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Resignation to the End

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Stiles watched as Derek stood over Peter, watched as Scott begged for Derek to let him kill the Alpha, to let him escape his curse, and all Stiles could feel was the twinge in his arm from healing wounds. Peter’s eyes flashing red in the parking garage of the hospital was the last thing he thought about before Derek ripped the other wolf’s throat out.

For a second he couldn’t breathe. Jackson stood beside him, gasping in shock, and Stiles could only tighten his fist until the pain in his arm grounded him back to earth. When Derek finally stood up and turned around it was like a string tightening around Stiles’ chest, piercing straight into his heart until the older man was the center of his world.

And he hated it.

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“I don’t get it,” Scott hissed at Stiles as he slid onto the chair across the table from the other boy. “I mean… why would he do that?”

“Why would who do what?” Stiles asked in a bored tone, pushing around the artificial mashed potatoes the cafeteria staff was peddling that day. He wound his fork into them until the sludge stuck to the tines and then held it up for his friend’s inspection. “Do these even look like potatoes to you? Who do they think they’re fooling?”

“Pay attention.” Scott smacked Stiles’ hand away as he chastised him. Stiles sighed, pushing his tray away and sitting back with his arms crossed over his chest, gesturing for the brunet to continue.

“Why would Derek kill Peter?” Scott repeated, leaning forward to whisper over the table.

“Umm…” Stiles shrugged, not bothering to quiet himself. “Revenge. Vengeance, which is like revenge only it sounds more righteous. An entire lifetime boiled down to one very fucked up childhood? A foolish belief that red is his color?” Scott spoke over him.

“What about Allison?”

“I don’t really think she’s Derek’s type.” Stiles leaned forward again, picking up his fork intent on poking at his food for awhile longer. Scott grabbed his hand, forcing him to turn his attention.

“This isn’t funny, Stiles. Allison knows now. More importantly, her family knows.” Stiles wrenched his hand out of Scott’s and dropped his fork again.

“And neither Allison nor her family seems to care so much at the moment. I’m pretty sure Peter effectively destroying what little hope and family Derek had left trumps your desire to get laid,” he whispered hotly, leaning forward so that Scott was compelled to back away.

“I just meant…” Scott backpedaled quickly as Stiles shoved away from the table, slamming his chair in so loudly that the entire cafeteria quieted.

“In fact, I’m pretty sure that I don’t give a fuck about that either.” Stiles stormed away, ignoring Scott’s hurt expression and the dozens of faces that were now focused on him. He rushed out into the hall, getting halfway to the men’s room before the whispers echoing through his head won out. Dropping against the wall behind a row of lockers, he held his breath, trying to focus on his heart beat instead of the sound the world crumbling around him.

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Derek let out a whoosh of air as he dropped the latest stack of lumber in front of the steps, pausing for a moment to flex strained muscles. No surprise shows on his face as he turns to face the vehicle that’s finally arrived a full minute after Derek first heard it rolling quietly up the drive. He left his hands loose at his sides, pretending he wasn’t fighting the urge to rip Argent’s throat out when he climbed out of the truck.

“Derek,” the older man nodded at him in greeting. Argent’s hands were empty and he held them out slightly as if to show he wasn’t a threat.

“What do you want, Argent?” Derek asked.

“Please, Derek, call me Chris.” The other man walked forward with a small smile that quickly slipped away when Derek’s face darkened.

“I’ve already been on a first name basis with one member of your family,” Derek says in a low voice, leaning in slightly. “You’ll forgive me if I say… get off my land.” Derek straightened up and turned away, the wolf inside him reveling in the chance to show Argent that he didn’t feel like any sort of threat.

“Fair enough,” Argent said. Derek watched out of his periphery as the older man slowly walked around him. “Kate broke the code. No one is arguing that what happened to your family wasn’t a tragedy.” Derek couldn’t help the huff of annoyance that slipped out. He picked up one of the long boards sitting on the ground and laid it out over the saw horses he’d set up, going through the motions as Argent reinstated himself in his line of sight.

“But that doesn’t change that you are what you are and I am who I am.” Derek glared at the measuring tape he’d just picked up, refusing to acknowledge the other man, focusing instead on the work he’d been entirely focused on for days. “And it doesn’t change the fact that every hunter I know is focused on Beacon Hills right now.”

