“There’s a large hole in your roof, and the upstairs window on the right has a gap between the frame and the outside wall that is likely wreaking havoc on your electric bills.”
Stiles blinks at Talia Hale as she waltzes into his home when he opens the door for her. “You son is definitely a momma’s boy, isn’t he? The two of you are peas in a pod, both slightly obsessed with holes.”
Talia turns to look at him. “I think my son and I are obsessed with different kinds of holes, Stiles.”
“Mom!” Derek comes in from the downstairs bathroom, where he went to wash up while Stiles answered the door. “Behave.”
“Why? You’re certainly not.” She deliberately sniffs the air and shakes her head. “Not even six hours. I’m afraid that Scott is more understanding of your nature than I. I wagered it would at least take another day or two before you mated again.”
“Wow. My dad would never be having a conversation about my sex life quite so casually,” Stiles says, more than a little impressed that she’s got Derek blushing with just a few words. “Is this a wolf thing?”
“It’s a mother thing,” Talia says sweetly. “Now, it’s obvious just from an initial perusal that this house needs quite a bit of work. From what I’ve gathered from Satomi, Peter, and my own observations, you would sit here surrounded by leaks rather than accept help from another pack, so I believe we might be at an impasse because I cannot allow my future son-in-law, human that he is, risk his health by living somewhere in need of such repair.”
“He’s letting me fix the roof.” Derek actually preens as he tells his mother about their agreement.
“But I’m paying for half of it,” he adds, not wanting her to think he’s a pushover for pretty eyes and scruffy cheeks. “And I’m not your future son-in-law. Derek and I haven’t even been on a date yet.”
“You’re right, of course. By our laws, there’s no ‘future’ about it.” Talia turns and walks into the living room, sniffing the air delicately. “Your pack is very close. I can smell the loyalty, devotion, and love that’s imbued the very framework of your home.”
“They’re everything to me.” Stiles looks at Derek then back at Talia. “I’ve died for them. I’ve killed for them. And they willalways be my priority. Regardless of what ends up happening between me and Derek, my pack is my life. There is no me without them.”
“You’ve died?” Derek looks concerned, like it’s happening now instead of years ago. “Like stopped breathing died? And why are you telling me about your pack like I’d ever force you to choose? It’s unusual, certainly, but I know we can make this work somehow if we want decide to later.”
“Yeah. No big. It happened during one of the many things that occurred while your family forgot Beacon Hills existed.” Stiles looks at Talia because he knows he can’t blame Derek for decisions made by his alpha. “Speaking of, I need to get a few things off my chest because Scott thinks I have to let this go or else I’m sabotaging my whatever with Derek before it begins.”
Talia studies him a moment before she smooths out the back of her pencil skirt and sits down on the sofa. “Alright. I’m ready, Stiles. What do you wish to speak to me about?”
“Maybe we should all sit?” Derek suggests, looking between his mother and Stiles. Stiles almost feels sorry for him because he must be conflicted with his alpha squaring off against his mate. Not that Talia actually looks too concerned about it, which is actually a little irritating.
“I’m good standing for now,” Stiles says, tapping his fingers against his upper thigh. Damn. He should have taken his Adderall when he got home. Now wonder he’s feeling even more fidgety than usual. Too late now. Derek sits in the chair that Jordan prefers, his body tense like he’s ready to jump into battle if Stiles does something stupid. To have known him for less than twenty-four hours, Derek has him figured out pretty well, already.
“Ahem.” Talia clears her throat, lips twitching slightly when Stiles looks away from Derek to focus back on her. “Off your chest, you said?”
“Right. The Hales suck.” Stiles shrugs when her nostrils flare and Derek frowns. “I get that you moved, but you still lay claim to this area, still consider it under your dominion or rule or whatever the hell it’s called. Yet you left without even looking back. We’ve been through hell, our pack, I mean, and we didn’t even know the Hales existed until Creepy Pete showed up after we graduated high school. From what I’ve read since, it was your responsibility as alpha squared to ensure everything was safe. So, yeah, I’m pissed that my best friend was left to figure this out on his own, that some of us died protecting this county, that we’ve lost loved ones, and that we’ve killed to keep this place safe while you still claim governance without doing a damn thing to help.”
Talia purses her lips and glances at Derek. “I left an alpha here to watch over the town when we left. I was unaware that he had died until one of his former pack came to Portland to see my daughter several years after the fact,” she explains as she focuses her attention on Stiles. “I sent Peter to investigate, and we learned of Scott’s existence.”
“That’s it? That’s your explanation?” Stiles shakes his head. “It’s not enough. It doesn’t explain anything.”
“What do you know of the fire?” Talia asks quietly. “Are you aware of the fact that my entire family, my pack, were almost burned alive by a group of rogue hunters? Do you know what I experienced watching my pack’s history, our legacy, burn to the ground? We would have died if Victoria and Christopher Argent hadn’t learned of his sister’s twisted scheme and come to us.”
“They did? So that's what you meant about them saving your lives. I didn't connect the dots." Stiles sits down then because, no, he had no idea that Allison’s parents had been the reason the Hales managed to escape the fire. He knew that Allison’s aunt, Kate, had gone against the code, had died during the ensuing struggle, remembers Gerard going on about it when he was torturing him to lure Scott into his web. But he didn’t know Chris had turned on her to save a pack of wolves. No wonder they had been so accepting when Allison started dating Scott. They weren’t those kinds of hunters, not after saving the one of the strongest packs in the country.
