“Bro, this is gonna be so fun. This is the coolest thing we’ve ever done.”
“Yes, Stiles. You have mentioned that only about a million times.”
Stiles ignores Scott, staring raptly out the window of the airplane at the thick layer of clouds below them. He’s feeling a little antsy—pent up energy from the eight hours they’ve already been flying. And that doesn’t even include the layover at LAX.
He’s just so ready to land in Fiji. He’s been excited about this trip since he first saw the pamphlet advertising the study abroad opportunity in the academic advisor offices at school. It took a whole lot of begging and pouting to finally convince his dad, and even more to convince Scott to take six weeks off of working at the vet clinic to join him. Stiles filed paperwork at the station with his dad for his entire winter break just to be able to help pay for this trip. There’s no way in hell he’s gonna let Scott put a damper on how freaking pumped he is for the next month and a half.
“All right, all right, I gotta stretch my legs. Let me up.”
Scott sighs, jabbing halfheartedly at whatever game he’s playing on his phone before unbuckling and letting Stiles into the aisle. The plane is on the smaller side and is only sparsely full, which helped significantly cut down on boarding time. Stiles even saw Lydia from high school at the gate, toting around Jackson the same way she’s been doing since they were fifteen. Who would’ve thought they’d stay together for so long. Not Stiles, whose childhood crush on Lydia means he’ll always think she deserves better.
Stiles heads to the bathroom in the back, smiling at a flight attendant and squeezing past her. He scans the seats and nods at Danny when they make eye contact—another Beacon High graduate. This specific flight was recommended for the study abroad trip, which means most of the seats are filled with restless college students.
Stiles splashes water on his face and pokes a little at the bags under his eyes. He doesn’t sleep well on planes. He’s mainly been surviving off coffee and Scott’s willingness to drag him wherever they need to be so far.
The plane lurches on his way back to his seat, making Stiles stumble off to the left and crash into someone’s shoulder.
“I am so sorry!” he cries, grabbing onto a luggage compartment overhead to stabilize himself.
When he looks down, he’s a little horrified to see that the person he bumped into is none other than the hot guy he had been drooling over while waiting to board. The guy looks a little older—thick scruff covering his jaw and dark eyelashes. At the airport, Stiles had mostly been staring at the guy’s arms, but right now he’s caught on how bright his eyes are.
Hottie scowls and grunts, barely audible, then turns back to his book. Okay then.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are experiencing some minor turbulence. Please fasten your seatbelts and remain seated until the seatbelt sign has been turned off,” a voice says over the intercom.
Back in his seat, Stiles convinces Scott to give him some words for the Mad Libs he brought. His dad bought him a Star Wars themed book, like the best father ever.
“Okay, plural noun?” Stiles asks, teeth nibbling indents into his pen cap.
“Ummm,” Scott squints in thought, “Peni—”
Suddenly the entire plane cuts down sharply, then pulls up again so fast that Stiles bites his tongue.
“Shit,” he says, though the word ends up stuck in his throat on the way out. There’s a sound like grinding machinery and the plane tips sideways a bit, bouncing in the air while it stays crooked. A flight attendant runs from the back area towards the cockpit, her hands gripping the headrests of each seat she passes to keep her stable.
The plane dips again, so dramatically that Stiles feels his stomach swoop. A few people scream in surprise and the entire aircraft jerks so hard that Stiles’ ass leaves his seat for a second. Then everything goes horribly quiet, as if the engines have shut off completely. Someone is crying just a few rows away.
Stiles belatedly realizes that Scott is gripping his hand like a lifeline, fingers gone numb from it. Stiles squeezes back and his ears pop as the plane quickly loses altitude. Oxygen masks drop from the panels above the seats and Stiles hurriedly slips his over his face. He turns to make sure Scott’s is secure—meets his huge, frightened eyes.
The pilot comes on the intercom, voice frantic, “I’m tr—I can’t… I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Below them, the endless blue ocean is getting closer and closer.
“Stiles,” Scott says through his mask, pleading for something, even if he doesn’t have the words for it.
“I know,” Stiles answers, wishing there was even one thing he could do to make this better. He squeezes Scott’s hand tighter. All he can think is, holy shit I’m gonna die. This is going to destroy my dad.
The whole world seems to jerk to the right and then spiral. Stiles’ head smacks against the side of the plane just a smidge too hard and he has half a second of dizziness before there’s the awful sound of crunching metal and his vision goes black.
Stiles wakes feeling like his head’s been stuffed with cotton.
There’s a pained groan, which may or may not be coming from him. Opening his eyes makes everything hurt a billion times more, so he settles on keeping them closed and trying to make sure all his limbs are still attached.
He feels… fine. Sure, everything aches and he’s never been in more pain, but he’s alive. Which is something he never really thought he’d be again.
“Stiles?” Scott says, voice echoing weirdly from the ringing in Stiles’ ears. There’s a hand shaking his shoulder and a more panicked, “Stiles?”
Stiles moans and manages to squint his eyes open at Scott. It’s too bright—sunlight is coming from somewhere that it really shouldn’t be, considering they’re still buckled into in their airplane seats.
“Thank god,” Scott says, fingers pressed to Stiles’ neck like he was looking for a pulse, “Are you alright?”
Stiles’ oxygen mask is crooked on his face, so he fumbles a hand up to pull it off. Something wet drips slowly down his cheek. The air is kind of smoky, and from beyond the settling dust Stiles can see figures slowly pulling themselves towards the light.
“I think so,” Stiles sighs. “You?”
“Yeah,” Scott nods, unbuckling Stiles’ seatbelt for him, “Can you move?”
Stiles makes a sound of deliberation and decides he’ll never know if he doesn’t try. He pushes up from his seat, letting Scott take his weight as they move into the aisle. Stiles’ vision goes hazy and he thinks he actually shouldn’t be standing right now. Scott half carries him down the aisle and out the new giant hole in the plane. Because apparently the entire front half of the plane has broken off and separated, leaving only the back.
They step onto sand, slipping down the beach towards a few people who have managed to pull themselves free. Scott helps Stiles sit, the ground hot beneath him.
“I’m gonna go and see if anyone else needs help,” Scott says, always the savior.
“There’s no way this is Fiji,” Stiles moans.
Someone snorts and Stiles tries to focus his eyes, sees a buff guy smirking a little, his dark skin glowing in the sun. He’s kind of ridiculously handsome, and the blonde girl leaning against him is scary gorgeous even with mascara smudged under her eyes.
“When you ask for a beach vacation, be careful what you wish for, I guess,” the girl smiles bitterly. She sounds like she might break down in tears at any moment.
“Stiles Stilinski,” Stiles holds a hand out for them to shake. There’s blood on his palm.
“Call me Boyd,” the guy takes his hand unflinchingly.
The girl is too far away to reach, but she manages a genuine smile, “I’m Erica.”
The small moment of normalcy makes Stiles feel a little bit better about everything. He finally brings himself to look around. The beach is a long stretch of sand and some rock farther down. Up the slope of sand, a few palm trees dot the coast until the land becomes thick tropical jungle. The ocean laps at the shore and looks boundless—just miles of blue nothing.
The back of the plane that they all emerged from is sad and twisted. The front end is nowhere in sight, though there’s a suspicious flash of white too far out into the ocean to see. It could easily be a reflection of the water, but Stiles cynically thinks that this hunk of metal on the sand is all that survived. He really can’t believe he’s not dead.
Down the beach, Lydia is picking at suitcases that litter the shore from where the cargo area must have ripped open. She’s dragging them into a pile closer to where people are starting to gather. Stiles is inexplicably glad she seems uninjured. Jackson seems fine too, aside from a bleeding gash near his shoulder. Danny is holding a crumpled piece of cloth to the injury, putting pressure on it.
Scott emerges from the plane with a brown-haired girl in his arms, carrying her like he’s rescuing a princess or something. He places her down in the sand and fusses over her for a second, making sure she’s not hurt. Stiles feels a little indignant that Scott didn’t do the same with him. Way to get distracted by a pretty face, Scott.
Speaking of pretty faces, Hottie from the plane steps out next, looking furious at the world.
“Is anyone a doctor? There’s a kid still in there whose leg looks broken,” Hottie says, his voice smooth. The guy must realize that literally everyone on the beach is no older than twenty-three because the glare on his face gets even more mutinous.
“I’ve made splints for dogs with broken legs before,” Scott offers, like the pure soul that he is. The girl he’s still crouched near grants him a dimpled smile. Hottie doesn’t seem so impressed. The guy makes a sound like a growl and goes back towards what’s left of the plane.
“We should look for fresh water,” Lydia calls out, tossing a half empty water bottle towards the pile of scavenged debris she’s been making.
“And food,” Jackson adds grumpily. His arm has finally stopped bleeding so much, so Danny steps away from him and starts rummaging through the suitcases, likely looking for a first aid kit.
“Water first,” Lydia chastises, giving Jackson a look like she thinks he’s an idiot, “We could die in days if we don’t find water.”
Hottie steps back out onto the beach with a lanky guy in his arms. The guy is pale and groggy, showing no resistance as Hottie carries him towards the shade under a nearby palm tree. Scott goes over to help and examine the guy’s leg.
