kyrene_writes: (TW: stiles)
[personal profile] kyrene_writes
Title: Bodies Can Be Bought But the Heart Cannot Be Owned; Only Given Freely 2|2
Author: [personal profile] kyrenekyorl
Pairings/Characters: Stiles Stilinski/Stuart Stilinski/Derek Hale, Sheriff Stilinski, Scott McCall
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 103,246


"Bodies Can Be Bought But the Heart Cannot Be Owned; Only Given Freely"
by kyrene


previous

***

Stiles was more confused than he could remember ever being before in his life.

He hadn't been able to believe Alpha Hale when she'd told him that the Hale pack was different, that Derek wouldn't hurt him despite what the human slave, Kate Argent, had done to him. It hadn't felt safe to believe her.

But now, after having met Laura Hale, and listening to her interact with Stiles' new owner....

Stiles knew there was virtually no chance that Derek had gone to the trouble of having his sister pretend to be cute and sassy and a proponent of ending human slavery in order to lull Stiles into a false sense of security; no slave would be worth that much effort.

And while he couldn't tell if a wolf was lying the way they could usually tell when a human was lying, Stiles didn't think Derek had been telling anything other than the truth when he'd explicitly said that he was against human enslavement as well.

That had... turned Stiles' world view on its head, and he needed some time to process, to try and get his brain wrapped around this completely new and shocking idea.

He had to accept the fact that he was now owned by a pack who viewed him as a living being rather than a commodity, one that assigned him value and worth simply because he existed and not because of what he could do for them... or what they could do to him.

It was more terrifying than liberating, but he had to admit that it would be something of a relief to be able to stop expecting the other shoe to drop, so to speak, to stop wondering when Derek would finally stop faking it and hurt Stiles the way all his other owners eventually had....

No, Derek really was different. And while different was always scary, in this case it might actually prove to be a good thing. Once Stiles could get himself mentally aligned with this strange new normal.

He didn't get to really enjoy what was the first movie he'd ever had a chance to sit through and watch, because his brain was spinning in circles, trying to come to grips with his new reality and what it meant for him. He didn't feel like he would ever be able to be comfortable with Derek, because Derek was a wolf, but he thought that maybe he could... trust him? A little? At least he could be relatively certain that as long as he didn't screw up too badly, Derek wouldn't use the thinnest excuse to punish him.

And he'd only known Derek for a little more than a day now. This time yesterday Stiles had been terrified, angry, and so very sure that at any moment Derek would turn on him. Now he felt... almost safe. At least as long as Laura was in the apartment, because it sounded as though Laura lived with a human who wasn't considered a slave at all. Stiles didn't know who this "Jordan" was, but if Derek was grossed out, then he was probably Laura's boyfriend or something, and if he was allergic to a fruit he had to be human. The only thing wolves were allergic to was wolfsbane.

Well, Stiles was hypothesizing about this Jordan person, but Laura and Derek had both discussed Laura's desire to abolish human slavery altogether. So Stiles couldn't be mistaken about that. And Derek had said he agreed with his older sister, that humans shouldn't be slaves.

A small, instinctive part of Stiles felt that this meant Derek didn't want him, had only brought him home because he'd had to. But the more intelligent part of him recognized that Derek liked having him here, and that he only wished that Stiles wasn't his slave; a completely different mindset.

That was an even stranger concept. Stiles wasn't used to anyone actively appreciating his presence. Kali had liked hurting him, and had kept him around for a while so she could do that. But ever since his father, Stiles had really gone without any form of a support system. He was too spastic and paranoid to really win anyone's heart, even if that hadn't been his fault. His ADHD and the bad experiences he'd had so far had made him what he was.... He'd annoyed more people than he'd ever endeared himself to.

But if he was honest, he thought that Derek actually kind of liked him, a little. He thought that Alpha Hale and Emissary Deaton had seemed tolerant of him. And Laura seemed to think he was worth getting to know. Of course, they didn't know how annoying he could be. That might change. But for right now, it was.... It felt safe. And Stiles hadn't felt safe in a very, very long time.

It was so weird that Stiles felt he'd ended up in an alternate universe of some sort. But, reaching up and tracing the scar over his eye, he knew that this was reality.

He was just living in a strange new reality that was alternately exhilarating and terrifying.

Because what if he pissed Derek off too much and he sold Stiles back to a new vendor? What if Alpha Hale decided that having a broken slave wasn't right for her son who had been tortured by a human slave? What if--

"Stiles?"

It sounded as though Derek had been trying to get his attention for a while, and Stiles startled, biting his lip so hard it hurt to remind himself that just because his new owner was evidently far more tolerant than most wolves, that didn't mean that Stiles didn't have to be vigilant and prove himself to be a valuable asset.

"Sorry," he croaked.

"It's fine," Derek assured him, smiling, and he looked heartbreakingly sweet when he did that, now that Stiles allowed himself to trust in the expression and not read it as a disguised snarl. "I was just asking you if sandwiches were all right for dinner. We can do something else if you want."

Stiles shook his head then nodded, hands twisting around his empty hot chocolate mug. "That sounds good," he said. "Do you want me to make them?"

"No." Now Derek shook his head. "We're ordering them to be delivered. No one's making dinner tonight, because Laura offered to pay."

"Even though I'm an honored guest," Laura said archly, the broad grin on her face clearly showing that she didn't mean the words to be taken seriously. Stiles thought that he... liked Laura. He'd never liked a wolf before. It was a bizarre experience, but she was a person, and she was a good person.

Stiles thought that he liked Derek too, but with Derek there was a whole range of emotions and expectations that Stiles didn't experience with Laura. Laura would eat dinner with them and then leave. Stiles had to live with Derek, and he was going to need to be whatever Derek wanted him to be.

"You're an uninvited guest," Derek sassed his sister, though he was grinning too. And it normally would have been an expression to strike fear into Stiles' heart, but he knew now that Derek wasn't really serious, that he wouldn't be attacking Laura, that he wouldn't be taking his disgruntlement out on Stiles.

"You love me," Laura said, sticking her tongue out. "You miss me when I don't visit."

"Whatever helps you sleep at night," Derek snarked. "I'm gonna go grab my laptop and place the order."

Which he did. Laura ordered a turkey and roast beef sandwich with cheddar and tomatoes. Derek got something with salami, pastrami, pepperoni, and meatballs, adding provolone and of all things sprouts. Stiles wished he could leave the ordering completely up to Derek, but even more than he wanted to leave his owner in control, he knew that Derek wanted him to make his own choice.

"Just browse the menu," Derek said, plopping the computer in Stiles' lap. It stressed him out, having something so expensive given into his hands, but he was careful not to touch anything unnecessary, and he didn't have any liquids and was sitting far enough back that he was unlikely to drop it.

Eventually, Stiles settled on chicken salad because he'd made it before but never eaten it -- aside from the tiniest taste or two to make sure he'd gotten it right -- with havarti, lettuce, tomatoes, and avocados. It felt like too much, too decadent, but Derek gave him a pleased smile when he saw the order after taking his laptop back, and Stiles was just happy that he'd done right and had been able to make Derek's eyes crinkle at the corners like that.

"Here," Derek handed his laptop over to Laura. "If you want anything else, add it. Should we get a salad to split?"

Laura wrinkled her nose. "Yeah, probably," she allowed, making the change to their group order. "If we're gonna pretend to be responsible adults. I'm getting a liter bottle of soda, even though I know you don't drink it."

Derek shrugged. "You're paying. You should get some pickles, too. And maybe a dessert."

"I'll get us each a pickle," Laura said, tapping a couple of times, then hauling out her credit card. "But this place doesn't do desserts."

"Are you kidding?" Derek leaned over and pointed at the screen. "Their cookies are amazing! Get me and Stiles each an oatmeal chocolate chip one."

"Fine," Laura sighed, sounding put upon, but she did as asked and finished placing the order. "I got myself two cookies," she informed Derek snidely, handing his laptop back to him. "All for me. And I have no intention of sharing."

Derek snorted, closing and setting his laptop on the coffee table. "It's your money."

"Damn straight," Laura shot back.

While they waited for the delivery, Laura and Derek started playing a racing game. And though they got loud and verbally violent in their competitiveness, Stiles never felt as if he was in danger. That was an odd and liberating feeling for him, and he found he was actually enjoying watching the siblings play, even though he had no desire to do so himself. Well, not against them. Maybe if he was just playing by himself....

Their meal arrived just when Laura looked as though she was about to clock Derek over the head with her controller, and the three of them repaired to the kitchen, eating around the table.

Which was a good thing, because Stiles discovered that chicken salad could get a bit messy, especially with all the extras he'd gotten.

It was delicious, though, and he ate almost half of his sandwich before his stomach told him to stop. The sandwich he'd chosen was about half the size of Derek's and Laura's, and they finished theirs, but Stiles still felt proud of himself for managing as much as he had done. Especially now that he was fairly confident he wouldn't be yelled at for wasting food.

The pickles were huge and salty and garlicky, and maybe that was part of the reason he hadn't been able to eat more of his sandwich, but Stiles had no regrets. Derek took a little of the salad, but didn't insist Stiles have any, and Laura ate what was left once her sandwich was gone, even though she bitched at Derek for not keeping ranch dressing in his fridge.

Over all, Stiles considered the dinner a success, and he didn't even really feel guilty for not having had to cook... well, not very much. It was a lot less awkward and uncomfortable than the night before, and while Stiles still thought it was strange to be seated at the same table as his owner, Laura's cheerful and irreverent presence made it seem less wrong than it otherwise would have.

Once they were done eating and putting Stiles' leftovers away, Derek brewed some of Stiles' tea from Emissary Deaton, even though he should have told Stiles to do it himself. He also doled out Stiles' supplemental pills and instructed him to take them with some water once the meal was over. They tasted gross, but Stiles did as he was told, and was a little surprised to realize that he wasn't worried they were anything other than what he'd been told they were.

Then Derek poured him a shot glass of the stuff from the ceramic jar, and it smelled a dozen times worse than the pills had tasted, and Stiles practically gagged as he got it down.

Derek's nose was wrinkled as well, and he corked the jar as quickly as possible.

"This stuff better work," he declared, and when Stiles winced, he added, "I'm not upset with you, Stiles; how could I be? I'm happy that Deaton thinks we can help you. I'm just saying that for how awful this smells, it'd better be worth it. Does it taste as bad as it smells?"

"Worse," Stiles croaked, going to the sink to rinse out the shot glass, adding a dollop of dish soap for good measure, because he knew that wolf noses would still be able to smell it otherwise.

Laura snickered.

"Yeah, you can laugh," Derek groused, pouring Stiles some soda to wash the taste out of his mouth, because his tea wasn't ready yet. It sizzled and popped on Stiles tongue and he wasn't sure he liked it. It might be an acquired taste, like coffee had been, but if Laura was right and Derek didn't drink it then Stiles might never get the chance to acquire it. He didn't feel terribly disappointed by this thought.

"You're leaving again soon," Derek continued berating his sister, mostly teasing. "You won't have to deal with smelling that stuff morning and evening."

"You have my sympathy," she said with mock earnestness. Then she tilted her head. "The tea Deaton sent smells a lot nicer, though. I think it has mint in it. And maybe some anise."

"I think so," Derek said. "And ginger. This'll be better than that crap, Stiles," he assured him, as if Stiles couldn't smell it as it steeped. Well, Derek had enhanced senses, he'd never been a human, so he had no frame of reference as to what humans could and couldn't smell.

It felt new and unusual, being in a kitchen with a couple of wolves and feeling safer and more domestic than he had since before his mother had died... but Stiles thought that he liked it. Or, that he could grow to like it, once he got used to it.

After his tea was ready, Laura made some more of her own that she had brought with her, and Derek grabbed another water, then they returned to the living room to watch the sequel to the movie they'd watched earlier. This time Stiles was better able to focus, and he let himself get pulled into the story as it unfolded on the screen. Derek had a really big television, and so the action scenes were suitably impressive.

"This one is actually better than the first one," Derek told Stiles during a lull in the noise and music, and his eyes did that crinkling-at-the-corners thing even though he wasn't quite smiling. It reminded Stiles a little of his Dad, even though Derek looked nothing like the man, and he felt even more settled. The tea was soothing his throat and chasing the nasty taste of the medicine he'd swallowed earlier out of his mouth, and he had a giant plastic-wrapped cookie sitting on his knee, just waiting to be eaten.

"The first one has more raw intention, though," Laura put in, even though Derek hadn't been talking to her. Not that Stiles had felt like he had anything to add. Especially since he'd missed pretty much all the first movie. "This is more polished, but that detracts from the delivery of its message."

Derek snorted. "Things blow up. I'm not watching this to get a message. I just want to be entertained."

Laura groaned in disgust and the siblings started squabbling, quietly. Stiles turned his attention back to the screen, because he wanted to see how the movie went, and because he didn't think that they would mind if he didn't engage. His wasn't an informed opinion, anyway, and so anything he might have added would have been fairly inane.

Once his tea was gone, Stiles carefully unwrapped just a part of the edge of his cookie and nibbled on it. It was one of the most amazing things he'd ever put in his mouth, and he wished he had more room, so he could eat more of it. He'd had sugar and chocolate before, but only in small amounts and not since he'd been tiny. It was a novel experience, to realize that this entire cookie was for him, and he basked in it. If he wanted to, he could have more of it in the middle of the night... in the morning... after dinner tomorrow....

Eventually Derek and Laura quieted down and they finished watching the movie in peace. Stiles thought they looked cute, curled next to each other on the sofa, casually touching one another, but he felt safer on the loveseat alone, and he didn't think he was ready, yet, to join in the cuddles.

Outside of Derek's bed, evidently.

That had been a deviation from Stiles' normal life experiences, and he felt like it should have felt more wrong than it did... but, then, Emissary Deaton had said to follow his instincts where that was concerned. Stiles was uncertain, but he couldn't deny that he had slept, while being held in Derek's arms.

"All right, I guess I'd better head out," Laura said, standing and stretching once the movie's ending credits begin rolling. "It's been great, but I know I'm intruding during a delicate time."

Derek grumbled but didn't argue with her, and Stiles was torn. It had been nice having her here, but he knew that Derek would feel better once she was gone. And anything that made his owner more comfortable made Stiles feel more comfortable too.

They cleaned up the mugs and detritus, and Stiles put the rest of his cookie in the breadbox on the counter, because that seemed like the right place for it to be, after making sure it was carefully wrapped back up, of course.

He wasn't sure if he should follow them to the door. He hadn't when Derek had seen his mother off the night before, but it seemed different with Laura, and so he trailed behind Derek, ready to dart back into the living room if they chased him off. They didn't and Laura smiled at him as she grabbed her jacket off the coat rack, so it must be okay.

After dinner Laura had only eaten one of her cookies and she shoved the other in her jacket pocket now. Stiles wondered if it was for this Jordan of hers, or if she was just going to eat it later. Not that it was any of his business, either way.

Once she was ready to go, Laura turned to Stiles and gave him an intent look, her full lips curved up in a gentle smile and her eyes crinkling at the corners in the same way Derek's did.

"Stiles," she said, addressing him directly, "I'm going to ask you a question, and I swear to you it's okay if the answer is no, all right?"

Stiles blinked, feeling nerves coil in the base of his stomach, even though he had come to sort of trust Laura. She was a wolf, but she was also a good person. One who was fighting for human freedom, unless both she and Derek had completely bamboozled Stiles for reasons of their own. Stiles thought it was more likely that she was what she said she was. Laura was just nice.

And that was why he didn't completely freak out when she asked her question.

"Can I give you a hug goodbye?"

Stiles tensed, but not as much as Derek did. "Laura," he growled, his eyes flashing so quickly that Stiles almost missed seeing it.

"Oh, knock it off, Derek," she instructed, sounding exasperated. "As if you're not practically doing the pee-pee dance so you can take and mark Stiles as soon as the door closes behind me. I think you can spare me one moment of hugging Stiles, if he'll let me."

"Laura!" Derek sounded physically pained, enough so that Stiles felt bad for him, even though his distress was surely mostly mental and emotional. "Shut up!"

"It's true and you know it," she shot back, then she turned her attention to Stiles, and she waited patiently for his answer, giving him the time he needed to mull it over.

Stiles glanced at Derek, and he still looked a little upset, but he waved a hand at Stiles.

"It's okay," he said, and it almost sounded like he meant it. "None of us know when we're going to see each other again, so if you like Laura enough to hug her, now would be the time to do it. But like she said, it's okay if you don't, too."

"Hug me, that is," Laura added, winking at Stiles. "Because I already know you like me."

Stiles ducked his head, feeling shy all of a sudden, but he... kind of did want to hug Laura goodbye. Especially if it might be a while until they met again.

"Okay," he whispered, stepping forward, and he couldn't bring himself to reach out, but he did put his arms around her lightly when she tugged him in and gave him a careful but warm embrace.

"You're pretty awesome, Stiles," she told him, letting go before he became uncomfortable. "Take care of my brother, but let him take care of you too, okay? Because he needs both."

Derek gave vent to an aggravated sigh, but then Laura swooped in and hugged him far tighter and longer than she had hugged Stiles. "You're awesome too, Derek," she whispered. "Don't ever forget that." And Derek hugged her back, just as tightly.

"Get my email from Derek and contact me if you have any questions, or if you just wanna shit-talk about my brother," Laura told Stiles, and he was pretty sure she was joking about that last part.... Then she was gone, out the door, and the apartment suddenly seemed a lot quieter.

And then Derek proved the truth of Laura's earlier, teasing statements, as he grabbed Stiles and basically dragged him into the bathroom.

Stiles' instincts and deeply ingrained sense of self preservation urged him to panic, but he was still swimming in the sensation of safety and home that Laura and Derek together had put him in, and by the time his heart began to race he was able to tell himself logically that Derek wasn't planning to do anything that would hurt him, and he was actually able to almost entirely believe this.

It was a fact, because even though Derek manhandled him a bit he didn't do anything that was in any danger of damaging Stiles. They got into the shower stall, but Stiles didn't manage to shed any of his clothes before Derek was whipping his dick out and showering him with a veritable flood of hot urine. Well, clothing washed. Derek had to overwrite his sister's scent, especially after she had hugged Stiles, and he'd probably been holding it for a long time, after drinking a lot of water, tea, and hot chocolate before, during, and after dinner.

Stiles didn't find the wet clothes very nice as they clung to his body, and this time Derek got his hair as well as his torso -- though he managed to mostly avoid his face -- but once he was finished he carefully helped Stiles strip, got himself undressed as well, and then they both showered.

Stiles thought with mild amusement that he was growing more familiar with the inside of the shower stall than he was anywhere else in the apartment. But that was okay; he was grateful that Derek wasn't making him go to bed reeking of his piss. Stiles wouldn't have minded a lot... but he was still kind of glad.

Derek didn't bother with soap, really just mostly getting the two of them rinsed off, and then they were both wrapped in fluffy towels and Derek dumped Stiles' soiled clothing in the hamper.

"Can I get you a shirt of mine to wear to bed?" he asked, brows twisting anxiously up in the middle. "And maybe a pair of boxers?"

Honestly, Stiles was a little surprised that Derek wasn't ordering him to sleep in his bed with him tonight... and maybe a little disappointed? No, that couldn't be.

"Okay," he agreed, feeling ridiculously warm inside when this brought a pleased look to Derek's face. Since when did he want to make his owner happy just to make him happy, rather than as a matter of self preservation?

Well, Derek Hale was a complicated wolf. It was only natural that Stiles have complicated feelings toward him.

So he wore Derek's shirt and boxers and only felt a little bit strange about it. It had been late by the time Laura had left, and Derek declared that it was time for them to go to bed and sleep.

"Come here, just a second," he said roughly, pausing outside the door to the room that was Stiles' and his alone.

Stiles stood still as Derek palmed the back of his head, fingers sinking into his wet hair, and pressed his lips against Stiles' temple. It wasn't a kiss, not really, just a scenting gesture, and it didn't make Stiles feel uncomfortable. That in itself disconcerted him a little, but he let it go.

"Let's be up around eight," Derek said, stepping back and letting go of Stiles. "There's no point in being off of work if I can't sleep in, right?"

Stiles nodded, even though he knew he probably wouldn't be doing much sleeping himself. Maybe the pendant Emissary Deaton had given him would work, but he kind of doubted it.

Stiles had taken the time to put his clothes away earlier, after their morning nap and before heading out for his appointment with Emissary Deaton, but he had his new tablet to mess around with, so he sat on the edge of his bed with it in hand.

It terrified him, opening the box and pulling the thin rectangle out. Someone -- most likely Emissary Deaton, since he'd programmed things into it -- had already broken the tape seal or else Stiles probably would have balked.... Partially because he had no nails to speak of, but also because he felt it was in some way symbolic.

He'd never before been entrusted with something this expensive that was meant to belong to him alone. Even though he believed Derek when he said that every Hale slave owned one -- the Hale pack was large and wealthy -- it still made something nervous twist in his belly.

But it was his, and it was pretty amazing. He couldn't get online, because he didn't have Derek's wireless password yet, but there were things to play with on it. He put the sandwich and pickle and cookie that he'd eaten in the meal spreadsheet, even though he had no real intention of sharing that with Emissary Deaton.

Then he discovered that his tablet had Solitaire built in.

That kept him occupied for what felt like minutes but was probably closer to an hour, and then eventually he plugged it in, letting it charge while he turned his attention to the other things in the bag.

He put the bottle of pills meant to quell his panic attacks in the top drawer of his dresser, where he'd placed the socks and underwear Alpha Hale had had sent. He didn't like the reminder that they might be necessary, so he wanted them out of sight but easy enough to get to.

The pendant he tucked under his pillow. He knew he ought to hang it around his neck, but he would have felt weird wearing that with Derek's shirt. It was sure to smell like Emissary Deaton, and he should be doing what he could to maintain the scent of his owner that Derek had worked so hard to get all over him.

Finally, he turned his attention to the sexual lubricant Emissary Deaton had sent him. He hadn't been embarrassed when he'd pulled it out of the bag, even though Laura had been amused, but he was a little embarrassed to think about that fact that he didn't really need it....

Well, he had stopped jerking off in large part because he had been constantly frightened for his life. And now, somehow, he could admit to himself that he felt safe here in Derek's apartment. It was a completely bizarre situation he had found himself in, but watching Derek and Laura interact tonight had... well, it had completely convinced him that he was going to be okay here.

Now the only thing he had to do was to make sure that he didn't fuck up badly enough to get himself sold away from Derek's ownership. He needed to be good for Derek; not to avoid punishment, but to avoid losing this safe new home that he'd somehow found himself in.

Stiles pondered where to put the lube. Eventually he decided that since he didn't need it now, he could put it in the drawer along with his pills. If at some point in his new, safe home he felt like he could get sexually aroused again, he'd be able to pull it out and put it closer to the bed. He'd never used actual lube before, back when he'd still been able to jerk off. He'd usually used saliva, because lotions and conditioner had scents that his wolf owners would be able to smell, and those were things that were off limit for mere slaves.

But, anyway. Stiles padded over and clicked the light off, then climbed into his bed and curled up under the covers. He'd put the comforter back on when he'd put his clothes away, and he now felt a little silly for spending the night in the corner, but at the time he hadn't known he was safe with Derek.

His comforter was nice, he thought as he tucked it close around his chin, and felt the sheets warm to his body heat, but it wasn't as nice as the eiderdown comforter on Derek's bed.

Well, Derek hadn't invited him to his bed. Maybe it was okay to share while they were napping, but not for an entire night. That was okay. Stiles felt safe now, but he was pretty sure it would be an awful idea to try to sleep with Derek. Considering the nightmares he suffered from, and the way he tended to wiggle around and kick and flail. He'd remained still during their two naps, held close in Derek's arms, but that had most likely been a matter of his being exhausted both times, Stiles thought.

After laying there slightly drowsy but unable to fall asleep for what felt like hours, Stiles sighed and pulled the pendant out after all, slinging it around his neck and then huddling under the covers again.

He did drift off a few times during the night, but he was up by six, despite Derek's plan that they sleep in, poking around on his tablet again.

A knock startled him, but he felt something in his chest unwind, as though he'd almost been expecting it. He hoped he hadn't woken Derek; he'd tried super hard to be quiet as he moved around.

He opened the door and Derek looked tired but hopeful, and he smiled at Stiles as if he was happy to see him.

"Do you want to watch me start the coffee so you know how to use the machine?" he offered, scratching at his messy hair and looking way too adorable for a big bad wolf, in his tank and pajama bottoms, with his huge muscles and the dark fuzz on his chest and forearms.

Stiles nodded, charmed despite himself, and followed Derek into the kitchen, barefoot and shivering a little, but unwilling to don clothing that didn't smell like Derek.

He felt like his skin still smelled salty and a little bitter from when Derek had pissed on him the night before, even though that was probably his imagination. Well, Derek could undoubtedly smell it on him, but Stiles figured he probably couldn't with his human senses. He thought that he liked it, though.

The coffeemaker was simple enough and Stiles was pretty sure he could have made them a pot without any direction, but he still hung back and watched closely as Derek walked him through the steps.

"How did you sleep?" Derek asked hesitantly, once the coffee was brewing.

Stiles shrugged, not wanting to say that he couldn't sleep, but Derek nodded as though he'd replied and grimaced.

"Me either," he confessed, then yawned. "How about a nap a little later?"

And that was what they did, after they'd had coffee and breakfast and Stiles had downed more of that disgusting medicine from Emissary Deaton and then drunk some tea.

Once they were curled together on Derek's comfy bed, Stiles felt his lids grow heavy, and before he knew it he was sound asleep. Maybe this wasn't as strange as it seemed, but he still felt that it was pretty weird.

During the next three days, though, their lives continued in this weirdness, falling into an odd sort of pattern.

They each spent largely sleepless nights, each in his own bedroom. They emerged, had some coffee, Derek worked out and Stiles worked out lightly -- because Emissary Deaton had emailed both of them that it would be a good idea, and because Stiles was used to being far more active than he had been recently -- then Derek marked Stiles and they showered together. Stiles made breakfast, often with Derek's help, and then once it was eaten they went together into Derek's room and took a long nap, curled up in his bed.

Stiles wasn't sure doing so was a good idea, but Dr. Deaton had told him to do what his instincts told him felt right... and it was nice to actually get some sleep for a change. Since they weren't sleeping at night, it was good to get some sleep at all.

Things were going so smoothly that Stiles had almost lost his fear that he was going to somehow screw up. So, naturally, that was when he screwed up.

Despite Derek's assurance that at some point he would take Stiles out to choose his own clothing, Stiles had zero desire to leave the apartment. Derek complained that Stiles' bedroom was bare, but Stiles couldn't have bought anything for himself even if Derek had put money in his hand and ordered him to spend it on no one else.

But Derek couldn't remain in the apartment like a hermit, even though he was getting the majority of his groceries delivered and his alpha was making sure that all of their basic needs were being taken care of.

On the fourth full day that Stiles had been there, Derek needed to go in to the office, because even though he had more than a week off yet some stuff had come up that his uncle said he was essential for.

Derek grumbled on his way out the door that Peter was full of shit, but he went. And then, for the first time, Stiles was alone in the apartment.

The first thing he did was look for cleaning supplies. He found some in the hall closet, though nothing like what he was used to. Well, Derek had been living alone, so maybe he didn't keep all the solutions and tools necessary for a real, deep cleaning.

Stiles had good intentions, he really did. But he'd actually sort of forgotten that he was also super clumsy. And the sides of the sunken bathtub were awfully slippery when they were coated in bleach.

Stiles went down hard, banging his head and biting his lip deeply enough to bleed, but he barely noticed because his hip, his ribs, and his upper arm all hit the stairs at various levels with enough force to almost have him in tears. He knew he would bruise, he was going to ache for days, and he just curled up for a while, trying not to cry, as much with frustration over his own stupidity and carelessness as from the pain.

Once he could move again cleaning was no longer an option, even though he'd only just started. He rinsed the bathtub as best he could, changed out of his bleach-stinking clothes, took a hot shower as much to loosen his muscles as to hopefully remove any scent of bleach that might have made it to his skin, and then dressed in a fluffy sweater that Derek had told him he could wear whenever he wanted, a pair of sweatpants, and some fuzzy socks. Then he curled up on the sofa where Derek usually sat, breathing in the scent that clung to the cushions, taking comfort in it even though Derek wasn't here.

He made sure to be up and moving by the time Derek got home, though, putting lunch together for them in the kitchen. He tried so hard to move naturally, as Derek entered -- complaining about Peter some more and how he hadn't really needed to be there -- tried so hard not to let on how gimpy he felt, but he should have known Derek would figure it out. Hell, he probably smelled the pain on Stiles the moment he stopped talking.

"Stiles, come here." Derek directed, from where he had seated himself on one of the chairs by the table, facing toward the rest of the kitchen and Stiles.

Stiles obeyed, because what else was he going to do? Derek lowered him onto the chair next to his, turned so that it was facing him, their knees bumping, then wrapped a large hand around Stiles' wrist.

For a confused moment Stiles thought Derek was just marking him with his scent after having been gone for hours, but in another moment dark veins were twisting up Derek's forearm, under his skin, and Stiles tried to yank his arm back, shocked and appalled. Derek didn't let go, holding on carefully but tightly enough that the weaker human couldn't escape.