“The last thing I wanted to think about when I moved my family somewhere safe, somewhere without bad memories, was this town,” Talia confesses, looking at Derek again. Derek’s leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, his fingers curled into fists, knuckles white. “I might not have been the best alpha over this territory after the fire, but I honestly did assume it was being tended to by my representative.”
“It wasn’t my mom’s fault,” Derek speaks up, voice soft. “If you need to blame someone for the Hales not doing their appropriate duty, you have to blame me. I’m the reason we had to leave, the reason no one in my family could even mention this place for fear of triggering me, and I’m the reason your pack’s been left to their own devices. The reason you died. Oh God. I almost lost my mate because of my bad decisions.”
“Hey, you didn’t lose me.” Stiles ducks his head because, really, he shouldn’t be encouraging Derek about this mate thing, but he looks so forlorn and heartbroken that he has to say something. “I’m still here. Scott’s right about the fact that we survived and became a stronger pack having to do it on our own. I guess it’s stupid to dwell on what might have beens when we don’t have a DeLorean outside to help us fix anything anyway.”
“No, don’t do that.” Derek shakes his head. “This bothers you enough to call out my alpha on it. It convinced you that we were lying to you about the mating bite and made you run away from the masquerade ball. It’s made you unhappy and frustrated since you found out about the existence of my family, hasn’t it?”
“Not really.” Stiles shrugs. “More like I was annoyed at Deaton for not telling us about you when we were so desperate for help many times, but it didn’t start bugging me until Scotty told me he’d been contacted about you moving back. It made me mad then, in all honesty, because we’d worked our asses off getting this place safe, and I felt threatened when I learned you were returning. I thought you might be planning to kill my pack.”
“We aren’t moving back to take over your pack’s territory. Neither Cora nor I care about pack politics, nor is Laura interested in having territory here when she’s mom’s successor anyway. She’s coming with us to take a break from it all before she ends up not having the opportunity to relax without responsibilities.” Derek smiles wryly. “I’m the one who suggested moving back. I grew up here, and I’ve let my past keep me from returning, but I finally felt ready to return.”
“My son might be willing to take responsibility for my negligence, but I refuse to allow it.” Talia looks at Stiles and arches a brow. “Alan was instructed by me when we left to forget that the Hales ever existed. As my pack emissary, he was required to obey. I’m the reason we were not informed of Fredrick’s passing a decade ago, not my son.”
“I don’t really care who’s to blame,” Stiles points out. “I just had to get it off my chest and find out why Beacon Hills became such a neglected territory and why things happened like they did. I’m not entirely satisfied, since it feels like there are lines I should be reading between but I can’t quiet see the lines to even try. But all I really need to hear from you, Alpha Hale, is that you have relinquished the claim on this territory to the McCall pack, and that you will support my pack if the need should arise.”
“The Hale Pack acknowledges that the McCall Pack is responsible for maintaining the balance of order in this territory. They have the full support of the Hale Pack in their endeavors to do so,” Talia says solemnly, eyes flashing red. “I have made the same vow to your alpha already, emissary, and now I make it to you.”
Stiles feels like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders. The silence between them is broken by Derek. He runs his fingers through his hair and looks at Stiles. “I can fill in the lines.”
“Derek, you don’t have to do this,” Talia tells him, giving him a concerned look that has Stiles’ curiosity piqued.
“You’re wrong, Mom. I do have to do this.” Derek smiles wryly. “My therapist has told me that it’s important to be open with any potential romantic partners because they need to be aware of my past, about why I value honesty and have trust issues. If I can’t discuss with them, then I shouldn’t be involved with them. Stiles is my mate. He has to know the truth, even if it might make him hate me.”
“Unless you’re responsible for the Beatles breaking up or you’re secretly a clown, I think you’re safe from hate,” Stiles says. At their odd looks, he frowns. “What? I fucking hate clowns. They’re creepy and everything floats down here, don’t you know? Beep beep, Ritchie.”
“I’m not actually Pennywise, and I wasn’t even born when the Beatles broke up,” Derek tells him, lips twitching slightly. “So maybe that means I’m safe.”
“Then there’s no way I could ever hate you.” Stiles looks into those beautiful eyes and knows he really means it. Even if they only come out of this mess as friends, he feels it in his bones that he’s telling the truth right now.
Talia gets up and walks over to the chair, sitting on the arm of it and rubbing Derek’s back. “He isn’t lying,” she murmurs. “But you shouldn’t feel obligated to share this if you aren’t ready yet. You just met him last night, and, regardless of the mate bond, it might be too soon.”
“I’m sure about this, Mom. He needs to understand why you were so determined to leave this town in the past. If he doesn’t, it’s always going to cast a doubt between us. Besides, if he’s going to fall in love with me, it needs to be all of me, not just the physical packaging.” Derek flashes a smile that crinkles his eyes and totally transforms his face. Fuck, he’s so beautiful. “Anyway, you’re the one who told me that we deserve for this to become love, like what you and Dad have, and I want that.”
“Alright, baby boy.” Talia kisses his forehead before giving Stiles a look that is totally warning him to behave or she’ll eviscerate him, pack or not.
