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The wind changes and a shiver climbs up Stiles' spine as he catches a dark smell. It's a threatening mix of fury and insanity wrapped in predator, and every fiber of Stiles' being starts screaming 'Danger, danger!" He stops walking abruptly and Scott collides into his back.

"What is it?" Scott whispers.

"I think we should go," Stiles says, manhandling Scott to turn towards where they left the cars. They are under the wind; they can probably get away if they go now.

"What's wrong?"

"I think I heard something, maybe the search party. I'll be in deep shit if my dad catches us here," Stiles says.

"It was your idea!" Scott exclaims, exasperated, but he obeys easily enough (bless his agreeable heart).

It's a good thing because, for Stiles, this adventure to find half of a corpse isn't exciting anymore. The only downside five minutes ago was the risk of getting caught where he had no business being by his father – which, let's be honest, is just another day in the life of Stiles Stilinski - but now he has a deep need to get away to save his hide. Something that makes his body hair stand on end and creates an itch to shift and run is not to be messed with. But it's not like he can suddenly tell Scott: "Hey, buddy, I never told you before but I'm a werefox, it comes from my mom's side of the family? Oh, and right now, my sixth sense tells me to get away ASAP, why don't we run for it?"

"Come on," Stiles says instead, starting a light jog. He hopes Scott doesn't get an asthma attack.

Ironically enough, in turning around they do end up running into the search party. It's instinct for Stiles to want to run and hide from them, too, and somehow he gets split from Scott.

"Stiles! Wait up! Stiles! Stiles!" Scott cries out, but it's already to late.

"Hold it right there!" a cop says, and Stiles gets caught in a flashlight beam. Crap.

"Hang on, hang on. This little delinquent belongs to me," his dad says, appearing between the trees and double crap.

"Dad, how are you doing?" Stiles says, as casual as he can make it.

Of course, it's totally unconvincing.

His dad hikes an eyebrow up. "So, do you listen in to all of my phone calls?"

"No," Stiles says with a shrug. "Not the boring ones."

Dad looks around, not impressed. "Now, where's your usual partner in crime?"

"Who, Scott? Scott's home," Stiles lies. Of course he does, because that's what a bro does, he provides cover and an alibi in times of need. "He said he wanted to get a good night's sleep for first day back at school tomorrow. It's just me. In the woods. Alone."

Since his dad is not stupid, he raises his voice and shouts. "Scott, you out there? Scott?"

Scott stays hidden, so his dad brings his attention back on Stiles.

"Well, young man, I'm going to walk you back to your car. And you and I are going to have a conversation about something called invasion of privacy."

Which… well it wouldn't be the first time. Stiles lets himself be lead away, feeling a lot safer now that he's with his dad. He's worried sick about Scott, though, whom he last saw heading in the direction of the dangerous smell, alone and unaware.

Which, now that Stiles thinks about it, is straight towards the Hale property line.

Fuck.

***

 

Right away in the school's parking lot, as soon as Scott walks up to him, Stiles knows something's wrong. Scott smells changed and exudes a whiff of danger, though thankfully, it's nothing like what Stiles caught the night before. Just that, the mix of friend and foe, causes a cognitive dissonance because it's Scott. Nothing about Scott has ever been dangerous, except the toxic fumes when he eats burritos.

Scott told him he got bitten and that could be very serious. Stiles takes him aside.

"What happened?"

"It was too dark to see much, but I'm pretty sure it was a wolf," Scott says, reaching for his side.

"A wolf bit you?" Stiles asks, his stomach sinking. Shit, that's not good. He doesn't bother arguing with Scott that California doesn't have wolves, because he knows that way worse than animals roam in the night. "Tell me exactly what happened," he urges.

"I found the body?" Scott says.

That's a shock. "You – are you kidding me?"

"No, man, I wish. I'm gonna have nightmares for a month," Scott says with a disgusted shiver.

Normally, Stiles would be distracted by Lydia walking towards them, and he'd tease Scott a little about catching a nasty infection that gets bad once a month, but this situation is very serious. He drags his friend into the school, hopes no one is listening in too closely.

"Scott, my man, I have good news and bad news."

"What is it?" Scott wonders, a bit alarmed.

Stiles comes right out with the biggie. "The bad news, though that's relative, is that I'm pretty sure you're a werewolf."

Scott gapes at him. "What?"

"I'm 85% sure that what bit you last night was an Alpha werewolf. You're changing, I can smell it."

"Smell it?" Scott's eyes are opened so wide, Stiles can see the white all around the irises. "What the hell?"

"Yeah. That's the other thing: the good news is that I'm going to be able to help you, as I'm not entirely human myself," Stiles says with as much confidence as he can. He's pretty sure Scott won't look at him in disgust or horror at the revelation. On the other hand, his friend seems totally confused.