The sand is burning Stiles’ ass, reflecting the heat of the sun until he feels like his skin is going to wither up. His head is throbbing a bit, finally going from numb to unbearably painful. The dry air doesn’t help—the mirage near the ground in the distance making him feel a little woozy.
Another guy steps out of the plane, looking unharmed. He’s got a backpack clutched to his chest and a camera in one hand. He looks around the beach desperately, about as panicked as Stiles feels.
Hottie leaves Scott to look at the guy’s leg and stands to examine the group.
“No one else in the plane had a pulse,” he says gruffly. There’s a moment of quiet in the group, probably shock at the fact that they’re stuck on this island and now they have a bunch of dead bodies to deal with.
“We need to bury them,” Scott insists, glancing up from where he’s been shimmying the injured guy’s pants down his legs carefully. Hottie doesn’t look happy about the prospect, but he doesn’t disagree. His eyes trace the tree line where the beach ends.
“I’ll look around. See if there are signs of other people. Find some water,” the guy is already marching off towards the trees.
“I’ll come too,” Boyd offers, making Hottie pause and nod sharply.
“Boyd,” Erica starts, like she wants to argue. He just kisses her forehead and whispers something against the side of her cheek, moving to follow Hottie.
“I’ll come!” Stiles says impulsively, thinking that the last thing he wants to do right now is sit uselessly on the beach. He stumbles towards them with a spray of sand, vision whiting out from how quickly he stands up.
Hottie seems reluctant to move now, though. He’s looking at Stiles with an unimpressed glare.
“Your head is bleeding. Sit down.”
“I’m fine,” Stiles blinks at him as innocently as he’s able to.
“You’re being an idiot.”
Whatever tense stare down they are having is interrupted by Scott calling Stiles’ name. Stiles backs off, trying not to look petulant. Danny appears, pulling him to sit in the shade next to the broken leg dude. Stiles squints out at the ocean and lets Danny dab at the cut on his face with something that stings. He thinks about his bed at home and he misses his dad terribly.
Lydia, Erica and the brown-haired girl—Allison, he learns—meticulously go through the suitcases and pull out anything useful. Danny eventually lets Stiles go help after a solid hour of having to listen to his complaints.
Not a ton of luggage ended up on the beach, so it’s a pretty sad haul. Mostly clothes and a bar of soap. A small pair of scissors and a travel sized first aid kit. A sewing kit. Nail clippers. A deck of cards. A plastic raincoat.
They collect water bottles—both full and empty—as well as a nice gathering of bags of airplane peanuts that found themselves dotting the sand. Lydia and Allison brave the plane full of dead people to scavenge what they can from there as well.
The guy with the camera doesn’t talk to them, just sits hunched over his backpack while he eats from a bag of trail mix he had stuffed in there. Stiles kind of hates him a little bit.
Hottie and Boyd eventually return, looking as disappointed as one can with such emotionless faces.
“No luck?” Stiles asks, snarkier than he means to. Hottie looks like he wouldn’t mind making Stiles’ head bleed all over again.
“We found a small stream,” Boyd answers, “No sign of anyone else.”
“With so much vegetation, there has to be a larger water source nearby. We didn’t want to go too far today and get stuck in the dark,” Hottie eventually adds. He wanders over to examine the splint that Scott has made for the guy with the broken leg. He presses a hand to the guy’s forehead, then peels an eyelid open. Stiles thinks he looks oddly gentle.
The guy groans and his eyes flutter open, rolling around in his head like he’s having trouble focusing. Scott pours some water from a nearby bottle down his throat, encourages him to swallow.
“What’s your name?” Hottie asks the guy, one hand supporting his neck.
“Isaac,” the guy croaks, eyes finally finding Hottie’s face and sticking there.
“You’ll be alright, Isaac,” Hottie says, stepping away to look over the pile of supplies they’ve accumulated while he was gone. Grumpy must be his natural expression. “I’ll start digging graves. Hopefully we can move the bodies and sleep in the plane tonight.”
Boyd and Danny get up to join him, picking through big sheets of metal from the plane that they may be able to use to help shovel.
“We should make a rescue signal too,” Hottie adds, “And why hasn’t anyone built a fire yet?”
“Damn, who died and made you king?” Stiles complains before he can stop himself. Probably not the best time to be joking about dying. Hottie looks like he thinks so too—he bares his teeth in an actual snarl.
“Please excuse Stiles, he doesn’t think before he speaks sometimes,” Scott says, holding up his hands in a placating gesture.
“Would you like to step up and do it?” Hottie sneers as if Scott hadn’t even spoken.
Stiles opens his mouth to say something cutting, but he just can’t. He doesn’t want to be in charge—he wants to go home. He wants to not be stuck on this island having to work just to not die. Stiles feels his eyes burn, and he’s humiliated enough at being so close to tears that he just bites his cheek hard and lets his eyes fall to where his feet are buried in the sand. His head is still pounding.
The group is tense, and Stiles can’t help feeling like he’s at fault.
The silence is broken by the asshole with the camera, who finally speaks for the first time since they crashed.
“I can’t get a signal on my phone.”
Jackson is quick to reply, “No fucking shit, dumbass. We’re in the middle of the fucking ocean.”
“I’m just trying to get home!”
“Yeah, because we all want to be stuck on this island for the rest of our lives,” Erica joins in, her eyes sharp.
“Maybe it would help if you stopped sitting on your ass and actually pitched in,” Hottie adds ruthlessly, “I’m not sure how much empathy I feel for someone who’s been hogging food and doing jack shit.”
“It’s my food!” the guy argues, his face pulling into unattractive indignance.
Hottie hums, his jaw clenched, “I’ll remember that the next time you’re hungry.”
As much as Hottie gets on his nerves, Stiles can’t help but agree. Scott says something, trying to calm everyone down, but Stiles doesn’t care much to listen. They have a right to be upset, he thinks. If they all spent the whole day lazing around on the beach, they’d be dead within the week.
“I’ll build a fire,” Stiles mutters to no one, getting up to find some tinder. Anything is better than having to listen to all that bickering.
And he wasn’t a pyromaniac Cub Scout for nothing.
With the fire blazing and Jackson making a big SOS sign with rocks, Stiles lets himself have a sip from one of the water bottles. They have a decent amount of water that fell from the plane, but he knows they’ll have to be careful and ration it until they find a reliable source of water somewhere else.
Hottie and a few others are scooping up sandy dirt towards the tree line. The graves are shallow, but will hopefully help keep away any animals on the island who might mistake the bodies for food.
On a whim, Stiles peeks inside the plane at the seat numbers each body is in. He tries not to look at the people for too long, just takes note of their seats and escapes to collect a few large, flat rocks. There are five bodies still in seats, and one who was ripped out upon landing—limbs hanging sideways and bloody halfway out the opening to the plane. He thinks that if—when—they are rescued, it might be nice if the family of those who died could collect their remains. Stiles finds a sharp stone and attempts to carve the seat numbers into the rocks to use as grave markers.
Down the beach, the girls talk quietly while trying to sharpen large branches into spears. Allison mentioned that her dad taught her to hunt and fish, and she might be able to catch a few fish in the shallow water. Scott gets Isaac to swallow a painkiller and they chat amicably, as much as Isaac can manage at the moment. Scott keeps looking towards Allison like a lovestruck puppy. Stiles isn’t surprised—she’s exactly his type.
That just leaves Asshole Food Hogger, who decides to come check out what Stiles is doing. Apparently, the guy thinks that the Hottie-Stiles rivalry means that Stiles will take his side and be his new BFF. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all that nonsense. He introduces himself as Matt and immediately starts complaining about how insufferable Hottie is. Granted, he doesn’t actually call him Hottie.
Stiles lets him rant for as long as it takes to finish the last rock, then he grabs as many as he can carry and excuses himself. He stumbles on his way to the row of graves but manages to get up the steep slope of sand without dropping any on his feet.
“Here,” Stiles drops the pile of rocks and places one securely above each hole in the ground, “Grave markers so we know who’s who. Just—just in case.”
Boyd nods and Hottie stares at them for a moment, at the rough carvings in the rock. They’re not pretty, but Stiles tried his best.
“Smart thinking,” Hottie says eventually, eyes flicking up to meet Stiles’. It’s hard to look at him for too long.
“Just make sure everyone gets put in the right spot. There was one guy. I don’t know what seat he was in,” Stiles trails off. They’re all quiet—they saw the man’s body already.
Hottie breaks the stillness and continues digging up the final hole. His black shirt is clinging to his body, face shining with sweat. The setting sun makes the tips of his dark hair glow gold. Boyd and Danny help out and once they’re finished, everyone stands around again. Stiles thinks that nobody really wants to start dragging the bodies over here.
“Need any help?” Stiles asks. Though the last thing he wants to do right now is carry around some dead bodies.
“Stiles, you hit your head pretty hard earlier,” Danny says in that easy-going, gentle way that he’s so good at. “You could have a concussion. Just relax.”
Stiles sighs in relief a little louder than he meant to, “Kay but I’m gonna stay up here by you guys. That asshole Matt keeps trying to talk to me.”
Boyd snorts and starts making his way towards the plane. Danny follows and so does Hottie, but only after giving Stiles a slow smirk that kicks his heart into overdrive.
