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Scott had allied with the Alphas.

Scott had allied with the Alphas.

Stiles repeated it to himself in time with his footfalls. He was working under theory that by the time he got to the first floor of the stairwell, it would sink in and he’d finally start to believe it.

Scott had allied with the Alphas.

How were Scott and Deucalion even going to get down from the roof? Stiles had been standing in front of the only exit, and had stood and watched as they’d disappeared into the convenient curtain of fog. Were they going to jump off the roof? It was six stories high. There was no way they’d survive that. Scott had said that Derek had only fallen three at the mall, and Derek had nearly died from it.

Maybe they had a Super Secret Alpha Helicopter waiting.

Not that it mattered. Scott had allied himself with the Alphas.

He’d walked away from Stiles.

 

The door to the first floor opened with a loud scraping noise, thrown slightly off its hinges by Scott in his haste to get to the roof. It echoed off the hallways of the deserted hospital, and Stiles winced at the sound even though there was no one here to hear it. Everything was dark. The power must have failed again.

The hallways of the hospital looked simultaneously strange and sickening familiar, with the fluorescent lights overhead switched off. Normally, the only hallways that were darkened at night were the ones in the long term care ward—and even those were only dimmed. Stiles knew those hallways like he knew the taste of formaldehyde on his lips from the kisses he’d planted on his dead mother’s face. But this—this wasn’t even half-lit. It was all shadows and greys.

For a brief moment, Stiles thought that he could hear the clicking of clawed toes across the ground, a shadow running in the corner of his eye, but it was only his imagination. The Alpha Pack had what it wanted, after all. They’d have no reason to hang around.

He passed the elevator.

Derek was still sprawled inside of it, unconscious, and Stiles felt a rise of sharp, burning fury that sent him storming past the elevator and toward the main entrance.

Fuck Derek. Fuck him. He was a fucking Alpha werewolf, supposedly strong and faster and better than all the other werewolves, and he’d let the Darach escape? Why hadn’t he been watching her? Why hadn’t he been holding her down? They’d been trapped in an elevator, literally all he’d had to do was knock her out. But no. Fucking Derek had had to go and fuck up a-fucking-gain and now everything was fucked.  

Derek could lay there and bleed out, for all Stiles cared. Maybe he’d die. Or maybe Derek would wake up and slink off to the sewers and stay there. He could be useful, for once. He could control the county rat problem.

Stiles pushed the main doors open, striding out into the parking lot, only to find that… no one was there.

No one.

Isaac, the rest of the Hales, and the Argents had left. The Alphas were nowhere in sight. And Scott was gone, because he’d allied himself with fucking Deucalion, so it was just Stiles.

And Derek.

“Fucking hell,” Stiles said, and turned around to go back inside.  

 

Derek was out cold.

Derek weighed a ton.

Huffing and puffing and accidentally sending Derek back down to the ground a few times, Stiles eventually managed to get him laid out on a collapsible stretcher. Jesus. At least in the pool, he’d had buoyancy and adrenaline on his side.

“I had better have karma coming out my ass right now,” Stiles panted, and that didn’t actually make sense, but who the hell cared? It wasn’t like anyone had stuck around to hear him not make sense.

He and Derek trundled down the hallway, and as they approached the main entrance, for a moment, Stiles considered running them through the glass walls around the doors. It would be worth it, just for the satisfying crush of glass and the feeling of destruction and anarchy that would shoot through his veins, for the fuck you that was perhaps improperly aimed but still entirely within his rights. God, it would feel good.

But he didn’t run through the glass.

It would probably fail, anyway. It was that kind of night, wasn’t it?

Sighing, Stiles hit the metal handicap button that opened the doors automatically, and passed through quietly.

He was tempted, again, faced with the open expanse of the parking lot, to take a joy ride on the stretcher. He’d been a master IV Pole Joy Rider, years ago; he’d even corralled the interns into wheelchair racing with him once.

On the stretcher, Derek’s head rolled to the other side.

“Oh, now you decide to wake up!” Stiles exploded, pushing the stretcher forward at a rapid, but not quite joy-ride, pace. “That’s just great. Really. Good timing, as always, Derek.”

Derek was still.

“God, I hate you,” Stiles muttered.

He pushed the stretcher to the passenger side of his car, fished out his keys, and unlocked the side door. He opened it, glanced at the unconscious two hundred pounds of flesh on the stretcher, glanced back at the seat, and realized he had no idea how he was going to execute this.

Stiles could just dump Derek in the trunk. Heh.

Or—

Stiles adjusted his position, pulled his arm back, and drove his fist down into the side of Derek’s face with a loud cry of “Time to wake up, asshole!”

Derek grunted, but Stiles mostly wasn’t paying attention because of the pain that exploded up his arm.

“Ow, ow, ow, motherfuck,” he hissed, clutching at his wrist and gnashing his teeth. “Fucking werewolves.”