"I don't know what you are going on about..."

Stiles sighs deeply. "I'm sorry I never told you, okay, I wanted to, but I promised my mom I'd keep the secret."

They are close to a supply closet, so Stiles hurries them in. It's a tight fit with the buckets and mops, but the privacy is needed.

"Stiles, what the hell is going on?"

"Trust me, okay?" Stiles pleads. "I'm going to show you something. It's pretty cool if I say so myself. My mom, she was special. She was a born werefox, and she passed it on to me."

"Werefox," Scott says, flatly.

"Yeah. If we want, we can shift into foxes. It's rare, I don't know any other of my kind. I can prove it to you by flashing my eyes."

"What do you..."

Stiles lets the fox come through - knows his eyes glow orange - and Scott breathes in sharply.

"Holy shit!"

"Cool, huh?" Stiles says with a smile. "Tonight I'll show you my Beta form and my full fox form."

"Oh my god." To be frank, Scott doesn't look excited but slightly green around the edges. "You are a werefox and I could be a werewolf?"

"That's pretty much it. If it hasn't kicked in yet, soon all of your senses will sharpen. You'll be able to shift, too, with a little help. I can turn completely into a fox, but it will be different for you. Also, wolves are influenced by the moon a lot more than foxes, so you'll have to learn to cope with that, too. But don't worry, you've got me. I'll be your shifter Yoda, my friend. But now we 've got English class."

Stiles opens the door to let them out. He'd been too distracted to listen closely, and they practically bump into Jackson Whittemore, of all people.

"Watch it, morons!" Jackson says with a scowl. Upon realizing where they'd been, he raises both eyebrows. "Really? I can't say I am surprised."

Scott is too preoccupied to understand what Jackson is implying but Stiles can't help but to wink, his trickster nature getting - as usual - the best on common sense.

"Maybe you and Danny could join us next time?"

Jackson rolls his eyes. "You wish."

He drops it, thankfully. Though, knowing Jackson, they surely haven't heard the last of it.

***

English brings a complication named Allison Argent.

Every shifter worth its pelt knows Argent is a synonym for trouble (along with Campbell, LeChasseur, and Winchester among others). It wouldn't be so bad if Scott didn't get totally enthralled by the admittedly very lovely Allison in all of five minutes of meeting her.

"Have you seen her?" Scott asks dreamily.

"I sure did, buddy, but I don't think you need that distraction right now."

Heck, Stiles had learned to control his shift as a kid but puberty still had been hell. He didn't have his mom to explain what to do and avoid at that time - which, in fact, could have been a tad mortifying now that he thinks about it - but for sure control and hormones don't mix well, in his experience. Judging by Scott's face, it's probably too late to convince him to stay away from Allison.

They're back in the woods now, way too close for comfort from the danger Stiles detected the night before. He can't smell it right now, which is the only reason he's still here, looking around with Scott for the poor girl he'd found right around these parts.

"I–I could have sworn this was it. I saw the body, the deer came running, and then I dropped my inhaler," Scott says, eyes scanning the ground.

"Maybe the killer moved the body," Stiles says. And the killer is probably a werewolf, so they really should get the hell out of dodge he doesn't add.

"If he did, I hope he left my inhaler," Scott grouses. "Those things are like 80 bucks."

A second before the voice comes, Stiles hears a twig breaking. He looks up to see a guy in jeans and a leather jacket over a black t-shirt scowling at them.

"What are you doing here? Huh?" Hot angry guy asks. "This is private property."

That's when Stiles recognizes him. Older, more grown up, but that's Derek Frigging Hale. He's downwind, but there's the faint smell of wolf, though definitely not the same as the other night. Maybe it's different because Derek's not shifted? But no, Stiles' instinct warns him of danger, but not of immediate threat. It's possible that the crazy bitey werewolf who turned Scott is his Alpha, though, so they better get away ASAP.

"Uh, sorry, man," Stiles says, rubbing his neck, embarrassed to be caught so close to the Hale property line. Technically they haven't crossed into Hale territory, yet, which is about where Derek is standing. Not that he'll mention it. "We didn't know."

Derek squints, and Stiles realizes it's because he heard the lie by the jump in his heartbeat. Shit. He's usually the only one able to do that party trick.

"Yeah, we were just looking for something, but–" Scott pauses when Derek reaches into his pocket and throws a small object at Scott, and then stalks off. It turns out to be Scott's inhaler. "Uh, forget it. Uhm. All right, come on, I gotta get to work."

Stiles waits for a couple of seconds and hopes Hale is out of earshot. "Dude, that was Derek Hale. You remember, right? He's only like a few years older than us."

"Remember what?"