"What's that?" Stiles blurted, even though he'd always tried not to question anything any of his owners had ever done. He was pretty sure by now that Derek wasn't going to punish him for speaking out of turn, but habits developed in pursuit of survival died hard.

Derek frowned. "You're hurt," wasn't a reply to Stiles' question, but it was what he said, "How did you hurt yourself?"

"What are you doing?" Stiles repeated, twisting and pulling at his wrist, and after a moment Derek let go. He frowned, but he didn't... look angry at Stiles?

"I was taking your pain, draining it," Derek finally explained, matter-of-factly. He even gave a little shrug.

Stiles was aware that his mouth was hanging open, but he couldn't close his jaw. That was... he'd never known a wolf could do something like that! That was weird and kind of awesome. But....

"You shouldn't take any of my pain," he told Derek as firmly as he was able. After all, it had been his own clumsiness that had resulted in his bruises. Derek was in no way responsible, and he was Stiles' owner.

That was surely why Stiles hadn't even known this was an ability that wolves had; none of his previous owners would have even thought to take a slave's pain. They were more likely to be the ones causing the pain.

"So what happened?" Derek asked, his brows rising and crinkling in the middle in a way that Stiles hated to acknowledge as adorable, clearly worried.

"I was trying to clean," Stiles confessed, because keeping things from Derek could only end badly, "And I slipped. I'm sorry."

"Cleaning?" Derek questioned, reaching out again and taking Stiles' wrist. Stiles watched in fascination as the black veins tracked up Derek's arm again, and he felt bad, but he also felt amazingly better as the pain left his body. It was a little floaty, but so much better than how he had felt before.

"What were you cleaning?" Derek asked, and Stiles was so captivated that he almost missed hearing him. "Did something happen? Was there a spill or something?"

"No, I was just." He waved his free hand vaguely, feeling as though his tongue was being loosened up by what Derek was doing, making it easier for him to communicate when normally he would have been as close-lipped as possible. "You know, cleaning. Things. I need to... that should be one of my chores, right?"

Derek was shaking his head by the time Stiles was done talking, and he had stopped draining his pain but he didn't let go of Stiles' wrist.

"Stiles, no, you don't need to do that. I have a cleaning service that comes in every other week; I don't need them more often than that because it doesn't get very messy here. Those supplies that you found are for spot cleaning, for emergencies."

"Oh...." Stiles supposed he shouldn't be surprised by this, but he wondered what he was supposed to do with himself once Derek went back to work, if he wasn't meant to keep the place clean.

Derek's thumb was smoothing back and forth over Stiles' pulse point and for some reason it felt soothing and he didn't want to pull his hand away. It felt good to be held onto so gently. It had been so long since he'd been touched in a way that wasn't meant to cause pain. Hell, Derek had actually taken away Stiles' pain rather than causing him more.

"What about laundry?" he asked, because if Derek had someone clean his apartment, then maybe Stiles wasn't meant to do that either,

"I send the laundry out once a month," Derek replied, not unexpectedly. "That's why I have so many clothes, towels, and bedsheets. You don't need to do any washing."

Stiles glanced over at the dishwasher he'd realized Derek owned at some point during his third day here, when he wasn't so panicked about everything.

"You can keep doing dishes by hand if you want," Derek said, reading his thoughts easily enough. "But I'd be just as happy if you rinsed things and put them in there. Whatever you want, okay?"

Stiles nodded, wondering if at some point in the future he could talk Derek into doing away with the cleaning service. Maybe once he healed and wasn't sporting the bruises from his disastrous attempts at cleaning today. He had to try, because he was going to need something to do.

He'd let the laundry service stand, though. He really wasn't very good with washing machines and dryers. He'd be just as happy to let someone else do that.

Happy. Stiles realized with an internal start that he was happy here. Something he'd never thought he'd feel again after being sold away from his father. He was happy and it was pretty much entirely due to Derek, because of Derek.

And for the first time ever, Stiles smiled at Derek and he meant it.

***

Stiles smiled at Derek and it took Derek's breath away. This was the first time he had seen Stiles smile, and it was a real smile.

Something inside Derek broke wide open, but that was a good thing because it was something that had felt blocked ever since what Kate had done to him. He found he was smiling back without any reservations, just so pleased that Stiles was happy enough to smile.

He did still feel bad, though, that Stiles had hurt himself. Now that he was looking for it, Derek could see the bruising at Stiles' hairline, the pale skin already purpling over a slight swelling, and he felt the overwhelming need to find out what other damage there was.

"Do you need to go to see Deaton?" he asked. Draining another being's pain wasn't an exact science, but he thought that Stiles had been experiencing more pain than if he'd just bumped his knee or something. Well, completely aside from the bruise on his head -- and Derek still wondered how he'd managed that, even though Deaton had warned him that Stiles' ADHD in combination with his teenage body still growing would probably make him clumsy -- and the scent of pain wafting off of him, Derek had seen that he'd been moving stiffly while making their lunch.

Stiles shook his head. "No," he replied, and Derek listened for the lie, but there was none in his voice as he continued, "Nothing's broken, just banged up."

Derek grimaced, upset over the implication that Stiles would know if he had broken bones due to previous experiences. "Stand up," he urged, rising off his chair as well.

Stiles stood easily enough, since Derek had relieved him of most of the pain he'd been feeling, and he didn't resist when Derek stripped off the sweater he was wearing.

He did flinch when Derek hissed, seeing the deep bruising on his ribcage and his left arm. That was going to hurt for a while, Derek knew. He hated that humans took so long to heal, but it was just part of being human and he couldn't change that. Even if Stiles had wanted to become a werewolf -- something that Derek doubted -- Derek's mother wouldn't be able to give him the bite; not without a very good reason.

As much as it was frowned upon for alphas to bite humans, and no matter that the resulting bitten werewolves were usually socially shunned even if they'd been given no choice in the matter, sometimes it was allowed. If, say, a beloved slave was in such ill health that they were in danger of death and all the right papers were signed, with at least two doctors attesting that the bite was the only chance the human had for survival.

But such things were rare, not least of all because very few valued their human slaves enough to make the effort, and Derek didn't think Stiles wanted to be anything other than human, slow healing and all.

"You're sure it's not broken?" he asked, palming Stiles' ribs, then carefully testing his arm. Since he'd drained Stiles' pain he was able to do so, but he knew that those spots were going to be sore for days. Well, he'd just have to keep draining Stiles' pain, then.

"I'm sure," Stiles rasped confidently, and Derek was no expert but he hadn't felt anything move or give under his hands, so he reluctantly concluded that Stiles was probably right.

"All right," Derek sighed, reaching for the sweater, pleased to note that it was one of his. Then he paused. "What about...." He waved a hand toward the waistband of Stiles' pajama bottoms.

Stiles' wide mouth curved down, but he obediently tugged down the elastic on his left side, exposing a sharp hipbone and the bruising there as well.

He'd begun putting weight back on, Derek thought distractedly, feeling the hot flesh, knowing that it was less likely that Stiles had broken his hip than cracked a rib and, anyway, Derek wouldn't be able to tell by touching it, but somehow just feeling better for being able to cover up the damage with his hand for a moment. It was also nice to feel that Stiles was growing more sturdy, to know that sticking to the meal plan Deaton had sent and being in a safe, caring environment were doing Stiles so much good.

Stiles still had a ways to go, Derek thought, but he was already looking like a completely different person than the angry, terrified slave that Derek had brought home. He was well on his way to being healthy, he was contented, and he was pretty enough to distract Derek at random times during the day.

That last was a relatively new development, and Derek was doing his best to ignore it for now. Stiles was in his care. The very last thing the boy needed was to be taken advantage of in any way. Not that Derek noticing how red and lush his lips were translated to his doing anything about it, but it skirted dangerously close to a line that Derek had very definitively drawn for himself.

Speaking of Stiles' lips, Derek could see a scab where he had bitten it, and he sighed. The poor kid had only been trying to help, attempting to keep himself busy. He'd have to think of ways Stiles could do so that wouldn't result in personal injury. Maybe he'd turn the online grocery shopping over to him. That was only one small chore, though. He should really talk to his mother about this. Maybe he'd call her later.

"Can I...?"

"Oh, right." Derek pulled his hand back and after Stiles had restored his pants to where they were supposed to be, he carefully tugged the sweater back on over the boy's head, the same as he'd taken it off. "Sorry."

Stiles gave him a look that was almost a smile and Derek's heart pounded once, hard and painful in his chest. "Don't say sorry," he said huskily, because Deaton's medication didn't seem to be working yet, but Derek held out hope since it had only been a few days. "There's nothing to be sorry for when you made the pain go away."

Derek smiled and leaned in to press his lips to Stiles' temple, on the side that wasn't bruised, then asked, "I know you feel better now that I took the pain, but can I help you make lunch?"

Just a couple of days ago Stiles would have either panicked at the mere suggestion or judged Derek for feeling as though he had to ask, Derek thought, but they were making progress, because all Stiles did was nod. Then, in a move that stunned Derek, though he tried not to show it because he didn't want to spook the boy, Stiles reached up and pressed the palm of his right hand against the side of Derek's neck. Offering him comfort through his scent in a way that usually only werewolves were aware of.

Well, Stiles had been accepting these sorts of touches from Derek with good grace for the last three days. And he was clearly bright and picked things up quickly. It was hardly surprising that he'd known to make that move.

Even though it had surprised Derek, at least a little. Largely due to the boldness of it. That was more good than bad and it gave Derek even more reason to hope that Stiles trusted him and didn't fear him any longer.

Another werewolf would have found the move to be threatening and they would never have stood for it from a human slave. But Derek had been born a beta, he was in the middle of a large family, and most importantly, he didn't feel that he was in any way superior to Stiles. They were both survivors, though of different horrors. He knew that Stiles was smart, possibly smarter than him, and he didn't hold that werewolves were for some reason just "better" due to their enhanced abilities.

Hell, if not for an accident of his birth, Derek could just as easily been born human. And Stiles could have been born a werewolf. As far as Derek was concerned, life was a lottery; as though the universe had put some dice in a cup and shaken it up. He considered that he was lucky he was a werewolf and not a human slave, but this was nothing that he ascribed as a personal accomplishment, and it wasn't anything that he took for granted.

Additionally, there was the fact that he wanted Stiles to mark him the way he marked Stiles. He wanted to smell of the boy the same way Stiles smelled of Derek. And hands touching body parts wasn't as powerful an act as urinating on someone, but it was definitely better than just sharing space and mingling their scents that way.

Derek did his best not to show any of this in his face, not the surprise and not even his pleasure, because that might put Stiles off. He just gave the boy a small smile, and then they got to work on lunch.

Once they were done both cooking and eating, when Derek could smell that Stiles was staring to grow uncomfortable again, he drained his pain and they left the dishes in the sink so that they could both go and curl up on his bed and get some sleep, since Derek had been gone most of the morning,

Their stomachs full, Stiles smelling of Derek, Derek smelling of Stiles, and Stiles' pain drained to the point that he was clearly a little fuzzy around the edges, they both should have been able to sleep with no problem. And Stiles did drift off right away.

Derek, however, had more of a problem.

Leaving the apartment and going in to the office had set him on edge and he had yet to recover from that. He'd had to deal with people, and he'd been reminded of how much he hated leaving this little cocoon he and Stiles had going on. Also, Peter was making noises about visiting, and while Derek was grateful that his uncle wasn't just showing up on his doorstep without warning, he didn't really want Peter here.

Peter had been present when Derek had gotten Stiles. He'd seen Stiles at his worst. He was interested in seeing Stiles now that he was on the mend. But Derek didn't feel like sharing. He also didn't want Stiles to be reminded of how his life had been less than a week ago. And to be honest, he just didn't like it when Peter visited. Peter always looked like he was judging Derek, even though he'd been the one to help choose the apartment and he'd picked out most of its furnishings.

Well, if even Derek's mother and Deaton hadn't asked to come over, Derek felt he could put Peter off for a while longer. He still had ten days of vacation left, and everyone knew that he'd need at least a few more days to fully incorporate Stiles into his life....

Although, Derek mused, nuzzling the soft skin behind one of Stiles' ears, letting himself pet the soft sweater over the boy's slowly beating heart, he already couldn't imagine his life without Stiles in it. He was pretty sure that he didn't actually need more bonding time with Stiles; they were already bonded.

But he wasn't about to share that with Peter.

His mother already knew or guessed, Derek thought, shifting just a little closer where he was already quite effectively spooning Stiles' lanky body. And Laura had been able to tell. But that just wasn't information that Peter needed to be in possession of.

Derek loved his uncle, deeply. He did. Peter had saved him from Kate, and he was sure that Peter cared about him a great deal. But he didn't make the mistake of trusting his uncle. Peter loved his family, Derek knew, but he was selfish and self-involved, and he clashed with his older sister and alpha as often as he supported her.

Family meant you could love someone without always liking them a lot, Derek mused with a wry twist to his lips. Sometimes Peter was awesome and understanding, but other times he was obnoxious and overbearing, and it was kind of exhausting dealing with him on a regular basis, the way Derek did during a normal work week.

Peter wasn't here now, though, so Derek shouldn't let thoughts of his uncle bother him. And normally he didn't mind going in to work at all, but right now he'd so much rather be here in his apartment with Stiles.

Which was where he was. Derek sighed, because he was warm and comfortable with Stiles tucked into the curve of his body, their scents mingled on Stiles' skin and Derek's skin as well, and Stiles wasn't afraid of him anymore. Derek ought to be feeling completely contented. Except for the part where Stiles had fallen and hurt himself, things really couldn't be going better.

Especially not taking into consideration how far Stiles had come in just a few days. When Derek had first set eyes on him he'd been dirty, battered, full of rage and terror, nearly feral, and convinced that Derek was going to do horrible things to him, the way all his previous owners had done.

Today Stiles had smiled at Derek. Something Derek hadn't been expecting and definitely wouldn't have thought he'd seen so soon.

He wasn't sure what had caused it, but he sure as hell knew he'd do his best to see it again.

Derek nosed his way into the curve of Stiles' neck, breathing in deeply and trying to calm his thoughts. He could smell the way their scent mingled perfectly. There was still the faint tang of Derek's urine on Stiles' skin, even though he'd showered at some point while Derek had been gone. That really was just supposed to be a thing for new slaves, Derek thought sheepishly. Well, technically Stiles was still new....

And a werewolf probably wasn't supposed to want their human slave to mark them in return, in the same way. But once the idea had sprung up in Derek's head, basically fully formed, he hadn't really been able to banish it. Every day when he took the time to piss on Stiles, he wanted to suggest that Stiles stand and do the same to him in turn.

The thing that stopped him wasn't the fear that Stiles would lose respect for him. Derek didn't care about that. It wasn't the possible reversal of their power dynamic, because Derek didn't want to have any power over Stiles.

What stopped him from offering, from asking was that he knew that those things still mattered to Stiles and that he'd get freaked out if Derek so much as mentioned it as a possibility.

But Derek wanted. He wanted in a way that he belatedly realized was giving him a hard-on, which was pressing against the taut curve of Stiles' ass where it was nestled back into Derek's lap.

And, wow, that was kind of new. Derek flushed, but didn't pull his face away from Stiles' shoulder. He stayed there, riding out the light wave of arousal that washed through him unexpectedly, trying to figure out what had caused it....

Well, it wasn't as though he hadn't noticed his attraction toward Stiles. He'd been ignoring it, but it had been present. As Stiles had begun to fill out and look more like a young man than a gaunt scarecrow, as he'd exercised lightly but with dedication, as Derek had come to recognize him as a fully realized person in his own rights rather than as a damaged child, there had been a certain amount of appreciation that had snuck in.

Derek huffed, and Stiles squirmed, not waking but wriggling as the breath gusted against his bare skin. Derek's cock throbbed, and he ignored it because nothing was going to happen.

Even if Kate had never done what she had done, Derek didn't think he could ever have made any overtures toward Stiles. He was just.... Even though Stiles was coming to be more comfortable here and feel safer, he was just so conscious of his position as a personal slave, and if Derek had tried to molest him in any way, he was sure that Stiles would just accept it, would assume that he had to do whatever Derek desired. And that thought made Derek feel sick.

Leaving the bed and jerking off wasn't anything Derek wanted to do; not to mention it would have felt wrong and kind of perverted to go from snuggling with Stiles to masturbating. So even though it kind of felt like torturing himself, Derek just cuddled closer and kept inhaling their mingled scents, letting his cock be hard if it wanted, because there wasn't really anything he could do about it.

Normally ignoring a problem until it went away didn't really work for Derek, but this time proved to be the exception, thankfully. He drifted off and dozed, then finally fell soundly asleep.

And when they both woke, hours later, Derek was no longer sporting wood, thankfully.

It wasn't that Derek wanted Stiles to hurt -- the opposite of that -- but the fact that he had slipped and bruised himself so badly finally bridged that gap that had remained between them.

Derek relieved Stiles of his pain several times during the day and then when it came time for them to retire for the night he felt confident enough to suggest that Stiles join him in his bed, so that he could continue to periodically take Stiles' pain and allow him to sleep without discomfort and not wake in agony and stiffness.

He hadn't before suggested they both sleep in his bed -- even though he'd wanted to every night since Stiles had come home with him, even though he knew that they were both tossing and turning and remaining largely wakeful for the entire night -- because he felt that Stiles deserved his alone time, and the hours when they were both shut in their rooms provided the boy with that.

So when he put forward the offer, Derek made absolutely sure that Stiles knew he could turn him down... but he said yes. And, okay, Derek was still a little concerned that Stiles was taking it as an order, but if it spared him pain then it was for the good... right?

After all, Derek recognized that just because he wanted something that didn't mean Stiles would want it too. And he also recognized that Stiles would still agree to it even if he didn't want it.

But Stiles said yes with an quickness that put most of Derek's worries to rest, and he almost felt as though Stiles had just been waiting for him to ask... or at least that he had no qualms about bed-sharing now that Derek had asked.

So now they both slept through the nights, huddled close the way they had used to do while napping, and that freed up their days since they no longer needed the long naps to recover from nightly sleeplessness.

Derek set about rectifying an oversight that he hadn't even been aware of until now, and he and Stiles sat down to decide what Stiles' chores would be in the apartment.

"You'll definitely start doing more of the cooking once I head back to work," Derek said, trying not to let the happiness that he was feeling over the fact that Stiles had joined him on the sofa instead of sitting on the loveseat show too brightly in his face, but aware he was probably doing a bad job of hiding it. "But I actually enjoy cooking, so if I say it's my night to make dinner, you gotta let me."

Stiles nodded, his expression earnest and focused. He was clutching his tablet with both hands, ready to enter any pertinent information, and Derek wanted to squeeze him, he was so cute. But he couldn't, so he settled for palming the side of his neck. That was okay, because Stiles had done that to Derek, and because Stiles no longer took it as an attack or the precursor to an attack.

He didn't even flinch when Derek moved near him now, and Derek thought that after only a week or so of good experiences to overwrite sixteen years of bad experiences that this was damned near miraculous. His mother had probably been right about he and Stiles sharing some kind of bond. Stiles now instinctively realized that Derek would never hurt him and he behaved accordingly.

That could only be a good thing as far as Derek was concerned.

"You can do the online grocery shopping for now," Derek continued. "I'll set you up with my laptop password and show you how to use the account I have with the store, if you don't figure it out for yourself before I get a chance to. Once we start actually going out shopping -- because I'm not letting someone else choose my produce for me forever -- we'll probably go together. But if I'm busy and there isn't too much to carry, then I might send you on your own. If you're comfortable with that," he hastened to add.

Stiles nodded again, but he looked less certain this time.

"Can you drive?" Derek asked on a whim, and he wasn't surprised when Stiles shook his head this time. There were plenty of humans who could drive, but Stiles was only sixteen and it didn't seem likely that any of his previous owners would have sent him off on any out of home errands for them.

Derek really didn't like to think about the werewolves who had owned Stiles before him. They must have been awful, considering that state Stiles had been in when he'd come into Derek's life. Derek wished that he could have been the first owner Stiles had ever had....

But it was a waste of time wishing for impossible things. While he was at it, Derek might as well wish that Kate had never become fixated on him, or that she hadn't succeeded when she'd kidnapped him.

The bad things that had happened to both Derek and Stiles had played a part in making them who the were now. Derek was still unhappy about both Stiles' suffering and his own suffering, but there was no undoing it.

"Maybe we'll get you some lessons at some point," Derek said, but that was a low priority, since there was a very nice market within easy walking distance from the apartment, which he would have very few qualms about sending Stiles to.

Well, maybe not for a while yet. Not because Derek didn't trust Stiles to come back to him, but because he didn't trust the world out there with his precious Stiles.

"I'd like to take over cleaning duties," Stiles spoke up unexpectedly, eyes wide and bright, fixed on Derek's face, his face adorably serious and focused.

Derek's initial urge was to say no, because he could still see the bruising on Stiles' body from his fall, when he was naked while Derek marked him every morning. But the boy's expression caused him to pause and he gave it a moment of consideration.

"I'm good at cleaning," Stiles continued earnestly, fingers white around his tablet. "Really. Yeah, I sometimes slip, but not usually as bad as this time. I won't use bleach in the tub anymore. And I'll be careful, I promise. But I need something to do, and now that there's two of us here, maybe every other week isn't often enough."

Derek barely restrained a snort, because he didn't think he'd ever known a living being who made less of a mess than Stiles. Well, sometimes the kitchen got kind of chaotic when he was cooking, but he always cleaned it right back up immediately.

That alone was proof that Stiles was as good at cleaning as he said he was, Derek mused. And he had a need; that need was to keep busy, to feel productive, and to find his place in the household. If canceling the cleaning service and letting Stiles take over the duties accomplished that, then Derek should be willing to do it.

After all, if it didn't work out he could always reinstate the service... but somehow Derek didn't think Stiles would fail him in this.

The way Stiles' face lit up when Derek informed him of this plan -- leaving off that last bit, to avoid hurting his feelings -- made it all worthwhile. Even though Derek thought it was a little sad that Stiles wanted to clean. After all, Derek himself had disliked it so much he'd been paying someone else to do it even though that meant letting someone who wasn't family into his apartment on a bi-monthly basis.

A lot of werewolves would tell him that this was what a personal slave was for. But then, Derek thought distastefully, a lot of werewolves would tell him there was nothing wrong with keeping humans as slaves and making them do things like cleaning and cooking and performing far more unpleasant chores.

Derek wondered if Stiles actually liked cleaning, or if he just appreciated the sense of accomplishment and the ability to prove his worth to Derek... but in the end, where was the difference? Derek didn't really like his job for Peter -- though he didn't hate it -- but he used the money he earned there to pay the bills. Stiles probably felt the same way about cleaning, and Derek shouldn't waste his time over-thinking it.

Stiles obviously felt better once they'd made up a list of his duties. He didn't offer to take over the laundry, and that was fine. Derek had a small washer and dryer tucked in the hall closet, but that was just for use when he absolutely needed something immediately that was dirty.

Derek handed over the grocery shopping to Stiles, and gave his permission freely when the boy asked anxiously if he could order more cleaning supplies.

"Stiles," he said, placing a hand on one bony knee, trying to make Stiles believe him by sheer force of his will. "You can order or buy anything you need. I'm doing well and the Hale pack is very wealthy. If you need household supplies of any sort, get them. You want to buy a steam cleaner? Do it. If you need a special ingredient to make dinner at any point, get them. We should go out and get you more clothes, I know, but it's just easier to stay here at home."

He added that last sheepishly, but Stiles seemed to understand, because his mouth was quirked up at one corner and he was nodding.

"Can I.... Can I get a steam cleaner?" he asked hesitantly. "I'm sure the cleaning service had one that they brought with them, and these hardwood floors are going to need it, at least once a month."

Derek laughed, delighted. "Absolutely. In fact, do you want to break out of our rut and go looking at them in person? I don't think the grocer delivers those."

"Right now?" Stiles asked, mouth rounding in surprise.

Derek nodded, trying to quell how much he wanted to lick the plump curves of Stiles' ruby lips. Now was not the time. There was never going to be a time for that.

Stiles looked thoughtful for a moment, then nodded decisively. "Yeah, okay." And he seemed to mean it, which Derek thought was an incredible amount of progress.

So that was how they found themselves wearing actual street clothing and leaving the apartment together for the first time since they'd been to visit Deaton the second day after Derek had come home with his new personal slave.

Derek kept a close eye on Stiles but the boy seemed to be doing fine. He'd put on the wristband that Derek's mother had given him, and Derek wished he'd seen that before they'd left the apartment because then he'd have put on the matching band. Well, next time.

Somehow shopping for a steam cleaner -- which Stiles shyly picked and Derek ordered to be sent to their home the following day -- segued into doing the long-promised clothing shopping, and once that was done Derek dragged Stiles into an electronics store, telling him to choose ten movies; anything he thought looked interesting, it didn't matter if they turned out good or bad.

Stiles was deeply hesitant, but he eventually started picking up the cases and reading the backs. Derek hovered, as much to let Stiles know if he was looking at something already in his collection at home as to keep any potential problems away. Well, okay, it was honestly mostly the latter.

Not that anyone was really looking at them twice. Together they weren't anything unusual, except that most werewolves weren't as solicitous of their slaves. But the way Stiles was practically drenched in Derek's scent -- he'd marked him before they'd left the house, he was wearing one of Derek's unlaundered shirts, and Derek kept a palm on the nape of his neck any time they weren't moving -- would indicate that he was still new and so people would figure that was the reason for Derek remaining so close to him.

With virtually no prompting from Derek, Stiles picked out a wide array of different films; action, comedy, cheap creature features that were bound to be amusingly awful, horror, buddy cop, and even one period drama that looked like it would be dry as dust. But it was what Stiles wanted, and Derek felt a swelling of pride as he paid for the selection.

Granted, he'd had to do most of the choosing when they'd picked out clothes, but he couldn't expect Stiles to be able change a mindset driven into him through years of hard, painful training within one short week. He was still amazing that Stiles was doing as well as he was.

After that, though, they were both mentally and emotionally drained and beat a quick retreat back to the apartment, where they made food, ate, and then curled up on Derek's bed, even though they'd both been regularly sleeping through the night.

"Are you even wearing the pendant Deaton gave you?" Derek asked lazily, his hand spread over Stiles' flat stomach through the shirt he was wearing, his nose pressed against the boy's slowly lengthening hairline. "Did you ever?"

Stiles shifted a little, maybe an aborted shrug, then answered. "Not really. I'm sure it works but I just.... I don't need it now."

He didn't need it now. That left out the period of time before Stiles had begun sleeping in Derek's bed at night... but whatever. Derek had just been curious, and he was glad that Stiles didn't need to be wearing something that smelled of Deaton while they were in his bed.

"I used to move a lot," Stiles continued, his voice low and a little dreamy. He was still healing from his fall, and so he might be a bit foggy from Derek draining his pain while they were shopping and then when they had laid down just now. "In my sleep. I'd kick and twitch...."

"You generally lay still all night," Derek offered, pressing his lips to the side of Stiles' neck, his mouth open, marking his supple skin with his breath. "You've never kicked me."

"You hold me together," Stiles said, leaning backward to press his torso into Derek's. He was less bony, which Derek appreciated, but he might appreciate it too much, because the sensation of Stiles' body pushing close combined with his words made the danger of Derek popping a boner very real.

"I'm glad," Derek murmured, cursing himself for his husky tone, trying to angle his crotch away from Stiles without losing contact with him anywhere else. "I'm glad my bed is a safe place for you."

"It's not your bed. It's your arms."

And, yeah, there is was, instant hard-on. Derek bit back a groan, pressing his face into Stiles' shoulder through the material of the shirt he had on, raising his legs so that his chest and his upper thighs were still cradling Stiles but his stupid cock was taken out of the game.

Not that he didn't wish he could grind it into Stiles' ass, hump against him until he came. But that would be rude, disastrous, and Derek was pretty sure it would lose him every inch of ground he had gained so far in winning Stiles' trust.

It was partially Stiles' trust that was giving Derek his erection; that combined with the warmth, solidness, and scent of the boy in his arms. Stiles was beautiful and he was in Derek's arm, in his bed. Their bed now. It might almost be stranger if Derek hadn't gotten hard.

But acting on it was unacceptable, and so Derek just held still, hoping that Stiles wouldn't notice the way he'd shifted to spoon him, and hoping even more that his hard-on would go away.

Stiles yawned and wiggled back into the curve of Derek's body, and hell. He was in hell. But even so, there was no other place he'd rather be.

Derek already couldn't remember what his apartment had been like without Stiles in it, filling it with his presence and his scent, and he couldn't recall what his bed had been like before Stiles had joined him in it.

Both must have been empty and kind of depressing, Derek thought, nosing at his shirt that Stiles had on, over the curve of his shoulder.

He'd resisted getting a personal slave for so long. Maybe he'd just been waiting to meet Stiles. Okay, granted, the more logical side of him knew that he'd held off because of his issues after Kate and because he still felt that all slavery was morally wrong. But the deep instinctive part of him that was rolling around happily in the mere presence of Stiles was telling him that he'd been meant to find Stiles, that Stiles had been meant to come into his life and give it color and warmth.

Not even his family members had been able to make Derek feel the way Stiles made him feel. As much as he loved them -- and he did, so much -- they hadn't been able to warm him all the way through. Stiles was able to do that just by existing.

