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Up to You & Down to Me

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Summer started for Stiles Stilinski the way that it always did; out of the blue. He knew that his birthday marked the end of the school year, but this year had gone so fast that he didn't notice it at first. Didn't notice that it was getting warmer, didn't notice that school was winding down, didn't notice that summer was quite literally around the corner.

He finally noticed it at the end of the school year during the award ceremony that served as the last venture for underclassmen. Seniors were preparing for graduation, which was something Stiles refused to think about because his own was only a year away and he didn't want to have a panic attack just yet, so the underclassmen had awards. And while Stiles usually skipped awards, this year there was an army of support that told him he couldn't.

Lydia Martin was the general of said army, going as far as showing up at his house the morning of and politely requesting his presence. And by politely, he meant she showed up in his bedroom and threw a glass of water on him to wake him up. His dad was impressed. Stiles wasn't.

"You're insane!" She smiled in the brilliant way that would have once taken his breath away but now just made him glare. If she noticed his valiant attempt at hostility, she ignored it in favor of going to his closet and rifling through for the right outfit. Of course that meant her tossing through about half of his stuff, but he ignored that in favor of rolling over and burying his head under his soaked pillow. That was cut short as she picked it up and smacked him with it, a little harder than probably necessary. She wasn't very good at holding in her hybrid werewolfy strength.

"That hurt." The smile she had this time was absolutely terrifying.

"Not as much as it could. Now get up, shower, and get dressed. I expect you downstairs in thirty minutes or else I'll be back up here."

He grumbled through her orders, but got up and went into the bathroom anyways. Truth be told, although he'd be hard pressed to admit it to her, he was grateful for Lydia's intrusion. He wasn't used to having more than just his best friend Scott McCall to rely on and now he had this group, the pack. They actually cared about what he did, cared about him.

Not that Scott didn't care, because he did. He was the one that would go to the award ceremony and accept Stiles' awards on his behalf. And he always won awards. He had them in a container under all of the stuff in his closet. He wasn't even particularly sure what half of them were for. Especially not the one that was vaguely phallus shaped that Scott swore was for art class. Although Stiles wasn't entirely positive he'd taken an art class the year he got that one.

Once actually at the school, Stiles was left to his own devices as everyone went to their assigned seating. He knew the people on either side of them, had sat between them in classes for as long as he could remember, but he wasn't close enough to start a conversation with either of them. Instead he drifted in and out of focus, keeping half an ear open for his name or the name of any of his friends.

His was the first out of the group to be called and he stood to accept the piece of paper that told him how awesome he was at whatever class it was for. As he made his way up to the stage, he was staggered by the noise that came from behind him. A glance showed all of them standing up. Allison Argent, Danny Jepson, Lydia, Scott and even Jackson Whittemore. They were standing and applauding louder than the rest of the class as a collective whole. Plus his dad in the audience, wearing his sheriff getup, sitting with Scott's mom and Allison's parents.

It was weird that this was his life now. And although he was proud of how many people gave a damn now, he did notice one face in particular missing in the crowd. Not that he expected his sourwolf of a boyfriend to come, but he was disappointed all the same.

While Derek Hale's name had been cleared, there was still a certain stigma with having been wanted for murder in the first place. That stigma caused Derek to stay out of the public eye was much as possible, although it didn't stop the town from making use of his at home troubleshooting company once they realized he was legit and really good at what he did.

After the awards were given out, the principal spent some time talking about the setbacks and the tragedies the town had gone through. He spent time professing his appreciation of the students for abiding by the curfews and doing everything in their power to be safe.

Stiles was certain that the rest of the pack probably had about the same looks on their faces as they tried to keep in their laughter.

Right after the awards they were allowed to leave classes early. After checking that the others agreed, they all moved in tandem to the parking lot, following one another in a row towards Derek's house. Derek wasn't expecting them but they wouldn't surprise him. If he was home, he would hear their caravan a mile away.