“Is that a threat?” Derek growled, looking up through his eyelashes with a snarl stuck in his throat.

“Not at all,” Argent said easily, sliding his hands into his pockets with practiced calmness. “It’s more like a warning. For your pack.”

“My pack…” Argent held his ground as Derek straightened up and took a step towards the man.

“Is young and in need of training. For that matter, you’re the youngest Alpha with a pack I’ve ever met. Do you even know where Scott is right now? Could you tell if he was having… trouble? If something were to happen,” he paused, shrugging his shoulders slightly. “The Council has voted to send a member here to… fact check.”

“You mean they don’t believe you,” Derek interpreted. “They think that I had something to do with the killings.”

“They think the story has too many shades of grey,” Argent amended. “That’s never been something we’re comfortable with. It’s why there’s a Code to begin with.”

“And what color is the relationship between your daughter and Scott?” Derek smiled slightly as Argent immediately tensed up.

“They’ll be here before the next moon.” Argent didn’t bother any sort of farewell before stomping back to his truck, slamming the door after he climbed in. Derek didn’t bother watching him leave, choosing instead to stare up at his skeleton of a house.

Nearly a week’s worth of work and he was coming to the conclusion that no amount of wood and nails would hide the scars burnt into the foundation. He closed his eyes, focusing for the first time in days on the strangers who were now his family. One, warm and fuzzy and tired, likely Scott in calculus. The other, bright and sore yet closed off, was Jackson.

Derek opened his eyes again, taking a deep breath before setting back to work when a new feeling overtook him. It was lost and frightened and angry and he couldn’t tell if it was just a ghost of who he once was breaking free before it was gone.

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“Stiles!” The teenager jumped in his desk chair, turning quickly and leaning as nonchalantly as possible to be able to see his dad leaning in the doorway without the older man seeing his computer screen.

“Ummm… hi?” he said, tugging at the long sleeves that covered his arms. His dad looked him over slowly.

“Feeling better?” the other man asked. Stiles felt his hand twitch over his forearm for a moment before he stuttered out a lie that left his cheeks burning.

“Kinda. Maybe. No, not really.” His dad nodded, using parental prerogative to walk into the room uninvited, his hand running over the boy’s forehead for a moment before he took a step back.

“I think you still have that fever you complained about this morning?” the sheriff said. “Maybe I should call Davis to cover…”

“No,” Stiles said quickly, shaking his head so quickly he didn’t even have to feign illness as dizziness made his vision blur. “I mean,” he added, “it’s just a bug going around.”

“Right,” Sheriff Stilinski said slowly. “And this has nothing to do with the fight you had with Scott?” Stiles gaped at his dad for a moment, mouth opening and closing as his brain tried to catch up with the conversation.

“I’m not totally unobservant,” the older man continued. “Sheriff, remember?” Stiles glanced down at his bare feet as his dad continued. “I know you haven’t talked to Scott in a few days. If there’s anything you need, anything you want to talk about, I’m here. You know that, right?”

“Yea,” Stiles said softly, taking a breath before looking back up and meeting his dad’s blue eyes. “Thanks, Dad.”

The older Stilinski nodded, clapping Stiles on the back of the head for a moment before heading back towards the door. He paused in the hallway, catching Stiles’ eye one last time before leaving.

“I’ll let you skip tomorrow only because it’s a Friday and I think your teachers would appreciate the vacation. Back to school on Monday.” Stiles snorted, smiling after his dad as the other man left.

Looking around his empty room, the teenager took a deep breath before turning back to the computer and closing out all of the tabs he’d opened.

Wolf’s bane… basketball scores… mountain ash… renaissance paintings… mercury, lead, and silver…

He stood up quickly, running his hands over his short hair with a sigh. The more he dwelt on the nearly healed wound on his arm the more he could feel his heart rate rising. Instead, he found himself embracing the hectic way his brain naturally raced around, embracing the fact that his meds no longer worked until he couldn’t focused on anything at all for more than a few minutes. Instead of going to school and dealing with avoiding Scott all day he’d played video games and slept and read four chapters in three different books.