All of this sappy thinking had effectively diminished Derek's hard-on, thank fuck, and so he allowed himself to relax, though he maintained their current position just in case it recurred. They lay together, both radiating happiness and peace, and neither of them slept, but they didn't need to. It was enough to just be for a while.

With each other. That was the way they were meant to be; Derek was certain of it.

Even though Derek hadn't communicated with his mother or Deaton about their trip out, it seemed to be the trigger needed for both of them to start poking into Derek and Stiles' business.

Derek knew it was ungracious of him to feel that way about it, and he knew that Stiles really did need that follow-up visit, but that didn't stop him dragging his feet over the whole thing.

Going to Deaton's office wasn't as bad as it had been the first time. Stiles was closeted with Deaton longer -- getting tested for ADHD and probably other things -- but he and Derek were better bonded now and so Derek only got a little antsy. Of course, they were possibly a little too well bonded, and so he definitely did get antsy.

The report was good, though. Deaton was pleased with Stiles' weight gain, he verified that he hadn't broken anything when he'd slipped in the bathtub, he put Derek's worries to rest over how little good the medication seemed to be doing Stiles' voice -- "It's going to take a while, Derek; the change won't happen overnight," -- he was going to prescribe a medication for the ADHD that Stiles did indeed have, and he seemed truly impressed by how much more at ease Stiles was now compared to the first time he had seen the boy.

Of course, he didn't say that last aloud. But Derek could tell he was thinking it.

Basically Deaton told them to carry on as they were doing, and he set up an appointment with Stiles as the Hale pack emissary rather than as the family doctor, specifically to ask Stiles about his previous owners.

Stiles grimaced but nodded, they decided that a couple of days later would work, and then they were on their way. It had all been relatively painless, for Derek at least, and Stiles seemed to be in decent enough spirits that Derek thought things must seem okay from his viewpoint as well.

That was one thing. Going to the Hale house to meet with Derek's mother was another entirely.

Thankfully, the fact that it was noon on a weekday meant that most of the adults were at work and most of the kids were at school. The huge, sprawling house was still far more noisy than Derek's small apartment, with toddlers banging around underfoot, babies crying, and the Hale slaves cleaning and serving lunch to the family members who were home, but it wasn't as bad as it would be by dinnertime with the majority of the pack home.

Derek intended to be long gone by then, and his mother didn't seem to have any desire to make them stay past an hour or two. She had a private lunch for just the three of them delivered to her office, and they sat and talked while they ate.

Stiles was clearly stressed and anxious over being in a new place, but he remained close to Derek, reaching for him when Derek didn't have a hand on him, and he did calm down quite a bit as soon as the door to Talia's office was closed, shutting out all the sound of a house partially filled with werewolf children.

"Stiles, you're looking incredible," Derek's mother said, giving him a bright smile, diplomatically not making mention of the fading bruise on his cheekbone or the new bruising at his hairline. "And you seem much more settled than the first time we met."

"I apologize for that," Stiles rasped, bowing his head, but in respect rather than fear. "I apologize for not believing your words, Alpha Hale. You tried to tell me the truth and I didn't listen."

"You listened; you didn't believe," Talia corrected, but she was still smiling at Stiles, her eyes moving from his face to the fingers he and Derek had intertwined on one of Stiles' thighs.

Derek lifted his chin defiantly. Not that he thought his mother would judge him, but he couldn't help feeling possessive over Stiles and his attachment to the boy.

"And after what you'd been through," Talia continued soothingly as Stiles raised his head and met her soft gaze, "I don't blame you for your mistrust. I'm just happy to see that you've come to accept that the Hale pack is different."

Stiles nodded and smiled shyly back at her, making Derek's heart ache. He was glad to see Stiles smile again, even if it wasn't aimed at him. He wished that the scab on Stiles' lip would heal, but at least he was still keeping the boy pain-free. He couldn't undo the damage, but he could lessen its effects.

Kind of the same way it was for Stiles in general, Derek mused, squeezing Stiles' hand carefully and giving him a reassuring grin when Stiles glanced at him. He couldn't undo Stiles' past experiences, but he could give him a pain and fear free life from here on out.

"Derek is... good," Stiles declared, squeezing Derek's hand back. It was as much the action as the words that made Derek's heart thump, and that was a little embarrassing in front of his mom, but at least he wasn't getting a hard-on for Stiles here in her office. Right now it was only his heart that was reacting.

"I know; he's my son," Talia said, but she didn't say it in a way that chided Stiles for not having seen it sooner, or in a way that was a humble-brag. She just stated it as a fact, and then she smiled at Derek with a warmth that was all for him.

Derek shrugged, a little uncomfortable with the praise, but glad that he could make two of the most important people in his life happy just by being himself, for whatever reason.

Of course, he still felt that it had been Laura's presence that had opened Stiles' eyes to the truth, had allowed him to actually accept and believe that Derek wasn't like his previous owners, and he was grateful to her for that. But she wasn't the one who was continually working to make Stiles happier and to make his life better now. That was all Derek.

He wasn't feeling self-congratulatory over this last. He was just glad and grateful that Stiles was giving him the chance to try.

Food was brought in, they ate, they talked; it went a lot more smoothly than that dinner in Derek's kitchen had, in no small part because Stiles wasn't panicking and Derek wasn't on edge in response to that. Talia and Derek still did most of the talking, but Stiles answered whenever directly addressed, and he was deferential toward Talia but he clearly wasn't afraid of her anymore.

After the better part of an hour had passed pleasantly enough, Derek started to feel restless. He loved his mother and this had been his home for more than twenty years, but he felt the need to take Stiles and get back to their apartment.

Talia smiled at him, clearly reading his thoughts, and ushered them toward the exit. She did make Derek promise to bring Stiles and join the family for dinner at least once a month, but she also added, "This visit counts toward that, so you can put it off for four more weeks if you'd like."

Derek did like, and he knew Stiles would feel more comfortable the longer they put it off.

"I'm happy to see you both wearing the wristbands," Talia said at the door, after she had hugged Derek goodbye and offered Stiles her hand to shake.

"Every time we leave the apartment," Derek said, brandishing his.

"Thank you for the gift, Alpha Hale," Stiles murmured, toying with his wristband, then reaching out for Derek's hand again. Derek took it, folding their fingers together, seeking to overwrite his mother's scent on Stiles' skin. "I truly appreciate it."

"You're more than welcome, sweetheart," Talia said, giving Stiles a kiss on the temple opposite the one that was still a little bruised from his fall in the tub. "It's always good to let people know that you're a member of the Hale pack; our reputation is occasionally problematic, but we're wealthy and powerful enough that the name should gain you all the protection you might ever need."

Stiles nodded and gave her a small smile before they were on their way. Derek grumbled to himself over the fact that his mother had kissed Stiles, marking him that way, but he was happy that she accepted Stiles enough not only to kiss him but to call him by the pet name she usually reserved for Derek when he was feeling at his lowest. It mattered to Derek that Stiles be treated as family, just as much as it mattered to him that Stiles accept that he was family.

Once they were home, Derek knew that he needed to mark Stiles as his own, after they'd spent time in his mother's home, sitting in her chairs, surrounded by the scents of the Hale pack, with his mother's touch lingering on Stiles' skin.

And Stiles knew as well, giving Derek a soft and indulgent look that wasn't quite a smile as he led him by the hand toward the bathroom as soon as they were through the door.

Derek was glad that this was something Stiles seemed to accept and embrace rather than simply enduring, since it was obviously something that Derek himself was going to continue to need. Especially as they both had to begin interacting more and more with the outside world.

They stripped and Stiles threw their clothes into the hamper without being prompted. Everything smelled of outside and of the Hale house and Derek's mother, and they were both going to have to put on new clothes that smelled only of them once they were finished in here.

Derek paused in front of the shower stall as Stiles joined him, running a hand down the boy's ribs, waist, and resting on his hip. The bruising was deep, almost black in the center, but it was beginning to fade to green around the edges, so Derek had faith that it was healing, and Deaton hadn't seemed concerned. He fully intended to continue draining Stiles' pain until there was no more need to do so, though.

Right now he wasn't taking Stiles' pain, because he had done it recently enough that Stiles wasn't feeling any. He just... he just wanted, needed to touch.

Stiles placed a hand over Derek's heart, palm pressing against his chest, fingers loose and relaxed. He glanced up at Derek, something sweet and yet sharp in his gaze, and Derek decided that today was the day that he was going to push for more.

It finally felt right. It felt like it was time.

They both entered the shower stall and Stiles knelt, as was the norm. Derek's cock was beginning to swell, which was going to make urination difficult, but he could make it work. He didn't really want Stiles to see that he had a semi, though, so he wrapped his hand around the shaft. That wasn't unusual, because he needed to be able to direct the stream anyway.

Of course, even without friction, and even with a light touch, having his cock in his hand made it more likely to get hard. Derek inhaled deeply, allowing the smell of his mother on both his own skin and Stiles' to wash over him, killing a large part of his arousal. There, that was effective. At least for now.

Stiles was kneeling before Derek, his face about on level with Derek's cock, and even though this was the position they always used for this, it was growing ever more evocative in Derek's mind, bringing thoughts of something else they could do with Stiles kneeling in front of him....

But that wasn't going to happen, and they were both here for something else entirely.

So instead of thinking of perverted things, Derek focused on his heavy bladder and his need to mark Stiles with his scent, his need to make the smell of his mother go away.

It was a relief, a release of a sort, and a pleasure all its own to let himself go, to let his urine splash hot and pungent on Stiles' shoulders and chest. Derek could see the liquid collecting, golden and gleaming, in the hollow between Stiles' sharp collarbones. He angled his cock so that he could piss on Stiles' throat when the boy tipped his head back without prompting. Derek then reached with the hand not cradling his cock to tilt Stiles head to one side, getting the tip of his cock right up next to the thin skin of Stiles' temple where his mother had kissed the boy, being careful not to piss in Stiles' eye or ear as he kissed that spot himself with his cock-head and stained it with the last thin trickle of his urine as his bladder emptied.

Stiles didn't seem at all faze by that final action, and he rose readily enough to his feet when Derek reached down to lift him.

Normally this was the moment when Derek turned on the water and they washed off together, with or without soap depending on how recently they'd bathed previously and how badly Derek felt he needed Stiles to smell like his.

But today.... Derek had something else in mind. As he had decided before they had entered the shower, he wanted this to be reciprocal. And he thought, he hoped, Stiles was finally ready for the suggestion.

He palmed Stiles' elbows, meeting his eyes, staring at him intently. Stiles held his gaze without flinching, and he looked curious rather than nervous, which gave Derek hope.

"Stiles," he rasped, then cleared his throat, trying to chase away the nervousness he felt. He decided to take a page from Laura's book, because it was only polite, and because it seemed like the right thing to do. As an additional bonus, thinking about his sister worked pretty much the same as thinking about his mother to quell his pending arousal. Now that his bladder was empty and the tip of his cock felt tingly-cold with the last drops of clinging piss, he was in serious dangerous of popping another hard-on.

Especially with what he was about to ask from Stiles.

"You can say no," he said, echoing his older sister when she'd asked Stiles for a hug. "But I want...." He paused and licked his lips, feeling a tug of arousal when Stiles' dark brown eyes tracked the movement of his tongue. "Can I ask you to mark me now?"

Stiles' pulse fluttered for a moment and his eyes went wide. Derek hastened to add;

"I won't kneel if you don't want me to. We can just do it right now, the way we are. And you can say no. I won't be mad or upset, okay? I just... it's something I've been wanting for a while now. You're mine, so I mark you. But I'm yours as well, and I want you to mark me the way I mark you."

Stiles' head jerked backward, though he made no move to break away from the light hold Derek had on his arms. Then he stood perfectly still, blinking rapidly, and Derek was pretty sure... he hoped that Stiles was processing his request, his razor-quick brain working it over.

"It's okay if you don't want to," Derek repeated, because it was important that Stiles know that. "Or if you think it might be something you can do later but not right now."

"No," Stiles crackled out unexpectedly. "No, it's okay. I can.... I think I can do it?"

Derek smiled in relief and leaned in to press his lips against the corner of Stiles' mouth, just a quick brush, there and gone. He almost couldn't smell his mother on Stiles anymore, which was the goal here.

Actually, the goal had changed now... so that it was Derek who was going to smell of Stiles. Hopefully.

They both glanced down at once, almost involuntarily. Derek's cock was a little plump already, but he ignored that embarrassing fact in favor of examining Stiles' cock. For all they spent time naked in one another's company every morning, he hadn't really focused on it. He wasn't a huge prude, but he'd been trying to keep the whole marking thing completely non-sexual. But now that Stiles was going to be pissing on him, Derek let himself look. If only for a moment or two.

Stiles wasn't circumcised, which was moderately unusual for a human slave. Well, that practice had begun to fall out of favor in the last few years, and Derek was glad, even if it was probably because it was coming to be considered an unnecessary expense rather than because it was a ritualistic mutilation. He'd always considered it to be a cruel thing to do to a male human baby who couldn't express their consent, who couldn't say no. However his parents had managed it, Derek was glad to see that it hadn't been done to Stiles.

He also had a thick thatch of dark pubic hair; a fact which made Derek feel a little less wrong for lusting after him, though he still had zero intentions of acting on this lust. Stiles was more a young man than a boy, no matter how Derek thought of him... but he was also completely off limits.

Derek tried to tell that to his willful cock, but it seemed to have a mind of its own, especially when it was in such close proximity to Stiles' cock.

Stiles wasn't even a little bit hard, a fact which Derek made note of and tried to use to convince his own hard-on to go away. That was something that was more easily conceived of than accomplished, unfortunately.

Especially once Stiles actually started pissing right on Derek's cock. Which only made sense, considering that they were almost the same height and Derek was pretty sure that even though he'd agreed to this, Stiles would be uncomfortable with him kneeling, so they were both going to remain standing facing each other. Which they were doing right now.

The hot splash on the sensitive skin of his cock had it fattening up within an instant, and Derek's breath caught before he could stop himself from reacting. Stiles faltered and the flow stopped, and Derek coughed a little, making sure to keep his eyes up, staring resolutely over Stiles' shoulder, knowing his cheeks were bright red but unable to control his flush any more than he could control his cock.

"Just ignore that, okay," he said, his voice coming out kind of small and a little hoarse. "Sorry," he tacked on, hunching his shoulders.

He could see Stiles chewing on his lower lip out the corner of his eye, and that was only going to make his problem worse. He was half convinced that Stiles would push away, decide he was done with the attempt, turn on the water or even exit the shower stall altogether....

But instead Stiles took a slow, deep breath and shuffled a fraction of a step closer to Derek, reaching down and holding himself with one hand the way Derek had been doing, in order to lift his cock and aim the stream as he started pissing again.

Derek barely restrained a shudder of pleasure when the hot liquid hit his shaft again, then flooded the bush of his pubes, trickling ticklishly down his balls, trailing down his thighs to wet his calves and twine around his ankles.

By the point it got that low it was cooling and even more ticklish, and Derek tried to focus more on that fact than the heated gush that was striking his rapidly stiffening cock, but this was a battle that he had really lost before it had begun.

Marking a slave with urine wasn't supposed to become a sexual thing, Derek knew. But he was coming to find himself more and more attracted to Stiles the more time he spent in the boy's company. And when they were both naked and there were cocks involved, not to mentioned heated wetness rushing over Derek's sensitive genitalia....

It was because it was Stiles, Derek was willing to admit to himself. But the attraction and the desire were things that he could not act on. And so he held perfectly still and tried every trick he knew to quell his rising arousal, and even though he failed miserably at that last, he could at least say that he'd tried.

It seemed to last forever and yet no time at all, and then Stiles was done, and Derek smelled of him the same way he smelled of Derek, and Derek's traitorous cock was fully erect.

The only thing Derek could really do was ignore his hard-on the way he'd told Stiles to do, and so he took a step back, releasing Stiles with one last squeeze to his un-bruised upper arm, a hoarse, "Thank you," then he turned the water on.

They both rinsed off, neither using any soap by unspoken agreement, and Derek decided he just... he just had to break with tradition.

"Go ahead and dry off and get dressed," he told Stiles, palm pressed to the center of the boy's back, feeling as though he might burn Stiles with the heat that was radiating through his entire body but unable to stop himself from touching at least this little bit. "I'll join you soon."

Stiles blinked at him with starred lashes from under wet bangs, and he licked lips that were chewed crimson and shiny with shower water. His cheeks were blotchy pink, flushed all the way down his neck to his chest, though that might have been the heat of the water than anything else. He couldn't have looked more delectable if he had tried, and he was killing Derek. There was something dark and unreadable in his deep brown eyes, but he nodded and did as directed.

Once Stiles was out of the bathroom entirely, Derek did what he had not once allowed himself to do; he jerked off with Stiles on his mind, and with the scent of Stiles filling his nostrils.

The shower hadn't washed away the salty-bitter tang of Stiles' urine, not so that Derek's werewolf senses couldn't pick it up, and the cascade of water provided an impromptu sort of lubrication as he wrapped his fingers around the shaft of his thick, blood-swollen, throbbing cock right where Stiles had pissed on it, and began to beat himself off with far more force than finesse.

Flowing water wasn't really the best way to ease the friction, but anything slick he might have used -- there was conditioner close at hand, after all -- would have had its own scent that would have overwritten the smell of Stiles marking Derek with his own urine. And the mere thought of that was unacceptable.

At any rate, it didn't take Derek more than one minute before he was grunting, falling back against the wall to brace himself as his balls tightened and he pumped out his load all over his fingers and on the shower stall floor.

Derek tried not to groan, not wanting Stiles to hear, as the smell of his release mingled with the scent of both his piss and Stiles', and he rubbed some of his jizz into the shaft of his cock, mixing it with the lingering odor of Stiles that was worked into the skin there.

His brain was foggy with arousal and floaty with the afterglow of his orgasm, and Derek wondered what it would smell like if it was their semen that was mingled instead of just his and Stiles' piss, both of them coming at the same time and Derek smearing their jizz all over both their bodies....

His cock gave one last flex where he was holding onto it a little too tightly, but then sense and reality began to come back to Derek, faster than he would have liked, and he was flooded with more roiling guilt than warm satisfaction.

There was nothing wrong with masturbating in the shower he shared with Stiles, he thought ruefully as he rinsed off, made sure all his spunk had washed down the drain, and then stepped out to dry himself off, the surface of his skin still tingling and his cock still fat and pulsing even though his erection had been dealt with.

But doing it to thoughts of Stiles.... Doing it immediately after he'd gotten Stiles to mark him in return; something that was supposed to be about closeness and comfort, and not about sex at all....

Those things were not so acceptable.

Derek had been being so good. He'd been trying so hard. And he didn't think he'd completely fucked things up, but maybe he should have tried a little harder to keep his libido in check.

And, okay, he could admit that this was something of an impossible ideal to pursue with how he was coming to feel about Stiles, so he maybe shouldn't beat himself up too much for not being able to manage it.

But he still probably should have tried harder.

***

Things were different after the day that Derek asked Stiles to mark him in return, but it wasn't because of that request.

Well, not really.

Not where Stiles was concerned, anyway. He wasn't sure about Derek, had no way of knowing what was going on in Derek's head. But for Stiles....

Stiles hadn't been upset or frightened or even really disconcerted by the hard-on Derek had been sporting when he'd pissed on his dick in the shower. After all, most guys would get hard if there was a stream of body-hot liquid rushing over their junk. It would actually have been weirder if Derek hadn't gotten hard.

And he had only been a little stunned by the idea that Derek wanted to be marked the way he marked Stiles. He'd already had to adjust so many of his ideas of how the world worked to deal with his new life here with Derek that the reality of marking his owner was only one more of many, and not even the hardest he'd had to deal with.

No, the thing that made Stiles feel like everything was different now was that after the fact -- once he was out of the shower and dried off and dressed and patiently waiting for Derek in the living room -- it had been Stiles who'd felt his dick give an interested little twitch at the thought that Derek was almost certainly jerking off in the shower he could still hear running.

And that was... well, it wasn't new, but it had been such a long time that Stiles almost felt as though it was completely new. It was definitely new to find himself getting turned on by visualizing Derek.

It was new but not incomprehensible. After all, even for a werewolf Derek was attractive. Stiles would have to have blind not to see it. The more comfortable he became in Derek's home and the more the fear he had used to feel faded away, the more Stiles was able to see and appreciate Derek's good looks.

It wasn't just how gorgeous Derek was, with his pale, wide-set eyes and his strong nose, his plush lips and chiseled cheekbones, his scruffy stubble and his soft, dark hair. It was also that he was a good person with a good heart. He was just good, as Stiles had told Alpha Hale. And Stiles found that this attracted him as well.

It would have been hard to get turned on by someone he was afraid would hurt him, Stile thought. But he trusted Derek. Trusted him more than anyone else in his life, since his parents. And his mother had died and left him, and his father had let him be sold away when he'd only been ten....

Stiles wasn't stupid; he knew that neither of them had had any choice in the matter. His mother would have lived if she could have. His father had been a slave in Deucalion's household and hadn't had any leverage that would have enabled him in even attempting to hold onto his son.

But no matter how logical Stiles could be, his heart still hurt when he thought of his parents, in different ways at different times. They hadn't meant to hurt him, of course they hadn't, but he had been hurt.

Derek hadn't yet hurt Stiles -- physically or emotionally -- and he hadn't let him down in any way, at all. In fact, he'd done more for Stiles than Stiles would ever have thought possible.

Not that Stiles could ever have imagined any of this, back before Derek. Derek was the polar opposite of every other owner Stiles had ever belonged to, and this fact still boggled him each time Stiles stopped to think about it.

So Stiles felt safe, here in Derek's apartment, wrapped up in Derek's arms. He should have expected that this would bring about a resurrection of his sex drive. He was only sixteen, after all, and it was pretty normal for a teenage boy to be horny basically all the time. He was pretty sure that was why Emissary Deaton had given him the lubricant.

Which had been thoughtful and would come in handy, but Stiles wasn't sure when he should use it.

Now that his dick had decided to rouse and get awkwardly hard when he and Derek were laying in bed together, Derek's arms wrapped around him, Derek's chest solid and muscle-packed against his upper back, or when Derek sometimes gripped the nape of his neck, carefully but firmly, while they were cooking together in the kitchen or when they curled together on the sofa watching a movie, Stiles was hyper-aware of Derek's enhanced senses.

Because there was no way Derek wasn't aware of Stiles' arousal. Even if he couldn't see the tenting in Stiles' pants -- which was usually pretty obvious -- he would be able to smell his hard-on.

He was way better at hiding it than Stiles was, but Derek was getting erections too, probably just in response to whatever odors Stiles was exuding. It was doubly awkward, making Stiles flush with embarrassment and shame together. He felt bad that he was causing Derek to react to what his own body was doing, and he knew that Derek was too nice a guy to punish him for it the way he probably should.

But there was no way Stiles could think of to control himself now that he'd rediscovered his dick. He just couldn't figure out when he should be jerking off. Derek was home all day, every day, and they slept in the same bed at night. Stiles wouldn't want to suggest he go back to his own room, stop sleeping with Derek, not for any reason. As long as Derek didn't suggest it....

And Derek didn't suggest it. But he did start shutting himself in his room while Stiles was occupied cleaning the kitchen after a meal or placing the online grocery order... emerging after five or ten minutes with flushed cheeks and messy hair and a slightly shamefaced expression.

Which, it was good that he was taking the time for himself, Stiles thought sadly. It was all Stiles' fault Derek was getting riled up enough to need this, and it was a natural thing for Derek to take it to the normal conclusion. He shouldn't be ashamed of it in any fashion. Especially since they were both sharing a bed at night, both sporting wood either before falling asleep, upon waking, or both, and neither of them could jerk it then.

So, since Derek was "busy" in those periods of time where he shut himself away behind a closed and presumably locked door, and since that gave Stiles some time to himself as well, Stiles took to abandoning whatever his task was, tip-toeing into his own room, and breaking out the lube Emissary Deaton had given him.

It was an amazing feeling, having something so slick to work with, and he came in under two minutes the first time he got his hand on himself. He'd forgotten how amazing it felt to jerk off, and he wasn't the least bit embarrassed over having climaxed so fast. He didn't feel much of anything other than the pleasure shuddering through him, making his eyes roll and his toes curl.

Chances were Derek could hear Stiles while he masturbated. He tried to be quiet, but it just felt so good. Mostly he stuck to rubbing his aching dick until he shot off, but the more he did it, the more he got curious and started trying new things. Like cupping and cradling his balls, rubbing at the sensitive swell right behind them with lube-slick fingertips, and then finally, pushing up against the tight pucker of his asshole.

Stiles knew about anal sex. He knew about all different kinds of sex acts. He'd only been ten when he'd been sold away from his father and he'd never even so much as kissed another human, but he'd listened when his fellow slaves had talked, and a lot of them had been pretty coarse. Then there had been an older girl who'd taken a liking to him for a little while when he'd been thirteen, and while she'd never touched him in any questionable ways, she'd told him he was pretty enough that someone might, and she'd taken care to educate him in all the things he might then be expected to do.

She'd also told him that if another human male tried to do something he didn't want, he should kick or punch them in the nuts and run. So Stiles considered most of what he'd learned from her to be good advice.

Thankfully, Heather had been wrong and there hadn't been anyone, male or female, human or lupine, who had been interested in Stiles sexually. He wasn't disappointed by this fact, because before Derek he'd never met anyone that he wanted to have touch him in a sexual manner.

Derek was off limits; that went without saying. He was a werewolf. He was Stiles' owner. He was about a million times better looking than Stiles was. And he would probably fall in love with a nice wolf someday and get married and maybe make babies. If Stiles was lucky Derek's future mate wouldn't dislike him, and he'd still be around and get to help raise the little Hales....

This thought was kind of depressing though, for reasons that Stiles didn't want to dwell on. Falling for a werewolf had never been anything he'd been in danger of before, but he knew he was teetering on the edge where Derek was concerned.

What he did do, because Derek couldn't actually read his thoughts, and since Stiles was occasionally self destructive, was to imagine while he was jerking on his dick with one slick hand, the other hand shoving a couple of lubed fingers up his ass, while he was stifling his whimpers into his pillow and panting for breath, his thighs pulling up, his hips flexing... he imagined that Derek was listening to him from his bedroom, with his werewolf senses.

He imagined that Derek was getting even more hot and bothered, soaking in the pathetic little noises that Stiles was making, eavesdropping on the spanking sounds of his lube-drenched fingers moving over his dick, sliding in and out of his asshole, and he imagined that Derek was using the to fuel himself as he flogged his own big, fat cock.

Stiles knew what Derek's junk looked like now, both flaccid and erect, from their moments together in the shower, and he loved to visualize Derek's elegant fingers moving over it, wet with the lube he was undoubtedly using as well, clutching at himself, giving himself the same pleasure that Stiles was indulging in.....

Of course, when he wasn't writhing around on his bed in pursuit of orgasm, Stiles knew logically that there was no way what he was doing would really be turning Derek on that much. Not any more than maybe watching strangers fuck in porn or something, right?

Because Stiles was human and he might be a little bit pretty, according to Heather, but Derek could have anyone he wanted and he was so much prettier than Stiles could ever dream of being. Sure, Derek was getting erections because Stiles kept reeking of arousal, but that was involuntary. It wasn't because of who Stiles was; it was just because of what Stiles' body was doing.

They both started jerking off more, and sometimes it was even Stiles who retreated to his bedroom first, as he became more comfortable with the whole situation, and when he just kept getting more and more turned on the more time he spent around Derek.

It might have helped if Derek hadn't spent so much time touching him. He rubbed Stiles' neck and throat, he pressed his mouth against his temples, he licked the line of Stiles' lower lip and then pushed his lips right up against the corner of Stiles' mouth and held there, sharing his breath and his scent. His hands were large and sure where they skated over Stiles' torso through his clothes, and whenever he relieved Stiles of the lingering pain he was feeling from his fall, that had to be bare skin on bare skin.

There was no respite from the marking in the shower, either. Not that Stiles really wanted there to be. And now Derek wasn't the only one getting hard.

Stiles had always before simply endured when one of his owners had felt the need to piss on him in order to mark him as theirs. But with Derek, he was coming to not only welcome it, but to assign it a certain amount of pleasure in his mind.

He wasn't completely sure whether the pleasure was sexual, but when the urine was streaming down his chest and sliding into his pubes, his dick was getting hard. So he was probably deluding himself if he didn't consider it to be sexual.

It was thrilling to get to mark Derek in turn. There was something so taboo about it. Human slaves weren't supposed to do that to their owners, and yet Derek wanted it. So much. And Stiles found that he wanted it too, though that might just have been in echo of Derek's need.

Derek never knelt, and Stiles was glad for that. So he only really ever pissed on Derek's thick, throbbing hard-on, and that was sexual too. It hadn't seemed to at first, but the longer it went on, the more it came to feel that way to Stiles.

And Derek seemed to feel the same. At first he'd been embarrassed and tried to get them both to ignore it, but it became more natural and more difficult to ignore each time they did it, every morning when they indulged in this mutual marking in the bathroom.

By the time it was Stiles' turn, his shoulders, neck, and torso drenched in Derek's scent, his dick was so stiff he could barely manage to piss at all and Derek was so erect that it almost looked like it hurt. His foreskin was retracted, a bead of precome gathering in the tip of dick, most likely mingling with the last drops of piss, and he would breathe heavily, his mouth pressed against Stiles' chin or forehead, his hands hard on Stiles' elbows or shoulders, his eyes either closed or else focused intently downward, watching it happen.

