“Calm down,” Stile says. “I look a lot worse than I am.”
Derek’s hands still on his hips. So far he hasn’t touched the dark bruises spilling up Stiles’ side. There’s a cut too, an ugly gash pulled together with thick stitches, the black threads unnatural and tight against the pale of his skin.
“I didn’t say anything,” Derek huffs against his stomach. They’re in Derek’s bed, with Stiles propped up against the headboard. Derek is pooled between his legs, careful and warm, watching.
“You have a very loud frown.” Stiles resists the urge to run his thumb over the crease in Derek’s downturned lips. Instead, he brushes his fingers lightly up the trail of purple-red marks on his skin in a way he knows catches Derek’s eyes.
Derek shifts down to nose against Stiles’ thigh, and the movement draws attention to the dip in Derek’s shoulders. Stiles catches the triple spiral nestled there, and it makes something clench tight, low and hot in his belly.
It frightens him, how much he thinks about it. The clawing, incessant hunger of it. A whispered desire that pulses around his skull, but never makes it past his lips.
He wonders, often, if Derek might know. If his primal and Derek’s primal speak in the same desperate, muted language, some kind of collective unconscious hanging on the edges of their bones.
Or has he just been spending too much time with Derek?
He knows that he’ll never ask for it. Not with his voice, but probably Derek can see it flash in his eyes or hear it in the sudden tightness of his breath. Maybe he can scent it on him, Stiles thinks it probably smells heavy like iron. Not like blood, though. More like the aftermath of something lethal.
Let me leave a mark.
The triskelion mocks him, shiny and dark and so, so permanent. He thinks if he were more like Derek, he might growl at it. It’s not so much that it exists, it’s more … what it means. A symbol of something that Stiles can never hope to achieve, despite all his wanting.
The rest of Derek’s skin is devoid of any other markings, no bruises or scars hinting at the history of his body. His skin is a weapon with no memory, nothing tender in its soft flawlessness, no room for nostalgia in the stretch of capable limbs.
But Derek is beautiful, every sharp angle and ripple of muscle honed with devastating purpose, and it makes Stiles want to sink to his knees or sink his teeth in, deep.
It’s taken him a long time to understand it.
He thinks Derek might understand it, too. Maybe more than Stiles.
Because then Derek says, “Stop,” and leans up slowly to kiss Stiles, his hands ghosting up his sides to settle against his neck.
Stiles can’t help but dig his fingers into the triple spiral, wishing he could burn his way into Derek. Scrape out a space in Derek’s chest for himself.
Derek pulls back slowly, and looks at Stiles. His eyes are alert and liquid-dark in the twilight, intense and hard to read.
Stiles wants to shake him a little, wants to yell, too. Why didn’t anyone tell him that love felt like this?
“Calm down,” Derek repeats his words from earlier back at him, stilted and raspy in the way Derek talks, like words are impossible. “It’s a lot worse than it looks.” He pauses, runs a finger over Stiles lips to keep him from talking. “Trust me.”
Stiles feels that, deep inside.