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You Saw Me Standing Alone

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“Care to explain where you’ve been all night, Son?” 

Distantly, Stiles is aware that he can’t literally jump out of his skin. But that’s essentially the response he has—well, that and some flailing. 

Stiles steels himself and thinks, yeah, there’s a way out of this; there’s definitely probably a way out of this.

Heyyy, Dad,” he starts, ready to make this up as he goes along. “I was, you know, just out with—”


Stiles knows that tone. That’s the tone that comes right before his dad catches him in a lie. Stiles doesn’t like that tone one bit. It throws him off his game, and he's left reeling for a good, plausible excuse.

“Well, um, no? Not Scott?” 

“Not Scott meaning—?” 

“… Not… Scott?”

His dad just sighs. After a moment, his face softens, and a new expression emerges: hurt. Stiles has the decency to feel guilty, so he knows he’s not totally the worst son ever— but only barely. His dad’s shoulders slump, and he opens his mouth to say something. Evidently speechless, he shuts it a moment later.

“Just get your ass in bed, Stiles,” is what the sheriff finally says-- not unkindly.

“Yessir!” Stiles agrees quickly, and he takes the stairs two at a time to escape the awkward atmosphere.

He’s only sixteen; he can’t be expected to properly handle a sad-eyed father at three in the morning. That’s just not fair.

Besides, he really can't risk letting his dad see his arm. 

When he gets to his room, Stiles all but rips his overshirt in two to get it off his back. There’s a lot of flailing-- because that's Stiles's life in a word, right there-- and a lot of swearing. Eventually, he manages to get it off in a wet slap, and he scrunches his nose at the metallic scent of the blood. His blood, he thinks-- which totally does not make him woozy.

“Damn,” he groans, revolted.

It's then that he remembers Scott, which makes him turn about the room in a spastic semi-circle, his eyes going to the window over his desk.

Still shut. 

Stiles purses his lips into a deep frown and does his best not to think of how spectacularly shitty it is that Scott has left him to bleed to death all over his room, but it’s a losing battle. Scott sucks.

Freaking terrific, Scott,” Stiles grinds out.

He presses his discarded overshirt to his wound (“Oh, God, ew— this can’t be sterile.”) and deposits himself ungainly in his computer chair. The pain can only be described as horrendous. It’s unignorable, too, now that he’s not in panic mode. He tries, mostly in vain, to distract himself. He thinks of Lydia applying lipgloss and of how Jackson looked in the third grade when he was the first person to flunk out of the spelling bee and of the day he got the jeep and about — and about—

And about the searing pain in his left arm which he is going to freaking gnaw off if Scott doesn’t show up really ehfing soon.

The window slides open, and Stiles is so relieved he doesn’t have the mind to be angry. 

“Scott, you can’t just tell me Hey, don’t touch itI’ll meet you at your place, if you’re not going to meet me at my place,” he bites out.

Okay-- maybe he’s a little angry. In his defense, Stiles is beside himself in pain and his best friend has a tendency to underestimate the urgency of bloodloss now that he’s got a Furry Little Problem.

But it’s not Scott that pulls through the window— it’s Derek.

Stiles allows himself a sold second of unabashedly gaping before he says, “Wha— why you?” 

Derek ignores him in favor of looking at Stiles’s arm. He’s quiet for a long minute before he asks in a dangerously soft voice:

“Stiles, why is your arm still covered in dirt?”

“Uh,” Stiles responds smartly, his mouth open as he tries to process the question. “Well, funny story. My best friend is a werewolf and sometimes he and his werewolf buddies like to drag my ass out into the forest in the middle of the night, and long story short we were—”

Derek looks so irritated that Stiles forgets he’s in agonizing pain mid-rant and preens a bit, delighting in every minute of Derek’s fierce scowl. 

“Why haven’t you cleaned it yet?” Derek snaps. 

“Because you guys told me not to touch it!” Stiles hisses and Derek lets out an incredlous noise. “And it hurts like a bitch, so, you know. Heal me up and be on your way already.”

“Stiles, that’s not what we meant when we said don’t touch it. Clean that thing up— now.”

“You’re kidding,” Stiles deadpans. “You have to be kidding me. You can’t just— you can’t just say don’t touch it if you mean touch it. In what world does that make sense or—”


“Going, God!” Stiles snaps, throwing down his soaked shirt and stomping his way to the door. “And, just so you know? You suck so much for this. All of you. I’m never letting you guys drag my ass out for this crap again.” 

Derek doesn’t say anything, but his glower speaks for itself, and Stiles is out of the room and in the bathroom down the hall before he can hear whatever insult or threat Derek can growl out. Stupid werewolves. All of them.

This just in: Werewolves, Stupidest Supernatural Creature of All Time. Ever.

He’s tempted to run the bath faucet— there’s enough blood to justify it, he thinks— but it’s almost four in the morning and his dad probably wouldn’t appreciate the noise, so Stiles pulls off his undershirt and hunches over the sink, instead. The water he turns on is too hot, but he doesn’t waste time messing with the knobs. It’s a painful process— mostly him splashing water on his wound, hissing and swearing, and trying to usher the runny blood off his arm. Fresh blood keeps coming, though, quicker than he can get rid of it. 

Ten minutes in, he gives up with an angry sigh and runs the bath faucet, grits his teeth, and plunges his wound under the running water in full. The groan that leaves him is really more of a cry, and Derek’s in the bathroom before Stiles can pass out in a blur of holyfuckingshitgodthathurts. He essentially manhandles Stiles away from the bath, and Stiles thinks he can hear him saying disparaging things under his breath as he does so, but he lets it pass for now. The pain in his arm is blinding.

“Pretty sure I’m dying, dude,” he jokes weakly.

He imagines Derek is glaring— because that’s kind of what the guy does best— when Stiles sees him grab a towel off of a drying rack. Derek pulls Stiles into a standing position, but Stiles is too disoriented to stand on his own, leaning into Derek’s solid weight without really meaning to. Derek wraps one arm under Stiles’s and guides him back to the bedroom, tense and alert and no doubt listening for Stiles’s dad. 

“My dad—” Stiles groans, though he’s largely incapable of thinking about anything other than how bad his arm hurts.

“Asleep,” Derek assures him.

Well, okay then. That makes the whole dying-in-his-bedroom thing a bit less awkward for Stiles. He doesn’t have the mind to make that joke as Derek deposits him on his bed, looms over him, and just stares for a long time. Stiles bites back a pained whimper and starts to tip backwards, wanting nothing more than to sleep this pain away, but Derek catches him with a hand on his shoulder and crouches in front of Stiles.

Stiles can’t read the expression on Derek’s face, which is irritating. 

He blames his inability to do so on the wound in his arm.

Which he blames on Derek.

So it’s really Derek’s fault that everything sucks. Which, well, Stiles has kind of figured that for a while. Derek takes Stiles’s arm roughly in hand, scrutinizing it with a stoic expression.

“Ow,” Stiles moans. “Still hurts like a bitch.”

Derek huffs, but releases Stiles’s arm nonetheless and buries a hand in one of his jacket’s pockets. He comes up with a small vial of something and looks hesitant.

“Is that what’s gonna make this better?” Stiles asks, looking at the vial like it’s some sort of Holy Grail.

Which makes him think of Monty Python, which makes him grin goofily despite the pain. British humor, man. Derek stays tense, not catching on to Stiles’s good humor (as usual). Which— rude. It’s not like he’s bleeding out on his comforter. Whatever.

“Where is Scott? This was supposed to be his job," Stiles says, and Derek snorts.

“He sped,” he says like that’s an actual answer.


Derek’s eyebrows rise and he meets Stiles’s eyes in a look that might best be described as absolutely, infuriatingly condescending. “And he was pulled over.”

Oh. Well then. Stiles stays quiet and Derek sighs, his eyes going back to the vial in his hands. It looks tiny, there, and Stiles licks at his dry lips anxiously.

“You didn’t tell me if that’s gonna make this better,” he says plainly.

“I didn’t,” Derek agrees. Which, well, that’s infuriating, too. Stiles levels a glare on him.

“Wanna tell me what that’s for, then?”

“Not particularly.

“Oh my god. Could you be a bigger asshole? Like, is it actually, physically possible?”

Derek gives him a look that says You know it is and Stiles has a halfhearted desire to punch him for it. He settles for a frustrated groan, throwing himself backwards on his mattress because— yeah, he can't handle this right now. Derek sighs before pulling Stiles back up, and Stiles moans in protest, a slur of nononos on his lips. 

“Stiles, this will heal you,” Derek says carefully.

Just like that, he has all of Stiles’s attention. 

“Yeah? Then let’s do this!” Stiles says, and Derek shakes his head.

“But it’s going to… have some side effects.”

Stiles is pretty sure he’s seen this in a porn once.

“So,” he starts slowly, his eyes searching Derek’s face for some sort of affirmation, “I’m going to be, like, forced to hump the first person I lay eyes on once you give that to me?”

Derek looks absolutely horrified. Which is new.

“What—- no. Are you— No. Stop using the internet so much. You’re just going to start hallucinating.”


Better than trying to give a werewolf a blowjob, so okay. Yeah-- Stiles can take hallucinating.

“Hallucinating,” Derek confirms. 

Stiles sighs, rubbing a rough hand against his face. “Anything particularlyspecial about these hallucinations or—”

“I don’t know.” 

Derek sounds less than thrilled to admit that, and suddenly Stiles gets why he was so hesitant before. He and Derek aren’t excatly in the middle of an epic bromance, but Stiles gets it. He’d probably be a little bit sad to watch the big guy have a mental breakdown over a bunch of shit that wasn’t even real, too. Or maybe Stiles is just projecting. That’s possible. Probable, even. 

“Well,” he finally says with a quiet sigh, “drug me up. Let’s do this.”


“Remember that time you asked me to cut off your arm?” Stiles asks, cutting Derek off immediately. The pain in his arm is suddenly there again— impossible to ignore. “That was so much worse than this, and I still resent you for subjecting me to those mental images, by the way. So, let’s just do this and get it over with, okay?”

Derek nods once— a wolf of few words. Stiles holds his breath and waits.

He isn’t sure what he’s expecting, but he kind of loses his mind when Derek pours the entire vial out on Stiles's tender, weeping flesh.

“NO!” he pretty much shrieks.

In his defense, it’s a reflex. A reflex to mind-numbing, soul-searing pain. 

Which he isn’t feeling even a little bit. Huh. Weird. In an awesome way, yeah, but still— weird. Derek looks mildly amused, and Stiles can’t decide if he’d rather punch him for being a grade-A asshole or kiss him for doing something right this once. Punching would probably result in a lot less pain, though. He’d probably go with the punching. Probably.

Derek drops himself in the computer chair, his face expressionless save for his trademark Alpha Scowl. Stiles feels like he’s on a cloud, because life without excruciating pain is awesome. Anyone who doesn’t appreciate life without pain is a peasant as far as Stiles is concerned. Pain-free is the way to be. He buries his face in his pillow before it really registers that Derek isn’t leaving.

“You planning on leaving anytime soon or—” he starts, only to be cut off by a pretty intense bitchface. Of course, when has that ever stopped him? “Because you never know, these hallucinations could be pornographic. You never know. It could be really disturbing for you. It would ruin our budding relationship. You’d never get over it, ever.”

Derek, of course, has a thousand lifetimes’ worth of experiences he’ll never get over ever, so the threat falls on deaf ears. 

“Well, can I at least interest you in my dictionary again so you’re not just brooding like an asshole?”

Derek sneers, but then he turns his back to Stiles and shifts his attention to the laptop. Seeing Derek at a computer is so unnatural it’s disconcerting, and Stiles lets a wounded noise escape him at the sight of it.

“Can’t you let me sleep in peace?” he practically begs.

“You’re not going to sleep.”

“The hell I’m not,” Stiles says stubbornly. Derek ignores him, and Stiles can see him pulling up the browser like he actually knows how to use a computer— again, disconcerting.  ”Stop that.”

“Stop what?” Derek asks absently, and Stiles hates that he feels a flicker of fondness for Derek and his latent smartass genes. 

“This is so bizarre,” Stiles mutters, burying his face in another pillow until Derek snatches it away, suddenly beside the bed and frowning. “What? I’m allowed to bitch and moan all I want— I could have died tonight. Bitching and moaning priviledges? I’ve got ‘em, so back off!” 

“Are you hallucinating yet?” is all Derek says in response. Stiles groans, irritated, and he snatches his pillow back to cover his face again. 

“No, so maybe your little magic juice decided that, hey, I’m a nice enough guy, and I don’t deserve hallucinations on top of the gaping hole in my arm that I only got because of you, so it’s cutting me a break.”

“Not likely.”

“You sure? Because that was pretty much the theory I was running with.”

Derek doesn’t make any noise, but Stiles assumes after a little while that Derek isn’t hovering anymore. He releases a breath he hadn’t known himself to be holding and tries to ignore the way his face starts to feel kind of prickly, the pillow irritating it. Eventually the irritation becomes straight up pain, and he flings his pillow to the side, opening his eyes to issue it a Firm Stilinski Glare (tm). 

And to see that the thing is literally sprouting feathers.

“Holy shit,” he whimpers, kicking the pillow off the bed. It lets out a shriek, and Stiles thinks frantically of his father— asleep in the downstairs bedroom, surely pulled out of sleep by that awful sound. Derek is on him instantly, his hands insistant on Stiles’s shoulders.  

“My pillow is sprouting feathers, dude! Feathers!” Stiles chokes out, scrambling up his bed away from the side of the floor the pillow had gone to. “Holy shit that— that was not what I was expecting when you said hallucinations.”

“Right. Lots of ways to interpret hallucinations,” Derek counters drily.

“Shut up, my pillow is becoming a— a chicken or something right in front of my eyes. You don’t get to be an asshole right now.”

The upward twitch of Derek’s lips is definitely a hallucination. Stiles wonders if he could get away with kicking him off the bed, too. Derek does look a little torn, which Stiles doesn’t want to think about. He doesn’t have time to decode Derek Hale’s sixty different eyebrow furrows when pillows are sprouting wings. Somehow that just isn’t a priority. 

“Maybe if I just— close my eyes?” Stiles asks.

Derek nods stiffly— which is bascially the Alpha way of saying fuck if I know. Which does Stiles no good whatsoever. Terrific. This is almost terrifying enough to make Stiles want the searing pain back— almost. Stiles closes his eyes and, again, thinks about Lydia and her sassy hair flip and Jackson’s furious face when he found out he was co-captain of the lacrosse team and about the way his mother always smelled like cinnamon. 

Time stretches on, and closing his eyes turns out to be a good plan. Stiles regulates his breath and pushes down that horrible, always-present feeling of panic. He doesn't think a lot of his mother, because that makes his chest tight, but eventually he just starts talking.

“Hey, Derek,” he asks in a calm voice, his eyes still closed. He gets silence in response but decides to roll with it. “What— what does my house smell like? You know. Using your crazy Werewolf Juju or whatever.” 

The room is silent for a beat, and Stiles starts to think Derek has abandoned him. But there’s a shift to the side of the bed— Stiles thinks he feels it in the air more than he hears it, but maybe that’s the drugs talking— and then Derek replies. “Like wood? Mostly. It’s— it’s a lot to take in at once.”

Well, that’s decidedly not romantic. Stiles isn’t sure what he was looking for, but he wishes the answer had been a lot cooler than “mostly wood”. Maybe he’d wanted Derek to sniff out some secret— some weird jumble of smells that would somehow sum up who Stiles is or who he is going to be once all of this is over and he doesn’t have a gaping hole in his arm.

“Some things smell like cinnamon, though.”

That’s it. Stiles lets out a humorless laugh, throws his arm over his already-closed eyes, and feels the weight of his recent life decisions hit him like a ton of bricks. A ton of bricks that change into bloodthirsty wolves once a month.

But not Derek. Derek never changes. Stiles can count on one hand the number of times he’s seen Derek wolf out— and never once was it an accident. 

He doesn’t think about it a lot, but sometimes he admires that. Scott can’t control it— not totally— and Scott is, like, the fastest learning werewolf of all time (which only seems fair considering he’s never been the fastest learning anything anywhere else, Stiles thinks). It has to take a crazy amount of control for Derek to not wolf out— and Stiles wonders if it’s harder as Alpha. Is he angrier? More blood thirsty? Did Peter give him a Crash Course in Alphadom after he was dragged back from the dead?

Oh, right. There was a battle that hadn’t been fought yet.

“I still don’t forgive you,” Stiles says to a silent room. “For working with Peter.” 

More silence and then:

“We have to. He knows—”

“Yeah, I get it. He knows a whole lot of stuff we don’t. But you didn’t see— Derek, he almost killed her. And when he didn’t succeed in killing her, he fucked with her head. That’s— you can’t just forgive that.”

“I haven’t forgotten.”

“Nice deflecting, there. Really, good job.”

The room falls quiet for a long time, after that. They’ve been doing this a lot recently, and Stiles isn’t sure what to make of it. There hasn’t been physical violence between them for a while, but where that aspect of their relationship has dwindled away, he and Derek have started having these quiet moments. It has started becoming a Thing— capital T. This is probably the fourth one of these that they’ve had this week alone. 

He moans and opens his eyes, like he's forgotten why they were closed in the first place, and immediately wishes he hadn’t. His breath hitches, and he takes in the thousands of spiders above him with a terrified gurgle. Derek shifts again beside the bed, but this time he lifts himself up and deposits himself on Stiles’s lower legs.

“Ow! Jesus! What are you doing?” Stiles demands, trying to pull his legs out from under Derek’s weight.

“Just focus on the pressure,” Derek tells him, looking him in the eye. 

Stiles is reminded of Derek at the Rail Depot, breaking Erica's arm to trigger the healing process and stop her seizure. Stiles had held her until her body stopped spasming, until her curls were wet against his cheek-- with his sweat or hers he'd never been able to decide. She had looked at Derek like a savior, and it was the first time Stiles had really seen the responsibilities of an Alpha as a father figure. It had been-- educational. But, here, in his room, it seems so useless. Stiles doesn't have a healing process that can be triggered with inconsequential injuries, after all. He's tender flesh and fragile bone and, somehow, he doesn't believe that Derek sitting on his legs is going to make this any better.

“Easy for you to say ‘cause you can’t see the, like, billions of spiders on my ceiling— oh Holy God, I wish I hadn’t let you do this to me.” 

And then they are falling on him. Two, three, four at a time, the spiders land on him. He goes to bat them away from his t-shirt, only to see that ants are coming up from the now-festering flesh of his arm wound. He opens his mouth to scream, but Derek has him pinned down in a heartbeat.

“Shh!” he hisses, one of his hands— hot and big— swallowing Stiles’s cry. Stiles stares up at him, tries not to feel terrified “I have to do this, or you’ll wake your dad up.”

Stiles is vibrating with fear, doing his damndest to act like this isn’t freaking him the hell out— and failing miserably. He claws at Derek’s hand on his mouth and at his forearm arm and kicks violently against the weight above him. Derek is unmovable— solid. 

“I’ll do this all night if I have to,” Derek threatens, and Stiles can’t stop the shiver that runs through his body at the promise. Pretty sure he’s heard that one in a porn before, too.

He seriously doubts Derek could pin him to a bed for hours without ceasing.

But, well, he ends up being pretty damn wrong about that.

Derek goes back and forward between holding him down and sitting on his shins for the entirety of the night. The hallucinations vary in severity— coming and going like the ebb and flow of the tide or the cycles of the moon. His hands burn against Stile’s mouth when he needs to keep Stiles quiet, and when he presses Stiles into the bed, one of his knees insinuates itself between Stiles’s easily. Stiles wonders, in vague and uncertain terms, about what his life has become if he feels comfort at being pinned down by an Brooding Alpha Werewolf.

Sometimes, Derek’s hands are even gentle. Like when Stiles’s hallucinations warp Derek’s face and Stiles is reduced to— totally manly— tears as Derek holds him down, one hand over Stiles’s mouth and the other occasionally touching Stiles’s wrist gently or, just once, brushing against the top of his head. It’s almost nurturing, and it might be upsetting if it weren’t such a comfort.

It’s about an hour after the last hallucination— and a few hours past sunrise— when Stiles hears his dad leave for work through the front door. Derek is weary and tense, perched beside Stiles’s legs now that it seems the drug’s averse affects are wearing off, but Derek’s legs are still thrown over Stiles’s— his boots elevated off the edge of the bed. Derek looks aged, so Stiles can only imagine what fresh hell he looks like in turn. He’s been through various stages of crying, kicking, shouting, and clawing for hours.

But the wound on his arm is closed and he hasn’t had a hallucination for an hour, so that’s something.

Derek stands to go, but Stiles catches him. He’s tired. He just wants to sleep. He doesn’t want Derek to leave because, if he leaves, Stiles is going to be left alone to his thoughts, and he’s going to have to think about the past six hours. He’d been kidding earlier, but one of his final hallucinations had taken advantage of the way Derek’s weight above him was making him feel, and it was just—- it was a mess he didn’t want to handle right now. So, yeah. Avoid the problem until it goes away and all.

“C’mon, man,” he says in a wrecked, tired voice. “You earned yourself a night in a bed instead of on the floor of a train car that’s gonna give you tetanus. Stay.” 

He expects Derek to hesitate, but he just grunts and kicks off his shoes before lying down beside Stiles, his weight on the mattress a foreign feeling to Stiles who has always slept alone. Stiles rolls onto his stomach— as he always does to sleep— and lets out a soft bark of laughter when he sees that Derek’s already out cold.

It’s weird, but only because it’s not really that weird.

Stranger things have happened this night alone, not to mention in the past year or so that Stiles has known Derek. 

So he doesn’t think about it and lets himself fall asleep.


- - - - - - - - - - 

July rolls in sweet and sticky as sin, and Stiles wants to spend every minute of the blistering heat holed up in his room, jacked up on sugar and caffeine and pulling all nighters for the sake of guild raids. His life is uneventful enough that he manages to get some decent leveling up accomplished before the full moon, which is impressive. Summer break is a wonderful, wonderful thing. He almost forgets that his best friend is a werewolf and his life is dictated by the stages of the moon. It helps that Scott has decided to spend most of his summer building his relationships with his mom and Isaac.

Stiles tries not to be envious that Scott can be completely honest with his parent.

He wakes up after noon on the day of the full moon to the sound of an incoming video chat. He drags himself up out of bed to accept the call, and Scott greets him the way only a best bro could:

Whoa, no offense, dude, but you look like shit.”

“This is why I keep you around, Scott. You do great things for my self esteem.”

“Whatever. You ready for tonight?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be to have to lock you up so you don’t try and rip me limb from limb, buddy!”

Scott grimaces. “Not funny, Stiles.”

“Come on— it’s a little bit funny.”

Scott’s lips kind of twitch, which means it’s definitely funny. Of course it is. Stiles is a funny guy— Funniest guy he knows, for sure. He shoves aside the sound of Derek’s dry tone— the one he only uses when he’s exasperated but also in a good enough humor for sass. Ever since their little Slumber Party of Horror, Stiles has been fighting tooth and nail to not think about Derek freaking Hale, and the fact that Stiles can’t make himself not think about it is—- new. Not a bad new, Stiles doesn’t think. But he’s not really comfortable with it, either. 

“Well, Isaac wants me to go to Derek’s place tonight,” Scott says, pulling Stiles from his dangerous train of thought.

“Yeah, you guys have been doing a lot of that together,” Stiles says— not bitterly in the least. At all.

“I know, man, sorry. He’s just— he’s confused about all of this, you know. With Peter and Derek. He kind of needs me.”

“So why doesn’t he just join your pack instead?”

Scott is quiet for a minute, like the idea is strange and new to him. Stiles’s eyebrows shoot up. Surely this thought has crossed Scott’s mind. He and Isaac have been largely inseparable all freaking summer, after all.

“Dude! This should not be a revolutionary idea here. Isaac likes you, you like Isaac— and you’re a hell of a lot better at the whole Alpha thing than Derek— so why not bring him into your pack?”

“Isaac likes Derek,” Scott says quickly, and Stiles deflates immediately. “He talks about him a lot. Says he took Erica and Boyd back without any sort of punishment after they took off. He says things have gotten a lot better with the pack.”

Stiles rolls his eyes. “Well that’s fun. Let’s just act like that’s not going to be a huge problem we have to fix in a few months.” Scott’s gives him a Disapproving Look, and Stiles puts his hands up defensively. “History repeats, dude! Isaac might like Derek, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to wreak havoc together, okay?”

“Isaac wouldn’t—”

“I get it Scott. Just— nevermind.” 

Scott is quiet again. “Is this about Peter?” he asks finally.

Stiles lets out a broken, furious noise, and looks down at his keyboard.

“It’s about all of it, man. I don’t like it. I don’t trust it.”

“Look, what Peter did to Lydia isn't okay, but we need him right now, Stiles.”

“Dude,” Stiles tries— wanting to get out of this conversation as quickly as possible. “Just— whatever. I can be there at seven.”

For not being in the same pack, Scott sure does spend a lot of time with Derek, Stiles thinks (not for the first time).  But Scott grins at him through the screen— his whole face freaking lights up because he’s pretty much more puppy than teenage boy— and Stiles can’t bring himself to stay mad at him. He offers a lopsided grin in return. 

“Thanks, man!” Scott says. “We’ll figure out this Peter stuff. I promise.”

Stiles raises his eyebrows, disbelieving. “Whatever, dumbass. Just let me know if I’m picking you up or not.”


- - - - - - - - - -

The night is a disaster, but that’s to be expected.

It starts when Stiles pulls up to the shell of the Hale house; the first person he sees is Peter. Stiles is about two seconds away from doing something stupid when Derek puts himself between Peter and the Jeep. Peter doesn’t look away from Stiles until Derek tell him to go inside— and even then he drags his gaze away slowly, a twisted smirk pulling at his lips. It makes Stiles want to hit him. Instead, he stomps into the house. Erica looks up at him from her perch at the bottom of the staircase, her nails in front of her like she’d been inspecting them.

Erica and Boyd haven’t been the same since the Argents got them. Stiles doesn’t know the details, but he thinks he gets it: being tied up and tortured with electricity for hours probably changes a person. Erica’s hair is curled perfectly, her lips a dark shade of red that’s twisted into a contemplative frown. She’s tense, uncomfortable, and Stiles gets that, too. He’d be tense all the time if he had to live with a guy who had been dead for several weeks.

“Erica,” he greets with a nod. She grins. “Enjoying your summer break?”

“Hoping it gets a lot more eventful soon,” she replies, and Stiles disagrees with that very, very much.

He’s enjoyed every second of his low-key, pants-optional summer; Slumber Party of Horror not withstanding. That’s a night he’d be okay forgetting.

“Erica,” Derek says, appearing from a hallway behind the stairs. “Where are the others?”

“Boyd and Isaac?” she asks, and Derek gives her a look that Stiles interprets as Who the hell else would I be talking about? Erica stands with a huff and heads up the stairs in a blur of bouncing blonde curls. It’s the first sassy thing she’s done since Stiles came in, which helps him wind down a bit. 

He’s left alone with Derek, and it makes his skin itch. They haven’t been alone together in half a month— and Stiles isn’t sure where they stand. Somehow Did you like spending the night with me? doesn’t seem like an appropriate way to start a conversation, and neither does Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and feel your hand pressed against my mouth and your knee between my legs. Not that that’s, like, a Thing. It’s only happened a few times. And it hasn’t happened in nearly a week. Nothing worth bringing up. 

