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Stiles is twenty seven.

He has a job he loves as a supernatural consultant, he has a family who means the world to him, and a werewolf husband who he can’t imagine his life without.

Stiles is twenty seven and married, and he loves his husband. His marriage is fine.

Most of the time.

Actually even that’s an overstatement.

His marriage isn’t fine. Stiles isn’t sure how it happened, but he and Derek aren’t the same. Sometimes Stiles thinks it’s because of what happened the year before when he had to go to the National Supernatural Entities Convention for work. Of course it was a public event, but the speakers were all supernatural.

He was a guest speaker and he had given his speech on the injustice and bias surrounding the adoption and surrogacy laws of other supernatural beings, how it was bullshit that he and his husband couldn’t expand their family because one was a werewolf and the other was a Spark. Especially when there were so many children, human and supernatural alike, that couldn’t be given a home because officials just wouldn’t allow it.

Almost everyone had cheered the speech, except for the select few: the hunters. Some were idiotic enough to protest outside across the street, getting them more publicity and proving the points for the speakers without even realising it. There were those who were quieter though, like how on his way back to his room he had been attacked by one, and he had the scar on his chest to prove it from where she tried to cut his heart out. Sometimes it’s like he can still feel her hands around his throat.

But it wasn’t until months later that they started fighting, and Stiles doesn’t know what to do.

He thinks about divorce sometimes, late at night when Derek is sound asleep next to him. God, it wouldn’t even be so bad if all of that anger had somewhere to go. Like the sex they aren’t having.

He would bring it up with Derek if he thought he would be able to say those words out loud, the thought of asking his husband of nearly five years for a divorce. How after two years of dating, they knew they were going to be it for each other. They’d never said the m-word but it was always lingering in conversation when their family talked about how perfect their relationship was. But Derek had never said it, never said mate.

He loves Derek, even with the distance between them that just seems to keep growing.

Stiles can’t imagine being with anyone other than Derek, and he knows that the fighting is going to stop eventually. They’ll figure it out.

In the meantime Stiles does all he can to stay out of the house. He stays back at the office as subtly as possible to keep working on the solutions to magical accidents, to further his own research, or to make the simple spells and potions that people have bought.

He uses his lunch hour to meditate, rather than bring lunch to the station for both his dad and Derek.

He wakes up earlier to go for a run, instead of eating breakfast with Derek.

Stiles knows that avoiding him is probably part of the problem, but he’s so tired nowadays. Exerting himself physically seems to balance his power, and it scares him. Ever since the attack, his magic has been all over the place; restless and wavering and sometimes nothing at all.

What’s worse is that sometimes he has to ask his co-workers to help with the simplest of things that he, Stiles Stilinski-Hale, once the most powerful Spark of the country, has to limit himself to the basics and ask for help because he just can’t seem to do it.

Stiles comes home to an empty house because Derek is on his last night shift for the week, and Stiles is infinitely grateful for his Friday night alone.

He climbs the stairs, wincing at the squeak despite knowing it was coming. He strips his clothes as soon as he’s in their bathroom, turning the water to the hottest he can stand.

Stiles closes his eyes and tips his head back under the stream, the burn of the water feeling like heaven against his muscles.

When he’s toweling off he catches sight of himself in the mirror, a bruise standing out against his hip. Stiles frowns, trying to think of when he could have banged his hip. He shakes his head with a sigh and decides not to worry about it. He moves away from the mirror before Stiles can really look at himself and see the dark bags under his eyes that he knows are there.

He checks his phone before he gets under the covers, heart aching a little when he sees that there are no messages. Stiles doesn’t know why he expected any different, he hasn’t gotten a text or voicemail from Derek wishing him goodnight for months now.

He can’t even remember the last time they said they loved each other, but it was probably before they started fighting.

He decides that if they can’t fix things by the end of the month, he’ll bring it up. Stiles hopes that it doesn’t have to come to that, but he knows it will be the best thing to do if their anniversary doesn’t work out. It would only take a few days to collect himself enough to ask.

Stiles lays back against his pillow, staring up at the ceiling while he waits for sleep to take him.

He wakes up the next morning feeling like he hasn’t slept at all, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and glaring at the time on the clock. It’s just after six, and with a groan he pulls himself out of bed and goes down into the kitchen, brewing himself a coffee.

He’s sitting at the counter with his laptop when he hears the front door being unlocked. He keeps his eyes on his screen, only turning when he hears Derek let out a sound. He’s standing there in his uniform, staring at Stiles with an unimpressed look on his face.

“You’re awake early.”

“I didn’t sleep well.”

There’s no reply as Derek turns away, and Stiles turns back to his laptop when he hears the hot water system start to run.

 

Stiles is having lunch with Lydia during his shift break and it feels nice to have lunch with his best friend without having to guard himself.

“Stiles, are you sleeping alright? You look exhausted,” Lydia asks.

Stiles looks up from his food, seeing the look of concern on her face. “Yeah man, I’m fine. It’s just my magic.”

It’s not a lie, but it’s not the whole truth either. Having been surrounded by werewolves for a lot of his life, Stiles knows how to avoid being called out for lying, so used to the habit, even if they don’t have supernatural senses. He feels bad about lying to Lydia, but he still isn’t sure if he should tell her how unhappy he is.

He knows he should tell someone, but even the thought of telling Lydia… He knows how badly that would go down. She’d confront Derek, probably in public about it, and then everyone would be involved. Frankly, Stiles isn’t ready for the pack to know that they’re falling apart. He doesn’t want to know what Talia would say, or what his dad would do if he found out his favourite deputy and only son’s marriage was crumbling.

Occasionally he thinks of telling Cora, but he’s sure she already knows. She always knows what’s going on with him and Stiles is sure that if he confirms her suspicions, she’ll confront Derek as well. Just… With more subtlety and threats if he doesn’t tell her what she wants to know.

Stiles?” Lydia repeats, clicking her fingers in front of his face.

“Yeah?”

“I said you should ask Deaton about it,” she pauses. “Are you sure you’re alright? You zoned out for a few minutes.”

“Yeah, yeah I’m fine,” he says. “It’s… It’s a big day, that’s all.”

“Oh, I totally forgot. Happy anniversary!”

Stiles gives her a smile that he hopes looks real. “Five years. Pretty big accomplishment.”

“Are you guys doing anything special?”

Stiles makes a face. “Nah, we just wanted a night to ourselves. We promised to keep the presents a surprise though.”

“What did you get him?”

“You know that watch he’s been eyeing?”

Lydia lets out a low whistle of appreciation, “That was expensive.”

“I’ve been saving.”

“Did you put any charms on it?”

“Just the protective wards.”

That was when his magic started to falter. It was like a tipping point, a few months ago after pushing all his hope and love into the charm, and then suddenly he was unbalanced. He wouldn’t break it either, he needed Derek to have that shield over him in case Stiles really did leave. He would never stop loving him, that much was sure.

Lydia seems so happy it breaks Stiles’ heart that this might be it for them.

He goes back to the office ready to get back to work, when he hears a crash from the back room. Stiles scrambles towards it with Kira, his co-worker and friend from college in tow. What they find is Blake and his rabbit Familiar, covered in different coloured liquids. He was their newest staff member and a freshly graduated witch.

“Jesus, Blake–” Stiles starts, but he falters when he sees the steam start to lift off of his clothes. “Shit okay, you need to strip and get to the hospital.”

Kira is moving forward with her lightning speed, tearing the stained clothes away and preparing to shove him into the emergency shower when she swears. “Stiles, he got some on his skin.”

“Fuck, can you take him to the hospital? I’ll go through the log and see what we lost.”

Kira nods and starts pushing him toward the back door, Blake’s Familiar chasing after them. There’s steam coming off of it as well. He feels bad, even with knowing that Blake’s rabbit is just a physical extension of his magic rather than a real animal. Kira will probably have to replace her car upholstery if the potions transfer.

Stiles stares at the mess and sighs, going to the filing cabinet to find the brewing logs.

It wasn’t long before Kira came back, looking slightly frazzled.

“Blake is going to be in the hospital for a day or two. He said he’s really, really sorry and that it was an accident.”

Stiles nods and looks back up to the shelf, feeling a headache coming on. “He broke the truth serum.”

Kira lets out a groan. “That took me two weeks to make!”

Stiles looks over his shoulder and grimaces at her. “I’d offer to remake it–”

“But your magic is still being weird, I know. What else is gone?” Stiles rips out the page in his notebook and hands it to her and she whistles. “You want to tell Deaton or will I?”

Stiles snorts. “You do it, I’d rather take my chances with the catalog.”

Kira smiles and walks back into the office and Stiles can hear her voice as he writes down the broken vials.

It’s coming up to four o’clock and Kira is finishing with the ingredients that require foxfire when she swears, and Stiles looks up from his desk. “What?”

“I forgot I have to pick Scott up from the airport in like two hours and I’m probably going to be so late, oh my god–”

“Hey, it’s fine, go. I’ll finish up here.”

“Are you sure? I mean your magic is still weird and you really shouldn’t push yourself when you’re not sure of your limits–”

“Kira, go pick up your boyfriend. I’ll only deal with preparing the ingredients, if that makes you feel any better. No application of belief involved.”

“Thank you so much,” Kira smiles.

As soon as the door closes behind her Stiles groans, pulling his phone out of his desk drawer and fights the urge to cry as he texts his husband on the one day he’d rather not stay back on.

To: Derek

Accident at work, will probably be home late. I’m so sorry. (3:52PM)

 

Stiles doesn’t get a reply, not that he expected to, but it would have been nice to get some acknowledgment.

It’s been hours and it’s just passing eight o’clock. Stiles sticks to his promise and only deals with prep. He’s about to start on another when he hears the bell chime.

“Sorry, we’re closed!” He calls out, thinking to himself that he was sure Kira had locked the door. He heads out of the prep room, coming to a halt when he sees his boss. “Deaton, I wasn’t expecting to see you until tomorrow.”

“Neither did I, but Kira texted me that you might still be here. Don’t tell me you forgot about your own anniversary, Stiles.”

“No, no I didn’t forget okay, there’s just so much to do and it’s not like we were planning to go out–”

“Stiles, go home. Enjoy the night with your husband. I can do the rest.”

“Thanks Alan,” Stiles says as he begins to pack his messenger bag. “The list is on the bench, and the dry ingredients are all set out for the simpler ones–”

“I know your system, Stiles. I can take it from here.”

Stiles sends him a smile and rushes out to his jeep, and on his way back he finds that the bakery is still open. Stiles practically falls into the store to buy Derek his favourite cupcake, hoping that Derek will accept it. The woman at the counter smiles and passes it over, and Stiles is driving home in record time.

He’s actually glad he got away from work before it got too late, and Stiles only hopes Derek will be pleased to see that he didn’t completely skip out on their anniversary.

The key slides into the lock as quietly as he can make it, and Stiles pauses when he thinks he hears a noise. He shakes it off and starts to climb the stairs, avoiding the step that creaks, when he hears the sound again.

This time he knows he’s not imagining it and his stomach churns as he hears a matching sound, louder this time, a sound that Stiles would know anywhere.

He fights the urge to vomit as Derek groans like he does during sex, and he hears a woman’s voice encouraging him to go faster.

Stiles can’t even make it the whole way up the stairs and his eyes are drawn to the bra that’s sitting at the top of the floor.

His heart feels like it’s falling through the floorboards as he slowly goes back downstairs, through the door and back into his car, just staring at the wheel. Stiles can’t do anything except fucking sit there because he feels frozen, that sound repeating in his head until he’s moving on autopilot, starting the jeep back up and driving to Lydia’s, knowing she’s not home because she’s on shift at the hospital.

Stiles pretends he’s okay as he unlocks the door with his own key, forcing himself to keep moving and heat up some leftovers he finds in the fridge. He eats it without tasting anything before he’s moving himself to the bathroom, stripping his clothes and turning on the shower.

He knows the water is too hot, but he feels so cold and only then does Sties let himself unravel. He sinks down, clasping his knees tightly and close to his body as he gulps the air down, his tears losing themselves amongst the spray of water as his vision blurs.

Stiles can’t seem to make himself stop sobbing and heaving in the air, not even when the bathroom door opens and Allison comes into his vision, and he thinks he hears her say something as she moves towards him. The shower stops but he’s still shaking, when he feels her arms wrap around his naked and soaking wet body.

“Stiles, breathe with me.”

He struggles to follow her and she swears and moves away, coming back with a paper bag for him to breathe in to.

“Stiles, what’s wrong?” She asks, grabbing one of the thick and fluffy towels to wrap around him. “Come on, let’s get you out of the shower.”

Allison leads him to the bedroom and grabs a pair of spare pajama pants, lifting Stiles’ feet up individually before she pulls them up his legs and talking the whole time. “You know when I got home and saw the empty cartons I thought Lydia might have been sent home early. You’re lucky I wasn’t planning on surprising her with shower sex because Andy’s staying at my parents place or you would have gotten a shock–”

She leads him to the bed, laying him down so his head is on her lap, but still all he can do is cry in her arms because he didn’t think it would hurt like this.

Not at all.

Allison holds him just like Lydia would, which speaks volumes of how long they’ve known each other. She keeps talking about her day and doesn’t ask him what’s wrong even after he runs out of tears. Allison lets him lie there even as he stares forward at the wall, stroking his hair and holding his hand when she runs out of things to say.

 


  

Stiles is fourteen.

It’s his first week of high school, and he’s nervous as hell.

He’s waiting in line for The Test. The Test, where every non-were child and every non-supernaturally influenced child is brought into a room one at a time, to test for potential in magic.

Stiles hates it.

He hates the idea of standing in front of the coven Elders and the emissaries, trying to impress them before they send him away.

Stiles’ best friend is a werewolf, but Stiles remembers the years before he ever met Cora. He was surrounded by humans, nobody had presented as anything other yet. He was eight when she transferred out of homeschooling, smelt the grief rolling off of him, and sat down silently beside him.

For a long time, it was only the two of them. Slowly they expanded as more people presented, or were approved for the bite, but the loneliness still aches like a fresh wound. Whenever Cora sometimes says he can’t come over or hang out because its only for pack night. Stiles knows Lydia because of her, who is always so hesitant around him since she presented as a banshee. Sometimes the way she looks at him makes him wonder if she heard his mom’s last moments, the things that were said.

Stiles hasn’t met the other Hale’s yet, but he’s sure they’re as cool as Cora says.

He doesn’t have any hope of being supernatural though. His dad is plain old human, and his mom was human before she died. Plus, Stiles read that drugs fuck with your system and limit the amount someone can actually cast. So being on the cocktail of anxiety and depression medication since his mom, as well his Adderall for his ADHD, it isn’t looking that great for him.

One of upper school teachers comes out with a clipboard, looking over the students that were told they were being tested for the day. He figures it’s his turn when they do a double take at the roster.

Mie … Uh, Stilinski?”

“Yeah,” Stiles sighs, standing up.

He’s ready to face the disappointment.

They close the door behind him and show him into the gymnasium, before disappearing again.

There’s a long table that seats seven people: there’s four Elders all sitting to the left, the guidance counsellor Miss Morrell, a calm looking man beside her, and a woman with black hair and bright eyes who radiates power.

Beacon County’s druid, an emissary, and Talia Hale, he guesses.

“You’re Stilinski?” One of the Elders ask, eyeing the name that’s on the page in front of them and looking up at him.

Stiles rolls his eyes and tries not to feel hurt. “I go by Stiles.”

Talia smiles at him and he feels his stomach tug under her gaze, making him frown. “You’re Cora and Lydia’s friend?”

“Yep,” he says, popping the p.

“Let’s begin then, shall we?” The same elder asks, and tells him to recite an incantation over a bubbling potion.

Stiles repeats them, and he feels the tips of his fingers go numb.

He ignores it, watching the potion and sighing when nothing happens.

They make him do a variety of things, from trying to make a sapling grow under his palm by saying a word in what he guesses is be Latin, attempting to manipulate the shape of an object with his mind, pour a small circle of mountain ash for Talia to try pass her hand through, and finally drawing runes on a page.

His head buzzes on the last test, and he assumes it’s because he missed his Adderall dose that morning when he was late for school. Stiles has been out of focus all fucking day, he hates it.

“Are we done?” He sighs, passing the paper back over to them, now scribbled with empty runes.

All the witches at the table eye him strangely before they nod, dismissing him. The man, Deaton, and Miss Morrell aren’t paying any attention to him, both looking over the page. Talia Hale is the only one to smile at him on his way out, and he doesn’t know why his instincts are telling him to go up to her.

Stiles pushes it all down and is about to leave the gym, when Deaton speaks up.

“Stiles, come back here for a minute.”

He bites his tongue to stop himself from making a remark, and makes his way back to the middle of the room.

Stiles wonders if he should make a joke about trying out for the cheer team.

“Stiles, are you on any medication?” Morrell asks, expression painfully blank.

“I’m on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds, and I take Adderall for my ADHD,” he grits out.

Letting a bunch of strangers know how fucked up he is doesn’t make the list of highlights for the day.

Deaton tilts his head to the side. “Did you forget to take any recently?”

“Um… I think I forgot to take my Adderall this morning because I slept through my alarm.”

Everyone shares a look at the table and he feels twitchy all over.

“Look, I thought you said we were done? Can I go?”

“We want to try one last test today, Stiles,” Morrell smiles. “Can you think of the two closest people to you, who you care for the deepest?”

“Marin–” Talia starts, throwing her a confused look.

“Not just think about them, Mr Stilinski,” Deaton adds. “Think of when you’ve really needed them and they haven’t been there for you. You have to really believe in what you think.”

Stiles pulls a face before he lets out a breath. “Alright.”

He doesn’t want to think of all the times his dad got called into a work emergency when he promised they’d spend time together, or when Cora had pack stuff to work on so she couldn’t hang out with him, and he doesn’t want to think about not being invited to the Hale house because werewolves were pretty private people, because it hurts.

They told him to think about it though, and believe it. Believing in what he thinks isn’t Stiles’ problem, because he knows he talks too much.

He wishes they could be with him more, because it hurts every time they can’t do something with him, or sleep over when his dad works the late or overnight shift. He wishes they were around more, or that his dad still took him to the station on his way to work the days he was able to pick Stiles up from school.

He wishes he still had his mom.

Stiles is pulled out of his thoughts when the gymnasium door slams against the wall, and the senior teacher trying to tell a student that he’s in the middle of The Test.

The table are all staring at him with shocked eyes and Talia has risen slightly from her chair, her eyes a bright red and looking ready to pounce. Stiles turns around to see who’s interrupting when he’s nearly tackled to the ground by Cora, with shining gold eyes.

The Elders start trying to speak over each other, when Stiles’ phone rings and shocks them all into silence.

Stiles digs his phone out of his pocket and sees his dad calling, answering with a frown.

“Dad, what’s wrong? Why are you calling me when I’m in school?”

“Stiles–” His dad says with a shaky breathe. “I’m sorry, something just felt… I needed to make sure you were okay. I don’t know, it felt like something was wrong.”

“Dad, I’m fine. You’re lucky you called me now and not later, I was finishing my Test.”

“How did it go?”

Stiles looks over to the table, seeing that they’ve all dissolved into quiet, furious chatter.

“Uh, I’ll let you know? Bye Dad.”

“Love you,” his dad says before he hangs up.

Stiles tucks his phone back into his pockets and turns back to the table, where Cora is now standing with Talia, her face confused and just a bit scared.

“Can someone tell me what’s going on?” He snaps, after five minutes of being talked about but not to.

The table goes quiet and they all turn to him. Stiles feels like he’s a bug under a microscope. Or maybe a magnifying glass under the sun’s beam.

“You… Have the potential to become very powerful,” one of the Elders articulates slowly.

Stiles averts his eyes, resisting the urge to bite at his cuticles. “Am I magic or not?”

Deaton and Morrell both try to hide their smiles and Talia doesn’t bother hiding her scoff of laughter behind a cough. Morrell holds up the sheet of runes, meeting his eyes.

“These aren’t supposed to be very powerful Tests, Stiles. Each of them are a different skill set on the typical magic people have, for beginners, so the only reason why we didn’t catch on earlier was because your medication is blocking your particular essence.”

“So, what?”

“My brother and I thought we felt something the moment you walked through that door. The only reason you didn’t succeed with all the other tests is because you didn’t believe you could. You thought you were destined to fail, so you did.”

Stiles is trying to make sense of the words, cracking his knuckles in between his fingers while he thinks over everything he’s binge read on Wikipedia. “I’ve never read about there being any type of magic that can work like that though.”

Deaton smiles, glancing over at the werewolves before back to Stiles. “You’re someone incredibly rare, Stiles. I know you all learn about the Great Hunt in history class, but do you know how many kinds are endangered?”

“Over fifty,” Stiles answers.

“There hasn’t been the discovery of a new Spark in over thirty years.”

Stiles swallows passed the lump in his throat. “How… How many of us are there?”

“In America there’s only about 34 of you. In the world? Maybe 2000.”

“Oh,” Stiles says weakly.

“The question we have now though, is who you want to train with. You’re capable of learning with any of us,” Morrell tells him, gesturing with a sweeping motion along the table.

He looks between all of them, and his eyes land on Talia and his friend, and he knows where he wants to be.

“I’d like to train with Deaton,” Stiles says, trying to sound as definite as a fourteen year old can be.

“Are you certain? You’ll have certain points with apprenticing all of us for your growth, but an emissary is hardly worth someone of your potential–” An elder tries, only to be cut off by Talia’s low grow.

“I’m sure. I want to train with Deaton.”

Deaton nods with a small smile and turns his gaze to Talia.

Cora is grinning widely and Talia holds her head high and proud.

“Welcome to the Hale pack, Stiles.”

 


 

Eventually Stiles falls asleep, but when he wakes up, it’s to the sound of hushed whispers from his best friends.

“So he wouldn’t tell you what was wrong?”

“Lyds, he could hardly speak. I don’t have a fucking clue what happened, but it was bad. He couldn’t stop crying.”

A few moments later Stiles feels the mattress dip, Allison draping her arm back around him as Lydia comes into his view as she climbs onto the bed. Lydia lies down in front of him, taking Allison’s hand on her waist and cupping Stiles’ face as she stares into his eyes. “Hey, you okay?”

Stiles shakes his head minutely and Lydia frowns.

“Stiles, what’s wrong? What happened?”

Stiles goes to open his mouth but he stops, not trusting his voice. Allison’s voice comes from behind him, “Derek said you stayed late at work again last night… Did you get laid off?”

Stiles finds his voice pretty quickly after that, but it’s croaky and hoarse from all the crying. “No, nothing like that… I– last night...”

“Did Derek get pissed at you for being late? I know he wanted to surprise you with dinner.”

Stiles lets out a horrible noise that’s a mix between a laugh and a sob. “He surprised me, he definitely did that. I… Deaton sent me home early, and I– I got in and he– he was with someone.”

Their silence says it all.

“Please say something. Please, Lyds. Ally.”

“Derek… Derek is having an affair?”

“Yes Lydia, I just said that, thanks for repeating possibly the second worst sentence in my life.”

“Sorry– How… Do you know who?”

Stiles shakes his head. “I didn’t see her face. I got the hell out of there as fast as I could.”

“Does Derek know you know?” Allison asks hesitantly.

He shakes his head again. “No. I… I wanted to surprise him. God, I didn’t even get to give him the watch, it’s still in my fucking car, and it was the one thing I wanted to give him if we couldn’t fix things–”

“You… I thought you guys were okay?”

Stiles looks away from Lydia’s wide eyes, swallowing against the lump in his throat. “I was going to ask him for a divorce.”

“But–”

“We kept fighting and fighting. I love him, I love him so much, but I haven’t been able to do anything right, no matter how hard I try. I can’t even remember the last time we said ‘I love you’.”

“Shit,” Lydia breathes.

Stiles sees her look over Stiles’ shoulder to Allison, and her face does something complicated that Stiles can’t interpret in his current state. “Yeah. I was… I was going to try and build up the courage to ask in the next few days if– who am I kidding, I probably wouldn’t have asked anyway. I thought if I could put if off for longer, things might change and we– we could go back to how we used to be.”

Lydia is silent for a few moments and she rests her forehead against Stiles’. “What do you want to do?”

“Can… I know it’s a lot to ask, but can I stay here for a while? Just a few days, I promise. Please.”

Allison and Lydia both rush to answer.

“Stiles, you know we would never say no–”

“How is that a lot to ask? Jesus Stiles, you’re like my brother.”

“–what are you going to tell him?”

“I… I’ll tell him I’m going to the conference early. He won’t care.”

He feels Allison kiss the back of his head. “I’m going to make you two some breakfast, okay? Just rest. You’ve got to go to work soon.”

Stiles sees her reach over him as she places his phone in Lydia’s hand, her hand lingering on Stiles’ shoulder before she disappears. Lydia watches at him for a few moments before she passes it over, and Stiles stares at the dark screen before he unlocks it and scrolls to Derek’s contact.

He takes a deep breath before he presses the call button, holding it in his lungs as it connects. Really, Stiles should have waited until it wasn’t seven in the morning, but he would be up this time if he was at home anyway. His heart skips when he hear Derek’s voicemail message, at least a little thankful he doesn’t have to deal with him over the phone.

“Hey Derek, I’m sorry I didn’t come home last night, I had to sort out a lot of things after Blake’s accident. I probably won’t be home anytime soon either, Deaton wanted me to head over to the convention early to check that they had everything sorted with the new security measures. I– I’ll see you when I get home. Um… call me, or text really, either one, I– I love you, Derek. Bye.”

He ends the call and Lydia squeezes his bicep gently to say everything that Stiles knows she can’t, after all these years. Stiles leans forward and tucks his head under Lydia’s chin to breath in that grounding scent that’s always been in his life, as kids and as best friends, it’s a smell that’s always been a comfort.

When Stiles leaves for work he tries not to think of Derek, especially not later when he approaches Deaton on his lunch break. “Hey boss man, I was thinking–”

“That’s a dangerous pastime for you, Stiles.”

Ha, funny Deaton, but really I was thinking, maybe… because the N-SEC is soon, I should go early? Check out the new security measures and start networking before you and Kira come down. That way we won’t have as tough of a time with some groups…?”

A thoughtful expression crosses Deaton’s face and Stiles tries not to squirm under his scrutiny. Not only is Deaton his tutor and boss, but he’s his mother-in-law’s other emissary. And therefore his emissary, considering he’s not the only one in the pack.

But then Deaton gives a considering noise and starts to nod. “I think you might be right on this one, Stiles. Are you sure you’ll be okay on your own?”

“Yeah, totally fine. Totally. They love me down there. Well, almost everyone.”

“I know we booked the flights but do you think you could drive? If we could save the money–”

Stiles is already nodding along, talking over the top of him. “No, yeah, definitely, that’s a great idea. We’re in the same hotel right?”

Deaton nods and finds the information packets, passing them over to Stiles with a curious look. Stiles tries to ignore it, instead thanking him and pouring over the files until it’s five in the afternoon, driving back to Lydia and Allison’s.

They both look up when he walks in and he nods faintly, sitting down on the couch with a loud thump.

“Do you need anything?”

“Could you go and pack my things from the house? Derek should be on shift…”

Lydia nods and gives him a gentle smile, stealing Stiles’ keys from him and kissing Allison on her way out. She curls up next to Stiles and presses play on the remote, letting the episode of whatever they were watching resume.

He feels numb as he stares, barely even noticing when Lydia comes back in with a suitcase and dinner. Stiles knows that Lydia is staring and he smiles weakly, accepting the carton of food he’s given.  

It’s tense as they eat, the background sounds of the television filling the silence until eventually Lydia puts her food down and stares at Stiles.

“Stiles, you know how much I love you. You’re my brother. Please don’t let him drive you away, okay? We need you here– I need you here.”

“Lydia, there’s not a person in this entire world who could drive me away from you, or from my dad, or from Cora… From Allison and the pack– I’m dedicated, man. You know I could never leave you guys.”

He feels Allison’s eyes on him before she reaches out to hold his hand. “Call us when you get there.”

“Call me every fucking day, Stiles,” Lydia adds.

“I will. Thank you both.”

 

Stiles drives with the music blasting, using it as a distraction to keep him out of his own head and stay focused on the road in front of him. He makes a list of the all the things he has to do; sign in a few days early; check up with the new security measures; network with the other guest speakers and crowd members to try and resolve any issues they might have had previously; email out the list of damaged goods from the accident to the clients it might have involved.

He’s in his room before he knows it, collapsing down onto the bed and digging out his phone to dial Lydia and Allison. He calls Lydia’s mobile first, and it’s picked up on the first ring. As soon as he hears Lydia’s voice he feels lighter, letting it wash over him in this unfamiliar room.

Stiles, are you there? ” She repeats.

“Yeah Lyds, yeah I’m here,” he rushes.

Did you have a good drive?

“It was fine. I took the scenic route.”

He hears Lydia let out a quiet laugh before he hears her say something muffled, like she’s holding the phone away before it’s clear again. “Your dad is here, he wants to talk to you.

“Shit– Lydia, did you tell him?”

No, I didn’t. He just wants to talk, okay? Oh my god.

Stiles smiles at his exasperation, but then he hears his dad’s voice and he only wishes he cancelled his invitation as one of the speakers. “You didn’t say goodbye, son.

“It was really last minute, dad. You know how these things are.”

He can hear his dad sigh, but he knows what’s coming.

Are you going to be alright at that conference? After last year, I just don’t want anything to happen to you. Especially because you don’t have Deaton there–

“Dad, it will be fine! They know me around here, they know what we stand for. Trust me okay, every human will have had thorough background checks and each hunter that’s allowed to attend will have a security member on them at all times. Everyone has really put in their all to make this a safer place.”

His dad pauses, but when he speaks next Stiles hears how proud he is. “ I know you’ll knock them dead.

“I love you.”

I love you too, kiddo.

There’s a moment where the phone is passed back to Lydia, and she takes a moment before he breaks the silence. “Are you sure you’ll be okay? After last year…

“Lydia, what is one woman going to do to me? She was banned, and so was every connection they linked to her. I’m perfectly safe, believe me. It feels… It feels safe.”

Can you trust your power at a time like this?

“Lyds...”

I’m sorry, I’m worried. We all are. I love you, don’t forget that.

Stiles is quiet for a few seconds before he can find words that aren’t harsh. Lydia doesn’t deserve his lashing out. “Just because one person broke my heart doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten everyone else, you know that.”

Stiles–

“I know. I love you too.”

I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

She hangs up and Stiles lets his arm flop against the mattress, heaving a sigh as he closes his eyes after the long day he spent driving.

The next few days pass by in a blur, but it’s good to keep him on task. Being so busy makes Stiles focus and when the other speakers begin to arrive he greets them like old friends, which most of them are.

When he picks Deaton and Kira up from the airport, Kira is excited. Stiles feels himself smile as he drives while she talks non-stop, her enthusiasm catching on.

He had worn off of the initial excitement after the second year he attended, even when he was asked to speak. He’d been too stressed and nervous to be excited. Derek had been excited for him instead. Just as equally proud too as Stiles had been told, when his boyfriend of two years had stood up and given his speech; ‘How to be an Emissary’s Apprentice: The What Not to Do Guide’.

Stiles had been a hit, much to his disbelief. They’d invited him back the next year, and Derek had come as well, not wanting to let his new husband out of his sight.

But Stiles still calls Lydia and Allison every day too, just like he promised, no matter how frustrated he gets from rushing back and forth each day.

He considers texting Derek but every time his fingers hover over the keypad, he can’t bring himself to type anything unless it’s telling him to be safe at work. Stiles ends up taking the hint when Derek replies in either one word answers or never.

As the days get closer to his speech, he starts to get nervous. The benefit of pre-writing his speech means that he has more time to familiarise himself with it, but he can’t seem to shake his nerves this time. He’s not sure why, but he knows that all the werewolves can smell it when he keeps their company.

When it’s finally time for him to stand at that podium, he takes a deep breath and fakes it. The wolves might be able to smell his nerves, but the others can’t.

Stiles tilts his head up, plastering on a smile and does what he does best: talk.

“Well, for those of you who don’t know me or it’s your first time attending, I want to welcome you here today. It’s been a long week, I’m sure you can all agree. This year I figured I wouldn’t tempt fate, even with the extra security measures, and the fact that legislation passed the bill to allow supernatural couples the same parental rights as non-magically-influencing-or-influenced individuals. I don’t know if any of you expected to see me after the events that happened last year, but I’m sure most of you all know by now that I’m like a parasite to this thing. At least something good came out of being attacked.”

There are a few titters and awkward laughs and Stiles knows he’s not the only one smiling. Most of them are in this together, no matter what species.

“Are you Familiar with your magical pets?”

He pauses, and there’s a moment where the penny drops and he hears the room either laugh or snort at the joke. He doesn’t even need to look at his notes, he’s got this entire thing memorised.

“Actually, it’s funny now that I think about it because we had an incident regarding one of our witches and his Familiar, where he ended up in hospital because of a spill. Well, it’s not funny that he ended up in hospital, but just that the two things seems to coincide. Now, I know most witches and Sparks have Familiars, but most people confuse the two. A witch’s Familiar is the physical extension of their power, and is a rite of passage when their official training finishes.

“Sparks, as most of you know, despite our rarity, have the opportunity to create our own bond and Familiar as well. It’s less of a physical manifestation and more of a way to increase our power, I guess you could say. It all comes down to that fundamental belief which we work upon, and that belief can’t be manifested in the way like a witch’s’ can. It would already have to be something living, like an actual animal. One of my professors back at the University loved the irony of a black cat, for example.”

Stiles smirks when he hears the laughter, looking over the crowd until he finds Kira and Deaton. Both look exceptionally proud, and Kira looks like she’s hanging off the edge of her seat.

“Now is when I’d usually bore half of you by reaffirming my speech and bringing up experiences with my husband, but–”

Stiles feels the lump in his throat as soon as he says it, and he looks down at the podium when he thinks he can feel their eyes touching him. His gaze is drawn to the gold band wrapped around his ring finger, and Stiles tears his eyes away from his wedding ring and towards his palm cards.

“I– um…”

Stiles flicks through his cards, if only to reassure himself. God, why did he have to fumble? He knows he can save it, and he takes a deep breath and looks back up, ignoring the tightness in his chest.

“But I won’t be doing that today.”

 


 

Stiles is seventeen.

It’s the last month of summer break before his final year of high school and he’s been home for about a week since his most recent training with one of California’s High Elders, which was probably one of the best sessions Stiles has had overall because they tried different learning techniques and went with what worked best, instead of doing it one way until everyone in the coven was too frustrated to deal with trying to force his power any longer.

Now he’s home and in the middle of the preserve with Talia and Laura, watching his alpha try and teach Laura to sense magic. That’s what Stiles is for. Deaton trusts him enough to hurl silent spells at one of his pack sisters, in an effort for her to learn the defensive on something she can’t see. It’s fantastic. The first time he’d given her a warning, telling her he was about to send one at her, so she smirked and told him to bring it on. She’d been thrown against a tree while Talia tried to hide her laughter.

When Stiles first started training, he would have never believed he was capable of this. Especially when he was told he’d have to be weaned off his medication and onto weaker ones that wouldn’t restrain his magic. That was one of the hardest things he’s done. But Stiles is mostly okay now. Mostly. Laura falls flat on her face this time.

“Laura,” Talia sighs.

“I’m trying, Mom,” Laura growls, groaning up the sky. “It’s like he’s making them follow me when I try and dodge!”

“You can feel the energies coming towards you, can’t you?” Stiles asks.

Laura glares at him and he smiles innocently, but their expression both drop when Talia stands in the middle of the clearing.

“Mom, what are you doing?”

“I’m demonstrating.”

“Talia–”

“Go on, Stiles. Hit me.” She shrugs, and Stiles lets out a pained breath before he complies.

He can see the shift in the air as the energy flies towards her, but then Talia ducks and rolls to the side in the blink of an eye, and Stiles frowns. Stiles knew she could dodge it, and there’s a smirk on her face that he hopes he can wipe off. He loves Talia, he does, but now it feels like real training. Sorry, Laura, he thinks. He sends another one at her, and another, before Stiles shoots one towards her that he knows will follow. Talia’s eyes widen when she obviously sense it coming back towards her, and she sprints towards the outline of the trees. She weaves between two trees and the spell hits it with a glow. Talia is laughing when she comes up to him, putting her hand on his neck in a comforting gesture.

“You’re getting better every day,” she says proudly.

“What– Mom!” Laura says incredulously and Stiles pokes his tongue at her. “If I tackled one of the others you wouldn’t congratulate me!”

“That’s because you’re twenty five years old, dear. Stiles has only been learning for three years.”

“What if I tackled Derek when he comes home?”

It’s the one Hale he hasn’t met yet, too busy finishing his Master’s at Columbia. That, and whenever he does come home Stiles seems to be staying with whatever coven he’s training with. He’s seen pictures, sure, but they’re of when he was in high school. He calls sometimes, but seeing as Stiles doesn’t really know him, he figures it’d be weird to randomly start talking to him when he’s calling to speak to his family, even if they are pack.

“Then it’s your own fault if you get scratched,” Talia sighs, raising an eyebrow at her daughter.

Laura sighs dramatically and lies back down on the grass. A shiver rushes up Stiles’ spine and distracts him from what Talia is in the middle of saying, when the hair on his neck prickles. There’s nothing that Stiles can see over his shoulders, but it has Talia watching him when he looks back.

“Stiles?”

Stiles is ready to dismiss the feeling, when Talia looks over his shoulder and starts to growl.

“Did you feel it too?” He asks, unsure if it’s him being paranoid, or if it’s from one of the trip lines on the edge the preserve that Deaton made him to practice as soon as he came home.

“Laura, take Stiles back to the house. Tell everyone to stay in their homes.”

“Mom, what’s going on?” Laura gets up and is by their side in an instant, worry plastered all over her face.

Talia shakes her head, her eyes flaring red. “Go, I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Laura nods, pulling him along.

“Laura, just wait–”

“No, Stiles. We’re going back to the house, where you’re going to–”

A loud bang cuts her off, and they barely manage to exchange a glance before they’re both running towards it. Stiles can feel an energy pulsing out from the direction they’re running in, almost like it’s drawing him in. They run by a fallen tree and as Stiles runs passed it he feels like it’s crying out in pain. There’s something else he can feel which he’s never encountered before, but he doesn’t stop to try and parse out the difference between the pain of the tree and the energy surrounding it. He can ask Deaton or the Elders later. They come upon Talia in her full shift, teeth bared and facing off with another alpha. Stiles has seen Talia in her full shift before, but this time he’d be terrified to be on the other end of it. The other alpha turns her eyes to him and Laura and then back to Talia, snarling through her fangs.

“Alpha Hale. What a warm welcoming committee,” she says, pulling back her shift until she’s standing straight with her shoulders squared. “I need your help.”

She looks wild and desperate, but she’s holding herself as if she’s in control.

The cracking sounds of shifting bones fills the air, before Talia is standing protectively in front of Stiles and Laura and as naked as the day she was born. Neither of them were prepared for Talia to shift so they don’t have any spare clothes handy, but after several years of being in the pack, he’s gotten used to nudity when it happens.

“Kali, you’re not welcome here. Last I heard, you were off trying to steal Ennis’ pack,” Talia says bluntly, tilting her head.

Her eyes flash brilliant red and her lip twitches in a restrained snarl, before Kali bares her neck. “It’s my mate, Julia Baccari. She’s… She been hurt. I thought your emissary could try and heal her.”

Stiles can feel Talia’s unease, but there’s no way for him to know if this stranger is telling the truth. There was no way that his Alpha would tell him in front of a possible threat. She’d keep the cards close to her chest until they were alone.

“Will you be able to get Julia to the veterinary clinic?  

Kali nods quickly and runs off in the other direction, and Stiles is about to open his mouth when Talia holds up a hand to stop him. Stiles realises that she’s waiting until Kali is out of range before she turns to face them. It’s quick enough that not even Laura can dodge it when her hands come up and slap them around the side of the head. “I swear to god, I tell you both to go back to the house and what do you do instead? Charge right into danger!”

“Mom–”

“Talia–”

“No, don’t try and reason your way out of it. It could have been anyone out there, okay? What if it was a hunter? What if Kali had her whole pack with her? Consider both yourselves lucky she didn’t try go for Stiles!”

Laura’s face pales and she looks to him with eyes. “Would she have attacked him?”

“If she was feeling threatened, probably. If she finds out about him, they’ll be on our doorstep.”

“Why?” Stiles asks shakily. “Why would they– I’m not special, I’m just going to be emissary with Deaton–”

“Stiles, you know you’re more than that,” Talia sighs and brings her hand to cup his face. “If she finds out how powerful you are, she’ll try to take you away. It wouldn’t be the first time she’s tried to steal a pack member.”

“You mean Ennis?” Laura asks.

Talia shakes her head and starts walking them back through the preserve, picking up shredded clothes and her shoes along the way. “I mean your brother.”

What?

“Wait, what?”

“It’s why he transferred out of Stanford in his first year. He had her betas following him constantly, among other things. When her emissary tried to slip something into his drink to make him susceptible to Kali’s influence, he decided to move somewhere that didn’t have territory issues.”

“Was she telling the truth?” Stiles asks. “About her mate?”

“There wasn’t a lie, but I still don’t trust her,” Talia sighs.

Laura laughs incredulously before her eyes flare gold in anger. “You’re giving her the benefit of the doubt? After what she tried with Derek?”

“You’ll understand when you find your mate, Laura.”

“Yeah, I know, you’ve told me before how it feels, but that doesn’t mean that she can–”

Laura,” Talia warns. “We wait until Julia is healed. If she tries anything, we’ll be prepared. Think you can handle some of that, Stiles?”

He nods, because although it’s kind of a worrying situation, it will be good practice for protecting his family. “Should I message the others?”

“Yes, but tell them to be careful around town and always travel in pairs. I need them all to be safe.”

Stiles nods and pulls out his phone, compiling a mass text to the pack.

“Why couldn’t Kali’s emissary help her mate?” Laura asks once they get back to the house.

