A Beginning Note: Thanks so much for everyone's support! Sorry this is so late to the first posting. Enjoy!
The House of Wolves
Part II - The Merging
Derek Hale usurped the crazy King Peter who had slaughtered the true heir Laura or, more personally precise, Derek's sister. The Hale house was one of noble and old blood, dating back from the crazies that lived in the north were Winter never ended and the months were known by amounts of snowfall.
They took the sigel of the massive dire wolf, as they were literally part of the creatures themselves. It is still unknown whether they came from the wolves themselves, or if they were just all steeped in magic enough for the strongest, who they deemed true leaders (and so true kings), to transform at will.
They were the strongest on the full moon, which was also on their crest. A bright white moon with a blood-red swirl (and done in true blood if it was made in their homeland), the end of it having the snarling head of a dire wolf. Their house words weren't even words, just the one-word command of: Howl.
Stiles knew they were secretive people, who disliked coming out from the shadows of mountains they dwelled beneath and traveled along. These people were truly part of the past. With their oddly democratic ways in such a rugged condition, they were a special tribe indeed. One that supplied kings for centuries, or, at least supplying kings to overthrow any other clan when an unworthy leader was elected. For being so reclusive, they sure loved to dawdle in the kingdom's affairs.
It was yet to be seen whether Derek was a true leader or not, as he had been unwillingly forced into the situation. Forced to come out of the forest he'd chosen over the city, only for the city to sink its claws and pull him howling back. The youngest of his family, destined for nothing of excellence, only to have his family slaughtered and him put in the forefront. He had lived up to the swirl of vengeance on his house's sign and had destroyed the woman who had destroyed his pack, but Stiles knew it still must hurt. How else could he have perfected that brooding aura so fast?
Maybe that was the motivation for his sudden declaration one morning, as Stiles threw a shirt over those shoulders that could carry mountains (or at least large livestock). The shirt quickly covered the three-pronged swirl that coated his back, and Stiles had always wondered (ever since that first night when the idiot king had just stripped with no warning) what it meant.
"I am returning to the north and you are coming."
Stile gaped at his cotton-clad back. After a few minutes of just allowing his mouth to disconnect and lay on the floor, he blurted: "You're abducting-"
"Not permanently," he said with a huff and knock to Stiles' head that had the younger one biting back tears. As if sensing his misuse of strength, Derek patted him awkwardly where he'd just hit him as he said, "Just to return and see how the tribe is holding."
"Oh, right. Of course." Even if all his immediate family was killed here at the capital, Derek hypothetically had hundreds of brothers and sisters to guard.
"You have still not agreed," Derek said with his eyes returning to that eerie blue as he took a step forward. Panicking, Stiles went to the breakfast tray and pushed a slice of bread into Derek's mouth. The wolf looked mildly offended before he simply began chewing.
"Of course I'll come. I mean, why wouldn't I not want to freeze my non-existant ass off?" Stiles answered as he helped himself to some bread as well, taking the time to smear it with blackberry jam. Really, it tasted like there was more sugar than berry, but it was delicious non-the-less.
Derek gave out an exhale of relief. Then he took the tray from Stiles before he could continue to rob him of his meal. The king took it out to the balcony that overlooked the sea and Stiles followed, if only for the food.
"The wolves will be giving birth soon," Derek said after they'd sat, and Stiles nearly choked on his slice of tangerine at the smile. He didn't even think Derek had the ability to smile, just as he'd originally thought he couldn't even speak.
"I intend to bring a litter back," Derek continued to speak without prompting, which was nearly as odd as his smile.
"My Dad isn't enough protection?" Stiles ventured to ask.
"I need more of my pack with me. It is too small here," Derek said. Stiles wondered if he could even consider himself alone as a pack, but his arms probably weighed as much as Stiles, so hey. Let the man think of himself as more than just a singular unit.
"And my Erica is having pups this season. Her first," Derek said with so much pride it made Stiles gag on another slice of citrus. That was the only reason of course, not because Derek had already sired children.
Of course this guy was already going about spreading his sexiness - why wouldn't he? It wasn't like he was the king and had the right to fuck whoever he wanted. It was practically expected to have at least a few bastards scampering around the kingdom; double points if it was out of the capital.
