"You're always out here, why don't you just plant something? The soil has to be rich from the ash, you can make a garden out of it, there's no reason to-" Peter waved his hands across the expanse of the Hale property and glanced at Derek who was sitting on the stairs of the porch, "keep it like this. I mean it's depressing to say the least."

If there was one thing Derek and his uncle had in common it was their complete lack of couth.

"Yes, Peter, it is depressing that our family burned to death," Derek bit at the words and leaned back against the pillar, eyes darting up to the wood rot on the second level and the pitter patter of water dripping from a vine crawling up over the roof.

Derek watched Peter roll his eyes and raise his hands in mock defense, "Look, I'm just saying it might be good for you."

The alpha didn't say anything when Peter walked away, shoes crunching against dry autumn leaves.

He had just turned seventeen when it happened, when Kate hit him like a chemical weapon and left nothing behind.

He was almost eighteen when he finally mucked up the courage to come back to the house, after the police, after the funerals, after the whispers from around town, after he dropped out of high school and after he finally broke down and cried.

He cried until it hurt to keep his eyes open, until his chest was heaving and his hands were shaking.

He turned eighteen and he never cried about it again.

He remembered it vividly, the hand marks smeared through the dust that the smoke had left behind, the scraps of fabric, the remnants of Talia's old Persian rug that Laura had picked out three Christmas's prior. He found burnt picture frames, outlines of posters on the wall of his room, his father's guitar- mangled and wrecked by the flames.

Now all that was left was a half-standing house filled with ghosts that Derek didn't have the heart to speak to, memories that he pushed so far into the back of his mind that sometimes he forgot how precious they were, and an idea that if he left it untouched perhaps one day he would smell apricot pie coming from the kitchen again.

Derek sighed.

It was October and he was twenty-six.


He didn't believe Peter.

But that didn't stop him from walking into the shop off 1st and Oakheart.

It was misty inside, calm and wet and cool and alive. Ferns hung in baskets from the ceiling, reaching down to brush across the top of Derek's head as he ducked down, fingertips trailing along the stem of a sunflower. Orchids blushed against white roses; lilies spread their petals open wide and bundles of baby's breath leaked life into the air.

His pupils dilated and the wolf felt himself lean into the plethora of scents. They hummed, delicate, young, thriving and beautiful.

All Derek could ever smell at the Hale house was ash, and smoke and wood rot.

"A new face," the purr of a soft voice pulled Derek away from the lily he had his nose buried in and he blinked over his shoulder.

It hit him like a car crash.

Cinnamon and pineapple, agave sweetener and green tea.

He pursed his lips and swallowed, eyes trailing across the lanky young man that the scent belonged to. Long fingertips, soil scraped beneath his nails, a gentle face splashed with faint freckles and eyes… Eyes that looked like the rings around Saturn.

He blinked at Derek expectantly, who had enough control not to stumble over his words, "I've lived here my whole life."

The wolf mentally scolded himself for being so brash.

"I haven't," wide shoulders shrugged before the florist leaned forward and extended an open palm, "I'm Stiles."

Derek inhaled when he took his hand and gripped. He felt like a peach.

"Derek," he breathed and glanced to the side where the leaves of a wide open star gazer brushed against his cheek, "are these easy to grow?"

Stiles shrugged and Derek suddenly forgot where he was when the stranger smiled lazily, "If you're patient and you have the resources then yes, but it isn't a seed I'd recommend for a beginner."

"But you would recommend it?" green eyes flicked up to where Stiles smirked and nodded quietly, "Yeah, yeah I'd recommend it."

The alpha watched him carefully, breathing in pumpkin spice and tea leaves and lavender laundry detergent.


Derek left without asking any more questions. He practically ran, tripping over himself to his car and slammed the door of the Camaro shut so hard that he whined and re-opened it to make sure he hadn't broken anything.

He didn't like feeling vulnerable.

He didn't like it at all.

But two days later he found himself sitting at a table in front of a coffee shop conveniently located just across the street from Apothecary. Derek hadn't noticed the name at first, hadn't paid much attention, but once he had, it only made him more interested in the little shop on the corner of 1st and Oakheart.

And not in the young man who owned it.

He flipped absently through a book and his lips curved at the edges when two arms snaked around his neck and a warm body pressed itself against his back.

"What are you reading?" blonde curls fell over his shoulder and Derek laughed quietly, flipping the book closed and flashing the cover. Erica pressed a kiss to his cheek, "Of course, 'Short Stories by Ernest Hemmingway', I should have known."

"Where's Boyd?" Derek craned his neck to look at her and she tapped his nose, "He's picking up Audrey and Lucas right now, I was just grabbing some coffee-" she gestured to the Thai place next door, "It's a take-out kind of night and they're still cooking, so."

The alpha nodded and Erica nudged his shoulder, "C'mon, let me buy you coffee," he narrowed his eyes but she scoffed, "Oh alpha, my alpha, don't make me make you."

Deep emerald eyes rolled but he stood up and followed her, glancing down to fold the corner on the page of his book.

"Oh, shit-" a familiar voice hissed before he fumbled to catch the half-full pumpkin spice latte that was dangerously close to spilling down Derek's chest.

He could smell him before he felt him. It was heavenly. Warm vanilla, red pepper, tea tree oil, earl grey.

Stiles blinked, "I'm so sorry, I didn't even see you... Hey," his eyes narrowed playfully when he recognized who he had ran into and he picked up the napkin he dropped, "Derek, right?"

Derek blinked a few times, studied his face, "Yes," his voice cracked and he cleared his throat, "We met the other day-"

"Yeah, you came into the shop," Stiles smiled and tilted his head to the side, brushing his hands over the black button-up covering his torso, "you should come back some time, when I'm like, not about to spill coffee all over you," he laughed and Derek tried not lean into the smell of nutmeg and blueberry that still lingered on his tongue.

It was hard for Derek to focus on anything. To listen. But he nodded and swallowed dryly, "I wanted to ask you about autumn gardens. Flowers that survive in the cold."

Stiles looked up as he walked backwards along the sidewalk and chewed on his bottom lip, "Peruvian lilies," he paused, humming, "Catmint," he nodded to himself, "I'll look some up for you, just come in tomorrow or something."

He waved. Derek smiled.


The shop was the same. The abundance of flowers wore beads of water like jewelry and Derek couldn't help but be distracted by the bundles of freshly picked sunflowers near the door.

He played with their petals, stroked across them lovingly before he heard the squeak of vans against the tiled floor.

"Hey," Stiles reached up and sprayed one of the ferns with a water bottle, "you're back."

Derek turned, trailed his eyes across the exposed strip of flesh above his jeans as Stiles stretched up again to reach a higher basket.

"You told me to come by," Derek tilted his head and blinked.

Stiles quirked an eyebrow, setting the bottle down, "Yeah, indeed I did. You do still... want my help, right? With- the uh, your garden, and-"

"Yes!" Derek's eyes widened when he realized how ridiculously eager he sounded and he closed them for moment, "Yes, I do. I've never done this before and I need your help."

The florist offered a kind smile, one of those smiles that said he understood. The kind of expressive mannerism that only people who knew what it was like to heal from something devastating could muster up.

"Well, you came to the right place," he curled his index finger as he walked to the back of the shop, dipping his head passed the dangling hands of a Kangaroo Paw. There was a small desk settled next to the window, pressed against the shelved wall which was covered in viles and vases, some full of herbs, others containing oils and crystal shards. A few books were stacked in front of the register and Stiles grabbed one, long fingers flipping through the pages until he stopped and glanced over the words.

Derek fought between watching Stiles and staring at the novelties lining the shelves. He took the safer option and turned, tracing the cursive on each label.

Moonstone

Tigers Eye

Rosemary

Dried Rose Hips

Ginger

"Are you a witch?" It was the first mildly playful thing Derek had been able to say and he threw a smile over his shoulder to Stiles who snorted a laugh, "That would be warlock, and no, I'm not. My mother used to collect herbs and stones, she believed in good karma, preserving energy, all that spiritual shit."

"Does she run the shop with you?" Derek raised a brow as he picked up a jar full of clear quartz.

Stiles was quiet, "Uhm, no. No, she uh, she died when I was fifteen."

Derek froze. His lungs ached and he roiled with irrevocable regret.

"I'm... I'm sorry, I-"

"Don't worry about it, c'mere, look at this," Stiles looked up from under his lashes and caught the frosted blush shamefully crawling across Derek's nose, "I don't know if you want them to mean anything but I found a few, you could start with roses, they're easy, and also Dahlia's."

Derek nodded, mind still curled around the placid shake in Stiles' voice when he had mentioned his mother.

"Chrysanthemum..." Stiles tapped the page, "Hibiscus, too."

The wolf sighed, "You said roses would be the easiest?"

Stiles nodded and Derek shrugged, "I'll start there then."


"Der-Der wat're dese?"

Tiny hands shook the bag of seeds that Derek had on the counter and the alpha smirked, "Those are seeds, Audrey."

"Like punkin' seeds? I can eat dem!"

"No," Derek laughed as he took the package from the small girl, ruffling the dark curls on the top of her head, "I'm going to plant them and see if they grow, if they do, they'll turn into roses."

The toddler blinked, doe eyes staring curiously at the alpha until she nodded and reached out, stubby fingers curling and uncurling.

Derek knelt down to let her play with the scruff on his jaw, "Grrrr," she crinkled her face into a playful snarl and Derek grinned, eyes flashing red before he growled and curled his fingers into the soft pudge of her stomach, sending squeals and giggles echoing through the kitchen.

"Uh oh, is Der-Der gonna eat you, baby?" Erica's voice piped through the air before she set a few bags on the table, reaching down to scoop the little girl into her arms.

The alpha smirked, rolling his eyes at Erica who let a tired sigh fall across her lips, "Thank you," the words were more than sincere, "I would have had Allison watch her but she's at some weapon's show with Chris."

"You know I don't mind," he poked Audrey's belly who gurgled on a laugh and pointed excitedly at the paper bag on the counter, "He's gonna make flowers!"

The blonde tilted her head to the side, eyes narrowing before she settled the squirming child on her hip and snatched up one of the packages, "Really...?"

Derek flushed but shrugged, shaking his head back and forth, "It's something to do."

Erica nodded slowly before she set Audrey down and leaned against the kitchen counter, arms folded across her chest. Derek could see it, the apprehension riddled in her eyes and he wanted to avoid it at all cost. He wanted to avoid the questions, the 'are you okay' and the 'we're your pack you can talk to us' nonsense. Those were all details that he knew, details that he knew well, and this had nothing to do with the pack.

This had to do with his own demons.

"You're trying to tell me that a bag full of seeds and gardening tools isn't supposed to make me wonder if you're going through some wolf crisis when never at one point have I seen you be interested in botany?"

The alpha's lips pulled into a small smile and he reached across to grab the handles of the paper bag, "It's just a hobby, Erica. It's not like I just bought a boat and I suddenly want to sail around the world."

The woman grinned and set her hand on his shoulder, "You're my alpha, and you're the god father of my children. It's my job to notice the small stuff."

"Wolf-daddy, wolf-daddy!" Audrey ran around his feet and pulled on the legs of Derek's jeans.

Derek picked her up and pressed a warm kiss to the little girls cheek, sending her giggling at the tickle of his stubble against her face.

"It's fine, Erica. It's just a garden."


Two weeks passed and Derek stared at the patch of dirt where he had buried the seeds.

Nothing.

Not. A. Damn. Thing.

He huffed, eyes rolling towards the sky before he flopped onto his back on the creaky wooden panels of the porch. He did everything the package said. He laid the seeds in a fifteen inch hole and watered them daily. Still nothing.

No smell of life. No peep of a green vine.

Just dirt, an empty house and a frustrated wolf.


It was three days before Halloween when Derek walked back into Apothecary. He glanced around, felt his way around the shop, nostrils flaring at the smell of each and every flower. It was strange, the different pollen's and aromas. Lilies reminded him of someplace dimly lit, cool and peaceful. Roses reminded him of Laura, the way she used to set up an easel outside the house and paint pictures of the weeds that grew at the base of the trees around the property. Sunflowers reminded him of running. Running and running and running.

He trailed his fingers down into one of the pots, feeling across the damp soil and rolling the soft earth between his index finger and thumb; he was pleasantly interrupted by the sound of Stiles fumbling around in the back room and turned to walk passed the small refrigerator full of bouquets, "Hello."

Stiles looked up from his place on the floor where he had been stuffing small cellophane bags full of candy, "Oh, hi," he adjusted a pair of glasses on the bridge of his nose and Derek swayed slightly.

Of course he wore glasses.

"How are the roses coming along?"

Derek swallowed, kept himself from rolling his eyes, "They're..." his voice was a growl.

Stiles laughed, open mouth and toothy, "They're totally not growing, huh?"

The wolf bristled and his face heated, but he tried to smile along, "No, they aren't," he admitted quietly. Derek reached up and ran his fingers absently through his hair before he busied his hands else where, playing with the zipper on his jacket.

The florist stood up and plucked the glasses from his face before setting them down on the desk, "It's normal for first flushes to be temperamental, especially seeing as it's a winter bloom and you haven't really done this before."

Derek's nose twitched when Stiles walked passed him.

Dark chocolate. Candy corn. Dried apples. Granola. Chai Tea. Always with the tea.

He looked expectantly over his shoulder to Derek who stood with his thumbs awkwardly screwed through the belt loops of his dark jeans, "I'm gonna go grab some coffee, you wanna come?"

His voice was light, fresh. He seemed so content with life, completely at ease.

Something about the way Stiles carried himself gave Derek a sense of hope, probably a false sense of hope, but hope none the less.

The alpha nodded and walked next to him as they crossed the street, "So, where are you from?" Derek wasn't good at making conversation with people, he wasn't good at asking questions and he most certainly was not good at answering them.

Especially when the person he was trying to make conversation had a graceful stride and amazing bone structure.

Derek inhaled sharply before he opened the door of The Loft, the coffee shop across the street, and Stiles quietly thanked him before he walked to the counter, "San Diego, born and raised. I decided to drag my dad up here after he retired, though. We kind of needed a change."

Stiles pointed into the glass case full of pastries, "Vanilla scone and... a hazelnut latte." He smiled at the young girl behind the counter and left his change in the tip jar in front of the register.

Derek ordered black coffee and added four packs of rock sugar.

"What would make you want to come to a town like Beacon Hills?" Derek chuckled under his breath, "It's small, kind of remote."

Stiles tilted his head to the side and plucked a piece of his scone off, handing it to Derek. The gesture seemed so comfortable that the alpha took it without protest and listened to Stiles sigh as he popped it in his mouth, "My Dad retired after I dropped out of SDSU, said he wanted to help me get on the right track but I had to explain to him that maybe college wasn't really the best option for me. I mean, I've never been good at school," he shook his head, leaning against the arm of a chair, "and I have enough management skills to run a place of my own so..."

The florist gestured out the window with his hand, pointing at Apothecary, "It just kind of happened. I had all the money my mom left me and I wanted my Dad to be somewhere beautiful. Fresh start, I guess."

Derek's eyes lingered over the space between Stiles' eyelashes, watched him blink a couple times and take a small sip off the sweet drink that warmed his hands. He was interesting. Beyond interesting. The way he spoke, frazzled but smooth, like he was used to confusing people and just waited for them to catch up when he was done talking. They way he fidgeted, his nails all bitten and jagged.

"College wasn't for me either," Derek started, careful with his words, "I was a mythology major."

Stiles' brow rose before he stood and nudged his shoulder towards the door, "Mythology major? You must like to read," he turned to look at the wolf as they crossed the street again and Stiles unlocked the door, propping it open. Derek nodded, "Do you?"

"Do comics count?" Stiles snorted and Derek didn't resist the small laugh that bubbled up over his tongue, "Sure, Stiles," his name sounded good coming out of his mouth, "Comics can count."

"Then I love to read," gangly fingers wrapped around a small bag of fertilizer and he handed it to Derek, "Here, a gift from me to you, try using this where you've planted your roses. It might help them out a little bit."

He closed his hand around the small package and nodded before Stiles stumbled over his words, "Oh, and uh, your number-"

Derek froze.

"Give me your number so I can text you if I think of anything else, I, I kind of get jumbled," he waved an index finger around his head, "and I'll forget, so... It'll be easier."

The alpha walked out of the store and gritted his teeth. He was an alpha and this was nothing more than a friendly conversation. The beach boy from San Diego was a friend, if that, who was helping him plant flowers.

Derek almost rolled his eyes at himself as he shut the door of the Camaro.


Audrey squealed and jumped up and down, holding onto Boyd's hand as they walked across a straw field filled with pumpkins. Erica held Lucas in her arms, bouncing him softly as she pointed at a few piglets snoring noisily in a cage a few feet away.

Derek walked with them, a large pumpkin hoisted on his shoulder, "What's that Audrey?" he pointed to an alpaca chewing on a piece of grass in the petting zoo.

"Papa!" she curled her fingers, grabbing at the air in front of the gates. Boyd laughed quietly, "Yes, we can go in. Babe-" he nodded his head to Erica who turned and dug into her pocket with her free hand, passing him a pink ticket, "We'll go in with you. Wanna see the chickens, handsome?" Lucas gurgled in her arms.

"Derek?" Boyd peeked over his shoulder and the alpha shook his head, "I'll wait for Scott and Allison, go ahead."

They walked through the white picket fence and Derek set the large pumpkin down at his feet before he sat on a hay bale and smirked, listening to Audrey's loud laughter from inside the petting zoo.

It was tradition now, the pack all carved pumpkins on Halloween and took the kids out trick-or-treating. After, Allison and Lydia would watch them while the wolves ran against the moon light, howling through the preserve and sending chills down the spines of children tucked in their beds. It was something Derek looked forward to every year, running with his betas, jumping over jack-o-lanters, twisting and turning through the trees.

They tried to get together, make plans and give into their wolves a few times a year to make up for being ravaged by them on the full moons, but it was hard. It was hard when Erica and Boyd had two babies at home, Scott worked at the hospital with his mom now, Isaac was assisting Deaton at the animal clinic, Jackson was a travel agent and took his work with him where ever he went.

It just seemed like none of them had the time anymore.

Derek dragged his finger across the glass front of his phone, huffing a sigh before he glanced up and blinked. Once. Twice. Three times.

Scott was with Allison, his arm slung over her shoulder, but he was talking excitedly to a young man walking next to him.

A young man wearing dark jeans and a black pea coat that Derek simply couldn't avoid for the life of him.

"Oh, whoa, hey," Stiles' brows furrowed through a smile as they walked up to Derek and Scott jerked his head back out of sheer surprise, "You guys have met?"

Stiles nodded but Derek simply stared and tried to close his mouth.

"He came into my shop a few weeks ago," Stiles tilted his head to the side until Derek's voice finally caught up to his thoughts, "Yes, we've met. How are you, Stiles? What- when did you...?" he gestured between the two until Scott shrugged, "I was picking up flowers for my mom- wait, why were you in a floral shop?"

Derek ignored the question as Allison's arms wrapped around his shoulders and she pressed a chaste kiss against his cheek, "Happy Halloween, Derek. Erica told me you're taking up gardening?"

"Puppies! Come here, where are the puppies! Oh my god, hi, hi," Scott ran forward with his arms out as Audrey lept into his chest, squirming and laughing as he spun her around. Boyd was close behind and so was Erica, cooing at Lucas who had a few feathers in his hands from getting a bit too excited over the chickens.

The alpha sighed and glanced to Stiles who smirked, "He's trying," the florist murmured playfully, a grin spreading across his face when Derek wrinkled his nose and narrowed his eyes. "Yes, I'm attempting to garden," the wolf tried not to laugh but Stiles made that more than difficult, "So far I haven't had too much luck."

"You'll get it," Stiles shrugged, "and you've got a grade-a college drop out to help you."

Allison was distracted by Erica as she walked forward, Lucas gurgling and reaching towards the brunette who took him gently, cradling him in her arms, "Oh, hello, this is your first Halloween isn't it, baby boy?" His mother smiled softly, "Whose this?" brown eyes turned towards Stiles who had his hands shoved into the front pockets of his jeans.

"Stiles," he pulled out one of his hands and extended it, "I own the shop off 1st and Oakheart, Apothecary. I'm kinda new around here, it's nice to meet you."

Erica's eyes flicked to Derek and she quirked a brow before gripping Stiles' hand, "Nice to meet you, this is my husband, Boyd," Stiles smiled and Boyd was warm as he nodded and also shook his hand, "and my kids, Lucas," she gestured to the nearly asleep baby in Allison's arm, "and-"

"Audrey!" the little girl piped when Scott hoisted her up and set her on his shoulders.

"She's got an attitude like her Mama," Boyd laced his finger with Erica's and looked to Derek, "I think we have some tickets left but apparently the others are going to be at our place sooner than later." Erica looked up and nodded, "Well, why don't you head home and start cleaning out the pumpkins, I'll take the kids-"

"No, no, stay with them, it's his first Halloween," Derek poked Lucas' belly-button as he stood, "I can go unlock the door and get everything started."

"You sure?" Erica tilted her head to the side, lips turning down into a frown but Derek waved a hand and nodded, "Yes, I'm sure."