“Her emissary is her mate, Laura.” Laura goes silent and Talia picks out the first slip on dress she finds, pulling her shoes back onto her feet. “I need you to stay here with Cora. Stiles and I will go to the clinic. I’ll make sure he gets home safely and that his dad knows about the situation.”

Stiles follows her out and gets into the car silently, his mind racing through weak points within the territory and possible hiding spots, defensive and offensive spells he knows, how to strengthen the few protective wards he’s learnt so far around pack member’s houses–

Talia’s hand on his knee jerks him out of his planning and he sees they’re already near the clinic and although her eyes are on the road, her brows are furrowed. “Are you alright?”

“I don’t know if I can do this,” he tells her truthfully, knowing he can’t lie to her. “There’s so much I still haven’t learnt and–”

“Mieczysław Stilinski,” Stiles winces, knowing she never uses his name unless it’s serious. “Even if something comes of this, I have absolute faith in you. Your belief is something only you can understand, Stiles. You can do anything if you believe you can.”

“That’s not what some of the state Elders think,” he mutters.

“Well the Elders who said that are incredibly stupid. They have to realise they can’t control you or your power. There is no limit to what you can do, I don’t think you’ve realised that yet.”

“That’s why she’d want me, isn’t it?”

Talia glances at him and back to the road and the car starts moving again before she nods. “Yes.”

“And you want me in a room with her? Why ?”

“She won’t be able to tell what you are, barely anyone has met a Spark in real life. If we’re lucky, she’ll leave town with her mate thinking you’re a druid being trained to be Laura’s emissary when the time comes for me to step down as Alpha.”

Stiles nods belatedly as they pull up at the clinic, trying not to trip over his own feet as he gets out of the car. They’re the first ones to arrive judging by the slight lift in Deaton’s brow that’s probably confusion. Stiles is never going to try and have the same composure as his mentor. “I thought you were practicing with Laura today?”

“We have visitors,” Talia enunciates carefully. “Kali’s mate has been injured–”

The door slams open and Kali enters, holding her mate in her arms. Stiles is subtly moved out of the way by Talia, keeping him shielded behind her so Stiles only sees her dark hair resting against the alpha’s shoulder. “You’re the emissary?”

Deaton nods, opening the small gate of rowan oak. “If you step into the back, I’ll see what I can do. Do you know what caused her affliction?”

Stiles follows Talia as they all move into the back room, keeping to the edges and out of Kali’s direct line of sight.

“No, I– we were on our way to her parent’s house and she just collapsed–”

Talia catches his eye and he sees her hand clench into a fist. She’s lying.

“Stiles, can you check her temperature for me?” Deaton asks casually, having caught the movements.

“I don’t want him touching her,” Kali growls.

“He’s my student,” Deaton explains gently. “He needs to learn how to help other emissaries when it’s his turn to step up.”

Quick thinking on Deaton’s part, Stiles thinks. It’s more of an opportunity for Stiles to search for her illness and intent through touch. It’s something Deaton has been trying to teach him since he first started apprenticing, but since Deaton couldn’t actually do it himself, Stiles has been relying on his faith to help him. Kali looks back and forth from Deaton and Stiles to her mate before she concedes. “Fine.”

Stiles steps forward, placing the back of his hand on Julia’s forehead. He can catch flashes of feeling, pain and love and anger, when he feels something start to curl around his mind like a fog, trying to push him out and pull him in at the same time. The unease he hits him like back in the preserve, passing the fallen tree on his way to Talia. It makes him feel cold in his own skin, a shiver running down his spine. 

He pulls his hand back too quickly and looks to Deaton, voice shaking from the unease. “She’s too warm.”

Deaton nods, and Talia must catch his unease that he tries to hide from Kali. “Stiles, do I need to take you home? Your dad must be wondering where you are.”

Not true. His dad knew he was with Talia. Talia who had also left out that his dad was the Sheriff.

“Remind Cora that she has a lesson tomorrow,” Deaton smiles as Stiles passes him.

Also not true. Tomorrow was Stiles’ day, but if he wasn’t allowed to go places alone…

“Is that all?” Kali asks with a growl. “I thought you said he had to learn to help.”

Talia’s shoulders go tense as she turns around, and Stiles has no choice but to go back into the room.

It should be easy to follow Deaton’s directions and look like he knows what he’s doing, but he can’t get over that fear in his mind that Kali knows. It keeps nudging him every time he moves, passing Deaton the things he asks for. It would be a good learning experience if it wasn’t for how terrified he was that he had completely fucked their chances of resolving this without revealing himself. Deaton stands back eventually, nodding to himself and turning to Kali. “Your mate is fine, Kali. Julia has only exerted herself too much with her magic.”

“Is that possible?”

Stiles knows that his face turns into something that’s supposed to be an expression of disbelief, but the question is so stupid to him that he looks to Deaton, seeing his eyebrows are raised and he’s clearly biting his tongue.

“Our magic comes from the earth, Kali. There are times when we may overestimate our abilities, and the spell draws from us in order to provide what we couldn’t. I think we should be thankful whatever she was doing didn’t kill her.”

Kali looks to Julia on the table and nods, fingers hesitantly curling around her mate’s ankle like she’s afraid to touch her anywhere else.

Talia pull Stiles out of the room and quietly leads him back to the car, not saying a word until they’re driving away. “What did you feel?”

“I don’t trust them. It was… I think she knew I was there. In her head, I mean,” Stiles tells her, picking at a loose thread on the cuff of his shirt. “It felt like she was trying to latch on to me.”

“Fuck,” Talia hisses, turning too fast around a corner. “If she tells Kali when she wakes up…”

“How could she know? How would she be able to do that?”

“Stiles, I only have a limited knowledge on magic. Druids are supposed to keep the balance. They aren’t like the witches. Kali was lying about her collapsing so suddenly, so whatever it is… I think you need to be careful. We can have Peter tail your dad, or we can–”

“Nobody is going to be tailing my dad! They wouldn’t attack a public figure like that–”

“Stiles, I am a public figure!”

“A... A human public… Figure?”

Talia rolls her eyes and sighs, turning into his street. “I need you to promise me that you won’t go looking for trouble. You’ll always be with someone from the pack and all visits will be your house or our house. Deal?”

Stiles pulls a face and agrees reluctantly, opening the door once she pulls up at his house. She’s waiting for him to get inside the house before she drives back home, but then Stiles remembers the other feeling he had gotten and he rushes back to the car.

“When Laura and I were trying to find you in the preserve, we ran by this fallen tree and it felt like it was calling out in pain–”

“You can feel that from the trees?” Talia asks, impressed and incredulous mixing together as one.

“Yeah, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Well it is, but I forgot to ask Deaton what I meant and then Kali was there and then Julia at the clinic–”

“Stiles.”

Right. So basically when I touched Julia I felt the same energy that surrounded that tree? And the first time I didn’t really stop to try and figure out what it was because we didn’t know what was happening, but she had that same energy and I just didn’t recognise it until I checked her. It was… It wasn’t pure like Deaton’s is? It felt like it was… Evil. That tree suffered and there was no reason for it to feel that type of pain–”

Talia’s eyes widen and her mouth falls open and she blinks dazedly, watching him not and not cutting him off, why isn’t she cutting me off yet, he thinks.

“Stiles, you have to promise to stay away from Julia when she wakes up. No matter what,” Talia whispers when he finally shuts himself up, and Stiles sees her claws dig into the steering wheel.

“What is it?”

She’s scaring him, but that’s probably the point.

“I don’t know how I didn’t see it before, but any emissary willing to drug someone else’s pack member, an alpha’s son no less, I– it was right in front of me. She’s not a pure druid, Stiles. Julia’s a darach. That’s how she could feel you in her mind.”

“Deaton is still with them,” Stiles breathes, and Talia swears and starts the car.

“Get in your house and lock all the doors and windows, now. Seal the property with ash.” Her eyes glow red at the order and he runs inside as she speeds off.

Sealing the property is the first thing he does, followed by locking every lockable entry point into the house. The house is empty of the only other occupant, which Stiles is both thankful and scared for. His dad means the world to him, comes before the pack and if Stiles lost him– Stiles wouldn’t lose him. He tries to occupy himself by rereading his books but all Stiles ends up doing it staring at the first page on the entries about darachs. Words stick in his mind, repeating over and over even after he’s closed the book, forcing himself downstairs when he realises that it’s gotten dark and he still hasn’t eaten.

Dark oak. Twisted.

Ability to manipulate thoughts.

Stiles doesn’t want to sleep without knowing his dad is safe, so he pulls out of his pocket and frowns at the screen when it says he has eight missed calls from Talia, all from the past hour. His phone wasn’t on silent, and even if it was it would have vibrated–

The number turns to nine without even having a call flash up on the screen and Stiles feels like he can’t breathe when he stretches out his senses and realises that the mountain ash line is broken.

No, is the last thing Stiles thinks as something blunt slams into the back of his skull.

  

Chapter Text

 

Stiles is seventeen.

His head is throbbing with pain, but the only thought he has is gratefulness that his dad wasn’t at home.

He was at work, which meant he was safe. The rest of the pack isn’t here, which means that they’re safe too.

Stiles tries to reach to touch the back of his head, but he can’t move his hands from whatever they’re tied to. He opens his eyes through the heaviness he feels, but all that surrounds him is darkness. The air is freezing cold despite it being summer and the back of Stiles’ head feels wet which he knows isn’t good for him. A concussion, most likely, he hopes. He opens his mouth to speak but then he starts to cough, his body heaving from the strain from his position. When Stiles finally stops coughing and looks up, there are two eyes glowing red through the darkness.

“Stiles is an interesting name,” Kali muses with a faint laugh.

The eyes come closer to him and he tries to push himself back into whatever is restraining him, but it digs into his arms and back painfully. “Let me go,” he demands. “I’m the last person you want joining your pack.”

Kali laughs and she kneels down to his level, running her fingers through his hair. He can feel her taking the pain away and that’s the last thing he wants right now. “You’ll want to join me by the time we’re through with you.”

Stiles spits at her and she growls, pressing her fingers against where his head had been pounding before. The pain comes back more intensely than before and he cries out even as she moves her hand away.

“My mate wants to meet you,” she tells him. She sounds so smug but he can barely focus through the pain.

He thinks he hears a door open and then he hears a voice that isn’t Kali’s, and he looks up to see a light from a torch that almost burns his eyes at the sudden brightness of it. On the other side is Julia awake and smiling at him, a dark gleam in her eyes. “Hey there, Stiles. Nice to meet you in person.”

Stiles snarls, almost as good as any wolf. “Go to hell.”

Julia smiles and reaches for his face and he flinches away, but it doesn’t stop her from gripping his chin firmly. He can feel her in his head, like a slow drifting fog that it had been before. “Tell me about your pack.”

Stiles grits his teeth and tries to shove through the fog, but it gets heavier and he can barely grasp at his own thoughts to anchor him.

“I think you and I are going to have a great time together, Stiles. You’ll be begging to join us in the end.”

Stiles tries to close his eyes at the onslaught of images, but it doesn’t stop him from seeing it.

His dad.

Talia.

Cora.

Laura, Peter, Robert, Lydia, Allison, Erica, Isaac and Boyd, all of them, flashing through his mind.

Stiles cries out at what he sees, he can’t stop it, can’t stop the images of them dying in every way he’s feared. Burning to death in their home, strung up by hunters, twisted creatures killing them for no reason other than to kill, skins twisted inside out–

He has no idea how long it drags on, but no one comes out of the darkness to help him. Sometimes he thinks he feels himself moving but he can’t focus on anything but the visions, can distantly hear laughter and conversations about moving, but the only thing he can try to do is close down and keep his eyes shut, because at least that restricts his surroundings to one nightmare at a time. Otherwise they’re all around him and he can’t breathe–

The images stop and he opens his eyes and tries to blink through the tears, but what Stiles sees is worse than anything else she could have done.

He can see that they're somewhere else now, but his mom is standing before him, her eyes just as he remembers and she bends down to cup his face. She smiles and Stiles wants his pack more than ever.

Julia doesn’t make it stop though, she makes his mom whisper comforting words and wrapping her arms around him to bring him up into a hug he can’t feel because she’s not real and he just wishes he was free of his binding. He doesn’t want for anything other than to be free. Julia says something he doesn’t hear before she leaves him again, but she leaves the hallucination there.

As soon as he’s in darkness again something about her twists, and her kind words smooth into everything he fears, everything he’s still afraid of.

Worthless. Useless.

You killed me.

You’re killing your dad.

Wishes you had died instead of me, Stiles. He hates you lived while I died.

It’s all said in her soft voice, the one Claudia would use if he had a nightmare and couldn’t sleep in his own room, and it makes him want to just… Stop.

He wishes he were numb, because the pounding in his head increases the more the hallucination of his mother says over the ringing in his ears, but he knows it isn’t real, he can’t– he can’t trust her.

Please, he begs, putting every inch of his heart into the shrinking pool of heat in his chest. Please make her stop.

Stiles loses track of time in the darkness and with his mom whispering in his ear, he barely notices when Julia and Kali come in to check on him and give him water. He thinks they move him again but it just feels like needles are repeatedly stabbing into his skin.

It’s on the day that Julia slaps him that he focuses on someone other than the words she says. Stiles blinks up through the shining light, and he just hates with every fibre of his being.

The door slams open and Kali is shifted, looking from Stiles to Julia. “We have to go. They’re coming.”

“I thought we were going to see this one through–” Julia protests.

“I’m not losing you. Let them keep him,” Kali snarls.

“If we can find a way to siphon his power–”

Stiles wants them to be able to hurt for taking him away from his pack, his family, and it scares him. He knows it’s something he shouldn’t be thinking, but after all his thoughts being whispered in his ear by his mom’s voice, he just wants it all to end. If he were dead, it would be over. He tries to believe it with everything he can, even if the voice whispers that he can’t make that happen, he’s too weak to see it through to the end, but then he hears the faint echo of a howl. He looks up to the ceiling when he hears it again, this time closer. They were coming for him. His family. Stiles feels himself smiling through his exhaustion, and he feels a warmth in his chest that he thought had disappeared.

Kali grabs Julia’s hand and pulls her along and they’re going to leave Stiles alone. The mirage of Claudia hasn’t disappeared yet and it makes the warmth in his chest grow to what feels like it could be a fire, trying to believe that she was gone. She vanishes suddenly and Julia made a pained noise, stumbling and falling to her knees on the stairs. Kali turned her eyes on him and snarls, picking up her mate to keep going.

Stiles knew as soon as they were gone that the pack would find him, and Stiles just wants to believe that they wouldn’t try this again. He knew it wasn’t true, but he tried to trust in it before he hears a scream ring through his head, too loud and too consuming to do anything other than pass out.

 

Stiles wakes in a hospital bed surrounded by pack and the county Elders, all of them looking a mix of worried and curious.

“Take it easy, Stiles,” Talia orders from bedside his bed, while a nurse goes about checking his temperature. “You’ve had a pretty nasty concussion, dehydration and starvation for the past couple of days.”

“How long?” He whispers.

She sighs and casts a hesitant look towards his dad.. “They had you almost a week.”

Stiles swears it was longer. Or shorter. It was all just a blur.

“If Julia was manipulating your thoughts, you could have thought you were in there for as long as they wanted,” Deaton says gently.

“What– where are they?” He asks, looking to everyone.

“You don’t remember?” His dad asks, his face pale as he holds his hand.

“The last thing I remember was someone screaming,” he admits and looks at Lydia.

Lydia shrugs and shakes her head. “It wasn’t me.”

“It was Julia screaming.” Talia sighs, coming over to his bedside and putting her hand on his dad’s shoulder. “What was the last thing you thought before you heard the scream?”

“That something like this would never happen again.” Looks are traded between everyone and Stiles frowns. “Why? What are you hiding from me?”

“You… You stripped Kali of her power.”

“What? Is that– how is that even possible?”

“How many times have we tried to tell you how powerful you can be?” Deaton shares a look with Talia.

“Maybe you should listen to your Alpha and emissary when they tell you you’re stronger than you think you are,” one of the Elders says with a gentle smile.

“I stripped someone of their Alpha power,” Stiles laughs quietly in disbelief.

His dad clears his throat and squeezes his hand gently. “You stripped her of her whole wolf, Stiles.”

I did what?”

Everyone is silent and he can feel himself start to shake, unable to comprehend.

“But you can’t– you can’t take someone’s wolf away!” He yells to the room, but they don’t seem to care. “It’s impossible!”

“Well apparently not, considering somehow you managed to strip a born werewolf of–”

Stiles knows he’s going to be sick as soon as he hears it, and he tries to get up to get to the bathroom but there are several hands trying to make him go back into bed. Stiles’ knees give out and he throws up on the floor and a several shoes, but he doesn’t care. His mom was right about one thing in what she had said to him. Stiles is a monster.

Someone lifts him up and takes him to the bathroom, but even with his stomach churning he can’t bring anything else up. All he feels it shock. A damp cloth is pressed to his mouth, and he looks up to see his dad standing in front of him and Talia by the door.

“What’s going to happen now?”

“You’re going to be discharged, and we’re going home.” His dad sighs and gives him a comforting touch on the shoulder, but Stiles can see the tiredness in his eyes.

“But what I did–”

“Stiles, you listen to me right now,” Talia orders quietly. “What you did doesn’t make you a bad person. If you hadn’t done what you did, however you did it, it stopped Kali from ever being able to do this kind of thing again.”

“She was a born wolf,” he whispers.

“And now she’s human. What you can do can be frightening, but you’re still learning how to control your powers and no one can blame you for that. You stopped a bad person from destroying more lives.”

“Where are they now?”

“They’re back in Palo Alto. Kali isn’t much of a threat anymore and Julia is under the strict surveillance by their Elders and police force,” his dad tells him. “I could have lost you, kiddo. I’m not going to let you feel bad for doing something that had to be done.”

Stiles goes quiet and nods, because he knows that they’re trying to make him feel better. It’s probably worse because he knows they’re both right, he just can’t get over what he’s done. Stiles knows he’ll be okay about it eventually, even be proud of himself.

But right now all he feels is disgust.

 


 

Stiles collapses onto his hotel room bed while Kira keeps circling the room. She’s talking about how amazing he was and how incredible the whole experience was, but it just flies over his head. She throws herself onto the mattress and stares at him expectantly.

“Sorry, what did you say? I’m kind of out of it.”

“I said we should go to that bar that’s near here. You said you’ve been there before, right?”

“Oh. Yeah, Deaton and I usually go after I do my spot.”

“Then let’s go! It’ll be like college all over again.”

“Kira is right Stiles, we should keep to tradition,” Deaton says in amusement from the armchair he’s sitting in, not having a kitsune hovering over him.

Fine,” he groans playfully.

Kira smiles and pulls him up by the arm, Deaton rising from his chair. The walk to the bar is easy, and Deaton buys the celebratory round like he usually does for Stiles’ hard work, but soon Deaton is watching Stiles and Kira are talking loudly over the music that’s playing.

“No, no that doesn’t make sense,” Stiles says loudly after more than a few drinks in.

He’s definitely drunk, and he couldn’t be more delighted. He’s worked hard, he deserves this and he barely ever gets to get drunk. He’s too drunk tonight, that he knows. He keeps feeling like he’s waking from dreams at certain points, but Stiles doesn’t notice his lapse of full consciousness, and it’s clear that neither do Kira or Deaton. Usually he doesn’t drink because he rarely has the time, and for Stiles it was a lot more fun to nurse the hungover werewolf in his bed than be the one with the hangover.

“Yes it does!” Kira shrieks, her cheeks flushed. She’s not as drunk as he is unfortunately, because of her supernatural metabolism. She’s had more than he has to combat her physiology though.

Stiles frowns, shaking his head wildly.

“No, nope, I’d know if I had a Familiar. And my husband is certainly not it.”

“But he’s a wolf!”

“Derek is a werewolf, there’s a difference,” he exaggerates. He needs more alcohol if he’s going to be talking about Derek. He gets up to go to the bar, but he realises how much he misjudged his soberness. His legs buckle under him and sits back down, shaking his head. “Bad idea, standing is bad.”

Kira starts to laugh and she goes to stand. “I’ll get the next one.”

“No! Deaton...”

“Yes, Stiles?”

He doesn’t even seem drunk at all. Stiles opens his mouth to say it, but he sees Deaton still nursing his second one.

You… You are supposed to cut me off.”

“You seemed like you needed it.”

Stiles makes a face and presses his head back against the wall. He’s hit that point during of intoxication where it all seems to slow down, and he feels his mood dropping rapidly. “I… I want to sleep.”

He closes his eyes, just for a second, and when Stiles opens them again he’s in a bed and there’s sun shining through his window. Stiles groans and turns over, burying his head under his pillow. There’s a knock on his door and he whines when he hears the door open. He doesn’t take his head out from under the pillow, but Deaton’s voice reaches his ears anyway.

“We’re going to call a cab to the airport, just so you know. Kira figured it would be kinder than making you drive us considering your condition.”

Stiles groans again in response.

“Take the next week off, Stiles,” Deaton says. “You’ve been looking ill the whole time we’ve been here. You deserve some time off.”

Stiles can practically hear the smirk in his voice before he hears the door close, and then he reaches blindly for his phone. Once he feels the rectangle in his fingers he pulls it close, unlocking it to see the screen on his and Derek’s text log. Stiles feels his heart plummet at what he sees on the most recent message.

To: Derek

I love you (1:19AM)

 

There’s no response, and Stiles isn’t sure which is worse; that he was obviously too drunk to remember texting his husband, or that his husband didn’t reply.

He blinks his rubs the tears out of his eyes and winces when spots appear in his vision. He can feel his stomach churning and Stiles ends up throwing himself out of bed to reach the bathroom in time to empty his guts in the toilet bowl. Stiles is incapacitated in bed for almost the whole day, besides when forces himself to get food and water.

When he drives home the next day, he focuses solely on driving and road rules, leaving no room for thoughts of his family, or Derek. Especially Derek. 

Stiles drives to his dad’s house as soon as he enters Beacon Hills, pulling up with a grimace at the thought of the welcome home dinner that awaits him. Slowly, he gets out of the car and walks up to the front door, swallowing down his fear and sliding the key into the lock. As soon as the door sweeps open, Cora is immediately wrapping her arms around him and hugging him tightly.

“I missed you,” she whispers into Stiles’ neck.

Stiles hugs him back just as tightly, taking in the smells of his home and of his family, of the hot food that’s waiting for him. When Cora lets go it’s reluctantly, and they walk through to the kitchen where his dad smiles and hugs him tightly. He wants to cry at the feeling of being wrapped up in his dad’s arms, it’s something he knew would keep him together when all he wanted to do was fall apart. “We all watched the stream of your speech, kiddo. It was brilliant.”

Stiles pulls away and gives him a weak smile, because after his stumble he was alright. He only had to read off of his cards once before he was back into the swing of things, and didn’t mention Derek again. It had taken him off guard, he keeps telling himself. There’s a loud shriek of his name that’s the tell-tale sign of an impending werewolf child, and Stiles holds his arms out as Lydia and Allison’s four year old daughter Andy jumps into his arms, giggling loudly.

“Uncle Stiles, you’re home!”

“Woah, look at how big you’ve gotten! I wasn’t even gone that long!”

She rubs her tiny face in his neck and it tugs at his heart, and not for the first time he wishes he could have his own kids. He knows that anyone in the pack would offer to be surrogate, the same way Isaac offered to donate for Allison and Lydia to start their IVF, but with everything that's happening... He knows it wouldn't be fair.

“You were gone for ages,” Andy murmurs into his neck, her arms wrapped around him tightly.

“Come on, let’s go say hi to everyone else.”

Everyone greets him with a smile or a hug; Lydia, Allison, Laura, the Hale pack. Stiles is almost thankful that Derek isn’t there, because it means that he doesn’t have to see him pretend like he cares, or even confront that Stiles ‘missed’ their anniversary. He gives Andy over to Boyd, who she always declares as her favourite uncle after Derek.

He’s grabbing a beer for his dad out of the fridge when he hears the front door being opened, and he walks out to the hallway in confusion, stopping dead when he hears that voice.

“I saw Stiles’ jeep outside, did someone at least tell him I was at work?”

When he sees the khaki coloured uniform come through the door Stiles feels short of breath, and that only continues when he hears Derek keeps talking, and he’s frozen there like an idiot watching him close the door and turn around. He comes to a halt, staring at Stiles with wide eyes.

“You’re back–”

It’s only then that Stiles sees Derek, who is walking towards him with a soft smile on his face. Stiles’ heart feels like it’s caught in his throat, after wanting for so long to see that look on his face again, to see his husband again, not some stranger with his face, and he’s smilingAt Stiles, like it was Stiles he was happy to see. Stiles barely feels his arms circle around him though, barely feels it as Derek holds him flush against his body before he presses their lips together gently, his warm hand cupping Stiles’ face.

“God, I missed you so much,” Derek whispers with glowing eyes when he pulls away.

Even his voice is reverent and Stiles forces himself to smile through the confusion and pain. He knows his smile is too tight and too forced, but Derek doesn’t even seem to notice, just looking over Stiles with adoring eyes. Stiles lets Derek pull him outside, his hand practically locked in Derek’s grasp, until they get outside and he goes to get himself some food. Derek even kisses his cheek before they separate, and Stiles sits himself down beside Lydia. Lydia looks downright homicidal, and the look that Allison gives Stiles is more subtly restrained anger.

“I don’t–” He attempts, but he can’t find the words.

Neither can they, by the looks of things. By the time the evening wraps up, Stiles has barely said anything to anyone of his own accord. He’d only spoken when someone asked him something or tried to have a conversation with him, but he was so distracted by the change of behaviour that he gives Lydia his keys to drive him home. Everyone accepted that it was post-conference blues, but his mind was working too quickly and then just stopped thought completely, he didn’t know how to act.

Lydia talked for the whole drive, avoiding conversation about Derek, more on Allison who was following behind them. They got out of the jeep quickly when they parked in the driveway, Stiles hugging her goodbye before she got into Allison’s car and waved goodbye.

As soon as Stiles crossed the threshold of his house, he feels the air shift by an inch from the door being being shut and closing into the protective wards. With a sigh he walks up the stairs to their bedroom, furiously trying to avoid looking at their bed. Stiles has unpacked his suitcase and in the middle of his shower when he hears Derek close the bedroom door, and he braces himself for the uncertainty of the situation. There’s a moment of confusion when he doesn’t feel the wards open to Derek coming inside, but he’s distracted by the knock on the door. Stiles is hoping that his shower would give him time to think, but Derek’s voice cuts through the rush of water.

“Stiles, are you okay? You were kind of quiet back at your dad’s.”

He sighs and turns the water off, closing his eyes as he wraps the towel around his waist. Stepping out and opening the door for Derek, Stiles swallows down his surprise when he looks exactly the same as he had back at the house. Honestly, Stiles doesn’t know what he was expecting. There’s still that soft look in his eyes too, but it’s full of concern and Stiles doesn’t know why.

“Yeah, I’m just tired.” He couldn’t say he was fine, not if he would be lying to Derek. He isn’t fine and he hasn’t been for months, but how could he tell Derek that when his heart would surely skip?

Derek’s lips tilt up in a soft smile, but Stiles turns towards the sink to brush his teeth. He tries not notice Derek staring at him in the reflection of the mirror, determined to keep his attention on cleaning his teeth. It’s just as he’s spitting into the basin when he feels the brush of Derek’s fingers along his back, gentle and fleeting, and he rinses his mouth quickly and stands back up when there’s a nose skimming across his shoulder and up his neck, caressing his bond bite.

Stiles represses the shiver he feels, an automatic response to whenever Derek used to scent mark him. There’s a lump in his throat that he swallows down, closing his eyes when he feels his warm chest press against his back and hands skim across his hips.

“How did you get those bruises?”

“What?” Stiles asks, opening his eyes to see his reflection sporting several dark bruises along his hips. “I must have gotten them when Kira and Deaton were helping me back to my room. I was pretty wasted.”

Derek hums and presses soft kisses into the skin of his neck. “I miss you,” Derek whispers into his skin. “I feel like I haven’t seen you in months.”

Stiles turns around awkwardly, trying to step away, but Derek presses him against the counter and devours his mouth in a kiss. Stiles is so taken aback that he finds himself hungrily returning the kiss without a second thought.

He’s missed him, Stiles has missed Derek so much, this Derek, his Derek, and it feels all too right to bury himself into it, the scent of home and his husband, while Derek’s fingers slide lower and under his towel. Stiles is so consumed by the feeling before he turns his head and tries to catch his breath but Derek keeps kissing his face, mouthing over his jaw and down his neck. He’s flustered for about five seconds before he puts his hand on Derek’s chest and pushes him away, gently as he can.

“Stiles?” He asks quietly, and he looks so broken that Stiles doesn’t know what to do.

“Not tonight, Derek. I’m exhausted.”

Derek nods, pressing a kiss to Stiles’ forehead. “I wish I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow.”

Stiles clenches his jaw as he tries to smiling, hating himself for how easily he was prepared to fall back into bed with Derek. He would have too, if it had been before their anniversary. But now Stiles could barely look at Derek without feeling like his heart was being ripped out of his chest. That kiss felt like it had been everything he wanted, and Stiles feels his skin burning from the lingering touches.

Stiles leaves Derek in the bathroom while he goes back into their bedroom, grabbing his clean pyjama pants from his draw and pulling them up quickly after removing the towel. He slips under the covers quickly, but he’s tense and he feels queasy just from being in the same bed that she had been in. Stiles knows he has to stop thinking about it because otherwise he’ll actually be sick, but the thought it there in the forefront of his mind as Derek slips in beside him and shifts close to him, draping an arm over Stiles’ stomach and resting his head against his shoulder.

“Goodnight Stiles,” Derek sighs tiredly.

“Yeah. Sleep well,” he whispers.

He lies there for what feels like hours, unable to sleep but wanting desperately to sleep. Eventually Stiles lifts Derek’s arm off of him and moves away from him gently, folding the covers back over Derek’s sleeping body, his eyes lingering over the scar of his magic that marks Derek's skin. The thing is, that Derek always looked so peaceful when he was asleep. Stiles knows he’s anything but nowadays, and he can see how Derek’s mouth twists in discomfort and his nostrils begin to flare from his recurring nightmares. Stiles frowns as the tips of Derek’s ears begin to extend, his brow slowly drawing together in a scowl before they start to disappear as he shifts in his sleep.

He used to be able to wake him up from the dreams, but Stiles never seemed to be able to anymore, no matter how much he begged Derek to wake up. They’d both been in tears the first time he hadn’t come out of it, and now Stiles watches him miserably before leaving their bedroom, walking downstairs with his laptop and sitting himself down on the couch.

He pulls the blanket off of the back of the chair and drapes it over him before opening up his emails.

 


 

Stiles is eighteen.

He’s staying at the Hale house with Cora because his dad has to go out of town for a conference.

So, Stiles needed somewhere to live, and there’s really no better place than with the Hales. The school year is nearing an end and Stiles is worried about graduation and finals and his magic studies, but he’s happy.

He’s slowly been setting up wards throughout the territory since he was confident enough to use his power again, but even that’s a slow process. He wants to be able to protect his family when he’s not around, so he turned to defensive and protective magic. At first Stiles was terrified of what he could do, but he’s slowly been coming to terms with himself again.

The phone rings and he hears Robert answer it, and next to him Cora goes stiff from what she must hear on the other line.

Cora reaches for the remote and changes the channel to the news station, and it makes Stiles go cold.

–nce a powerful Alpha werewolf, sources claim that she was turned human in the previous year through self-defence of a newly discovered Spark in a nearby territory, prompting her to try and reclaim her life as a were-creature. Once again for those just tuning in, Alpha Kali in the Palo Alto area was found dead in a local park early this morning from what appears to be a bite rejection. So far there has been no word from her mate.

 


 

“Stiles, what are you doing down here?”

Stiles opens his eyes with a sigh, blinking against the harsh light to see Derek looming over him. “What?”

“You slept on the couch?”

“Oh,” Stiles says, blearily taking note of his laptop on the coffee table. “I couldn’t sleep. You were having another nightmare.”

Stiles feels his heart twist as Derek’s face falls, closing his eyes when Derek runs his fingers through his hair. “I’m sorry.”

“Not your fault,” he replies tiredly. He probably stayed awake well into the early morning, and he could feel it after what could only be a few hours of rest.

“I was going to go see Deaton after work to ask if there was anything we could do about it.”

Stiles is still half asleep, and he makes a humming noise to acknowledge Derek. “That’s a great idea,” he mumbles.

He thinks he hears Derek huff a laugh before he feels lips press against his head. “I’ve got to go to work, you just sleep, okay?”

“Mmm, great plan.” Stiles doesn’t even hear the front door close before he’s fast asleep. When he wakes again, it’s to a heavy feeling in his stomach and Derek’s words repeating in his head. See Deaton after work.

It’s like an echo in his mind, and it’s just filling the gaps in his head with all the possibilities that don’t involve going to see Deaton. He could be going anywhere, to see anyone, and all Stiles wants is for those thoughts to stop, to take a heavy object to his head and bash it out of his brain, leaving a pool of blood on the white tiled floor, with his skull split open–

Stiles pushes those things away from his mind, not knowing where the hell they could have come from.

It’s not the first time he’s had a sudden thought like that, but it’s the first time it’s been so detailed and vivid and real. It only started to happen after Stiles started to lose control of his power, and at that point he’d been so busy with things leading up to the conference that he’d completely forgotten to ask Deaton about it. He decides he’ll ask when he gets back to work and with a sigh Stiles gets off of the sofa and stumbles his way through the house into the kitchen, groaning when he sees the time on the oven is only 9:03. Not even an hour since Derek left for the station.

The coffee machine sounds like a drill in his head and he rubs the sleep from his eyes, pouring himself a hot cup when it’s done.

The day passes slower than he’d like, and he uses the time to clean the house. It keeps him distracted, methodically putting away all the dishes and putting clothes in the washing before he goes to fold the clean laundry and put them away. It’s only as he’s putting away his own clothes that he feels his breath leave him, the piece of red lace sticking out from under his own clothes. Stiles knows what his underwear looks like, and he knows what his lingerie looked like, especially because his never lasts whenever he had decided to wear them. Derek basically shreds them when he starts to lose control.

He blinks against the sting in his eyes and he shoves his clothes into his draw without caring that he’d spent so much time folding them.

Stiles almost trips down the stairs in his haste, when he feels something in the back of his mind whispering and he shoves it away and tells his head to fuck off because he can’t deal with it trying to twist the situation into worse than it is. He’s out the door before he knows it, feeling his magic twist as it begins to unbalance but he ignores it and wrenches open the passenger side door to his jeep. He wouldn’t be able to drive right now even if he wanted to but he couldn’t be in that house any longer by himself, not without knowing what else he might find. Just how much did Derek really miss him? How long had Derek been going behind his back–

Why couldn’t have Derek just talked to him?

Stiles knows there’s tears running down his face and he wipes his nose on his sleeve, thumping his head back against the headrest. He stares at the garage door for what feels like hours, his lip trembling as he tries to keep from crying again.

There’s a strange pulsing in the air of the car that Stiles only begins to feel when he starts to close his eyes out of exhaustion, frowning at how it sounds like it's humming in the air. He searches for the source, but it’s not in his glove box or in the back of the car. He finds the source of it under the seat, his fingers closing around the edges of what feels like a box. He scoffs when he sees it’s Derek’s anniversary present, opening it up with a bitter twitch of his lips.

The watch stares up at him and he reaches out to remove it from the placing, but as soon as his fingers touch the metal, it’s like there’s a surge of electricity and warmth travelling up his arm.

Stiles jerks his hand back with a pained gasp, staring down at the present. That shouldn’t have happened, he wasn’t a threat, so why the hell did his wards react like that? Stiles reaches down for it again, hesitating as his holds his hand above it. Fuck it, he thinks, putting his entire hand down onto it. He braces himself for another shock, but nothing happens when his skin makes contact with the watch. Stiles lifts it out of the box, looking over it carefully. He traces over the etchings he made into the back of it, all the way through the metal band.

Stiles feels the power under his hands and he finds himself smiling sadly when he feels the magic latch onto him as the source of its power. He can feel the belief he poured into it, how much love and care he pushed into those wards and the moments of vulnerability that came afterwards, the ones he hadn’t been able to push away for once because of his fear and worry of his marriage. His vulnerability was what had shifted his power, he’s sure of it.

Stiles’ whole head feels clear for once, clearer than it has been in far too long. Even though it was for Derek, Stiles puts it on his own wrist. All of a sudden it feels like he’s normal again, like his power is whole, and he finds himself laughing hysterically for a few seconds.

He sniffs and wipes his nose again and gets out of his jeep, closing the door behind him with a sigh. Stiles knows his hand is shaking as he opens the front door, but when it closes behind him with a click Stiles finds himself stopping in the middle of the entryway. The whole house was silent, which wasn’t entirely unfamiliar but it was eerily quiet. Stiles stands there for several minutes, trying to figure out what was different. Nothing seemed out of place, and Stiles shakes his head, figuring it was his weariness from the lack of a whole night’s sleep. Stiles refuses to go back up into their bedroom, instead taking refuge in the kitchen and pulling out the steak to have for dinner.

After the sun has long since set, Stiles is still waiting for Derek to come home. He hasn’t messaged him because he knows he probably won’t get a reply, even if he has seen Deaton like he said he would. Even then, Derek finished his shift at four, and Deaton wouldn’t take longer than an hour or two if it was truly something to worry about. Eventually Stiles resigns himself to eating dinner alone, keeping Derek’s plate wrapped in foil and in the oven so it doesn’t get cold. Stiles is in the bathroom when he hears the front door slam shut, and he spits his toothpaste out and rinses his mouth, trying not to flinch when the bedroom door swings open with much more force than is needed.

Derek storms into the bedroom, his hands going to his belt as he strips his clothes quickly as he comes into the bathroom. Derek ignores him completely as he gets into the shower, and Stiles nods to himself as he goes back into their room. He stares at the bed, unsure if he can actually make himself get under the covers, when Derek comes out of the bathroom with a towel draped around his hips. It would be such a sight if his heart wasn’t trying to cripple him where he stood. Stiles can’t help it, he needs something, just anything that can make him get into his bed.

“So… How was work?” He asks nervously.

“Usual.”

Great. Back to one word replies. Stiles purses his lips, going about picking Derek’s clothes off of the floor. He’s never sloppy, even after a long day at work. Stiles has no idea what’s going on with him. “Is that it? Did you go and see Deaton about your nightmares?”

“No.”

“No?”

No, Stiles, I didn’t go see Deaton. I was busy.”

Stiles felt his heart drop at the confirmation. He’d gone and seen her. That was why he was so late. But why the hell he was pissed at Stiles, Stiles couldn’t figure out. “Busy? With what?”

Stiles knew he shouldn’t have asked, but he can’t help himself. He just– god, why would Derek be so happy to see him and then do a complete one eighty turn around in his mood?

“I was with a friend. They haven’t been in town for a while, they needed someone to show them around.”

If Stiles didn’t know Derek as well as he did, he wouldn’t have known it was a lie. Even know, there’s no sign in Derek’s face that he’s lying. It’s like he’s an entirely different person. “Oh? Which friend?”

“Why are you so interested?”

“No reason…”

Stiles steps back from Derek when he hears the growl escape his lips, which– Derek has never, ever growled in malice at him before.

“You know I know when you lie.”

“Derek–”

“Stiles, you do this every time! Just because you don’t know all of my friends doesn’t mean you have to be so whiny or clingy, I mean– god fucking damnit! Why can’t you let me have something to myself just once?! You ruin everything!”

Stiles knows he’s staring, but he can’t believe the words that just came out of Derek’s mouth. As much as they fight, it was never as personal as this. It was stupid things, like why his shirt was in a wrong draw, or why Stiles didn’t come home for dinner in time, but this– Something had to have happened. “Derek, I didn’t–”

You always do this!” Derek shouts.

“Derek, I don’t want to turn this into a fight–”

“You never do, do you? No, you avoid me like the fucking plague, but somehow you always manage to make it like I’m the one starting the fight. And Jesus, what the fuck was with that text?”

Stiles blinks the tears back, at a loss for words. The last text he’d sent was when he was drunk out of his mind. “What, can’t I tell my husband that I care about him?” He couldn’t make himself say the word love, not with the way his voice was wavering.

“Oh really? You care? It’s not like you’re ever actually home. When was the last time we–”

“Derek, please don’t. I– I’m tired, I just want to go to bed, okay? We can talk about this in the morning.” He hears Derek muttering as he goes to put on his sleep pants, and Stiles forces himself back together enough to turn around and walk out into the hallway.

“Where the hell are you going?” Derek snaps from where he’s getting under the covers.

Stiles holds his head high and keeps walking until he gets to the guest room, closing the door carefully and folding back the blankets before he lies down. There are tears running down his face that he can’t stop. Stiles tries to cry silently but he can’t hold back the small sobs and whimpers that escape him as he presses his face into the pillow. 

Stiles ends up staring out at the wall after he runs out of tears, when he hears deliberately heavy footsteps coming towards the room. There’s a pause before the door clicks and opens slowly, and Derek’s voice comes out hesitantly and almost like he’s scared, almost like it had been that very morning.

“...Stiles?”

Stiles ignores him, pretends to be sleeping even though they both know he’s not. The door clicks shut gently before he hears Derek walk loudly back to their room, and Stiles eventually falls asleep in a bed that feels far too big.

When Stiles wakes up it takes him a second to remember what happened the night before, and he gets up and sighs when his back cracks as he stretches. The house is quiet as he goes downstairs, and he sees a note stuck to the coffee machine.

Gone for run

The pot of coffee is cold, and Stiles makes himself a fresh pot, watching the clock tick over at he waits. It’s not even six thirty, and Stiles scrubs his hands over his face at how much earlier he seems to be waking up. God, he needs a proper night’s sleep. He’s been tossing and turning for weeks now, the only night he seemed to get a deep enough sleep was when he was passed out from how much he had to drink. Stiles goes about making himself a piece of toast to eat before he goes back upstairs and into their bedroom, pulling open his draws and grabbing several arms full of clothes. He starts to fold them and put them into his suitcase, but he only gets halfway through before he runs out of space. He only has one suitcase, but Stiles remembers he has some sports bags that he can use.