Night comes upon them fast, the sun slipping below the horizon and leaving them dependent on the dim glow from the fire and the waxing crescent moon. The waves still lap at the shore in noisy crashes and the thick trees become a dark blob of nothing. Stiles doesn’t like looking towards the jungle for too long at night.
With the bodies buried and the fire still burning, people slowly trickle off to the plane to sleep. Derek and Scott carry Isaac to a seat nearest the entrance to the plane, where they can prop his leg up comfortably. Everyone was handed some kind of shirt or sweatshirt to cover up with by a magnanimous Lydia. There weren’t enough airplane blankets found for everyone, and two were hung up at the opening of the plane to block out the slight breeze.
Stiles lays across a row of seats and attempts to get some sleep. His head still aches, but he didn’t want to ask for painkillers when he knows they could be valuable some other time, for a more important reason. Scott is passed out and snoring like a chainsaw in the row across from him, and there are a few other snores spread throughout the plane. Stiles knows they’re all probably exhausted from doing so much work today, but he really doesn’t understand how they can sleep right now.
The white noise of ocean waves and trees rustling in the breeze makes Stiles feel like he’s hearing things—weird noises like screeches and wails. Even if it’s all in his imagination, it scares him. Stiles is scared.
He peeks his head over the seats and looks around—the ruined plane is bathed in shadow and blue moonlight. He sees Danny’s head bent at an uncomfortable angle, Boyd’s arm wrapped around Erica like he’ll never let go, Lydia and Jackson awake and whispering quietly in the back row. Allison is awake too, sitting in a window seat. She meets his gaze when she sees Stiles looking, and her eyes sparkle wetly.
Stiles can’t find the person he was actually looking for, so he stands from his seat and moves as silently as he can towards the exit. He had abandoned his trusty red hoodie earlier, but it’s coming in handy now. He pulls the sleeves over his hands like little paws and steps onto the sand.
Without shoes and the sun to warm it, the sand is cool against his feet. The fire is a warm beacon, and Stiles shuffles soundlessly towards the lone figure sitting near it.
He collapses right next to Hottie, probably too close given they have the entire fire to themselves. The guy doesn’t even look over, though. He’s gazing up at the moon, weary face bathed in orange light.
“Why aren’t you sleeping?” Stiles tries, wondering if the guy will even give him the time of day.
“Making sure the fire doesn’t go out,” he answers, though it sounds a little like a lie.
“I can take over. You should go try to rest.”
Even as he says it, Stiles hopes more than anything that he won’t be left alone out here with the dark blue nothing of the water and the scary unknown of the jungle. The beach feels like the place where two worlds meet. What a fitting place to die.
“No,” the guy says. Simple as that. “Why aren’t you sleeping?”
Stiles shrugs. The breeze shifts and smoke makes his eyes sting. He shuts them, “Head hurts.”
Hottie breathes steadily next to him, like he’s got his own ocean in his lungs. “Let me see,” he says, closer than he was before.
Stiles opens his eyes and sees the hinge of his jaw, the dark layer of scruff on his skin. The guy reaches a hand out for Stiles’ temple and runs his thumb over the bandage Danny had stuck over the scrape. The rest of his fingers fan out and rest behind Stiles’ ear, buried in his short hair.
The guy is frowning and then his touch disappears. Stiles feels chilly again, barely registering the way his headache is gone. Hottie looks back to the moon, an expression on his face that Stiles can’t quite place. Suddenly, Stiles is furious with himself for having no other name for this man except Hottie, for letting himself get snarky the way his mom always used to reprimand him for. It’s not this guy’s fault that Stiles’ life kind of sucks right now. He’s clearly just trying to do what’s right—trying to be a leader in this place where he is surrounded by barely legal kids.
“So I think we got off on the wrong foot,” Stiles says, squinting at the sky, trying to see what this guy sees when he looks at the moon. Hottie huffs through his nose, almost like a laugh.
“I’m Stiles,” he holds out a hand, just like he’d done with Boyd earlier. Although the blood is gone. He’d finally washed it off in the ocean before they had all divided up the airplane peanuts for dinner. The guy turns his head to stare, slowly. The firelight reflects off his eyes, makes them flash an almost eerily blue for a moment. When he grabs Stiles’ hand, his palm is warm.
“Derek,” Stiles repeats, liking the sound of that, “That’s not what I’ve been calling you in my head.”
Derek releases his hand and narrows his eyes, “I don’t even wanna know.”
Stiles braces his arms behind him so he can lean back a little, head tilting to stare straight up at the stars as he chuckles. When he looks over, Derek’s eyes are on his neck, though he averts his gaze to the fire quickly enough. They go quiet, and it’s nice and serene between them.
“Do you think we’re gonna die here?” Stiles asks, like the tactless idiot that he is.
Derek doesn’t answer, but he studies Stiles, like he’s looking for something in his face. His eyebrows throw shadows all the way down to his cheekbones.
“My dad won’t ever stop until he finds me,” Stiles continues with surety, “Dead or alive. At least I know that. I wonder if there’s news of the plane not arriving yet. They could have people searching for us already. My dad must be out of his mind.”
Derek scratches at his cheek, a rough scritch scritch scritch sound against his stubble. He sighs, then, “My sister won’t ever stop looking for me either. She would know if I was dead.”
“What do you mean?” Stiles asks, curious about the confidence of that statement.
“She would just know,” Derek half shrugs.
“So what you’re saying is,” Stiles flails as he sits up straighter, “That between my dad and your sister, there’s no way in hell they’re gonna give up on us out there?”
Derek smirks, a tiny thing, “Well. Not in so many words.”
Stiles laughs loud, the sound almost echoing, “Well of course not. That would be out of character for you.”
“Because you know so much about my character.”
Stiles grins, helpless to stop it. He collapses back to lay in the cold sand, propping his toes up so the fire can warm them. He’s never seen so many stars, and his eyes slip closed contentedly. He feels safe with Derek in a way that he hadn’t felt safe in the plane with the others. There’s something about him that seems untamed—comfortable with nature and base instinct. He seems like maybe he’s had to fight to survive before.
Derek nudges his shoulder, “Stiles. Go back to the plane to sleep.”
“Mmm, then you come sleep too.”
“I’m keeping the fire going.”
“The fire is fine, Derek,” Stiles opens his eyes, watching Derek watch the moon. His shoulders move with each tense breath. “The dead are all buried.”
Derek gives an imperceptible flinch, whispers almost too faint to hear, “It still smells like death.”
Stiles gnaws on his lip, wishing he was better at conversations like this. Ever since they lost his mom, Stiles and his dad’s methods for dealing with death involved a whole lot of manly hugs and crying alone. Derek doesn’t seem like the type to appreciate either of those things. Stiles pulls his lips into a wry smile, “Nah, that’s probably just Scott. He farts in his sleep sometimes.”
Derek rolls his eyes so hard his head moves with them. The effect of his glare is ruined by the way his lips are twitching. He stands, towering over Stiles and waiting for something. With Derek backlit by the fire, Stiles can’t see his face.
“Let’s go,” Derek kicks Stiles’ side, though it’s not hard enough to hurt.
“I miss ten minutes ago when we were feuding.”
“We weren’t feuding. We were just being assholes to each other.”
“You’re telling me you think you’ve stopped being an asshole?”
“Now you know the real me, Derek,” Stiles holds his arms up like a child, “C’mon, carry me. I’m tired and I know you can do it. Don’t think I didn’t see you carrying Isaac earlier like it was nothing.”
Stiles has the ridiculous thought that it feels like they’re flirting.
Derek grabs Stiles’ hands, and he wonders if he’s actually about to be picked up and carried. That is until Derek starts walking backwards towards the plane, gripping Stiles’ hands so he gets dragged over the ground and through the sand.
“Noooo,” Stiles feels sand slip down the back of his hoodie and shirt, even lodging itself under the waistband of his pants. He squirms away, twisting until Derek releases his hands and he can stand up to shake off all the sand.
Stiles wrestles himself out of his twisted hoodie and throws the sandy mess at Derek’s face. He misses his target and ends up doing a weird dance to get the sand out of his shirt. It’s a lost cause, really.
“You got sand in my ass crack, jerk face,” Stiles grimaces, pulling at his pants and shimmying like that’ll help get the sand away from his naughty bits.
“Good luck with that,” Derek shakes out Stiles’ hoodie and disappears into the plane.
Stiles briefly considers stripping and washing off in the ocean but decides that sounds like a good way to get hypothermia and die. Possibly get eaten by a shark, knowing Stiles’ luck. He brushes off as much as he can and hurries into the plane—feeling nervous all alone out there.
Derek has stolen his row of seats and has his head pillowed on his sweatshirt, eyes closed but lips turned up suspiciously. Stiles grumbles and claims the seats behind him, making sure to shove at the bed stealer’s seats while he’s getting settled.
Five minutes later, when Scott farts in his sleep, Stiles can’t help the silent, breathless laughter that comes over him. He must be so tired that he’s delirious at this point. When Jackson tells him to shut up all the way from the back row, Stiles laughs harder—no sound, just breathy gasps. He likes to imagine that Derek is, at the very least, smiling too.
