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Scent Marking For Dummies

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Stiles catches the jacket with his face.

That wouldn't be so bad really, only it's leather and is heavy enough to be made of the whole cow. "Oh my god," he says, yanking it down. "Were you raised in a barn?"

"Wear it," Derek says, and really? He should know better than to expect Stiles to hop to that tone by now.

"Uh," Stiles says. "How 'bout no."

Derek sighs like Stiles lives to infuriate him, which, in Stiles' defense, he shouldn't make it so damn easy. "Wear it or die?"

Stiles clutches at his chest. "And here I thought we were past the teeth threats," he says.

Derek opens his mouth to respond but it's Peter that gets there first. Seriously, Stiles misses the days of evil people dying and staying that way. "It's not Derek's teeth you have to worry about," he says. And really? He could at least pretend the statement isn't completely amusing, what with it being actually not amusing and all.

Everyone shares a collective frown. Except Derek who's busy looking like he's cursing the universe for his existence and Lydia, who's inspecting her nails. Stiles can't help but admire the nonchalance, given how pale she'd gone upon catching sight of Peter.

"Is Stiles in danger?" Scott asks and Stiles takes mild comfort in the fact he's death-glaring Peter as much as Stiles is. Isaac's been looking between the three of them the whole meeting, like a kid who doesn't know which parent to side with.

Derek sighs, like his life is the worst and- actually, fair call. "Stiles is the only one here that doesn't smell like Pack," he says.

Stiles gapes. "What?" He flings his hand at Lydia. "But Lydia-"

"Smells like Jackson," Derek says and Stiles can't help the way that hits him like a kick in the nuts. Jackson just compounds it by fucking preening. At least Lydia looks less than thrilled, even if she doesn't pull back when he leans into her. Fuck Stiles' life.

"Well, what about me?" Scott says. "I'm not in your Pack."

"Semantics," Peter says, smirking. "You were bitten by me."

Scott curls his lip and Stiles wishes that he could gamble one hundred percent on that win but alas.

Stiles claps his hand to Scott's shoulder, more to remind him of where he is than out of any hope of holding him back, because ha! Yeah, that'd go well. "Why is it so damn important I smell like I'm in your gang?" Stiles says, nodding to Derek. "Because no offence, dude, but siding with you tends to come with bonus bodily harm."

Derek...doesn't argue with that. Huh. He's self-aware of his epic fail, at least. "The Alphas are scouting right now," Derek bites out. "Until we know for sure what their plan is-"

"It's better to be in the fold," Stiles finishes. Right. Well. Stiles sighs. "So I'm supposed to wear your cliche leather jacket so I smell like a werewolf?"

Everyone promptly avoids his eyes. Except Peter. Who smirks. Stiles feels his stomach drop. "What?" He says, mostly to Scott who's started to- oh man, that's a blush.

"I smell like Pack because I smell like Jackson," Lydia says. "Do the math."

Stiles does, and then thrusts the jacket out to arms-length and gapes at Derek, because the crap? "What?! No!"

Derek rolls his eyes but Stiles sees the red creeping up his neck. "It's the only-"

"Scott!" Stiles says urgently. "I can wear Scott's jacket!"

"Yeah," Scott says, and Stiles has never loved him so much, even if he does look more uncomfortable than when his mom found his porn stash. "I can- we can ... do that."

"Are you going to actually have sex with him?" Peter says, having - Jesus - the time of his life. "Because that's what it's going to take."

Scott, bless his fluffy cotton soul, actually thinks about it. Stiles has the best best friend in the world. Which is probably why he can't make him do this. Also, oh god no. "Why is banging suddenly on the table?" Stiles says. "Banging was not admitted into evidence."

"I'm the Alpha," Derek says, and he's never sounded less proud of it, which is saying something. "My scent is more-" he stops, looking like he's smelled feet - week old feet. "Effective."

Stiles scoffs because, oh my god, werewolves. "So, what," he says. "You stink better?"

Derek gives him the you-have-a-death-wish look, and one day Stiles is going to be immune to that. He has a freaking dream.

"So," Scott cuts in. "Just the jacket? Will that work?"

Derek's mouth twists. "For now," he says.

"Gee wizz Skip, you gonna give me your pin too?" Stiles says, folding the jacket over his arm and studiously not thinking about how ridiculous he's going to look wearing it.

"Oh, he'll pin you all right," Jackson says. And wow. Tragically, Stiles can't help but be glad that at least one aspect of his life hasn't changed, even if it's just Jackson being a douchebag.

Two days later, Jackson's still a douchebag, only now he's a douchebag with his arm around Stiles' shoulders, what the fuck?

"Fucking hell Stilinski, calm down - you're gonna have a heart attack," Jackson says, steering them away from the lunch line towards the tables.

Stiles flinches when someone drops a tray. He feels like the freaking goat in that scene of Jurassic Park, just waiting for the t-rex to get hungry. "Which would probably be less painful than whatever it is you have planned so..."

Jackson snorts as he slams Stiles bodily past a table. Stiles only yelps a little—totally manly—when he hip-checks it. "Oh my god, what the hell is your problem?" he says.

The snarl that Jackson lets rip is a little more wolf than is probably necessary and Stiles stiffens before he's shoved into a seat next to- okay, gang's all here then. Isaac leans in—just, wow – really close actually—and claps him on the shoulder. "Stiles," he greets.

Lydia sighs across from them, like werewolf drama is so last season, even as she lets Jackson drop a kiss to her temple in greeting. It's only as Scott reaches over—clear across the freaking table—to pet Stiles awkwardly on the neck that Stiles gets what's going on. "Holy crap, are you guys scent marking me?" he hisses.