When he’s done he carries them to the spare room, because he’s not ready to leave. Not yet. How could he bear to leave his home when he hasn’t even had a serious talk with his husband?

Stiles takes his laptop downstairs and stays in his pyjamas as he works on his notes and action plans regarding the commissions they have in his work inbox. He’s so immersed that he doesn’t even notice Derek coming, not until he hears the loud beep behind him. Stiles jerks away from the table in shock, looking over his shoulder to see Derek pulling a carton of reheated Chinese out of the microwave, and Stiles turns back to the computer, massaging his temples when he sees that it’s nearly two in the afternoon.

Stiles keeps his eyes on his screen and pretends he doesn’t notice when Derek pulls the chair opposite him out of its place before he sits, and when Stiles looks back up he’s ready to talk, but Derek is gone. He closes his eyes and lets his power reach through the house, marvelling at the feeling of it being back to what it used to be, but he feels no other person in the house except for himself. It’s when he sees the time on the clock means Derek’s already in the middle of duty for the evening, and Stiles didn’t even realise hours had passed he was so engrossed in his work.

He reheats Derek’s food from the night previous and eats it quietly, resolving himself to talk to Derek about everything tomorrow because it will be one of Derek’s days off. When Derek comes home however, Stiles can smell the alcohol coming off of him when he’s leaving the kitchen and Derek is just coming in to make himself some food. Stiles doesn’t say anything, just goes back upstairs to the spare room and has another restless night of very little sleep, groaning when he next opens his eyes and it’s just after five in the morning. Aware that he won’t be able to fall back to sleep, Stiles gets out of bed and goes downstairs into the kitchen, where he starts making breakfast. He’s determined to catch Derek.

Stiles is just buttering the toast when Derek comes downstairs, dressed in his running gear and rubbing his hand through his bed hair, looking like he’d just been dragged backwards through a bush. He stops short when he sees Stiles. “You’re up?”

Stiles nods, turning his eyes back to the steaming hot plates of eggs, bacon, hash browns, and beans. “Didn’t sleep well. You looked like you could do with a hangover breakfast to clear your head of the aconite spike.”

Derek doesn’t say anything and when Stiles looks up again, he’s eyeing the plates with a frown. “I was going to go for a run…”

“Okay,” Stiles shrugs. “I’ll wrap your plate for you then. It will be in the fridge when you get back.”

A strange look crosses Derek’s face before he nods and walks close to Stiles, before he leans into his space and kisses his cheek. Stiles doesn’t react, he doesn’t move into it, just keeps spreading the butter over the toast.

When the door shuts behind Derek, Stiles leans against the bench and lets out the breath he didn’t realise he was holding. He goes about wrapping Derek’s plate to put in the fridge, picking sparsely from the food on his own plate. He doesn’t even make a dent in it, deciding instead to take it to Lydia’s with the extra food he ended up making out of habit. Werewolves were bottomless pits when they were hungover. He pulls up just as Lydia is getting out of her own car, still dressed in her scrubs and coat and looking exhausted.

“I love you,” she whimpers when she sees the containers full of food and takes it out of Stiles’ hands.

Allison is already up when they get in, and she smiles tiredly at the two of them. She kisses Lydia and Stiles on the cheek, making a delighted noise she smells the food after Lydia pops the lid off of one of the containers. Stiles finds himself smiling, even laughing for the first time in days, probably even longer. He feels a tightness in his gut when he realises, and by Lydia and Allison’s matching expressions, they’ve been thinking the same for a long time. He feels his bottom lip tremble before he bites down on it harshly, staring down at his lap from where he’s sitting at the counter. Stiles stays until Lydia is almost falling asleep in her food, where he hugs them both goodbye before he picks himself up two coffees and drives to the station.

He briefly acknowledges the deputies who greet him as he passes, leaning on his dad’s office door before he fumbles with the handle because of the coffee holder in one hand and a paper bag in the other. His dad opens it from the other side, smiling as Stiles falls forward at the sudden disappearance of his support. “You brought me coffee.”

“Yes, I brought you coffee,” he says, waiting for his dad’s morning brain to realise he’s still standing in the way of his office. His dad takes the cup Stiles holds out to him, remaining in the doorway. “Dad, oh my god, move out of the way.”

His dad steps back and walks to his desk, taking a gulp of his coffee. When Stiles pulls out the bagel for his dad, the Sheriff’s eyes light up. He thinks about teasing him and eating it himself, but he’s full from his breakfast beforehand so he passes it over. “You’re my favourite child.”

“I’m your only child.”

His dad glares at him for five seconds before he digs back into the bagel, clearly distracted by the prospect of food, before he eventually speaks up. “Did you and Derek want to come over for dinner?”

“Uh, no, we’re good,” he lies with a shrug.

“Are you alright, kid? I haven’t seen bags under your eyes like that since– well...”

Since his mom died. No matter how long ago it was or how much they’ve moved on, it still aches. It will never really go away. Stiles nods, forcing his words out. “Yeah, dad. I’m fine. It’s just… I kind of feel like being spread too thin.”

His dad is quiet for a few moments as he chews. “I can ask someone to swap shifts with Derek so he can take care of you for a bit, if you wanted?”

Stiles nearly shouts no right there in his dad’s office, but he shakes his head quickly. “Dad, no, I’ll be fine. I just need a good night sleep.”

His dad gives him a commiserating pout. “I’ll see you tomorrow night then? We’re having lasagna.”

“Yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow,” Stiles smiles weakly.

Stiles drives home and it’s barely just nine in the morning, and as soon as he closes the door behind him he gets that same feeling, like there’s something wrong in the house, or there’s something that’s missing. He walks through the house slowly, trying to figure out what it could be. He feels like a stranger in his own home, because he knows that there is something fundamentally wrong with his house, he just can’t think of it. It’s like he’s grasping at smoke for all the good it does him.

Stiles sighs and goes up to the spare room, opening his laptop and working on his bed. He’s not sure if he can be downstairs for when Derek gets back, so Stiles works right there with his handwritten notes out on the bed and his laptop in front of him. He almost feels like tearing his hair out when he gets stuck on something he’s written down, something about manipulation that he doesn’t even remember writing. 

There’s a knock on the bedroom door and Stiles looks up. Derek is opening the door, his eyebrows drawn down like he’s confused as he walks in the room holding a plate with a sandwich on it.

“I made you lunch.” Derek sounds strange, like there’s something caught in his throat, and Stiles looks back down at his notes.

“Oh. Um– thanks?”

“I called for you but you didn’t answer.”

Stiles looks at the bedside table, shaking his head at the time. “Jesus, is it really two? I’m losing track of my days, I swear.”

Derek moves closer into the room, putting the plate down on the bed and staring like he wants to sit. Stiles isn’t going to invite him to.

“Are you going to stay in here? It’s your bed too, you know.”

He glares at the plate, rather than glaring at Derek. “Yeah, eventually. I just… I need some time to myself right now.”

“Stiles, all you’ve had is time for yourself,” he says sharply.

Stiles sneers at the plate, unwilling to see what Derek’s face looked like. It was so much easier to imagine it twisting, like it was some kind of monster saying these things instead of the love of his life. “I’m upset Derek, okay? I just want to be able to have my own space for a while,” he replies calmly. Well, he attempts at calmly.

“Your own space? You’ve been out of town for almost two weeks!”

“I was working!” He yells, looking up at Derek.

He doesn’t see a twisted demon in Derek’s stead, just his husband’s face and a dangerous look in his eyes. Dark and vacant.

All you do is work!” He shouts, his voice booming.

“Because I care about my job! Jesus, Derek, do you even hear yourself? Why are we always fighting? What the fuck have I done so wrong that all we do now is fight?!” Stiles is shouting now too, unable to hold it back. It hurts, it hurts so much, but he can’t keep the words down any more.

“I care about my job too, Stiles! You don’t see me spending every waking hour of the day doing it!”

“I only do it because it keeps me fucking occupied!”

Occupied?” Derek spits. “From what? From our marriage?!”

Stiles is stares at him incredulously before the words sink in, and he can’t help the snort followed by the laughter that bubbles up in him. Derek looks angry, he looked downright pissed, but Stiles can’t bear to have him think that it’s him that is allowed to be angry over this.

“Is everything a fucking joke to you, Stiles?!”

“Derek… I told you I loved you and you said I didn’t care about you. So tell me then, if I shouldn’t think our marriage is a goddamn joke when clearly you couldn’t give two shits about what I do?”

“Because you–”

“I- I…” Stiles cuts him off, taking a deep breath and staring into Derek’s eyes. “I want a divorce.”

Stiles knows that he’s crying, but he can’t help it. Something changes then too, something that makes Derek’s eyes flash back and forth as he just stares at Stiles. It starts to become unnerving when he just stands there, and his eyes turn back to normal and his face twists in distaste.

“What?!” He snaps. “You want a divorce?”

“…Yes. Derek, I hate it here with you. We haven’t had a proper conversation in months, and before I texted you to say ‘I love you’, neither of us have said it in just as much time. I just hope that whoever she is makes it worth it.”

Derek’s expression looks guarded, and he holds his head high. “What do you mean?”

“I mean your girlfriend that you’ve been fucking! In our home, in our bed? Or were you so into it that you didn’t even hear me when I came home?”

Something about Derek pales, and Stiles’ chest tugs and he wants to feel that warmth from their bond, but there’s nothing to be had. “When did you find out?”

“On our anniversary. Great fucking present, asshole.”

“So you’re leaving then?”

“I packed a few days ago. I was building up to asking you gently, but you just… I’m going to go stay with my dad– no. I’m staying with Lydia.”

“Does Lydia know?”

Stiles stares at Derek a moment and closes his eyes. “Does that need asking?”

“You told your best friend about something that doesn’t even involve her–”

“She’s like my sister, Derek, of course it involves her! God, you’re so–”

“So what?!”

Stiles shakes his head, finger shaking as he starts to unclasp the watch around his wrist. He feels cold when it lands on the bed, feels like his chest is burning after he ripped the protective magic away from his own body. “No, fuck you, Derek. There’s your goddamn anniversary present, just tell me two things?

Derek is silent, staring at the watch before he looks back up at Stiles and gives him an impatient expression.

“What’s her name?”

“Kate.”

“Was… Was she worth all of this?”

His eyes flash again and he’s silent for a long time, before he gives a tiny nod. “Yes.”

Stiles blinks through the burning he feels in his eyes and chest, turning to the bed and packing his notes away and shoves them in his laptop bag along with his computer, hauling it and his sports bags over his shoulder. Stiles opens his wardrobe and pulls out his suitcase, pulling it along behind him as he pushes passed Derek without a word. He feels like he’s in physical pain as he walks down the stairs, his chest is aching by the time he slams his jeep door shut. He doesn’t look back to the house as he swings his car out of reverse, doesn’t even let himself regret that he didn’t say goodbye to Derek.

Stiles is a the traffic lights when he gets the sudden image of a car slamming into his, into the driver side, completely crushing his body into the metal of his car. His body would break so easily, his blood would be painting the street–

He jerks when the car behind him honks loudly, and Stiles shifts into gear and drives carefully until he reaches Lydia and Allison’s.

Stiles knows he’s still crying and he can’t make himself get out of the jeep, but then he sees the front door swing open and Allison is rushing out and opening the door, almost pulling Stiles out of the car herself.

“It happened, didn’t it?” She asks as she hugs him tight, almost holding him up because he’s legs feel like jelly. He flinches as she squeezes his torso, feeling a surge of pain go through his right side.

Allison leads him inside, something he barely notices, sitting him down on the sofa and positioning him down on his side so his head is resting against a pillow. He thinks he sees her go back outside, but then he can feel fingers in his hair and he’s not so sure.

“Stiles, what’s wrong?” Comes Cora’s voice from above him.

Stiles sniffs and shakes his head, feeling dizzy from the amount of things going through his head. He distantly hears the front door close and it’s like all the buzzing just stops, leaving him in silence. He blinks away the disorientation from the sudden shift in pressure, watching Allison put his bags against the wall. Stiles’ head moves and he realises that Allison had placed his head in Cora’s lap, and she’s been trying to soothe him like she used to in high school.

“Getting a divorce,” he says hoarsely, like he’s been shouting. Which he had been, but not enough to make his voice so rough.

“Excuse me?” She asks sharply.

“Getting a divorce, Cora. Gonna finally make myself h– happy.”

“Stiles…” He hears Cora sigh and massage his scalp. “How long?”

“Thinking about it for a while.”

“And why now?”

“I couldn’t… I couldn’t deal with the fighting anymore…”

Allison appears in front of him as she sits on the floor, taking his hand and squeezing. She’s giving him a look that used to make him feel guilty back in high school, when he was still influenced by her sad eyes. He hugs Cora’s legs tighter, knowing she would have seen the look, but he doesn’t say anything more.

“Well, you can come stay with me. I’ve been needing a roommate anyway.”

“I thought you hated roomies,” he says quietly.

“You’re not a roomie, Stiles Stilinski. You’re one of my best friends, you are my brother, and my apartment has a bitch of a rent.”

She didn’t call him Stilinski-Hale. It’s like another nail in the casket and Stiles forces out a laugh, and he can see her tight smile. “See, it will get better.”

“I know, it just… I don’t feel like it will.”

“Go to sleep for a few hours, okay? We can talk when you’ve had some rest.”

Stiles nods his head and smiles weakly as Allison pulls their afghan down onto him. He falls asleep quickly, faster than he knew he could have but he knows it’s because of how restless he’s been.

It feels like he dreamt the whole thing up, and Stiles knew he would think that too if he hadn’t woke up on Lydia’s couch. Lydia’s empty couch. Stiles shoves the blanket off of him as he stumbles his way to the bathroom. As he’s on his way back out, he falters at the entry to the kitchen because he can hear their hushed voices.

“–was that look for? Tell me what else happened, Allison.”

“He… God, don’t tell anyone yet, okay? Stiles needs time.”

“It’s me, Allison. I know how to keep a secret.”

Allison is quiet for a few seconds, before she sighs. “Derek’s having an affair.”

He what?”

“Stiles said he came home on their anniversary, and… Derek was in bed with another woman.”

“That– that fucking– I’m going to murder him. I’m going to fucking kill him and he’s not even going to be able to see me coming–”

“Cora, no. You know that won’t fix anything.”

“It will make Stiles feel better.”

“Will it?”

Stiles hears Cora scoff before she turns solemn. “Why did he wait so long after finding out?”

“Stiles told us he’d been thinking of it for a while. I think he just wanted to talk to Derek about it.”

“But they kept fighting?”

“He was here this morning and he was laughing, Cora. I haven’t seen him laugh in so long. You know the last few days when I’ve seen him, he’s actually seemed almost like himself? He didn’t space out once.”

“Do you think they could fix it themselves?” She sounded almost hopeful, and Stiles winces as he kept digging his nails into his palms. They wouldn’t be able to fix it.

“I don’t know, when Stiles found out he just looked… It was like he was dying, and I couldn’t do anything to help.”

“He still loves him,” Cora says quietly.

Stiles can’t bear to hear anymore, slipping back into the living room and under the blanket on the sofa. There’s reruns of a reality show playing on the TV, but he doesn’t watch it, rather following the motions and colours in a blur. They come back into the room and sit at the foot of the couch Stiles is on, including him in the conversation but not pressuring him to be involved.

“Where’s Lydia?” He asks quietly after a while.

“She’s at your dad’s place. According to Andy, she hadn’t seen her Pop in weeks, so she stayed over last night,” Allison answers, smiling fondly.

Stiles smiles as well, letting their voices wash back over him.

 

Chapter Text

 

Allison won’t let Stiles drive, so she drives his jeep while he sits in the passenger side, using her phone to set a call to Lydia on loudspeaker.

“Allison, hey.”

“Hey honey, could you meet us with dinner at Cora’s?”

“Yeah sure, why do you sound like you’re in the jeep?”

“Because I’m driving Stiles. He’s going to be staying with her.”

“Fuck,” Lydia sighs, and then Andy’s voice comes through the phone.

“Mom swore! Pop, mom swore!”

Stiles can’t hold back his laugh, and Allison smirks.

“Stiles…”

“Just meet us there, okay?” Stiles says.

“Yeah, yeah okay. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Lydia hangs up and meets them at the apartment fifteen minutes later, carrying Andy on her hip. Her dark hair is hanging down in long waves, and Stiles can’t help his smile when she starts trying to climb off of Lydia’s body.

“Whoa, hold on kid,” Lydia says, putting her down on her feet as she turns to lock the door behind them.

As soon as her two feet touch the ground, she runs over to Stiles and climbs up on his lap, throwing her arms around his neck in a hug.

“I can’t smell feelings yet but Mom said in the car that you were sad,” she whispers. Well, she tries to. She still hasn’t realised her whisper is more like a mock whisper right now.

Stiles hugs her close, absolutely refusing to cry on his four year old niece. It wasn’t happening. “Yeah sweetie, I’m sad.”

“Where’s Uncle Derek? He can kiss away your sadness like mommy does when mom hurts herself.”

Stiles sees everyone stiffen and Stiles just gives her a shaky smile. He doesn’t know how to explain this to her, and Lydia’s hand comes down and sweeps her fingers through Andy’s dark curls. “Andy, Uncle Derek and Uncle Stiles aren’t going to be kissing each other anymore.”

“Why?”

“Well, they…”

“We’re getting a divorce, sweetie,” he says.

She frowns, tilting her head to the side. “A divorce?”

“It means that we won’t be married anymore. I’m going to be living with Aunt Cora from now on.”

“Oh. Does that mean you don’t love each other now?”

“I still love him, baby. But Uncle Derek hurt my heart, so it can’t be kissed better.”

Andy pouts and hugs him again, settling herself down on his lap. She’s determined to stay there the entire night, even when the pizza is delivered. She seems intent on keeping Stiles talking to everyone, and Stiles eats the crust she doesn’t want.

“Uncle Stiles, you can have my garlic bread.”

Stiles looks down at her, surprised, but she’s holding the pieces in her tiny hands. Andy loves garlic bread, Stiles has had to beat her in rock paper scissors for her to even consider letting him have the last piece. “Are you sure, Andy?”

“Yes. I want you to have my garlic bread.” She says with a frown.

Stiles smiles and shakes his head, taking one of the pieces away. “You have the other one.”

Her face lights up and she devours the piece at a frightening speed. Werewolves. Later, Andy is in the middle of telling him about how she made his dad eat her vegetables the night before when the CSI theme song starts to play from one of his bags. Lydia is the closest and she pulls his phone out, holding it up to her ear. “Lydia speaking… Yeah, just give me a second.”

She glances at Cora, stands up and goes to pick up Andy. “Let’s go get you cleaned up, Andy.”

“But Aunt Cora, I want to stay with Uncle Stiles.”

“Uncle Stiles needs to have a phone call right now.”

Andy sighs dramatically and lets Cora pick her up, heading off to the bathroom. She’ll be able to listen in on the conversation, while Andy will be focused on the sound of the running water.

“Okay, you’re on loudspeaker.” Lydia says, putting Stiles’ phone down on the coffee table.

Stiles, I just got a call from Talia. Are you alright?” His dad asks.

“Dad, I’m fine. I swear, it was my idea.”

Stiles, he’s your husband, it’s okay for you to be upset–

“Dad, I’m fine.”

You don’t sound fine.”

“Dad…”

Will you at least tell me what happened? Talia called me and she had no idea what was happening, only that Derek texted her to say you two were getting a divorce.”

“We kept fighting. I tried to talk to him, but… I can’t do it anymore, dad.”

Do you want me to shoot him?

“Yes,” Lydia jumps in, “yes, shoot Derek.”

No,” Stiles says. “You’re not shooting one of your deputies.”

“He’ll heal, Stiles,” Lydia says bluntly.

“We’re not shooting him,” Stiles states.

“Fine,” Lydia sighs.

Do you need somewhere to stay, son?

“No, I’m going to stay with Cora.”

I’m coming over for dinner tomorrow night, no excuses. I love you.”

“I love you too, Dad.”

His dad hangs up and Cora comes back into the room with Andy, who’s looking sleepy. She rubs a tiny fist over her eyes, looking ready to fall asleep in her aunt’s arms.

“We should go home,” Allison sighs.

“Wanna stay with Uncle Stiles…” Andy murmurs.

“You can see Uncle Stiles later, it’s past your bedtime.”

Andy mumbles something that only Cora catches as she passes her to her moms, because she shifts Allison’s hold on her so her head is tucked on where her shoulder meets her neck. “We’re coming over for dinner tomorrow.”

Stiles nods and watches them leave, Cora sitting down beside him and presses a key into his hand. “Did you want to talk about it?”

“Not really.”

She nods, putting a hand on his knee before she lifts herself up. “I don’t have to go into the gym tomorrow, so we can have a day to ourselves.”

“Thanks, Cora.”

True to her word, they spend their day wrapped up in blankets and watching movies that have all been chosen by Cora, and Stiles notices the fact that they’re all action movies with no romance plots. He thinks that it’s a little overkill, but he appreciates it all the same. Stiles tries to reach for his laptop halfway through the second movie, but Cora threatens to text Erica if he didn’t get back on the couch with her. 

Laura brings them lunch around midday, kissing them both on the tops of their heads before putting the plastic bag on their laps and sitting down on Stiles’ other side. Stiles thinks he falls asleep after he eats lunch because the next thing he knows, his dad is in the apartment, and so are Lydia, Allison and Andy. His head feels fuzzy as he gets up, and he smiles when his dad lifts Andy off of his lap, though his dad doesn’t return his smile. “Uncle Stiles is awake now, you can go say hi.”

Andy takes his hand and leads him to the table, climbing up onto his lap and talking excitedly about her day. When she stops talking to stuff food in her mouth, he realises everyone is staring at him.

“What? Do I have drool on my face?”

“Son, are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Stiles…” Laura says carefully. “Look at her hand.”

Stiles looks down and see’s Andy’s hand on one of his arms, the tiny hand with black veins running up her arm. Stiles tries not to react too quickly and startle her, and he reaches to lift her hand from his skin and rests it the table.

“Andy, go sit with Aunt Laura,” he says.

There’s a tremor to his voice, but he couldn’t care less about that. Andy shouldn’t be able to pull pain from him yet, let alone pain he couldn’t feel.

Andy looks like she’s going to resist but she must see the looks on everyone’s faces, letting Laura lift her into his lap. Stiles doesn’t wait, as soon as she’s off of him he’s standing and walking to the bathroom, hearing several chairs scrape in their rush to follow him. The reflection that greets him looks almost like a stranger, pale and waxy, and he has dark circles under his bloodshot eyes. It’s like looking at a whole other person, and he looks to the doorway where Cora, his dad, and Lydia are standing, watching him.

“I– I don’t– how could she–”

Cora’s eyes flash gold and her nostrils flare, walking towards Stiles. “Lift up your shirt.”

“What?”

“Stiles, lift your shirt.”

Stiles pulls it up over his shoulders, his breath leaving him when he sees the collection of bruises stretching up his right side.

What?” He breathes.

“Stiles–” His dad croaks, and Stiles looks away from his ribs.

Their faces are varying degrees of rage.

“If Derek did this–” His dad barks.

“Dad, I swear to god, Derek has never touched me–”

“Then how do you explain these?”

“I don’t– I don’t know–”

“Stiles–”

“Cora, listen to me. Derek didn’t do this.”

His dad and Lydia both turn to Cora, who nods and reaches up to wipe at her eyes. They’re all as shaken as Stiles is, and Lydia stands up straighter as she turns to look back at him. “We’re going to Deaton. Tomorrow.”

Stiles nods belatedly as she goes back to the others, neither his dad nor Cora following her. He tugs the shirt back down, unable to look at the marks scattering his side.

“Do you… Do you think it could have some to do with why your power isn’t right?” Cora hesitates.

“I… Maybe? If I knew what was causing the fault then maybe –”

“Hold on, backup for just a second. What’s wrong with your magic?”

Cora gets a guilty look on his face when Stiles meets her eye. Neither had said anything about the problem, but that was because they had hoped for a solution before anything bad happened.

“Cora, what’s wrong with him?”

Stiles shakes his head pleadingly, but he could see the decision had already been made.

“He hasn’t been able to cast properly in months.”

What?”

“Jesus, Cora, don’t say it like that, I’ve still been able to cast–”

“But you haven’t been able to do anything more than what you could do when you were fourteen!” Cora argues.

His dad looks between them both before opening his mouth. “Does Talia know about this?”

Stiles shakes his head again. “Deaton knows about my magic. Not… Not the rest.”

“And what did he say?”

“That we’ll have to keep monitoring it. He thinks it has something to do with my belief but I swear to god, my belief is fine.”

Cora reaches out and puts her hand on Stiles’ arm, just a small comforting thing, and both stare as her veins turn black. It’s beginning to scare Stiles, how much control he’s losing over his life, over his body, when the pain travelling up Cora’s arm fades. Stiles is pulled into a tight hug, and he can’t bring himself to look at his dad over Cora’s shoulder.

“You honestly can’t feel that?” Cora whispers.

“I don’t think I can feel anything anymore.”

 

“We’re going to see your boss,” his dad orders in that no-nonsense tone.

“But dad–”

“No ‘but dad’. We’re going. Right now.”

Stiles sighs and gets into his dad’s cruiser, feeling like a teenager all over again. The drive is relatively short, at least to Stiles, and he knows how serious his dad is because he stays silent the entire drive. When they pass the clinic however, Stiles frowns, and then he thumps his head back against the chair. “Dad, you can’t seriously ambush him at his home, he’s the emissary–”

“Then perhaps he should do his damn job and tell you how to fix it–”

“He’s a druid, it’s not the same for him–”

“That’s not enough for me this time, Stiles. I want to know why my granddaughter can pull pain from you that you can’t even feel, I want to know why your magic isn’t working, and I want to know why the hell you keep staring into space like your mother used to–”

His dad’s voice breaks and Stiles turns his head to look out the window, feeling incredibly guilty.

“Sorry,” Stiles whispers, biting at the corner of his thumbnail. It’s become more of a habit recently, to try and provoke a pain reaction he can feel.

“No, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped,” he sighs.

Stiles nods, gets out of the car when his dad tells him, and he knows this is for his dad’s reassurance as much as his own. The rowan oak door stands before them, and Stiles watches distantly as the Sheriff reaches out to knock on the door. It opens several moments later, Deaton looking only slightly surprised to see them.

“Sheriff Stilinski, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Cut the crap, Alan,” his dad says and Stiles winces. “Tell me what the hell is going on with my son.”

Deaton looks to Stiles, raising his eyebrows. Stiles makes a face and looks away, feeling like he’s back in the testing room in his first week of high school. “As far as I’m aware, his belief has been wavering. What else you’re referring to, I would like to know,” he says, offering the open door to them.

Stiles bites back his pathetic groan, knowing that both of them are going to give him a hard time. 

He hops up on the kitchen counter, knowing that Deaton prefers it for the accessibility, and he holds his palms out when Deaton comes back into the room holding his tool kit. He pulls out one of Stiles’ jars, the one which holds a cream that opens the mind to a touch for emissaries to use, taking a large dollop. Deaton takes his hands rubs the mix into his skin and frowns, something that Stiles hasn’t seen directed at himself in a long time. When Deaton finally released him, he looks distant for a moment before he looks to the Sheriff and then back to Stiles.

“The last time you cast a ward was on the watch, if I correctly recall.”

“Yeah.”

“Magically you’re still incapable, but there was something that was just out of my reach. Do you have any idea what it could be?”

Stiles shrugs. “If I knew, I probably wouldn’t be here.”

“Listen, doc, Andy pulled pain out of him the other night, a pain he couldn’t feel. Do you know how something like that could have happened?”

“In Andy’s case, it could be caused by her emotional tether to Stiles. She’s told me many times that Stiles is her favourite outside of her parents, so she’s quite in tune with his health and emotions. As for pain Stiles can’t feel, it’s not uncommon for werewolves to pull phantom pains.”

“So it’s completely normal?”

“Usually it would happen when she was older, but being as young as she is while being faced with the stress in this type of situation, it's possible that it could cause of her abilities to spike. I wouldn’t be surprised if she could start triggering the shift in an intense emotional moment for herself soon too.”

“Well that’s just great, I’m forcing my niece to turn before she’s ready,” Stiles sighs, wiping the cream from his hands.

“Nothing of the sort, Stiles. Andy was born a wolf, and Isaac was bitten at quite a young age, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Andy’s abilities mature before other born Weres with parents who were bitten at a later time in life. I’m sure the Hale children were all triggering shifts before Andy’s age, if it makes you feel any better.”

“Yeah, peachy,” Stiles mutters.

“What about Stiles, then? He stares off into space, Lydia says he’s losing time–”

“Dad–”

“There’s the weight loss, and there’s the bruises–”

Dad–”

“Mister Stilinski, there’s a simple explanation for that.”

“There is?” His dad asks incredulously.

Deaton sighs, nodding in that clinical way Stiles hates watching him use at work.

“Stiles is depressed.”

“Stiles?” His dad’s voice is quiet.

“Yeah, dad?”

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Because I’m trying to figure things out still, alright? I’m twenty seven, my magic is fucked–”

“Language–”

“–and I don’t know why, and I’m in the middle of a divorce because my husband cheated on me. I’m sorry I didn’t mention the depression, but this time it’s because I’m so preoccupied with everything else on my plate. Okay? It’s not like I can start taking the medication anyway. I'm coping.”

His dad sighs, pushing his hair back tiredly. “Shit, I’m sorry. I just… I was so scared you were–”

Stiles nods, pulling his dad in for a hug. “I know. I’m sorry I let you think that, but it’s just–”

“I know, son, I know. Shh, it’s alright, you’re okay…” His dad trails off, combing his fingers through Stiles’ hair as Stiles cries into his shoulder.

 

“Stiles, we’re going out,” Cora says, nearly closing his laptop on his fingers.

“Cora–”

“Stiles, it’s a Friday night. You’re not missing another Friday, okay? You’re back in town, and I will be damned if you miss this because we’re throwing another pity party. If Deaton hasn’t called you about when you’re clear to go back to work, we’re doing something other than sitting on our asses until he does.”

“That’s implying the pity party stopped,” Stiles mutters. He sighs when she glares expectantly at him. “Cora, Derek will be there. They’re his pack too.”

“And? Are you going to give him the satisfaction of not seeing you with your friends, or am I going to have to dress you myself?”

Fine, I’ll come. Don’t expect me to be happy about it.”

Cora’s smile is slightly terrifying when she turns and picks through his clothes at lightning speed. They’re thrown in his face before she walks out of his room, leaving him staring at the clothes. 

They’re at the bar in no time at all, but Stiles is sure he heard Cora complaining in the car on the way down that Stiles had taken too much time getting ready. Her hand is like a vice on his wrist as she drags him to the booth where he can see everyone sitting. As soon as he catches sight of a pack mate, Stiles pulls his wrist out of her hand and Cora turns, ready to object. “Did you want anything?” He says quickly.

A sad smile comes on her face and she nods. “Just get me a water.”

He moves slowly, wishing the floor would swallow him whole.

It’s then that his mind twists, to picture how easily he could piss someone off, how they would smash their bottle in half and lunge for him, glass piercing his belly–

“What did you want to drink?” The voice drags him out of his head before it can pull him in too deep.

Stiles looks up, taking a shuddering breath and passing his money over. “T– Two waters, please.”

There’s a small sound of laughter to his right and he sighs, looking at the woman. Her dark hair is in curls and she’s got a smirk on her face.

“Yes?”

“Sorry, it’s just… You come to a bar and order two waters?”

Stiles swears to god he’d seen her around town, but he just can’t put a name to her face. “As much as I would like it, I don’t think alcohol is such a good idea for me right now.”

No way in hell would Stiles be drinking, especially with the possibility of Derek joining their table. No way in hell.

“Not even if I bought you one?” She asks.

There’s a glint in her eye and Stiles tries to smile. He can’t help his habit of twisting his ring on his finger, and he sees her gaze follow his movements.

“Sorry,” he says, watching her face fall.

He’s not sorry at all. Even in the circumstances, Stiles can’t bear the thought of being with someone who wasn’t Derek. And it should hurt him more that he can’t say yes to this beautiful woman, but he doesn’t feel anything except the emptiness in his stomach.

“The brunette, right? That you walked in with? I’d be pretty happy in that marriage too,” she tries with a smile.

“Oh, no, we’re not– she’s my sister–in–law. My husband…” Stiles trails off, looking back over to the table. He feels something almost like relief wash over him when the only Hales he sees are Laura and Cora. “My husband isn’t here right now.”

Thank god for that.

“Stiles–”

He turns, smiling when Allison comes up to them.

“Allison, hi!” The woman smiles.

“Jennifer, how are you?” She asks, looking between them. “Stiles, this is Jennifer Blake. She teaches English at the high school, she started last year. Jen, this is Stiles, my pack mate.”

“I am certainly not looking forward to when summer ends,” she directs at Allison. “And it’s nice to meet you, Stiles.”

She holds out a hand for him to shake, and when his skin touches hers he feels a jolt of something deep within him. It feels familiar somehow, but it leaves him cold, staring at her even though they’ve finished shaking hands.

He’s trying to grasp at it in his mind, what it could possibly be that would make him react like that, but his magic does nothing to provide any sort of answer.

“It was good to see you, Jen,” Allison says, tugging Stiles’ arm. “Stiles, Cora and Laura want to talk to you.”

Something in her gaze darkens as she smiles at him, and Stiles grits his teeth and turns to Allison. He nods belatedly, letting her steer him away. There are eyes on him, watching his every move, he can feel them, and it sends a chill up his spine.

“Stiles?” A warm voice asks.

It takes him a few moments, but he recognises their voice and Erica comes into his sight.

“Erica, hey,” he doesn’t mean to be stiff, but his head feels full of white noise.

It starts to fade when he feels her arms wrap around his waist, head pressing against his shoulder. “I’m sorry, Stiles.”

“Me too,” he breathes, hugging her back.

He knows they can all hear him, but it feels like a moment none of them should be allowed to see. Erica had been his friend since the day she received the bite. When she came, so did the others after they filed for the bite. Really, it had been a surprise that it took so long after joining the Hale pack to meet Derek–

No, nope. No thoughts of Derek, he reminds himself.

“We are still good?”

“Of course we’re still good, Erica.”

She pulls away, sitting back down and pulling Stiles down next to her. There’s a slight touch of fear and anxiousness that runs through him when he realises his back his facing the door, so he won’t be able to see Derek coming. It was probably the point, to get him so he couldn’t run away, and he can’t help but hope Derek is too busy with Kate to bother coming out for their usual Friday night plans.

Laura catches his eye and gives him a look and he shrugs in reply, and it makes her grimace. Stiles tries to tune out the noise around him and focus on what Erica is saying to Isaac. 

With all the stories and laughter around him as the night passes, Stiles can’t help but join in. He’s glad he came, glad Cora dragged him out, and Stiles almost feels like a real person again. It’s pathetic, a voice in his head says, that having Derek cheat on him rocked him so much he doesn’t feel whole anymore. But Stiles shoves that voice down, because he’s allowed to feel like that. He and Derek had been together for seven fucking years, even including those shitty months before the anniversary, and now they were going to be nothing all over again. Along with his magic being completely unpredictable, it was just the icing on top of the cake. The terrible, sucky, Stiles-is-allowed-to-be-upset cake.

He finds himself continuously looking back over to the bar, trying to keep his eye on Jennifer. He can’t explain it, except for what he felt. And while usually it was a good enough reason, he can’t rely on his power to help explain that feeling. Stiles reasons that the familiar feeling is because she works at the high school with Allison, so he obviously had to have seen her around in general.

“Hey Allison?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you know if Jennifer is a supe?”

“I’m not sure. She used to have a werewolf girlfriend, but that’s all I know. Why?”

“No reason,” he shakes his head.

The next time his gaze flicks over to the bar he sees someone staring back at him, and all the air in the room feels ice cold, he feels so cold and he reaches up to rub at his neck, to get the hands he swears he can still feel away from him. It has to be another hallucination, it has to be, they can’t be here, it’s not real, Stiles is just having another hallucination–

“Stiles, what’s wrong? Why do you smell scared?” Cora asks, her warm hand closing around his wrist, jerking him out of his head.

Stiles looks at Cora and then back to the bar, and the woman is gone.

He could swear he wasn’t in his own head this time though, and he starts to shakes as he gets out of the booth.

“I– I have to go. I can’t be here.”

“Derek isn’t here yet, stay a bit longer–” one of them is saying, Stiles wouldn’t be able to say who it was, because he needed to leave.

Stiles isn’t taking notice of the people around him, just weaving his way through the crowd of people to get to the door. He’s just about there when Stiles slams straight into someone, bringing him out of his state. “Oh my god I’m so sorry, I wasn’t looking where I was–” Stiles looks up, and his stomach feels like is falling through the floor for the second time in less than five minutes. 

Derek. Derek, who is looking at Stiles with wide eyes and an open mouth, who looks so unbelievably lost as he stares at Stiles.

“–going... Sorry, Derek, I should– I’ll get out of your way.” He finishes quietly, unable to take his eyes off of him.

As he tries to continue his escape, he feels that warm hand wrap over his wrist, keeping him where he is, but he’s shaking too hard and he knows how fast his breathing is starting to become. “Stiles, what– what are you doing here?”

“Didn’t think I needed your permission to have fun with my friends,” he snaps, before he closes his eyes and sighs. “Sorry– sorry, I didn’t mean to… Your friends are waiting.”

“You… Stiles, they’re your friends too. Why don’t you stay?”

God, he even looks hopeful as he watches him, and Stiles can’t take so much in one night. Not if he was hallucinating still.

“I can’t– I have to go.”

He slips free of Derek’s hold on his wrist and rushes out of the door, finally bursting into a run to get back to the car. Stiles practically collapses against the car, gasping for air as it travels out of him too quickly to hang on to. He scrabbles at his neck, trying to pull phantom hands away from him, slowly choking the life out of him, the blood in his ears pounding and roaring as he struggles against the asphalt, when he’s being lifted and dragged into the backseat of the car in a restraint of warmth, their voice washing over him. They’re holding his hands close to his body, making him feel every breath they take as they try to calm him down, but Stiles feels like he’s there for hours before he can get any air into his lungs. Even when he can manage the shaky breaths he’s taking, they don’t let him go, and he’s thankful for it.

“That’s it, just hold onto me, you’ll be okay,” Cora says gently.

Stiles sinks back into his arms, reaching up to wipe his face while Cora rubs his chest soothingly like Stiles has felt and seen her do countless times before.

“What made you so scared? I know it wasn’t Derek…”

“I– I think I saw that woman, the– the hunter–”

“Stiles, that’s… You need to tell your dad.”

“I’m tired, Cora, I’m probably just… Seeing things.”

“Stiles, if you saw her– do you not remember the bruises she left on your throat for weeks? She threatened you and Derek, okay, or, or how about the scar from where she tried to cut out your heart–”

It was nothing, Cora. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

What?”

“I didn’t see her. It was– it was a trick of the light.”

Cora is silent for a long time, just the two of them breathing together in the back of her car.

“Is this the first time you’ve seen her though?”

Stiles nods slowly, wiping his nose on his sleeve. Cora doesn’t say anything about the implication of more, which he’s grateful for. With the panic attack and everything else going on in his head, he feels numb and he doesn’t know if he could cope with questions about his hallucinations.

“Promise me that if you see her again, promise you’ll tell me. You point her out to me and as soon as I know what she looks like, I won’t hesitate to rip her throat out.”

“Don’t threaten that, Cora.”

“If she so much as looks at you, I’ll let Allison and Lydia kill her. Better?”

He nods and smiles weakly, feeling like he could fall asleep.

“Promise me, Stiles. That way you’ll know if you’re really hallucinating.”

“I promise,” he whispers, holding his pinkie finger out.

Cora takes hold of his finger in her own and holds it close to Stiles’ heart.

“What do you want to do?”

“Can you take me home? I’m exhausted.”

She nods and helps him get comfortable with the seat belt before she gets into the front seat. He drives Stiles back to Lydia’s house rather than her apartment, opening the front door and putting Stiles down on the couch while she races about, chucking a pair of pyjama pants at him.

“Cora, what are you doing?”

“I’m getting the mattresses, duh. We are having a legitimate sleepover, no excuses.”

As soon as there are pillows and blankets heaped onto the two giant mattresses, Cora lies there and looks up at Stiles with a grin on her face. Stiles can’t help but smile back, sliding off of the couch and swapping his clothes for the pants, and then down into the bedding with Cora. He’s wrapped in warm arms and a werewolf nose buried into his neck, and his head feels so clear despite having been delusional twice in one night, as well as his panic attack. It would confuse him if he wasn’t so close to falling asleep, occasionally contributing to Cora’s mostly one-sided conversation before he slips into unconsciousness.

The slamming of the door jolts Stiles out of his sleep.

“That fucking– I swear to god, Lydia–”

“Allison, calm down. You’ll wake them.”

“We’re already awake,” Cora yawns from behind Stiles. “What happened?”

“My aunt happened.”

“What do you mean?” Stiles asks tiredly, snuggling back into Cora’s warm arms.

“Stiles, I’m so sorry, if I’d have known–”

“He’s sleeping with her aunt, Stiles,” Lydia says, one of her hands clenched into a fist.

Even with Cora behind him, it’s like all the warmth had left the room. All Stiles could do was nod, like he wasn’t being constantly torn apart from the inside. He can still see Derek’s face, how angry he seemed, but it was met with the look of utter confusion and something that almost looked like heartbreak from just hours beforehand. Kate, Derek had said her name was. Kate Argent.

“What did you say to them?” Cora asks, turning to sit up.

Allison sighs, sitting down next to him and taking off her shoes. “I may have said some not very nice things.”

Lydia makes thoughtful sound before she curls up next to Stiles. “I would have given anything to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.”