He doesn’t have to think about it, though, because Derek disappears behind the stairs again-- like the most polite host in the entire world-- leaving Stiles alone in the foyer of the ruined home. Stiles has half a mind to follow him and bitch him out about it, so that’s what he does. He follows with unsure footing; his balance is a theoretical thing on solid floorboards, after all. 

“What a warm welcome— thanks so much,” Stiles bites out, turning the corner and stopping at what’s in front of him.

Or, really, what isn’t in front of him. Because the house as he knows it has stopped. The hallway ends abruptly, and there’s this gruesome courtyard of sorts that takes up the entire back half of the house. There’s no roof, and the carpet is green and alive and sprouting. He steps out tentatively and finds Derek glowering around the corner. 

“This is—”

“It was his parents’ room,” Peter’s voice lilts into the conversation, and Stiles’s spins about spastically, searching for the source.

He finds Peter on the second floor, standing in a doorway that opens straight into the Courtyard of Death. Jesus— this place is even more terrifying here than it is out front. The worst part of it is that it’s actually really, really pretty when you let yourself forget that eight people burned to death probably right where you’re standing. Unfortunately, Stiles can’t really make himself forget. He saw the reports. They’d triggered his first panic attack in months. 

They’d made him think of Derek a little differently, too. Which— hello sudden realization, how nice of you to make his stomach drop.

“Peter,” Derek warns, and Peter scoffs. 

“Like he wasn’t going to ask you in ten seconds, anyway. Think about who this is.”

This,” Stiles cuts in snappily, “is standing right here, you know.”

“You don’t say,” Peter echos in a sing-song tone, but he turns and is gone a moment later.

Stiles hates him like he hates nothing else in the entire world. He turns a mean glare on Derek, like blaming Derek for Peter’s very existance is productive in any way. 

“Why are you here?” Derek asks him directly. Which— okay, rude

“I was just going to ask why you didn’t call the morning after,” Stiles throws back.

He says it because it’s the first thing that comes to mind (the thing that’s kind of always on his mind for some stupid reason), but he regrets it immediately. Derek stiffens and looks away, like he can’t believe that Stiles actually brought it up like that. It’s okay because Stiles kind of sort of doesn’t believe it either. He backtracks to try and allieviate the awkward silence that settles.

“Scott wants me here. Believe it or not, he seems to have some reason to not want to be here alone.”

“Isaac wouldn’t let anyone do anything to Scott,” Derek argues.

“Well, that’s hugely comforting— that Isaac won’t let you do anything to Scott. No ‘I don’t want to do anything to Scott’? Can’t even lie to me about that?”

Derek just clenches his fists at his side, and Stiles takes that as a go-ahead for all things bitchy.

“Why are you even out here?” he demands, gesturing to the courtyard.

“I don’t have to explain myself to you,” Derek says matter-of-factly with bright and unreadable eyes.

Even that frustrates Stiles. He’s not used to being this frustrated— ever— which only makes him more frustrated, which makes him frustrated about being frustrated— he’s pretty much just a frustrated mess when Scott steps into the courtyard.

“There you are, man,” Scott says warmly, coming to Stiles’s side immediately. He must sense the tense atmosphere, because he turns his body into Stiles’s and looks accusingly at Derek. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing, Stiles was just going back inside,” Derek answers for him.

Stiles would argue, but getting the hell out of there sounds like a dream come true, so he leads the way back inside. Scott follows on his heels. 

“Anyone but Derek around here?” Scott asks, and Stiles pauses and looks at him.

“Can’t you like.. sniff it out?”

Scott shakes his head. “It’s hard to separate smells if I don’t have a particular smell I’m trying to find. I know yours really well, so you were easy. I’m kind of learning Isaac’s, but I definitely don’t know Peter’s yet.”

“Well, he’s here,” Stiles says, his mood sour. 

Scott pauses before saying, “Yeah, I kind of figured he might be.”

“He doesn’t stay for full moon nights,” Isaac interrupts, coming down the stairs.

He’s only got eyes for Scott. Stiles doesn’t stop himself from rolling essentially his entire face when he sees the dopey grin that comes to Scott’s face for Isaac. Werewolf Boyfriends— that’s what he’s been calling them in the back of his head for months. They might not be romantically involved in any way (jury's still out on that one), but the weird Werewolf Juju they share is intimate enough that the nickname works, so Stiles is sticking to it.

“Stiles,” Isaac greets stiffly.

Stiles jerks his head like a stiff nod in reply. He still hasn’t totally forgiven Isaac for the time he tried to kill Lydia, so things are a little awkward. That goes for all the betas, actually.

Why is he here again?

“Peter doesn’t stay for the full moon?” Scott asks, suspicious.

“No,” Isaac says with a shake of his head. “He makes himself pretty scarce around sun down.”

“Good thing, too,” Boyd interjects as he hops over the railing from the top floor. “If I had to be around his smug ass for a full moon night, he’d be the first thing I’d want to kill.”

Stiles barks with laughter. Anyone that ever wants to kill Peter Hale is a friend of Stiles’s-- and that whole Lydia thing? Well, Boyd hadn’t been in the classroom, and he hadn’t broken into the McCall house that night. Boyd could be forgiven. 

“So, what’s the routine for you guys?” Stiles asks, rubbing his palms together. “Handcuffs? Chains?” 

Boyd shakes his head.

“Chains and handcuffs didn’t go over great for us the first time around. We go to the cells.”

“What?” Scott says, shocked, but his eyes are on Isaac. “You never said—”

“It’s not bad,” Isaac interrupts. “I swear.”

Scott looks disbelieving when he says, “I’m not going to let Derek lock me up like that.”

“That’s why I’m here!” Stiles interjects gleefully, and Scott does his best to glare at him in a threatening way. Since Scott is, again, more puppy than teenage boy, the expression is practically adorable— and definitely not fear-inducing. “I got you, buddy. It’s gonna be a blast.

Scott looks like he’s never heard more dangrerous words in his life.

- - - - - - - - - -

Peter disappears, and it should make Stiles feel better, but it only puts him more on edge. He finds himself twitching, incapable of keeping his fingers still for a second, when he closes Scott’s cell, sliding the huge lock across the heavy metal of the door. It seems a little inhumane, but four walls and a door of compete metal could only be a step up from being chained in an ice box or handcuffed to a heater. Pretty much as five-star as a werewolf could hope for.

Derek is beside him, then, looking into the small glass window to see Scott, who is allowed to wander about the cell freely for the duration of the night.

“Inspecting my handiwork?” Stiles asks him, not rudely. There’s not really bitterness in his tone so much as resignation. “I’ve been doing this for a while now, you know.”

Derek just gives him a Look before saying, “Yeah. Let’s go.”


“Upstairs,” Derek says like it’s the simplest answer in the whole damn world.

Stiles huffs and rolls his eyes but starts to follow, anyway. He can't stop himself from looking over his shoulder like Peter’s just going to appear out of nowhere and try to bite his wrist again. He hasn’t told anyone about Peter offering him the bite; he’s not totally sure why. It’s probably because his nearest and dearests can use their Werewolf Juju to sniff out his lies, and that’s just not a path he wants to travel yet.

But he can’t help but wonder if it means something that Peter offered him the bite.

Would Derek offer him the bite?

“Would you give me the bite?” he asks, thinking the question harmless. 

Derek’s reaction is immediate. He freezes mid-step and becomes tense from head to toe. When he turns, it’s slowly— over-dramatic as usual, Stiles thinks in a begrudgingly amused sort of way— and looks at Stiles like he’s just been hit with a bat. His mouth is a little slack, his head titled slightly, and he’s got this wrinkle in his brow that Stiles wants to press his fingers to and decode and understand just for once.

“What?” Stiles asks, feeling uncomfortable.

He twitches, the weight of Derek’s gaze unnerving him.

“Do you want the bite?” Derek asks slowly, sounding like he’s walking on eggshells.

Well, hell, looks like he’s going to have this conversation whether he’s ready to have it with a Walking, Talking Lie Detector or not. Stiles shoves his hands in his jacket’s pockets and walks past Derek, leading the way up to the house. Derek makes a choked, frustrated little noise behind him and catches up immediately, stepping in front of Stiles to stop him.

“Stiles,” he says sternly, taking Stiles’s forearm in hand with a tight grip.

“It’s not about whether or not I want it,” Stiles insists, which is actually not a lie. He was asking out of mild curiosity— not because he actually wanted Derek to turn around and bite him right then and there. “I was only asking because Peter offered it to me, and I didn’t know if you’d do the same. Let go.” He shakes Derek’s hand off of him, and Derek recoils easily, and— bless his stupid ashen heart— he looks like a horrified, confused puppy.

“Peter offered you the bite,” Derek says flatly.

“Yeah, after I tracked you down for his psycho ass. Spoiler alert: I didn’t take it.”

Derek says nothing else and turns to lead Stiles up to the house. Something twitches under Stiles’s skin and makes him itch, and all of the sudden the subject he wanted so badly to drop is all he can think about. He reaches out and grabs Derek, turning him around. 

“What, does that mean something?” he demands.

“Drop it, Stiles,” is all Derek says in response, jerking himself away from Stiles’s grip. 

“The hell I will!” Stiles cries.

“Stiles, let. It. Go.”

“You— you suck. You’re on my shit list from now until the end of time, man.”

“I’ll be sure to cry about it when I’m alone at night,” Derek replies dryly and Stiles outright gapes.

No,” he insists bitterly. “You can’t be funny. I’m pissed at you. Hear me? Pissed.” 

Derek just raises his eyebrows and they continue on up to the the rest of the Hale house ruins in a weird silence that’s not comfortable— but it’s not tense either. Stiles hesitates, because he’s not sure what to do now. Usually he has to babysit Scott. But does he have to tonight? Derek seems willing to take the reins on this one, and Stiles is kind of dying to bury his face in his pillow and forget every awful detail of this night.

“Go home, Stiles,” Derek tells him, sounding weary. Stiles doesn’t question it. He nods and parts for the jeep.

The last thing he sees before he pulls away is Derek stepping off of the porch and into the splintered moonlight pouring in through the trees. He looks lethal, and when his eyes catch Stiles’s headlights and do that crazy reflecting thing they do, Stiles’s breath catches in his chest; he reverses, turns, and drives away before he can think about it. 


- - - - - - - - - -

His dad looks up at him from the kitchen table when Stiles stumbles down the stairs, sometime around ten, to get something to eat. He’s looking over some paperwork and Stiles might have interrupted him mid-sigh. There’s no reason to say anything to one another, so Stiles doesn’t start conversation. He goes straight for the cabinet with the cereal boxes. 

“I was going to make dinner,” his dad starts, and Stiles shakes his head.

“Nah, don’t worry about it. I’m not even that hungry.”

His dad looks like he doesn’t believe him, which makes sense because his dad is already a Walking, Talking Lie Detector— he doesn’t need super hearing for it, either. But he doesn’t say anything and looks back at the papers at hand. 

So,” Stiles begins awkwardly, moving over to the table with a box of cereal in his hands, “whatcha lookin’ at?”

His dad glances up at him from over his reading glasses and smartly replies, “I’m lookin’ at work stuff.”

Which is code for no, Stiles, you don’t get to see this. Unfortunately, it’s also code for all sorts of interesting stuff that probably has to do with the supernatural world you’ve been sucked into, Stiles. And Stiles can’t just ignore that. He considers taking out the whiskey again, but he has such a gutteral, guilty reaction to the thought that he pushes it aside.

Ooo-kay,” Stiles sighs, going to find a bowl. His dad is silent for a long time, and when Stiles looks up, a bowl in hand, he meets his dad’s suspicious stare. “What?”

“That’s it?” his dad asks. “No smartass remarks? No ‘offering to help’? No resistance whatsoever? Just ‘okay’?”

“… Okay… Sir?” Stiles tries, confused. “What’s up, Dad?”

His dad opens his mouth and closes it and just stares at him bewildered for a long time. After a while, he closes his mouth, frowns in a good-humored way, and shakes his head.

“No, it’s nothing. I’m just not buying this—” he gestures at Stiles vaguely, “—That’s all.”

Stiles snorts and rolls his eyes. “This is the New Stiles, Dad. Gone are the days of interefering with crime scenes and snooping through your official business. I’m maturer now. Reborn, in a way. I like to think of myself as a phoenix—-“

“Okay, okay, I get it,” his dad cuts him off with a dry tone. “Well, how does theNew Stiles feel about pizza tonight?”

Stiles puts on a show of contemplating that for all of two seconds. “New Stiles thinks pizza sounds great.”

His dad chuckles and reaches in his pocket for his phone, and Stiles feels a little guilty now that New Stiles is actually just code for Smarter, Sneakier, Better-at-Lying Stiles. Oh well. 


- - - - - - - - - -

Stiles is all rage when he pulls up to the Hale house at two in the morning, clenching his phone with a white-knuckled grip. Derek meets him on the porch, his brow furrowed, and, no, Stiles does not have time to think about decoding that expression before he practically snarls at him.

“Wanna tell me what the hell this is?” he demands, thrusting his phone out at Derek.

Derek looks at it, then back at Stiles, then at the phone again.

“A cell phone?” he asks, clearly not liking whatever’s going on in Stiles’s head. 

Stiles sneers at him and turns the screen of his cell phone to Derek, revealing the pictures he captured. His dad had fallen asleep on the couch, the pizza and old basketball games putting him out pretty early. Stiles had then spent the better part of three hours pouring over the pages on the kitchen table, horrified by what he saw.

The picture he shows Derek now is dark, but there's clearly a red-eyed shape standing outside of a burning car. When Derek sees it, he clenches his jaw and snatches the phone from Stiles’s hand.

“What is this?” he demands after several long moments, his eyes meeting Stiles’s fiercely.

“It— It’s my dad’s,” Stiles answers lamely, cowed a bit by the intensity of Derek’s stare. “Three of the counties bordering Beacon are sending him warnings about these arson cases, so imagine my surprise when I saw those pretty Alpha Eyes staring back at me here. Wanna explain what the hell you’re doing lighting cars on fire in the neighboring counties, Derek?”

“That’s not me,” Derek says fiercely, and Stiles’s look is incredulous.

“What— what do you mean that’s not you? You’re the Alpha!” Derek looks like he’s about to say something, but Stiles steamrolls right through whatever lie he’s about to throw his way, “Besides, look what else I saw,” he starts, taking back his phone and swiping his thumb a few times to come to a new picture. He holds it out.

“Funny how it just happens to match that pretty door decoration you’ve got going on here, isn’t it.” He gestures wildly to the triskele on the Hale house door over Derek’s shoulder, and Derek flinches.

“That’s. Not. Me,” he repeats gruffly, his eyebrows raised and his jaw clenched like he’s going to will the belief into Stiles’s head.  ”And I didn’t put that on the door, either.”

Stiles makes a disbelieving face and, in a tone that he reserves for when Scott is being a serious dumbass, asks, “If it’s not you, then who the hell is this, and what’s with the big red eyes?”

Derek hesitates and draws a deep breath. His eyes linger on Stiles’s face for a while, like he’s trying to figure out what Stiles’s angle is. His gaze drops to the phone in Stiles’s hands. He’s quiet until Stiles makes a furious noise. 

“There’s others,” Derek says finally, like that’s any help at all.

“Other—?” Stiles leads, still pissed and definitely wary but also kind of intrigued.

“Alphas. A pack of them.”

Stiles balks, because that doesn’t make sense. He tells Derek as much:

“That doesn’t make sense— there’s always— there’s always an Alpha. Like, one. Solo. That’s how packs work, I know, I’ve done the research—”

“Yeah, well, believe it or not there are some things you can’t learn from the internet, Stiles,” Derek snaps.

“Hey!” Stiles cries, offended. “I’ve read books!”

Derek snorts, and Stiles’s lips twitch in a pleased sort of way. Which is ridiculous. He shouldn’t be proud of tapping into Derek’s seriously repressed sense of humor. That should be the last thing on his mind right now when, apparently, there’s a pack of Alphas planning to burn the world down around them. Silence falls over them, and it takes longer than he’d like to admit for Stiles to stop looking at Derek. He’s not sure why, but he thinks about the picture he saw of Derek’s mother— that time he and Scott broke into Doctor Fenris’s house— and he wishes he had stolen it. He thinks, without meaning to, that Derek might have appreciated a picture of his mom.

All the ones he had before are probably ash. 

“Hey,” he says after a long while, because they may never have another peaceful moment like this again, and he’s been wondering about something. “The night you gave me that drug, did I ask you anything about— about my house?”

Derek is quiet long enough that Stiles thinks, maybe, he didn’t hear him. Of course he did, though. He’s a werewolf. So, eventually, Derek says, “—No.”

Stiles’s heart twists in his chest. “Nothing about like… smells?”

Derek shakes his head, looking suspicious. Stiles feels like he’s going to vomit.

His room probably doesn’t smell like cinnamon at all. 

Stupid hallucinations. 

Almost as stupid as werewolves. Almost as stupid as a pack of alpha werewolves. Almost as stupid as Derek freaking Hale, who gives up trying to understand Stiles’s weird line of questioning before turning to head into the house.

“Come on,” he tells Stiles. “I’ll show you what we know.”

Stiles follows, a bitter taste in his mouth and a bigger, almost more upsetting question creeping into the back of his mind:

How much of their Slumber Party of Horror, as Stiles remembers it, was real? 


- - - - - - - - - -

Derek pulls out a laptop, which kind of explains why he looked so comfortable in front of Stiles’s computer weeks ago. Stiles doesn’t say anything about it because he’s already brought up that bizarre night once, and technically he's still trying to forget about it. But Derek catches Stiles’s look, and he doesn’t let it pass unaddressed.


“Nothing,” Stiles says quickly. “Are you going to show me this or—?” 

Derek hesitates, but he eventually logs into the laptop and goes straight for a file on the desktop marked ‘Alpha Pack.’ Inside of the file, there’s various saved links to the web browser and a startling number of text documents, and a few videos. 

“Here,” Derek grunts, passing the laptop to Stiles. “It’s all there.”

He gestures to a charred chair, and Stiles takes the hint and sits. He wants to go straight for the videos, but the files are sorted in a particular way, so Stiles decides to go through from start to finish. The world around him is forgotten the minute he gets a computer under his fingers, so he doesn’t notice when Derek disappears.

He does notice, however, when Derek comes back. Stiles is halfway through a video explaining werewolf pack dynamics— all addressed in theoretical terms, of course— that is helping him make sense of the idea of a pack made up entirely of Alphas. Derek stands beside him and leans over the table, his large palms splayed out on the wood and his eyes on the laptop screen.

Stiles licks his lips, averts his gaze away from Derek’s fingers, and says, “So, there’s a Big Guy— like a Main Alpha. And the other alphas are— they’re like his Betas? But they’re… Alphas.”


Stiles groans. “That— that doesn’t make sense. They can’t just have Alpha powers if they’re Betas. It doesn’t— it shouldn’t work like that. My mind is literally going to explode at how stupidly unfair that is.”

Derek snorts beside him and stands a little straighter, removing his hands from the table.

“They’re after me,” he says after a few seconds of silence.

Stiles turns his head up to Derek’s, searching for some sort of tell in Derek’s brow or something. There’s nothing there, and Derek meets Stiles’s eyes without hesitation. That seems like an honest enough gesture.

“You? Why you?” Stiles asks, not meanly. 

Derek gives him a one-shouldered shrug— a non-answer. Stiles scoffs and turns back to the computer. 

“I’m a new Alpha,” Derek says eventually, which kind of makes sense.

“So,” Stiles says, not taking his eyes off of the computer, “they want you to be like their… Alpha Omega?”

Omega alpha? What’s the grammatical rule for this shit?

“That’s our best guess so far, yeah. They didn’t exactly tell Erica or Boyd anything helpful.” 

“Erica and Boyd have met these whackjobs?” Stiles asks, baffled.

“The night Jackson changed,” Derek says, and Stiles is confused for a very, very long minute.

“— The same night they were locked up and being electrocuted by the Argents?”



That had been a super stressful night for everyone, but now Stiles feels like Erica and Boyd had gotten the short end of the stick there. Not only had they been captured by hunters, but they'd also wound up in the hands of the Alpha Pack hours later? Some god of misfortune was calling the shots in Beacon Hills, and Stiles couldnt help but feel like his team was being treated unfairly. 

“So, what’s the plan?” Stiles asks, already exhausted by all of this new information.

“We’re working on that,” Derek says stiffly. Stiles rolls his eyes.

“In other words: there is no plan?” Stiles takes Derek’s silence as complete confirmation. “Well, where’s Jackson?”

Derek stares at Stiles, long and hard before saying. “He’s with Lydia.”

Stiles jaw drops, and he can’t tell if he’s more horrified or livid for a long while. “On the full moon? Holy motherfreaking Christ, Derek! Why— what—”

Derek cuts him off to say, “She… she’s like Argent’s daughter for Scott. He still changes, but it’s not uncontrollable.”

Stiles runs a hand over his face, groaning. “Great. That’s just— that’s just great. He could kill her, you realize?”

“He won’t. Just like Scott could never hurt Allison.” 

Probably the last thing Stiles wants to hear is that Lydia is to Jackson as Allison is to Scott, because that pretty much ruins his fifteen-year plan. Scott and Allison have been broken up for two months, and Scott still looks at his cell phone balefully, like he can will her to call him using only the saddest expression he has in his arsenal. It’d be cute if it didn’t make Stiles’s chest hurt. 

“Great,” he repeats bitterly, and Derek lets out a long breath beside him— not quite a sigh, but kind of irritated. “So, it’s just you, Erica, Isaac, Boyd, and Peter against these guys?”

“And you and Scott,” Derek adds.

Stiles has been afraid of that. He could argue that he and Scott aren’t, technically, a part of Derek’s pack, but everything he’s read in the past hour tells him that the only thing worse than belonging to a pack targeted by an Alpha Pack is not belonging to any pack at all. Which, of course, Scott will be thrilled to hear tomorrow.

Stiles lets himself appreciate for a minute how spectacularly his life sucks. 

“Well, this is cool. I'm looking forward to having to fight for my life while prepping for the SATs,” he mutters, and Derek stiffens beside him, though he stays quiet. “I need to go. My dad is already going to be pissed at me for coming in this late again.” 

“Just go through your window; he’ll never know,” Derek deadpans, and Stiles actually laughs at that.

“Right. I’ll let you know how that goes.”  

- - - - - - - - - -

It’s a week later that Stiles is standing in front of his house, trying to process why his neighbor’s car is on fire at eight o’clock at night. He’s distracted when he calls 911, watching the woman next door shriek and throw a bucket of water onto the car like that’s going to do anything. 

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“Yeah, uh. My neighbor’s car is on fire?”

“What’s the address, Sir?”

Stiles gives the address before disconnecting the call and putting his phone back in his pocket. His eyes stay on the fire. He’s got a few bags of groceries looped up his arms, and the milk is kind of getting heavy, but he can’t bring himself to look away. It’s not every day that you see a car on fire, after all. It’s then that he remembers the last time he saw a car on fire, and he panics. He claws into his pockets looking for his phone again. In a mess of fingers he has a number dialed and is rapidly deteriorating into a ball of nerves and little else.

“What is it?” is how Derek greets him.

“Derek you need to get your werewolf ass over here right now or tell me what to do because my neighbor’s car is on fire.”

“Your neighbor’s car is—” he stops when he understands what Stiles is saying. “No, I can’t go over there.”

“Fine,” Stiles snaps. “I’m coming over there, then.”

“No! Stiles, they’ll follow you. Just— just be normal. Stay where you are.”

“How the hell am I supposed to do that, Derek? In case you haven’t heard, there’s a pack of—”

“Stiles, just stay calm. If they knew you were connected to me, it’d be your jeep on fire, not your neighbor’s.”

“Yeah, except I went to the store, so maybe they just settled for making a statement close by? Where they knew I’d see it?”

Derek’s silent for a long, long, really fucking long time before he utters a faint, “Damn it.”

“Yeah, pickin up what I’m puttin down, Big Guy?”

“Shut up, Stiles.”

“Not that you care, but I have milk to get refrigerated, so if you could just tell me what to do already, that’d be awesome.”

“Scott. Go to Scott.”

Stiles makes a frustrated noise. “You want me to lead them to my best friend?”

“Fine, Stiles!” Derek snaps. “I’m coming over. Try not to get yourself killed before I get there.” 

“You are the actual worst,” Stiles sneers into the phone before he gets disconnected.

Stupid, stupid werewolves. He hates them all. Well, not Scott. He likes Scott. And Boyd’s kind of funny. But that’s it. The rest of them suck, and he has absolutely no forgiveness or sympathy for them. Not even when Erica’s laughing or when Isaac looks at Scott like he’s the Actual Best Thing Ever.

Okay, so Stiles kind of has a soft spot for all of the wolves.

Not Jackson, though.

And not Derek. Derek sucks.

And Peter. Screw him, too. Peter can go back to Hell ten times over.

He opens the Jeep’s passenger door and puts the groceries back in. When he closes the door, he leans against it and looks up at his house. All of the lights are off just like he left them when he went to get groceries. Is it wrong to be grateful that it’s his neighbor’s car burning and not his Jeep? Is that bad to think? Whatever, he’s thinking it anyway. He pats his Jeep’s door fondly and decidedly does not picture her going up in flames. Just the thought makes him want to cry. He loves his Jeep. His Jeep is a part of him-- like an arm or a leg or his brain or his dick or something. 

He considers his house again, and a chilling thought occurs to him: the pack wouldn’t be… waiting for him to get home, right? Because his dad is due back in a few hours and— yeah, no, Stiles isn’t even going to follow that train of thought.

He pushes off the door and goes behind the Jeep to open the trunk, where he grabs his tire iron. He makes his way up to the front door, which is locked. A good sign, Stiles thinks. He scrambles for his key and gets the door open, brandishing the tire iron as menacingly as he knows how— years of recreational baseball coming back to him all at once— and he pushes forward into the living room.

Heyyy, Wolfies,” he calls out to the dark. “You here? Lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce? Any of this sounding vaguely familiar?” 

No response, though he wasn’t exactly expecting one. He doesn’t close the front door because he needs an escape plan if this goes as bad as he’s kind of expecting it to. 

But nothing happens. 

Not even when he goes to the kitchen— or when he looks in his dad’s bedroom— or when he takes the stairs three at a time to check out the upstairs. Nothing. The house is empty. There’s no one here but Stiles, and he called Derek for abso-fucking-lutely no reason, and now he feels like an asshole. He’s lowering the tire iron and rifling in his pocket when he hears something downstairs and his entire body stiffens.

He steels himself against the wall by the staircase, wanting to press himself inside of the house itself to hide. The bottom stair creaks, and a familiar voice calls out to him.


Derek sounds agitated, but Stiles relaxes and turns the corner to see him halfway up the stairs. There’s an unspeakable amount of fury in his face, and Stiles drops the tire iron, surprised. 

“I told you not to get yourself killed,” he says slowly, advancing on Stiles, who doesn’t even think of backing away. He’s stuck in place, watching Derek get closer slow, slow, slowly. 

“And here I am,” he says, swallowing dryly. “All in one piece.”

You’re an idiot,” Derek hisses, and Stiles sees the way Derek’s fingers twitch. 

“Planning on hitting me?” Stiles chokes out. “Just avoid the face— that’s the money maker.”

Derek pauses, and some of that rage slips off of his face to make room for the confusion that sets in. He opens his mouth and is quiet for a moment, his brow twitching before he says, “No, I’m not going to hit you. Have I ever hit you?” 

“You smashed my face against a steering wheel, once.”