Scott goes bright freaking red and avoids his eyes which is about as much confirmation as a neon 'yes' sign. Jackson sighs like Stiles isn't fit to be stepped in. "No – we just really love rubbing up against you," he says. "Of course it's scent marking, dickwad."

Stiles splutters, slapping Isaac's hand away as he goes to fiddle with Stiles' jacket collar. Derek's jacket collar actually, and yes Stiles does look as ridiculous wearing it as he'd feared. "Why?" he asks. "I'm already practically marinating in Eau de Alpha."

Isaac shrugs. He seriously seems to be the only one not put out in the slightest with the situation. "Better safe than sorry," he says.

Stiles wonders wildly what military school would be like.

"You can't be serious," Stiles says.

Derek just grunts, like he's too cool for actual syllables and- yanks off his shirt. Because of course—of course—Derek Hale sleeps shirtless. Stiles may clutch at his computer chair a little, sue him. Derek makes himself at home of the edge of the bed—Stiles' bed—toeing off his shoes before ho boy-

"Whoa! Hey! No!" Stiles yelps and Derek's fingers pause on his belt buckle, one eyebrow lifting and Jesus Christ he looks like the beginning to angry porn. "I'm drawing the line at nudity, dude," Stiles says. "I refuse to have my first naked bed experience with another person be a creepy werewolf cootie sharing thing."

Derek just rolls his eyes and—fuck, fuck—unhooks his belt. Stiles barely stops himself from slapping a hand over his eyes like a maiden in a bad period drama because really, it's not like he doesn't see naked dudes every week in the freaking locker rooms. This is totally the same as that. Totally. Except for some reason it's so fucking not.

"It's called scent marking," Derek says, not for the first time. "And I am wearing boxers."

Boxer briefs, as Stiles finds out when Derek shucks off his jeans. Black ones, because Derek Hale can only wear clothing that matches his tormented soul or something. Derek toes out of his pants like he's auditioning for a fucking underwear commercial, all graceful bending and perfect balance. The last time Stiles undressed he nearly brained himself on the corner of his desk.

Stiles groans, and only like, seventy percent of it is at the ridiculousness of Derek's abs. "Is this really necessary?" he asks, watching as Derek tosses his clothing into the corner and stretches out on the bed. Derek. Mostly naked and on Stiles' bed. This is a world gone mad. "We-" Stiles chokes a little as Derek stretches and boy is his carpet suddenly really fascinating. "I'm already wearing practically half your wardrobe," he says. "I'm pretty sure my dad thinks I've joined a gang or something."

A Henley-wearing, leather-toting gang. The first time he caught Stiles in the jacket he'd actually snorted his morning coffee out his nose. Fun times.

"You still don't smell-"

"Like Pack," Stiles says, risking a glance up and immediately regretting it because he's seen centrefolds that are less- well, just less. "Yeah, yeah - I get it." 

Derek huffs and flips over, punching a pillow into shape. Stiles can't even gather the breath to protest the treatment of his possessions because how is a back like that even possible? Then of course his eyes dip lower and the sound he makes is not his fucking fault, okay? Because there are asses and then there's Derek's ass and Stiles is in so, so much trouble, holy god. 

"We haven't even seen this mythical Alpha Pack of yours," Stiles says, hoping like hell that Derek can't read the edge of desperation in his voice. "How do we even know-"

"They're here," Derek says, voice half muffled in the pillow. "On the edge of town. They're circling."

Well, that's not ominous at all. "Why?" Stiles says.

Derek sighs. "I don't know," he says, and he sounds tired. Tired like Stiles has never heard him before. Stiles suddenly wonders how the hell Derek even survives this shit, day to day - no break in sight. "Now shut the fuck up and go to sleep." Ah. Right. The staying power of hostility.

"You are literally the world's worst house-guest, you know that right?" Stiles says, and despite the tone, he's following the directive. Sue him, it's two in the morning and he has school. School where Isaac and Scott and freaking Jackson will be all the fuck over him, and it's tragic in a way, that Stiles is almost used to it now.

"I'm not a house-guest, I'm saving your life," Derek says.

Stiles snorts, padding over to the bed. "So you say," he says, perching gingerly on the edge and waiting for the world to end at the absurdity of he and Derek sleeping together. "For all I know this is a cunning and elaborate plan to usurp my mattress."

"You caught me," Derek says. "It's been my dream to sleep on a teenage boy's mattress. The smell of-"

"Whoa, hey," Stiles says hastily. "That's private. Turn off your nose."

Derek snorts and burrows deeper into the pillow. The same pillow that Stiles woke up this morning drooling on. Can he tell that? Is saliva something you can smell? And if so, does that mean Derek's like, ignoring it or-

"Go to sleep," Derek growls, and Stiles absolutely doesn't jump. Then, before he can think too much on it, he lies down, kicking his feet under the blankets and trying to ignore the six foot slab of werewolf mere fucking inches away.

It seriously doesn't work. 

Because apparently, understanding on an intellectual level that Derek is porn star levels of hot is one thing. Having him spread out, breathing even and deep right next to him is another animal entirely. 

Stiles feels his skin prickle, over-sensitised and too aware of the heat radiating off Derek. He's like a human space-heater. Or a werewolf space-heater, Stiles guesses. It's borderline too warm, and Stiles would regret wearing one of Derek's own long-sleeved Henleys to bed only there's no way in hell he's gonna risk that level of skin on skin contact.

"I can hear you thinking," Derek says, voice muffled. Like he's got his mouth pressed into Stiles' pillow and god.

"That isn't even a thing," Stiles says, staring at the ceiling and trying not to picture Derek's mouth somewhere his mouth has been. Derek's mouth and his mouth. In proximity. Nope. Holy shit, a world of nope.