“Allison…?” Stiles asks quietly.

She gives him a tired smile and starts to scratch her nail polish. “I may have called him a lying, cheating, arrogant asshole. And I may have called Kate a lot of things worse than that. I’m not proud of it, I’m just… Angry.”

“Thanks anyway,” he whispers.

“Erica was messaging you when we left,” Lydia supplies, reaching for where Stiles’ jeans are thrown on the floor.

She fishes out his phone and passes it back to him, showing several new messages.

From: Erica

I miss seeing you (10:03PM)

What the fuck?? Derek brought his new toy. Not that you were a toy. I’m just severely disappointed right now (10:28PM)

Allison looks like she’s gonna break something (10:29PM)

She’s taking them outside for ‘a talk’ (10:35PM)

I’d call Derek a fucking dick too, holy crap. Tell Lyds if I wasn’t with Boyd and she and Ally weren’t married or whatever, I’d totes be her competition (10:44PM)

Like for real I’m so in love right now (10:44PM)

Boyd is making me put my phone away :(((( (10:45PM)

 

Stiles smiles and shakes his head, typing out a response when his phone vibrates with a new message.

From: Erica

Okay so Kate Argent? TOTAL BITCH. I thought I was disappointed with Derek before, like this doesn’t even come close. This was bad enough, but with someone like her? It’s like a huge slap in the face and just be glad you got out of here when you did. (11:43PM)

You think he knows I want to rip his balls off right now???? (11:44PM)

 

To: Erica

Thanks Erica. Love you (11:45PM)

 

From: Erica

Love you too (11:45PM)

 


 

Stiles is nineteen.

It’s Cora’s twentieth birthday and Stiles has finally managed to come home for one of his spring breaks.

His studies are a gruelling process of time and belief, and this is the one time Stiles successfully convinced his professors to let him go home for the break. He even stays over the summer so he can graduate a year early and get back to the Hale pack. Not that they were holding him hostage, because Stiles honestly loves the Supernatural University of America, but it can be lonely.

Sure, he has his professors and Skype calls back home. Except nearly every other student tends to stick to their species or power grouping. There’s only one other Spark in the whole place, and they’re one of his professors. When he was eighteen, he’d had some hope that maybe some werewolves would approach him during orientation because Stiles smelt like part of a pack. That didn’t happen. If anything, they avoided him like he was wolfsbane. Talia had assured him that it was because they were being polite and not wanting to be seen talking to another pack’s emissary, but Stiles just knows it’s because of what he did to Kali. They’re scared of him and no one can tell him otherwise.

The witches tended to avoid him, even though he’s been trained by the Elders of his town and the state every summer since they discovered his powers. And the two druids in his territory during the rest of the time. No big deal. The only people who have approached him on campus has been a selkie, an incubus/succubus pair who once offered their beds whenever he’s feeling particularly lonely, and most recently, a kitsune who transferred from NYU. They’re probably going to be the only people celebrating his twentieth with him in a few short weeks. Oh, and there was a shady vampire who was clearly not one of the students or staff looking to drag stragglers into an alley and suck dry back during his first week, but Stiles doesn’t really like to count that one.

Stiles could have gone to any school he wanted, but none of them had the extensive opportunities for Sparks like the University had. If it wasn’t for the wards he’d put up before leaving, then Stiles probably wouldn’t have gone to college in the first place. But he couldn’t miss going, not when he could learn so much more. Which was why he hadn’t been home in a few years, because he’s just been so busy trying to learn as much as possible in the time he has until graduation.

The only people who know that Stiles is coming back home now are his dad and his alpha, because he needed someone to pick him up from the airport and take him to where Cora’s birthday party was happening. They were both ecstatic that he was coming home, and Talia had surprised him by coming to pick him up with his dad. There’s a lot of hugging and some not–so–subtly wiped away tears involved. They pick up some fast food for Stiles on the drive home, because his flight had come in late and the party had started an hour ago. As soon as they arrive, Stiles hides his presence easily since he’s learnt how, weaving through the crowd.

There are people he briefly recognises from high school as he makes his way to Cora and where most of his pack seem to be gathered in the club, and he sees that their backs are turned to him. It’s easy to slide up behind the birthday girl and put his hands over her eyes with a smile. All of the werewolves tense at the sudden feeling of a stranger while Stiles tries to dodge Cora’s elbows.

“Guess who?” He says, willing the barrier away, and everyone shouts his name when they see him.

Stiles forgets he hasn’t seen them in nearly two years and their faces light up when they realise it’s him.

“Stiles!” Cora’s face splits into a grin and she leaps up to hug him tightly. When she pulls back she punches him hard on the arm.

“Ow, what the hell?”

“Mom told me you weren’t able to make it, you asshole!”

“Surprise?” Stiles shrugs with a smile.

Everyone bombards him with hugs and are obvious about scent marking him, Cora and Laura not even giving a fuck about politeness and just deciding to rub their hands all over his face and neck. It’s so good to see them all and he feels stronger surrounded by them already.

He finally detaches from them and excuses himself. “I’m going to go get a drink,” he yells over the loud music for Allison and Lydia’s sakes, because everyone else can hear him perfectly fine.

The bartender who doesn’t even ask for his fake ID when he orders his drink, too busy smiling at Stiles. Stiles smiles and nods politely, because he gets his drink almost immediately. As he’s walking back to the back he trips and Stiles goes careening into a solid body. The shirt is drenched in the alcohol he didn’t even get to drink from and he looks up to see a disgruntled Peter Hale talking with someone who must be one of Cora’s cousins if that facial structure means anything. The dark hair is the first indicator, but then he’s got this cut jaw that’s dark with facial hair and cheekbones

Stiles feels a warmth bloom in his stomach even though he hasn’t had anything to drink yet, and when he meets his eyes and he feels something heavy settle in his chest. He’s got these eyes which Stiles just wants to get lost in and shoulders that he just want to throw his legs over. And judging by the raised eyebrows that accompany the rest of his holy shit is a face like that actually possible, the guy is probably a werewolf and can smell the lust pouring off of him. God, Stiles has made a fool of himself already.

“Stiles, always nice to see your time away hasn’t improved your balance and coordination,” Peter comments scathingly.

Stiles knows he’s only joking, but there was never an opportunity missed for Peter to be an asshole.

“Peter, hey! You know what, I almost didn’t recognise you with that haircut? I’m sorry to see that the pack hasn’t paid for your surgery yet.”

Peter lifts an eyebrow as if to say ‘is that the best you can do?’

“Surgery?” The guy next to him asks, and Stiles fights to keep his serious composure at how nice his voice sounds.

“Well yeah, the surgery to finally get that stick removed from his ass.”

The guy is taking a drink when he says it and he chokes on his mouthful, coughing hard before he starts laughing. Yeah, Stiles is so fucked. Tall, dark, and smoking hot stranger smiles at Stiles and loses his breath a little, because if he looked great before, Stiles never wants him to stop smiling.

Peter smirks and rolls his eyes, nodding his head in recognition. “I’m going to go and change my shirt. It’s nice to see you home, Stiles.”

“Bye Uncle Peter! I love you,” he calls as Peter walks away, when he flips him off over his shoulder.

Stiles laughs and shakes his head, turning back to the Hale.

“So you’re Stiles?” He asks with a small smile, eyes leaving his face and trailing down his body. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Oh boy.

“Yeah,” Stiles swallows, nodding and trying to stop himself from saying anything embarrassing. “Which, uh… Which Hale are you?”

“I’m Derek.”

Oh.

You’re Derek? But Derek is… I mean isn’t– aren’t you supposed to be kind of lanky and have glasses? You have muscles and– I mean–

Derek starts smiling at him and fuck, he has bunny teeth, Stiles thinks, it’s Derek. Stiles has already embarrassed himself in front of his blindingly gorgeous pack mate, surprise says no one.

“Well those pictures were taken when I was seventeen, not twenty five. So I can see why you’d think that.”

“I’m– I’m really sorry, I just put my foot in my mouth sometimes when,” he doesn’t really finish his sentence other than with a general wave of his hand in reference to Derek’s everything, and then he seriously hopes Derek doesn’t notice it. Judging by the smirk and tilt of his head, he definitely notices. Stiles kind of wants to punch himself in the face right about now.

“Do you want me to buy you a new drink? You kind of lost that one all over Peter.”

Stiles knows he’s blushing and he tries to hide it by looking down at his feet. “You know I should probably ask who the DD tonight is so they can have a night off–”

“It’s Laura and Peter, you’re pretty safe,” Derek says, and he sounds closer than before.

Stiles looks up and he is closer, and Stiles catches him looking over Stiles’ face. Derek’s lips part and Stiles looks over Derek’s shoulder, don’t think of what that look means, to where the pack are, and he sees Erica, Isaac and Laura making obscene and sexual hand gestures at them.

“Uh, I could probably go for something non–alcoholic though? Peter is probably right, my coordination does not need the extra help tonight,” he tries to laugh, but it’s forced from looking away from the pack and back to Derek.

Stiles sees the tick in his jaw and he nods stiffly before he walks off to the bar, and Stiles is left standing there just knowing he must have fucked it up somehow.

He would have more game if people wanted to try and date him, but no, everyone had to avoid him at the University. With a sigh Stiles looks to Derek at the bar and his friends over in one of the booths, but Derek doesn’t look at him because he’s too busy talking to someone who Stiles recognises to be one of the witches from high school that had been a few years ahead of him. They put their hand on Derek’s arm and he looks down at it before back up at them, and Stiles figures that he’s already struck out.

The pack is the obvious choice for him now and he head over, telling himself that it would be a bad idea to get involved with a pack mate in the first place. It doesn’t help that when he reaches them, Lydia and Allison are pressed close together and whispering to each other with ducked heads, and he sees Erica and Boyd’s joined hands. Bad idea, he reminds himself. Laura nudges his shoulder and gives him a questioning look but Stiles shrugs at her, easier to pretend that he doesn’t know what she’s getting at rather than talk about the crashing and burning they pretty much nearly every one of them would have heard. Of course, some of them probably tried to give them privacy, or at least the illusion of it.

“Stiles…” She tries, as gently as she can over the music.

“Don’t, Laura. It’s fine.”

She sighs and rolls her eyes, trying to pretend she isn’t acting like his big sister. It’s something he’s missed along with Talia’s mothering, because really that’s what they are to him. He has all the family he could want with the pack and his dad. Except when he looks over and sees Derek walking over to them with two drinks, he vehemently doesn’t want another older brother figure. 

Derek passes him his drink with what could be a shy smile that Stiles tries to return, but he knows it falls flat from the way his eyes flick over to Laura and back with a steadily growing frown.

“How long are you in town for, Stiles?” Laura asks.

He’s grateful for the distraction, but his fingers are stiff from how tightly he’s gripping his drink. “The whole week,” Stiles answers with a small smile. “I had to promise my professors I would keep them updated the entire time I’m here.”

Laura makes a face and opens her mouth to protest, but Cora takes his drink out of his hand and puts it on the table, grabbing his other hand and pulling him to his feet. “Come dance with us!”

“Cora–”

“You can talk to Laura later, it’s my birthday.”

Stiles sighs and lets her pull him towards where everyone is moving to the dancefloor, and he looks back to see that the two older Hales siblings are arguing. A surge of guilt travels through him when Laura’s eyes flick over to him and back and that’s when he knows it’s about him. Stiles tries to push it out of his mind and focus on dancing with his friends, but he finds himself continuously looking back to the table, only to find Laura gone and Derek sitting alone. Something stirs in Stiles’ chest at the sight and Stiles starts to shift his way back through the crowd to get back to the table.

Sliding down into the booth across from Derek, he keeps his eyes on the table and grabs hold of his drink. “You know, if you wanted to go talk to that witch you could have,” Stiles guesses, not knowing what else to say.

“Even if they hadn’t called you an abomination when they saw me talking to you, I still probably wouldn’t have considered them.”

So that's what caused Derek’s reaction. It’s unexpected and Stiles frowns to himself, because that’s never happened before. “Well you’d be one of the first.”

He can feel Derek’s eyes on him but he refuses to look up, when warm fingers brush over his. Stiles jerks at the touch, meeting his eyes.

“Is that what you think? That I didn’t want to get to know you?” Derek asks gently, eyes flicking down to their hands. “You’re pack, I want to.”

Stiles smiles shyly, leaning close. “Tell me about yourself, then.”

“Well, I’m not the skinny teenager from my photos, that’s for sure,” Derek grins.

Stiles laughs awkwardly, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’m sorry about that, I should have realised that you were Derek Hale.”

“I don’t mind,” he smiles. “I’ve heard a lot about you, it hardly seems fair.”

Stiles tenses slightly, but he knows the pack wouldn’t say anything bad. It wasn’t the pack he was worried about however, more of what he’s heard from the rumours surrounding his powers.

“Well, I’m studying at the University,” he supplies. “I’ve always known that I’d take over from Deaton as emissary, though.”

Derek smiles, nodding. “Mom told me how talented you are. It’s an honour to have a Spark join our pack.”

“It’s an honour to be in this pack,” Stiles argues. “I don’t know what I would do without it.”

“I’m sure you’d find something,” Derek smirks.

“So what about you?” Stiles asks, unable to pull his eyes away from Derek’s face. “What do you do?”

“I’ve just started as one of your dad’s deputies, actually,” Derek says proudly. “It’s been… interesting.”

“I’ll bet,” Stiles nods. “I basically grew up in the station, I know how busy it gets.”

They talk for a while about seemingly random things, occasionally buying each other fresh drinks, but Stiles enjoys it. Something just clicks between them, and Stiles can’t stop himself from smiling at the dry wit that Derek has. He’s smart and funny, and Stiles finds the missing part of his spark slowly being filled with the final pack member’s absence.

“I didn’t mean to give you the wrong impression earlier,” Derek says quietly.

“What impression was I supposed to have?” Stiles asks.

“One where I think you’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.”

There’s a pause before Stiles smirks into his drink, shaking his head. “Does that actually work on people?”

Derek smiles and Stiles knows the bastard hears the small blip in his heart. “I don’t know, you tell me?”

Stiles can’t hold in his laughter at the comment and he stares at Derek with a wide grin. “Isn’t it a bad idea to get involved with pack members? Especially the future emissary,” he teases.

“I think that rule was made for people outside of a pack,” Derek says softly, and Stiles sees his eyes dart down and linger before he meets his eyes again.

“You know if you keep looking at my lips like that, I’m going to have to kiss you or do something equally as drastic.”

They flick back down and Stiles licks his bottom lip out of habit, and he hears the short intake of breath from Derek before he speaks. “You promise?”

Oh my god, Stiles thinks. This is happening. This is really happening. Play it cool, Stiles.

“Why don’t you find out?”

Derek takes Stiles’ drink out of his hands and downs it quickly, throat bobbing as he swallows.

Nailed it.

Derek takes his hand and pulls him out of the booth and his hand feels so warm in Stiles’ that that feeling in his chest blooms as he leads them out of the club, not even bothering to tell Cora that they’re leaving. Stiles thinks he sees Laura and Peter notice them from the bar anyway. The night air makes him shiver despite how warm he feels from just being inside the club, anticipation rushing through his veins. He almost can’t believe it, still caught up in the fact that someone as attractive as Derek wants to flirt with him and take him home, when Derek presses him up against the side of his car. His body is a wall of heat and Stiles catches Derek’s look at his lips before he leans in and kisses him.

His lips are softer than Stiles expected and he responds eagerly, opening his mouth to the tongue begging entrance. It’s soft and warm and Stiles delights in the moan that escapes Derek when he pulls Derek’s hips forward, desire pooling in his groin at the hard line of Derek’s cock pressing against his through their pants.

Derek starts to pull away as he sucks Stiles’ bottom lip into his mouth and bites down, which makes Stiles’ knees go weak. He’s grateful for the car he’s leaning against and the dazed look Derek is wearing when he steps away lets him know exactly how much that affected him as well.

“My place?” Derek asks roughly, and all Stiles can do is nod.

Derek nods with a quick jerk of his head, unlocking the car and moving around to the other side of the car and sliding into the driver’s side. Stiles hurries to gets into the car and Derek leans over once he’s seated, Stiles’ heart beating fast at the anticipation of another kiss.

Derek’s lips only brush his teasingly as he pulls back with the seatbelt, buckling him in with a smirk.

“You’re a tease,” Stiles sighs, eyes raking over Derek next to him before turning to look out the window.

“Really?” Derek teases, turning the key in the ignition.

Stiles hums in agreement and waits until they’re at a red light before he lets his hand drift onto Derek’s thigh, smirking at the hitch of breath he hears. He looks over innocently when Derek starts driving again, a smile breaking out at the show of composure Derek is trying to hold. Stiles can see his nostrils flare as he lets his hand travel up his leg, not even trying to resist grinning at the way his eyes glow when he cups Derek in his pants. There’s a growl in the air that makes Stiles’ blood pound with excitement and want. Stiles barely even pays attention to where they’re going, too absorbed in teasing Derek when they pull to a stop. Stiles turns to ask, when Derek is sliding his fingers into his hair and biting harsh kisses into his mouth.

“You– let me–” Stiles gasps, trying to undo the seatbelt. “Derek.”

Derek unclicks it with a grin, leaving Stiles sitting there as he climbs out of the car before he scrambles to follow. There’s another person waiting for the elevator and it takes effort to keep their hands to themselves on the ride up. Stiles’ lips feel swollen and bruised and it takes every piece of strength he has to stop himself from prodding at them with his fingers.

As soon as they’re in Derek’s apartment, Stiles is shedding his jacket and shoes and pressing Derek up against the door and taking charge of the kiss, mapping the inside of Derek’s mouth with his tongue. Fingers dig into Stiles’ hips as Derek drags him close, pulling at the hem of his shirt until it’s thrown to the side without a care for where it lands. Warm hands slide around his waist and Stiles pushes harder, faster, using far more teeth than tongue as he tries to get a rise out of Derek, tugging Derek’s shirt up and over his head.

“You just going to stand there?” Stiles punctuates with bites down Derek’s jaw, revelling in the scratch of his facial hair.

The low growl makes him smile before Derek lifts him off his feet, Stiles going with the motion easily and sliding his hands through Derek’s dark hair and holding on tight. Stiles feels Derek’s hot breath on his neck as his nose travels up to his jaw, and Derek bites Stiles’ earlobe. “That the best you can do?”

Stiles grins, pulling his face away from his neck and sinking into a kiss as Derek carries him through his apartment. “You’ve got a lot to prove, Hale. This idea of you has been built up in my head and you’re definitely on your way to delivering.”

Derek’s eyes flare as he looks over Stiles’ face, lips parted. Stiles tries to swallow down the heaviness he feels in his throat when he meets Derek’s eyes, the flutter in his chest which he dismisses as nerves. Derek smiles and leans in, one of his eyebrows rising expectantly like he knows something Stiles doesn’t. “Oh really?”

Derek drops him down on the bed suddenly and Stiles feels his cheeks go pink under the weight of his stare. He’s already moving to get his pants off, working with the needwantneed he feels to have Derek’s body against him. Stiles throws them to the side, noticing Derek doing the same, and when Stiles leans back he finally takes notice of Derek’s bare chest, eyes drawn to the dusting of dark hair on his chest and the trail leading down from his navel.

He swallows at the sight of the toned muscles, those shoulders which he was so right about, and Stiles just wants to leave him covered in marks that won’t fade as soon as it’s sucked into his skin. The sight of Derek naked in front of him is almost too much to handle, Derek’s hard cock resting against his hip as his eyes trail over Stiles’ body.

Stiles bites his lip so he doesn’t say anything embarrassing, because just looking at Derek makes him want to bare his neck. Not once in his time with the pack has Stiles submitted to anyone other than Talia, so he certainly wasn’t going to start now. Stiles lifts his chin defiantly, eyes never leaving Derek’s as he takes his own cock in hand. The movement spurs Derek into action as he climbs onto the bed and over Stiles’ body, pushing Stiles’ hand aside and lining their hips together. Stiles knows his breathing is shaky, but the feeling of their cocks sliding together is too good.

“God, do you have any idea–” Derek demands before he kisses Stiles, licking into his mouth desperately.

Stiles draws his legs up to frame Derek’s waist, gripping his shoulders in an effort to keep him close. The feeling of Derek’s bruising grip on his thighs makes him moan into Derek’s mouth. Derek breaks the kiss and shoves his face into the crook of Stiles’ neck, inhaling deeply as they rut together.

“Any idea of what?” Stiles asks, voice wavering when he feels Derek’s fingers brush against his hole.

There’s a pause and Derek leans up, his eyes flicking back and forth over Stiles’ face. The look is different from the other ones Derek has given him and Stiles would say it looks almost soft, if it wasn’t for the small tick in his brow when he answers. “Of what you’re doing to me?”

He leans back down and captures Stiles’ mouth in a kiss that’s gentle and slow, making the fluttering of nerves inside of Stiles uncurls into something that he feels after he casts a spell. He tried to force the vulnerable feeling away, focus on Derek, on them now, and Derek’s lips part in a small smile as he ends the kiss.

“Please tell me you’ve got lube,” Stiles whines.

He leans away from Stiles and over to the bedside table, Stiles watching the way his muscles shift as he moves, faintly noticing the tattoo on his back. Derek comes back up with a small bottle and Stiles sits up next to him and takes it from him, coating his own fingers in the gel.

Stiles sits on his knees as he reaches back and spreads lube against his rim, before he slips a finger inside of himself. His head falls to rest on Derek’s shoulder with a pleased sigh, stretching himself out. Derek’s mouth is right next to his ear so he hears the sharp intake of breath when he slides another finger into himself.

He can feel Derek’s slick fingers prodding at his entrance right before he pushes one in alongside Stiles’ two fingers. Stiles knows he makes a small noise at the intrusion. “Stiles, please let me–” Derek begs. Stiles removes his fingers and lies back against the headboard, revelling in the sight of Derek kneeling between his legs with his eyes trained on Stiles’ hole.

Derek makes a pleased sound as he slides his fingers into Stiles’ body, stretching him carefully and slowly. Stiles’ legs tense up as Derek brushes his prostate and Derek looks up into his eyes. He smiles and rubs his fingers against the bundle of nerves, making Stiles gasp as his body jolts at the sensation.

“Derek– please,” Stiles pleads, tightening his legs around Derek in an attempt to pull him close.

“Please what?” He drawls with a grin.

“Just– fuck me. Please.”

Stiles whines when Derek pulls his fingers out, watching him spread lube over his thick cock.

“Look at you,” Derek hums with a hooded gaze. “God, you’re perfect. Everything I–”

The words make his chest bloom with a heat he’s never felt before, his breath shuddering when Derek lines up and presses into him. The stretch is turning his insides to mush and Stiles is open mouthed and gasping by the time Derek is buried at the hilt.

Stiles isn’t the only one making noises, Derek letting out quiet moans every time he shifts his weight. Stiles clenches deliberately around him and Derek lets out a whine, leaning down over Stiles. Capturing Stiles’ lips in a heated kiss, Derek slowly pulls out before he snaps his hips back into Stiles. They’re both panting by the time they break the kiss, Derek nosing along his jaw until he reaches Stiles’ pulse point. The rhythm that Derek sets is everything Stiles could have hoped for, chasing the strong thrusts with his hips. Whenever Derek strokes against his prostate Stiles keens loudly, digging his nails into Derek’s sides as he tries to hold him close.

“Stiles,” Derek’s voice wavers, right before Derek presses a chaste kiss on his collarbone.

“Yes, Derek–”

“Can I mark you?” He pleads, looking up at Stiles with the slight point of fang to his teeth. “Please, please– Stiles, say I can mark you–”

Yes,” Stiles nods, right before Derek bites down on the crook of his neck, sucking marks into his skin and rubbing his cheeks against the bruising skin. “Yes, Derek–”

Derek’s pace becomes frenzied as he bites down, harder with each kiss, their chests pressed together. Each time he draws Stiles’ skin into his mouth, Stiles finds himself closer to release.

Stiles,” Derek whimpers, trying to push at Stiles’ neck with his nose.

Stiles bares his neck in the moment and it’s like something snaps into place, warmth flooding through his body, and he’s barely able tighten his grip on Derek to hold on as the sensation takes him over. Stiles can’t think of a time when he’s ever felt like this, he feels full, complete with Derek, like his body or his heart is about to burst but he doesn’t know which one is going to go first. He knows he’s crying out Derek’s name, like it’s the only thing he knows how to say and Derek thrusts quicker, deeper, like he wants to never stop.

Stiles comes over them both, shaking with the intensity of his orgasm and Derek follows soon after, crying out as he empties himself inside Stiles, collapsing on the bed next to him when he pulls out.

They lay there for what feel like hours, but Stiles knows realistically it’s only been a few minutes. Derek shifts first, getting out of bed slowly. As he walks Stiles notices the weakness in his legs, how his knees seem to buckle when he first stands before he comes back with a wet cloth.

Stiles watches Derek wipe their stomachs down, gently wiping the come away from Stiles’ ass.

Derek lingers over Stiles’ body, before he tosses the cloth in the nearby hamper and brushes his nose along Stiles’ jaw, as if he was suddenly delicate.

“Stay the night,” Derek whispers, looking over his face before pressing a gentle kiss to the side of his chin. “Stay.”

Stiles nods with a soft smile, contentedness washing over him when Derek slides his arms around Stiles’ chests to draw him in to cuddle.

There’s a feeling of warmth in his chest that is definitely not arousal, not anymore, uncurling at the thought of Derek’s arms around him, surrounding him, and Stiles knows it’s probably wishful thinking that part of him is holding out for something more than a good fuck, just because he’s part of the pack. But there was no way to explain this feeling, something within Stiles tries reassure right before he falls to sleep.

The sunlight is bright behind his eyelids and Stiles groans as he opens his eyes, taking in the sight of Derek’s apartment. It’s cleaner than Stiles noticed the night before, too busy to pay attention to anything other than Derek. The bed is empty and Stiles feels a sinking feeling in his stomach when he sees his clothes folded in a neat little pile by the end of the bed, just waiting for him to put them back on and leave. Stiles swallows through the lump forming in his throat, pulling on his underwear and jeans carefully, wishing that the pleasant ache in his ass cancelled out the hurt forming in his chest.

His shoes and jacket aren’t in the bedroom and he steps out hesitantly, carrying his shirt in his hand as he quietly makes his way out. The rest of the apartment is lined by huge windows, overlooking the rest of the district. Derek is in the kitchen, back facing Stiles and he’s wearing nothing more than sweatpants, displaying his tattoo of the triskele that Stiles hadn’t paid much attention to the night before. Stiles feels his breath catch at the sight and Derek looks over his shoulder and see him there, smiling.

“Hey, you’re awake,” he says brightly, and god, he has bed hair.

As if Stiles couldn’t feel any worse. Derek’s face falls, probably being able to smell his emotions from over there.

“Are you okay? I wasn’t too rough last night was I?” He sounds upset and Stiles shakes his head distantly.

“No, last night was great. I just thought–” Stiles cuts himself off at the look on Derek’s face, eyeing the front door.

“Stiles?”

“I thought you wanted me to leave,” he murmurs, trying not to sound as pathetic as he feels. “I didn’t know where you’d gone.”

“I didn’t want to wake you. You–” Derek swallows and he steps closer to Stiles, keeping his eyes on his face. “I was making us breakfast,” he says quietly, eyes full of hope.

Stiles nods, the brittle feeling inside of him slowly start to slip away as that comforting heat trickles back into his chest. He sits at the bench and drops his shirt on the surface, watching Derek with a private smile to himself as he finishes cooking. The food Derek makes is delicious but Stiles feels his eyes on him the whole time to eats. The feeling is blooming in his chest and Stiles doesn’t know why being near Derek is making him feel like this. He’s never read about anything like this and he has no idea if he should ask if Derek can feel it too.He looks up after his last mouthful and Derek has a smile playing at the ends of his lips.

“What?” Stiles laughs, trying to push down the light flutter in his stomach.

“Nothing,” he smiles, shaking his head.

“Liar,” Stiles guesses.

Derek ducks his head down towards his chest like he’s trying to hide his smile. “You haven’t looked in a mirror yet, have you?”

Stiles makes a face at Derek as he waits for him to say something else before the curiosity gets the better of him. The moment Stiles walks into the bathroom he does a double take. For starters his hair is a fucking mess. His neck and chest is covered in dark hickies and the parts that aren’t are red with beard burn. His lips look less swollen than they feel, but then he catches sight of bruises on his hips from Derek’s fingers.

“Holy shit, it looks like you’ve mauled me,” Stiles hears himself say, then the peal of Derek’s laughter erupts from the kitchen.

He walks back out, trying to flatten the bird’s nest his hair has turned into at the same time. Derek is looking pleased with himself when Stiles sits back down slowly. He’s turning everything over in his head and just decides to fucking do it. “Does this mean you want to take me out on a date? Because I would be up for that.”

“Yes, Stiles. I want to take you out on dates.”

“Next time I’m riding you,” Stiles promises.

Derek’s eyes shine when he smiles and it fills Stiles’ stomach with butterflies.

It’s the start of something incredible.

 

Chapter Text

 

He grateful really, when nobody mentions Derek around him. Or Kate. Their friends and family say they don’t take sides, but it’s clear that they’re on Stiles’. It was easier for everyone to avoid the elephant in the room, or if you’re Cora, Lydia or Allison, just ignore Derek completely. Stiles’ dad had not been subtle about his anger or disapproval according to Parrish when Stiles goes to take his dad lunch; putting Derek on dispatch, drunk tank, and overnight as often and just on the edge of unfair as he could.

Of course, then it’s a pack night on the new moon. Twice a month, every month, the pack go to whoever’s house was elected at the last gathering; the new moon and the full moon. So now he’s at Erica and Boyd’s house early, drinking a coffee while Erica decides to try and tackle the elephant head on.

“I mean, you two were supposed to be the dream couple! You weren’t influenced by any sudden supernatural abilities, you were both who you were meant to be–”

“Erica, I don’t think you’re helping,” Boyd sighs as he takes a gulp of his coffee.

“Wait, let me finish. You guys… We all thought you were mates. Like the real deal–”

“Now you’re just being delusional,” Stiles says bluntly. It’s getting harder and harder, even if she’s trying to make him feel better.

“What do you– Stiles…?” She stares at him, and he can see the confusion and hurt all over her face. “Did you never have the mate talk?”

“No, we didn’t. Look, I get it’s different for you because you’re a Were, but I don’t have those same instincts as you. If Derek ever felt that way, he would have said.”

“But–”

“Erica, please,” Boyd murmurs, taking her hand.

“I know.” She says quietly. “I’m sorry, Stiles.”

Stiles tries to send her a smile before they all start to prepare things for when the pack arrive, he and Boyd making two different cob loaf dips while Erica is outside cleaning the barbeque. Even though Boyd is Derek’s best friend and pack brother, he’s never tried to make excuses for Derek. Stiles couldn’t be more thankful at a time like this, knowing that the entire Hale brood are going to be with them tonight.

“Listen, about Erica…”

“It’s fine, Boyd. I get it.”

“Stiles, shut up and let me say it.”

Stiles snorts, gesturing with a sweeping motion to go ahead as he turns back to the dip.

“What you said about instincts? Erica was turned before me, and I’ve never told her this, but I still felt that connection as a human. Didn’t you feel that when you two met?”

Stiles bites his tongue, knowing what his answer is. He shakes his head, stirring the spinach in.

“Liar.”

“Shut up, Vernon.”

Boyd laughs, pulling the bread out of the oven.

“The truth is… I don’t remember what I felt. It’s like there's a fog in my mind that I can’t fully get rid of. And if we were mates like everyone says? I don’t think Derek would have even considered someone else.”

“For what it’s worth, I remember that night. And the day after. Derek was so–”

“Boyd, please don’t tell me. He’s going to be here tonight, and I can’t be thinking about the past.”

Boyd nods, falling back into silence until the pack starts to arrive. The dips are done and wrapped in foil, and Stiles stays in the kitchen to start on dessert as people move through and greet him before they go outside. Everyone is there except for the Hales, and Stiles is dreading it more because he hasn’t seen Talia and Robert since he came back from the conference.

Stiles is the only one inside the house when the doorbell rings, and then Erica’s voice shouts from outside. “Stiles! Can you get that, I’m trying not to set myself on fire– holy shit!”

He’s starts laughing when he faintly hears Andy start to mimic Erica, wiping the flour on his hands on his pants before he opens the door. The smile falls off his face at the sight of Derek, looking like he’s right out of a magazine. As usual. Stiles sighs to himself, holding the door open.

“Come in, Derek.”

Stiles waits awkwardly as Derek stays there, his eyes shining brightly as he stands at the door, when the confused look on his face morphs into indifference. Stiles is already turning away and heading back to the kitchen, and he hears the front door shut behind Derek as he walks through the house.

Immediately Stiles tries to ignore Derek, focusing on the cupcake mix he’s putting together. Derek clears his throat and Stiles looks up, squashing down the feeling in his stomach at how tired he looks.

“Where’s Erica?”

“She’s trying to light the grill,” Stiles supplies.

He’s fully unprepared for Derek to walk closer to him, hovering on the other side of the bench instead of going outside. Stiles feels like he’s drowning under Derek’s gaze, and Boyd’s unfinished words echo in his mind. Derek was so… What? What was Derek? Why was it Stiles? Why did Derek do this to him?

“What are you making?” Derek asks.

“Dessert,” he says, before he turns to the foil wrapped plates. “Can you take the dip outside for me?”

Derek nods and takes them, and Stiles refuses to let their fingers touch or even try to breath in his scent, uncertain of what either of their reactions would be. Knowing Stiles right now, he’d probably start having the long awaited breakdown that’s been in the corner of his mind since this whole thing started. He knows that it’s only a matter of time before he loses it completely, just like it’s only a matter of time until Deaton tells him his power and is so royally fucked over.

He knows they’re correlated, and he’s scared.

Faintly, Stiles hears the door slide open and he hears a stool scrape along the floor as Derek sits at the other side of the bench. He doesn’t react, just cracks the eggs and adds them to the mix. “You never bake,” Derek wonders aloud, and Stiles can see the confusion on his face again.

“Yes I do?” Stiles adds the vanilla extract before he begins to stir, and then he hears the frustrated exhale.

“No, I mean– it’s just that you don’t bake unless you’re upset.”

Stiles fights the urge to roll his eyes at how oblivious his husband can be. “Maybe I wanted to do something nice for everyone,” Stiles grits out, turning his complete focus on the dessert.

It’s easier to pretend he’s not there at all as he puts the pans in the oven, easier to pretend he’s alone as he washes the dishes. He’s just pulling them out of the oven when he realises Derek is still there, and he sighs and raises his eyebrows expectantly.  

“Did you want something? You’ve been sitting there for twenty minutes.”

“I was just wondering how you were,” Derek says with a shrug.

A shrug. Like every moment he’s sitting there isn’t a cruel reminder of Derek being with someone else, like when Derek tried to blame Stiles for why they were always fighting.

“I’m fine,” Stiles lies with a scoff.

It’s not like he could actually tell Derek about how much it hurts, or how his magic was plummeting further away and that Deaton had no answers, or how he knows Derek must still be having nightmares because of the bags under his eyes and how Deaton has told him Derek hasn’t come to see him at all, or how it hurts because the hallucinations keep getting worse and he’s having to hide them from his family.

Or how it hurts that when Stiles straight up lies to his face, Derek doesn’t even seem to notice. Or care, but he’s not too sure about which it really is.

The doorbell rings and Stiles watches as Derek gets up to answer it, and he has a brief moment of panic when he realises it could be Kate. He doesn’t think that she would be invited, but the possibility that Derek told her to come–

The possibility is cut short when the rest of the Hales walk in, and Stiles feels his breath leave him in a surge of relief.

Derek goes outside with Laura and Robert, and Cora opens the fridge to find a spot to keep the shish kebabs cold until it’s time to cook them.

“Are you okay? You smell like shit,” Cora says, resorting the leftovers to make room.

“Yeah, Cora, I’ll deal.”

She closes the fridge and waits for several moments before she turns around and goes to hug him. He holds her tight, inhaling the smell of her shampoo. Stiles knows he’s to blame for shutting them out and the thing is, now that Cora is scent marking him so intensely, he realises he had no idea how it happened.

Okay, so he knows how it happened, but he doesn’t know how it happened. Seeing Cora now, it feels like he hasn’t seen her in months, when in reality it was only a few hours ago that she left the apartment.

“Cora, can I talk to Stiles for a moment?” Talia’s voice cuts through the air, and Cora lets go and gives a gentle punch to his arm as she goes outside.

“Talia…”

“You know we’re all on your side, right?” She says gently, and Stiles feels so incredibly guilty.

“You shouldn’t have to choose between us,” he sighs.

“So you think ignoring our phone calls is the way to do it?” It’s said with a smirk, but Stiles can hear how upset she is, but what’s she’s saying doesn’t make sense to him.

“Phone calls? I haven’t been ignoring any phone calls?”

She frowns, coming over to him and touching his neck gently and add her own scent to his. “Is your phone working?”

“Yeah, it’s been working fine.”

Talia makes a thoughtful noise before she pulls Stiles into her own hug. “I’m not choosing between you either, Stiles. I’m just saying, as a whole in this… Situation, we’re supporting you.”

“You can say divorce, I’m not going to break,” he mutters.

She laughs quietly and kisses his temple. “I know you won’t. Did you know he brought her over the other day?”

“I might not break over the word divorce, but believe me when I say I don’t want to hear anything about it.”

“Did you hear she’s a total bitch? I don’t think she even noticed how hostile his sisters were being.”

Stiles can’t hold back his smile, shaking his head. “Erica did mention it, yeah. What about you, Talia?”

“Oh, I was suitably hostile. I’m just more subtle about it. Robert told me off after they left,” she smirks.

He’s laughing now and Talia starts laughing with him, and then she sighs. “Come on, I think Andy is about to start harassing my son by the sounds of it.”

Stiles nods, but he lets Talia go so he can cover the cupcakes before he goes outside. Andy runs to him immediately, and Stiles scoops her up into his arms and offers his neck to her to scent. She makes a content noise and Stiles smiles softly as she starts murmuring about her day into his neck, so he can’t possibly tell what she’s saying.

As Stiles sits next to Lydia, he thinks he sees a flash of pain on Derek’s face, but when he looks again, he sees nothing of the sort.

It’s an otherwise easy evening, where Stiles sticks to one side of the garden, and Derek sticks to the other. Isaac also sticks impossibly close to Lydia the whole time, and Stiles has to pass a sleeping Andy off to Allison after dessert when he needs to go to the bathroom.

Stiles is washing his hands when he hears a door slam shut, and he heads out into the hall to see the door to the spare room closed, and he can hear the muffled voices inside. He knows he shouldn’t, he really knows he shouldn’t, but Stiles gingerly turns the knob and inches the door open just a crack, taking in Derek and Cora in a standoff, and Cora’s voice is so undeniably angry.

“So what are you saying, Derek?”

“I’m saying, he doesn’t look as bad as everyone keeps trying to guilt trip me into believing,” Derek snaps.

Stiles feels a flash of hurt go through him at the words, because how can Derek not see how much he’s losing control of everything?

“What?” Cora scoffs. “So just because he’s with his friends who make him smile, and laugh, and be happy, that means he’s automatically fine with everything that happened?”

“That’s not what I meant–”

“No, Derek, I know exactly what you meant. Just because Stiles isn’t making a big deal out of you being here, doesn’t mean that he’s fine with what you did. You were unhappy? So fucking what, people are always unhappy. But you cheated on him, and he’s hurting. I’m watching my best friend waste away right in front of me, and I can’t seem to do a thing to stop it–”

“I never intended to hurt him!”

Really?! Maybe you should have thought of that before you even thought of jumping into bed with Kate! You’re so wrapped up in her that you can’t even see how much we all hate her–”

“You don’t even know her!” Derek snarls.

“I don’t have to know her, Derek. She’s a fucking piece of work…” Cora trails off, and Stiles sees her eyes flick to him and the fury on her face morphs into pain. “Can’t you even smell how distraught Stiles is?”

“He smells fine–”

“No, Derek, he doesn’t. How can’t you smell how broken he is?”

“He smells fine.” Derek snaps.

“Do you even hear him at all?”

“He’s outside,” Derek says. “I can hear him, he’s talking to Andy.”

Cora’s eyes flick to Stiles once again, and she looks back at Derek and her whole posture becomes defensive. Stiles shakes his head and her eyes flash, and she looks almost scared. “You… You’ve been together for eight years, Derek! How do you not know what he’s feeling right now?”

“He’s the one who–”

Stop blaming him for what you did,” Cora growls.

“He pushed me away!”

“So you went to someone else?! How can you even think that’s okay? You were supposed to be mates, you always said–”

“He’s not my mate, Cora,” Derek says simply. “You might not like Kate, but she’s more than he ever was.”

He says it so bluntly, like it's fact. Like it was simple for him. Like Stiles’ hasn’t gone cold all over, or that he feels like he’s falling. Stiles knows he’s not breathing right now, he can’t even take a gulp of air because this must be it, and this has to be the breakdown that he’s been anticipating. That’s when he hears Cora’s animalistic whine and he takes a quiet breath, meeting her broken stare.

“What?” She manages, after complete silence for what had to have only been seconds but feels like a lifetime to Stiles.

“You heard me.”

“I don’t– I don’t believe you, Derek,” she whispers.

“Kate Argent is my mate,” he repeats slowly, and Stiles knows she’s listening to his heartbeat.

Cora sounds desperate, and it fucking hurts for Stiles to hear her that way. “I don’t know how you’re doing that, but you’re lying to me. There’s no way that woman could be–”

“You’ll have to get over it. Because she is. We are.”

Stiles can’t listen anymore, he walks back outside and he feels so numb, and he can feel himself slipping as he tries to ignore the looks every werewolf is sharing and sending Stiles’ way.

“Lydia, can you take me home? I… I don’t think I should drive right now.”

She looks at him and Stiles sees her face pale before she nods. “Yeah, Stiles. You’ll be okay at home though, right?”