Stiles half expected Derek to someday reach for his dick, maybe hold it while he pissed, maybe even offer to jerk him off afterward. He almost wanted to offer to do that for Derek, or else to go on his knees and suck him off.

But there were their relative positions as owner and personal slave to take into consideration. Not to mention the fact that Derek was a werewolf and Stiles was human. It wasn't illegal or forbidden, but it was considered pretty low class for a wolf to fuck his slave, and Stiles knew that Derek was better than that. He wasn't a deviant, and it wasn't really because of Stiles that Derek was getting sexually aroused, no matter how much his hands and mouth roamed over various parts of Stiles' body and face during the heat of the moment.

It was all a matter of scent marking, and Stiles felt settled and safe, knowing that he smelled so much of Derek. It was probably some failing in him that he'd come to be sexually stimulated by something that was supposed to be routine, but he had, and it wasn't Derek's fault that his own body was responding in kind.

Maybe it was for the best that Derek's two weeks off finally came to an end, and he left the apartment for close to nine hours a day... and yet it was hellish without him there.

Sure, Stiles could jerk off any time he wanted while Derek was at work. But he didn't really want to. He just wanted Derek back. Thankfully Derek worked close by and didn't have a long commute. But he worked an eight hour day, which felt like way too long for Stiles to be alone in Derek's apartment.

Before, he'd have thought he would like being alone.... But that had been before he'd come to depend on Derek so much, to truly enjoy his company.

For his part, Derek seemed to miss Stiles just as much. Stiles didn't think it was his imagination, because within seconds of Derek coming home every day he found himself wrapped up in his owner's arms, held so tightly he could hardly breathe, Derek's nose buried in the hollow behind his ear and Derek's breath puffing hot and hard against his neck.

Stiles had learned to not have dinner waiting like he'd normally have been inclined to do, because the very next thing Derek did was drag Stiles to his bed and lay on top of him, just sucking in the smell of his exposed throat for a good ten to fifteen minutes, before he calmed enough to do things like worry about food.

Stiles would card his fingers through Derek's hair, which was as soft as it looked, and tip his chin back, offering Derek anything he needed, ignoring the fact that both of them had erections, and take as much comfort in their closeness as Derek was experiencing.

After that they'd go cook dinner together, which Derek seemed to prefer to do anyway rather than being served, and then they'd spend the rest of the evening curled up on the sofa, watching movies or television programming, or occasionally playing video games.

In all honesty Stiles couldn't wait for the weekend, was looking forward to sleeping in and spending the entire day with Derek, for two days in a row.

It seemed to take forever, but finally it was Saturday morning, and they were enjoying a nice hour of digestion on the sofa after eating an amazing breakfast. Stiles felt calm and contented with his head resting on Derek's shoulder, and it didn't even feel weird anymore to trust a werewolf so much, to want to be close to one, because it was Derek.

Then Derek stiffened, and a moment later the door buzzer sounded, violent and tearing through the apartment. Or maybe Stiles just found the sound discordant because it meant that someone was here. Someone was here uninvited.

Derek grumbled and growled his way to the door, and then snarled when he found out it was his uncle, but he gave the doorman the go-ahead to let him come up.

Stiles pouted, but he steeled himself and rose off the sofa. He barely remembered Derek's uncle, who'd been present when Derek had purchased him. He'd been lost in a haze of fear and had only a foggy memory of a werewolf with slick hair and a slicker smirk, one who'd mocked Derek but had helped him out when Derek hadn't been able to do things for himself.

Stiles wasn't exactly looking forward to meeting Peter Hale again; especially not when he hadn't been able to mentally prepare himself. But it wasn't as though he had any choice. Derek clearly wasn't happy about it either, but he was already letting Peter in.

"Hello, nephew," Peter greeted, giving Derek a hug, and Stiles frowned because he was getting his scent all over Derek. Granted, Stiles wouldn't be able to smell it; at least not strongly. But these sorts of things had evidently come to matter to him, if only because they obviously mattered so much to Derek.

"I just saw you yesterday," Derek groused, stepping back the moment Peter let go of him. "At four o'clock, in fact. It hasn't even been one full day, so don't act like it's been forever."

"Work is work," Peter smirked, taking off his long leather jacket with a flourish and hanging it on the coat rack. "This is a social call."

"I'm not feeding you," Derek said, scowling, shifting from foot to foot. It looked as though his uncle made him feel uncomfortable in his own home, but there was nothing Stiles could do about that, even though he didn't like it at all.

"I don't require food," Peter said airily, waving a hand in Derek's direction but his gaze fixed on Stiles now, crystal blue and unwavering. "What I'd like is to meet Stiles again. We've seen one another before, it's true, but it was under duress, so to speak. And since I have to smell him every day at the office I thought a formal introduction might not be amiss."

Stiles went white. Derek went red. But Derek didn't seem anywhere near as freaked out as Stiles was feeling; in fact, after a moment his jaw firmed and his chin went up defiantly, despite his blush.

"Fine," he bit out, striding back over to Stiles and wrapping an arm around his shoulders, pressing his closed lips to his temple for a moment. "Stiles, this is my uncle, Peter. Uncle Peter, this is my Stiles. Don't touch him."

Peter arched a brow in a move so smooth Stiles suspected he practiced it in a mirror, but he didn't call Derek on his possessive words or behavior, just smirked at Stiles and gave a little wave that somehow seemed to manage to be as sardonic as his expression. "Hi."

"Hello," Stiles said, a little embarrassed by the way his voice croaked when Peter's was so smooth, even though Derek said that it was getting better and Stiles didn't think he was lying or exaggerating.

He kind of wanted to thank Peter. For helping Derek purchase him. For employing Derek. For being a family member who obviously cared about Derek and his happiness, even if he couldn't be bothered to warn Derek he was visiting or to wait for an invitation.

But then, Peter was here without an invitation, on a weekend, making snide comments and staring at Stiles with sharp blue eyes that made him feel more than a little uncomfortable. Unsafe. Even though he was within Derek's half embrace, and that made it even more disturbing.

This wasn't like meeting Laura, or even Alpha Hale. And not just because Peter had seen Stiles when he'd been naked, filthy, and beaten down.

It was more because Peter's gaze was telling Stiles that he had seen him naked, filthy, and beaten down, and that he was never going to forget that.

"Maybe some tea," Peter suggested, already striding toward the kitchen even though Derek let out a little growl in response to both his words and actions. "Unless there's coffee left."

"Uncle Peter, it's Saturday," Derek said, though he trailed along after the older werewolf, Stiles being dragged along with him somewhat unwilling, but not to the point of resisting. "Did you really have to come over?"

"Of course I did," Peter drawled, moving around Derek's kitchen as though he knew where everything was, and Stiles scowled. He was a little surprised by the surge of possessiveness he was feeling -- more for the fact that Peter was invading Derek's space than that he was invading their space, though there was that too -- but it wasn't as if he could do anything about it.

"I got up early especially to stop by," Peter continued, hands elegant and assured as he set about brewing some tea. "You should be flattered that I'm awake before noon on a weekend."

Derek grumbled something under his breath that Stiles couldn't hear even though he was close, but which Peter evidently could considering the arch, mildly amused look he shot Derek over his shoulder.

"Very mature, nephew," Peter snorted, and then turned most of his attention to making himself a mug of tea.

Derek sighed and settled down at the table, pulling Stiles into his lap and pressing his chin against the curve of Stiles' shoulder and neck.

"Don't you have cream?" Peter asked, standing before the fridge and staring inside in a way that made Stiles grateful that Derek was organized and that Stiles had adopted that method of storage like the good personal slave he was.

"No," Derek grumped out, and were those his teeth catching at the material of the top Stiles was wearing? His arms were certainly tight around Stiles' stomach, and it wasn't exactly comfortable after the big breakfast they'd had, but Stiles appreciated the possessiveness of his grip and the feeling of safety that it gave him.

"I used it all for the sweet biscuits I made to have with the strawberries," Stiles volunteered, and then he regretted it when Peter turned to them with a look on his face that Stiles could only describe as predatory.

"Sweet biscuits, you say?"

"No," Derek grumped, and even though he was behind Stiles, Stiles felt he knew exactly what Derek's eyebrows were doing and it was hard not to smile fondly, but he wasn't going to smile where Peter could see him. "I already told you I'm not feeding you."

"Derek," Peter said in a longsuffering, overly reasonable tone of voice. "You don't wave sweet biscuits in front of a man and then deny him. That would just be cruel."

Derek snorted, a hot and damp blast of air that grazed Stiles' neck, raising the hairs of his nape, and he was glad the thick sweatshirt -- Derek's, of course -- that he had on took most of the brunt or he'd be getting turned on. Bad enough he was sitting on Derek's lap, but the disturbing presence of Derek's uncle was keeping his libido mostly in check.

"I'm texting Lydia to bring some cream," Peter continued blithely, pulling his phone out of his pocket. "I'm sure you don't mind, do you, Derek?"

Derek growled. "Why would I mind two uninvited guests in my apartment on a Saturday morning," he snarked. Then he sighed and butted his forehead against the top of Stiles' spine, not hard at all. "Stiles, were there biscuits left over?"

There were indeed biscuits left over, as well as some of the strawberries, and Peter seemed to have no qualms about helping himself. Stiles was glad that Derek didn't make him serve it up; he'd have done it, and it probably should have been his task, but it would have made him feel... uncomfortable to serve Peter. In ways that he couldn't quite figure out.

It was less than ten minutes before this Lydia, whoever she was, arrived and buzzed to be let in. Peter must live close, Stiles thought, frowning faintly, as Peter went to get the door. At least this way he didn't have to get off of Derek's lap; which was especially good, since Derek didn't seem the slightest bit inclined to let him go.

Stiles wasn't sure what he'd been expecting, with no information other than a name to go on, but evidently Lydia was human, a girl about Stiles' own age with sparkling eyes and long, fiery hair that curled around her like a royal mantle. She was short, tiny in fact, but her personality very much made up for that, as did her obvious fashion sense.

She was evidently Peter's personal slave, but she almost seemed to be the one in charge between the two of them. Even though she'd been given the task of bringing Peter some cream, she delivered it as if it had been all her own idea, and then set about making coffee despite the fact that she was in Derek's apartment.

Stiles didn't miss the sidelong, curious looks she gave him, but for the most part she ignored his presence, focused on her task with barely a nod for Derek.

It seemed beyond rude to Stiles, but neither Derek nor Peter seemed bothered, and Stiles recalled what Alpha Hale had said about the pack slaves being considered family. He'd thought it was hyperbole, or at best an exaggeration, but maybe....

Once Lydia had her coffee with both cream and sugar in it, she settled down at the table opposite Derek, next to Peter, cradling the mug in tiny hands and angling an almost evil look sideways at her owner.

"You woke me early on a Saturday," she said to him, her full pink lips pressed together tightly in obvious disapproval. Stiles' eyes widened. She didn't look as though she'd been awakened recently; her hair and makeup were perfect, her eyes were bright and clear, and her clothing was impeccable. She also didn't sound like a slave addressing her owner, and Stiles cringed instinctively into Derek's lap.

"It was an emergency," Peter told her, maybe a tiny bit defensively, then he pushed the plate of sweet biscuits and strawberries he'd been eating with relish toward her. Since he'd been taking his time in savoring it there was still a good third of his generous portion left. "Breakfast?"

Lydia snorted but she accepted the offering, and Peter went to make himself some more tea, adding a generous amount of cream and even more sugar than Lydia had used in her coffee; enough to make Stiles wince and he'd discovered while living with Derek that he had a definite sweet tooth.

Now Lydia turned her attention to Stiles and since she was a slave like he was, he let himself look at her in return. She had more seniority than he had, but this was his owner's home and being on Derek's lap made him bolder than he otherwise normally would have been.

Lydia's perfectly painted nails matched her lip gloss and both complimented her green-blue eyes and creamy ivory and pink complexion. She was pretty, with a heart-shaped face and dimples, but there was something about her that Stiles found intimidating. She certainly didn't seem to mind that she was human and a slave. She seemed to feel as though she was in command, and maybe she was.

For her part, Lydia didn't seem completely displeased by what she was seeing. Her gaze glanced over the scar Stiles had around his left eye but didn't linger. She seemed more interested in surveying the entirety of Stiles' person.

He probably made quite a picture, Stiles thought with more blunt honesty than self consciousness. He'd gained back a fair amount of weight in the two and a half weeks he'd been living with Derek, but he was still kind of scrawny. He knew his cheekbones were extreme; even more so than Derek's were. His hair was getting longer but it had been buzzed, down when Derek had purchased him so it was growing in kind of messy. Then there was the scar on his face, which Lydia had definitely noticed, even if she hadn't stared.

Add to all this the fact that Stiles was sitting on Derek's lap, with Derek's arms wrapped possessively around his belly, and Derek glowering at Peter over his shoulder. That wasn't exactly normal behavior for a werewolf and their personal slave.

Stiles was relieved that Lydia couldn't smell either of them the way Peter could. Since she couldn't smell, she wouldn't be able judge either them for the fact that Derek was still regularly marking Stiles long after most owners would have stopped, or that Stiles was marking Derek... unless Peter had told her, of course.

"You look older than I expected, from what Peter told me," Lydia finally spoke up, licking the tines of her fork delicately with a nimble red tongue, her eyes still fixed on Stiles. "I'd expected a child, but your shoulders are actually quite broad."

"Rude," Peter huffed, and Lydia reached over to smack his upper arm with the back of her hand.

"Like you're one to talk," she replied, then stood and collected the empty plate and utensils, taking them over to the sink. "I don't know why I ever listen to you anyway."

"Because I'm a delight to listen to," Peter said, which surprised Stiles. He'd honestly been expecting Peter to say "Because I'm your owner."

Lydia snorted again and went to pour herself a second cup of coffee. "You're a liar and a menace," she told him, with what Stiles found to be an astonishing and terrifying lack of respect for the fact that Lydia was a slave and Peter could kill her without even thinking about it and suffer no repercussions.

"Derek, Stiles, would you like some coffee?" she asked, leaving her mug on the counter and turning to raise her brows at both of them. It was the closest to subservient that Stiles had seen her, and it wasn't very. She spoke to them more as though she was the hostess offering them something, rather than the guest in their apartment, much less a slave offering to bring something to an owner.

"No thanks," Derek grunted, and Stiles shook his head. He was strangely reluctant to use his cracking, raspy voice. Normally he wasn't ashamed of it, but normally he was only speaking to Derek or maybe Emissary Deaton, and very occasionally Alpha Hale.

Lydia pursed her lips in a mouse, picking up her mug and returning to the table.

"So what are you doing here, Peter?" she asked sweetly, still watching Derek and Stiles even though she was addressing her owner.

Peter arched both brows at her at once. "I thought that would be obvious; checking on how my beloved nephew and the personal slave I helped him choose are getting along."

"Mm-hm." Lydia un-pursed her lips long enough to take a sip of coffee.

"What?" Peter said defensively, scowling at her. "It's the truth."

"Oh, I know it is," she sighed. "It's one of your only good traits; how much you care about Derek."

Peter looked uncomfortable and glanced over at Derek and Stiles, then huffed and went to refresh his tea, even though his mug was still half full.

Stiles blinked at Lydia and she offered him a smile that looked equal parts charming and dangerous.

"Shall we go into the living room and talk slave-talk?" she asked sweetly, then she tilted her head and switched her gaze to Derek directly. "That is, if your owner is able to let go of you...."

Derek grumbled and nosed at Stiles' neck, but his arms loosened.

"I actually did have something pack related to discuss with you," Peter informed Derek, looking uncharacteristically sober as he returned to the table. "So now might be a good time to let Stiles and Lydia leave the kitchen. Not that I don't trust you," he told Lydia, touching the crown of her head delicately, fingertips pressed to her glossy gold-red hair. "Just, it's not something you need to worry about."

"Of course," she said, nodding and getting to her feet. "Stiles?"

Derek grumbled some more, but he let Stiles up. Since Peter and Lydia didn't seem like the sort who would judge -- hell, they barely acted like slave and owner at all -- Stiles paused long enough to press his palm against the side of Derek's throat, sharing his scent and feeling the throb of his pulse under his hand.

"This won't take long," Peter said. "And then we'll be on our way and we'll let you get back to your lazy morning together."

Stiles grimaced a little, because it had seemed to him that Peter had put a peculiar emphasis on "together" but he was turning away from the table and so he was pretty sure Peter hadn't seen his expression.

Lydia was even more tiny when she was standing beside Stiles, and for the first time in, well, ever, he felt bigger and stronger than someone else.

Though he was willing to bet that Lydia would be able to take him in a fight. She was small and slender, but she looked like she could hold her own, and she had an air of confidence that bespoke complete assurance in her own safety.

Not that Stiles would ever want to fight her, for any reason. If anything, he felt compelled to protect her; for all she obviously didn't need it. For a lot of human slaves it was a matter of survival of the fittest, everyone for themselves, but Stiles' parents hadn't raised him that way. He had more often been reduced to looking out for himself, but it was good to know that he still held to the higher morals that his father and mother had worked so hard to instill in him.

Lydia perched on the edge of the sofa, knees together, ankles crossed, still holding her coffee mug with both hands, and she watched Stiles closely as he sat beside her, carefully situation himself near enough that they could hear one another speak but far enough away that she wouldn't be able to easily touch him. Stiles knew that Derek would be happier if he didn't pick up any scents from either Lydia or Peter.

"Don't worry about Peter's super secret pack business," Lydia told Stiles smoothly, holding her mug in her lap. "He's just going to complain about Cora's new boyfriend. Honestly, he's so self important he could make a comment about the weather sound like breaking news."

Stiles watched in fascination as she rolled her pretty eyes in exasperation over her owner. Even though he'd lost his fear of Derek and they'd become fairly informal around one another, Stiles was still stunned over the lack of accord that Lydia afforded Peter. And the fact that Peter let her get away with it blew his mind even more.

This was the werewolf who'd been so judgmental of Stiles, after all, when Derek had chosen him. Peter still scared Stiles, but he seemed a little less terrifying when Stiles knew how whipped by Lydia he was.

Then again, Lydia was pretty terrifying in her own right.

"So, tell me, Stiles," she said, freeing a hand to flip her gorgeous hair over one shoulder. "How are you doing? Really?"

Stiles' brow wrinkled, wondering why she cared, but he shouldn't discount her like that. Just because she came off as very self possessed and distant that didn't mean that she might not care, even though she had only barely met him.

"I'm good," he said, and he really hoped that Derek was right about his voice sounding better. He offered her a small smile, even though he usually reserved those for Derek. But then again, he didn't usually interact with anyone who wasn't Derek.

"Really good," he added, because he didn't know if Lydia realized how bad things had been for him before, but he did want her to believe that he was about a million times better now. "The Hale pack is--"

He broke off, not knowing how to finish that sentence. There were too many adjectives to choose from, and the Hale pack wasn't like any he had ever known before.

"Different," Lydia finished, and her smile looked genuine now. He could see the difference. "They're very different, and in this case that's a good thing."

Stiles nodded fervently.

"I wasn't born into the Hale pack," Lydia said, and that was all she said, but there was a darkness to her eyes that told Stiles that while her past might not have been as ugly as his, it probably wasn't good. "I'm incredibly lucky that Peter purchased me on my sixth birthday."

Stiles' brows rose at that. He'd thought he'd been young when he'd been sold off at the age of ten. Six year old personal slaves were completely unheard of.

"There were... circumstances," Lydia demurred, pursing her lips, responding to his expression even though he hadn't said anything. "Let's not get into it."

Stiles nodded, because he certainly didn't feel like sharing his history with Lydia and would never expect her to tell him hers.

"Peter is...." He didn't finish that thought because even though he could hear the low buzz of Derek and Peter's conversation in the kitchen, he couldn't be sure one or both of them wouldn't hear him. Also, he didn't think he could finish that sentence without offending Lydia.

"He's an asshole," she completed for him, smiling sharply, but her eyes were warm. "He's selfish and only really cares about himself and his family. But he really does care about his family. Even when he sometimes does his best to drive them crazy."

Stiles bit his lip to avoid smirking, glad to have this informed insight into Peter Hale's character. Derek seemed to be equal parts annoyed by and affectionate toward his uncle, so Stiles figured Lydia was probably one hundred percent correct in her assessment.

"He helped Derek buy me," he offered, shrugging, hands clasped in his lap.

"But not choose you," Lydia said, and it wasn't a question. Stiles didn't know what her point was, if she even had one, but he nodded because it was true. That had been all Derek. Though, to be fair, Peter hadn't argued against him as strongly as he might have done, considering how supremely unsuited Stiles had been to becoming Derek's personal slave.

"You're very lucky," Lydia said, voice soft and strangely gentle for her, and she gave Stiles an encouraging look. "But you already know that."

Stiles was actually curious as to her meaning. He knew he was lucky to belong to the Hale pack now. He was acutely aware of how lucky he was to be Derek's personal slave, for multiple reasons. But did Lydia understand that? Was her reasoning something other than his?

Before she could continue, before Stiles could even think about questioning her if she didn't continue, Peter swanned into the living room.

"Come on, Lydia," he said imperiously, but he seemed relaxed and easy so Stiles didn't think Derek had pissed him off or anything. Of course, it remained to be seen whether or not Peter had pissed Derek off. "Let's head for home."

"And back to bed," she huffed, rising to her feet quickly and easily. Stiles kind of envied her this grace.

Derek followed Peter out of the kitchen, and he didn't look too upset; not any more than he had over Peter showing up in the first place anyway. He moved purposefully toward Stiles, but then Lydia sort of intercepted him, shoving her coffee mug into his hands.

Even though he was a werewolf, Derek almost fumbled it, which would have been a disaster since it was half full, and he blinked at Lydia. He was clearly used to her, but Stiles didn't think anyone could really ever be used to Lydia. Except maybe Peter, who owned her.

"Thank you," she said primly, giving Derek a fierce grin.

"Oh, when you take that into the kitchen, could you grab our cream?" Peter said, giving Derek an arch look. "I forgot it."

Derek scowled at his uncle, and Stiles was ready to take the mug, to go and fetch the cream, because he was the slave here, but then Lydia was hooking a hand through his elbow and tugging him toward the door.

Stiles was so stunned by the fact that she was touching him that he followed without thought. And Peter had given Derek a little shove, which got him moving toward the kitchen before he thought better of it.

It hadn't occurred to Stiles that Peter and his personal slave had been acting to deliberately separate him and Derek until he was at the door with Lydia shrugging into her jacket, and Peter leaned in close, his breath hot and moist over Stiles' ear, though he was careful not to touch him in any way.

"Talia thinks you can be trusted," he murmured, so quietly that Stiles thought Derek might actually not be able to hear him from the kitchen. "I'm not so sure but I want to trust you. Just know this; if you hurt him in any way, I'll do things to you that will make you long to be back in your previous owners' hands."

Stiles took an involuntary step away, startled but not actually frightened. And why wasn't he frightened? He believed Peter. He believed him so hard. But he never would do anything to harm Derek, which meant he had nothing to worry about.

So instead of panicking, which would have been his response before he'd been purchased by Derek, he nodded fervently, meeting and holding Peter's eyes. Normally that was considered a challenge that no slave should present to a werewolf, but Stiles just hoped that Derek's uncle would be able to read the sincerity in his gaze.

Peter's eyes were hard and bright, but the crystalline blue softened after a moment, and he nodded in return, just a small bob of his head, and one corner of his thin lips quirked upward.

Derek came back out of the kitchen, not running but hurrying, and he gave Peter a deeply suspicious glare as he reeled Stiles into his arms, not incidentally pulling him away from his uncle.

"It was nice to meet you, Stiles," Peter said smoothly, as though he hadn't just been threatening him with dire damage. "I look forward to seeing more of you in the future."

Derek growled, deep and rumbling in his chest, but Lydia defused the moment by shoving Peter's coat at him with a bored expression, then plucking the small bottle of cream that Derek was still holding right out of his hand.

"Have a nice weekend," she said to both Derek and Stiles. "I'll make sure Peter doesn't bother you again."

Stiles was pretty sure that Lydia had deliberately separated Derek and himself so that Peter could covertly threaten him... but he didn't mind. If Derek had wanted him to do something similar, he'd have done whatever he could to help. Though he doubted he could have done it half as smoothly as Lydia had, he had to admit.

Stiles thought he liked Lydia, but she also terrified him. Peter, he was less certain about. He didn't think he was scared of him anymore but he definitely didn't trust him. Mostly he understood now why Derek found him to be so deeply annoying.

Then Peter and Lydia were gone, and Derek was dragging Stiles to the shower and then dressing him in "fresh" clothing, taken straight off his own body, once he'd marked him all over again.

Stiles understood. Lydia had touched him, and Peter had gotten very close there at the end. Derek had to reassert his claim.

It wasn't until they were curled together in their bed, Stiles tucked up against Derek's bare chest, Derek's mouth moving over most of his face, leaving trails of cooling saliva over his cheekbones and jawline, that Derek actually spoke.

"Peter's an asshole," he grouched, licking at the thin skin underneath Stiles' ear. He was hard and so was Stiles, but as usual they ignored it.

"He's not so bad," Stiles said, and he actually kind of meant it. He wasn't sure why he wasn't terrified of Peter, but he wasn't. Maybe it was because of Lydia.

Derek was silent for long minutes, and then he spoke again. "Peter was the one... who found me... who killed Kate...."

Stiles shifted closer, tightening his arms around Derek, even though he was the weak human and Derek was the werewolf with both bulk and near infinite strength on him.

"You know about that?" Derek questioned hesitantly.

Stiles nodded. "Sort of. I was a little boy, but I heard. My dad was angry because some of the other slaves were happy. He said you were just a kid and didn't deserve what she did to you. And he was right."

Derek was silent so long that Stiles didn't think they were going to talk about it anymore. At least the change in subject had mostly killed both their erections, but Stiles felt bad that Derek probably felt bad. He rubbed a hand in hopefully soothing circles over the spot where Derek had that triskelion tattoo, between his shoulderblades.

"It felt like I deserved it," Derek finally said, his voice hoarse like Stiles' but for a different reason. Stiles let out a noise of distress and disagreement, but then Derek continued. "Mom and Deaton finally convinced me it wasn't anything I'd done that made Kate target me."

"Because it wasn't," Stiles said fiercely. He wanted to pull back and glare at Derek, but he couldn't bear the thought of moving away from him even an inch. "Did I deserve any of the bad things that happened to me before you bought me?" he challenged.

"No," Derek replied immediately, squeezing Stiles almost painfully close. Then his arms loosened a little, so that Stiles could breathe, and he sighed against Stiles' temple. "No, I know it wasn't my fault. But the things she did... the things she said... made it seem that way."

Stiles made a disgruntled sound, but before he could protest again, Derek was continuing.

"Anyway. I was hurt, so badly. And then Peter crashed into the room. And he tore out her throat. And he cut me down and... held me together until Mom got there. So. Yeah. I know that he's a humongous asshole, but he loves me. And I love him."

"I understand," Stiles said. "It's okay. It's all okay, Derek."

Derek huffed, then shook his head. "All that said, Stiles, don't trust him. Okay? Because we all love him, but none of us trust him. And if he ever does anything that makes you nervous or scared, you tell me."

Stiles pondered telling Derek about Peter's threat... but it hadn't made feel either nervous or scared. Because Peter had only said he would damage Stiles if he hurt Derek, and if Stiles hurt Derek -- especially after what Kate had done to him when he'd been about Stiles' age -- then Stiles would deserve whatever punishment Peter wanted to mete out.

"I will," he said, and left it at that, and they spent the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon just cuddling in bed, with a break for lunch. Overall, it was a good weekend, even if it hadn't gotten off to a great start.

True to Lydia's promise, they didn't see Peter in their apartment again. Derek saw him at work, of course. And Stiles saw him again on the day Derek left some important paperwork at home and didn't have time to come back for it.

"Are you absolutely sure it's okay?" Derek questioned anxiously as he spoke to Stiles on the cell phone he'd been given early on. Derek was the only person Stiles ever talked to on it, but he texted back and forth with Laura and sometimes Talia included him in Hale pack group messages, when they involved something she felt he should know about.

"It's fine," Stiles said, trying to make his voice as firm as possible when his heart was pounding in his throat. He'd been out of his previous owners' homes occasionally, and he knew that Derek worked close, but it did made him anxious.

Still, he smelled like Derek, he had on the wristband inscribed with the Hale pack name, and he ended up making the trip completely safely.

It was worth it for the look of mingled pride and relief on Derek's face as he entered his office. Derek's day was jam packed with meetings, which was why Stiles had needed to bring him the papers even though they lived close, but he took two full minutes to hold Stiles close and reaffirm his scent on his skin with his hands and mouth.

"If you wait here, we can go home together," he suggested. Derek looked so hopeful, and Stiles hadn't had anything planned for the rest of his afternoon that couldn't be put off, so he dutifully nodded and smiled, then sat down on the sofa in the receptionist's area, since the next meeting Derek had was in his office.

And that was where Stiles was still sitting, playing a game on his phone, when Peter and his personal slave arrived, presumably returning from lunch.

Lydia took one look at the red hoodie Stiles was wearing and demanded the car keys from Peter. He handed them over with a bemused smile, told her to take care, and watched with poorly-disguised glee as she dragged her fellow personal slave out clothing shopping on the Hale pack tab.