"For fuck's sake," Derek growls, twisting around and Stiles yelps as he's man-handled over onto his side so that-

"Oh my god, what're you doing?" Stiles says, and wow – he didn't know his voice could even hit that octave. Then again he's never been spooned by Derek fucking Hale before so, live and learn.

Derek tightens his arm around Stiles' waist, pulling him back more firmly against just, like, a fucking wall of muscle. Seriously, that much definition should not even be possible. "Scent. Marking," Derek growls, and fuck his life, Stiles feels it. "How did you think this was going to go?"

"I was sorta hoping it wouldn't," Stiles says, feeling Derek's hand on his hip like a fucking brand. "I was hoping for no-going. The going wasn't supposed to be a theme."

"Go," Derek says, right in his ear. "To sleep."

"Oh my god," Stiles says weakly.

He doesn't know how long it takes, but he does eventually sleep – lulled into it by Derek's steady breathing and the utter fucking exhaustion that comes of being so on edge for so long. 

When he wakes up the next morning he's alone in his bed, and Stiles can only hope the morning wood made an appearance after Derek swooped out the fucking window like Batman.

The terrifying thing is, it gets sorta ... easy. Stiles adjusts to being petted and nudged all day – Jackson's arm around him as he steers him to Lacrosse practice; Isaac bumping up against him in chemistry like Stiles is the negative to his positive. Most evenings see the Pack gathered either at Scott's house or at Stiles', throwing popcorn at each other and bickering about who the coolest Avenger is (Spider-Man forever, bro. Scott—of course—likes Captain America and hilariously, Derek's favourite is The Hulk).

There'd only really been one awkward moment when Stiles' dad had walked in and found them all sprawled around the Stilinski living room, but Stiles thinks that probably had more to do with them watching The Emperor's New Groove than anything else. God knows Stiles' feet in Derek's lap had nothing to do with it. Just like the conversation with his dad that followed had never freaking happened. At all. No one can prove a damn thing, okay?

After some really awkward sleepless nights and one case of actually falling out of the bed, Stiles has—horror of fucking horrors—learned to sleep beside Derek without having a heart attack about it first. It helps that Derek just kinda latches onto him and switches off like a freaking light. It lets Stiles lie in the dark and adjust to his freak-outs without a super-powered audience around to count the number of beats his heart skips.

It also helps that Derek is always gone by morning – leaving Stiles to beat down his increasingly more demanding libido and wonder where his life went wrong. Because coming all over his shower wall to thoughts of Derek fucking Hale? Not cool, man. Life is plenty complicated enough without the universe deciding he needs another unrequited crush, thanks.

So all in all, it's not really surprising that by the time the Alpha Pack actually makes a move, Stiles has already half forgotten they freaking exist.

"Nice jacket."

Stiles turns around, half a chocolate bar in his mouth and tries not to choke at the full frontal assault on his hotness-radar, because wow.

"Uh," he says eloquently.

The woman smiles, all dark hair and laughing eyes, and because Stiles is a raging dork, he staggers a little as the line to the 7-Eleven counter moves forward.

"Where'd you get it?" the woman asks. There's something about the way she's looking at him that makes Stiles feel like one of those fluffy fake birds on the end of a cat toy.

"Um," Stiles says, watching as the woman—the impossibly hot and actually-talking-to-him woman—reaches out to smooth a hand down the jacket's collar. It's only when Stiles notices the nails and thinks, huh – sharp, that he gets it. And oh holy shit. "My boyfriend," he says, blurting it out loud enough that the dude behind totally-a-werewolf-holy-crap chick shoots him a dirty look.

The woman chuckles and Stiles wasn't even aware a laugh could sound that freaking sultry. "That's too bad," she says, tugging lightly at the collar. Stiles sucks in a breath and feels his heart trip over itself when she glances up and her eyes flash Alpha red. "It's very Dark Knight."

Stiles tries not to hyperventilate as she looks down at the magazine in her hand. "Oh," she says. "Silly me, I've already got this issue." And then, because Stiles has stepped into a cliche villain theatre production, she winks—actually winks—at him, dropping the magazine back on the rack before sauntering out the door.

Mother of f-

Stiles doesn't so much enter the room as crash into it, rebounding off the door and flailing sideways. Derek's response? To prove that this whole Getting To Know You musical montage they have going on travels both ways by not even looking up from the computer. Which he's on. At Stiles' desk. It's actually terrifying how not fazed Stiles is with that.

"You have a ridiculous amount of porn," Derek says.

Well, Stiles wasn't fazed with that.

Stiles strides over and slams the laptop shut. "Teenage boy," he says, like- well, it is explanation enough. He looks down to find Derek scowling up at him. This close, Stiles can see just how thoroughly Derek obviously hadn't shaved this morning, and Stiles hates that he knows that's going to itch the back of his neck like a bitch tonight. Then Derek's nostrils flare and oh damn-

Derek has him up against the wall between one blink and the next. "Why do you-"

"I was about to tell you!" Stiles protests, slapping at the wall behind him. He does it mostly to stop himself from slapping at Derek's chest because seriously, Stiles does not need even more tactile input in that arena, thanks. "Mythical Alpha Pack? Not so mythical."

Stiles sees Derek's eyes flash red a second before he- okay, yep – that's-

"This is creepy," Stiles says. "I would just like to go on record with that."

Derek breathes, hot and wet over his neck and Stiles starts desperately picturing Finstock in a thong. "She touched you," Derek says, sounding—huh—very not okay with that, actually. "I'm trying to catch her scent."

"So you can track her?" Stiles asks, fingers tightening on the cuffs of Derek's stupid Henley, and who the fuck gave them permission to do that?