The house had a few lights on, letting them know that Derek was definitely home. Scott had made an offhand comment about how Derek should give Stiles a key to the house, but they laughed it off. He wasn't sure if he wanted a key or not. He wasn't sure if he wanted what a key would mean for their relationship.

When they got out of their cars and started towards the door, they saw Derek leaning against the doorframe, the smallest of small smirks on his lips as he watched his pack of high school students horse around. It must have been a sight, to see his two and a half wolves playing with the three humans. Derek was always pushing the group into what Stiles called dog piles but Derek referred to as pack bonding. They had their own lives outside of the pack but at the end of the day, they relied on each other.

“We are here to bother you for a few hours.” Lydia moved past Derek, shooting him a blinding smile as she did so. They all watched her enter the house without a second glance at their alpha, trying to hold in their laughs.

If she was a full werewolf, Stiles would be comfortable to assume she would be the beta with the blue eyes out of the group. As it was, Stiles wondered who that would end up being, if any of them.

As they all went through, Stiles stayed at the door and waited for Derek to make the first move. He didn’t disappoint.

One hand hooked behind Stiles’ head, pulling him in for a welcoming kiss that succeeded in curling his toes a bit. Not one to be outplayed, Stiles angled his hips just enough that he could slip one leg between Derek’s and used both of his hands to support his weight on his boyfriend completely.

It drove Derek wild, knowing that Stiles would trust himself to Derek’s whim even during this. Maybe especially during this.

“Hey you two, stop being indecent on the porch and come join us!” They pulled apart and Jackson‘s taunt, Stiles blushing and Derek smirking lewdly.

“Come on, we have the rest of the night for that.”

Stiles pulled Derek in for another kiss before following the older man into the living room. He’d asked his dad’s permission to stay the night after the awards and had been surprised when he said yes. All that had been left of the school year was exams, which Stiles seemed to either do really good or really bad on.

His best final exam grade was 107. His worst was somewhere near 33.

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Summer went about the same way as the school year had been. Spending time with his dad, hanging out with his friends, honing his lacrosse skills with Danny, making out with Derek, rubbing off with Derek on various surfaces of his house, researching things to do with neighboring packs and his connection with Derek.

The connection didn’t go off every time someone stubbed their toe or had a normal headache. It had been so touchy to begin with that it took some getting used to now that Stiles no longer had to prepare for the flare up whenever he stubbed his toes or jammed his fingers on a day to day basis.

It wasn’t until this weird connection with Derek that Stiles realized how often he injured himself in a day.

The connection did flare up on the occasions that bigger things happened. When the anniversary of his mom’s passing came, Stiles had been lying in bed and pretending not to be effected when the connection had gone off. At first he thought it had to be from Derek’s side, until Derek called to ask what was wrong. He told the truth, that he missed his mom.

The two of them didn’t compare stories, because losing your mom and losing your whole family were two very different things, but sometimes they talked about their families and how they were before.

Another time that the connection had gone of was when Derek had been attacked by a bear. That in itself was pretty impressive, but that Derek had held his own and was able to kill the bear, all the while barely holding onto his control with the pain warring with his shift? That was really impressive.

Besides spending his summer with the pack doing various things, Stiles also had the job at the local library. He didn’t work there alone though. There was Danny, who had gotten him the job. Two weeks of working there, Lydia and Allison had come in looking for applications.

There were barely any people there in the summer, Stiles could read all he wanted for free, he worked with his friends and he got to make his dad proud. All for a nice $8.50 an hour.

It felt like stealing. At the very least like Stiles was severely cheating the system.

It was at the library when Jackson came to visit them, only a few weeks before school started back up for their senior year. He had been away with his family on vacation for a couple of weeks. No one even knew that he was home.

“Do you think Derek would mind a meeting tonight?” He directed the question at Stiles, who was often forced to answer for Derek.

He was his boyfriend, not his secretary.

“Depends on what it’s about. Pack stuff, sure. Hair care products that promise texture and smoothness but give gunk, no.”

They might be friends now, but Stiles wasn’t about to stop picking at Jackson. Just like Jackson hadn’t stopped being vaguely dickish to Stiles… or anyone really. He had his moments though.

