A Tale of Two Wolves

It was a typical Saturday night, or at least when Stiles considered what used to be typical it was, well, typical. He was lying on his bed, staring at his ceiling, and listening to the rock music making its way out of his computer speakers. Scott was with Allison, his Dad was working a late shift at the station, and Stiles was bored out of his mind. So, yeah, pretty typical. Recently, however, this was not a typical weekend night. Usually, Stiles was being chased through the woods, almost killed, definitely injured, and always on the razors edge of terrified. Stiles sighed and reached for his phone to check the zero text messages he had. Fucking werewolves.

Stiles threw his phone onto the bed where it bounced once and fell to the floor. Without bothering to pick it up he went over to his desk and brought up Google. Summer break was fast approaching and he was thinking that he needed a job. Though Stiles wasn't sure what he needed more, money or normalcy. He tried a few different searches and didn't find anything but a vacancy at the video store, fuck that, and an open lifeguard position at the community pool. Well, he could swim.

Stiles looked at the classes he would have to take and the hours and the pay (wow, lifeguards made bankroll). Happy with his potential summer job he filled out the online application and then texted his Dad with the news; chances were his Dad would know who to call to make sure that someone at the Community Center knew Stiles was applying for the job. Stiles wasn't above connections and coercion when he wanted something.

Stiles spun around in his chair and scooped his phone up off the floor; it was a few minutes past eleven and that meant Allison's curfew had passed. Stiles smiled and thought that it shouldn't be too long now. He opened his window the rest of the way and threw himself back down on his bed, grabbing the graphic novel he'd been reading off the bedside table.

Ten minutes later Stiles heard the sound of leaves being disturbed and then a thud as Scott landed on his roof. He turned his head in time to see a werewolf sized blur roll into his bedroom and onto the floor. Scott sprung up and pounced onto the bed beside Stiles.

"What are you reading?"

Stiles put the book down, letting it slide to the floor, "the new Walking Dead graphic novel."

Stiles bumped Scott's shoulder, "how'd your date with Allison go?"

Scott gave him a dopy grin, "awesome."

Scott's smile sorta slipped, "but, her Dad is still absolutely terrifying. And I don't even want to talk about her Mom. I still don't think they are happy about Allison and me remaining a couple. But, I think that they've moved past wanting to kill me."

Stiles laughed, "That's good."

Scott sighed, "you'd think that, after helping to kill Peter and sorta proving that I'm not out to kill innocent people and shit, that they'd sorta let it go. I mean, even they have a code about killing wolves who are young or who have never spilt human blood."

Stiles stared at the ceiling, "did Allison tell you that?"

Scott nodded, "yeah, they've started training her."

Stiles could tell from Scott's voice that he is less than pleased about it, "dude, they're hunters, of course they're gonna have a problem with their only daughter dating a werewolf, even a good one. And, now that Allison is seventeen, I'm not surprised they have started her training."

Stiles turned his head to look at Scott, "Peter Hale proved that not all werewolves are like you and Derek; controlled and adverse to wolf on human violence, you know? Don't you want Allison to be able to protect herself?"

Scott rolled his head to look at him and he looked pained before nodding once, "good point dude."

Stiles smiled, "of course it's a good point, it's my point."

Scott leaned up to punch him in the arm and sniffed at the air, "dude, is that pizza in the fridge? I'm starving."

Stiles rolled his eyes, "yes, that is leftover pizza. Yes, you can have some… if you can tell me what kind it is."

Now its Scott's turn to give a dramatic eye roll, "is this a quiz or some shit?! Are you like my Jedi master?"

Stiles grinned, "Yes, that is exactly what is happening here, I am training you in the ways of the were-force."

Scott just gave him an exasperated look and sniffed the air again, "it's a meat lover's pizza, without sausage."

Stiles fist pumped the air, "got it in one buddy! And, from all the way upstairs."

Scott growled a little as he hauled himself off the bed to follow the smell of pizza to the source, "Yeah, thanks, Derek would be proud."

Stiles' smile faltered a little at the mention of Derek, "how is your, um, other Jedi master?"

It wasn't until Scott had a slice of pizza in front of him, ready to be devoured, that he decided to answer Stiles question.

Scott scowled as he tore into a pizza, "he's being stupid."

Stiles grinned, "You mean he's being insufferable."

Scott scowled some more, Stiles noticed it was his default these days, "whatever. He wants to build a pack, I'm not enough apparently."

Stiles frowned, "are you actually, you know, part of his pack?"

Scott shrugged, "he says I don't wanna be an omega."

Stiles shook his head, "no you do not, they are the bottom-feeders of the pack man. Everyone picks on them; they're the weakest members. Most omegas are like loners or pack-less or something..."

Scott's brow wrinkled, "you have got to stop researching the shit out of everything."

Stiles shrugged, "it's my thing."

"Well, I suppose at some point I will join Derek's pack if I haven't already. I'm not sure how that happens exactly, if I just like make the decision or if I have to do anything?"

They both got really quiet for a few seconds, both trying to imagine what bizarre initiation rituals were involved in accepting an alpha that didn't make you.

Scott shrugged, "but, we had an argument..."

Stiles scoffs, "big surprise."

Scott grits his teeth, "... we had an argument about him turning other people. He seems to have at least retained some moral code that his family followed about giving people a choice. But, I think that our agreement with the Argents is too delicate to mess around with biting people, even willing people."

Stiles shrugged, "well, I mean, if he explains everything to them, you know, pros and cons, and they still want it..."

Scott threw his pizza crust down, "you are NOT siding with him?!"

Stiles threw his hands up, "whose siding?! Why are there sides? I'm stating a fact! I see both points here man!"

Scott glared at his plate and sorta did some weird nose breathing.

Stiles sighed, "I think that the most important thing is maintaining good relations with the Argents, ok? But, Derek has a point about adding to the pack. Don't you remember how big his family was before the fire? Wolf and human pack members too. A big pack is a strong pack. You and Derek might not be able to hold your territory for very long if it's just the two of you."

Scott scrubbed at his face in aggravation and what might have also been exhaustion, "he did explain to me about, you know, the idea of territories and pack challenge. He said that he killed Peter because there was only a small chance that I could have cured myself and that if I hadn't, well..."

"... some other alpha would have challenged you and killed you for your territory," Stiles finished for him.

Scott nodded, "at this point I would just like to focus on not failing my sophomore year of high school."

Stiles slapped Scott on the back, "don't worry man, I'm gonna coach you through it!"

Stiles grabbed Scott's paper plate and threw it in the trash with the uneaten pizza crust, "tonight though, we are going to play FIFA and I am going to muuurder you!"

Scott laughed and followed Stiles out of the kitchen and back up to his room.

It wasn't until two games later, and Stiles' solid double victories, that Stiles had a thought.

He looked over at Scott, "Peter Hale gave me a choice."

It took a moment for Scott to follow Stiles' random thought patterns and clue in to the conversation, "he offered you the bite?"

Stiles nodded, "yeah, said he owed me for helping him. Which is crazy, because he kidnapped me practically and he threatened to kill me. But, yeah, it got real dicey for a hot second. I said no and he almost did it anyway, he said he could tell I was lying."

Scott narrowed his eyes, "were you lying? Do you want the bite?"

Stiles was silent for a minute and he could tell from Scott's expression that he was listening to Stiles' heart, fearing what he might hear in Stiles' answer, "No, I didn't want the bite from him."

Scott nodded; he hadn't sensed that Stiles' answer had been anything but the truth. If only Stiles had been able to come up with that sort of creative wording around Peter. He had told Scott the truth; he had not wanted the bite from Peter. But, he had considered the bite and everything that it would entail.

He still wasn't 100% sure it would make his life better or easier or that it would help him solve all his human problems, but he thought maybe it would help him protect people he loved. People like his Dad who didn't know what was out there; people like Lydia who he hadn't been able to protect the night of the dance.

Stiles did know one thing though. If he was going to become a werewolf, he was going to do it on his own terms and he was going to ask Derek Hale to help him.

Stiles had waited for one of Scott and Allison's date nights. He had gone to visit Lydia in the hospital one more time; she was always asleep and Scott's mom always told him that she was healing and that hopefully she could go home soon.

Lydia's mom tells him again what a good friend he is to check in on her so much. Stiles can't help but laugh internally at how appalled Lydia would be that her mother seems to think Stiles is in fact a good friend of Lydia's.

Stiles didn't understand what had happened to Lydia. She hadn't died and she hadn't become a werewolf. What was she? How was she? Stiles didn't know. He and Scott, even Derek, didn't have an answer to the Lydia mystery. Stiles never saw Jackson at the hospital. It had made him angry, but it had also made him sad. Stiles pitied selfish people, they were so alone. That's what Jackson was, a lonely douchebag.

Once, when Stiles was little he had given a girl a flower at the park. She had promptly thrown it to the ground and run-off to the sandbox. When Stiles had run crying to his mother she had soothed him with ice cream and tried to explain that some people weren't as good with showing their emotions as Stiles was.

Stiles could still remember her bright voice explaining in hushed tones that he had to forgive people who sometimes couldn't convey things like love and friendship and happiness openly. Or, worse, had never known those sorts of gifts existed because no one had ever given a gift like that to them.

Stiles knew that people like his Dad and Scott are those types of people that sometimes find it hard to give and receive feelings easily. He thinks maybe Jackson can't love because he didn't feel worthy of the gifts Stiles' mom talked about. Stiles is good at piecing people together, he sees things that other people don't. Like how smart Lydia is.

Or, how much Derek's lone-wolf act is more a part of who he feels he needs to be. Stiles wishes Derek were nicer, more open, could still laugh. Stiles barely remembers the boy that used to be Derek Hale, the one before the fire. But, what he remembers is a bright, shining star compared to the black hole that is the current Derek Hale.

Looking through the hospital room window at Lydia's still form and knowing what a terrible wound lay hidden under the sterile sheet and the scratchy gown, Stiles thought that he now understands a little bit of what Derek feels. Stiles can remember his life altering in massive and irreversible ways twice. Once, when he realized his mother would never kiss him goodnight ever again. The second time was when he realized that werewolves existed, the Scott was one, and that a vaguely heightened sense of terror would most likely permeate his psyche for the foreseeable future.

Stiles thought maybe Derek's world hasn't stopped spinning since the fire. Or maybe Derek stopped at the moment of the fire and hasn't really started again since. Either way, Stiles thinks, that's Derek's problem. And what may be the most tragic of all, is that Derek had been given those wonderful shinning gifts his mother had told him Stiles gave so freely, and then had watched as they were stripped from him till he had nothing, till Derek was nothing.