Yet, again and again, something would remind him of what he was becoming. He’d flash back to that night at the hospital when Peter had refused to take ‘no’ for an answer and all the sudden it was all he could think about. He would start remembering the way Scott’s face had shifted and changed whenever he wolfed out. He’d imagine he could feel his hair growing longer and his teeth sharper.

The sound of the front door slamming closed broke his train of thought.

“Fuck,” he whispered, dropping down onto the end of his bed. He leaned forward, cradling his head in his hands between his knees as he counted his heartbeat.

He lost count somewhere around five hundred when he heard the notifier on his computer go off. He tried to ignore it, leg bouncing up and down as he starred at nothing in particular. Another ding and he finally stood up, taking one last deep breath before sitting down and opening the program to face one of two people he really didn’t want to see.

“I’m sorry,” Scott said in a rush, pushing the words out before Stiles was even fully settled in front of the webcam. “Please please please please please let me apologize.”

“You just did.” Stiles sighed, leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed tightly over his chest, as if he was trying to hold himself together. Scott hair fell over his forehead on the screen and he leaned in as he spoke.

“You were right and I was wrong and I’m a shitty friend.” Stiles pulled a face as his friend tripped over his words.

“Did Allison tell you to say that?” he asked, relaxing slightly as Scott struggled with a response. “Don’t…” Stiles held up a hand, stopping his friend’s babbling. “I don’t actually care that she told you to say it. I’m just mad I didn’t record it the first time so I can play it on a loop the next time you’re an idiot.”

“Does that mean you’re not mad at me?” Scott asked hesitatingly. Stiles looked away from the computer for a moment before shrugging.

“Not really but I’d at least cry at your funeral. You’ve got some more making up to do before we get back to the ‘avenging each other’s deaths’ part of our relationship.” Stiles fought back a smirk as Scott snorted out a laugh. He picked up a small ball from beside his keyboard and waited for the other boy to continue the conversation.

“Allison did tell me to man up,” Scott said eventually. Stiles nodded, still not looking up at the camera. “But I think…” The other boy hesitated and Stiles glanced up to find him chewing on his lower lip. “I still don’t know if I can understand what Derek did.”

“Look at it this way,” Stiles said after taking a long breath, “he did you a favor.” Scott began to protest and Stiles cut him off. “Shut up. Listen.” The teenager closed his eyes for a moment and the scene of Derek ripping out Peter’s throat replayed itself again. “Could you have actually killed him?”

“I… Well…” Scott stuttered, running a hand through his hair when Stiles met his eye.

“I couldn’t have.” Stiles leaned in and set the ball aside. “I mean, I think about it sometimes and imagine myself in his place and… I couldn’t have done it. I don’t think you could have either. Hell! Derek even hesitated. You know… Derek? Crazy ‘here, Stiles, cut my arm off’ Derek? It wasn’t exactly easy for him either and he had a lot more reasons to do it than you did.”

The pair sat in silence for a minute, each contemplating different scenarios.

“I still hate him,” Scott said eventually in a sullen tone.

“I doubt he cares,” Stiles shrugged in reply. “He’s not exactly the president of your fan club either.” Stiles finally cracked a proper smile and he could see the relief on his friend’s face.

“So you don’t hate me anymore, right?” Scott prodded. Stiles hesitated, chewing on the inside of his cheek as he looked everywhere but straight ahead.

“You’re still a douche monkey,” Stiles said eventually, meeting Scott’s eye, “but you’re my douche monkey. I don’t expect anything less.”

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Derek glanced around as he stepped into the school building. Classes had let out over an hour prior and the only people wandering the halls were too focused on the reason they were there to wonder about his. He made his way quietly and quickly through the halls, heading towards the gymnasium.

Over the last few days the wolf within him had been pressing at the seams, pulling and stretching and trying to force itself to the forefront as he tried to focus instead on finally rebuilding his life. Several times during the night he’d awoken from dreams that weren’t his. A honey eyed woman smiling down at him instead of his mother’s blue gaze. He knew enough of his pack to know that the dreams didn’t belong to either Jackson or Scott.

“What do you mean ‘there’s another werewolf’?” Scott looked at him incredulously when Derek cornered him and Jackson after lacrosse practice.