“No, moron. This is serious.” Lydia had been flipping through a book on her lap but looked up at that, eyebrows furrowing and leaning forward.

“How serious?” Jackson glanced around, probably using his super hearing to check if they were alone. They were, except one old man in the far back of the library who sometimes brought candy for them. He was hard of hearing, so they were safe.

“When we went through Lauderville on our way home, I scented something. I think it was another werewolf, maybe more than one.”

That got their attention. Lauderville wasn’t even thirty minutes away; it was a town smaller than Beacon Hills. Stiles hadn’t seen anything about it on his searches, but he was willing to look again.

“What does a werewolf smell like though?” Lydia rolled her eyes and went back to her book. Jackson glared, crossing his arms over his chest to try and look intimidating.

It would have worked if he hadn’t seen the way Jackson reacts whenever Lydia runs her fingers through his hair. Whether or not those two were together again/yet was left unknown at this point, but they were good for each other either way.

“Not smelling, you imbecile, scenting. It’s not an actual scent, it’s more of a…”

He failed to come up with a proper comparison so Stiles decided to show mercy.

“It’s like how Derek is uncanny with knowing emotions of people. Not a scent, more like a feeling.”

Jackson sagged in relief and nodded. Stiles felt kind of bad because he had asked Derek about that before and that was the only way that he knew how it worked.

Apparently Stiles was compulsively checking the clock because Lydia called him out on it. At his blush, which wasn’t a reaction Stiles could control despite how much he tried, her eyes lit up to positively frightening proportions.

“Are you going to Derek’s?”

Stiles groaned, dropping his head to the table and wincing. It didn’t kick up the connection though so Stiles sat back up.

“Yes, please stop looking at me like that.” Jackson shook his head, leaving the two of them at the desk by themselves.

“You never tell me the fun stuff. What’s the point of having a gay best friend if he’s no good with fashion and won’t tell about his older, more attractive boyfriend?”

After blinking a few times, Stiles laughed.

“Thanks. Glad to know where I rest on your totem pole. No, don’t apologize. The truth is, half the time we’re together we’re not doing anything. We haven’t gone further than what we did on my birthday, although we’ve uh, done that a few times since then.”

Practice makes perfect and they were slowly becoming professional frottagers. Which isn’t a word, but Stiles didn’t care. It was true none the less.

At seven o’clock, Stiles punched out and told Lydia goodnight. By that time their boss had gotten in to close up the building. She slid into her car and sped off before Stiles even got near his car.

She and Jackson must have a date planned. Stiles got into his jeep, running his fingers lovingly over the dashboard and talking to it as he got everything ready to leave. Ever since Derek surprised Stiles with his jeep back, completely restored after his accident, Stiles had treated it like precious gold.

He started his jeep and pulled out of his parking spot, heading towards West Forest. He wasn’t spending the night, although his dad had been really awesome about allowing them that little pleasure the few times Stiles had asked.

The way Stiles saw that, there was no rush for them. They had all the time they could possibly need to get to everything else. There wasn’t any pressure with them.

--------------

It wasn’t odd that Stiles and Derek would make plans and then Stiles would have to wait for Derek. He ran his troubleshooting company out of the house but sometimes, if the situation called for it and the person wasn’t worried that Derek really was a murderer and just good at hiding it, he would go out to a person’s house to work on their computers.

The few times it happened, he was only out there for a little while. This time, Stiles had been sitting on the porch for almost an hour when his phone rang. He’d tried calling Derek three times but it went straight to voicemail each time.

“Hey, where are you?” He started to stretch out on the porch, not sure if Derek calling meant he was on his way or telling him that they’d have to cancel.

“I’ll be there soon. Sorry for making you wait. Mrs. Henderson’s computer might be older than she is.”

Stiles laughed because Mrs. Henderson was easily in her 80s. He checked his watch and shrugged. It cut an hour out of their time, even though his summer curfew was one unless previously discussed with his dad.