Derek’s lips twitch, and Stiles relaxes a little bit. “You deserved it.” 

Stiles rolls his eyes. “Hey, Danny totally got that text traced for us, didn’t he?” At that, Derek simply turns around on the staircase and heads down, and Stiles hurries after him. “Hey, you can’t just turn away when you’re losing— that’s not how this—-“

“You have groceries in the Jeep,” is all Derek says, and Stiles pauses.

That’s right. Groceries. He’d forgotten. He pushes past Derek and heads back to the car. Derek’s in the kitchen when he gets back. Stiles raises his eyebrows, and he opens and closes his mouth a few times to say something, but nothing comes to mind.

Derek seems to catch on well enough, and he looks over at Stiles from his spot near the sink and says, “They could come back. It's possible your neighbor was just a random coincidence, but you’re going to have to be watched until we know you’re not a target.”

Stiles groans and deposits the groceries on the table, not bothering to start putting them away.

“Well, that’s just great,” he grumbles, turning back to Derek. “As if my life weren’t strange e-freaking-nough as is, I get to have werewolf slumber parties regularly. Awesome.” 

Derek says nothing, which Stiles is starting to realize almost counts as a response from him. Doesn’t make it less annoying, but—

He busies himself putting the groceries away: the milk in the fridge, the bread in the bread box, the whole wheat spaghetti noodles in the cabinet. Derek continues to lean against the counter, watching Stiles without saying anything. The most unnerving thing about it is how not unnerving it is. Stiles twitches under Derek’s gaze, ready to flinch away from him if he moves. He hasn’t forgotten that furious look that Derek sported on the staircase; he’s just choosing to not bring it up. Ever. That’s a conversation starter he’s seriously willing to take with him to the grave. Of course, that’s what he had resolved to do with the whole Peter-offered-me-the-bite business, and that plan had lasted a grand total of, like, six months. So.

One minute he’s moving stuff around in the fridge to make room for some of the fruits and vegetables he got at the store, and the next minute he’s sitting in a puddle of lemonade, his mom’s glass pitcher shattered on the ground at his feet. He sucks in a breath and takes in the shards on the ground, feeling like the biggest, most worthless person in the entire world. His fingers twitch and reach out to pick up the shards— like he can gather all the little pieces of his mother and put them back together.

Does he want to cry? He can’t tell. But he definitely wants to throw up.

Funny how he could force so much meaning on a stupid glass pitcher.

Not really, actually. It’s not funny at all.

He cuts himself on the glass, which is inevitable, and he hisses and sucks on his sliced thumb instantly, recoiling from the remnants of the pitcher. He barely registers Derek’s annoyed huff behind him before he’s being hoisted to his feet, Derek’s hand wrapped around the meat of his upper arm. 

“Hey!” Stiles all but yelps. “Hands off!”

Derek lets go, but he has a warm, wet cloth that he shoves in Stiles’s wounded hands before he crouches down and starts picking the glass up out of the lemonade. Stiles watches him, a little mesmerized at Derek doing something so… normal. Like he’s dropped glasses in kitchens before and has had to pick them up. 

Maybe he dropped glasses a lot as a kid.

Thinking of Derek being clumsy at any time in his life is enough to make Stiles snort, amused. It hurts his heart to look at the pitcher, so he doesn’t, and occupies himself with stopping the bleeding from the cut on his right thumb. It’s a bitch of a wound— the sort that stings like nothing else and takes forever to clot. He doesn’t have the patience for it, but he does his best and wraps one of his palms around his thumb to apply pressure over the cloth. Derek finishes with the glass— picking up several shards that Stiles couldn’t see himself— and looks to Stiles expectantly.

“Under the sink,” Stiles tells him, and Derek moves to throw the pieces away.

“Let me see it,” he says a minute later, and Stiles looks up into Derek’s eyes and freezes.

He doesn’t let go of his hand, and he certainly doesn’t extend it to Derek, who gets irritated after waiting for like ten seconds. Derek snatches Stiles’s hand, and Stiles doesn’t fight it, but he hisses and swears because, hey, it’s easier to bitch and moan about his stupid cut than it is to cry over the pitcher he ruined. His mother’s pitcher. God dammit.

“There’s still a shard here,” Derek sighs, plucking the tiny piece of glass out of Stiles’s wound. The relief is immediate, but it bleeds more. Stiles grimaces. “Go clean it.”

“Last time you told me to clean a wound I almost passed out, so excuse me if I say—”

“Stiles,” Derek warns.

“No,” Stiles snaps. “You can’t just boss me around and expect me to do everything you say. I’m not sixteen and scared of you anymore— yeah, that’s right. Not. Scared. If you wanted to kill me, you would have done it like forever ago, so screw you and your threats. And stop looking at me like that!”

Derek’s brow is wrinkled with something Stiles can’t name, and he really, really doesn’t have the energy to depuzzle it. Derek sighs, and the expression softens, but he looks just as broody as ever.

“It’s going to get infected,” he says weakly, and Stiles’s jaw drops.

“What are you, my dad?”

Derek looks near furious, so Stiles doesn’t press it. But he doesn’t clean his hand either, so ha. Derek can suck on that lost battle for a little while. Stiles deposits himself ungainly onto one of the chairs around the kitchen table and looks wearily at the mess of papers stretched out in front of him. 

A silence settles over them and lingers for a very



very long time.

Stiles waits it out as best he can. He’s good at filling silences— actually, he’s awesome at filling silences. He could fill a million silences from now until forever if he wanted, but he’s grieving a little for the lost pitcher. Derek is staring across the room at the refrigerator like he’s willing it to burst into flames at any minute, which is— yeah, weird. It takes Stiles all of two mintues to realize that he’s not just glaring. He’s reading.

Stiles considers the refrigerator, then. There’s scattered pieces of his life there: a picture of him from third grade wearing a baseball uniform and posing with a bat, his dentist’s business card, a wedding invitation for a man who works at the station, a list of important phone numbers that hasn’t been updated since Scott lived with his dad (and people still had land lines), and a picture of the whole family— him, his dad, and his mom— that they posed for on the big wooden swing on the back porch when Stiles was about nine. Everything’s held in place by a colorful assortment of magnets that are of various ages and shapes and sizes, and a few of them were made by Stiles in middle school art and science classes, which is kind of embarrassing even though he knows Derek has no clue who made them. 

The picture of his mom on the refrigerator is the only one his dad keeps. Stiles has a few in his room, tucked away near books and baseball “You Tried” trophies, but his dad destroyed most of his own a month or so after she died. Stiles once thought of getting rid of his pictures, too, but the thought of pushing the last pieces of her out of his life sent him into panic attack after panic attack until, eventually, he just resigned himself to being haunted by the ghost of his mother’s smile. It was kind of fitting, since her smell and laugh haunted him, too, and would have even if he’d gotten rid of the pictures. Keeping those pictures would probably do his heart more harm than good in the long run; jury’s still out on that. Stiles struggles with letting things go. 

He looks at his hand and feels the bitter taste in his mouth return. His mother’s pitcher is gone now. Another thing he won’t be able to remember her by. He’ll have the cut on his thumb for a while, sure, but eventually that will heal. He might not be a werewolf, but the cut isn’t deep enough to scar. All it’s good for is hurting like a bitch and oozing fresh, bright blood that dries sticky on his skin— a dark rust color that Stiles is more familiar with than he’d like to be.

His favorite shirt has a rust-colored stain on the left arm. It’s been there for about five weeks now.

“You guys,” he says, and, dammit, he’s the one breaking the silence again. Whatever. “I think you guys sometimes forget that— I’m just normal.”

It’s out before he can stop it, before he thinks he needs to stop it. But Derek is looking at the evidence now: the evidence of a fragile, human life. There it is, all laid out on Stiles’s refrigerator.  Derek turns his strangely-colored eyes to Stiles. They have a staring contest for a while before Derek’s expression becomes questioning. Stiles opens his mouth a little wider (since it’s pretty much always a little bit open), but, no. He’s not ready.

He exhales and decides to change the subject instead.

“How did you know it was me upstairs?” he asks. Derek’s brow furrows, and Stiles thinks that look might be confusion, so he goes with it. “Like, how did you know I wasn’t, like, a crazy alpha ready to pounce?”

Derek replies slowly, like he thinks he’s walking into a trap, “— I’m a werewolf.” 

“Yeah, I get that,” Stiles says, a sliver of exapseration cutting into his tone. “Scott’s just told me that learning scents is hard, and he still doesn’t have Isaac’s scent down and they’ve been inseparable all summer so—”

“I’m not exactly new to this,” Derek cuts in dryly, and Stiles sighs.

“Yeah, I guess you’re not.”

“And it’s not just your scent,” Derek continues. “You breathe through your mouth, so you sound different than most other people.”

“So, I smell bad and breathe the wrong way— great,” Stiles jokes, but something about it isn’t funny, not even to Derek. His lips don’t twitch, so Stiles thinks that means he’s not amused. Not to be confused with Not Amused, which is always a bad Derek mood to happen upon.

When exactly did he become some sort of translator for all moods Derek? Because that should stop, like, reallyreallyreally soon. Yesterday, in fact. Yesterday would be best.

“It’s more than that,” Derek goes on. “You feel a certain way.”

“Whoa ho ho, werewolfsaywhat?” That’s definitely new. Feeling people? “I was like a good five feet and a wall away from you. Pretty sure you weren’t feeling anything, dude.”

“Not like that,” Derek drawls, rolling his eyes.

Damn him and the rare moments he humors Stiles. They do weird things to Stiles’s nerves.

“You’re a beacon of wired energy; you feel like static electricity. If I’m looking for you, it’s easier to rely on that feeling than it is my sight or smell. It’s a sense that’s completely Wolf, so it’s the most accurate.”

“It’s also the sense that Scott seems to have No. Clue. About,” Stiles adds, and Derek snorts.

That’s why he needs me,” he stresses, giving Stiles a pointed look. Stiles, in turn, puts up his hands defensively.

“Don’t look at me, man. Scott’s a free person. He does what he wants.”

“You can’t think that Scott’s really going to be okay doing this solo when there’s a pack of alphas waiting to strike,” Derek insists, and, yeah, Stiles has to give him that one. Not that he would admit it aloud, but Derek has a point. Scott could even be perceived as a threat to the alpha pack; he doesn’t have the natural subservience of the typical omega, which could land him in some serious shit in the very immediate future.

“We’ll figure it out,” Stiles says confidently despite himself. “We always do.”

Derek looks irritated, but he takes the seat next to Stiles at the kitchen table without ceremony. Stiles looks at him and thinks he looks older— more tired— than he’s ever seen him— including their Slumber Party of Horror. Normally, he’d ask about it. But now he doesn’t, and he can’t say why. He fidgets in his own seat— because that’s what Stileses do best, after all— and tilts his head all the way back in an axious, bored gesture.

“Stiles,” Derek says— and Stiles looks at him immediately because hell yes Derek is finally the one starting conversation and that feels gooder than good. “We don’t forget.”

He looks physically pained, then, like he can’t make himself keep speaking.

Stiles makes an embarrassed noise, and he wants to throw himself back onto the broken pitcher for even bringing this up in the first place. After a few beats, he clicks his tongue and nods once, a sharp, stiff nod that’s mostly him tipping his clenched jaw in acknowledgement of what Derek’s started to say. Derek doesn’t say anything else— apparently having hit his speech limit for the day— so Stiles takes over.

“Really? Because I’m pretty sure you do,” is what he says. It’s harsher than he really wanted it to be, but it feels nice to let out a little pent up frustration. “I break, okay?” He waves his hand at that, like it’s all the proof he’d ever need to justify the statement. “Me human, you guys ALL werewolves. I think it’s— easy to forget that when you guys take bullets like they’re gnats or mild skin irritants. But I don’t heal quickly or overpower people easily. Pretty much all I’ve got going for me is a crazy awesome ability to harness the untold power of Google. That’s it. Put me in a dangerous situation and odds are I’ll die—”

Then don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation,” Derek snaps. “It’s not like you don’t know you could die. You could stay home.”

Stiles laughs humorlessly. “Oh, can I? Stay at home knowing that my best friend is likely getting his ass beat by some supernatural force bigger and stronger and smarter than him? Yeah, okay.”

“If you’re really worried about getting hurt—”

“I’m not actually worried about getting hurt, okay?” Stiles snaps, a moment of self discovery approaching rapidly. “Not really, anyway. I don’t care if I get hurt— but I care about Scott and I care about my dad and for some stupid reasonthat I don’t even understand, I care about your stupid little pack, and I don’t want to see you all get dead.” He pauses, considers what he says, and adds on, “Not Peter, though. He can die.” 

Derek’s look is absolutely unreadable, but his brow furrows and he leans away from Stiles. Distrust, bafflement, contempt. Stiles thinks he’s reading that right, but who knows? 

“And, sometimes? Sometimes, I just want to bitch about how unfair this stuff is, and you’re just going to have to wait it out and do your best not to Hulk Smash me when I do,” Stiles finishes, exhaling and looking at Derek like he wants to will something into his head— something Stiles might not even be aware of.

Derek’s never been breakable, Stiles knows. He was born a werewolf, and he’s never known what it’s like to have a headache or get strep throat or wear braces or be the last guy picked for dodgeball teams or have a small cut that lasts more than a minute. He’s this solid thing, immovable. Stiles wonders if there’s latent potential within Derek to be more wolf than man— after all, that’s how Peter was as alpha. Stiles is reminded of the pitcher, gone forever— unreparable and in shards in his garbage can.

“You—” Stiles says in a weary tone, “—don’t get it. You’ll never get it. It’s like finding out you’re made of glass. Like things can break me. You included, by the way.”

Derek just watches him, clenches his jaw, and finally looks away. That balance of his eyes shifts a bit when it catches the light more, the green overwhelming the other colors there. Stiles holds his breath until he realizes that he’s holding his breath, and he looks down at his hands to escape whatever that foreign feeling is.

These are words Stiles hasn’t even said to Scott, and here he is pushing them onto Derek freaking Hale like he’s going to be any help. Stiles remembers Derek’s hot palm against his mouth, remembers the way Derek’s thumb brushed soothingly against his wrist; Stiles thinks yes, yes— Derek Hale could definitely break him, has had the opportunity to, time and time again, has chosen not to, for whatever reason.

“Your dad will be home soon,” Derek says a while later, not looking at Stiles. Stiles nods once. 

“Yeah, I know.”

“How do you want—?”

Stiles shrugs. “Just hang out in my room. My dad never really goes in there. Be quiet.”

Derek gives him a look that Stiles interprets as do you realize who you’re talking to, and he leaves.

Stiles’s dad isn’t due home for another two hours, but Stiles doesn’t want to be around Derek right now. Space is a good thing. Space is going to take that weird feeling in his gut away— hopefully.

- - - - - - - - - -

Stiles opens the door to his room a little past midnight and slips inside, finding Derek immediately. He’s a great shadow hunched over Stiles’s laptop, silhouetted by the bright screen. He’s mindlessly scrolling through a Wikipedia page. Stiles bites back a nagging curiosity about it as he crosses the room to his dresser. He toes off his shoes, opens his top drawer, and fishes out a pair of sweat pants and a worn out black t-shirt. Derek’s attention stays on the computer screen, Stiles notes with mixed feelings before padding back down the hall to change.

He returns to find Derek looking at him, the browser closed, and Stiles hovers just inside of the door, which he closes louder than he intends to. He maintains Derek’s gaze as best he can without actually being able to see Derek’s eyes.

“What?” he demands after a while, his jaw clenching and his fingers twitching.

“Nothing,” Derek says with a shake of his head. He stands with a roll of his shoulders and neck, and Stiles pulls his eyes away in favor of flopping face down on the bed, exhausted. He thinks of his mother’s pitcher for the first time in an hour and his heart kind of hurts.

“Move over,” Derek tells him and Stiles does so without verbal complaint, but he does issue Derek a Firm Stilinski Glare (tm) from over his pillow. Derek has kicked off his shoes, and he lays himself down on Stiles’s bed and props his shoulders up on Stiles’s headboard. Which has to be uncomfortable, considering Stiles’s headboard doubles as a shelfing unit.

“So,” Stiles starts, moving an arm underneath his pillow and tilting his head up to meet Derek’s gaze. The computer screen dims, saving energy now that it hasn’t been touched in a while. “What were you scouring Wikipedia for?”

“I wouldn’t call it scouring,” Derek replies after a beat, his lips pulled into something like a smirk. Like he’s comfortable— but still an asshole. It’s an expression that suits him, Stiles thinks.

“Then what would you call it, Captain Cryptic?”


“You? Yeah, right,” Stiles laughs at the idea of Derek freaking Hale casually browing Wikipedia like he’s got all the time and knowledge of the internet in the world.

Derek just looks at him with raised eyebrows, which Stiles has come to understand as his I’m not lying, dumbass face. Which— rude. Stiles isn’t a dumbass. He actually kind of has the opposite problem. Smart assery is less a choice and more a way of life, and Stiles could write a self-help guide to Smart Assing Your Way Through Life by this point.

Derek knocks the back of his head against the headboard shelves deliberately, his lips pursed and his fingers knotted together over his abdomen. Stiles takes in his profile as subtly as he knows how, a familiar sense of inferiority creeping into the back of his mind. It’s really no wonder, at the end of the day, that he’s still a virgin. With guys like Derek— and Jackson, he begrudgingly admits— walking around, it’s a wonder any average person gets any. Derek’s nose is a hard, straight line; his cheekbones are high and sharp, and you could probably slice a cake with his jawline.

Stiles isn’t envious, per say, but he is a little bitter that guys who look like Derek Hale live in the same universe as guys who look like Stiles. Just doesn’t seem fair.

Of course, Derek and Jackson also have the Worst Attitudes of all Time Ever, so maybe that balances things out. What Stiles lacks in overt masculinity he makes up for with a Winning Personality (tm). Not that high school girls have ever seemed to care. Or boys, for that matter. Stiles buries his face in his pillow and tries not to think about boys who may or may not find him attractive because Derek freaking Hale is lying next to him in bed. Stiles knows enough about his brain-to-mouth filter to know that following that thought train will take him places he really shouldn't want to go.

“You know— I thought I’d maybe find something interesting in your internet history or bookmarks—” Derek begins, and Stiles flinches, his stomach dropping. He pushes himself up slowly, gaping at Derek, horrified.

All he can think is holyshitDerekHalefoundtheporn and he wants to pass out or run himself through or something— anything— to take away the pit in his gut. He hasn’t exactly come out and told people he’s bisexual, but one look at his porn history would basically be a flashing neon sign reading: HI, I LIKE PENISES.

But Derek gives him a sidelong glance, which he eventually turns into to look Stiles straight on, serious.

And then his face melts into this huge, awful, shit-eating grin and Stiles wants to knife him for being such a Grade-A Asshole.

“Yeah, it’s official,” he grinds out. “You’re the biggest douchebag to have ever douched, and I hate you. You’re never winning me over now, because I’m always going to remember the time you joked about breaking into my porn collection.”

Derek’s grin only gets a little wider. “Pretty defensive about that porn collection, aren’t you, Stiles?”

Stiles makes a furious, embarrassed, awful noise. He wants to bury his face in his pillow and never come out of its feathery goodness (the turning-into-a-chicken incident was an awkward tension between him and his pillow for a while, but they worked through it).

“I hate you,” he hisses. “So. Damn. Much.”

Derek huffs out a laugh and slouches down onto the bed. Stiles thinks about it for all of a second before he smacks Derek in the face with his pillow. Derek’s smirk is gone instantly, and the glare he turns on Stiles once Stiles gets the pillow back underneath himself is delightful.

Stiles cackles.

“Maybe I should carry a pillow into battle with me,” he mocks. “Apparently they’re the secret to getting past your Werewolf Juju.”

Derek shoves him off the bed, and Stiles hits the ground laughing.

“This is strange,” Stiles says as he hoists himself back onto the bed. Derek doesn’t say anything, but Stiles thinks he can interpret Derek’s expression as questioning. “You should stop having a sense of humor. That’d be awesome.”

“I don’t have a sense of humor,” Derek deadpans, and Stiles snorts.

“Right, okay,” he says with a shake of his head and an eyeroll. “It makes it significantly harder to hate you, you know.”

“Even though I lied about breaking into your porn collection?” Derek asks.

“Even though you lied about breaking into my—” Stiles starts to confirm, but then he cuts himself off with a scowl. “No. I can and will and do hate you for that. You suck.”

“Whenever you want to go to sleep—” Derek starts, his lips doing that twitching thing. Stiles considers that as he nuzzles his pillow, already fighting a losing battle against the Sweet Zs it’s promising.

“I’m going to sleep now, but because I want to. Not because you’re alpha-ing me or anything, got it?” Stiles says firmly. “And I’m going to dream of you getting, like, bitchslapped, and it’s going to be great.”

The laptop goes completely black, and the last thing Stiles hears before he’s out cold is something that might have been a choked off laugh. Maybe.

- - - - - - - - - -

Derek moves in the next day. 

Stiles calls Scott to let him know what’s going on and to bitch a little about how unfortunate his life can be. Scott disapproves immediately.

“If someone’s supposed to protect you by crashing at your place, I can do that,” Scott insists. “My mom would understand, you know.”

“Yeah, but, dude, think about this,” Stiles says with a sigh. “These guys might not even know that you’re involved. You’re an Omega, not Derek’s pack. And, if they’re after me, it’s because they associate me with Derek in some way, since that’s who they want. I’m not letting them find out about you, okay? I won’t risk it.” 

He’s already had this argument with Derek— right when they woke up, which had been kind of awkward. At some point during the night, Stiles had come to press his face against Derek’s shoulder, and the movement that had ultimately woken Stiles up was Derek shifting his arm in his sleep, which pushed Stiles against Derek’s chest. Stiles had jerked awake, panting heavily. In turn, his anxiety— tension— whatever had woken Derek up, because Derek’s subconscious read all of those things to mean Imminent Alpha Pack Attack.

Nope, just morning wood. 

In Stiles’s defense: he’s a sixteen year old boy, and Derek looks like a freaking GQ model. If you ignore the fangs-and-fur bits. Which Stiles’s now-reoccuring dreams typically do. Typically. 

On the phone, Scott’s indignant. “I don’t care, Stiles—”

“Yeah, well, I do,” Stiles says with finality. “I’ll be damned if I’m the reason you get hurt, Scott. Just— Derek’s fine. He’s not even being a huge asshole about it. He’s been cool.”

Scott snorts. “Whatever, man. Just… If you need anything—”

“I’ll let you be my Knight in Furry Armor, I swear,” Stiles finishes for him.

Scott laughs and then turns the conversation around by talking about Allison’s dimples. Stiles actually doesn’t mind it as much as he expected he would. He realizes, belatedly, that he’s missed Scott’s presence in his life. Even this.

Derek comes through the window, then, and Stiles looks at him with raised eyebrows. He pulls his head away from the phone.

“I have a door,” he says.

“Congratulations,” Derek throws back, dropping himself in front of Stiles’s computer. 

Stiles rolls his eyes and turns his attention back to Scott, his lips twisted into something like a smile. “Derek’s here,” he says.

“Tell him I don’t like this,” Scott instructs, and Stiles groans.

Dude, I’m not telling him that. Stop being a jealous girlfriend about this.”

“Stiles, just tell him!” Scott barks

“Fine!” Stiles snaps, and he looks at Derek again. “My boo says you can’t eat me alive or he’ll be mad.”

On the phone, Scott sputters and shouts. Stiles hangs up on him with a grin.

Derek rolls his eyes. “High schoolers.” 

Stiles isn’t sure how to respond to that because, uh, yeah. They are high schoolers. 

“I’m not gonna be the guy who says you turned four high schoolers into your own mini werewolf brigade, but I’m totally gonna be the guy who says you turned four high schoolers into your own mini werewolf brigade, dude,” Stiles teases, and Derek gives him a Look.

“Shut up,” is what he finally says. 

Stiles grins and counts that as a victory.

He watches Derek dick around on the laptop for a little bit until Derek turns an eye to him and says, “What?”

Stiles shakes his head and flops himself down fully on the mattress. “It’s like watching an Animal Planet special. Watch as the mighty werewolf masters the internet. It’s rivetting.”

Derek glares at him. “Stop.”

“Or what?” Stiles taunts. They hold each other’s eyes for a while. Stiles breaks first, because there’s something hanging over him that’s unbearable.

“Gonna rip my throat out with your teeth?” he provides. 

“I might hit you with a pillow,” Derek threatens, and Stiles is so caught off guard that he laughs. Derek’s lips curve upward, and Stiles feels more at ease. It’s almost like friendship, if you ignore the whole boner-popping aspect on Stiles’s end of things.

- - - - - - - - - -

The last day of July burns. Records are broken across the board, and the news anchors on TV sweat through their makeup and their expensive clothes. Their smiles are tenser, their laughs more obviously forced than ever. The heat crawls under their skins and makes it awkward to watch as they try not to snap at each other irritably.

Stiles envies them. He wishes he had the energy for irritation, but all he can do is lie on his back and groan as he watches the news report on his phone. He's sprawled out on his bed, holding the phone over his face with one sweaty hand. He’s shirtless, having given up on any appearance of a normal day sometime around ten in the morning when the heat really started to climb.

The weather man says the heat index is 115 degrees Farenheit, and Stiles moans pitifully. 

“This is hell,” he complains. His thumb twitches, and he loses his sweaty hold on his phone, which smacks him in the face. He swears loudly, and Derek snorts beside him.

“Smooth,” he says, picking up Stiles’s phone and looking at it.

Derek’s shoulders are against the headboard shelves, and he, unlike Stiles, is fully dressed, only his feet bare.

“Dude, how are you not dying?” Stiles asks, and Derek shrugs. “I’d be dying. You sure you’re not dying?”

“Pretty sure,” Derek deadpans, looking up from Stiles’s phone. “Any fires other than the one your dad’s investigating?”

Stiles shakes his head. “No, but I’d be too miserable to talk about them even if they where. God, what is with this heat? It’s like living in Satan’s buttcrack.”

Derek makes a choked noise, and Stiles grins up at him.

“You totally wanted to laugh at that. I am the most hilarious person ever, aren’t I?”

“You’re deranged,” Derek tells him blankly. “Possibly psychotic.”

“I haven’t killed anybody yet, so one for me.”

Derek has no reply for that, but he gives Stiles back his phone. Stiles takes it and shelves it over his head, careful not to drop it on his face again. He pushes himself up and decidedly ignores the way his bare elbow brushes against Derek’s. 

Living with Derek for the past week has been so easy, it’s caught Stiles off guard. They’ve bickered and picked at each other like it’s their purposes on earth, and it’s almost upsetting how much Stiles has enjoyed himself. Derek fits into this weird place in Stiles’s life that no one has really filled before: a place with witty banter and comebacks and tensions that, if Stiles didn’t know Derek better, could be called flirting.

Stiles doesn’t think about it, because thinking about it is confusing and irritating, but it’s been fun

Now, Stiles reaches over the edge of the bed, suddenly struck with a brilliant, wonderful, hilarious idea that he should have had three hours ago. He finds what he’s looking for, and, when he shakes it, Derek catches on. He grabs Stiles by the shoulder and near-growls.

“Stiles, don’t you dare,” he says. But it’s too late, because Stiles rounds on him with the water gun and spritzes Derek in the face. 

Derek looks so angry, so taken aback, and so bewildered all at once that Stiles falls off the bed laughing, limbs going everywhere. 

“Pillows and water guns, hell yeah,” Stiles cackles. “Weapons of Mass Destruction, going to take all of your furry asses out in this war.” 