Sure, the guy could get down with whoever he wanted. Not that Stiles was volunteering or anything, even if there wasn't the threat of bastards through him and - dammit!
Stiles decided that instead of just ignoring the problem until it went away like usual, he would attempt to drown it with food. So, ignoring Derek's twitching nose and inquisitive eyebrows as he inhaled more than what was considered healthy, Stiles ate on.
It took roughly a fortnight before Derek was let go of the diplomatic hold that came from being the sole ruler of a vast kingdom. Yet Stiles cajoled the council into releasing them from the walled city. He could only manage to wrestle ten days from them and then an additional six days for travel there and back, but it was good enough. Derek had growled in warning at the short time, his claws making a guest appearance, but Stiles had talked him down from murdering anyone that day. Stiles thought it was the first time the council saw him as truly important.
So it was decided that Stiles' father would stay behind to take control of mobilizing the forces, if it should come to that, and for half the Kings guard to remain behind. Stiles had explained that if it was a secret holiday, there wasn't need for much protection. And if there was too much it would attract attention and it wouldn't be very secretive anymore.
After coming away from another diplomatic battle won, Stiles groaned at the thought of the long ride ahead. Sure, he could ride a horse, but that didn't make him so special to not get saddle sores.
Not that he had a choice, and Derek looked so relieved to be out of the walls when they left in the dead of night that Stiles bit his tongue to stop whining. Derek always hated it when he did it, regardless of the situation.
So their little company of eight rode into the night with just their packs, horses and each other to rely on. It was invigorating; Stiles hadn't been out of the city for years. After his mother died, who was the one who always prompted them to get out of the gloom and into the countryside, his father had immersed himself in work and Stiles had immersed himself in appeasing his curiosity. Making connections and understanding the city inside and out had become Stiles' life. It was a little disarming to be riding away from it all in the blanket of a dark night, where he couldn't see a damn thing past his horse's head. Good thing he trusted Derek to lead with his flashing blue eyes aside of him.
The travel was fine for the first couple of days. They had decided, to avoid any outside contact, to only travel on the roads at night, and even those were side ones, never the main ones. They kept their cloaks up at all times, not to say that it could truly hide how armored the other six men with them were underneath.
Dawn had just come to signal the third day when the Argents attacked.
It happened just as Derek commanded they to tie and rest the horses. Stiles patted his own, who seemed a lot more fit than the other seven's from his light weight. Who knew being thin could be helpful in situations outside of squeezing through the sewers. He stroked her bare back comfortingly before handing her a bite of apple.
The arrows came first, just after they had dismounted and the knights were taking off their armor. Stiles could have sworn his heart had leaped into his mouth as he watched one spear into Derek's chest with a dull thud. Yet the wolfman only growled before snapping it off. Obviously it had missed its target of Derek's heart.
Another volley came as quickly as the first, and Stiles had just enough time to cower behind the pine he had tied his horse to before any hit him. Not that any really came close; he wondered if they even saw him. Or maybe he was just never a threat - ouch. At least it didn't hurt as the arrow bedded in Derek's chest.
Then men were sprouting from the forest to meet those who had survived the arrows, their silver swords shining in the soft dawn light. He saw their trademark bows made of antlers at their hips, their hawk-feathered tips arrows peeking out from the quivers at their backs. He had seen Allison practice with weaponry like that for years, and he suddenly thought how stupid it was of him to tell Scott about his upcoming get-away.
Stiles had just managed to throw himself on the horse in time to look up and see Derek alone, standing off against three vetran-looking hunters, two dozen others behind. The six men from the guard littered around, their mouths and eyes wide as they stared up at the lighting sky.
"This is a vacation!" Stiles grumbled to himself angrily before he spurred his mare forward, grabbing her mane and squeezing his legs tight as she reared forward to catch the hunters off guard.
Derek seemed to know at least when to fight his battles as he leaped on the horse before kicking her away, leaving the hunters to switch from their swords to bows. Stiles tried to focus on riding and not the arrows speeding by, of another sick thud of an arrow finding flesh.