“I’ll be here.” He pressed his back against the wood of the door as he hung up, tucking the device back in his pocket and closing his eyes. Not even five minutes later he heard the roar of an engine heading his way and he smiled.

Mrs. Henderson lived on the other side of town. Derek must have called halfway there. Only when the vehicle belonging to the engine he’d heard appeared, Stiles was stopped short halfway off the porch.

SUV. White. Two things that were not Derek’s car. Not unless Derek got a new car while fixing Mrs. Henderson’s car. Not likely.

Stiles froze, torn between wanting to hide and wanting to act like nothing was wrong. He watched the car, windows tinted to a degree that was probably illegal, knowing that the passengers were definitely watching him.

He forced a smile and made his way down the steps, hovering between the house and his jeep. He didn’t trust unknown cars anymore.

The passenger door opened and a guy stepped out, adjusting his sunglasses on his nose and smiling in a friendly manner that made Stiles’ skin crawl. It reminded him of Chris Argent’s smile.

“Can I help you?” The man looked around at the area and then back to Stiles. Or maybe the house. With those sunglasses on, it was difficult to tell.

Which, by the way, it was dark outside?

“Yes, we’re looking for the Monroe house?” Stiles felt the knot in his stomach loosen a bit and he shrugged, glancing over his shoulder at the house before looking back.

“Sorry, no Monroe here.”

The man bent down to say something to the driver. While they talked, Stiles started edging towards his jeep. He wouldn’t be able to get out through the front way, although he didn’t know how to navigate the gravel roads that the back way went through before coming out just on the edge of town.

He’d give it a sporting try if it meant getting away from the strangers. The man was leaning back out of the car and his head turned directly towards where Stiles was now standing.

“Well whose place is this?” Nope, not going there.

“It’s not the Monroe’s. There are other houses further up the road but there isn’t much down this way, sorry.”

The man waited a few moments, watching Stiles in a way that was making him feel like he’d missed something. Then he smiled again, thanked Stiles for his help, and got back into the SUV. After a few minutes the car reversed down the gravel road, disappearing around the trees.

The panic that had been washing over Stiles settled in. He could feel his head throbbing, not a full blown episode but close enough. Instead of driving off, remembering the feel of the impact from the last strangers in town, Stiles took off for the back of the house on shaking legs.

Up the back steps and across the deck that Derek, Scott and Jackson had built, Stiles stopped in front of the glass door. Slipped into the wood around the door was a little hidden compartment that had a spare key to the back door.

Derek had put it there for emergencies and Stiles was sure that this constituted as one. It was either that or drive home and have a panic attack.

Once he got the door open, hand shaking so it took a few tries, he slipped the key into his pocket and made his way to the front room, glancing out of the window every few seconds.

The connection flared up completely, causing Stiles to groan and clutch his head. He was getting better at dealing with it, although Derek could sometimes still act normal when it happened. He took a few deep breaths, trying to calm himself.

He heard Derek’s car, familiar and definitely Derek’s, screeching to a halt in front of the house, spewing gravel behind his tires. He left the engine running, leaping out of the car and rushing over to Stiles’ jeep, checking the inside. After that he took a second before glancing at the house and rushing up the steps.

The entire time he was yelling Stiles’ name in a voice that caused him to pause. It sounded broken, desperate.

--------------

Whatever it was in Derek’s voice, mixed in with the desperation, it made Stiles get up and rush to the door. He made it there just as Derek did, getting pushed back as Derek busted the door open. The door had smacked his arm, causing another flare of pain in his head, but he pushed through it as Derek wrapped his arms around him, holding him painfully tight.

“Derek, shit, what happened? What’s going on?” He was being held at arm’s length after that, getting looked over by Derek. He used his eyes and hands to check for injuries, although Stiles was pretty sure his only injury was the quickly forming bruise on his bicep from the door.

However Stiles kept quiet, kept still, while Derek looked him over. They hadn’t talked about this, about what Stiles should or shouldn’t do when Derek was getting territorial or protective or whatever he was right then. Instead Stiles went with instinct and let Derek check him over.