“Do I need to repeat myself?” Derek asked softly, cocking his head at the younger man.

“I think what Mr. Oblivious is saying is… How do you know?” Jackson leaned against the bleachers, arms crossed over his bare chest. Scott nodded quickly, turning a challenging eye back on Derek.

“Because I can feel him,” Derek explained again. “The Alpha can tap into the pack’s emotions, especially when they’re strong. I can…”

“Wait,” Scott interrupted. “Strong as in… horny?”

“Oh god.” Jackson rolled his eyes as Derek looked down and pinched the top of his nose.

“Shut up, Scott,” Derek said finally. He growled lightly when the teenager opened his mouth to protest and didn’t fight the grin that crept up when he closed it again with a snap.

“How will we know who it is?” Jackson asked as Scott sulked next to him. Derek could only shake his head slowly.

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “I get… flashes. That’s it.”

“That’s helpful,” Scott muttered. The other men ignored him, Jackson focusing on the pack leader as Derek stared off into the gym.

“He’s new,” he said finally, glancing back at the other two. “He’s not integrated into the pack which means he hasn’t gone through a full moon yet.”

I haven’t gone through a moon yet.” Jackson straightened up slightly.

“But I made you,” Derek explained. “I didn’t make him. It’s harder to… focus. On him. We need to find out who it is before the next full moon. The Argents…”

“So how are we supposed to find him if you can’t?” Scott asked sullenly. Jackson could only shrug and look at Derek expectantly.

“I didn’t say I can’t. I said it’s difficult.” Derek rolled his neck slightly and closed his eyes, trying once again to focus on the wayward member of the pack. “He’s around your age,” he said slowly, “and probably going through some massive mood swings.”

“A teenager with mood swings,” Jackson said in mock thoughtfulness. “That narrows it down.” Derek opened his eyes and glared at both of the younger men.

“Just… be on the lookout,” he said, “Watch for people acting out of character.” Scott just sighed as Jackson caught Derek’s eye.

“Like blowups and skipping school?” Derek nodded, catching the way Scott’s thoughts drifted away as his phone buzzed in his pocket. Jackson ran a hand through his hair as Derek turned and began to walk away. “So glad we had this chat!” the blue eyed boy called after him.

“We’ll have another soon,” Derek called back, not bothering to turn around before slipping out of the room.

He exited the school quickly, climbing into his car before the wolf protested the retreat. The sun glared off of the windows of the building, flashing in and out as he pulled away. He didn’t focus on anything but the road until he was rumbling up the old drive to his house and a battered Jeep awaited him.

“Go away, Stiles,” he grumbled as he walked by where the boy was leaning in feigned nonchalantness.

“Right, so, hi!” Stiles hopped up the steps after Derek, ignoring the way the other man snorted out a breath when he stumbled. “Are you remodeling?”

Derek sighed before turning around and finding Stiles standing a bit too close. The teenager was focused on the floorboards and wall panels around them that were still fresh and in need of paint.

“What do you want?” the older man asked quietly. Stiles only shrugged. Derek ignored the way the wolf inside of him clawed at his stomach and turned away again, treading over fresh boards into the blackened kitchen.

“Where do you eat?” Stiles asked, still at his heel. “Actually, where do you do anything other than brood mysteriously?” Derek growled low in his chest, planting his hands on the old counter as Stiles rambled on. “Like, you still sleep sometimes, right? Do you just camp out and hope it doesn’t rain? Or… or… Do you hope it rains so that you don’t have to go to the river to take a bath? Do you do, like, naked rain dances or som…”

Derek turned around as Stiles trailed off.

“I’m going to stop talking now,” the teenager said quickly, not meeting Derek’s eye.

“Are you here for a reason other than annoying me?” Derek asked finally, leaning back against the counter as the boy stuffed his hands into his pockets and resumed looking around the shell of the house.

“Does asking questions about Scott count as annoying you?” he asked, kicking at a loose board.

“Yes.” Stiles turned on his heel with a smirk that took Derek off guard.

“Then I’m only here to annoy you.” Derek rolled his eyes. “What are you doing with him on the full moon?” Stiles pressed on.

“What do you mean?” Derek asked, turning to keep his eyes on the brunet as he wandered around the kitchen.