Stiles couldn't stop her, he didn't even try, but he did text Derek to let him know where he was. This could either end badly or be fine; Stiles wasn't sure which. He did know he didn't trust Peter to communicate to Derek where he had vanished to.

Lydia's taste in clothing was much better than Peter's, Stiles was relieved to discover. Not that Peter dressed badly, but he radiated an aura of master douchebag and Stiles didn't want to duplicate that.

No, Lydia picked out nice sweaters and slightly oversized henleys, ones that suited Stiles better than Derek's shirts that he wore, even though it felt like blasphemy to acknowledge that fact. She favored skinny jeans, which Stiles wasn't so sure about, but they did accentuate his long legs and "tight little ass" as Lydia put it.

"Mostly I wear Derek's clothes when we're at home," he told Lydia shyly, as they took a break for a soda, surrounded by way more bags than he was comfortable with belonging to him.

"Understandable," she said, nodding and looking understanding. "But that's no excuse for looking awful when you're out in public."

Stiles wanted to point out that this was his first time going out in public since Derek had bought him, and he also felt that the hoodie -- which he'd actually picked out himself -- was not awful. But he recognized that it would be useless to argue with Lydia.

Then she distracted and stunned him by continuing;

"It would certainly be handy if Peter were bonded to me the way you and Derek are bonded." She sipped her soda, fixing Stiles with a contemplative stare. "Though if we were, Peter would never admit it."

Stiles blinked at her, confused. He had no idea what she was talking about. He knew that sometimes werewolves bonded to one another... but he didn't know they could become bonded to a human. That didn't seem possible or likely. He'd have noticed by now if he and Derek were bonded, right?

"But think of it," Lydia said, blithely ignoring his stunned expression. "You could get Derek to do anything you wanted." She paused and pulled a sour face. "Of course, since you're bonded, you wouldn't ever ask Derek to do anything that he wouldn't do anyway. So I guess there's the drawback to that."

Stiles sat there, frozen, his brain working a mile a minute, trying to make sense of her words, but time and internal freak-out waited for no Lydia, to mangle a phrase.

"Come on," she said, rising and throwing out her drink, even though it was still mostly full. "We're going to get your hair styled before we have to return to the office."

Stiles' eyes widened, but there still wasn't to be any saying "no" to Lydia once she had her mind set on something, and this was clearly nonnegotiable.

He had to admit... he did look better once his hair had been done. He'd almost been afraid he'd wind up with everything buzzed off again, but he should have known better, should have known he could trust Lydia in this. All the stylist did was trim the sides and back, cleaning things up, and making Stiles look a dozen times better than he could ever have expected.

"There," Lydia said, smiling and patting his upper arm through the soft cotton of the long sleeve teeshirt she'd insisted he change into. "Now you look like a young man instead of a hedgehog."

Stiles pulled a face at that, comfortable enough with her now that he wasn't afraid to show his emotions. Even though he couldn't really disagree with her.

"You're welcome," she said to Derek as she marched Stiles back into the office.

Stiles had been anxious about how Derek would react, but he'd worried needlessly. Derek was unhappy with the scent of Lydia and new clothing that Stiles had all over his body, and the scent of the stylist and hair products in his hair, but he nodded in approval at the haircut, and he didn't seem displeased with the new outfit Stiles had on, though Stiles knew of course that he'd prefer to see his slave in his own clothes at home.

Lydia had gotten Stiles back to the office at five minutes before four, so he and Derek got to go straight home. They dumped the bags of clothing and shoes in the entryway and went straight to the shower stall, Stiles shedding clothing along the way. He was just as happy to get out of them, because there were stray hairs from his trim caught in the collar of the shirt he'd been wearing, making him feel all itchy and the jeans really were tighter than he was used to.

This time was a little different, because Derek turned on the water first, confusing Stiles, and had him soap himself off while he washed Stiles' hair for him. Only once he was all rinsed off and clean, did Derek shut off the shower and then have Stiles kneel so that he could piss on him.

And this was the first time Derek had Stiles bow his head forward to he could mark him on the crown of his head, through his hair. Stiles understood, though, he thought fondly, as he kept his eyes and mouth shut even though most of the hot urine was streaming down his neck, around his jaw, and very little was near his face. The stylist had touched his hair, had put product in it, and now it needed to smell more like Derek than a stranger and perfumes.

Once Derek's bladder was empty he helped Stiles to his feet and turned the water back on, rinsing him off but not using soap or shampoo this time. Stiles was okay with that. The smell of Derek's piss was a little acrid, but not truly unpleasant, and it only lingered mildly on his skin once they were done.

He got to mark Derek in return, the way they usually did, and then they exited the shower and as Stiles had told Lydia, he put on some of Derek's clothing and they went about their evening as normal.

Overall Stiles felt that the shopping trip had been a success but he was very happy to have it over with and to be home with his owner.

In the week that followed, things went along pretty smoothly, Emissary Deaton's obligatory visit was a success, Stiles' weight was almost up to a healthy number, his voice was audibly improving....

And then one afternoon while he was home while Derek was at work, Stiles decided he wanted to make cookies and then discovered that they were out of butter.

The trip out he had made with Lydia must have given him a false sense of security, because Stiles had absolutely no qualms about heading to the little shop at the end of the block.

It was the first time Stiles had been outside the apartment without explicit permission -- last time Derek had called him to bring the papers in to his office -- but Derek had said that it would be okay if Stiles made a quick trip. The doorman nodded at him on his way out, so Stiles assumed he'd let him back in. Besides, he had on his wristband from Alpha Hale, which he could show the doorman if he balked, and he needed that butter if he wanted to have cookies baked by the time Derek got home.

It occurred to Stiles as he was checking out, handing over the credit card Derek had given him to use, that he could have asked Derek to pick some butter up on his way home today, and then they could have made the cookies together that evening... but then Derek would have been delayed getting home and neither of them would have wanted that. It was a simple enough matter for Stiles to run out and purchase some.

At least, it seemed simple... up to the point that Stiles was walking back toward the apartment, and just as he passed a seemingly empty alleyway, hard hands reached out and grabbed him, yanking him off his feet and dragging him off the sidewalk, into the shadows that shouldn't have seemed as deep and dark as they did.

Stiles opened his mouth, ready to scream, even though no one would probably pay attention to a human slave, but before he could even fully inhale a broad hand was clapped across his lips and he wasn't able to let out more than an indignant squeak.

Hands were holding him tightly, more than just one assailant, then fumbling through his pockets and relieving him of his cell phone. Stiles was overwhelmed by the violence, and the stink of the hand pressing right underneath his nose, hating that his attackers were getting their scents all over him, and then he was lifted off his feet and the world spun around him and he landed sideways with a painful crash.

It wasn't on pavement or brick, though. There was a little padding, some awkward metal, things were poking him....

Then the sky slammed down and he was plunged into darkness, an engine roared, and Stile realized he'd just been thrown into the trunk of a vehicle.

The air was close and adrenaline was pulsing through his body. Fight or flight and he couldn't do either. Panic hovered around the edges of his mind, but Stiles staved it off with the thought of Derek.

He was being kidnapped for unknown reasons, and he wouldn't be there when Derek got home. They wouldn't be making dinner tonight, and Derek would have no way of finding out what had happened to him; he might think Stiles had run away!

Okay, no, that was going to make his panic worse. Stiles scrabbled blindly in the area he was in, trying to find something he could use, to pry his way out, to wield as a weapon. His breath was coming shorter and sharper.

His wrist caught on something, yanking painfully, and he whined in mingled fear and frustration, but in that moment it was as though a light had gone off, so bright he almost literally saw it in the darkness surrounding him.

The wristband from Alpha Hale!

Stiles wore it every time he left the apartment. He'd always looked on it as a mark of ownership, visual proof that he belonged to Derek. He'd almost forgotten what Talia had told him the evening that she had come to dinner and gifted it to him. He'd been lost in a welter of fear at the time, but he remembered... he remembered....

Unstrapping it, fingers fumbling in the dark as his hands shook and the vehicle he was in rumbled all around him, Stiles did his best to pry away the backing as she had directed. It was hard to get his nails hooking under it the way he needed to do, but he managed it.

There was a tiny red light blinking at him in the darkness, and Stiles breathed a small sigh of relief. The GPS seemed to be working, and now Derek would be able to find him.

Stiles contemplated what to do next. He was afraid that if he kept the wristband his captors -- whoever they were and whatever the hell they wanted -- would see it and take it from him the same way they'd taken his phone. But if he secreted it in the trunk he was in and they removed him from the vehicle, then maybe Derek wouldn't be able to find him.

In the end, Stiles shoved it in his pocket as the car came to an abrupt stop. His heart was racing, but a sense of calm settled over him nonetheless. He'd been stolen away, but Derek would find him. Derek wouldn't let anything happen to Stiles. This would be okay.

Stiles' sense of calm was short-lived, because once they arrived where they were headed, he was manhandled out of the trunk and into a big, empty warehouse. He supposed this whole thing could have been more cliched, but he wasn't sure how.

Especially when he was forced to his knees in front of a stereotypical crazy old man who gave him a wide leer, and said;

"So, you're Hale's new pet."

And Stiles realized that it was more likely than not that he'd been kidnapped as bait -- because a single human slave had no worth and of could this was about his owner, not him -- and that he had actually played right into that when he'd triggered the GPS in his wristband. His stomach plunged and he wished he'd destroyed it instead of turning it on. Shit.

He should have known, Stiles berated himself as the old man paced in a circle around him, his boots crunching on the dirty warehouse floor, his eyes dark and piercing. He made Stiles feel the way he had felt when he'd been standing naked in the warehouse, before Derek had found him and bought him. Or worse. The old man looked like he was judging Stiles and finding him wanting.

It didn't bother Stiles so much as it scared him. There was something not right in this fixed gaze, in the twist of this man's thin lips. He was both smug and disgusted, and Stiles was somehow sure just from the one sentence and a couple of minutes spent in his presence that this creep was insane.

An impression that wasn't banished in the slightest when he began speaking again.

"Never did think I'd see Hale with a personal slave, but I guess he just couldn't leave the humans alone in the end. His deviant nature just had to come to light."

Stiles frowned in confusion and not a little disapproval, wondering how this old man knew Derek, that he spoke of him so disrespectfully. And wrongly, because who was this asshole to call Derek a "deviant"? Stiles might not have known Derek long, but he felt he knew him well, and Derek definitely wasn't a deviant!

It flashed across Stiles' head that this freak might somehow know that Derek was still marking Stiles daily, and having Stiles mark him back, but while that wasn't the norm by werewolf standards it was hardly to be considered deviant. Besides, this guy looked human, didn't have the physique or features of a wolf....

Not for the first time since he'd begun living with Derek, Stiles wished for a better sense of smell. Other than that, he was happy enough being human. He didn't like being a slave, but Derek treated him well and thought of him as nearly an equal. He was considered family by the entire Hale pack. Stiles no longer hated werewolves with the overarching passion that he had done when he'd been bought by Derek, now that he knew there were good packs like the Hales and wonderful individuals like Derek, Laura, and Alpha Hale, but that didn't mean he wanted to be one.

Still, if he could improve one thing, it would be his nose. Because he'd like to be able to smell himself on Derek's skin. And if he had a stronger sense of smell he could tell whether or not this ranting old freak was human like him, or a wolf.

"Are you listening to me?"

Whoops. His captor had been monologuing and Stiles had been lost in thought. Derek didn't get angry when that happened, knew about Stiles' ADHD and was always patient, never minding repeating himself, but this guy wasn't Derek and he wasn't patient.

Stiles grunted as someone -- one of the other men surrounding him -- cuffed him in the head hard enough to knock him over. That was nothing compared to what some of his previous owners had done to him, he thought scornfully, but he hadn't really missed getting pushed around and hit.

"What are you doing?" Stiles asked, even though he'd meant to wait the asshole out. His innate curiosity and lack of verbal filter, though, had always gotten him in trouble and were the cause of not a few of his scars. And he was frightened for Derek; wished he had never triggered the alert and GPS in his wristband.

Shit! The wristband!

He didn't even pay attention to any reply he might have been getting, his mind flying in a panic to the wristband in his pocket and the probability that Derek was coming to his rescue right now, and that he was walking into a trap.

If only there was some way to destroy the thing without his captors knowing. Then maybe he could run, and if they chased him they wouldn't be here when Derek arrived....

That scenario could only end badly for Stiles, of course, but it would be worth it if Derek was safe.

"What is wrong with you?" the old guy was asking, squatting in front of Stiles where he was still sprawled on the filthy floor, propping himself up on one elbow. He stared at Stiles with those cold, greedy dark eyes and even though he hadn't touched Stiles physically, Stiles felt more frightened of this guy than he was of any of his previous owners. And that was saying something!

"Figures, Hale would bring home a defective slave," the old guy sneered derisively, standing and stepping back away from Stiles. "Bind him," he instructed, standing there and looming over Stiles, leaving enough room for his lackeys to work but keeping a close eye on the proceedings.

"What do you want with Derek?" Stiles asked, trying to ignore the hands that were grabbing at him and shoving him around, bringing him into a kneeling position again. They yanked his arms behind him and what felt like a zip-tie was pulled painfully tight around his wrists, binding them together, then the same done to his ankles.

"Are you going to listen to the answer this time?" the old guy asked sardonically, his dark, dark eyes fixed on Stiles with what looked like mingled glee and avarice.

Stiles glared, trying to pretend that he wasn't terrified. More for Derek than for himself, but his captor really scared him, on many different levels.

The old man snorted. "You're just here to act as bait," he said loftily, confirming Stiles panicked fear that this was the case. "You don't need to know any whys or wherefores."

"Boss." One of the lackeys who'd been binding Stiles' limbs, the one who wasn't currently fastening his bound wrists to his bound ankles in a really awkward manner, the one that Stiles had thought had been feeling him up, came out of his pocket with the wristband.

Stiles had a mad moment of hope that they would destroy it and then throw him back in the car and drive away so that none of them were here when Derek arrived, even though he knew that they actually wanted to bring Derek here, but that hope was dashed when the old guy took the wristband, turning it in his evil fingers and leering an evil leer.

God, he was creepy. Stiles glared up at him, hating that he was kneeling before this asshole, hating that this asshole wanted Derek for unknown reasons, hated that he was going to help this asshole get his hands on Derek, however inadvertently and totally against his will.

"Well, that makes this all so much easier," Stiles' captor grinned, and the smile sat on his face wrong, his mouth twisted, but it was the unholy light in his eyes that was really frightening.

Forgetting or just not caring that his hands were bound to his feet, Stiles tried to lunge after the wristband as his captor shoved it into one pocket. Of course, this ended up with him pitching forward pretty much onto his face, the plastic around his wrists biting painfully into his flesh as he thrashed, first in an effort to catch himself and then in a crazed, instinctive attempt to escape.

This seemed to set off the men surrounding him -- not the old man in charge, but the ones who had grabbed him off the sidewalk -- but he barely felt it as they kicked him, barely heard them as they laughed. That bastard wasn't allowed to just casually take the wristband that had been a gift to Stiles from his alpha! The wristband that matched the one on Derek's wrist! It belonged to Stiles and he wanted it back!

He was yelling some of this, garbled after a boot hit him in the mouth, splitting his lip, the words coming out tainted with blood, but then another boot -- or maybe the same one, he couldn't tell -- caught him right below the ribcage, stealing his breath away, and words were beyond him for a moment.

It was in this instant of agonized, enforced stillness that Stiles heard the roar of an engine that he recognized, and his entire body went cold and stiff with terror, his limbs jerking hard against his bonds.

Not fear for himself, but for Derek. Oh, God, Derek was here and that was exactly what this creepy old bastard wanted, and Derek had no idea he was walking into a trap, and Stiles was tied up and in pain, and he couldn't even catch his breath to yell a warning, he wouldn't be able to do a single thing--

"Hale is here," one of the lackeys confirmed, calling across the warehouse, and the grin that split the old man's thin lips made Stiles' heart feel as though it had stopped in his chest.

"Well, we've got what we wanted," the nasty old man growled, and then someone clipped Stiles upside the head where it was on the cold warehouse floor, much, much harder this time, and he knew no more.

***

Talia Hale thanked whatever deities might exist that she was the one who arrived first at the scene of Derek's abduction, and that it wasn't Peter or a stranger.

Of course, she couldn't be sure it was where Derek had been abducted when she first got there, despite the deserted Camaro out front and the lack of her son's presence in the building, not until she'd revived Stiles and helped him work through the immediate panic attack he'd had.

All she had found had been an empty warehouse that had smelled of strange men, with a mingled scent that seemed as though it ought to be familiar but which wasn't, something weird that smelled wrong somehow, but mostly the air was scented with human blood. The blood was Stiles' and he was curled alone, small and looking broken, limbs bound, unconscious on the dirty floor.

Stiles had abraded his wrists pretty badly where plastic zip-ties had been closed tightly around them. Talia sliced through those with her claws and did her best to survey the rest of the damage as she worked to revive the boy.

There were marks of violence, Stiles' lip was split and the bridge of his nose was bruised, the entire lower half of his face covered in blood, but it was the goose-egg at the back of his skull that concerned Talia.

She was reassured when Stiles woke fairly quickly, all things considered, but once he roused he was even more of a mess. Not because he had been bound and was bloodied, bruises already rising on his pale skin, his breath coming tight due to both physical and emotional distress.

No, he was a mess because he was literally panicking over what had happened to his owner, to Derek, to Talia's son.

By the time Stiles had calmed somewhat from his panic attack and could speak well enough to let Talia know what had happened, Peter was there, pacing, filled with a cold and fierce rage. He was clearly all too ready to blame Stiles for what had happened, despite the fact that the boy was battered and had been tightly bound, had very clearly been used as a tool and nothing more.

Talia was forced to snarl at her younger brother over Stiles' bowed head to get him to stand down. She understood his strong emotions. She was feeling the same and more; after all it was her son who had been kidnapped by unknown strangers. But Stiles was too clearly ready to blame himself for what had happened, and he was not to blame for what had happened, and Talia needed the boy's head clear in order to get as much help in finding Derek as she could, as quickly as she could.

While she roused and calmed Stiles, Deaton arrived. Talia had summoned him the moment Stiles' wristband alarm had gone off, largely in his capacity as the pack emissary, but now it was his expertise as a doctor that was going to come into play. He knelt beside Stiles, to the other side of him from Talia, and quickly but carefully examined the human.

"He'll be all right," he informed Talia softly, causing Stiles to flinch and whimper as he palpitated the boy's torso carefully. "But it will take a while before he's fully recovered."

Talia nodded sharply but even though she did care about Stiles and his health and safety, she was far more concerned with where Derek was.

Peter had arrived independently, before Talia could contact him, and Talia wondered how he'd found them. Once Peter had calmed enough to speak rationally she asked him, because now was not the time for secrets, and Peter told her that Derek had gone tearing out of the office so quickly that he'd known something had been wrong. But that didn't explain how her brother had gotten here, to an abandoned warehouse, and Peter didn't offer any explanation for that part of it.

Talia strongly suspected that Peter had Derek's car bugged, since the Camaro was right outside, the driver's side door still hanging open. And while she didn't approve of that at all, she could understand the paranoia that might have led Peter to do so, if that was indeed what he had done.

Well, Talia would have labeled it paranoia previously. But here they were, Derek stolen away from her again, and maybe it had been more a healthy amount of caution on Peter's part.... Though it hadn't been his place to do so, if that was indeed what he had done.

Peter had settled into a white-hot rage that was no longer aimed at Derek's personal slave anymore, and Stiles was still only a thin hair away from panicking again as the rest of the pack arrived. Not the entire pack, but most of its adult members, because whatever was going on, Talia intended on having the proper back-up.

But first she needed to find her son. She needed to know where he was before she could rescue him.

"Stiles," she knelt before him, gripping his face in both her hands, carefully because of the damage he'd taken, gentle because he was panicking, but firm because her son was missing.

"Stiles, sweetie," she said, using her alpha tone. "Calm down. I need you to take a deep breath, because you're going to have to help us find Derek."

"But I don't remember anything," he said tearfully, his cheeks white and damp, tears streaking through the blood Deaton hadn't managed to completely wipe away, hands clenching in his lap, knuckles white and bony. "I was zoned out so I don't even know if the nasty old man said anything that we could use as a clue!"

"Hush," Talia commanded, before Stiles could dissolve into useless sobbing. She understood his powerful emotions and his feeling of helplessness; she was experiencing the same. Add to that the fact that Stiles had been used as bait to lure Derek and was inclined to blame himself for that, even though it wasn't his fault, and it was a wonder she was getting any rational words out of him. But now wasn't the time to give in to guilt and fear.

Derek had been taken from Talia Hale once before. She was going to get him back again, before this stranger could do as much damage to her baby boy as Kate Argent had done.

That thought triggered something in her head, and she spoke with some urgency. "Stiles, tell me again what the man looked like."

Stiles shivered and raised his chin, visibly pulling himself together. "He was old. Creepy. He wanted Derek."

"No, I mean what did he look like."

"Like an evil potato with a skull for a face," Stiles answered promptly. Peter snorted, but Talia felt her hackles rise as Stiles continued, "His eyes were really dark and they looked like a lizard or... or something empty, something that was completely cold and cruel inside."

"Sound familiar?" Talia asked Peter, her lips feeling numb as she pressed them tightly together, her fangs itching to drop.

Peter frowned for a moment, looking confounded, then the mention of dark eyes must have processed, or maybe Stiles' somewhat fanciful description swam together in his mind, because he snarled and wolfed out a little.

"Gerard!"

"Who?" Stiles asked, his voice quavering, his eyes filled with fear but his expressions firm with determination. Talia knew this human boy would do whatever it took to help her get her son back... and she was going to need his help.

"That's Kate Argent's father," Deaton replied softly, speaking for her because Talia was beyond words for the moment, filled with terror for her son in the hands of that maniac and a rage that met and matched Peter's. "He blames the Hales for the death of his daughter."

"As he should, because I killed her," Peter said sharply. "But he won't admit that the wrongdoing was hers in the first place. And he blames Derek rather than me."

"But Derek was the victim!" Stiles cried, clearly outraged, and through the fear and anger overwhelming her Talia felt a surge of affection for the newest Hale family member and respect for how much he cared about her son. "How can he blame someone who was being tortured? How can he blame someone who was still tied up when you arrived to save him!"

"Did Derek tell you that?" Peter asked, so surprised he was shaken out of his rage a little, his features growing smooth again.

Stiles nodded, his chin crumpling, but his mouth remaining steady. "You saved him," he said simply. "He said. But now he's been taken again and we need to find him and save him again!"

Talia seconded that, vigorously.

"What about the GPS wristband?" Stiles asked, seeming not even to notice his fat lower lip in his urgency, the words spilling out of him with a wild desperation, a little garbled by his injury but easy enough to make out. "He put it in his pocket before Derek got here!"

"It's been destroyed," Talia replied unhappily. "I've already checked, and while the alarm triggered and the GPS led me here, the trail ends at this warehouse. I'm not sure what he did or when, but it's not something we can use."

Stiles looked on the verge of tears again, and Talia understood but she didn't have time to help him through another breakdown.

Unfortunately, knowing that it was Gerard Argent who had taken Derek didn't do much to help her figure out where the insane old human might have taken her son. Not when he was canny and would have planned this out, not when he had essentially vanished as soon as the investigation into the events of Derek's kidnapping and Kate's death had been completed. But it did make it more urgent that she find Derek, because who knew what Gerard had planned for her son.

That explained the slightly familiar smell in the warehouse, Talia thought fleetingly, frowning and raising her head, scenting the air around Stiles, even though she'd already discovered as much as she could, and now all there was to smell was Stiles' blood, the lingering traced of herbs and medication that clung to Deaton, and her pack.

She'd never come face to face with Gerard, all of his accusations coming through a third party. But the smell of Kate had clung to both Derek and Peter after Derek had been rescued, until they could both bathe it away, and since Kate had been Gerard's daughter there was a certain amount of similarity.

There was something... different... something off about the scent that lingered in the warehouse. Talia could still swear she smelled a werewolf, even though Stiles was fairly certain that all of the men who had kidnapped him and roughed him up had been human, and the scents clinging to his clothes and skin seemed to confirm that.

"Stiles." Peter squatted in front Stiles, his features intent and focused now, and Talia let him speak because she might not trust him but she trusted that he wanted exactly what she wanted in this moment; to find Derek and bring him safely home.

Stiles blinked at Peter, startled out of his potential panic attack, his chest still heaving and his eyes swimming with unshed tears, but he was listening.

"You can find Derek," Peter surprised everyone by saying.

"What?"

"What?" Talia seconded, brows rising. Deaton remained silent, watching intently.

Peter didn't even glance at Talia, keeping his attention focused on the human boy before him. Talia was beside Stiles to one side, Deaton on the other with his first aid kit, and Peter was crouched before him, leaning in close.

"The bond between you and Derek," Peter said urgently. "It's better than any GPS. If you can focus on that deeply enough, you can follow it right to Derek."

"Peter," Talia began, because she had been tossing around the idea that there was a bond between her son and his personal slave, but she didn't think it was something with enough reality and strength to do as Peter was suggesting, but then she saw Deaton nodded solemnly over Stiles' head, and stopped. Not that either Peter or Stiles were listening to her anyway.

"There's.... Are you.... Lydia said.... But I didn't think....."

"The bond is real," Peter said decisively, interrupting Stiles' sputtering attempts at disclaimer, his crystal blue gaze holding Stiles' dark brown eyes, his hands resting on the boy's shoulders. "It's definitely there and it's deep and you can use it to help us get Derek back."

Stiles froze, gaze turning inward, but Talia felt some hope wing in her chest. If Peter was right -- and Deaton seemed to think he was -- then they had a chance. There was a very good chance that they could find Derek now.

"Stiles," Talia said urgently, drawing his attention. "Stiles, if Peter is right then we can go and get Derek. Are you willing to help?"

"Of course," Stiles answered quickly and without the slightest hint of uncertainty. "But how can I...?"

Talia help up her hand, flicking out her claws. "I'm going to have to put these in your neck, right at the base of your skull, and you're going to have to allow me into your head, because this is something that we need to do together. Can you do that? Will you allow me?"

Stiles' heart skipped when he saw her claws, and his eyes were huge, fresh fear rising off of him, but again he didn't hesitate for an instant.

"Yes," he nodded, reaching up and gripping her wrist for a moment, meeting her gaze steadfastly. "Do whatever it takes to help Derek. Even if it kills me, we need to get him back."

"Oh, sweetie," Talia soothed, touched but also a little disconcerted by his fervency. "No, nothing like that. It'll hurt, I won't lie. It'll probably hurt a lot. But I'll be as gentle as I can and you'll be fine, and then we'll go and get Derek."

"Less talk, more claws," Peter snapped, and Talia understood his urgency, but she still took a moment to glare at him. As much as she needed her son back in her arms, needed him rescued from insane Gerard Argent and whatever the bastard was doing to him, there was nothing wrong with taking a moment to offer Stiles a little reassurance.

If Stiles and Derek were as deeply bonded as Peter was claiming, then that would have been what Derek would have wanted and needed her to do for Stiles.

"Please hurry," Stiles said, echoing Peter's sentiment, his eyes still wide, and since he seemed to be emotionally prepared, and since Derek's life and health and mental well-being were hanging in the balance....

Talia did.

***

Derek roused from unconsciousness with a horrible feeling of deja vu. This was the second time in his life that he'd awakened chained upright to a wall, head reeling with the aftereffects of wolfsbane, his muscles spasming with the shocks of electricity that were being pumped through his body.

This was a place he hadn't ever wanted to be, not the first time, and to be perfectly honest he'd never thought he'd experience it again; outside his nightmares, anyway.

This wasn't exactly like it had been when he'd been captured by Kate, but it was close enough that Derek's brain went into a state of panic before he'd even fully processed where he was and what was going on around him.

Not that processing these things made it any better.

It was hard to focus with his senses confused by wolfsbane. His eyes were blurry and his ears were ringing. He felt as though his brain was packed in thick cotton, and each thought seemed to take forever to make its way though his mind. Even the panic he was feeling was muted, as though he was feeling the emotions from a distance.

"Ah, the monster awakes."

Derek groaned, rolling his head on a rubbery neck -- pretty much the only part of his body that he was able to move -- and he tried to blink hard enough to clear his foggy eyesight so that he could see who was speaking to him.

He didn't need to see to know who his captor was, though. His mother and Deaton had tried to keep Derek as much separate from the fall-out of what Kate had done to him as they could, but he knew the sound of Gerard Argent's voice.

Derek sighed and just paused there, eyes closed, head tipped back, exhausted by this one small movement and the realization that the man who blamed him for the death of his daughter was the one who had captured him and was now holding him, no doubt intending to inflict all sorts of tortures on him in the name of twisted vengeance.

Nothing Gerard could dole out was worse than not knowing where Stiles was, though, so Derek forced his numb, swollen tongue to move, his dry throat crackling as he choked out;

"Where's Stiles?"

"You mean your new little fucktoy?" Gerard sneered, and Derek's brows creased in a frown, the words seeming nonsensical in his ears.

"He's not... Stiles isn't...." Words were hard, and Derek wasn't even sure they were coming out as actual words.

