his waist band and pulled off his pants and underwear in one fell swoop.

"I guess we're...oh my god!"

Derek pulled Stiles cock into his mouth.  Stiles gasped and bucked up involuntarily.

"Please don't wolf out.  Teeth are bad.  Please don't wolf out," he whispered.

Stiles clutched the bedspread as waves of pleasure crested through his body.  He reached down to grab at Derek's shirt and try to pull him up into a kiss, but Derek was a wolf on a mission and would not be deterred.  Stiles' hands found their way into Derek's hair and he pulled, hoping to stop Derek before it became too much and he lost it.  Derek only seemed to enjoy that and went at it even more vigorously until Stiles could no longer hold back.  He cried out as an orgasm shook through his body.  Derek savored every bit he gave him.

Derek began to slowly kiss up Stiles' naked torso until he got to his neck and then he began to lazily suck on it.  Derek lowered his body onto Stiles' creating a little cocoon of warmth as his weight pushed him in into the mattress.  Stiles wrapped his arms around Derek and started to drift toward sleep.

There was a knock on the door.  "Your pizza is here sir!"

Perfect timing.  Stiles thought that it turned out to be a pretty good day.

The next day Stiles was underneath a desk in the back of the library trying to figure out why the network card on that computer wouldn't work when he heard a woman say his name.  He clumsily extracted himself from under the desk.  Standing over him was his childhood crush Princess Lydia.

"Your Highness?" Stiles squawked.

Lydia smiled at him.  "How are you doing Stiles?"

"Wait...you know me?"

"Of course I do Stiles," said Lydia with a smile.  "I'm in the library every day."

"It doesn't mean you notice me."

"Well I have.  I thought maybe we could talk."

"Uhm...yeah...sure."

Stiles followed Lydia into one of the quiet study rooms, giving the librarian a shrug in response to his inquiring look.

"I have it on fairly good authority that the Beast has chosen you to be his mate."

Stiles knocked over a pile of books behind him that he hadn't realized was there.  There might have been some flailing.

"I don't know about that!" Stiles exclaimed.  Lydia gave him a look like she expected more out of him.  "But that's what everyone keeps telling me.  Honestly I don't know."

Lydia gave him a sweet smile.  The kind you shared with friends.

"When we lost the war to the Wolf nation, it was assumed that Allison's engagement to Prince Matthew would be broken off and she would be wed to the Beast.  I volunteered myself instead."

Stiles had heard about it.  It was common gossip around the castle.

"Why?" he asked.

"Allison can fight as well as any man, but there's other ways in which she's not strong at all.  She couldn't have handled being married to the Beast.  There are many ways for a person to be strong and being physically tough is only one of them.  I volunteered to do it because I knew it would put me in a position to impact what happens to the people of our country.  It meant I could keep them safe."

"But if I end up marrying him?"

"The responsibility of advocating for the Argent people within the House of Hale will fall on you."

"No one in their right mind would put me in that position.  Around here I'm not even allowed to influence what magazines we carry!"

"We don't always choose the roles we're placed in.  What defines us is what we do with them.  You might not have chosen to be the mate of the Beast, but you will choose how it affects you and everyone else."

Stiles couldn't imagine how anything he could ever do would impact a large group of people, let alone the millions of people in the Argent kingdom.  He's just a guy.  A guy that likes books and computers and video games a bit too much.  How could someone like him ever have such influence over others?  And why?  Because he and Derek might possibly, kind-of, sort-of have a thing going on?

"He's not horrible you know.  He's actually really nice.  I just don't think he trusts anybody, even other wolves."

"He seems to have decided to trust you."

"I don't know why."

Lydia gave him that smile again.  The one you share between friends.  "If there's one person free of hidden agendas in all of the kingdoms, it's you Stiles."

Stiles was almost getting used to he and Derek sneaking over the castle wall to get home on the night he drove up to his house to see photographers and reporters surrounding it.  As soon as they saw Stiles' jeep they began to swarm it and he couldn't even park in the driveway.  Apparently the press had found out where he lived.  Derek got quickly agitated and shifted to wolf face.  Stiles parked down the street.  They walked to the house, but Derek kept the photographers back by growling fiercely at them.  Once inside the photographers started snapping pictures through the windows.  Stiles closed all of the drapes and blinds they had and then called his father.  Soon a couple of deputies came by and got everyone off of the property so they snapped pictures from the sidewalk.  Stiles peeked out the window for a second, only to have his face flashed as cameras clicked away.

"Can't a guy just have a werewolf boyfriend in peace?"

Stiles' father informed him that he would no longer be driving to and from work and that official cars would be escorting Derek and himself to and from the castle.  He hoped that maybe they could hide out in his room and order pizza in all weekend, but cars came to fetch he and Derek for lunch with the Hales both days.  On Sunday even his father joined them, which added a whole extra level of awkwardness for Stiles to feel miserable under.  It was on Monday that Peter decided to drop his bomb.