“I mean, Peter wanted him to kill someone, right? To become part of the pack? Are you gonna…?” Stiles gestured vaguely in Derek’s direction.

“I’m not going to make him kill anything or anyone,” Derek furnished. “He’s already a part of the pack.”

“What if he wasn’t?” Stiles continued, still not meeting Derek’s eye.

“Pack is pack, Stiles.” The older man straightened up and caught Stiles’ eye. “And my pack isn’t going to hurt anyone.”

The answer seemed to satisfy the hyperactive teen who, instead of continuing with his questions, wandered towards the other rooms of the house.

“It’s no wonder you wear so much black,” Stiles said as he ran a fingertip along a chair rail in the old dining room. “Post script, you never gave me back my shirt.”

“Would returning it make you shut up?” Derek asked, forcing the words through his teeth as the teen continued nudging debris with the toe of his sneaker.

“Only if you gagged me with it.” Stiles stopped moving as soon as the words were out of this mouth and turned on his heel to find Derek looking at him incredulously. “I mean… that would… not that I like… fuck.” The brunet covered his face with his hands. “I’m leaving now,” he muttered against his palms. Derek watched as he slipped past him, the older man fighting back a laugh.

“Stiles,” he called before the teen was out the front door. He could see the brunet hesitate before turning around and looking at him through a gap in his long fingers. “There are more than one cell beneath the house,” he said quietly. “I sleep down there.”

“I’m not sure what’s more depressing,” Stiles said, dropping his hands to his sides. “You living in a tiny brick cellar or you living here. Although… that certainly adds to the creeper Phantom of the Opera vibe you give off…”

“Stiles…” Derek interrupted, barking the teen’s name sharply. “Go away.” Stiles bit his lip, throwing the older man a quick salute before tripping down the stairs towards his truck. Derek watched him go until the rumble of the Jeep faded into the forest.

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Stiles fidgeted on the hard wooden library chair, fighting the urge to tap his pen after the third warning from the severe looking woman behind the front desk. The room was blissfully quiet; a sharp contrast from the cafeteria Stiles had fled. Seeing Derek a few days prior had settled some of the tension coiling around his spine but five minutes surrounded by shouts and whispers and teenaged hormones was enough to put him back on edge.

He focused on the sound of the few people around him, sliding books off of shelves, turning pages with slippery ease. It was enough to lull him and the ache inside of him.

“Stiles.” The boy looked up quickly, glancing around. No one was nearby, the only people in the library at that time of day quietly huddled over reference books in the far corner.

“Stiiiiiiiiiiillllessssss.” He looked down at the table, clenching his jaw as the voice whispered in his ear. Looking up again he locked eyes on Jackson as the other boy leaned against the door frame at the entrance.

“Scott’s a moron,” Jackson said softly and Stiles couldn’t help but nod in agreement. The thin boy walked forward as Stiles dropped his forehead onto the stack of books in front of him. He didn’t look up as the other boy sat down across from him, instead focusing on the smell of ink and paper.

“How is it neither of them have figured it out yet?” Jackson asked. Stiles shrugged in response. “I mean, Scott I get,” Jackson continued. “He’s kinda self obsessed.”

“Takes one to know one,” Stiles muttered quietly, knowing Jackson would hear every word.

“Yes, and yet I’m here and he’s not.” The other boy leaned forward, tapping the table right before Stiles’ head. “And Derek’s excuse?”

“He’s been busy.” Stiles finally straightened up, meeting blue eyes that didn’t look as cruel as the last time he’d seen them.

“Bullshit!” Jackson cradled his chin in his palm in boredom. Stiles pulled a face and focused on unscrewing the pen in front of him.

“I’m just stealthy?” Jackson huffed out a laugh in response as Stiles fiddled with the spring that popped out. Stiles ignored him, letting minutes slide past.

“They’re going to figure it out soon enough,” Jackson said eventually. “There’s only nine days until the next full moon.”

“Yea…” Stiles grit his teeth together. He glanced up to find Jackson looking at him expectantly and was fumbling over a more proper response when the bell rang to single the class change. He was up and out the door before the other boy could follow, weaving through the crush of people. He paused outside his next classroom long enough for Jackson to catch up, the other boy grabbing his arm and dragging him back into the emptying hallway.

