Disclaimer: I do not own Teen Wolf. Go ahead, rub it in.
Warning: slash, slight violence

In steps
or How Stiles Became a Werewolf and Learned to Love the Alpha

For some reason Stiles imagines biting into raw meat to be like biting into a juicy apple. He imagines the satisfying feel of the tear and the silky pool of blood in his mouth. Those are the thoughts that guide him, racing on all fours through the woods and away from the town and the new alpha. Those thoughts fill his mind when he spots a deer and jumps him like his life depends on it and, in his mind, it does.

Stiles is convinced it's the shock that snaps him out of his transformation. It's the unexpected feel of rough skin and hair scratching on his tongue, the pull of stringy, raw meat between his teeth. It's because he doesn't expect the blood to gush out of the animal in waves, tick both in texture and taste. It fills his mouth so suddenly, drowning him. That is what makes the claws and the fangs retract and leaves him kneeling next to the animal, examining the damage.

There's no doubt the deer is dead. Its neck is broken and lies at an odd angle bringing the head around to face Stiles who looks down on the empty eyes that don't look back. There's a gash in its side and Stiles can see a couple of ribs poking out, broken, and a piece of flesh dangling, not quite torn off. The pool of blood beneath them grows and soaks into Stiles' dress pants and for a wild moment he panics about explaining the blood to his father.

He hears leaves shuffling and he's not entirely sure how far they are but then strong arms grab him and drag him away from the gruesome sight. He stays on the ground, lying on his back, and looks up at who he knows could only be Derek Hale, if the scent, muscle and red eyes are anything to go by.

"What did you do?" Derek barks at him.

"Hey, Derek."

"You're a werewolf." And it sounds like an accusation and that's really something considering Derek's been one his whole life. He's tempted to say something but keeps quiet because what Derek just said made this whole thing way more real and way more permanent in Stiles' mind.

"What happened?" Derek snaps into the silence.

"I rolled around naked in mud on the full moon. What do you think happened!" he snaps back. Suddenly, there's anger in Stiles and he's not sure who it's for. He thinks it might be for Scott who went on to save Derek and left Stiles dealing with Peter. He thinks it might be for Derek as well, for getting himself caught in the first place.

"Show me the bite."

"There's nothing left." he says but rolls up the torn, bloody sleeve of his shirt and lifts his arm for Derek to see. Only Derek's not looking, he's sniffing.

He's still holding Stiles' arm when he speaks. "I'm the alpha now." and he looks like that's really important for Stiles to understand and Stiles is not an idiot, he does understand. He hears the unspoken invitation but he's not sure what his answer is going to be just yet.

"Yeah, I know. I was there." he gets up and makes a show of dusting himself off even though it's a lost cause, he's all torn up and bloody anyway. "I should probably get going now, gotta clean up before my dad gets home."

By some miracle, Stiles manages to avoid Derek for the next couple of weeks. That is until there's a new addition to Derek's pack in the form of an abused high schooler by the name of Isaac Lahey. Stiles doesn't exactly plan on meeting Isaac any time soon but then things happen, people get killed, Isaac gets locked away, hunters are sent in and suddenly Stiles is in the middle of the mess. He always is, mind you, it's like his state appointed job.

So that's why his on his ass, back to the wall when Isaac tackles the hunter. Stiles can hear a sickening crack and crunch of bone breaking and it seems the hunter probably won't be walking any time soon. He has little time to think about the hunter, though, because at that moment he realizes Isaac doesn't seem to be satisfied. He turns to Stiles after the hunter is incapacitated, wolfed out and ready to pounce. Wolfing out isn't something Stiles has managed to control very well over the past weeks but the instinct to survive guides him.

That is until Derek shows up, roaring at Isaac like a gorilla. Even though the roar isn't turned on Stiles, he can feel it going bone deep, like a genetic instruction that has him dragging his nails over the concrete and balling his hands into fists. Even if Derek isn't his alpha, hierarchy is apparently a big think for werewolves. Stiles looks at the cowering boy on the floor and is torn between feeling grateful for not having to confront him himself or feeling bad for Isaac. Is this what being beta means, obeying the alpha's every growl?