"Well, take Scott or something," it was a sincere gesture until she turned to see the werewolf tickling Audrey as they played with a few small pumpkins. There was no way anyone was going to peel Scott away from that child. Stiles shrugged and nudged Derek with his shoulder, "I can help you," he looked to Erica, "I mean, if you don't mind, I-"

"No! Of course I don't mind, yeah, you guys go start getting everything ready and then we'll meet you there in like an hour."

Derek didn't want to grit his teeth or clench his fists, so he bit down on the inside of his cheek and forced a smile, inhaling a deep breath as Stiles leaned down to pick up one of the pumpkins by his feet.

Apple cider. Ginger. Clove cigarettes. Chamomile.


"You're friends are pretty awesome," Stiles looked over the counter at Derek as he dug into the top of one of the pumpkins, "I didn't expect... I mean, people back home weren't very accepting. I guess I'm not really used-"

"We're all weird," Derek blurted, once again mentally scolding himself, "We all kind of just fell into each other. We're family."

Stiles was quiet, his eyes focused blankly on the pumpkin in front of him until he cleared his throat, "Yeah... I'm jut not used to it. I didn't have a lot of friends, it's just been me and my Dad for a while now."

The alpha's lips pulled back in disgust as he slopped a scoop full of pumpkin innards into a bowl, "I used to be alone."

"What do you mean?"

Derek didn't know how to answer, but he swallowed down a shaky breath and shrugged, "There was a fire-"

The large metal spoon Stiles had been holding clanked loudly against the floor and Derek's jaw jerked up, eyes settled on the florist who stared at him. His eyes were wide and Stiles inhaled sharply, face masked with regret and surprise as he tried to claw his way through the silence.

"You're... Oh my god, Derek. Derek Hale?"

Derek turned his attention back towards the sink and the pumpkin and anything that wasn't his past or the fact that Stiles knew who he was. Everyone knew who he was. He should have known that Stiles would have heard about him, would have been informed about the tragedy of Beacon Hills. The freak fire that killed his family.

At least he didn't know the truth.

At least Derek could keep that secret.

"I..." Stiles was still staring, lips parted as he looked at Derek like he needed fixing, "I'm sorry, I heard- I didn't know... I, Derek, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have-"

"It was a long time ago," it was the only thing Derek could say to halt the conversation, "It's not relevant anymore."

Minutes passed before either of them spoke. The sound of messy squishing filling the empty void as they cleaned out the twelve pumpkins, five of which were large, the rest small. Derek's heart was pounding and he tried to find something to say, a way to change the subject and find a focus that wasn't him or his life or his past.

It was his past. It was the past. And he didn't want to live in it anymore.

Finally Stiles smiled, peeking up under his lashes as he reached over to wash off his hands in the sink, "That means you own the Hale preserve, doesn't it? How many wolves have you rescued so far?"

Derek's lips parted and his chest fluttered. If there was any way to pull at the alpha's heart strings it was to talk about the preserve. Stiles had picked the best way to bring Derek back into the present.

"Fourteen."

Plus another five, but those wolves rescued Derek.

Stiles nodded, "What kinds?"

"Three grey wolves, one Himalayan and ten eastern wolves," the alpha looked over to him and smiled, "You can meet them any time you want."

"Seriously?" Stiles narrowed his eyes, lips pulled up at the edges as he unbuttoned his coat and let it slide off his shoulders. He slung it over the back of one of the chairs and Derek hated that he couldn't tear his eyes away from the muscle flexing underneath the thin long sleeve shirt he had on underneath.

"Yeah, seriously."

Stiles bumped Derek with his hip, "Thanks."

Derek didn't know what he was thanking him for. He couldn't think of a single thing, but he nodded, and turned when he heard the front door swing open.

"Guys?" A feminine voice and the click of heels stopped Derek from making some wise remark about Stiles' hips, "Really, am I going to have to wail or scream or whatever to get you- oh! Oh... shit, hi," Lydia's eyes shot from Derek to Stiles and back again.

Derek's fists were clenched and his eyes were wide but Stiles hadn't seemed to be affected by the odd comment.

"Hi," Stiles tilted his head to the side, "I'm Stiles." He waved and Lydia stumbled over a frantic laugh, "Right, Scott's new friend, hi. I'm Lydia."

"Where's-"

"Audrey? Puppies? Where are they? Hey babe, where are the-" Jackson stopped as he turned the corner into the kitchen and saw Derek standing with his hand over his face and Stiles next to him, a brow arched high on his forehead, "Oh, hi. I'm Jackson." He set a a couple bags down on the kitchen table and glanced to Lydia who shrugged and then to Derek who was glaring at both of them, "This is Stiles. He owns the new flower shop downtown."

"Nice to meet you guys," Stiles offered politely before his eyes trailed to the bags, "You brought candy?"

"It's rude not to ask," Jackson hissed smugly when Stiles snatched a snickers bar and unwrapped it.

Stiles' lips twisted into a crooked smile, "Trick or treat."

Derek felt like the air had been punched out of him.


They spent the night carving pumpkins, Boyd carved Lucas' for him and Scott helped Audrey carve hers. Lydia and Jackson worked on their own and Isaac showed up late, carrying a brown sugar pie and a plate of candied apples that Deaton had sent.

It was calm and wonderful and Derek was always reminded every holiday that he loved these people more than he loved anything else.

"Sorry I'm late," Isaac hugged each of them, pausing to pick up Audrey and press his lips to her forehead. He kissed Allison and Lydia lightly on the cheeks before he finally found Scott and Stiles sitting at the table discussing Lord of the Rings. "I'm Isaac, Stiles right?" He smiled and Stiles smiled back with a nod, "Yeah, uhm-"

"Scott told me he invited you," Isaac ruffled Scott's hair as he walked passed and set the plates on the counter.

Derek watched Stiles through out the night, watched him interact, watched him laugh comfortably. It was strange. He was strange. This was strange.

He wasn't prepared for Stiles to be perpetually thrust into his pack.

"Oh my god, look at the tiny skunk," Stiles was laughing and his eyes softened when Erica sat down next to them at the table with Lucas in her arms. The baby was wrapped in a furry costume with pointed ears and a striped tail. He reached over and gently tapped the child's nose which caused a fit of bubbling giggles. Erica smiled fondly down at her son, "He likes you," she turned her eyes to Stiles momentarily before they darted behind him to Derek who stood with his arms crossed leaning against the wall.

"Der-der, look!" A tiny voice came from the ground and he looked down, a laugh falling over his lips as he saw the little girl dressed in a red cape with frills on the end, carrying a basket.

"You dressed her up as little red riding hood?" Derek's eyes rolled when Erica started to laugh.

"Mama said it's eeron, irren, iron-"

"Ironic, yes. I get it, sweetie, now c'mon, go get your Papa and get lots of candy," Derek was trying his best to get through the statement without laughing too hard, but the words were drowned as he closed his eyes and rubbed his hand over his face, "Erica, seriously?"

The blonde had her tongue stuck between her teeth and she reached out to grab Audrey's hand, "We'll see you when we get back."

Stiles was still talking to Scott, rambling on about this or that, about the surfing in San Diego or the fact that he only smoked clove cigarettes and only when it sounded good. Derek listened from afar, listened to them laugh, listened to them become friends. He smiled to himself, head down, ears open and only stepped forward when Scott offered to drive him home.

"I'll drive you," Derek grabbed his keys off the counter and Stiles blinked, "You sure, man? I should've brought my car, I didn't even think about it."

"Yes, I'm sure, come on."

"See ya tomorrow, Stiles!" Scott called towards the door and Stiles waved a hand over his shoulder in agreeance before he followed Derek towards the sleek black Camaro parked in the drive way.

"I'm not surprised," amber eyes pressed into Derek as he opened the passenger door and slid in.

The wolf shrugged, "It does it's job."

Stiles rolled his eyes through the ghost of a smile and Derek chuckled under his breath as they drove onto the outskirts of town. Stiles directed him. He lived with his Dad passed the old high school, next to the lake. It was a quiet neighborhood and the house was homey and quaint, a small porch, two story.

"Thanks for the ride," Stiles opened the door and flashed a grin back towards the car, "and Happy Halloween." Derek wanted to stop him. Wanted to say something other than 'you're welcome.' But he didn't. He just watched Stiles bound up the stairs and held his breath until he drove away and could properly inhale and exhale.

Pumpkin. Caramel. Chocolate. Spicy cologne.

His car reeked of him.


The preserve was already full of howls when Derek finally arrived. He had texted Erica to start without him, to get to the woods and he would catch up.

He threw his car into park, climbed out, peeled his shirt off and closed his eyes when the cold air hit his chest, felt his muscles contract, let his body reach out and unchain his wolf.

It had been too long.

His nostrils flared and he turned his head, crimson eyes flashing against the blanket of darkness.

Isaac.

A pair of gold eyes stared at him from the trees and then another, and another, until he was sloppily tackled and tumbled to the ground with Scott chuckling in his ear, "Took you long enough."

Derek scrambled to his feet, tugging Scott along as they ran, Jackson appearing at their side, Erica leaping against trees with finesse that only she could have perfected. Boyd chased after her, claws delicately gripping her waist and pulling her to the ground, falling through dried leaves until they were laughing and howling and running again. Tea lights flickered inside jack-o-lanterns and the air smelt like candy and fake blood and oak trees and maybe it smelt a little like promise.

Or maybe that was Stiles' cologne.

It was home. It was steady.

They were wild, feral, completely untamed.

Alive.


Stiles Stilinski: Nov 3 2013, 4:12 p.m

have they started growing yet?

Derek lifted his phone up and glanced at the text as he sat in his car, waiting for the light to turn green. He typed out a quick reply, 'on my way to check now.'

It astonished him every time he drove up the curved dirt path leading to the house that he could still feel as nervous as he did. The emotions, the hope he kept pressed against the back of his mind swelled, ached, and he wondered faintly if when he turned passed the fourth tree on the right and saw the house, if Laura would be outside painting, his mother would be baking in the kitchen and everything would be back to the way it should.

It was a ritual now. He would catch himself, scold himself and then roll down the windows and take a deep breath.

The remnants of ash and smoke filled his lungs as Derek bit down on his bottom lip, turning the steering wheel and putting the car in park when he neared the house. He used to sit in his car and stare, try to fabricate a scene in his head of what it would be like if the fire had never happened.

If Kate had never happened.

But he was passed that now, passed the disbelief, passed the hatred. Now he was in recovery and he had to keep reminding himself of that.

The wolf walked towards the porch in long strides, crunching through leaves as he went. A small green vine poked through the ground next to the stairs and Derek blinked a couple times before it registered that he had planted the roses there. He knelt down, wide eyes trailing across the soft soil before he reached out, hesitantly touching the tiny plant with the pad of his index finger. It was barely noticeable, hardly anything to be excited over but he was. Derek was more than excited and he huffed out a laugh, letting himself fall on his rear with his legs splayed on either side of the baby plant.

He fumbled in his pocket and pulled out his phone, snapping a picture before he hit send.

It only took a minute for his phone to buzz.

Stiles Stilinski: Nov 3 2013, 4:46 p.m

see! now you just need to give it time to grow. flowers can be shy.

Derek shook his head, a smile shadowed across his face as he read the text. Patience was something that the alpha was blessed with but it wasn't something he necessarily enjoyed exuding.

He hummed quietly to himself and looked down, surprised and relieved and completely enthralled by the chance that maybe something really could grow here.

Maybe something could make its way out of the ashes.

"We should all do dinner, Peter's coming back this afternoon isn't he?" Isaac looked to Derek who was cooing softly at one of the eastern wolves that lived on the preserve. She had her ears back and was licking his face, tail waving softly behind her.

"Yes, he's back tonight. Are you going to be available to check out the little one he's bringing with him?"

Derek hoisted the female wolf onto a metal table and stroked across her back lovingly when Isaac reached forward and poked at her snout, checking her teeth and eyes, "She looks good, and yeah, of course. You're gonna need to keep it separate from the rest of them for a while until I can get all the shots and records done, but that should only be a day or so."

The alpha nodded and curled his fingers behind the wolfs ear, whining back at her when she whined at him, "She's been acting strange," Derek's eyes were worried when he looked up to Isaac who shrugged and reached out to stroke her head, "I don't know, Derek, everything checks out, she seems fine. I can get you some vitamins that you can put in her food if you'd like?"

Derek nodded and Isaac nudged his shoulder, offering a sympathetic smile, "Don't worry about her," he cooed, "You're one of the originals, aren't you Dahlia?" The wolf whined again and Isaac set his forehead against the space between her ears.

"The original," Derek corrected lovingly, "She's the first wolf I ever took in, the first one to make a home on the preserve."

Isaac smiled and scratched below Dahlia's chin, "She's okay," he assured again, "and she'll be okay when we all go out for dinner tonight. Yes? No?"

The alpha rolled his eyes and his lips turned up at the corners, "Have you called Erica and Boyd?"

"Yes, and Scott, him and Allison were the ones that pitched the idea to me. Lydia wants to go but Jackson's at a travel convention in Vegas," Isaac shrugged, "So, I mean most of us will be there. Boyd suggested the Italian place off fifth?"

"Yeah, the one that catered for the wedding, right?"

Isaac nodded and Derek sighed, "I'll text Peter and let him know," Derek gestured to Dahlia before he picked her up and set her down on the floor, "thanks again for the check-up. He should have the cub here around three."

The beta grabbed his bag off the counter top and patted Derek on the back, "I'll see you this afternoon, man."

The door shut behind him and Derek glanced down to Dahlia who was panting and biting leisurely at her paw. He had decided to build the small health facility on to the preserve after his fifth addition, it just seemed more practical to have somewhere close to do observations rather than driving them all the way to Deaton's.

He opened the door and ushered her into the three-mile spance of fenced area that the wolves had to call their own before locking up and walking back to the small dirt lot next to the sign reading 'Hale Wolf Preserve' simple and clear.

Derek listened before he slid into the drivers seat of his car, the small barks, growls, yips from the diverse pack of wolves and thought warmly to himself about how beautiful it sounded.

The buzz in his pocket pulled him away and he tilted his head when he trailed his eyes across the words.

Stiles Stilinski: Nov 4 2013, 10:05 a.m

you got plans tonight?

It took him off guard when his face flushed and his stomach clenched. He growled at himself, mentally beating his wolf over the head until it hushed and he could think properly.

It was back and forth. Should he. Shouldn't he. Should he. Shouldn't he.

"Fuck it," Derek breathed through gritted teeth.

Come to dinner with me and everyone

It took a couple minutes for Stiles to respond and Derek was left to bitterly pick at himself until his phone vibrated again and he snatched it up, almost dropping it when he swiped his finger across the screen.

Stiles Stilinski: Nov 4 2013, 10:12 a.m

sure :) time and place?

Derek didn't want to smile. He wanted to kick himself hard in the side of the head.

Sabatinos off Fifth around 7

He didn't know what the hell he was doing anymore.


Peter showed up at the preserve around a quarter passed three. Isaac was already waiting in the observation room and Derek's head jerked forward when he heard the vet stifle a small laugh.

"Aw, he's so scared," Isaac's voice was soft and Derek almost tripped over himself when he heard the soft whimpering from the cub in Peter's car. He took long strides and stripped himself of his leather jacket as he approached the back of the expedition. "Is he okay?" Derek blinked and Peter sighed, a sad smile falling across his lips, "Yeah, he's fine. He just did not like the car ride at all."

Peter reached in and pulled the small cage forward before opening it, "Hi, buddy," the older wolf beckoned before he pushed his arm in and scooped out the small ball of red fur.

Derek tilted his head to the side and narrowed his eyes.

"Not what you were expecting, huh?" Peter laughed and let the small wolf bite and gnaw on his knuckles, "They found him in a pet shop in Frisco, he's skinny, needs some love. He's, uh, what'd they call him, he's a... maned wolf? Yeah, that's what they said he was. A maned wolf."

The alpha tossed his jacket on the top of the car and extended his hands, letting Peter place the wolf in his arms. He lifted him up. Big satellite dish ears, a black snout, long clumsy legs and a snarling face. The cub growled and Derek smirked, growling back.

"You're cute," he mumbled and pulled the pup into his chest before turning his eyes back to Peter, "Isaac's here, we're going to dinner with the pack tonight."

Peter arched a brow, "Oh, perfect. Good to know I had plans I didn't know about."

"A friend of mine's coming too."

"You have a friend, Derek?"

Derek snapped his jaws over his shoulder and listened to Peter laugh playfully as he walked through the door.


Erica and Boyd were waiting in the parking lot with Scott and Stiles when Derek showed up. Stiles had his lips wrapped around one of those black clove cigarettes that made him smell like tobacco and licorice with his free hand shoved into the pocket of his coat. His collar was up, fanning around his neck and he had his glasses propped on the tip of his nose.

This was a horrible mistake.

Peter pulled up moments after, followed by Allison, Lydia and Isaac.

Derek walked forward, brushing his fingertips against Erica's arm before he smiled to Boyd, "Where are they?" his eyebrows pulled together when he noticed the absence of his god-children and Erica sighed softly, "Melissa's watching them for us until we get home, we kinda needed a break." The alpha smiled and Boyd wrapped an arm around his wife's waist, "C'mon, they've got our table on the patio."

The wolf waited, looked over his shoulder as Stiles approached and smiled cautiously.

"Hey, big guy," his voice was peppered with pleasant comfortability and it made Derek nervous, "how're you?"

Derek sighed, "I'm alright, you?"

Stiles' shoulder lifted in a shrug and he pulled his glasses off to slide them into the inside pocket of his coat, "I'm okay, my Peruvian lilies bloomed today. They're amazing."

Maybe that was why Derek liked him, because simple things like flowers blooming could make Stiles smile.

The alpha followed him inside, followed the trail of burnt out cigarette and cologne.

Of orange blossom, spice, and red bush tea.

Dinner started with soft laughter and garlic bread, marinara sauce and Peter's apologies for missing the Halloween get together.

"We missed you," Erica piped and Derek rolled his eyes, "They missed you," he corrected.

It was long, drawn out over stories and pasta and three bottles of shared red wine. Stiles told them of his life back home, college, about his father who was a retired sheriff and how he didn't miss much about San Diego. Scott couldn't understand how he couldn't miss the beaches, the surfing, the people.

Stiles shrugged in his seat across from Derek, next to Isaac and shook his head, "The water's cold, the people are pretentious and honestly the only thing I even slightly miss is this brewery down in the gas-lamp district."

Scott sighed and shook his head.

"We got a wolf from down near there, a little up north closer to L.A," Peter took a sip off the glass of wine in front of him, "Didn't we? Gabriel came from those parts right?"

Derek nodded, "Yes, and we got a new addition today," his lips parted into a smile, "A cub."

Wide amber eyes lit up and Stiles bounced slightly against his seat, "You got a baby wolf?"

The alpha watched Erica run her tongue over her lips and hide a small laugh.

"Yes, he's a maned wolf. Peter picked him up in Frisco, that's why he wasn't able to be there for Halloween."

Stiles cupped a hand over his mouth, cheeks frosted pink, "Like, a puppy? Like a tiny baby wolf? You have one of those?"

Erica barked a laugh and Peter kicked her under the table.

Derek didn't break, his gaze staying focused on Stiles who hadn't seemed to notice, "Yes. Want to meet him?"

"What?! Yes!" Stiles batted his hands together excitedly and Derek couldn't quite figure out how someone like him came into existence. "Let's go," Derek grabbed his keys from the table and slung his leather jacket back over the white button up he was wearing, "See you guys later."

Stiles didn't hesitate to get up from the table and wave to the rest of his new friends, who waved back, Erica eyeing Derek carefully. He didn't want to admit that she knew, but if there was anyone who knew Derek's in's and out's it was her.

Even though there wasn't anything to know. He was just being friendly. Just taking someone new to see the preserve.

It was nothing special.

Once again, Derek rolled his eyes at himself.


"Oh... oh my god, hi," Stiles reached his hands out when Derek pulled the tired cub from the small pen. He growled softly and the florist retracted but the alpha shook his head, "His teeth are the size of push pins, relax."

He pulled the small animal into his arms and flinched when the cub bit down on his wrist and put it's ears back, "It's okay," Stiles purred, curling his fingers behind the wolfs ear until his eyes closed and he licked against his fingertips. "This is what you get to do all day, hang out with baby wolves?"

The irony in that statement almost made Derek buckle over but he nodded and bit down on his lip to keep from laughing, "Yes, this is what I get to do all day."

Calloused hands moved forward and gently stroked the ball of fur in Stiles' arms, freezing momentarily when his fingertips brushed across the top of Stiles' hand.

"He's so tired," Stiles whined as the cub's eyes fell shut and he nudged his chin towards the pen, "Can I put him back, I don't wanna keep him awake."

Derek held open the door and he walked in, setting the pup down on a bundle of blankets.

"C'mon," the alpha walked towards the door of the segregated and insulated room next to health facility where the cub would stay until Isaac cleared him for integration, "let's go see the rest of them."

He twisted the key in the lock and Stiles was hesitant as he walked in, glancing at Derek for permission before he took a step. Sometimes Derek forgot that, for the most part, humans were scared of wolves.

It was dark and the moon was the only thing illuminating the large expanse, trees cast shadows across dried leaves and shriveled grass. There were some cubbys and mounds of dirt near the entrance where the wolves could play, a few bones and toys littered the ground.