Waking up hurts in an achy way, but Stiles feels refreshed after getting some actual sleep. In the moment just before he opens his eyes, he can almost pretend he isn’t stranded on a deserted island. Then he feels the sand in his pants and reality sets in.
Stiles gets up groggily. Matt is still hunched over in his seat, but everyone seems to already be awake. Isaac is up, but still in his seat in the plane. He’s tucked the blanket curtain out of the way so he can stare out at the water.
“You need anything?” Stiles asks him as he passes by.
Isaac blinks slowly, lips pursing in though. “Nah,” he says eventually, shaking his head.
“Just call out if you do,” Stiles says.
The sun is warm, but not unbearably. It’s probably only a few hours past sunrise. Everyone is milling around, doing whatever they feel needs to get done. Lydia is poking at the fire, thick black smoke trailing into the cloudless sky, while Danny collects more firewood. Allison is by the tide pools, spear in hand while she jabs at fish. Erica watches her, stripped down to her bra and underwear like she decided to take a spontaneous dip in the water.
Closer to the tree line, Derek, Scott and Jackson are fumbling with some thick logs and branches, trying to prop them up against a tree to build a shelter. Boyd looks on, occasionally lugging over more logs from beyond the trees.
Stiles decides a swim sounds amazing and moves closer to the water. It kisses his toes, sea foam clinging to his skin. A tiny crab skittles by, leaving little indents in the damp sand from its feet. Stiles strips off his shirt and pants, drops them far enough up the shore that they won’t get washed away, and ventures into the water.
It’s chilly but refreshing. Stiles manages to wash the sand off his body and clean himself from the layer of grime and sweat he had built up. He dips his head in once, just to get any sand out of his hair, then emerges from the water. His briefs cling to him uncomfortably, but Stiles feels much better. He decides to let himself air dry and goes to watch Allison catch fish for a bit.
“She gets them right in the head every time,” Erica comments, gesturing to a plastic bucket that is slowly filling with fish. Allison seems to be in a trance, hyper focused on any movement in the shallow water.
Eventually, Stiles wanders to annoy Lydia. She indulges him, though not without a good amount of snark. When Danny comes back with a new armful of branches, he says, “You’re distracting Mister Male Model over there.”
Lydia smirks, like she noticed too.
“Which one,” Stiles asks, though when he looks over at the group of guys, his eyes meet Derek’s for half a second. Stiles feel his cheeks go hot. “I swear it’s like the cast of Bachelor in Paradise here. Just leave me stranded on an island with every hot person on this planet, why don’t you?”
“You should definitely go over there. Make sure the structure looks stable,” Danny grins.
“Yeah, not sure how stable it’ll be if the guy in charge of building it has been ogling Stiles’ shoulders for the past fifteen minutes,” Lydia adds deviously.
“You’re both horrible and I hate you,” Stiles says as he leaves them to check out the shelter in progress. The salt water has dried tight on his skin, making him feel a little itchy. Derek keeps his eyes averted as Stiles approaches, frowning at a thick branch that he’s securing at an angle.
“Lookin’ good, Bob the Builder,” Stiles says to Derek, though Scott is the only one who smiles at him for it.
“Sup Bro,” Scott holds out a fist to bump, “How you feeling?”
“Like I bashed my head during a plane crash.”
Derek finishes securing the branch.
“Like that. Got it?” he says to Jackson.
Jackson nods, surprisingly unsarcastically, “Got it.”
“Now you try.”
Jackson hefts up a heavy branch and gets to work securing it. Scott helps him hold it where it’s supposed to go. Derek steps closer to Stiles while they work.
“You got your bandage all wet,” Derek complains, fingers picking at the bandage that has been slowly unsticking from Stiles’ forehead since his dip in the ocean. He peels it off, thumb just barely touching the cut that hasn’t quite scabbed over yet. Stiles can feel Derek’s breath against the side of his face. “Does it hurt?”
It doesn’t, now that Stiles is thinking about it. The ache from this morning is gone, and all that’s left is a fluttery feeling in his stomach. Stiles shakes his head.
“And your nose is sunburnt,” Derek grumps. He flicks the side of Stiles’ nose and pushes him off towards a tree with a hot palm on his back, “Go stand in the shade.”
Stiles does stand in the shade. Next to Boyd, who is smirking like he knows a secret.
“Shut up,” Stiles mutters to him, which only makes him smirk harder.
The completed shelter is nice—only a little small, but perfect for lounging around during the day. Derek and Jackson fill in the gaps between the branches with thick foliage, even laying some on the ground inside to cushion against the dirt and sand.
Eventually, Boyd and Derek start discussing continuing their search for water. Jackson and Scott start on another shelter that they’re planning on digging a toilet inside of while Lydia packs up bags full of empty containers to be filled with fresh water. Danny offers to join Derek and Boyd, which has Stiles running off to throw on his pants, some shoes and a random clean shirt that is definitely meant for a woman.
“I’m coming too!” he insists, out of breath after running off to catch them at the last second, “I’m not actively bleeding so you can’t say no this time.”
“Stiles,” Derek looks unhappy, “You’re concussed.”
There’s a long beat of eye contact, though the effect is kind of ruined by Danny grinning suggestively in Stiles’ peripheral. Derek sighs, rolls his eyes up to the heavens and spins on his heel towards the trees. He’s got a backpack slung over his shoulder and he’s never looked more attractive.
The jungle is kind of beautiful during the day—sunlight falling through the swaying branches, lighting the leaves up bright green and blinding. Fat red and yellow birds sing from up high, swooping from one tree to the next easily. Down on the ground, it’s cooler, and Stiles can see what Derek meant when he said there has to be a large water source nearby. The plants are lush, and the air is thick and wet with life. Lizards cling to tree trunks, then scatter too fast for Stiles to follow when they pass by.
Derek leads them like a pro—ducking under vines and over fallen branches with ease. At one point, he points his chin out at tree nearby and steps a few yards to the side to pass it. Stiles sees a green snake curled up on a branch, its head tucked tight against its fat body. Stiles is a little concerned about the fact that he wouldn’t have even noticed the snake if it weren’t for Derek.
When they reach the stream, it’s shallow and weak. They follow it, looking for the source. The water brings with it more wildlife. Birds swoop down to drink and dance around the muddy stones. The water gets deeper as they go on, and Stiles thinks they must be getting closer when Derek pauses suddenly.
He’s looking up, so Stiles follows his gaze with apprehension. He nearly gasps. It’s a grouping of banana trees, with large bunches of bananas—some clusters green, but others a perfectly ripe yellow.
“That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Stiles comments, wondering if he currently has the physical ability to climb up there and eat every single banana immediately.
“We should gather some,” Danny says, already opening up his backpack to make room. Boyd tilts his head, trying to find the best method for shimmying up the tree. The fruit hangs low enough that they could probably reach most of it by climbing just a couple feet off the ground.
Derek looks off into the distance, following the path the stream had been leading them, “I think we’re close to the water. Will you guys be okay if I go check it out and then come back here to meet you?”
Boyd nods, “We’ll be here. Hurry back.”
Derek starts moving, but pauses at Stiles’ voice.
“Woah, okay no. No one is going anywhere alone.”
“I’ll be fine,” Derek argues. Danny is already making his way up the tree with Boyd on the ground spotting him.
“Stiles, just go with him,” Danny says, breathless as he reaches out towards the bunch of bananas.
Stiles folds his arms over his chest and waits for Derek to disagree with that. Nothing comes, though. Derek huffs and starts walking, not even looking back, and Stiles has to jog to catch up with him.
Derek was right. They only walk about two more minutes before the trees clear, opening up to a wide pond at the base of a small rocky hill. Water trickles faintly down the side of the hill, breaking the surface of the pond into barely noticeable ripples.
Derek makes a quiet sound of relief, dropping his backpack and falling to his knees on the ground near the pond. He cups his hands and scoops up some water, taking a long sip before splashing the rest on his face.
“Derek!” Stiles yelps, his brain finally catching up with his eyes, “You can’t drink that yet—there could be parasites or some shit! You could get sick!”
Derek laughs like that’s the funniest thing Stiles has ever said. It’s disconcerting enough that Stiles actually grabs Derek’s shoulder and tries to move him away before he goes in for another sip. Derek doesn’t let Stiles pull him very far, but he’s still kind of grinning. His face is wet. It’s sort of beautiful.
“Just—don’t. We have to boil it first,” Stiles says seriously, trying his best not to say something stupid. Like, you should know better, doofus! Or even, we’d probably all die without you. Derek’s smile fades slowly, and he glances up at Stiles hovering next to him. His eye lashes are dark, clumped with water.
“Sorry,” Derek says, as if realizing how much he’s worried Stiles.
“It’s fine,” Stiles lies, crouching near the edge of the water and pulling empty bottles and containers from the bag Derek abandoned on the ground. “Let’s get these filled up.”
They fill all the containers in silence, only the sounds of birds screeching and water dripping from rock. There’s something lighter about Derek now, like maybe finding water and fruit has given him some real hope. Stiles has to agree—he was worried for a bit that he’d have to live off fish for the rest of his life. Not that Stiles plans on dying here. Hopefully.
“The whole group can come here together to wash up,” Derek says, standing, “Maybe tomorrow.”
“Mmm, group bath time. Kinky.”