"His family. They all burned to death in a fire, like, ten years ago," Stiles says. He never went to see the burnt shell of the Hale House – to Scott's surprise, to be honest – because not crossing into Hale territory is a promise he made to his mom that he never intends to break. He has seen the pictures, though.

"I wonder what he's doing back," Scott wonders.

"Come on," Stiles says, "We've got work to do."

***

Scott flees from Lydia's party and Stiles curses under his breath. He knew that it was a bad idea in the first place, with the full moon looming and Scott being so new. Stiles is about to go after him to make sure everything is okay when he sees that Derek is here, watching him from the edge of the backyard. It's frankly a little creepy. But here, at Lydia's and on the edge of a group, Stiles feels bold enough to start a conversation with the guy. There are too many witnesses for Derek to attempt something violent against his person (he hopes).

"I have questions," Stiles says, approaching warily. Hale is still a wolf, and caution is needed.

Derek tilts his head, and yeah, he's intimidating without having to say a word.

"Why are you here? Is it for Scott?" Stiles asks.

"Maybe. But why would I answer your questions, kit?" Derek says and Stiles freezes.

It shouldn't be surprising that Derek knows what he is, but it's a shock nonetheless. Stiles has passed as a regular person his whole life, and that someone just knows makes him uneasy.

"It's Stiles. My name is Stiles. And you should answer because I can make your life hell if you go after my best friend. My dad's the Sheriff," Stiles says, though he hates playing that card.

"And? I didn't do anything," Derek says. It sounds true.

Stiles squints. "You didn't?"

"Nope," Derek says and flashes his eyes. They are electric blue, not Alpha red, and Stiles relaxes a tad. He thought betas were gold, though. As a courtesy, Stiles flashes his own eyes, though there is no hierarchy for foxes, so it won't tell Derek much.

"Was it your Alpha?" Stiles asks and Derek shakes his head no.

"My Alpha's dead," he says, almost tone deaf but Stiles can hear his heart accelerating with emotion. "My sister. I found half of her just about where I saw you two snooping the other day."

Stiles winces because, ouch, that must have been terrible. "I am so very sorry."

Derek blinks, and then looks away. Stiles can smell the hurt and the rage on him, and he can sympathize.

"Any idea who did it?" he asks softly.

"Smelt like wolf, but gone wrong. Like hunters, too. I don't know," Derek says, then scowls, as if annoyed he's telling Stiles that much.

"I was in the woods, the night Scott got bitten. Didn't see the Alpha but there's definitely something wrong with it," Stiles shudders as he remembers the smell of insanity.

"You should stay away, kit. Don't go in the Preserve. And stay away from your friend, too. He'll hurt you," Derek says.

Stiles scoffs. "No fucking way. Maybe the Preserve, but I'm sticking with Scott. We're working on his control, I've got this."

"You're not a wolf," Derek says, dismissively.

"Close enough," Stiles says, rocking on his heels. Who does Hale think he is to tell him how this will go? "I've known Scott since we were toddlers, he won't hurt me."

"I'm not so sure. He's a danger to himself and to everyone around him right now. I'm the one who can help him."

"Why would you do that?"

"Because. We're brothers, now. Tell him to come to me later. For now I'll bring the girl back home safe."

"Allison?" Stiles asks. She's on her phone, annoyed and hurt that Scott left her alone at a party without an explanation. "She's an Argent," Stiles tells Derek, though he doesn't know why.

Derek's jaw clenches hard. "I know. And I won't hold it against her, for now. Does she know, about you?"

"Are you nuts? Of course not." What does Derek think, that Stiles broadcasts his nature to hunters in his introductions? He barely even knows her anyway!

"Good. Keep it like that. And not a word about me, got it?"

"For sure."

Derek nods and walks past him to Allison. Stiles can't help a sigh of relief: he talked to a wolf and lived to tell the tale, that's good. Now he needs to find Scott.

***

When Stiles sees Scott at his house, later, he looks miserable. Stiles sympathizes.

"You almost transformed, huh?" Stiles asks.

With a big weary sigh, Scott nods.

"I told you it wasn't safe to go to that party," Stiles says. "It's the full moon, Scott, this is not a joke."

"But Allison," Scott whines.

Since Scott and himself are generally invisible to pretty girls, Stiles gets it. But he knew Scott was risking a loss of control and it almost blew up in their faces.

"I know, I know," Stiles placates. "But she's fine. Derek took her home."

Scott looks at him with alarm. "Derek Hale? You told me he's a werewolf! I think he's the one who bit me!"

"He's not. We talked and he's not an Alpha. He thinks he can help you." Seeing how Derek was cool as a cucumber under the full moon when even Stiles - who's not supposed to feel it as much as wolves - was jittery, it's probable that he can.

"I guess it can't hurt to see what he has to say," Scott says, but he looks skeptical.