"We've been here longer than we originally planned because of all of the joy that Stiles has brought into our lives, but I think the time for us to return to our own kingdom has come.  We are heading back to the Wolf nation on Friday" announced Peter at lunch.  Isaac seemed strangely disappointed.

"You're leaving?" asked Stiles.

"We're leaving," said Peter.  "You're coming with us as Derek's intended.  We'll have an engagement ceremony on Thursday and then make the formal announcement to the press."

"What?" squawked Stiles who then choked on his food.  "I'm not sure I want that."

"It's not really open for discussion," said Peter sipping his wine.

Stiles looked to Isaac to defend him, but no protests came from him.  This was the way things were done in the world of royal families and his usual defender wasn't going to intervene.  Maybe Isaac agreed with Peter that the best thing for everyone involved was if Stiles married Derek.  It's not like Derek was going to disagree.  He's already decided that Stiles was his mate.

Stiles thought a lot about what the marriage would mean to him, what it would mean to everyone he cared about, and what it would mean to his country.  It wasn't that he didn't like Derek, he adored Derek and liked him more and more every day.  He just felt it was rushed and didn't like Peter in control of his life.  What he needed was a way to take control of his life again.

Stiles worked late that night doing research, falling asleep at his desk and having Derek pick him up and bring him to bed.  Derek didn't like him so distracted, but Stiles was a man on a mission.  The night before the engagement ceremony, Stiles asked Derek to stay the night in the castle.  Derek wimpered, obviously not fond of the idea, but Stiles told him that he needed to do something important and Derek finally acquiesced.  Stiles had some things to do that he didn't want Derek to know about.  At least not yet.

The next day Stiles went into work for a few hours because he didn't know what else to do.  The librarian had already been informed that he was no longer going to be working there as of Friday so Stiles just organized some things and tried to relay everything to the librarian so his replacement could be trained.  He gathered all of the things of his that had collected at work, which was much more than he'd originally imagined.  Things he'd gotten at work and never taken home, things he'd brought from home and forgot to take back.  He'd been an assistant at the library for nearly three years and it had become his home, he would miss it as much as his bedroom.  When the network went down would anyone know how to fix it or would the information center of the kingdom just shut down?  What would they do without him?

There was no lunch with Peter as the engagement ceremony was in the middle of the afternoon.  Stiles left to be dressed in a suit the Hales had made for him, a charcoal grey suit with Hale red tie and handkerchief.  They fed him pizza as he coaxed Derek into the outfit they'd made for him.  Derek didn't like being out of his leather armor when he was in public.  He did his best to convince Derek that he would be safe even though he really didn't believe it himself.

He was ushered over to an anteroom off of the throne room.  He could hear the crowd inside buzzing.  The musicians started playing and Stiles walked out of the room in formation with members of the King's guard.  On the opposite side of the room Derek also walked in with members of the guard.  He looked so incredibly handsome and Stiles wished this could be a happy occasion for him.  He wanted to wrap his arms around Derek and hide his face in the crook of his neck.  He wanted to grab his hand and run away and never come back to any of this.  Erica and Lydia's words came back to him and he knew that wasn't an option.  He was responsible to something larger than himself now and he needed to act like it.  What he did would not just affect himself and Derek, it would affect the whole nation.

Stiles wasn't actually listening when the introductory speeches were made because his mind was buzzing with too much terror and he was just doing his best to not freak out.  He was in a room with the royal families and courtiers of two nations and they were all looking at him.  He completely missed his cue to step out into the center with Derek and only started moving forward after he was shoved by the handler assigned to him by Erica.  Derek was in public both smiling and in human face, something that hadn't happened in years.  He looked so happy.  The last thing Stiles wanted to do was hurt him, especially when he was so vulnerable.  Stiles felt a twist in his gut at what he was going to do next.

The Bishop came forward and began to bless the two of them and their engagement.  He went on about the glory of god and of country.  Stiles held up a hand and very loudly stated "Wait!"

The Bishop, broken out of his flow, blinked at Stiles.  "I'm sorry?"

"Stiles?" asked Prince Peter.  "What do you think you're doing?"

"I'm not sure I want this marriage," said Stiles.  "No one has asked me what I want."

Poor Derek looked like he'd been slapped across the face.

"Ultimately Stiles, you don't have a choice, you are a citizen of a country now controlled by the Wolf nation.  The only rights you have are those we choose to extend to you," said Peter gravely.

"I hear that a lot, but I think I do," said Stiles.  This caused Peter to raise an eyebrow at him.  "You don't really understand how the Internet works.  People no longer rely only on official channels for their information.  All I have to do is have a friend publicly post a video that I already created and uploaded saying that I am being forced into a marriage with the monstrous Wolf Nation Beast Prince.  This whole thing will blow up in your face.  It will ruin all of the goodwill you've worked so hard to create.  It will feed the resistance in the Argent nation against you.  It will cause other nations to view you as a threat.  It would even make the human members of the Wolf Nation question your intentions.  Are you ready to face all of that?"