Derek ignores him, turning to head back to where they left Boyd and Danny. It’s not too difficult to navigate now that Stiles has an idea of where he’s going. They just follow downstream, weaving around thick trees wrapped in vines. When they arrive at the fruit trees, Stiles sees that Boyd and Danny have managed to pull down a large bunch of ripened bananas and stuff them in their backpacks.
“Find the water?” Danny asks, a banana already peeled and half-eaten in his hand.
“A nice clean pond. I’m thinking we can all come back tomorrow to get more drinking water and maybe clean off a bit,” Derek nods in thanks when Boyd hands him two bananas, passing one to Stiles.
“Thank God,” Danny moans, “I can smell myself. Not pretty.”
They stand in a loose circle, eating reverently. Stiles hadn’t realized how hungry he was, but now that his body isn’t completely aching from the crash, he feels absolutely ravenous. His stomach growls loudly, like it’s demanding more than just the one measly piece of fruit.
Once finished, they head back to camp. The food makes Stiles’ head feel clearer already, and it’s as if his body is able to appreciate the walk through the jungle a lot more now that it knows it won’t be starving to death.
The bananas and water are met with legitimate cheers from the group. They divvy out fruit to everyone and then store the remainder in the relatively cool body of the plane. Even Matt gets a piece, though Derek does glare at him especially hard while he eats it.
Jackson and Scott finished assembling the basic foundation for the toilet structure, and Jackson shows it off to Derek with a proud puff to his chest. It’s honestly about time. Stiles has been pissing in the jungle just past the tree line. He’s not the biggest fan of pulling his dick out in the middle of the wilderness.
Isaac has been moved from the plane, and he’s sprawled on the sand with Erica and Allison. The three of them surround the bucket of fish Allison caught—fish guts covering their hands while they remove all the innards. It’s the most horrifying thing Stiles has ever seen. But there’s a fish for all of them, so he can’t complain much.
Lydia gets to work on the pond water they collected—pouring it all into an ice bucket from the plane and boiling it with hot rocks pulled from the fire. She leaves it to cool and wanders off to dip her feet in the waves. Stiles can’t help but feel selfishly grateful she ended up on the island with them. He had a longtime crush on her for a reason. She’s scary smart, and there’s something in her that knows, instinctively, how to survive.
Derek is similar, Stiles thinks. Though, Derek’s survival seems to be a lot less passive intellect and a lot more brute strength—like something wild, long familiar with the Earth and all its violence. Just hanging on to dear life by his fingertips, like sheer force of will can keep him going. Stiles can appreciate the art of stubbornness. He can see the appeal, especially in the simple refusal to die.
Not that they’re going to die, Stiles reminds himself.
The point is, Derek is dreadfully beautiful. He checks in with everyone, but he’s not fussy about it. It’s mostly silently standing near them, looking them over like he’s searching a kid for skinned knees. Once satisfied, he moves on to the next. It’s as if he just needs to see for himself that they’re still alive and unharmed. Stiles can see the way he cares so much, even if it’s hidden behind an aloof distance.
Stiles kind of wants to take that distance and crush it flat between his palms. It’s terrifying, really, how much he wants to let Derek really see him.
They feast that evening—fill their bellies with fish and bananas and boiled seaweed. It’s far from the most appetizing thing Stiles has ever eaten, but he’s too hungry to even care. Sated, they all retreat to the plane. The night comes, cooler than the last. Once Isaac has been helped to and from the toilet, they close off the entrance to the plane with the blanket curtains and settle in. The quiet murmurs trail off eventually. Stiles finds it easier to fall into sleep—he listens to Derek’s even breaths from the row of seats in front of him.
The next morning, Stiles feeds the fire and pokes it back to life. They’ve had to go farther into the trees to collect enough wood to keep it burning. Derek somehow manages to yank a few of the airplane seats right out of the plane, arranging three chairs in the shade near the biggest of the completed shelters. It makes for a nice little seating area, and they help Isaac to one of the seats. Stiles claims a spot inside the shelter—the ground cool and padded with mossy vegetation. Erica squeezes in next to him, boxing him in.
She hands him a banana, says, “Breakfast.”
“I was thinking we could all head to the pond together today,” Derek says from outside the shelter. From this angle, Stiles can only see his bare feet stretched out in the sand. There’s dark hair dusting the tops of his big toes, and Stiles can’t look away from them.
“Yes!” Scott says excitedly, “We can get cleaned up.”
“Maybe let’s not bathe in our drinking water,” Lydia says scathingly. She’s perched atop one of the airplane seats like it’s a throne.
“We could always just bring a bucket and some pieces of cloth to wash up on the side. Like a sponge bath,” Allison muses. Stiles can just barely see Scott’s face where he’s lounging back in the sand. He’s looking at Allison like she’s the most amazing thing she’s ever seen.
“Sexy,” Erica whispers in response to the idea of sponge baths.
“That’s what I said!” Stiles quietly exclaims back. Erica grins at him, looking him straight in the eye while she pops the last of her banana in her mouth.
“I can’t go,” Isaac muses. His shin is held straight by two thick branches, bound tight by a long skirt that Scott shredded into strips. He’s right. He can’t walk on his own—moving through the jungle on his leg could just injure him more.
“I’ll stay back with you,” Danny offers, “The others can bring us some fresh water so we can just wash up here.”
Once that’s settled and they’ve finished their bananas, they grab everything they need and head out. Derek explains the route to the pond—straight into the trees until you hit the stream, then just follow that all the way into the clearing. It’s slow going, trudging through the jungle with such a large group, but eventually they arrive.
“Shit,” Boyd mutters, impressed.
The girls go to the far side of the water, undressing behind the thin cover of a few leafy bushes. Every few minutes, one of them giggles, the sound traveling across the clearing enticingly. It’s enough to distract Boyd, Jackson, Scott and Matt. They all glance furtively across the water, like they want to peek but don’t want to be too obvious about it.
Stiles would be distracted too, if it weren’t for the fact that Derek has already filled up a bucket and began shamelessly stripping. Stiles pulls his own shirt over his head, if only to avoid thinking about the way his cheeks feel suddenly flushed.
The other guys join in, and it’s awkward in the way showering after lacrosse practice always was. They all wet their pieces of cloth, dragging the fabric over their skin and scrubbing at all the dried sweat and dirt. The water is cool, and Stiles feels as if he’s removing layer upon layer of filth and grime with each pass over his skin.
“Stiles,” Derek’s voice calls.
Stiles flails in surprise, looking up with a startled stare. Derek is holding out half a bar of soap, the other half with the girls across the clearing. Stiles swallows, keeps his eyes steady on Derek’s face and tries not to let his gaze slip down to the endless naked skin.
He grabs for the soap and promptly drops it. Swooping down to retrieve it from the ground, Stiles embarrassedly realizes his head is just a smidge too close to Derek’s dick. He jumps back too fast, feet slick in the mud as he spins around to wash off the soap in the bucket of water. He belatedly realizes that only means he’s flashed his ass at Derek, but he’s already mortified so there’s not much to do about it.
“Quit hogging the soap, Stilinski,” Jackson grumps. Stiles quickly soaps up his cloth until it’s foamy and passes the bar over.
Once clean, they all change into the extra clothes they brought. It was slim pickings, so Stiles ends up in a pair of tiny exercise shorts. He’s half afraid they’re short enough that his balls are visible, though he’s not sure anyone would be able to talk given what they ended up with. Matt is somehow only in a pair of plaid boxers.
Derek, shirtless and just in some loose sweats, starts cleaning his dirty clothes. The girls wander over, hair wet and just as erratically dressed. Jackson grabs Lydia’s ass like a creep, and they kiss obnoxiously.
Erica fake barfs, skipping over to poke fun at Boyd’s camo shorts. The entire atmosphere feels lighter now that they’re all clean. Scott and Allison huddle together, crouched down to whisper and poke at the surface of the water.
“I give it three days before they make a move on each other,” he tells Derek, nodding towards his best friend. Derek purses his lips and studies them for a moment.
“I give it until tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?!” Stiles squawks, thinking about it before holding out a hand, “Deal.”
Derek shakes with a smug little grin. His hair is damp, just long enough to flop down against his forehead. They watch Erica and Boyd try to convince Matt to come closer to a fist-sized spider nestled in the branch of a tree. He squeals at the sight of it, and they all laugh too loud.
The sun flickers through the trees, the light cutting patterns over their drying skin. Stiles feels like maybe everything will be okay.
“You know, I didn’t expect being stranded on an island to be so boring,” Stiles complains, sprawled sideways in one of the airplane seats outside the shelter. He’s flipping through an old copy of SkyMall magazine.
Next to him, Isaac is half hidden behind his own copy, “Yes, because it sounds like it would be a barrel of laughs.”
Stiles squints at him over the magazine, watches him nonchalantly turn a page. “I think I underestimated you. You were unconscious for most of the time when I was forming my first impressions about everyone. I may need to reevaluate.”
“Lucky me,” Isaac snarks, though there’s a smile in his voice.
“What are you two losers doing?” Jackson saunters over, still shirtless from when they finished washing up.
“Thinking about how much I need a glow-in-the-dark toilet seat,” Stiles dog-ears the page.
