Greetings and salutations!

Long time, no see, right? How I have missed this story and missed all of you. It's so good to be back. Life was super crazy for a while: since I last updated I have moved (packing and unpacking, ugh just kill me), lost my grandmother after a long illness, and dealt with some health issues. Yikes and away.

I want to first of all thank each person who took time to review, leave me a word of encouragement, or just let me know they were excited for this story and looking forward to it being updated, either here or on my tumblr. While it has taken far too long, I have finally managed to put together something that I am pleased with. There aren't enough words to say how sorry I am that this took so long. I hope that you all enjoy this chapter.

Love and sloppy kisses to Beth for doing me the honor of beta-ing this chapter! Any mistakes are my own, as I can't leave things alone and have to mess with it more...

Laura paused for a moment before cautiously asking, "When was I going to tell you what?"

"Oh, come on, Laura," Derek scoffed. "Don't play dumb with me. Why didn't you or Peter tell me there was an Argent in the academy that, oh by the way, happens to be the dominant of my submissive's best friend? When did they come back?"

"Damn it," he heard Laura swear under her breath. "It just seemed better not to tell you just yet, Derek. We were going to tell you when we got back, though, I swear. You seemed so pleased to be back and were doing so well–"

"Of course I was!" snarled Derek in exasperation. "That's because I didn't know the family that ruined my life was lurking around just waiting for me to let my guard down so they can finish what they started!"

"You don't actually believe that, do you?" Laura asked, sounding shocked. She angrily continued before Derek could answer, "Chris has publicly decried Kate and distanced himself from Gerard. Allison is a sweet and lovely girl, a good student and a good Domme. Chris and Victoria were reluctant for her to claim a werewolf, given the family's past history. They were worried about public perception, and rightfully so. Because they were worried about how Allison might be viewed, claiming a werewolf when her aunt was serving time for murdering the Alpha's family, they tried to dissuade her; but she was determined to have Scott, and they are very happily claimed. Peter and Chris spent a lot of time discussing the claim, if it would be a detriment or benefit. They decided together that letting Allison and Scott get claimed would go a long way to showing that not all hunters are like Kate, the Argents in particular."

Derek rolled his eyes and laughed harshly. "So big of them, deigning to take a wolf in their home. I'm sure they sleep just fine at night with a perfectly clear conscience, not a worry in the world, while our family was trapped and burned to death by one of them! Should I watch my back now? How am I supposed to let Stiles anywhere near them when I have absolutely no desire to be in the presence of murderers?"

"Derek," Laura said softly, "You have to understand, Allison isn't Kate. Chris nearly didn't enroll her in the academy to begin with, but Peter talked him into it. Trying to mend bridges and show solidarity."

"Oh, of course," Derek snorted in derision. "After all, he is THE Alpha now. Gotta look good for the public. It's all politics where he's concerned."

"That's unfair and you know it," argued Laura. "As the Alpha he has to look at the big picture and consider all sides for the better benefit of all. He can't let personal feelings interfere. He hasn't forgotten any of what happened. Mom was his sister. He and Aunt Emmy were mate bonded, and she was pregnant. If you think for even one minute that he doesn't live with that loss everyday, you are wrong."

Derek rubbed a hand over his face and sighed. "I know that," he said. "I just wish you had said something to me first. I should have been informed."

"I see that now," answered Laura apologetically. "I guess maybe in our defense, we wanted to protect you as long as we could. Be honest, would you have come back from New York if you'd known?" When Derek didn't answer, his silence telling, she sighed sadly. "I didn't think so. Please believe me, though, when I tell you we did what we thought was best. For all of us." She sighed again. "It would've been nice for you to get to enjoy your new claim for at least a little while before getting news of that nature. How did you find out, anyway?"

"Stiles let it slip," Derek said wryly. "We were getting ready to go to his Dad's house to pack his things to move, and he offered his friend's services. I was a bit leery of having him around another wolf right now, even a submissive one, so I mentioned a play date instead." He huffed out a deep breath. "He looked so horrified when he realized what he'd said."

Laura made a soft noise of sympathy. "Oh, the poor thing. I wasn't sure if he knew or even remembered, he would have been so young when it happened. It was kept pretty hush hush at the school so as to protect Allison, but I'm sure anyone who wanted to know could find out, and Stiles is definitely a curious one. He must be absolutely heartbroken right now, thinking he's upset or disappointed you, and then hearing you yelling at me. I hope you didn't punish him."