Stiles imagined that the smell of the hospital follows him out to his jeep. He hates the smell of the hospital. He didn't remember anymore when his mom had stopped smelling like his mom and had started smelling like the hospital, he just remembers it happening.

Without thinking about it Stiles found his way to the woods, parking his car at the edge of the reserve and climbing out. He grabs a flashlight and starts walking. The warm summer night curls around him and he thinks absurdly that he is disturbing the stillness of the air. There is no breeze tonight.

For the first time since he and Scott's fateful body-hunt into the woods all those months ago, Stiles didn't fear the woods. Peter is dead, the Argents aren't hunting, and the moon isn't full. Stiles almost feels for a second that he is reclaiming the woods, his woods. They are no longer a threatening setting within which all manner of horrors lay in wait, but the inviting haven that he and Scott adventured in so many times since childhood.

It took him almost an hour to make his way to the Hale house from where he is. It is still a burnt out shell of its former self. Stiles thinks that maybe Derek remains within the house as it is because it fits him so well. Stiles wishes he'd fix it up; make it a real house again. Maybe, that way, Derek could be a real person again.

Stiles isn't even a little surprised to find Derek on the porch waiting for him. His usual t-shirt and jeans, his usual uptight attitude, his usual blank face, and Stiles just smiles in spite of it all. He bounded up the steps and used his usual method of over-talking to offset Derek's perpetual surliness.

"I just stopped by to see how you were. Scott isn't a very reliable source of information now that almost half his brain power goes to thinking about Allison. Plus, I thought it would feel nice to walk in the woods again without feeling like I might die at any moment. It is a freeing feeling to realize that I have spent a whole week without being really terrified even once."

Derek hasn't moved a muscle from his casual lean on the not so sturdy looking porch railing, "What do you want Stiles?"

Stiles shrugged, "can't a guy just make a social call? I like to check in on my friends, you know, make sure you're doing ok…"

Derek didn't blink, "we're not friends."

Stiles thought about his mom and the little girl and his crushed flower and persisted, "how about the alpha of my best friend? You're the alpha of my best friend and I came to say a few things I would rather not say in front of Scott."

Derek almost looked intrigued, "like?"

Stiles shrugged, "like, well, let's say that the truce with the Argents didn't exist and you were free to create a pack, where would you start? What would you tell people? I've been doing some research and while I still think Scott has a point about turning people… I understand, I think. You're an alpha and it seems unacceptable that you have a pack of one, right? One beta, that's all you've got with hunters living in your backyard. Now, logically you know that everything is fine right now, but wolf-wise, strategically, you've got to be feeling like you need more. Strength in numbers…"

Stiles let his words trail off, realizing that Derek had sorta cocked his head to the side as if he were actually listening to Stiles. And, while his face was still carefully blank, this was the longest Derek had ever let Stiles talk without taking physically threatening measures to shut him up.

"What do you want Stiles?"

Derek sounded tired when he spoke and Stiles wondered if he's the only one left to notice these little things about Derek, about anyone. Sometimes he wonders if he's the only person in the lives of all his friends and family left to worry about them.

"I want to help. I want you to know that I care about Scott and therefore about the pack. I want to be in the loop. I think I've already proven I can be useful. I know that your old pack…" Stiles hesitated minutely and then continued, "… your family had human members and I would like to be considered as a human part of your pack."

Derek huffed out a breath and Stiles didn't know if he's annoyed or amused or just resigned. Stiles wasn't sure what his heart and his body was betraying to Derek, if Derek could somehow see into the core of what Stiles wants, how he wants it, how he fears it.

Stiles' trepidation was answered when Derek sniffed at him, "You wish to be a human member of the pack?"

Stiles wasn't ready to face all the things in Derek's question, wasn't ready to tell Derek all his thoughts, so he simply said, "for now."

Derek nodded, Stiles appreciated for the first time Derek's ability to be terse in his conversations, "you will start coming with Scott to any meetings we have, and I may call on you…"

Stiles rolled his eyes, "… for help? Not like that hasn't been happening. Hello? Do you remember the bullet incident? I do, I almost had to saw your arm off!"

Derek just looked at Stiles for a while, "and you would have, if it had come to that."

Stiles didn't really know what to make of that, but yeah, he would have, and so he says so.

Derek just nodded once, "in the meantime, try to help Scott make it to the next grade."

Stiles smiled as he trooped down off the porch to begin the long walk back to his car, "sure, start me off with the hard assignments…"

He thought he heard a small chuckle from behind him but when he looked Derek was nowhere to be found and Stiles thinks he must have imagined it. Looking at the tall, black façade of the Hale house Stiles knew that this place hadn't known the sound of laughter for a very long time.

Derek's decision to make Stiles a member of the pack didn't sit well with his human side, though his wolf was doing this weird rumbling thing in his chest that he didn't want to examine too closely. Having human pack members isn't as unassailable as bringing wolves into a pack, the bond is weaker, the instinct to submit non-existent. Scott has to listen to Derek and obey, Stiles can choose to listen and obey. It is a dangerous combination when human pack members are so fragile, so human. Stiles has already been hurt in his loyalty to Scott and now Derek will feel the need to protect him.

Not that he didn't feel the need before. And fuck knows Stiles has probably saved Derek's ass a few times too, even as infernally annoying as he can be. But, having him as a pack member is different. Derek already feels the need to mark him, to make sure other wolves know that Stiles isn't just any human. But, well, explaining that sort of behavior can be weird to anyone not wolf, even if Stiles does know more about werewolves than the average human.

Derek stared at the rotten floorboard as he did pushups. He needed to do something with the house, anything; fix it, sell it, tear it down. He couldn't bring himself to get past the thought and to the action. Maybe he should move and leave this house here to just melt into the ground and the woods around it. The timber that used to be strong support beams, glowing hardwood, lived-in and cared for, was now just as gray, dull, and silent as the trees that grew in the surrounding woods.

Derek had almost allowed himself to do the same thing, not house to tree, but human to animal. His silent, somber demeanor had become so a part of who he was, he couldn't remember who he had been before. And the wolf had taken over in the absence of his former self. But, he couldn't afford that now, now that his wolf was an alpha. Derek needed a firm, two-handed grip on his human side if he was going to stay in control. He hadn't been meant for this. But, Laura shouldn't have died, his family shouldn't have burned, his uncle shouldn't have turned.

Derek had a purpose now, a drive to be an alpha, to be a good alpha. He had Scott and Stiles to think about. He had this truce with the Argents to consider. He watched as the dust on the floor stirred with each labored breath he took. Derek though about the road to hell and good intentions; at least for the sake of his sorry, motley pack of impulsive and emotional teenagers he had to try.

Derek thought back to Stiles, and had to smile a little. At least taking Scott into the fold had brought him Stiles. Annoying, sarcastic, chatty, heart on his sleeve, plan up his sleeve Stiles. Derek had no intention of ever showing anyone how much he likes the idea of having Stiles as a pack member, even just a human one. Even if he still thinks Stiles will give him plenty of reasons to regret the decision later.

Stiles made it all the way to the afternoon practice before Scott finally got clued in enough to become concerned. This was the last practice of the off-season before summer and freedom. Stiles wasn't looking forward to coach's 'have a good summer' suicide runs.

Scott slammed his locker door closed and gave Stiles a weird look, "what is up with you man? You've been acting all day like you have something to say and you're not saying it. Which for you is a small miracle."

Stiles humphed, "thanks man."

"No, seriously," Scott just gave him a steady look, "what is up?"

Stiles slipped his jersey over his head, "I may have gone to see Derek the other night."

Scott didn't look shocked, but he did manage to look concerned, "alone?"

Stiles scoffed, "Yes, alone. He's a werewolf, not a serial killer. I somewhat trust his ability not to maim or kill me at this point."

Scott raised an eyebrow, "somewhat?"

Stiles continued, "anyway, the best part isn't that he didn't kill me. The best part is that I asked to be a member of the pack and he agreed."

To say that Scott went berserk would be putting it mildly. Stiles saw Scott's normally soft brown eyes flash gold before he was slammed back against the locker with Scott's nose all up in his business, tickling Stiles' neck.

In between sniffs, Scott was growling and talking in this low voice, "tell me you didn't Stiles. I would have to have known the moment I saw you. You don't smell like a wolf."

Stiles pushed at Scott's chest as firmly as possible. They didn't need to give their other team members even more of a reason to label them as overly bromantic.

"Scott, chill the fuck out bro! I am not a… like you," Stiles was trying to keep his voice down.

Scott seemed to calm down slightly and Stiles explained, "I asked to be a human member of the pack. I told him that I wanted to be in on things, strategically. I thought it would be a good step towards adding to the pack without turning anyone, yet."

Scott looked thoughtful, "you should still smell like him."

Now it was Stiles turn to look confused, "what? Smell like who?"

Scott sniffed again and Stiles tried not to feel like a baby deer, "like Derek, you should smell like Derek if you're part of the pack. Even as a human he would have scent marked you."

Stiles tried not to look shocked, but he sorta think he failed, "do you mean like, rub his scent all over me? Oh my god! That's exactly what you mean! Did he do that to you when you joined the pack?"

Stiles watched as Scott's entire face turned a faint pink color, "I mean, it wasn't like on an uncomfortable level, but it was definitely too close. I don't think either of us really enjoyed it. But, yeah, he sorta just hugged me a bit and then I said some sort of pledge and it was sorta fucking weird."

Stiles just stared at Scott and tried very very hard not to picture the level of awkward that was Scott and Derek hugging, "so, I should go to Derek's house this afternoon and take my life in my hands and try to hug him?"

Scott shrugged, "if you value your life I would let Derek do the hugging. However, I'm not sure if there would be more scent marking involved with a human member…"

Scott sounded puzzled, "I mean, as a wolf I just kinda make up my mind to follow Derek as alpha and everything sorta clicks into place. But, you're not a wolf so you won't have the compulsion to follow or submit. That might make Derek more cautious around you or more protective…"

Stiles scoffed, "please, Derek barely likes me! That's not going to change overnight just cause…"

Scott shook his head, "it didn't matter if he likes you Stiles; his wolf has accepted you as pack. What you and Derek want now has a shadow called his wolf, and your membership in his pack. Do you honestly think Derek and I like one another?"

Scott shook his head, "it's not always about that dude."

Stiles let the silence fall between them, as heavy as their thoughts. Scott finished getting ready for practice and when he was done he looked back at Stiles, who really hadn't moved an inch since they stopped talking.

Scott gave him another weird look, he was doing that a lot, "are you actually hurt that he didn't scent mark you?"

Stiles tried to shake his head and make a noise that he wanted to sound like no, but Scott's look of disbelief let him know he failed, "Oh my god, you are?!"