“SkyMall?” Derek asks, appearing behind Jackson. He’s also shirtless, which is slow torture for Stiles.
“The one and only,” Stiles grins cheekily, “What are your thoughts on a Darth Vader toaster?”
Jackson scoffs and leaves to bother Lydia. Derek crouches by Isaac’s broken leg, one hand going to his ankle while he checks the wrapping.
“Hurts?” he asks, brow furrowing. Isaac bites his lip and tilts his head, thinking about it.
Derek stands, hovering close over Stiles, “And your head?”
His hand reaches out to brush over the scabbing cut on Stiles’ temple. He’s very tactile—always touching to check in with people or move them around where he wants them to go. His armpit is very close to Stiles’ face and it smells like clean sweat and soap and salt.
“Could be better if I had a Darth Vader toaster”
“Where would you plug it in?” Derek steps back, still towering over Stiles but less in his space. His eyes are so green, they remind Stiles of being in the middle of the jungle with the sun shining down.
Stiles is just about to fumble through a nonsensical response when Allison thankfully interrupts.
“I think I’m going to try to catch some more fish.”
“Good idea,” Derek pauses, then, “Maybe Scott can help you.”
Allison blushes slightly, just on the apples of her cheeks.
“Scott!” Derek yells before she has a chance to respond. Scott sticks his head out from the plane, where he’d been playing a high-stakes game of Go Fish with Danny and Erica.
“Go help Allison catch some fish.”
Scott doesn’t even pause at the order, just tosses his hand of cards to the others with a hurried “Sorry guys!” and jogs to catch up with Allison. The guy’s got asthma, Stiles has no idea why he suddenly thinks he can jog.
“What was that?” Stiles asks Derek suspiciously.
“What?” Derek’s eyes are too blank to be innocent.
“Why did you just ask Scott to help her?”
“Figured she could use some help,” Derek shrugs.
“But… Anyone could have helped her!”
Stiles gasps, flinging away the magazine dramatically and pushing up to stand. Derek is stranding close, so Stiles points a finger and pokes it at his bare chest, “You’re trying to sabotage the bet we made earlier!”
“Sabotage?” Derek sounds confused, but his lips are pulling up at the corners, “I just want to be able to eat tonight.”
“Yes. By trying to get Allison and Scott to get together by tomorrow. Sabotage!”
Derek smirks, closing a hot fist around the finger Stiles still has pressed to his chest. “I have no clue what you’re talking about, but you’re free to join them if you want to.”
Stiles tries to glare, though he’s sure it’s probably weak. “You’re free to join them,” he says stupidly.
Derek grins suddenly, wolfish. He leans in close, like he’s telling Stiles a secret, “But that would ruin my chances for the bet we made earlier.”
He releases Stiles’ finger and turns away to saunter down the beach, ignoring the indignant sputtering coming out of Stiles’ mouth. Eventually speechless, Stiles plops back into his chair.
“Why don’t you two just bone already?” Isaac smiles, all smarmy.
Stiles isn’t sure how to respond in a way that isn’t I don’t know, I want to so fucking bad.
The following day brings more boredom.
It’s uncomfortably hot, in a humid kind of way. Lydia and Jackson team up against Erica and Boyd for a game of chicken in the ocean. It’s much less exciting to watch than to actually play, though, and Stiles eventually ends up sprawled inside the plane for an afternoon nap. His skin feels a little burnt, eyes sticking with each blink. The sun always exhausts him.
Scott and Allison left for the pond together to get some more water, which Derek looked especially happy about. And Matt and Isaac have been hogging the deck of cards all day, which leaves Stiles with very little to do. The fire is being looked over by Danny, who seems content to lounge in the sun without a care in the world. How he doesn’t burn to a crisp, Stiles has no idea.
Falling asleep with his face squished against the seat cushions comes easily.
He’s woken up by a hand on his shoulder a while later. It’s Derek’s face that is hovering above his.
“Sorry, but you need to see this,” Derek says, his eyes lit up. Stiles stands groggily, following Derek to the opening of the plane. It’s insanely bright—the late afternoon sun glinting against the sand. Stiles manages to follow where Derek is pointing in the distance.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Stiles says, squinting harder at where Scott and Allison are sitting by the rocky area, their lips locked together. Scott seems to lean forward too far, and he collapses on top of Allison until they’re horizontal. Stiles groans, moving back inside and falling heavily into a seat. Derek sits in the seat across the aisle from him, looking like he wants to gloat.
“Just say it,” Stiles grumbles, head tipping sideways so he can look at Derek.
“Say what?” Derek asks, his head mirroring Stiles’. It’s quiet in the plane, though they can still hear the waves, the distant voices of everyone else.
“You won, you told me so, blah blah blah.”
“What did I win?”
Stiles raises his eyebrows, “You expect a prize? There were no terms to the bet.”
Derek doesn’t speak, but there’s something curious in his smile.
“What would you like?” Stiles asks. Then, just because it came out a little too soft, adds, “A foot massage? My share of seaweed? A day of complete silence from me?”
Derek hums, rolling his neck until he’s staring up at the ceiling of the plane. His jaw juts out sharply from his neck, the stubble on his face growling long and unkempt. He blinks calmly and says, “I’ll let you know.”
“What?” Stiles complains, “You can’t do that! I won’t be able to relax until I know what it is!”
Derek shrugs, unconcerned. He’s so infuriating. Stiles has never wanted to kiss anyone more.
“Well fine, be that way,” Stiles sighs hugely, “How do you feel about Star Wars Mad Libs?”
Despite getting distracted by the making out, Allison and Scott manage to catch a good number of fish, leaving them all set for dinner. The sunset comes on quick—a beautiful pinkish orange, reflecting off the dark water. Stiles can’t look away from the way it turns Derek’s skin gold while he grills fish over the fire.
Scott nudges him, sitting next to Stiles in the sand and gazing out over the beach towards where Allison is taking a long sip of water.
“Dude,” Stiles says to him.
“Yeah,” Scott responds, a besotted look on his face. There’s not much else that needs to be said between them. They’ve known each other a long time.
They all huddle around the fire for dinner while the sky turns purple. Matt has brought his camera back out and he snaps a few quick photos. Across the flames, Derek sits with his legs crossed, his piece of fish balanced on top of a banana leaf while he eats with his fingers. Danny gets up halfway through to throw more wood on the fire—it’s been lit for so long that it’s burning through it faster.
There’s a long moment after they’ve finished eating where they sit in silence, watching the last of the sun’s light sink below the horizon. It’s only after this brief moment of content that Stiles remembers how badly he still wants to get home. He thinks of his dad, and all the books he hasn’t read, and the whole confusing mess of what he wants to do with the rest of his life.
“What do you guys miss most?” Stiles asks, his head clogged with nostalgia. Stiles watches everyone’s faces get heavier with the question.
“My flat iron,” Lydia says eventually. She’s leaning against Jackson, and her game of chicken in the ocean earlier has dried her hair into a frizzy strawberry blonde halo around her head.
“Your flat iron?” Isaac says, voice filled to the brim with judgement.
Lydia rolls her eyes, “Okay fine. Maybe Prada.”
“Like a handbag?” Allison sounds confused.
“Her rat dog,” Jackson explains.
“Jackson,” Lydia smacks him hard on the shoulder, leans in a little closer.
“I miss coffee,” Stiles realizes, “Iced coffee, oh my God.”
“Who the hell allows you to drink coffee, Stilinski?” Jackson gives him an incredulous look.
Isaac nods from next to him, “Yeah that does sound like the last thing he needs.”
“Air conditioning,” Matt says dreamily, prompting a hum of agreement from half the group.
“I miss chocolate cake,” Scott pokes miserably at some fish bones discarded on the sand from dinner.
“How often did you even eat chocolate cake before?” Stiles has to ask.
“It’s the fact that I could have it,” Scott insists, which makes Allison smile at him indulgently.
This inspires several people to list off foods they miss—echoes of burgers, pizza, ice cream. Stiles thinks of curly fries with more than a little reverence.
“Hot showers,” Jackson adds.
“You mean you didn’t like our naked sponge bath?” Boyd asks, deadpan.
“Naked?” Danny perks up, looking disappointed that he missed it.
“I miss tampons,” Allison says out of the blue. Jackson makes a grossed-out face and Scott blushes up to his hairline.
“Yes!” Erica shouts. The girls grin at each other.
Danny makes a thoughtful face, studies the group, “I can’t decide if this is therapeutic or if it’s making everything worse.”
“How could this possibly get any worse?” Erica scoots herself sideways, dropping down to lay her head in Boyd’s lap. His fingers find her hair immediately, brushing through tangles and rubbing at her scalp.
Stiles raises his gaze to find Derek already looking at him. Their eyes meet, faces bathed in the warm glow from the fire. It could be worse, Stiles thinks.
It could definitely be worse.
They slowly trickle off, Scott and Matt helping Isaac back to the plane while the others wander the beach or hover by the heat of the fire. Stiles suspects Erica and Boyd are planning on sneaking off to the big shelter to go make out.
Derek is silhouetted against the ocean, staring out at the open water. The sky is dark today—clouds rolling in slowly to cover the moon. Stiles makes his way to Derek, barefoot with wet sand clinging to his feet. Derek’s face is shrouded in shadow when he turns toward Stiles.