Stiles nods. “Yeah. You should come back here and celebrate, I’ll be fine.”

Lydia helps him up carefully and leading him to Erica.

“Hey, I’m going to go home… I’m not feeling well.”

Erica wraps him in a hug before he can see the pitying look that’s surely on her face, and she scent marks him gently and holds him for longer than she normally would. “Call me later, okay?”

“Thanks for inviting me,” he nods.

“You’re family, Stiles. Don’t forget that.”

He tries to smile but judging by her face it’s a grimace, and as soon as he’s in the car with Lydia, she waits to see if he says anything. He doesn’t.

“Stiles, talk to me or I swear to god I’m staying with you as soon as we get home.”

He sighs, picking at the skin by his nails. “I overheard Cora talking with Derek.”

“So that’s why everyone was looking like that,” she sighs. “Oh dear.”

“You know how everyone said we’re mates?”

“I don’t think I’m going to like where this is going.”

Stiles sighs and looks out the window. It would be too easy to have a hallucination right now, when he wants one, to make it easier to cope by imagining the physical pain instead of feeling so fucking numb. “Apparently Kate is his mate.”

“He said what?”

“And that… She was more than I ever was.”

“He’s lying,” Lydia vehemently protests.

“He’s not, Lydia. He said it to Cora, and his heartbeat didn’t skip.”

“You weren’t at the bar, Stiles. You didn’t… You didn’t see the way he looked at her. It was weird.”

Stiles shakes his head, sucking the blood from his finger after he pulled the skin off. It should hurt, but he barely feels it. “Well, it doesn’t matter, because it’s obviously true. He loves her and that’s none of my business.”

“Stiles, please don’t hate me for asking this, but… Do you still love him?”

He blinks the sting out of his eyes from the threat of tears and sniffs before he nods. “…Yeah. Yeah, I do. He’s my husband, at least for a while still. I think I’ll always love him, even if we’re not mates, he… Derek’s kind of always felt like he was it for me.”

“Even though you were wanting a divorce?”

“If you want the truth, I thought it might make it easier. Either we’d work through our shit together, or we’d split up. I didn’t care if we weren’t sharing a bed, or a house– as long as we could still be friends, you know? I’d be happy with that. I’d move on, eventually.”

Lydia nods, pulling into her parking spot and getting him back up to the apartment, and he promises her he’ll be fine. He manages to convince her to leave, and when the door shuts behind her he can’t stop the tears from falling, this feeling of emptiness that’s so overwhelming Stiles can hardly think over the white noise in his head.

He fumbles his way into the bathroom and avoids looking in the mirror completely, getting undressed and turns the water up to burning hot, hot enough to feel the sting on his skin from how cold he is. When he gets out he sighs and scratches his arm, relishing how he can feel the prick of his nails against the too-red skin. He does it to his whole body as it dries, pulling on his sleep pants and Henley so it covers his whole body, so he won’t try and hurt himself to feel anything more real.

Stiles thinks he drifts off to sleep on the couch, but he’s not completely sure, because he’s so sure Cora came home several minutes ago. There are foil wrapped plates on the coffee table, so he’s certain.

There’s that voice in his head, echoing Derek’s words over and over and Stiles just wants it to stop, wants it gone forever.

Cora comes back into his sight in her pyjamas and a soft smile, dumping blankets onto his lap before she unwraps the foil off of the plates and Stiles sees the leftovers of the cob loaf and cupcakes, when she disappears for a moment only to wraps his hands around a mug of hot chocolate.

She sits down next to him without a word, and they eat the leftover food as they watch a movie, or was it more than one? Stiles thinks to himself.

He knows when he falls to sleep this time however, because he wakes up with Cora sprawled on top of him like when they were teenagers, draped in blankets. He smiles privately to himself, closing his eyes again until he feels Cora moving off of him.

Stiles makes them coffee and breakfast to keep himself busy, and Cora smiles when he puts her plate down in front of him. “Allison is having a family dinner tonight.”

Lydia used to hate the Argent family dinner night. At first they hated her because she was a supernatural, and then when they realised Allison wasn’t going anywhere, it turned into casual disapproval, even after Allison officially became pack. Until Andy came along.

They love their granddaughter, werewolf side and all, and Stiles stopped hearing about how frustrating the entire night was because somewhere along the way they realised Lydia wasn’t a bad person, and she was completely head over heels about Allison. But if Allison’s aunt is in town…

“Oh god,” Stiles says.

“That’s what I said. Apparently Lydia has to go as well, so Allison doesn’t have to deal with Kate all on her own.”

He grins for lack of anything better to do, and takes a sip of his coffee. “I can’t imagine they’ll make it easy after last night.”

“I wish I could watch it, I really do,” Cora smirks.

“You have your ways.”

Cora grins. “Yes, yes I do.”

 

 

Stiles is coming home from dinner with his dad when his phone beeps.

From: Cora

We’re out of milk (7:21PM)

 

Stiles sighs and pulls into the nearest convenience store, picking up the milk on autopilot and is almost back in his car when he hears his name. He turns, smiling when he sees Andy in Allison’s arms.

“Allison, hey.”

“Hey Stiles,” she smiles, shifting Andy in his arms.

“How did the dinner go?”

“It was… Not good?” Allison sighs and gives Andy a look, and she looks away with a pout.

“I’ll bet.”

“Derek was there as well.”

Slightly less interested,” Stiles winces when Lydia comes out of the store with several plastic bags, although she’s smiling through her clear exhaustion.

“Andy had a tantrum,” she sighs. “We didn’t want to tell her off, but you know. Life of a parent.”

“Why did she have a tantrum?” Stiles asks.

Andy won’t look at him, instead she turns her face into Allison’s neck, mumbling to herself. Lydia is smiling though, so Stiles thinks it can’t be too bad, because both look kind of proud of her right now.

“She had her first shift,” Allison says, brushing her hand over Andy’s head. “When Kate tried to talk to her.”

At the mention of Kate, Andy starts to growl, and Allison tries to shush her. “Andy, come on, she’s not here right now.”

“I want Uncle Stiles,” she says quietly.

Allison rolls his eyes and passes her over, and she clings to Stiles’ neck like a monkey. “You had your first shift, huh?”

She nods against his neck, and Stiles tries to smile through the guilt. It’s his fault she’s having her change triggered early, no matter what Deaton said.

“Want to tell me why?”

“She’s mean,” Andy whispers.

“I bet there’s more than that,” Stiles tries to console.

He looks to both Allison and Lydia, and they nod. He grimaces, shifting her weight so she looks up at him. She whimpers and it breaks Stiles heart to hear it, and then she starts to cry and it’s like he’s being torn apart.

“Please don’t hate me,” she sobs. “I didn’t mean to, I swear–”

“Andy, I could never hate you, come on, tell me what happened.”

“He smelt bad, and– and you said you still love him, and I hurt him–”

“Andy, tell me what happened.”

“I kicked Uncle Derek,” she whimpers, burying her face into his shoulder.

He couldn’t care less about the snot or tears, because she’s so upset he just wants to make it better. Allison and Lydia watching sadly, obviously in the same boat as Stiles. Seeing their daughter cry wouldn’t be easy for either of them, and Stiles just wants her to be happy.

“I’m not upset at you, and neither is Uncle Derek.”

“How do you know?”

“Because Uncle Derek should be smart enough to know that you weren’t ready for that. I know you’re upset about what’s happening, and you know that kicking him was wrong, so I’m not going to get angry at you.”

She sniffs into his neck, her tiny fingers curled tight around the fabric of his shirt.

“I don’t like that lady.”

“I don’t think anyone does,” he mock whispers, like it’s a secret.

Andy giggles, clinging tight to him, and Allison sighs. “Andy, do you want to go home?”

She nods, and Stiles passes her over after she kisses him on the nose.

“Say goodbye to Uncle Stiles,” Lydia says, and Andy waves. “I’ll text you when she gets put to bed?”

“Yeah, I’ll talk to you in a bit.”

Stiles drives back to the apartment carefully, and as soon as he opens the door, Cora is upon him.

“What took you so long?”

“I ran into Lydia and Allison.”

Cora’s eyes narrow. “It’s only quarter to eight.”

“Yeah, Andy wolfed out so they cut dinner short.” He passes the milk to her, and he sits on the stool by the counter where she’s apparently cooking. “Why are you baking?”

She looks up, startled.

“Uh… Why aren’t you baking?” Stiles makes a face, and she sighs. “ Fine, I wanted something to soften the blow.”

“You’re kicking me out?”

“What? No, Stiles. Lydia promised me a recording of tonight.”

“Oh, well yeah,” he already figured it would happen, but saying that would probably end up being hit with the wooden spoon in her hand.

Cora scoffs, putting both of her hands down on the bench. Her stare is kind of unnerving for Stiles right now, because usually he’d be in his right mind to decipher it, but he hasn’t been for a while now.

Their phones vibrate at the same time.

From: Lydia

For the love of god never let Ally know I did this. [att.] (7:58PM)

 

They both stare at the message before Cora shrugs, taking the phone out of his hand, and then Allison’s tinny voice comes out through his speakers.

Lyds, put your phone away.”

Alright, I’m doing it,” she says, and there’s a rustle of fabric.

It’s just for a few hours,” Allison says, but it’s more like she’s trying to convince herself than Lydia.

Allison, I love you.”

I love you too, Lyds.”

Mommy, what about me?” Andy pipes up.

I love you to the moon and back,” Allison says, and Stiles can hear the nervousness in her voice before there’s the sound of a muffled doorbell.

It’s clear that Kate isn’t there yet, and there’s normal conversation until the doorbell rings again. The sound of Chris greeting the new arrivals makes Stiles go tense, and Cora glares at his phone like she could set it on fire if she keeps it up.

Lydia, this is my sister Kate,” Chris says. The tone of his voice is worse than the time Stiles tried to defend when Lydia and Allison first started dating, and it makes him cringe. “And… Derek, you already know.

Chris,” Derek’s voice comes out and Stiles does his best to calm down.

Andy, this is my Aunt Kate, ” Allison grits out. “She– she’s your Uncle Derek’s… Friend.”

She’s why Uncle Stiles is sad?” Andy’s voice is quiet, but it’s clear she’s in Lydia’s arms from how close her voice is.

Andy, aren’t you going to come say hi?” Derek asks, and he sounds so upset by it that it makes Stiles want to walk away.

Come on, you haven’t seen Uncle Derek in ages,” Lydia tries, and it sounds like she’s moving her down to the floor.

Hey Andy,” Derek says, and it sounds so much like his old self that it’s like there’s another part of him to break. “I missed you.”

You smell different, Uncle Derek. You don’t smell like Uncle Stiles.”

Several voices sigh, and then a feminine voice coming through the speakers. “Sweetie, Uncle Stiles isn’t here anymore. You’ll have to accept it.”

It sounds like it’s said with a smile, but both Stiles and Cora go tense. It sounds so condescending, he wants to throw his phone. She ignores Kate and Stiles decides he needs to spoil Andy more.

Why don’t you love Uncle Stiles anymore?”

Or not.

He still loves you, Uncle Derek.”

Derek sounds like he’s been kicked in the chest. “Andy… Sometimes–

It’s Andy, right? Well, your Uncle Derek moved on. He’s realised that your Uncle Stiles wasn’t his precious,” Kate pauses on the recording, and he can hear something like an amused hum. “ …Mate.”

Andy lets out a horrific noise, a mix between her first proper howl and a deep snarl, and then several people swear and something sounds like it breaks before Andy starts crying. “Mommy,” she cries. “Mom, it hurts.”

Baby, it’s okay, you’re okay. It always hurts the first time,” Lydia tries to soothe over the tears.

Dad, we’re going to go.” Allison says, sounding frantic and on the verge of tears herself.

Good idea,” Chris says. “Call me when she feels better.”

The recording cuts off, and Stiles is shaking. There was something about Kate’s voice that just made him go cold all over, and he knows he should be jealous, or something petty. Deep down he knows he is but after hearing her voice, he can only feel fear and confusion and it’s like he’s trapped in a nightmare.

“That was Kate?” He asks quietly.

“Ugh, yes,” Cora nods.

“She– she sounds familiar…”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know, I think I’m just being delusional.” Stiles shakes his head. “But I heard her at the house…”

“Why do you think that you’re delusional?”

“I just want to tell myself it’s not real? That I’ll wake up, and it’s just been a dream and Derek will still be asleep beside me, like none of this ever happened. That– that I’ll be home with him and she’ll be nothing but a bad dream.”

“Stiles–”

“Sorry,” he sniffs. “I just hate her.”

“You’re allowed to hate her more than anyone, Stiles. She slept with your husband. You’re getting a divorce because of her.”

“So you don’t think I’m just being pathetic?”

“When have you ever been that in your entire life?”

 


 

Stiles is twenty.

There’s a storm outside that is raging on, as it has been since the morning before. If anything, the downpour had gotten worse. Stiles hasn’t left Derek’s apartment in three days.

He knows he should probably go back to his house and spend some time with his dad, but there’s time for that later. That time is when Stiles stops worrying about how distant Derek is becoming. Ever since Stiles had come home two weeks ago, Derek has been pulling away from him and Stiles doesn’t know what to do. So naturally, Stiles does the thing he doesn’t want to do. He clings, trying to spend as much time with him as he can in his Christmas break before he goes back to the University for his last semester.

Stiles hates being clingy, because it just makes him think of before he had the pack, when it was just his parents and Cora and when Stiles was alone, but if Derek notices he certainly hasn’t said anything. Because Stiles isn’t clingy. But with Derek acting like he has been, Stiles just can’t help thinking the worst; that Derek’s gotten tired of him.

And Stiles knows that that can’t be true. Right? Sure, Derek can be quiet but whenever Stiles has called him, well… Derek’s always looked worried and tired when he wasn’t home. It stews in Stiles’ mind, how Derek had said goodbye that morning before he went to work and he had sounded… Not angry, but like he was distracted.

And Stiles didn’t know what by.

Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Stiles finally gets out of bed and makes his way to the kitchen. The pot of coffee is cold so he goes about brewing a new pot, pulling his hoodie tighter around himself. There’s a crack of lightening outside, lighting up the dark flat before the heavy boom of thunder follows. The rain is beating against the windows like a wave and Stiles hopes everyone down at the station is being careful. Two of them more than the rest.

He sips at his coffee while he pads along to the couch, weighing the decisions in his mind. Derek had left pretty early, so he’d probably be on his way home in the next two hours. Stiles hadn’t realised that he had slept in for as long as he did.

Logically, Stiles knows he shouldn’t be feeling insecure about his relationship, because what he and Derek have is a good thing. No, it’s better than that. Stiles is in love. He’s in love with Derek. They hadn’t really said the words yet in the almost-but-not-quite year they’d been together, but Stiles thought that Derek felt the same. Stiles was always too nervous to say the words. Whenever he was about to say them, his chest would tighten with the feeling of what he now knew as their developing bond, telling him it wasn’t right yet. That he should say them in person.

So their calls would always end with a lingering silence, where Stiles would just stare at Derek, willing him to feel the words if he couldn’t hear them. But the moment Derek met him at the airport, he couldn’t find the words. Three fucking words and he couldn’t say them. So he kissed him instead.

Theoretically it was supposed to be an easy decision when he decides to approach the subject with Derek.

Stiles hates reality. Reality means that when Derek comes home wearing his uniform, Stiles tries to grasp his words and loses them as Derek goes to change into something warmer. Reality means that when Derek comes out of his bedroom, Stiles’ two hours of his planned, well thought out speech is disintegrating in his mind and he has to blurt it out before it crumbles completely. Reality is hating the twisted words that come out of his mouth, because that was not what he meant to say at all.

“Do you want to break up?”

Derek freezes and hurt crosses his face before it disappears underneath a wave of myriad emotions, settling on shock. He opens his mouth but no words come out, he just stares at Stiles. He feels like an idiot, but then the silence stretches out. And out.

And out.

Stiles’ heart is in his throat as Derek continues to stare at him, but he doesn’t try to deny anything and Stiles bites his lips and nods slowly. He needs to go home. He needs to get out. His feet are moving before he realises he’s fleeing and the door slams shut behind him, heading straight to the elevator. It’s only when he’s nearly to the ground floor that he realises his keys are still up in Derek’s apartment… Along with his shoes.

Stiles forces himself to keep moving, telling himself that he’ll come back for them later. He’ll walk home. It’s a terrible idea but Stiles can’t think of going back for them now. He shoves the door open and thinks he hears the call and echo of his name, stepping out into the pouring rain. Stiles is drenched in seconds but he doesn’t stop moving, when the building door slams open and Derek shouts his name.

Derek’s hand wraps around his bicep and pulls him back to face him but Stiles can’t bear to look at his face, that broken expression while the storm beats down on them. “Why would you think that?” Derek yells over the sound of the rain.

“Because you’ve been pulling away from me!” Stiles shouts back, both thankful that the rain is mixing with his tears but hating that the chill is seeping into his bones. “You didn’t say anything back there, what was I supposed to think?!”

“That’s not– Stiles, I didn’t mean for you to think that! What the fuck was I supposed to say?!”

“How about ‘no, Stiles, I don’t want to break up’, fuck, Derek–”

You took me by surprise!”

“I’m sorry–”

“I was trying to think of how to ask you to move in with me after you graduate.” A bolt of lightning flashes through the sky and Derek has to fight to be heard over the thunder. “Fuck – Stiles, I love you, okay? I love you.

Everything Stiles could say gets caught in his throat and it comes out as a broken noise as he pulls himself against Derek, their mouths crashing together hotly.

He can feel Derek’s hands grabbing his sodden clothes, tugging him closer. Derek’s hair is drenched as Stiles takes hold, but it’s perfect. Derek has always been perfect.

Stiles is just an idiot sometimes.

“I love you,” Stiles admits when they separate, wrapping his arms around Derek in a hug. “And I’ll definitely move in with you.”

A whine escapes Derek as he presses a gentle kiss against his neck. “Please come back inside.”

“That’s a great idea,” Stiles nods, threading his fingers through Derek’s and letting himself be lead back into the building. As they pass the stairs, Stiles thinks back to the shout he heard. “Did you run down twelve flights of stairs?”

“You were already on the elevator,” Derek shrugs with a small smile, pressing a kiss to the back of his hand. “Were you planning on walking home in this weather?”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

They’re both shivering by the time they get back into the apartment, both heading for the shower. As steam fills the bathroom they help peel off each other’s wet clothes which cling to their skin, fingers trailing along ribcages and muscles, just taking the time to touch one another.

Stepping under the hot spray, Stiles groans as it warms him. Derek steps into the shower moments later, and Stiles leans in to kiss him when he sees the hooded look in Derek’s eyes.

He can feel himself getting hard under the hot water with the slide of their bodies, smiling when he feels Derek the same way.

“I love you,” Stiles repeats, trying to commit this moment to his memory.

Derek lets out a shaky breath, closing his eyes and smiling at what Stiles figures is the steady rhythm of his heart.

“I love you so much, Stiles,” he whispers, nose skimming along Stiles’ jaw and up his cheek.

The shower was only supposed to heat their bodies up, so Stiles doesn’t mind when Derek reaches behind him and turns the water off. The towels are fluffy and soft as they dry off, but neither separate for very long.

They kiss each other slowly and surely, each touch deliberate as they eventually find the bed. Stiles climbs onto Derek’s lap, rolling his hips and swallowing Derek’s gasp in a searching kiss.

Derek sinks back against the mattress and grips tightly onto Stiles’ hips, letting out little noises of want when Stiles breaks away and starts trailing kisses across his jaw. Stiles likes to suck marks into Derek’s skin almost as much as Derek likes to with him, but Stiles gets the pleasure of watching them rapidly fade before he gets to make a brand new mark in the exact same place.

Stiles drags his teeth along Derek’s neck, smirking proudly as Derek’s body jolts under him. He presses his palm over Derek’s heart, loving the feel of how strong it beats and the warmth that shoots through his palm and into Stiles’ chest like a closed circuit.

He moves down lower, sucking the vanishing marks by his heart until he comes to the other side of his chest, skimming his teeth along Derek’s nipple teasingly before he draws it into his mouth and tonguing the soft flesh.

Stiles,” Derek gasps, a hand moving and twisting his fingers through Stiles’ hair.

There’s no way of knowing if Derek is trying to pull him away or keep him close. Either way, Stiles has always loved the feeling, moaning as he’s pulled up and dragged into demanding kiss.

Stiles reaches down and takes their stiff cocks in hand, when Derek rolls them over and reaches for the lube in the bedside table.

“God, I need to ride you,” Derek breathes, eyes trailing down Stiles’ flushed body.

Stiles whines and coats his fingers, the sight of Derek above him making him twitch with anticipation.

His fingernails dig into Stiles’ shoulders when he slides his finger inside, wasting no time in stretching him out.

All that mattered now was just the two of them.

Derek is trying to fuck back onto Stiles’ fingers in no time, loud whimpers escaping from Derek whenever Stiles twists his fingers along his prostate. It’s a beautiful sound, but it’s even better when Derek’s all breathless and repeating his name.

He makes a quiet noise as Stiles withdraws his fingers, but Derek wastes no time in slicking up Stiles’ cock right before he lines himself up and sinks down, a needy cry filling the air.

Stiles’ mouth falls open and his voice hitches on a broken moan, and he feels like he can’t breathe as Derek starts to move his hips.

“Please,” Stiles gasps when Derek doesn’t seem to move any faster, staring down at him with an open mouthed smirk.

“Derek, oh my god, Derek, ” Stiles tries to thrust up into him but Derek holds him down easily, but his voice is weak from the effort it’s taking to draw it out. He settles on dragging his nail down Derek’s back, whimpering at the sight and feel of Derek’s body shuddering around him.

“Want you so much, Stiles. Always.”

Stiles drags him down into desperate kiss, needing everything Derek will give him. The noises Derek is making whenever Stiles slides against his prostate is making Stiles go crazy, filling him with wantneedplease to bury himself in Derek until he comes.

It’s almost too much when Derek stops holding back and Stiles thrusts up into him, reaching down and closing his hand around Derek’s cock.

Stiles,” he moans, fucking into Stiles’ fist and then back onto his cock. “Stiles, god, love you, love you mine–”

Derek’s whole body tenses as he comes, mouth falling open in a broken cry, ropes of come shooting over Stiles’ chest.

Derek,” Stiles cries as Derek collapses against him, chasing his release as he sucks a mark over his Adam’s apple.

Derek pulls Stiles’ hand to rest on his heart and Stiles shudders as warmth floods through him, overwhelming him into completion. He spills inside Derek, both of them shuddering with the aftershocks.

“I love you,” Stiles whispers against Derek’s temple, whimpering at the cold air when he slips out of Derek.

They lay next to each other for what feels like hours before they fall asleep, memorising each touch and look they share.

They drift off in the safety of each other’s arms while the storm rages on.

 

Chapter Text

 

It’s a few weeks later when the papers are finally sent to him. It’s a heavy feeling in his gut as he reads them over almost three times, finally gearing himself up to drive over to their– to Derek’s house. He can’t help but sit and stare up at it from the driveway, his breath coming out more shakily the longer he sits there. Stiles has to do it though, he has to get it over with.

Stiles steels himself and climbs out of the jeep, walking slowly up to the front step like he can prolong it. As he raises his fist to knock on the wood, he hesitates, blinking rapidly to stop the possibility of tears. After this… They won’t be married. He’ll be a Stilinski again. Not a Stilinski-Hale. It scares him, and it makes his knees weak.

He knocks on the door.

It opens several moments later like Derek was on the other side and pretending that he wasn’t, and he’s shirtless and he looks exhausted and Stiles’ knows that this day is one he’ll never forget. Meeting his gaze, Derek’s face morphs from surprise into a flash of relief before suspicion takes its place. God, the bags under his eyes–

“Stiles, what are you doing here?”

“Uh– I– papers. I just… Came to bring you the papers. From the lawyers,” he says, swallowing against the lump in his throat.

Stiles waves them in the air, and Derek’s eyes zero in on it and for a moment Stiles thinks he looks heartbroken, but it’s gone so quickly he can’t be sure.

Derek nods, and Stiles sees his jaw click. “Yeah, sure. Come in.”

Stiles feels nothing as he crosses the entryway, letting Derek lead him through the house he knows better than the back of his own hand. They reach the kitchen and Derek starts to pull out two cups to make coffee in.

“You don’t have to–”

“It’s okay, I want to.”

Stiles nods and pulls out his chair at the table, letting himself take one last look around. The space has barely changed over the few months he’s been gone, except for a few things he figures belong to Kate.

“So how have you been?” Derek asks.

“Good, I guess. Considering.”

“Good, that’s– that’s good.”

“Yeah,” Stiles says, picking at the his scabbed cuticles again.

The cup of coffee appears in front of him and Stiles looks up and mutters a quick thanks, sliding the papers over to Derek.

“So… You’re sure about this?”

Stiles strengthens his resolve and scoffs, because now this is the one thing he’s sure of. “Yes, Derek. I’m most definitely sure about this. Now you can be free to be with your mate.”

Derek’s eyes flare and he scowls. “Who ever said–”

“Literally everyone heard you with Cora, you don’t need to pretend.” Derek’s eyes flash again and he growls a little but Stiles ignores it. “Whatever, just sign the damn papers so I can get out of your hair.”

There’s a creak on the bad step and Kate’s voice gets louder as she starts to come closer. “Derek, who’s here? You said you weren’t expecting anyone, oh–”

Stiles looks up and sees her for the first time and he can’t breathe, he’s cold all over, so cold. He’s terrified and he can’t make it stop, and Derek’s voice cuts through everything like a lighthouse beacon in a storm. “…Stiles? Are you okay?”

Stiles can’t see anything but the smirk on her face and he pushes the chair back and stumbles as he hurries to leave. He can’t be hallucinating now, this– it’s not right, he can’t be–

“I– I have to go.”

There’s no other way to get to the front door, so he takes a deep breath and pushes through his fear to get by her, when her hand darts out and takes hold of his wrist in an iron grip. She’s real. She’s real and she’s been in his house and sleeping with his husband and is his mate, and Stiles can’t breathe. “You should stay and have a drink. Like… A farewell.”

He takes her wrist and twists, shoving her hard against the wall with his arm pressed to her throat to keep her still. The memory hits him hard, and it’s like her hands are trying to squeeze the life out of him all over again. He’s furious and he’s scared, and he would relish in this if he wasn’t so afraid of her, and lashing out just seems like the best solution. Stiles sees her smirk vanish for a second before she recovers, like she’s about to say something.

“Stiles!” Derek shouts, and Stiles wrenches himself away, looking between the two of them.

Derek looks pissed, and Kate looks so fucking satisfied, a snarl rips from Stiles’ own throat and it would surprise him if he wasn’t expecting this breakdown for a long time coming.

“Both of you stay the fuck away from me. Don’t even try to think about coming near me.”

The door slams on his way out and he’s driving before he realises where he’s going. He has to keep everything at bay until he’s safe. He’s not allowed to breakdown and cause an accident, he has to keep a level head until he finds a place for solitude.

At a red light, Stiles pulls his phone out of his pocket and rips the battery out, so no one will be able to find him. He needs air, and he needs it now, and when he’s passing the county border, he knows where he’s been taking himself.

The drive to the lake the next few towns over isn’t particularly a short one, but it’s where he needs to go. He climbs out of the car and walks through the neighbouring preserve, tripping over stray rocks and branches that he couldn’t care less about. When he was in high school, this is where Deaton took him only a few rare times to try and help him understand about the balance in the universe.

Stiles finally crosses the break between the trees and the sand surrounding the lake, and his knees collapse under his weight as he finally lets himself go. Stiles is shaking and crying as he tries to claw his way towards the water, and images assault his mind as he screams himself hoarse trying to escape them.

Stiles can’t be sure if it’s the panic attack or the memory, but every just keeps getting worse because he can feel her hands tight around his throat as he struggles for air, can still feel her breath on his lips as she leans close and laughs before his chest is opening under her knife, blood spilling down his white shirt before security reaches them and she’s gone–

Except she’s not, she wasn’t a hallucination in the bar, it was real, and this time there is no Derek getting to the hospital as fast as he can to be with Stiles, still looking at him like Stiles was the answer to any question, like he had personally hung the moon for him, and Derek will never hold him again because Derek isn’t his anymore, he’s not–

Everything is rushing forward, how he didn’t say ‘I love you’ after a fight once because he was too angry, how Derek was supposed to know that Stiles loved him even if he never said it, because they were married and they were meant to mean something, but then one day he somehow never said it again

Stiles needs pain, he needs to ground himself, and he scratches at his arms trying to provoke a response but he can’t feel anything, and he’s not sure when it got dark but then the sky opens up and the summer storm pours down onto him as he tries to get any feeling back into his body. He can’t feel anything but the cold as he crawls through the mud towards the lake, and Stiles doesn’t know how much time has passed but his stomach is growling and he’s screamed and cried his voice away. Stiles knows the lake is calming, and as soon as his hand touches the surface he feels a surge of warmth jolt through his arm, and it’s enough to have him scrambling to put his phone back together.

Stiles pulls the pieces out of his drenched pockets, ineffectually trying to dry them before he puts them back together, and he supposes it’s a miracle that his phone turns on at all. Maybe it was a miracle, or maybe it was just his magic. He doesn’t care.

The screen lights up and flashes that he has several text messages and a handful of voicemails. It’s against his better judgement that he presses play.

“Missed call from: Derek at 4:18PM. Stiles, what the fuck is wrong with you?! You assault my girlfriend? My mate?! I signed your damn papers, happy? Now get your ass back to Lydia’s and sign them too. Jesus fucking Christ, you won’t have to worry about us coming near you because. You. Are. Pathetic.

“Missed call from: Cora at 8:12PM. Stiles, answer your goddamn phone. I’m worried about you, you were supposed to be home hours ago.

“Missed call from: Derek at 8:30PM. Stiles, where are you? Everyone is worried. We can’t find your scent, Andy and Lydia are starting to freak out –”

Lydia’s voice is furious and loud when she cuts Derek off.

Really? No fucking shit, Derek, of course I’m freaking out. Jesus!

He thinks that you shouldn’t be alone–”

Of course he shouldn’t, Derek, he’s my brother and you–”

He attacked her, Lydia, not the other way around–”

Oh, that is such bullshit! Stiles wouldn’t attack anyone without provocation–”

I was there, I saw it!

You know what, now I know why he was going to divorce you! Even without that fucking piece of work in the picture, you’re such a–”

Kate has done nothing to you!

No, but she’s done everything to my family! She’s Allison’s goddamn aunt and she made my daughter so upset she shifted, she’s your mate apparently, and she broke my brother’s heart.” Lydia is screaming now, given up on trying to reign her anger in.

You said Stiles was already going to divorce me, I don’t see why this is her fault–”

Because he loves you, you fucking idiot! He just wanted to be friends if you couldn’t work it out! God, all he wanted to do was stop fighting with you, and he still loves you so fucking much, even though you cheated on him! He was supposed to be your mate, Derek! Not her!

And how would you know?

Because I have a mate who loves me! God, do you even know what hearing you weren’t mates did to him? Do you even know how much that broke him? You threw eight years of his life down the drain–”

Stiles knew we weren’t mates. ” Derek is calm and precise, and Stiles feels like he’s been kicked all over again.

No, now you’re just lying to yourself as well as everyone around you! All he wanted was to be happy, so whatever you and Kate says he did? You obviously don’t know the whole picture.

Do you?

I’m going to fucking find out. Just help us find him and–”

The voicemail time limit cuts off, and the next one begins to play.

“Missed call from: Derek at 10:15PM. Your dad is worried. We’ve started a search party. Please come home.

“Missed call from: Dad at 1:03AM. Stiles, I don’t know what happened, but Kate wants to press charges. Please come home. I know this is hard, but this is something you can’t run from right now. We’re sending out another search party during the day, I’ll give you another call when I get home. I... I love you.

His phone starts to ring with a call from his dad a few seconds later, and draws it back up to his ear.

“Stiles? Stiles are you there?” He’s frantic, and he thought he had run out of tears, but he was wrong.

“Yeah, Dad. I’m here,” he rasps.

“Where are you? Why do you sound like you’ve been screaming?”

“Because I have been,” he manages. It hurts to say anything too loudly. “I– I’m at the lake– just GPS my phone.”

“Son, I know it hurts right now, but are there any landmarks nearby that we can use in case you zone out again?”

“The– there’s two rowan oak trees as you pass a boulder… One– one has a ward carved into it and the other has– has a curse. Deaton knows where it is.”

“Alright, we’ll be there as fast as we can. I love you.”

Stiles’ throat hurts too much to say it back, and he puts his phone in his breast pocket and puts his hand back in the water, and it still feels as warm as before.

He sighs as the feeling spreads through him, and Stiles crawls into the shallows up to his waist and leans against one of the big rocks, feeling almost alive again as the warm water ripples against the rain.

It’s pleasant to be feeling something like that again, and he almost wants to fall asleep with the water around him. He shouldn’t, he knows that, and the rain beating down on everything reminds him not too. The rain keeps up and it’s like no time at all has passed when he hears shouting, looking up to see Cora and Derek sprinting out from the tree line. Stiles stands on his shaky legs and wades back onto the shore, and Derek is the first one upon him.

Derek’s hands fly over his face and body and he’s letting out a continuous stream of whimpers as he checks Stiles for injuries, his eyes glowing with no attempt to calm down. Stiles flinches as hands come up to his face, but then a hand cups his neck like he’s about to try and scent Stiles and Stiles moves away from him. It’s not okay at all, and Cora is glaring at Derek until Stiles moves away. Cora goes through the same process, but Stiles allows her to scent mark him before he’s wrapped in a fierce hug.

Stiles doesn’t even realise he’s let out a sob and is crying again until Cora starts to try and hush him. “Shh, it’s okay, you’re okay. I’m here, Stiles, we’re here.”

Stiles clings tight to her and Cora whimpers when Stiles tucks his face into the crook of her neck. “Why were you in the water?”

“It was warm,” he whispers hoarsely.

Cora pulls away from him, walking over to the water and touching the surface for a brief second before jerking away from it. “Stiles, that’s freezing–”

“No, it isn’t,” he mumbles, and he’s so tired, he just wants to sleep.

Cora is shaking her head as she walks back over to him, and she’s clearly distressed as he looks over Stiles’ face before she touches his neck. “Stiles, your skin is like ice.”

“I’m warm, Cora, seriously.”

Cora shakes her head, rubbing her hands up and down Stiles’ arms like she’s trying to make him warm. “We need to get you to a hospital.”

“Cora, I’m fine–”

“Derek, can you carry him?”

Derek scoops him up easily and Stiles tries to squirm away with little success. “Derek, put me down.”

“Stiles, for the love of god, let him carry you,” Cora snaps, leading the way back through the woods.

“What… what time is it?”

“It’s about three in the morning,” Cora sighs, and they have no trouble navigating through the darkness without a flashlight.

Stiles can’t judge where they are in the wildness, but he when a shiver passes through him, he knows that they’ve passed the rowan oaks.

It’s some time later when Derek speaks up. “Kate’s pressing charges.”

“Do I look like I give a fuck?” He croaks. “We’re even as far as I can see.”

“Even? She ‘steals’ your husband so you attack her, and you’re even? What the fuck is wrong with you?”

You,” Stiles hisses. “You are what’s wrong with me, god–”

He shouldn’t be taking this out on Derek, but he’s the closest target and it hurts that she’s turned him into this uncaring machine.

“Derek, could you go for one second without thinking about Kate? Jesus Christ, Stiles is sick and we need to get him to a hospital, and you two are bitching at each other.”

“Well dear sister, technically we’re not divorced yet, so I’m just doing what he expects,” Derek sneers.

It falls silent after that, and Stiles would swear to god that Derek kept trying to hold him closer to his body, and he’d care more about Derek trying to smell him if he wasn’t so pissed off all over again. When they finally come back to the Jeep, Cora attempts to take Stiles from Derek, but Derek bares his teeth and a growl escapes him.

“I’m not going anywhere. You drive, I’ll let everyone know we have him.”

Cora stares for a few moments before she nods, fishing the keys out of Stiles’ pockets and opening the door for Derek to put Stiles in the back. Derek rearranges him before he gets in too, so that Stiles is resting back against Derek along the entire seat.

The jeep starts with a rumble and a jerk that jostles Stiles and make him groan. He could have sworn Derek just said that the bleeding was getting worse, but Stiles wasn’t bleeding… Was he?

At some point during the drive, after Derek has made half a dozen phone calls, Derek begins to stroke his fingers through Stiles’ hair, and Stiles can’t control the quiet tears that slip from his eyes. He’d forgotten the warmth of Derek, and they roll down his face as he has flashes of when Derek used to do this. He could be upset or tired, and Derek would run his hands through Stiles’ hair. If Stiles would be sick, Derek would bring him soup and grilled cheese even though Stiles assured him that he was fine, stop being a werewolf about it, it’s just the flu, it will pass–

Stiles hasn’t had this sort of touch from Derek in so long. He tells himself to stop thinking about it, because Derek isn’t his anymore, he isn’t Stiles’, they have divorce papers, and Derek has a mate now, and Stiles has to move on, he’s going to move on, and he’s going to be happy.

He’s not going to be happy.

Cora breaks with a screech when they get to the hospital, and Derek is trying to shift him out as quickly as he can while still trying to be delicate. Stiles doesn’t know why, it’s not like he could feel it anyway, and then he’s being rushed inside. 

Both his dad and Lydia are waiting there for him, and Lydia swears and shouts for someone to get a gurney.

Stiles tries to look for his dad, and he sees him walking alongside Lydia as they wheel Stiles into the emergency room. The grip on his hand holds him back, and then he hears a whining noise and the doctors begin to yell.

Please– he– he’s my husband, please let me–”

“Derek,” Lydia interrupts, using her doctor voice, “let them do their job.”

The warmth holding him back fades and there’s an onslaught of questions that he tries to answer as they hook him up to an IV and cut his clothes away.

“Stiles, can you tell me how you go those injuries?” Lydia asks, and Stiles blinks against the bright lights.

“What?”

“Honey, you’re covered in blood–”

Stiles can’t hear her anymore as his tiredness becomes overwhelming, and everything fades away.

 

 

Stiles wakes up to the steady beeping of a heart monitor. He’s cold and tired, his head is pounding and his ribs ache with each breath. He groans at the discomfort and blinks against the harsh light, and he looks around the room to see his dad asleep in the chair next to his bed. The door opens and Lydia walks in dressed in her scrubs, a look of relief on her face.

“Hey, you’re awake,” she says quietly, checking over Stiles’ vitals.

“What– what happened?” Stiles’ voice is dry he starts to cough, which makes his body hurt even more.

At least he’s feeling something now, he figures.

“Can you tell me what you remember?” Lydia asks, pouring him a cup of water.

Stiles nods, thinking back. “I drove to the lake so I could be alone. I had a panic attack, and then dad called me. I sat in the lake, and then Cora and Derek drove me here.”

“Did you space out at all?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I think I did.”

“You were hypothermic when they got to you. In the car, Derek realised you were hurt. They didn’t pick up on it because of how wet everything was in the rain. Do you remember hurting yourself?”

“What?”

“Stiles, please–”

“I– I think I scratched at my arms, but I stopped when I couldn’t feel it.” Stiles looks down at his hands, and his arms are covered in bandages and his breath catches. “What– what happened to me? What’s happening to me?”

“You had scratches all over your body, as well as heavy bruising all over your chest and neck. Your– your scar looks fresh, and no one can figure out why. You start bleeding all over, and… And you started to bleed from your eyes in the car. Deaton said it was just an offset being out of the water to draw the excess magic out of your body and stabilise your powers, but there wasn’t any to take, so it… It tried the next best thing.”

“They– does everyone know I’m okay?”

Lydia nods, sitting on the edge of the bed. “They know you’re in a stable condition. We couldn’t tell them everything, but… You’re going to be okay. We’re going to keep you for a few days for observation, and after that you need bed rest.”

“Cora’s going to love that,” Stiles sighs.

Lydia sighs, rubbing her forehead tiredly. “I’m really worried about you, Stiles. So is your dad, and Cora– everyone is scared for you.”

“Me too,” he breathes, and Lydia doesn’t react even though Stiles knows she heard.

“We’re going to figure this out, Stiles. I’ve gotten the emails of all the High Elders of the covens in the county, and they’re going to send me whatever I can, because I will not let whatever is happening make me scream for you. I refuse.”

“The covens would never help the pack–”

“You’re underestimating how much this town relies on you, son,” his dad interrupts, and Stiles looks over and he’s rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “The covens are going to help because you are in danger. I know you underestimate yourself, but you’re the one keeping this town protected.”

“Dad–”

“He’s right, Stiles.” Lydia says. “You have wards stretching across the whole county to keep anything bad from getting in. If anything happens to you… There’s a reason why hunters don’t come to Beacon Hills. ”

Lydia looks like she’s about to say something else, but her pager beeps and she sighs, promising to be back later. Stiles can feel his dad’s eyes on him and he can’t meet his stare, instead tracing the edges of a bandage on his palm.

“Stiles,” he sighs.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles whispers.

“It’s not your fault. But you have to tell me what happened with Kate.”

Stiles’ dad gets up to sit on the bed, and Stiles has only ever seen the look on his dad’s face once before. He tries not to think about his mom, but thinking of Kate makes him just as scared.

“I– I took the divorce papers over to the house and when I tried to leave, she grabbed me. I shoved her, and then I left.”

“Really? Because she’s been telling everyone that you tried to choke her and threatened to kill her.”

Stiles would laugh if he wasn’t so sore and tired, and all he manages to do is shake his head. “That’s not what happened. I’ll swear it in front of Talia if I have to.”

“Alright, I never said I didn’t believe you. I just thought you should know.” His dad reaches up to brush his cheek. “Get some rest. We can only hold the others off for so long.”

“Great idea,” Stiles sighs, closing his eyes and letting sleep overtake him.