"That's what I think. Anyway, I'm here for you, man," Stiles says, throwing an arm over Scott's shoulders in encouragement.

***

The next couple of weeks are absolutely crazy. Scott and Derek almost get caught by hunters led by Allison's dad, and the crazy Alpha who bit Scott goes on a killing spree. Then the beautiful but deadly Kate Argent rolls into town, and the first thing she does is shoot Derek full of wolfsbane. To his surprise, Derek comes to him for help afterwards, staggering in front of his Jeep. While Scott suffers an awkward dinner at the Argents, Stiles has to deal with a vulnerable Derek who still tries be menacing, making threats about cutting heads off when Stiles hesitates to chop his arm to stop the wolfsbane poisoning. Stiles is deeply relieved when Scott arrives with the right bullet to save the day, but the whole incident is still pretty traumatizing... even though Stiles could briefly ogle a shirtless Derek (he does feel bad for finding it hot in the circumstances; luckily Derek is too out of it to notice).

On top of the really, really bad things, Scott has a momentary asshole phase where he makes out with Lydia, though shortly after that he manages to find an anchor in Allison. Stiles is still on the fence about that being a good thing or not: on one hand Scott has better control and probably won't attempt to kill him anymore, but the bad thing is that his anchor is an Argent and Stiles can't trust them. In that, Derek and him agree, but Scott gets pigheaded when they try to voice their opinion. Training wise, Stiles wishes Derek would work with him to help Scott, but he insists on doing things his way (which, frankly, seem to consist in scaring Scott silly).

All in all, everything is going so fast, Stiles can only react. After a week, he tells his dad the truth about what is happening: people are getting killed and with hunters in town, Stiles has to protect himself, too. Fortunately his father doesn't flip too much, he even takes it pretty stoically with an irritated, 'I knew there was something going on, dammit!'. Because of the murder at school and Scott's disastrous idea to point a finger at Derek, things become even more complicated.

The investigation finally points to the Hale House fire, later to Kate Argent, until they discover that Peter Hale is not as comatose as previously thought and that he is, indeed, the creepy crazy Alpha. That's a scare and a half, though luckily Derek saves Stiles from becoming Alpha chow at the hospital. Before Stiles' dad can do anything to convict Peter, Derek gets kidnapped and tortured – Kate, again -, Allison is forcefully brought into the family business, and all hell breaks loose at the winter formal. Peter attacks Lydia, and while Stiles stays by her side as the hospital, Scott, Derek and Allison go after Peter.

Stiles misses Kate getting killed and Derek slashing his uncle's throat to become the new Alpha in town because even though he's been repeatedly in contact with Derek in the last weeks, Stiles still respects the promise made to his mom – and in part to Derek himself – in avoiding the Preserve and the Hale territory at all costs. Some days he wonders why he bothers, though, because it's not like Derek gives him the same courtesy. One day, Stiles had even came back to his room to find Derek already there, not only trespassing but also shoving him into doors and demanding info about Allison's necklace. Stiles had bristled and showed his fangs to someone outside of family - save from Scott, who's kind of family - for the first time in his life. Derek hadn't seemed intimidated at all and didn't apologize for encroaching Stiles' territory, but he'd been more careful after that until they had the answers they needed from Danny. Stiles got a revenge of sorts in making Derek strip for Danny, even though he got his head bashed in later for it (worth it, though).

To be perfectly honest, Stiles doesn't know what to think of Derek. Judging by what he read and the little his mom had told him, Stiles had always thought that werewolves and werefoxes were supposed to hate each other by instinct. In Stiles' opinion, it's a whole lot of bullshit because he doesn't love Scott any less now that he's a wolf (maybe it's because they were best friends first, though, he lacks data points). Sure, Derek might push him around quite a bit, but many times he came to his aid, notably to protect him from Peter, and Stiles has been there for him, too. The guy's gruff and angry most times, but he's also dedicated in his quest to help Scott, and that counts.

Plus – let's be honest here - there is no denying that Derek is hot as fuck. Yes, Stiles admits regularly having stray thoughts about his everything, notably when being manhandled. It's a problem he's learning to deal with, no biggie.

***

Kate's funeral brings even more hunters to Beacon Hills, which is starting to make Stiles nervous. As far as he knows, no one apart from Scott, Derek, and his dad know about him, and that's good and should remain this way. If Stiles shifts and goes to roam around the Argent house from time to time to gather intel, it's for tactical and possibly defensive reasons.

The backyard is fenced, but Stiles dug a hole to pass under. Then, after he gets into the toolshed built under the deck (there's a sliding lock on the door, manageable with teeth, though it's a bitch to close), he can sneak near one of the basement windows, which happen to be right next to the Argent armory. He has caught several conversations between Gerard Argent and his cronies that made the fur on Stiles' back stand on end (the speciesist bullshit is worst than in the darker corners of the internet dedicated to shifters). On the other hand, he's getting endeared by Chris' love of the Code. It's quite beautiful.