Derek put two fingers in his mouth and blew, a loud whistle breaking the silence. Usually he growled or howled for them but expressing either of those options might upset Stiles.

Or intrigue him.

The alpha hissed a warning at his wolf.

He felt Stiles scoot closer to him when the sound of paws against the ground picked up speed and the wolves came running towards them, a few jumping onto the cubbys and others trailing along the fence. "Holy- wow... Wolves, are," he swallowed, "extremely large."

Derek knelt onto the ground and looked up, "Come down here."

Stiles was shaky and he trembled when a grey wolf stalked towards him, gold eyes staring through him. Derek pushed on the back of his knees and he crumbled, inhaling sharply when Gabriel got closer. The canine's nose twitched and Stiles leaned back, bracing himself on his palms when the wolf inched forward.

"D-derek, hey, is it-"

"He won't hurt you," Derek's voice was soft and he reached out, exhaling when he pressed a hand to Stiles back and pushed him forward. The large animal's wet tongue stroked across his cheek and Stiles caught his breath before reaching out to stroke his furry snout.

"See?" Derek chuckled when the wolf nuzzled his head into Stiles' face and the florist blushed furiously, hugging himself into the soft fur.

"This is so cool, oh my god, you're so lucky!" A few of the others had gathered around. Derek had Dahlia on her back in his lap and was casually petting her belly, watching Stiles as he reached out to the wolves, touched them gently and murmured about how beautiful they were.

He couldn't help it. The way Stiles was cautious and careful, graceful even though he stumbled. He had a charisma that made Derek want to hurl himself into something unfathomable, had a charm that equally made the wolf want to snap and bite and get as far away as he could.

Stiles was an anomaly and Derek wanted so badly to hate him for it.

"This is amazing, what you've done with them is amazing. I mean, you rescued these," he grabbed the face of the Himalayan and rubbed his cheek against her neck while she panted happily, "gorgeous animals. You gave them a life. That's... you're pretty fucking amazing."

Derek blinked, wide eyes narrowing at the blunt compliment. People had thanked him, congratulated him, other preserves and rescues had offered their support and Derek had been successful. He had heard it all before, but his comment, the way he said it, it took Derek completely by surprise.

He wasn't amazing. Not in any way, shape or form. He just did what he thought was right and made a hell of a lot of mistakes along the way.

Amazing wasn't a word Derek would use to describe himself.

Not in this life and not in the next.

It took him a moment as his lips parted and he stared at Stiles whose attention had been pulled away by one of the wolves. The words were there, on the tip of his tongue, crawling up over his teeth but he shut his mouth and his closed his eyes before he exhaled deeply through his nose, "Thank you."

It was all he could muster and Stiles grinned towards him before choking on another laugh as Gabriel shoved a cold nose behind his ear and sniffed.

Maybe he smelt as good to them as he did to Derek.

He doubted it.


A couple weeks passed and Derek had nursed the maned wolf back to health. He filled out nicely and when they introduced him to the rest of the pack, he growled and nipped. He was a fighter, and that's how he found his name.

Cedric.

Stiles was over-joyed to find out that Derek had chosen the name after he had texted it to him.

Erica wasn't surprised.

"You like him," she looked over her shoulder at Derek who stood next to the counter, "You like the florist."

"No."

"Yes, you do," her words were quiet and she picked at some feta cheese before tossing it into a bowl full of greens, "it's obvious."

"He's a friend," Derek was calm and he shook his head back and forth when Erica rolled her eyes.

"Anyways, how is your little garden coming along," she turned and set a bowl in front of Derek, shaking a bag of croutons. He nodded and she dumped a few on top of his salad.

He forked a few pieces of spinach into his mouth and chewed, "The roses are growing. It's just hard because it's fall and it won't get any easier come December."

"What about a little green house?" Erica tied her hair back into a pony tail before she looked up and saw Derek staring at the ceiling. He was contemplating and she heaved a sigh, "Oh my god, I was kind of kidding. You're really going to build a green house, Hale?" She shook her head when he nodded and continued to eat, not bothering to try and explain himself.

The blonde shoved her fork into the greens and ginger dressing, smirking when he pulled out his phone and started typing.

"You're totally asking the florist to help you."

Derek's face heated and he grumbled.

"Oh my god, Derek!" Her laugh was infectious and the alpha couldn't help but chuckle at himself, shaking his head before he washed out his bowl in the sink and leaned down to kiss Erica lightly on the top of the head, "I'll see you on Wednesday." His words were low and he watched the woman stop chewing and she paused, eyes flashing up to his.

"Are we going to the warehouse...?" her words were gentle and he rubbed a warm hand across her back, "Yeah," he inhaled sharply, "Yeah, we're going to the warehouse."

She nodded and swallowed the mouth full of salad, "I'll let Boyd know. Who-"

"Chris will be there. Allison and Lydia can watch them," Derek's expression was soft and he gripped her shoulder, "Audrey will be fine, Erica. I didn't shift until my fifth year and it wasn't even on a full moon. She'll probably just have a little trouble sleeping."

"I trust you," she pressed back against his hand and Derek ran his palm along her shoulder as he walked away, "have fun with Stiles." Her voice was playful but the alpha growled over his shoulder, shutting the front door behind him.


Curiously clear maple eyes widened when Derek walked into the shop and blurted that he wanted to build a green house.

"Uhm-" Stiles licked across his bottom lip and the wolf's gaze chased it, "well, I mean, you could, it's not that hard. Why, though?"

Derek didn't really have an adequate or reasonable answer.

"I want to be able to start growing more exotic flowers and I can't because winter's coming," he leaned against the cool glass of the refrigerator and Stiles played with a small bottle, tossing it from hand to hand, "You know, you could just wait and be patient." He smiled at Derek who rolled his eyes and huffed, "Or I could build a green house."

"Or you could build a green house. But do you know how to build a greenhouse, hmmm?" he hummed, a brow arching as a wry grin pulled slowly at the corners of his mouth.

The wolf walked over to a batch of tulips and touched their petals, inhaling the delicate, fragrant scent. He paused, but it was obvious that he had no idea where to start when it came to building a green house, and it was more than obvious to both of them that he was going to ask Stiles for help.

But there was a catch. A large nasty hook of a catch that had itself buried in Derek's lip.

He would have to take Stiles to the house.

The place where Derek kept almost every single one of his skeletons, hidden, out of sight and away from reality.

His chest ached and he hated that his hands were trembling, eyes staying put on the flowers so that Stiles might not notice how bad he was panicking.

"Derek?" His voice was like honey against sandpaper. He walked passed the wolf, circling around to stand next to him and Derek turned his eyes only slightly.

Stiles looked worried and that was when it became apparent that Derek wasn't as good at hiding his emotions as he'd liked to be.

Almonds. Cake frosting. Apple cider.

"Will you help me?" The words left his mouth before he had the chance to catch them and as soon as they broke into the air between them, Derek gave in, "Will you help me build it?"

The young florist sighed through a sad smile, relieved and confused and convinced that there was much more to this than Derek was letting on. "I can do that," he plucked one of the tulips from where they were bundled and handed it to him.

The alpha took it, rolled its stem between his index finger and thumb.

"Just let me know when you want to start," Stiles patted Derek on the shoulder and walked back to the desk next to the window.

What the fuck was he doing.


The full moon snuck up on them every month, this month in-particular was more inconvenient than most. Audrey was supposed to have a dentist appointment, but they rescheduled it due to the fits that moon brought on all day. The children could go from perfectly asleep to wailing and crying in minutes.

It was normal and completely natural, but that didn't make it any easier.

Derek spent the day with them, shushing Audrey, reading to her and rocking Lucas when he fussed.

The sun seemed to set so much quicker on the full moons and sooner rather than later they were kissing the children and driving to the warehouse.

Erica and Boyd took it harder than the rest of them. Having children and being away from them on a full moon was absolute torture and Derek hated watching them go through it.

Chris chained them, starting with Jackson and then moving on to Isaac.

"Allison will call you, right? She'll call if, if anything-" Erica was hushed as Chris bound a chain around her waist and nodded, "I promise you, Erica, if anything happens I will go to them-"

"You'll let me go!"

Erica's eyes flashed and her canines extended, the last bit of her sentence lashed out in a growl as she jutted forward at the hunter who took a step back, hands held in front of his chest.

Derek didn't hesitate, his hands wrapped around Erica's arms to thrust her backwards, "She doesn't mean it, Chris."

Chris Argent gave a placid nod and continued with the others until they were all secured. Derek was the only one left unchained and he stood next to Allison's father at the entrance of the warehouse, locking the door and leaning against it.

"Thank you," the alpha looked to the hunter who pursed his lips and shook his head, "You always thank me, Hale. There's no need."

"There is," red orbs hid underneath long eyelashes, "You don't need to stand by us and you do. Every day and every full moon. I appreciate it more than you know."

Chris's hand found its way to Derek's shoulder, gripping tenderly, "We fought our war, Derek. There's no need to thank me now. You're a good man."

It was still hard to get used to Chris referring to him as anything other than a monster, even if it had been years since they patched things up.

"So are you."

Peter strained against the chains even though he was a born werewolf, he growled and snarled, bit at Scott who tried his best to resist the change. Derek stared at the ceiling and wished he was deaf for the evening. They're howls were pleading, words begging to be let free and the alphas wolf wanted nothing more than to oblige.

"You okay?" Chris's voice pulled him away and he gritted his teeth when he noticed the claws pushing out through his nail beds. They retracted slowly, enticing a burn to scorch across his hands, "Yes," his voice was rough but Derek swallowed, "I'm fine. I got it."

These nights always seemed to last a life time and Derek winced every time one of his betas whined or slammed against the hard wall of the warehouse.

"They'll heal," Chris's voice was soft.

Derek nodded. He knew they would.

When morning came, Chris took his leave and Derek unlatched them, steadying Isaac when he stumbled and braced a hand around Scott's waist when the boy's knees caved. It was always the same. Erica would hug herself tight against Derek's chest on the cold floor with Boyd curled behind her. Isaac would be on his other side, head resting on his shoulder with Scott's cheek resting on his hip. Peter and Jackson would both lay next to Scott, Jackson's face pressed into Scott's belly and Peter lounged across Jackson's lap.

"Thank god this isn't weird or anything," Jackson mumbled tiredly and all of them chuckled in the darkness.

Strangely enough it wasn't and Derek yawned through a smile, fingers moving into Isaac's hair, his other hand petting across Erica, enjoying a few hours of sleep before they had to return to a human life.


Derek and Stiles had coffee twice before he decided to go pick up the supplies to start building.

They talked about life, about Beacon Hills, about Christmas and ice skating and how completely uncoordinated Stiles was. They sipped on warm drinks, picked at sugary pastries and for those couple of hours Derek felt like he was getting to know himself again.

Stiles asked about his favorite bands, asked if he had been to any concerts recently, what his favorite book was and where he liked to go when he was upset.

"I had a thinking rock back home," Stiles had told him, "it was at this local beach and whenever I needed to get away I would go there."

Derek always just ended up at the house in the middle of the woods, but he didn't say that.

"I like water," the wolf shrugged, "but I don't really have a place that I go when I'm..."

"Sad?" Stiles lifted his hands, showing open palms, "C'mon, man, everyone gets sad sometimes. You gotta have somewhere you go."

Derek shook his head. Stiles let it go.


The alpha trembled, rubbed his hands together as he paced back and forth against the tiled floor of his apartment. It was on the outskirts of town in a complex that overlooked the preserve and it suited him well. With soft accents of red against black leather on the couch, a soft rug underneath a carved wooden coffee table and a moderately sized flat screen above a small fireplace on the wall. It had one bedroom, two bathrooms and a decent sized kitchen stocked with food.

The smell of coffee filled the air and Derek ran his fingers up through his hair, gripping at the roots.

"Okay," he breathed and quickly grabbed the keys off the counter.

His phone buzzed.

Stiles Stilinski: December 2, 2013, 5:15 p.m

just closed up. i got my dads truck, send me your address

Derek typed back a response.

His heart was steady but each beat was bruising against his rib cage. It felt like time sped up, like the clock betrayed him and skipped fifteen minutes ahead. He hadn't had time to breathe, to prepare himself, to find out what he was going to say. How he was going to explain.

The knock at the door came faster than he had ever wanted it too.

"Hey," Stiles piped, peeking into Derek's apartment when he opened the door, "I didn't know if you needed help carrying anything."

"It's all down in the garage," the wolf trailed his eyes across him, from the dark jeans up to the navy t-shirt covered by a black hoodie. He smelt like work. Like orchids and lilies and soil and the seven cups of jasmine green tea he had brewed for himself.

They walked, Stiles' shoulder brushing against Derek's every so often until they reached the manually lifted garage and the wolf pulled it up. It took a few minutes to hoist the wooden beams into the back of the truck, followed by the glass panels and the large fan, but once it was all in Stiles hopped into the drivers seat and revved the engine to life.

"Direct away," his voice was as light as it always was and Derek told him, through gritted teeth and the shadow of regret, how to get to the old Hale house.

When Stiles drove through the trees Derek watched him tense. He could smell the acid in the air, the hesitation and when they turned the corner the wolf tore his eyes away from the house in front of them.

It was ugly. Decrepit and burned. A corpse.

Stiles twisted the key in the ignition and sat quiet for a moment, only looking to Derek once as the alpha clutched his hands together in his lap.

Derek could hear the click of Stiles' tongue against the roof of his mouth, twitched when the florist sighed, "C'mon." He didn't expect his voice to be as gentle as it was, like feathers dusting over Derek's old wounds, "Let's unload."

They dragged the supplies out, stacked it all on the porch and Stiles hardly even looked at the property. Derek had been waiting for it. Waiting for the overwhelming amount of questions. For the pity. But it never came. All Stiles did was talk about where he wanted to build, how big it was going to be and if he had a tarp to cover everything with in case it rained.

Derek nodded dumbly to everything, hardly using words to answer anything at all.

"Your roses are getting brave," Stiles knelt down next to the plethora of growing stems protruding from the ground, "They're not scared of the cold."

Honeycomb eyes stared at Derek, traced the sharp line of his jaw and caught the tremble in his lips. The wolf wanted to be strong. He wanted this to be real, to be a new start, to be something beautiful and he nodded again, "Yes," his voice caught and he cleared his throat, trying to wrap his head around the situation, around Stiles and the plans he had made that he was highly reconsidering at the moment.

Stiles bumped into Derek as he walked back towards the truck, grabbed the tarp and draped it over the supplies. The alpha blinked. "What're you-"

"Well, for one, it's getting dark. We'll start this on Sunday. Two, you're not even relatively here right now, so c'mon, we're going somewhere."

"Where, wait, no I'm here. I just-"

"Derek, stop," Stiles rolled his eyes and walked back towards the truck, "It's okay. We got the stuff here, we'll start with the beams this weekend, just-" he swung his arm and gestured to the passengers seat, "just trust me okay."

Derek wasn't used to be questioned or being called out on anything and he blushed, biting down on his lip before he climbed into the car.

Accepting defeat was difficult. Having someone beautiful and caring throw defeat in his face was even more difficult, but he knew Stiles was right and he sat silent in the car as the sun set behind the trees.

He didn't ask where Stiles was taking him, he just kicked one of his feet up on the dash and stared out the window, trusting him to just know.


Stiles stripped off his jacket when they pulled up in front of the lake about a mile away from his house. It was hidden in the woods, a gem in the forest that most people had only stumbled upon. A rickety deck was built out over it's edge and tall grass swayed as water lapped against the dirt.

Derek's eyes narrowed and the air caught dangerously in his lungs when Stiles tossed his shirt in the back seat of the Toyota and opened the door. He eyed the wolf and arched a brow, pale skin glowing against the slowly rising moon, "You coming?"

He couldn't find any words to begin with but when the door shut Derek stepped out in a hurry, "It's December, Stiles. The water is freezing."

Derek felt his heart stutter and- Jesus Christ.

Stiles popped the button of his jeans open and he shimmied out of them, laughing when a cold gust of wind blew across him.

"Would you come on!" Stiles held his arms open before he started walking backwards, fingers pressed into the waist band of his boxer briefs.

For once Derek let his wolf win. He tossed his jacket to the ground and pulled the shirt he was wearing over his head. He could feel Stiles watching him, could sense his gaze crawling across his skin and it caused an ache to settle below his belly button.

"Fuck," Derek cursed under his breath as he rid himself of his jeans and walked forward, catching the silhouette of Stiles as he waded into the lake. The moonlight dripped into the water and he could hear the shaky breaths leaving the man as he dipped deeper, turning to face Derek when the wolf finally caught up.

They were both shaking, teeth chattering and Derek tried to laugh, "I said I liked water, I didn't say I wanted to freeze my ass off."

Stiles grinned and bit down on his lip before he sank down quickly, crashing back up only moments later to gulp in a breath of air. Water dripped off the curve of his nose, caressed his face and dampened his eyelashes. Derek couldn't look away. He wouldn't even if he had the choice.

"You needed a shock to your s-system," Stiles tilted his head to the side before he splashed Derek's still-dry upper half. The alpha growled and let himself fall into the water, diving down and enjoying the burn in his chest that reminded him to breathe.

He was right, it was exactly what Derek needed.

"O-okay, okay, warm truck-" Stiles was laughing when Derek surfaced and he swam quickly towards the shore, picking himself up as Derek followed. It was fun and that was something Derek hadn't thought in a long time. Something fun and stupid and young.

Things he never had the chance to really enjoy.

Derek shivered slightly as he neared the truck, Stiles walking next to him. He paused and reached for the door but his eyes widened when a hand moved to his chest, unexpectedly pressing him back into the cold metal of the vehicle.

It felt like whip lash. Like a tornado ripping at his insides.

Stiles' hand slid down his torso before he leaned in and pressed his lips against Derek's mouth.

He didn't know what to do, how to react. His body heated almost immediately and his knees just about buckled when the lean body settled flush against his own. Stiles was firm and strong for a human, fingers leaving blooming patches of warmth as they explored the dips and curves of Derek's shoulders.

It was when Stiles let his hands fall, gripped his hips and pressed the pads of his thumbs on the soft patch of flesh just beneath Derek's hip bones that the wolf finally broke free.

He gripped the sides of Stiles face, leaning away from the truck so that he could turn them and slam the mans back into the door. It knocked a puff of air out of him and Stiles arched, grinding his hips against Derek's waist when the alpha crushed their lips together again. It was eager and dangerous, primal and devouring. He bit at Stiles' lips, thumb nail dragging down his throat, angling him where he wanted as he licked into his mouth, tongue dipping down to drag across Stiles' teeth.

It was a sloppy mess of lips and tongues and hands as they pulled and tugged at each other. He couldn't catch his breath, couldn't keep himself in one place. It took him off-guard, made him remember what it felt like to be surprised by something fantastic rather than something made to break him or the people he cared about.

Derek curled his tongue softly against Stiles' and amber eyes fluttered when he reached around and gripped just above his thigh, urging him to roll forward and press the hard length between his legs into Derek's crotch.

"Fuck-" Stiles tried to catch his breath but Derek bit down on his shoulder, jerking his hips again and again until the florist was hissing and clawing at his back, "truck, Derek, get in the-"

Derek opened the door, turning his face away as he desperately tried to get a hold of himself.

Claws and crimson eyes might be a little bit of a mood killer.

He climbed into the back seat and hauled Stiles up who closed the door behind him before his head fell to Derek's waist and he placed an open mouth kiss against the jut of the wolfs hip bone. His mouth was inviting and warm and Stiles was definitely not shy when it came to letting Derek know exactly what he wanted. He palmed him through the sopping wet briefs that clung to his body and gripped, causing a strangled, throaty rumble to spill over the pillow of Derek's tongue.

"You're fucking beautiful," Stiles' voice was raspy and low as he tapped the alpha on the leg, urging him up. He lifted and kicked his feet, blushing furiously when Stiles finally got him free.

Derek never did shit like this. Well, he never had anyone to do shit like this with, but even if he did, rolling around in the back of someones car in the middle of the night wasn't like him.

This wasn't like him.

But he definitely was not going to stop.

Not when Stiles was licking across him, tongue dragging tantalizingly slow against the achingly hard member between his thighs. Derek's fingers curled into tight fists, teeth dug into the soft flesh of his bottom lip and his back bowed when Stiles finally wrapped his lips around him.

It all happened so fast and Derek tried to clear his thoughts, tried to think of why or when or how but he couldn't piece it together.

All he knew was that Stiles was here, touching him, wanting him and for once Derek wasn't going to fight it.

His body trembled, eyes closed and he inhaled sharply when Stiles delved deeper, tongue circling clumsily around the head of his cock. He was messy and uncoordinated and Derek loved it. He loved how raw Stiles was, the simplicity of him. It wasn't going to take long, not with Stiles spreading firm deliberate presses of his tongue to the underside of his cock and not when fingertips fumbled and reached up to wrap around Derek's hand.

Stiles gripped at his balled fist, knuckles white from containing his wolf, arm shaking from containing himself. It was an intimate gesture and for a moment the alpha thought that maybe this could be something.

Maybe he had found something.

Eyes peeked up from under dark lashes and Stiles hummed, swallowing down more of him until Derek squirmed, "I can't, I-"

Those were the only words that he could get out before the heat that dropped down into the base of his spine released and he came with his back arched, eyes squeezed shut, against the back of Stiles' throat.