"Derek-" he said as he tried to turn around, feeling the warm blood that had already soaked through Derek's tunic and was probably staining Stiles' own now.
"Ride," he snarled out the order.
And that's what Stiles did, because if he wanted anything more, it was to get the fuck out of there. He rode throughout the day in the forest, too afraid to even turn around and see if the Argents were following. All he focused on was the horsehair in his hands and the man behind him whose grip on his torso to hold on had become weaker and weaker as the day passed.
It was just when he'd come upon a stream for the overworked, foaming-at-the-mouth horse to rest and drink when Derek slid off and fell to the ground with a sickening thud.
"Derek!" Stiles said as he jumped off and let the horse go to the water, choosing to ignore how its back was now painted red.
The dark-haired man was still breathing, but barely. Stiles wondered what he should do; all he had were the clothes he was wearing and a horse without a saddle. He hadn't dared waste time with gathering supplies and they would have weighted them down. All he knew was just to keep riding in the direction they'd been going, to hopefully get to Derek's land before he keeled over and died. Well, he had only done half of that so far, so maybe things weren't all that bad.
At least, that was until he had to drag his body to the stream and pull out the arrows. Stiles had heard the second arrow hit his back as they'd rode away, but as he held it in hand, it felt so surreal. That Derek had gotten shot twice and was still alive, albeit barely. Yet it was odd that he'd seemed nearly unaffected by the first arrow, yet this second one had done so much damage. It could only be wolfsbane. Bastards.
Taking out the arrows woke him up momentarily, if only to howl out in a mixture of pain and annoyance, before he was out again.
"There we go- not too bad right? Just pulling out some sharp objects imbedded in yourself."
Derek only gave a weak growl, but Stiles would take it.
Stiles busied himself with cleaning the wound before tearing off the sleeves of his tunic to create bandages. Gashes in his hand were nothing compared to arrows inches deep; he wondered if he could heal from these as quickly. It didn't exactly help that the moon was only half full tonight, even if it was waxing.
"Of course nothing we could do could just go freaking right. No, your arch enemies had to know about it and go fucking kill six of my Dad's men. Man, he's going to be so pissed about this. If he finds out, because, well shit, it's not like we have a raven to send or anything. Great, so I'm abandoned with a dying king and a blood-stained horse. Fan-freaking-tastic."
Spotting a cave at the rocks, he grunted and pulled Derek to the overhanging. He knew night would be setting in, and they were too sparsely dressed to go anywhere, especially with the miles they had covered to bring them even closer to the eternal winter up here. While the snow littering around helped ice Derek's wounds and Stile's sore body from riding without a saddle and without stopping, it wouldn't help keep them warm.
Stiles knew he shouldn't fall asleep, even if Derek's body heat eliminated the threat of dying from the cold. Really, this man could market himself as a heater and not a king. Yet the teen was so tired from riding for nearly a days time without sleep and with only a handful of berries. Derek was the one who caught the fish when they came to a river like this.
No sooner had Stiles been trying to entertain his mind to keep him awake, he was snapped to attention by something wet against his neck. Then a warm puff of air and a rough tongue.
His first sleep-and-sanity-deprived instinct was that it was Derek, so he giggled and said, "Down boy!"
Yet the growl that he was answered with sounded a lot more animatistic than Derek ever did. So, telling himself to just breathe and to not tense and think of running (because like hell he could just throw Derek over his shoulder, no matter the adrenaline) he opened his eyes, only to peer into clear brown ones. Ones belonging to a golden wolf of Stile's height and probably thrice the weight.
Stiles let out a very manly, high-pitched yelp that had the wolf's ears flattening and Derek groggily groaning aside of him.
At the sound of Derek waking up, the wolf perked up and went to him, and it was then that Stiles saw the swollen belly of the wolf. Definitely at least four times Stiles' weight.
As if it wasn't enough of a miracle that Derek had woken up after being shot with a no-doubt wolfsbane laced arrow, he was smiling and reaching up to rustle the wolf's ears as it nuzzled him in return. They continued this for a few tender moments, literally cooing at each other in a way that made Stiles want to puke, before the wolf turned away and let out an ear-shattering howl that had Stiles flailing and trying to remember how hearing worked.