Stiles tried to shrug, "what?! I want to be an equal member of the pack! I want the awkward hugging…" he whispered the last part.

Scott sighed, "You're not going to let this go, aren't you?"

Stiles shook his head.

Scott sighed again, "You're going to go talk to him about it, aren't you?"

Stiles nodded his head.

Scott grabbed his gear and walked out of the locker room shaking his head as he went.

The last thing Stiles heard him say was, "it's your funeral."

Scott was stupid. Stiles was going to ignore his dire warnings. Scott always ignored his.

Because Scott was stupid.

Stiles apologized to his best friend in his head. Scott was not stupid.

Except when he was.

Stiles had managed to stay away from the Hale house and had gone home to shower after practice and to work on homework. He did not go to Derek's or do anything else that Scott would call rash. It didn't mean he wasn't going to, but Stiles first reaction to everything was research. So, now that it was apparently a major factor in his life at the moment he was going to revisit scent marking on Google.

Stiles had left his window open in case Scott wanted to come over and there was a breeze floating in from outside. It was nice after the afternoon heat he had practiced through earlier, but it was also disturbing his carefully placed piles of paper. He had printed out helpful references and placed them in themed piles on the floor. There was a pile for wolves, one for other mammals, a pile about mating (which, just, no), and a pile about spraying to mark territory (again, ew).

Stiles sorted and read and discarded and searched and printed more paper to sort into piles. Stiles decided that the most helpful of articles was about scent rolling and centered on the grey wolf. It seemed that wolves often rubbed their scent against objects within their territory to exchange scent, thereby claiming the object and the area as their own. Stiles supposed he understood the concept. He was Derek's territory, a member of the pack and therefore off limits to other alphas and other packs. If he smelled like Derek, and Derek maybe smelled faintly of him (if that's how it worked) then he would be protected. Should be protected. Theoretically.

Scott had said it was like an awkward hug, but the article said that wolves normally started by pressing their jaw, or cheek, to an object and then following with the length of their bodies. Stiles tried to image Derek rubbing his cheek against his neck or chest and then sort of covering Stiles' body with his own. He felt his face getting warm and he put the paper down to stare at the wall.

He was seriously bisexual. Lydia had just sort of caused the part of him that found men attractive to lie dormant in the face of her radiant beauty. He had been serious when he'd asked Danny if gay guys found him attractive, Stiles really wanted to know. Anyone with two eyes and breath in their lungs could see that Derek was an attractive guy. Stiles might not live through a scent marking session with his dignity intact.

He shrugged, well that was beside the point really. He hadn't just been whining when he had told Scott he wanted to be an equal part of the pack, he did. And, if that meant submitting himself to some sort of rub down, then that was what he was going to do, damn it.

When he actually became a werewolf, if he became a werewolf, he would have all sorts of weird behavior to deal with and new abilities to control. This was like a pre-test, an initiation into a gang or something. At least he didn't have to like pop a cap in someone or rob a liquor store. This, he could do.

"You look like your brain is on fire."

Stiles jumped so hard and spun so fast that the papers around him became a mini tornado of flurrying activity. He managed not to scream, but that was just the last few months of terrifying practice making him good at keeping his spastic reactions to himself.

Stiles glared at Derek, who was inside his room and leaning against his window frame- presumably the window he had just silently climbed in. What a creeper.

Stiles sighed, "Do you think you'll ever get tired of accelerating my heart rate to the point of cardiac arrest?"

Derek shrugged, "Do you think you'll ever get tired of talking until my ears bleed?"

Stiles just gave him a withering look.

Derek moved off the wall and over to the pile of papers and Stiles tried to unfold himself from the floor, "what are you researching so hard?"

Stiles glanced at the papers and then at Derek and then back to the papers, "um, scent marking?"

Derek's eyes flashed red for a split second and then narrowed, "why?"

Stiles shrugged and tried to look casual, "well, funny you should ask…"

Derek got that pained, exasperated look he so often had around Stiles, "what did Scott do?"

Stiles made a disbelieving noise, "why was it Scott? Why are you assuming this had anything to do with Scott?"

Derek leveled a look at him and Stiles crumbled, maybe that alpha thing was working on him, "I told Scott about joining the pack and then he fucking freaked about me becoming a werewolf. When I explained the situation to him, he seemed to think it odd that I don't smell like you."

Stiles pointed to himself, "now, until a few hours ago I was perfectly ok not smelling like you. But, now, I am actually a little hurt that you haven't scent marked me."

Derek rolled his eyes, "only you would be upset that a werewolf hasn't tried to use you as their own person scratch post."

Stiles hummed the theme song to the power rangers in his head to remain calm and tried to speak in a dignified matter, "I don't want to be the token human Derek. I don't want to be a part of this pack just because of Scott. And I don't want you treating me like an idiot because I don't have the instinct or because I'm not forced to submit to you."

Derek looked like he was about to speak, but Stiles wasn't finished, "now, if a human that wasn't me had joined a pack that wasn't this one, then would or would not that human have to participate in some sort of initiation in order to be considered a full, protected member of the pack?"

Derek's entire body was still, he was always so motionless unless he was fighting. As someone with ADHD, Stiles wondered how someone with so much happening inside could be so eerily calm. Derek stayed silent; staring at Stiles as they engaged in what Stiles was pretty sure was a battle of wills.

Finally Derek simply said, "They would."

Stiles took a deep breath and looked at all the paper littering his floor, "look, I know you don't like me, Scott said you don't have to like me to put me in the pack. But, I'm just asking you to treat me…"

Derek's voice broke over Stiles', "I never said I don't like you."

Stiles laughed, "you don't act like you do."

Derek shrugged, "you annoy me."

Derek tilted his head to the side, "but, I'm guessing Scott annoys you too and you don't not like him."

Stiles' brain was so tired the he almost didn't follow what Derek was saying. Eventually he decided that this was the closest thing that Derek was ever going to give him to an olive branch.

So he took it, "good point."

Derek shrugged his coat off and threw it on Stiles bed, "I also don't have to like you to protect you. My wolf knows you're pack and I am your alpha, I won't allow you to be hurt as long as I have the power to prevent it."

Stiles put a hand to his heart and smiled, "that actually warmed my heart, seriously, it was like a tingling feeling somewhere in this general area… whoa."

Stiles flailed a bit as Derek gripped his arm and spun him around pushing him backward until Stiles entire body made a thumping noise as he hit the wall. Derek smiled a bit but it looked predatory and not at all comforting. For once Stiles willed his mouth not to work.

Derek leaned in, a mirror of Scott's actions earlier in the day, and sniffed at Stiles neck, "you smell like Scott. You spend a lot of time together. That's a good start; he's also part of the pack."

Stiles nodded as Derek's head came back up to look him in the eyes, "just remember," Derek's voice had dropped a little and his eyes flashed red again, "if this makes you uncomfortable, you asked for it."

Stiles bit his lip hard and tried to hold really still as Derek leaned in close, his nose and then his cheek sliding gently against Stiles' own smooth skin. Stiles felt the scrape of Derek's stubble and took a deep breath when he felt Derek's nose press down and under his ear, sniffing along his jugular and rubbing the side of his face against Stiles' skin. It was a repetitive motion of sniff, rub, sniff, rub and it was exactly what Stiles had pictured and way more torturous then he had imagined.

Stiles brought his hands around to grip Derek's shirt at his shoulders as their chests touched. Stiles hadn't been able to hear the noise due to all the blood rushing about in his head, but as Derek's chest pressed against his own Stiles could feel the deep rumbling noise Derek was making. He made a conscious effort not to say anything about it, but the vibrations felt good moving through his skin and sinking into his rib cage.

Derek pulled away, his hands gripping Stiles hips and tugging Stiles away from the wall. Stiles let his body be moved, tried to shut his brain down and his mouth off, as Derek tossed him on the bed. Stiles tried to think about being a wolf- become one with the inner wolf he didn't have. Scent marking, rubbing, transfer, biology, nature, think logically Stiles, think logically.

Derek moved over him, and Stiles didn't have to fain clinical interest because Derek systematically pressed first his face and then his upper body into Stiles chest, just like the freaking encyclopedia had talked about. Stiles watched, fascinated, and held still as Derek pulled Stiles shirt up and repeated the motion against the soft skin of his flat stomach. Stiles laughed softly because it tickled and he thought he maybe imagined that Derek's rumbling increased.

Derek delicately managed not to bring their hips too close together. Stiles imagined Derek was trying to make the experience as decidedly un-sexual for Stiles' hetero-normative sensibilities.

Stiles smiled a bit at the list of things he had not told Derek, and possibly never would. But, oddly, Stiles realized that he wasn't turned on at all. He felt sort of cared for, like a kitten being petted. He decided not to tell Derek that either; another one for the list. Derek flipped him over and repeated the motion, rubbing his face and chest up Stiles' back and trailing his nose up Stiles' neck again. When he had done that three times he stood up, moving off of Stiles, who flipped himself back over and looked up.

Derek calmly took his shirt off and threw it onto Stiles stomach, "wear this to bed and tomorrow at school and it should help the scent set in."

Stiles felt sort of groggy and wired at the same time. "Um, is this like a wash, rinse, repeat sort of thing?"

Derek shrugged, "scent sticks for the most part, especially as the pack," he said pack with a touch of pithiness, "starts spending more time around one another."

Derek shrugged his jacket on over his naked chest, "I'll let you know if it wears off."

Stiles nodded, "um, thanks, I guess."

Derek still had a vague, annoyed, pissed off look that Stiles had decided was his default setting, "you're part of the pack now whether you like it or not. Not that you have to worry about it in Beacon Hills yet, but you shouldn't be bothered by other werewolves now."

Stiles stood up from his bed and turned to look at the mess of paper all over his floor, "well, let me know when the next pack…" he glanced back at the window but Derek was already gone without a sound.

"…pack meeting is," Stiles finished the sentence only because he knew Derek had yet to get so far away that he couldn't hear whatever Stiles was saying.

Stiles had barely made it to his locker before Scott was all up in his business, "you're wearing his shirt?!"

Scott sniffed the air around Stiles, "you reek of him!"

Stiles shrugged, "he said it would help the scent set-in. It's not like I'm wearing it forever or anything, just today."

Scott's face was somewhere between pained, amused, and just muddled, "you're ridiculous."

Stiles smiled and nodded, "Aware."

That night Stiles had a dream, a horrible nightmare about fire. Normally his bad dreams consisted of vague feelings of loss, empty hospital beds, and his Dad leaving or dying. But, this was different, this was heat and fear and suffocation. He woke up with a choked gasping noise and tried to convince himself that his room didn't smell like sulfur and ash.