"Of course I didn't punish him; he hasn't done anything wrong. I sent him downstairs to breakfast before I called. There was no need for him to hear all this," Derek answered, rubbing absently at his chest. It had been aching slightly since he called Laura. He attributed it to his hurt anger.

"You did what?" Laura asked sharply.

Derek sat up straighter at her tone. "I sent him downstairs. He was already discomfited enough without listening to me yell at you. What's wrong, Lola? What aren't you telling me?"

"Derek, you have to get to him! Stiles has panic attacks, he could be in trouble right now," Laura said, her voice bordering on frantic. "I thought he was there with you, but if he's alone and upset he could very easily have an episode. He'll need your help."

"Shit," swore Derek as he leapt to his feet. "This isn't over, Laura. You, Peter and I will be having a long talk when you get home tomorrow, but my submissive needs me right now. I'll talk to you later." He hung up without waiting for her to answer and hurried for the door. Because of the special arrangement of their claim, Derek hadn't had the time to study Stiles' file to learn about medical history or needs. While Maks had said Stiles took medication for ADD, panic attacks hadn't been mentioned. Derek resolved to spend some time with Maks getting all the pertinent information he needed to know and putting it on file in his phone for future reference. He had dealt with anxiety in a submissive before, but this was far different, and he felt the cold edge of fear as he rushed down the stairs in search of his boy.

Stiles stumbled slightly as he entered the kitchen. Making his way to the table, he quickly sat down. His knees felt like jelly, and it had nothing to do with the time he had recently spent on them. He couldn't believe he'd been so careless, so stupid. Of all things to do, to blithely suggest Derek meet with one of the Argents, even if Allison and her parents hadn't been involved in the tragedy. From the stunned look on Derek's face, he hadn't known Chris and Victoria had returned to Beacon Hills.

Though it was common knowledge that the Hales had been victims of a murderous hunter, most of the students that had lived in Beacon Hills at the time had been young enough to have forgotten the connection between the Hale and Argent families. Peter was a powerful Alpha, and out of respect and deference to him, any gossip was kept quiet and behind closed doors. Never one to let idle curiosity get the better of him, though, Stiles had gone to the library after seeing Derek for the first time at school. Hearing Lydia's story of the Hale family tragedy had struck a chord in him even before he knew he would actually be connected to the family. Who wouldn't be swayed by local scandal? Especially when presented with a Byronic hero such as Derek Hale. Mysterious, brooding, tortured by his past, and gifted with sensual good looks that had led to downfall. Seriously, Stiles defied any of the authors he'd studied in lit class to write any better. Eat your heart out, Mr. Rochester.

Explaining his presence as a need to research for an upcoming paper to the wary librarian, who obviously hadn't forgotten the circumcision essay debacle, Stiles sequestered himself at one of the work areas towards the back where he wasn't likely to be disturbed. Even though the police files would have been even better, he had figured he would be able to sneak in his dad's file room at another time and read them. Google, however, was his friend, and he went to work. It didn't take long for him to strike pay dirt. The fire had been a huge media storm, even making the national level.

Massive Fire Rips Through Hale Home

Prominent Werewolf Family Struck By Tragedy As Four Alarm Blaze Kills 8

Respected Alpha Talia Hale Among Victims Of Deadly Disaster

Grim Discovery: Werewolf Family Escape Would Have Been Impossible

"No Accident." Investigators Say Hale Fire Was Deliberate, Mountain Ash Barrier Kept Family Trapped. Incident Now Classified As Hate Crime.

California Governor Condemns "Senseless Act Of Violence," Offers Support To New Alpha Peter Hale

Investigation Turns To Hunter Clan As Evidence Mounts

Teenage Submissive Arrested As Accessory To Hale Blaze, Turns State's Evidence

Extremist Hunter Faction Protests Argent Trial, Claims Solidarity With Rogue Huntress

There had been so many more that Stiles hadn't had time to read them all. But one article in particular had caught his attention.

Deception, Seduction, and Manipulation: How One Hunter Went Too Far

Dominant Katherine Anne Argent, 25, was arrested Saturday after a week long manhunt that spanned three states. She was wanted as the main person of interest in connection to the massive fire that killed 8 members of the Hale family, including Domme Talia Hale, who was Alpha of the Hale pack and its territory.

Beacon Hills has been part of Hale pack territory for decades, and the werewolf clan has always helped maintain the peace while guarding the town's inhabitants. When the mansion they called home went up in flames, it seemed a horrible tragedy. But daylight brought the grim discovery that not only had the fire been deliberately set but the doors and windows had been lined with mountain ash and wolfsbane powder to prohibit escape. What began as a devastating catastrophe quickly became a crime scene for arson, entrapment and murder.