There's no one in the basement tonight, though, and after waiting five minutes, Stiles decides to leave. He's turning towards the door when it goes from ajar to open all the way with a spotlight blinding Stiles. He freezes, caught, heart spiking when he realizes it's Gerard Argent himself.

"There you are," the old man says, sounding smug. Stiles can't see much, but he supposes there's a cruel smile to go with it.

Stiles has no idea what to do. If he tries to duck deeper into the toolshed, he's going to get cornered real fast. On the other hand, the smell of wolfsbane and gun oil that's comes with the Argents – even Allison these days – is sharp, which means Gerard is armed. Stiles is toast, and maybe more ways than one since he can also hear the distinct buzz of electricity, probably a Taser.

"Look at you," Gerard mocks. "Not as clever as you thought, Reynard? See, every door of this house is wired to security, even this one. Imagine our surprise to see a fox on the cameras… Since there's no food in here, I figured you're not quite what you seem to be. Frankly, I didn't think there were any of your kind left. I thought I'd poisoned the last vixen years ago."

It's said as a taunt but Stiles' stomach drops; the snarl that follows comes from the core of his being and is irrepressible. His mom died in atrocious suffering from an unknown intoxication close to eight years ago. Stiles couldn't understand why she didn't heal, his dad had no answer either, and now he learns that a sadistic hunter most probably murdered her?

Not impressed at all by Stiles' raised fur and fangs, Gerard laughs.

"Enough playing," he continues. "We can do this the easy way or the hard way. I'd prefer keeping you alive, I'd get a better price."

And that? Won't do, won't do at all. He needs to get out now and the only way he can think of doing so is to risk all or nothing. Stiles runs straight towards Gerard, who's between him and the door, but instead of trying to dart between his legs as the old man obviously expects, Stiles jumps right in his face, aiming for the top of the handheld spotlight first, then he hops on the bastard's head as he jerks backwards, surprised. Gerard loses balance a tad and Stiles jumps through the door as he curses. It was a good decision because there's a crude electric fence leading to a cage right outside that he would have barreled into if he'd been a ground level. This way, though, he's sailing right over it and running like crazy towards the fence.

"You little piece of shit!" Gerard curses as he exits the toolshed too.

Stiles starts zigzagging and it's not one second too soon because Gerard fires at him multiple times. "You're dead!" he yells.

He probably would be if he had only one escape route. There's no doubt in his mind that Gerard found his usual entry point and is just waiting for him to go for it – it's probably booby trapped – but Stiles had dug two holes under the fence, the emergency one he never used concealed under a bush on the other side of the yard. Unfortunately, Gerard is a good shot and even though Stiles does his best to be unpredictable as he runs, he's hit in the shoulder right before he dives under the fence. He yips in pain but he keeps on running as fast as he can once he has wiggled out on the other side, hobbling a little now as his shoulder burns. There's no chance to be had and he needs to put as much distance between him and Gerard, who is absolutely furious that Stiles escaped.

"I'll find you and I'm going to end you, do you understand me?" he yells.

It's adrenaline that permits Stiles to run as long as he does after that, rapidly leaving the residential area to enter the woods. Here, between the trees, he should be able to disappear, or at least make it seems like it. He's bleeding and for all he knows Argent might find a hound to follow his tracks; he can't go straight back home. Stiles uses every strategy he knows to cover his scent and make his trail as confusing to follow as possible, mostly doing a medium circuit that circles back to itself, running it twice, then he jumps into a creek to walk upstream, doing his best to stay in the water and not to touch any emerged rock or branches.

He follows the creek for a long time, focusing on what has to be done instead of the fact that he's wet, miserable and in agonizing pain. When Stiles he realizes he's crossed the Hale property line, he's already deep into it. He has half a thought to circle back out, but every step hurts, now, and he's so tired he'd cry. Even if he wanted to, he's not sure he'd make it. Instead, Stiles leaves the creek and walks a couple of hundred feet until he finds an abandoned burrow between the roots of an old tree. It's a tight fit to get in, but inside there's enough space for Stiles to lie in a miserable ball of shivering wet fur, unable to lick his shoulder properly. The bullet seems to have gone through, clipping his collarbone, but there's the stench of wolfsbane in the wound. Fortunately it's not as toxic for him as it is for wolves, but it slows the healing and it burns like hell.

Exhausted, Stiles makes a silent promise to his mom that he'll get out of the Hale land as soon as possible, and then falls asleep between a shiver and the next.