Derek's chest rose and fell, an arm slung across his face like he was hiding from something. The tops of his cheeks were frosted pink, nostrils flaring. Stiles wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, unashamed, "Hey," his voice was hardly a whisper and he tightened his grip on Derek's hand until he felt the wolf relax beneath his touch. He was sitting with his legs draped lazily over strong legs and he smoothed his free hand up Derek's chest until it wrapped around the back of his neck, "come here."

He didn't need to be told twice and when the alpha finally came to his senses he sat up and gripped Stiles' hips, moving him where he wanted him. Derek's back was against the seat and he had Stiles in his lap, pulling roughly at the lanky but lean young man straddling him in the back of his fathers truck.

Oh god, they did this in his fathers truck.

Green eyes blinked up at Stiles who felt across the coarse stubble on his face, fingernails scratching gently into his scalp when he raked long digits through Derek's hair.

Stiles was gentle and as often and as loudly as Derek proclaimed he didn't need gentle or that he didn't need comfort. He did. God, he did, and Stiles knew exactly how to give it to him.

Derek forced his hips down roughly to grind into his lap and Stiles gave a shaky attempt at catching his breath. "Where the fuck did you come from," Derek's words were muffled as he nipped at Stiles' jaw and surged up to capture his lips.

Stiles was confident in the most relaxing way, he pried at Derek's lips, tongue warm and insistent as it kneaded against the wolf's. "San Diego," he smiled against Derek's mouth, the ghost of a laugh puffing along his nose until Derek called him a smart ass and slid their lips together again. The alpha didn't hesitate when it came to touching Stiles, he pulled at his briefs and fisted around his cock until Stiles threw his hand up to brace himself on the window behind them.

The glass was fogged and the air reeked of sex and salt and lake water. It was driving his wolf mad.

But Derek was slow, appreciating the tremble in Stiles' breathing, the small pants and the jerk of his hips when he dragged his palm up over the head of his cock. He pressed his lips against the exposed throat in front of him, his free hand splayed over his lower back as Stiles bucked and writhed into Derek's touch, "Don't stop," his voice was hoarse against Derek's ear and he bit back a small sound when the wolf sank blunt teen into his shoulder.

He had no intention of stopping and when Stiles desperately gripped at the sides of his face and forced Derek back into a heated kiss, he pumped faster, harder. Long, swift movements that had Stiles shaking and mewling until his nails dug into Derek's scalp and he let go, shooting warm wet stripes into the wolf's hand and across his stomach.

Stiles didn't move. He kept his eyes closed, his chest expanding every time he took a breath, "I, uh," he cleared his throat, lips spread into a toothy grin, "I thought you might like the lake."

Derek sighed, moving a hand up the damp skin on his back as Stiles leaned down to press their foreheads together, "Good idea."


The drive back to Derek's house was nerve-racking. Stiles drove, singing along to The 1975, and Derek had his foot kicked up on the dash again, starring at the trees as they passed by.

He tried to go through the motions in his head. To pick apart what had just happened. It was a blur of movements, a static vibration of pressing and pulling. Derek didn't know what to do. He didn't know what to say, whether to continue or dismiss the situation. He was stuck.

If this was a pack issue, a crippling decision that would put his own life in danger, Derek could jump all over it. He could destroy it, conquer it, revel in it.

But when it came to a florist with constellations of moles on his back and a witty mouth, Derek could hardly form words.

Stiles slowed to a stop in front of Derek's apartment and glanced over, his elbow resting casually on the door handle and he tapped his cheek.

The wolf was panicking. Panicking and trying his best to find something to say besides 'goodnight' or 'thank you' or 'text me' because it seemed so childish and there was just so much more. There was always more.

Stiles took in a breath and opened his mouth but Derek cut him off, blurting out the only thing that came to mind.

"I like you."

The florist's brows rose and he smirked, glancing over his shoulder into the back seat before he turned to face Derek again, "Really? Oh, shit, I had no idea."

Heat rose into Derek's face. Anger. Embarrassment. One of the two. Both, probably. He gritted his teeth and rolled his eyes, grumbling something inaudible as he pulled roughly at the handle of the door and swung it open.

Stiles stopped him before he could step out of the truck, a hand wrapped around Derek's forearm, tugging gently. The alpha turned and saw Stiles leaning forward, expectant and waiting as he tilted his head to the side. His stomach fluttered and Derek stretched over accepting the press of warm lips, a small hum creeping up from the depths of his throat.

A soft hand moved to cup Derek's cheek and Stiles smiled against his mouth, "Have coffee with me tomorrow," his voice was smooth and he kissed Derek again, long and languid and everything that the wolf wanted.

"Yeah, okay," his words were timid but Derek pressed his lips once more against Stiles' mouth, moving and pressing and taking until he felt greedy and satiated. He stepped out and stood, watching as the stranger from a beach city down south smiled at him before he drove away.

He didn't know what to do, how to explain or understand or even grasp the turn his life had just taken. But it didn't matter. Nothing really mattered.

Grapefruit chap stick. Salt. Spicy cologne. Expensive conditioner.

Derek pressed two fingers tentatively to his lips and they parted, gracing the night with a shy smile.


Scott was the first one to say something.

They were out for a run and Derek stopped to catch his breath.

The beta leaned in close and his nostrils flared, Derek tried to ignore the ridiculous grin on his face.

"You totally- Really? Stiles?"

"No," Derek looked at him sideways before he took off sprinting down the trail again. Scott caught up, running backwards next to him, "You reek, Derek! Did you even shower?"

The alpha snapped his teeth, "Yes, I showered. Can you drop it now?"

"No fucking way," deep brown eyes were wide and he dodged when Derek shot a hand out to grab him, "You've got it bad for the florist, don't you?"

Derek ignored him.


He sat in his car for ten minutes before he finally convinced himself to get out and walk into Apothecary.

The wolf's stomach was in knots and gnawed idly on the inside of his cheek, dragging his boots against the sidewalk as he went. He was anxious and paranoid and horrified that he even felt half the things he did, because he was an alpha, an alpha that had gone through more shit than most people would go through in a lifetime.

Yet a guy who owned a flower shop could thrust him into a state of erratic foolishness.

The bell above the door jingled when Derek stepped inside and he found Stiles almost instantly. He was fixing a bundle of flowers for an elderly man, laughing and smiling as he pushed a few bushels of baby's breath into the middle and fanned roses out around the orchids. It was a beautiful display and whoever was receiving said flowers would be more than happy with them.

"Thank you, young man, maybe I'll get outta the dog house with these, huh?" the old man gave a throaty laugh and Stiles chuckled, nodding at him as he left. He tipped his hat to Derek who held the door for him.

"Hey stranger," Stiles stood with his arms folded across his chest, shoulder propped against the glass refrigerator.

Derek didn't know anyone else who could capture sex appeal as easily as he could.

The muscle behind his ribs thrashed and the alpha arched a brow, "Hello."

His wolf screamed at him to walk, so he did. He took long strides forward, not caring if he was over-thinking anything, not bothering to ask if it was alright, and leaned in to brush his nose lightly against Stiles' cheek.

A warm hand reached out to rest on Derek's hip and relief flooded through him.

Peppermint.

Derek inhaled.

Mango. Brown sugar. Thai iced tea.

Stiles turned carefully and took Derek's lips in a firm kiss, one that wasn't nearly as long as it should have been, but one that was sure. "Let me lock up and we'll go across the street," Stiles smiled against Derek's mouth and the wolf hummed his reply. He could feel it spread through his body in a wave of chills, causing goosebumps to raise over his arms and down passed his knees.

Derek felt like a gushing teenager and he wanted nothing more than to hate Stiles for it.

But he didn't. Not in the slightest.

Brilliant molten eyes danced around The Loft as Stiles told Derek about his day. About the few customers he'd had, about his Venus fly trap and how interesting it was to watch it eat. Derek listened. He listened, drank his coffee and smiled whenever Stiles would ramble off track and then remember to come back to what he was originally talking about.

He was a cluster of so many different emotions all wound and tied together in a complex web of energy and vibrance that Derek couldn't seem to stay away from.

Derek didn't want to stay away from.

"What're you thinking about?" Stiles blinked and tapped his finger against the top of Derek's hand.

The wolf wanted to spit out everything.

He wanted to tell him that he had been thinking about his eyes and how they reminded him of the milky way, he wanted to blurt that he loved the way Stiles had sighed into his ear last night and tell him that he had beautiful hips and that they made Derek want to do horrible, grotesque things to him.

He smiled instead.

"Can I make you dinner?"

Stiles' lips pulled up at the corners.

"When?" he looked to Derek who shrugged, "Whenever you'd like."

"Friday?"

Derek nodded, "Friday's fine."

They watched each other for a moment before Stiles leaned across the table and kissed him, unphased by the audience inside the crowded coffee shop.


Derek frowned when he looked down at his roses. They weren't growing as fast as he'd like them to and the cold wasn't helping move them along. The air was stagnant and bitter, not only with the stale remnants of the fire, but frigid with winter's merciless bite. The wolf hugged his arms around his chest and pushed a deep breath out of his lungs, frosted air leaving his lips.

"Wow, I didn't think you'd actually do it," Peter walked towards him and rubbed his bare palms together, shivering slightly.

The alpha shrugged and moved over to sit down on the steps of the porch. Peter leaned down to touch the persistent little stems, "Roses?"

Derek nodded, eyes trailing up over the dead leaves that had gathered on the roof, "Stiles said they were the easiest so that's where I'm starting. I think we'll be putting up the beams for the greenhouse on Sunday." Derek nudged his chin towards the pile underneath the gray tarp and Peter tilted his head to the side.

"You brought Stiles here?"

Derek eyed his uncle carefully and nodded.

Yes, he had brought Stiles to the place where his nightmares made a home beneath the floor boards.

But hopefully soon Stiles could show him how to choke them with vines and ferns and flowers.


Erica grinned with her eyebrows raised as Derek rolled his eyes, lifting a glass of wine to his lips. They were sitting on the deck in her backyard and the the blonde popped a grape into her mouth, "You're making him dinner?"

"Yes, Erica, I'm making him dinner."

The beta slouched down in the chair and bit back a small smile, "I told you. I knew you had a thing for him."

Derek shook his head, lips pursed into a thin line, "I don't know where it's going to go."

He didn't care, really, as long as it went somewhere.

Erica tilted her head to the side, eyes narrowing before she gasped, "It's already going...? Oh. Oh my god, you guys have already- You guys totally fuc-"

She clasped a hand over her mouth and her eyes darted to Audrey who was playing with dolls in the grass only a few feet away, "Mommy puts a 'curtur in da jar!"

Did you fuck him?

She mouthed the words through an open grin, eyes wide.

Derek hated himself. He hated her. He hated everything.

He pressed his thumb and middle finger to his temples and heaved a sigh, shaking his head back and forth. "No, Erica, I did not," he glanced towards the little girl whose back was towards them and let his voice drop to a whisper, "I did not fuck him, we just-"

"Der-der puts a 'curtur in the jar!"

Erica waved her hands in the air, "She's a wolf, Derek, she can hear you!" The words were muffled by a loud laugh and Derek couldn't help but sink into his chair and bury his head in his hands, shoulders lifting and falling as he tried to control the laughter spilling over his lips.


He knew he would be nervous, but he didn't expect to be as nervous as he was.

Derek could cook, that was something he knew he could do without a doubt, but the problem was the only people he had ever cooked for were pack. Never anyone-

A knock at the door.

The wolf glanced at the clock; it was 6.14 p.m and Derek held his breath when he put his hand on the door knob and pulled. Stiles sighed softly, "I'm sorry I'm late, I had to take my dad his medication- hey, wow, that smells really good." He wasn't shy, Derek had come to learn, and walked passed him, fingertips gently brushing across the alpha's arm.

"Nice to see you too," Derek mumbled through a smirk. Stiles looked over his shoulder, a coy smile gracing the curve of his lips, "Oh, sassy much?" He leaned over and pressed his lips lightly to Derek's and the wolf bumped his nose against the florist's cheek when he moved away.

Stiles' glasses dropped to the tip of his nose and he pushed them back up with the his index finger, "What're you cooking?" He stripped off his coat and slung it over the back of the couch. Derek smiled at how relaxed Stiles was even though he had never been inside his apartment. How relaxed he always was.

Derek shrugged and opened the oven, "Rosemary citrus chicken and plum glazed asparagus, you want a drink?"

He nodded and Derek reached for two glasses, pouring a bit of rich liquid into each before dropping in a few ice cubes. He handed one to Stiles who tipped it to his lips, leaning against the kitchen counter with an ease that Derek wished he could shadow. He could feel his eyes on him and as he grabbed two plates out of the cabinets he finally cracked and chuckled under his breath, "You have no shame, do you?" Derek looked over his shoulder at Stiles whose head was tilted and caramel optics were straining against the alpha's back, running from his legs to his shoulders.

"None," he tilted the glass back again and Derek shook his head, nervous and flattered and a complete mess underneath the calm, placid facade he was trying much too hard to keep in tact.

They ate on the patio even though it was cold and talked about their majors in college, why they decided to drop out, where they went from there. It was refreshing but Derek couldn't help but feel like he had to skate around subjects, lighten things to make them decent enough to share. How he had met Scott and the rest of the pack was a particularly strange topic.

"They were all in high school when you met?"

Derek nodded and shrugged, "I helped them with their English."

Stiles didn't press, which Derek was thankful for, and he listened to Stiles' heartbeat when he talked about his teenage years.

He swallowed and Derek heard the soft thump as the muscle skittered inside his chest, "Things kinda went downhill my sophomore year, after my mom died." Derek stayed quiet, sipped at his drink and studied Stiles' face as he took a bite off the chicken, "Her name was Claudia," his voice was soft, "We, uh, we found out she had breast cancer when I was thirteen. She went into remission and we didn't expect it to come back," he shrugged and looked up briefly, "but, ya know, it did... she was an amazing woman."

"She raised an amazing son."

Stiles paused and shook his head, a small smile ghosting across his face, "Not quite, but I won't argue with you." And there it was, the witty, sarcastic purr that lightened the conversation back to everything that didn't matter. As much as he wanted to hear every detail of Stiles life, the good, the bad, and everything in between, Derek had no problem with leaving it unsaid.

If they didn't talk about his tragedy, maybe they wouldn't have to talk about Derek's yet, which the alpha was more than okay with.

Derek talked about the preserve, about Audrey and Lucas and how happy he was for Erica and Boyd. Stiles added that he thought Allison and Scott would have already tied the knot by how close they seemed to be, Derek agreed.

It was close to half passed eight when they headed back inside and Derek dumped the plates in the sink. It was the time of the night where Derek didn't know how to take the next step, if there was a next step. Did he turn on the TV? Did he offer another drink? Was it, 'thanks for coming'? Or did he ask when he could see him again? He was scared to turn around. He didn't know what to do, where to go, how to act.

He could smell Stiles behind him, caught the inhale and exhale of his breath and tensed when he felt his hand gently trail down the contour of his spine.

"I make you nervous," Stiles was whispering and Derek turned his head slightly, glancing over his shoulder.

He wouldn't admit to that.

"Why?" his voice didn't carry it's usual air of confidence and Derek turned, surprised to find Stiles as close to him as he was. The wolf could feel his breath misting across his jaw and Stiles shook his head, eyes just as bewildered as his voice when they flickered across Derek's face.

So much of him wanted to try and explain, to make him understand the war that raged behind his eyes whenever Stiles was within reach.

"Do I make you nervous?" Derek tilted his head and kept his hands dormant at his sides.

"No."

Stiles' voice was even but his heartbeat sold him out, it skipped, sputtered like a malfunctioning engine and Derek's wolf writhed in the lie. Such a beautiful, prideful lie.

The alpha was getting brave. Braver than he had been in years and he leaned forward to press his mouth against Stiles' ear, a hand snaking around to tug on his lower back. He felt the shaky exhale of breath, heard his throat clench around a dry swallow. "Are you sure?" raspy words and warm breath graced the flesh behind the florist's ear and Derek waited.

He waited for Stiles to laugh, to make some snide comment or back away. He wasn't expecting him to stay put, to sway on his feet and try to catch his breath.

Stiles turned and found Derek's lips, a heavy sigh trembling into the air between them before he reached up to grab the wolf's face, words hurried and rushed, "Please tell me you aren't one of those old fashioned guys that kiss me goodnight at the door and expect me to leave becau-"

Derek didn't know who did what. All he knew was that Stiles' tongue was feisty and strong as it rubbed against his own and that his hands were clumsy underneath his shirt when the wolf backed him up into the counter top. He wasn't taken off guard this time, he wasn't at all ready, but at least now Derek could process what was happening instead of being completely taken a-back in his fathers truck.

Oh, god, his fathers truck. He still felt bad about that.

Stiles was tugging at the ends of Derek's shirt and he gasped, shoving it up under his arms until the wolf reached up and pulled it off to toss it somewhere on the kitchen floor. Rough hands gripped at the back of his thighs, lifting the human up to set him on the counter top. Amber eyes blinked a few times and he laughed, eyebrows raised, "I knew you were strong but-" Derek fumbled at his shirt and long fingers helped him discard it, "I didn't think you were-" the words were cut off by the intake of air as the alpha latched his teeth into the pale flesh above his collar bone.

He loved the sounds. The shallow breaths and the low purrs that vibrated in the man's chest when Derek bit at him, raked blunt teeth down the length of his shoulder and trailed his tongue up the flexing tendon in his throat. Stiles was soft in his hands, soft and hot and frantic.

He reached out and pulled himself flush against Derek, legs wrapping around his waist as he stumbled to kick his shoes off. It was another unexpected movement, one that Stiles was most certainly surprised by and one that Derek had adamantly tried to resist. He picked him up, hands wrapped under his thighs to grip at his ass and slammed his back into the wall next to the hallway.

"Holy-" Stiles was cut off, his voice muffled by Derek's persistent lips as he grinded between his legs, rolling his hips again and again until he felt Stiles' long legs slipping and his feet hit the ground.

The wolf broke, eyes opening as he looked to Stiles who was licking across his bottom lip. It was a sudden realization, a dawning that convinced him to croak out an apology and take a step backwards. His wolf was a storm inside of him.

Two hands shot down to the waist band of Derek's jeans and Stiles efficiently rid him of his belt, talented fingers popping the button of his pants open, "Don't you ever fucking apologize for that," his voice was firm and it almost made Derek flinch, "you can slam me into whatever the hell you want-"

Derek was surging forward again and backed Stiles down the short distance of the hallway, all heavy breathing and messy open mouth kissing as they went. They were sloppy, off-balance, stumbling and catching each other as they neared the door. Stiles was stronger than Derek had anticipated and chuckled when his hands hit the broad muscle of his chest, knocking him back against the door. He bit and clawed with chewed off nails and Derek couldn't breathe when he slid his hand down the front of his jeans passed the waist band of his briefs and gripped.

He could have sworn the room was spinning, would have bet money that his body was fucking vibrating at this point because he was certainly shaking. When Stiles reached around him and twisted the knob of his bedroom door, they stumbled through it and fell, thankfully, into the comforter of his un-made bed.

Derek kicked his pants off.

Stiles shoved his own off like they were a problem he had been trying to get rid of for years.

He wanted to be careful with him, wanted to take it slow and keep himself at bay. But he couldn't. And he wouldn't. Not with Stiles crawling backwards on the bed, curling his index finger back and forth with a grin on his face that could quite possibly kill him.

Stiles had no idea what he was doing, had no clue what exactly he was enticing and Derek had to swallow the hard pressure in his throat as his wolf desperately tried to crawl its way out.

Derek sucked bruises onto his inner thighs after he removed the annoying boxers from their place on his body. He bit, gnawed, grinded his teeth into the sharp jut of his hip bone and shivered when Stiles threw his head back, teeth clanking together as he slammed his mouth shut to try and quiet himself. His cock felt good in Derek's mouth, warm and musky and salty against the flat of his tongue.

It had been years since he'd been in bed with anyone for the sheer pleasure of being in bed with them. There had been a handful of one night stands, a few drunken blowjobs and grinding in a hotel room. But never this. Nothing like this.

Stiles writhed like a cat and Derek groaned when knobby fingers fisted in his hair. "God- dammit," the words lacked oxygen and they sent him deeper, twisting and twirling his tongue around the head of Stiles' cock until he was babbling and arching, digging his fingers into Derek's scalp as he came. He tasted like the sea, bitter and salty, and the alpha didn't bother to be disgusted with himself for enjoying every bit of it.

When Derek looked up he held his breath. Stiles was splotched red from his cheeks to his chest, lips worried and worn, brown hair disheveled against the white sheets.

"You're gorgeous," Derek really hadn't known he'd said it until Stiles looked down at him through his lashes and hummed pleasantly as the wolf trailed his lips across his abdomen.

He hovered over the lean body now splayed against the mattress and Stiles curled his hand around the back of his neck to bring their lips together. Derek's eyes were open and he blinked against the darkness until Stiles finally saw him and tilted his head to the side, soft hands running across his back, down his arms.

"Don't look at me like that," a raspy whisper pointed up at Derek and the wolf smirked, hiding the fact that he was terrified, "where...?" his voice trailed off and he arched a brow.