Soon there was a mini-wolf army of five framing the river, two others sniffing and playfully yipping at his horse that had somehow decided to stay. And before Stiles could say anything Derek was standing and hobbling over to the largest one.
Derek threw a leg over it, a silver one with black eyes, with a grunt and grimace. Stiles attempted to do the same, but the white wolf took pity on him and simply crouched down for him to get situated and a good hold of the pelt.
"Derek, what is-" Stiles tried to ask, because this was all so truly bizarre, but then the wolves were off and he was fighting to stay on. It was nothing like riding a horse, here he was too terrified to hold on tightly in fear of upsetting the wolf, yet petrified of being thrown off with the breakneck speed.
Thankfully it didn't last for long, and soon Stiles was shouldered off by the wolf to tumble on the ground before an impressive looking shaman. He had the skull of a wolf atop his head, shadowing his painted and weathered face, while a coat of raven feathers draped down his back.
"Young one," he said in a deep voice, "You have brought Derek Hale before use, injured but alive."
Stiles licked his lips nervously as he watched Derek, who was still on his wolf and flanked by that original golden one, enter into a tent. The flaps closed and he looked back to the man.
"W-We were attacked," he stuttered to say. "I did the only thing I could think of and took De-His Highness and rode in your direction."
The shaman contemplated him in silence.
"Please don't kill me," Stiles squeaked as he rubbed his hands together, trying to will his shaking away. But night had descended and he was cold and all these reflective eyes studying him was not the most warming sight. He missed Derek and his crazy body heat.
Yet the shaman said nothing else, only inclined his head. Two men came forward and Stiles still had enough energy to go along with them without collapsing in relief. He wasn't taken to the same tent Derek was in, and Stiles ignored the spike of worry in his stomach from realizing he would have to wait until the morning. And how for the first time since being enlisted by Derek, he wouldn't be sleeping in the same room. It wasn't like he worried about Derek's protection, as was the reason back in the city, but- Stiles sighed.
What a mess.
Stiles twisted and turned in the bed he was given. Despite how soft it was of rabbit and deer pelts, he could not sleep. At times he could have sworn he heard Derek cry out, and wondered just how much poison had leaked into his system. He knew the first arrow that'd pierced him had been a regular one, but that second one aimed when they'd been retreating. That was one had been specialty made for the king.
Eventually Stiles did fall asleep, for he awoke at the first rays of light from a horn being blown. He scrambled to stand and dress, finding some clothing provided. He was grateful; he wasn't looking wear a tunic stained with blood all down the back and leggings that were worn to the point of tearing from riding without a saddle. Yet he found, with slight chagrin, that there was no shirt provided. Just some sort of fur vest made of what looked like fox. It was big and warm, but really, wouldn't his hands get cold? At least there were pockets...
Deciding to bear it, he left dressed in the deer skin tights, the fashion-statement vest, and beaver-skin boots. If these people were anything, they were resourceful. With his new dress, it wasn't too hard to blend into the throngs of people going this way and that throughout the collection of tents.
Recognizing the tent Derek had gone into, Stiles made a beeline for it, only to stop at the burly men at the entrance.
"I have a right to see him! I saved his life, why would I go and kill him now?" Stiles asked, yet the two men only gave him quizzical looks before whispering to each other in a language Stiles did not entirely recognize. Of course, they didn't know the common tongue.
At the voice, even if it sounded death-threatening, Stiles' chest rose with hope. The men took that as a signal to let him enter, and when Stiles came in, he winced at the smell of death.
"Derek?" he ventured to ask as he looked around and spotted him covered in furs, and that golden wolf with those intense brown eyes rimmed with black. It's muzzle lined with red, and Stiles realized it'd probably just eaten and that was only blood. Oh yes, only blood on a vicious creature that could snap his neck without batting an eyelash.
"Hi there, pretty girl? You're absolutely glowing you should know- pure gold! How far along are you; you're pretty tubby honestly," Stiles babbled.
As if she could understand him, she growled low and bared her fangs to him.