“Enjoying the view?” Stiles asks, half joking as he gestures at the barely visible waves.
“Yeah,” Derek says, eyes on Stiles’ face.
Stiles’ breath catches, “Oh.”
Derek’s gaze is steady as he inhales deeply and allows a small smile. When he turns away, Stiles’ breath leaves him like a punch to his gut. His heart is tripping in his chest. Derek draws a toe through the sand, glancing down at where the tide has sunk down low. The wet sand is dotted with halves of seashells—most of them broken in fragments from the harsh waves.
Stiles realizes that Derek is holding something, playing with it between his fingers. The movement looks thoughtless, but Derek seems to be contemplating deeply, eying the waves while he thinks. Derek raises a hand, hesitating before he holds whatever it is out to Stiles.
It’s a seashell. Small and scalloped, flawlessly white. It’s so white that it almost glows blue in the faint moonlight. Stiles runs his thumb over the inside, finding it smooth. The outside is rougher, the grooves even and clean. Stiles rubs it between his fingers, just like Derek had been doing. It’s a soothing, mindless movement.
“Thank you,” Stiles says, more genuine than Derek could possibly know. He’s weirdly grateful for the stupid shell, grateful that Derek even thought to give it to him.
Derek studies him for a long time before lifting a hand to Stiles’ neck. He curls his fingers in, tracing his knuckles over the thin skin just below Stiles’ jaw. Stiles has the sudden thought that he doesn’t think anyone has ever touched him there.
“Good night, Stiles,” Derek murmurs, and then he is gone.
The next day brings rain. The clouds from the following night cloak the sky, and around sunrise they’re all woken up by the harsh sound of rainfall against the metal roof of the plane.
Still half asleep, Stiles hears Scott whoop and feels a tug at his wrist. Scott pulls him outside and the water is a shock—waking Stiles up immediately. Stiles grabs for Scott, trying to jump on his back to tackle him like when they were kids.
Lydia quickly sets out any empty buckets or containers they have, trying to collect as much of the clean rainwater as she can before the storm passes. She’s back in the plane before she can get too wet, though. Clearly, she has more sense than Scott or Stiles.
And boy, is it a storm. The winds turn harsh, suddenly blowing the rain nearly sideways. Trees whip around in the jungle and the waves crash, like they’re hungry for something. The fire is nothing but a sad pile of ash. Now that he’s more conscious, Stiles realizes he’s shivering.
Scott must have the same idea, because they both make their way back to the plane. Their entrance is met with quite a few exasperated looks.
“Idiots,” Stiles thinks he hears Lydia mutter.
They head to the pile of supplies stored towards the back, exchanging their wet clothes for dry ones. There’s a hole in the roof somewhere that Stiles can’t see—the sound of water dripping and hitting the floor slowly the only indication.
Bundled into a clean shirt and his hoodie, Stiles makes his way back to his seat. Most of the group seem to be attempting to get some more sleep, but Derek is awake—blearily blinking at Stiles. His hair is fluffed up on one side and there’s an imprint from the seat across his cheekbone.
Stiles sits down next to Derek instead of returning to his own row. His face is still wet, dripping lines of rainwater down his cheeks.
“Not the smartest thing you’ve ever done,” Derek comments, his head already tipping sideways. The soft tickle of his hair brushes against Stiles’ neck, and Derek’s forehead lands firmly on Stiles’ shoulder. His breathing goes deep, like he’s already fallen back asleep.
Hesitantly, Stiles lets his own head tip, resting on top of Derek’s like a human pillow. He plays with the seashell Derek gave him and he listens to the rain.
The storm doesn’t pass until the afternoon. They drink their fill of cool, clean rainwater and wander the beach, checking on the shelters and the outside of the plane. The fire is a lost cause—completely extinguished and soggy. All their kindling is wet, which Stiles wishes he’d thought of when the storm first started. He’s not sure how much luck they’ll have finding dry wood anytime soon.
“Might be fruit for dinner,” Derek says, coming up next to Stiles to stare at the remains of their fire. They had fruit for breakfast too. Fat chance they’ll be cooking any fish today, though.
“We’re almost out,” Danny says, Jackson close behind him. “I can head out to pick some more.”
“I’ll come help,” Jackson offers.
They leave with empty backpacks.
Scott patches up a few of the shelters, securing more vegetation to fill in holes ripped open on the roofs. The sky is still grey and cloudy, threatening to start pouring again anytime. Derek frowns above them.
“We shouldn’t have let them go out until it cleared up,” he says to Stiles in frustration. Stiles likes the sound of Derek saying “we.”
Derek hovers by the tree line the whole time they’re gone, head tilted towards the jungle like he’s trying to hear Jackson and Danny all the way from camp. He paces the wet sand, which makes Stiles feel anxious just watching him.
Down the beach, Erica and Boyd challenge Allison and Scott to a sandcastle competition. They force Stiles to leave during the assembly so he can be a blind judge once they’re all finished.
Jackson and Danny return not long after, backpacks weighed down with bananas. Derek’s shoulders slump with clear relief when he sees them emerge.
Stiles crowns the champion sandcastle, which turns out to be Scott and Allison’s. Erica complains loudly about somebody playing favorites and they all wash up in the ocean. Then it’s fruit for dinner and a chilly, subdued evening inside the plane.
It takes a long time for Stiles to fall asleep. When he finally does, his head is filled with thoughts of Derek in the row of seats ahead of him. He thinks he’d like to curl up on top of Derek’s warm, broad chest. He wishes he had the courage to ask if Derek would want that.
When his eyes slip closed, it’s with his fist clenched around the seashell.
The whole world seems brighter when Stiles wakes, which is a definite sign that the sky has cleared.
It’s warmer too, the sun finally out and just beginning to dry up the damp earth. Allison and Scott walk across the shore together, letting the waves roll over their feet. Everyone else meanders around as well, not seeming especially eager to do any actual work.
The fire will become a problem, though. The smoke could help them get rescued, so Stiles is anxious to find some dry wood and get it started again. However, finding suitable wood is proving difficult. Matt helps him search, the two of them combing the jungle for anything untouched by the storm.
They end up deeper in the trees than Stiles meant to—coming upon the stream without even realizing how far they’d wandered. Matt is a few yards ahead, weaving through the vines quickly. His bright red shirt is the only way Stiles can keep track of him.
“Matt,” Stiles calls out, “It’s useless. Let’s head back.”
“Kay,” Matt says distractedly. Stiles watches the red of his shirt pause and turn back towards Stiles. Then, “Wait, there’s…”
His voice trails off before his shirt starts moving again.
“Never mind,” Matt calls back. Stiles steps over a large wet branch, wondering how long it’ll take for the sun to dry it all up. He picks his way around the stream, leading them back to camp.
“Fucking—Ow!” Matt’s voice yells from further behind Stiles, “Shit!”
“Matt?” Stiles asks, concerned. Matt is still cursing, sounding angry and scared. Stiles reroutes, turning around again to check in on him. He’s leaning against a large tree when Stiles find him, his chest heaving and face pale.
“What’s wrong?” Stiles scans him but doesn’t see any obvious injuries.
Wordlessly, Matt points. On the ground a few feet away, there’s a shiny black snake. It’s still coiled up, tense and still, like it’s ready to strike. Stiles backs up slowly, tugging on Matt’s sleeve until he follows. They creep away almost silently until they get to a safe distance and Matt has to stop to lean against a tree again.
“Did it bite you?” Stiles asks him, horrified at the thought.
Matt grimaces, pulling up the leg of his thin joggers, “Twice.”
His ankle is bleeding steadily, two distinct bite marks already swelling in a way that can’t mean anything good. Matt wavers on his feet, looking a little woozy.
“Was it—was it venomous?” Stiles wonders, though he doesn’t expect to like the answer.
Matt doesn’t seem inclined to respond. Maybe it was a stupid question. Stiles saddles up next to him, taking his weight and pulling Matt’s arm over his shoulder until he doesn’t need to lean against the tree so much. Matt tries to focus on him but can’t seem to manage it.
“Stiles,” he pants, forehead shiny with sweat, “It feels bad. I don’t want to die alone.”
The words come out slurred and terrified.
“Okay,” is all Stiles can say, “Okay. You won’t.”
You won’t die at all, he wants to say, but Matt has all but collapsed in his arms and it feels like the biggest lie.
“Okay,” Stiles says again, tugging Matt up higher until he’s more secure over Stiles’ shoulders. Stiles takes a step, stumbling a bit until he adjusts. Matt is doing his best to help walk, but his legs seem shaky and weak. They move haltingly, Stiles feeling near panic.
He’s unsure where he even is anymore. They’re not near the stream now, and they got turned around enough that he can’t tell how to get back to camp. Matt dry heaves, then vomits on his own feet. He cries too, Stiles thinks. Drooling out a meaningless jumble of words.
“Okay,” Stiles’ voice has gone reedy. He pulls them both forward—in whatever direction his feet decide to go. He doesn’t know anymore. Matt is getting heavier.
Stiles gasps the biggest breath he can, and then yells out for the only person he thinks might be able to make this any better.
Stiles can be louder, he thinks. He tries again. He manages to take more of Matt’s weight, and they move through the trees faster.