“The hunters who attacked my family,” Derek starts, voice quiet and slightly wavering like he hasn’t told this story many times before, “they were rogue. Not following the code, targeting any werewolf they could. The head hunter, Kate, she got information that allowed them to break into our compound. The passcode for the gates, the times when my entire pack would be home, the entire layout of the area.” Derek looks at Stiles. “She got those details from me.”
Stiles leans back against the couch, eyes widening even as he starts trying to fill in the lines to understand why the Hales could just desert the town and leave it to suffer. “I’m guessing she didn’t just outright ask you for them, since you’d have told her to get fucked.”
“That wouldn’t have worked, and it also wouldn’t have been as fun for her.” Derek worries his bottom lip, teeth scraping against it as Talia squeezes his shoulder. “She arranged meetings, put herself into my life, and she seduced me. I was a stupid teenager who didn’t realize it was wrong for someone her age to be fucking me, and I believed her when she said she was in love with me. I gave her everything she needed, and my family, mypack, would have been destroyed if it hadn’t been for her brother figuring out her plan and coming to tell my mother.”
“Jesus.” Stiles quickly does the math in his head and feels anger at Kate Argent, wishing he could bring her back to life just he could kill her again. “You were, what, fifteen? Sixteen? And she did that to you.” No wonder Derek is so willing to believe in the mate bond. When he heard words of love, they were nothing but lies and manipulation. Yet he’s willing to woo Stiles, to fall in love just to be given a chance, and, damn it. He’s such a selfish asshole, acting like he’s the only one involved in all this mate crap.
“Derek was only fifteen. That woman took something precious from him, so I’m sure you can understand now why I wanted to get my family away from this town and never look back,” Talia says firmly. “A hunter raped my child and nearly killed my entire pack. My son is far more important to me than providing oversight of a town with such horrible memories for him and the rest of my family. I might be the alpha, but I’m a mother first and foremost.”
“Yeah,” Stiles whispers, thinking about what he’d do if any of his pack were put into the same situation as Derek. He’d do whatever it takes to help them heal and protect them. “I can see the lines much more clearly now.”
“I’m not damaged,” Derek points out. “I went through some rough years, made some really bad choices, trying to get away from the memories and nightmares of what might have happened to my family, but I’ve been seeing a therapist for about six years now, and I’m in a good place. Stable and ready to have a relationship, even if I didn’t expect it to be with a gorgeous smartass emissary with trust issues that almost rival mine.”
Stiles snorts. “Now I know this mate thing must have messed with your brain. I’m not gorgeous, even if the rest of that is pretty spot on.” He stares into Derek’s eyes. “The healing. That’s why you want to come back to Beacon Hills and rebuild, isn’t it? And here I’ve been going around like Mad Eye shrieking constant vigilance to Scotty every chance I get, and treating you pretty unfairly since last night, with this whole mate bond business and running away due to paranoid delusions of evil Hale plots.”
“If I hadn’t grown up hearing the stories, listening to the tale of great times four grandfather Hale and his true mate, well, I probably would have reacted the same.” Derek’s smile is wistful. “It’s the dream of every born wolf to find their true mate, even if it happens so rarely that it’s more a myth than a reality to most of us. I’m still having trouble accepting the fact that I would be so fortunate, especially after everything I when I was younger. I don’t deserve a true mate, but I’m not foolish enough to let you go when I know you’re mine.”
“This mate thing is as much a fairy tale to me as Cinderella.” Stiles bounces his leg unconsciously. “I can’t believe in it like you obviously do because real life doesn’t have a happily ever after with no problems existing ever. Even Scott and Allison, who are the closest thing to perfection that I know, have fights and frustrations. If they weren’t so much in love, it could easily break them up sometimes.”
Derek smiles. “That’s why we’re going to date. I’m going to court you and make you so happy that you fall completely head over heels in love with me,” he says confidently. “Because you need love to accept our bond. We both deserve love. I mean, I do understand the difference between the love you want and what Kate meant when she used that word. They aren’t the same at all, and I agree that we’re both worthy of having the real thing. ”
“You know, there’s always a chance that we really are just a couple of assholes who aren’t going to fall in love even with dating.” Stiles has to keep it real because he’s disbelieving of soulmate stuff, yet it’s getting easier to believe with Derek’s conviction and determination. That’s not a good thing. Not when he plans to give them 106 days with the intent of not letting anything serious develop with Derek. “We could end up just being sexually compatible and nothing else.”
“You’re so cynical.” Derek laughs softly. “I guess it’s a good thing that I can be pretty stubborn, too, and that I don’t like admitting defeat very easily. Anyway, if there’s a chance that we’re nothing but sex and won’t fall in love that means there’s also a chance that we’ll write our own crazy love story.”
“Crazy being the operative word,” Stiles mutters, not returning Derek’s sweet smile at all. No way. His lips are not curving into a smile, and he is not feeling grateful to Scott for basically forcing him to agree to this whole dating fiasco at all. Nope. Not him. He is stone faced and solemn.
“I’m beginning to feel much more confident about my other wager with Mr. McCall.” Talia’s tone is clearly amused, which makes Stiles pull his attention away from Derek in order to glare at her. She is completely unaffected by his glare, of course. “Now, are you satisfied or is there more you would like to get off your chest, Stiles?”