When he finally fell back asleep his last thought was of Derek and the way that the damp, burnt scent clung to him. Maybe Stiles smelled like him now, like scorched memories and pain.

The next day he sent Derek a text before he could put too much thought into it: what do I smell like?

He didn't get a response for a few hours and when his phone buzzed later in the afternoon the reply read: laundry detergent, grass, cookies, a locker room.

That night Stiles had a dream again about flames licking at his skin. He could hear the popping and crackling of wood burning. He woke up with his face wet and he tossed and turned thinking that maybe Derek was tossing and turning to, wherever it was he slept. Stiles hoped he wasn't.

Stiles had the crazy hope that the scent marking had really been an exchange and that Derek was falling asleep to the smell of laundry detergent and cookies. He even had a thought that Derek was dreaming about a beautiful, vibrant woman with chocolate colored hair and who made him cookies just like Stiles' Mom used to do for him.

The next day he sent another text: do werewolves have telepathy?

Derek texted back immediately: No.

Stiles tried again: do werewolves have the ability to see the future?

Derek replied and Stiles could practically see the annoyed look on his face: No.

Stiles put his phone away and tried not to think about what he'd dream about that night.

When Stiles walked into his room from taking a shower that night Derek was sitting on the end of his bed.

Stiles took a second to register that he was in his boxers and nothing else. He couldn't really control the startled flinch he gave, but he could muster enough dignity to walk to his dresser with a casual air.

He rifled for a t-shirt and gym shorts as he spoke, "did it wear off?"

Derek sniffed the room slightly; it was odd that he didn't even have to move closer to Stiles to smell him, "No. I came to…"

Derek looked pained for a minute, "… why are you sending me stupid text messages?"

Stiles slipped his clothes on and then fell into his desk chair, "I don't know I've just been having…"

Stiles trailed off. He was usually super good at talking, but he wasn't sure he could share this with Derek. It was personal to Stiles and it was personal to Derek, and they weren't even friends.

Derek's nostrils flared, "why are you nervous? What have you been having?"

Stiles grimaced, "dreams, bad dreams."

Derek stood up, "well, I'm not here to make your dreams better. I can't do that anyway."

Stiles word vomited the next part, "they're about fire! Fire and smoke and heat and pain. I can't make them stop and I wake up choking. I hate it. I don't know why I have them. Did you do something to me?"

Derek sat back down on the bed and stared at Stiles with the burning pressure of a thousand suns. Stiles had never been the recipient of a look like that, such raw and tangled emotion, such fierce anger. Stiles didn't think some of the emotions were for him, but he certainly felt the stinging edge of them as they splashed across Derek's face. Stiles felt the words bubbling up out of his chest, but they met the brutal wall of Derek's expression and melted like snow in the sun.

When Derek finally spoke his voice sounded hollow and rough, "I didn't do anything to you. I don't know why you're dreaming about fire. I certainly didn't tell you to."

Stiles thought he could literally feel the assuredness of his throat being ripped out as he spoke but he couldn't seem to put these particular words back in his mouth, "do you dream about fire?"

Derek managed to hold on to his angry face, even if his voice didn't sound that way anymore, "I wasn't in the fire, I was at school."

Stiles tried really hard not to cover his throat with his hand, too bad he couldn't cover his curiosity, "that's not what I asked."

Derek gritted his teeth, "yes, ok, yes, I dream about fire sometimes."

Stiles wanted to ask what else Derek dreamed about, but he could clearly see the edge he was creeping further and further towards with his questions.

Derek stood up again, "Your text messages...," he crossed his arms, "did you think that me scent-marking you had something to do with your nightmares?"

Stiles shrugged, "weirder things could happen at this point."

Derek's silence conceded the point and he started towards the window.

Stiles turned to his computer, expecting Derek to let himself out, but Derek had one more thing to say, "Tell Jackson to leave me the hell alone. I'm not turning him yet."

Stiles dissected that in his brain and spun around to ask what the fuck Derek meant by yet, but the room was empty and the curtains were moving in a non-existent breeze.

The next day Stiles delivered the message to Jackson and got thrown against a locker for his trouble.

When he got home from school he found a dream catcher on his bedside table. There was no note. He didn't need one.

Stiles also managed to sleep through the night, dreamless except for a strange notion of feeling watched over, cared for. But when he woke up he couldn't really remember the feeling just the idea.

Derek paced around the living room, or the remnants of the living room. He was the only thing moving in the house and he stalked like a slow moving pendulum from one wall to the other. He thought about the dream-catcher sitting in Stiles bedroom. He thought of how Stiles' face probably looked when he saw it, when he realized it was from Derek.

If only Scott were as easy to please as Stiles was. Derek hated feeling like his pack was incomplete, small, weak. To compound the matter, his wolf didn't appreciate the nervous energy he could feel coming off his beta and his… human.

Teenagers were a constant swirling mass of emotion, angst, longing, and worry. That was annoying to no end. Scott thought that it was a nuisance to have to submit to an alpha. Well, what Scott didn't know was that an alpha was compelled to care for its pack. It wasn't just physical protection, Derek felt the need to soothe their agitation too. Fucking bleeding hearts of the world unite.

To be honest it scared the fuck all out of him that Stiles had started having dreams about fire. Derek didn't need Stiles to be worried for him, forming some sort of "shouldn't exist" empathetic bond with him, or any other nonsense. He shouldn't have scent-marked him, this whole mess had started then.

But, he'd wanted to.

Maybe that's what pissed him off the most. He had wanted to scent-mark Stiles, had wanted Stiles to feel like an equal member of the pack, had wanted Stiles to feel connected in a way that normally non-wolves couldn't.

Fuck, it had worked too well.

Derek went running, he couldn't stand another lap of the dead looking room.

He wound up at Stiles house, of course he did.

Derek sat silently on the roof, making sure Stiles was asleep, making sure his breathing was even. Derek decided to stick around. He wasn't tired and he wanted to make sure the dream catcher worked. He wanted to be there if Stiles started having a nightmare. To do what? He hadn't gotten that far. He'd think of something.

Derek leaned his head back against the side of the house. Why couldn't he be the alpha he felt like he wanted to be around Stiles? Was it having a human pack member that was turning him into this fucking caring stranger with these kind gestures? Or was it just Stiles, who didn't know how to do anything but care about people, even people like Derek who he had sworn once he'd just as soon see dead. Maybe Stiles was unknowingly daring Derek to find that person within himself.

Derek didn't know if he wanted to. He didn't know if he could. Was that person still in him, or had he been burned away with the rest of his family? Or had that person laid down and died right next to Laura?

He heard Stiles' quiet breathing even from outside and Derek wasn't sure about anything anymore.


If only Stiles could find as much interest in his Victorian literature explication papers as he could in looking up cultural werewolf mythology, then maybe he wouldn't be making a B in English class. As it was, he had spent the entirety of his Friday night looking up werewolf legends rather than working on his Jane Eyre paper. That was beside the point.

Derek didn't appear the entire weekend, Scott was with Allison for any length of time that he wasn't sleeping or studying chemistry with Stiles via Skype. So, Stiles pretty much spent the whole weekend toggling between his final paper and Google search.

He found a really awesome Cherokee story that had little to do with werewolves, seemingly, but was a neat kind of 'live your best life' teaching. It made Stiles think of Derek and it also made his chest tight a bit. He wanted Derek to see it, if he hadn't already. Did Derek research werewolves? Had he? Did he have books on these sorts of things? Did they burn in the fire?

In the interest of not dying or being crushed against a wall Stiles decided not to give it to Derek in person. Instead, he folded the paper in half, wrote Derek's name on it and left it like a card on his bedside table to see what would happen.

When he returned from school Monday the paper was gone. It was a testament to his new life that Stiles didn't once consider that he and Derek's new exchange program entailed Derek basically breaking into Stiles room while Stiles was not there. Well he may be considered it, he just didn't care.

Derek stared down at the paper in his hand and read the printed black words across the page and felt them being tattooed into his brain. Why had Stiles given this to him?

He could tell it was a print-off from some website and it read:

One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, 'My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.'

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: 'Which wolf wins?'

The old Cherokee simply replied, 'The one you feed.'

Derek wasn't sure exactly what Stiles was trying to say, or if Stiles even fully understood the deep way that the story connected with Derek. Which wolf would win? Which wolf would Derek feed? There was the wolf that Derek felt comfortable with, the one he didn't have to even try to feed. Then, there was the wolf that Stiles had seemed to awaken; giving it a fighting chance… and it was hungry. Derek was hungry.

Stiles felt the cold water seep through his sneakers as he and Scott trudged through the creek to the other side. They had been walking in the woods for an hour now, like they used to. Stiles could feel the hot, bright sunshine on his head. He felt content like he hadn't in a while. Maybe life was becoming more normal again, not as normal, just more normal than not.

Stiles life, once Scott had been bitten, had been a mirror that had shattered all his illusions on the ground in sharp little pieces. Now he felt like the last few weeks of school, after Kate's death and Peter's demise, that he had been able to glue all the pieces back together. It looked like a whole mirror once more, but with fissures that he would never be able to entirely get rid of or un-see.

Scott was talking, Stiles tried to listen, "Derek texted me about a pack meeting this weekend. I think he's waiting for school to officially end. Thank fuck too because I can't think about anything now except passing all my exams."

Stiles opened his mouth to say that he totally understood where Scott was coming from, but what came out instead was, "I think Derek and I are becoming friends."

Scott turned around to give Stiles a weird look, "Stiles, Derek isn't friends with anyone. I don't think he's capable of being friends with anyone."

Stiles shrugged and he couldn't quite keep the annoyed tone out of his voice, "everyone is capable of friendship Scott. He's saved our asses a few times."

Scott rolled his eyes, "I didn't say he was evil. I just think that Derek has been through some shit man and you shouldn't fool yourself into thinking that he can be the kind of friend that a person, like you, demands."

Stiles narrowed his eyes, "what is that supposed to mean?"

Scott held his hands up in surrender, "dude, chill, I'm just saying that once you make up your mind to be friends with someone there isn't a whole lot they can do to dissuade you. You are loyal and funny and sooo talkative. But, you're a good friend."

Stiles sort of had a man moment of embarrassed manliness in the face of Scott's unexpected and kind words, "wow man," Stiles cleared his throat and Scott looked at the mud on the river bank, "I really appreciate that."

Scott shrugged again, like he was shrugging off the awkward feeling of warmth glowing around Stiles right now, "All I'm trying to say is that Derek isn't someone you can wrestle into the epiphany that you should be best friends forever."

Stiles smiled, "it worked with you."

