“This… your playing superhero… your hanging around… it’s OVER.” Derek growled, pulling away from the boy’s attempted grasp. He crossed his loft in four long strides, pulling off his slashed and bloodied shirt, throwing it in the corner.
“Derek, let me see.” Ignoring his words, Stiles followed, grimacing at the blood on Derek’s back, shining red-black in the moonlight. The Alpha flinched and moved away when he got close, so Stiles went past into the bathroom and came back with a washcloth.
“Stop it.” Derek batted the boy’s attempt to help away with a swipe of his arm. “It’ll heal.”
Derek hadn’t pulled his strength and Stiles’ arm stung where the bigger man had pushed it away. He ignored the rebuke and took Derek’s shoulder in his hand. “It’s an Alpha claw. It’ll take longer. Now let me help.”
He’d seen the boy wince when he pushed him away and knew he’d hurt him. He hadn’t meant to but the boy was just so damn persistent. Insisting on tagging along tonight. Determined to help. If Derek had been a moment later, it would have been Stiles’ fragile skin and bones that took the wounds that were on his back. He pulled his shoulder away, shrugging out of the boy’s grasp.
“Don’t you get it? I don’t want you here.” Derek couldn’t bring himself to turn around and look at Stiles, but he forced his voice cold and flat. “This summer thing? It’s over. Go home, Stiles.”
His hand hovered unmoving from where Derek had shrugged it off. “No.” His voice cracked and was quieter than the firm denial he’d intended. He knew what Derek was trying to do, but it didn’t hurt any less to hear those words. Stiles swallowed. ”No. You don’t mean it. So you can stop. I’m not going away.” He put his hand solidly on Derek’s shoulder, squeezing gently but firmly. “I’m not leaving you.”
Derek knew he should shake the boy off again, stay firm in his resolve. Save the boy. Send him away. Don’t take no for an answer. It was the only way to be sure… He sighed, defeated, knowing that he couldn’t. “Everyone around me gets hurt,” he said quietly.
“I’m fine.” Stiles rubbed his hand along Derek’s shoulder. “I’m fine Derek.”
“You won’t be.” Derek turned his head. “Not if you stay around me. I can’t keep you safe.”
Stiles pulled on Derek’s shoulder, encouraging him to turn around. Face to face, he stepped close to Derek, his hands moving to rest on the man’s waist. “I’m not asking you to keep me safe.”
Derek couldn’t look at Stiles. Couldn’t bear to see those amber eyes, those lips he’d spent so many hours kissing this past summer. “I can have you, or I can have you safe, but not both. That means you have to leave. Stop hanging around me and the pack and my problems.”
“And so you send me away and I get run over by a truck speeding through a red light. Really safe, right?” Stiles took Derek’s chin in his hand, raising his face to look him in the eye. “There is nothing sure in this world, Derek. You know that. I know that. We’ve both lost… so much. It’s…” Stiles’ mind went back to his coach’s lesson. “Risk versus reward. You’re worth the risk.” He stepped forward and kissed him lightly. “Isn’t it my decision to make?”
“Yes,” Derek said reluctantly, drawing out the word. “Only…”
“I can’t lose you, Stiles. Not you. This thing…” Derek reached up and ran his hand through Stiles’ post-summer longer hair. “I can’t just walk away now that summer’s over. And it’s not fair to you that I don’t. That I keep you tangled up in all this. Just for me.”
Stiles shook his head. “Not just for you.”
“Yeah, but I…” Derek leaned down and pressed their foreheads together. “If you got hurt…” He wrapped the boy in his arms. “What I’m trying to say…” Derek sighed and just held tighter.
Stiles rested his head on Derek’s broad chest, listening to his heart beat hard and fast. “I love you too.”