"So I can kill her," Derek growls. Like, with actual snarl. Stiles can feel the vibrations.

Stiles swallows hard and tries not to shiver when Derek's nose trails up behind his ear. Can he even smell the Alpha Chick there? "Well – ah, before you go on a killing spree, I'd- oh my god, can you not?"

Derek steps back and Stiles gulps in a breath, moderately successful in ignoring how it'd taken him a second to let go of Derek's goddamn shirt. "Anyway," he says, a little desperately. "I think scary Alpha Chick may be on our side."

Derek looks like he's copped a face full of wolfsbane. "She approached a human member of a foreign Pack while they were alone," he says. "That is not the action of someone on our side."

Stiles rolls his eyes. "We're really gonna have to address this whole human/werewolf inequality bullshit, dude-"


Stiles throws his hands up. "She made a Batman reference," he says. Derek's eyebrows all but say the word, 'so?'. Stiles sets his mouth, because if he's right- man, he hopes he isn't right. "Dude, I think they have Erica and Boyd."

Derek pulls the Pack out of school. Well, Derek pulls most of the Pack out of school.

"This is such a pile of crap," Stiles growls, throwing his bag down on the desk. Lydia just rolls her eyes at him. Her pencils are already out, lined up neatly on the desk, because she's Lydia. "Just because we don't have super-Alpha-sniffing noses-"

"Yes, Stiles, talk a little louder about the werewolves running around town, " Lydia says.

Stiles snorts. "Please, if you didn't work it out, no one will."

Lydia taps the end of one pristinely sharpened pencil against her bottom lip and tips her head. It's the closest she ever comes to admitting other people are right.

"Stilinski!" Finstock barks. "You just gonna stare at your seat all day?"

Stiles rolls his eyes at the back wall and falls into his chair. Stiles sit down. Stiles go to school. Stiles get into bed and let me rub myself all over you in an entirely frustrating and non-sexual context.

Fuck everything.

Econ is a nightmare at the best of times, but when Stiles is this on edge? He's actually surprised he makes it as long as he does before copping detention.

Stiles' arms are going to fall off, no veterinary saws necessary. Aren't there laws against this shit?

"C'mon Stilinski!" Coach shouts. "My grandmother could throw harder that that!"

"Why doesn't she play then," Stiles grumbles. Coach doesn't hear him—he sorta makes sure of that—but Danny raises one eyebrow under his goalie mask.

Stiles' next catch is mostly habit. Run, step, side throw. Danny's save is stilted but serviceable. "The next time you decide to screw your knee before a championship," Stiles says, jogging into a turn in front of the goals. "Do me a favour and make sure your recovery doesn't coincide with me getting detention."

Danny snorts and passes the ball back, smooth as you fucking please. Stiles has damned people for less, but it's pretty much impossible to hate Danny.

"Step it up!" Coach yells. Stiles has absolutely no problems damning him.

Stiles circles, crouching into a starter position on the forward line for the millionth time, legs burning with it and ticks his eyes towards Coach. His reaction to the starter signal is so fucking instinctual by this point, Stiles actually breaks into the run before he realises he's looking beyond Coach, towards the tree line. Because that- oh shit.

"Stilinski!" Coach yells, "Go!"

"Stiles!" Erica screams, "Run!"

Stiles runs. So hey, points for following instructions. Just because Erica hadn't specified a direction...

He distantly hears Coach's, "What in the hell-" as he passes but doesn't stop until he's skidding in under Boyd's shoulder. What's left of Boyd's shoulder, oh god-

"Erica, what-"

A howl cuts him off, loud, unmistakable and close – oh man, way too close. Stiles looks to Erica, who's bearing up under Boyd's other arm and – see, one day Stiles is going to have a friend whose terrified face isn't so damn familiar. He sucks in a breath. "Move!" he says. "The school, go!"

"Holy god," Coach says, jogging up to them. "Is that-"

"Blood," Stiles says, pulling Boyd into a staggering – well, it's more of a stumble than a run but at least it's forward momentum. "That is a lot of blood and we need to get inside, now."

Danny's suddenly there, yanking his goalie helmet over his head. "What's going-"

"Now!" Stiles yells, and something in his voice must do the trick because they're running, Boyd staggering between him and Erica. Stiles knows the moment the Alphas break the tree-line because Coach looks back and yelps the yelp of a person who's never had a suspicious-murder-waiting-to-happen bearing down on them before.

"Keep moving!" Stiles says, words punctuated by another howl, further away than the last. Because of course the universe feels the need to up the tension from the last Alpha showdown at the school. It's like a bad video game. Just add more bosses!

The locker rooms are closest. Danny hits the doors first and Stiles practically throws Boyd—who makes a terrifyingly pained sound that Stiles is going to feel really sorry about later, he swears—into Coach. The doors slam solidly behind them, but Stiles knows the sliding lock is a fucking goner even as Danny smacks it into place.

It probably says way too much about Stiles' life that he's planned methods for barricading almost every door in the freaking school by this point.

"Back!" he yells, waving everyone away from the doors as he skids around a line of lockers. The first shove barely tips the fucking things and almost fractures Stiles' goddamn shoulder. Stiles swears just as something large and snarling hits the other side of the doors and holy god, he cannot die in the fucking boys locker rooms – that is just not a thing that can happen. Stiles backs up and braces himself for another run but then Erica's suddenly beside him, face determined and bloody and- okay, Stiles is gonna say he helps at least.

The lockers tip with a deafening screech of metal, taking a sink with them as they slam down to a jam between the door and one of the shower walls. The next ram from the other side of the doors ends with a yelp when the doors hold fast.