“I’m satisfied.” Stiles means it, too. Their answers make sense, and he knows how important family is, understands the lengths one could go to in order to protect loved ones. Besides, she made it clear that the Hales have no claim over this territory even if she’s still the alpha’s alpha for this region of the United States and Canada. That’s all he really had to hear but knowing the full story of what happened to Derek, well, it makes him realize how much faith Derek must have in him and their mating bond to even take the risk of getting love involved. Not when he has to have bad associations with the whole concept of love after that bitch Kate targeted him.
“Good. Now we can discuss more pleasant topics.” Talia stands and walks back to the couch she’d been sitting on. Derek actually gets up, too, moving to sit beside Stiles. When he puts his arm around his shoulders and tugs him close, Stiles lets him. He knows the emotional toll that Derek must be feeling after being so candid about his past, and Stiles doesn’t mind giving him a good cuddle.
“I’m going to head back to Oregon with my mom this afternoon,” Derek tells him, nuzzling the bite on his neck. Wait. What? He’s leaving? “Calm down. I’ll be coming back.”
“I’m not uncalm,” Stiles mutters, deliberately breathing deeply in order to get his pulse to stop racing.
“Sure. Of course you aren’t.” Derek’s lips press against Stiles’ neck, and it’s difficult to keep his pulse steady when there’s kissing happening. “Meeting you at the masquerade altered my timeline. I’d already resigned from my job because I knew we planned to move back this fall, but I haven’t had the chance to pack everything up yet. It should only take me about a week to get everything resolved and any loose ends tied up. Then I’ll be able to come back, and you can begin your countdown. Three and a half months to woo you and for us to fall in love.”
“While Derek will be living here with you, he’s going to find appropriate lodging for his sisters and the pack members joining them here. They’ll all be overseeing the reconstruction of the homes on the family compound, but they’ll have to stay somewhere during those months of building.” Talia smiles slightly as she looks at them. “Perhaps you’ll be able to assist him with this search? The pack members accompanying him are his betas, which means it’ll be important for them to get accustomed to you and to adjust to the unconventional relationship regarding your pack loyalty and place in the McCall pack.”
“Is Catwoman going to be one of them?” Stiles asks Derek, oddly excited about the chance to get to know the sassy blonde bombshell.
“Yes. Erica and her mate, Boyd, as well as Isaac. I only have three betas.” Derek strokes Stiles’ arm until he reaches Stiles’ hand, twining their fingers together, palm to palm. “They’re enough of a handful so I’ve never sought to expand my little pack.”
“Are they born or bitten wolves?” Stiles is curious because bitten wolves might be easier to adjust to having around. They don’t have the same snotty attitude that some born wolves seem to possess.
“Bitten.” Derek rubs his thumb over the back of Stiles’ hand. “What about your pack? Peter never seems to have very much information when he returns, other than a frustration at you and McCall for managing to keep him in the dark usually.”
“All the wolves are bitten.” Stiles glances over at Talia and sees her looking interested in this question. He decides to just leave it at that instead of explaining that they only have five wolves, along with a coyote, kitsune, banshee, hell hound, chimera, three hunters, and a handful of humans with special skills. Besides, it would get confusing if he then includes Kira’s parents, who do participate in pack activities sometimes, and has to explain that Hayden is a good chimera and not a bad one, et cetera. Derek can find all that out when he eventually meets the pack. “Creepy Pete is nosy and obnoxiously rude. Maybe if he spent less time perving around at me and my sister, he’d have learned more during his visits.”
“You have a sister?” Derek rubs his scruffy cheek against Stiles’ throat. “Older or younger?”
“She’s a step-sister, actually, but it’s been several years, and she’d been pack for years prior, so sister works.” Stile squeezes Derek’s thigh. “You said you quit your job because of moving. What do you?”
“I’m a high school teacher. I teach History, and I used to coach track and basketball at my old school,” Derek tells him. “I resigned this summer because I knew I’d be moving before the end of the term.”
“Seriously? You’re a high school teacher?” Stiles leans forward in order to stare up at Derek. “How do your students ever get anything done? They’re probably all crushing on that dreamy Mr. Hale.”
“What is it you do, Stiles?” Talia interrupts when Derek blushes at Stiles’ comment.
“I’m a deputy with the sheriff’s department. Went to the academy after high school, and I’ve been working there for several years now.” Stiles smirks at Derek. “I wear a uniform that does amazing things to my ass.”
“I’d like to do amazing things to your ass,” Derek whispers, ghosting his lips across Stiles’ in a teasing almost kiss.
The sound of Marvin Gaye singing about getting it on suddenly fills the air. Damn. They didn’t even kiss and Stiles is hearing make out music in his head. Oh, wait. It’s just a phone ringing. Talia swipes her finger across the screen and smiles. “Hello Joseph. Yes, things are fine. Derek found his missing Cinderella and the mask fit perfectly,” she says, her tone affectionate and loving. “Alright. I’ll tell him. We’ll be there in half an hour then. Okay. Love you.”
“You’re leaving already?” Stiles is totally happy, of course. He can have some peace and quiet before the pack meeting tonight, and there won’t be any of this soulmate nonsense to deal with. He’s glad they’re going. Of course he is. Derek’s the one squeezing his hand tightly. It’s not Stiles who is unwilling to let go. Nope, not him.