He must have finished because Derek pulled him so that they were chest to chest, still running his hands up and down Stiles’ arms, his nose tucked into Stiles’ neck and breathing deeply.

“Derek?” The alpha pulled back, eyes glowing red and violent. Stiles hadn’t noticed earlier if they had been red or not, but they were now. It was almost terrifying except he trusted Derek and knew that even if it was directed at him, he wouldn’t hurt him.

Not on purpose at least.

“I could smell the strangers when I pulled in, but it was drowned out by the smell of your fear. Terror.” That was not really surprising. Stiles hadn’t focused on how scared he was, just acknowledged that he was definitely afraid and dealt with it from there.

“A car pulled in and I just kept remembering the accident.” Derek pulled him just a bit closer, to the point that there was no room for anything between them.

His breathing was slowing down, unconsciously matching Derek’s breathing. It was soothing to be pressed against Derek like this.

“Who were they?” That made Stiles pull back because although he’d been expecting the question, he hadn’t expected Derek to be the one to ask it.

“You mean you… I don’t know. I’ve never seen them before.” Derek’s eyes were no longer red but Stiles wasn’t sure when they had changed. Maybe the same time Stiles’ heartbeat and gone back to normal.

“Did they say anything?”

In the rush of things, Stiles had mostly forgotten the short conversation he’d had with the one guy. He remembered them pulling in, remembered the fear as he waited for the guy to step out, he remembered him asking about a name, but Stiles couldn’t remember it. Maybe it started with an N. No, that wasn’t it, it was… oh!

“Monroe. He asked if this was the Monroe house. I told them no.” Derek looked behind him, through the still open door and at his still running car.

“There is a Monroe family just up the street.”

There was hysterical laugh that started to bubble up in Stiles’ chest, one that he tried to hold in, but ultimately failed. It shook him and every time he looked at Derek, saw his face go from shock to amusement, the laughter redoubled.

“So I was scared shitless for nothing.” It wasn’t a question. Derek nodded, cupping his hand behind Stiles’ neck and pulling him forward, cutting off the laugh with his lips.

The laugh was replaced with a moan and they had to pull apart so that Derek could run and turn off his car, shut the door and pull it as closed as he could get it because the lock was broken. They barely made it to the couch after that, their hands struggling to pull off shirts as fast as they could.

Guess it was time to do a little life affirming anyways.

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After a few hours together, Stiles had to reluctantly say it was time for him to go home. He still had an hour before he'd be late, but after the high adrenaline evening, he wouldn't mind turning in early. He also wouldn't mind staying awake with Derek, sure they could find ways to keep themselves entertained, but he knew that his dad would want him home. He hadn't broken curfew yet, he didn't want to start now.

Derek offered to follow Stiles. Maybe offered is the wrong word; stated felt right though. He stated that he was going to follow Stiles home, if just to make sure that he didn't have a panic attack on the drive. Truth be told, he felt really safe with his werewolf boyfriend driving behind him.

Outside of his house, Derek pressed Stiles against the side of the car instead of letting him go inside straight away. Trapped between the heat of the car and the heat of Derek's body, Stiles' hormones were starting to take notice. They were spending that time kissing, slow and languid in a way that was stealing Stiles' breath. He couldn't breathe, couldn't bear the thought to pull away, so he pushed through it. Whether Derek noticed or just needed to breathe himself, he pulled away and pressed a few lingering kisses against Stiles' gasping mouth.

He'd definitely gotten the hang of this kissing business.

Derek moved to nose his way along the side of Stiles' neck, his stubble lightly scratching his neck as he did so. He would place a kiss or a nip randomly against the skin there until he let his lips wrap around Stiles' ear lobe, releasing it only to lick up the shell of his ear.

"Leave your window unlocked."

Stiles groaned, rocking forward so that his jeans covered erection brushed over Derek's. He'd like nothing more than to pull Derek into the house and up to his bedroom, by any limb or article of clothing or body part in general that he could get a hold of, but he knew that it would be better to wait. Instead he licked his lips, kissing Derek's neck once, twice before pulling fully away.