Scott scoffed, "yeah, well, I was three and you had toy cars and I didn't realize it was a trap."

Stiles laughed and lunged towards Scott, swinging an arm around his shoulder and giving him a one-armed hug, "exactly, it was a friendship trap."

Scott laughed too and they continued their walk until Stiles felt the need to say one last thing, "Friendship or not, I think it's our job to help Derek become the best alpha a small awkward pack like ours has ever had."

Scott sighed and sniffed the air, he did that absent-mindedly from time to time and Stiles found it fascinating.

Finally Scott spoke, "thing is Stiles, Derek has to want that too."

Stiles thought again of the Tale of Two Wolves story he had found online. Scott was right, ultimately only Derek could decide which wolf he was going to feed.

Stiles looked up at the sunlight filtering through the green, leafy branches. But, maybe, if he was careful, Stiles could toss Derek the right sort of food.

He smiled to himself as he followed Scott out of the woods and back to the jeep.

Stiles opened his eyes and gave up on sleep for a while, it was two in the morning and he had one last day of school tomorrow and then a pack meeting. He was nervous, but not about school. Stiles stared up at the dream-catcher, the way the tips of the grey feathers curled up. Stiles thought again of the little girl and the flower, the way she had carelessly discarded it on the ground and walked away.

Derek wasn't a girl, obviously, and Stiles wasn't giving him a flower, that would be weird, and yet Stiles couldn't shake the feeling that once again he faced the possibility of a let-down. Except this time he knew it was coming, and he didn't have his mother to run to and soothe his rumpled feelings.

Stiles looked again at the dream-catcher and decided it was worth it. It was all worth it. He hadn't cared that Lydia didn't acknowledge him. He hadn't cared that Scott hadn't known all the things to say to Stiles' talkative and persistent three year old self. Nothing had ever stopped Stiles from reaching out to people, from attaching himself to them.

Derek wasn't nice or warm or friendly. Derek was cold and sullen and often terrifying. And yet, Derek had come to Stiles when he needed help, had saved Stiles' life, and had attempted in his own way to help Scott adjust to his new life. Derek was a loner, but that's because Derek had spent the last few years of his life without most of his family, and the last few months without his sister. Laura had been all Derek had left.

Stiles' Dad was all he had left, he didn't know what he'd do if he lost him too. Maybe he'd become just as angry and unapproachable as Derek. Would Scott let that stop him from trying to be there for Stiles, trying to help him? Stiles had to believe it wouldn't, and Derek's attitude wasn't going to deter Stiles either. Stiles was going to be the best human pack mate, the best unwanted friend, a sour, bad tempered, troubled werewolf ever had.

Stiles flinched as he heard a small noise from outside his window. He crept out of bed and crawled to the window to peek out from the bottom of the seal to see what horrid thing was creeping around outside his house. He saw Derek crouched on the roof, his head cocked to one side as he listened. Stiles tried to breathe evenly, like he would if he were asleep in his bed. Finally, Derek sat down, his back to Stiles' window and as still as a statue.

Stiles brain raced and he tried to keep his body calm, steady breathing, steady heart, no movement. Did Derek stay out there every night? Did Derek just sit on Stiles' roof when he couldn't sleep? To pass the time? To protect him? Was there something he didn't know about?

Stiles didn't bother opening the window yet, he just stood up and tapped on the glass, "hey, is there something trying to eat me? Because I feel like you should tell me if I'm under protection detail."

Derek spun around and leapt into a crouch. Any normal human would have tumbled off the roof. He growled low in surprise before he realized Stiles was standing at the window. Derek's eyes flashed from red and then back to the dark brown, black color they were in the darkness.

Stiles tried to look unimpressed as he opened the window, "well, since neither of us seems to be getting any sleep, you might as well come inside."

Derek hesitated before he climbed into the window.

Stiles fell backwards onto his bed and Derek sank into the chair on the other side of the bed.

"So, you didn't answer my question," Stiles stared at the plain white color of his ceiling, "is something trying to kill me?"

Derek shook his head, "no, don't get a complex, not everything is trying to kill you."

Stiles made a huffing noise, "that was more comforting before I realized that everything could actually kill me."

Derek was quiet for a moment, "it didn't have to be that way."

Stiles didn't even have to guess what that meant, "not yet."

"What does that even mean?"

Stiles shrugged, "it means, not yet."

Stiles sat up and looked at Derek when he spoke again, "do you even want the bite?"

Stiles shook his head, "not from Peter I didn't, despite his charming offer of 'if it didn't kill you' and shit."

Derek looked tentative in his next statement, "but you might want the bite from another alpha?"

Stiles shook his head, "If I become a werewolf, I want it to be on my own terms and I don't want it to violate any treaty, and I want it to be from someone I trust to help me through it. Scott didn't really have anyone who was willing to teach him at first and I don't want that."

Derek nodded.

Stiles took the second blanket off the bottom of his bed and handed it to Derek, "I'm going to at least attempt to get some sleep before my biology exam tomorrow. If you're more comfortable here you can just crash."

Derek looked at the blanket that had been tossed into his lap and back at Stiles, "thanks."

Stiles climbed under the covers and punched his pillow before rolling over to go to sleep; before he closed his eyes he added softly, "the windows always open."

Stiles didn't say one thing to Scott the next morning about his open window and the neatly folded blanket on his empty chair. He also didn't say one thing about last night to Derek at the pack meeting. He wasn't going to make it awkward or gloat or let his stupid mouth get in the way of Derek's acceptance of Stiles small gifts.

Stiles would never ever ever say it out loud but in his head this friendship venture was a lot like approaching a wild animal: hands up, slow steps, no loud noises. Stiles didn't think Derek would find the metaphor funny, but Stiles certainly did.

The meeting went about as planned, with Stiles watching Derek and Scott verbally snarl at each other about turning people, adding to the pack, who to turn, how to turn, what to tell people, the Argents. Stiles sorta wished he had popcorn. He was seriously entertained.

At least he was until Derek had spun away from Scott and practically spat words at Stiles, "what do you think?"

Stiles had sort of choked on air, "you want to know what I think?"

Derek looked impatient, "I asked, didn't I?"

Stiles nodded, "uh, ok. I think," he looked at Scott, "I think that you should stop ripping each other apart until you talk to the Argents."

Stiles made a noise over Scott's beginning protest and held a hand up, "Scott, I understand your reluctance to accept that Derek wants to turn people, but that's like asking people not to drive because you were in a bad accident. This pack will eventually need more members."

Stiles turned to Derek, "You need to understand that Scott and Allison dating is happening and that Allison is not her aunt. The Argents are a part of this town and they are not leaving. You will have to speak to them and understand the full consequences of your choice to bite people as it pertains to their code."

Stiles was sorta enjoying the stunned looks on Derek and Scott's faces and so he took their silence and filled it with his thoughts, "Now, let's briefly discuss the possibility of being able to turn people. Derek," Stiles eyed him, "you will of course explain everything about the outcomes of their choice, and you will make both the bite and the transition as comfortable a process as it can possibly be. This town does not need confused or stupid new wolves running amuck. Scott, you will assist Derek in this, as his only current beta you are a lieutenant."

Stiles thought for a minute, "as annoying a possibility as it seems, I think we should turn Jackson, he knows too much at this point and he will be easier to control if Derek turns him."

Stiles ticked off ideas on his fingers, "Lydia is really smart, but arguably easily unbalanced. Allison would refuse the bite off-hand. Danny? Maybe. He is calm and can usually be counted on in a pinch. I'd have to watch other people at school to get a feel for who else would be a good choice…"

Stiles trailed off as he began to wonder if the two wolves in the room were actually listening to him anymore or simply staring at the air in front of Stiles face like it held all the answers.

Derek spoke first, "you've put a lot of thought into this."

Stiles wasn't sure if he was impressed or whether he was being patronizing. Derek seemed to sense that Stiles human hackles were going up because he held his hands up, "I'm just surprised. I agree with you."

Scott shrugged, "I'll let Allison know we would like to have a friendly little werewolf, hunter meeting."

Derek grunted, and rolled his eyes, "Yeah, friendly."

Scott was so agitated he forgot that he had come with Stiles and simply walked out, running off into the woods. Stiles was just going to let him work off the frustration.

Stiles got up off the filthy floor of Derek's living room and moved towards the door.

He turned back and steeled himself, "Derek?"

Derek looked back to him to where he had been gazing thoughtfully at the ruined fireplace.

Stiles thought about what he was asking and tried to phrase it correctly, "will you teach the new pack members to defend themselves? Like, as in, train them? Will you train them, and Scott?"

Derek looked confused, "Yes, I'll try to teach them everything I know. That's what I'm supposed to do."

Stiles looked away from Derek and then back, "Will you teach me?"

Derek opened his mouth and Stiles just knew the answer was no, so he barged on, "look, I know I'm human and fragile and slow and clumsy, but I want to try, I want to defend myself as best I can if I'm not ready to be a wolf. Plenty of humans learn boxing and karate and shit. I can learn. I can try…"


Stiles stilled, his mouth snapped shut before it opened again on a, "what?"

Derek's mouth twitched, "Yes. I will attempt to teach you how to use your limited capabilities to defend yourself."

Stiles saw the thinly veiled dig in Derek's comment but he chose to ignore it, "thanks."

He smiled a full smile that he knew Derek couldn't return and bounded out of the house and to his car before Derek could change his mind or take it back. Stiles built the foundation of his hope on the slight twitch of Derek's mouth; his friendship trap strategy was unfolding before him as perfectly as he had planned it.

Stiles Googled the shit out of martial arts and immediately realized that learning defense techniques might be a problem. It's not so much the physicality, because he's an athlete; the problem is going to be his inability to complete tasks calmly. Martial arts is about the balance of a calm mind and controlled body, the fluctuating dynamic between stillness and striking. Stiles is a lot of things, but calm and still have never been one of them. Derek will probably give up on the second training session.

Derek didn't give up though and they keep training. Every few days, week after week, Stiles goes to Derek's and they spar in the yard. Derek insists on Stiles session remaining separate from pack meetings and from any training Derek might occasionally be doing with Scott. As the summer begins, Stiles actually feels busier than he normally is. He lands the lifeguard job which requires hours of training and a grueling daytime schedule. At night, he hangs out with Scott or trains with Derek or does more research in his room.

After a few weeks in to the summer, a few weeks since Scott approached Allison about a meeting, they still haven't heard a word from the Argents. The hunters seem to be taking their sweet time deciding whether to acquiesce to a tete-a-tete.

Stiles mentioned this on Thursday night as he and Derek moved through a series of block and dodge movements they'd been working on, "why are they taking this long?"