Authorities were initially baffled as to who could have had such an agenda against the Hale pack. They were incredibly well liked and respected in the community and the idea that someone could have done something so unspeakable was mind boggling. Interviews with surviving pack members proved illuminating, and the search for Kate Argent began in earnest.

Domme Argent had been a substitute teacher at the Hale Academy and had begun a clandestine affair with the Alpha's underage son. She disguised herself as an unclaimed submissive, coloring over her tattoo to make it appear black instead of red. Under this pretense, she had been able to befriend the boy, manipulating him into thinking she was endangered by her father, known extremist Gerard Argent. Convincing the young Hale that she wanted him as her Dom, she seduced him with promises of agreeing to a claim once he was tattooed. Once she had earned the boy's trust, she began plying him for information about the pack under guise of getting to know more about her future "family."

It turned out that, like her father, Domme Argent had extremist views that involved killing all werewolves, not just those gone feral or rogue. In violation of the universal code upheld by hunters worldwide, she devised her plan to bring about the demise of the Hale pack. Revealing herself as a dominant undercover to an unclaimed submissive that had a troubled history, Domme Argent was able to convince the teenager to help her carry out her murderous plan in exchange for claiming him once they rid the area of wolves.

Law enforcement officials were able to get the submissive to turn state's evidence in their case against Domme Argent. Her murder of a prominent werewolf pack combined with illegal relationships with two underage and unclaimed boys further scandalized the nation, and prosecutors are confident that, in face of all the evidence against her, they will get a conviction.

Stiles remembered reading that Kate Argent had been found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. When Allison had first come to school, her parents had met previously with the headmaster several times, and it had been hinted by the teachers whatever family secret they were protecting was best left alone. A few rumors had gone around, typical high school, but then Jackson–ever the drama queen–went through his kanima phase and everyone lost interest in the pretty but quiet Domme and had been swept up in the drama of having a homicidal lizard running amok in Beacon Hills.

Stiles had always been able to put two and two together. Obviously Allison's aunt had been the crazy woman Lydia had said was responsible for killing the Hale family, which meant she had been the older woman who had done the unspeakable and manipulated an underage Derek into an illicit affair. No wonder he looked so angry at the world. No doubt he probably blamed himself for what happened. Stiles knew he would, if the shoe were on the other foot. And now he had just blithely suggested Derek get to know the niece of the person responsible for fucking his life up, like it was no big deal. Stiles groaned and banged his head on the table a few times. Way to go, dumbass. He couldn't have messed things up more if he had tried.

The sort of trauma inflicted on the Hale family by the Argents wasn't easily forgiven and would never be forgotten, Stiles understood that. He had lost his mother at an early age and that loss still hurt even today, so for Derek, having lost almost his entire pack, it had to be devastating. It was hard to reconcile kind and loving Allison, who was always so straightforward and honest, with being the same blood as someone who was willing to go to such terrible lengths to destroy. Stiles knew Allison loved Scott, it was obvious in everything she did, whether she was praising him for good behavior or punishing him for bad. Her parents seemed a bit leery of their relationship at times and Stiles knew they had been against Allison claiming Scott to begin with, but he was treated well by them and they didn't interfere with Allison's care of Scott.

Stiles sighed unhappily. He wondered if Derek was going to punish him. Wow. Claimed less than 24 hours and already in trouble. That had to be some sort of record or something. Lead Stiles not unto temptation, he could find it himself far too easily. Derek had told him to eat, but Stiles found he didn't have much of an appetite now. He ran a hand through his hair as he stood up and went to look in the cabinets to see if Peter kept something as plebeian as pop tarts in his house. That way he could still follow Derek's instructions without making himself sick trying to eat something more substantial. His search was semi successful. There was a box of strawberry pop tarts towards the back of one cabinet, but they were the unfrosted kind. Stiles wrinkled his nose, then shrugged. At least they weren't those weird fiber ones he'd bought once for his dad. Once. Maybe he could put in a special grocery request with Libby, if it was okay with Derek. He sat back down and opened the packet of pastries. After taking one bite and choking it down, he got up to fix himself a glass of milk. He was going to need it.

Once he sat back down, Stiles went on to methodically nibbling on his breakfast. He wondered what Derek was doing and what was taking so long. His chest felt achy and he felt slightly abuzz with nervous energy. There was a sense of unhappiness he couldn't quite shake. He had upset his Dominant, even if it had been unintentional. It grated on him, made him feel even more fidgety than usual.