***

Stiles wakes up disoriented and feeling like crap. His shoulder stings as if he's been branded, but it does feel a minuscule bit better than earlier. His body is forcing out the wolfsbane toxins and he should heal all right, given enough time. The air in the burrow smells like earth and sickness, and as far as he can tell it's quiet outside, no sounds of a search by hunters. On the other hand, there's a strong heartbeat, very near, regular and calm; Stiles should probably just wait for the person or animal to move along but he's too curious. As silently as he can, Stiles crawls towards the exit, clamping his maw shut to deal with the pain, and risks a look.

There's a black wolf lying down in the ground maybe five feet from the burrow, looking away from Stiles' hiding place. It must hear either a scratch or Stiles' heartbeat spiking because it turns its head around to look right at him. The green-grey eyes briefly flash red and Stiles blinks in surprise, he's never seen Derek in full wolf form before. It's not a surprise that he's beautiful as a wolf, too, black as the night and powerfully built. Derek knows who he is, too, of that Stiles is convinced, and thankfully doesn't growl because he intruded on his territory. In fact, he simply assesses Stiles general state before he looks away again, ears alert. He's standing guard, Stiles realizes, for which he's grateful. Reassured that he can rest some more, Stiles slides back into his cache and goes back to sleep.

***

When he wakes again it's early morning and Derek is gone, though there's a dead fat squirrel near the burrow's entrance. Stiles hadn't realized he was famished before seeing it and he quickly devours it, thanking whomever watches over shifters that in his fox form it's not disgusting at all. He's debating the merits of maybe resting a bit more – walking still hurts a lot – compared to making his way home when he hears footsteps coming his way. The burrow is great to hide, but it could turn into a trap, too, if he's discovered. Too weak to flee, Stiles crawls back in.

Fortunately, it turns out to be Derek, back to his human form. His frown eases up when he sees the bloody remains of the squirrel and Derek simply sits where he was before, rummaging in a backpack he brought with him. He takes out two water bottles, and Stiles whimpers, he's so thirsty.

"You need to drink. Come out, Stiles, I won't hurt you," Derek says quietly.

Stiles debates staying in the relative safety of the burrow to wait until Derek is gone to go to the creek, but he can't resist the idea of fresh water right at this moment. Besides, Derek obviously only wants to help, there is no reason to be afraid. Stiles slowly exits the burrow and gingerly walks to Derek, who has uncapped a bottle.

"I forgot to bring a bowl," Derek says, tipping the water bottle to pour it gently towards Stiles' muzzle, who laps it up the best he can. There's a lot of waste and Derek moves his other hand to do a little cup that Stiles eagerly drinks from.

"That's it," Derek encourages.

When Stiles has enough, he lies down to give his shoulder a break, head resting on his front paws.

"Can I?" Derek asks, his hand hovering close to his back but not touching yet.

He's a bit surprised that Derek wants to pet him, but he agrees with a nod. Derek is careful, especially near the shoulder where Stiles got clipped. No one has touched Stiles' fur since his mother died, and it feels really good.

"I could help you better if you'd shift back," Derek says, skating a finger near his wound, almost healed now. Stiles feels a soft heat at the touch, his pain lowering. A quick look at Derek's forearm shows blackened veins.

Stiles sighs in relief but still shakes head no. Shifting now would do more harm than good.

"You're healing faster this way?" Derek asks and Stiles nods. "Okay. Your dad must be worried that you didn't go back home, do you want me to call him? Or bring you home?"

Fuck, that's right, he must be beside himself. But the thing is that they never talk about this, Stiles being a fox, probably because it brings up too many bittersweet memories of his mom. He hates the thought of his dad's face falling at seeing Stiles shifted and hurt, so he vigorously shakes his head no.

"I could also take you to Scott," Derek suggests, but Stiles refuses too. He can't be near Allison right now, even though he's pretty sure she has nothing to do with Gerard wanting to catch or kill him.

"Fine. We can stay here, too."

Stiles nods and inches closer. That's the best option, considering he should be back to top shape real soon anyway, especially with the water and food he just ingested that will help with the healing. Derek resumes his gentle petting, even throwing in fabulous ear scratches, and soon Stiles' eyes start drooping.

He drifts off to Derek talking on his phone, telling a worried Scott that Stiles is fine but to spin a cover story for the Sheriff anyway.

***

This time when Stiles wakes up, he's lying on Derek's clothes and the wolf is fully shifted and curled protectively around him. It's nice and comfortable, Stiles feels safe, and even better, his shoulder is barely hurting anymore. He didn't move much but Derek wakes, too, and yawns wide, showing pretty impressive fangs. Stiles head-butts him in thanks for protecting him and gets up, pushing Derek's clothes towards the wolf and then pointedly turning around to sits with his back to Derek. Derek takes the hint and shifts back, his scent morphing from animal to human, and Stiles tries very hard not to think about the fact that Derek is naked. Clothes rustle and soon Stiles hears the zip of Derek's jeans close. When he deems it safe enough, Stiles turns around and sits, wondering what they'll do now.