Stiles isn’t sure what he dreams of, but the images that flash through his mind leave an impression that he manages to keep a hold of once he’s awake. The smell of dust, a touch of wood, and a constant drip of liquid. He uses his phone to write it down in case he forgets, and there’s a knock on the door before half of the pack fills the space.

“Don’t you ever scare me like that again, Stiles.” Cora snaps before he can even get a word out.

Stiles smiles weakly and closes his eyes for a few seconds while he sighs. He always hated hospitals.

“Where’s Andy?” He manages weakly. He’d have thought she would be the first one in the room.

“She’s with Isaac and Peter at the moment. We told her she couldn’t visit until Lydia was off shift.”

Stiles nods, waiting for them to ask what is clearly on their minds.

“Kate’s dropped the charges,” Allison rushes to say as Erica opens her mouth. “After your dad told her there would be a full investigation, she apparently decided it wasn’t worth the trouble.”

“Of course she did.” Stiles shakes his head with a bitter laugh. “She probably thought it would get everyone to hate me.”

“Has Derek come to see you?” Erica asks.

“No? Why would he? He signed the papers, he’s happy with his mate. We’re done, Erica.”

“He still cares–”

“Derek doesn’t give a fuck. I thought we’d all realised that by now.”

Stiles immediately feels bad at the look that crosses Erica’s face, and Stiles is quiet for most of the visit. Lydia comes in to shoo everyone away and as they leave, Cora lingers by him.

“Lydia said that Derek wolfed out when they wouldn’t let him go with the doctors.”

“Yeah? He was probably have some last minute guilt over this whole thing.”

Cora sighs, saying goodbye to Lydia. Lydia has his meal and watches him the whole time to make sure he eats the entire thing. His dad had to go to work while Stiles was sleeping, so he won’t be back for a few hours and he’s glad she shooed everyone away. Lydia doesn’t leave immediately after he finishes, and he braces himself for a lecture. He doesn’t get one though.

“Stiles… What’s wrong with your scar?”

Stiles swallows against the sudden lump in his throat. “…I think it might be reacting or something.”

“Or something? Why would it react?”

“If there was trouble in town? I can’t really feel anything so maybe it’s trying to warn me.”

“Could that explain the bruising?”

Stiles shrugs. “I don’t know. Maybe? I’ve never heard of it happening as a warning before.”

Lydia sighs. “Alright, now hold out your hand.”

“What? Why?”

“Because I have to check your pain receptors.”

Stiles holds out his hand, and she pricks it with a pin. He feels the pressure, but not the sting.

“Did you feel that?”

“If I say ow, does that count?”

She gives him a long suffering look and leaves him alone in his room, and he’s released a few days later on strict instruction to not do anything too strenuous, and to eat regularly.

Of course, the pack take that as law and begin to bring meals over constantly, much to Cora’s delight whenever she’s at work. What makes it worse is that they watch him eat. They all insist it’s to make sure he puts the weight he lost back on, but it just tastes like sand in his mouth. His sleep schedule is getting worse too, because as soon as he tries to sleep, he’s assaulted by memories and thoughts that keep him tossing and turning the whole night while trying to get back to sleep. He’s clearly got the opposite problem of Derek, who, according to Laura, has been put on sick leave until the Sheriff determines that Derek’s had a proper night’s sleep, one free of nightmares.

Lydia brings over his copies of the information she’s gotten so far from only for Stiles to read over, and Stiles keeps them spread out on the desk in his room hoping that something will stand out. Doing research should take the priority in his head, but all that he can think about is Derek being near Kate. She could be doing anything to him, and the marks would never show. 

He knows it’s stupid to think she would ever hurt him as his mate, because they just aren’t built that way. The need to protect and take care of each other is the strongest thing, so she wouldn’t be able to hurt him. It still worries him though, because if she attacked Stiles then… Why not Derek? The way Chris and Victoria reacted to Allison as a banshee’s mate… He thought for sure that Kate was an anti-supe, especially after she tried to kill him. Apparently all she needed was her mate to take away the urge to kill.

Stiles is trying to find his old apprentice journals that Deaton made him write when there is a knock on the door, and Stiles knows it’s a member of the pack with lunch. Cora opens the door and he hears several voices, and Stiles goes out into the hall to see Talia and Laura smiling like they’re only here for lunch, and not to keep an eye on him.

They’re in the middle of lunch when Talia sighs and puts her hand on his still-too-skinny-wrist. He’s glad to see that her veins don’t go black, but there’s something to be said for small victories.

“Stiles, you need to start taking better care of yourself. Please.”

Stiles can’t meet her eyes, instead taking the easy road of staring at the table like it hold the answers he needs. Even with all the eating they’ve been making him do, he hasn’t put much weight back on, and he can barely stand to see his reflection knowing that he’ll be covered in bruises and his ribs will be showing. And that’s only his torso. His eyes are probably bloodshot from the lack of sleep, and his hair is probably oily and where he’s not bruised will be incredibly pale and waxy and gaunt. So no, he doesn’t like to see himself fading away right before his eyes.

“Why are you doing this to yourself?” She tries, and Stiles shakes his head.

“I’m– I’m not, Talia. It’s not me.”

Her grip tightens on his hand and he looks up, wishing he had the answers everyone wanted. There didn’t seem to be anything in the coven notes that he already had, and until he found his journals, he was afraid he wouldn’t know anything. Talia’s nostrils flare for a moment and her eyes shine, and then Stiles notices how the veins in her hand turn dark as the pain travels up her arm. She stands abruptly and leads him to the bathroom, and starts looking him over much in the same way Cora and Derek had.

“Talia, I’m fine–”

“You’re not fine, I can smell it–”

“Talia–”

“Take off your shirt,” she orders, eyes flashing bright red before they fade back to the Hale green.

He pulls it over his shoulders, and Talia starts making growling noises down from her chest, her hand pressing against his chest.

“Look at your scar, Stiles.”

He reluctantly turns to the mirror, and the air leaves his lungs when he sees the skin darken before their very eyes, like the blood it being pulled to the surface. Stiles grits his teeth, touching the skin tenderly, his thoughts racing. “It’s just a warning, because my magic can’t tell me in any other way.”

“And you’re sure about that?”

“It would explain a lot, if it was.”

“Why would it explain a lot?”

Stiles knows it’s a trap, and if Kate and Derek are mates, it will only create more of a divide for Talia and her son and that’s not fair for him to have that on his shoulders, to make that kind of decision.

“What did you smell to let you know I was getting a warning?”

Talia sighs, giving him her patented mother look that he’s never quite been able to ignore. But she tells him anyway. “It smelt like smoke. Like… Like when you were younger and you were still learning how to control your powers without overdoing yourself. That’s what it smelt like.”

“That makes sense with the–”

“Stiles, tell me why it would explain a lot.”

He sighs, reaching up to tug on his hair. Talia slaps his hand away and he shrugs. “I don’t know if Cora told you, but I’ve been hallucinating–”

Stiles.”

“I know, okay, I know that it’s bad I didn’t tell you, but I was trying not to freak out, and then when I saw her at the bar, I thought it was just another one but it wasn’t, and she’s here, and I’m so fucking scared that she’s going to–”

He’s rambling. Oh god, he’s spewing words everywhere, and this is not good. He wanted to break the news gently.

“Stiles, is that hunter in town? How did they get passed the boundary line? Why didn’t you tell us?! She hurt you– she was going to kill you and–”

“Talia, maybe she didn’t… Mean any harm? She got what she wanted, the papers are signed, and maybe my magic is just overreacting because of what happened–”

“What she wanted?” Talia repeats, confused. Then her face pales in understanding, and he can see a hint of fang when she opens her mouth. “Kate?! Kate is the one who attacked you?! What the fuck–”

“Mom? Mom what’s going on, you never swear–”

The bathroom door opens in a rush, Laura with a worried expression on her face until she sees Stiles’ chest, and then her eyes start to glow gold. “Stiles?”

“Does Lydia know? Talia asks quietly, and her eyes are burning red.

He knows she’ll hear the lie if he says yes, and he knows how badly that would go down in this situation.

“No,” Stiles says simply.

There’s a beat of silence before Talia starts to move. “Everyone stay here, I need to run an errand–”

Stiles hears the snarl escape her before the door slams shut and Stiles swears.

He scrambles to pull his shirt back on, grabbing his keys before he storms out of the apartment in his haste to follow her. There could only be one place she that she’s meaning to go, and Talia drives off just as he reaches the carpark.

Fuck,” he breathes, rushing to the jeep and closing the door to Laura and Cora’s distant shouting.

He’s just gets through an orange light when he sees Cora’s car screech to a halt at the red, and he turns onto a shortcut to his– to Derek’s house. As he turns into the street, he can see Talia getting out of the car and he skids to a halt before he throws the door open to reach her.

“Talia, don’t–”

But then Derek is opening the door and Stiles’ heart leaps at how bone dead exhausted he looks, his eyes bloodshot and the bags under his eyes and the hair that makes him look like he’s been dragged backwards through a hedge–

His eyes flare in response to his mother’s alpha red ones and a look of confusion crosses over him. “Mom? What’s wrong?”

Talia’s upper lip curls as a growl escapes her. “How long were you and her together?”

Derek frowns and his eyes flick to Stiles, and he rolls them in irritation. “Stiles–”

“You leave him alone,” she orders. “How long, Derek?”

“Six months.”

“Is she here?” Talia asks.

Stiles can hear the echo and power in her voice, and it hasn’t been the first time he’s heard it used, but this is definitely the worst. He puts his hand on her shoulder in an attempt to calm her down. “Talia, please…”

Talia looks at him and the colour in her eyes fades away and it hurts him to see how upset she looks. “Stiles, that woman–”

“That woman is my mate. I don’t know why everyone is so conflicted over this. Stiles and I aren’t together anymore,” Derek defends.

“I thought you said he hadn’t signed them yet, babe. Didn’t you say he was too much of a child to let go of you?”

Of course, that’s when two things happen.

The first is that Kate comes into view, wrapping her arm around Derek’s waist and Stiles feels his entire being howl with misery, and there’s a sick sort of satisfaction in her eyes. He feels the urge to succumb to the instincts and tear her throat out for daring to touch Derek–to even look at Derek in that way.

Stiles feels like he can’t breathe, and it's then that he recognises the feeling, realises that it’s been far too long since he’s felt a pack member’s emotions that are too intense for an individual wolf to keep a grasp of, so it goes into the strongest magical reservoir connected to them all: himself.

Talia must realise it too, because Stiles is afraid he’s going to collapse that he grips her shoulder far too tightly for his current amount of strength to possess.

“Derek, get out of my way.” Talia orders.

“Mom–”

“Talia, don’t, it’s done okay, please– she can’t–”

The second thing that happens is that Cora’s car screeches on the verge and she and Laura rush out of the car.

Cora flashes her eyes at Kate with a low growl. “Lydia said he’s going to ask–”

“You told Lydia?” Stiles breathes, and he feels like his heart is trying to climb out of his chest when Kate leans in to kiss Derek’s neck.

“Of course we did, Stiles, she’s a fucking hunter–”

Cora is cut off by Derek’s growl, and his eyes start to glow as he stares at his mom. “She’s not a hunter.”

“I work in home security, actually.” She says with a curious head tilt before her eyes land on Talia. “Family troubles?”

“Just you,” Talia snarls.

“Alpha Hale, please, it’s not worth it.”

Using her proper title makes her pull away, and she makes a pained sound as her hands come up to his chest. “Stiles– you– you’re bleeding–”

He looks down, and his shirt is staining as the blood spreads down, and the majority of it is over his heart and where his scar is. Talia tries to put pressure on his chest with one hand and cup his face the next to pull the pain away, but nothing comes up. Her eyes flash red in panic as her breathing starts to waver.

“I can’t– why aren’t you in pain?” She pleads, like he would have the answer, because he's always had the answers.

“I– I don’t know.”

Stiles’ head is pounding and he swears he can hear a voice whispering, the one that comes with the hallucinations, and he wishes it would just stop, and he hears several people shout as his knees buckle, and then there are voices everywhere and he can’t see anything but blurred colours.

He’s choking against phantom hands again, and he tries to blindly tear them away from his throat.

“Cora, call Lydia and tell her that we need Deaton at the hospital–”

Stiles? Stiles baby, what’s wrong, please–”

“Stiles, can you hear me? Shit, I need a towel–”

“Derek, come on, they’re just trying to make a scene–“

A snarl erupts in the air.

Derek, come back inside.”

 


 

Stiles is twenty one.

He’s twenty one and Derek has been acting weird all month.

Stiles assumes that it’s because of the lunar eclipse that’s supposed to happen that night, but the rest of the pack had been fine until a few days ago. It’s like they’re all waiting for something and it's driving Stiles crazy. They’ve spent lunar eclipses together before, so really there’s no reason why this one should be any different. There’s the possibility of it being just Stiles’ paranoia regarding an eclipse, because he’s one of the only people suddenly able to defend the pack. Stiles tries to reason it as a combination of that and stress about being asked to speak at the National Supernatural Entities Convention. It’s been running for years but he had gotten to attend it in person the year before and now Stiles is freaking out.

After the phone call where he enthusiastically accepted the offer, Stiles had that moment of holy fucking shit, what did I just agree to?

Stiles threw a pillow in Derek’s face for laughing at him.

He’s a good sounding board for whenever Stiles has an idea. Sometimes he comes up with an idea right after sex, tracing patterns into Derek’s skin with his fingers, Derek watching him with a private smile that only Stiles gets to see. God, Stiles loves him so much. The perfect topic will come to him eventually.

For now Stiles is busying himself with food for the night, as all members of the Hale family come together on a lunar eclipse. There’s a lot of people, which means there has to be a lot of food. He’s a stress cooker, which means the pack always know when to give him a wide area and accept the food he shoves at them. The timer beeps and Stiles gets up and takes the cupcakes out of the oven, smiling to himself when the apartment door opens. Derek kisses his cheek on his way past before he goes to shower.

Derek comes up behind him a while later, wrapping his arms around Stiles’ waist. His hair is still damp and he presses a kiss to the side of Stiles’ neck, watching Stiles over his shoulder. “You’ve made a lot,” Derek says with a nod of his head.

“I know but the deadline for the topic is in like three days and I still haven’t gotten anything and–”

“You’ll think of something.”

Stiles sighs, leaning back against Derek. “How was work?”

“The usual. Parrish and your dad–”

Derek cuts himself off, and warning signals go off in Stiles’ head.

“Jordan and my dad what, Derek?” He asks quietly, turning around to look at his boyfriend, who has a blank expression on his face.

“I– it’s nothing, they just made a bet,” Derek answers with a shrug.

“A bet?”

“That’s what I said, Stiles. A bet.”

Stiles waits for a few moments and Derek says nothing. “Are you going to tell me what this bet is on?”

“It’s not important,” Derek tries to deny.

Except when Stiles reaches out, he can feel the fact that Derek either wants to run away or for him to drop the subject. It makes part of him ache, considering the last time he could remember Derek pulling away from him was when Derek asked him to move in.

Stiles tries to breathe slowly, turning back to the bench. He needs to frost those cakes. “Does this have anything to do with why you’ve been so weird all month?”

Derek tenses behind him and Stiles tries not to grip the bench. Butter, he needs butter.

Derek sighs and he moves around to the other side of the bench, trying to catch Stiles’ eye. “Stiles…”

His hands are shaking, but that has always been Stiles’ problem. No matter how firm his belief in his magic, everything else can go tumbling down in a matter of seconds. Stiles grabs the icing sugar but it’s taken out of his hands by Derek.

“Stiles, please look at me.”

He meets his stare and the fight goes out of him at one look of Derek’s soft expression, but they can both feel the joint anxiety dancing through the room.

“I wanted to talk to you about this earlier, but you got that call from N-SEC and you’ve been so stressed, I just kept…” Derek takes a moment to breathe, thinking over whatever it is before nodding to himself. “Kept putting it off, or backing out, because it wasn’t the right time or I didn’t know what you wanted or if we were moving too fast, but… God, Stiles, you make this so hard–”

Derek reaches behind himself and pulls something out of his pocket, starting to fiddle with the corner of a little black bag.

Stiles’ heart skips, looking from the bag and up to Derek. “Derek–”

“I love you, Stiles. The first moment I saw you, I knew. And I can’t imagine my life without you in it,” Derek tries to smile.

He takes Stiles’ hand and Stiles can’t seem to stop himself from shaking, staring down at the black velvet pouch. Derek takes his hand away and Stiles can’t find words, it’s like his ability to speak has just deserted him. The button pops easily under his fingers and the ring slides out onto his hand.

“Derek,” Stiles eventually says weakly, tracing his thumb along the metal.

It happens in the blink of an eye that he doesn’t notice, too distracted by the ring resting on his palm. There’s no answer and when Stiles looks up, Derek isn’t in the apartment.

“Fucking shit,” Stiles swears, lunging for his phone.

It goes through to voicemail and Stiles swears again, sliding the ring onto his finger and rushing to get started with the icing. He’ll be at the Hale house in an hour anyways. May as well try to shove his shock into his task. The moment he finishes, Stiles is packing them up into his car and driving off.

There are three Hales –Talia, Laura, Cora, he’s so fucked– waiting out the front to greet him, and Stiles realises the pack has known the whole time that Derek was planning to propose, fucking hell, Stiles was stupid.

Erica and Allison were the worst liars on the goddamn planet, how did he not find out?

“Stiles,” Talia greets with a shake of her head.

Stiles just shoves the various plates into their arms, trying to get everything sorted as fast as he can. If only he hadn’t pushed Derek into telling him, he wouldn’t be dealing with this now.

Talia grabs his arm as soon as he puts a tray down on the kitchen bench, cupping his face in order to try calm him down.

“Stiles, breathe. He just panicked and left because he thought you were going to say no.”

“Is he outside?” Stiles asks weakly.

Talia nods and makes him calm down a little more before she lets him go.

The moment Stiles is in the backyard, he spots Derek talking with his dad. His dad notices him first, but by the way Derek’s shoulders tense, he just caught Stiles’ heartbeat.

There are Hales spread everywhere and Stiles tries to politely manoeuvre around them. As soon as he reaches Derek, Stiles is flinging his arms around his shoulders in a tight hug.

“Oh hell,” his dad mutters, giving them space.

“You idiot, of course I want to marry you,” Stiles whispers, pressing a kiss to the side of his neck. He pulls back and cups Derek’s face in his hands, thumbing the soft skin of his cheekbones. “I love you.”

Derek’s face breaks into a smile and surges forward, capturing Stiles in a long kiss.

Neither of them can stop smiling.

 

Chapter Text

 

It’s coming towards him and he’s trapped. There’s nowhere he could go, because he’strapped in the dusty room, and he can feel the pulsing behind him, it’s coming for him, he feels so cold, he can’t–

Stiles wakes up screaming, and he can’t move. He’s trying to wrench himself away, but people come running in and it takes him too long to realise that he’s at the hospital and he’s strapped to the bed. Lydia is at the forefront of staff, and it’s the only thing that makes him calm down enough to hear what she’s saying.

“Stiles, can you hear me?”

He nods, his hands trembling as he tries to clench them tightly. It only makes him feel weaker. “Lyds, why… Why am I–?”

“You were having fits. It was the only way to keep you from hurting yourself.”

Stiles looks around the room, trying to push passed the lingering fear and panic from his nightmare, but he can still see the blood every time he closes his eyes. “How long have I been here?”

Lydia looks behind her and the nurses and orderlies start to leave wearily, and she comes to sit on the edge of his bed.

“Around fifteen hours. We had to heavily sedate you so we could take a look at your scar. Deaton made sure to put a dampener on your powers until we can figure out what’s causing this. You lost a lot of blood.”

Stiles nods, twisting his hand as if he could reach the strap to get it undone. Lydia sighs and stills his movements, undoing the clasps herself.

“This is the first time you’ve been completely lucid. You kept screaming about someone being after you.”

Stiles swallows. “Did… Did Talia tell you about Kate?”

“That she was the hunter who attacked you? Yeah. We’re trying to keep it from everyone for now, until you decide what you want to do.”

“I don’t want to cause any more trouble. Let them have their chance.” Lydia hesitates, and Stiles knows there’s something worse. “I said more than that, didn’t I?”

“After Deaton put the dampener on you, you said it didn’t matter. And… And that they were inside already.”

He rubs his wrists carefully and tried not to show anything on his face. When he thought about it, he didn’t really feel the effects of Deaton’s block. He's felt the same as he has for months now, which makes him stop short when Stiles realises he could count on one hand the number of times he's felt anything.

“What did you mean when you said ‘they were inside already’?”

Stiles looks up from his hands, feeling younger under Lydia’s concerned gaze. “I don’t know, Lyds. But I’m going to figure it out.”

There’s a knock on the door and they both look to the door. Laura and Cora are there, and Lydia stands. “Well, that’s my cue. This is only a light sedative, okay? It should take a little bit to kick in.”

Lydia comes over to the IV and inserts the syringe, pushing the drugs into the tube.

“Make sure he doesn’t get out of bed,” Lydia says as she walks passed the Hale women.

They come into the room, and Stiles tries to shake off the feeling he gets when he sees the look of fear on their faces. “Do I want to know how long you’ve been in the waiting room?”

Cora’s look turns into an angry glare, and it makes him feel relatively calmer.

“You’re an asshole, Stiles. Do you even know how scared we all were?”

He smiles, nodding tiredly. “Sorry.”

“Stiles…” Laura trails off. She looks like she’s about to cry, and Stiles feels his stomach drop. “When you started to collapse… I felt it. We– we all did.”

It hits him like a ton of bricks that he’d been so out of it that he’d sent out a distress signal to the entire pack without realising. It was something he knew could happen and he’s done it before, but Stiles never thought he could have that amount of agony that it would push through his pack bonds. Not in Beacon Hills. It was supposed to be safe.

“Did you find my journals, Cora?”

Cora nods, and a look of confusion takes over her face. “I took them over to Lydia’s as soon as I could. What do they have anything to do with it?”

“I think… I don’t think that the covens can help with this one.”

“We’re not taking that chance.”

Stiles nods reluctantly, wishing that he was back at the apartment so he could be doing something to help find out what was happening to him.

“I think this is affecting Derek,” Cora says, watching him closely. He would interrupt, but she glares daggers at him. “You didn’t see him, Stiles. The way he looks at her… It’s not right. It’s like he doesn’t even see her.”

“Cora…”

“I know you don’t want to hear it, but just– when did you start fighting?”

“Seven months ago.”

“And he started sleeping with her when?”

“Six months. Cora, it’s not that uncommon when people grow apart. People fight.”

Her lip curls and she shakes her head stubbornly. “You’re not getting it, Stiles!”

“There is nothing to get!” He snaps. “I’m tired, can’t you just… Can you please just drop it?”

Her face falls, and she looks to Laura. Stiles watches her face, and he can see her listening to something further away. Laura looks angry, then worried. “They’re going to release you in twenty four hours if you don’t have any more episodes.”

Stiles nods, feeling the drugs start to pull him under.

 

He can’t see, but he can feel the freezing cold air and the hot breath on the back of his neck. It smells of dust and dampness and he reaches out, trying to find his way through the darkness, but his hands press flat against a wall only to come away wet with something. There’s something familiar here, but it’s mostly hidden beneath overwhelming feeling of fear. Stiles tries to call out, but his throat closes up and his voice comes out a strangled noise.

“Hello?” Someone whispers.

It’s only quiet but it’s full of fear and pleading, and Stiles doesn’t want it to be true. It’s familiar, and it’s a voice Stiles would recognise even if he was dead. But he can’t reply, and he falls through the space trying to find them, to find Derek, because Derek has never been in his dreams of this place before and this was not supposed to happen.

“Is… Is anyone there?” Derek begs from the shadows.

The problem is that the darkness is everywhere and Stiles shouldn’t even be having this kind of dream, not with Deaton’s dampener. He was right, even if he was half out of his mind. It didn’t matter. He tries to call Derek’s name but all he can manage is the muffled whimper that comes from his own throat. He shouldn’t– he should be able to talk.

“...Is anyone here? Please, please let me go, I didn’t– I don’t know what you want.” His voice was hoarse, like he’d been screaming and howling for far too long.

It feels like Stiles is hallucinating again, but this is so much worse than seeing and feeling himself die. This is Derek. He can’t– he has to find him. He tries to push his aura out, to try and feel around the room without falling and hurting himself. Stiles can feel the presence behind him, and he thinks he can feel the shiver of Derek to his right.

“St– Stiles?” He trembles. “If that’s you, I don’t– I don’t know where I am.”

Stiles tries to run towards him, but his legs hit something and he goes toppling over, his body jolting in pain as he tries to catch himself. He starts to crawl, and he hears the whispers start all around him, and he drags himself over to where he can feel the only warmth in the room.

“Stiles, I can’t see.”

You can’t save him.

You’re going to die.

I’m going to destroy everything you have.

“Stiles, if that’s really you, don’t listen to them. Please, I, I need you to not give up.”

He’s ours now.

Stiles, please. They’re too strong together, I can’t… I can’t keep fighting this.” 

His gut sinks when he hears the crack in Derek's voice, the desperation and weariness echoing through. Stiles feels his hand brush something like fabric, and he hears the whimper escape Derek. Stiles reaches again, and he feels the soft skin.

“Stiles,” Derek pleads. “Stiles, I love you.”

Stiles crawls to his knees, keeping a hand on Derek’s arm as he finds his face in the dark. There’s a pained noise and Stiles presses his forehead against Derek’s. It’s me, he thinks, trying desperately for Derek to hear him. It’s me, it’s me, it’s me. I’m here.

“You have to get me out, Stiles. I can’t– I can’t get out. I don’t know where I am,” he cries.

Stiles can feel the tears run down his hands from where they’re cupping Derek’s face, and then he feels ice touch his shoulder and pull him away.

Stiles!”

Stiles.

The whisper is mocking them both.

“Stiles, I’m sorry–”

Stiles can’t escape their harsh grip, but he feels something break free inside of him.

“Derek–” he shouts.

Stiles, it is you– god– please–”

“Derek, I’m going to find you–”

“Don’t listen to the voices, Stiles, don’t let them in anymore Stiles!”

The ice sinks into his body and he opens his eyes to the bright fluorescent lights in the ceiling, and Stiles can’t stop shivering. It’s the first time he’s remembered a dream in whole, and it sends his body into small tremors as he shivers.

He feels so cold, and his mind is trying to figure it all out. Usually his dreams only had glimpses of what was to come, but this… This was nothing like that at all. He felt like he was awake the whole time. Stiles has no idea what it means, but he can’t leave Derek in that place, that nightmare.

He’s so lost in thought that he eats his food without a word when it’s brought to him, but he was still shivering against all odds. Stiles actually feels the cold for once, but he doesn’t know if it was from the dream or if he was really that cold.

Sometime later there’s a knock on his door and Lydia comes in cautiously, closing the door quickly behind her.

“You have a visitor.”

Stiles frowns for a moment before another bout of tremors overtake him and as Lydia hurries to take his temperature, neither of them notice the door to his room opening.

“How are you feeling right now, Stiles?”

“C–c–can you get me another blanket?” Stiles tries, and Lydia nods.

“It looks like you’ve got a fever, but it should pass soon. I’ll be right back.” He nods and she turns to leave, and jumps in shock before she recovers. “You, watch him. I’ll be back in a few minutes. Do not upset him.”

She closes the door behind her and Stiles drags his gaze over to the visitor, trying to hold off of the shaking in front of Derek.

“W–w–what are you doing he–here?

“I wanted to see if you were alright,” Derek shrugs like it’s nothing.

Stiles can’t help but hear his voice from the dream, hear his fear as he shouted through the darkness, trying to keep him close.

But then everything else comes back and he feels like there’s a gaping hole between them because Derek doesn’t even know the fear he’ll be facing. Derek doesn’t care about him right now.

“Funny, I d–didn’t think you cared.”

A look comes over Derek’s face and he rushes forward, slipping his arms out of his leather jacket and holding it out for Stiles to take. He just stares at it, and Derek sighs before he steps forward and tucks it over Stiles’ chest. Stiles hates that it smells like him.

The warmth is too enticing to push it away, and Derek takes a seat on the edge of Stiles’ bed. It makes him squirm away, and Derek looks down at his hands. 

“Stiles–”

“No, Derek. You don’t g–get to do that. The o–only reason why you would be here n–now is for official b–business.”

“Stop bitching and let me talk,” he says, and if Stiles didn’t know him any better he’d say Derek was bored.

But he does know him better, and he knows that Derek is half asleep and exhausted right now. Stiles raises his eyebrows and scrunches his nose at him in distaste. Derek sighs and looks to Stiles, and the dark bags under his eyes makes Stiles want to tell him to find a call room and sleep in it.

“Why doesn’t anyone want to give Kate a chance? What did you say to them?”

Stiles groans and tries to gesture towards to the door with a shaky hand. “Get the fuck out of my room.”

“Stiles–”

“No, Derek. My chest literally split open in front of you, and you want to talk about her? Fuck off.”

“I was scared too, Stiles! I couldn’t– I felt like I couldn’t breathe when you–”

“Yeah genius, everyone in the pack felt it. Stop making it about you.”

“You’ve been making this entire thing about you, Stiles, so don’t tell me not to.”

Me? Derek…” At first he couldn’t believe what he was hearing, but then he realised that he could, because this had been their rhythm for months now. Stiles decided to give Derek what he wanted. “How did you meet her?”

Derek frowns at the question. “It– we’d just had a fight. I stormed out, I needed a drink. I was in the bar and she was there. She bought me a drink, she flirted and ran her hand up my thigh,” he says slowly.

It’s like he’s having trouble remembering.

“Is that the night you stopped coming home?”

“No. I told her I wasn’t interested, that I was married, and I needed my husband. I tried so hard not go with her, but… that second time I saw her, I just knew that she was the one.”

It makes Stiles’ heart skip and he has to blink the tears away, hearing Derek talk about her like this. “Why didn’t you ask me for a divorce?”

“I… I don’t know. We used to fight all the time, and I couldn’t make it stop. She even said I didn’t need to ask you for one, because we weren’t even acting like a couple.” He legitimately sounds lost and Stiles feels like he’s back in the dark room. “So many times I’ve seen you and I’ve just thought ‘why am I stuck with him?’”

“Derek–”

“It’s like you’re sucking the life out of me whenever you’re around. I hate you, Stiles.”

Stiles can’t stop the tears from falling, and he should be upset right now but all he has is fear for the man the loves, even after everything. But after everything he's heard, the words no long mean anything to him. Especially after his dream. Derek is going to be hurting, and Stiles is going to find him.

Derek’s eyes are starting to shine and his nails have turned into claws on the edge of the bed, gripping the sheets like its the only thing holding him together. He’s starting to turn and he’s baring his teeth in a snarl down at his lap and Stiles tries to reach into where his bond used to be. There’s nothing but emptiness in his chest, but Stiles has to tell the truth.

“I love you,” Stiles’ voice breaks, but he can’t find it in himself to care.

Derek pauses, and his eyes flare brighter and Stiles notices that his claws are now digging into his palms so harshly that his blood is dripping down onto the white blanket of Stiles’ bed.

He’s ours now.

I can’t keep fighting this.

“I know… I know that I haven’t said it in a long time, and I know that you’re not– that you don’t… But I just need you to know that I love you, and I think I always will. I just…”

“What?” Derek breathes.

“I need you to know that, even if I never get to tell you again. I never stopped, and I will never stop loving you.”

“I–”

Stiles feels his throat close up, and he can feel hands around his throat and Derek’s eyes go wide before he starts to shout louder than a human could dream. “Somebody help!”

The door flies open and nurses are rushing in, and Stiles can barely hear them over the whispers in his ears.

“Sir, you need to leave–”

You’re going to die, Stiles.

Please, he’s my husband–”

He doesn’t want you.

“We just need to get him under control, you need–”

Derek, you need to go,” Lydia shouts over all the noise, her voice shriller than normal, as if she's trying to repress a scream.

Stiles wants to pry the hands away from his throat but they’re being held down, and he can feel the orderlies trying to restrain him as he tries to cry out for his family. His dad, his mom, Cora, Lydia, Allison, Laura, Erica, Talia… Derek.

“There’s nothing blocking his airways–”

“What, you’re saying he just can’t breathe?”

He wished he could cry out for the whole pack, and there’s a noise like a stuttering cry of pain from the doorway before Lydia looks away and swears.

“Someone call me Deaton, he shouldn’t be able to send out a wave–”she says. “Stiles, you need to calm down, you’re having a panic attack.”

He’s not though, he knows he’s not, because this feels different, this feels… It feels cold. Familiar. It feels like he’s trapped in the dark and there’s someone behind him, next to him, surrounding him. Like knowing there’s supposed to be a dampener on his magic and he can’t feel any difference. Like he’s finished a heavy spell and it’s in that second afterwards before he can push the vulnerability away. Magic.

He’s being attacked by magic, magic that isn’t his. He tries to throw up a block, but he can’t, pf course he can't, and he can see spots in his vision.

“Derek, you’re the closest wolf to him, help him for crying out loud,” Lydia orders.

Stiles can feel warm hands actually touch his neck, and he gasps as the pressure disappears. Air floods into his lungs as his chest heaves, feeling so weakened as he tries to cling to his bed. Derek keeps stroking his neck, and it looks like he’s close to shifting completely.

“Stiles, can you hear me?” Lydia asks.

He nods, wishing the tears would stop falling.

“Can you tell me what just happened?”

“I– Talia. I need to tell Talia,” he rasps.

“She’s on her way, what–”

“I need to be discharged.”

Derek growls, like he can’t believe Stiles would want to leave after that had just happened.

Lydia seems to be in agreement. “Oh, fuck no–”

“Lydia, I’ll be safe with Cora, I promise–”

“Knowing you, something will land you right back in here–”

“Please. Just trust me.”

“Okay. But only if both Talia and your dad agree.”

Stiles nods, letting himself focus on his breathing and trying to not give the voices any idea that he knows what they are.

Don’t listen to the voices, Derek had said.

Now it was just the problem of not letting the voices listen in.

Waiting for them didn’t take long, when half pack starts to filter in from ten to twenty minutes later. The orderlies and nurses had gone back to work when Lydia said she’d observe him personally, and Derek had refused to leave the seat next to Stiles’ bed. It took everything Stiles had not to look at him, because he couldn’t look at Derek without hearing him cry his name.

All of them look terrified, practically falling on him to make sure he’s okay before Lydia drags them off of him and orders them to give him space.

The only one she doesn’t hold back is his dad, who goes through so many emotions before he settles on relief. It makes him cry when hugs Stiles, and Stiles holds on tightly.

“Don’t you ever scare me like that again.”

“Sorry dad,” Stiles whispers.

The rest of the pack visibly deflate when Talia walks into the room and Allison follows not long after, holding a distressed looking Andy tightly in his arms. She promptly bursts into tears when she sees him in the bed, and Allison looks to her wife for permission before she passes their daughter over. Andy buries her face in his neck and all Stiles can do is to hold her close and wait for her to calm down.

Allison is definitely more affected than she lets on, because she doesn’t move and inch from Stiles’ bedside and her hand is like a vice on Stiles’ ankle. Lydia gestures for his dad and Talia to follow her to somewhere quieter, and they leave the room after sending concerned glances at Stiles.

Andy eventually tires herself out and falls asleep in Stiles’ arms and the werewolves all look relieved at the silence that follows. Lydia follows Talia and his dad back into his room, closing the door behind her and glares at Stiles.

Stiles sighs and braces himself. “I want to be discharged.”

Half of the pack burst into argument of how much that’s a bad idea, while Talia, his dad, Cora, and Derek stay quiet.

“I just think that it would be more beneficial for me–”

“You don’t even know what’s causing this!” Laura protests.

Stiles opens his mouth to say otherwise, but he realises that telling them would only worry them more. He shuts up without saying a word, and of course they would all notice him when he didn’t want them to.

“Stiles?” Talia asks calmly, and he meets her gaze and tries not to flinch at the blank look she’s wearing. “Is there anything you want to say?”

“Not… Not particularly?”

“Everyone except Lydia, Laura, and John, leave the room please,” Talia says. It’s not an order, but everyone treats it as such as they start to file out of the room. Derek remains where he’s sitting, and Talia watches him expectantly. “You too, Derek.”

“Mom–”

“No. Go join the others.”

A small growl escapes him and Stiles watches Derek leave, the door slamming slightly. Talia rolls her eyes and takes a seat with a tired sigh.

“Stiles?” His dad asks, and Stiles can feel himself crumbling under the pressure.

“I don’t know– I can’t be sure if they know I know.”

“What are you talking about?” Lydia frowns.

Stiles shakes his head, careful not to jostle Andy. “I can’t– fuck, I can’t say anything.”

“Stiles–”

“I need Deaton to remove the dampener.”

Now they react, and Stiles thinks he might have to wait until they either stop ranting or take a breath, but neither seems likely.

“Stiles, you can’t be serious–”

“This could be the only thing holding you together–”

“I’m not going to let you–”

Shut up,” he interrupts, and they all halt in surprise. “I have a theory, and it can’t be active if I’m right.”

“Stiles…” His dad trails off, and Stiles rubs his eyes from the effort it's taking him to stay awake.

“Please, just trust me on this.”

Talia purses her lips and nods reluctantly. “Fine. I’ll go make the call.”

She leaves the room and Stiles avoids their eyes, shifting Andy carefully onto his other side. “Lydia, do you think Allison will mind staying with Cora for a few days? I need her and Andy somewhere safe.”

Lydia nods, tightening her grip on Stiles’ leg. “You’ll tell me what’s going on, won’t you?”

“As soon as I can, Lyds.”

 

It’s a unanimous decision from both the hospital staff and Deaton that Stiles remains under constant supervision upon being discharged. When Deaton had removed the block on his power, Stiles knew that there was something larger going on inside of him. Everything was suddenly pointing towards a new threat in the Hale territory, and it has Stiles resisting every urge he has to start thinking of the presence in his mind. He has to keep them in the dark for as long as he can.

That started looking more and more likely as he hauled his things passed the threshold of Lydia’s home, moving his bare amount of belongings he decided was important enough to move out of Cora’s apartment and into the spare room. Lydia followed behind him with the heavier bag, after she refused to let Stiles carry anything that would cause him any strain.

Stiles eyes the loose sheets of paper littering the dining room table, and Lydia smiles sheepishly and shrugs.

“I was hoping you would be held for a few more days so I could organise it a bit.”

Stiles fights his smile and goes back to the car to grab his laptop, and when Lydia closes the door behind them, Stiles feels his ears pop like there was a sudden change in pressure.

“Lyds–”

“What? Are you okay? Is anything wrong?” She rushes, clearly panicked by Stiles’ stillness.

“Did you feel that? It was like… Like being on a plane.”

“I didn’t feel anything, Stiles.” Lydia holds his arm gently, but the fear in her eyes makes her intention clear.

“I need to see your basement,” Stiles says, practically flinging himself towards the basement door.

He tries to twist the handle but it doesn’t budge, and Stiles shoves his shoulder against it, barely even registering the flash of pain that travels through his shoulder.

“Stiles, stop, I’ve got the key,” Lydia orders, moving him aside. The ache in Stiles’ shoulder makes him wince, but then Lydia has the door open and she’s making sure Stiles follows her down one step at a time. “Okay, now what are we doing down here?”

The wards, I need to see the wards–”

He pushes passed Lydia and out of the light coming from the door above, over to the steel beam that stands in the middle of the room. Stiles falls to his knees to try to inspect the indentations that he’d made in the concrete circling its place. He can feel the thrum coming from the ground in waves and it’s so much stronger coming from the source.

There’s a flick of a light switch and the dull glow fills the room and Stiles can see the carvings in the ground, undisturbed. Relief surges through him when his fingers brush over the grooves and the magic reacts to him, the warmth trickling up through his body with old familiarity.

“Stiles?”

“They’re– they’re fine. The wards are fine,” he breathes.

“Why wouldn’t they be fine? You put them there yourself.”

“You want me to tell you what’s going on now?”

“I’m not going to like it, am I?”

“Probably not, no.” Stiles shrugs, but he doesn’t take his hands away from the markings.

Lydia sighs and sits down next to Stiles, watching him trace his own memories. Stiles knows that she probably thinks that Stiles is going out of his mind right now, but Stiles is so calm at the reassurance that the house is safe and his wards are as strong as the day he put them down.

He starts to laugh quietly, especially at feeling the resounding silence in his mind.

Now the only problem seemed to be how to start telling Lydia what was happening to him, but Lydia didn’t seem to have a problem with helping things get along. “So why did you insist on Deaton removing the dampener?”

“Because I think I’ve already got one on me,” Stiles says a little hysterically, but it’s the only option he can see.

“Stiles, that doesn’t make sense. No one would be able to get close enough to you to be able to put one on you–”

“Physical presence doesn’t matter for some spells, Lydia, you know that,” Stiles interrupts.

“Then why is your magic still bleeding through?”

“I’m stronger than they think. The only reason why none of us noticed is because we weren’t looking for a threat. I think I knew, even if I didn’t realise.”

“That’s what you meant when you said they were inside already?”

Stiles nods, reluctantly pulling his hands away from the wards. “Your house is safe, Lydia. The wards are the only ones I can think of that I can go to. Cora’s landlord wouldn’t let me ward the building when she first moved in, so they could affect me there.”

“What are they inside though, Stiles? Who are they?”

“They’re… They’re inside the town, inside my head–”

“Inside your…?” Lydia pauses, and then her eyes turn sharp and she grabs Stiles’ hand. “Stiles, what if you’re not hallucinating? What if it’s them who are putting those images into your head?”

Stiles lets Lydia pull him up and away from the beam, leading him back upstairs towards the research scattered everywhere.

“They were using it to their advantage,” Stiles realises, bypassing the table for the coffeemaker. “Why would I think someone was trying to attack me when I was so distracted by my own life– Lydia, you’re a genius.”

“They used your own mind against you,” Lydia nods, pulling out the mugs and moving around Stiles to prepare for the long night ahead. “But how did they get in your head in the first place? Do you even know who they are?”

“No, but they’d have to be powerful. Powerful enough to stay inside my head for months, except…” He trails off, staring at the clock ticking over on the wall.