“Why do you even have that under your bed?” Derek grits out, wiping his face off on his shoulder.

Hello, teenager here,” Stiles says with a shrug, getting to his feet.

He pumps the water gun once, twice, three times, a threatening look in his eye.Derek just raises his eyebrows, clenches his jaw, and lifts his chin.

“Stiles— don’t,” he warns.

Stiles sprays him, and, God, it’s rewarding to watch Derek get riled up. Stiles cackles, but it doesn’t occur to him until it’s too late that he’s just sprayed an alpha werewolf in the face. 

Derek’s on him in seconds, face dripping with warm water. Stiles turns away from him, curling his body around the water gun like it’s a precious item, something he refuses to lose.

“No!” he shouts, laughing as Derek reaches around his arms in vain, grabbing for the gun. Finally, Derek wraps an ankle around Stiles’s and knocks Stiles off his feet, and it sends the both of them falling over each other-- Derek wet and growling, Stiles all limbs and laughter.

Stiles hits the floor on his stomach, the gun underneath him. It’s uncomfortable, but it feels like victory. Derek weighs approximately one million pounds, and Stiles’s laughter is smothered by the combination of Derek and the floor. Derek’s breath is warm against the tender skin of Stiles’s already-hot neck.

“You suck,” Stiles grunts out. “Fun sucker.”

“Stiles, give me the gun,” Derek demands in Stiles’s ear. 

“Or what?” Stiles demands, “What’s the big bad wolf going to do, huh?”

He can practically hear Derek’s eyeroll when Derek pushes off of Stiles. Suddenly, Stiles is horribly, terribly aware of how hard he is, pressed against the floor. He squeaks slightly, and lies there for a while. He doesn’t notice when Derek leaves the room. All he cares about is talking himself down from this boner.

He’s one awful mental image of Finstock in a tutu away from de-bonerfication when the water, ice cold and terrible, splashes down his back. He swears, crying out loudly. Derek’s grinning like an asshole, a glass in hand, when Stiles finally looks up at him. Stiles jumps to his feet— boner successfully gone and forgotten— leaving the gun on the ground carelessly.

Derek steps on it, puts all his weight down, and Stiles’s heart breaks a little in his chest when he hears it crack.

“Fun sucker,” he accuses again, and Derek’s lips twitch.

“You’ll survive,” he tells Stiles, and Stiles can’t stop the grin that takes over his face.

- - - - - - - - - -

Stiles has only been to the Argent’s house once, and it was so awkward and strange an experience that he’s never wanted to repeat it since. Nevertheless, he pulls into the semi-circle driveway and parks himself as far to the left side of it as he can without getting on the grass, and he turns to Scott. “You sure about this, man?” he asks, looking for something in Scott’s expression.

Scott’s nervous— that much Stiles knows. He’s digging his fingers into the handle of the jeep’s door, and Stiles would call him on it, but Scott’s got his claws in check sooo. There’s some sort of resolve in Scott’s eyes, too, so Stiles knows he’s sure— but he’s not sure how things are going to go once they get inside. Scott meets Stiles’s eyes and nods once, his jaw set. Good enough. Stiles takes the key from the ignition, and they hop out to face the house.

Chris Argent answers the door, wary. He considers them both, and his eyes go to the Jeep over their shoulders— looking to see if it’s just Scott and Stiles, probably. After a minute he greets them.


“Mr. Argent,” Scott says, bobbing his head a bit.

“Come in,” Argent says, stepping out of the way to let them inside. Stiles holds his breath as he walks past him— not sure of what to expect. He’s surprised when they’re lead into the kitchen, where Argent props himself up on a stool in front of what looks to be his breakfast. Stiles was kind of expecting they’d go into some sort of battle chamber, with guns on the walls and a map of Beacon Hills on the table and maybe a werewolf bust mounted over the fireplace or something. The kitchen is full of light— and probably more expensive than Stiles’s entire house.

Lots of income to be had as a hunter, then.

“What can I do for you boys?” Argent asks, spearing some eggs on his fork.

“We need your help,” Scott says immediately, and Stiles gapes at his best friend. Not a single subtle bone in his body, Scott McCall. Stiles isn’t exactly an expert on all things Werewolf Hunter, but he has a vague idea that showing your entire hand to one isn’t a good idea. Argent looks up at Scott as he takes a bite, a contemplative expression on his face.

“With what, Scott?” he asks, and Stiles is totally okay with letting everyone in the room ignore him— just this once.

“What do you know about Alpha Packs?” Scott asks, and his jaw is still set in that stubborn, strong way. Stiles pushes away the urge to clap his best friend on the back and say Attaboy, Scotty! He’ll do it later.

Chris Argent has put his fork down and is rubbing his mouth with a napkin when Allison barges into the kitchen, obviously straight out of bed. Her hair’s flatter than usual, and kind of knotted together in places. She’s wearing a shirt that Stiles is almost positive belonged to Scott at some point and a pair of pajama shorts. She freezes as soon as she sees them, and her eyes go to her father’s, questioning.

“Morning, Sunshine,” Stiles greets. Allison’s eyes flash towards him for a minute, and she tilts her head in a bit of a greeting, her eyebrows raised.

“Morning—?” she replies, turning her gaze to Scott at the end of the word. There’s a question there, and Scott smiles at her a little hesitantly.

“We’re just picking your dad’s brain a bit; we’ll be out of here soon. Sorry if we woke you up.”

Allison shakes her head and apparently decides to go about her usual morning routine. She rummages in the refrigerator for a bit, and Stiles recognizes the eavesdropping method immediately. He’s been known to go on half-hour journeys for a half gallon of milk if his dad is having an Official Police Business phone call at the kitchen table. He grins a little wickedly to himself, feeling a sense of comradery with Allison.

“Why do you want to know about an Alpha Pack?” Allison’s dad asks eventually, and Stiles turns his attention back to him.

“They’re in town, and they’re setting cars on fire,” Scott says— and when you put it like that, it just sounds ridiculous. “And they’re here for Derek.”

“For Derek,” Allison’s dad repeats, and Scott and Stiles nod. He sighs a bit and puts his napkin down. “Has anyone been hurt yet?”

“Well, not here,” Stiles says, finally contributing to the conversation. “Not yet, anyway. They hit the counties outside of Beacon before they got here, and there were some injuries there.”

“And deaths? Any of those?” Argent asks, his eyes hard and on Stiles’s and very, very intimidating. Stiles nods once, suddenly unsure of how to form words. Chris Argent exhales and clenches his jaw, looking very distant all of the sudden. Allison pulls out of the fridge, conspicuously empty-handed. She smiles a shaky little smile at Stiles, who returns it with a lot more confidence. That seems to assure her.

She looks at Scott, and Scott looks at her. They both start to grin a little like idiots after a few seconds of this, and Stiles rolls his eyes. Scott and Allison are always the same, even broken up. Stiles suspects that Puppy Love, much like cigarette smoking, might have disastrous secondhand health effects. If so, Stiles’s time is nigh.

“Well, let’s start with what you know already,” Chris says after a while, and then he looks at Allison. “You might as well stay for this, Kiddo. You’re a part of it.”

Allison nods slowly, and she comes to lean against the counter opposite of her father and next to Scott. Subtle, Stiles thinks, a little smirk playing at his lips.

- - - - - - - - - -

Later that day, Stiles and Derek get to the fourth floor of the parking garage, where Derek parked his camaro almost an hour ago. Stiles is too glad to fill Derek in on the finer details of Chris Argent's Alpha Pack knowledge while Derek listens in comfortable silence.

“Apparently, the fire thing isn’t new. They’ve done it before— these Alpha Packs. They do it because—” he cuts himself off, looking questionably at Derek.

Derek stays silent, but Stiles knows that Derek knows how to finish that sentence. It’s the same reason that hunters use arrows: werewolves can’t start to heal until they stop getting hurt. The way an arrow prevents tissue and muscle from mending together, fire never stops coming until they’re overwhelmed. They walk together quietly, finding the Camaro almost immediately. It’s then that Scott gets out of his car and sees them.

“Stiles?” he asks, and Stiles stops. Derek keeps moving, the Camaro in sight. Scott knows about Derek’s babysitting gig with Stiles, and, while it irritated him at first, he’s come to understand it. There’s a grin on his face when Stiles steps over and they have a bro-clap moment.

“Sup, dude?” Stiles asks in a good humor. “Long time no see.”

Scott laughs, and Stiles kind of looks over his shoulder to check on Derek.

One second, Derek’s sliding into the driver’s seat of the Camaro.

The next second, Scott’s head is jerking wildly, and he pulls Stiles back just in time—-

For him to watch Derek’s car fucking explode.

It’s not supposed to be like the movies, Stiles thinks distantly. It’s not supposedto engulf the entire car all at once in some sort of monstrous fireball— it’s not normal. This. Fire. Is. Not. Normal. Stiles thinks about it, but he doesn’t reallythink about it when he’s ripping himself out of Scott’s grip and sprinting across the asphault. “Derek!” he shouts, crazed. “Derek!” There’s smoke first, and it burns his eyes, makes him tear. The initial explosion subsides into idle flames, eating at the Camaro. Stiles makes it to the driver’s side before the heat becomes a problem.

Not that he can notice, because Derek’s charred upper body is falling out of the slack car door, like he used the split second of Werewolf Juju warning to try and escape his deathtrap of a car. The air here reeks of rotting flesh, and Stiles raises his hand and coughs to get the taste out of his mouth. Sweat falls into his eyes, the fire licking its way out of the busted car windows and singing the top of Stile’s right ear. He’s crying— from the smoke and the burn and the everything, God, the everything. He reaches for Derek and pulls at him, saying Derek’s name over and over and over and over again, his throat filling with smoke, starting to hurt like hell. He can’t get Derek to budge, and a quick look reveals that Derek sliced through the chest strap of his seatbelt, but he’s still strapped in by the waist.

Scott’s beside him, then, trying to pull Stiles away. Stiles shakes him off, swearing. Scott doesn’t understand— can’t see or know what Stiles sees and knows—

Stiles is thinking about Derek’s palm pressed to his mouth, rough and swallowing Stiles’s cries all the way through Hallucination Hell; Stiles is thinking about Derek’s lips and the way they twitch when he’s amused, how it can barely be called a smile, but it actually kind of is; Stiles is thinking about that stupid, awful shit-eating grin that Derek gives when he’s being a particularly obnoxious asshole; Stiles is thinking about Derek’s hand on his chest, pushing him away from the kanima by the school pool; Stiles is thinking about how seamlessly Derek has filled the holes in his life, rounded out the edges, made life fun and new and magical for the first time since Stiles’s mom died.

— Stiles doesn’t have time to explain any of that to Scott. All he can do is he peel off his outer shirt and open Derek’s car door and lean over the weeping flesh of Derek’s grilled right side to get to the seatbelt clasp.

He doesn’t think about how hot the metal will be when he goes to unclip the belt. He doesn’t feel any pain in the moment, but his hand swells red and ugly a few minutes later, when he’s dragging Derek across the parking lot, his hands hooked under Derek’s arms. Scott helps, but Stiles won’t let go enough for Scott to take over.  There’s sirens and people watching, and, distantly, Stiles knows they have to get out of there immediately before he has to explain to his dad why Derek Hale’s been car bombed, but he can’t really focus on that right now.

Derek isn’t breathing when Scott takes over and hoists Derek up like a— like a bride or something. Stiles is wild-eyed, his face red and dirty and drenched with sweat and tears. He can’t speak; his throat is dry and it hurts like amotherfuck. He also can’t pull his eyes from Derek, who is so prone in Scott’s arms that Stiles is absolutely certain he’s dead.

“Oh my God,” he rasps, “oh my God, oh my God. Derek, man. Derek.”

Scott shakes his head. “The animal hospital— come on.” Stiles is unresponsive for a long while, and Scott snaps. “Dude, the cops are going to be here any minute! Come on!”

Stiles nods and they get into Scott’s car. Scott doesn’t say anything when Stiles slides into the back seat, but he puts Derek back there with him. The car smells like grilled meat, and Stiles wants to throw up. He doesn’t, but he really wants to. Scott peels out of the garage loudly, and the burned rubber from the tires mixes with everything else. Stiles cradles Derek’s head in his lap and stares blankly down at him.

He’s breathing, but just barely. It’s a wet sort of breathing, sloppy and uneven and gurgling. If Stiles were a werewolf, he’d smell the blood— so, so much blood that’s starting to flow freely now. He doesn’t think about it.

- - - - - - - - - -

Hours and hours later, Scott lays Derek out in Stiles’s bed, and Stiles rations his breaths carefully, straddling the line between anxiety and a full-blown panic attack. Scott looks to Stiles, clearly concerned. Stiles doesn’t say anything, he just nods once— strong. Deaton, who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, has done his best to help Derek heal.

Stiles originally insisted on the stuff Deaton had given Derek a month and a half ago for Stiles’s arm. Deaton, with a headshake and a small smile, had explained that that was a wolfsbane mixture— combined with all sorts of Werewolf Fuids (tm) to spark the healing process in humans. 

Which kind of explained a lot. Wolfsbane: Officially the Most Versatile and Terrifying Plant Ever.

Still, Deaton had pulled out all the stops and ashes and oils to get Derek to the state he’s in now: mostly healed, probably on the brink of shock, and unconscious. Sleep, Deaton had told them, was necessary. Stiles had told them he’d be damned if Derek would sleep anywhere but in a bed, so he put his foot down when Scott tried to argue with him. And now Derek is sprawled out on his bed, his lips parted and taking in shaky, shallow breaths, his chest uncovered save for the massive cotton pad taped down over the left side of his chest and shoulder, where the last unhealed chunk of his skin is hidden.

Stiles threw up twice at the vet’s office, and he feels ready to go for another round.

The smell of burning flesh is still lingering in his nose, and he can’t forget the way Derek had looked in Scott’s arms— crumpled, ruined, human.

Scott claps Stiles on the shoulder and meets his eyes, looking for something that would clue him into Stiles’s mind. Stiles forces a tight, tiny smile.

“At least it wasn’t my Jeep,” he jokes weakly, but it’s enough, and Scott smiles and snorts through his nose. He makes Stiles promise to call if he needs anything— anything at all— and then he’s gone through the window a few minutes later.

And that’s when Stiles starts to panic.

It’s too much— too much— too damn much. He can’t be in the room with Derek, watching him struggle to breathe and heal, cell by cell, in Stiles’s bed. Stiles steps outside of the room, closing the door behind him and pressing his back to it. He slides down the door, his gaze distant, shivering from head to toe. His skin is ashen underneath the burns he’s sustained, and that’s how his dad finds him ten minutes later— taking huge breaths that do nothing but make him dizzy.

The color drains out of the sheriff’s face, and he pulls his son into the bathroom gently, letting him lean against the tub while he gets out a paper bag from under the sink and also wets a rag. He’s gentle, but his hands shake, too, and Stiles wishes he could stop— wishes he could regain control of his body for his dad’s sake. His dad swears under his breath, overwhelmed by the sight of Stiles in this condition, as he always is. It was like this the first time, too, though they hadn’t had the bags on hand, then.

Stiles breathes into the paper bag for a long time before his breath steadies, and his dad says gentle, encouraging things in his ear. The rag is cool and stark and real, and Stiles focuses on that with his eyes closed. The sloppy but gentle sweeps across the back of his neck, his forehead, and his cheeks do more good than the bag itself, but it’s a routine. It’s all a comfort. When he thinks he’s okay, he reaches out and wraps his fingers around his dad’s wrist.

“Dad—” he says in a wrecked voice. “Dad, I’m okay. It’s alright”

His dad’s eyes are wet and bright and so, so scared above him, and he releases a shaky breath before saying. “Thank God. Stiles, I —”

“I know, Dad. I know.”

They’re quiet for a long time after that, Stiles breathing against the tub and his dad leaning back on his heels and watching his son, as if the longer he sees Stiles alive, the more he’ll believe it. “I was going to tell you,” his dad says in a soft voice, “that we found Derek Hale’s car on fire in the parking garage on Market.”

Stiles turns his dark gaze up to his dad and says nothing.

“But it looks like you already know that.”

Stiles nods tightly then, his teeth worrying the inside of his cheeks ever so slightly. His dad sighs and leans back against the wall, his legs stretching out in front of him. Stiles bends his knees closer to his chest to make room for him. They go back to silence, and Stiles’s mind wanders to Derek— stretched out on his bed not thirty feet away from the bathroom. He wants to touch him, see the rise and fall of his chest, quiet the voices in his head saying that he’s dead and gone, broken and crumpled as he was when Scott held him hours ago.

“If you see Derek,” his dad begins, but he shakes his head. “Nevermind. We’ll talk about it tomorrow. You wanna stay here for a while or—?”

Stiles shakes his head. “No, I think I’m going to bed.”

His dad stares at him for a beat, then nods. He’s frowning a bit— being a Concerned Father and all— and Stiles offers him a shaky, hopefully reassuring smile in return, which his dad eventually returns. “Goodnight, Son,” he tells him, pushing up off the floor. Stiles follows him, and is pulled into a strong embrace.

“Night, Dad,” he mumbles over his dad’s shoulder. They linger for a while, Stiles indulging his dad. He knows how hard the panic attacks are on the sheriff, and he feels a rush of guilt about it when he feels his dad start to pull away. “I’ll let you know— if I need anything, I mean.”

“You do that,” his dad replies with a tight smile. Then he leaves the bathroom, and Stiles heads back to his room.

His hand hovers over the doorknob; he closes his eyes, inhales deeply, and pushes in.

Derek is still on the bed, exactly where Scott left him. Stiles edges up to the side of the mattress, staring down at Derek with a blank expression on his face. He doesn’t know what to feel. Fear? Relief? Anger? Worry? Sadness? It’s all mixed together in his gut and tying him in knots. He thinks of what Deaton had said: Just in time. Stiles got him out Just In Time.

It’s hard not to think about all of the things that could have gone wrong, all of the ways Stiles could have messed up along the way, if he’d not been operating purely on autopilot— propelled by fear and fear alone. Pure, unadulterated fear. He knows he shouldn’t think about it, but, again, he can’t not think about it. Like he did in the vet’s office, he starts to obsess over every second, remember every contorted line of Derek’s body— half in and half out of the car— and the blackened, bloodied skin of Derek’s hand against the near-black floor of the parking garage, the dark pool of blood forming beneath him sure to stain the spot forever.

He can’t close his eyes without seeing Derek as he was in the back seat of the McCall’s car, his face dark red and blistering, pushing his eyes closed and starting to shine sickly. His brow hadn’t even been furrowed; everything had been slack in his expression, like he didn’t have the energy to fight off death. His breaths had rattled in his chest, and Stiles hadn’t touched him— not once. Derek’s head stayed in his lap, his neck turning when Scott jerked the car this way or that, and Stiles had looked down at him in horror, the street lights falling in waves on them, always more terrifying than the darkness which hid most of the damage. In the dark, Stiles could pretend like Derek was just asleep with a cold or something. In the light, all of the ugly reappeared time and time again.

By his bedside, now, Stiles touches Derek without thinking. It’s a gentle touch to Derek’s bandage, which is starting to sport pale brown stains in splotches where the burns are open and oozing. Deaton said that would happen, and he’d said to leave the bandage on until the splotches start to touch and darken to a redder color.

Stiles toes off his shoes but doesn’t bother getting into pajamas. He’s not going to sleep, anyway. If he has it his way, he’ll never sleep again. He settles into the bed on his stomach and presses his face against the pillow— another comfort— and watches Derek with one eye, noting the shaking rise and fall of his chest and how the wet noise rattling in his throat is almost gone. Derek’s head is turned towards him, and he breathes through his slack mouth. Stiles turns into it a bit, feeling the warm breaths on his apple of his cheek briefly before pulling away.

There’s an aching sadness lingering in his chest, and watching Derek relieves some of it and makes it so much worse all at once.

Stiles watches him until morning, and then he watches him some more.

- - - - - - - - - -

He does sleep, eventually, but it’s short and restless and he wakes up feeling more tired and anxious than he was when he went to sleep. Derek is still beside him, his head turned the other way now. Stiles pushes himself up and looks at Derek’s bandage. It’s more brown than white, but the blotches aren’t really touching, and it’s not a red color yet. He exhales, slowly, and steels himself to focus on the rest of Derek’s chest— specifically the steady rise and fall of it. There’s no more gurgling, which is great, and he seems to be resting easy.

Stiles rolls out of bed and stretches, his jeans stiff and his shirt sticking to him. He glances at Derek over his shoulder and considers getting changed in the room with him. Ultimately, he decides that’d be a little too weird. After a few minutes of stiffly searching for a pair of track pants and an oversized t-shirt to change into, he pads off to the bathroom to start his day. The clock on the wall in the hall says it’s nine in the morning, and he can smell coffee and eggs cooking downstairs.

He finds his dad reading a newspaper at the table. The sheriff looks up at him from over his reading glasses, and they have an awkward moment of silence before his dad says, “Morning. Sleep well?”

Stiles shrugs and walks over to the stove where the scrambled eggs are finished and helps himself.

His dad is quiet, but he folds the newspaper and sets it down, waiting for Stiles to take his place at the table. Stiles already figured out his story a few hours ago, so he’s ready when his dad says: “So, want to tell me what happened last night?”

Stiles exhales, preparing himself to lie to his dad. It’s never fun, but he has to be careful. “Scott and I were going to the store to pick up some milk for him and his mom, and we were in the parking lot when Derek got in his car.”

His dad is quiet for a minute, then says, “You’re gonna have to give a statement about that, Son.”

“Yeah,” Stiles sighs. “I know.”

“Why did you leave?”


“Why did you leave the scene of the crime?”

“I dunno, Dad. I didn’t even think about it, really. I was really freaked out.”

He feels guilty for playing that card— he really, really does— but it’s kind of the only way out of this. It works, too. His dad’s face softens, the Inquisitor Stilinski look falling into a concerned— though irritated— look. He sighs, reaches for his paper, and says, “I guess I can understand that. You and I both know you know better, though.”

Stiles nods. “And Scott—?” he asks.

“Scott needs to give a statement, too. You can both come by the station later today. Don’t forget.”

“I won’t,” Stiles promises.

His dad takes a long gulp from his coffee, puts on his reading glasses, and peers at him over them. “I know you’re not—- I know that it can be overwhelming. Are you sure you’re okay?”

Stiles swallows and nods, a good humored smile crossing his face that he almost doesn’t have to force. “Me? Definitely. Just a little spooked, I guess.”

And that’s all they say about that for a while. Stiles eats his eggs and demolishes a quarter gallon of milk, and his dad makes cracks at him every once in a while from over the newspaper. It’s almost comfortable. The day is hot already, and the summer sun is bright enough to fill the entire downstairs of their home with warm, natural light. It’s the perfect image of home if you ignore the empty chair to Stiles's right.

Stiles is never sure how to start conversations with his dad, but something about the past twenty-four hours empowers him to take that first step. He finishes off his third cup of milk and says in a voice that’s more confident than he feels: “Late summer reminds me of Mom.”

His dad’s hand slips on his cup of coffee— his second that morning— and he swears. Stiles helps him mop it up, feeling more than a little guilty, and when they’re done, his dad takes a long breath and looks at Stiles almost suspiciously, like he’s trying to uncode what Stiles just told him. Stiles looks at him, not sure what to expect and twitching under his dad’s gaze.

His dad’s expression melts into something so sad, so empty, that Stiles suddenly regrets saying anything at all.

“Everything reminds me of her,” is what his dad finally says, like it’s some sort of Truth of the world. The sky is blue, baby animals are cuter than their grown counterparts, and everything reminds Sheriff Stilinski of his dead wife.

Stiles is prepared to leave it at that— to apologize and run away and hide in his bedroom for the rest of eternity— but his dad pushes on.

“Remember the story of how we met?”

Stiles laughs, dry and weak. “Yeah. She was your nurse when you got shot that one time or something.”

His dad nods, a sad smile playing on his lips.

“Yeah, or something.”

Stiles fidgets in his seat, looking away from his dad, who is looking wistfully out the back window.

“It happened about this time of year. I opened my eyes that day and there was sun all around her head. Told her to kill me or kiss me, and whichever one she chose she needed to hurry up.”

Stiles freezes. He’s never heard this part of the story. It’s a little piece of his mother that his dad has kept to himself for years now— a secret. Stiles has his own secrets about his mom. He’s tucked them away for safekeeping, and he never talks about them because they are His and His Alone. His favorite things. Like how she would scratch his back in lazy circles with her nails and whisper things like ‘You’re a special boy, Stiles. You’re going to make someone happier than you’ll ever know, someday.’

“She just laughed and told me to take her out to dinner sometime and she’d make up her mind.”

“Let me guess— she killed you?” Stiles asks wryly, a grin tugging at his lips. His dad smiles back, less sadness in the lines of his face.

“She slayed me, alright,” he agrees. “Ruined me for anyone else.”

Stiles just nods. He and Scott used to joke about setting their parents up, but Stiles always knew there was a difference between his dad and Melissa McCall. Ms. McCall didn’t wear her wedding ring years and years after leaving her husband, for one. Stiles’s mom took a piece of his dad when she died, and the hole in his chest was one the sheriff wasn’t looking to fill anytime soon— or ever.

“God, I miss her,” his dad admits, hanging his head a bit and letting out a little, humorless laugh. That breaks Stiles’s heart worse than the sadness. There’s a trace of humor in his dad’s face— a ghost of it, really— that’s been gone since his mom died, and seeing it upsets Stiles to the core. He gets ready to leave the conversation, but before he can, his dad says something that stops him:

“I don’t think I really knew how much I loved her until I knew I was going to lose her.”

Stiles stops mid-shift and stares at his dad. His eyes are starting to burn a bit with the promise of tears, and he knows he’s not really ready for this conversation. It’s too much— they’ve never talked about her for this long before, and it’s upsetting him even more than he thought it would. But he’s opened some door in his dad’s tired heart, and he can’t bring himself to close it just yet.

“What do you mean?” is what he asks on an inhaled breath, not sure what to expect.

“I dunno,” his dad admits. “I don’t. Nothing ever put it in perspective for me like seeing her on that hospital bed and realizing every little thing I’d miss about her.”

Stiles can’t take it, after that. He swallows hard and stands up, and his dad gets it, too. They pushed a little too far for both of them. Across the table, the sheriff pulls himself to his feet and straightens his jacket. The air is awkward, tense.

He coughs and says, “Don’t forget about that statement.”

“I won’t,” Stiles says again, not meeting his dad’s eyes.

His dad pushes past him, pauses, and rests a hand on Stiles’s shoulder in a warm, comforting gesture. Stiles takes it, but is glad when it’s gone.

- - - - - - - - - -

Derek’s chest rises and falls evenly, and he stays asleep even when Stiles pulls up Skype and sends a call to Scott.

“Hey, man,” he says when Scott’s face appears on the screen. There’s noise in the background on Scott’s end, and after a few minutes, Stiles sees Isaac.

“Hey, dude,” Scott replies kindly, but he’s got a look on his face that says he’s got a lot of questions he wants to ask. “How’s Derek?”

Stiles doesn’t know exactly how to answer that, so he goes with the only adjective he knows is safe, “Alive.”

Scott nods and Isaac pulls a chair up to join him in the camera. Stiles offers him a tight-lipped smile and a nod that’s really just an upward jerk of his chin. He doesn’t resent the time that Isaac and Scott have been spending together, per say, because Stiles and Scott go way back. But Stiles isn’t in a socializing sort of mood, and the only person he wants to be around when he’s stressed or worn is Scott. Even though he never really talks to Scott about the kind of stuff that gets him down, Scott’s basically his brother, and it’s natural to want to be near him when shit gets rough. 