For a full second the five of them just stare before Coach is suddenly swinging around. "What in the hell was that?!"

"That-" Stiles stops; sucks in a breath. "That is going to be finding a way in somewhere else really soon. We gotta mo- oh my god!"

Stiles flails backwards into a locker, only for Erica to pin him up against it. "Why do you smell like Derek?" she says, and Stiles can't tell if the tone is more accusing or desperate. "I was tracking Derek."

"Whoa!" Stiles says, flinging his hands up. "That is not my fault, okay?"

"Doesn't matter." Stiles looks over to Boyd who's half collapsed against the changing bench. The dude's a man of few words at the best of times, and these ones seem to be costing him. Boyd's eyes flash gold when he looks up and Stiles can't even care that Danny and Coach probably see it. "We need to move," he says. "They're already tracking us."

Stiles nods. "I know where to go."

The trip from the locker rooms to the pool is a short one but Stiles skids along the fine edge of panic the whole way there anyway. He's done the math; timed the distances and figures they have about ten minutes, give or take, to get invisible. By then the Alphas will have found one of the secondary entrances—chem room windows or kitchen rear door are the most likely—and will be in a position to pick up their trail.

Speaking of. "Hold up," Stiles says, passing Boyd off to Coach before using his distraction to snag the keys out of Coach's jacket pocket.

"Hey! Stilin-"

Stiles doesn't think, just claps one hand over Coaches mouth and wow, if they get out of this alive he's going to have detention for the rest of ever. Also he now knows Coach fucking moisturises, oh god. Stiles grimaces. "Shut up okay? If the things chasing us hear you, we're all dead."

Coach manages to convey every nuance of his anger at that through his eyebrows alone, which would be impressive if Stiles hadn't been spending so much time with Derek. Derek is the king of eyebrows.

Stiles removes his hand and wipes it on his shorts, because Coach-mouth. But hey, at least its staying shut.

"We need to go," Erica hisses and Stiles nods, backing up.

"I know," he says. "But we're gonna need to cover our tracks too."

It takes him a couple of tries to find the right key, which has his hands shaking by the time the door pops open. He doesn't bother with lights – he's scouted this for a reason.

"Danny," he says. "Help me out here."

Danny frowns but does as he's told, because Danny's awesome like that. Between the two of them, they manage to grab six industrial-sized bottles of bleach.

They join the others back in the hall with seven minutes to spare and Stiles beelines it for Erica.


"Little help?" he says. Erica gives him a 'what the fuck' look until Stiles lifts his hand and mimes claws, stepping up close to obscure Coach's view of the bottle.

Erica gets it, bless her little werewolf heart, and Stiles almost feels bad for how much she recoils from the smell when she slashes open the bottle.

"Voila," Stiles says, grimacing as the bleach chugs out over his hands. "Insta-scent cover."

He turns and bowls the bottle down the hallway the way they'd come, bleach spraying across the floors and lockers as the thing rolls with drunken, liquid-filled lurches. "Let's go."

They pause at two hall intersections so that Stiles can lob bottles in random directions before the group veers off for the pool. Stiles tosses one bottle ahead of them and they all toe-step around puddles—which is sorta hilarious to watch actually— before spilling into the pool changing rooms.

Erica and Boyd are choking, wheezing in laboured breaths. Even though he knows it was necessary, Stiles still feels like an ass. "Sorry guys," he says, going to pet Erica on the shoulder only to recoil when she glares up at him. Sweet! No touching then. He can totally work with that because he likes his hands, thanks.

"It-" Boyd coughs, wet and kinda disgusting. He's stopped bleeding for the most part but the shaking is still going strong. "It's good. They won't find us easily in that."

"Good," Coach says. "Then we have time for someone to explain just what the hell is going on!"

Stiles opens his mouth to say- well, he actually has no fucking idea what he's going to say, but then Danny's scoffing and-

"Werewolves," Danny says, like Coach is the one who hasn't been paying attention in class for a change. Stiles feels his brain trip over itself and Danny – yep, okay, that's an eye-roll. "Seriously?" he says. "Did you think you guys were being subtle?"

Coach makes it through two stages of what appears to be his personalised brand of acceptance. Which is to say he laughs, then he yells until Erica does her grr, arg thing at him and he lapses into textbook shock. At least he's quiet. It gives Stiles time to properly panic himself.

Deep breaths. C'mon, think.

"We need help," Erica says. "Do any of you have a phone?"

Stiles shakes his head. "Mister Focus-on-the-game over there doesn't believe in cell phones on the field."

"It's a legitimate coaching strategy," Coach gripes, and Stiles doesn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed that he's recovered enough to talk.

"The office?" Boyd says.

Stiles mouth twists as Danny answers. "They started locking all the phones down after Anderson and Lochie broke into the school last year to collect call China."

"I'm now regretting voting that best senior prank," Stiles says. He's probably lying, that shit had been inspired.

"Can't you guys like, howl for help or something?" Danny says.

Boyd shakes his head. "No guarantee anyone'd be close enough to hear," he says.

"Except the Alphas," Erica says, petting along the back of Boyd's collar and Stiles files that little piece of news away for later when he's not being a freaking genius, because yes!

"Holy shit! The office!"

Everyone blinks at him and Stiles bounces. "The PA system!" he says. "We boost the signal!"

Danny frowns. "Will that work?"

Stiles grins, because ha! "It has before."

They split up, which goes against every horror-movie-loving instinct in Stiles' body but really, they have zero choice here. He's kinda seriously regretting sending Danny off with Boyd and Erica though, because in doing that, he's left himself with Coach.

"McCall," Coach says as they slip around the corner into the chem lab. "Definitely McCall. I knew that park-whore, circus crap was unnatural."