It was a reminder that everything had to have started so slowly, so slowly that Stiles couldn’t have noticed. That he wouldn’t have noticed when there was his own power strong enough to try and expel them from his head. How blissfully serene the days were when he was wearing a personal ward.

“Except?” Lydia prompts, pouring the coffee carefully.

“Except for when I put on Derek’s watch.”

“You wore the watch you brought him?”

“Yeah,” Stiles nods distractedly. “I warded it with probably every protective spell I could think of. And it was after that… Oh my god.”

“Stiles?”

“They knew. They– that’s how they got in, Lydia. They knew when I would be vulnerable when I cast.”

“I haven’t had time read through your journals, I don’t know what that means.”

Stiles rolls his eyes, moving over to where Lydia has them stacked on the bookshelf and bringing them over to the kitchen bench. “Do you remember when I was tested? They told me the same thing I told you before Deaton said I was only allowed to write it down in my notes.”

“I wasn’t tested, remember? I’m a banshee. I just present.”

“Do you remember why I chose Deaton rather than one of the covens?”

“Because Deaton could help you learn to control your spark and become co–emissary, and because you didn’t want to leave us or be a witch.”

“And how does my spark differ from being a witch? You know this.”

“Witches draw power from the earth, whereas your power comes from your soul–”

“And because my power comes from my soul, I need belief, right? That means whenever I cast, I open myself to vulnerabilities–”

“Alright, so they got into your mind after you warded the watch. But Stiles, your house is one of the most warded houses in the territory, probably even the state– hell, I'd say even the country. It’s the safest place I can think of. If they’re not in your head now, then they shouldn’t have been able to stay in your head as soon as the wards sealed,” Lydia argues, and she’s right.

As soon as Stiles closed the front door behind him, his wards should have pushed them out of his head. But then Stiles remembers how many times he stood in the entryway, trying to figure out what had changed. “They’ve been in my house,” Stiles whispers in horror.

They–

How could they have gotten in?

“Stiles…”

“Lyds, if that’s when they got in my head, that means they’ve been watching me. They could’ve broken in and taken the wards down and then kept me from noticing by replicating the feeling I got when–”

“Not to burst your bubble, but your house can’t be broken into. It’s impenetrable. They’d have to have a key, or somehow be invited in. And I can’t think of anyone who would.”

“Fuck,” Stiles swears, leaning back against the counter.

He takes a sip from his coffee, running his fingers through his hair in frustration. Lydia was right, there was no way they could have gotten through to the basement. The whole thing was covered in wards and protective magic.

“I know you want this to make sense, but the best we can do right now is try and figure out who it could be and why,” Lydia says, reaching for the book on top of Stiles’ pile.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Stiles sighs, ignoring his journals in favour of sorting through the paper stacks on the table.

Stiles doesn’t know how long they sit there for, but it’s well into Stiles’ fifth cup of coffee when Lydia makes a low noise that causes Stiles to look up from his pile. Lydia’s face is scrunched up and she’s frowning down at the book, and Stiles knows the only reason why Lydia is still awake is because she’s so used to the long shifts at the hospital.

“Did you find something?”

“No, but what does this mean?” Lydia says, flipping the book over for Stiles to read.

His handwriting stands out against the old pages, back from when he was a teenager. He’s so distracted by the scribbles of random things around the pages that it takes him a moment to focus on what he wrote when he was fourteen.

‘Everything I’ve read says that a Spark’s power comes from their soul, or belief, is what Deaton calls it. I asked him today about something I read, about how long my kind can live, seeing how I’m the most recently discovered Spark in like thirty years. He said that I have a lifespan similar to a werewolf because aside from old age, there’s only one way to kill a Spark, and that’s why we’re so rare in the supe world after the Great Hunt. Apparently the only way I can be killed is through the heart. A grand relic, only one way to die, like we're some sort of fucking prize for those who hate us.'

“What about it?”

“‘Through the heart.’ What does that mean? Your wording is throwing me off.”

“It’s like how Kate tried to cut out my heart at the conference last year,” Stiles says. “If you destroy the heart, you destroy the power within it.”

“So why isn’t she trying to kill you now? Hunters aren’t generally known for being forgiving.”

“Maybe Derek brought out the best in her,” he sighs. He doesn’t really want to talk about Kate. Or Derek.

Lydia hums like she’s letting Stiles not talk about it and he turns back to reading. It gets to Stiles though, letting the silence extend when there is clearly more to say. It was probably her plan all along.

“I just don’t understand why he keeps trying to justify himself, I mean, she attacked me. She tried to kill me, and he thinks it’s all a goddamn lie!”

Lydia puts the book down, and she nods. “You know, when Andy shifted that first time I swear I saw Kate reach behind herself.”

Stiles’ eyes go wide. “Jesus Christ, my husband is mated to a hunter. You know, I bet she hasn’t even tried to get him to see Deaton about his nightmares.”

“Derek has nightmares?”

“Yeah, the last I saw him he looked like he looked kind of wrecked.” Stiles tells him. “Didn’t you notice at the hospital?”

“How long has he been having them?”

“Uh… A while? I used to be able to drag him out of them but then he just wouldn’t wake up. It didn’t matter what I tried.”

Lydia frowns and turns back to the book, and Stiles reaches for his empty mug to go and pour himself another cup of coffee. He rubs at his eyes tiredly, refusing to look at the clock and instead live in denial about what time it was. Stiles didn’t really want to sleep anyway, afraid of more premonitions and nightmares. He couldn’t go through that when he didn’t have an answer.

“Is there anyone from the covens who would be stupid enough to try and attack you?”

“No, the covens wouldn’t want to hurt me. I work with witches, remember?”

“I’m just trying to think of someone powerful enough to get into your head.”

Stiles shakes his head, swallowing a mouthful of hot coffee. “The only person in this town who has tried to hurt me is Kate and the person inside my head.”

“What if Kate is the magic user? She could have gotten into your house through Derek, and she could be using this to drive you–”

“If Kate is extreme enough to try and attack me at the conference, there’s no feasible way she could be using magic. If she even had the capacity to use it, it would probably be an insult to her life or something. I know Chris didn’t like me when you first started dating Allison.”

“Yeah, but that’s because Allison’s grandfather initiated them in hunting since birth. Chris came around. I’m actually glad we had the wedding here, you know? Because your wards kept Gerard and his ilk out.”

“Was Kate invited to the wedding?”

“Yeah, why?” Lydia frowns, looking confused.

“Did she come?”

“She couldn’t pass through the barrier.”

“Huh…”

“What?”

Stiles doesn’t answer, trying to figure out what changed her enough to be able to pass through the county boundary line. Stiles wished he could believe she really didn’t mean any harm, but he couldn’t believe that thought for a second.

I work in home security, actually.

And Derek had said they. That they were too strong together. The words flash through his mind and Stiles goes cold. It’s not a magical feeling either, it’s the feeling of dread crashing through his body in a sudden and unexpected wave of emotion, and he hears something smash to the floor.

Stiles!” Lydia shouts, drawing his attention.

There’s paper littering the dining room, and his coffee mug is in pieces on the ground, coffee spilt across several pages of research.

“Kate’s one of them,” he breathes.

It should be impossible to know for sure, but as soon as the words leave his mouth he knows it’s the truth. Kate who tried to kill him, who is Derek’s mate, is still trying to kill Stiles.

“One of them?”

“Shit–” Stiles says, waving his palm at the broken ceramic pieces and feeling his gut pull against the weakened block on his magic as it leaves his fingertips.

The mug is fixed but there’s coffee everywhere, and Stiles reaches a tea towel to clean the mess up. Lydia is still staring at him, and Stiles fights to control his fears of Derek being with Kate.

“Stiles, how is Kate one of them? You said they were magic.”

Stiles is shaking his head, trying to collect the soggy, coffee soaked paper. “What if she doesn’t have to be?”

“What are you saying?”

“She’s Derek’s mate–” Lydia scowls at the words, but Stiles presses on. “She could have been in the house at any time I wasn’t, so she could have brought them in to take care of the wards–”

“And they could have gotten into your head without having to even try,” Lydia finishes, equally horrified.

Stiles can’t stop thinking about Derek now, not now that he’s started, and his fear is beginning to overwhelm him when he thinks about his dream of Derek, and he has no way of knowing when it’s going to happen only that it will. He can’t let Derek go through that, he can’t.

Even though they’ve looked through most of the research, Stiles is meticulous as he rereads them. There had to be something he missed, he just knows it.

Stiles finds his eyes drifting shut against his will, and when he’s encompassed in darkness, he knows he’s dreaming of Derek once more. He can feel the presence nearby, but they aren’t close enough to touch. He wonders if it’s because he’s in a warded area, or if it’s simply because this is dream magic.

There’s no way he can tell for sure and Stiles tries to imagine a glow in the room to help him see. There’s no response but feels the prickle at his fingertips. Stiles opens his mouth, wary of who could be in the room. “Derek?”

There’s a whine nearby, before Derek’s voice answers shakily. “Stiles, is that– is that you?”

“Yeah, yeah it’s me. Where are you?”

“I don’t– how can I trust it’s you? They– it could be them, it could be them–”

Stiles’ gut twisted at the words, at Derek’s desperation in his voice and Stiles knew he wasn't just afraid, he was terrified. “You want me to prove it to you? None of this is real, Derek, you’re going to be fine–”

“I’m not, I’m not fine, you’re leaving and I can’t– fuck, they won’t let me out, I can’t talk to you and you’re right in front of me–”

“Derek, where are you right now?”

“I can’t– they won’t let me out, I keep trying but they won’t let me out–”

“Derek, you need to calm down and help me,” Stiles orders.

Derek’s breath starts to heave and Stiles fumbles his way through the darkness of wherever they are.

His knees hit something again and Stiles cries out as he falls, and he crawls over it to where he can hear Derek whispering to himself. As soon as his hand touch skin, Derek inhales sharply and he sounds hurt as Stiles’ fingers wrap over his ankle.

Dragging himself closer, he feels Derek’s arms curl around him and pull him up to his chest. Derek is shaking and drawing in hurried gulps of air, shoving his face into Stiles’ neck. “Shh, shh, I’m here, it’s me, I promise–”

“Stiles,” Derek gasps, holding him tightly. “You’re warm, it’s you, it’s you, it’s you, it’s you–”

Derek keeps repeating himself and Stiles feels tears prick at his eyes at Derek’s disbelief.

Stiles can feel the chill creeping closer to them, inch by inch and Stiles shifts around to put his hands on Derek’s face. “Derek, listen to me, you have to tell me where you are–”

“I don’t know,” he whispers, and Stiles tries to hold him close to shield him from the cold.

“Derek, you have to think. I can’t find you if I don’t know where you are.”

“It doesn’t matter, they won’t let me–”

“Don’t talk like that,” Stiles snaps and Derek forces out a choked laugh.

I can’t, Stiles, they’re keeping me from you–”

“Derek, tell me where you are.”

I’m going to kill him.

It’s quieter than before, that voice, not as overwhelming. Derek cries out at the voice, trying to draw Stiles into his chest. It makes Stiles pause, trying to see through the darkness to find some semblance of his own thoughts. What if they weren’t just inside Stiles’ head? What if they were in Derek’s too? Derek’s constantly unstable state of his control, his nightmares

It wasn’t a premonition at all. No, they weren’t touching him now because they didn’t know he was here. He was in Derek’s head. “Derek, I’m dreaming right now.”

“What?” He asks, tightening his hold on Stiles.

“Last time I was with you in this place, I was asleep. I’m dreaming now, too. I’m in your head.”

“Stiles, what…?”

“Tell me who they are, Derek.”

“I don’t–”

“Don’t you get it? It’s not real. I’m–”

He doesn’t love you.

“Derek, don’t listen to them. You told me not to listen, and I need you to do the same. They’re in your head. Not just mine.”

“Stiles, I can’t–” Derek whispers against his skin. “They keep showing me and I can’t– I can’t let them hurt you. I can’t keep seeing you die–”

The words ring through his head, and he hears the voice, louder again, and the chill is starting to push around Stiles’ aura. He won’t be able to keep it away for long once they realise he’s here. “Shh, they can’t know, okay? They can’t know I’m here,” Stiles whispers, trying to make himself smaller against Derek’s chest.

It’s not going to work for long, not with the way he can feel them pushing against him.

Derek.

It sounds like laughter, and Stiles feels himself shrink as Derek lets out a snarl. “Stay away from him!”

I can show you again if you’d like, Derek.

“He’s not dead, he’s not dead, he’s not dead,” Derek starts, and Stiles tries to shake him out of his fear but he keeps saying it, over and over.

“Derek, don’t listen to them,” he breathes against Derek’s skin.

“You’re not real,” Derek cries. “You’re not, he’s not here, you can’t take him from me again–”

“Derek, please,” Stiles whispers, trying to dig his nails into Derek’s chest.

He can’t see, and Derek’s eyes flaring in the darkness doesn’t help him at all.

You’re going to kill him, just like we showed you.

No,” Derek denies tiredly, choking out a sob.

Stiles does the only thing he can think of and kisses Derek’s neck. “Derek, who are they?”

Time and time again, we’ve shown you.

Derek,” Stiles whispers, before he presses a bites into his throat.

It was instinct really, that makes him do it. Stiles only thinks of it like his final goodbye to Derek, because when he wakes up he won’t get this anymore. Derek won’t be holding him, he’ll be holding her.

“Stiles,” Derek gasps. “Stiles, it’s them–”

Stiles.

That’s not possible, it snarls.

An ice cold grip wraps around his wrist and Stiles cries out as he’s yanked away from Derek’s embrace.

“Stiles, no–”

He’s mine.

Stiles can’t be sure who the voice is referring to, but it doesn’t matter. He’s being torn away from Derek, and he needs to tell him.

“Derek, remember what I said! Don’t listen to them– I love you–”

A sharp pain jolts through Stiles as he opens his eyes, being thrown from Derek’s mind. Nothing disappears after he wakes up, he remembers it all with pained gulps for air.

Lydia’s cheek is pressed against the book she’s inadvertently using as a pillow from where she’d passed out, slumped over the table in a way Stiles knows he would have been in if he were still asleep. He rubs his hands over his eyes tiredly, before wincing at the pain in his wrist. Stiles groans at the fresh ache when he tries to examine the amount of damage they caused, eyeing off the deep purpling of the new bruise with a shake of his head. The sun is just rising and Stiles is beyond exhausted.

He leans over and shakes Lydia’s shoulder. “Lyds, wake up.”

Lydia makes a noise of protest and Stiles shakes her again. “Lydia, dude.”

“No,” Lydia whines, covering her head with her arms.

“They’re in Derek’s head too, get up.”

Lydia jerks up, staring at him with wide eyes. Barely awake wide eyes, but wide eyes all the same. “What?”

“I was in Derek’s head last night. They were there too,” Stiles answers as he gets up, immediately going to the kettle.

“Why would they go after Derek?”

Stiles bites his lip, thinking about everything Derek had said. “He didn’t know we were in his head. I think– I think they might be showing him hallucinations too.”

“Hallucinations of what?”

I can’t keep seeing you die.

“Of me,” Stiles whispers, trying to stop himself from shaking. “They keep making him watch me die.”

There’s a scrape of a chair and Lydia’s arms wrap around him, keeping Stiles from falling apart completely. “Why would they show him that?”

“I don’t know–”

“Stiles?”

You’re going to kill him, just like we showed you.

“They’re trying to get him to kill me,” Stiles realises, detaching himself from Lydia and scrambling back to their research. “Why would they be trying to get him to kill me?”

“Maybe Kate thinks that he’ll do what she wants by being her mate?”

Stiles shakes his head, shuffling through the papers trying to find something. “No, he didn’t say who they were. He had no clue where he was at all, not until I told him.”

“Is there any way to keep someone from knowing they’re in their head?”

“Not without hiding behind something–”

“But Derek doesn’t have anything to hide behind?”

They won’t let me out.

Stiles, I love you.

“They’re not hiding,” Stiles realises slowly. “Not if he isn’t making the decisions himself.”

Stiles wants to vomit when he realises. He wants to kick and scream and run, because now he's wondering just how long Derek has been trapped, and just how long Stiles didn't notice. 

“But I thought you said–”

“Lydia, they’re keeping him locked in his own head.”

“This is Derek though, he wouldn’t stay down without a fight,” Lydia pauses. “What if he’s fighting to wake up?”

His mood swings, his nightmares, how he can’t even tell Stiles is outside of a room he’s in, his lack of heightened senses… They got into his head the same way they got into Stiles’, but Derek doesn’t even have the opportunity to fight against them. And if he was fighting to wake up, they’d have to be watching him to make sure he couldn’t call for help–

Kate. She was living in his house, with Derek, making sure he and Stiles were never alone together–

“Oh my god…”

He scrambles to find pages on mind control and manipulation, fuck, Stiles thinks, trying to dig through his head and the fog he’d been under, he’d been trying to tell himself through the haze of everything, he’d known all along and he was too goddamn blind to see it. It’s so much worse than Stiles could have imagined, and Lydia is just standing there–

“Lydia, fucking help me,” Stiles snaps, shoving paper to the ground trying to finds something.

Warm hands grab him and pull him away from the table as he struggles, but he stops immediately at the terrified looked on her face.

“Calm down. You know that we’re all worried, okay? You can’t be reckless about this. We’ll take a break and try again later. I’ll email the Elders again, and we’ll see what they say.”

Stiles knows Lydia is right, but he can’t help worry over Derek. He knows that as soon as he leaves the house their presence will flare up again and he’ll be defenceless. He’d be playing right into their hands if he went to Derek. They probably anticipated that exact goddamn thing if he found out.

He lets out a shuddering breath and nods, looking back down to the papers scattered about, trying to think of a way to fix it.

There was nothing.

 

The girls come home after a late lunch and no matter what they try, Andy won’t stop sulking. She completely ignores Cora and Allison, and she’ll barely meet Lydia’s eye. So it’s up to Stiles to get her to come out of her room. He sits on the each of her bed, watching her sadly.

When he finally gets her to look at him, she’s teary and clutching her stuffed toy like it’s a lifeline.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?”

Andy sniffs and mumbles something, looking down at her feet.

“You know you have to speak up,” Stiles says with a smirk.

Andy glares before she moves closer to him for a hug, and she’s quiet for a few moments. “The lady said we were stupid.”

Stiles frowns. Allison and Cora hadn’t said anything about having lunch with someone else. “What lady?”

“Uncle Derek’s mean lady.”

Stiles tries not to flinch, because they can’t let Andy know what’s really happening. Especially if what Allison and Cora’s reactions were anything to go by when they found out, the four year old would be even more devastated about the situation.

“...Kate?”

Andy nods solemnly and hugs Stiles tightly. “Uncle Stiles, do vampires exist?”

“Yeah, but they don’t come out during the day. Why?”

“She said she needed blood ‘cause the– ‘cause the mutt woke up again.”

It makes Stiles pause, staring down at the top of her head. “Did you see Kate with someone today?”

Andy nods. “She was walking with a pretty lady.”

“Do they know you were listening?”

Andy sighs dramatically, and Stiles rolls his eyes at her attitude considering she’s four. “No, Uncle Stiles, I’m a wolf.”

“Are you sure, Andy? It’s very important.”

He’s filled to the brim with fear, but then she shakes her head vehemently. “She said I wasn’t smart! I am so! I’m smart!”

“You definitely are,” Stiles agrees.

Andy smiles brightly, all things forgotten. She jumps off of her bed and takes Stiles’ hand, leading him back into the table where the others are waiting. They’re talking quietly but taper off when they see the look on Stiles’ face. They hadn’t heard any of it, judging by the look of confusion on Cora’s face.

Stiles knows he should say something, but he can feel a tug at the back of his mind that makes him falter. He didn’t know if they were listening or blocked, but Stiles didn’t want to risk it on the off chance that he was wrong.

He smiles weakly and sits down, passing Andy off to Lydia. Their conversations pick up again and Stiles tries to contribute, but it’s clear he’s distracted by the thoughts running through his head. Why would Kate need blood? Who was the woman she was with?

It’s running circles in his head until there’s a warm hand on his, and Stiles looks up to Allison’s concerned face.

“Stiles, you’re coming to the dinner tonight aren’t you?”

“What?”

“The pack dinner? Talia said you didn’t text her back,” she prompts, and everyone’s eyes are on him now.

“Oh. Yeah, I’m coming. I left my phone in the spare room.” Stiles stands, gesturing over his shoulder, “I probably didn’t see it because we were so focused last night.”

Stiles heads down the hall and his anxiety grows, because two people had gotten through the town boundary lines without trouble, when it should have prevented the threat. He picks up his phone and sees two new messages, sliding his thumb across the screen.

From: Talia

Pack dinner tomorrow night at 6? (5:32PM)

 

From: Derek

Can we talk? (5:27AM)

 

Stiles stares at Derek’s message, which was sent that morning. The last time he’d had a real conversation with Derek was when he was in hospital.

To: Derek, Talia

Yeah, I’ll see you tonight. (2:53PM)

 

He sighs and puts his phone in his pocket, when he feels a familiar tightness in his chest. Stiles takes a deep breath to try and push it away and it fades as he walks back to the table. Except when he walks into the room, it comes back with more intensity than before.

The pain is like nothing he’s ever felt before. It’s unbearable, like he’s being stabbed all over again. Stiles’ throat closes and his knees give out, tumbling to the floor and trying to curl in on himself.

He can hear the others shouting his name and Andy whimpering, but it slowly fades into white noise as Cora tries to restrain him.

They’re a blur above him, and Stiles tries to put pressure on his chest. It barely helps, and it draws Lydia’s attention, who pushes his hands away and tears open his shirt. Cora’s eyes widen and she says something that Stiles can’t hear, when the pain dulls and Stiles is left shaking on the floor.

The world slowly comes back into focus and the ringing in his ears slowly fades away, while Cora is trying to get him to sit up.

“What the hell was that?” Stiles rasps.

His voice is so weak it should scare him, but that’s the least of his worries right now.

“Stiles… I think we found out why you never felt any pain,” Lydia says as her eyes flick to her daughter and then over to the door leading to the basement. The wards.

“They were hiding it,” Stiles answers, trying to hide his shaking hands. He looks down at his chest and sees a giant bruise forming, stretching over his heart.

She needed blood.

His blood.

Stiles goes to sit up and gasps at the lingering pain and Cora lets out a whine. “Why are they doing this to you?”

Stiles knows his heart is racing, and he hopes it’s enough to distract Cora from his lie. “I– I don’t know.”

Stiles knew why. Derek had woken up, and they were using his blood to keep him under control. 

Cora hugs him carefully and Stiles tries not to shudder at the fear that goes through him, because he was right. Derek was in trouble. It's taking everything Stiles has to keep himself together right now, to keep himself from going and finding a way to fix this. He just had to wait until he went over to the Hale’s, then he could try and help Derek. The Hale house had the same wards as Lydia’s house, so it was all he could do but hope Derek decided to see his family early.

Stiles kept looking at the clock for the rest of the afternoon, but it felt like time was going so slowly. He tried to keep himself busy by reading more of his notes, but he knew he didn’t have anything on blood magic if it wasn’t to strengthen bonds and protective spell work.

And it certainly didn’t involve siphoning blood from someone else’s body. Stiles knew that he was powerful, but right now he was so outmatched. They had blocked his power and gotten through the town wards, and they could siphon his blood under a protected house, and they could keep his husband locked in his own mind–

That was how they got through his wards. Kate must have only been trying to get his blood when she attacked him at the conference. They’d somehow found a chink in the armour.

Stiles feels his stomach drop and he looks up from one of the old books to see Cora watching him, her gaze never wavering.

“You were right, you know,” Stiles says quietly, his eyes training on one of the pictures of Derek, Stiles and Andy on the wall.

“I usually am. But what about?”

“About Derek looking at Kate weirdly.”

“It was like he was just… Empty. Or in pain. Guess we know why, now.”

Stiles nods and rubs at his eyes until he sees spots and patterns in his vision. “How long do you think he’s been under?”

“Stiles, don’t torture yourself like that. Especially with what I know you are,” she says harshly, but that doesn’t stop him from not thinking about it.

How long exactly had he been under their control? When they started fighting? Or later? When he fell into bed with Kate? Can he even call it that? Stiles just tries to hold on to the hope that Derek is going to be okay. Stiles will fix it, he has too. Being at the hands of a hunter for seven months…

No, he can’t think about it.

Time passes quickly after that, and Stiles tries not to let his nervousness get the better of him. He only has an hour until he sees Derek. Maybe if he takes Derek down to the wards in the Hale house, he can get them pushed far enough out of his mind that Derek can wake up. Unless he has to find the source of their spell. The last hour feels like torture, and Stiles insists to the others that he’s fine to drive himself. If Stiles was being honest he’d say that he was afraid to step out of the house because he didn’t know what they would do once he left the protection of the wards. He had to do this though, he had to save Derek. 

Stiles makes the others leave before him, because if they knew what he was about to do they’d most likely kill him themselves. Probably in a more painful way than what the magic user could do. Stiles waits fifteen minutes before he can psych himself up enough to leave. When he does he rushes, locking the door behind him and getting into his car as fast as he possibly can.

He can feel them slowly invade his mind, creeping in like they had when he was in Derek’s head the night before. They’re around the edges of his mind and know that Stiles is aware, he can feel his body temperature start to drop as he begins to shiver. Turning the temperature of his car fan to hot was all he could do when he was driving, but it wasn’t towards the preserve. He drove through the streets carefully, relaxing minutely when he sees that Derek’s car isn’t in the driveway.

He parks two street down, walking back to the house with a sinking feeling in his stomach. He can’t see any lights on inside, which makes him breathe easier. Stiles knows he couldn’t go through the front door without tripping up any kind of security spell, so he pulls himself up over the back fence with a grunt and creeps along the side of the house.

Stiles opens the back door carefully, and a chill runs through him when he feels the dark magic in the air. He knows he shouldn’t be here, but if there was any way he could try and help Derek, he was going to take it. He moves as slowly as he can, closing his eyes and letting the energy of the house guide him. Now that he knows what he’s looking for, he can feel the energy is pulsing around him and even with Stiles’ power blocked, he can feel his own magic is pushing out desperately, trying to reclaim its presence in the house.

When Stiles opens his eyes he’s staring at the door to the basement. Stiles takes a deep breath and tests the handle. It opens under his hand and Stiles goes to turn on the light but it won’t turn on, no matter how many times he flicks the switch. Stiles braces himself, stepping down onto the first step. It’s stifling as he descends, the pressure in his head becoming worse as he goes.

Standing at the bottom of the step in complete darkness, he tries to open his senses, only hearing a drip from somewhere in the room. The room smells of dust and something he knows he should recognise, but in the dark it’s too hard to identify. Stiles goes to brace himself and his hand touches something wet. He pulls his hand away quickly, realising that he’s been in the basement in his dreams. It’s always been the basement.

Stiles tries to keep calm and he reaches for his phone, turning the torch on and shining it to the wall beside him. It’s straight out of his nightmares.

“Oh god,” he whispers, stepping back in haste when he sees the smears of blood on the walls, completely covering the wards he’d spent days etching into the foundations of the basement.

He’s still stepping back when the back of his legs hit something, sending him tumbling backwards over it. Stiles groans and shifts, turning the light onto what he had fallen over. There was nothing there except for a pulsing of magic, and Stiles takes a shallow breath before he reaches for it, feeling along the space until he feels what has to be an edge. It’s going to take all the strength he has outside of the wards to undo it, but he knew something like this was bound to happen. He would free Derek, even if it killed him.

Trying to stretch his aura out, trying to entrap the space that’s being kept out of sight, is harder than it should be. As he covers it completely, pain rockets through Stiles and he tries to hold his ground, murmuring enchantments he wishes would take root and help him, when he feels the skin of his chest split open under the strain. Stiles cries out in pain as he writhes and something pops, the pain instantly gone and he’s lying on the ground, staring up the ball of magic floating midair.

He scrambles to get closer to it, when suddenly the smell coming from it hits him and he has to swallow the bile in his mouth. It’s like death and rot and blood and smoke, and Stiles knows he has to look inside it. Except there’s no way he can peer inside, when the surface swirls and bubbles like it's alive.

Stiles tries to back away from the dark magic when he sees it drip black ooze onto the ground. It’s loud too, the constant drip, and just from looking at it, he knows that’s where the rest of his blood is, his own blood twisted in performing this… Abomination. Stiles knows there’s has to be a way to undo it, but he needs a clear head to do it.

Turning the light on the rest of the basement, Stiles tries to find something that will help him think. The whole floor is empty, but he knows there has to be something. Searching around the area gives him nothing, and Stiles tries not to shiver when he feels the cold sinking deeper into his bones.

He thinks of his family, his pack, about how scared and worried they all are for him and Derek, and then he thinks of Derek. His beautiful husband, who needs to be saved. Stiles tries to ground himself with thoughts of all of them. Derek being with him every time he was hurt–

Something spurs in Stiles’ mind, thinking about when he seemed most like himself.

Please– he– he’s my husband, please let me–

Stiles? Stiles baby, what’s wrong, please–

Please, he’s my husband–

It was whenever Stiles was hurt, and now he had an idea. A really, really, really bad idea.

Stiles stands up and inches as close as he dares to the ball, lifting his hand up to the cut in his chest and covering it in his blood, his pure blood. Stiles can feel his magic hum quietly under his skin, the power of his belief pushing relentlessly against the block. It will work.

He repeats it in his head as he reaches out to touch it, hesitating. He shouldn’t be touching this thing. It’s way too dangerous and it could go massively and catastrophically wrong, and the light of his phone doesn’t do anything but show how hideous and terrifying this thing really is.

If he dies, Derek would no doubt follow. Wolves practically stopped functioning once their mate was gone. If he was responsible for Derek’s death, he’d never forgive himself.

Something wiggles through the block, not necessarily magic, but it’s like a warm trickle of hope and warmth. His knees wobble at the feeling, something he hasn’t felt in months, the bond, their bond, and Stiles stops hesitating, pressing his hand against the surface.

It reacts instantly, crawling up his hand, like it’s trying to swallow his arm, and it hurts, like it’s trying to suck the life out of him, like it's trying to tear through the skin and muscle and sinew and bone to find the source of his magic. He can’t get it off, and the panic starts to set it.

Please work, please, Stiles pleads. Derek.

He can feel it trying to take him over, give itself a home inside of him. The pain forces him onto his knees as he tries to curl into himself, because he can feel it inching its way towards his heart. He's too weak, and Stiles tries to ignore the dread when he realises it's not enough, that for once, he is not enough. They been weakening him for so long now, they must have known he wouldn't be strong enough.

Then, something breaks open inside of him.

Something shrieks inside his head before the pressure in the room snaps and it’s like it’s alive and breathing. The pain is gone in seconds and he can feel his magic is thrumming through himself. Their hold is gone and so is the block of his Spark and Stiles’ vision goes white from it all rushing back so quickly.

He can feel the bond, feel the fear and pain that Derek is feeling, when it turns to something overwhelming. Stiles knows that he’s crying and he doesn’t want to stop, not when Derek is finally free. He can feel it, feel him, feel them.

Stiles strips his shirt now that it’s gotten blood on it. He’s about to wipe the substance off of his arm when he looks at the mix to see it glowing, and he can feel it piecing his arm back together. He can’t help the laughter that erupts from him, waving his hand and believing that his house was pure once more.

The bloodied walls joined in with the faint glow, and the lights flicker on and illuminate the whole floor. The euphoria he feels is the best thing he’s felt in months, and healing himself after so much time blocked was as easy as relearning how to ride a bicycle.

Stiles knows the spell and he knows the technique, but he hadn’t done something beyond potion and charm preparation for months. He murmurs the spell and presses his hand over the wound, only wincing as his skin pulls itself back together. Now all Stiles needed was to get to the Hale house and make Deaton to check his mind.

Climbing the stairs, he feels lighter than he has in months. The last time he felt so complete was before the conference the year before someone had tried to kill him and his husband. His mate. He was sure of that now.

Turning the light off and locking the basement door, Stiles knows there’s going to be fallout from Kate and her partner. He decides to look through the house to check for any residual dark magic, hoping there might be something that he can locate them with.

The basement and first floor are clear, but Stiles’ memories of walking up the staircase and hearing those moans coming from their bedroom, he shies away from that direction and goes to the spare bedroom first. The studies are clear too, so that just leaves the master bedroom.

Pushing the door open quietly, he holds his breath as he steps in. Everything is as it should be, and he can’t feel anything lingering.

There’s only one thing he can think of that will protect Derek if they try again; his watch.

Stiles almost falls over in his haste to search the room, throwing clothes out of the dresser and finding nothing. There’s nothing in the bathroom either, when Stiles realises it could be in the bedside tables. He searches through his old draws. There’s nothing but underwear, and he forces himself to walk around the bed rather than move over the mattress. Just as Stiles is about to open the first draw, he notices that there’s a handcuff in his peripheral.

Stiles turns toward it fully, a jolt of fear running down his spine when he sees the runes carved into both cuffs. They were pain and restraint, and Stiles could guess what happened whenever Derek woke up. The damn things had probably been soaked in Wolfsbane too. They had to keep him down until they could renew the spell and Stiles had no clue how often that could be since they had blocked all feeling in his body.

Just as Stiles turns to sort through Derek’s drawer, he hears the front door open and a pair of heels click on the tile. If it’s Kate he stands a chance, but he has no idea who the partner is or how powerful they are compared against him at full capacity.

Stiles turns away from the draws and tries to creep along the carpet quietly. He winces at the state of the room, with clothes thrown everywhere. It was clear that he had been here. The shoes are still clicking on the floor below, so Stiles crawls out through the open door and towards the linen closet.

It’s the only place he can think of that they wouldn’t look, because it still shocks everyone that he can fit in the bottom section. He can hear a woman’s muffled voice and he quickly expands his senses to the whole house.

“–care what you were doing, Kate. Get to the house now.”

Shit, Stiles thinks. Her voice is familiar, he thinks, but he can’t place it because she doesn’t talk or move from beyond the kitchen, but eventually the front door opens with a bang and Kate storms in.

“Alright, what’s the problem?” Kate asks, sounding bored.

“The problem is that something has happened and I don’t know what it is.”

“How the fuck can you not know? It’s your magic, isn’t it?” Kate laughs.

The other woman makes an angry noise and hisses, “That’s my point, Argent. I can’t feel anything.”

Stiles holds his breath when he realises he could have inadvertently pushed her magic back onto her without noticing and created his own dampener. He could only hope that his magic did something without his full knowledge like when he was younger.

“That’s what you said when he got out of hospital, right? That you couldn’t feel him when he was in Allison’s house.”

“But I could,” she sighs. “I could still feel him, even faintly. I think we need to redo it.”

“Derek isn’t here,” Kate snaps.

“Obviously. If I recharge it, it’ll strength my hold on both no matter where they are. It’s not my fault the dog snapped out of it this morning.”

“Shut the fuck up, Julia. I can’t predict when it happens. Just get down to the basement,” Kate orders, and their footsteps tread towards the locked door.

Julia.

Shit, no, no, it can’t be–

He knew it was familiar, but it had been so long–

The lock flicks open and Stiles prays to every deity he can think of to keep them in the dark about the spell being broken. The furious scream tells him otherwise, and he can feel her power push at his wards, trying to reclaim it. The touch of it reminds him of her presence in his mind, the chill that her magic had sent up his veins both for the past few months, and back when he was seventeen.

Not a witch or magician at all. A darach.

Her magic brushes up against him again and it was like someone is shaking his hand and he knows where he’s felt it before, outside of his head. Like someone looking familiar in a way he can’t place, or eyes seeming darker when Stiles twisted his ring around his finger, knowing deep down that he would never be over Derek.

Jennifer Blake.

Feeling cold for no reason in her presence, even though the town should have been safe. Julia had been watching him this whole time. Everything he and Derek had seen and felt, there was no way that they had done that on their own. Not if it was her. Ten years later, and she’s back. Julia Baccari had come back to Beacon Hills and set up a whole new life for revenge. 

Stiles was an idiot not to have seen it before, but how could he have seen it when she had been in his head?

“How could you let this happen?!” Kate shouts.

Me? I’m not the one so desperate to throw out the entire plan just so you can kill the pack in this town. We can’t go after them, we need to get me back in their heads!”

“Sweetheart, I seem to be the only one here that knows what I’m doing. You let Stilinski escape, and I’m going to bet Hale’s out now too. And I don’t particularly want to be buried six feet under just because we didn’t attack them first!”

“Do you realise what they’ll do to you, Kate? It won’t matter where you are, because they’ll find you and under pack law can legally rip your–”

“I’d like to see them try to kill me.”

“You tortured a werewolf! For six months.”

“Well excuse me for trying to enjoy living with a mutt,” Kate laughs. “It’s not every day that you can experiment with how long it takes for healing to stop without electricity. You’re the only one who gets to use the psychological torture.”

“They deserve to feel what I felt,” Julia says lowly. “You don’t have any idea how it feels to lose your mate.”

“Just find Stilinski and kill him, like you wanted. And then I won’t have to deal with your shit.”

“Search the house,” Jennifer orders.

“Whatever,” Kate mutters. “You’re all freaks to me.”

Jennifer doesn’t respond, but Stiles can feel the spike of fury in the air. Stiles hears the small click and he just knows Kate flicked the safety off of her gun. If they catch him, he’s so fucked. He hears them separate and search through the lower layers of the house, and Stiles quickly hides his presence so her magic won’t feel him.

Their words had been running through his head and Stiles knows tears are forming in his eyes because Derek had to be awake. He would be awake, and what Kate had done to him… What Julia had made him see–

Derek had seen him dying because Stiles had been the reason behind Kali’s death.

This isn’t my fault, Stiles thinks. For the first time, he actually believes it. I did what I had to do to survive. I’m not a monster.

He only made her human. He didn't force her to seek out the bite. He didn't force a rejection on her.

It’s always haunted him, but Stiles isn’t a monster.

“There’s nothing down here,” Kate calls out.

“Nothing here either,” Jennifer answers.

“Try upstairs. If we’re lucky the little bastard is still here and not with the pack.”

Jennifer’s heels make it easy for Stiles to track, rather than Kate’s silent steps, but with his hearing magnified it’s almost the equivalent of a werewolf’s. They split up between the studies and bedroom, and he’s probably lucky that the linen closet is on Jennifer’s end instead of Kate’s. She calls out that there’s nothing on that end of the house.

“He’s been here,” Kate calls. “The bedroom is trashed.”

Stiles freezes as Jennifer walks by the cupboard, and he hears her swear when she clearly reaches the bedroom.

“He’s not here,” Jennifer sighs. “I can’t feel him.”

Kate swears and starts walking back, and his heart is out of control with fear and worry for Derek. He hears them walk down the stairs, and Stiles is praying they leave the house.

Stiles’ phone in his pocket beeps.

He can’t shift around enough in the small space to reach his phone, and he knows he’s a dead man when their footsteps halt.

“Did you hear that?”

“Did he leave his phone in the bedroom?” Jennifer asks.

“We’ll find out, won’t we?” Kate says, and Stiles can hear the smile in her voice.

They walk back up the stairs, slower and more cautiously. He can hear them go back towards the bedroom, and the back into the hallway. Stiles closes his eyes and holds his breath as they come closer. His phone goes off again.

Kate laughs and he flinches when the gun goes off.

And again.

And again, and she keeps firing until the magazine is empty. It’s clear she’s aimed for his chest and head, but he’s curled up on the floor so he’s probably got to buy new towels and sheets. And shelving, probably. And find a way to fill in the bullet holes in the wall.

“Overkill, Kate?”

“The only reason why he was still alive after the conference was because you wanted him alive. Trust me, it’s not overkill. Not with his kind.”

He hears the handle move and the door swings open, and Stiles uses their momentary surprise to kick at their legs with as much strength as he can muster, his power rushing to aid him.

Someone’s leg cracks but both go tumbling to the ground, and Stiles crawls out and tries to get up, but one of them grabs his ankle and keeps him from getting away.

“Stilinski,” Jennifer screams, pulling him back. “You’re going to pay–”

He looks behind him and sees Kate start to get up, and Stiles kicks at Jennifer’s face to try get her to let go, because he can see her leg bent at an odd angle. She lets go with a cry and Stiles manages to stumble into a run, because he needs to get out of the house and back to his car.

He’s shoved against the bannister and Kate’s grin faces him before her hand wraps around his throat.

“Like old times, right Stiles?” She grin and tightens her grip, reaching behind her and unsheathing her knife. “This time I won’t hold back.”

Stiles grabs her wrist to try and loosen her grip, and then he sends a burst of power through his fingertips. Kate yells in pain and anger as he starts to back away, but her grin gets wider as she taunts him.

“I’ve never killed a Spark before. I can’t wait to get your heart on my mantle. Especially when it will go so nicely with the heart of your mate.”

His voice catches in his throat because Derek wasn’t going to find his body, not if he could help it. He couldn’t–

He promises himself he’s getting out, alive, because Derek is his

Stiles knows his house like the back of his hand, and he lowers one foot down onto the step behind him. Her eyes follow the movement, calculating. And then she lunges.

Kate shoves him back, and Stiles can’t catch himself as he falls.

His head hits the ground.

Everything goes black.

 


 

Derek is twenty seven.

Stiles is twenty two.

Derek is twenty seven and he’s standing at the altar. He’s twenty seven and this is probably the best day of his life, probably the happiest he’s ever felt since the day he had finally found Stiles.

It’s also the most nerve-wracking day of his life.

He’s in a suit that makes him too hot even under the cover of the giant gazebo that’s been set up along the back of his parent’s property. It honestly looks beautiful, with flowers and vines decorating the area, better than Derek pictured when Lydia and Laura had first brought up the idea.

The pack had separated them over twenty four hours ago and Derek’s nerves are shot now that they’re together again. He’s barely listening to the official, knowing exactly when to speak. The anticipation is killing him, for when they finish the ceremony to exchange their marks to complete the bonding ritual. Stiles, marked by Derek’s teeth, and himself, marked by Stiles’ magic.