So, yeah. 

“What up, Isaac?” Stiles greets, because he knows Scott will appreciate the effort.

“Not much,” Isaac says with a crooked shrug. Kid’s got posture issues, for sure. “Has he woken up yet?”

“Nah, sleeping like a baby over here. And, yes, it’s as unnerving as you’re imagining.”

Scott chuckles, and Isaac’s mouth falls into an easy laugh as well. Stiles doesn’t want to, but he feels himself warming to Isaac, who is so unassuming and so obviously in awe of Scott’s everything that Stiles wonders if friendship and admiration are all Isaac feels.

Wouldn’t that be something?

“Scott, we’ve gotta go down to the station today. Give our statements.”

Scott groans. “Damn it. I was really hoping we could get out of that.”

“Sorry, buddy. I couldn’t really explain how I was at the parking garage without a car unless I said I was with you. Somehow I don’t think my dad would appreciate me riding around town with Derek Hale: Person of Interest.”

“Imagine what he’d do if he knew Derek had been staying over there,” Scott says, and Stiles groans at the thought.

“Let’s not go there, alright?”

Scott nods, but there’s something hesitant there that Stiles doesn’t understand. He’s quick enough to catch it, but, Jesus, he’s not a mind reader. Isaac claps him on the shoulder, and Scott gives him a smile, and Stiles rolls his eyes. Werewolf Boyfriends, indeed, whether Scott knows it or not. 

“Did your dad ask you anything about Derek?” Isaac asks.

“No, why would he?”

“They don’t think it’s weird that he got car bombed, but his body’s nowhere to be found?”

Shit. Stiles hadn’t even thought of that. He wishes he could say that his dad hasn't thought of that, either, but his dad is a damn good cop, and important things like a missing car bomb victim don’t go unnoticed by Sheriff Stilinski. So why hadn’t he asked anything about it at breakfast? Shit, shit, shit.

“Stiles?” Scott asks.

“Yeah! Sorry,” Stiles says with a jolt, shaking his head to clear it a bit. “I know it’s weird, but he didn’t say anything about Derek.” Actually, his dad hasn’t asked questions about Derek since the night Lydia got bit by Peter Hale; it’s because he thinks Stiles will lie, anyway, Stiles guesses. Which, yeah, makes him feel like a sack of shit son. But Derek— 

He turns a bit in his chair, seeking out the steady rise and fall of Derek’s chest.

— Derek’s secrets aren’t Stiles’s to tell. Lying to his dad sucks, yeah. But it’s a necessary evil, of sorts. Every lie he tells has a reason, a purpose. And most of them are to protect or keep hidden the supernatural world that Derek pulled Scott and, by proxy, Stiles into. And Stiles?

If he could do it all over, down to every last choice and every lie he told and every hurt look that crossed his dad’s face, he’d lie about all of it again. And again. And again. 

Because these are his people, he thinks, looking back at Scott and Isaac who are picking at each other and laughing, Stiles forgotten, on their end of the chat. These people are his, and they belong to him, and their secret is his to keep. He’s seen things and been places with these guys that have terrified him, but he can’t imagine high school without this. 

He can’t imagine a future without this. 

There is no world for him now, he knows. There is no world without this secret, no world in which he can forget the moon in the sky or the Wolf in Scott’s bones. Even if there were, he’s not sure he’d want to be a part of it. He wants to run after wolves in the forests and chauffeur their furry asses across town for crime fighting purposes and he wants to feel relied on and needed and trusted and included every day for the rest of his life.

The realization slams into him and he jerks, his vision focusing again on Scott and Isaac, who look like they’ve just asked him a question.

“Listen, dude, I gotta go. I’ll call you about the station—” Stiles starts, then stops. He issues a Very Firm Look at Scott through the computer, who kind of recoils.

“What is it man?” he asks.

“Just keep your phone on, dumbass. If I get redirected to voicemail, I swear to God I’m going to kick your teeth in.” 

Scott laughs, shakes his head, and disconnects. Isaac gets in a little wave goodbye before the camera cuts out, and Stiles is left alone with Derek again. He stands and brushes himself off, feeling the effects of skipping a full night’s rest. Derek makes a noise from the bed, and Stiles goes to hover over him. The bandage on Derek’s shoulder is definitely a darker brown— pushing red— and the splotches are touching, which means it needs to be cleaned and changed. Stiles heads toward the bathroom to soap up a washcloth.

When he gets back to his room, he scoops an ordinary first aid box off the top of his desk— on loan from Deaton’s office— and goes to Derek’s side again. He considers the wound for a while, not sure where to begin, but he decides to start peeling the medical tape off from the bottom, where it’s just over Derek’s heart. His fingers work quickly but are kind of a jumbled mess because he’s Stiles and he couldn’t imagine a minute of his life being well-coordinated. 

Stiles makes quick work of the tape, and lifts the cotton off carefully. Deaton warned him that the blistered flesh might adhere to the cotton, and the last thing Stiles wants to do is reopen Derek’s wounds. Counterproductivity kind of isn’t his MO here.

Fortunately, there’s no flesh-ripping to be had, and Stiles leans back to inspect Derek’s wound in full. It’s ugly as sin: blistered flesh making a clawmark pattern, tearing its way across Derek’s chest and over his shoulder. In some places the flesh is tender, shiny, and pink; in others, it’s a dark, dirty red scab that’s rough to the touch and flaking; the worst are the terrible red, open wounds that are oozing clear and brown liquids, smelling of rot.

Stiles perches himself on the edge of the bed, pulling Derek’s arm across his lap and insinuating himself against the dip in Derek’s waist.

Inside the box are cotton balls, more medical tape, and another huge square of cotton. Deaton had shown Stiles exactly how to do this the night before, and Stiles, as usual, was a quick study. He’s quiet as he runs the wet washcloth over Derek’s skin gently, just enough pressure to catch the oozing stuff and wipe away any remaining filth. They peroxided the wounds the night before, and doing so again would only kill the good bacteria working to heal Derek’s wounds, so the warm, wet washcloth is all the cleaning Derek gets. Today.

Stiles can feel the steady thumping of Derek’s heart under his fingers and through the washcloth, and his breath catches, his fingers twitch.

When he looks up, Derek’s eyes are open— leveled on him and wary. His pupils are tiny— his eyes swallowed almost entirely by the strange, gray-blue color on the outside of his irises, the brown ring around his pupil practically swallowed. Stiles takes his hand off Derek, but he doesn’t move from under Derek’s arm or away from the bed. Instead, he starts to fold up the cotton pad the way he was shown. They’re quiet while he does that, and when he chances a look at Derek again, his eyes are closed.

“I need water,” is what Derek eventually says, his voice rasping and wrecked.

“Yeah, in a minute,” Stiles tells him. “Gotta get you patched up first, Big Guy.”

Derek huffs a laugh, and his eyes open again, though they don’t seek out Stiles. He stares across the room, and Stiles is tempted to follow his gaze, but he really does have to get this pad in place first. So, he sets about doing that. Derek’s heart is a steady thump thump thump under his fingers as he peels off strips of tape and straps the gauze down. It’s a little sloppier than Deaton had it, but it does the trick. Stiles lifts Derek’s arm carefully— Derek grunts beside him— and slides off the bed. 

He leaves the room only for a minute and comes back with a glass of water.

“Can you sit up?” he asks Derek, who glares at him as if to say of course I can sit up, don’t patronize me. Seriously, Stiles could probably place gold in the Olympics of reading Derek Hale’s expressions. He’s not sure how he feels about it. 

Derek doesn’t say anything, but he does push himself up the headboard shelves into something resembling a sitting position.  It’s good enough to keep the water from falling all over the bed, so Stiles passes him the glass (“Sip it— don’t gulp like an asshole or you’ll regret it.”) and pretends like he doesn’t notice the way Derek’s fingers are twitching when he accepts it. Stiles sits on the other side of the bed this time, his shoulders even with Derek’s. Derek is so intimdating that Stiles sometimes forgets they’re the same height, but there it is: their shoulders and feet aligned neatly. Like a matching set.

“So, just so we’re clear, you’re never allowed to do that again.”

Derek’s quiet for a bit, taking small drags from the glass like he was told, but eventually throws back in a wry tone, “Yeah, I’ll try not to get blown up in the future.”

“That’s all I ask,” Stiles says with a very sage sort of nod. Derek huffs a laugh beside him and sets the glass of water on the shelf behind him. Stiles’s fingers shake by his sides.

“It’s never taken me this much to heal,” Derek confesses after a minute, and a surprised look from Stiles reveals that Derek’s looking down at his shoulder with a twisted, contemplative frown.

“Guess you’re a little more glass than I thought,” Stiles says before he can catch himself, the words a whisper on his tongue, and Derek looks at him.

And, God, that look. There’s not a word— or thirty— or a thousand— that could ever hope to summarize the complexity of the look Derek gives him at that. The lines in his face are slack, his brow unfurrowed, but his eyes are scrunched just enough that Stiles knows the gears in Derek’s head are turning— trying to understand what Stiles just said. This look physically winds Stiles and puts him on edge, has him falling ever so slightly into Derek’s gravity, wanting to touch his face like touching it will give him all the answers. There’s no muscle working in Derek’s jaw, and there’s no twist to his slack mouth or anything. It’s all his eyes— his searching, moving eyes that are taking in Stiles’s face in quick, jerking shifts. Derek’s eyes are so many colors all at once, and not one can Stiles name. 

Words are a defense for Stiles, and in this moment he is completely vulnerable. Derek is less like shattered glass, Stiles thinks, and more like pulvarized dust— like ash from a fire that burned too hot, too fast, and destroyed everything it touched. 

“You’d be surprised,” is what Derek chokes out, and Stiles’s head tilts in a silent question.

“Try me,” he says, bold. 

“You don’t want me to.”

“Yeah, because you’re some sort of expert on what Stiles does and and doesn’t want.”

Derek looks away from him, then, and there’s that muscle in his jaw— the one that ticks when he’s stressed or annoyed or trying to figure out what he’s doing. Stiles— who just so happens to be an expert on what Stiles does and doesn’t want, by the way— can think of a few things he wants to do just then, and he’s starting to wonder if Derek would be receptive to any of them.

“You say that now,” Derek bites out. “You say it now, and then you’ll regret it later.”

“Fine. You wanna be an asshole? Be an asshole— see if I care.”

“You shouldn’t care.”

“I just said I don’t, didn’t I?”

“And you were lying.

Stiles jerks away from Derek, turning himself to glare at him in full. “No. You can’t pull that Werewolf Juju crap. That’s bullshit.”

Derek glares at him and straightens against the headboard, his jaw set. Stiles makes a furious noise, but can’t keep his distance becase there’s a corner of Derek’s bandage that’s sticking up— the tape not quite sticking— and he has to reach out and push it down, stretching his body over Derek’s to do so.

Derek stiffens beneath him and inhales sharply. Stiles notices, and tries to meet Derek’s eyes. Derek’s closed them, but his nostrils are flared slightly, and Stiles leans back on his heels and waits for Derek to relax before he says anything.

“Do I smell or something?”

“You always smell,” Derek snaps, his eyes opening slowly.

“Awesome,” Stiles drawls, rolling his eyes. “I’m flattered, really. Sorry to disturb you with the way I smell— only I’m not really sorry at all, so yeah.”

“— It’s not a bad smell.”

“Right, explains why you looked like you wanted to knife yourself when I got too close.”


Stiles sighs, his shoulders going slack.  ”Just forget it, okay?” He wants to take a nap because he’s got all day to round Scott up and go to the station— it’s not even close to noon yet. But he also wants to get away from Derek, because Stiles has put up with too much bullshit the past twenty-four hours, and whatever this— Thing— between him and Derek is? Yeah, Stiles doesn’t have the energy for it. He doesn’t have the energy for anything. Maybe if he tries to sleep his body will stop that, too, because he doesn’t even have the energy to sleep.

Derek is looking at him like he wants to say something, and his lips part a little bit like they might. But Stiles can’t even begin to fathom whatever thatsomething is— and he doesn’t want to try. He just wants to sleep. He’s slouching, sitting on his legs a bit, and facing Derek like a challenge, his chin strong even when the rest of him isn’t. 

Derek looks away first. Stiles takes that as a win and proceeds to flop himself back down on the mattress. Derek’s still leaning against the headboard shelves. The look on his face is unfamiliar, even to Stiles’s new-found Derek Decoding powers. There’s tension in his brow and lips, but it’s not mean and it’s not defensive. It’s something else entirely. Whatever. Let it be whatever it is, Stiles is tired. He wants to sleep.

And he almost gets to, too, until Derek slides himself down on the bed and turns onto his side to face Stiles. The expression there now is one Stiles knows well: determination. He’s seen Derek’s resolve settle and harden into this look so. Damn. Many. Times by now that it’s like a Pavlovian response to get irritated as hell at it— because when Derek gets determined, shit always hits the fan. Stiles keeps an eye cracked open, looking back at Derek warily. He’s face down, as usual, bundled under his comforer and nuzzling his pillow with his cheek.

“What?” he tries to snap, but there’s almost no heat behind his voice.

“You’re exhausting,” Derek tells him, and Stiles rolls his eyes and huffs.

“Great. Bully me after I save your ass. At least you’re consistent.”

Derek frowns, but he doesn’t get angry. He draws a breath and Stiles buries his face completely in his pillow, not up for whatever it is Derek’s about to say. 

He’s unprepared when Derek grabs his arm just below the elbow. He yelps a bit, and tries to yank himself away, but Derek holds fast and brings Stiles’s wrist to his nose, inhaling deeply. Something electric runs through Stiles, and he tries to catch Derek’s eyes, but his eyes stay closed even when he starts to speak.

“Kate,” Derek says eventually, and Stiles is hard-pressed for a long minute to figure out who he’s talking about, “wanted a list. She thought she was made up of a bunch of individual smells, like grass and vanilla. But she wasn’t. She just smelled— heavy. I don’t have another word for it. There isn’t another word for it. She walked into the classroom when I was fifteen and—” He swallows, choking himself off.

Stiles is horrified. These are pieces of a puzzle that’s been left untouched in the back of his mind for months, and Derek is putting them all in place. He hasn’t let go of Stiles’s arm, so Stiles turns into him to relieve the pressure in his shoulder, his chest now resting only a few inches from Derek’s.

She smelled heavy and the back seat of her car smelled heavy and her bed and clothes and skin smelled heavy and the kiss she left on the door frame after she burned my family alive smelled heavy, too.”

Stiles’s throat is so dry that swallowing actually hurts, but he has no other response. There are no words, no clever jokes, no defenses yet again. What does someone do in these situations? What’s normal or what’s abnormal? Anything— any sign or hint is all Stiles wants. Derek opens his eyes, but won’t meet Stiles’s gaze, which is alright because Stiles already feels too exposed like this, with his wrist brushing against the stubble of Derek’s face and his heart hammering in his chest.

“Everyone has one,” Derek tells him. “One thing that marks them. Kate was heavy, but sometimes people smell like something. Scott smells fresh— like pine needles, sometimes.” 

His hand moves, tracing the curve of Stiles’s forearm and then up the side of his palm, Derek’s thumb a steady pressure the whole way down. Stiles moves into the touch, pulled in by Derek but going willingly anyway, like he would have moved that way without Derek’s help. 

He swallows, dry, and an involuntary shudder runs through him. “So,” he says soft, soft, softly. “How ‘bout me? What’s eau de Stiles?” He can’t hear himself speaking over the rush of blood to his head, and his eyes won’t leave Derek’s face. Derek’s mouth is open slightly, wet and red and distracting, so when Derek turns those fascinating eyes of his— the color of which Stiles will never, ever be able to name— upward to meet Stiles’s heated stare, Stiles more or less  falls into him, swallowing the word “cinnamon” off of Derek’s lips.

This was always there: this possibility. It was a question forever unaddressed, forever unanswered, between them. Maybe that’s why Stiles isn’t surprised to be wrapped up in Derek, absorbed in a kiss that is equal parts hot and wet and slow, slow, slow. 

There’s no resistance from Derek, even when Stiles thinks there might be— even when he pushes closer, reangles his neck, and pulls off for a second to catch his breath. Derek is on him again and again and again, and Stiles opens himself to him, welcomes the feel of Derek’s lips on his. In between kisses they breathe, hot and dry, and their hands start to take on minds of their own. Derek releases Stiles’s fingers and moves both of his hands to cup Stiles’s jaw, tasting him deeper at this angle and softer and sweeter at that one, alternating pressures and seeking and testing as he pleases. Stiles lets him, encourages him with gasps and groans.

Stiles, for his part, can’t stop his fingers from carding through Derek’s hair. He hums against Derek’s lips, and Derek nips at his in turn, gentle and affectionate and all of the things that Stiles kind of knew Derek had the capacity to be, but never got to see outright.

Derek presses into him, and Stiles pushes back. Derek gives first— surprisingly— and shifts onto his back to let Stiles roll over him, held up by his hands fisted in the bedding under Derek’s head. Another new angle, and Stiles likes this best: Derek’s hands still holding his jaw, his fingers rough and warm against the tender flesh behind Stiles’s ears, and Derek leans up into him, seeking out Stiles’s lips, wanting them.

Stiles parts his lips for Derek’s tongue and becomes the boy from yesterday— inhaling smoke and tasting it in every corner of his mouth until the taste is seared there. He takes everything Derek gives him and pulls it inside, holding it until his lungs burn and his chest hurts and he has to open his mouth, has to breathe. He goes back, again and again, and Derek has him again and again— staying slow, taking their time, no need to rush.

Stiles’s weight shifts to his left side, his moving his right hand absentmindedly, tracing Derek’s jaw and the tendon in his neck and the dip in his collar bone. He’s  drawn to the steady drumming of Derek’s heart, and seeks it out before Stiles has the mind to stop himself. He brushes against Derek’s wound, and Derek flinches away from the touch, gasping. Stiles can’t apologize fast enough.

“Oh my God, I’m sorry, man,” he’s blurting out, pulling off of Derek entirely, hovering over the wound for a bit to see if he’s done any obvious, immediate damage. “I swear I didn’t mean to, I just—”

“Stiles,” Derek bites out, but Stiles can’t bring himself to meet Derek’s eyes. Derek huffs, irritated, and sits up . He doesn’t rest against the headboard, but he sort of folds into himself when he draws one of his knees up and leans into Stiles’s personal space. Stiles twitches when Derek’s hand wraps around the back of his neck, and he can’t help but drag his eyes up to find Derek’s after a few beats of silence.

Derek’s lips twitch, and his thumb rubs at Stiles’s hairline in a soothing little gesture. Stiles falls into him again, because it’s easy and it’s what he wants, and Derek takes him apart and puts him back together again until he’s something a lot sturdier than glass. But it’s short and sweet this time, ending when Derek pulls away. 

“You’re sweating,” Stiles says, confused at first. Why would Derek be— Oh. “Dude, lay back down. Now.”

“Stiles, I’m fine—”

“No, you’re definitely not fine. I’d say something about how hot I am, but I’m actually being really serious right now, man.” And it’s true. There’s sweat beading on Derek’s brow and above his lips and down his neck, and Stiles is pretty confident that means he’s running a fever. Stiles starts to push Derek down into the mattress, and Derek’s fingers catch his forearms. They shake and shiver, so Stiles knows it’s a fever. “C’mon, man. Just— stay put, okay? I’ll go get some medicine or something.”

Derek doesn’t seem thrilled at the idea of medicine, but he goes down anyway, and Stiles takes a moment just to consider him in full. He pulls his eyes away as soon as he is physically able, and he leaves the room without saying a word.

He’s actually okay with this, he thinks as he takes the stairs two at a time. Okay, he thinks. He’s okay.

But there’s a little grin tugging at his lips that’s saying a whole lot more.

- - - - - - - - - -

No, they don’t talk about it. It’s not really a conscious thought— on Stiles’s end, anyway— to not talk about the kissing thing. It just doesn’t come up. 

Derek falls asleep once he’s medicated, and a few days pass with him in a fever daze, usually unconscious and certainly not lucid when he’s awake. Stiles occupies himself with the summer reading he’s been putting off. There’s only two weeks left until school starts up, after all. He’s starting to get antsy for it, the way he always does when he’s been away from forced social interactions for too long. A part of him craves high school, craves the occupation. 

It’s normal to want to see Lydia— Stiles always wants to see Lydia— but in a strange turn of events, Stiles is kind of itching to see Jackson, too.

After rising from the dead to assume his Final Form or whatever, there has been absolute radio silence from Jackson. Lydia refuses to be around Peter— understandably since it turns out the asshole fucked with her head for months— and Jackson refuses to speak to any of them, as well. So, yeah. Radio silence. No one can really say what's been going on in Jackson and Lydia Land. As far as Stiles knows, no one in Derek’s pack knows anything about how Jackson has taken to being a werewolf. 

Stiles kind of figures anything is a step up from being a murdering lizard forced to do the bidding of crazy people, but whatever.

A few days after Scott and Stiles give their statements at the police station, Stiles comes home to find Jackson leaning against the bannister of his front porch, clearly unhappy to be there. It occurs to Stiles that he was an easy target for Jackson before the transformation, and he suddenly dreads what the Now-with-Fur!Jackson might think he can get away with.

“Oh, look, a stray,” Stiles greets, and, okay, it’s not his best joke. But it seems to piss Jackson off pretty well, so it’s a job well done.

Jackson tilts his head, narrows his glare, and says, “Funny, Dipshit. Where’s Derek?”

“Nope, same old Jackson,” Stiles mutters more to himself than anyone, and Jackson raises his eyebrows expectantly. Stiles deflects, knowing that Derek is vulnerable while he’s healing, and Jackson’s intentions are so far up in the air right now they could be called Curiosity. “How’s the new Wolfman thing treating you? Try to kill Lydia yet?”

Jackson snaps at that—which, yeah, Stiles definitely should have seen coming— and shoves Stiles face-forward against the door roughly. Maybe Stiles should be cowering or apologizing, but he’s winded and pinned, so all he can manage is a violent swear. Jackson’s nails are claws on the back of his neck, a terrible promise in the pressure he applies there. 

“One more time,” Jackson growls, “Where. Is. Derek.”

“Fuck. You. Fido,” Stiles grits out as best he can from against the door.

Jackson roars a little bit, but releases Stiles nonetheless and procedes to seethe from a few feet away. Stiles breathes heavily, shaking himself off and straightening up as tall as he can. He’s got an inch or so on Jackson height-wise, and he delights in every fraction of it. Of course, what Jackson lacks in height he makes up for with Unrivaled Douchebagdom and, now, a shiny set of fangs, so there is that. 

“I know he’s here,” Jackson snaps. “Let me see him.”

“You just can’t take no for an answer, can you?” Stiles throws back— again with the deflecting. To his credit, he doesn’t flinch when Jackson starts advancing on him again (slowly, this time, one foot in front of the other), but he does take a very, very small step back. His mind is a mess of escape plans and strategies— most of which pretty much involve annoying Jackson into retreat— when the front door opens behind him. 

He spins around to look at Derek, eyes wide. Derek hasn’t come downstairs for almost three days— he’s barely been well and stable enough to make it to the bathroom on his own feet. But there he is, chin high and proud, standing in the doorway like it is No Big Deal when, in fact, it is a Very Big Deal. Stiles allows himself a second to gape before turning to look at Jackson.

Jackson gives Derek a once over, grunts, glares darkly at Stiles and— leaves?

And fucking leaves.

He just turned around

and leaves.

Like a douche

“Yeah, nice seeing you, too,” Stiles grumbles, watching Jackson climb into his stupid porsche.

Stiles looks back at Derek, who is clad in an unassuming pair of Stiles’s sweat pants and a comically large blue t-shirt that usually lives in the back of Stiles’s closet. For a second, there’s a question on Stiles’s lips, but he can’t find the words to make it happen, so instead he pushes past Derek and into the living room.

“What the hell was that about?” he finally asks when Derek turns to him, closing the door.

“It’s a pack thing,” Derek says slowly, and Stiles kind of wants to grill him on that, but he can see the sweat forming on Derek’s brow from where he stands.

“Come on, man, you need to sit down,” Stiles says on a sigh. He puts his palm to Derek’s back and pushes him a little bit in the direction of the couch. “Me casa es tu casa and all. Which— hey— it kind of is these days, so yeah.”

Derek grunts a little, an affirmative sort of noise, before doing what he’s told and dropping himself on the couch. It’s such a casual thing— like he sits on couches as often as he lurks in dark corners and creeps into high schooler boys’ windows— that it distracts Stiles.

Derek looks at him sharply, and Stiles hauls ass so Derek can’t call him out on staring. Because while he’s not intentionally avoiding the So, we made out that one time, remember? conversation, that doesn’t mean he wants to have that conversation, either. And eye contact with Derek is pretty much a surefire way to get from Point A to Point Can We Do That Again Sometime faster than Stiles cares to admit.

A pack of alpha werewolves is burning a war path through Beacon Hills; Stiles shouldn’t have the luxury of trying to get laid. He gets that, he does, but damn itif the possibility isn’t distracting. 

He gets Derek a glass of water from the kitchen and brings it out with some medicine to lower Derek’s fever. He offers both to Derek, who takes the glass of water but won’t acknowledge the medicine. Stiles glowers at him, huffs a bit, and sets the pills on the coffee table. He drops down against the other arm of the couch and stares blankly out the window on the opposite wall for a while.

Derek finishes the glass of water in record time and puts it down on the coffee table. If he thinks Stiles doesn’t notice when Derek swipes up the pills and pops them in his mouth, then Derek doesn’t give Stiles enough credit. At all.

Stiles bites at the insides of his cheeks to keep himself from saying anything too Asshole-y, but it’s tempting as hell. Instead he says, “So— it’s a pack thing.”

Derek is quiet, but eventually says. “Yeah.”

“What’s that mean?”

Derek lets out a breath of air— something like a sigh— before telling Stiles, “Jackson hasn’t denounced me as his alpha. I’m the one who bit him, so he is my beta. He hasn’t consciously made the decision to be an omega, so he’s still part of my pack.”

“Why hasn’t he pulled the trigger there?”

Derek shrugs. “He probably doesn’t know he can.”

“Yeah, with the whole speaketh not to wolves who run with Peter Hale thing going on there, I can see how he’d miss out on some vital information.” 

Derek snorts, and Stiles grins a little— proud of himself. He likes having all the time in the world to draw out that dry-ass sense of humor of Derek’s, just sitting on the couch and soaking in the sunlight coming through the windows and— existing. Derek relaxes into the couch a bit, his shoulders drooping and his head lolling backwards slightly. He looks up at the ceiling, and it’s a long time before Stiles realizes that— again— he’s staring.


“Wait, so I get that Jackson’s your beta or whatever—” Stiles says as soon as he realizes he has more questions, “— but what's with that housecall?”

Derek rolls his neck, popping it in a few places (which kind of makes Stiles cringe, because that sound simply isn’t pleasant, alright), then turns, weary-eyed, to look at Stiles. He says, “He knew I was injured.”

“More Werewolf Juju crap?” Stiles huffs.

Derek’s lips quirk a bit. “Yeah. Stop calling it that.”

“Not a chance. Is Jackson going to try and shank you or something— like some instinct to overthrow the Alpha?”

Derek raises his eyebrows, and there’s nothing but condescention in the lines of his face. “You know, there are differences between wolves and werewolves.”