Stiles sighs. "I think you mean parkour."

"And Lahey." Coach snaps his fingers, which echoes around the room because of course it does. If this keeps up they're going to have the Alphas on them well before plan. "The kid has talent, for sure, but that throw last week was-"

The lock on the chemical cabinet is just as flimsy as the last time Stiles broke it.

"There are no werewolves on the team," Stiles says, basking slightly in the lie because hanging around werewolves makes it a freaking rare experience, okay?

"Well why not?" Coach says, frowning as Stiles shoves a bottle of sulfuric acid at him. "We have a goddamn championship coming up."

The Alphas find them just as Stiles is finishing up the third Molotov. Coach is saying something about Greenberg and how he's already dark and unnatural anyway before Stiles claps his hand over Coach's mouth because, yep. There. 

The fact Stiles can so readily recognise the sound of claws on linoleum probably says far too much about his life. Coach must hear it too because his eyes are wide when Stiles catches them, bringing his finger up in the universal signal to stay quiet. Stiles reaches for a Molotov and – well, they need a distraction. Might as well make it a big one.

"My, what big fuck-off claws you have!" Stiles yells. He doesn't wait for the roar, just lobs the cocktail, grabs Coach and bolts for the back door. The Alpha doesn't so much burst through the door as through the freaking wall, sending plaster and wood splinters across the room like they're on the set of a freaking disaster movie. Stiles has just enough time to register the grey fur and burning eyes before the Molotov hits, smashing a rolling wave of fire up and over the entire chemical cabinet and-

The wall of flame makes a whoosh noise and Stiles remembers Harris telling them about how it's due to the air around fire rapidly heating and expanding; about how elegant the process is. The sound the Alpha makes as the flames wrap around it is not elegant. It's guttural and panicked and Stiles feels his throat close up as he runs.

The heat hits him like a punch and Stiles yelps as he's yanked sideways out the door. Away from the sounds and the smell – oh god, the smell-

Stiles gags, but staggers into a run anyway. The howling has already started, the other Alphas converging on their position and they're probably gonna die but hey, if this isn't a distraction, he doesn't know what is.

They make it back to the pool without running into any of the other Alphas but also without hearing the S.O.S this whole shebang was supposed to enable.

Coach collapses a little against the balcony deck railing and Stiles has to resist making a comment about him needing to get in on the suicide runs he's so damn fond of inflicting on the team.

"I take it all back," Coach says. "No werewolves on the team."

"Well now."

Stiles spins around so fast he almost trips over a step. The voice belongs to a dude who looks like he's sauntered out of a Ralph Lauren shoot for distinguished sex gods. It's sorta tragic that that's one of the biggest indicators that he's a deranged, murderous monster. One day Stiles is going to meet a hot person that doesn't want to cause him bodily harm.

Hot crazy dude smirks. "That's just discrimination."

Stiles swallows hard. "No offence, buddy," he says. "But you're probably too old to join the high school lacrosse team."

"How about me then?" says a voice, and oh, great, Stiles was just thinking it'd been a while since he was flanked by werewolves.

Stiles shoots a look at the second werewolf. He's younger—around Stiles' age—with a jawline that would put Boyd to shame.

"Can you play offence?" Coach asks suddenly and Stiles- actually, he doesn't know if Coach's serious or not. God.

Jawsome grins, feral. "How about you tell me?"

Stiles lunges—because he's way too familiar with that tone—but Jawsome is faster, snarling as he charges. It's pure luck that Coach twists as he's hit so instead of being gutted, he's tackled. Luck that doesn't really last because there's a railing there and beyond that, it's a ten foot drop.

"Coach!" Stiles yells, catching a knee to the face trying to snag a hand, a shirt, anything as Coach and Jawsome take the tumble. But then he's being grabbed himself; grabbed and thrown and motherfucking ow.

Stiles sucks in a pained breath and scrambles back, away from scary murderous model dude, who's looking a whole lot less model-y and definitely more red-eyed and hairy now and-

The howl is fucking loud. Like, Scott's had been pretty badass, but this... Stiles is surprised the PA system handles it. Model Alpha's head snaps up like he's been punched in the chin, but Stiles can tell he can't get a beat on the direction of the call. The Beacon Hills High PA system is a snarled mess of speakers and acoustics at the best of times. Stiles was sorta counting on it.

Stiles doesn't wait for the encore. He's on his feet and running before the last echoes of the howl fade away. Just in time for Model Alpha to take up the fucking silence with a pants-shittingly terrifying roar of his own.

The plan is to cut through the gym to the back entrance across the parking lot. He makes it as far as the bleachers before he's taken down with what's probably an embarrassingly casual swipe to the ankle. It's not even sharp. Dude is fucking playing with him

At least he rolls with the fall – no broken bones this time, universe.

When he flips over, it's to find Model Alpha half shifted behind him. Dude's eyes are still glowing devil-red but his mouth is just human enough that when he speaks, it's mostly understandable. "You smell like Hale," he growls. "Did you know?"

"Really?" Stiles says, elbowing himself backwards. "That's weird - I don't even know the guy."

Model Alpha ignores him, which: rude. "Do you know what that tells me?" he says, stalking Stiles like he's something small and fluffy.

"That Derek has personal space issues?" Stiles says, butting up against the wall next to the bleachers. The control box digs into his back and Stiles flinches before freezing, because- no way. There's no way that would work.

"It means," Model Alpha says, leaning over him. "That when he gets here, he's going to come for you first."