"Those are, uh, equally as shiny, too. What a catch you must have been for the father of your pups," Stiles continued to speak blankly as he made his way closer to her and Derek. Not for the first time, his common sense was screaming about how much of an idiot he was.
As if deciding it was finally time to speak, Derek said weakly: "Erica, it's ok."
The wolf gave a high keening sound as it turned away from Stiles to lick at Derek's face.
Stiles came as close as he could before sitting on the ground where the bed heaps of furs that must constitute as the bed was. He coughed and felt embarrassed at the reveal that this was Erika.
"So... this is Erica? So you're the lucky one who caught this little lady?"
"I didn't catch her... she came to me. Long ago-" Derek broke off as he coughed and blood came up.
"When are your puppies due?" Stiles asked, wondering if he talked about it more, maybe it would make it less awkward. And wrong. He had heard gossips whisper about how they mounted wolves here, but he hadn't honestly believed it! This was why his stomach was twisting uncomfortably - not for any other reason. Nope.
"What?" Derek snapped and sat up in a flurry that had Erica wagging her tail to. "Don't be an idiot. She is my wolf, my sister in spirit."
"Oh, of course," Stiles said in utter embarrassment.
"We are not so backwards as to mount our own blood," Derek snarled.
"I-I'm sorry, alright? It's just - you don't have a queen yet and you were talking about her before as if she was your, uh, gal. So she's your wolf?"
Derek snorted, and Stiles sat up straighter at the comforting sound. "You are just as incredibly stupid as you are keen," he said.
"I should punch you for that insult."
"I'd like to see you try."
"Because you aren't lying on your back like an old person-" Stiles began, but got cut off as Erica made her presence known again with a growl. "Ok, I'll give this one to your pregnant sister."
Derek chuckled weakly before he doubled over with another cough, although this one didn't seem as bad as the one Stiles had first heard. Not realizing it until he was doing it, Stiles reached forward to card his fingers through Derek's hair. Yet before he could, Erica nipped at Stiles' wrist and made him retract his fingers with a frown.
"Erica," Derek said in warning and the wolf whined.
"You don't have to be jealous about me or anything, if that's the problem," Stiles said to the wolf. "It's not like I'm actually somebody in this world. Just a regular human, no freaky wolf powers or high-born honors or-"
"What? It's all true! Sure my Dad commands the kings guard, but I haven't done anything-"
"You saved me, the king. Again."
"Well, when you say it like that and not how I just hauled your ass on a horse like a coward for a day, then sure."
"I could not have defeated hunters with the amount of wolfsbane they carried. You saved me," Derek said as he breathed deeply.
Stiles looked down at his twitching fingers. What was he supposed to say in response to the king praising Stiles, nobody Stiles, for saving his life?
It only took until the end of the first day before Derek was up. True, he had to lean either against Erica or Stiles (refusing help from anyone else) but he was still up and about. Not that he truly had to be, as that night a feast was held.
Stiles sat at Derek's left with Erica to his right, each gorging themselves on respected dishes. Stiles noticed that they had respected him enough to cook his meat, while everyone else ate it raw. True, it was bloody raw, but at least it was cooked. It made Stiles feel oddly humbled and honored to be in the company of these people.
Sure, they looked terrifying with their swirling tattoos and fanged smirks while speaking in a language Stile didn't know one word to, but they seemed true at heart. All the strength to support their nature-raised morals.
There was much dancing, and Stiles watched in fascination at the stomping patterns and how woman would be chosen and then flung into the air before being whisked away. Stiles would hear howls in the pines nearby and he blushed as the remaining crowd cheered.
Then suddenly it was as quiet as it had been loud, as the shaman who had met Stiles before came out from the crow. All eyes were suddenly on either him, or Stiles. The teen himself looked to Derek, who inclined his head to the shaman.
Stumbling to his feet, rubbing his suddenly slick with sweat palms against his vest, Stiles walked forward to the old man. He was pleasantly surprised when Derek came to stand by his side, his arms crossed behind his bare chest below his three-pronged tattoo.
The shaman began to speak for the crowd in their foreign language and Stiles bit his lip in worry.
"He is saying of your greatness for assisting in saving me," Derek whispered aside to him, causing Stiles to jump and blush at the close proximity he hadn't been fully aware of.