“Thanks, I hadn’t figured that out yet,” Stiles throws back with narrowed eyes and a bit of a head cock. “You know I only found out werewolves exist like a year ago?”

“That’s a lot of time for Google.”

Stiles glares at him— this is a familiar line of taunting. “Ha, ha. Funniest werewolf in town, right here. On my couch.” There’s a none-too-subtle threat there, and Derek knows it. He sets his jaw in a challenging way and expectantly stares Stiles down

and stares

and stares.

Stiles grins, pretty convinced he’s winning this battle, and leans into the arm rest, proud as can be and a little tempted to stretch his legs out onto Derek’s lap just because it’s his house and he can. But Derek wouldn’t humor him, Stiles knows. Stiles would probably end up on the floor— crashing into the coffee table on the way down— in a mess of layers and limbs and violent swearing. 

So he just takes a minute to preen at a safe distance.

“That’s right,” Stiles says after a beat. “My house, my rules.

It’s an echo of a ridiculous memory, and there — when Stiles least expects to see it because, honestly, he’s being an asshole (and loving every second of it) — is that familiar twitch of Derek’s lips. Stiles is beginning to identify it as fondness, and it’s such a foreign, unusual thing to think that it catches Stiles up for a minute. Makes him prouder and more vulnerable all at once. Derek Hale, fond of Stiles Stilinski— who’d have guessed?

Of course, maybe it’s like Stockholm Syndrome. Maybe Derek’s realized that there’s no escaping Stiles now— not after they’ve saved each others lives this many times and exchanged witty banter and slept in the same bed for days and days on end.

Not after any of that, and especially not after the Best Make Out Session of all Time. No going back now. 

So, maybe they do have to talk about it. Maybe it’s something that has to be addressed. Or maybe they don’t, and it doesn’t. Stiles is a flexible sort of guy. He’s actually pretty much adaptable to a fault. Unfortunately, he’s also sixteen years old and, while serious conversations about badass supernatural shit are awesome, serious conversations about feelings and— uh— relationships or whatever? Yeah, no. Not his forte. Not any sixteen year old’s forte, probably, but least of all Stiles’s. 

He licks his lips and looks back at the window. 

He has reading to do, and this is starting to stress him out. Derek’s been holed up in Stiles’s room for days, so the new space is probably healthy for him. Stiles’s dad won’t be home for five or six more hours— it’s a long shift sort of day, but at least he has the night off— so there’s no real harm in leaving Derek on the couch. He stands up, brushing himself straight, and heads for the staircase.

But he’s a social creature, and it’s awkward as hell to just walk out of the room without saying something. So he says, “Just— uh— if you need anything—”

Derek cuts him off with a Very Stern Look and, “Yeah.”

Stiles nods, swallows, and heads up the stairs. 

The heavy weight of unfufilled expectation settles in the pit of his stomach, makes him feel sick.

- - - - - - - - - -

Two and a half hours later, Stiles is on his back, stretched across his bed. One of his hands is holding a copy of The Sound and the Fury out to his side, his thumb marking the page he’s on though he hasn’t looked at the book in half an hour. His other hand is flat on his stomach, tracing patterns in the skin there just beneath his rucked up T-Shirts. He’s staring at the ceiling, literally a million questions running through his head. He’s kind of pleased that only a thousand or so of them have to do with Derek.

The door opens softly, but it’s not like Stiles doesn’t know who it is. He doesn’t look over or stop moving his hands or anything. He’s managed to get on a train of thought about this whole they’re alphas but they’re actually betas bullshit, and he’s not letting that one go until he’s got an answer, dammit— it’s been torturing him for a month now with its bullshit logic and halfass explanations. He almost sees the train home when his eyes fall, of their own accord, to Derek, who has been standing just inside the door, still and silent, for several minutes on end.

He looks like he’s very seriously considering something: his jaw’s locked, his eyebrows are furrowed ever-so-slightly. In the oversized t-shirt and sweatpants, Derek is surreally not-intimidating. There’s no Power of Leather here— just the comfort of bare feet and soft, worn, too-big-for-you fabrics. It’s endearing, and Stiles feels that weird warm thing creep into his heart.

He doesn’t say anything— lets Derek be contemplative for a while— and pulls his book in front of his face, trying to get into the stream of consciousness style. It makes it feel like his head is filled with too many voices all at once. He’s glad when Derek comes over, his steps silent. Stiles shuffles over on the bed. Into Derek’s side, he thinks surreally, because when did he start thinking it as Derek’s bed? Derek fills the space that Stiles made for him, and Stiles puts down his book on a shelf over his head (Page 122, he tells himself, willing it to memory) and looks up at Derek. Stiles is still flat on his back, but he doesn’t feel vulnerable.

He’s comfortable.

“What’s up?” he asks, searching Derek’s face for some sort of hint as to what was going on in his head.

Derek turns his eyes on Stiles. The colors there are catching the fading sunshine from Stiles’s open blinds, making Derek’s eyes look like a soft shade of green. Stiles likes that best, he thinks for a minute, but he’s immediately startled out of the thought by another thought: when did he start picking favorite eye colors for Derek freaking Hale? Holy God, his life.

Derek considers Stiles for a moment, his jaw still tight, his eyes so bright. It isn’t until Stiles props himself up on his elbows that Derek moves. He’s quick— because, hey, werewolf and all— and Stiles can’t say or do or feel anything before Derek’s lips are against his. The first time was slow and sweet, and there’s some of that here, yeah, but it’s mostly insistent. 

Stiles likes insistent. Stiles thinks insistent can stick around for, like, ever as far as he’s concerned.

A groan leaves him, then, and he falls back into the mattress when his arms hook over Derek’s shoulders, pulling Derek with him. Stiles is open and inviting to all things Derek Hale in that moment— namely lips and tongue and teeth. One of his hands finds Derek’s face, his palm pressing to the apple of Derek’s cheek and angling him just so. Stiles’s entire body arches off the bed, the length of him pressed against Derek, whose mouth is hot on Stiles’s, opening him up wide. 

Stiles is only too happy to give, give, give. “Jesus, God,” he breathes when Derek pulls away.

Stiles lets his hand slide up from Derek’s face, eventually carding his fingers through Derek’s hair when Derek presses his lips to the sensitive skin beneath Stiles’s ear.

“Derek, actually,” Derek says, nipping at the hook of Stiles’s jaw, and Stiles groans.

No, don’t be funny, you asshole. Funny is so not okay right now,” he says, and if parts of that come off as a bit of a whine? Well, so be it. Derek laughs against Stiles’s neck, and Stiles tugs at his hair, pulling him back into a kiss. Derek’s lips are upturned against Stiles’s— smug bastard— and Stiles is tempted to kick that shit-eating expression off his face, but he’s too occupied kissing it. 

He’s not exactly well-practiced in this (his only prior kissing experience being Harley Harlowe at an eighth grade party when they’d gotten wrangled in a game of Seven Minutes in Heaven), but it’s a pretty simple thing: lips on lips, tongue against tongue. And Derek, for being such a rude guy, has a very, very nice tongue. Derek licks his way into Stiles’s mouth, and Stiles pretty much melts. The noise that leaves him is porn star levels of obscene, and Derek insinuates himself fully between Stiles’s legs in response.

Derek goes to pull back, and Stiles follows him, pushing himself up on his palms to keep his lips against Derek’s if only for a few more hot, quick kisses. He’s successful, because Derek falls back into him a bit, only stopping to say, “What would you like me to be, then?”

Stiles’s brain literally somersaults and he basically swallows his tongue. It took literally— uh— eight words to shut down all function in him. Derek’s sense of humor, apparently, wasn’t the only thing buried under the brooding, dark exterior. Stiles’s knows what he wants, and for all that Derek’s question was erotic as fuck, there’s a real question in his face: do you want this?

Hell to the yes.

Stiles’s hands seek out the hem of that comically oversized shirt, his fingers clutching it. He says, “This is a shirt-optional party, invitation: you,” and there’s a question he’s asking between the lines, too.

Derek rolls his eyes and says, “I thought we weren’t being funny.”  Which is as good as a strip me, Stiles, as Stiles thinks he’s going to get, so he slides his hands up the hot bare skin of Derek’s chest— feeling the muscles twitch and flex under his fingers— and hooks his wrists under the shirt, moving it upwards slowly. 

He says, “No, you’re not being funny. I can be as funny as I want.”

Derek makes a choked noise, "Your house, your rules?"

Apparently, his shirt-removing pace is too slow for Derek, who pulls the shirt off over his head and loses it somewhere off the side of the bed— not that Stiles notices or cares because hell yes he has a half naked Derek in between his legs and life is good and sweet and right. 

Great though it is, it’s also a little much at first, so Stiles distracts himself by pulling Derek into another kiss. It’s slower, sweeter, and Stiles takes his time to taste Derek— who always smells a little bit like leather and musk but thankfully tastes a thousand times better than that. They fall back into the bed, Stiles’s legs bending on either side of Derek, whose skin is soft and hot under Stiles’s hands. 

Kissing is great, kissing is good, Stiles really likes kissing (can’t really emphasize that enough— seriously), but the need for skin-to-skin contact takes precedence quickly, and he eventually pulls away to tug off his shirts. Derek freezes, and he stares down at Stiles for a few long minutes, his eyes— green, still, Stiles notes— fall down to Stiles’s chest. 

There’s a freckle in the dead-middle of Stiles’s chest, and Derek ducks his head to press a hot, open-mouthed kiss to it. It sends a shock through Stiles’s entire system. The gesture is intimate, and his heart seizes at it. Derek’s mouth lingers until Stiles becomes uncomfortable with the sensation— it’s just too much, he thinks. A little more honest than either of them are capable of being.

Stiles tightens his knees at Derek’s hips and, summoning all of his strength (which is mostly in his legs thanks to Finstock’s long-standing love affair with suicides), tries to reverse his and Derek’s positions.

He’s forever going to tell everyone that he upseated Derek Hale, but he has a feeling that Derek kind of wanted this— Stiles straddling Derek’s thighs proudly with Derek pressed into the mattress below— because, if he hadn’t, crazy-ass werewolf superpowers could have stopped Stiles at any second. But no, here Derek is: under Stiles. 

“Nice,” Derek compliments him dryly, looking long-suffering. Stiles preens, straightening a little bit for a moment.

“I’m gifted, what can I say.”

Derek huffs a laugh and leans forward, sitting up entirely, and wraps a hand behind Stiles’s neck to pull him into a kiss. Stiles groans, and rolls his hips down. A shudder runs through Derek— an honest to God shudder— and he nips at Stiles’s lips. Apparently, Stiles just gave a green light of sorts, because Derek rocks back against him, and Stiles is aware of Every. Hard. Inch. of Derek freaking Hale.

“Holy God,” he practically sobs and wraps his arms around Derek’s shoulders and presses his forehead to Derek’s, breathing heavily. They rock against each other for a few long, hot minutes, Derek’s hands flat against Stiles’s back, his hands big and wide and holding Stiles together even when he thinks he’s going to shatter.

Derek’s lips find Stiles’s neck again, where he presses open-mouthed kisses sporadically. Stiles is pretty much a mess of meaningless syllables, his mouth open and his eyes closed. His jeans are too, too, too restrictive, he thinks, but it’s a very distant thought that’s a lot less insistant than the heat pooling in his belly and the hard length of his trapped cock. There’s a familiar fuzzy feeling in the back of his head that tells Stiles one very clear thing: orgasm is imminent. 

“I— shit,” he grumbles, trying to make himself slow down— make this last a little longer, not be so much of a teenager. 

Derek grunts and surges upward, capturing Stiles’s lips in a kiss and, again, reversing their positions. Stiles has never been more glad to not have to be in a position of control. From beneath Derek, he can undo the clasp of his jeans, wriggle slightly, and free his trapped cock. It’s a relief, and his moans are caught by Derek’s mouth. Stiles kisses him back, hot from head to toe and hungry in his very core for more, more, more.

Stiles barely has his boxers down before Derek rolls his hips again, catching Stiles’s aching, now-bare dick in the motion. Stiles keens. 

“Mother of God!” 

Derek stiffens, and Stiles takes that as a bad thing. Confused, he pushes Derek up a little bit, and is absolutely shocked when Derek’s eyes open— irises red and powerful under heavy eyelids. And, oh, fuck, Stiles has never wanted to come more in his whole damn life than he does right then. 

“I totally just made you wolf out a little bit, didn’t I?” he says, gloating like an asshole and not giving a damn. “Because of sex. My sex. Me.”

“Shut up,” Derek growls, but Stiles can’t bring himself to care because he’s got his fingers tucked in the hem of Derek’s sweatpants (well, Stiles’s sweatpants, but still), and is searching Derek’s face for some sign— Do Not Pass Go or something. Derek kisses him, though, so Stiles is taking that as full speed ahead. He pushes the sweats down, and pulls away to apprecaite Derek bared for him. 

Derek has a very, very nice — very hard— cock. It takes Stiles all of a second to decide he’d like to be better acquainted with it. 

He’s clumsy at first, reaching without any sort of experience other than what he’s done with himself, but getting Derek’s cock in hand sends shivers through him— and Derek hisses above him. Stiles grins up at Derek.

“You okay, Big Guy?” Stiles asks, squeezing Derek ever so slightly at the nickname.

He almost forgets about his own cock until Derek straight up fucks into Stiles’s hand, and then there’s no way Stiles could forget how hard and ready he is— ready for this, with Derek. He arches up, brushing his cock against Derek’s, wrapping his fingers around both of them. 

Derek sucks in a breath above him, and Stiles nearly bites his tongue. Literallynothing on God’s green earth could have prepared him for the blinding sensation of his cock against Derek’s, both under Stiles’s long fingers. It’s earth-shattering, stomach-dropping, mind-blowing— all of the good hyphenated adjectives Stiles has ever known all at once.

It takes a few tries, but they find a rhythm of rocking against each other, both of them fucking into Stiles’s hand. Derek braces himself low, on his elbows and forearms, crowding Stiles into the bed. Occasionally they’ll press kisses to each other’s necks or chests, but it’s an effort neither of them are capable of sparing when all of their attention and energy is going into grinding against each other, fucking off together in Stiles’s hands.

“Stiles—” Derek grinds out, in no time at all, really, and Stiles nods emphatically.

“Uh huh,” he near-whines, his hips bucking off the bed, his hand tightening, and Derek is gone— coming first in hot spurts, and triggering Stiles’s orgasm— which rips through him, white hot and blinding and so, so, so damn good. 

Derek groans, spent, and is courteous to fall to Stiles’s side when he collapses. Stiles is endlessly appreciative, but he says nothing. Instead he just gasps for breath and tries to right himself— find a normal place to ground himself and work back to something he knows, because he’s completely out of his depth right now.

Did that count as sex?

Because Stiles is totally counting that as sex.

“Get a towel,” Derek says from beside him.

“No way,” Stiles huffs, but he’s too busy grinning like a tool (a sexually active tool he corrects, giddy) to be annoyed. “Afterglow over here, dude.” 

Derek huffs and stretches out beside Stiles, a satisfied little smirk on his lips and cum on his abs, and Stiles suddenly wants nothing more than to start prep for Episode II: Return of the Frot. There’s a curiosity in the back of his mind as he rolls onto his side, facing Derek— thinking.

“What?” Derek asks, irritated, after a long while.

Stiles shrugs as nonchalantly as he can manage before he leans forward and— giving into temptation— licks at the cum on Derek’s stomach. Derek stills, breath caught beneath him. Stiles grins up at him wickedly and pulls away. He takes a minute to shimmy entirely out of his jeans and boxers— glad he didn’t shoot his load in them, in retrospect— and rolls out of bed after he does so. He stretches, feeling good about literally everything just then.

“You can just towel yourself down, if you want,” he tells Derek, “but I’m going to shower.”

Derek’s eyes darken a bit, his jaw clenches, and Stiles leaves for the bathroom.

He acts irritated for all of a —- okay, no, he doesn’t bother acting irritated when Derek joins him in the shower not five minutes later.

- - - - - - - - - -

Turns out, sex is like natural Adderall for Stiles, who settles against his headboard shelves and starts to read The Sound and the Fury again, wearing only his boxers. His fingers are pruned— a constant reminder that he just had shower sex. He, Stiles Stilinski, is a shower sex god, and he demands sacrifices be made unto him. Food sacrifices, though; none of that murdering-innocent-virgins crap. 

“Are you hungry? I’m hungry.” he says after about an hour of reading. Derek’s further down the bed than Stiles is, stretched out and on his stomach. He’s got an arm draped across Stiles’s hips, his fingers running absentmindedly against Stiles’s side in a way that’s just shy of ticklish. Derek head is turned away until Stiles huffs and shifts, setting his book down in his lap. When Derek turns his eyes up to Stiles’s, they’re more blue than green.

“Then eat something?” he says— because he’s the most helpful werewolf in all of Beacon Hills. Really, he is.

Stiles rolls his eyes. “Well, thank you for ruining that moment.”

“We weren’t having a moment,” Derek says, not unkindly—  his lips are curled into something almost related to a smile.

“Yeah, right. Okay,” Stiles grunts, a laugh on his lips.

“No,” Derek says, pushing himself up the bed a bit, shifting his hand at Stiles’s side so he can up to Stiles’s eye level, “we weren’t.”

Stiles grins and shoves Derek’s face away, a little grossed out by how giddy he feels about Derek Hale essentially climbing up his body. Whatever, he can gloat. Derek is GQ-standards model type, and Stiles has made him come three times now in not as many hours. He gets to be proud as he wants, and no one can tell him otherwise. Derek nips playfully at Stiles's palm, and Stiles sucks in a breath, totally and completely okay with going for round four if that’s the game here.

Turns out, sex marathons are even better than Shark Week. Who knew?

Probably everyone who’s ever participated in a sex marathon.

Which now includes Stiles.

Hell yeah.

But round four is put on indefinite hold when Stiles’s phone sounds from the shelf behind him. He doesn’t answer it immediately, because he’s very tempted to pull Derek into a kiss first. But Derek kind of slouches against Stiles, taking away the opportunity. Stiles sighs, picks up his phone, and says:

“Sorry, Stiles isn’t in right now. You can leave your name and number if you want, but I have a very full schedule, and basically no time to —” 

“Stiles,” Scott groans on the other end, and Stiles laughs.

“Yeah, buddy. That’s me. Speaking. Present. Etcetera. What’s up?”

Derek is doing a Very Distracting Thing by pressing his nose to Stiles’s neck, his thumbs brushing against Stiles’s hip bones, and Stiles shifts to open his legs for Derek to fully settle between them. He’s warm, and Stiles leans into his touch.

“Isaac and I know where the Alpha Pack is,” Scott says, his tone urgent. Stiles stiffens, and Derek’s thumbs stop moving. “And we’re going to see them now.”

“—- What? Hey!” Stiles cries out when Derek snatches the phone away from him. Derek’s look is silencing, but Stiles still shoves him, irritated. 

Derek says, “Hold on, Scott,” before he switches on the speaker phone and looks at Stiles with raised eyebrows as if to ask: better? And yes, it is better because now Stiles isn’t being left out. Derek holds the phone in his hand between his and Stiles’s chests, and they both look down at it.

“Where are they?” Derek says right as Stiles says, “What do you mean you’re gong to see them now?” 

“Look, don’t worry about it. Just keep your phone on.”

“Scott, you can’t just—” Derek starts, but Scott cuts him off.

“No, Derek. You’re what they want. Stay with Stiles. We’ll call you if we need anything. Just be ready.”

“Ready for what, exactly?” Stiles asks, but his eyes are on Derek’s. “— Scott?”

Scott’s quiet for a long, long time before saying, “Anything.”

The phone clicks off, and it’s kind of a melodramatic exit, but Stiles has to give his boy props for excellent superhero speak. Or he would, anyway, if he weren’t so annoyed at how suddenly Isaac— who has never seriously threatened Stiles’s place in Scott’s life— has usurped the role as Scott’s partner in crime.

Getting told stay at home and be useless by his best friend sucks. It sucks real bad.

Stiles slouches against the headboard shelves and knocks his head back against them. Derek replaces the phone on the shelf over Stiles’s shoulder and looks at Stiles, his expression unreadable.

“Well,” Stiles tries at a joke, “this is awesome. You having fun? I’m having fun. So. Much. Fun.”

“Sorry,” Derek says in a low voice, pursing his lips and tightening his jaw. Stiles sighs and runs his fingers through Derek’s hair, because there’s comfort in touching and being touched, and he doesn’t say anything for several long minutes, until his indignance starts to burn too hot.

“This is so unfair!” he finally groans, about two steps away from a full-on temper tantrum. “Scott needs me— do you know how many times I’ve saved his stupid ass?”

Derek doesn’t say anything; he just lets Stiles rant.

“And I get that he and Isaac are these stupid Werewolf Boyfriends or whatever, with their matching Werewolf Jujus—”

“Don’t call it that,” Derek interjects, and his lips twitch. Stiles rolls his eyes good-naturedly and, yeah, he sort of feels better despite himself, but he’s still pissed.

“It’s just not cool, man. I’m Scott’s right hand man. I’m not supposed to— to be left at home, waiting for news. I should be out there throwing homemade bombs right back at those dickheads or— or something.”

Derek snorts then backs away from Stiles. He sits back on his heels, his sweatpants pulled low on his hips by the action. Stiles appreciates, off-handedly, Derek’s physique, but it’s kind of a minor thing compared to the crisis of Best Friendship at hand.

“Sorry,” Derek sighs, and there’s that word again.

“What— why?” 

Derek raises his eyebrows and looks purposefully down at his uncovered, scarred left shoulder. They’ve been leaving it uncovered for three hour increments, giving it time to air out. All of the holes are closed now, but the flesh is still tender, and Derek’s energy is still being sucked into healing those burns. Derek thinks it’s his fault, Stiles realizes. Thinks that Scott left Stiles behind to babysit.

“God, Derek,” Stiles sighs, and he looks heavenward, hating himself only a lot. “I’m sorry, dude— I don’t blame you. That’s not what I was trying to do.”

Derek doesn’t have to say I don’t believe you even a little bit even at all, because it’s already in the look he gives Stiles.

“No, seriously. That’s— that’s so far the opposite of what I was bitching about, you wouldn’t even believe.”

Derek scoffs, rolls his eyes, and moves to get off the bed. Stiles catches him by the wrist, pulls Derek back into him. He knows Derek could resist— could fight it— but he doesn’t, not even when Stiles kisses him. It’s a soft kiss, an apology, and Stiles brushes his knuckles against the curve of Derek’s jaw, trying to make some sort of comforting gesture. Derek pulls off the kiss and nips at Stiles’s hand playfully. Stiles smiles, pleased with himself even if he’s still pissed at Scott.

“I want to go outside,” Derek tells him, and Stiles nods. He gets off the bed, too. Fresh air sounds like a good plan.


- - - - - - - - - -

They end up at the Hale house because Derek mentions it off-handedly. Stiles can’t bring himself to refuse Derek, who’s outside for the first time in days. It’s a new moon night, a hole in the sky where the moon would be, and, in Stiles’s jeep, Derek looks out the window and says nothing.

Stiles remembers when the Hale house burned down.

His dad had been a deputy at the time, and he had picked Stiles up from Scott’s house that night with soot behind his ears. He'd hugged and kissed Stiles over and over again, his cheeks wet and dirty. He hadn’t said anything then, but, back then, Stiles already knew something was wrong. He'd spent the car ride back home anxious, until he finally broke down and asked his dad.

His dad had said, “There was a fire. A lot of people got hurt.”

“Did anyone die, Dad?”

His dad just stayed quiet.

Stiles has never mentioned it, but the reason he knew who Derek was that day in the woods— when Scott went looking for his inhaler— was because he’d seen Derek Hale. Just once: in the hospital. Stiles was visiting his mom, a bundle of flowers in his hand and his dad over his shoulder, and he’d passed Derek. Stiles vaguely recognized him as a cool, older, high school boy— a baseball player for BHHS. 

But a dark-haired woman had wrapped her arm around Derek’s shoulders, and Derek just looked empty. Sixteen years old and empty, and Stiles, age eleven, could identify it because sometimes he felt it, too. Sometimes, like when his dad had told him his mom wasn’t going to get better. Stiles had felt hollow, then. It wasn’t until later that he found out who they were: Derek and Laura Hale. Even their names had sounded sad, back then.

Derek and Laura had left Beacon Hills, and in their wake the local kids had built a mythology about the Hale house. They were insensitive— the way kids tend to be— and they laughed at the thought of ghosts screaming in pain, lurking in the corners and waiting to scare innocent children. 

The first time Stiles ever got into a fight at school was a month after his mother died, when a piece of shit eighth grader started telling stories about how the Hale Family probably deserved it; that they were creepy and abnormal and weird, and Stiles had thought of that hollow-faced sixteen year old and thought, No, you deserve it. And he’d punched the kid.

His dad and Scott never said a word about it. No one at school did. They were all willing to overlook the actions of the kid with the dead mom, and Stiles had been punished with one visit to the guidance counselor, who had tried to maneuver Stiles into confessing something— anything— that would “heal” him, make him feel better.

It’s been five years, and Stiles thinks he might be wounded for the rest of his life, hollowed out and breakable and capable of beating the shit out of anyone who tries to tell him anyone deserves loss like his. 

He and Derek step out of the jeep and into the warm August night and are quiet. A breeze upsets the trees above; an owl sounds somewhere in the forest. Derek leaves Stiles by the jeep, takes several steps towards the house and is on the stairs before he turns back.

“Coming—?” he asks Stiles, who nods a little frantically.

“Absolutely,” he says, catching up to Derek. Somewhere in the still of the night, Scott McCall is putting himself in mortal peril, and Stiles is trying to wrap his head around trusting Isaac enough to save Scott— trusting the awe in Isaac’s eyes and the gentleness in his smile every time he looks at Scott— but it’s hard. Derek makes it better, but only just. Only makes it bearable, doesn’t make it easy.

He follows Derek into the house. It smells of wet wood and stale sunshine— like the day’s warmth hasn’t been totally sucked out of the house just yet. Stiles has thought before, in passing, that the Hale house was probably beautiful at one point: big and open and made just for family. Now it’s intimidating and ugly, and Stiles’s skin crawls just being inside. He thinks of the ghosts his peers claimed lived in these walls, and he knows it can’t be true. The place isn’t fit for ghostly inhabitants, let alone living ones.

“How do you live here?” Stiles asks, and, yeah, it’s insensitive, but he has to know.

“It’s home,” Derek says in a quiet voice, and Stiles follows him into that eerie courtyard: the place that was once his parents’ bedroom, now reduced to three walls, no roof, and grass carpet. The air here is fresher than inside, sweeter and easier to breathe. He watches as Derek crouches, then spreads out on his back in the grass. Stiles grins a little.

“You look like you’re ready to roll around on your back,” he teases, and Derek glares at him.

“Those dog jokes need to stop,” he tells Stiles, who grins in a very like hell they will sort of way. He sits down on the grass beside Derek, though he doesn’t lay down at first. It takes some coaxing from Derek, who tugs at Stiles’s elbow until Stiles loses balance and ends up sprawled out on the ground, mildly irritated.

His irritation subsides when he gets a look at the ink black sky above him, full of stars.

It’s breath-taking. There’s no tree branches above the Hale house, and they’re far enough away from civilization that there’s no light pollution to obscure the view. It’s the simplest, most awe-inspiring kind of beauty: the unknown. Stiles’s jaw goes kind of slack.