“Unfortunately, we have to be at the airport in thirty minutes.” Talia stands up. “Derek, your father will meet us there. He’s cleared a flight plan to leave at two and received permission.”
“Can’t I just rent a car and drive home later?” Derek asks, pulling Stiles onto his lap and rubbing his jaw against their mate bite. “Dad wouldn’t even have to fly back to pick me up.”
“You know that’s not the best idea.” Talia smiles gently. “You’ll be able to come back after you’ve packed up the house and got your affairs in order. It won’t even take a full week, I’m sure. Until then, you can always call each other or text.”
“Dude, there’s also skype.” Stiles doesn’t bring that up because he knows he’s going to want to see Derek’s beautiful eyes while he’s gone. No, he figures it’ll give Derek a chance to realize that maybe pursuing this mate thing isn’t the best idea. Right.
“Don’t call me dude.” Derek reluctantly moves Stiles off his lap and stands up. “I’ll keep in touch while I’m gone, and I’ll be back by next weekend. Promise. We’ve got our first date next Saturday. Understood?”
“I might already have plans.” Stiles sniffs as he gets off the couch and drags his fingers through his hair.
“Cancel them then.” Derek grips his neck and kisses him, a possessive kiss that makes Stiles’ toes curl against the rug, not that he’d ever admit it. When Derek pulls back, he smirks. “Saturday night. You, me, and a first date that’ll knock your socks off.”
“Hmph. Someone’s cocky,” he drawls, arching a brow and returning Derek’s smirk. “I have a feeling my socks will remain firmly in place.”
“I’m sure it won’t be the first time you’re wrong then,” Derek says, reaching out to stroke Stiles’ jaw. “I’ll call you later.”
“I have a pack meeting. No phone calls allowed.” Stiles smiles wryly. “Sorry, it’s one of our rules.”
“Fine. I’ll call tomorrow, then.” Derek kisses him again, a quick press of their lips together before he follows his mom outside.
Stiles walks to the door and watches them go to the rental car. Derek is walking backwards, just looking at him, almost tripping once, which makes Stiles snort. “Be careful,” he calls out, leaning against the doorframe.
“Don’t forget. I’ll be sending out a roofer next week to take care of that hole. No reneging on our deal, Stiles.” Derek’s smile makes his eyes crinkle. “The roof or the 106 days I get to woo you.”
“Yeah, yeah. Go on before your mom gets snarly.” Stiles is smiling. He can’t help himself. Derek raises his hand but doesn’t wave, just holds it there for a moment before he finally turns and gets in the car. Stiles returns the gesture, an almost wave that makes his heart feel weird. He watches the car until it disappears from his driveway, then he goes back inside. There’s still groceries to put away, and he needs to take a shower before the pack starts showing up later.
Stiles goes upstairs, stripping off his t-shirt and shoving his sweats down along the way. By the time he reaches his bedroom, he’s only wearing his underwear and socks. Those are quickly discarded before he steps into the shower. After washing his hair and cleaning up, he shaves because, unlike some gorgeous werewolves, he only gets a patchy beard that makes him look like a high school drug dealer instead of sexy when he doesn’t shave. He also remembers to take his Adderall, which is a good thing because it should him focus a little easier. There’s so much in his head right now that it’s difficult figuring out which path of thought to follow.
Since he’s a little stressed, he channels his energy into cleaning. Derek did a good job straightening up the living room and kitchen, but Stiles doesn’t much care. It can all get cleaned again. He takes the sheets off the beds in the Pack Cuddle Room and puts fresh sheets on. There’s more than enough to do a few loads of laundry, including the shirt Derek left behind. If Stiles takes the Henley and inhales the scent of Derek and come, well, no one is around to see so that means it might not have happened.
With the laundry started, Stiles turns his attention to the kitchen. He spends the next few hours cleaning, moving appliances, moving furniture, making sure all open areas of the house are completely spotless. When all that’s done, it’s still a couple of hours until the pack will start arriving, so he decides to make himself a sandwich and bake some cookies. He isn’t an expert chef by any means, but he’s a decent enough cook, and he bakes better than he cooks. There’s stuff in the cabinets for peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip cookies, so he makes both kinds from scratch.
The house soon smells like yummy sugary goodness. Maybe that’ll help cover up the scent of the Hales. While Scott is totally aware of what’s going on, Stiles isn’t so sure about the twins, and Jackson can be uncontrolled sometimes, too. Aiden and Ethan were part of the pack of alphas that came to town to recruit Scott back in high school, but the twins got out and hide at Danny’s to avoid doing what the crazy dude in charge was trying to make them do. Still, they aren’t members of the pack that Stiles is particularly close to, so he’s a little concerned they might not take this mate from another pack thing well.
Not that it’s something they’ll have to deal with for long, he reminds himself. Now that he’s satisfied about the Hale pack and understands why they disappeared, he no longer has that intense mistrust in his mind when he thinks about Derek and mating bonds. Sure, he has no interest in being werewolf married to some guy he just met last night, even a sexy history teacher whose touch makes him feel like he’s on fire, but there isn’t that adamant urgency to refuse all thought of it like there was last night. It isn’t like he’s going to just accept it, not without love, but maybe he’s a little less inclined to deliberately sabotage the entire thing like he was planning to do.