"You seem better," Derek says, pleased, and Stiles nods. "Ready to shift back?"

It's not easy to convey 'are you kidding me? I'd be naked, dude!', but he tries and Derek might have understood after all because he's fishing spare clothes out of his backpack. Stiles hops twice in excitement and Derek cracks one of the widest smiles Stiles has ever seen on him. Genuinely, that is.

"Idiot, I wouldn't make you walk in town naked," he says before he turns around to give Stiles privacy.

It's not hard to shift back, but it's kind of weird after having been in the fox form for so long. He quickly puts on the sweatpants and is working on the black t-shirt – no underwear, really? – as he starts babbling.

"Thanks man, I really appreciate this. And that you were here while I healed. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cross in your territory, but-"

Derek turns just as Stiles pops his head through the t-shirt's collar, looking perplexed.

"It's fine, I don't mind."

Stiles stops moving, one arm half way though a sleeve.

"Really? Oh. My mom made me promise never to cross the line, so…" he explains.

"Maybe she had an agreement with my mom," Derek says, and then raises an eyebrow. "I remember she wasn't that fond of your kind, called you a bunch of pesky tricksters."

"What?" Stiles says as he crosses his arms over his chest, outraged. He then notices the way Derek is barely holding in a smirk. "You're yanking my chain, you fucker."

"Maybe a little," Derek admits, smiling at last, though he rapidly turns serious again. "You do seem to have a knack to get in trouble. What happened? I smelled wolfsbane."

"Gerard Argent happened, he tried to catch me," Stiles says, satisfied to see that Derek suddenly looks murderous while looking towards town with a low growl.

"How did he know?" Derek asks, once again focused on him.

And yeah, that part is trickier. Stiles toes the ground as he rubs his nape. "I was sort of spying on his house?"

This time Derek huffs, rolling his eyes. "Of fucking course. Are you insane?"

"What?" Stiles says, defensive. "I had no idea he suspected anything. He cornered me, soliloqued like a cartoon villain about poisoning my mom and saying he'd sell me or whatever," Derek's eyes flash red at that, "but I managed to escape by jumping on his ugly face."

"He shot you, Stiles," Derek says. "Could have killed you. Don't you morons get it? We have to stay as far away as possible from the Argents, or any other hunters for that matter."

"Tell that to Scott," Stiles mumbles.

"Don't even mention it," Derek says with clear exasperation before he gestures to Stiles shoulder. "How is it? Can I see?"

"It's fine," Stiles says, but doesn't protest when Derek invades his personal space, standing at his back and stretching the fabric of the t-shirt down from his collar to check where the wound was.

Earlier Stiles felt a faint scar; maybe he'll keep a mark from the whole ordeal. Stiles' body reacts traitorously at having Derek so close, goose bumps rising where his strong fingers touch his skin carefully. Stiles' heart jackrabbits and he hopes that Derek doesn't take offence (or, ideally, that he chalks the reactions to fear).

"Seems fine, right?" Stiles blurts, forcefully cheerful.

Oh shit, he's doomed. Unless he's not because Derek doesn't ping as annoyed or angry, but… interested? Stiles was so worried that Derek would smell his arousal, that he didn't quite take the time to decode what he could deduce from the wolf's scent. It's made pretty clear when Derek breathes Stiles in deeply and then carefully mouths the scar before dragging his lip along the line of Stiles' shoulder to the crook of his neck. At the same time he tugs the t-shirt even lower to expose Stiles' shoulder and reaches for his left nipple.

"Oh my god," Stiles says faintly, bending his neck to give Derek more access.

It's a clear signal of giving in and submission, and he's absolutely fine with that. Obviously, Derek is too, judging from the pleased rumble he makes.

"You've been driving me nuts," Derek murmurs against his ear, creating shivers that rake Stiles' body.

"Oh yeah?" Stiles says, turning into Derek's arms. He's pleased to see and smell how he's definitely not the only one turned on, here. The way Derek's eyes are almost all pupil is mesmerizing. "Glad the feeling's mutual."

Derek silences him with a forceful kiss, his big hand holding Stiles' head in place. Stiles' inside are turning liquid as he grabs Derek's shoulder just to stay upright. He has kissed someone exactly three times: Tia and Nicole in a game of Spin the Bottle at Lydia's last Halloween party, and Jenny after his first slow dance in grade nine. Those kisses had been mostly chaste, too, even if nerve wracking at the time. What is happening now is a whole different experience, Derek demanding access to Stiles' mouth in a kiss wet, deep, and hot as sin. Dazedly, Stiles follows Derek's lead when he lowers them to the ground, never stopping the kiss. He ends up straddling Derek's hips, who's now lying on his back.