Except he won't, Stiles knows. Because they're not together, no matter what the fuck it smells like. Derek's going to beeline it straight for Erica and Boyd and Stiles is going to be a fucking werewolf chew toy. Because of course—of fucking course—Derek's one plan to keep everyone safe by spraying eau de Pack all over the place would make them the biggest fucking target. The next time they're up against werewolves, Stiles is going to suggest sending a fruit basket with a little note attached that reads, "are you evil? Y/N".

"It means when he does, he's going to find you in pieces," Model Alpha snarls, and Stiles doesn't think – just slams his elbow back into the controls and tries not to cry out too hard at the jarring pain it sends up his arm.

There's a splintering of plastic and a crunching sound before the entire rack of bleachers shudders into movement. The Alpha looks up sharply at the noise and Stiles dives to the side, scrambling between the metal bracings and – wow, this is probably the absolute worst idea he's ever had.

Model Alpha snarls behind him, and Stiles hears the shearing noise of claws on metal which means he's taken the bait. Yay. Getting his feet under himself, Stiles runs, grabbing metal struts and all but swinging himself through the gauntlet of braces, like he's goddamn Tarzan.

He and Scott used to do this when they were juniors—race each other to the other side—before Coach had caught them once and yelled at them about becoming human pancakes.

Which is gonna be what he turns into in a moment because, holy shit, did the fucking bleachers always collapse this fast?

Stiles catches his shin on a bar and yelps but doesn't slow down. His heart's just about crashing through his ribs and it'd be loud—so loud—if the groan and crash of metal all around him weren't louder.

"Oh god, oh god, oh god," Stiles pants, throwing himself forward and he's got exactly three seconds left here before he's just gonna be a really big mess to clean up and-

Something sharp glances over the back of his neck and he falls with a yell, almost braining himself on a brace on the way down. It's luck—pure, stupid, happy, dumb luck—that sees him tip over a waist-high metal gear—one of the ones currently pulling impending death into him—to practically roll his way out the other side of the bleachers.

Stiles comes up hard against the corner wall and turns, just in time to watch as the Alpha's red eyes go wide and-

Stiles turns away, but it doesn't stop him hearing it. The sickening snap of bone and wet crunching as the Alpha's yell is cut off. Oh god. Stiles feels his stomach flip and has to lean heavily against the wall for a moment.

He can't stay though. Two down—god—at least two more to go.

Something slippery trickles down his back as he stands and Stiles pets at the back of his neck. It shouldn't surprise him at all that his hand comes back red and sticky. It also shouldn't surprise him that, when he steps clear of the collapsed bleachers, he's immediately grabbed, because his life.

He yells, yanking himself backwards but the grip on his arm stays sure – sure but not hard; not sharp. Oh-

Stiles blinks up. Up at Derek. Derek who's here. And wow, is it cold?

"You're bleeding," Derek says, and there's an urgency to the tone that Stiles should probably take note of but he's too busy swaying forward to butt his forehead down onto Derek's stupidly muscled shoulder.

It's actually ridiculous how easy it is – getting all up in Derek's business like he belongs there; letting Derek wrap one arm around his shoulders and draw him in, but fuck it. Derek's proven himself a pretty good leaning post over the last few weeks and Stiles deserves some goddamn leaning after the day he's had.

"I feel like I should be cueing Barry White."

The only reason Stiles doesn't end up sprawled all over the gym floor when Derek yanks him around, is Derek's got a hold of his wrist. A hold he uses to tug Stiles in behind him like Stiles is the love interest in a freaking supernatural teen drama. Jesus Christ.

The Alpha Derek's facing down is the same one from the 7-Eleven. She's still got the whole too-hot-for-this-smirk thing going on, which is a little out of place seeing as she has her hands up as if to reassure them she's keeping the claws under wraps.

"Down boy," she says, and Stiles absolutely does not blame Derek for snarling. Dog jokes are only ever funny when Stiles drops them, thanks. 7-Eleven rolls her eyes. "Come on now, is that any way to greet a peace offering?"

"You attacked my pack," Derek says, and Stiles feels the vibrations of his growl under his hand.

"Actually, Deucalion attacked your pack," 7-Eleven says, nodding towards the bleachers and oh, shi- "And then you killed him." -t. Stiles sucks in a breath as 7-Eleven tips her head and smiles at him, all teeth and psychopathy. "Cheers for that, by the way."

Derek's hand tightens on his wrist and Stiles doesn't know what to do other than tap lightly at Derek's shoulder, like he can Morse code a reassurance or something. Just committed murder, no biggie. Stiles' everything lurches and—oh god—it's suddenly a seriously good thing he hasn't eaten.

"You used us," Derek says, and Stiles can feel the growl under his palm. "Gave us just enough information that we'd go after him."

7-Eleven rolls her eyes. "Yes, and bang-up job you did by the way," she says. "How hard is it to track two of your own goddamn pack members? I had to set them loose myself in the end."


7-Eleven's snarl echoes around the gym and Stiles would startle except he's starting to feel like he's operating in a vat of molasses.

"I didn't sign on for this," 7-Eleven says, harshly. "I didn't ask for the bite. And I certainly didn't ask to be fucking recruited into the worlds most needlessly sadistic pack."

Really? "Because sadism has to have a reason, right?" Stiles says, and wow – this is what people mean by throbbing headache.

7-Eleven's eyes tick to his and she smiles like she's cracked him open and discovered gold inside. "I like this one," she says to Derek. "I'd keep him if I were you."

Stiles can't see Derek's face but whatever his expression does makes 7-Eleven laugh like Derek's a puppy that's performed a cute trick. It's a shame she's so evil, Stiles thinks as he sways. He could see them totally being friends. Bros, even. Werebros?

Stiles comes back to himself in time to hear Derek say, "-want you out of Beacon Hills." And the fact he's fading in and out of the conversation probably isn't a good thing. He can add it to the list, along with the tacky feeling of blood dripping down his spine and the spots starting to cloud the corners of his vision.