Derek didn't even have to ask what Stiles meant, "Because they can."

Stiles understood, but he would rather get the meeting over with, he can't stand just wondering what sort of reaction the hunters will have to the idea of letting a pack grow larger in their own territory. Though, Derek's pack wouldn't be hurting anyone. And, Stiles thought, Beacon Hills was technically werewolf territory before it was hunter territory.

Aside from his job, training, research, and worrying, Stiles spent time thinking of little ways to engage Derek in the stealth friendship Stiles had formed with the reclusive werewolf. Stiles suspected that Derek still often spent large portions of some nights on Stiles roof. Stiles tried really hard to be focused and not super talkative during the training session. He achieves this sometimes and he wonders if Derek notices or appreciates the effort.

Stiles has taken to leaving random objects at Derek's. He isn't very sly about it, but he tries to be and Derek didn't call him on it. He places items in his backpack that he unnecessarily takes out of his jeep and leaves on Derek's porch while they train. Then, he always manages to not so subtly take something out of the bag and accidently leave it on the porch once Derek has dismissed Stiles and gone inside. The first week he leaves a book and the second week, a blanket.

Stiles didn't really expect Derek to start giving things back to him, but after the dream catcher maybe he should have. Stiles found objects scattered around his window one afternoon when he got home from work. It didn't start until a week or two after Stiles left the blanket. If Stiles were less hyper-vigilant he probably wouldn't notice the objects. Once he does though, he maybe starts questioning the lack of credit he gave to Derek.

Stiles knew somewhere in the back of his mind that Derek had money. Stiles thought that if your entire family burned in a fire then you probably got some sort of settlement for that kind of shit. Plus, he's seen Derek's car with his own eyes, yeah, not poor. But, that meant that Derek was voluntarily living like a homeless Spartan up in that awful house. Stiles had been just trying to make him more comfortable.

Derek seems to think that Stiles thought he was giving some sort of saintly aid to a pauper, because Derek's gifts leave no room for speculation on how much money he has. Stiles nearly chokes the first time he opens a random white envelope on his desk to reveal that a scholarship fund has been started in his name. It draws interest and he can use it to go to any college.

Despite his every reflex telling him to go yell at Derek that Stiles didn't need the money (except he might a little if he wants to go to Stanford), Stiles managed to swallow down every word and impulse and act completely non-pulsed during their next training. If Derek hadn't mentioned the blanket and the book then Stiles wasn't going to mention the stupid amount of money sitting in a bank account in his name. Stiles realized it isn't that much, but it's enough to try and explain away to his father.

Stiles sneaks into the office at school and looks up Derek's records. He's not proud of it, but he was too curious. He notices that Derek had excellent grades in PE (big surprise) and history (actual surprise). So, the next training session Stiles leaves a stack of historical fiction books and historical essays on Derek's porch.

Stiles gets home from work the next day to a stack of rare comic books on his bed. He sits down and rifles through them and wonders how he can possibly be having a conversation with Derek despite hardly ever actually speaking to him.

The day that Stiles finally managed to throw Derek over his back and onto the forest floor he does a victory dance that gives Derek the opening to grab Stiles' ankle and twist until Stiles is laid out beside him in the dirt.

Stiles huffed, "cheater."

Derek shrugged, "never let your guard down."

Stiles wondered how many things in Derek's life he applies that motto too. How many things in Stiles' life has he managed to let that mantra creep into? Maybe he and Derek are a little more similar than Stiles thought. Maybe all people deal with grief by simply deciding to mask it… maybe with humor, maybe with indifference, maybe with anger. Stiles laid still on the ground as Derek pushed himself up gracefully and disappears into the house.

Stiles searched for days to find what he's looking for, and then he waits patiently for it to be delivered. He takes a few days off training because he has to work doubles to cover for someone at the pool and his Dad insists on a family night since they almost never have time during the school year. Scott sent him a text to let him know that the meeting with the Argents was at a neutral location on Friday night at midnight. Stiles scoffed, did midnight make it seem more mysterious or something? What's wrong with eight o'clock?

Stiles noticed that he wasn't exactly overtly invited to this meeting, but he didn't really care. He's going.

On Friday Stiles showed up at the Hale House earlier in the evening, certain that Derek hadn't left for the meeting yet, and determined to go with him. He's also determined to give Derek the thing that came in the mail today. In person. He can do this.

Stiles just walked into the house without bothering to knock. Derek's probably known he was here for a while. Stiles gazed up the stairs and saw Derek looming at the top.

Stiles didn't even have to ask Derek about the meeting before the alpha said, "You're not going."

Stiles flailed a bit, "Oh my God! I haven't even asked yet!"

Derek shrugged, "you're not going."

Stiles let his bag hit the floor and crossed his arms, "I'm a member of this pack."

Derek slowly makes his way down the stairs, "you're vulnerable and I'm not walking you into the middle of a bunch of hunters."

Stiles rolled his eyes, "first of all, they know I'm friends with Scott, I think my loyalties have been broadcasted. And second, I'm almost positive that 'The Code'," Stiles uses air quotes for effect, "says that they can't harm a human."

Derek makes a growling sound that makes Stiles hairs stand on end, "it hasn't always stopped them in the past."

Stiles had no argument for that, but he persists, "I want to go."

Derek huffed, "you will stay behind me."

Stiles nodded.

"You will listen to everything I say and you will obey without question."

Stiles kept nodding.

"And you will not talk."

Stiles' head froze in place, "uh, no promises?"

Derek growled again.

Stiles held his hands up, "ok ok, jeez, yeah, no talking got it."

Derek sat down on the bottom step like arguing with Stiles took a lot out of him, which was stupid. Stiles sank down beside him and started riffling through his bag.

Stiles pulled out the package, wrapped in brown paper and handed it to Derek. Derek looked sideways at Stiles, who refused to look Derek in the eye, and took the package like it might be a bomb. Stiles understood Derek's trepidation, they never did this face to face, and Stiles was sure that any werewolf within ten miles could hear his heart hammering a nervous beat against his rib cage.

Derek slowly pulled away the paper until the leather-bound journal was touching his skin. Stiles knew how smooth it was. It was hand-made and delicately carved with thin boarders and a symbol in the center of the front that Stiles is sure is almost an exact match to Derek's tattoo. Stiles understood that the symbol meant something to Derek; he has a pretty good guess what.

Derek just stared down at the journal, his fingers tracing the symbol and flipping through the blank pages. He didn't speak and he didn't look at Stiles. Stiles felt the fear bubbling up in his throat that this was too much, too personal, even after Derek gave him fucking money for college.

Per his usual coping mechanisms, Stiles talked into the silence, "I'm, uh, I wasn't sure what sort of books or records made it through the, uh, fire. I thought maybe you would want to start another record, your record, your memories or something…"

This was so stupid Stiles thinks and he can't help but feel again how he seems to always fail spectacularly between vision and execution. But, then Derek lifted his head and turned eyes that were practically glowing onto Stiles.

Derek's voice was low, "thank you, Stiles."

Stiles nodded and then jumped slightly when Derek leaned in towards him. Stiles leaned back a little until his back was resting on the edges of the rotting stairs behind him. Derek kept moving towards Stiles until his upper body was pressed into Stiles chest. He rubbed his face into Stiles chest bone and ribs, and then moved up to nuzzle and sniff at the side of Stiles' neck.

Stiles' breath stuttered out, "Did the whole scenting thing wear off finally?"

Derek didn't answer and Stiles tried to stay still as Derek rubbed against him, almost like a puppy trying to show affection. Stiles brain lit up at the idea. Suddenly, through the haze of his thoughts, Stiles felt the soft, warm press of lips at his pulse point.

Stiles remained still and for once could only attempt steady breaths instead of trying to cease the constant flow of words, which had suddenly dried up like the driest of deserts. He feels the tingle of Derek's small, soft kiss even after Derek has pulled away and completely removed himself from Stiles' personal space.

Stiles remained where he was, laid back on the stairs and allowed his eyes to travel over Derek's profile where he has sat up and turned his face away from Stiles. A million and one things bubbled up Stiles throat but he ruthlessly shoved them back. He could feel his entire body thrumming with the need to speak, to fill the silence, to move. But, he knew, deep down, that it was very important in this moment that he didn't say anything.

Derek stood up and trooped up the stairs, Stiles didn't look at him as he passed and he heard Derek moving around the upstairs of the house. When he came back he didn't have the journal anymore and Stiles guessed that he'd put it in whatever room he utilizes up there.

Derek walked towards the door, "let's get this over with."

Stiles scrambled up from the stairs and followed Derek out of the house.

Derek walked over to his sleek, black car and Stiles wondered why Derek wasn't forcing Stiles to chauffeur him per the usual, "so, you've suddenly decided you would like to drive me around for once?"

Derek gave Stiles an annoyed look over the roof of the car, "No, I've decided that if we have to get the hell out of this meeting quickly, we won't be doing it in your car."

Stiles tried to act offended, "Hey now, Lucile is a go-getter ok? She can rumble with the best of them."

Stiles clambered into the sports car and proceeded to touch everything, this car was so sweet.

Derek started the car and slapped Stiles' hand as he reached for the gear shift, "would you stop molesting my car? She didn't like strangers touching her."

Stiles jerked his hand away and rubbed at the spot Derek touched, but he's too shocked to comment on Derek's perpetual propensity for violence, "Your car is a girl too?"

Derek glanced over to Stiles before sliding his eyes back to the road, his mouth twitched, "well, yeah, can't you tell?"

Stiles felt an unexpected laugh bubble out of his mouth, "Holy shit dude, did you just like make a joke? Were you being funny? I feel so dizzy. My world is spinning off its axis!"

Derek's mouth twitched again, but he said in a bored tone, "Control yourself."

Stiles crossed his arms over his chest to keep from touching anything and tried to keep the stupid grin off his face for the rest of the ride.

Stiles did what he was told for once and stood firmly behind Scott and Derek during the meeting. He stood still and remained quiet, even when Derek and Mr. Argent open the meeting with a silent staring competition. Seriously?

"You want to add to your pack, and I'm not sure how I feel about that in my territory."

Stiles could see Derek's shoulders tense slightly under his jacket, but he didn't growl, "first of all, this was my family's territory before you came here. We were part of the community, we protected the people here. We did not turn people against their will; we did not hunt or hurt humans. That was the way I was raised and it is the way I will run my own pack."

Derek paused before continuing, it was the most Stiles had ever heard him talk about his life before the fire, "as a hunter I know you are all too aware that others of my kind, other packs, do not share this idea. If I am to maintain my territory for the long term, and for the good of this town, then I will have to grow my pack."