"See you soon."

He stumbled up the pathway to the door, tossing a look over his shoulder every few feet to see Derek staring at him. It wasn't until he was in the house that he heard the car door shut and Derek drive away. He took a deep breath before turning around, yelling and falling against his front door in surprise at seeing his dad sitting on the couch in uniform, finishing off what looked like a very unhealthy meal.

"Don't you know how to turn on a light or something? What are you, a ghoul?" Stiles flicked the living room light on and moved into the kitchen, patting his stomach idly. Derek would have known that his dad was in the house, would be waiting until he went back to work before sneaking into his still underage son's bedroom.

"There are leftovers in the fridge or there's a takeout bag in the microwave." Spinning around to shoot his dad a smile, Stiles slid over to where the microwave was and opened it. Score, a hamburger, a hotdog and a large fry. He popped them into the fridge sans bag and wrappers, punching in a few numbers and turning back to look at his dad.

His dad who was looking right back at him.

"You do know that I wasn't late for my curfew, right? You're starting to scare me with the staring." His dad rolled his eyes, depositing his trash into the can next to the fridge. Stiles tried not to jump when the timer went off, pulling his own food out and then moving to the cabinets to grab a glass.

"You might want to look discretion up in the dictionary son. I'll give you a hint. What you were doing in the driveway with your very older boyfriend? That isn't the definition."

Stiles winced because of course his dad saw him making out with his boyfriend. That was just the way his life was. It was that kind of cliché.

"We're usually a lot better at discretion. We're very discrete. Completely. Just caught up in the moment." Which might not have been the best thing to say, but it was true. His dad seemed to take a moment before replying to that.

"We don't need to have an increasingly awkward conversation about protection, but I'm going to say this once so I'd appreciate it if you at least pretended to listen. I don’t know anything about this boy… this man or his proclivities, but I guess it’s safe to assume that he’s experienced. Don’t let him pressure you into anything and if you decide you are comfortable with something, use protection.”

Stiles put his glass down, casting a regretful look at his food. His appetite was almost completely gone. Nothing could do that faster than sex talk with his dad.

“Definitely not doing anything with pressure dad. Either of us. Still a virgin.”

Except that Stiles had also been thinking about the next step, the next stage in their sexual relationship. He wasn’t sure what that meant, except he really hoped it involved him putting his hand down Derek’s pants. He might or might not have thought about that a lot lately, giving Derek a hand job. He also might or might not have done some research on techniques.

It was also possible that he might or might not have watched a few videos. Purely for research purposes. Obviously.

“I trust you son. And it’s not that I don’t trust Derek, so don’t give me that look. He might look like a wanted felon, but I trust your judgment and my interactions with him have mostly been positive now that I’m not trying to arrest him. But you’re my son and I want what is best for you.”

Giving up on feeling embarrassed for the time being, Stiles made his way over to his dad and hugged him tight.

“You’re pretty good at this dad stuff.” His dad sighed before returning the hug.

“Your mom would have been better at this part, but I’m glad I’m not doing so well.”

They didn’t talk about his mom, it was just one thing they didn’t do very often. The stories were all happy until the end, and then it just hurt. Stiles knew that her presence was always with them, not that he believed in ghosts. He just knew that she hung between them, covering every surfaced of their house in a way that Stiles never wanted to get rid of.

It might hurt most of the time, but she was his mom and he missed her. And while they never talked about it, he knew his dad missed her too.

His dad left not long after that, telling Stiles not to stay up too late and that he’d be back in the morning. After the door shut, Stiles hurried up and ate. He moved quickly upstairs, grabbing his stuff and taking a shower, brushing his teeth while washing his hair. He knew that Derek would wait for him if he got there before he finished.

When he got out, dried off and dressed, he stepped into his bedroom and was surprised that Derek wasn’t there yet. He checked to make sure that his window was unlocked, although he’d stopped locking it at this point. Instead of calling and seeming like the pushy partner, Stiles flopped onto his bed and grabbed one of his books, flipping open to the front.