The last of the laundry is finally folded and put away. Stiles has changed out of the sweats and into a pair of jeans. He also changes his t-shirt because Lydia hates all of his novelty shirts. He’d rather avoid putting her in a cross mood immediately considering one of the topics of conversation tonight will be this mate thing. Instead, he grabs a blue pullover out of the closet and shoves the sleeves up around his elbows to be more comfortable. After styling his hair, he heads downstairs. There’s noise in the kitchen, so he veers in that direction. “Hey, leave some of those for tonight,” he says, slapping Malia’s hand out of the chocolate chip cookies. She’s got one in her mouth already, so she doesn’t need more than two before dinner.
“You stink.” Malia frowns and leans in to sniff him. “Scott’s gonna be mad. If you want, I’ll scent you in exchange for another cookie.”
“No more cookies. I made enough for the entire pack tonight, so you can’t eat them all before dinner. That’s what we’ve got for dessert.” Stiles wags a finger at her that she tries to bite. “Kira! Control your girlfriend.”
“Don’t look at me!” Kira pokes her head out from around the fridge door. “We don’t have that kinky master/sub kind of relationship. Do you have any meat thawed?”
“I put some hamburger in the freezer earlier. It probably isn’t that frozen yet,” he tells her, grabbing the two containers of cookies away from Malia’s grabby hands. “Otherwise, we’d have to thaw something out. Allison’s bringing snacks, but I completely forgot to buy something to make tonight. My mind’s been all over the place. We can probably do tacos?”
“That’s okay. We’re here to help. Did you remember to take your Adderall today?” Kira grins at him and whips her head around, ponytail flying. “Malia, get me chili powder, pepper, and garlic powder from the cabinet. Tacos sound yummy, so that’s what we’ll have tonight.”
“Sure. Oh, I’ll cut tomatoes.” Malia reaches for a knife on her way to the cabinet but Stiles shakes his head.
“No knives. Last time, you almost cut your finger off. Healing or not, I don’t want blood in my kitchen ever again.” Stiles gets two family size bags of shredded lettuce and three bags of cheese out of the fridge. “You can open these and put them into bowls. I’ll cut the tomatoes. Oh, and, yes, I did take it, Kira.”
Kira gets ten pounds of hamburger out of the freezer and tosses it in the microwave to defrost. “Do you think this is enough?”
“It should be. My dad, and the youngesters all have to work tonight, but I’m not sure if everyone else is coming or not.” Stiles shrugs as he washes the tomatoes and then starts cutting them. “I’ve got some canned beans we can heat up as a side.”
“All done.” Malia shows off the bowls full of cheese and lettuce. “Can I help do the tortillas, at least?”
“Sure. You can hand them to me, but don’t touch the stovetop.” Stiles is glad he bought some fresh tortillas at the store today. Maybe it was a subconscious thing since his mind had been on mating bites and Derek instead of feeding his pack tonight. It must have been because he also bought lettuce and tomatoes, the shredded kind usually only a purchase for taco nights. Go Stiles’ Subconscious, he thinks, finishing up the tomatoes and putting the bowl beside the lettuce and cheese.
Malia walks over and rubs against him, scenting him casually as she takes the package of tortillas. He’s going to crisp them up with butter, he decides. Not the healthiest option, but it’s low fat butter, and half of them are supernatural creatures anyway. “Your neck smells funny,” she tells him matter-of-factly. She sniffs and tugs the collar of his shirt to the side. “Why do you have a bite?”
“Stiles! Did you get laid last night?” Kira stops frying the hamburger and turns to look at him in excitement. “Were they hot? Did they make you feel good? Are you going to give us smutty details?”
“They were a he, and, yes, he was extremely hot. Much good was felt for a few brief moments, and no details, you wanton hussy,” he says, rolling his eyes as he pulls his shirt away from Malia. “Stop poking the bite.”
“It smells weird.” Malia wrinkles her nose and looks up at him as she keeps poking it. “Hey, you’re getting turned on by me touching it.”
“Stiles, if you want to have sex with us, we’d totally be down for it,” Kira offers. “You’re on both of our Freebie lists.”
“Freebie lists?” Stiles rubs the bridge of his nose. “Do I even want to ask?”
“We each get five Freebies. People who aren’t likely to ever want to have sex, but, if we got the opportunity, we can go for it without the other one getting upset. You’re the only one to make both of our lists.” Malia grins. “We have opposite taste usually. She actually put Scott on hers. Ugh.” Malia makes a face.
“Yeah, well, you listed Lydia,” Kira reminds her. “Lydia’s great, but I never want to see her O face.”
“You just want to see Scott’s O face.” Malia makes a horrible face. “He probably looks like that.”
“Yet you both apparently want to see my O face?” Stiles fakes a pose, letting his mouth hang open and his eyelids flutter. “There. You’ve seen it now.”
“You’re silly,” Kira laughs, leaning up to kiss his cheek. “I know it must look a lot better than that.”
“You’ll never know. While I’m very flattered, I don’t want to have sex with you two. Thank you for considering me, though, and you’ll be the first to know if I have a change of heart.” Stiles rubs at the bite and gets Malia cooties off of it.
“That’s too bad. I’d love a chance at this,” Malia says, smacking his ass and grinning at him.