Chris Argent sighed and Stiles thought he looked more tired than he had ever seemed, "I can't just let you turn half the kids in the local high school…"

Derek laughed and Stiles thought it sounded odd, "do you really think I want that? My family did have a large pack, both wolf and human…"

Derek voice had a strange growl to it as he said the word human and Stiles saw Argent flinch a little as he was reminded again of the atrocity his sister had committed. Allison's face was also pained for a moment as she stood resolutely behind her father, her eyes darting to Scott every few seconds.

Derek continued, "… but, I don't need an army, I just need to rebuild what was destroyed. I will turn anyone I deem worthy. In the tradition of my pack, I will fully explain every aspect of being a wolf, both good and bad, and I will only turn those who have accepted the bite after understanding how it will change their life."

Mr. Argent glanced back towards Allison and then turned his attention back to Derek, "Despite my sister's feelings on the matter, we have a code. I keep to the code. The code is what separates us."

Derek nodded, "I understand that. I know why you do what you do. I appreciate that there are still men like you who see the shades of grey that exist between your world and mine."

Stiles heard the restraint in Derek's voice, the things he wasn't saying about how that code hadn't kept his family safe. But, then, Stiles figured whatever werewolf code existed hadn't kept Peter from killing Laura, maybe that was what Derek was talking about in a sense.

Derek shifted his shoulders as if preparing for a fight, "now, what I'm asking is that you understand why I have to do what I need to in order to survive."

Argent nodded towards Stiles, "Will you be turning the Sheriff's kid first? Bold move."

Stiles couldn't keep his promise to be quiet anymore, but his voice was even when he spoke, "that's really none of your business. If I want to become a member of this pack, then I will. I think it is a decision I am clearly capable of discerning the pros and cons of."

Stiles saw Derek shift slightly, but he didn't look back at Stiles when he spoke, "Stiles is already a member of my pack, but he will remain human until such time as he no longer wishes to be. Whether that is in the near future or never? Only he can answer that."

Chris Argent nodded, "then I will consent to your request. I don't like it, but the treaty is only broken if the code is broken and the code is not broken if you are not harming humans."

Derek nodded and he and Scott started moving backwards even as the hunters retreated in the opposite direction. The meeting was over. They had achieved what they had wanted to. Derek could start building a pack. Scott could sorta keep dating Allison. Stiles could become a werewolf if he wanted to. Did he want to? Had Derek really told Chris Argent that Stiles was a member of his pack?

Stiles allowed himself to follow Scott and Derek back to where Derek's Camaro was parked. Scott unsurprisingly decided to walk home. He was probably going to run straight to Allison's window.

Stiles was going to remain silent the entire ride home, he knew Derek would appreciate the quiet and the time to untense all the various muscles that Stiles had seen twisting into knots with his own eyes as Derek and Mr. Argent had engaged in their stare down.

Stiles only made it halfway into the ride before his attempt at courtesy was over-ridden by his need to talk everything out, "so, I'm a member of your pack?"

Derek continued to stare out the windshield, "why do you say it like a question? I told you that. We had the discussion. I scent marked you."

Stiles shrugged, "well, yeah, I suppose. But, I just thought maybe you were humoring me. I figured that I had to be a werewolf to be in the pack for real, or, I mean, to be a real member, that counted and shit…"

Derek's eyes darted over to Stiles before going back to the road, "I don't humor people."

Stiles let out a tiny laugh, "truth."

Derek frowned, "I'm serious Stiles, if I say that you are a member of this pack then you are a member of this pack. You are not sort of a member, or a member when it is convenient, or a member except you aren't a wolf-member… you are a part of this pack. Got it?"

Stiles nodded, he felt an ache in his chest and some pressure behind his eyes that he would swear with his dying breath was allergies.

He took a moment to think about what Derek had said and then asked another question on his mind, he didn't think he'd get another opening, "but what if I wanted to become a werewolf?"

Derek's eyes flashed over to Stiles again except that this time they were the piercing red color of the alpha, "Then we would have a discussion about it."

Stiles huffed, "I've been having discussions about it, in my head, trust me."

Derek's mouth did that twitching thing again that Stiles knew meant he was trying not to smile, "how is that working out for you?"

Stiles leaned his head against the smooth glass of the window, "I'll let you know."

Derek nodded, "Let me know."

Stiles glanced over again at Derek as he let the words, the offer, sink into his brain. The words themselves hadn't been anything special and Derek's voice had been the usual gruff, to the point, monotone that Stiles had come to realize was just part of Derek's stoic thing he had going on. But, despite all that, it seemed to Stiles that those words were the kindest thing Derek Hale had ever said to him.

Stiles laid around in bed all day on Saturday and thought about his life. How did this become his life? He's a member of a werewolf pack. He may sorta kinda be a little in like with his alpha.

Stiles had just finished whipping some ten –year-old kid with the mouth of a sailor at Call of Duty when he felt more than heard Derek at his window. Stiles didn't really remember leaving it open, but he had made it a bad habit when people like Scott and Derek started using it like a door.

Derek sat on the bed and watches Stiles stack all his homework into neat piles before turning around in his desk chair with a deep, "you rang?"

Derek's face didn't even move and Stiles threw up his hands, "Oh my God, you have no appreciation for anything remotely related to pop culture!"

Derek shrugged, "are you still having nightmares?"

"Am I still having nightm...," it takes Stiles a second to remember because it has been a long few weeks and, again, this is his life, "oh, yeah, I mean, no, I'm not."

Derek nodded and continued to another subject like he had a list of topics to discuss as if this was some departmental meeting, "what do you think of Isaac Lahey?"

Stiles looked pointedly at Derek, "as a… friend? Lacrosse player? Werewolf?"

Derek shot Stiles an annoyed look, "what do you think?"

Stiles shrugged, "I like him. He's quiet, smart, a good athlete, and pretty level-headed I guess."

Stiles thought a minute, "His Dad works at the cemetery, a fucking dick too. I think he used to rough up his sons, he still might I don't know. My Dad got called over there a few times for domestic stuff, but it's been quiet in the past few years since Isaac's older brother died in Iraq. His mom died when he was really young."

Stiles was really proud of himself for keeping his voice steady towards the end and while he thought he saw Derek shift towards him slightly the alpha didn't really move or speak for a minute.

Finally, Derek said, "I'm going to turn him. We will need to do something about the father though; I haven't figured it out yet."

Stiles looked into Derek's eyes and he saw anger, "what do you mean?"

Derek definitely looked upset, but Stiles could tell that his control was total as he remained sitting on Stiles bed, "Things didn't calm down in that house Stiles, Isaac just got really good at hiding what was happening."

Stiles thought about this and immediately had to fight down the urge to call his Dad or do something, but Derek continued talking, "you will not speak to your Dad about this."

Stiles bit his lip but nodded.

Derek nodded back, "good, now, like I was saying. If you were," Derek searches for a word, "tormented like that and then someone made you stronger, faster, better… wouldn't you want to make them pay?"

Stiles rubbed at his super short hair and spun his computer chair back in forth in short twisting motions, "so, what you're saying is that you think Isaac would make a good werewolf, but you don't want to turn him until you know that he won't kill his father the second he wolfs out or gets angry?"

Derek nodded, "yes."

Stiles thought about Isaac, he didn't know him very well and now Stiles regrets that because it seemed like Isaac could have used a friend. Well, he has friends, but Stiles didn't think they're the kind of friends that Isaac really needed.

Stiles focused back on Derek, "maybe you're not giving Isaac enough credit."

Derek shrugged, "maybe you're not giving the overwhelming urge of a newly turned werewolf to kill enough respect."

Stiles shrugged back.

Derek stood up and walked back over to the window.

Stiles gave him a mock solute, "good talk."

Derek rolled his eyes before ducking out the window, but Stiles thought he saw his mouth twitch a little before he disappeared.

The next night Derek was in his bedroom again and Stiles was regretting his decision to just wear sleep pants to bed. This time Derek was occupying the chair beside Stiles bed as Stiles sat up under his covers. He was having a damn good dream about something and now he's just more than a little cranky.

Derek hasn't really spoken since he woke Stiles up and sat down, but Stiles is still crawling out of the dark abyss of sleep so he hasn't attempted to fill the silence yet. Plus, he knew he couldn't make Derek talk, or use whole sentences, or use a fucking door for that matter, so he settles for huffing out a breath and waiting.

This time Derek was forthcoming with the words, "I'm going to turn Isaac next week. I've been showing up little by little, talking to him, gaining his trust. I think he's going to agree soon."

Stiles hummed and scratched at his stomach.

Derek looked at the ceiling, his voice sounded strained, "I've never turned anyone. I wasn't ever supposed to be an alpha and Laura never really told me how it went exactly."

Stiles woke up at that. Is Derek actually admitting that he's scared? Has reservations? Did he climb into Stiles window at dark o'clock in the morning to have like a pillow talk session on performance anxiety?

Stiles heard a low growl and Derek's eyes flashed red in the darkness before he whispered, "it is not performance anxiety."

Stiles swallowed loudly and laughed nervously, "did I say that out loud? Not what I meant dude. Ok, look, you can do this. You just snap your jaws, a little pinch on the side, and bam! Right?"

Derek looked like he didn't even know how to look; murderous and annoyed were vying for the win, Stiles thought.

Derek sighed, "It's not that easy Stiles. I do have to bit them, but I also have to help them through the change. It isn't always easy. My mom and Laura...," Derek lost his voice for a second and Stiles felt his heart clench a little for him, "they were so good at it. My pack, my family, rarely turned people, but when we did Mom helped them through it and Laura grew up knowing how to be the same type of alpha my Mom was."

Stiles geared up for the pep-talk of his life and tried really hard to actually order his thoughts. He's not the best at not rambling even when it isn't two in the morning.

"Ok, Derek, here is the thing. Your Mom may have been grooming Laura to become the alpha, but she raised you ok? She taught you all the things you need to know and gave you all the tools you need just by loving you. I think that, at the end of the day, all anyone wants to know is that someone cares about them, someone has their back, someone loves them. A pack is a family right? So, treat your pack members like you would a family. Isaac has had a rough time of it. His real family didn't love him very much."

Stiles looked down at his bedspread and picked at the threading as he talked, "take it from someone who lives in a household that has been all male for a while now, guys have a hard time showing their emotions. But, you know, it's worth it to know that the other person knows that you care."

Stiles sighed, this pep-talk was taking its toll on him, "I guess what I'm saying is, you already know how to turn someone into a werewolf, that part is easy. Peter turned Scott so fast that Scott didn't even see him, he just felt the searing pain in his side. But, the part that I think you're struggling to get right is what comes after the bite, this idea of having to be a caretaker for someone. But, you can do that Derek. Ok? You've got this. Just don't lie to him and don't leave him to go through any of it alone."