It doesn't get much better after that. With both Scott and Stiles refusing to join the pack, Derek decides to go beta shopping. Add to that a geriatric psychopath and a giant homicidal lizard man and things couldn't get much worse, right? That's what Stiles sticks to until he's face to face with the lizard with only Derek between them and Erica on the floor, out cold.

Stiles has learned to feed on his fears and that's why he's already crouching and ready to attack when he feels a hand on his chest resolutely pushing him back. He has no time to react, thought, there's a flash, slash, a drop of blood and Derek's on the floor. There's no second thought before Stiles hooks his arms under Derek's armpits and hauls him up. 200 pounds of paralyzed werewolf meat is nothing, he keeps telling himself, but he still needs Scott here.

They're nothing more than a tangle of limbs as Stiles tries to find his phone so naturally, and no amount of supernatural power is ever going to be enough to help him, he slips. One slip of the finger to send the phone crashing to the floor and one slip of his feet to send both Derek and him into the pool. The water is freezing and Derek's wet clothes are pulling him to the bottom. Just like that, Stiles knows it's gonna be a long night.

"How are you this hot!? Jesus, it's like you're running a fever." A little water in his mouth never stopped Stiles from talking, why should it start now.

"Alphas run on temperatures higher than other werewolves. Or humans." he adds as an afterthought. It always surprises Stiles how ready Derek is to give information. He half expects a grunt, at best, most of the time.

"I feel like I'm holding a furnace." He doesn't expect an answer and instead scans the surroundings for any sign of the lizard, but he's surprised yet again.

"I feel like I don't feel anything from the neck down!" If snappish is the name of the game, Stiles is totally in.

"You're not missing much, trust me, besides the amazing feel of hypothermia."

"Well I actually don't trust you so there's always that." Stiles is silent for a moment after that. While he didn't think he had Derek's full trust, to have Derek say he didn't trust him at all didn't exactly leave him indifferent.

"I thought we saved each other's lives enough times to earn a bit of trust. Also, please note that I'm the one keeping you alive when I could be leaving you to drown or get killed by a large lizard monster while I promptly save my own ass!" Any bitterness in his voice that might have been there in the beginning is long gone, giving way to anger. "And, if you don't trust me, why do you want me in your pack?"

"I don't trust you because you're not pack, Stiles."

"That just makes no sense at all. Your logic is all backwards. Everything around you is backwards." He mutters the last bit, more to himself, but he knows Derek hears him. He'd hear him even without the added benefit of heightened senses because they're so close that there are goose bumps on the back of Derek's neck, where Stiles' words blow across his skin.

Since he first saw Derek become the alpha, there was always a pull to join him. An itch buried somewhere deep inside Stiles' chest that he couldn't scratch out no matter what he tried and every time he turned, it just got stronger. After the pool, it became so strong that Stiles was ready to admit that it was probably just a matter of time before he said yes and joined Derek's pack.

Stiles wonders why the pull is there in the first place, he's talked to Scott about it but found he was alone in his predicament. He's lying on his bed, finding patterns in the ceiling and thinking if maybe he's just too weak to be without an alpha, when Derek comes through his bedroom door. He's not sure if he's shocked because Derek's there in the first place, because he actually used the door or because he's got a laptop in his hands. Maybe it's all three.

"Why is your front door unlocked?" Derek growls.

"Why do you think that's an invitation for you to come in?" Stiles drags himself up to lean against the headboard. Lying down with his throat bared is not something a wolf would feel comfortable doing when there's a pissed off alpha around.

"I brought you something. I think Scott and you should probably have access to it as well." He pushes the power button and sets the laptop down on the bed.

Stiles promptly ignores the loading screen. "How come you didn't take it to Scott?"

"Really?" A cocked eyebrow is sent Stiles' way, "One sudden burst of clarity doesn't exactly make a genius."