Just when Stiles was going to toss caution to the wind and risk Derek's ire by going back to their room in search of him, his Dom strode into the kitchen. He scanned the kitchen quickly, looking almost anxious and then relieved to see Stiles sitting at the table, empty glass and crumbs testimony to his obedience. Stiles quickly wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and without another thought slid off the chair to fall to his knees on the cold tile floor. He placed his hands palm down on his knees and kept his gaze to the floor, waiting for Derek to acknowledge him so he could apologize. It didn't take long; Derek placed a hand on Stiles' shoulder almost immediately.

"What are you doing? Are you okay?" Derek asked, and Stiles felt relieved that he didn't sound angry at all. He sounded confused, though, which surprised Stiles into looking up before dropping his gaze again. He took a deep breath.

"I wanted to apologize, sir. I spoke without thinking and upset you. I wasn't thinking about what I was saying and I'm sorry," Stiles said. He fought against the urge to fidget nervously.

Derek was quiet for a moment. "I see," he finally said, just as Stiles was beginning to get anxious. "I take it you know some of what happened?" he asked, tone neutral.

Stiles hesitated, then nodded. "A little. I went to the library after you came to our table the other day and looked you up online," he confessed. "I was curious about you, but I probably shouldn't have done it. It was a violation of your privacy and I'm really sorry. If you have to punish me I understand."

"Punish you?" Derek asked, sounding surprised. "Stiles, you haven't done anything wrong. My reaction had nothing to do with your suggestion of having your friend and his Domme over, okay? I didn't know that there were Argents in Beacon Hills again; Peter and Laura didn't tell me," he said, bitterness lacing his words. "None of this is your fault, though. I'm sorry if I made you feel that it was. I handled it badly and I owe you an apology, not the other way around."

Stiles looked at the floor again. "I should have known better, though. I mean, why would you want to meet anyone who was related that person? I know I wouldn't. It was a dumb idea."

Derek tugged lightly at Stiles' shoulder, urging him to his feet. "You listen to me," he said firmly, "You had no way of knowing that I didn't know or how I would react. Yes, I was upset, but not because of you. Don't think that. I would like to meet your friend and his Dominant one day, okay? I don't think today is a good day, though, and it isn't because she's an Argent, but because he's a werewolf. Right now my instincts are at a high and I could see him as a challenge for you, even though he isn't. I told you we would arrange a play date and we will. Right now, though, my priority is getting you moved in here with me. Once things get settled down, I'll call her myself."

Stiles gave his Dom a hesitant smile. "You will? Because that would be really awesome. And I really am sorry, I shouldn't—" His words cut off as Derek placed a finger against his lips.

"Shhhhhh, no more. It's water under the bridge and we won't talk about it any more. Okay?" Derek asked. He waited for Stiles to nod before taking his finger away. "Good boy," he said, smiling as the praise made Stiles smile bigger in return. Derek's smile turned mischievous. "What we can talk about is you looking me up," he teased.

Stiles felt his face heating up. "What? I was curious about you." When Derek smirked at him with one brown raised, he threw up his hands. "I was! The fact that you're hot didn't have anything to do with it. Much. Okay, maybe a little," he relented. When Derek didn't say anything, but continued to give him that look, Stiles finally huffed, "Fine! I confess I wanted to know more about the Headmaster's hot nephew, alright? But it wasn't just because of your looks."

Derek sighed dramatically. "And here I was hoping." When Stiles sputtered in response, Derek looked pleased with himself. He glanced at the clock on the wall and said, "We're late, we need to get going. I want this done and over with as quickly as possible. If nothing else, I at least want your things here. We can unpack and get things settled at our leisure; we can even wait until the house staff is back to let them take care of it, if need be." He picked up the keys to the Toyota and held out a hand to Stiles.

Stiles took Derek's hand and let himself be led to the SUV. Even if things appeared to be normal and Derek seemed fine now, he was still upset with himself. He couldn't shake the feeling of guilt souring his stomach. Maybe moving his belongings would help get his mind off things.

Maksym Stilinski taped a box of books closed. He had gotten up early and begun packing up Stiles' things so that it would expedite the move. Stiles and Derek hadn't shown up yet, and Maks didn't want to speculate on what might have possibly delayed them. At some point when he wasn't looking, his son had grown up. Now Stiles was moving out, involved in his first claim, and his sex life wasn't something Maks really wanted to dwell on. He couldn't deny, though, that the house seemed too quiet and rather lonely without him. Eating a meat lover's pizza the night before just hadn't been as fulfilling as he'd thought it would be. He'd never thought he would miss Stiles' lectures about his eating habits. Maybe he was just getting old.