"Oh don't worry sweetheart," 7-Eleven says, "I'll round up the kids and be out of your hair in no time. You couldn't pay me to stay in this shit hole."

Huzzah! Mission accomplished! Danger averted! Stiles would fist pump but he's too busy passing out.

Stiles wakes up groggy but hell, he wakes up, so he's gonna go ahead and count this one as a win.

He's lying on a pillow that smells like himself and Derek, and if he takes a second to bury his face in the fucking thing and breathe, it totally doesn't make him a pathetic loser. Totally.

Also, ow.

Stiles hisses, reaching back to check the damage to his neck only to have his hand caught before he can get there.

"Don't touch," Derek says.

Stiles groans into the pillow. "Mmf'what happened?" he asks.

Derek's fingers are gentle across the back of his neck, pressing lightly at the base of his skull until Stiles takes the hint and tips his head forward a little more. 

Derek hums as he checks the...stitches? Stiles' neck pulls uncomfortably and yep, definitely stitches.

"Deaton patched you up," Derek says. "The Alpha scratched you-"

Stiles' grogginess evaporates like it's been hit by a flame-thrower. "Am I-" Jesus, he can't even say it. Because no – wow, no. There is no universe in which Stiles—medicated, jittery, self-control-failure, Stiles—would ever make a good werewolf.

"No," Derek says, pressing one warm hand over the base of Stiles' neck. Stiles realises Derek's soothing him, like he's is a skittish horse or something, and Stiles should probably not be melting into that as much as he is. Derek's thumb starts rubbing in small circles and Jesus, Stiles is totally screwed.

"It didn't go deep enough to turn you," Derek says. "Your system just went into shock."

"Oh good," Stiles says. "I feel less like the heroine in a bad period drama for passing out now." Derek snorts, and Stiles can't seem to help that it hits him somewhere low down. If he ever actually sees Derek laugh, he's pretty sure it's gonna be an emergency situation.

Stiles stretches carefully, and he's trying not to dislodge stitches, okay? This has nothing to do with Derek's hand still on his neck. At all. "Everyone else is okay?" Stiles asks, before jolting, because holy shit, "Coach! He totally-"

"He's fine," Derek says, keeping Stiles from sitting up with far too much ease. Fucking werewolves. "He's got a concussion."

Stiles frowns. "That was a drop, dude. Onto tiles."

"He landed on a werewolf," Derek says and huh. Nice. "Everyone else is good. You were the only one dumb enough to actually bait an Alpha."

Stiles snorts only for it to turn into a groan when Derek's fingers dig in, pressing at aches Stiles didn't even realise he had. "Alphas," he says, stressing the S. "I baited the pack, remember? And it totally worked."

Derek hums—Stiles can't actually tell if he's agreeing with him or not—before he pulls away and noooo. Stiles makes a noise he's intensely embarrassed about, but in his defense: massage. At least he refrains from making grabby-hands.

He turns his head to watch as Derek shifts around his room, movements easy and familiar as he closes Stiles' laptop and pushes the computer chair back under the desk. Derek's jacket—the one Stiles has been practically living in the past few weeks—is slung over the back of it. Stiles feels his throat tighten when Derek's fingers hesitate over the leather.

Stiles realises then: the Alphas are gone. Crisis averted. No more reason for Stiles to be marinating in eau de Derek.

No more oversized Henleys; no more kicking Derek when he scowls at Stiles' favourite Disney moments; no more going to sleep with breath, all hot and weirdly intimate, over the back of his neck. Awesome. It's awesome. Which is why it makes exactly zero sense for Stiles' insides to feel like they're being crushed a little right now.

Stiles watches—really, stupidly invested—as Derek taps two fingers on the collar of the jacket before- what-

Stiles sits up so sharply his head spins with it. "Derek."

Derek turns back, one hand on the windowsill and Stiles' mouth just utterly fucking fails him. Because Derek's looking at him like he always does, all douche-bag 'what the fuck, Stiles?' Only Stiles finds himself looking a little closer now, seeing the cracks in the expression for the first time because-

Because the damn jacket is still hanging over Stiles' chair, where Derek left it. Where Derek totally, deliberately left it.

"Stay," Stiles says, and he gets so many points for his voice not cracking here because he feels like he's having a fucking heart attack.

The haughty expression on Derek's face falters and it's enough—barely—that Stiles is able to scrape together every fucking ounce of courage he has and shift over on the bed.

Derek hesitates and Stiles has a full second of harsh panic—he can totally blame this on the trauma of the day, right? Right?—before Derek steps away from the window. Stiles has to bury his face in his pillow to stop himself from making a fucking mortifying noise, because this is happening, holy motherfucking shit.

The bed dips with the new weight and Stiles is so goddamn tuned into the sound of Derek shucking off his shoes he could probably tell you what order it's done in (left and then right, FYI). Stiles doesn't come up for air as Derek lies down, because apparently he's used up all his guts-points with the whole inviting Derek-into-his-bed-holy-shit thing. But Derek doesn't hesitate, just man-handles Stiles gently onto his side like he always does and slots himself up against Stiles' back.

Stiles abso-fucking-lutely does not melt back into Derek with a disgustingly contented sigh. Just like Derek totally doesn't snag Stiles' hand to thread their fingers together, oh my god.

Stiles clears his throat and tries not to break his face grinning. "I'm keeping the jacket," he says.

Derek shifts, pressing their clasped hands over Stiles' heart and it's so ridiculously sappy and totally awesome that Stiles is going to die with it.

"Go to sleep," Derek says.

Stiles does.