He read the first page twice before he shook himself out of his distraction. Half waiting for Derek and half reading wouldn’t make time go any faster. Instead be forced himself to pay attention to the book, getting into the storyline and flipping through the pages quickly.

When he finished the book, closing it and looking at the clock, he was shocked to see that it was almost six in the morning. He forced himself to stay awake, calling Derek and getting his voicemail after a dozen rings each time. After another hour and a half, he finally fell asleep.

----------------

Stiles got maybe four hours of sleep before he was woken up by his phone ringing loudly in his ear. He rolled over and thumbed the accept button, holding it to his ear and grunting into the receiver.

“Stiles? Dude, do you know where Derek is? He’s late for training.” Stiles rolled over and checked the clock once more to make sure he’d seen it right the first time.

“It’s like ten thirty in the morning, why are you training?” He heard Scott groan in frustration.

“We were supposed to meet at nine. I work this afternoon and Allison and I have a date tonight. He knew this so he said that we could meet this morning instead of our usual time. He’s late so I figured he must be with you.”

Opening his mouth to cut him off, Stiles was forced to swallow his words. He last saw Derek at around midnight since the older man hadn’t visited him like he said he would.

“He’s not with me. I haven’t seen him since last night.” Ten hours. Over ten hours since he’d last seen Derek. That usually wasn’t a big deal, but it was a big deal for Derek to miss a training session with the pack.

He took his alpha responsibilities very seriously. He trained Jackson and Scott together for the most part, spending about half of the same amount of time with Lydia who was still trying to figure out her boundaries.

“This is just great. He knows that I have plans tonight so if he thinks that I’m going to cancel, he can forget it. I’ve already canceled twice because of pack things. I knew I should have… whatever man. You see him, tell him we’ll have to reschedule.”

Before Stiles could reply, either to say he wasn’t Derek’s secretary or to yell at him that there was something wrong, Scott hung up. At this point, Stiles was completely awake and working himself up into a sheer panic.

He did the only thing he could think of. He got up and moved to his dresser, bunching the top of his shirt into his mouth. He took a deep breath through his nose before slipping his fingers into a drawer and slamming it shut on them.

The connection flared up, causing Stiles to double over a bit. His head was pounding and so were his fingers, but nothing. No phone call, no text. Usually Derek was quick to get in touch with Stiles when the connection came through.

If he didn’t, it had to be because he couldn’t.

Stiles grabbed his phone with his good hand, keeping his injured hand cradled to his chest, and moved down the stairs and into the living room. He sat on the couch, legs pulled up to his stomach to keep in the strange feeling he was having. It was like he was restless, his skin tingling with anticipation. Derek never just disappeared, not like this. Not with things like this.

Trapped in his thoughts, Stiles was caught unaware by the connection. Usually it built up slow enough that Stiles could prepare, but he barely had time to catch recognize the feeling before he was bent over on the couch, screaming into the pillow.

The pain felt like it was tearing into him physically, like his body was being torn to pieces slowly. His head was throbbing, tears pouring out of his eyes from the pain, and his body was seizing up from the muscle spasms.

He’d never felt it like this before, but even in the haze of the pain, he’d bet money that this was from Derek’s side.

He could hear his dad’s voice but he couldn’t figure out the words. He was pulling him, trying to get him to roll over and face him. His voice was frantic, screaming things that Stiles couldn’t grasp. He heard his name and the word please, but not much else.

Then there were other hands on him, holding him down and coaxing something into his arm, voices in his ear and trying to calm him. Their faces swam in his vision, but he recognized the vehicle they were loading him into. An ambulance.

He opened his mouth to tell them that this wasn’t necessary, that he knew what was wrong and it would go away, but there was this taste and then there were urgent yells coming from the EMT closest to him.

There was blood in his mouth, coming down the sides. He coughed on it; turning his head and feeling it spew out as he choked a bit. Everything was going gray and then, as the beeps and sirens and yells got louder, he lost consciousness.