Maks carried the box over and added it to the stack he'd made. The room was nearly completely packed up. He'd already emptied the dressers and closet. The furniture would be staying behind, as Stiles didn't currently need it. Maks had been sure to pack some of Stiles' favorite pictures, as well as his old teddy bear that Angie had bought him for his second birthday. He was sure Derek would do what he could to make Stiles feel at home in the Hale household, but a few reminders of home couldn't hurt.

He had just put together another box when he heard a car pull up in the driveway. Maks stood quickly and hurried downstairs, eager to see his son. Throwing open the door, he stepped out on the porch with a wide smile. His smile faded, however, when he saw Stiles get out of the vehicle. He looked unhappy, as though there was something was wrong. All of Maks' protective paternal instincts flared to life and he rushed down the steps to meet Stiles half way. He put a hand on Stiles' shoulder and tipped his chin up with the other.

"What's wrong?" Maks asked, frowning in concern. His frown got deeper when Stiles hesitated, looking to Derek first as his dominant came up behind him. "Stiles," Maks said sharply. He hadn't realized that he'd let dominance bleed into his tone until Stiles jerked and visibly shivered, and Derek stiffened and growled softly, eyes flashing blue in warning.

Damn. The last thing he wanted to do was to confuse Stiles by making him feel trapped between two dominants, especially between his father and his new Dom. Raising the ire of a werewolf dominant in a new claim wasn't the best idea, either. Gentling his tone, he tried again. "I'm sorry, Stiles. I didn't mean to use that tone with you. But I know you. I can tell something's wrong. Talk to me, son."

For a moment, Maks thought Stiles wasn't going to answer him. His frustration grew when Stiles averted his eyes and said, "Nothing, Dad. Everything's fine. Just ready to get the move over with, I guess." He looked back and gave him what was supposed to look like a carefree grin, but it didn't reach his eyes. Maks frowned. He knew when Stiles wasn't being honest with him and it was an effort not to put him in the nearest corner until he could be truthful. He narrowed his gaze on Derek Hale, who stared back at him with an inscrutable look. Something wasn't right and Maks was going to get to the bottom of it.

"I've started packing your things already, Stiles, but there's still a little ways to go before it's all done. Why don't you go work in your room?" Maks said, careful not to make it sound like an order. He then turned to Derek. "Dom Hale, I would be delighted for you to join me in the kitchen. I put coffee on just a bit ago and there is plenty. We can talk a bit before joining Stiles," he stated, his tone indicating that he was not making a suggestion and brooking no refusal from either young man.

Stiles didn't move and his face betrayed his conflict. He looked as though he wanted to obey, but something held him back. Maks bit back the urge to just make it an order, knowing that would make everything worse. He watched in silence as Derek stepped over to Stiles and put a hand on one cheek, murmuring something softly in his ear. Stiles noticeably relaxed and nodded, looking pleased when Derek raised Stiles' cuffed arm to his mouth to kiss the leather strap adorning his wrist. With another quick, reluctant glance between Maks and Derek, Stiles hurried up the stairs.

Maks turned and walked into the kitchen, knowing Derek would follow him. He silently pulled two coffee mugs down from the cabinet and filled them. "There's sugar and Splenda on the sideboard, if you like. Milk or creamer?" he asked as he opened the refrigerator to take out the vanilla flavored creamer he indulged himself with.

"What you have is fine," answered Derek, his tone neutral.

Maks nodded and poured a small amount into his mug before handing the container to Derek. The clink of spoons against porcelain was the only sound in the room as both men prepared their coffee. They didn't look at each other as they sipped at the hot beverage. The silence stretched out for several moments and finally Maks had enough. He sat his mug on the counter with a thump and crossed his arms in his best interrogation pose.

"What's wrong with my son?" Maks demanded.

Derek raised an unperturbed brow and took another sip of his coffee. "There's nothing wrong with my submissive," he answered flatly.

"Oh, come on, Hale," scoffed Maks. "Don't give me that. I know when something's wrong. You may be his dominant, but I'm his father. You've been a claim for two days and already my son looks jumpy and unhappy. I know when he's upset about something, and so help me, if you've abused him I'll see to it that you never—"

Derek slammed his mug down with a loud thud. "Is that what you think? You think I've done something to Stiles to hurt him or break his trust? You honestly think I'm capable of that?" he snapped angrily, eyes flashing blue. "Have you forgotten, Sheriff, that I know what it's like to be mistreated and have your trust broken?"