“You need to tell Derek,” the boy said, blue eyes piercing into Stiles’ stubbornness. “He knows there’s another member of the pack and he’s worried. I think it has something to do with the hunters.”

“I wouldn’t hurt anyone,” Stiles hissed, pulling his arm out of Jackson’s grip. He could feel his heartbeat rising and focused instead on each breath in and out.

“I don’t think that’s what he’s worried about,” Jackson said softly. Stiles looked up to find the other teen looking at him with a calm smile. “It’s more the whole ‘Scott is too stupid to function without a chaperon’ thing, I think. He doesn’t have time to track down a lone wolf right now.”

Stiles looked back down at his hands, flexing them slowly as the ache in the bones faded away.

“I don’t think I can do this,” he said quietly. Jackson only shrugged in response.

“I don’t think you have a choice.”

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Stiles barely made it through his front door before dropping to his knees, book bag thudding to the floor as he tore at his short hair. His brain kept flipping between Jackson’s whispered warnings and the sight of his dad chatting with Mr. Argent outside the Sheriff’s office on the route home from school. He could feel his heart racing but there was nothing he could do to stop it, no way to slow down his breathing, no chance of ignoring the way his nails were lengthening and the sharp pain of muscles realigning. His teeth draw blood as he bit his lip and that taste is enough to have him on his feet.

He raced upstairs to the little bathroom he’d claimed as his own and threw open the medicine cabinet so quickly he can hear the mirror crack. Pausing for a moment, he closed his eyes tightly before opening them again with an exaggeratedly slow breath and reached out, rumbling with too long nails to find the right bottle. He curved his hand around it with a grimace and fought with the cap. It came off with a snap, scattering tiny pills in the sink with a sound that echoed like a hundred gunshots.

“Oh god…” Stiles starred at the pills in the sink and stepped away until his back hit the door. The sound of his breathing was the only thing he could hear as his heart seemed to stop in his chest. He tossed the bottle on the counter and rushed to his room, slamming the door closed before turning.

Derek Hale was perched on the corner of his bed. Stiles couldn’t meet his eye, focusing on each thread of carpet under his feet as he waited for the other man to speak. He crossed his arms over his chest, holding himself tightly as his shoulders rounded under the turmoil in his brain.

“Stiles?” Derek sounded almost wary as the other man stood up and took a step forward. The teenager could hear his breath catching in his chest with each inhale and he knew his heart was thundering in his chest. He felt his knees go out and slid down the door, burying his face in his arms as he covered his face.

“I’m sorry. I can’t. I just can’t.” He knew he was muttering and that anyone else wouldn’t be able to make out a word but Derek wasn’t anyone. He could hear the older man walk towards him, crouching down until his breath was brushing over Stiles’ arms.

“Stiles, stop it.” The words were firm and Stiles felt like time itself had been put on pause. Derek wrapped his hands gently around the teenager’s wrists and pulled his hands away from his face. Stiles focused on his own fingertips as Derek leaned in to catch his eye.

“Oh…” Stiles breathed out when he saw the usual bitten nails at the end of his fingers.

“Oh.” Derek repeated, sitting back on his heels slightly with his hands still holding tight onto the younger man. Stiles finally looked up and met Derek’s cool eyes. “You should have told me,” the other man said softly.

“Yea.” Stiles ground his teeth together, focusing on their bluntness.

“I could have helped.” Derek shifted slightly, letting go of Stiles but not moving far away.

“I didn’t want it.” Derek opened his mouth to protest but Stiles continued on, looking down at his hands as he spoke. “I didn’t want it. Peter said… that I was useful. That he was offering me a gift. I didn’t want it.” He looked up again in time to see the realization break in Derek’s face. “Your uncle wasn’t a fan of people turning him down. Was that an Alpha thing?”

“No,” Derek said with a sad smirk. “That’s an asshole thing.”

Stiles huffed out a laugh, grimacing at the rough sound. He wiped at his face and pushed himself to his feet. Derek mirrored him, standing back slightly as Stiles grinned at him.

“Good thing you’re not an asshole then,” the teen said. “Oh wait…”

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