"Whoa," Stiles breathes out when he has to break the kiss or black out of oxygen deprivation.

Derek is watching him intently as Stiles straightens up, chest heaving, and his mouth is just as bruised as Stiles' feels. His hands are now resting on Stiles' hips lightly, fingers flexing.

"Is this okay?" he asks, looking a lot less sure of himself than a moment ago.

Stiles laughs, because not only is it okay, it's better than everything he's ever wished for. He's tenting the sweatpants Derek lent him, a wet spot already staining them, and he makes his full appreciation of the current events known by grinding his ass against Derek's equally hard dick. The way Derek's fingers clench on his hips and how he bucks up at the action is very satisfying.

"Are you kidding me? This is fant-" Stiles starts to say but Derek has taken a handful of Stiles' t-shirt in his fist and yanks him down for another kiss, just as filthy as the first, forcing the words to die out.

Even better, Derek doesn't lose any time before he puts his other hand in Stiles pants and start jacking him off, which all but short-circuits his nervous system.

"Oh god, oh god," he pants between moans, eyes fixed on the incredible sight of his dick in Derek's hand. He's snapping his hips to follow the movement, leaking so much it goes everywhere.

"Yeah, yeah, that's it," Derek says as he tries to open his own pants. Stiles knows he should help with that, but he can't, it's too much.

He can feel the pressure building oh so fast and there's nothing he can do to stop it.

"Derek, Derek," he babbles, shaking now because it feels so good that he might die.

"Let go, I've got you," Derek says, having finally opened his jeans and it might be that, seeing how hard Derek is for him, that sends Stiles careening over the edge.

Stiles comes with a hoarse shout, the sensation so intense that he feels turned inside out. He's brought back in the moment by the feel of Derek jerking himself off, which, although hot enough to be in his spank back forever, isn't right.

"Hey, no!" he protests, batting Derek's hand away to replace it with his own. He's got this. Damn, Derek's cock is nice, hot and heavy in his grip.

"No?" Derek mocks, an eyebrow rising. "You seemed pretty out of it."

"Not anymore," Stiles counters with a smirk, swiping his palm on the glans the way he loves doing on himself. He considers it a victory when Derek can't stop his eyes from rolling back into his head.

"Fuck!" he moans.

"Uh huh," Stiles says, speeding his hand. He doesn't know if there's a most beautiful sight in the world than Derek losing it for him. "God. You're so fucking gorgeous."

"C'mere," Derek slurs, his hips undulating below Stiles. He's tugging on his shirt, again, eyes fixed on his mouth.

It makes something go warm in Stiles' chest that Derek wants to kiss him so much, so he obliges and leans down to do so. He's a much more forceful participant this time, fucking Derek's mouth with his tongue. It gives awesome results, Derek starting to buck his hips wildly, fucking Stiles' grip. When he suddenly bows up, mouth going slack, Stiles can't help but grin, awfully pleased with himself that he's making Derek Hale come. Eyes wide, he does his best to catalogue every little expression Derek makes through his orgasm and while he soothes him through the aftershocks. He then kisses Derek more gently as he goes slack and boneless below him. Derek hums appreciatively and winds his arms around Stiles' lower back, holding him close.

"I agree, it was awesome," Stiles says. "Give me fifteen and we can do it again."

Derek laughs at that, which Stiles has never seen him do. It's no wonder, though, with all of the shit they had to deal with since they met. Laughing and smiling takes years off Derek's face, making him even more beautiful, which Stiles finds pretty unfair.

"I have a rock digging in my back," Derek says. "I'd prefer to be in a bed next time."

Which is very sensible. "Good idea," Stiles agrees. "Is there a bed in your old house?"

"Sort of," Derek says, though he frowns in confusion when Stiles smiles and gets up, starting to shed his clothes. "What-"

Stiles grins. "Race you there?" he asks, then easily shifts to his fox form and tilts his head to the side at Derek in a silent dare.

After a couple of blinks Derek starts smiling too, sitting up.

"You've got no chance of winning this race, and you know it!" Derek says, as he whips his stained t-shirt over his head.

Stiles darts in to licks his face – Derek's spluttered outrage is hilarious – then immediately starts running towards the Hale House. He's fast, probably a lot faster than Derek even suspects, but Stiles knows he'll need every little advantage he can get, even if it's just the time Derek needs to get out of his jeans and shift.

Not fifteen seconds later there's a howl that makes the fur of Stiles' neck stand on end, but a very good way. In answer, he runs even faster, jumping over rocks and weaving between trees.

This game is on, and he'll enjoy every minute of it (he doubts there will be a loser, anyway).

 

The End

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