Gerard snorted, and Derek pried his eyes open, squinting so that he could see. He felt chilled through and yet feverish at the same time, and he could feel cold sweat beaded at his temples and trickling down his spine. Wolfsbane poisoning was no fun at all, and Derek really could have done without experiencing it a second time. The electricity cramping his muscles wasn't helping, either.

"Oh, please, your scent was all over him. Marking him just like the animal you are."

Derek blinked stupidly, trying to process this. Gerard was expressing scorn for Derek as a werewolf, and yet, unless another werewolf had told him that Derek was marking Stiles....

The half-formed question that was in his mind was answered when Gerard's pinched face swam into focus and Derek could see his eyes glowing a fierce and unmistakable red.

"What?" Derek asked, and even though it came out more as a pained cough than anything else, Gerard answered him anyway.

"Yes, I'm an alpha now. Not born but created and all the stronger for it."

Derek huffed, too pained and weary to fully express his scorn at this statement, but it was there nonetheless. He didn't buy into the social stigma that bitten werewolves generally suffered, but they definitely weren't stronger than those born to it. Sometimes they might seem more powerful to the uninformed because they lacked the control that born werewolves possessed, coming to their powers after having grown up used to being weaker. But they weren't all that different from Derek and his family, and they definitely weren't stronger or more special.

However, Gerard was an alpha, which meant that technically he was stronger than Derek; especially since Derek was poisoned and pumped full of electricity at the moment. How Gerard had pulled that off, when he'd been one-hundred percent human last Derek had heard of him, was beyond Derek's ability to guess, or even to ask at this point, but he honestly didn't really care.

It meant bad things for him and he still didn't know where Stiles was; that was all that really mattered.

"You can't tell me you're not fucking your pretty little slave-boy," Gerard was saying, completely ignoring Derek's attempt at denial, though if he'd bothered to listen to Derek's heartbeat he'd have known Derek was telling the truth, as incoherent as it had been. "Guess you're just a deviant who has sex with humans."

Derek snarled. He wasn't sure if it was that the panicked adrenaline flooding his system slowly burning away some of the effects of the wolfsbane, if it was rage at the oblique mention of Kate, or if it was the mention of Stiles, but his head cleared slightly and he found himself able to think and speak a little more lucidly. And he spoke his mind without hesitation.

"What your daughter did to me wasn't sex," he said, slurring a little but putting the words together in the right order and speaking the truth. "It was an assault. It was rape."

Gerard scoffed, waving a dismissive hand, and Derek was starting to understand how Kate had ended up being such a twisted individual, if this was who she'd grown up with as a parent and role model.

Kate's brother and Gerard's son, Chris Argent, wasn't like this, Derek mused blearily. He'd met with Chris a couple of times after he'd been rescued from Kate, and had found him to be honorable and respectful.

Chris Argent hadn't tried to deny what Kate had done, he hadn't tried to defend her actions. He'd been upset and sad that his sister was dead, but once he'd ascertained that Derek's story had been the truth, he'd apologized on behalf of his family and done what he could to make reparations.

He had been in a position to do so because even though he was human he worked for and with the Police Department, doing the rare things that the werewolves couldn't do and just generally being a liaison between the races. When they needed a sympathetic face to question a human witness, when there was wolfsbane or mountain ash to be handled, when there was anything that a werewolf couldn't do but a human could, Chris Argent and the other humans in the department were called in.

Also, human Police Department members could carry wolfsbane bullets, which were occasionally necessary. That was a huge and dangerous responsibility, and for Chris to be afforded it meant that he'd been tested and vetted over and over by the authorities. It also meant that he was pretty much the opposite kind of person his sister had been and his father was.

Derek wished Chris was here. Maybe he could talk some sense into Gerard. Or, failing that, he could shoot his father with a wolfsbane bullet, since he was evidently a werewolf now.

"Please," Gerard was scoffing, pacing back and forth before Derek, his eyes still bright and fixed on Derek's face, though he wasn't wolfing out or shifting into his full alpha form. Derek was pretty sure he had enough wolfsbane in his system that Gerard couldn't actually touch him, but he could rant and rave, and he would be able to assault Derek if he used tools of some sort or brought in a human lackey to do it.

"Kate was beautiful," Gerard continued. As if that was a consideration, as though Derek wouldn't have been disgusted by her pawing at him simply because she was attractive. Also, it was supremely creepy to hear Gerard say that with such relish. Derek grimaced, and it was only partially because of the pain he was feeling from the wolfsbane in his body.

"So are you planning on raping me too?" he forced himself to ask, still slurring but trying to keep his captor engaged. The longer Gerard talked, the less time he would spend hurting Derek. "Because I gotta say, the idea of that is even more repellant than what Kate did to me. And I hadn't thought that was possible."

This declaration sent Gerard off into a vitriol-riddled rant about how Derek should have been flattered by Kate's attentions -- which was insane -- and how all wolves should be put down at birth -- which was even more insane, especially since Gerard was a werewolf himself now -- but Derek tuned out and just let his head fall back again, closing his eyes wearily.

Kate had hurt him as much with her words as with her actions, and she'd evidently inherited this talent from her father -- as well as her psychopathic tendencies -- but Gerard just wasn't getting to Derek the way Kate had done. He wasn't able to.

Because Derek wasn't a skinny seventeen year old anymore. He was older, wiser, and he was stronger physically and -- more importantly -- emotionally. He had his mother and he had Stiles. He had Laura and Deaton and Peter. He had his pack. He might be the only one chained up here, but he wasn't alone in this, and he never would be alone. No matter what Kate had done, no matter what Gerard might do, Derek would always have his family.

Of course, he would feel a lot better if he was with his family now, Derek thought foggily, feeling a little floaty as the adrenaline faded and the wolfsbane and electricity overwhelmed him again. And he hadn't found out from Gerard if Stiles was alive or--

No! He wasn't even going to think of any other possibility! In his haze of drugged pain, Derek let his mind wander even further, and it might be his imagination, but he was pretty sure he could find a place inside himself, deep in his mind, deep in his heart, where Stiles had made a home... and that place was beating strong and vigorous.

So if it wasn't all a wolfsbane-induced hallucination, Derek felt he could be certain that Stiles was okay. And that made him feel a million times better, even though he was still poisoned, chained to a wall, and being jolted with electricity that combined with the wolfsbane to keep him weak as a newborn.

When the GPS alarm had gone off on his wristband, Derek was pretty sure he'd felt his heart stop in his chest. He knew that Stiles wouldn't have triggered it without good cause, and the thought of Stiles having any cause to trigger it had sent Derek running out of the building where he worked in a complete panic.

He'd followed the signal to an old warehouse, had jumped out of the Camaro, had just had time to think that he probably should have contacted his mother instead of rushing over by himself, when something had hit him and then he had hit the ground in turn.

It had probably been a wolfsbane-laced bullet or dart, he thought, still ignoring Gerard as he worked himself into a frenzy, roaring about wolves and Kate, and Derek really wasn't listening but he didn't think he was missing out.

Gerard would have had to have humans working with him, in order to get Derek pumped full of something so deadly to werewolves then chained up here. Derek wondered if they'd known Gerard wasn't human as well. He wondered if they were still around or if Gerard had disposed of them once he had what he wanted. He didn't really care, but he wondered.

Well, if there was any chance of anyone coming to rescue him, Derek would hope that his hypothetical rescuers would face less resistance rather than more. Though he wasn't sure anyone would be able to find him to rescue him....

And then the rescue happened, as unexpected and sudden as the alarm in Derek's wristband going off while he'd been at work.

His head was foggy with wolfsbane and his ears were humming with the sound of Gerard snarling and roaring, so Derek kind of thought his brain was indulging in some wishful dreaming when the door of the room they were in flew open and his mother, Peter, and Chris Argent slammed in, followed closely by Deaton and Stiles.

Derek began to hope that it wasn't a hallucination when Gerard spun, snarling at the intruders, which meant that he saw and heard them too.

"Derek!" Stiles cried, and his big brown eyes were all Derek could see for a moment, before Gerard hulked up in the way, shifting into his alpha form. It was as ugly and twisted as he was, Derek took a moment to note, before his mother roared back at Gerard, shifting seamlessly into her wolf-form, and moved to attack.

Things were a blur at that point, Derek's brain still overcome with wolfsbane but trying desperately to parse events.

Chris Argent had his gun out and was yelling, though Derek couldn't tell if it was at his mother or at Chris' father. Possibly both, and Derek really hoped he wouldn't try taking a shot when it might hit Talia.

Deaton was holding Stiles back, since he seemed to want to run across the room to Derek's side despite the tangle of snarling, fighting alpha werewolves between them.

Peter was sliding smoothly around the walls, making his way to Derek, though his eyes were glowing, fixed on the battle, his fangs dropped and gnashing.

Derek wished it was Stiles who was coming to his side, though he could understand why Deaton was holding him back from doing so. And he was grateful that his uncle was coming for him, again. He might not always like Peter, but he loved him and he loved that he could trust Peter to do his best to save him.

Then, for a moment, Gerard had the upper hand. Talia had been an alpha longer and was a mother fighting for her child, but Gerard was trying to get revenge for the death of his child and he was also completely batshit insane, and that might have been what gave him that extra burst of power as he sent Talia tumbling across the room, her body slamming into a wall hard enough to momentarily daze her.

Derek watched in disjointed but very real terror as Gerard, still in his hulking alpha form, roared and then headed right for Stiles. Not Talia, not Derek, not even Peter who was getting closer to Derek, but Stiles!

Derek half expected that Deaton would do something. He half expected that Chris would shoot his father, though it wouldn't be enough to slow him in time and so he also half expected to see Stiles be torn to shreds, his blood smeared all over Gerard's claws and fangs and the floor and walls. Derek was pretty sure he screamed, in fear and panic and nonoNO!

But then, before anyone else could act, even Deaton, Stiles had stepped toward the charging alpha werewolf, his hand moving as though he had flung something, and Gerard just... stopped. He froze in his tracks, about five feet from Stiles and Deaton, flung back his head, howled, then shrank back into his original form; that of an old man with silver hair and deeply-lined, cruel features.

Derek blinked, thinking that he was succumbing to the wolfsbane, but as Peter reached him and shut off the electricity, then tore the chains loose, getting Derek down and easing him onto the floor, pulling him into his arms for a second time, like when he'd rescued him from Kate, Derek realized that it wasn't his sight that was getting blurry, that there really was something, a dark, glittering cloud swirling around Gerard.

As Talia joined Peter at his side, Derek stared, still in pain, still dazed and dizzy from the wolfsbane poisoning, but transfixed.

He didn't know what Stiles was doing... but whatever it was it was working. He was actively saving Derek's life, and possibly the lives of his mother, uncle, and the pack emissary as well.

But what was Stiles doing?

***

Peter was a proud man, he could admit to that fact. But he wasn't too proud to admit that he was stunned into a state of disbelief as he watched Stiles surround Gerard Argent with a swarm of mountain ash evidently controlled by the power of his mind.

Which, Peter hadn't even suspected that Stiles had a spark. Maybe that was what had attracted Derek to him at first, though Peter still tended to think that their bond had been at work from that first moment. But maybe the spark accounted for the bond, because werewolves didn't usually have a mating bond with humans unless there was something else going on....

Well, a spark would definitely be that something else.

All of them were frozen, watching as the cloud of dark, glistening mountain ash encircled Gerard, then began to tighten, flying down his throat and into his nose and eyes, bringing him to his knees with a garbled howl, black tears streaming down his pallid cheeks, black froth collecting around the edges of his gaping mouth.

Peter hated the man as much as he had hated the man's daughter, Kate, and he'd torn Kate's throat out without hesitation. He hated them both more than he'd ever hated anyone or anything else on the face of the Earth. But as a werewolf himself, seeing this spectacle caused him to wince slightly. Not in sympathy, but seeing anyone so completely and thoroughly riddled with a deadly substance was disconcerting.

Stiles was staring mulishly at Gerard, unmoved by his clear suffering. He didn't make any grand gestures, his hands rested at his sides, his eyes were clear, his lips pressed together, but it was obvious that he was the one controlling the mountain ash, and it was equally clear that he had zero intention of stopping in what he was doing.

Deaton was still standing behind Stiles, watching the proceedings with a faint look of surprise, and Peter was pretty sure the pack emissary had been the one to give Stiles the mountain ash, but he evidently hadn't meant for the human boy to use it the way he was doing now.

Chris Argent, whom Talia had contacted while they'd been on their way to rescue Derek, and who'd insisted on being included despite it being his father, because of it being his father, was watching, eyes wide, jaw slack. He didn't seem horrified so much as shocked, but Peter just hoped he wouldn't turn against any of them -- Stiles or the other Hale pack members -- when it was so clear that his father was the one who was in the wrong here.

And since when had Gerard been a werewolf, much less an alpha?

Well, however he had become a werewolf, that fact was definitely working against him now. In a big way.

The swirling ash was still spiraling inward and Gerard's howls had become hoarse screaming. He was on the floor now, spewing black from every orifice, and he seemed somehow smaller, shrunken. Peter watched with mingled horror and satisfaction as he writhed, clearly in agonizing pain.

It seemed to go in forever, but in actuality it only lasted about thirty seconds from beginning to end, before Gerard ran out of air -- or, more likely, his lungs became lined with a layer of ash -- and he collapsed.

Stiles moved more quickly than anyone expected, snatching the wolfsbane gun out of Chris Argent's hand and firing five bullets into Gerard's head without any hesitation.

"Hey!" Chris exclaimed, maybe not very professionally, and definitely not fittingly considering Stiles had just killed the man's father, but the exclamation was definitely heartfelt. "Give me that!" He snatched his gun back, but Stiles was already in motion, leaping over Gerard's dead body and the mess he'd made out of the man's head, making his way directly toward them.

"Derek!"

Deaton followed, leaving Chris to check his father's body for signs of life -- not that there would be any at this point -- and things were a little chaotic around Derek for several minutes, before they got sorted out.

This was made harder by the fact that Talia, Peter, and Stiles had all latched onto Derek and seemed to have no intention of letting go, while Deaton needed to get at him in order to check him over for damage. Deaton had to speak quite sharply, and Talia compromised, in a manner of speaking, by taking hold of Stiles and clinging to him in place of her son, which had the side-effect of keeping him from sticking to his owner like a burr.

Not that Peter blamed the boy. It was beyond evidently now that he'd not only been right about the bond between Derek and his personal slave, but that it was stronger than he'd ever thought. After all, with the aid of Talia's alpha powers, the bond had been what had led them right here, as fast as their vehicles could move.

That wasn't Peter's first concern, though. His first concern, naturally enough, was his nephew.

He was vaguely aware of Chris Argent making some calls behind him, sounding a little shaken but doing reasonably well at his job when it was his father's body that was cooling on the floor. But most of Peter's attention was on Derek and Deaton, and he didn't relax until Deaton declared that Derek was going to be okay.

"The wolfsbane dosage was light," Deaton said, reassuring all four of them at once. "Gerard didn't intend to kill Derek; at least not right away. So it was just enough to incapacitate him for a while."

"It felt like a strong dose," Derek grumbled, but he already looked better. He was slumped against the wall with Peter kneeling to one side and Deaton before him, and now that the Hale emissary had declared that he would live and heal, Peter expected Stiles to tackle him, to tuck himself under Derek's chin, but he remained where he was, practically vibrating but unmoving. And Talia was no longer holding onto him, so that wasn't what was stopping him.

"That was the wolfsbane in combination with the electricity he had pumping through you," Deaton explained patiently, even though none of them really needed a lecture right now. "You'll be weak for a while, make no mistake. But you'll be fine."

"You can't whip up an antidote?" Peter asked, maybe more snappish than he meant to sound, but after what Kate had done to Derek, he hated to see his nephew suffer even a little.

"Perhaps," Deaton replied calmly, glancing over at the table set in a corner, one that reeked of wolfsbane even from here, where Gerard had surely cooked up whatever concoction he had used on Derek. Or, rather, someone working for him would have done, since Gerard had been a werewolf.

"But at this point," Deaton continued, "That would actually put more strain on Derek's body and it will be less harmful to let him work it out on his own. Since his life isn't in danger, I choose that as the better option."

"Hmph." Peter saw Deaton's point, but that didn't mean he had to like it.

Talia nodded, kneeling gracefully to the other side of Derek from where Peter was and giving her son a warm hug, but Stiles simply hovered, looking more upset, not less, and he was holding himself well away from the huddle of Hales at the base of the wall. Peter had no reason to be fond of the boy -- except in that he knew Derek cared about him and was bonded to him, of course -- but something felt wrong, to see him keeping himself separate from Derek like this. Especially when he had just taken down and killed an alpha werewolf for Derek's sake.

This was such a marked difference from the way Stiles had previously been willing to brave his way through the middle of an alpha battle to reach Derek, that Peter wasn't the only one who noticed or who wondered what was going on.

"Stiles?" Derek questioned, fingers twitching toward his personal slave, blinking rapidly as he tried to clear his eyes. "You okay?"

"Stiles," Talia prodded, turning her attention from Derek to the boy, though she kept her hands on her son, of course. "What is it?"

Stiles knelt, a little jerkily -- obviously still feeling the effects of the beating he'd taken -- and turned so that he was facing Talia directly. He kept his head down, smelling of both triumph and hopelessness at once. It was a strange combination, but then, he was a strange boy.

"Alpha Hale," he intoned, his husky voice soft but clear. "I remand myself into your custody, to be delivered into the hands of the authorities or to allow you to carry out my execution yourself."

"What?" Derek exploded upward, then groaned and collapsed again, Peter huffed a sigh of fondness and exasperation, placing a hand on Derek's shoulder and doing what he could to drain away some of Derek's pain.

"And why do you feel that this is necessary?" Talia asked calmly, keeping her head despite the clear distress Derek was feeling. But she was an alpha, and it was kind of in the job description that she stay cool and take charge.

"I'm a human," Stiles explained, head still lowered, hands flexing on his knees. "One that has killed a werewolf. So according to the law, my life is forfeit."

Peter huffed again, this time in annoyance. He didn't have the patience to list for Stiles all the reasons this was stupid, but fortunately for him -- and for Derek, who let out a low whine of distress -- Talia was both willing and able.

"Sweetie, you did what you were forced to do in defense of both your owner and your alpha," she informed Stiles, leaving Derek's side and moving to grasp Stiles' abraded, bruised wrists in her capable hands. "Add to that the fact that you have a spark and are bonded to a werewolf, not to mention that Gerard almost certainly committed multiple crimes against at least one werewolf in order to become an alpha, and you're completely untouchable."

"Bonded?" Derek croaked, because of course that was the part that he focused on. Peter grinned and shook his head.

Stiles was staring at Talia with budding hope. Beyond the small group crouched around Derek, Chris was dealing to the authorities who had arrived, explaining as much as could be explained. Peter didn't envy him this task, but he couldn't summon any real sympathy for someone whose family members had been so twisted and had hurt Derek for what really boiled down to no reason, over and over.

"What did you do to Gerard?" Peter asked, because this question had gotten lost in a the chaos and confusion, but it was one that really, really needed to be answered.

Stiles sucked his split lip into his mouth and Peter could see the black veins in his sister's arms as she drained the boy's pain. "It was mountain ash," Stiles explained. "Emissary Deaton gave it to me in the car on the way here. He said... he said it was something that could be used against werewolves."

Stiles' gaze flickered to Deaton uncertainly. Deaton was nodding in agreement, but then he raised his brows at the human slave.

"Mountain ash is generally used as a repellant," he told Stiles, and Peter squinted at the pack emissary suspiciously, because shouldn't Deaton have told Stiles that when he'd given him the mountain ash? "It's not really something that can be weaponized," Deaton continued, his tone mild but his eyes bright and fixed on Stiles' face. "I've never seen that before."

"Oh." Stiles fidgeted. He glanced from Deaton to Talia. "Did I.... Should I not have used it the way I did? Did I do something wrong?"

Peter scoffed, because that was a ridiculous concern. Though he probably shouldn't be surprised by Stiles being ridiculous at this point.

"You did something amazing," Deaton corrected. "Something that should have been impossible. Before today I'd have said that it wasn't possible to use mountain ash the way you did. But since you didn't know better you simply believed, and your belief enabled to you to save us all. If you hadn't acted as you did, as quickly as you did, Gerard might well have claimed more than one Hale life today."

Peter felt Derek shudder at this, and he was suddenly impatient, wanting to get Derek out of this dank basement and home. Even if that meant Derek kicking Peter out, because he was probably going to want to spend time alone with Stiles once they were finally safe in their shared apartment.

"I'm sorry," Stiles said, speaking to Derek now, and as Talia released her grip on his wrists, he crawled forward, creeping almost hesitantly into arms that opened readily for him. "I know the kill was yours to make, but I couldn't... I couldn't let you be forced to make that choice, Derek. You're a good person, and I couldn't let Gerard take that away."

Peter raised his brows. He'd thought that Stiles grabbing Chris' gun and shooting Gerard had been done in the heat of the moment, as had been his own slashing of Kate Argent's throat, but maybe he'd underestimated the human boy.

"I'm just sorry you had to do it," Derek murmured, nuzzling his way into Stiles' temple, holding him close even though he was clearly still weak and shaken. "I'm sorry you got targeted and got hurt because of me."

"No," Stiles hurried to state, cuddling in close to Derek now that he'd allowed himself to touch, nosing his way into Derek's collarbones, scenting and marking him all in one as though he had been a werewolf himself. "I'm sorry for triggering the GPS alarm and drawing you into an obvious trap. I didn't know but I should have guessed."

"Ugh." There they went, getting their emotions all over the place. That was Peter's cue to withdraw.

Just a short time ago he'd been threatening Stiles concerning Derek's safety, but Peter could clearly see that this wasn't an issue he needed to be worried over any longer. If anything, Stiles would fight harder and meaner than Peter to keep Derek from being hurt. And seeing what the human was able and willing to do, and knowing how powerful the bond between them was, Peter didn't think Derek's heart was in danger from Stiles either.

Clearly they belonged together, and while Peter thought it was gross and somewhat inappropriate that Derek had bonded with a human, he was glad for his nephew. A different mate would have been more fitting, it was true, but at least Stiles had proven himself, before Derek, Talia, and Peter.

And Deaton, who was murmuring to Talia about making Stiles his apprentice or some such as they stood and withdrew, to go and talk to Chris Argent and the other authorities who had arrived.

It was true that Stiles was untouchable, due to all the points Talia had listed and more, and it was clear that Gerard had been one hundred percent in the wrong and that Derek had been his victim, but that didn't mean there wouldn't be repercussions and that the Hale alpha and emissary wouldn't have their hands full dealing with this.

Ugh. It was so annoying that they had to go through this a second time, Peter thought with intense irritation and hatred. Well, at least that task fell mostly on his older sister. This time Peter hadn't been the one to carry out the execution, so his involvement would be less intense and invasive. This time it would only disrupt his life as much as he allowed it to.

"Peter," Talia said, turning and speaking to him as he rose gracefully to his feet. "Can you get Derek and Stiles home? Deaton says that neither will need immediate medical treatment, that he can visit them later tonight as long as they look after one another in the meantime. And I'm pretty sure that won't be an issue."

Peter glanced at the werewolf and human coiled together at the base of the wall where Derek had been chained, Derek exclaiming over the damage to Stiles' face, Stiles hand spread over Derek's chest right over his heart, their noses so close they had to be sharing breaths, their personal odors intermingled in that now-familiar scent that surrounded Derek every day at the office.

It might be a little juvenile, but Peter was a proud man and he was proud that his sister trusted him enough to send her beloved son and his obviously beloved mate off with him, entrusting them in his care.

And so Peter would get them home and live up to this trust. He wanted to do as much, for his alpha, for his nephew, and for himself. And once they were home, he'd leave them to spend time alone together, the way they were obviously going to want and need.

Because if he had to see Derek and Stiles all over each other for very much longer, Peter was going to barf.

***

When all was said and done Stiles and Derek spent the better part of a week curled up together in bed, recovering from what Gerard Argent had done to both of them.

It was more the physical healing than anything else; Gerard had done his best to damage them both mentally and emotionally, but he'd been largely unsuccessful. After all, Derek had suffered far worse at the hands of Gerard's daughter, back when he'd been younger and less self assured. And Stiles had belonged to both Kali and Ennis at different times in the past.

Gerard might have been awful in his own way and done awful things to them, but his attempts had been weak compared to things they had endured previously and they had both come through stronger on the other side.

In fact, speaking of Stiles' former owners, once all the facts had come to light it was a strange and slightly bizarre coincidence that Ennis had been the one Gerard had forced the bite from then killed in order to become an alpha werewolf.

Stiles wasn't about to shed any tears over that loss, and since he'd told Derek that Ennis had been going to literally kill him, which was what had caused Stiles to run away in the first place, that made it even less likely that either of them would mourn his loss.

Though Derek did feel that in a way Ennis was indirectly responsible for Stiles coming into his possession, becoming his bonded mate, so there was that.... But it hadn't been in any way deliberate, had been nothing but weird happenstance, and so there was really no need for gratitude. Not when Ennis had been the kind of monster Kate and Gerard Argent had so ridiculously accused Derek of being.

Of course, Ennis' savage nature had not made Gerard Argent's actions any more excusable where the authorities were concerned, and Gerard was found guilty posthumously of grave crimes against a werewolf while he had still been human. Since he was dead now it didn't really matter, but it did mean that his status of alpha had been negated, as though it had never happened, so even if his actions hadn't already been justified by all witnesses to the events -- which they had been -- Stiles was not technically considered to be a human who had killed a werewolf.

All of this came together with the fact that Stiles was bonded with a werewolf and had a spark, so as Talia had predicted, he was completely untouchable.

Deaton had officially registered Stiles as his apprentice, which meant that once Stiles completed his training he would no longer be legally considered a slave, and as soon as he began his training he was unofficially no longer considered a slave. Deaton had, however, told Stiles he could come to him when he felt ready, that he wasn't going to push the boy.

A fact for which both Derek and Stiles were grateful, because it was going to be a while before either of them was going to be comfortable letting the other out of his sight.

By the time they made their way through most of a week, Stiles' face, torso, and wrists were healed. Derek was on a sabbatical from work, though his job was waiting for him whenever he was ready to return, and his mother was happy to pay for the apartment and whatever food and necessities he and Stiles ordered in the meantime.

It was almost like the two weeks that Derek had taken off after purchasing Stiles, except that there was no fear or lingering uncertainty between them. This time together was all for them, alone, simply enjoying one another's company uninterrupted. Or as close to uninterrupted as anyone could manage.

Derek was grateful for his family, as he had been the first time he'd been abducted and held captive -- and how wrong was it that there'd been a second time? -- but he was even more grateful that they knew to back off and leave him alone with Stiles.

Both of them were still dealing with the reality that they were bonded. It should have been obvious, Derek mused, and both his mother and Peter had hinted at it having happened, but it had still taken him by surprise.

And yet nothing had ever felt more natural than accepting that fact and internalizing it. Derek felt that he had known the first moment he'd set eyes on Stiles, even though he hadn't known he'd known. That was why he had brought the damaged slave home, no matter how bad an idea it had seemed at the time, no matter how Peter had judged him for it.

Peter was a proponent for their relationship now, which Derek found even more unbelievable than that his mother approved. Maybe this was what it would take to bring Peter around to the way the rest of the Hales viewed the slavery of humans, instead of him simply regarding the social convention as being natural and acceptable....

Or maybe not. But either way Derek was glad that the most important people in his life not only approved of Stiles as his partner, but were happy for him and adored the human boy.

So, okay, "adored" was too strong a word where Peter was concerned. But Talia definitely adored Stiles, loved him even, and she now considered him to be almost as much her son as Derek was.

Derek himself wasn't sure how he felt about the whole bond thing, but he couldn't deny that it was a fact. Not only had its existence allowed Stiles and his mother to track him down when Gerard had chained him up in the basement of the deceased Ennis' house, but Derek himself had felt it while his head was swimming with wolfsbane.

Because it hadn't been his imagination. He'd been in extremis and suffering from the poison in his system, but that might have been what allowed him to reach out and sense Stiles; his rational side hadn't been alert enough to tell him all the reasons why it shouldn't be possible.

Sort of like how Stiles hadn't known better than to use mountain ash as a weapon. Well, not very much like that, but it was a similar enough situation that Derek didn't feel completely stupid making the comparison. Privately, to himself, in his head.

Talia Hale took care of the legal ramifications that had happened, stopping by their apartment regularly to keep them updated, to get information from Derek, or just to make sure they were okay, but never overstaying her welcome. Deaton was there a few times to see to their recovery, but for the most part Derek and Stiles were alone, and that was the way Derek wanted it. He loved his family and his mother, but he needed to wallow in the reality of Stiles uninterrupted, and reveled in the opportunity to do so.

Being in bed with Stiles was comfortable and comforting. There were no inappropriate hard-ons for the better part of a week. Derek was stronger than he had been when he'd been seventeen, but the reminder -- both physical and mental -- of the time Kate had held him captive and molested him had been reawakened by what Gerard had done, which kind of wrecked his libido. At the same time Stiles was dealing on an intellectual and emotional level with the fact that he had killed someone. Granted, the person he'd killed had been a sick, twisted individual who would have tortured and killed Derek if given a chance, but that didn't mean that Stiles didn't feel at least a little guilt for having taken a life.