“No hitting or you’ll be forced into time out.” Stiles sometimes wonders how someone as sweet as Kira has ended up with someone as blunt and crass as Malia, but then he remembers Kira’s trickster side, and it all makes sense. “Scoot over. I need to get these started.”
Kira does scoot over, and the three of them focus on making dinner for their pack. Other pack members start wandering in closer to seven, and Stiles puts them all to work. Ethan and Danny are setting the table, Aiden’s making tea, Jordan’s getting ice and sodas for those who prefer that, Jackson is loitering behind Stiles making constipated faces, and Lydia is a taste tester making sure everything tastes good. Scott and Allison arrive last, without Tori, which means Scotty talked her out of involving her parents yet. Thank God. No awkward PILF interactions for the night is always a good thing.
“Okay?” Scott asks as he walks up and hugs Stiles from behind. He rests his chin on Stiles’ shoulder. “It’s going to take some adjustment getting used to this scent change.”
“It’ll probably fade away once I’m with the pack more,” he points out, kissing Scott’s nose before going back to crisping the tortillas.
“You think?” Scott sounds skeptical. “It doesn’t smell the same as just being around a different pack. It’s like your actual scent was altered slightly. Not majorly, just a subtle shift that emphasizes a certain thing. Speaking of that certain thing, how did that go?”
“It was good.” Stiles nods. “I’m satisfied now. No more constant vigilance mutterings from me. Promise.”
“I’m glad to hear that it went well.” Scott lets go and grins before he starts making his rounds with the rest of the pack.
Stiles finally finishes with the tortillas, and it’s time to eat. When everyone’s around the tables eating, they chat about the last few days and discuss plans for the remainder of the weekend. They finish eating at different times, and there isn’t much food leftover at all by the time Aiden eats the last taco. Stiles needs to get back to the store to buy some real groceries tomorrow, instead of just the sporadic job he did this morning.
Since Stiles, Kira, and Malia cooked dinner, they get to go relax in the living room while the rest of the pack cleans up. It’s nice to put his feet up and relax on the couch with his pack surrounding him. Once clean-up is finished, the rest of the pack gravitate into the living room. Scott sits on the couch beside Stiles, snuggling against his side and scenting him as Allison sits on Scott’s other side. Lydia is usually the one who sits to Stiles’ right, but Jackson sits there tonight and scents him, too.
“Since no one else seems to want to address the huge fucking elephant in the room, I guess I will.” Jackson looks at Stiles, face grimacing. “Why does it smell like Creepy Pete’s been in here and rubbing all up on you?”
“I smell like Creepy Pete?” Stiles gags. “Scotty, why didn’t you tell me that?!”
“You don’t smell like Creepy Pete.” Scott glares at Jackson. “You smell so much better than Creepy Pete. There’s just an underlying similarity because of, uh, you know.”
“No, we don’t know,” Danny says with a roll of his eyes. “I might not be a wolf, but even I can see how tense those with a good sniffer on them are behaving tonight. That means there must be something we need to know.”
“Stiles, why do you keep rubbing your neck?” Lydia narrows her eyes at him. “That’s a bite mark, isn’t it? Does it itch? Is it infected? Or is there another reason you keep fondling it?”
“It smells like Hales,” Aiden speaks up, shrugging when they look at him. “I met one of the cousins before. It’s similar to that. Richer, more,” he inhales deeply, “fragrant.”
“Alpha,” Ethan adds. “It smells like Hale alpha. Creepy Pete isn’t a Hale alpha.”
“You had alpha Hales here?” Jordan frowns. “Is everything alright? Do I need to call John?”
“Dad already knows,” Stiles says when he finally has a chance to speak. “I stopped by to speak to him this morning. Yes, I had visitors today, and they both happened to be Hale alphas. Talia and Derek were here.”
“Why?” Lydia arches a brow and studies him. “Does it have anything to do with that bite?”
“It has everything to do with that bite,” Stiles says. “Derek has requested permission to court me for three and a half months. I agreed to do it, after getting Scotty’s blessing.”
There’s a moment of silence then everyone starts talking at once. It’s giving Stiles a headache, and he wishes they’d just all quiet down. Lydia isn’t saying anything, at least. She’s just staring at him with this pensive expression on her face. Either Malia or Kira is asking about Derek’s looks, while Jackson is right in his ear wanting to know if Stiles is leaving town.
Allison suddenly whistles. “Enough,” she declares. “No, Stiles isn’t leaving our pack. No, he isn’t moving away. Yes, he and Derek Hale did the nasty which resulted in said bite. Yes, Derek Hale has initiated an old-fashioned courting ritual, of sorts, and Stiles agreed. Yes, Derek Hale is hot like fire and totally enamored with our Stiles. I think that’s all the questions I heard.”
Malia studies Stiles before she smiles. “Mates. That’s why you got all hot and bothered when I touched the bite,” she announces. “You and this Derek guy are mates.”
Scott rubs the back of Stiles’ head. “You’re right, Malia. It’s a mating bite. Like one of those rare only in fairytales kind of connections, you know? I called Marin after you left this morning because I wasn’t going to bother Deaton about it, and she said it’s an honor to be part of a true mate pair,” he says, the last bit directed to Stiles.
“I don’t like how it smells.” Jackson rubs himself against Stiles’ side. “It’s like Stiles but not.”