Maks stood his ground. "I haven't accused you of anything yet, Dom Hale, all I've done is say that something is wrong with my boy and if you are the reason—"

"Dad!" exclaimed Stiles from the doorway, drawing the startled attention of both dominants. They had been so focused on their argument that neither had noticed him coming back downstairs. "Stop it! Derek didn't do anything, it was my fault!" He strode into the kitchen to stand between them, panting slightly and looking between them with obvious distress. "I can't stand this. It makes my head hurt for you to argue with each other!"

"Stiles, you have to calm down, you're going to have a panic attack," exclaimed Maks in alarm. He watched as Derek quickly put his hands on Stiles' shoulders and drew him close. The tension literally melted out of Stiles and he closed his eyes as he lay his head on Derek's shoulder. Derek stroked a hand up and down Stiles' back in a soothing manner while whispering in his ear. After a few moments Stiles nodded and Derek made an approving noise. When Stiles raised his head, Derek dropped a quick kiss on his mouth.

"You're my good boy, Stiles. Now do what you were told and go finish packing. Your dad and I will be along soon to help. I promise," Derek said. Stiles looked at Maks, a plea in his eyes, before turning back to Derek and nodding, then going back upstairs.

Maks and Derek stared at each other for a moment. Derek broke the heavy silence first.

"The Argents are back in town," he said quietly. "I didn't know. Peter and Laura kept it from me, and while I don't agree with their reasoning, I guess to a degree I understand them. I only found out when Stiles asked about having his friend Scott come over to help with packing and moving. He let it out that Scott's Domme is Kate Argent's niece and I reacted poorly. I've tried to make him understand he didn't do anything wrong, but he thinks he has. He thinks I'm angry over being asked to associate with an Argent, when I'm actually angry I didn't know such a possibility still actually existed."

"Ah, hell," swore Maks, pinching the bridge of his nose and sighing heavily. Looking Derek in the eye, he said, "I thought you needed to be told. I even said as much to the Alpha. I didn't think to warn Stiles against saying anything about Allison until it was a sure thing you'd been informed about their return." He took a deep breath and heaved it back out again. "When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong. I owe you an apology, for both my inactions and my actions. I should have spoken to Stiles about Allison, and I didn't. And I shouldn't have reacted the way I did or said the things I said when you got here. Understand, though, I will always do everything to protect my son."

Derek nodded his head once in acknowledgement. "I appreciate what you're saying. Right now I just want it in the past and to move forward. I signed a contract and swore before both the Alpha and the Magistrate that I would take care of Stiles and protect him, and I intend to do just that." He picked up his coffee cup and took a swallow of the cooling liquid. "Let's not argue, Sheriff. We both want the same thing; what's best for Stiles."

"Agreed," said Maks as he drained his own mug. "We should get upstairs before Stiles worries himself into a frenzy." He waited while Derek finished off his own coffee. "Something you'll need to know; Stiles tends to blame himself for things that aren't his fault. It gets in his head, and it'll be up to you to get him out of that place when it happens." When Derek nodded in understanding, Maks held out his hand. Derek took it and they firmly shook hands, both relieved to have come to an understanding.

"Before we leave today, I need to make sure I get some medical history from you about Stiles, copies of medical records or at least something letting me know about him so I am aware," Derek said as they put their mugs in the sink. Maks walked to the dining room table and picked up a manila envelope marked "DOM DEREK HALE."

"I have everything here," Maks said. "I actually meant to give it to you yesterday, but since I was delayed for the ceremony I didn't want to be even later by coming home first. There's copies of his records as well as all his legal documents; birth certificate, immunizations, blood results, that sort of thing. His passport's in there as well, just in case. If I've missed anything, just let me know."

Derek nodded. "I appreciate it," he said, placing the envelope on the table by the door and putting his keys on top of it. The two dominants headed up the stairs, each wanting to check on the young submissive they knew was probably pacing anxiously, wondering what was going on.