At least Derek recovered quickly from the wolfsbane poisoning, as Deaton had promised, so he was able to keep Stiles free of pain while the damage he'd taken from his beating at the hands of Gerard's goons healed.

Speaking of which, Gerard had indeed taken care of the humans he'd hired before Stiles and the others had arrived to rescue Derek, so Gerard had been the only enemy they'd had to contend with. That had been convenient, though it begged the question of who the humans had been.

Unregistered humans with access to wolfsbane and weaponry were always troublesome, and Chris Argent was investigating his father's connections with the criminal underworld with an intensity and diligence that was probably as much a product of his grief as it was his disgust for the things his father had done while living.

Derek felt a little bad for the human, but he didn't waste much time thinking about the Argents. They weren't all bad. Chris' wife had vanished under suspicious circumstances a few years ago -- the suspicion being placed on her possible actions, not what might have happened to her -- but Chris' daughter, Allison, was actually in a relationship with a member of the Hale pack; Scott McCall, who hadn't been born a werewolf, and who, probably because of this or maybe just because he was a good kid, had no problem with the social stigma of being in a relationship with a human.

Well, it seemed to be a Hale trait, Derek thought with some amusement, nuzzling Stiles' temple. Laura was almost definitely partnered with her former personal slave, Derek and Stiles were bonded, Scott was probably going to marry Allison someday, and Derek had some serious questions about what was between Peter and Lydia. There were even a few rumors floating around that Talia's grandfather on her maternal side had been human.

At any rate, Derek being bonded with Stiles didn't mean that they were ever going to have a romantic, sexual relationship. Derek wanted that, but since he had no idea how Stiles felt about the matter, he wasn't going to push.

Even though they were bonded and he considered them equals, and they would be literal equals once Stiles was done with his apprenticeship under Deaton, they were still owner and slave now, and Derek was still terrified that if he made so much as a hint of a move toward initiating a sexual relationship with Stiles, that Stiles would take it as a command and indulge Derek whether it was what he wanted or not.

And Derek wouldn't be able to stand that. It would be better to be near Stiles and never be with him than to wonder if he was coercing Stiles into something the boy didn't actually want.

It was enough to curl up in bed with Stiles, to smell his touch all over Stiles' skin, to know that his own skin was imprinted with Stiles' scent in turn. There was no more individual odor for either of them now; now they both smelled of DerekandStiles, and that was the way they both wanted it.

That, at least, Derek felt he could be certain of. He and Stiles didn't verbally communicate about much, Derek didn't feel as though they really needed to, but Stiles had told Derek that he liked the way they smelled together. In fact, Stiles laundered the sheets far less often than he might otherwise have done, simply to retain that smell in a place where it was concentrated enough that his human nose could pick it up.

Derek didn't complain about that, even though it got pretty malodorous. He liked it when their refuge smelled strongly of both their bodies. Liked it more than maybe he should.

It was early afternoon now, and they were still in bed. Derek knew that this delicious, languorous existence wasn't going to last forever, and if he was completely honest he didn't really want it to, but in this moment there was nowhere else he'd rather be. The comforter was heavy and warm, the sheets smelled like them, Stiles was breathing sweetly and regularly in his arms, and they were still pleasantly full from the lunch they'd emerged briefly to prepare and eat.

So of course Derek had to take a leak.

Dammit.

He sighed, and Stiles laughed softly against the muscles of his chest. That was a sound Derek was never going to get tired of, one he would have once thought he'd never hear, which was why he treasured it above all things, except maybe for the beautiful smile that Stiles offered him from time to time.

Derek knew that Stiles would probably never fully recover from the abuses and deprivations of his childhood, but he was more healthy, this apartment and Derek's arms were a safe place, and Derek would work as hard as he could to make the world a safe place for Stiles wherever it was possible for him.

Right now, though, Derek's focus was on his bladder, which gave an uncomfortable throb as he shifted.

"We should probably shower soon anyway," Stiles said huskily, and of course he knew why Derek was squirming. "Come on."

With Stiles dragging him up and out of the clinging sheets, with the promise of marking his bonded and of a nice hot shower, Derek was a little more amenable to getting out of bed.

Especially since he was pretty sure that they would end up right back in bed once they were done.

They were both naked already, because flesh on flesh was better and when they wanted to smell like one another clothing just got in the way. Derek was half-hard, and he was fooling himself when he blamed it on his need to urinate, but that was what he was blaming it on.

It might be moderately pervy, but Derek couldn't stop himself from running his gaze over Stiles' lean body as they entered the bathroom. The boy had really had grown into himself. The last month or so of eating right and working out had sculpted him into the young man he already should have been, instead of the scrawny, undernourished wraith Derek had brought home from the warehouse where he had found him.

Derek had memorized the moles dotting Stiles' face and body, and this wasn't the first time he'd found himself experiencing the desire to bite all of them, to lick a path between each one, to taste that pale skin.... But it was the first time his pesky libido had stirred since he'd been rescued from Gerard's clutches, despite all the time he had spent naked in bed with Stiles.

It was kind of a relief, though his cock really could have picked a better time to reawaken to his attraction. They were bonded, but that didn't necessarily mean that sex was a factor. And just because Stiles got hard too, when they marked each other, Derek couldn't assume that this meant it was because of him.

They had an emotional connection, Derek couldn't deny. And he was glad for that. His life was a thousand percent less lonely now that he had Stiles in it. He hadn't even known that he was missing something before Stiles, but now he knew and he never wanted to be without ever again.

And he was relatively certain that Stiles felt the same.... He knew that the human was no longer afraid of him, and that he wasn't repulsed by their bond. Once Stiles was through with his apprenticeship with Deaton he would be a free agent and would no longer belong to the Hale pack in general or Derek specifically; could even, if he chose, go and become emissary to a different pack....

Derek could only hope that Stiles would want to remain with him once he was no longer his personal slave. It might be in name only now, but it was a reality that they both had to abide by until Stiles was done with his apprenticeship. And that would take years.

Well, Stiles was here with him by choice right now, Derek was pretty sure. If he'd wanted to leave he could have already started his apprenticeship and moved out of the apartment, into the Hale house. It would have been his right to do so. An apprenticeship to an emissary trumped any previous claim on a slave, even if the human was still legally a slave until said apprenticeship was done.

"Hey."

Stiles spoke softly, but Derek was attuned to every sound that he made, and his attention popped immediately to the beautiful boy standing there in front of the shower.

Stiles was smiling at him, his lips curved and his eyes warm with what Derek could only read as fondness and affection.

"Where were you?" Stiles asked quietly, taking a careful step backward and tugging on the hand he still held captive, pulling Derek into the stall after him.

"It's nothing," Derek denied automatically, not wanting to worry Stiles with his own concerns. If he shared them, Stiles might laugh at him or he might be offended, and Derek couldn't bear either of those possibilities.

"Uh-huh." Stiles gave him a knowing look then grasped Derek by the upper arms, maneuvering them so that they were standing face to face in the center of the stall, as they usually did. But unlike the norm, he didn't remove his hands, and he didn't kneel before Derek. Instead he stood and met his gaze levelly, something sharp and serious in his brown eyes.

"What?" Derek asked, feeling dumb, but his insides squirming with sudden nerves. He was pretty sure that there was something going on, even before Stiles opened his mouth and said;

"Derek, I think we should talk about something,"

He could feel his eyes go wide and his breath caught, but Stiles' hands were still large and warm on his arms, and he didn't look away, holding Derek captive with his amber-lit gaze. God, he was beautiful, Derek thought helplessly, and he decided that whatever Stiles was about to say he would take it like a grown werewolf, and he would be grateful for the time he'd had with his bonded.

"No, it's not bad," Stiles hurried to add, and then he bit his lip and turned his face to one side while still keeping his gaze fixed on Derek, peering at him shyly through his long lashes. "At least, I don't think it is...."

"What is it?" Derek crackled out, steeling his spine. He'd withstood the torture Kate had inflicted on him, he'd bounced back from his abduction by Gerard. He could take whatever Stiles was about to say, even if it was that he was leaving him to go and begin his training with Deaton. Even if he wanted to leave tonight.

Stiles licked his lips, and Derek's cock twitched. He'd have thought his erection would have flagged with the mental and emotional distress he was feeling, but evidently standing this close to Stiles with the promise of them pissing on each other was enough to keep his hard-on going.

"I think..." Stiles paused and sucked in a deep breath, "I think you might have the wrong idea about... something."

Derek scowled, he couldn't help himself. He wasn't sure if he should be feeling calmed or panicked by Stiles' words. It sort of depended on what came out of his mouth next.

Stiles licked his lips again, and it was a nervous tic that Derek was aware of, but it was also a sweet and terrible torture right now. If Stiles' sense of smell had been as strong as Derek's he'd be virtually swimming in the smell of Derek's growing arousal.

"I think you have the wrong idea about how I think of you."

Derek's heart plunged at this, his body breaking into a cold sweat. This was what he'd been fearing all along. He was ready for Stiles to tell him he was going to pack his things and head for Deaton, that he was disgusted by the lust Derek had been feeling for him, that he was tired of having a werewolf piss on him and ask him to do the same and wrap him up in his arms and keep him in bed and--

Stiles continued, bulldozing through Derek's panicked thoughts, forcing him to focus his attention on what he was saying by speaking again.

"See, Emissary Deaton told me to explore the bond between us," Stiles said, which confused Derek a little, though he didn't want to admit it, because it was so far from anything he had anticipated. "When your mother used the bond to help us find you, she made me aware of... of kind of where it is. Or more what it is. And it's sort of like a muscle that I've been flexing. The more I do that, the more I can sense you; how you're feeling and maybe a little what you're thinking.

"Not in an invasive way," he hurried to assure Derek, even though Derek actually didn't mind Stiles knowing him more deeply. "It's kind of like how you can smell my emotions in my scent and hear my heartbeat. It's not giving me an advantage; it's more as though it's evening things out between us."

"I understand that," Derek said, because he did. And he was happy that Stiles had this small advantage. But he felt he needed to know.... "If I start doing the same, would I be able to sense you the way you can sense me? Or is it because of your spark?"

Stiles frowned slightly, cocking his head. "I think it's something you could develop too?" he replied, but slowly and not with any certainty. He shook his head. "I'm sorry, you'll have to ask Emissary Deaton to be sure, but I feel like it's something you can do too."

"I trust your feeling," Derek said, smiling at Stiles, even though he was still freaking out inside that he might be losing Stiles to Deaton soon.

"But do you trust me?" Stiles asked, fixing Derek with a bright and unflinching gaze again.

"Yes," Derek replied without hesitation.

"Do you trust that I trust you?"

That was a little harder to parse and it was a more complicated matter, but after just a moment to think it over Derek nodded. "Yes. Yes, I do."

Stiles smiled brightly. "Good. That should make this easier, if you can just keep that fact in mind."

And then, before Derek could even wonder what this meant, Stiles was unexpectedly lunging toward him. Derek startled but he didn't pull back because he trusted Stiles. He remained where he was, and then suddenly there were a pair of lips mashed against his own, soft and plump and giving and so much better than he could ever have imagined, even though it was the most unstudied kiss Derek had gotten in his life.

It was also the most wonderful kiss Derek had gotten in his life. Instinctively his hands came up to cup and cling to Stiles' bony elbows. Stiles' hands remained on his arms, and aside from these mutual grips their mouths were the only things touching, but it was more than Derek could ever have dreamed of during the days they had spent plastered together, limbs entangled as they lay naked in bed together.

Because Stiles was kissing Derek, and he meant the kiss, in an unmistakable nonverbal declaration of intent.

Derek tilted his head to try and temper the kiss, but it was all pressure and heat and slightly moist, and he still thought it was the most amazing thing he had ever experienced, even if it wasn't a lot different than some of the kisses he'd gotten from his toddler cousins.

Okay, it was worlds different than that last, of course. But the technique was more that of a child than a lover.

That was likely to be because Stiles had never been anyone's lover, Derek thought with a flare of delighted possessiveness. And this was the thought that kept Derek from just sweeping Stiles into his arms and devouring his mouth.

Well, that, and there were still some questions unanswered between them. Which Derek only remembered as Stiles broke the kiss and took half a step back. That move made Derek whine low in his chest, but he acknowledged that they weren't quite done here.

"Why?" he asked hoarsely, and he wasn't even quite sure what he was asking, but fortunately for him, Stiles understood.

"Because you weren't sure," Stiles said, and his smile with kiss-bruised lips was now officially the most beautiful thing Derek had ever seen. "You weren't getting it. Which is nice of you, okay? You've been considerate and conscientious, and I appreciate that. I wasn't sure either. I thought that when you got hard it was just a physical reaction to the smell of my arousal, and wasn't because of me."

Derek loosed a scoffing sound before he thought better of it, and Stiles quirked one brow. "You don't get to judge me for that assumption," he said tartly, and how Derek loved that his cowering, fearful personal slave had now become an equal who wasn't afraid to speak his mind. It had been a long, difficult road getting here, but it had been worth the troubles they had suffered.

"After all, you were thinking the same thing about me," Stiles continued, squeezing Derek's arms and smirking at him. "It wasn't until I could feel some of what you were feeling through our bond that I realized how you really felt."

Derek flushed, but he wasn't about to deny any of what Stiles was saying. They probably should have talked about this before, long before, but each of them had been terrified, thinking that he was the only one who was invested. It seemed stupid in retrospect, but it had felt so real and entirely probable at the time.

"I never would have thought that there was anything about me that you wanted," Stiles admitted, turning his gaze down and flushing.

Derek let out a small sound of distress, freeing one hand to lift Stiles' chin so that he could meet his eyes.

"You are beautiful and amazing and strong and everything that I want," he said firmly. "And I don't want you to ever think that I feel differently and I don't want you to ever forget that."

Stiles' blushed more deeply, but his smile was like sunlight.

"I just... I didn't want you to feel obligated," Derek said awkwardly, shrugging his shoulders uncomfortable as he admitted this. "Because I'm your... was your owner. I was so scared that if I made any move you'd feel that you had to say yes even if you didn't want it."

"We've cleared up that misconceptions, though, right?" Stiles asked, raising both his brows, a little smirk hovering around the corners of his generous mouth. "You know that I actually do want this. Want you."

Derek ducked his head and grinned in return. "Yeah."

He must not have sounded -- or felt? -- completely certain, because Stiles persisted.

"Derek, I want you. Not because you're my owner. And not because you're easily the most gorgeous person I've ever seen. Though that doesn't hurt," he added impishly, before sobering. "You've never been anything but generous and gracious to me. You've never done anything less than your best, in whatever situation you've been in. Don't ever think I don't appreciate your patience with me back when you first brought me home."

"I just wanted to help you," Derek said softly.

Stiles nodded, then bit his lip. "Look, I.... Confession time, Derek. When your mother did her... claw thing, or whatever it was, to tap into my brain and follow our bond to find you?"

"Yeah?" Derek prompted as Stiles paused.

Stiles fidgeted then continued. "Alpha Hale is a strong woman with a lot of control, normally; I'm certain of that. But she was incredibly worried about you, and I think there was some bleed-through because of that."

Derek frowned, wondering what Stiles was getting at. Fortunately for him, Stiles continued talking, explaining.

"So when she got in my head, some of her memories leaked into me," he said. "She was remembering you the first time that happened, when you were still my age, when Kate Argent kidnapped you. It's not a big deal, but.... Well, you've seen me at my worst, Derek, but I feel as though I've seen you at your worst too."

Stiles paused for a breath, his hands squeezing Derek's upper arms in a comforting way. "I'm not saying that to hurt you or make you feel bad or anything, and I don't want to remind you of that time. I just want to emphasize that in no way am I still intimidated by you, and that you being a werewolf and still technically my owner is not going to factor into my decision to have sex with you."

Derek had been feeling conflicted as Stiles had spoken -- his chest aching with the reminders, the visuals, the thought of his mother being so worried about him -- but this last sentence sent a surge of heated excitement through him. He was pretty sure he understood what Stiles was getting at, and it actually did make him feel better about what there was between them.

"That works for me," he said hoarsely. "So, are we..." he actually had to clear his throat in order to continue, "Are we going to have sex?"

Stiles' eyes widened, and his cheeks were a fiery pink, but he nodded emphatically. "Yes, please!"

"But first," Derek said, a little reluctantly, "I need to take care of this."

He waved downward, and only realized belatedly that he might have been perceived to be referring to his erection -- which would seem completely nonsensical, since that was what he was going to use while having sex -- but of course Stiles understood he meant his full bladder.

Stiles got a wicked look on his face and then knelt. "Go for it," he instructed, like that was going to help; Derek was already going to have enough trouble pissing with the hard-on he was still sporting.

Derek groaned. He missed the heat and weight of Stiles' hands on his arms, but the sight of him on his knees before Derek, face raised in offering, a heat in his eyes that Derek couldn't mistake for anything other than arousal, arousal that he knew was for him, was more than enough to make up for that loss.

It was even more difficult than usual to relax himself enough to cut loose, but Derek had gotten a lot of practice in the last month or so at pissing with an erection.

For the first time he really let himself enjoy the sight of the pale-gold liquid splashing on Stiles' pale skin, knowing that it was not only endured but welcomed. All he had to do was look at Stiles' hungry expression and he believed that. This wasn't a one-sided titillation, as he had always feared. His emotions and desires were met and matched by what Stiles was feeling.

It seemed all too quickly that Derek was finished, his bladder empty, but he had his reward because Stiles was slick and smelled strongly of him, beautiful and bold and all his. Well, Stiles belonged to himself, but he was offering himself to Derek. And now it was time for Derek to return that favor.

He lifted Stiles to his feet, and then for the first time, as he'd wanted to do all along, he took his turn kneeling. Offering himself as a blank canvas for Stiles to mark with his own urine, not just from the groin down this time, but all over.

Stiles' breath caught, and then he smiled down at Derek, far more sweetly than was probably warranted when pissing on each other was involved. Derek couldn't help smiling back, even though he could feel his pulse pounding at the base of his throat, and his cock ached, it was so fat and hard where it jutted between his thighs.

It felt great, to not feel ashamed of his erection, to not fear that Stiles would take it the wrong way, because the wrong way had always been the right way, but now it really was the right way and there was nothing wrong with it after all. Derek wanted Stiles and Stiles wanted Derek, and right now, right now Derek wanted Stiles to piss on him.

And Stiles did. It was different when it was his shoulders and torso, Derek discovered, than when it had just been his cock and thighs. It felt even hotter and it trickled through the hair on his chest, trailing around his nipples in a way that made them stand out hard and tight.

Derek raised his chin, meeting Stiles' heated gaze, and he couldn't help palming his own throbbing cock, pushing it up against his abdomen and rubbing it into the urine that trickled down to kiss the skin of his torso. He smelled of Stiles now, the way Stiles smelled of him, and they were equally marked, they belonged to themselves first but they also gave themselves to one another, and that was a magnificent thing.

Stiles evidently hadn't needed to urinate as badly as Derek had, because he was finished even more quickly, but that was all right, since Derek was really ready to move on to the having sex that he'd been promised.

He almost rose to his feet as soon as Stiles was done, but then he paused, contemplating the gorgeous prick right in front of him. The floor of the shower stall was extremely hard under his knees and shins, but he could ignore the mild discomfort; after all, Stiles had been on his knees in here at least once a day for about a month now. It was about time Derek made that up to him, and then some.

Stiles squeaked, there no other word for it, as Derek reached and wrapped a hand around his half-hard cock. Derek grinned up at him, but then turned his full attention to the heated erection he was holding.

He'd always tried to restrain himself, had never really let himself look, but now he had permission and he was going to take advantage of that.

As he'd already noted, Stiles' cock was of a good size, and it was thick and straight, rousing quickly to full hardness as he handled it with rough care. It pulsed in his palm and Derek leaned in to lick at the head, tasting the bitterness of the last of drop of piss clinging to the hot-soft skin of his slit mingled with the tang of precome that was just beginning to ooze.

That was quick, Derek thought with a smirk, but then, he was pretty sure Stiles had never had anyone else touch him like this before, much less put their mouth there. He gave the tip of Stiles' cock a delicate kiss then took it in his mouth as deeply as he could, his lips stretched around the shaft as he went down.

Stiles let out a frankly unsexy but quite gratifying squawk and Derek had to grab a hold of his hips and use his werewolf strength to hold him upright when his knees threatened to buckle and spill him onto the shower floor.

Derek sucked at what he had in his mouth, merciless, not giving Stiles a moment to adjust, taking in the taste of Stiles, the faint tang of his own piss where it had run down that far, and feeling the heated weight of Stiles' cock on his tongue.

He was a little out of practice, Derek could admit, but he was good enough to bring Stiles to the brink of orgasm in under one minute. Of course, Stiles was a sixteen year old who was almost definitely a virgin receiving his first blow-job. But it still felt like a triumph to Derek when Stiles' fingers threaded through his hair and yanked hard as he curled over Derek's crouching form, his stiff cock jumping and shooting off, spilling on Derek's tongue as he pulled back enough that he wouldn't choke.

The flavor of Stiles burst in Derek's mouth, bitter and thick and mildly unpleasant but infinitely satisfying.

"S-sorry," Stiles gasped, peeling his hands away from Derek's hair in small, jerky movements.

Derek stood and gave Stiles a quick, come-flavored kiss. "If you're apologizing for the hair-pulling, don't," he said. "Because I liked it. And if it's for jizzing in my mouth, that was what I was going for."

"Oh." Stiles let out a shaky little exhale, falling against Derek's chest as he reeled him into his arms. "Okay."

Derek's own erection was aching, like a painful, pleasurable bruise, but he ignored it as he got the water turned on and rinsed them both off, all the while holding Stiles close to him and nuzzling his temple, nosing his cheekbone, brushing soft kisses against his open, gasping mouth. It wasn't that different from how he'd done before, when he'd excused himself by saying it was merely a matter of marking and scenting his personal slave, but now he was able to be honest and admit that he was starving for the taste of Stiles' flesh.

"Derek," Stiles murmured, "I need to...." Nimble fingers wrapped around Derek's straining cock, and he groaned, his hips canting into this welcome touch. He'd intended to wait, but as Stiles' mouth pressed against his shoulder, sharp teeth testing the tingling skin there, and Stiles gave his erection several long, water-eased pulls, he grunted, stiffened, and shot off on Stiles' hip and stomach.

"Oops," Stiles said, sounding not at all repentant, raising his hand and licking delicately at his come-stained fingers.

It took Derek a moment to recover and catch his breath, but once he felt as though he could support himself and Stiles both, he got the water turned off and got them both headed back to the bedroom with an almost unseemly haste. He was confident in what they both wanted, and the bed was going to be the best format for the pending fornication they had in mind.

"Hair pulling is good," he informed Stiles huskily as he threw back the covers and lowered them both onto the mattress that smelled of their sweat and contentment already, and would soon smell of their combined spunk. "Biting is better. What about you?"

"I.... Yes," Stiles answered, his eyes wide, arms twining around Derek's neck and shoulders, his torso arching up toward Derek's. "Yes, please."

Derek grinned wolfishly, gratified to know that Stiles shared these kinks, but; "I meant was there anything else? Anything in particular you wanted to do to me, or that you wanted me to do to you?"

"Oohh," Stiles breathed in sudden understanding.

Before he replied, they both paused the conversation for a good two minutes as Derek pressed his mouth against Stiles' and taught him by example how better to kiss, how to twine their tongues around one another, sharing salvia and breath, Derek's hands roaming restlessly over Stiles' shoulders, fingers twitching down to rub at Stiles' pink nipples and dragging a throttled cry out of the younger man's throat.

Derek mouthed at Stiles' chin, teeth nibbling carefully, the salt of fresh perspiration breaking sharp and tangy on his tongue. He could smell the sweat and mounting arousal and lingering traces of his own urine pouring off of Stiles' heated skin, then Stiles tilted his head back in submission, lean fingers twining through Derek's damp hair as he spoke, answering Derek's question.

"I like... I like it when you taste me," he murmured, and Derek licked a trail down his throat, feeling the words vibrating through the thin skin there. "I like it when you smell me. I wanna do the same. And the biting. I think I want more biting. Both of us."

"How about if I eat you out," Derek suggested, his cock giving a pulse at the thought of it, beginning to grow hard again with renewed arousal. "Then ride between your thighs and come all over you."

""Oh my God," Stiles gasped, hips jolting and cock growing hard against Derek's stomach. Derek took this, along with the hand clenching in his hair as a reply in the positive.

"Roll over," he growled, and it was almost a painful act to pull away from Stiles enough to help him obey, but it was in pursuit of a greater goal. And once he had Stiles on his stomach on the bed, Derek felt no more regrets.

Stiles whimpered as Derek muscled his way in between his legs, spreading his thighs and opening him up to his avid gaze, and Derek paused. He could still smell the lust rolling off of Stiles, as strong and rich as his own, but he wanted to make sure....

"Do you want this?" he asked, palming one tight ass cheek but not making any more bold a move than that.

"What?" Stiles slurred, shifting a little, then rising up on his elbows, his spine twisting in a lovely shape as he peered back over his shoulder at Derek, his expression faintly outraged. "Don't stop, Derek, oh my God!"

Derek blinked at him, then chuckled. "So this is okay, then?"

"Derek!"

"All right," he rumbled soothingly, then dipped his head and without preamble licked a wet swath up from Stiles' perineum to the tip of his tailbone, making sure to lave the flat of his tongue deliberately over the tense pucker of his asshole.

Stiles made an incomprehensible sound that he could probably never have repeated even if he'd tried, and his entire body gave an involuntary ripple where he was stretched wide on the bed.

"Liked that?" Derek murmured, squeezing his palmful of ass and sinking his teeth carefully into the firm swell of Stiles' other cheek, no fangs yet but he could feel them itching to drop as the scent of arousal rose off of Stiles like a wave of overwhelming heat that almost slapped him in the face, filling his nose and trickling down his throat, stopping the breath in his lungs.

Without waiting for a verbal reply -- Stiles seemed to be beyond words at any rate -- Derek gave in to his instincts and dove back into the cleft of Stiles' ass, teaching him how a kiss felt here as well. This was just as intimate as the crush of lips to lips, though there was less interaction, and the knowledge of the pleasure he was inflicting on Stiles was even more of a turn-on to Derek than the pleasure that his actions gave him physically.

Rimming was something he personally enjoyed, but Derek didn't spend too long on it. Someday, he promised himself and Stiles silently, someday he would lay Stiles out, hold him open, and eat him out until he came from that alone.

But right now he had the boy sobbing and writhing under him, obviously over-stimulated by the soft but firm feeling of Derek's tongue undulating against his tight little anus, the prickle of his stubble rubbing against the insides of his buttocks, pinking the tender flesh there, and just the simple knowledge that Derek was willing to do this to him.

"Beautiful," Derek murmured as he raised his head, his lips feeling warm and tingly, almost but not quite numb, and he was glad that Kate hadn't ruined him for sex. He'd had partners since she had molested him during his torture, willing and enthusiastic partners, and it had felt good, but that had been nothing to compare to touching and being touched by someone that Derek cared about, the person that he loved.

Derek was glad that he knew what he was doing, but he was also glad that this was all completely new to him as well, in a way, because he'd never before had this emotional connection with a bed partner, and he knew now that it made a difference, made it a hundred times more intense.

They hadn't even done much yet, and it was already the best sex Derek had had in his life.

And if he was understanding Stiles' words correctly, Stiles had chosen Derek -- separate from and in addition to the bond between them -- which meant that he could have this, that they would have this forever, both of them.

Stiles moved readily enough as Derek rolled him over onto his back again, and then surged upward to plaster himself against Derek's torso, arms locked around his neck and shoulders, his face buried in the line of Derek's neck.

Derek shuddered as Stiles bit at him, sinking his blunt human teeth into the sensitive skin there much harder than the nipping he'd indulged in before. It sent a jolt of pleasure right through his groin when he'd already thought he couldn't be more turned on, his cock pulsing out a thick blurt of precome where it was caught between his tense belly and Stiles' bony hip.

"I thought you promised to fuck between my thighs," Stiles rasped, dragging short, nearly nonexistent nails over the skin of Derek's back and nape, arching toward him, his own hard cock a thick line branding Derek's abdomen. His hips were giving little pulses, instinctive humping against Derek in a way that he didn't even seem aware of, and he went right back to worrying at the side of his neck, biting hard enough that he would have been leaving marks if not for Derek's werewolf healing.

Derek groaned, as much at the combination of pleasure and pain that traveled from his throat to his hard cock, pooling in his groin and hooking in his balls, as from the promise in Stiles' words.

"Patience," he instructed, levering up and away from Stiles, even though that wasn't what he really wanted to do. But he wanted to make this good for Stiles. And even though Stiles evidently did want to be ridden to climax, Derek had plans for that gorgeous cock and wanted to get his hands and mouth on more of Stiles' lithe young body.

"Don't wanna be patient," Stiles complained, clawing at Derek's back. "Want you to come all over me like you said you'd do."

This startled a laugh out of Derek, even though he maybe shouldn't have found it so surprising. "I already came on you once," he pointed out.

"In the shower with the water running," Stiles said, pouting up at him. "We should come on each other and mix our scents even more. I want to smell like you and I want you to smell like me."

"You want to smell like us," Derek corrected fiercely. That was what he wanted too, what he'd wanted ever since he'd realized he was attracted to Stiles, but he hadn't known that it was something Stiles wanted as well. Hearing those words spill out of Stiles' plump red lips so vehemently and hearing the honesty in his heartbeat was as hot as the thought of doing it. And Derek didn't want anything more.