“You’re probably going to have to adjust because I really do think it might be part of the mating thing,” Scott tells him. “It’s starts really smelling good the more you scent it.”
“So, what, you’re bonded now? To some guy you met last night and had sex with?” Lydia shakes her head. “Only you, little brother.”
“Whatever. You aren’t much older than me,” he points out. “And I didn’t know a one night stand was going to result in a werewolf marriage followed by an extended courtship.”
“You did those things in reverse, I think,” Ethan says helpfully. “Love then marriage then mating bites.”
“Where’s this Derek at then? If he’s your mate, he should be here.” Aiden looks annoyed on Stiles’ behalf, which is rather sweet.
“Derek had to go back to Oregon so he can pack up his house.” Stiles drags his fingers through his hair. “He and his pack were moving here anyway, you know? But he hadn’t planned on doing it so soon. He’s got to get everything straightened out so he can come back. Also, this whole destiny soulmate thing might not even work out permanently. I was totally honest about needing love as a foundation for any relationship, regardless of how great the sex is or how gorgeous he is.”
“Not so cynical about love now, huh?” Danny teases. “I seem to remember hearing a certain asshole lecture all of us at one point or another about never settling down and doing the whole lovey dovey bullshit thing.”
“Yeah, well, fuck you,” Stiles mutters, thrusting out his bottom lip but totally not pouting because he’s way too mature to pout. “Anyway, I’m not settled down. I told him I’d agree to date him since Scott seems to think it would create some pack political nightmare if I didn’t. But in three and a half months, it’ll be over.”
“Talia Hale and I are planning to start a betting pool,” Scott mock whispers, grunting when Stiles elbows him hard in the gut. “Get with me when this one isn’t around for details.”
“Is Derek going to be attending our pack meetings?” Kira asks curiously. “He isn’t becoming part of our pack, is he? He’s an alpha with his own pack, so probably not. How does that work?”
“We don’t really know yet,” Stiles admits. “He’s going to be staying here while he and his pack rebuild the Hale compound further in the preserve, but he knows my pack comes first, and he’s said he isn’t going to interfere between me and my pack.”
“We’ll figure it all out,” Allison decides. “It’s unconventional, having a mated pair with two separate packs, but it isn’t completely unheard of, I’m sure. I figure I’ll wait to talk to my parents about it until we see how the dating goes. Stiles is just stubborn enough to refuse to fall in love just to prove himself right, after all.”
“No, I’ve already decided not to deliberately sabotage everything,” Stiles admits. “It doesn’t hurt to date someone, and the sex is phenomenal, so why not try? I might not believe in destiny and fate, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to be loved one day.”
“What if you do fall in love but he doesn’t?” Lydia is staring at him. “When you fall, you fall hard and somewhat obsessively. You could really get hurt when this is all over.”
“Nah. I’m tough, and I’ll deal with that bridge if I ever have to cross it.” Stiles gives her a crooked grin. “Besides, he does believe in the whole true mate thing, so I think he’s already halfway there. Of course, I figure I’ll be able to tell if it’s really love or him just wanting a true mate, so I wouldn’t use his belief in fate to convince him to be with me if I fall but he doesn’t. He seems like a good guy, albeit a snarky asshole, and I don’t want to hurt him or anything.”
“So, does John know about the whole werewolf married thing? Jordan arches a brow. “If not, I don’t think I’ll be the one to tell him. Just getting that out there so you know I’m not the one who tells if he finds out.”
“He knows Derek’s courting me.” Stiles nods. “I might not have used the exact words werewolf married, though. I don’t remember….but I’m thinking probably not. Alright, enough about me and my crazy life. Aiden, are you still dating that girl from the bookstore?”
The attempt to change the subject is actually successful. The pack obviously knows he’s tired of talking about it, so they let him off the hook. For now, at least. He isn’t stupid enough to figure it’ll last indefinitely. They spend a couple of hours talking and watching bad reality T.V. before people start leaving. Scott and Allison are the last, as usual, and they both hug Stiles, rubbing against his neck before taking off. He closes the door after them, locking up, then goes upstairs.
His phone is on his bed where he tossed it before his shower. He hadn’t been lying to Derek about their no phone rule, Scott and Allison the only exception due to Tori and alpha business. Picking up the phone, he sees there’s a voicemail and several text messages. Voicemail first, he decides.
“Hey Stiles. It’s me. Derek. We landed safely at the family property outside of Bend.” Derek’s voice makes Stiles smile. “Um, well, I know you’re doing pack stuff tonight. I hope you’re okay. I know this has been a lot to take in, and I’m still reeling from it, so you must be, too. Uh, yeah. Anyway. So I’ll call you tomorrow. Okay? Okay. Sweet dreams.”
Stiles’ finger hovers over the delete option, but he ends up clicking save. Then he checks his texts, and it’s random shit from Derek. Things that must have popped into his head throughout the night. Song lyrics, musings about life, snarky comments about some supernatural film his youngest sister is making him watch, all kinds of stuff. There’s even a photo of Creepy Pete with a comment about how uncle Peter really is kind of creepy now that he thinks about it. By the time Stiles has finished reading them all, he’s grinning like an idiot and his pulse is racing. Not good. He shouldn’t be this happy after reading assorted text messages from a near stranger. Not good at all. But he chooses to ignore that to reply to one of the texts from Derek.
“Sweet dreams, Derek.”