Derek reached across to the nightstand and grabbed the small bottle of lube and a condom that hid underneath a couple old books and a candy wrapper in the drawer. The condom wasn't necessary but Stiles didn't need to know that.

They were kissing again, Stiles' hands gripped his jaw and he licked into Derek's mouth with purpose and promise, causing the wolf to growl heatedly against his lips as he pressed his hips down between Stiles' legs.

He was rid of his underwear with a series of clumsy movements, Stiles kicked at them with his feet until Derek finally pulled them off and went back to what he was doing, pressing a hesitant finger between Stiles' legs.

The alpha felt him nod against his shoulder as Derek breathed hot against his neck, tongue stroking like a path of liquid flames from his jaw to his shoulder. "Fuck, Derek, just-" Stiles arched again and finally Derek pressed one slicked finger into him.

Stiles hissed and Derek waited, curling his finger back and forth until Stiles was moving his hips, pressing down against his hand. It didn't take long, only a minute before he pushed two fingers in, scissoring and curling until Stiles' breaths melted into moans and his sighs morphed into whimpers.

He nodded when the alpha leaned, tilted his knee over his hip and pushed in. Tight heat. Splitting warmth that had Derek shaking and breathless when he felt himself settle flesh against Stiles' hips. Wide blown pupils blinked up at him, trembling lips, lovely little moans and mewls leaking from his lips when Derek rolled against him. It was slow at first, a build that led to Stiles with his teeth buried in Derek's throat, listening to the soft pant and throaty groans from the wolf above him.

It was fast and hard and somewhere in the back of his mind, Derek was scared he was going to hurt him, but Stiles didn't seem to see it that way. He was bucking his hips, pulling him down into filthy kisses that made Derek want nothing more than to slam into him again and again. To bruise. To make him gasp and choke and spit incoherent needs into his ear.

When Stiles said his name it was breath against his cheek, wrecked and desperate, and it pulled at the sensation building in his lower back, right between his vertebrae.

It didn't take long, as Derek wrapped his hand around Stiles' cock and gave a few swift tugs, for him to be graced with the view of a long pale neck as he threw his head back, gasping and shaking.

Derek was just behind him and he turned his face into the crook of Stiles' shoulder as his body shuddered and caved, muscles tensing, stomach clenching when he came. It felt like thunder rolling through his body, wave after wave as he slouched, relishing in the feel of soft hands petting down his back and smoothing over his hair.

He laid down next to Stiles, watched him carefully, let himself analyze his breathing as it calmed and slowed, and listened to his runaway heart beat start to settle into rhythm again.

A tired gaze moved to catch the deep green eyes that stared at him and Stiles shifted onto his side to face the wolf. Derek exhaled and Stiles offered a lazy smile, out of breath and exhausted, "Thanks for dinner."

Derek couldn't help but laugh.


Stiles stayed.

It wasn't something Derek expected, to wake up in the morning with an arm thrown over his waist and a soft nose nuzzling into the hairs on the back of his neck.

"Wake up," Stiles' murmured tiredly, lips trailing across the space between his shoulder blades. The tip of his finger dragged down the curve of Derek's tattoo, tracing the ink in a slow lulling pattern. The wolf hummed and leaned back against him, grabbing his wrist and pulling his arm tighter around him.

"Oh, god, you're totally not a morning person are you?"

There was no argument, Derek liked to sleep.

A puff of air pushed itself over the alpha's lips and he finally turned, Stiles pulling him along until he was on his back. He blinked a couple times and pawed carelessly at his eyes with the back of his hands, toes curling, back arching when he stretched.

Light was pouring in through the window and dripped onto the edge of the bed. He could hear car tires on the asphalt, the pick up of wind against the arms of naked trees and the placid inhale and exhale of breath from the warm body next to him.

His lips turned up, eyes closed as Stiles pressed his lips against his shoulder and then again on his neck. They were soft, hardly a touch of his mouth against his skin until he rested his hand on Derek's cheek and moved him, setting his lips down against his own. It was slow. Fluid movements that were hardly awake but still very much appreciated.

"I'm hungry," it was the first thing Derek said that morning, with his hand smoothing up and down Stiles' bare hip, lips parted against the soft pout of the pink mouth that had woken him.

Stiles laughed and shrugged, "You cooking or am I buying?"

The wolf smirked, "I don't care."

"I'm buying then," he swung a leg over Derek's waist and rested his elbows on either side of the alpha's head, leaning down to kiss him again. This time it was long, Stiles turned his head and smoothed his tongue over the roof of Derek's mouth, mapping, exploring. He could have stayed like that all day, wrapped around Stiles in the confines of his room, on a messy bed with no intention of leaving.

But they weren't kids and Derek wasn't about to turn down a meal.

"You don't like my cooking?" his voice was a growl against Stiles mouth as he nipped at the man's bottom lip.

"I like your cooking," Stiles scraped his fingers against Derek's scalp as he ran his fingers through his hair, Derek loved it when he did that, "but you cooked last night. Let me buy you breakfast."

The wolf nodded and sighed, "I'm going to take a shower."

"We're going to take a shower," Stiles corrected.

Stiles got up first and Derek watched him walk into the bathroom. His hips were peppered in small bruises, shoulders decorated in half moons from Derek's teeth.

"Hey, which way is- ow, that way is hot. Figured it out."

He couldn't help but laugh and swing his legs off the bed to follow.

They stood in the steam, Stiles was gentle with him and he was gentle with Stiles. They were calm and quiet, hands smoothing here and there, lips tentatively feeling across each other between the slippery slide of hot water. Derek leaned his forehead against Stiles' own, fingers dancing over his hips, connecting the small bruises and marks from last night. "I'm sorry..." his voice was barely above a whisper and he pressed his lips down against one of the blooming purple circles on his shoulder.

Stiles grasped his face tenderly and leaned back to look at him, shaking his head, expression riddled with confusion, "You're so weird."

The florist didn't understand and the wolf didn't expect him to.


They got breakfast at the cafe a few blocks away.

Stiles ordered hash browns and waffles.

Derek ordered home style potatoes and pancakes.

They talked about the holidays, about their friends, Stiles asked how the cub was doing and Derek blushed when Stiles bumped his foot against his own underneath the table.

"Are we starting the green house tomorrow?" Stiles' words were hesitant and Derek took a sip off his coffee as the sinking feeling that had over taken him last week seemed to surface again.

He could do it, though.

He needed to do it.

Derek nodded, "Yes."

Stiles kissed him as they stood on the sidewalk before he climbed into the old powder blue Jeep and drove away.

His stomach was full of nervous fluttering as pieces of last night bounced around his skull. He didn't know what he was doing or why exactly he was doing it but something about Stiles felt like home and as much as that terrified him it also sparked something inside and he wondered.

Wonder if perhaps there was a fire that could warm without scorching, that could illuminate without destroying.

Maybe Stiles was that fire, and maybe Derek needed to be burned again.


Jackson dropped his keys when Derek walked into Boyd and Erica's house later that day. They jingled and clanked loudly against the floor. He turned, steel blue eyes wide behind an array of long lashes. His bottom lip was pulled between his teeth, eyebrows raised high on his head.

"You," he paused, placing his index finger against his lips, "smell like that florist."

Derek rolled his eyes and shook his head. There was no hiding anything from the pack, he knew that and he tolerated it as much as he could.

Erica walked in, bare feet padding against the tile. She reached down and handed Jackson his keys, "Derek has a crush on Stiles."

"The florist?"

"Yes," Erica piped, brushing passed the alpha to grab a banana from the bowl of fruit on the kitchen table. She stopped. It was abrupt and her body stiffened, eyes shooting sideways to stare at Derek. Her nostrils flared and her lips spread into a very annoying and very knowing smile.

Derek only sighed when she pressed her nose into his chest and started sniffing him, moving to his arm and up to his throat until she gasped, "On the first date?!"

Sometimes he hated being a werewolf. More so, hated being the alpha of a pack of werewolves that were extremely nosy.

He rolled his eyes and growled at the ceiling when Jackson took long strides over and also pressed his face into Derek's shoulder, circling to smell at the back of his neck. "Oh my god, dude, you got it in. Derek Hale, I am so proud-"

"Why does it smell weird-" Scott stopped in the middle of his sentence when he walked in carrying a bag of groceries, "Oh, no way."

The beta scrambled to set the bag down on the counter before he plastered himself against Derek's back next to Jackson.

They were circled around him, laughing and inhaling against his clothes and skin. Derek stared at the ceiling, teeth gritted, lips pursed into a thin line and growled low in his throat, "If all of you do not stop sniffing me I am going to kill you." None of them moved, Jackson even laughed, poking Derek's cheek, "Oh shut up, we're excited for you."

"Excited for my sex life which you have absolutely no part in? Wonderful."

"I knew you had it bad," Scott chuckled as he shoved his face against Derek's ribs, causing the alpha to squirm and bare his teeth.

The click of heels pulled Derek's eyes towards the door and Lydia stopped, holding her cell phone in one hand and her purse in the other. Bright coral lips parted as she looked to Derek, stuck in a circle of his betas with their nostrils pressed against him, sniffing loudly into different parts of his body.

He blinked. She blinked back.

"I understand that I'm like, 'pack'," she curled her fingers into air quotes, "and I'm pretty much used to all the werewolf-" she waved her hands, "kinks," Jackson smirked, "but what are you doing?"

Derek sighed, a heated blush frosting the tops of his cheeks and across the bridge of his nose.

"Derek fucked the florist!" Jackson grinned at his alpha who had his eyes squeezed shut and his fangs extended, a throaty growl rumbling over his chest.

Lydia arched a brow.

The pack got together almost every weekend. They lounged around Erica and Boyd's house since everyone else had apartments besides Melissa and she had dealt with them all through high school. Derek would always barbecue, Lydia would bake or bring pastries from the restaurant she worked for outside of town and Erica would make little things to snack on throughout the day.

It was usually a peaceful, relaxing time to spend with his pack. A time that didn't revolve around who he had slept with the night before.

Derek huffed.

He was not looking forward to barbecuing.


Isaac's smile was crooked and he shook his head as they sat in the seats on the porch outside. He took a sip off of some kind of winter ale and watched Derek peer out over the trees in the backyard, "You okay?"

Derek continued to stare at the moon, "I don't know how to do this."

The beta chuckled, "Don't know how to do what? Date?"

Green eyes turned to watch him, lips parted softly in the darkness. It wasn't dating that he had a problem with, even though he still wasn't good at that either. It was opening up. Sharing his life. Especially when Stiles was human.

"You'll be fine," Isaac pushed the unopened beer bottle towards Derek who twisted the cap off and took a drink.

Or he would kill him by accident.

Or push him away.

Or he would find out that Derek was actually a werewolf and he wouldn't have to push him away because Stiles would already be running in the opposite direction.

Why did he ever walk into that shop off 1st and Oakheart.


When Derek pulled up to the house the next morning, Stiles was already there waiting in his jeep. He twisted his key in the ignition and tried to calm himself down as much as he could; tried not to think of the fire, tried to ignore the smell of wood rot as he stepped out of the car and shut the door behind him.

It was December eighth, the air was cold and dry and the sun slumbered behind gray clouds that clogged the horizon.

Pecans. Coconut. White tea.

Stiles' hands were warm and steady. They braced him even if he hadn't swayed, gentle and firm against his lower back, "Hey," his voice was quiet and he walked around to look at Derek who was staring at the ground, jaw clenched and twitching.

"Look at me," Stiles grasped his chin and Derek wanted to growl but he blinked up only to have his eyes flutter shut as frost bitten lips pressed against his own, "do you want to do this?"

They had never spoken about it. Not once. And yet, here he was, standing in front of Stiles dumbfounded by how ridiculously good at reading people he was.

Even so, Derek felt like running.

"Yes," he lied but Stiles couldn't hear it like he could, hammering hard and deep behind his ribs.

They put up the beams to the right of the house next to the patch of roses, which had sprouted tiny leaves, and after a few hours of hard work Derek took a step back. It was just a skeleton. A shell awaiting the glass panels, paint, tables and fan. It was easier than he had expected and Stiles was much more handy that the wolf had ever imagined him to be.

He was strong and he had obviously worked on projects like this before.

"You look like Anakin right after he finished building C3PO."

A bark of laughter erupted from Derek who squeezed his eyes shut and pushed a hand over his face.

"I'm not apologizing for my Star Wars reference," Stiles muffled his own chuckles, "We'll put the glass in next Sunday, yeah?"

The wolf sighed as he looked from the start of the little green house to the blackened remnants of his childhood standing, rickety and worn, beside it.

"Yeah, okay," he nodded and Stiles reached over to gently squeeze his hand.


The twenty-fifth came quickly and Derek hardly realized what day it was until he checked his phone.

He woke up to a text from Stiles and a voice mail from Erica wishing him a Merry Christmas and pestering him about when he was coming over.

Derek stared at the ceiling for a moment.

Christmas was always a tough one. It was full of his mother's smile, of Cora biting into candy canes and Laura spending all day in the kitchen with Talia. His father would watch football and bounce his little cousin on his knee while they heated up apple cider on the stove and ran around the house playing with new toys or flirting with the other pack members.

He closed his eyes.


The roses were tall now but they still hadn't bloomed.

Derek rolled a candy cane between his fingertips as he stood next to the almost completed green house and stared up at the shattered windows of his old home.

He could almost hear the ripping of wrapping paper, could almost smell the roasted duck and sweet potatoes.

He placed the piece of candy on the porch and put his sunglasses on.

"Merry Christmas, everyone."


He drove to Stiles' after that. He said hello to his father before they left. They had met a couple times now, once when Derek had stopped in to visit Stiles at Apothecary and another time when he had drove to pick him up to go ice skating. He seemed to be fond of Derek which meant more to the wolf than he thought it would.

Stiles smelt different, acidic, like burnt lemons and the alpha knew what it was the second it hit his nostrils. Fear. He listened carefully to Stiles' heart beat over the music in the car and noticed it's erratic rhythm, the way it slowed and then skipped suddenly.

He was nervous, nervous and scared and so much more that Derek couldn't place a finger on.

"Stiles," Derek twisted the knob on the stereo and he saw the muscle flex in Stiles' throat, "what's wrong?"

"Nothing," he lied.

They pulled over somewhere on an off street between downtown and the neighborhood where Boyd and Erica lived. He was chewing on his fingertips in the passenger seat, moving like he couldn't get comfortable and eyes skittering to keep away from Derek who turned to looked at him.

"Talk to me," Derek mumbled, trying to be as tender as he could.

Stiles stayed silent.

The movement was swift when the wolf opened his door and walked around the car to the passenger side and pulled at the handle. Stiles sighed and rolled his eyes before Derek swatted his hand away from his mouth, "Hey," Derek was comfortable enough to be brave, "Stiles."

The florist hissed and pulled away when Derek grasped his hand, "I'm fine, Derek- just-"

He slouched when the wolf tugged at his arms and hauled him out of the car, "Don't fucking- man handle me!" Stiles shoved his shoulder away and Derek's eyes widened when he walked away, stalking into the trees like there was somewhere else he needed to be.

Derek's heart sank.

His wolf bit at his ankles. Go after him. And he did, jogging behind him and calling his name through a concerned but raspy growl.

Stiles stopped and let his back fall against a tall tree. He was breathing in and out, starring at the sky with his hands fisted at his sides. Derek hesitated before approaching, simply watched, tried to wrap himself around the situation. He didn't know what was going on, whether he'd done anything, said anything to cause him to lash out. Derek wouldn't be surprised if he had, the only thing he worried about was if he could fix it.

"I-" Stiles groaned and shook his head, "I'm sorry- I never..." he paused and waved his hands in the air like the words he was trying to say were floating by and he couldn't catch them fast enough, "I always left flowers and- it's just weird, ya know? I feel-"

Derek should have known. He should have been smarter than that.

"I've never missed it, never missed a Christmas. It was her favorite holiday," he saw the tremble start to break across his mouth and Derek walked forward and wrapped his hands around the smooth skin on Stiles' cheeks. He finally looked at him and Derek shook his head, "It's okay," they were the only words that Derek could really muster up.

"It's not, Derek, it's really not-"

Derek didn't know what else to do so he pressed his lips against Stiles'.

It was firm and Stiles exhaled through his nose, hands moving to clutch at Derek's jacket, "I miss her-" he breathed the words shakily and Derek nodded, offering another gentle kiss in place of any words.

"I know," the alpha whispered, hoping that Stiles really understood how much he knew, how much he grasped the emotion. How much it affected both of them.

Stiles leaned into him and Derek inhaled against his throat.

Rosemary. Fresh mint leaves. Fig. Spicy body wash.


"Flower man!" Audrey ran forward and Stiles hoisted her up into his arms when they walked through the door of the house.

The house was filled with warmth, the smell of food cooking in the kitchen, the sounds of laughter from the living room and the glisten of twinkling lights twirled into the garland that hung above the entry way.

Stiles laughed, "Hi there," he swung her back and forth before setting her back down, "Merry Christmas!" That was the Stiles he knew, light-hearted and full of a type of kindness Derek had never been faced with before.

Boyd walked out and hugged them both, gesturing to the kitchen where Erica and Lydia were cooking, "Go grab something to drink, everyone's in the family room."

Family.

It was fitting.

The pack was all there, Scott and Allison curled on the ground in front of the TV with Isaac in the recliner next to the blazing fireplace. Jackson had his feet kicked up on the table and Boyd sat back down next to him with Peter on the other side. Some old holiday special was playing on the television and the Christmas tree was lit splendidly, gifts wrapped and tagged underneath the tree.

"Hey," Derek walked into the kitchen with Stiles behind him and Chris turned to offer a smile, "Derek- oh," his voice faltered and he tilted his head to the side, "You must be Stiles?"

The florist smiled and nodded, he would have offered his hand but Chris was busy rocking Lucas in his arms, "Yeah, nice to meet you."

"I'm Allison's father, we own the weapons shop in Lafayette, the next town over. You have that flower shop off Oakheart right? Apothecary?"

Stiles nodded and Chris grinned before cooing down at the baby when he started to cry.

Christmas was hard. Harder than most other holidays but being at the house with his pack was a reminder that Derek had a family, small and fragile, but a family all the same.

They ate an early dinner at the large table in the dining room before they sat down with glasses of wine and passed gifts around. Audrey tore at the wrapping paper and Lucas stuffed every box into his mouth when they were presented to him. Derek noticed the eyes on him as he sat on the floor with Stiles between his legs, back flush against his chest and he didn't mind. He didn't mind when Stiles let his head drop back onto his shoulder and the alpha wasn't shy about pressing his lips gently against the base of his throat.

Scott smiled. Allison looked away and tried not to grin. Peter smirked quietly to himself.

It was one of those feelings that were almost foreign, the steady rise and fall of Stiles' chest along with his pack, content and pleased. It had been too long and they had fought tooth and nail to get here, to get to this place, a place where they could start families, hold jobs and be happy.

The night was ending and the kids were in their beds when Jackson stood up.

He looked awkward. Nervous. Derek could hear his heartbeat and so could the rest of the wolves.

Lydia narrowed her eyes from her place on the couch, "Jacks- oh my god-" her hand flew up to cover her mouth when the wolf sank down onto his knee and pulled the small velvet box out of his pocket.

"Merry Christmas and... marry me?"

Stiles chuckled and Derek grinned, eyes darting around to the rest of the surprised faces.

"Wow, Jackson that was so cheesy-"

"Shut up, Peter!" Lydia hissed even though she was smiling and tears brimmed at the corners of her eyes, "Yes, oh my god, Jackson I'm going to ruin my makeup-" she swatted him in the chest before pulling him down into a hard kiss, "Yes!"

Erica was the first to clap and the room seemed to jump alive, Scott held Allison tight in his arms and Isaac squeezed Jackson's shoulder.

"Wow," Derek set his chin on Stiles' shoulder, "Finally."

Lydia threw her hands up, "Right?!" she was laughing, they were all laughing and Jackson held her in his lap as she fawned over the dainty ring now decorating her left hand.


"Can you drop me off in the morning?" Stiles opened the passenger door and slid into the seat. Derek blinked and his eyebrows pulled together, "I can, yeah, but is everything okay-"

"It's Christmas," Stiles tilted his head to the side, "did you really think I was going to let you sleep alone tonight?"

The wolf smiled and shook his head, it wasn't like he hadn't stayed at Derek's multiple times over the passed couple weeks, but still.

He was hoping he'd say that.

The two hardly made it down the hallway to Derek's door before they were stripping each others coats off. He fumbled with the key and fell back when Stiles pushed him, laughing and stumbling into the apartment.

They almost made it to the couch before Stiles tripped and they were sinking to the ground, lips working against one another through breathy gasps and heated sighs. "Off," Stiles grabbed at Derek's belt which the wolf quickly disposed of as the other threw his shirt off.

It wasn't rough or fast like Derek had expected it to be. No, it was slow and Derek held Stiles in his lap as he shook and trembled against his touch.

Stiles whispered words into his ear, soft delicate words that Derek could hardly put together. He told him how beautiful he was, how wonderful he was and he fisted his fingers into the hair on the back of Derek's head, rolling his hips like waves over and over.