"Uh, tell him it was my honor? It's in the job description?"
Derek snorted before his deep voice rumbled out an answer for the crowd, who again let out cries and cheers. The shaman spoke again, and suddenly it was deadly quiet.
"What? Was my joke really not funny?" Stiles asked in hurried worry.
"No, it's just..." Derek broke off to shake his black hair and chuckle; "You have been given the high honor of first pick of the first liter born this spring."
"Is-Is it really that high?"
"Reserved for the leaders and on rare occasion their mates."
"Oh, uh... well then. How do you say thank you?"
Stiles is sure he butchered the word, but the shaman still gave a slight smile before he walked off back into the night and the celebrations continued.
No sooner had the sun broken was Stiles woken and led to the largest tent, where he entered to see two couples of wolves with pups playing at their paws. Derek lead him over to the mother. She was pure black and had deep-blue eyes; the father that of a light grey with his chest and paws a snowy white. He studied Stiles carefully with auburn eyes before flicking his ears and going back to sleep.
"Hello there, gorgeous," Stiles said as he lifted a hand and offered his palm for the mother to sniff. She had warm eyes that reminded Stiles of his mother and he had to bite back tears. She smelled him quietly and gave a light lick to his wrist before she too flopped down, her muzzle huffing air into her mate's lighter fur.
"So I have permission?" Stiles asked as he looked across to Derek who had squatted aside of him.
"Yes. Not that it wouldn't have been a problem, but a mother does know best for her pups," Derek said as Erica nuzzled his neck.
"So, uh, your wolf is the third pregnant one?" Stiles asked as he looked to the puppies asleep against the black wolf's belly. They all seemed so small, especially when put against the massive size of their mother.
"Yes, Erica is due any day now," he said as he rubbed her ears.
"So, where's her mate?"
"It is unknown. She was very picky I'm told, making the males fight among each other ruthlessly. But then one night she stalked off and the suitors backed off, knowing she had chosen."
"If I wasn't so certain you had been in the capital, I would be wary of you."
Derek shot him with a glower that made the teen laugh and backtrack with, "It was a joke! Stop being such a sour wolf!"
"I am not-"
But Derek's retort went unsaid, replaced with the cry of a one of the puppies at the sight of visitors, instantly awaking his brothers and sisters who jumped at the sight.
Before Stiles could do anything, he was surrounded by five balls of varying hair color. Cooing, he began petting and talking babble with them.
"Go on, pick one," Derek said from his side as he nudged him in the shoulder with his forehead. Stiles saw out of his corner something like a smile on his stubbly face, but that might just be the angle. Because even if he'd seen him smile while talking about Erica, Stiles was still in denial.
It was as if his closer proximity to Derek made the puppies wary of Stiles, for they shrunk back to their mother. Or, at least four of the five did.
Stiles looked down to see one was still chewing at his beaver-skinned boots vigorously. Derek growled warningly for him to stop, but the young one only looked up before giving a high-pitched growl of his own. The black mother wolf gave a growl and that finally got the puppy to let go of the boot and slouch away a few inches, his tongue coming out to lick his lips. His eyes remained on Stiles' footwear, as if its continued existence offended the little ball of fur.
"Who are you?" Stiles asked as he reached forward for the pup, who wouldn't stop squirming for a moment. Then he saw Stile's grinning face and favored to try chewing off his ear rather than his boot.
Stiles almost felt guilty for not having noticed this one as much as its siblings. It had an washed-out auburn coat with bright silver eyes while the tips of its ears, muzzle and chest were snowy white, just like his father's.
The teen had thought he'd known love from Lady Lydia, but this was another thing entirely. This was love at first sight.
"You're just precious, aren't you?" Stiles said like a seasoned mother as he cradled the wolf closer, rubbing noses with it. The pup gave a playful yip before clamping down on offered nose.
Biting down tears, and laughing because Derek was growling and the parents were watching with wagging tails, Stiles knew this was the one.
Once the pup had given Stiles back his nose, Derek stood and guided Stiles with a hand on his back to the front of the tent. The pup still nestled cozily against Stiles' chest; for once he was thankful for only a vest, so he could feel the pup's fur directly and hear its little heartbeat.