"And I'm a genius?"

"No, but you have more bursts of clarity." Stiles feels the bed dip as Derek sits next to him, turning the laptop to get a better look. He's opening seemingly random folders but Stiles is just all too aware of a knee brushing against his thigh to pay attention.

"It's a bit like the Argent's bestiary, only better." The smug tone of Derek's voice gets his attention.

"You had a bestiary this whole time!?"

"I didn't know about it, Peter showed it to me just recently."

Stiles ignores the irritation that wants to take hold of him at the mention of Peter's name in favour of taking a better look at the bestiary. Page after page, animation upon animation, it's full of things Stiles never imagined existed.

As hours tick away, the room gets warmer, aided by the hot summer air, two working laptops and a feverish werewolf by his side. The fact that neither of them slept well the whole week doesn't really help them fight off the effects of the stifling air around them, so when Stiles wakes up some time later, he has just enough sense to put away the laptop before going back to sleep. And if he wakes up the next morning curled next to a heated body, he doesn't think too much about it.

Allison, Scott and he are tracking down rogue hunters when Stiles gets shot. The bullet is a lovely little thing stuffed full of wolfsbane and it tears and burns through his flesh like a hot iron rod. He's vaguely aware of Allison insisting they take him to his house, which is by far the most ridiculous idea he's ever heard. He's already getting delirious but he's trying hard to find something to grab on to, to stop them.

"Derek. Take me to Derek." he croaks. Every breath feels like breathing in ice.

"Stiles, no. What are—"

"Derek!" he tries to shout but there's searing pain in his abdomen and it comes out as more of a hiss.

They're moving him and maybe he passes out a couple of times in the process, he can't be sure. He feels the rumble of a car underneath him but it feels like an earthquake and he still isn't sure where they're taking him. He tries to grab onto something again but finds his hand already full of a fabric that smells like Scott so he just yanks.

"It's ok, Stiles. It's… We're taking you to Derek." He feels a pat on his forehead and promptly passes out again.

When he comes to, he finds himself on his back looking up to see burned wood and a starry night blinking at him through the gaps in the ceiling. Apparently he's already in Derek's house and the hot hand on his chest suddenly makes more sense. He's grabbing on to it, his eyes darting around wildly trying to find Derek's face.

"I want to join the pack." It sounds weak, but determined.

Derek just pulls his hand away in one jerky motion and when he speaks he sounds thoroughly pissed. He doesn't say much, though. Just a simple "shut up, Stiles" and "keep still" and maybe he swears a couple of times. And then the hand is back in Stiles' and Stiles just knows what comes next. He grips Derek's hand like it's the only thing in the world and, for a moment, it is. It's the only thing that exists beside the pain that burns its way from every nerve ending back through the wound.

When it's gone, his skin fees raw and everything looks washed out and colourless. His fangs are out and, as he looks at the hand holding onto Derek's, he can see his claws pierced Derek's skin and almost tore off his fingers. He pushes the transformation back and releases Derek's hand, his own remaining coated in blood. He fists it and turns to Scott.

"I'm good now, I just need to have a word with Derek." Scott already looks pale and he's about to protest so Stiles adds a "please" to that and then Allison is dragging Scott out of the house. A few minutes pass in silence as he waits for Scott to get out of earshot.

"I meant what I said." He looks right into Derek's eyes, for the first time that night. "I want to join your pack."

"You pushed back the shift rather easily just then." Stiles frowns at the change of subject but the tone of Derek's voice keeps him from protesting. "You found an anchor?"

This is not a conversation he wants to have right now. This is not a conversation he wants to have ever, with anyone. But he asked to be in Derek's pack and he asked for Derek's trust… now Derek is asking him for his.

He swallows. "I thought it would be so easy at first. I thought it was obvious."

"Your mom?" Derek's voice is quiet and that the first time Stiles has heard him like that.

"Yeah. But I was wrong." He's still on his back, staring out at the night and drawing lazy patterns on the floor in Derek's blood. The rough feel of wood under his fingers helps him keep going. "Thinking about her only makes it worse."