He kept his claws away as he dug his nails into the buttery skin on Stiles' back and dragged them down, gasping and panting into his throat. He inhaled the sick sweet scent of sex and the remnants of the cigarette he had smoked back at Erica's, bit down and sucked hard on his shoulder when Stiles bucked and writhed.

"You're mine."

That was it. Those were the words that sent his wolf crashing against his insides, feral and primal in the confines of his body. Derek removed his mouth, heaved in a breath to try and control himself as his fangs threatened to make an appearance.

God, it was wonderful to hear. Wonderful and dangerous.

He gritted his teeth and gripped Stiles' hips, grinding him roughly down until the man was choking on a broken off moan, muscles tightening and clenching, "Fuck, Der-" he couldn't catch his words due to Derek's insistent mouth covering his own.

It was Christmas and Derek wasn't alone.


They finished building the green house that Sunday. All that was left was paint and plants.

Derek smiled contently as Stiles leaned against his shoulder with his arms folded over his chest, "What color were you thinking?"

The wolf shrugged, "Red, probably."

Stiles nodded, "Red's a good color. Did you see...?" he jutted his chin towards the patch of roses that continued to grow each and everyday. They were tall now and little buds grew out at their peaks, "They'll bloom in a few weeks, I'm guessing."

The alpha tilted his head to the side and walked over, kneeling down to play with the thorns that jutted from each stem.

"What else should I start planting?" Derek looked up to Stiles who arched a brow and played with the skin above his nail beds.

"I dunno, man. You can try Dahlia's? Maybe lilies?"

Derek smiled, "You like lilies, don't you?"

Stiles blushed and looked at the ground.

"Yeah, they're, uh, they're my favorite flower."

Two days later Derek planted lilies on the other side of the property.


Scott growled at Cedric as he held the little maned wolf and played with his long, exotic paws.

"Your feet are so big," the wolf whined through a chuckle, "You're like a furry antelope."

He was well accustomed to the other wolves, and although he was different, they accepted him all the same. The cub had gained weight and filled out but he was still in the awkward stage where he stumbled over his paws and tripped over himself when he ran.

Derek patted him on the head and scratched behind his ear as he put clean blankets in the cubbyholes, "Everything's good, I checked all the insulation and they should be fine."

The beta had his tongue stuck between his teeth and he swatted Cedric's tail when the wolf ran off, yipping and rolling onto the ground to chew on a piece of rawhide.

"You going to Erica's tonight?"

Derek nodded.

"Stiles coming?"

He nodded again and Scott smiled fondly, "I like him, you know. I like him for you."

The alpha paused before he nodded a third time.

"You seem happy, Der."

His lips turned up into a smile.

"I am."


It was New Year's eve and Erica was wasted.

Melissa had taken the kids for the night and the house was open. No one was driving anywhere, that was the rule and nobody seemed to mind it.

"Hey, guys!" Erica pressed a long kiss against the side of Stiles' face and he flinched at the stench of bourbon that stained her breath, "Hello, Erica, it's nice to see you've started the party without us."

Derek rolled his eyes.

Isaac had a purple party hat on and was throwing confetti on Peter. Lydia had already gone through half a bottle of white wine and Derek was surprised to see her still walking in her Coach heels.

It was fun and Derek didn't mind. Sometimes it was good to let loose and enjoy the youth that most of them had been denied.

Stiles drank champagne and Derek drank whiskey.

They clapped at midnight, hooting and hollering, and Stiles gripped Derek's face to pull him into a kiss when Boyd started banging pots and pans. Derek hadn't kissed anyone on New Years since, god... since Paige. Something stabbed deep in the confines of his chest but the alpha simply pressed his lips back against Stiles' mouth and relished in the feel of him smiling.

Jackson and Lydia called the couch and Allison and Scott curled up on the floor with Isaac. Peter passed out in one of the kitchen chairs with his head resting on the pillow of his folded arms.

Derek and Stiles got the guest room. There were perks to being an alpha after all.

"C'mon, we don't have to be loud," Stiles bit down on the lobe of Derek's ear and the wolf keened, immediately regretting his decision to stay the night in a house full of his betas.

What was he going to say? No?

That was out of the question.

He had to cover Stiles' mouth when he wrapped a hand around his cock and squeezed, pumping up and down, twisting his fist again and again until Stiles finally came, eyes squeezed shut, hands scrambling at Derek's back, onto his stomach.

"Fuck," he gasped in a breath when Derek removed his hand and reached up to pull the alpha into a sloppy, drunken kiss. He tasted like carbonation and grapes. His tongue was sloppy, lacked the finesse Stiles usually had when he licked into Derek's mouth, but he didn't mind. He sucked and rubbed and bit until Stiles drew back only momentarily to lick a hot stripe across his palm.

Derek didn't want to admit that the gesture made him achingly hard.

It didn't take long with Stiles being drunk and messy and amazing. He usually had no shame, but tonight he especially didn't give a fuck about his sexual prowess. He twisted his fist around Derek's cock and bit down hard, harder than normal, into the flesh just right of his Adams apple.

The alpha had to bite his own hand to keep himself at bay.


"Hey, Derek," Jackson flicked his brows to the alpha when they walked down the stairs in the morning.

Scott winked.

Erica shook her head.

Stiles blinked and glanced around, "I, uh, am I not in on some secret? Is there something going on right now or-"

Derek shook his head, "No, just come on. Let's go."

Peter flashed two thumbs in the air when Stiles turned his back to walk towards the door.

Derek was mortified.


"Did you hear they set a date?" Erica asked Derek as she washed off a dish and put it in the sink.

Derek bit down into an apple and chewed, eyes narrowing as he shook his head.

"August fifteenth, this summer," the blonde quirked her head to the side, "Should be nice, but knowing Lydia it's going to be extravagant and way over the top."

The alpha took another bite and chewed, thinking back to Erica and Boyd's wedding four years ago. They tied the knot when they were eighteen and had Audrey only a year later. They weren't in any rush but they also didn't need to wait, once wolves decide to mate it's a bit of a life sentence, so to speak, and when Boyd proposed after graduation Erica could hardly contain herself.

Boyd went to school and got his certification in auto mechanics, after, he got a job at the dealership in town and worked on the cars there. It was good enough money for them to get a house and Erica only worked part-time at the salon doing hair to keep herself busy.

Derek's phone buzzed and he fished it out of his pocket.

Stiles Stilinski: January, 12 2014, 2:05 p.m

dinner?

Derek typed out a reply and hit send.

Of course it said 'yes.'

"She deserves it though. They both do," Derek looked to Erica who rolled her eyes.

"Yeah, yeah, I mean, after he came back from London he got a little more tolerable."

The alpha narrowed his eyes.

"What're you thinking of getting them?" She grabbed an orange out of the fruit bowl and started peeling.

Derek shrugged.

"I was thinking about a pet, like an iguana or a beaded dragon-"

Erica couldn't even finish her sentence because Derek was laughing so hard that he had choked on his apple.


Stiles showed up at Derek's apartment that night holding two bags of Chinese takeout.

"Did you make cookies?" the human walked in and sniffed the air. Derek nodded, "I'm making cookies," he leaned forward and pressed his lips gingerly to Stiles' and the florist smirked before setting the bags down on the counter. "They're in the oven," the wolf added, hands digging into the bags before he pulled out a box full of sweet and sour pork and a pair of chop sticks.

"How do you even eat with those?" Stiles narrowed his eyes and pulled out a fork.

Derek snapped the chop sticks at his face and chuckled when Stiles wrinkled his nose, "It's not hard."

"I'd kill myself," Stiles stuffed a piece of orange chicken into his mouth and Derek laughed, "I don't think you'd kill yourself, Stiles, they're just chopsticks."

"I'm pretty sure I'd figure out some way to hurt myself at the very least."

"It really isn't hard, I can show-"

"Can we be official?"

Derek blinked.

Stiles was starring down into the box of chicken and the wolf didn't quite know what to say. He had assumed... Well, he really didn't know what he had assumed. He had never called Stiles his boyfriend but the only people he was close with were pack and they just knew by default-

"I mean we've been seeing each other for a little over a month and I just, I dunno man, I'd like to-" he gestured between the two of them with his hand, "I'd like to go steady, or be serious, facebook official, whatever it is people fucking call it, I don't know, I just-"

"Okay," Derek interrupted him before Stiles could continue to ramble on.

"Okay?" Stiles arched a brow as he chewed another piece of chicken.

"Yeah. Let's be together."

Derek didn't realize what the words sounded like until they left his mouth. Be together. It was comforting.

Stiles smiled to himself and nodded, it was the first time the alpha had ever seen him at a loss for words.

They laid in bed later that night, stripped of all their clothes, and ate the entire plate of cookies.


The roses hadn't bloomed yet but they were close, little green bulbs set atop strong stems covered in sharp thorns. The lilies had hardly started to peek out into the cold and Derek knew that they probably wouldn't start growing steadily until it warmed up.

Peter was with him, circling the green house and smiling to himself, "You actually did it."

Derek quirked a brow, "You didn't think I would?"

"No," Peter shook his head, "No, I didn't."

The alpha snorted and looked through the trees.

"He's good for you," Peter leaned against the wooden door of the green house, "the new kid."

Derek sighed, "He's good to me," he added.

There was a question in the air, one that Peter didn't need to ask, and one that Derek had already wrestled with time and time again.

His wolf paced and he bit down on his lip.


Derek didn't expect it to be on February fourteenth. Valentines Day. He didn't expect it at all.

It was all it took, a little push of comfortability, to let himself cave, to just slip a little bit. Just a fraction.

It was ten thirty and they had just finished dinner. Stiles brought him a bundle of flowers which Derek put in a vase full of water and Derek had bought Stiles a beige scarf which the florist fawned over more than he anticipated.

Stiles had told him about his day, about how incredibly busy the shop was, that the customers were all frantic and he laughed, explaining that it was always better to get flowers the night before a holiday instead of waiting until the day of. It's what his father used to do, he'd wait for Claudia to go to sleep and then he'd sneak out and leave flowers in the kitchen for her to wake up to.

Derek listened and smiled while they shared a few glasses of fruity red wine.

He should have felt it coming. He shouldn't have been that foolish.

It happened when they were in bed.

Stiles had two fingers crooked inside him and Derek was whining, squirming and bucking into the touch. They had done this before and he had kept himself under control. There was something about it, though, something about Stiles holding the alpha's hip in place, scissoring his fingers, curling and twisting until Derek was squeezing his eyes shut and trying to catch his breath.

He had been whispering into the wolf's ear, all the things he wanted to do, biting and breathy.

It always drove Derek wild when Stiles took his time.

It was when he pushed in further and curled his fingers more, pressed against the heat of tight muscle and hissed into his ear that Derek felt himself clawing at the sheets.

He was clawing and gripping and... he was really clawing.

The sound of the sheets ripping brought him back.

He gasped, and balled his hands into fists but it was too late, Stiles was already still. He didn't want to look, but it wasn't an option not to. Derek blinked and sat up when Stiles drew back. The humans chest was heaving, eyes wide, mouth a gape, staring into deep crimson eyes.

"Please-" it was the only thing that Derek could choke out, the only word that made any sense. His heart was pounding and for the first time his wolf cowered to Derek's overwhelming flood of emotion. The alpha was terrified.

His nostrils flared and Stiles watched him, unmoving. Stiles was holding his breath and Derek tried to inhale, tried to find the fear, but there was none. There was no citrus in the air, no acidity. Stiles wasn't scared of him.

Honey eyes blinked once. Twice. And Derek tried to open his mouth to speak but nothing came out, his tongue just flopped around behind his teeth like it was desperate to make some kind of sound. Anything. He whimpered and Stiles finally took in a deep breath, "What... what are you?" Those were the words that were breathed out and Derek strained passed the sound of his own erratic heartbeat to focus on Stiles'. It was hard and strong, a little fast but not nearly what the wolf had been expecting.

"I'll explain everything-" Derek's breath hitched when Stiles moved closer, hands gripping the sides of his face. It was shocking and Derek felt like he was going to crumble, to fall into pieces because Stiles wasn't running. He wasn't screaming. He was holding his face and staring, transfixed on the blood that stained his eyes.

A shaky sigh fell over Derek's lips and Stiles reached down to his arm, "You're shaking," his fingers dusted over his shoulder and Stiles swung a leg over the wolf's lap. Derek pushed himself up, back resting against the headboard and he kept his hands away, kept them at his sides because he didn't know if he should touch him. Didn't know if he could touch him.

"You aren't scared of me," Derek swallowed and leaned into Stiles' hand when he placed it gingerly on his cheek.

"Should I be?" Stiles' voice shook and Derek looked up, eyes still red and blazing, "Probably."

There was a short nod before Stiles let his hands drop to rest on Derek's chest, fingertips busying themselves by tapping again and again.

"I'm-" Derek inhaled and Stiles looked eager, biting down on his bottom lip, "a wolf. I'm a werewolf."

He didn't know how to say it, what to say, so he pushed the words out as quickly as he could before shutting his eyes.

It was quiet for a minute. Stiles' heartbeat never faltered.

He cleared his throat but Derek didn't open his eyes.

"Show me."

The words were crisp. Clear and strong and demanding.

"Stiles, I-"

"Derek!" his voice rose and his teeth clanked together, chest now rising and falling in desperate attempts to suck in oxygen. Derek did what he asked. His eyes narrowed and he bared his teeth, fangs extending, claws out as they shot up to grip the lean hips settled on top of him. Stiles jerked his head back when the wolf leaned forward but the sound that left Stiles' mouth wasn't a noise that Derek had prepared himself for.

He was laughing. Bewildered, curious, excited laughter. "Holy- fucking shit, dude!"

"Don't call me dude," Derek growled, fangs hiding back inside his gums as he turned his head away, suddenly shy and embarrassed. He hadn't prepared himself for this.

"You're- oh my god, I'm dating a- really? Seriously?" Stiles pulled at Derek's lip with his index finger and the wolf snapped at him, "Oh, c'mon, let me-"

"Stiles!" Derek no longer had to hold back the rasp in his voice when he growled, he didn't have to hide the rumble in his chest when he was angry, and he didn't have to control the flood of red that overcame his eyes.

His lover hardly wavered, simply blinked at him and reached out to stroke a finger across his lips, "I want to know everything."

"I'll tell you everything."

"Every detail?"

"Yes, Stiles, every detail."

Curious eyes blinked before he reached down and tugged at Derek's wrist, holding his hand up to feel across the claws that grew out of the base of his nail beds. He looked at each finger, up and down and all around until he placed his palm against Derek's and curled his own fingers into the gaps.

Derek couldn't keep his eyes off of him, could hardly believe that Stiles was still here, sitting in his lap, curious and wonderful and god, he wasn't gone. He didn't leave.

Stiles leaned forward but the wolf shied away, turning his head and blinking at the bed sheets. He rested his hands on the man's hips, claws gone, eyes back to their stunning green, fangs hidden inside his gums. "Babe," Stiles smoothed his hands up the wolf's chest, rubbed his thumbs over his throat and into the short coarse hair on his face, "it's Valentines Day and I don't care that you're a... fucking werewolf," he laughed softly, "holy shit I just said that, anyways, you're still... you, right?"

Derek nodded, he hated Stiles for making him so damn bashful, "Yes. I'm still me."

"Then what's the problem?"

The alpha jerked his head back, eyes narrowed, "You don't get it do you?"

Stiles shook his head and opened his mouth but Derek had him pinned on the bed before he could think of anything sarcastic to say. His hips grounded Stiles painfully against the mattress, arms pinned above his head with one hand while the other gripped his side, claws digging into the pale flesh of his abdomen. Derek snapped his teeth, "I could fucking kill you, Stiles! Do you get that, do you understand that I could-"

"You won't," Stiles' voice was broken and his cheeks were flushed, eyes lidded as he laid pliant underneath Derek's strong hold. The wolf's seething expression cracked for a moment, lips pulling back over his teeth, eyes blinking down at Stiles who arched his back, "You could have done that already- y-you could have ripped me apart," he swallowed and Derek felt his hips shift, pressing himself into the the alpha's crotch.

"Most people would run from me, Stiles."

He took in a shaky breath, hands squirming in Derek's hold, "I'm not most people."

Stiles was a human. A human who had not only just found out that supernatural creatures did indeed exist in the world but that he had been dating one since December. Yet, still, he fought.

His fight is what drove Derek to crush their lips together.

The alpha let his hands go and moved them to grip at Stiles' hips, pulling him up as Derek grinded down, enticing the sob of a moan to push over the soft pink puff of Stiles' lips. He still had to be careful, still had to watch his teeth, keep his claws in order, but he didn't have to worry about his eyes or the throaty growls that leaked from him every time Stiles broke away to catch his breath.

Derek wasn't gentle and Stiles didn't care. He wanted it, asked for it and Derek obliged.

He laughed when Derek flipped him over onto his stomach and made some sly remark about super strength under his breath; Derek told him it was true and the wolf dragged the tips of his claws down his back to make his point. Stiles shuddered, his breath hitched again and again as two fingers worked inside him, stretched him open quick and rough.

"Holy- fuck, that's new," he keened when a warm tongue pressed against the most intimate parts of him, dragged across the tight muscle, circling and intruding with precise purpose. Stiles' legs were shaking and he scrambled, pushing back into the rough scratch of stubble, trying not to fall as he grinded his face into the comforter and fisted his hands into the sheets.

Derek loved it. He loved the sounds, the movements, the way his heart couldn't keep up with itself and the way Stiles could hardly breathe when Derek touched him.

It wasn't a night for slow and steady, and Derek understood that. He pushed into Stiles and gripped his hips hard, lifting and pulling him backwards until the man was whimpering and panting sloppily into the bed. "Der-" his voice was muffled when Derek draped himself across his back and fisted a hand in his hair, angling his jaw up so he could kiss him. It was awkward but neither of them cared; as long as they could suck and stroke at each others tongues like high school prom dates, it didn't matter.

Derek knew he wouldn't last, not with Stiles bucking against him, back arched, clawing at the already torn sheets like a cat in heat. Not with him cursing and biting into his lip through the echo of unashamed moans and mewls.

The bed creaked, his eyelids fluttered and Derek didn't bother to worry about the bruises his fingers would leave. He dug them into Stiles' hips and pumped into him again and again as he bit down on his shoulder, on his side, on his back. He put his mouth anywhere that was within reach, sank his teeth into any flesh he could find.

As soon as Derek touched his cock, Stiles' legs went out. He came sputtering Derek's name in a desperate plea and the wolf latched his arm around him, holding him up as he rolled his hips, hard and fast against him.

White spots clouded his vision. Derek couldn't help the bitten moan that lifted out of his throat when Stiles' muscles clenched and he dropped his forehead between his shoulder blades as his cock twitched and drained deep inside the body beneath him. He heard Stiles' breathing quicken and breath when he carefully lifted himself off. Stiles winced when he turned and it caused a prang of guilt to strike Derek's stomach, he frowned, stroking a hand over his side, fingers drawing circles lazily below Stiles' rib cage.

"You've been," Stiles had to catch his breath, "holding back."

Derek nodded.

"And you're a werewolf."

Derek nodded again and Stiles arched a brow, nodding to himself like this was something they hadn't talked about forty-five minutes ago.

"And you're my boyfriend."

Derek smiled in the dark and breathed in.

Patchouli. Oranges. Sex. Orchids. Soil.

It was Valentines Day and he wasn't alone.


"So, hold on, hold on," Stiles sat cross legged on the bed with a cup of coffee in his hands as sunlight poured through the window. Derek sat across from him and groaned, rolling his eyes, "What?"

"So, you're telling me that you'll just heal, in a snap, like no scar, no- Derek, what the hell!"

The wolf's fangs extended and he bit down hard on the inside of his forearm, holding it out so Stiles could watch the marks disappear.

He blinked. Took a sip from the mug.

"Oh. Kay. Continue," Stiles shifted and tilted his head to the side.

"The full moon," Derek sighed, "I was born this way but most wolves lose control. Our instinct takes over and he want to hunt so... we lock ourselves up."

Stiles nodded, "Okay, so the movies didn't lie with that one, keep going."

Derek wrinkled his nose and Stiles waved his finger loosely in a circle, urging him on.

"A lot has happened Stiles, it's hard to explain," the alpha played with the rim of his coffee cup and Stiles huffed, "Come on! That's not fair, you can't- Derek, you can't just be like, 'whoops I'm a werewolf' and then not tell me things!"

Derek whined.

"Oh, c'mon, really? I mean, is there any wolfy thing, I dunno, show me something, do something to me! There has to be some kind of weird-" he waved his hand between the two of them, "thing you've been not doing that you want to do, just tell me or show me or whatever."

Derek watched him for a moment, contemplated and then took his coffee cup from him and set it on the night stand next to his own.

A small 'oof' was pushed from Stiles when Derek shoved him down and he arched a brow when the alpha started rubbing his cheek against his stomach, up to his clavicle and then back down to his hips. "What in gods name..." Stiles looked down, watched as Derek inhaled and exhaled, contently smoothing his face against the silky flesh. He nuzzled and purred, hands resting contently on Stiles' side. He heard his breath catch and Stiles laughed softly when the wolf pressed his nose into the crease of his groin.

"Are you..." Stiles reached down to lace his fingers through Derek's hair before he lifted and shoved his face into the humans neck, "scenting me...?"