"Yeah," Stiles exhaled, his eyes dark and heavy-lidded, his mouth open, tongue flickering pink over his lower lip, his breath humid and moist.

Derek couldn't help but dip to claim Stiles' lips all over again, and Stiles kissed him back enthusiastically. He didn't seem put off in the least by the fact that Derek had just recently had his tongue in his ass.

Derek wondered vaguely if Stiles would be interested in at some point returning the favor and rimming him, but that was something for them to communicate about in the future. Right now Stiles was eager and practically virginal and impatient, and Derek wanted to screw him as badly as Stiles evidently wanted to be screwed.

Well, Derek had made a promise and Stiles was practically begging him to fulfill it. Even though Derek would have liked to take his time and take Stiles apart, taste every inch of his skin, he reached for the drawer beside his bed that held the lube.

He'd been making use of it regularly when Stiles had been sequestering himself in the room Derek had originally given him and jerking off, jerking himself off at the same time to the sounds of Stiles down the hall. Now there would be no more solitary, furtive masturbation, no more guilt over listening to Stiles' heavy breathing and the wet sounds of his hand sliding over his cock and getting off to it. Now Derek could be the one to touch Stiles, to make those sounds, and Stiles would be glad to touch him in turn.

"Put your fingers in me," Stiles rasped as Derek bent at lick at his nipples briefly, and that was unexpected. Derek's head jerked up, his eyes wide, hands clenching dangerously tight around the bottle of lube before he caught himself.

Stiles' hands were roaming restlessly over the bunched muscles of Derek's upper back and shoulders, scratching at his scalp through his hair, his head tilted back, eyes closed and mouth open. Derek groaned at the mere sight of him, biting his own lower lip to prevent himself from biting Stiles' chest too hard in overwhelming lust. Even though Stiles had okayed the whole biting thing, Derek still didn't want to risk hurting him, and his control was a little iffy right now.

"What?" he rasped, because he was afraid he'd misheard, but also because he wanted to hear Stiles speak the words again, wanted those dark eyes fixed on him while they talked about sex, while they had sex.

Stiles raised his head, hands clenching in Derek's hair, his eyes dark with arousal as they roamed hungrily over Derek's face. Stiles was flushed, the pink blotchy and uneven where it kissed his cheeks and ran down his throat to mottle his upper chest, and Derek leaned down to gently kiss Stiles' bony breastbone, overwhelmed with a burst of love and affection for his beautiful bonded.

"I want your fingers in my ass," Stiles clarified, his voice hoarse like it had been when he'd first arrived, though for a different reason this time. He exhibited no hesitation in making this sensual demand, and for that reason alone Derek was going to give him exactly what he was asking for. Completely aside from the fact that now that Stiles had said it, there was nothing Derek wanted more to do.

"I can do that," Derek murmured, but rather than acting immediately he set aside the lube, leaving it near Stiles hip, and palmed Stiles' slim waist, licking his way all over Stiles' chest, tasting the heated flush that stained his flesh, testing the flexing muscles of his developing pectorals with careful fangs, and then settling in to leave a mark, sucking and nibbling a vibrant bruise into the skin right over top of Stiles' wildly beating heart.

"Derek," Stiles groaned out, tugging harder at his head, his hips bowing upward into the hard werewolf body keeping him pinned down to the mattress. "Dammit, Derek!"

Derek chuckled, closing his mouth around one of Stiles' nipples, giving it some loose suction while his tongue teased at the pink peak, drawing it to hardness as his fingers tweaked the other nipple to pained tightness, dragging a crackling, uncontrolled sound out of Stiles' arching throat with this dual, conflicting stimulation.

Stiles pulled at Derek's hair hard enough to bring tears to his eyes, and he grinned, leaving off his ministrations, lifting himself and grabbing at the lube again.

"Sorry," Stiles grunted, hands smoothing over Derek's skull, touch greatly gentled now that Derek wasn't tormenting his sensitive chest with fingers, lips, teeth, and tongue.

"I told you it was okay," Derek reassured him, because even now the tingling of his scalp was fading away. "I wasn't kidding, Stiles; I meant it."

"Still," Stiles murmured, thumbs circling the thin skin of Derek's temples, looking so earnest that Derek just had to lever up and kiss his mouth sweetly, "I don't want to actually hurt you."

"You don't need to worry about it so much," Derek smiled fondly, pressing quick little kisses to Stiles' mouth, chin, jawline, cheeks, as he uncapped the lube and got his fingers slicked up. "I heal quickly."

"I still don't-- ah!" Stiles broke off, his back arching and hands clenching in Derek's hair again as Derek carefully but unhesitatingly slid one finger home in the hot, tight heat of his asshole. "Oh my God!"

Derek chuckled, though a bit breathlessly, and nosed at Stiles' neck, inhaling the heady scent of his arousal and pleasure as he opened him up with growing boldness, one finger quickly becoming two, the pad of his thumb rubbing at the powerful ring of muscle that squeezed around his digits, dragging loud, broken, inarticulate noises out of Stiles.

Usually before, with previous partners, Derek had been used to fingering as nothing more than a precursor to the act of penetration, just a means to an end. But as he played with Stiles' clinging anus, he found that he wasn't just indulging Stiles' desire to be touched this way; he was honestly and deeply enjoying it himself.

Stiles was letting out adorable little gasps, his hips rocking in time with the smooth slide in and out that Derek had set up, and Derek couldn't help himself. Mouth already watering, he made his way down to once again drag Stiles' twitching erection into the heated suction of his mouth.

It might have been a bit cruel, especially to do so without any warning, but Derek really hadn't been able to resist the urge.

Stiles shouted, heels digging into the mattress, spine moving in animalistic ways as he twisted vigorously, seemingly undecided as to whether he should drive upward to get his hard-on into Derek's throat or push back into the fingers still locked in the spasming clench of his ass.

Derek helped him out with this, plunging down to the root of Stiles' cock, his skills at deep-throating coming back to him easily, at the same time he thrust a third lube-drenched finger into Stiles' asshole and rubbed his thumb almost too hard against the bulge of his perineum.

Remembering his promise to Stiles at the last minute, Derek pulled off as he felt Stiles' orgasm hit him, holding his jerking cock up against Stiles' own belly as the boy ejaculated, his fingers still working away inside of Stiles, coaxing more out of him, driving him as far as he could go, watching with barely restrained hunger as Stiles writhed on the bed, not even breathing his pleasure was so intense, every muscle winding up tighter and tighter, until he finally loosed a small cry, then collapsed like a boneless doll, covered in fresh sweat and hot jizz, his cheeks and spent prick flushed with pulsing blood, and the salt of tears clinging to his lashes.

He wasn't crying, but it had been an intense enough experience to make his eyes water, and Derek quickly but very gently retrieved his fingers and moved up to pull Stiles into his arms, holding him close and murmuring soothing nonsense into the damp skin of his face as he rubbed his back and held him while he shivered and moaned his way through the very end of his climax.

This, not incidentally, smeared Stiles' jizz all over Derek's belly, the more so when Derek rolled so that Stiles was caught between his body and the mattress, instinctively knowing that Stiles would find it comforting to be pressed down under his weight, rather than feeling trapped. But that was what they both wanted; for Derek to smell of Stiles as much as Stiles was going to end up smelling of Derek.

Derek petted Stiles' head a little roughly as Stiles sobbed for air, breath blasting hot and humid against Derek's neck and collarbones where he had his tucked safely away. Derek's own neglected hard-on was leaking copiously against the bed and his hips were shifting restlessly. It was going to have to be his turn soon if he wasn't going to just frot against the mattress until he came, but Derek was going to give Stiles as much time as he needed to recover; emotionally as well as physically.

Stiles was trembling, but as he came back to himself, his plush lips moving with growing intent over what he could reach of Derek's throat, he sank his fingers into Derek's hair again, flexing them as though he was a cat kneading.

"It's your turn, Derek," Stiles rumbled, nipping sharply at the skin stretched tight over Derek's clavicle, merciless and painful, making Derek's erection flex and leak even more eagerly. "Ride between my thighs until you come all over me."

"Fuck," Derek huffed, nosing his way down to kiss that filthy, red, wet, gasping mouth. "You say the sweetest things, Stiles."

Stiles laughed into their kiss, and then sighed a little, stretching underneath Derek, reminding him not only of the jizz smeared between them, but also of the fact that he was probably growing a little heavy now that the immediacy of Stiles' climax was fading away.

"You know you want to," Stiles husked, tugging at Derek's hair deliberately this time, and that was just as hot as when he did it involuntarily, though for different reasons. "Come on."

"Are you sure?" Derek asked, nuzzling the thin, fragrant hollow under the jut of Stiles' jaw, nosing up into the space beneath his ear. "I meant to do that before I brought you off," he confessed. "I can just jerk off on your stomach, it's okay."

It really was okay; he wasn't very far from orgasm after experiencing the sensations, smells, and sounds of Stiles getting off, and he was even more turned on by the way Stiles was pawing awkwardly but enthusiastically at him right now.

But Stiles answered emphatically, "If you do, I'll never forgive you."

He didn't really mean it, but he did, Derek thought, huffing into Stiles' neck then moving up to claim his mouth again for several breath-sapping kisses, before he grasped the lube and maneuvered them so that they were spooning, Stiles tucked back into the curve of Derek's body, the soft skin of his ass crack already driving Derek crazy as his aching hard-on slid against it.

"Here, give me that," Stiles said, holding a hand awkwardly back and making grabby motions. Derek correctly surmised he meant the lube, and handed it over.

He breathed heavily against the nape of Stiles' neck as Stiles shifted, parting his thighs and rubbing in the lube, slicking the space between his thighs with wet sounds that had Derek's cock jumping and leaking all over the heated dampness of Stiles' perineum, where it had come to rest while Stiles unexpectedly prepared himself for the intercrural sex they were about to indulge in.

"Okay," Stiles sighed, and he actually sounded happy and contented, which made Derek's heart warm even though he was on the verge of losing control, his need to come beginning to override everything else.


"Okay?" Derek growled as Stiles capped the lube and then closed his legs, squirming, reaching back between his slick thighs and dragging Derek's pulsing erection between them with wet fingers, stroking the shaft for a maddening moment, before he pulled his hand away, and used all the muscles of his lower body to lock his legs together and give Derek a hot, tight channel to ride.

Words were a thing of the past at that point, but it was pretty clear that Stiles not only had no problem with this, but he was eager to have it happen. Derek didn't think he'd ever been so enthusiastic after coming, himself, but he'd never had sex with Stiles before, so maybe when their roles were reversed in the future, Derek would be just as excited as Stiles even when he was post-coital.

Stiles was so devoted to giving Derek a perfect ride that Derek didn't even need to use his own werewolf strength to manipulate or maneuver his lover; Stiles kept his thighs tight and ground his ass back toward Derek with more control over his muscles than Derek thought he himself would have had so soon after coming as hard as Stiles had just come.

The sleek heat between Stiles' thighs, the skin there so smooth and yet clamped together like a vice, had Derek on the verge of shooting off far before he wanted. He would have loved to have stretched this out, made it last, slowed screwed Stiles into the mattress, taken his time and maybe even brought Stiles back to hardness again while so doing....

But there was absolutely no way that was going to happen when Derek was as wound up as he was, when he was so turned on with the taste of Stiles on his tongue, the scent of Stiles' jizz on both their skin, the reek of their mingled sweat, and the hot, lithe, wiggling body that fit so perfectly in his arms, not to mention the hard muscles of the thighs locked around his cock.

"F-fuck," Derek gritted out when he suddenly realized that this wasn't going to last any longer and he was about to come. He accomplished the seemingly impossible move of yanking back away from Stiles, far enough to slide his throbbing cock up the crack of Stiles' slippery ass and jizz all over his lower back, instead of shooting off between his legs and possibly getting more on the mattress in front of them than Stiles' creamy skin.

"Yuck!" Stiles exclaimed, but he sounded delighted rather than disgusted, and he squirmed backward readily enough when Derek roped his arms around his stomach and tugged him up against himself almost too tightly, working his spunk into both their bodies the way he had done with Stiles' just a short time earlier.

Now Stiles was stained front and back, and their jizz was mingled together on Derek's stomach just the way he had wanted, and he let out a huge sigh of happiness and repletion as he hugged Stiles close and buried his face in the curve of his shoulder, allowing himself to ride the heady heat of his afterglow for long moments before he moved or even began thinking again.

Once his higher functions returned, though, Derek loosened his grip on Stiles. Stiles let out noises of discontent, until he realized that Derek was trying to turn him within his embrace, and then he shifted readily enough, rolling toward Derek.

Once they were face to face, legs entwined, their drying jizz smeared together between their close-pressed bodies the way Derek wanted, Derek pulled the comforter over them both.

It would get too warm and smelly under there soon, he thought in lazy contentment as Stiles mouthed at his lips and chin, nibbling at the stubble on his jaw, then licking his way into Derek's mouth with a hunger that was a bit incongruous when they were both so wrung-out, but they'd only just finished showering.

They would lay here, weltering in their own mingled smells, soaking up each others' heat, trading kisses and maybe getting hard again, and eventually, eventually they'd have to bathe again, maybe change the sheets....

But that was going to be days from now if Derek had anything to say about it.

"This is what I want," Stiles purred, cuddling impossibly closer and lapping at the corner of Derek's mouth. "Forever."

Derek was glad to know that it wasn't just him, and that Stiles wanted the same thing he wanted.

"Yeah," he agreed, and then did his best to kiss any more words right out of Stiles.

***

Laura managed to stay away for a week and a day, and Stiles was pretty sure it was the hardest thing Derek's sister had ever done.

He felt as though he had an inkling, even though he didn't know her very well, because she was in contact with him by text on a near-daily basis, and he was pretty sure she was emailing or texting Derek even more.

But when she was someone who operated pretty far outside the law at times, and outright broke it others, she'd needed to avoid being near any of her family members until most of the legal complications of Derek's abduction and Stiles' killing of Gerard were cleared up.

They didn't think that anyone would actually be watching out for her in connection to Derek's troubles, but there was no point in taking chances and none of them wanted anything bad to happen to her.

But on the morning of the eighth day since Stiles had been snatched off the sidewalk, Laura was letting herself into Derek's apartment. Derek already had the coffee started and Stiles was cooking them pancakes and bacon. They were awake and dressed rather than having sex or sleeping off the sex they'd had because Laura had given them a heads-up that she'd be there by eight, and it was seven-thirty on the dot.

Stiles smiled softly and watched with a swelling warmth in his heart as Derek swept his older sister up into a tight hug, and they held onto each other long enough that Stiles had to turn back to the stove and flip the pancake that was currently in the pan.

Then Derek came over and took the spatula from Stiles so that he could take his turn being squeezed and scented by Laura.

He hugged her back, breathing in the clean scent of her hair. Even though they mainly kept in touch electronically, she was the Hale that Stiles felt he knew the best after Derek, and he liked Laura a lot, as well as deeply respecting her for her efforts in freeing all humans from the yoke of slavery in their lifetimes.

"Don't you guys ever do anything like that again," she said fiercely, then returned to Derek, holding him while Stiles got breakfast on the table. He and Derek shared a wry smile over her head, both of them knowing what she had meant and why she had said it. Obviously no one in the Hale pack blamed either of them for what had happened. Kate Argent had targeted Derek because she'd thought he was "pretty" and because he'd been vulnerable. And Gerard had attacked both of them because his daughter had been killed for what she'd done to Derek. There was nothing about any of that that Laura blamed them for, and they all understood that.

"Sorry, Laura," Derek said, rubbing his cheek against hers. Stiles ducked his head and grinned, thinking that Laura was lucky that he'd talked Derek into shaving for his sister's visit. Though, she was a werewolf, he mused as he poured himself more coffee, so any stubble-burn would have healed pretty quickly. Not like the tingle he was still feeling between his thighs from the night before....

"Euw, are you thinking about sex right now?" Laura asked, wrinkling her nose at Stiles. All three of them ignored the fact that her eyes were damp as she finally pulled away from Derek and went over to get herself some coffee.

"Don't ask questions you already know the answer to," Derek replied for Stiles, giving him a wicked grin.

"Now you're both thinking about sex and I regret ever setting foot through the door," Laura declared, scowling at them both and Stiles schooled his features, giving her his full attention so that he'd stop smelling of arousal. He liked Laura and didn't want to make her visit unpleasant in any way.

"It's not like the whole apartment doesn't smell of sex," Derek said, shrugging, and he didn't seem to mind tormenting his sister, but she was his sister, and he seemed somehow proud of the fact that he and Stiles were boning several times a day and through a large part of the night as well.

"We opened the windows," Stiles offered as they all sat at the table and dished up food. He chose maple syrup for his pancakes and bacon while the Hale siblings preferred boysenberry. Heathens.

"It probably helped," Laura grumbled, snapping her way viciously through a slice of bacon. "But there's only so much that can be done."

Derek simply looked smug, and Stiles felt himself flushing but he wasn't ashamed of their healthy sex life or anything. He was probably about as pleased by it as Derek, but he didn't feel any need to rub Laura's nose in it.

"Can we talk about something else?" he asked shyly, still hesitant about speaking up when there was someone outside of himself and Derek involved in the conversation... but this was Laura and he knew that she liked him. She'd told him so more than once in texts and emails.

"Sure thing, sweetie," she said, sounding and looking a lot like her mother for a moment, giving him a big, bright grin. "Have you started taking any classes with Deaton yet?"

Stiles shook his head. "Not yet. He doesn't want me to show up until I can show up alone, and...."

He glanced at Derek, and when Derek reached for him with the hand not holding his fork, Stiles put down his own fork and twined his fingers through Derek's, enjoying the warmth of his palm and the smoothness of his skin.

Laura made gagging sounds, but when Stiles looked at her she was smiling widely at them both. "If Deaton is waiting for the honeymoon phase to wear off, he's going to be waiting a while," she declared, wrinkling her nose at them, then digging into her stack of purple-stained pancakes with relish.

Stiles looked at Derek, who shrugged. "We'll get back to real life someday," he told his sister, tracing the pad of his thumb over the pulse in Stiles' wrist. "But we're not in a hurry."

"I'm really happy for you both," Laura said, and she sounded totally serious, not mocking. "You know that, right?"

Stiles smiled back at her.

"But?" Derek prompted, his thick brows rising.

Laura laughed and snatched a slice of bacon off his plate. "Just try to tone it down while I'm having breakfast, okay? You two can be all lovey-dovey once I've left the apartment."

Derek snorted but let go of Stiles' hand and they all settled in to eat. Stiles just basked in happiness and listened as Derek and Laura gossiped about the pack and discussed recent news. He didn't think holding hands at the table was 'lovey-dovey' but he could see Laura's point. And he had no desire to make her feel uncomfortable. Not when she'd had to hold off so long checking on her younger brother, and not when she'd been kind enough to give them advance warning before she came over.

Though that last had probably been self preservation, Stiles thought with a small smirk, watching Derek's ass flex in his jeans as he stood and carried their empty plates to the sink. Otherwise she probably would have walked in to catch them in the act, and that was something none of them needed.

Laura was watching Stiles watch Derek's ass, one brow raised judgmentally, once again looking like her mother, and Stiles lifted his own brows, completely unrepentant.

Her expression dissolved into a warm smile, and she reached over and dragged him halfway off his chair in order to give him a super-awkward hug.

"I'm glad you've found your place, Stiles," she said, and it was worth almost pitching on his face and her embrace being a little too rough to hear the truth in her tone. "You're my new baby brother and I couldn't be happier for both you and Derek. You really deserve each other."

Stiles took that last statement as the compliment it was meant to be and embraced Laura in return as well as he was able.

"It's thanks to you," he said, pulling away as soon as she loosened up a little, so that he could meet her eyes. "It was having you here, seeing you and Derek together, being able to believe your words when you visited the first time, that really broke through my fear and let me realize that Derek was different than my other owners. Not even your mother could do that."

Laura looked surprised and pleased, and Derek came over, dragging Stiles away from her and into his own arms, rubbing his face against Stiles, both to mark him with his scent after Laura had gotten her smell all over him, and also to silently comfort him. Neither of them liked being reminded of Stiles' previous owners, though for slightly different reasons. Stiles wanted to leave all of that behind him, forget the pain they had caused him, and Derek was jealous, possessive, and also didn't like being reminded of those who had hurt his bonded in the past.

"I'm happy I helped," Laura said, and then she was hugging them both, and the three of them practically fell on the floor despite the siblings' werewolf reflexes. Stiles laughed with delight, feeling overwhelmed with love. Before Derek had found him he'd been terrified of werewolves, only knew damaging touches. But now he snuggled into the group hug and did his best to get his smell all over both of them the same as they were doing to him.

Stiles was going to have to check with Deaton -- someday, when he and Derek could tear themselves apart for a few hours a day -- but he felt as though the more he flexed his spark "muscle", the more his senses improved. He didn't think it was his imagination that he was better able to smell Derek, and not just because they both reeked of one another's spunk and piss and sweat most of the time now. Having Laura here underlined this, because he really couldn't remember being able to parse her scent from Derek's and his own last time she'd been here, and that was only partly because of the haze of fear he'd been in at the time.

They repaired to the living room with their coffee refreshed, and Stiles curled up beside Derek, pretending that he couldn't remember the way he'd perched on the edge of the loveseat cushions the first time Laura had visited.

This time Laura sat on the loveseat, even though Stiles was pretty sure she'd rather have snuggled up with her brother... but he just couldn't bring himself to leave Derek's side and he was glad that Laura was sitting where he could meet her eyes.

"Laura," Derek said seriously, before they could start in on more small talk, "I want to help you with your cause."

"What?" She stared at him, frozen, eyes wide. Stiles wasn't surprised. Not because he and Derek had already discussed this, but because he felt as though there was no longer anything that Derek could say or do that would surprise him. Well, not much.

Derek shifted but his voice was steady as he said, "I just can't continue living here safely in my apartment when there are children being born every day who have a life like Stiles had, or even worse."

Stiles turned his head and nosed at Derek's smooth-shaven jaw, feeling affection and gratitude fill his chest with a warmth that was the physical sensation of love. Every time he thought Derek couldn't get more wonderful, he went and got more wonderful. That really wasn't a surprise, per se, but it was something that Stiles had to re-realize an awful lot.

Laura was looking at her brother with an expression that was both incredibly proud and yet somehow sorrowful at once.

"Derek," she said softly, "I'm really touched to hear you say that. But you've been through so much already. How can I drag you into a life of danger with me?" She grimaced and shook her head. "Because even though I try not to worry you, and even though I do stay as safe as I can, don't make the mistake of thinking that's not what would happen."

"What good is the lack of danger if it comes at the cost of turning a blind eye on those less fortunate than me, though?" Derek asked, almost sounding angry, though it wasn't anger that Stiles could feel through their bond, more like intensity and powerful intent. Not to mention a great deal of stubbornness. "I can't live like that, Laura."

"Then do like Mom," she pressed, leaning forward, hands clasped around her coffee mug. "Work through channels that already exist. Work through the law."

Stiles knew without looking that Derek was scowling, and he decided it was time for him to speak up, even though he hadn't been consulted about this prior to Laura's arrival.

"You know, having someone who's been fully trained as an emissary would actually be very helpful to you and your cause, Laura."

He could feel Derek's head whip around to stare at him, and Laura's eyes went wide and then narrowed as she stared at him shrewdly.

"Stiles," Derek began, but Stiles cut him off before he could say anything more.

"What? You don't think you can offer your services without mine being on offer too, do you? We're a team, Derek. And as strongly as you and Laura feel about this, trust that I feel the same and more."

Derek's mouth opened and closed, but he couldn't really argue.

"You're certainly not wrong," Laura said thoughtfully, drawing their attention. "Your apprenticeship will takes years to complete. That's time enough to train you both in self defense and to make sure you're fully informed about what you're getting into.... And there's still plenty both of you can do to help me and the others in the meantime."

Derek huffed, but he could hardly protest any of this. Stiles needed to become a full-fledged emissary in order to win his freedom, and that status could only aid Laura's cause. Not to mention the more time they had to prepare themselves before plunging into the thick of things, the better the odds that they could actually make a difference.

In the end nothing was definitively decided, but Stiles was pretty sure that they all knew how things were going to go. And he and Derek working together with Laura would be able to do a lot of good before they were finished.

In fact, with Derek and Stiles on her side, Laura might actually win the freedom of all humans in their lifetime. Stiles didn't think that was egotistical of him to anticipate this as being a very real possibility.

Laura didn't stay long, chased out by the smell of them she claimed, but she did promise to stop by more often and they would all stay in touch by electronic means, as they had already been doing.

As if Laura's visit had been a catalyst of sorts, slowly Derek and Stiles started leaving the apartment more. First grocery shopping, which was a little stressful for Stiles since he'd been kidnapped while running out for butter, but which turned out to be a really fun chore when he was doing it with Derek.

And then they began attending pack dinners at the Hale home. Stiles could tell that Derek had missed his family, as much as he also valued his privacy, and now that he had more confidence in his own place in the pack, Stiles discovered that he liked all of the Hales -- werewolves and human slaves alike -- and while it was always a relief to return to the quiet privacy of their home at the end of the evening, Stiles no longer experienced any anxiety when they entered the insanely noisy Hale house and were practically swamped in exuberant hugs and shrieking toddlers.

Peter still freaked Stiles out a little, but the scariest thing about him now was how intently he approved of Derek and Stiles being together. Lydia still eyeballed her owner with incredulity every time he spoke to Stiles as an equal, but it made Stiles feel safe and valued and he knew that Derek was thrilled with his uncle's new amenability toward a slave who wasn't Lydia. Especially when that slave was Stiles.

That Stiles finally beginning his training with Emissary Deaton surely helped with Peter's improved attitude toward him. Even though Stiles was still legally a slave who was owned by the Hales in general and Derek specifically, by tradition and social convention he was now basically considered a free man. It wouldn't be official until he was finished with his apprenticeship, but everyone treated him as though he belonged to himself.

None of that changed his life with Derek, of course. Stiles would love Derek even if not for the bond between them, he was fairly certain, but he didn't even need to think about that because they were bonded.

In fact, Stiles didn't think there was any way in which his life could be better, he really didn't. Then Alpha Hale just had to go and prove him wrong.

No one had the decency to warn Stiles ahead of time, not even a hint, and Derek was left out of the loop as well. So it came as much a surprise to Derek as it did to Stiles when they showed up for a pack dinner one night, and when Stiles walked into the living area to greet his alpha, he came face to face with someone he'd thought he'd never see again.

"DAD?!"

Derek caught Stiles when his knees gave out on him, and Stiles probably would have passed out from shock, but if he did that then he wouldn't have been able to fly across the room and fling himself into his father's arms. And there was nothing more important than that right now.

"Stiles!"

As his dad hugged him and held him close for the first time in over six years, and Stiles sucked in great gouts of his familiar scent, sobbing a little, his father sobbing a little, and both of them pretending they weren't crying, Stiles knew -- he just knew -- that Derek was standing behind him, smiling and happy for him.

But he also knew that there would be at least a little bit of jealousy, like he felt whenever Alpha Hale hugged Derek and held him as though he belonged to her alone. And so he pulled away from his father slightly, before he was ready, but he needed to introduce the two most important people in his life to each other.

"Dad," he said, his voice a little choked but clear and no longer raspy the way it had been when Derek had first purchased him. "I need you to meet someone."

And evidently his father had already been filled in by Alpha Hale, because he was already staring at Derek intently. He looked a little older than Stiles remembered, more weary and worn, but he seemed healthy overall. He wasn't as tall as Stiles recalled, but his blue eyes were the same, and his arm was still strong and sheltering where he had it wrapped around Stiles.

"Derek," he greeted, already holding out a hand in offering. Stiles shook his head but couldn't help smiling. It figured that his dad had been able to accept that the Hale pack was different far more quickly than he'd managed. "Thank you so much for taking care of my son and for everything you've done for him. I'm very happy that you two have one another."

Derek stepped forward and took the proffered hand, giving it a firm shake. "Thank you, sir," he replied respectfully.

"We were able to find your father," Talia Hale was saying unnecessarily, and Stiles would have hugged her in gratitude if he'd been able to pull himself away from his dad. "I purchased his contract from Deucalion. He's a Hale now, the same as you are."

Stiles might have cried a little more at this point, but if he did no one blamed him. Derek's hand closed warm around his wrist, bracing, and he felt love and support radiating through the bond between them, no more jealousy, just happiness for Stiles' sake because he had his father back now, and Stiles shifted his hand so that he could twine his fingers through Derek's, holding on tight.

He wasn't ready to move away from his dad yet, but he knew that Derek was here for him, and it was Derek he would be going home with at the end of the evening.

For right now, though he was surrounded by family, and he had his father back, and Derek was here beside him, and Derek was in his heart.

It had taken a while for it to happen, and it had taken him even longer to believe in it, but Stiles was finally home.

And even better, he'd been able to make his own heart a home for Derek. Whatever else happened, whatever the world threw at them in the future, they were always going to have one another.

Stiles smiled at Derek and Derek smiled at Stiles, and for long moments, even though they were surrounded by family, there was only the two of them.

Derek had Stiles. Stiles had Derek. And that... that was everything.
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