He really hoped he hadn’t injured it. It was the same arm that had throbbed like a bitch when he’d smashed the bat on the Mighty Morphin’ Alpha Twins, and it was hurting quite a lot more than it had the last time he’d punched Derek in the face, on the floor of Deaton’s office.

On the stretcher, Derek coughed weakly.

Thank the Lord.

“Hey,” said Stiles, watching as Derek’s eyelids fluttered. “Hey, wake up. We’ve got places to be and I’ve got things to do.”

Derek blinked slowly, rolling his head to the side and bringing a hand up to his face. “What…”

“C’mon, asshole. Get up and get in the fucking car.”

Derek blinked again, and then suddenly he stiffened. “Stiles—Jen—the Darach—”

“Yeah, I know,” Stiles snapped, pulling Derek and up and maneuvering him toward the seat. “You let her escape, and now she’s got Scott’s mom as well as my dad, which is just great, because now Scott’s gone and allied himself with the Alpha pack to get her back and we’re here by ourselves. Good job, Derek.”

“What about Cora?”

Stiles stopped, turning to stare at Derek incredulously. “That’s your first question? Seriously? Scott’s in a league with freakin’ Deucalion, and you—ow!”

Derek gripped his arm hard, claws pricking the skin, and gritted out, “What. About. Cora.”

“I don’t know! Jesus, I don’t know, okay? She was alive when Peter and Isaac left with her, and that’s all I know, I swear.”

Derek released his arm with a quiet snarl, and dumped himself back into the passenger seat.

Stiles scowled and backed up until his hip crashed into the stretcher. He bit down on a cry of pain, shoved the stretcher away, and then stormed around to the other side of the Jeep. He pulled out his keys again, threw himself into the driver’s seat, and…

Nothing.

“Well?” said Derek moodily, from where he was slumped in his seat.

Stiles took out his phone, but no, no one had texted him. Not Scott—obviously—or Isaac, or Allison, or even freakin’ Lydia. They’d all run off to do their things, and now Stiles was sitting here in his Jeep with Derek with no idea where to go or what to do.

They’d probably texted Scott. They’d probably asked if he was okay, told him where they were meeting up, sent him encouraging messages with stupid emoticons.

He fired off a mass text demanding info and locked his phone, then slid it under his thigh so he’d feel it vibrate when—if—someone responded.

“What’s the plan?” Derek persisted.

“I don’t know,” Stiles said tightly, pushing the key into the ignition and turning it. “Apparently, no one remembered to tell me.”

“Great,” Derek sighed.

“Yeah,” said Stiles, and he reversed out of the parking spot.

The car was silent as they left the hospital. The entrance sign flickered back to life as they passed, but was out again by the time Stiles turned onto the main road. His wrist throbbed, low and steady.

“Scott left with Deucalion?” Derek asked, sounding almost tentative in the quiet of the car.

“Yeah,” said Stiles. “Deucalion promised that he’d help get his mom back. Since, you know, the Darach got her and everything. Now she has my father and his mother. Only one more. You know that she takes her victims one at a time, right? That’s her MO: she doesn’t take another one until the first one’s dead.”

“She overpowered me,” Derek said tersely. “There was nothing I could have done.”

“Whatever,” Stiles muttered.

He turned off the main road onto a side street. He realized a second too late that it was Heather’s street.

“Where are we going?” Derek asked, after Stiles made a quick right onto a different side street.

“I don’t know,” Stiles said. “I don’t have a plan. No one told me the plan, and I’m not the one who makes up the plans anymore, so right now I’m just gonna drive around until someone deigns to fill me in.”

Derek was quiet.

“I would say ‘Unless you’ve got a better idea’, but it’s you, so I’m not even gonna ask,” Stiles sniped.

“Stiles…”

“Dude, you had one job. One freakin’ job! You’re an Alpha werewolf, how hard is it to restrain one woman—”

“I tried, Stiles. She’s been getting power from the rituals, and she was too strong,” Derek said, cutting him across. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to let it happen.”

Stiles snorted. “Yeah, you never mean to let it happen.”

Red eyes flashed out of the corner of his eye. “I don’t know what you want me to say, Stiles. I tried—”

“I don’t want you to ‘say’, I want you to stop fucking up!” Stiles erupted.

“Did you ever stop to think that we wouldn’t be in this mess at all if you hadn’t held us up with your stupid, useless bat?” Derek snarled, whirling on him. “Or maybe if you’d put in a little effort into keeping Scott instead of letting him go off with Deucalion—”

Stiles slammed on the brakes. “Jesus, you think I didn’t? I ran up six fucking flights of stairs after him, I begged him not to go!”

“You talked him out of immolating himself, Stiles, I’m pretty sure you could have talked him out of an alliance with a psychotic Alpha.”

Stiles jerked back. “Screw you, Derek. You’re gonna use that against me? Really? I told you about that in confidence, you fucking asshole.”

“Like I told you about Kate?” Derek shot back.