He and Derek are quiet forever.

His mom and dad got him his telescope when he was nine. It’s outdated now, and kind of exists to take up space, but he has memories from the times in between his mom’s stays at the hospital: her arms around him and her laugh in his ears when he told her to look, look, look at the moon and how big and awesome it is. She had looked every time. Every. Damn. Time.

“Stars are pretty cool, too,” she’d told him, running her fingers through his hair. He’d scowled, fixed his hair, and pouted. “You should look at those sometime.”

“No way, the moon is awesome, Mom.”

And now he’s thinking, yeah, stars are pretty cool. Stars are cool and the moon is cool and werewolves and kanimas and life in fucking general is really freaking cool. 

He doesn’t think death can be cool; nothing that hurts so deep, like a cut on the soul itself, could ever be “cool.” 

Derek reaches over and shoves him, and Stiles yelps a bit. “The hell, Man?”

“Stop thinking,” Derek tells him, and Stiles narrows his eyes.

“Well, since you asked so nicely,” he drawls. 

Derek snorts and is quiet again, and the moment stretches on, unbroken for a long time. There’s noise in the forest around them, because that’s nature and you can’t really escape that, but the night is still and warm and the stars are perfect. If Stiles didn’t know any better, he’d say he was happy— he’d say they were both happy. But he does know better, and his best friend is in danger and the world is full of things that want to hurt them and there is always such a vivid, unhappy potential for them to die at any moment.

Even this one.

So, Stiles takes the horse by the reins and asks the question he and Derek have been skirting for so long:

“What are we doing, Man?”

“Stargazing,” Derek replies immediately, and Stiles groans.

“No, I mean—”

“I don’t know,” Derek tells him this time, and Stiles turns his head to see Derek a little better. Derek’s eyes are on the sky above, his face mostly hidden in the shadows of the night, and he looks very tired.

“Just winging it, then?” Stiles asks, because that’s kind of how he’s felt about the whole thing. Derek gives a stiff nod, then turns his head to look at Stiles. The eye contact is awkward but necessary— there’s a wealth of unspoken things between them.

“Are you—” Derek starts.

“Yeah, I am,” Stiles answers. And it’s true. 

Because he is happy. The world is fucked to hell and they could probably all be burned to the ground tomorrow. Scott could die or Derek could die or, hell, even Stiles could die. His mom is already dead, Derek’s whole family is dead (Stiles decidedly doesn’t think about the gruesome possibility that they might have died right where he’s laying right now), and nothing is sacred or protected or guaranteed. But, fuck all of it, he’s happy.

They don’t say anything else on the subject, because the night is warm and the air is sweet and there’s a sky full of stars above them that they may never get to see again.


- - - - - - - - - -

It’s near midnight when Stiles texts his dad and says he’s staying at Scott’s house for the night. It’s 12:15 when his dad replies with Don’t drive Melissa too crazy, and Stiles doesn’t even feel guilty about the lie. It’s not a bad lie, really. It’s a Regular Teenager Lie (so: one that doesn’t distort police investigations). It’s the kind of lie that any sixteen year old kid would tell: staying at a friends house when he’s really someplace else.

His dad never has to know that Stiles sends the text mid-blow job, his fingers flying over the keys and hitting send mere seconds before he loses all ability to focus on anything other than the heat of Derek’s mouth on him, wet and perfect and exactly the sort of distraction Stiles has been grappling for since Scott’s phone call hours ago. 

Christ—” he keens, arching upward, his phone clattering to the floor, and he fucks into Derek’s mouth once, twice, three times before Derek’s hands press him down and he sucks Stiles’s cock down to the root. Stiles comes hard, his orgasm pulled out of him powerfully. He goes slack against the rotting wood floor of the Hale house and his breaths are heavy heaves brought up from the very pit of his stomach. Derek pulls off with one last lick that makes Stiles shudder, too sensitive, and he swats at Derek, who snaps his teeth at Stiles’s hand.

It’s all playful, and Stiles enjoys every minute of it. 

“So, scale of one to ruined you for all others,” Stiles starts, looking over at Derek, who’s fallen on the floor beside Stiles gracelessly. “How good am I at blow jobs?”

Because, before Derek had pushed Stiles to the ground and yanked down his pants in a very caveman-esque sort of way (read: hot, hot, hot), Stiles had been on his knees, taking Derek as deep as he could and wanting to take even more. Derek had sprouted claws when he came, so Stiles figured he’d done good. But now he wants some real feedback; he has a sneaking suspicion that he might just be a Blowjob Master. 

But Derek just rolls his eyes before draping an arm over his face lazily.

“No— wait— but really,” Stiles presses on, because irritating Derek is still Stiles’s favorite passtime. “You gotta tell me, dude, or I’ll never get any sleep, I’ll just toss and turn and wonder— forever. Actually forever. Neverending—”

Derek snorts and shoves Stiles, and Stiles laughs and laughs.

Stiles rolls onto his stomach and props his chin on his arms, looking into what might have once been the living room. He buries his face to sneeze loudly and grumbles under his breath. He turns his face to look at Derek. Derek’s got an arm thrown over his face; his t-shirt is rucked up, and his jeans, unbuttoned and unzipped, are dangerously low on his hips. His chest rises and falls steadily, and Stiles is glad to be able to watch him.

It’s been three hours since Scott’s phone call, and Stiles still feels anxious and unhappy in doses, in between the other feelings and in the spaces of the track in his head that keeps playing the sounds Derek made when Stiles bit at his neck, dragged his teeth across Derek’s collar bone, and began nipping and sucking a hot, wet trail down Derek’s stomach. 

“You’re very vocal during sex, you know,” Stiles muses aloud, and Derek exhales through his nose in a way that’s, like, a distant cousin of scoffing. “No complaints here, though. Not one.”

Derek moves his arm a fraction to stare at Stiles. In the shadows over his face, Derek’s eyes are bright and red, and Stiles’s eyebrows shoot up with surprise. Derek doesn’t seem out of control or on edge enough to want to wolf out. Maybe, Stiles thinks, it’s something involuntary— like the light-reflecting. Maybe in absolute darkness, that’s just what happens. 

“Whoa,” he breathes and leans into Derek a bit, whose face contorts in confusion.

“What?” he asks with utmost suspicion, pulling his head away from Stiles’s advance. The movement pulls Derek into some light, and the red glow disappears. 

“No, wait— hold on,” Stiles insists, sitting up and taking Derek’s face in hands. Derek is clearly displeased, but he humors Stiles when Stiles hovers over him, casting more shadows there. And— yeah— Derek’s eyes go red again, and Stiles’s breath catches. “— Nice.

“What,” Derek’s patience comes to a close, and he pushes Stiles off of him, looking very peturbed. 

“Sorry, it’s just— your eyes,” Stiles tells him, and Derek raises his brows. “They’re just really cool.”

“Oh, the—” Derek can’t seem to find a way to finish his sentence, but he’s caught on and he makes a vague little gesture to his eyes, and Stiles nods once.

“Yeah, that,” he says, swallowing. He backs off Derek, then, to sit beside him instead of hanging over him. Derek is quiet, and Stiles chews on the inside of his cheeks, trying not to feel like what he just did was wrong. The air is tense and awkward between them for a while, until Stiles feels Derek’s fingers at the base of his spine, under his shirt, brushing against the skin there.

He exhales, and he almost says something the break the silence when Derek’s phone does it for them.

The hand on Stiles’s back leaves, and Derek digs in his pocket for the phone. Stiles is tense, his eyes sharp and bright on Derek’s hand when he flips the phone open.

“Isaac,” Derek says, and his eyes find Stiles’s for a fraction of a second. Stiles holds his breath. “Yeah. Okay. Scott—?” Derek’s eyes don’t meet his, now. Stiles tries to catch his eyes— wills Derek to give some sort of a sign as to what’s going on, whether Scott’s alright. “Alright. We’ll meet you there.”

He closes the phone with a snap and looks at Stiles. The way Derek clearly wants to say something but isn’t gives away the bad news immediately, but Stiles has to hear it— has to hear Derek say the words.

“What’s up? What happened—-?” 

The unspoken question is the only one Stiles really cares about: Is Scott okay?

Derek’s jaw tenses, and he stands and pulls Stiles to his feet. Good thing, too, because Stiles is incapable of doing anything. He shoves his palms against Derek’s chest, but Derek is immovable. He finally says:

“Scott’s going to be fine, but we have to get to the animal hospital— Now.”

Stiles nods, his heart hardening in his chest. No time to panic, he tells himself. No matter how tempting it is.


- - - - - - - - - -

The door’s already been unlocked by— Jackson?

Apparently so, because it’s Jackson who meets them in the lobby, and he’s got a tick in his jaw. Stiles looks to Derek and mouths Pack things? Derek nods, once. Erica comes from the back room, her lips red and twisted in a frown, her hair flat. Something smells like smoke. Stiles doesn’t let her speak.

“Where’s Scott?” he demands, force behind his tone.

Erica’s eyes go from him to Derek, and it occurs to Stiles that she’s asking permission. Stiles doesn't wait for it to be granted; he repeats himself.

“Damn it, Erica, tell me where the hell Scott is or I swear to God—

“Come on,” Erica says, her voice softer than Stiles wants it to be.

If she fights him, if she sounds less sad, he’ll know there’s a chance that Scott’s alright. This way is much harder.

“Don’t freak out," she tells him.

That’s a lost cause and Stiles knows it the minute he steps in the examination room. On the table is Scott— who is lying on his stomach, his entire back ugly and charred. Deaton looks up from over him, and his face is somber. Stiles’s hands shake, and he looks at Isaac, who’s slumped in the back corner, standing, and Stiles is on him angrily in minutes.

Isaac doesn’t fight him, doesn’t push back when Stiles shoves him into the corner violently. Isaac keeps his eyes down, and his hands are shaking. Stiles doesn’t care. Stiles hates— hates so much that it was Isaac who was there. Stiles should have been there. If Stiles had been there, this never would have happened— he had trusted Isaac.

“How the hell did you let this happen?” Stiles shouts, his voice loud and shaking.

Isaac cringes, twitches, but doesn’t meet Stiles’s eyes.

“Look at me, goddammit— how did you let this happen?”

Isaac’s jaw ticks, and he looks away— looks to Erica. Stiles looks at her, too, but his fingers stay bunched in Isaac’s shirt. If he loosens his grip, his fingers will shake and he’ll be done for. He clings to Isaac and he clings to the hate clawing up in his chest because that’s easier than the panic. He can’t look at Erica for long, because Scott is there— in the middle of the room— and Stiles can’t see him breathing.

Stiles makes himself let go of Isaac slowly, and he hopes the look he gives him conveys everything he’s thinking: contempt, disgust, disappointment— all of it.

He takes a place next to the table, looking down at Scott with a choked, bitter laugh. The burns are ugly, like Derek’s were a week ago, but worse. So much worse. Scott moans, unconscious. It sounds like death.

“He made us stay behind,” Erica says in a weak voice.

Stiles doesn’t look at her, because he resents her, too. This is her fault, just like it’s Isaac’s fault. And Scott’s fault. Stiles blames everyone so he doesn’t have to blame himself, but it doesn’t work because he already blames himself to most.

“He made us wait while he went in first. There was only one person inside and she was— she’s a girl. Like, human. Not one of us.”

Stiles looks up.

“What,” he says, no question in his voice.

What the fuck sort of a game had they been playing, showing up at this Alpha Pack hideout like they were ready? Stiles could have told them a million times from start to finish, front and back, all of the ways that this had been an awful idea, if Scott had just told him. But he hadn’t. He’d relied on Isaac and Erica, and where had that gotten him? 

Grilled, that’s where.

Stiles makes a furious noise. He can’t watch Deaton— who is bent over Scott’s back, pulling out splinters and rubbing a clear ointment over Scott’s blistering skin— and he hates everyone else in the room too much to look at them, either. He focuses on the wall and draws deep, shaking breaths into his chest. It’s around that time that Boyd comes in the room, entering from a door to a supply closet.

“She’s awake,” he says, and Stiles looks at him— what?

“Who’s awake?” he asks, and Boyd looks hesitant.

Maybe he caught the crazed look in Stiles’s eyes— the desperation and the fury and the hate (so much hate) and doesn’t know how to handle it. It’s a long time before he takes a breath and responds.

“The girl that was in the building when the bomb exploded. She’s here.”

Alive?” Stiles asks, baffled.

“— Scott protected her,” Isaac finally says from the corner of the room. “He pushed her down and got on top of her to block her from the explosion. They were already outside when it happened.”

“Why the hell was she there in the first place?” Stiles demands, repeating himself when no one gives him an answer. “What, was she selling them girl scout cookies? Avon calling?” 

It’s ugly, that tone in his voice. It’s mean and cutting, and Stiles knows the betas don’t deserve it. This is no one’s fault but his own, he thinks, and that’s the ugliest thought of all. The one that will keep him up, thinking about this for months and years on end. He’s furious and lit up when Jackson and Derek step into the room, Derek lingering in the doorway, his eyes on Stiles.

Stiles wants to tear into him, too, but he doesn’t have the focus for it. Maybe if he could clear his head and think a little straighter, he could find real ways to cut Derek, make him bleed. Maybe Stiles could be mean and make himself feel better— distract himself by hurting someone else. He thinks he can do it; he thinks he knows Derek well enough. But Derek just looks at him, and he’s simply looking: nothing on his face. Not even a challenge. Somehow that makes Stiles more furious than anything thus far, and he tears his fingers over his scalp to relieve some of that pent-up contempt, if only a little of it.

“We need to figure that out,” Derek says finally, cutting the silence. “We need to know what she was doing there.”

Deaton speaks up finally, pulling his gloves off in a practiced way to avoid all of the blood. Stiles tries not to look at him while he does it; the blood is red and awful and Scott’s

“You’re right about that, Derek,” Deaton says in his melodic, soothing way. That tone wraps around Stiles like a blanket and infuses him with confidence. It’s short-lived, but the relief from the stress and the anxiety, if only for a minute, makes his heart hurt less. “And I think I might have just the way we can find out.”

He turns his unnerving brown eyes of his on Stiles, something like a smile ghosting its way onto his lips. “But it’s going to be up to you, Stiles.”


- - - - - - - - - -

She’s pretty, Stiles thinks when he sees her for the first time. Her hair is matted and gross, and her dark skin is wet with sweat, but she’s got a full mouth and large eyes and when her eyelashes flutter open for the first time, Stiles sees just how young she is. It’s almost enough to make him feel bad for her. She’s tied to a folding chair: her hands behind her back and her legs bound to the front chair legs. When she realizes she’s awake, she pulls at the zipties and starts trying to yell through her gag. 

“Nice to meet you, too,” he tells her. She glares at him and struggles against her bindings. “Yeah, good luck with that. You find a way to break a ziptie with human strength, let me know. In the meantime—”

Stiles steps under the fluorescent light of the storage closet, dragging a folding chair with him. It clatters and screams a little against the slick floors, and Stiles catches the wince that crosses the girl’s face. Good. Let her be intimidated. Stiles deposits himself ungainly upon the chair, and his eyes are hard and dark when he looks at her. She’s bleeding right where Deaton told him she’d be. It’s an ugly red patch on the right thigh of her khaki shorts, and Stiles studies it for a few minutes, until she starts to struggle again.

“Would you stop that? You’re not going anywhere,” he snaps. “Not yet,anyway.”

He leans back, catlike, and his eyebrows raise slightly as he takes her in - a silent challenge in the lines of his face. He’s the powerful one here, and they both know it. She doesn’t struggle, but she narrows her eyes all the more. Whatever. Stiles has things to do.

“Now, there’s an easy way and a hard way to do this,” he tells her. “Neither way is exactly pleasant, but the nightmares will be easier to handle of you do things my way. Trust me.”

She stills. Stiles has just promised her that she’ll have nightmares, which means she’ll be walking out of this alive. Stiles lets that sink in for a minute before he shifts in his seat and carries on.

“My boy Scott saved your ass, because that’s just the way he is,” Stiles tells her. “His hero complex is bigger than his brain, okay? He wouldn’t like this, what I’m doing here. He’s the nice guy. Unfortunately for you,” Stiles stops and leans in, his eyes never leaving hers as he does so, “I’m not so nice. And— your buddies? Yeah, those fuckwits have nearly killed two people in my life. Not one— two. Two people who are easily worth ten thousand of you— each. And, one way or another, I’m going to stop your mutts from trying again. Know how I’m gonna do that?”

She’s quiet and unmoving until she shakes her head slowly. Stiles nods and reaches into his pocket, pulling a vial out. He holds it out for her to see, held by his forefinger and thumb. She looks at it for a while before her eyes find Stiles’s again, a question there.

“See this? It’s actually pretty cool. It’s a mix of werewolf blood, their saliva, and a particularly potent breed of wolfsbane. Gonna go ahead and assume you know all about wolfsbane by now, seeing as you were staying with a freaking Alpha Pack and all, so no explanation necessary. This stuff is a perfect storm of things that don’t belong together, and do you know what it does?”

She shakes her head again. 

“It heals us— humans. That’s the whole purpose. It actually forces our body to heal itself: temporarily mixes our blood with theirs, while the wolfsbane keeps us from… undesirably furry consequences. We only use one hundred percent fresh Alpha fluids, after all. We care about quality. None of that beta bullshit, here.” The grin on his lips is rueful, and he can see that he has her attention fully now. 

“Unfortunately, there are some side effects to having such a neat trick up our sleeves. You can thank the wolfsbane for that. And, seriously— trust me, these side effects? They suck. Not weight gain or heart conditions— ha, you wish. That’d be nice, compared to what this stuff does. This stuff? It crawls in your head, fucks with you. Makes you see and hear and believe things that don’t exist. I know all about it, because I was the test subject.”

At that, she looks horrified. Good. She should be.

“Sometimes I’m half-convinced that none of this is real. Like I’ve hallucinated the two months, and any minute now I’m going to wake up sweating in my bed with memories that never happened.” 

Which is true.

“Now, here’s how we’re gonna do this. You let me know everything I want to know first, and then I give you this stuff and make the healing experience as comfortable and easy as possible for you.” He watches her, lets her consider what he’s saying. “Or you keep your mouth shut, in which case I’ll give you this stuff right now and use your hallucinations against you to pull every—damn—last—thing that I want to know out of your head. You might live to die of old age, sure. You might have a family and a career and all of the good things life could ever offer, too. But, so help me God, if you don’t do this the easy way, I will make sure you wake up every night from now until your dying day, screaming your way out of a nightmare.”

He lets the silence that follows his words stretch on for a long time, his eyes hard on hers. She looks away first; he doesn’t stop staring. Seconds later, when she looks back up, his eyes are still there. She retreats into herself under his gaze, until, slowly, she nods.

“Easy way?” he asks, and she nods again. “Smart. I was hoping you’d say that.”

He leans forward far enough that he can reach out and pull the gag from her mouth, and she gasps, sucking in air greedily. Stiles gives her a minute and doesn’t speak until she meets his eyes. 

“What’s your name?”

“Abby Mangrum,” she tells him, her voice wrecked and awful. She sounds pained, scared.

“Alright, Abby. Why don’t you tell me what you were doing hanging out with the Alpha Pack?”

She tells her story as quickly as she can and in between whines and moans and, once, to beg Stiles cut the zip ties. It all goes back to her little brother, she tells him. He was bit three months ago, and they’ve been searching for a cure, desperately, ever since. Abby did some research of old myths and then did some digging into real life reports of werewolves. That had lead her to Dr. Fenris’s lectures on the matter, so she had come out to Beacon Hills, solo, looking for him. Instead, she’d found the Alpha Pack. Or, more accurately, the Alpha Pack had found her.

“They— they kept me there, in that house, for ten weeks.” 


“I— I don’t know. They’re doing— something. They kept us all in a room on the top floor.”

“They’ve been keeping humans?” Stiles asks, horrified. “Why?”

“I— I don’t know,” she chokes out, and Stiles believes her. “They only brought me out few times, and only to clean and stuff. I don’t even know what their faces look like, really. I just— I only saw one man, and he wasn’t even—” 

She needs time to collect her breath, and Stiles waits until he can wait no longer. “He wasn’t even what, Abby?”

She looks at him, shakes her head, and draws a breath. “He wasn’t one of them. He just wanted to be. He came in every full moon and told them things. I don’t know what, but I could hear them laughing through the floors. They like him, want him to be with them.”

Stiles tries to process this information and bites the inside of his cheek. “What’s the hold up? Why don’t they just make him one of them?”

Abby shudders involuntarily, and Stiles’s eyes fall on the wound on her thigh. Their interview is going to have to come to an end soon, or she’ll get seriously sick. Stiles is patient in ways he’s never known himself to be, sitting through the silence that stretches in front of him and Abby until she decides to end it. Her eyes find his, and, a world of meaning in her stare. 

“He’s not an alpha. Not yet.”

Stiles jerks. Not yet has a world of implications that he refuses to think about. He’s on his feet before he can stop himself, throwing the chair back. It hits the floor noisily, and Abby jumps. Stiles tries to sort all of the new information out as best he can, but he has to stop himself early on in favor of kneeling in front of Abby.

“Last question, then we can get you healed,” he tells her, his voice soft— softer than it’s been for hours now. “Why did they leave you behind? They took the others, I guess, but not you. Why?”

Her expression crumbles, and she looks like she might cry. There’s a quiver in her chin and she has to close her eyes for a few moments to breathe before she answers.

“They said— they said he’d come inside if he heard a human heartbeat waiting for him.” 

Stiles swallows, his throat dry and his heart in the pit of his stomach. It’s official, he thinks bitterly. Scott was set up— someone had straight up played his best friend. Only one question left: who? But Abby doesn’t know— she’d already told Stiles as much several times over, and, God help him, he believed her. He looks up at her now, his expression open and sad.

“Thanks,” he tells her. “I’m really sorry for what’s about to happen to you, by the way. It’s not going to be easy.”

She nods. “But it won’t be bad, right? Not— not really bad. Because I helped, it won’t be bad, right?”

Stiles draws a breath. He sort of mislead Abby on that one, and now he feels guilty. Instead of answering her, Stiles pushes up the leg of her shorts. He decidedly doesn’t think about how gross the wound is when he pours the thick mixture from the vial onto it. A long time passes before he feels brave enough to meet Abby’s gaze.

“It’s gonna be bad,” he tells her. “But we can make you comfortable-- make it not so scary.”

She looks terrified and so, so young. Stiles wonders if he looks old to her, aged by trials and tribulations no sixteen year old should have to endure. Stiles leaves and comes back with a pair of scissors, and he cuts Abby’s bindings.

“Come on,” he tells her. “You’re gonna wanna lay down for this.”


- - - - - - - - - -

Scott glares at Stiles when Stiles tries to spoonfeed him. 

Okay, so maybe the choo choo here comes the train thing might have been a bit patronizing, but Stiles couldn’t resist. Scott shoves him, and the soup jostles and nearly spills all over Stiles’s lap.

“Whoa, Man!” Stiles chokes out. “This stuff is hot, you know. You almost killed my junk, there. Ruined by soup.”

Scott rolls his eyes and then says something that makes Stiles’s blood run cold:

“Worried about what Derek would think?”

Stiles gapes at him, his jaw slack and his mind completely blank. He has no way of dodging that, no way of defending himself. Scott does this, sometimes. He plays dumb for a really, really long time— and then he turns around all wise and knowing. It fucks with Stiles’s head every time. 

“— Dude, you okay?” Scott asks after a while, taking the soup from Stiles’s shaking fingers. Stiles blinks, heavy, trying to reorient himself.

“I— I don’t—” Stiles tries, shaking his head like he can’t believe what’s happening to him. Scott laughs.

“Man, I’m not stupid. Give me some credit.”

“It’s not that—” Stiles hurries to say. “I just— it hasn’t been, you know, going on. For long.”

Scott raises his eyebrows and laughs, surprised. “What? Yes it has, Man. Like— months.”

“A month and a half, tops,” Stiles argues. Scott gives him a Taking No Bullshit sort of look, and Stiles buries his face in his hands, mortified.

“God, smite me where I stand,” he groans. “This is miserable. You suck.”

“I mean, I guess you finally know the answer.”

Stiles can’t parse that one out, not even when he looks at Scott for several long minutes. Scott grins like an asshole, and Stiles doesn’t like where this is going one bit.

“You are attractive to gay guys.”

Oh my God, shut u—-” Stiles starts to beg before Scott’s words sink in. “Holy God,” he says after a beat. “You’re right. And not just to any guy— to Derek freaking Hale who’s, like, the freaking standard by which all others are compared. Jesus.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Scott grumbles. “Congratulations. Now do me a favor and nevertell me about your sex life.”

“That is so unfair and you know it,” Stiles bitches. “You used to tell me about having sex with Allison in vivid detail. I couldn’t look her in the eye for, like, three days after you got your first blow job. Three days, dude!”

A stupid grin takes over Scott’s face, and his eyes get kind of distant. Stiles smacks Scott's leg-- hard.

“What!” Scott cries, indignant.

“You’re thinking about it right now, aren’t you!” Stiles snaps back.

Scott’s dopey grin speaks for itself, and Stiles rolls his eyes. 

“It’s different, though,” Scott tells Stiles. “You and Derek, that’s like. You know I don’t care if you’re gay, Man, but—”

“Equal opportunist, I think,” Stiles interjects. “But go on.”

“— I just. Derek, Man. Derek.”

Stiles grins, and Scott pulls a face. 

“Dude, no. Tell me you’re not thinking about sex with Derek while you’re sitting on my bed.”

“You bet your ass I am. Stiles is finally experiencing all of the good that life has to offer in all of the positions that life has to offer, and you’re going to listen to me while I brag. Hell yes you are.”

Scott groans and sets the soup on his bedside table like he’s lost his appetite. He looks at Stiles with some sort of hesistation and he says:

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m not exactly— happy about it. What about Lydia? What about the fifteen-year plan?”

Stiles sucks in a breath and studies the door, trying to figure out the best way to say what he wants to say. He’s not exactly sure how much he wants to tell Scott— how deep he wants this to go. He tries to think of something safe and doesn’t make it sound like it’s too much, but if it’s too shallow-sounding, Scott will get all over protective or whatever.

“I don’t know, dude,” Stiles sighs finally. “Lydia— Lydia’s my girl. I’ll probably always love her. But Derek. It’s different with him.”

“Just because you’re actually getting some?” Scott says, and Stiles can see the disapproval rising to his friend’s face.  He shakes his head.

“No,” he says slowly. “Well, maybe. That’s probably some of it. But it’s— you know. More.”

It’s uncomfortable to say. Stiles is a sixteen year old boy, and words don’t come easy to him. There’s a lot to be said about silent communication, he thinks, and it’s an art that a lot of people in his life could take a few lessons in. Not Derek, though. Derek’s possibly the only person on earth who enjoys honest communication less than Stiles. 

“Well,” Scott says finally. “If you’re happy, I guess. It’s weird as balls. But, if you’re happy, I’m happy. I guess.”

Stiles thinks of that night in Derek's courtyard: the stars in the sky, the ground soft under his back, the realization that, yes, he was happy. Happier than he’d been in a long, long time. Happy to have something that was his and no one else’s. Happy to be a part of something so much bigger than him. 

“Yeah, thanks Man,” Stiles says, leaning over Scott to grab the soup off the stand. “Now open wide, dumbass, you’re gonna need your energy before the next full moon if you don’t want to rip all of those ugly ass scars open again when you change.”

“God, shut up, Mom,” Scott groans and snatches the bowl back. 

Stiles laughs.