Stiles finally looked up and Derek was looking right at him, his hazel eyes piercing into Stiles very being, seeing too much. Stiles let it happen though because he wants this moment. He wanted to remember how it felt to be open with someone, to be serious for once, to be emotional, and to not be afraid.

Between one blink and the next, Derek has moved from the chair to the bed, his entire frame only inches from Stiles and their eyes still locked. Stiles thinks that he stops breathing as Derek moves closer, slowly, his eyes blazing just as Stiles decides he can't take it anymore and he closes his own eyes.

He felt Derek's lips touch his own, feather light and the opposite of how he imagined Derek's kisses to be like. If he, you know, had actually ever thought about Derek's kissing style… because he hadn't. At all. Like ever.

Derek pulled back after just the chaste, moist press and Stiles couldn't hold back his question, "what was that?"

Derek didn't move away, but Stiles could see the same questions swimming in the werewolf's eyes, "I don't know."

Stiles smiled, "can we maybe do it some more until you figure it out."

That got Stiles a mouth twitch and another kiss. Derek leaned in more this time, his hands coming up to grip Stiles' shoulders and his mouth slanting firmer over Stiles to open his mouth and go deeper. Stiles moaned when Derek's tongue delved into his own mouth to explore and this, this is what he thought a Derek Hale kiss would feel like. You know, when he wasn't thinking about it and stuff.

Stiles mumbled something about repressed thoughts as he fell backwards, Derek followed him down until they were horizontal on the bed. Stiles brain short-circuited when he felt sharp teeth nip at his bottom lip and he jolted. Stiles was torn between freaking out that he was having a sexual experience on his bed with someone that isn't himself, and freaking out because it is Derek Hale!

Stiles opened his legs even though they were beneath the covers that were between himself and Derek. Stiles gasped as cool air hit his skin as the covers were suddenly ripped away and Derek's full weight settled onto him. Stiles had just a moment to be grateful that his covers didn't put up a fight and end up ripped to shreds on the floor.

He got distracted from that thought when he felt Derek rock his denim covered hips against Stiles cotton boxer clad cock, and oh my yes please more of that Stiles thought. Derek had managed to suck a wonderfully large hickey where Stiles neck meets his shoulder and Stiles brain had yet to catch up.

Most of the time Stiles' neurons are functioning at twice the speed of light, but in the time since Derek had closed the distance between them and placed his lips over Stiles' own, it seemed that the time space continuum has not been on Stiles' side. He can't think in complete sentences and he definitely can't keep track of hands or legs or the sounds he's making. He sort of let's Derek turn him into a road map of marks while ineffectively pulling at Derek's own shirt until the werewolf raised up and threw it off on his own.

Stiles laughed because it's funny, maybe, no definitely. It's funny that he is here in his bed with Derek who he's managed to share so much more than he has with someone else in a long time, and now he's sharing the one final thing he hasn't managed to share with anyone else.

Stiles ran his fingers down Derek's abs, his fucking perfect abs, and then pulled him down towards him so he can feel all that hot skin flush against his own. Stiles brushes his lips down the side of Derek's neck and nips at his pulse point to see what happens. He knows he can't mark Derek as spectacularly as Derek is marking him, but he can get an A for effort.

Stiles worries the bit of skin on Derek's shoulder using his teeth and then licks it away to get more of Derek's taste on his tongue. There are so many things Stiles has wanted to try, to experiment with, and finally he has a real, living, breathing body on top of him to attempt it all on. He's excited and nervous and even though his mind is a spastic blur, he's surprisingly calm on the outside.

He didn't talk much, just made a lot of appreciative noises as Derek nosed at his neck and gently stroked his sides. Stiles didn't think that, given a long term shot at this with Derek, every time will be as slow and quiet as the pace they've set right now. But, it seemed to him that through some silent agreement, neither he nor Derek want to break the spell. Stiles was afraid that if he talked too much then the precarious alignment of the stars that has taken place in the confines of his bedroom at his very moment would shatter.

Stiles groaned as Derek kissed him deep again before moving down to kiss across Stiles chest. Stiles hoped he's right about where Derek is going, and god knows he didn't want to stop him, but he wanted one more taste. Stiles gripped Derek's hair and pulled him back up once more to lick at his mouth and scrape his teeth along his jaw. It's not particularly coordinated and Stiles is very aware that he can't actually make Derek move anywhere he didn't want to, but he felt Derek shudder on top of him and he grinned slightly when he heard a suspicious rumble in Derek's chest.

Stiles had never felt more powerful than he does right now. Even while he's lying on his back watching Derek's frame move down the bed. Even as he logically knew that Derek's almost alpha canines have never been as close to the vulnerable skin of Stiles abdomen as they are right now. He still felt in control and liberated and wanted. It's a new feeling for Stiles.

He reveled in it until he felt Derek's mouth stop at the top of his boxers and then he reveled in that. He looked down into glowing red eyes and he's more turned on than he's even been in his life and less scared of Derek than he's been in months. Stiles wasn't sure what words suffice in this instance and so he just whined and arched his hips a bit, maybe that will work.

Derek responded with a look that is softer than any look Stiles had ever seen on his face, but still as unintelligible as all his other looks. Stiles must have done something right though because he gasped as his boxers are ripped down and there is hot breath ghosting over his cock. Derek looked up at Stiles again who managed to tear his gaze away from the ceiling to look back just as Derek lowered his mouth down to slide onto Stiles' cock.

Stiles maybe let out a few choice words and blasphemed a few high saints. But he didn't close his eyes and he didn't look away from Derek. Analytically he's cataloguing every experience: the wet heat, the suction, the way that Derek moved his tongue or his head or his hands, because Stiles can feel it and see it. But, most of his brain is too busy watching the way Derek seemed to be enjoying this, thinking about all the reasons Derek might be good at this, and holding on desperately to his dignity and his orgasm.

Stiles made it a few minutes longer than he thought he would and it was a hard worn battle. He twisted his sheet with one hand and moved the other to Derek's hair to give him a warning tug, but he just sinks down further and flicked his tongue across the underside of Stiles' cock. Stiles came with a gasp and a moan and another noise that he didn't have a name for and won't admit to later anyway. He could feel the firm grip Derek had on his hips and he felt grounded even as he felt lightheaded.

Stiles came back to himself just as Derek is moving up to kiss him. His first reaction is, ew, wait, your mouth was just… but, he gets over it as Derek kisses his breath away. Stiles reached down, his fingers skimming along Derek's skin to palm the front of his jeans. But he'd been a little shocked to discover a wet spot and a soft bulge.

Stiles raised an eyebrow and tried to formulate a questions that isn't: you jizzed your pants giving me a blowjob?

He can't find one so he didn't say anything and Derek does his level best to not look sheepish when he says, "your mattress was accommodating."

Stiles barked out a laugh that sounded loud in the silent semi-darkness of his room but he can't be sorry, "did you just make another joke? Is that going to become a thing now, you being funny?"

Derek tried to look annoyed and failed, he huffed and rolled off Stiles to the side and stared at the ceiling, "I can be funny."

Stiles thought his voice sounds wistful, like what he means is that he was funny once and Stiles wonders just as much as Derek does how much of that person still lingers under the surface.

Stiles pulled his boxers back up, looked over at Derek's profile, and then threaded his fingers through Derek's before he responded, "I'm just glad the right wolf is winning."

Derek looked over at Stiles then and his eyes are full of things that Stiles understands he's not near ready enough to say. Stiles just smiled back and they stare at the ceiling some more in companionable silence. Stiles wondered if he should offer to make late-night, morning-after but not really pancakes. He could do that. His Dad's working a late shift.

Derek sighed and Stiles wondered what it's like to have to be Derek. He thought that maybe the best thing he can do is try to lighten the burden for Derek just a little every day.

Stiles smiled and gestured between he and Derek, "well, anyway, in the event that this becomes a thing, I'm going to have to add lube to the pile of history books I've been leaving you."

Stiles was rewarded with Derek's laugh, a real one, that shook the whole bed.

One Month Later

Stiles wasn't surprised that he's being chased through the woods by a rouge hunter who Chris Argent said was crazy as a mad hatter. He also wasn't surprised that somewhere in the same woods is Isaac Lahey drunk on his first full moon and out of control. All Stiles could think about as he darted around trees and leaped over logs is that this shit better calm down once school starts back.

He threw himself behind and tree and waited. He could hear the hunter crashing through the woods, not stealthy at all. Maybe your hunting skills deteriorate with your mind? Stiles heard Scott's howl up ahead in the woods and he knew that it would give him the advantage he needed. The hunter wasn't prepared for Stiles when he jumped out from behind the tree as the hunter passed it.

Stiles swiped a foot out and the hunter lands on his ass, his cross bow arrow shooting up and wide of its intended target of Stiles' heart. The hunter reached for a gun in his side holster but Stiles throw himself onto the guy and punched him in the shoulder to weaken his arm and again in the side to hinder his breathing. The guys old and Stiles only felt a little bad when he landed a solid blow to the guys face, knocking him out cold.

He stood up just as Derek came barreling through the woods from the right. He looked down at the hunter and then at Stiles and he smiled, "glad to see all those lessons are going to good use."

Stiles scoffed, "even if you use them now to cop a feel more than you do to teach me actual fighting skills."

Derek moved quickly until he was up in Stiles face, his hands caught in the fabric of Stiles' shirt. His lips brushed over Stiles' as their mouths slotted together and he let his tongue touch Stiles' tongue only briefly before he tore himself away and said, "That is untrue."

He bounded away calling over his shoulder, "we've almost got Isaac cornered, go home and get some rest and I'll come see you once I've got everything under control."

Stiles watched Derek run away and then turned to look back at the unconscious lump of a hunter. He dug his phone out of his pocket and flipped through his contacts before holding the phone up to his ear.

Stiles looked around the woods wondering if he could explain where he was when a gruff voice answered the other end and Stiles grinned, "hello Mr. Argent, I was wondering if you would like to pick up a package for me? I'm just looking to get rid of something I found in the woods…"

A few minutes later Stiles hung up the phone and started jogging in the general direction of where he last saw his car. He looked down to see a tear in the front of his new red hoodie. It looked like tiny claw puncture marks from a too tight grip. Stiles growled and cursed werewolves as he moved through the trees. Derek was totally buying him a new hoodie tomorrow.

That was what he got for being friends with a werewolf. And for dating one too.

Stiles grinned to himself and didn't even care if anyone was around in the woods to see him looking like a lunatic.

Seriously?! This is his life.