Later that night, Derek and Stiles were working together in their room. With the Sheriff's help, packing Stiles' things into the SUV had gone quickly, and they were able to move everything in just a couple of trips. It hadn't taken them long to get the boxes unloaded, and they were unpacking and organizing. Derek was putting Stiles' clothes away in the closet and dresser, keeping a close watch on Stiles. His submissive was being unusually quiet, and Derek wasn't sure if it was a lingering reaction to the earlier conflict between himself and Maks, or if it was because Stiles was still upset over what happened with the accidental Argent reveal. Stiles kept his head down and kept kneeling for long moments next to boxes before cutting the tape to open them, deliberately getting into submissive posture. Derek knew something was wrong, but he couldn't figure out just what. His wolf whined anxiously, unhappy that there was obviously something wrong with his boy. Derek wanted to wait for Stiles to say something to him; he didn't want to have to make it a command for Stiles to do so, but he didn't know exactly what to do to get his submissive to open up.

Finally, when Stiles angrily cut the tape on a box and nicked his finger in the process, causing him to grunt in pain before sticking his finger in his mouth to suck off the welling blood, Derek had enough.

"Come here, Stiles," Derek ordered softly. Stiles stood and crossed the room to stand in front of Derek. His eyes were downcast, his lips trembling slightly. Derek took his hand, looked carefully at the cut on his finger, and gently maneuvered Stiles to the bathroom so he could clean and bandage the cut. Stiles remained silent as he was tended to. When he was finished, Derek led Stiles back to the bedroom and placed a kneeling cushion he'd brought along from the Stilinski house on the floor.

"Kneel for me," Derek said. When Stiles obeyed, quickly and without comment, Derek sighed to himself quietly. He tilted Stiles' chin up. "Look at me, that's a good boy. Now, tell me what's wrong. And don't tell me nothing, you've obviously been unhappy all day and I can't fix it if you don't tell me what's going on in that head of yours. I need you to be truthful."

Stiles was stubbornly silent for a moment, and just when Derek thought he was going to have to take action and put him in the corner, he blurted out, "I need to be punished."

Well. That wasn't quite what Derek expected. He had to tread carefully here. It was important that Stiles' needs be top priority, but Derek still didn't believe Stiles had done anything wrong. He remembered what Maks had told him earlier, about Stiles blaming himself for things, and knew what he needed to do.

"I see," Derek said, still gently holding Stiles' chin up. "And what would I be punishing you for?"

Stiles fidgeted on his knees and cast his eyes to the side. "I upset you. By telling you about the Argents."

Derek ran a thumb over Stiles' quivering lower lip. "I was upset, that's true. But it wasn't you I was upset with, Stiles. I would have found out eventually. I am more unhappy that Peter and Laura didn't tell me." Stiles was quiet but didn't look fully convinced.

Derek cleared his throat. He had to tread carefully here. "I am a bit upset with you now, though." Stiles' breath hitched and his eyes widened. "Do you know why?" Derek asked.

Stiles hesitated as he thought, then said, "Because I didn't tell you why I was upset?"

Derek nodded. "I need you to be open and honest with me about your feelings and your needs, Stiles. I need you to trust me to take care of you. Have you done that?"

Stiles imperceptibly shook his head and said, so quietly that Derek might not have heard him were he not a werewolf, "No, Sir."

Derek made a noise of agreement. "And because you didn't talk to me about being upset and why, you hurt yourself. You're lucky it was just a small cut; it could have been worse. You might have needed stitches, or something even more serious. That would have really upset me. Do you understand, pretty boy?"

Stiles shivered, his eyes closing at the endearment. "Yes, Sir," he whispered.

Derek made up his mind. It was obvious to him that Stiles was convinced he needed punishment, and he would not get out of that mindset until Derek did something about it. While corner time would be enough for Derek, he instinctively knew that Stiles needed more than that from him. He opened up his trunk and took out a pair of sleek black leather gloves. They would lessen the sting of a spanking, which suited Derek perfectly for this mild punishment. This way he could compromise with giving Stiles what he needed while being able to keep the punishment at the level he felt was appropriate.

"Here's what we're going to do," Derek instructed. "I want you to take your clothes off. Put them in the hamper, don't just toss them on the floor. I'm going to sit on the bed, and when you're undressed I want you to lay across my lap. I'm going to spank you, ten strokes and you're going to count each one out loud for me. I'm using gloves because this is a punishment. My hands will always only touch you for care and pleasure. Do you understand?"

Stiles nodded. "Yes, Sir," he answered as he shakily stumbled to his feet. Derek walked to the bed and sat down, pulling on the gloves and watching alertly for any signs of distress in his submissive. Stiles quietly pulled off his shirts and jeans, standing for a moment in just his boxers and socks.

"Color?" asked Derek, just to be sure. He could always have Stiles write sentences or do pushups instead of being spanked, but his instincts were telling him that this was what Stiles needed.