"He has chosen!" Derek said after they'd emerged, and Stiles looked up in shock to see a modest size crowd before them. He hadn't noticed them; he and his pup had been too busy studying each other.
Understandably, the dire wolf pup had to stay with his mother for the next few days until Stiles could take him entirely for himself. In the meantime, he busied himself with sewing a large pocket in his vest, so he could hold his wolf against his chest.
Derek snorted as he rested against Erica's belly and rubbed at her golden waves of fur.
"He's going to overgrow that in a weeks time," he informed.
"Then it will be useful for a weeks time," Stiles said as he smiled, realizing the dire wolf would probably never cease licking his chin at this prime position.
Derek grunted before he sat up, and Stiles didn't miss the wince.
"Were you really that injured?" he asked hesitantly as he put his needle down.
"No," Derek snapped too quickly.
"You really almost died, didn't you?" Stiles asked in horror.
"But I didn't," Derek growled, as if that was the end of the conversation.
Stiles shook his head. "Ever wonder what it'd be like if you'd just killed me that day, if you hadn't realized how useful I could be? Run the council here, save your life there. All in a day's work for Stiles the Ever Gracious Manservant."
"I smelled it right away."
"What? How I'd nearly pissed myself in fear? You do realize it was hundreds of feet if you'd dropped me when dragging me in?"
"Good to know you were aware of that as you put yourself in that precarious position," Derek snorted. "And no. I smelled your innocence."
"I would have favored the piss," Stiles grumbled as he began sewing again.
Derek rolled his green eyes before scoffing out, "You misunderstand."
"So you're telling me you can smell how a person is? That you could smell I'm really a good person and not some slimy spy?"
"And I can smell your annoyance now at being called 'innocent,'" Derek said with fanged smirk.
"You are insufferable," Stiles grumbled. "I don't even understand why you brought me here."
"Uh, cause I was born and raised in a city? I only know a handful of words in your language now, and I'm nothing like those in your tribe? I'm not really one of rippling muscles or fangs or even a hairy body," Stiles listed off.
"You have the same honest place of heart."
"Well that just makes everything, doesn't it?"
"It's why I didn't let you drop to that ocean below," Derek said calmly.
Stiles sighed; this conversation was giving him a headache. How was he supposed to react to Derek literally introducing him to his family and expecting him to just integrate without a problem. Sometimes Derek wasn't such a sourwolf. Stiles supposed he could be an optomist. And if Stiles was honest, things were going well. This was the first time since Derek's return, and at least they hadn't murdered him for his murdering of his uncle. Yet they must smelled and known the truth when Peter had visited. That had resulted in him being disowned.
Disowned by his own tribe; that must have been the last straw for his sanity and the last step for Kate to gain her hold on the kingdom.
But truly, Stiles couldn't understand what Derek's motives were for bringing him here. True, he helped Derek, from showing him how to tie the southern-style boots to balancing the budget, but Stiles was replaceable. He was just a boy only his father and Scott and maybe a few others would truly miss.
Here he was, being given the highest honor of a dire wolf for doing his duty. He wasn't even married into this clan, yet they acted as if he was-
Stiles stopped his stitching as he felt his cheeks bloom in red. An honor reserved for leaders and their mates. Mates. Mates. What if they did think that he and Derek were- were-
"Stiles. You just stabbed yourself with your needle."
At Derek's voice, he snapped to attention, and did realize he'd impaled himself on the implement. Cursing, he brought it out and sucked away the blood, ignoring how Derek had probably been studying him the entire time.
Really, what was he willing to accomplish with this trip? It's not like he had to impress Stiles (he'd seen Derek shirtless so many times he'd lost count).
"Come, it's time for grooming," Derek ordered as he sat up and motioned for Erica to leave.
The wolf huffed in Stile's face before moving aside on the bed and creating room for Stiles. Making his way over, Stiles gingerly positioned himself behind Derek.
"No, not tonight," Derek said as he twirled his finger, indicating for Stiles to turn around.
"Um, no it's-"
"Alright," he said before gulping loudly. Turning, he sat still and waited.