"So what is it?"

"Guilt." There's a lump in his throat but he just shrugs a little and thinks he sees Derek swallow as he helps Stiles off the floor.

"You should go home now, rest. We'll talk later."

About three days later, Derek actually knocks at Stiles' front door before coming in. Though he doesn't actually wait for Stiles to open the door or invite him in before he's stalking up the stairs, it's the thought that counts.

"Are you okay?" are the first words that leave Derek's mouth. Stiles is starting to think that he's pathologically incapable of greeting people like a normal person. He's about to respond but Derek's already going around him in circles, looking for bruises and sniffing for blood.

"I'm okay, Derek." He has to bat his hands away when Derek tries to lift his shirt. "Stop that! I'm fine." It doesn't stop Derek from giving him a one last sniff, before stepping back.

"Thanks for helping Erica and Boyd get away."

"Who were those wolfs anyway?" Stiles knows they were alphas, all of them, and it makes no sense to him. He thought there could only be one alpha per pack. He sits back on his bed when Derek takes Stiles' laptop and turns it on.

"They're here to fight for the territory. They think we're vulnerable now." His face is illuminated by the glow of the computer and he scrolls through the bestiary. He hands it to Stiles once he's found what he's looking for. The title simply reads 'Territory' but the text goes on for pages.

"I still want to be a part of your pack. It would help, right? The bigger, the stronger?"

Derek looks at him with an uncharacteristically soft smile as he puts the laptop away. "Stiles, you're already pack. You were pack as soon as you accepted it, that's all it takes."

In Stiles' chest, the itch isn't gone and that leaves him confused. It must show on his face because Derek's hand is on his thigh in a comforting gesture and it makes the want ease up, even if just a bit. That's what makes Stiles curl up around Derek's hand and when Derek puts his other hand on Stiles' back and nuzzles the back of his neck, the itch is almost completely gone. Stiles thinks that maybe he's losing his mind but doesn't dwell on it too much. He's just gonna stay like this a bit longer because it makes the world simpler and that's just what he needs right now.

Derek's might or might not be trailing kisses to where Stiles' spine disappears beneath the collar of his shirt. Stiles might or might not be skimming his fingers down the arm he's got trapped with his body. His eyes are closed when Derek asks him why he thought he wasn't in the pack and he doesn't answer. He has a feeling Derek knows. He has a feeling it might mean more than he thinks. The itch is back.

"Why does it feel like this?" he whispers into Derek's arm.

"I don't know." Derek admits. He inhales like he wants to say something important but pauses. "I think it might mean that you're my mate."

Despite considering that reason just a moment before, the words still make Stiles tense up. He's struggling to find something to say but his mind is blank, which is bad because Stiles always says the stupidest things in moments like that.

"But I can't give you heirs." So maybe it's good that that's what he ends up blurting out because Derek's laughing against the skin of his neck.

"Mates don't necessarily give you children, Stiles." He thugs at Stiles' shirt until Stiles sits back and looks him in the eyes. "Mates give you what you need"

Derek kisses him then and Stiles is sure he's completely mad because that's his first kiss and it's with Derek Hale and… is this his life now? The soft feel of Derek's lips makes the itch go away again but the want is still there and it's morphing into something else entirely and Stiles doesn't want to think about what that means. His hands are shaking when they grip at Derek's sides and fist in his shirt while Derek's own hands cup Stiles' neck.

Yes, this is definitely madness, Stiles thinks. But maybe that's just fine because he's a werewolf and what is normal anyway? In any case, he thinks he might have found a different anchor, a better one.

Notes: So… Peter turns Stiles into a werewolf. Now I don't actually want Stiles to become a werewolf, ever (he'll always be a wolf by association, the Little Red Zip-up Hoodie, the boy who runs with wolves), and I'm not entirely sure where this actually came from, but here. It's pretty cannon compliant, up until the point it just kind of isn't any more… Yeah…