“What? Who said anything abou—”

Oh.

Stiles swallowed, desperate to hold on to his anger. “Yeah, well, when you were telling me about her, I thought it was an origin story, not a warning about the girls you like to date!”

Derek snarled.

“And now,” Stiles pushed on, “thanks to you, we’ve got the Darach on the loose with Scott’s mom, and Scott is once again allying with the dark side to save her.”

“At least he’s doing something,” Derek retorted. “It might not be right, but he’s doing something, and knowing Scott, it’ll probably work out in the end. But you? She’s got your dad, and what have you done to save him?”

Fuck y—”

Nothing, Stiles,” Derek said viciously. “You never had a chance in hell of saving him. You’re just the useless human who gets in the way.”

"Fuck you,” Stiles breathed. “Fuck you, fuck you, I fucking tried!

So did I!

“Not hard enough,” Stiles spat.

“No, it’s not enough, it’s never enough,” Derek said furiously. “All I ever do is try, but no matter what I do I’m never strong enough, or smart enough, or in the right place at the right time, and it fails. I always fail.”

“Well, maybe it’d be better if you didn’t try at all,” Stiles said, even as the words resonated deep within him, striking uncomfortable chords with a sickening accuracy.

“I can’t,” Derek said helplessly.

“Yes, you could,” Stiles insisted, desperate even to his own ears. “You could just stop. You could have a normal life.”

“I couldn’t live with myself,” Derek said. “I—I have to help. I have to try.”

“Why?” Stiles demanded, even as his throat tightened and his nose burned sharply. “Why can’t you just stop trying and leave them alone for once? You’ve never any help. You only make things worse, no one even wants you there, you’re worthless, you’re weak, you—”

He choked and threw the Jeep into park, slamming himself back into his seat.

“You just find the bodies,” he whispered, squeezing his eyes shut.

God.

God, he was Derek.

All this time Stiles had spent sneering and laughing at him, when in reality, he was no better. He was the same as Derek. Neither of them would ever win. They weren’t meant to. They were the subplot, the bad example, the people who tried and failed so that people like Scott could succeed.

At least Derek was a werewolf. Stiles was just human. A worthless, weak, pathetic human.

Stiles sucked in a ragged breath and opened his eyes to find Derek staring at him.

Right.

That was how it was going to be. Stiles would try, and he’d fail while Scott would win, and if he lost his father then he’d lose him because hey, at least he wouldn’t be dead. He’d get to live to fail another day.

If Derek had done it for the last however many years, then so could Stiles.

“Sorry,” he forced out, his voice gravelly. “I’m—god, I’m sorry, Derek. Shit. I didn’t mean it.”

“No, it’s—you’re right,” Derek said quietly. “I probably should just stop. But…”

“But you can’t, right?” Stiles said, sniffling as the tears finally receded from his eyes. “Even when they’d all be better off without you.”

“Yeah,” said Derek.

“Yeah.”

The car was quiet, and Stiles sniffled again. He swallowed.

“Okay,” he said, straightening. “Okay. Let’s… go to my house. It’s not like my d-dad is there to kick you out, right? We can shower, and change clothes, and heat up some soup while we wait for someone to tell us what’s going on. And then we’ll go, and we’ll try our hardest even if we’re going to lose anyway.”

"Soup?” Derek asked.

Stiles nodded, pulling the Jeep out of park and starting down the road again. “Yeah. I hope you like Italian wedding, because we’ve got about six gallons in the freezer. Or there’s leftover salmon, I think. But I want soup.”

“Soup sounds good,” Derek agreed.

Stiles hummed in agreement.

“I don’t…” Derek stopped, and exhaled before he continued. “I don’t always fail. You just have to learn to… It’s the small things.”

Stiles snorted. “Oh, great. So Scott gets to become a Big Damn Hero, and what, I console myself with the fact that gas prices are down this week?”

“Gas prices are up this week, actually,” Derek replied.

“Oh my g—it was an example!”

Derek smirked.

“You are such an asshole,” Stiles said, but he couldn’t help the tiny grin that was poking its way onto his face.

“It’s the small things,” Derek said.

Stiles snorted, definitely grinning now, and turned onto his street. He opened his mouth, about to ask Derek if he wanted to shower or eat first, when his phone vibrated right in time with Derek’s.

His stomach dropped, but he braked and pulled out his phone. Beside him, Derek did the same.

Where the hell are you? Get to the derek’s asap we need to regroup and plan our next move

Stiles sighed and thumbed out a response, telling Isaac that they’d be there in fifteen minutes, and slid his phone back under his thigh.

“Sorry,” said Stiles, putting the car in gear and pulling into the first driveway he came to. “I should have figured they’d gone to the loft. Shit.”

“Well. You tried,” Derek offered.

Stiles cracked a smile, and forced himself to ignore the throb of his wrist as he put the car into reverse. “Yeah. Yeah, I guess I did.”