“Derek!” Stiles half sobs, feeling wondrously stupid and helpless. He wants to go home more than ever.
Matt dry heaves again, but there’s nothing in his stomach to throw up.
“Stiles?” a frantic voice sounds from up ahead. So Stiles was going in the right direction. He trudges on.
When Derek appears through the trees, Stiles feels his entire chest collapse in relief. Derek takes Matt’s other arm immediately, helping to carry him farther out of the jungle. It’s almost easy to lift him with Derek there.
“What happened?” Derek’s eyes look wider than Stiles has ever seen them.
“Snake bit—bit him,” Stiles says, breathless. The trees are getting less crowded and he thinks he sees the deep blue of the ocean.
“Did you get bit?” Derek asks. The thought seems to terrify him.
“No,” Stiles shakes his head, moves it back and forth like he’s trying to shake away the blood-curdling thought that he could have been left alone in the middle of the jungle with a dead body hanging from his shoulders, “No.”
They break through the trees and onto the beach, setting Matt down in the nearest shelter. Stiles thinks he hears Derek call for Scott, but there’s nothing in his ears except a ringing sound. He pulls Matt’s head into his lap, looks down into his foggy eyes as they struggle for focus. He’s breathing—fighting for life, really.
Scott peeks at his ankle, the skin swelling up like a balloon, muscle twitching under the open wounds. He talks frantically with Lydia, something about antivenom, but the words are lost on Stiles.
In his lap, Matt dry heaves, vomits up nothing but stomach acid and blood. Stiles has the strange thought that he never even really liked the guy. Matt has been obnoxious since the very first day. But something inside Stiles feels betrayed. He’d really thought maybe they could all survive this. Even Matt—the Asshole Food Hogger.
“He said,” Stiles manages, “That he didn’t want to die alone.”
Derek presses up against Stiles’ back, lets Stiles lean his weight against his chest. They’re all there, Stiles realizes. Even Isaac has been carried from the plane. They all sit in clusters, quiet and steady by Matt’s side.
They didn’t like him either, Stiles thinks. It’s a testament to their desire to live, probably—their will to survive and keep doing so even if they don’t like some parts of it.
Jackson kind of looks like he wants to go and grab a banana for himself. And Boyd keeps glancing at the sinking sun, like he wants to start digging Matt’s grave before it gets dark but thinks it might be a little rude to dig someone’s grave right in front of them. Allison is half-asleep against Scott’s side. And they’re all still there. You don’t really need to like someone to still be there for them when they need you, Stiles thinks.
They’re just there, and it’s quiet. And after an hour or so, Matt is dead.
The grave gets dug and Stiles wanders to find a good rock. He carves Matt’s name into it, using the light of the moon because there is no fire tonight.
When the body is buried, Stiles places the grave marker. He hovers for a moment, the seashell in his hand rubbing his thumb raw. The others stand around, just as unsure how to feel. Scott squeezes Stiles’ shoulder and Lydia stares blankly at the fresh mound of dirt.
There’s not much to say, so Stiles heads to the plane, thinking of sleep that probably won’t come.
Isaac sticks his good leg out, trying to trip him on his way to his seat. Stiles steps on his toe on purpose, can’t help the tiny smile when Isaac yelps. Some things may never change. He grabs a banana to stop the growling in his stomach. It’s not the most satisfying—Stiles is pretty sure his body is slowly learning to hate the fruit.
The rest of the group come to bed at their own pace. Derek forgoes his row of seats entirely, instead slipping in Stiles’ row to sit next to him. They lean against each other, and it feels good. Feels nice to be able to lean on someone else. Stiles is grateful for Derek, and he wishes he had the words to tell him so.
Instead, he leans. Closes his eyes and lets his head droop, grabs Derek’s hand and plays with his fingers the same way he plays with the seashell sometimes.
Lydia passes out bananas for breakfast in the morning, which has become much less thrilling compared to the day they discovered them.
It’s a gorgeous morning—balmy and relaxing. There’s a little more luck finding some dry wood, though Stiles does need to sacrifice one of the SkyMall magazines to use for tinder. It crackles and hisses, but it’s burning.
Everyone relaxes, hanging around the beach and doing dumb things to pass the time. Jackson is attempting to teach Scott, Allison and Danny to play poker. Isaac is sitting close by them, pretending to read a book he found on the plane while he really just peeks at everyone’s cards. Erica and Lydia are weaving banana leaves, probably gossiping, while Boyd dozes in the sand a few feet away.
“Hey,” Derek says, appearing at Stiles’ elbow. “Wanna go for a walk with me?”
Stiles nods, always willing to spend time in Derek’s presence. They travel along where the water meets the sand, bare feet leaving deep footprints behind them. It’s quiet, and Derek looks good. Stiles is typically prone to babbling, but today feels peaceful enough that he’s content with silence.
They make it to the rocky area, and Stiles hops around, trying to avoid any sharp looking stones. The tide pools are over this way, and Stiles can see quick flashes of fish in the shallow water. Derek picks up a stone, reeling back and throwing it as far into the ocean as he can.
Stiles laughs, grabbing his own stone to try. His doesn’t go quite as far, but he’s not too upset about it. Derek smiles at him like it’s easy. All this sun has done wonders for his skin—tanning the points of his cheekbones, the bridge of his nose. Even his lips look full and soft. Stiles isn’t sure how he does it, considering his own lips have been red and chapped for days. Stiles realizes he’s been staring at Derek’s lips for too long.
“Remember when I won that bet?” Derek says, eyes bright and looking right at Stiles.
“Oh yeah, the bet that you sabotaged?” Stiles lifts his brows dramatically.
Derek snorts, rolling his eyes like it’s the only think he knows how to do.
“Have you figured out what you want?” Stiles asks eventually, because he’s suddenly eager to hear what Derek has to say.
Derek studies him, lips turning up in a particular way, making Stiles’ stomach curl with anticipation. Derek’s eyes slide to the water, the endless horizon. He takes a long, deep breath.
“Go on a date with me,” Derek says, after a long pause. He sounds unaffected, but his spine is a tense line of nerves. Stiles’ mouth falls open. It’s not what he thought Derek would say at all.
“But… We’re stuck on an island,” Stiles moves his head to the left, ducking to try to get Derek to look at him again.
“I know, Stiles,” Derek sounds pained. Even with his growing beard, Stiles can tell his jaw is clenched tight.
“I only mean,” Stiles thinks through his words for a moment, “You don’t need to take me on a date to kiss the hell out of me.”
Derek’s eyes snap to his face in surprise. He looks lost, reaching out a hand to grab at the front of Stiles’ t-shirt. He doesn’t tug him in, just holds on like he’s scared Stiles might leave.
“I knew that,” Derek says.
Stiles feels himself grin sharply, “You gonna take me on a romantic island getaway? Cook me dinner by the fireside and hold my hand during long walks on the beach?”
Derek growls, finally using his grip on Stiles to pull him closer. Their faces end up inches from each other, Derek’s hands sliding up to grip the place where Stiles’ neck meets shoulder. “I think I change my mind.”
“No, you don’t,” Stiles leans in.
They kiss like their lips were made for each other, arms sliding around body to grab at anything they can reach, anything that will get them closer to each other. Stiles feels his entire spine tingle, heat flaring down his body distractingly.
He breaks the kiss, panting, “You know this is where Scott and Allison had their first kiss. This could be like the designated make out spot—”
“Shut up,” Derek reclaims his mouth, his beard rubbing a tantalizing burn against Stiles’ cheek and chin. It’s incredible for another minute before Derek freezes, body going still.
“Do you hear that?” he says, looking like he’s going to stop the kissing. Stiles isn’t fan of that idea.
“No,” Stiles threads his fingers through Derek’s hair, thinking that he won’t let him pull away so easily next time.
“Stiles,” Derek sounds wrecked, “Listen.”
Stiles does. Stopping the kissing in favor of just breathing against Derek’s mouth and listening. And it’s—it’s faint, but it’s there. An engine or something. Far in the distance. Stiles spins round, only managing to not fall over because Derek’s still got his arms wrapped around him.
There, in the clear, open sky, is a helicopter approaching them.
“Holy fucking shit,” Stiles says.
“Help!” Derek yells suddenly, releasing Stiles to wave his arms in the air like a lunatic. Stiles joins in, the two of them bounding off the rocks and through the sand to get closer to camp. The others have noticed and started yelling too. They jump around, the abandoned deck of cards fluttering in the wind at their feet.
Stiles leaps up as if he thinks he can touch the sky, knocks shoulders with someone as they all bounce off each other like pinballs. Blood rushes in his ears and his body fills with a sense of pure, impossible hope. He’s untethered with it. Behind him, the jungle stirs with life, and it has never felt so harmless.
Stiles feels his voice go hoarse, thinking about hugging his dad again. Thinking about splitting a chocolate cake with Scott and going to the movies and taking a shower. Stiles thinks about having dinner with Derek. At a restaurant. He thinks about getting to know him without the threat of death hanging over their heads. He thinks about how he’s never eating another banana again, and how he’s never gonna forget the way Matt clung to him, and how everything he does after this moment will feel like a precious thing—like something to be treasured.
The helicopter comes closer and Stiles screams louder.