Stiles straightened his shoulders. "Green," he answered clearly, removing his remaining clothing. He trod silently to Derek and stretched out across his lap. Derek widened his stance to provide better support. He ran his appreciative gaze over the gorgeous curve of ass, the strong back and thighs on display. Pale, perfect and vulnerable. His wolf purred at the thought of marking his submissive, warming that round bottom to a rosy glow.

"Count out loud. Just numbers, Stiles, don't say anything else," Derek said. When Stiles nodded, Derek brought his gloved hand down on his right cheek in a hard smack.

Stiles tensed slightly, then breathed out heavily. "One," he said calmly.

"Good boy," praised Derek. He brought his hand down on the left cheek.

"Two," counted Stiles, voice still measured.

"So good for me," Derek said, pleased to see some of the tension leaving Stiles. He brought his hand down a third time.

"Th-three" stuttered Stiles. Derek brought his hand down again, making sure to wait for Stiles to count out loud before proceeding with the next stroke and making sure to praise him each time. The tension seemed to drain out of Stiles with each count and stroke, and by the time they reached nine, his ass was glowing a rosy pink and he was hard against Derek's leg. Derek's hand came down a final time and Stiles shakily breathed out ten. He was pliant and warm, and Derek murmured words of approval as he stripped off the gloves, tossing them to the side as he carefully maneuvered Stiles over to sit in his lap, making sure not to put any pressure on his bottom.

"Such a good boy," Derek praised, running a hand through Stiles' slightly damp with sweat hair. Stiles was quiet, breathing a bit heavily, his erection hard against his thigh. Derek reached for the bottle of lube on the night stand and squeezed a small amount into his hand. He took Stiles' cock in his hand and began slowly stroking it. "Would you like to come?" he asked.

Stiles moaned and shuddered in his arms. "Please, Sir, please let me come. I want to come."

Derek pressed a kiss to his temple and kept stroking. "You can come, pretty boy. This is all for you. Come whenever you're ready." He held Stiles close, urging him on towards orgasm with his hand. When Stiles finally came, he tensed for a moment before moaning loudly. His body jerked as he spilled hot over Derek's fist. His eyes fluttered shut and he panted softly. Derek smiled to himself, struck anew by the beauty of the boy he held. He moved so that he could lay Stiles against the pillows, arranging him on his side so his bottom didn't touch anything. It took just a moment to clean the come off his hand and Stiles' stomach; though the urge to lick them both clean was strong, Derek settled for using wet wipes. He reached into the aftercare kit Laura had left him and pulled out a tube of lotion. He carefully rubbed some onto the still warm skin, continuing to whisper praise and endearments to his boy as he did.

When he was finished, Derek got up and quickly put his gloves back in the trunk and put away the lube and lotion. He stripped down to his briefs and climbed on the bed to lay down next to Stiles, taking him into his arms and carefully pulling a blanket over them, smiling when Stiles snuggled against him. Derek rubbed his hands soothingly up and down Stiles' back, pressing the occasional light kiss on his lips and cheeks. Watching Stiles drift in subspace could far too easily become one of his favorite things.

After a short time, Derek felt, rather than saw Stiles returning to himself. His boy stirred in his arms, then stretched, hissing when his movements brought his attention to his sore ass. Sleepy eyes blinked at him, followed by a slow smile.

"Hi," whispered Stiles, raising his arms to wrap them around Derek's neck.

"Hi yourself," replied Derek, tightening his hold on Stiles. "Welcome back. How do you feel?"

"Mmmmmm, better," Stiles said, stretching again and wincing before reaching back to rub his ass. "Make that better but a little sore," he admitted, laughing ruefully.

"Do you need me to put more lotion on you?" asked Derek in concern. "Would you prefer aloe with lidocaine? I'm pretty sure we have some." He started to roll away to look when Stiles stopped him.

"I'm fine," Stiles reassured Derek. "My head feels clear, my butt's blissfully sore and I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be right now than right here in the arms of my awesome Dom. Please don't leave me."

"I'm pretty sure I've told you you are a menace," Derek huffed softly as he tucked the blankets around them and settled back down, holding Stiles close. "Sleep now. I promise I'll be right here. Don't worry about doing anymore unpacking tonight. Rest is what you need right now, we can worry about everything else tomorrow." Derek rubbed his nose against Stiles' before pressing a soft kiss against his lips. He lay still as Stiles cuddled up to him, watching as he drifted off. Once he was sure Stiles was asleep, Derek closed his own eyes, allowing himself to relax into sleep as well. His wolf rumbled low, peaceful and content as he held his boy close.


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