Everyone looks stunning in what they’re wearing, but Derek only has eyes for Stiles. They’re standing next to each other and the look of pure love in Stiles’ eyes has always made Derek’s heart soar and this time is no different. He knows his eyes are shining with unshed tears. Stiles looks the same.

Stiles looks incredible in his dark suit, eyes never leaving Derek’s.

“I do,” Stiles smiles and lifts Derek hand, sliding the gold ring onto his finger.

The official speaks again and Derek nods, knowing his life is going to be everything he could ever want as he slides Stiles’ ring onto his finger, trying not to shake. “I do.”

Derek’s finally going to be with him.

His mate.

 

Chapter Text

 

Derek is thirty two.

Derek is thirty two, his head is pounding, he’s exhausted, and he feels like he’s waking from another nightmare.

He’s thirty two, surrounded by his family and pack, but he knows something is horribly wrong.

Derek looks around the room, trying to find Stiles to see if he was okay. He sees everyone but Stiles, and then he remembers. They’d driven him away.

Derek is shaking as he remembers the last time he’d seen Stiles, it had been in his head and Derek couldn’t believe it was him because he was so scared of what else they would do to him.

His fear, his loathing–

His pain.

He’s gasping for air as his knees give out, drawing everyone’s attention to him. It’s all a blur of what he can remember between the nightmares and hearing them make him say things he would never say to Stiles, seeing his blood but not being able to smell if he was okay, trying to break free–

Derek’s stomach churns as he remembers that woman, touching him and cutting into him while he couldn’t do anything but watch it happen, a prisoner in his own body as Julia made him cry out on his anniversary in a way he could only do for Stiles, for his mate, hearing Stiles’ heartbeat skip right when he was outside the door, but Julia made him walk away, if only he had walked in, he would have seen, would have seen Derek’s blood, would have gotten him free

Bile fills his mouth and he throws up on the grass, and he hears everyone’s voice except for his. It feels like his chest and arm have been torn to shreds, panic ringing through his whole body.  He feels his mother’s hand on his shoulder and it doesn’t help the shaking, and then he feels a familiar sensation wash over him, warm and gentle and soft, and Derek can feel the echo of laughter.

Stiles.

He was okay.

Derek feels like a rag doll as someone drags him into the house, but he couldn’t care less because that feeling means Stiles is safe, and that means everything to him. He’s not sure how much time has passed, between fighting to wake up and being surrounded by darkness.

A wet cloth presses against his mouth, and Derek finally focuses on his mother kneeling in front of him, wiping away the vomit. He can feel her fear coming off of her, even if she doesn’t show it and Derek catches hold of her wrist to stop the movement.

“Derek?”

“Where… Where’s Stiles?” He murmurs, feeling a faint tug in his stomach from his mate’s sudden apprehension.

“Honey, Stiles isn’t here yet. He’s on his way,” she says, confusion clear in her voice.

“I– how is he?”

Her forehead crinkles and then Lydia answers carefully him from the doorway of the bathroom. “You’ve never asked that before.”

“Lydia,” Talia growls in warning.

“Lydia, please,” Derek pleads. “I’m… I don’t know how–”

Lydia stares at him and tilts her head to the side, frowning, before her eyes widen. “Fuck,” she whispers furiously, pulling out her phone.

“Lydia, what is it?” Talia asks.

“Last night, Stiles… He figured out what was going on. We didn’t want to say anything yet but that’s got to be why he’s taking so long to get here, because he’s gone to try fix it, goddamnit–”

“But his powers,” Talia starts, “he’d be defenceless.”

“I can feel him,” Derek whispers. “Mom, he’s scared. I– I have to go to him–”

Derek stands, feeling dizzy for a second before it disappears. Talia tries to call him back, and they’re both following him out of the bathroom and away from the pack waiting inside.

Talia catches his arm before he can get in his car, and her red eyes make him falter.

“Derek, you are not going alone.”

“Stiles–”

“Is incredibly smart and resourceful, and has a large advantage if his magic is working. But I only just got you back, Derek. Lydia and I are coming with you.”

Derek nods, eyeing the hand his mother holds out before sighing and passing over his keys.

Lydia is already in the back seat, and she keeps checking her phone.

“Have you called him?” Talia asks, starting the car.

“I messaged him, but he hasn’t replied…”

“Try again, tell him we’re on our way,” she suggests. “Derek, what can you feel?”

Derek focusing on the bond, dread filling him when he feels the anxiety and fear within Stiles. “He’s scared.”

The car speeds up, and then he feels panic shoot through the bond. He terrified that Lydia is going to feel the urge to scream.

“Mom, hurry, something’s happening–”

“I’m already fifteen over the legal speed–”

“I promise I won’t write you a ticket, just hurry!”

“It’s not the ticket I’m worried about,” she mutters.

The car still speeds up but then they get stuck at a red light. Stiles’ fear is taking hold of him, and he feels an echo of a tight grip around his throat before it disappears. “Can’t you just drive through it?”

“Derek, for fucks sake–” Talia replies, shaking her head.

The light turns green, and Derek feels like he’s falling. There’s a sharp burst of pain, before there’s silence. Reaching into the bond is easy, but when Derek tries he can’t feel anything, he feels empty.

“Derek…?” Lydia asks hesitantly, but Derek doesn’t acknowledge her.

He’s too busy trying to find Stiles on the other end of the bond.

He can feel Lydia’s eyes on him before he hears her distantly, “Talia, he’s freaking out–”

Talia swears and the car speeds up, and Derek sees a flash of blue as they pass the jeep. Derek can hear heartbeats and screaming coming from the house as they pull up, and he nearly tears the door off the hinges in his hurry to get out. The shouting intensifies, and he can hear both his mom’s and Lydia’s calls of his name as he rips the front door away.

It’s like all the air is sucked out of the room when he sees him lying there, completely still.

“Stiles,” he shouts, running to him.

He cradles his body against his and searches his blank face, devoid of any emotion.

“Stiles? Stiles– Stiles, no, open your eyes, okay, baby? Please– open your eyes–” Derek whispers, tears falling onto his mate’s face. “Stiles, please.”

He hears pained laughter and he looks up, seeing the witch and Kate writhing on the floor above them. His mom and Lydia are already walking up the stairs to them, and then the witch cries out in pain again, before it turns back into laughter. “You’re going to see how it feels, Hale. He’s dead, and there’s nothing you can do!”

His mom snorts, but he can hear the bitterness filling the air. “Julia Baccari, of course it was you.”

Derek snarls at the name, the memories that follow and the voice that he heard, when she shoved those images through his mind again and again.

“Get this curse off me,” she pleads, beginning to writhe again.

“Why should we?” Lydia asks. “You don’t–”

Kate cries out and he hears a cracking of bones in the air, and he doesn’t feel anything but hatred.

“Leave it on them,” Derek spits. “It will restrain them until we can put them in a cell.”

“Is he–” Talia asks, her voice shaking.

Derek tries to focus on his senses rather than the bond, and then he hears it.

The weak thump of Stiles’ heart.

“He’s alive,” Derek cries out in relief, clutching him desperately. “He needs to go to the hospital–”

No!” Julia shrieks, turning into a cry.

“Lydia, call John. Let him know we’ll be at the hospital. Tell him to send a two squad cars, and then call Deaton and Marin. I’ll call the Elders. They’ll need to know,” Talia says weakly.

Lydia nods and sits on the top step, staring down at Derek and Stiles, looking as if she’s going to be sick. She still hasn’t screamed, and Derek’s holding onto her silence as a promise. He can’t stop crying, even knowing that Stiles is alive. He did this. He was the reason his mate isn’t waking up.

“Derek, don’t say that,” Talia says gently, coming down the stairs and cupping his face. “You weren’t even in control of your own self–”

“Then I should have tried harder to break free–”

There’s laughter from upstairs again, but this time it’s not Kate’s. “Stilinski didn’t even know I was in your heads, I doubt you could–”

“Stiles figured it out. He just didn’t know it was you or how you were doing it. And he still beat you,” Lydia snaps, and there's another noise of pain.

“I’m taking Stiles to the hospital,” Derek says, lifting Stiles up carefully and holding him to his chest. “I’ll call you when I’m there.”

“Drive safe,” Talia orders.

Derek nods and makes sure not to jostle Stiles too much as he puts him in the car, and Derek drives. He’s restless but he drives carefully, because he can’t let Stiles be hurt any more. Pulling up at the hospital, Derek rounds the other side of the car and lifts Stiles out, tucking him in close as he walks through the front door.

“I– I think he fell down the stairs, I don’t– I’m not sure–”

The nurse at the front desk eyes widen and she nods, paging one of the doctors on call and getting Derek to lower him onto a gurney.

It’s a blur as Derek watches nurses rush about, checking Stiles’ vitals and hooking him up for the IV drip.

A nurse stays beside him, asking questions that Stiles can’t answer.

“His name?”

“Mieczysław Stilinski-Hale. He’s a Spark. He was in here not long ago, because…” Derek thinks, trying to remember back through the blur and dark. “It was from magic.”

The nurse nods, writing it down. “Relation?”

“Derek Stilinski-Hale. Husband,” Derek says, and his voice breaks. “Werewolf.”

“How were his injuries received?”

Derek’s hand curls into a fist. “He fell, our house, it has… There are stairs. I– I wasn’t there. I felt like I was falling, and then n– nothing. When I got there, he was out cold. I thought he was gone,” Derek says quietly, tears brimming over.

She nods and walks off. Derek stays beside him the whole time, fighting the instinct to growl when they jostle him. A doctor says her name and introduces herself but Derek immediately forgets, to busy keeping his hearing on Stiles’ slowly strengthening heartbeat. It’s all happening so quickly.

She leads him to another room, Stiles’ bed being pushed behind them. “We have to know the extent of the damage.”

Derek nods and paces in the booth with the doctor as they prepare him for the CT scan. The noise is unbearable for Derek’s ears, but he wouldn’t be anywhere else than here. As soon as the scan starts to come up, he’s by the doctor’s side, watching.

“What does that mean?” He can’t stop the tremble as he points, and the doctor sighs.

“His brain is showing signs of swelling. There are no traces of bleeding though, which is good. Your husband is a lucky man.”

Derek’s legs feel like jelly at the news, and he falls into the nearest chair. “When will he wake up?”

“I’m afraid I can’t answer that, sir. We just have to wait and hope the swelling goes down. Unfortunately it seems like his magic is active and it should help to stabilise most of his physical state, so he shouldn’t require too much assistance. We’re not sure how it will affect him completely.”

He nods, and soon he’s following Stiles out when his phone rings. He answers it distractedly, and his mom’s voice is on the other end.

Derek, did you get to the hospital? We’re on our way over–

“Yeah, I’m here,” he says.

Talia picks up on the waver in his voice. “How is he?

“He– his brain is swelling,” he forces out, trying not to cry again. “They don’t know when he’s going to wake up.”

Oh, sweetie…

“I love him so much, Mom. And he– he doesn’t even know–”

Derek, he’s Stiles. I’m sure he knows.

“No, he doesn’t. Not after what they did–”

You don’t remember much from when they had you trapped, do you?

Derek shakes his head before he remembers he’s on the phone. “Bits and pieces.”

Well then let me tell you that Stiles never stopped loving you. Lydia told me about the dreams, and from the sounds of it, Stiles knows how much you love him too. So stop blaming yourself.”

“What if he doesn’t wake up?”

You can’t think like that, sweetheart. I’ll be there soon, ” she says. “I love you.

“Love you too.”

They lead him to Stiles’ room, which is big enough for a pack to fit in if they so wished it. They had clearly dealt with it before, and Derek insists on tucking Stiles under the blankets.

The heart monitor is quiet because of Derek’s insistence. He needs to hear Stiles’ heartbeat for himself, as an anchor. He’s so afraid he’s going to lose control and storm out to kill Kate and Julia, so he keeps all focus on Stiles. Derek’s attention is constantly torn between watching Stiles and watching for the possibility of brain activity on the monitor.

He’s so still, so different to what he should be, it makes Derek pull the chair he’s in even closer to the side of the bed. Derek threads his fingers through Stiles’, squeezing gently. There’s no response, like he expects, but it still hurts. Ever since the bond went silent, Derek feels like there’s a gaping hole in his chest. Stiles looks like he could be sleeping, but if he could just wake up–

Derek would be the happiest person alive.

John bursts into the room and Derek watches as his face pales. Lydia, Cora, and Talia follow, eyes all locked on Stiles. He falls into the chair opposite Derek, covering his face with his hands. Derek can smell the salt, and the Sheriff’s eyes are red when he takes his hands away. He takes Stiles’ other hand, staring at his son’s face.

Lydia clears his throat.

“I, um… I’m going to get a coffee. Anybody want one?” Her voice shakes, and Derek feels the same.

Cora leaves the room with her, and but his mom walks over to him and puts her hand on his shoulder.

The touch is supposed to comfort but it does the opposite, it makes him feel like shit for being part of what Stiles went through, even unwillingly. Derek doesn’t care that he starts crying again, because all the tears in the world won’t help Stiles wake up any faster.

Talia wraps her arms around him in a hug and Derek breaks down, his choked sobs filling the room. His mate was comatose. Stiles. “What are we going to do with them?”

“The Elders–” Talia begins.

“I’m going to make sure they never see the light of day,” John says quietly.

“Alan, Marin, and the Elders are going to strip Julia of her power. But we’re going to need you to make a statement,” his mom sighs.

Derek swallows. “I don’t remember that much.”

“Whatever you do remember, it will help.”

Derek nods and looks back at Stiles’ face, the oxygen mask and all the machinery in the room making him look so small and delicate. Fragile.

Human.

After Lydia and Cora had brought back coffee for everyone, they both had shifts to start a few hours later. His mom had made sure the rest of the pack understood what was happening and why they had until the next day to visit, rather than burst right it.

Derek never wants to leave Stiles’ side, but he has to get away. He’s the one who caused this. Stiles might never wake up again because of him. No matter what anyone else says, this is on him.

Just as Derek is leaving the hospital, he hears John’s quiet and scared voice.

“Stiles, for the love of god– please, wake up.”

 

Derek runs.

The overwhelming need to tear into his skin to remove the echoes of their touch is the only thing driving him into the preserve, this animalistic need to hide and never come out. There are moments he remembers, things he wants to forget but can’t. There’s so much haze in his mind that Derek hopes he never remembers everything that happened, because it would probably crush him more than it already is.

As soon as he is far enough away to not hear Stiles’ heartbeat and shallow breathing, he sheds his clothes and shifts past his beta form into the wolf, bones breaking and reshaping in a familiar and welcomed pain.

Derek runs as fast as he can, until his lungs are pounding at the strain, but it still isn’t enough. He digs his claws into the nearest surface and drags, needing pain to fill the hole in his chest. The hole where the bond should be. It’s like he’s missing a limb, and Derek howls at the lookout point, a broken cry for his mate.

There’s no doubt that the pack heard him, so Derek runs all night trying to find any trace of Stiles’ power that he can. The preserve has always been full of his magic, and it’s like it’s tugging him along until he finds an empty den to hide away in, where he can feel the slightest shift in the atmosphere.

It’s an old trace, old enough that it could have disappeared completely were it not for the remnants of a ward carved into one of the rocks at the entrance. Derek curls up into himself, making himself as small as possible as if it will make him disappear.

Sleep feels impossible, but he drifts to sleep as the sun begins to rise.

Derek doesn’t move out of the den for days. If he does there’s no way of knowing if the last traces of magic will disappear again, and Derek doesn’t know what he’ll do if it fades. It’s feels he’s drowning under the empty weight in his chest. He doesn’t eat or find a stream to drink from, both needs have deserted him. Derek has no desire to try and live with this feeling in his chest, he just wants to be numb from it all.

It’s nearing a week and he hasn’t moved at all, his head a mess of memories and nightmares and thoughts of Stiles lying there completely still, never knowing if he’s going to wake up or if he’s never coming back to them all. If only I had said, repeats in his head as a cruel mantra, I thought he knew he was my mate.

He’s woken by his mom’s howl, but Derek doesn’t leave the den. They can look for him, but there’s no way Derek is coming out. Everything feels heavy and sluggish, and Derek doesn’t even hear them until they’re right outside the cave. A deep growl rises from the back of his throat, and the glowing red eyes of his Alpha is the only thing that makes it stop.

“Derek, come out of there,” Talia sighs, not crossing the entrance of the den. “It’s not going to do either of you any good if you’re not next to him.”

He can smell her tears and Derek whines.

“Derek, please. I miss you. We all miss you. You can’t go through this alone,” she pleads.

Something in Derek breaks, and his bones shift until he’s naked and shaking. “Mom,” he whispers, and his voice is quiet and broken, and Talia climbs into the den.

Her arms are so warm around him and Derek feels like a little boy again, like when he broke a bone for the first time. The wound is healed but the pain is lingering.

“It’s okay, it’s okay, you’re going to be okay,” she’s murmuring, rocking him back and forth. “We’re going to take you back to the house, okay? Clean you up and take you back to the hospital, so you can be with him. It might not feel like it, but being with him is the best thing you can do. You need your mate, Derek.”

It just makes him cling to her harder, just wishing the ache would disappear.

 

They say it helps to talk to coma patients. Derek doesn’t say anything at first, he has no clue what to say and at the same time, too much to say to Stiles.

The one thing he can’t manage to do since he turned back is be in the same room as the pack when they come to visit him, because he can feel their eyes on him and he feels their stares like weights on his shoulders.

Derek goes to the cafeteria, taking a seat in the corner. It’s not like it matters. He can still hear them talking.

“–hug Uncle Stiles?” Andy asks quietly.

“No, but you can talk to him,” Allison says. “Isaac, can you watch her? I need to go to the bathroom.”

He hears the lie, but he can’t be bothered to get up when he hears her coming up the hallway. She sits down opposite him and tries to catch his attention, but Derek’s eyes are on his hands.

“Have you given your statement yet?”

Derek nods. He’d done it after his parents had cleaned and fed him. He couldn’t get into his house because it was a crime scene, so he went straight to the station to make his statement. Derek bought the bouquet of flowers that sit next to Stiles’ bedside on the way back.

Talking to Parrish about it was hard. There were things that were still blurry, things that had remained sharp in his head, things he didn’t want to remember. He had to be clinical about it. Clinical, he thinks with a dark laugh. Clinical about being locked inside his head for months on end, clinical about having Julia projecting visions of Stiles dying by Derek’s own hand, the one person who Derek would want to die without–  

Clinical about his body being cut into and shot, about how many bones she could break before she killed him–

Clinical about the way he remember being so close and still unable to get out, so near Stiles and seeing him hurt, feeling the pain go through him as it went through Stiles, not being able to get to him or rip her apart with his claws–

Derek fucking loathes being clinical, but it was necessary.

The tape had recorded everything, and Parrish’s face by the end of it was pale and a very forced attempt to remain blank. He’d asked Derek weakly to take care of himself, not just focus on Stiles. That just because his body had healed, didn’t mean his brain had.

It brings back the need to go back into the preserve and never come out. But Derek pushes it down, because he needs Stiles more. He can help himself when Stiles wakes up.

“Did you see their injuries?”

Derek frowns, looking up. Allison gives him a soft smile and shrugs. “Whatever Stiles did before he fell had the two of them hospitalised for a few hours the first night before they went back to the station. Lydia told me.”

“Was it bad?”

“Major bruising on their tracheas, plus several broken bones each and possible psychological scarring. According to Parrish they started hallucinating when the Elders walked into the station. It took some time for them to remove it. And apparently Stiles wouldn’t have had time to cast it as he fell. It was his magic reacting to him being in danger without being able to protect himself.”

A weak laugh escapes Derek. “Of course it was.”

“Jordan also said that it wasn’t because they thought it would be better to wait. They started trying as soon as they heard what happened. But they couldn’t disable it until about two hours later.”

“Why are you telling me this, Allison?”

Allison sighs and reaches for his hands. “Because you’re as much a victim as Stiles is. Just because you’re not in a coma right now doesn’t mean they didn’t hurt you.”

“But I’m awake now, aren’t I?” Derek growls.

“You know if you think about it… You were the one in a coma for seven months. She was in both your heads, but they had to keep you locked down because they couldn’t control you how they wanted.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”

“Just a little perspective,” Allison says as she stands. “I’m glad we have you back, you know. We all are. Andy couldn’t bear the thought of her and Stiles losing you.”

She presses a kiss to the top of his head and goes back to the room, and Derek presses his palms into his eyes until he sees spots. Stiles is lying there in a hospital bed, and Derek just feels so weak.

He heads back to the room eventually and as soon as he closes the door, there’s a tiny body hugging his legs. Andy looks up at him, tears brimming, and he tries to smile but it’s definitely a grimace. Derek lifts her up into his arms as he sits back down next to Stiles’ bed.

“Uncle Derek, are you feeling better?” She asks, pressing her tiny hands onto his cheeks.

“Not yet, Andy.” He takes one of her hands and rubs his thumb over her palm, gently adding his scent to hers.

The pack smells wrong, after all this time without him. Seven months of being physically and mentally separate from his pack, his family, means Derek’s scent is virtually non-existent. Andy pouts and wraps her arms around his neck, tucking her nose into his collarbone.

“Do you still love Uncle Stiles?”

Derek hugs her tighter and nods against her head. “I do, very much.”

“Is he your mate again?”

“He was always my mate, sweetie. Did your moms tell you what happened?”

Andy nods and sniffs. “That you were under a spell.”

He can smell the sadness coming off of her and rubs his cheek against her head. “I’ve been away for a very long time. You know it wasn’t me who said and did those things, right? I never wanted to hurt Uncle Stiles.”

She nods, leaning up and kissing his cheek loudly. “Of course I know, Uncle Derek.”

Derek drifts into a light sleep with Andy on his lap, and the scent of pack around him. It cuts through the antiseptic and chemicals, and he sleeps better than he has in months. No matter how many times he wakes up next to his bedside, his eyes go straight to Stiles but there’s never any change in his condition.

Derek tries to hold his hand whenever he can.

Whenever someone from the pack comes to visit he tries to give them space by going to the cafeteria, but he can never focus his hearing on anything other than Stiles. Just hearing him breathe without the aid of a mask like before, hearing the steady beat of his head, it keeps him from falling apart completely. If I lose my mate… Derek tries not to think about it.

A hand on his shoulder pulls him out of his thoughts, and he looks up to see Erica staring down at him. “You look like shit, Derek.”

He chokes on a surprised laugh as Erica pulls up a chair and slides a sandwich in front of him. Derek knows he should eat, but his appetite has been virtually non-existent since he woke up.

“I’m not hungry,” he tries.

“I know, but that doesn’t mean you have to torture yourself.”

Derek sighs, pushing the sandwich back to her. “I don’t want it.”

“Just eat the damn sandwich, Hale.” Boyd says as he walks into the cafeteria.

Boyd presses a kiss to the top of Erica’s head before he sits down, the two of them staring at him until he starts to slowly pick it apart.

He can hear Cora talking to Stiles and it doesn’t make any easier to swallow his food.

“–I can’t , Stiles. I can’t hear you and it’s killing me. I don’t know how she can pretend like it isn’t killing her. She’s a banshee and she just… Shuts it off. Must be one of the pros about working in a hospital,” she tries to laugh, but it's weak and shaky. “I’m terrified, Stiles. We’re all fucking terrified that we’re going to lose you– just… Please come home.”

Derek has heard nearly all of the pack talking to Stiles without meaning too, and he’s barely said a word to Stiles when he’s in the same room. Every time he tries, he freezes and can’t find any words to say. He can feel Boyd and Erica’s stares as they make sure he eats the whole thing, but it just tastes dry and bland in his mouth.

“You need to go home, Derek. You’ve been here for nearly a week,” Boyd says, like Derek doesn’t already know.

“Have you looked in a mirror lately?” Erica adds, raising an eyebrow.

“My home is a crime scene,” he shrugs.

“Then come to our house. Or go back to your parent’s place,” Erica stares him down.

Derek growls under his breath and Boyd sighs. “Don’t just sit here feeling sorry for yourself.”

“What the fuck am I supposed to do then?” He snaps.

Derek doesn’t mean to lash out at them, but he doesn’t have a house to go back to. Not that he’d want to, not without Stiles. That’s why he stayed in the den.

“You’re going to get help,” Erica growls. “You’re going to come to our place, take a fucking shower, and talk to us about what they did to you. If not for yourself, then for Stiles.”

And Derek wants to, more than anything. For both of them. But after being kept away from Stiles for so long… It hurts, even being in a different room than him. The den was the only other place he felt safe.

“He wouldn’t want to see you like this,” Boyd says bluntly. “You need to understand that we’re here for you. None of us know when Stiles is going to wake up, so you need to focus on yourself.”

“It hurts,” Derek finally manages. “It hurts to be away from him.”

“Then get someone to come here. You’re my best friend, Derek.” Boyd answers. “None of us want to see you like this. It wasn’t your fault. None of us noticed you were– I should have noticed something more was going on, Derek. You're my best friend. We all should have noticed.”

He nods eventually, getting up and rubbing a hand over his face. Heading back to Stiles’ room, he knocks on the door and Cora looks back at him, wiping the tears from her eyes.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to– I just came to say goodbye to him. Erica thinks I need a shower.”

Cora smiles and nods. “Erica would be right. You’re coming back though, right?”

“Yeah. I need try be the person I was.”

“Derek, no. Be the person you are. We’ll be here with open arms.” Cora says, wrapping her arms around him, before hesitating, “...I’m sorry I was so awful to you.”

“I think I kind of deserved it at the time.” He clutches onto his younger sister, subtly adding her scent.

When Cora lets him go, she looks towards the door. “I’ll give you a minute.”

She leaves him and Stiles alone in the room, and Derek sits on the edge of Stiles’ bed and takes his hand.

Derek can’t take his eyes away from Stiles’ face, his breath coming in shallower each time.

“I’m sorry,” he whispers, his voice breaking. “I’m so sorry, Stiles. I don’t know what else to say. Just– I love you. I’ve always loved you. Please, come back to me.”

He leans forward, pressing his lips to Stiles’ forehead as delicately as he can.

“Don’t make me lose you twice.”

 

No news is good news, that’s what they say. For Derek, no news is torture. No news means that Stiles hasn’t woken up nor does he plan to. There’s no way of knowing, which is probably the worst part. The amount of times Derek and John have been kicked out of the hospital on Lydia’s orders is a testament to how reluctant they are to leave his bedside.

The whole pack knows about what happened to him now.

He managed to sit them down in Stiles’ room and tell them everything he could remember, but this time he couldn’t cope with clinical. He needed them more than ever because every time he tried to reach into the bond, there was nothing. Even though Derek could see Stiles in front of him, it felt like he was gone. Derek wasn’t the only one crying by the end of it, and his pack had tried to comfort them in their own ways.

The nightmares had stopped, though. That was one of the only benefits. He wasn’t forced to watch Stiles die anymore.

Derek talks to him a lot more too, when he visits. He tells Stiles what he remembers, even if Stiles doesn’t respond. It helps him remember that this isn’t his fault, like his family all insists it isn't, but he still blames himself for not getting to the house fast enough. That’s one thing he’ll blame himself for, until the day Stiles wakes up.

There are so many things he talks about, because he finds it’s better than saying nothing. Stiles has dealt with his silence for too long.

The pack makes sure that he takes care of himself, taking him to lunch or dinner, not so casually adding their scents together. Derek slowly finds the appeal for food again, once it stops tasting like ash in his mouth.

John thinks it will be better for him to go back to work too, even if it’s only desk work. Derek won’t complain, because it keeps his mind off of the possibility that his mate won’t ever wake up.

It’s been just over a month, and the only thing the doctors have said is that the swelling has gone down and that there’s a possibility that his magic will help with the healing. So really, no news.

Stiles’ room always has flowers, from Derek, from the pack, from the station, even from the Elders. Derek makes sure they’re always fresh because without his husband, the world seems bland and colourless. The flowers help, even if it’s only a little. Stiles deserves to be surrounded by colour and Derek wants to make sure that he knows he’s loved, especially if he isn’t with him the day he wakes up.

None of it makes Derek feel any better, when all he wants to do is shift and run through the forest, howling until he loses his voice, so he can come back and curl into himself at the end of Stiles’ bed.

The nurse has told him to go home for the night, after refusing to leave for the two days he’s had off that week. He has work in the morning, so he reluctantly agrees.

With a sigh, Derek gets up and kisses Stiles’ forehead, as is his routine now.

“Come back to me. I miss you. I love you.”

He heads out, driving back to John’s place, where he sleeps in Stiles’ bed. It’s one of the few places that still hold his scent because even though it’s faded and dusty, it’s ingrained into every surface.

Derek sets the shower just the side of too hot, the water beating down on his body helping him relax. He dries off and puts on a pair of sleep pants, tucking under the covers and burying his head in Stiles’ old pillow.

Usually Derek falls asleep fairly quickly, but for some reason he can’t stop tossing and turning. With a groan he stares up at the ceiling, wishing sleep would take him. It’s just as he’s drifting off that he feels it, deep in his chest. It’s like a fluttering of wings a first, so tiny and gentle that Derek thinks he imagined it. But when it happens again, he hopes it’s real. It has to be. A sense of warmth, a brush of fingertips against his hand. A pair of lips pressing against his forehead.

It’s faint, but it’s there.

It’s almost like a caress, and then tears blur Derek’s eyes as he sits up. He reaches into the bond and feels it respond, before it fades into a whisper.

Derek moves like a madman, pulling on the first shirt he sees and grabs his keys, not even bothering to put on a pair of shoes. Derek makes sure to lock the door as he heads out, driving ten over the speed limit because he has to know. The moment he steps out of his car, it feels stronger, and Derek is afraid to breathe as he navigates his way to Stiles’ room. He passes the nurse who had sent him home two hours ago, and she glares and tries to block him off in the hallway.

“Sir, I told you to go home–”

“Please,” Derek pleads, desperate to get around her. “Please, let me see him, I think he–”

The bond feels like it’s pulling him towards his mate and he gently pushes passed the nurse, who swears and follows him.

It takes some effort to not rip the door off the hinges like he wants to. Stiles’ heart is strong, he can hear it, and his eyes immediately go to him on the bed.

He’s blinking his eyes open slowly, like they’re heavy, and Derek can’t stop the noise that escapes his throat.

Stiles.

He’s–

He’s awake.

 

Stiles feels like his head is full of cotton balls. He can feel something sticking into his arm, another thing taped to his face.

It smells of antiseptic.

Ugh, hospital, Stiles thinks.

Then he remembers Kate and Julia, and he remembers falling.

He tries to lift his arm to wipe the sleep away from his eyes, but his arm feels so weak he stops trying. He thinks he hears a door open. Stiles manages to pry his eyes open, blinking at the bright lights.

All over the room there’s colour, pink and red and yellow and green and white from the flowers, but his gaze is drawn to the jet black hair coming from the doorway. Derek. He looks different, but he looks better than when he last saw him. There are tears slowly making their way down his face and the bags under his eyes are lesser, not as dark and his face isn’t as hollow. He almost looks healthy. Healthy, and worried beyond belief.

A broken noise escapes him as he rushes towards Stiles, cupping his face gently and pressing a kiss to his forehead. Stiles knows his heart is beating wildly, after seeing Derek and knowing he’s safe.

“I love you,” Derek whispers, over and over.

“I–” Stiles’ throat aches from disuse, and Derek shushes softly him as he turns to the nurse waiting in the doorway, face wide with surprise.

“Can you get him some water?” Derek asks as he leans away and takes the hand beside him. “And call the Sheriff and tell him that his son is awake?”

The nurse nods and hurries off, coming back quickly with a jug of water. She runs off again and Derek pours a cup of water for him one-handed. He brings the cup to Stiles’ mouth, holding it for him so he can drink from the straw.

It feels like heaven running down his throat, Derek taking the cup away when he’s had enough.

“How long have I been here?” He asks with a croak.

Derek’s lip twitch in a sad smile and he strokes his thumb over Stiles’ hand. “Just over a month. You were in a coma.”

“I’m sorry,” he tries, and Derek shakes his head.

“Don’t apologise. None of this is your fault.”

Stiles can hear the strain in his voice, and he just knows Derek is probably blaming himself. He would’ve woken up countless times without Stiles there to help him, and yet Stiles gets Derek with him the moment he opens his eyes.

“It’s not yours either,” Stiles says, squeezing Derek’s hand as tightly as he can.

Which is to say, not much. Derek still smiles though, and that is worth everything to him.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there, when you woke up.”

“It wasn’t pretty. There was vomit involved,” Derek says quietly, eyes going down to their hands.

“Oh, well in that case,” Stiles grins weakly, and Derek shakes his head with a laugh, his voice breaking slightly.

“I missed you so much, Stiles. I didn’t know if you were ever going to wake up.”

It hurts, thinking what would happen if he had never woken up. So many things that would never occur, so many connections never made. The pack would be unbalanced and there would be one less Spark in the world. There wouldn’t be a Stiles in Derek’s life, or a son in his dad’s, nor a friend in his family’s.

“I missed you, too.”

“You know you’re my mate, don’t you? It was never her.”

“I know,” Stiles nods. It still stings, how he thought he couldn’t be Derek’s mate. “What happened to them?”

Derek goes still, before he brings Stiles’ hand up to his mouth and kisses his wrist. “The Supernatural Protection Agency took them into custody and Julia’s powers were stripped. Your dad wanted to make sure they never saw the light of day again.”

“Good,” Stiles says tiredly. He can’t take his eyes off of Derek. He hasn’t seen him like this in so long, and he needs to draw Derek into him right now but he doesn’t have the strength to hug him. “No matter what, I will always come back to you.”

Derek whimpers and shifts towards him, tucking his head into Stiles’ neck. Stiles lifts his other hand slowly, holding his head and running his fingers through his hair. He hears a choked off sound and he feels the wetness of tears against his neck, letting Derek take his time. Derek shakes against him, making tears form in Stiles’ eyes as well.

“Shh, it’s okay. I’m okay. I love you.”

Derek murmurs his reply against the skin of his neck and Stiles smiles, closing his eyes. “You’d think after being in a coma for a month I’d be less tired.”

Derek moves back, his eyes roaming over Stiles’ face. He cups his face and kisses Stiles chastely, pressing their foreheads together. “You can go to sleep if you want.”

Stiles shakes his head. “Not yet. I haven’t finished looking at you.”

His soft laughter makes Stiles smile and he feels so full of joy he could burst.

Derek’s gaze flicking to the door is the only sign he gets before his dad bursts in with the entire pack trailing after him. His dad is crying too and Stiles smiles tiredly at him.

“Hey everyone.”

“Stiles–” his voice breaks and he comes up to try hug him as carefully as he can. “Don’t you ever do something like that again.”

“Sorry, Dad.”

“I love you, kiddo.”

“I love you too.”

His doctor comes in and checks him over again the next day, clearing him for release after some physiotherapy to help him get his strength back into his atrophied muscles. It’s not fun. It takes some time, but he’s finally strong enough to walk further than to the bathroom and back.

Derek is there every step of the way when he isn’t at work, always coming in after his shifts and sneaking him in food that isn’t terrible. It’s easier, with him beside him. Stiles knows Derek is hurting, and blaming himself, but then… So was he, for such a long time. They will talk about it. They can help one another, Stiles knows.  They can heal. And together, they can rebuild.

Derek is wheeling him out of the hospital to where his dad is waiting with the car. Derek helps him in and sits in the backseat with him, never taking his hands off his waist. After Derek had told him what had happened, he always tries to make sure that Derek knows he’s there for him.

It’s the best feeling in the world, seeing his house for the first time. He knows Derek has been staying at his dad’s house, but the pack had made sure the house was clean after the investigation had finished. Derek takes his hand and helps him out, tangling their hands together after Stiles insists that he can walk.

The front door opens and the pack are there, waiting for him. He takes it easy for the night because he although he’s able to walk without help now, it’s still exhausting. Seeing the pack all happy and laughing makes him smile, resting his head on Derek’s shoulder.

Lips press against his head and Stiles turns to kiss his shoulder in return, when he remembers something. “What did you do with the papers?”

“I shredded them,” Cora speaks up, a guilty smile on her face.

“Yeah, and you made me call the lawyers after you sent them back like that,” Laura growls, shoving her playfully.

“Thank you,” Stiles sighs.

Derek squeezes his hand in agreement.

When everyone is gone and Stiles is ready to go to bed, he stares up at the stairs in disdain. Climbing them is going to be hell, but then Derek’s hand drops onto his shoulder. “Need some help?”

“Would you?”

Derek smiles softly and picks him up bridal style, earning a glare from Stiles. “I thought you wanted help?”

“I thought you would offer me a piggy back.”

Derek laughs and leans in for a kiss, which Stiles eagerly accepts. This is the first time they’re truly alone and Stiles relishes in it, slipping his tongue into Derek’s mouth when they reach the top of the stairs.

When Derek breaks away, there’s a pink tinge to his cheeks that make Stiles smirk. “Just like our wedding night,” he teases.

“If you think I’m going to let you break the bed again–”

“Me?!” Stiles cries.

“Yes, you. You were the genius that thought it was a good idea to try sex magic on our wedding night.”

“Whatever, it was totally your fault.”

Derek shakes his head with a smile as they reach the bedroom. There’s a brand new bed where their old one used to be, and Derek lets out a shaky breath.

“Oh thank god,” Derek sighs. “When Mom says they fixed everything, I had hoped they destroyed every trace.”

“Me too,” Stiles agrees, making his way over to it when Derek puts back on his feet.

He sits on the edge of it, laughter bubbling out of him. “This mattress feels amazing.”

Stiles showered back at the hospital before they left, so he figures he’s clean enough as he starts to undress. He sheds his shirt and pants as carefully as he can, switching into the soft pants. Stiles turns to get back into the new bed, when he catches Derek’s eye on the other side of the bed.

The heated look Derek has sends a shiver down his spine.

“Derek,” Stiles whines. “Why are you doing this to me?”

Derek smirks, tilting his head. “Doing what?”

He hates Derek for taunting him, but he hasn’t seen anything like it in so long that he can’t find any reason to complain. There wasn’t exactly enough time or privacy for fooling around in the hospital. He wonders to himself if they should be rushing this, but watching Derek now, and knowing everything they do, he craves his touch more than anything.

To stop this hesitation he knows they still have around each other, that last step of over thinking, over analysing, always scared of pushing too far… Stiles knows it’s exactly what they need. He can see that Derek knows it too, how he tries to play it off as teasing and taunting, but he’s known Derek long enough to know its the fear of rejection. To be found lacking.

“You know what.”

Derek’s eyebrows shoot up and he steps closer. Stiles doesn’t takes his eyes off him as Derek takes off his shirt, fingers trailing down his stomach towards the button on his pants. Stiles sees the smirk on Derek’s face and slides onto the bed, wanting to be closer.

Stiles can feel himself growing hard in his pants, and from the look on Derek’s face he can smell his arousal, feel it flowing through the bond.

He waits intently as Derek slides his pants down, taking his underwear down with it. Stiles palms himself lightly and Derek’s eyes follow the movement, a small sigh leaving him. Derek climbs onto the bed and kneels next to him, one hand resting on Stiles’ knee, creeping up his thigh to play with his waistband.

Derek undresses Stiles slowly, pressing a soft kiss on his right knee once he’s completely naked.

Stiles leans forward and kisses his husband slowly, taking pleasure in each swipe of tongue and each quiet noise that leaves him.

He ends up being pushed back to lean against the headboard, while Derek straddles him and kisses along his jaw.

“I don’t want you to strain yourself,” he says right before he travels down to Stiles’ neck, nosing at his pulse lightly before he opens his mouth to press deep kisses there.

“Derek,” Stiles gasps, tugging him closer.

Derek groans and worries Stiles’ skin between his teeth, sucking the blood to the surface in what’s sure to be one of the many mean hickies he’ll have by the morning.

“God, I’ve missed you,” Stiles sighs, scraping his nails lightly down Derek’s chest. “Missed you.”

There’s a light growl that makes him do it again, deliberately catching one of Derek’s nipples in the process. The noise he makes in return has always been worth it. Derek continues to suck marks into his skin as Stiles’ fingers travel down Derek’s body, hips jerking up when Derek grinds down against him.

He takes Derek’s cock in hand, squeezing gently as Derek nips at his Adam’s apple. Derek whines when Stiles doesn’t stroke after that, moving away from his neck to kiss Stiles chastely before his reaches down and lets his fingers trail lightly over Stiles’ cock.

“Derek, come on,” he pleads, jerking Derek off slowly in retaliation.

He smiles and curls his hand over Stiles’ cock, slowly building his own rhythm.

It’s like they’re relearning each other’s bodies, remembering how thumbing over Derek’s slit is the surefire way to make him moan loudly, or how Derek tightening his fist is the way to get Stiles panting and desperate.

Moving together like this makes Stiles’ heart swell, his breathing becoming quicker as he thrusts up into Derek’s hand.

Derek, please, come on,” he begs, and Derek moves down to kiss the scar on his chest.

It sends a wave of heat through him and Stiles cries out as he comes.

Stiles,” Derek moans at the sight, leaning forward to kiss him again.

“I love you,” Stiles whispers as they part and he sends as much emotion as he can through their bond, and Derek cries out as he spills over Stiles’ fingers.

They both shake from the aftershocks, and Derek reaches for Stiles’ pyjama pants he’d thrown to the floor to wipe them down with.

“Those were clean, asshole,” Stiles says, earning a grin and soft kiss.

Once they’re under the covers, Derek wraps Stiles in his arms and noses along his hairline.

“I love you too,” Derek says into the back of his neck, pressing his lips against his skin once more.

Stiles drifts off knowing that both of them are safe and together, and that’s all he could wish for.

 


 

Stiles is twenty eight.

He has everything he could ever want; a job he loves as a supernatural consultant, he has a family who means the world to him and a niece to spoil rotten, and he has Derek by his side.

Stiles is twenty eight and married to the love of his life. He cherishes every fight they have, every laugh, every moment they have together.

His life is everything he could ever want.

All of the time.