Derek nodded and gently bit Stiles' jaw.


They took a shower that morning and Stiles pressed him into the wall with his back against the wolf's chest and fucked him slowly. He wrapped his arm around Derek's waist and held him like he would fall if he didn't, like he would crumble into the water at their feet and never get back up. Stiles' swollen lips mouthed at his throat, breathed against his ear.

It was everything that Derek needed. The gentle press, the long drawn out thrusts that Stiles was all too careful about. It was exactly what the wolf craved.

Someone to be soft with him after he had shown his teeth, to still treat him like he was human hours after he had lost control.

Stiles gripped his hand when Derek slammed it into the shower wall, whining and arching against the body behind him like he was the only thing that had ever meant anything. Like he hadn't known what it was to breathe until he inhaled Stiles for the first time, like he hadn't known what it was to taste until he felt him against his tongue.

He never thought that fire could burn in a way that healed him.

But Stiles' hands were flames and Derek loved what they left in their wake.


Erica Reyes: February, 18 2014, 9:03 a.m

When are you coming over?

Derek looked at his phone briefly as he drove and Stiles blinked over at him from the passengers seat, "Was that Erica?"

"Yes," he sighed and turned the corner into her neighborhood.

"So, gold eyes mean beta and blue eyes-"

"Also beta," Derek's words were soft, "It just... means they've taken a life."

Stiles swallowed and Derek heard his heartbeat fumble against his chest.

"Your eyes were blue once?"

Derek's chest tightened, "Yes."

Long fingers reached over to stroke across the top of his hand, "And red eyes, your eyes mean..."

"I'm an alpha," Derek looked over to him again as they parked in the driveway. Jackson and Lydia were there but no one else seemed to have showed up yet.

Stiles was nervous and Derek reached over to pull him into a long fluid kiss, "They aren't going to bite you, Stiles." He smiled against the florist's lips who feigned a laugh, "Well, isn't that a relief."


It was quiet when they walked through the door and Stiles only stepped forward due to Derek's steady hand against his lower back. Derek knew where they were, he could smell them and when he turned the corner Stiles stilled. Erica trailed golden eyes across him and Jackson's steel blue's only intensified, glowing against the warmth of his skin. Boyd blinked from under his lashes and Stiles tried not to let his heart beat accelerate. It did anyways. Derek heard it. They all heard it.

"Did he freak out?" Erica looked to Derek who shook his head and she walked forward, inhaling a few inches from Stiles' face. "Jesus, relax Stiles, it's still me," she leaned forward and pressed a kiss against his cheek.

Stiles was frozen.

Erica raised a hand to show him her claws and Boyd growled softly from behind her, saying her name quietly in warning. Derek let her. She was his second in command, she had the authority to make her point well known.

An exaggerated sigh broke the quiet around them along with the tap of heavy heels. Lydia pushed her hair over her shoulder as she walked into the kitchen and pulled a bottled iced tea out of the fridge, "Oh, stop freaking him out! It's okay, Stiles. They just sniff a lot and get all-" she waved a hand in front of Jackson, "whiny and 'please pet me' sometimes. You'll get used to it."

Jackson frowned and his lips pulled up into a snarl, "I do not, woman-"

The back of Lydia's hand hit his cheek, "Do not call me woman."

Stiles blinked and leaned back into Derek who pressed a hand on his hip, "So... you're a-"

"Banshee. Yeah, great, I know. I'm basically a dog whistle," her lips parted into a grin and Derek rolled his eyes. "A very expensive, high maintenance dog whistle," Jackson grumbled, eyes fading back to their human color. His fiance shrugged and lifted a brow, "I can't argue."

Derek could feel him relaxing. Felt his back slouch and his hands unfurl to brush against the alpha's arm as he tugged at his waist.

"So..." Stiles gnawed on his bottom lip, "what's next?"

The blonde shrugged and leaned forward to brush her hands across Stiles' shoulder as she walked by.

"You're dating my alpha, you're pack now."

Derek pressed his lips against the back of Stiles' head and listened to him breathe.


Stiles stayed. He stayed and he listened and he learned. Some things didn't make sense and Derek knew that they wouldn't, but he was patient. Because Stiles stayed and Derek knew that no one else would have.

They painted the green house later that week and glossed it the week after.

Derek stood alone one afternoon and admired the work. It was wonderful. Just big enough to hold a few tables and shelves, and small enough to not be a pain to keep up. Stiles bought him a quaint set of two chairs and a table to sit outside the door where he could read if he wanted to. It was one of the most thoughtful gifts anyone had ever given him.

He thought back to when they had painted, to the aftermath of red fingerprints all over each other, of Stiles' smile when Derek pushed his paint covered hands underneath the hem of his shirt, of his laugh when the wolf eased him down against the hood of the Jeep and of the soft sigh when he pressed his lips on the freckle right below his ear.

The alpha glanced over to the roses, eyes widening when he saw the blossom of white against dark earth. They had bloomed.

They weren't what he thought they'd be. They were like ghosts hovering along the edge of the house, swaying gently on the last few breaths of winters chill as the wind swept passed and ruffled their petals. The pads of his fingers felt across them and he closed his eyes. Silky smooth. Fragrant.

He inhaled and for once there was life within the wreckage.

Derek carefully broke off one of the stems and twirled it between his thumb and index finger, avoiding the large curve of thorns.

He sat in one of the little wooden chairs outside the greenhouse instead of on the porch.


"Look at that," Stiles stood up from behind the desk and plucked the glasses off his face, a wide grin pulling at his lips. Derek held the rose out to him and the florist took it, dragging it over the palm of his hands and over his knuckles, "they turned out beautiful."

The wolf sighed contently, tilting his head to the side as Stiles eyed him from under his lashes, "Are you happy with them?"

Derek rolled his eyes and reached out to pull Stiles by the belt loops of the maroon pants he was wearing, "Of course I'm happy with them," he pressed a kiss against Stiles' jaw, "I wasn't expecting them to make it, honestly."

Stiles leaned in closer, his free hand winding around to slide into the back pocket of Derek's jeans, "I told you they would."

"I know," his voice was quiet, "I just didn't think anything would ever grow there. I didn't think anything... could."

His lips were stolen in a tender kiss and Stiles gripped, pulling their hips flush, "Surprise."

Derek wanted to laugh when he whispered against his mouth but he was too busy sliding his hand behind Stiles' ear and not letting him go.


"You're wearing white?" Erica tilted her head to the side and blinked at Lydia who was turning pages in a bridal magazine.

"Of course I'm wearing white, what else would I wear?" Lydia furrowed her brows.

"Black," Erica chewed a strawberry, "Seeing as you and Jackson have literally fucked on every surface of every place you've ever been. It's not like you're a blushing bride."

They could hear Jackson laughing from upstairs.

Even Derek couldn't help but bark out a laugh from the backyard.

Lydia shrugged, "It is my wedding and I'm wearing white."

Jackson wrestled with one of the wolves behind the fence at the preserve. He growled and laughed and dirt clouds pooled above them.


It was a late afternoon in the beginning of March and Derek had been out there for the day doing a walk through for the local middle school. The alpha wiped his palms messily on his jeans when he finished pouring food into separated bowls along the fence and knelt down next to the beta.

Dahlia walked up and nudged at the back of his neck, tail waving softly behind her.

"Hey," Jackson sat up, a grin plastered across his face as Cedric bounded up and jumped onto his back, "I have a question for you."

Derek nodded and raised his brows. That wasn't something he usually heard from Jackson.

"But before I ask it I wanted to thank you."

Hazel eyes narrowed and Derek tilted his head to the side, "What for, Jackson? I haven't-"

"Oh, come on, you showed me everything! You picked me up and gave me a second chance. Lydia brought me back to life and you... you showed me how to live it."

Derek felt his throat clench. He had been to hell and back with Jackson, gave him the bite, almost killed him, hunted him, hurt him... But in the end he did. He did show him how to live.

"I'm your alpha," it was all Derek could think of to say, "it's my job to teach you."

Jackson laughed, "You're my friend, not just my alpha, and I want you to be my best man."

Derek's hand slowed as it stroked across Dahlia's face and he stared blankly at the ground. His heart skittered and flopped around in his chest and the wolf didn't quite know how to process that. How to understand it. They had came so far, each and every one of them and granted, Jackson hadn't been an all-star when it came to assimilating to the pack, but he did it regardless.

He did it and even though he didn't always say it, Jackson loved them. He loved all of them.

A strong hand clasped down on Derek's shoulder, "So?"

The alpha bit down on a his lip through a chuckle and a breath, "Of course."


The lilies started to bloom and Derek planted more and more flowers as Spring became prevalent. He planted sunflowers, goblin flowers, red valerians and moonbeams. Verbenas, ruellias, daisies and boronia. It would take time, but soon the dark earth that looked like charcoal would be littered with color and soon the memories buried deep beneath the basement would be destroyed by strong roots.

Soon he would inhale and breathe in nothing but the abundance of life.

The green house was filled with potted ferns, lavender and sage and bushels of delicate blossoms. Birds of paradise grew in a large pot towards the entrance and Peter had given him a couple of bamboo branches to rest against the far wall.

Derek stopped flinching when he drove passed the fourth tree on the right.


"I love you," the words came out rushed and breathy against Stiles' throat and Derek was rewarded by the loud bang of his lovers head against the roof of his car.

Stiles whimpered and hissed at Derek who was desperately trying to babble an apology. He reached up to rest his hand on the back of Stiles' head, rubbing gently. He wrinkled his nose and tried to catch his breath, "Really, babe?" he waved a hand around them and swallowed dryly, "Right now? That's when you tell me?"

It was close to midnight and they were outside of town parked in the blanket of darkness between the trees of the preserve. Stiles was straddling Derek's hips, bare from the waist down, his flannel only holding on by a few buttons as it slid over his shoulder. He moved his foot and kicked the gear shift, cursing and hissing again.

Derek couldn't help but laugh, even if he was embarrassed and even if he did have the worst timing of any person he had ever heard of.

Wide eyes rolled in their sockets and Stiles grinded his hips painfully slow astride him, earning a low rumble from deep in Derek's chest. He gripped the rough sides of the wolfs face and slammed their lips together again, "You are the least romantic person but, god-" his lips were mashed against Derek's and he inhaled the shaky breath that his partner exhaled, "I love you too."

The alpha's eyes flashed and he felt the muscle in his chest stampede within him.

He made up for his lack of rational timing later that night when they got back to his apartment and Derek had him twisted in his arms. Legs and arms tangled, lips slow and fluid as they worked against each other. He said the words through a long languid kiss and felt Stiles shudder next to him.

The marrow in his bones heated, his lungs ached and Stiles left a burning path down his neck where his fingertips trailed as he sighed them back between the cushion of his lips.


Sunlight poured through the cracks in the blinds and left a soft glow across Derek's back. The tip of Stiles' finger traced the curve of his tattoo, back and forth.

"What does it mean?"

The wolf turned to look at him, face resting in his arms which were folded underneath. He yawned and blinked a few times before nestling his head back into the pillows, "It's for my family. I got it done after the fire."

Stiles was quiet but Derek felt the bed dip, felt his legs on either side of his waist as Stiles laid himself across his back. The wolf hummed and let him do as he pleased, still tired and completely content with falling back to sleep with Stiles draped over him like a heavy blanket. His lips were soft as he pressed them down into the ink that the fire left behind. The scar that wouldn't heal. The charcoal memory branded between his shoulder blades.

Derek breathed evenly and felt Stiles' heartbeat like a steady drum against him, "It means progress, illumination, growth," he paused and cleared the morning rasp from his voice, "revolution."

He felt Stiles nod but his heartbeat faltered only slightly. Derek felt his breath against the back of his neck and the wolf shifted slightly, "What's wrong?"

Stiles swallowed and dragged his fingers down the length of Derek's sides, "Are you ever going to tell me about it? I can pick up on some things, Derek, but I can't read minds... I mean, do you want to talk about-"

"No," Derek's voice was colder than he wanted it to be and Stiles' body stiffened, he hummed a growl and turned, grabbing Stiles and maneuvering him until Derek could turn and face him. Stiles eased his way back down, hands resting on the wolf's chest, eyed narrowed, "No?"

The alpha pursed his lips, "No, I don't want to talk about it."

His heart beat sped up, and Derek's hands twitched against the place on Stiles' lower back where they were settled. He didn't want to think about. He didn't want to talk about it. He had done such a good job ignoring, such an amazing job focusing on everything else than focusing on it. On her. On the stench of death that he had been trying so hard to mask.

He could feel Stiles withdrawing.

"Derek, I'm your boyfriend- I'm not going to just let a huge part of your life go unsaid. This- the house, the green house, the flowers I mean-"

"Stiles," it was a warning. A cold, harsh, growl of a warning.

Stiles climbed off him in a swift motion, swatting his hands away when the wolf reached for him. Derek wanted to say something but he couldn't, he was angry and defensive and he didn't know what to do. He didn't know how to explain. Where to start.

"One, you aren't my alpha, so don't ever say my name like you have the authority to shut me up. Ever. Two, I get it, shit like that hurts. My mom still hurts but guess what Derek? I let you in anyways."

Derek didn't say anything. He stared at the ceiling and wished that he could run. But he didn't want to run from Stiles, he wanted to run to him. His wolf was snarling, barring it's teeth, fur bristled and Derek was just closed. Closed off and hating the fact that he couldn't lift the gate. That he couldn't demolish the walls that barricaded his past.

"Congratulations on being the first person to keep me around long enough to push me away."

Stiles didn't see Derek physically wince and he didn't slam the door on his way out.


"Are you stupid?" Erica's eyes flashed gold as she stared at Derek from across the kitchen.

The alpha inhaled a deep breath and stared at the floor.

"Go get him, Derek! You let him leave?"

"I didn't know what to do, we never fight," Derek's voice was quiet and a small whine pulled at the edges of his words. He was asking for comfort in the only way a wolf knew how. He bowed his head to Erica and heard her sigh as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and pulled his head into her shoulder.

"You hardly talk to me about the fire, Der," she was petting him, nuzzling him, "but if you want to function and if you want to make this work with him you have to tell him."

She ran her fingers through his hair, pressed her nose into his cheek and stroked her jaw against his forehead. He whimpered and nodded.

Derek knew that. He knew that better than anyone but having her arms around him made it a little less frightening.


Stiles was pissed. He was angry and hurt and his presence affected Derek in so many more ways than one.

He walked towards the porch of the Hale house and stopped a few feet away, eyes narrowed and chest tight. Derek stared at his feet and nudged his shoulder towards the door.

Stiles followed and the wolf could hardly breathe.

"My mother's name was Talia," he cleared his throat and pointed through the hallway to the left, "she used to bake all kinds of things. That's how I learned to cook. And Laura," he dragged his fingertips against the blackened paint on the wall, "she was artistic and beautiful, would have been an amazing mom."

Stiles said nothing, he just listened and watched.

"Cora," Derek choked on her name, "she's stubborn and fierce. She's alive," he turned to glance at Stiles who nodded, "I had no idea until she came into town a couple years ago, the pack was going through a lot back then. I drove with her to New Orleans and helped her move into her own place, and..." a shaky breath broke through his words, "I miss her."

"Peter killed the woman who started the fire."

Stiles circled him but Derek couldn't look up.

"Kate."

His knees almost gave out. Stomach clenched. Spine ached. Her name had no place in the alphas mouth.

"She... I didn't love her but I thought-"

No. Not again. Not here. Not in front of Stiles. Never again. He had promised himself.

A soft hand fell across his forearm.

"I thought she loved me and after Paige I thought that was enough, I-" the words wouldn't stop. They kept going and going until they left blisters on his tongue and ash in his mouth and a pain inside him that he had thought was forgotten.

"I didn't know. I didn't know she was an Argent, I didn't think- I wasn't thinking, I was a stupid fucking teenager-"

Stiles was pulling him, bracing him against his chest and wrapping his arms around him.

Derek hated crying.

"She waited until we had dinner," he choked and his voice shook and he gripped onto Stiles like he was the only thing left that existed, "I had told her we were having family over. It was my aunts birthday and-" Stiles pressed his lips gently to his cheek and smoothed a hand around the back of his neck, "she waited until we- until we put the kids to bed."

He tried to breathe but it was broken and forced, "I heard them screaming for miles. My mother had told us to run so me and Peter, we grabbed the girls and we did, we ran."

Stiles stroked his thumbs underneath the wolf's eyes and pressed a kiss against his mouth. Derek could taste the salt from his own tears and the remnants of the cigarette Stiles had smoked on his way there.

"It was my fault," his voice was shaky and he leaned into Stiles who eased him down onto the cracked wooden floor boards. Derek sat back on his knees and bit down on his bottom lip. He was trembling and Stiles was there, sitting up and pulling at Derek's face, "Look at me," his words were clear and the alpha blinked at him through a waterlogged glare, "That..." Stiles' jaw clenched, "That was not your fault."

Derek rolled his eyes, snorted through a sob, "You don't know that, Stiles, you don't even fucking know-"

"Don't talk to me like that," Stiles bit, "and don't you dare say that I don't know you."

The wolf watched him carefully.

It was like every other time Stiles had kissed him. Derek didn't know where it started or ended, all he knew was that his lips were soft and his mouth was warm and Stiles knew exactly how to kiss him to bring him back. To push him forward. To send him flying and to ground him, bracket him into the earth.

"You are kind," Stiles whispered into his mouth, "and beautiful, and honest," he kissed along his jaw and Derek still couldn't stop shaking, "you are respectful and strong and wonderful," Derek whimpered and clutched onto the soft fabric of Stiles' plaid shirt, "and you deserve so much more than this." Stiles kissed him again, long and breathless, "you have to let it go," he breathed against the wolf's mouth, "you have to stop looking for reasons to forgive yourself and stop blaming yourself to begin with."

Derek's eyes were closed and his heartbeat was erratic. Somewhere inside himself he knew Stiles was right but that was buried under a heap of pride and guilt.

"You're the best thing that's ever happened to me," Derek's voice was hoarse as he whispered against Stiles' mouth.

They didn't talk after that, not until Stiles followed him back to his apartment and pressed him down into the sheets on his bed. Not until Stiles made love to him like he deserved it, like he was meant to be loved and cherished and treasured. His teeth left bruises on Derek's throat that healed in the darkness and he whispered soft encouragement against the wolf's ear through soft sighs and quiet moans.

Not until Derek's eyes shone red as he looked up at him and not until the alpha breathed out a shaky breath, "Please, stay."

Stiles wrapped him up in his arms and brushed his nose across the rough stubble on Derek's cheek.

"I wasn't going anywhere to begin with."


Spring passed into summer and Derek felt the weight of his past slowly start to lessen day by day.

His green house was filled with beautiful flowers and herbs, Stiles was still there, close and content at his side and the pack was busy with their lives and planning Lydia and Jackson's wedding.

They cooked on Easter. Derek had brunch with Stiles and his father before they left to meet at Erica's for dinner that night and the alpha relished in the normalcy of all of it. Audrey hunted for Easter eggs with Scott, Stiles helped Lydia pick out arrangements for her wedding since he had offered to manage all of the floral design as a gift and Derek slathered barbecue sauce on a couple racks of ribs that cooked on the grill in the backyard.

It felt good to not have to hide from Stiles, to not have to worry about comments from the pack or about his own throaty growls or strange behavior with his betas. Stiles was getting accustomed, was melting into them and Derek breathed a sigh of relief every day because of it.


April passed into May and May into June.

On June twelfth Stiles drove Derek out to the lake as the sun set below the trees. He gave Derek a rose gold Micheal Kors watch which the wolf was surprised by. Not many people gave Derek gifts like that. He thanked him with a tender kiss and handed Stiles the wrapped up box that contained a long sleek leather jacket.

Stiles loved it and Derek couldn't wait to see him in it.

They splashed through the lake and Stiles tackled him into the water. They laughed and they kissed and it was wonderful.

"Happy Anniversary," Stiles murmured the words against his mouth and Derek smoothed his hands down the slick skin of his back.

It had been six months.

They rolled around in the back of the Jeep, chuckling at their lack of coordination. It was just as clumsy and just as messy as the first time.


Derek wouldn't have had it any other way.

"Hello?" Derek lifted his phone to his ear and immediately pulled it back when Erica yelped and rambled loudly on the other end. "Slow down, Erica-"

Stiles looked across from him on the couch, his feet kicked up over Derek's lap with a tablet in his hands.

"Is everything okay?" he tilted his head to the side and took his glasses off, setting them down on the coffee table. It was a Sunday.

Derek's eyes widened and he stumbled to stand up and quickly maneuvered his feet into his boots, "We're coming, just- uh, is she okay? Just relax, I'll be right there." Stiles was already sliding his Vans on when the alpha shoved his phone into his pocket.

"What's going on?" Stiles was concerned, that was obvious, but he relaxed when Derek shook his head, "It's Audrey, she's fine, she just-"

Stiles looked at him expectantly as Derek grabbed his keys and shook his head again, "She's having a little bit of a hard time."


Erica opened the door when they pulled up. She was much more calm than Derek had imagined and the woman offered a small smile as they walked towards the door.

"Is she okay?" Derek peeked in over her shoulder but the blonde nodded through a sigh, "She's fine now. I knew it was happening when she told me her ears hurt," she frowned and Derek's expression softened.