Derek whined and Stiles felt him reach a hand over and clutch Stiles' jacket.  The look of condescension had completely left Peter's face.  He now regarded Stiles very seriously.  Behind him Stiles could see Erika's mouth turn up in a smirk.  Lydia's practiced face barely moved, but there was a fire in her eyes he didn't notice before.

"Well, well...the mouse that roared," said Prince Peter.  "What is it that you do want Stiles?"

"I want to be made regent of the Argent kingdom."

The room burst into noise.  Derek shifted to wolf face, stepped protectively in front of Stiles, and growled at Peter.  People from both nations were outraged.  Peter silenced them with the sweep a hand.

"Impossible.  The Argents cannot be removed, it would cause chaos."

Stiles furrowed his brow in thought.  Derek slowly stepped away from him and turned to look at him.  If Stiles' wasn't mistaken he could have sworn that Derek's eyes were full of fear.

"Alright, then I want to be made the ministers of energy and of economic development for both nations."

A confused look fell upon the faces of everyone in the room, none more so than his father.  Prince Peter and Erica were the only exceptions.  The prince looked highly amused.

"May I ask why?"

Stiles looked up at the assembled royals in front of him.  This was the scariest thing he could ever remember doing.  He tried imagining them in their underwear.  It didn't help much.

"While there might be racial tensions between werewolves and humans, the real reason we're always warring is the coal, oil, and natural gas resources in the lands that border our nations.  The thing is both nations have enough renewable resources that they don't need any of it.  Half of both nations has been destroyed and it will taken ten years or more to rebuild.  If we begin to develop our renewable resources and require that all new structures be built strictly so they are energy efficient and use less energy, we could be nearly weaned off of our petroleum based resources for energy in five years and completely off of them in ten.  Removing our dependence on the disputed energy sources removes the major impetus for future wars."

"Interesting," said Peter who no longer looking at him condescendingly.  He was considering Stiles very seriously.

"While the nations war, it's the small people who take the brunt of it.  They don't care who rules because they don't get a good deal either way.  Both nations have a war based economy so without war the economies of both nations suffer.  The current economic models of both nations focus on large centralized economic structures, which causes the fate of the nation to swing back and forth as those industries grow and shrink and the common people at the bottom are the ones that suffer.  Localized food and energy production, combined with local goods manufacturing, will create a more stable and healthy economy for all people and ultimately both nations.  It also creates more jobs and keeps wealth within the nations instead of spending it on exports."

Prince Peter had a broad smile across his face.  "Who are you Stiles Stilinski and how do you know these things?"

It was Stiles' turn to regard Peter seriously.  "I'm a librarian and we know things.  Swimming through information is what we do."

Now Lydia chose to smile.

"I'm also not becoming a werewolf.  By staying human, other humans will feel that they are being represented.  A human in the house of Hale will help maintain peace."

"I think that you and I are going to have some very interesting dinner conversations Stiles," said Peter with a smile.  "I'm certain that I could create some cabinet positions for you.  That is if you're still interested in joining the family?"

Stiles looked to Erica and then to Lydia, both of whom were smiling.  He looked over at his father who was staring at him with a pride and awe that he'd never seen before.  Then he turned to Derek who seemed to have stopped breathing awaiting his reply.

"Yeah...I think I'd like that."

Derek pulled him into a kiss that quickly become inappropriate for public consumption.  Stiles gently pushed him away and told him to wait until they were alone.  Peter then motioned for the Bishop to continue and the ceremony proceeded.  Afterward they moved into the Great Hall for the reception.  Despite what he had initially thought, he actually enjoyed the party, finding it very surreal to be making casual conversation with his King and Queen as if they were family friends.  Lydia congratulated him on his engagement, giving him a look that spoke volumes.  Erica squeezed his arm affectionately and whispered "We are having a serious conversation later" into his ear.

Stiles assured his father that he would be home that night, although very late, before allowing Derek to pull him away to his private chamber.  Once there, Derek pulled him close, swaying back and forth slightly as if slowly dancing to some unheard music.  When Derek kissed him this time it was slow, soft, and gentle.  It was a kiss that said they had all the time in the world.

Derek pushed Stiles back to look in his eyes, his face twisted in concentration.  His eyes seemed to look inward and he moved his jaw as if he was working the words forward in his mouth.

"You have your name...written across my heart."

Something inside of Stiles just clicked.  He was overwhelmed by an onslaught of emotions he didn't realize he was holding back.  Tears began to fall from Stiles' eyes.  He couldn't help it.  A flood of love, sorrow, and happiness washed over him, taking his resolve with them.  This time he was the one that pulled himself into Derek's arms.  Derek had become his other leg to stand on.  The reason he knew he was going to keep standing through everything that was to come.  Derek held him tight and brushed gentle kisses against his eyes.

"Derek...I'm yours."