He shivered as Derek's rough fingers touched his shoulders, moving to slip off his fox-fur vest that Stiles had grown accustomed to these past few days. Stiles felt oddly stripped as he sat, half-naked, with his back and neck vulnerable to Derek.
Derek started at Stiles' shoulders, first working the muscles (because yes, Stiles may not be ripped like the men of the Hale House, but he had something) before bringing out his claws and scratching at his skin.
In what he knew must have been only minutes, Stiles felt like melted butter as he moved to lie on his stomach and let Derek have his way with him.
Soon he moved to his cropped-cut hair, his claws easily picking through the dark strands.
"I feel so spoiled," Stiles said, remembering how to talk.
"And here I thought I'd finally found a way to shut you up," Derek sighed.
Stiles gave a laugh that sounded like it belonged to a drunkard. Although, he did feel quite drunk on the warmth from Derek's close body, the pelts beneath him, and Erica's sleeping body aside of him.
"I could always just fall asleep," Stiles mumbled.
"Then why don't you do that?" Derek said against his ear, and Stiles nearly giggled at the feeling of Derek's nose rubbing against his neck.
Stiles gave a final sigh before doing just that.
They ended up staying the designated ten days. Stiles offered to help with the wolves during birthing, as apparently the men of the tribe were not allowed, and there never were enough women offering to help. Maybe it was the fear of hurting the wolves they so revered, or maybe it was their teeth that seemed to lash out in their annoyance at having to give birth.
Maybe it was humiliating to do something like that, but Stiles liked it. Not in the blood and teeth too close for comfort, but knowing he was being useful. And he knew Derek appreciated it when he was with Erica, telling her calming words while she brought four new, little lives into the world. At least with Stiles the wolf knew she couldn't bite his head off. Although she had tried.
This year marked the birth of thirteen new wolves into the pack, including the one Stiles had chosen. It was a very good year, Derek told him as he surveyed Erica and her pups. The golden wolf looked proud of her children, despite how she had no mate to help her.
The entire tribe gathered together in celebration after Erica, the last of the three, had given birth. She had given birth on the full moon, and it was such a celebration that even outlying wolf-people came. Despite how they usually were split and nomadic, they had collected to honor their dire wolves' births and Derek's visit.
The tribe seemed larger than their truly small numbers then, and Stiles wondered on how they were always the one supplying the kings. Obviously they were loyal and hardworking, and strong to an unhuman degree. It common belief it was from the land they so intimately lived off of, and their strong bonds with the dire wolves. It was the ways of the past, a life almost everyone had discarded for luxury.
Stiles could see it was not gilded or glamorous, but it was still raw with beauty. He, irrationally, hoped this would not be the last time he would see this place and its people.
Yet soon he knew he had to tell Derek it was time for their return, and it was time for the tribe to move on again. They had been at this place too long apparently; they needed to pack up their tents to find a new place to stay for a day before leaving there as well. Life as a nomadic sounded romantic, but too exhausting for Stiles.
Before Stiles knew it, and wanted to leave honestly, he was back on his horse with his pup in his vest. Derek was on a horse too, a woven basket holding Erica's four pups, yelping and squirming inside. The golden wolf trotted at their side, and Derek reached over to run a hand down her back and pull her tail playfully. She responded by nipping at his horse, making it start into a run.
Yet they hadn't gone a mile before Derek made the horse stop. Taking in a deep breath, he let out a howl that seemed to shake Stiles down to his bones. Erica followed next, and then surprisingly Stiles' own.
Derek looked at him expectantly and Stiles sighed.
"You cannot honestly want me to howl."
The glare continued; clearly Derek did.
So, hoping he wouldn't embarrass himself too much, Stiles leaned back and let loose what he supposed was a howl. By the look on Derek's face, it was more like a cat being strangled.
It seemed to get the pups in the basket at Derek's lap to attempt howls as well, though. That made Erica wag her tail a few times before setting the pace again.
As Stiles watched the pines whip by and felt his quickly growing wolf nuzzle against his collarbone, he smiled and couldn't help but laugh. Wait till he got back and told his Father and Scott about this trip.