- - - - - - - - - -

The last full moon of summer break is a blue moon. 

Stiles pulls up to the Hale house, his heart loud in his ears. He hasn’t seen Derek since that night at the animal clinic. There’s been radio silence between them while Stiles has tended to Scott, and Derek has been following up on all of the information from Abby. Scott makes a noise by Stiles’s side. 

“It’s gonna be alright, buddy,” Stiles tells Scott, who looks at him with utmost disbelief. 

“Easy for you to say,” he says, not meanly. “You aren't forced to transform into a bloodthirsty monster against your will.”

Stiles thinks of a joke he heard once and says, “You getting your period or something?” Scott makes a face; Stiles laughs. “Come on, you’ve always got me, remember? And I’m basically an expert at this by now. You’ll be fine.”

He says it, but he’s as anxious as Scott. Scott still doesn’t have his Wolfman powers strapped down, and he’s not exactly healed. He’s tired and scarred, and he doesn’t sit with his back against the seat in the jeep; he's leaning forward instead. 

“Okay,” Scott says, resolve in his tone. “Let’s just get this over with.”

“Aye aye, Cap’n,” Stiles agrees and hops out of the jeep.

It’s easier, this time around. Stiles doesn’t seek out Derek, but they do catch the betas on their way down to the cells who ask Scott about how he’s doing. All three of them avoid Stiles’s eyes. It makes Stiles feel a little guilty, but he’s never been particularly close to any of them, anyway. Not like there was much trust there to lose. They’re all tense, like they can feel something coming— something that’s setting them on edge.

“I don’t like it,” Boyd says finally. “I feel like we’re being set up for something. Something bigger and badder.”

Stiles can’t help but agree. “Like hell’s about to come down on us like the angry fist of God.”


It’s something that’s been eating away at Stiles for a while now— this strange peace time they’ve had. They’ve made it past the first few attacks by the alpha pack— but what now? School starts in days, and Stiles feels like the end of summer comes with the end of some great truce between them and the universe. Like something awful is coming, and all they can do is wait for it to come knocking, like sitting ducks. 

“Well, then,” Erica says, just as they’re stopping outside of the cells, each of the betas going to their individual doors. “Let’s get ready for it.”

“Easier said than done,” Isaac scoffs, but there’s a smirk tugging at his face-- a challenge, almost.

“If we can’t be ready,” she says in response, throwing a blonde curl over her shoulder and looking at Boyd in a way that Stiles can’t read (he’s no Erica Expert, after all). “Let’s enjoy ourselves while we still can.”

Scott looks like he’s bitten into something sour. Stiles sighs next to him. It’s a romantic notion, really, but not one that keeps them all alive and well, and Stiles wants alive and well. Stiles wants alive and well for a long, long time. 

“Whatever this is,” Scott says in his Hero voice, “we’ll be ready. And we’ll win.”

“How can you be so sure?” Isaac asks, and Stiles snorts.

Stiles knows what Scott’s going to say before Scott says it. Of course he does. He’s Scott’s best friend, partner in crime, brother. He knows.

“Because we have to,” Scott says.


- - - - - - - - - -

Derek’s in the courtyard when Stiles comes up from locking the betas in. He’s lying down again, his eyes open. In the light of the blue moon, he looks pale and clean and perfect, and Stiles walks to him with a certainty that he’s lacked for sixteen years of his life. He looks down at Derek, his hands buried in the pockets of his red sweatshirt, and a smile plays with the corners of his lips.

“Not gonna check my handiwork this time?” he asks, and Derek snorts.

“If they break out, it’s your problem.”

“Awesome, I’m looking forward to being brutally maimed.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

Stiles doesn’t say anything, but he does sit down in the grass beside Derek. He turns his chin up and inspects the night sky with a discerning eye. A lot of time passes, and the moon climbs high before they speak again.

“I think it’s Peter,” Stiles says. “She said he always came by on full moons, and he’s always gone— boom, there’s your answer.”

“You say that because you hate Peter.”

“Uh, yeah? Everybody should hate Peter. Peter sucks.”

“She met him and liked him,” Derek says with a quirk of his lips. He finds Stiles’s eyes and says, “He told her he liked her shirt.”

“That’s cheating, you can’t flirt with the witness,” Stiles pouts, and Derek snorts. Stiles’s smile is a little more earnest, then, less hesitant. He looks down at Derek and thinks about how strange it is that this is where they are— still picking at each other, still capable of annoying the fuck out of each other, and yet so much more.

“Well, what do we know?” Stiles asks.

Derek shrugs. “We know we’re all alive.”

“Awesome, that’s going to be so helpful going into this.”

“You asked,” Derek sighs, and he shifts his head so it’s pressed against Stiles’s folded knee. Stiles takes the opportunity to card his fingers through Derek’s hair.

“Good boy,” he teases, and Derek jerks his head away and glares up at Stiles visciously.

“The dog jokes need to stop,” he says— an echo of the conversation they had here a lifetime ago.

“Well, since you asked so nicely,” Stiles mocks. He scoots closer to Derek and runs his fingers through his hair again, giving himself this moment of intimacy— this gesture of affection. It’s an unspoken thing between them, and that’s how Stiles likes it. The silence is a security, something that protects them both. From what, Stiles doesn’t know, but it’s too soon. This thing between him and Derek is too new and too fragile to talk about.

But he likes it, and he wants to keep it as his very own.

He shifts and spreads his legs, pulling Derek closer to him, into the vee of his thighs. Derek goes easily, not resisting. He rests his head on Stiles’s abdomen, and Stiles keeps his fingers running through Derek’s hair. Derek closes his eyes, and they resume their comfortable silence. 

“So, uh,” Stiles shifts, remembering that he has something to tell Derek. Something awkward. “Scott knows.”

Derek tilts his head back against Stiles’s stomach to look up at him. Stiles holds his breath and waits, but Derek just says, “And?”

Stiles shrugs. “He’s cool.”

Derek nods once and relaxes against Stiles again. “And you?” Derek asks, keeping his eyes away from Stiles’s. It looks like a natural thing, but Stiles knows it’s deliberate, that Derek’s purposefully not meeting his gaze.

Stiles pauses, considers, then says, “I’m cool, too.”

“Alright, then,” Derek says stiffly.

Stiles is filled with that bizarre sense of affection-- that strange feeling that tugs at his heart and makes him so happy he almost feels sad. He rests his hands on the ground behind him and leans back, studies the way the light moves over his sweatshirt with every shift. And then he laughs.

“What?” Derek asks, and Stiles leans forward, over Derek’s head, and pulls up his hood.

“Look,” he says, and Derek does so. “I’m Red Riding Hood.”

Derek groans and shoves Stiles away so he can sit up. “That— you’re an idiot.”

“No, come on, we can totally work that into sex. It’ll be great,” Stiles says. “Go with me on this— you’ll be the big, bad wolf and I’ll—” Derek triest to cut him off with a kiss, but Stiles laughs against his lips.  

“Just shut up,” Derek mutters, looking distressed that his kiss didn’t do the trick.

“Not on your life, Wolf Boy,” Stiles throws back, and Derek rolls his eyes. “You wouldn’t want me any other way.”

“What makes you sure I want you this way?” Derek asks, raising his eyebrows. 

Stiles taps his temple. “I’m in your head, Big Guy. You’ll never get rid of me now. You’re stuck with me.”

“I should have died in that car,” Derek huffs and throws himself back on the ground, but he wraps a hand around Stiles’s wrist and pulls him down, too, and Stiles meets Derek’s lips in a searing kiss.

He doesn’t laugh during this one.

It’s slow like the first kiss they shared. Like a natural progression, something that makes sense. Derek’s lips are warm and wet under Stiles’s, and when Derek licks his way into Stiles’s mouth, Stiles falls apart for him easily. Stiles sucks on Derek’s tongue, and he grins when Derek groans deep and low in his chest. 

One of Derek’s hands finds its way to the back of Stiles’s head, pulling Stiles deeper, closer. Derek leans upwards, increasing the pressure of his lips, his jaw moving as he nips and sucks at Stiles’s mouth. It’s good— so, so good— and Stiles feels the sensation shoot to his toes, lighting every nerve between his lips and feet on fire. It makes him dizzy, so he pulls back, forces his lips away from Derek’s before he forgets his own damn name or something.

He runs his lips down Derek’s neck, and Derek throws his head back and hisses at the sensation. 

Stiles likes that even more than Derek’s scowl, likes making Derek fall apart like this the same way he always liked pissing Derek off before. Maybe that’s related— maybe that’s the secret of the two of them. Maybe they’ve always been able to do this, claw under each others’ skin and cut.

“Jesus,” Stiles moans into Derek’s neck, already desperate to feel Derek’s skin against his own. He can’t usher Derek’s leather jacket off of him fast enough. When Derek sits up to help shrug it off, he reclaims Stiles’s lips in a kiss more desperate than any they’ve shared before. The noise Stiles makes is definitely a whine— no way out of that.

Derek lays back down for him, and Stiles insinuates one of his knees between Derek’s. He’s surprised at how complacent Derek is, how he lets Stiles take the reins and go. Somewhere, in the back of Stiles’s mind, he always thought Derek would want the control. Stiles doesn’t say anything about it, too happy to kiss his way down to Derek’s stomach. Derek grunts when Stiles’s thumb brushes against one of his nipples, and Stiles does it again. The grunt, this time, sounds more like a groan. Stiles grins, licks into Derek’s belly button a little bit, and Derek swats at him.

Stiles snaps his teeth playfully at Derek’s hand. He doesn’t say anything—

But this feels like trust. 

“Stiles,” Derek says, and Stiles pauses to look up at Derek, his mouth still open, his eyes wide and pupils blown.

“Wha—?” he asks, and the word drags his bottom lip across Derek’s happy trail. Derek’s eyes roll back a little, and he shakes his head.

“Nevermind— don’t stop.”

Stiles doesn’t need to be told twice, but the grin that splits his face makes the next kiss he plants on Derek’s hot skin sloppy. He appreciates the way Derek’s body twitches under him, comes to life. Stiles makes quick work of the button and zipper of Derek’s jeans.

He likes the way Derek doesn’t wear underwear. Thinks it makes him a little bit wild, like he’s ready at any minute to shift into the wolf that lives in his bones and blood. Stiles sucks at the soft skin of Derek’s inner hip. Derek arches into his mouth, and his fingers dig into the soft soil under them. He makes a choked noise. Stiles pulls back, examines the bright, wet bruise he’s made. He watches it fade away, from the outside in, and groans, turned on like never before.

Because Stiles is sixteen, and Derek’s body is the coolest thing in the entire world— Stiles’s very own Creature of the Night.  And Stiles gets to do this to him: gets to suck bruises into Derek's skin and watch them fade away, gets to appreciate every detail, every awesome gift of Derek’s, even the tiniest ones like this— like being able to erase hickies. He doesn’t think of Kate, not really, but if he did, he’d wonder if anyone has ever treated Derek like the awesome myth he is. Maybe no one has. Maybe everyone’ s kicked him in the balls and called him a freak and lit his house on fire as punishment for something Derek never chose.

Stiles sucks those bruises into Derek’s skin and watches them be swallowed into Derek’s body— sinking somewhere deep and out of sight and maybe more permanent in the long run. It makes Stiles harder than he’s ever been in his life.  He sits back and shrugs off the hoodie before crawling for real between Derek’s legs. Derek looks up at him with those wild eyes of his, which are cool even when they’re not all Alphaed out —

Not that Stiles would ever, ever, ever say that to Derek. But the moon is bright and they’re alive, so he allows himself to think it now because it feels significant-- feels like a first and last chance, and Stiles seizes it with gusto and thinks, thinks, thinks yes, Derek’s eyes are cool just like the stars and the moon and all of that romantic bullshit.

— and Stiles kisses him once, twice, three times. Derek opens his mouth, tries to coerce Stiles into something deeper, but Stiles denies him each time. Derek gives up with a frustrated noise, and Stiles laughs lightly, nosing his way down Derek’s neck again. His hands brush over Derek’s chest, his blunt nails scratching there, making lines like jets in the sky. They fade just the same, and Stiles watches, leaned back and away, taking in the image of Derek.

His fingers catch on the loops of Derek’s jeans, and he looks up at Derek, wondering if he’ll find any resistance there.

But Derek’s head is thrown back, every muscle in his body taut and shaking, and he’s hard under Stiles’s hands. Stiles only hesitates a moment before he tugs Derek’s jeans down. Derek’s cock is flushed and lies hard against Derek’s stomach. Stiles sucks in a breath that catches in his chest and does funny things to him. He leans back down over Derek and sucks at his Adam’s apple, and a gutteral noise sounds in the back of Derek’s throat.

Stiles hums, approving, against Derek’s neck, and takes Derek’s cock in hand. Derek swallows, and Stiles has to trace the hard vein in Derek’s neck with his tongue or he’s going to die. So he does, and Derek finally releases the earth beneath them in favor for touching Stiles. He tugs at Stiles’s shirt, and it’s the first time that Stiles has noticed himself instead of Derek.

He sits back on his knees and tugs his shirts off over his head, but before he can come back down, Derek’s mouth is against his neck, hot and wet and insistant, and Stiles wraps his arms around Derek’s shoulders before he loses his precarious balance. Derek is strong and solid, and Stiles seeks out his mouth hungrily, desperate.

When they kiss, their teeth clash.

Derek pulls his mouth off of Stiles’s after a long while, and he starts to kiss his way over Stiles’s face towards his neck, following some map that Stiles doesn’t quite get. He feels out of his depth, suddenly, like this is too much, too much, with his arms around Derek’s shoulders, clawing at the perfect, smooth skin there, and his chest seizes at the sensation. It feels like panic. 

Stiles shoves that down, and he shoves Derek back down, too. Derek hits the ground with a huff of air and looks up at Stiles hungrily. 

“Stiles,” he manages to choke out, and Stiles nods, understanding.

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Stiles says, and he toes off his shoes, pulls off Derek’s boots, and their jeans are off quicker than Stiles thought himself capable of moving. “Jesus. You’re awesome.”

Because "awesome" is an easy word to say. "Awesome" is safe. 

Derek huffs a laugh and rolls his eyes, “Awesome. High schooler.”

“What the hell do you want from me?” Stiles snaps back. “Thou arst something of awe?”

Derek laughs outright at that, and Stiles marvels in the sound, thrown by it. He made that, he thinks. That sound was for him, for something he did. He’s not sure what to do, so he kisses Derek quick and lasting, and then pushes himself down, wants to taste Derek, wants to make Derek make more sounds Stiles has never heard.

He runs his nose down the inside of Derek’s thighs, and he smells like sweat and sex and Derek. Stiles doesn’t know whose groan he hears, his or Derek’s, but it fills his ears and it sounds like his heartbeat. Stiles moves up and takes the head of Derek’s cock in his mouth, imagines Derek throwing his head back, sees Derek’s hands fist in the ground again, tearing at the earth.

Stiles sucks him deep, runs his tongue along the vein of Derek’s cock. He can taste Derek’s precome, wants to taste so much more. He wraps a hand around the base of Derek’s cock and begins to pump, slow and steadily, his fist and mouth working Derek to a frenzy. Derek lets out an honest-to-god moan, and the way he says Stiles’s name sounds fucking reverent. 

Stiles never wants to hear anyone else say his name again. Maybe he’ll tell Derek his first name, maybe he’ll let Derek say that in a filthy, wrecked voice. 

His other hand— the one not fisted around Derek’s cock— rubs gently at Derek’s balls, encouraging. They’re soft and weighted in Stiles’s palms when he cups them, and his fingers brush between Derek’s cheeks. Derek cries out, bucking into Stiles’s mouth when Stiles presses the pads of one of his fingers against Derek’s tight hole, and Derek comes and comes, hot and bitter down Stiles’s throat.

Stiles pulls off quickly, his cheeks flushed and his lips swollen. He thumbs a wayward bit of cum into his mouth, sucking it off his finger wetly. Derek groans and claws at him, pulls him down and kisses him deep enough that he can taste himself. Stiles practically purrs against him, loves the feel of their sweat-slicked skin meeting. 

“I want—” Derek bites out, but can’t make himself say more. It’s a good thing Stiles has been learning how to read Derek since day one, that he’s been subconsciously training for this shit since he first saw Derek Hale in the woods months ago.

Hell, maybe since he saw Derek in the hospital years ago and recognized that hollow look in this eyes.

He nods and says, “Yeah, I know.”

He reaches over for his hoodie, and, unable to resist, he says, “Let’s see what Red’s got in his basket, yeah?” Derek groans and shoves at him half-heartedly, and Stiles snorts. “Vicious werewolf here, ladies and gentleman.”

“About to be if you don’t stop talking,” Derek threatens. Stiles laughs and pulls the packet of lube out of his hoodie pocket. He looks down at Derek. He’s not going to be that guy who’s all are you sure because that’s just ridiculous. But he does raise his eyebrows at Derek, who swallows, his eyes going to the lube that Stiles is holding.

Derek nods once, stiffly, and Stiles kisses him.

He tears the lube open with his teeth, and some spreads on his jaw. “Damn it,” he curses, and Derek huffs a laugh and thumbs it away as best he can.

Stiles looks up, catches Derek’s eyes. It’s a tender gesture, Derek’s thumb rubbing against Stiles’s jaw, and Stiles is wary of it at first, but he leans into it. Derek pulls away. They say nothing. 

Before slicking his fingers, Stiles reaches— all awkward limbs— and gathers his hoodie. He bundles it up and gesutres for Derek to shift his hips. Derek bends his knees, plants his feet, and his hips rise erotically, his abs fluttering. Stiles slides the hoodie under him, and Derek lowers himself back down on it, leaving his legs bent. Stiles slicks his fingers and runs them down, traces Derek’s balls, before finding Derek’s hole again.

He bites back a moan, and Derek’s eyes flash when Stiles presses into him. 

Stiles grins. “Damn right,” he gloats. “Feel free to wolf out as much as you’d like. Well, not as much as you’d like. I don’t want to get torn to shreds here.”

Derek looks like he’s going to bite through his own fucking jaw, he’s gritting his teeth so hard, so how he manages to speak Stiles doesn’t know, but he does, and he says, “Stiles, shut up and go.”

Stiles huffs indignantly and mutters, “Bossy bastard,” but he does. Carefully, he works to stretch Derek, slipping knuckle-deep slowly but surely. Derek feels perfect— hot and tight, squeezing Stiles hard. Stiles continues to stretch Derek carefully, but he leans down to kiss the center of Derek’s chest.

“You alright, Man?” he asks, because being more gentle than that would be too much, would give away too much of him.

But Derek releaxes, anyway, seems to hear the genuine concern in Stiles’s voice, and it makes it easier for Stiles, makes it easier for them both. Derek groans, and his body gives slowly. It’s a long time before he’s ready for a second finger, and Stiles is generous with the lube this time. 

Derek’s breath catches in his chest, and Stiles licks at the sweat that builds at the base of his throat. Stiles is hard— harder than he can ever remember being— but he can’t think about it when Derek’s laid out in front of him, twitching and flexing and falling apart. Derek, who Stiles thought was all break and no bend, stretches for him, making a place for Stiles inside of him, and Stiles can’t think, can barely function over the sound of his own heart in his ears.

Derek is never silent by the time Stiles has three fingers in him, he says Stiles’s name over and over and over like a prayer, like a swear. Stiles’s hand shakes, and he tells himself to be slow, to be careful, to be considerate. He tells himself that this is going to take time, more time, but he’s drunk off of the smell and taste of Derek, can still feel the weight of Derek’s dick against his tongue, and he’s worried he might come right then, with three fingers in Derek’s ass, because Stiles’s life is just awkward and unfortunate enough for it to happen.

Derek makes a noise and shoves himself down on Stiles’s fingers, and they both swear at that.

“Stiles— now,” Derek tells him, and that’s all Stiles needs. He doesn’t have the control to draw this out any longer, to deny them any further. He fumbles for his jeans, pulls out his wallet, and takes out a condom. He opens it with his mouth, too. 

He rolls the condom on, then reaches for some more lube. He’s generous with it again, slicking himself up even though the condom's already lubricated. He tries not to notice the way Derek’s eyes flash, the way he looks at Stiles like he wants to devour him. Stiles lines himself up, and he and Derek share a long look before he begins to press in, slowly.

He starts to swear and can’t stop himself, and Derek’s fingers go all the way to his knuckles in the soft soil under them. His eyes are red— bright and shocking— and Stiles mouths at Derek’s jaw absently, trying to think of anything— baseball, his dad, Finstock, Harris, detentions, Gerard Argent, Gerard Argent and Finstock in the locker rooms— to distract himself, to make sure he doesn’t mess this up.

Jesusfuckshit,” he groans when he bottoms out, and Derek is still, his knees bent, his eyes squeezed closed. “Derek— you’re— God. Fuck.” 

Derek just nods emphatically.

They stay like that for a while so Derek can adjust to the feel of Stiles in him, and Stiles is glad not to move. He holds himself up on his hands beside Derek’s shoulders, and sweat runs down his back and beads on his forehead. He rubs it against Derek’s shoulder, then licks it off. Derek groans.

“You good?” Stiles asks when Derek hooks a leg around one of his. 

Derek nods once. “Yeah.” 

Stiles kisses him quickly, and tries rolling his hips. They both groan.

“Oh, God, this is going to be over so fast,” Stiles complains. “I’m apologizing now so you can’t get mad at me later.”

“Stiles,” Derek bites out, sounding wrecked, “I don’t care— just move.”

Stiles doesn’t say anything else, he just moves his hips, thrusting into Derek shallowly, testing. Derek throws his head back again and his hands come up from the dirt and wrap over Stiles’s shoulders, messy. There’s no claws there, not yet, but Derek digs his blunt fingernails into Stiles’s shoulders. The sting is perfect— gives Stiles something to focus on— and Stiles begins to thrust in earnest.

His fucks into Derek methodically, trying to find a perfect angle, secrely wanting to make Derek growl or cry or do something particularly outrageous. Derek’s wanton, raises his hips to meet Stiles’s thrusts, claws at Stiles’s back, hissing through gritted teeth when they get the rhythm right. But when Stiles finds it— finds the angle that does it best— Derek’s jaw goes slack and he sucks in a deep breath and fucking mewls.

And something inside of Stiles snaps.

His hips slam into Derek, who is hard again between them, leaking and ready, and Stiles has to make Derek make that noise again or he’ll go fucking insane. He claws at Derek’s thighs, hitches them up on his hips, and fucks into Derek with all of the strength he can muster. Derek whines and cries and, fuck yes, mewls like a fucking kitten. His hands on Stiles’s shoulders tense, and Stiles can feel the claws when they press into his skin.

Stiles looks up, something dangerous in his eyes, and says, “Do it, fucking do it.”

Derek hisses, and his claws dig into Stiles’s shoulders. Stiles cries out, the pain searing and awful, but his hips slam into Derek’s, and he wraps a hand around Derek’s cock, needing Derek to come, needing to come himself like he’s never needed to come in his life.

Two, three, four pumps of Derek’s cock, and Derek is coming between them, wet and hot and— yes, yes, yes.

“Stiles— yeah, God,” Derek chokes out, and then Stiles is coming hard, his vision going white, his toes curling and everything in his body including his heart and his breath stopping.

He falls against Derek because he can, and they breathe together, panting in the warm night air, their sweat and Derek’s come drying between them. Stiles doesn’t say anything, but this feels like something he’s not quite ready to name yet. He pulls out of Derek, and they both make a noise at the loss. 

“Fuck,” Stiles says after almost twenty minutes of silence. 

Derek makes an affirmative noise in the back of his throat, and Stiles rubs his nose against Derek’s neck, knocks his ankle against Derek’s. A matching set, indeed. Derek brushes a hand over Stiles’s head. 

Stiles falls asleep for a little while— maybe half an hour? Possibly more, probably less.

When he wakes up, he’s on his side, curled into Derek’s shoulder, Derek’s arm under his head and wrapped around him. Derek’s awake, his thumb tracing the deep cuts he made in Stiles’s shoulders.

“That was stupid,” he tells Stiles, and Stiles yawns.

“Whatever, I’ll do worse to you when you top,” he says sleepily. Derek snorts, but he brushes his nose against Stiles’s forehead affectionately.

But, wait. He’s seen a lot of porn and— worse— he’s read a lot of biology books, and there are some things he needs to get straightened before Derek tops.

“Do you have a knot?” he asks, and Derek jerks back a little, looking down at Stiles, confusion on his face.

“A— a what?” he asks, his brow furrowing in a way that Stiles is going to assume is confusion.

“A knot,” Stiles says plainly, like it’s the most obvious thing. “Like, if you stick it in me, is your dick going to swell like a dog’s to, like, breed me or something? Because that might be a deal breaker here in our equal opportunity relationship.”

Oh my God,” Derek groans, and he covers his eyes with his other hand, the one that’s not on Stiles’s back. “Someone needs to take the internet away from you.”

“So, is that a no?” Stiles asks, needing confirmation on this. 

“No, you idiot. I don’t have a knot.”

“Hey, I’m just making sure. That shit could be dangerous, you know.”

“No, I don’t know, because I don’t have a knot.”

“So glad we’ve established this,” Stiles tells him. “I’m going to sleep a lot easier at night.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Yeah, ‘cause you’re a real gem over here.”

Derek snorts. Stiles tries not to focus on the fact that Derek didn’t even flinch when Stiles called this a relationship, but he can’t not focus on it. Because it means something, and for once Stiles doesn’t try and push the meaning away. He and Derek are in a relationship. This, whatever it is, is a relationship. And he’s in it. With Derek.

“Okay, one last thing,” Stiles says through a yawn, and Derek gives him a long-suffering look but doesn’t say anything. Which is basically a green light. “Do werewolves mate?”

“What,” Derek asks, though there’s not much question in his quiet voice.

“Like, does your wolf sniff out some person and hold them hostage and make them stay with you for all time or some bullshit? Are you going to just, like, smell someone some day and decide not to fuck me anymore?”

Derek’s still for a long time and says, “No, that’s not going to happen. We— I mean, we call it mating, because we’re old fashioned, but—”

“But what?” Stiles asks, almost scared to hear the answer.

Derek makes a frustrated noise, like he doesn’t want to say what he’s about to say— like it’s too many words or maybe that the words he’s going to say are too significant, weigh too heavily in his chest. 

“Finding someone, wanting to be with them, asking them to want to be with you— forever,” Derek starts, then chokes himself off, goes silent for a while. 

“Asking?” Stiles asks, and he feels Derek nod. So, apparently, consent is a thing.

Derek says, finally, in a quiet voice, “Isn’t that exactly what humans do?”

Well, Stiles hadn’t thought of that, but now that he does, it’s kind of true.

The moon is bright and pale, and it casts shadows in the corners of the courtyard around them. The earth under them is torn and wounded, and Derek’s shoulder might be scarred forever. Stiles thinks of the last time he was in this courtyard, remembers how he was so certain the world was falling apart under his feet. He still feels that way. This doesn’t feel like a conclusion; it feels like a prologue to something great and terrifying. There are things waiting in the shadows, willing and able to rip them all apart, limb from limb.

But Stiles remembers what Erica said down by the cells, and he thinks she might have had a point. Maybe all they can do is enjoy what time they have left, before the moon goes down and the autumn sun comes up, monsters riding fast on its tail. 

The moon is full and not even a little blue above them, despite its name. Somewhere beneth him and Derek, a wolf howls out, and it sounds like a song.

Stiles falls asleep with his ear to Derek’s heart, and he is happy.