He walked in and Stiles trailed behind, Erica rubbed the humans back gently and told him what was going on.

"Hey, baby," Derek's voice was soft when he saw Audrey on the couch. Wide golden eyes blinked back at him and she grinned, hands grabbing out for the alpha. He knelt down in front of her and reached up to tap her on the nose, "can you show me?"

Stiles watched with Erica and Boyd as they stood behind the couch.

Derek's eyes glowed red and his eyebrows wrinkles, ears elongating. He bared his teeth and growled.

Audrey's little ears were in points and she rumbled out a tiny snarl, small needle point fangs curled over her lips. Derek laughed and picked her up as she snapped her teeth and buried her head against his shoulder, squealing and giggling in his arms.

The first shift was always the worst, it was painful and drawn out. Bones realigned, muscles contracted, fangs pushed out of the gums for the first time. It wasn't pleasant. But after the body healed it became accustomed to the intrusion and welcomed the shift instead of pushing it away. Derek could only imagine what it had been like to get her through it and he offered a sentimental smile towards Audrey's parents.

Stiles smoothed a hand over his mouth, eyebrows arched, "Oh my god," his voice was exasperated, "that's a- that's a baby werewolf. That is one of the cutest and most terrifying things I have ever seen."

Boyd barked out a laugh and Erica swatted him playfully in the chest.


They watched fireworks on the fourth of July from the preserve with the wolves. Erica held Lucas in her arms and Audrey sat between Boyd's legs, with two of the wolves curled up beside them. Scott and Allison were propped against the fence with Isaac while Peter laid on the ground with his head resting on Dahlia's chest and Jackson stood with his arms wrapped around Lydia's waist.

Flashes of light lit up the sky BangCrackle

Derek sat with his back against Stiles' chest, Cedric was curled up over his waist and Stiles was trailing his fingers across the top of his hand.

"They don't like the fireworks," Stiles mumbled against Derek's ear. The alpha smirked and nodded, petting Cedric lovingly, "No, they don't. That's why we come out here, it's a sense of comfort to have us near."

Stiles nodded and moved to rest his head on Derek's shoulder, pressing his lips to the vein curving down the wolfs throat, "So wolves run with wolves?" he asked softly.

Derek turned his head and pressed a gentle kiss to his lips, "Yes."

Long fingers wrapped around Derek's jaw and he kissed him a little harder this time, held on long enough to cause Derek to blush and pull back through a soft laugh.

"Is it normal for some people like me- for humans to-"

"Yes," Derek stopped him and moved a hand from the wolf lounging in his lap to reach and wind his fingers through the hair on the back of Stiles' head, "It's normal for some humans to run with wolves."

It was quiet and Stiles knew that everyone could hear them but he didn't mind.

He saw Jackson press a kiss to the back of Lydia's head.

Watched Scott nuzzle against Allison's chest.

Derek shifted slightly and Stiles played with the skin on his sides right above his belt loops.

BangCrackleBangCrackle.

Another firework lit the sky and Derek closed his eyes.

Organic honey. Coffee grounds. Green tea. Almond milk.


"Okay, Lydia, I need you to calm down," Allison held the woman's face and offered a smile, "If you keep obsessing over everything then we will never get you out of this hotel room and down that aisle, do you hear me?"

Lydia blinked through long mascara coated eyelashes and huffed, holding her breath until she nodded, "Fine," she hissed the words out, "but if my reception is not perfect I am going to lose my voice because there will be an overwhelming amount of dead bodies to scream about, I swear if-"

Stiles peeked his head around the door and grinned, "They're ready."

Lydia's voice faded and she looked to Allison who smiled and nodded, "It's time. Come on." She pulled at Lydia's arms which were slack and steadied her when the red head started to shake, "Allison, Jackson is, he's- I know he messed up but he's a good man, he-"

Allison hushed her, "He is an amazing man and we all know that and you know that, it's time to go get married," the brunette nodded again.

When they got down the stairs Stiles handed Allison a small bouquet and then turned and handed Lydia her own. The bride gushed, "Stiles, these are beautiful," she played with the baby pink and white petals and the strain of pearls around the handle, "Thank you."

He rested a hand on her lower back and pushed her forward towards the doors, "Your Dad's waiting, I'll see you after." The florist pressed a kiss to her cheek and Lydia almost fell when she heard the violins start to play.


It was an outdoor wedding at a resort outside of town and it was far beyond beautiful. There were chairs lined up on either side of the isle which was covered in white and pink rose petals that Audrey had thrown out of a basket before making her way to her mothers side.

The chairs were all lined with lace and the podium was shrouded behind an arch of vines and ferns peppered with bushels of flowers.

Jackson was shaking as Derek stood next to him and the alpha smirked when he heard a soft 'god damn' slide over the grooms lips. Lydia was wearing a floor length dress, white and decorated in lace and small crystals. It fanned out around her feet into a long trail and plunged at the neckline.

The brides maids wore short baby pink dresses and the grooms men were in fitted black suits with matching pink ties.

Allison stood next to Erica and Audrey on the left, and Derek stood next to Boyd on the right.

Lydia assured everyone that she wasn't going to cry but of course, she did. They exchanged heart felt vows and placed the rings on each others hands. There was a pause, a moment of silence when Jackson fished into his pocket and pulled out a small key. Lydia's bottom lip shook when he placed it in her open hand. None of the others intruded when he leaned forward to whisper something against her ear, but they could all imagine what it was. Allison started to cry and even Derek was mindful of the tightness in his throat.

When they were pronounced husband and wife she threw her arms around Jackson and grinned as he leaned down to kiss her.

Applause erupted. Rose petals were thrown into the air and Derek noticed Stiles smiling at him as he followed the very excited new couple back down the isle, arm in arm with Allison.


"They're perfect," Lydia cooed at Stiles as her eyes danced across the elaborate displays of flowers that graced each table. Exotic lilies, fully bloomed roses, skyrocketing orchids, hydrangea and lucky baby's breath sprouted out from tall vases wrapped in soft mauve tulle. Candles lit every surface and the lights above the outdoor canopy blinked as the sun began to set.

Derek watched them dance, watched them laugh and hug and watched Jackson wipe at Lydia's eyes when she almost started crying again and again throughout the night.

"You look good in a suit," Stiles eyed him up and down from the seat next to him and reached out to walk his fingertips across his arm. The wolf rolled his eyes, a small smile tugging at his lips, "So do you."

It was strange to be at an event with someone. To be at a wedding and have a date. Derek wasn't quite sure he knew how to comprehend it, digest it. It felt surreal and wonderful and Stiles was right there. He was right there and Derek knew that when they went home in the morning he would still be right there.

Derek leaned over and pressed their lips together, "Dance with me?"

Stiles flushed, a curious and very surprised expression washing over his face, "I didn't take you for a dancer."

The alpha pulled him up by his arms and pressed him flush against his chest, hand resting on the dip of his lower back, "Surprise."

They swayed back and forth on the dance floor, Derek held him close and leaned his forehead down against Stiles' shoulder, listening to him breathe, to the lull of his heartbeat, the soft drag of air as it occupied and left his lungs. He felt solid in his arms, solid and fixed in place. Right there. Wrapped up in Derek just as much as Derek was wrapped up in him.

"The ceremony was nice," Stiles mumbled against Derek's cheek and let his hand drop a little further onto his arm. The wolf nodded and looked up in time for Stiles to lean forward and steal his lips in a tender kiss. Warmth. White wine. Woodsy aftershave. Derek hummed, "It was," the words were quick between another press of their mouths and he reached up to cup the side of Stiles' face.

They drank. They laughed. They hooted and hollered when Jackson picked Lydia up and carried her into the elevator where they would retire in the suite that the pack had booked for them as a wedding gift.

Peter and Isaac left after that to head back to Beacon Hills so that they could take care of the wolves in the morning, Chris waved his goodbyes and also left, followed by Melissa and Lydia's parents.

Stiles was standing next to Derek at the entrance of the resort as Peter and Isaac waved from the car before taking off down the street. He had one of those clove cigarettes pressed between his lips, the smoke danced up around his face and he moved a finger to push his glasses up, humming contently to himself.

"I'm going to rip that suit right off your fucking back when we get upstairs."


It felt like the breath was torn out of him when Stiles murmured the words through a cloud of smoke and Derek stifled a chuckle as he bit down on his lip.

Stiles didn't look at him, just grinned and took another puff off his cigarette.

They crashed into the wall after stumbling through the door of the hotel room. It was dark but Derek's eyes glowed blood red against the shadows. He hoisted Stiles up who clumsily wrapped his legs around him, "Fuck, thank god for fucking super powers-"

Derek growled and Stiles winced when the alpha rammed his back into the wall again. He gripped at the wolfs hair, pulled roughly until fangs peeked out over his lip. The point of Stiles' tongue dragged across one of them and Derek nearly buckled into the ground. His fingers dug into Stiles' thighs, lips collided violently against the warm mouth that was teasing, begging, coaxing at his wolf.

Strong hands fumbled at Derek's jacket until it fell to the floor, then moved on to the buttons of his white shirt, tugging and pulling until they popped loose. When Stiles' feet hit the floor again he wrapped a hand around the pink tie and wasn't shy about pulling as hard as he could, dragging Derek backwards towards the bed.

"I want you raw," Stiles' words blistered and sent Derek's wolf howling and bucking against the confines of his mind. Calloused hands slid underneath Stiles' shirt, felt across the lean bubble of muscle, the clench of his abdomen, the sharp inhale and exhale that sent his chest sputtering out of control. "Stop saying shit like that," Derek bit at his lips, dipped his tongue low and needy into his mouth and went to war with another very defiant and talented tongue.

Stiles unbuttoned Derek's pants, Derek pulled Stiles' shirt up over his head.

Derek was blissfully dangerous at this point. Stiles had been urging him on since they walked through the door, used pain to influence his wolf, whispered filthy things against his ear. He had never seen him like this. Never seen Stiles so... fiercely lustful and he had never been turned on by someone like this in his life.

Not that Stiles didn't always have that affect on him, he most certainly did, but tonight... Tonight was different. Tonight Stiles was demanding and mouthy and everything that had Derek's wolf writhing and growling in his mind.

Stiles' back hit the bed and he dragged his nails painfully down Derek's spine. The wolf gritted his teeth, trying to keep his fangs at bay, "Stiles," he was breathless and he shoved his face against the mans neck, licking a hot stripe up his throat, "what the hell-" Derek couldn't help but laugh quietly, "you've never been like this before."

Swollen lips crushed against Derek's and Stiles wrapped his hand around the back of his head, legs parting to cradle the alpha's hips. He swallowed down a gulp of air, "My boyfriend's a werewolf, a sexy, hot, shy-" he chuckled on the last word, "werewolf. And I want him to fuck me like a werewolf."

Derek's skin immediately heated and he grinded himself, almost involuntarily between Stiles' legs. "I could-" he tried to breathe, "I could hurt you."

He wasn't taking no for an answer. Stiles reached down, slid his hand passed the band of Derek's briefs and wrapped his fingers around the wolfs cock. He tilted his head to the side, "We've been over this," Stiles was impatient, "I'm not delicate, Der, just-" he pulled at the alphas hair with his free hand, working Derek's cock with the other, "stop being careful with me..." His voice was low, soft and calm as he pressed his lips up against the stubbled jaw hovering over him.

Derek sputtered on the air between them, grinded his teeth back and forth as Stiles bit his throat. He latched down, held Derek close, licked and sucked and gnawed on the flesh while the wolf thrusted down into the fist between his thighs. He bit back. Turned his head and ripped away from Stiles' jaws to slam his mouth down on the pale shoulder beneath him. The broken gasp that filled the room sent warm waves rushing over him, sent him crawling down the length of Stiles' body, leaving deep bruises along the way.

"Harder-" Stiles whined, thrusting his hips up when Derek chewed on the angled bone of his hip, the flat of his tongue soothing across the deep circle left behind.

Derek rid him of his pants and ripped daringly at his briefs until they were kicked off somewhere around the room. He bit at his thighs and shoved his hands underneath to grip his ass and lift him up, pushing spit slick lips over the head of his cock. Stiles twisted his fingers into the sheets, knuckles white, cheeks flushed and blotched red.

The wolf hummed, tongue circling and smoothing against the velvety skin. He withdrew only briefly to glance around until a bottle of lube hit him in the chest. "Of course you came prepared," Derek smirked and clicked the top open, watching the body beneath him twist, relishing in the comfortable grin spread across his face.

It was so much different now. They knew each other. They felt each other. They loved each other. Derek had never taken his time to get to know someone like he had with Stiles, never learned their body, fell in love with the way their back arched or the curl of their toes. But he had. Never in his life did Derek think he would find someone he could laugh with during sex, someone who could simultaneously love him and the beast within him. Not until Stiles.

He pressed a slicked finger against the rim of muscle between Stiles' legs, heard the shaky inhale of breath and slid his lips back down over his cock again. He sucked, licked, groaned around the bitter salty taste of him as his hips bucked forward at the intrusion of Derek's digit when he pressed into him. The wolf listened to the short breaths, the desperate whimpers and was quick to add another finger, pumping and curling into him with deep hard pulses.

Stiles couldn't catch his breath and he rocked back into Derek's touch, reaching down to scrape his nails across the wolf's scalp, "I- Derek, I-" his voice gave out and he bit down on his lip when Derek lifted off of him, leaving his cock red and swollen and painfully hard.

A deep rumble fell into the kiss that Derek slammed down onto Stiles' mouth and the response he got was anything but subtle. Stiles parted his legs further, opened his mouth and slid his tongue across Derek's, wrapping and twisting and curling between his lips as Derek's fingers stretched and pried at him.

"Get these off-" Stiles hissed, moving a hand down to tug at Derek's underwear which he pulled off and kicked across the room. A warm hand was back on the alpha's length and Derek buckled into the touch, "I want you... Derek, god, I-"

The kiss was messy and clumsy as Derek slid their lips together and withdrew his hand, leaving Stiles squirming and whining. He pushed at the soft skin of Stiles' thigh, lifted him up and pressed against him, inching into him slowly at first and then all at once in a deep thrust that shook Stiles to the bone.

He arched his back, dug his fingernails into Derek's shoulder and raked them down. It was rough and fast and feral, he thrusted again and again, breathing into Stiles' throat when he moved to fist his hands into Derek's hair and pull his face closer.

Red eyes shone bright in the darkness and the alpha snarled, fangs dragging across Stiles' cheek as he pushed his leg higher and listened to the wrecked moans and pants leaving the body beneath him. Stiles let one of his hands drop to squeeze Derek's ass, pulling him closer, bucking his hips up to meet the erratic movement of the wolf was grinding into him.

The bed creaked, the headboard hit the wall on several occasions and Stiles sobbed and panted into Derek's shoulder when he reached down to stroke at the aching member leaking onto his stomach.

Derek came with the echo of Stiles' name painfully tearing at his lips, pouring hot and steady into him. His body twitched, his muscles clenched and trembled but he didn't stop pumping his fist around Stiles until the man bent off the bed and threw his teeth into Derek's throat. The alpha let him, turned and craned to give him more room, squeezed his eyes shut at the sound of crunching skin around Stiles' blunt teeth.

He held on, squirming and shooting warm sticky streaks onto his stomach between them. Derek fell slack when Stiles' jaw loosened and he tried to breathe, tried to steady himself as waves of heat trembled through him.

Stiles' eyes were closed, chest heaving, fingertips twitching as his arms flopped down beside them.

"Derek," he cleared his throat, voice hoarse and abused. The wolf got up slowly and looked down at him, traced his eyes across the flutter of his eyelids and the bitten swell of his lips, satiated, content, and satisfied.

The florist didn't bother to move when Derek slid off the bed and walked into the bathroom, he shifted and winced when pain shot through his lower half but a low chuckle floated across his lips.

Derek warmed a washcloth and studied himself in the mirror, the marks were healing, but he still caught glimpses of them. Dark purple splotches splattered on his throat, on his chest and shoulders, red trails from Stiles' nails down his arms and back. For the first time Derek saw that Stiles wasn't as harmless as he once thought.

He purred when Derek sat on the edge of the bed and reached over to gently clean him, pressing his lips here and there across Stiles' body until he finally crawled back into the bed and carefully pulled the pale body against him.

Stiles breathed against his mouth, took his lips in a fluid kiss, calm and tender, "I-" he smirked, "told you, you wouldn't hurt me."

Derek nuzzled his face underneath Stiles' chin and wrapped his arms around him, tangling their legs as he pressed their chests together.

"I like it... when you let go," Stiles breathed softly and pressed a kiss against the top of Derek's head. The wolf shifted and sighed, "I would like it if you let go, too."

Stiles' eyes cracked open and Derek caught his heart beat faster for a fraction of a second.

"You heard me," the wolf growled playfully and a sly smile crawled up Stiles' face.

Derek inhaled.

Sex. Cologne. Rose petals. Wedding cake.


Jackson booked their honeymoon in Tahiti and they left the next morning for the airport.

They saw them off down at the valet in front of the resort before climbing into their cars and heading back to Beacon Hills. The newly weds would be gone for a few weeks and as much as the pack wanted them to have a wonderful time, it was strange to know they'd be gone.

Derek fell asleep on the way home with his fingers loosely tangled between Stiles'.

"Sorry," Stiles was trying not to laugh as Derek whined and reached up to rub at his head. They had hit a speed bump and the side of the alpha's head smacked against the window. "Are you okay?" Stiles poked at his thigh and Derek nodded through a yawn, wrinkling in his nose when he looked out the window and noticed they were still forty-five minutes away from town.

"I'm hungry," Derek pawed at his eyes with the back of his hand and Stiles rolled his eyes, "You're always hungry and we're like not even an hour away, don't you just wanna wait and cook when we get home?"

Derek grumbled and stretched, nuzzling his head into the seat as he turned to fix his eyes on the man next to him.

when we get home

Something about the way he said it made Derek's insides turn, made his heart jump into his throat. He tilted his head until amber eyes flicked to look at him and Stiles offered a crooked smile, "What?"

The wolf hummed softly, "Move in with me."

Derek bristled instantly after the words left his mouth and he instantly regretted being so brave. He should have kept his thoughts to himself, waited until they had time to talk about it, waited until they were in a setting that was more appropriate for something so-

"Okay," Stiles bit down on his bottom lip through a wide grin, "My dad will demand that we do dinner with him at least once a week," he glanced at Derek who watched him through wide, astonished green eyes.

The wolf nodded, "I think we can manage."

Stiles laughed softly and reached over to grab his hand, lifting it to his lips to press them against the rough skin of Derek's knuckles.

There wasn't anything to really say after that. It wasn't hard with Stiles, it wasn't complicated or life-threatening or dangerous. It was just steady. Steady and easy and natural.

He had hit Derek like a tropical storm, warm and welcomed and appreciated. He washed away the old and brought in something new that the wolf had never imagined could be possible. Something that set fire to the parts of him that used to wince at the sight of flames, that drove him into himself and into his wolf, something tangible and palpable and real.

Something Derek could hold on to.

Something that would stay.


It was September first and Derek stared at the old house in the woods. It's walls were still charred, it's windows still broken, it still smelt like wood rot and ash but as his nostrils flared and he inhaled a steady breath, he noticed the soft notes of life and energy twisting into everything he was leaving behind.

He smelt roses, daisies, the light hint of lilies and the pungent tang of sunflowers.

The little green house stood steady a few feet away and Derek smiled fondly to himself. It's red walls shone bright against the sunlight breaking passed the branches of the tall trees and the plants inside vibrated contently with pleasant energy. An energy that Derek never thought he would find here again.

He knelt down and let his finger pass across the white roses next to the porch and glanced around to the rest of them that were scattered across the property and growling steadily, colorful and strong from the ash ridden earth.

He remember his mother, his sister, his aunts and uncles. He remembered them and for once the pain was tolerable.

Derek walked back to his car, fiddling with his keys and turned to look over his shoulder briefly. The flowers swayed back and forth as a playful breeze gusted passed and he couldn't help but think of Stiles.

A human. A witty, kind, open-hearted man who had planted flowers in the deepest parts of him, twisted his vines around the wolfs lungs and sprouted roots between his rib cage. A beautiful man who had grown and bloomed, brought sunlight and mischief and tenderness back into the life of someone who was caged by his past.

Derek lips curved up. He stared straight ahead and ignored the view in his rear view mirror.


Stiles kept a vase of fresh flowers in the apartment and he always left his wet towels on the floor.

He couldn't cook. Not one bit. And he insisted on using the fireplace three times a week.

Derek couldn't stand that he got up early in the mornings and he hated that he left his socks in the living room.

It was a Sunday.

Derek had his face pressed lazily against Stiles' lap on the couch and Stiles was playing with his hair, reading a comic on his tablet.

It was quiet, the television was on but the volume was low and Derek didn't flinch when the fireplace popped and crackled.

"Hey," Stiles voice was soft as he smoothed Derek's hair away from his face, "we're meeting everyone for dinner in an hour, you need to get up," he chuckled and the wolf rolled over to look up at him.

Pale skin flecked with freckles, an upturned nose and eyes like the rings around Saturn.

Cinnamon and pineapple, agave sweetener and green tea.

Derek had never been thankful for something like he was thankful for the man from San Diego who owned the shop off 1st and Oakheart.