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Waking up took longer than Stiles thought was entirely necessary. He couldn’t open his eyes, which scared him at first but he tried not to focus on it. He could hear voices near him and he tried to listen to what they were saying.

“…and we should know by then. I’d also like to know if you know if you’re son is sexually active or taking recreational drugs?”

The next voice was familiar. The voice was tired, worried, maybe even a little bit scared. Stiles hadn’t heard his dad’s sound like that since…

“If you knew my son, you’d know. He doesn’t need drugs or anything like that. As for being sexually active? He has a boyfriend, but they haven’t done anything. I trust that he’d tell me otherwise.”

He could hear the weight of the doctor’s suspicion on that.

“Well, we’ll run the tests anyways, just to be sure. It only takes one bad time, you know. There are a few other tests, bacteria and parasites to look for. If you’ll take a look at this list and…”

The words trailed off, which Stiles would later realize was actually him going to sleep. His dreams were chaotic, nothing he was actually able to hold on to long enough to figure out what it was. He remembered pain. Or the idea of pain since he was doped up with enough drugs that actual pain wasn’t making its way through.

When he woke up next, it was to see a nurse standing above him. He tried to gesture to her, tried to get her attention, but she was fixated on his chart. He moved his lips but no sound came out at first. The exertion caused his throat to hurt and he started to cough, the effort hurting his throat even more.

That drew the attention of the nurse. She rushed over to him, handing him a glass of water and tilting his head to drink it.

“Welcome back Stiles. You’ve given everyone here quite a scare. How are you feeling?” Stiles reached up to his throat, wondering why he couldn’t talk.

“Oh, sorry dear, your throat must be killing you. We had to put in a breathing tube. We only just took it out an hour ago. Drink some more water. I’m going to go grab your doctor.”

Stiles didn’t even try to stop her, just took a few more sips of his water and waited. He remembered what happened, remembered waking up for a few minutes, but nothing besides that. He wasn’t even sure how long he’d been in the hospital.

The doctor came in with his dad in tow. His dad bypassed his doctor and went right to his side, grasping his wrist and holding on tightly. His eyes were red, bags starting to show more than usual. He hated putting his dad through stressful situations like this.

“Good morning Stiles. Or more appropriately evening I guess. I’m Dr. Matthews. You’ve been here for a few hours now. How are you feeling?”

How was he feeling? He felt sore all over, tired in a way he wasn’t sure he’d ever experienced before, but he wasn’t in pain. There was this floaty sensation that told him that the lack of pain was probably due to some really good pain meds.

“Sore.” His voice croaked and he frowned. The doctor nodded, checking Stiles’ reaction to light and smiling a bit afterwards.

“Can you tell me what you remember about what happened?” His dad’s gripped tightened as Stiles tried to figure out how to put it into words.

“I’d been sitting on the couch and all of a sudden, everything hurt. My head, my stomach, my whole body.”

Dr. Matthews nodded, glancing down at his chart and making a few notations.

“What about your hand? Do you know how that happened?” Stiles glanced down to both of his hands but the one his dad was holding the wrist of caught his glance. It was badly bruised, although not wrapped or bandaged in any way to suggest that something was broken.

“It was an accident. I was half asleep and slammed my hand in the drawer that morning.”

Which was only half a lie, because he had just woken when he did it. However it was an accident. He did it because…

Derek.

“Derek.” The doctor looked up and raised an eyebrow, but Stiles’ dad interjected before he could ask any questions.

“We’ve called him son but he hasn’t answered or returned any of the calls.” His dad probably hadn’t meant to sound accusatory, but he did. Not that Stiles blamed him, because that sounded a little suspicious, only Stiles was pretty sure that Derek was in danger.

They stayed there for a while longer, asking questions before Dr. Matthews said he would be taking blood for a few more tests. Stiles turned his head from it, incidentally looking in his dad’s direction, and forced a smile.

“You scared the hell outta me son. You can’t imagine…”

You can’t imagine what it was like. And really, Stiles couldn’t imagine it. He couldn’t imagine what it looked like with him writhing around on the couch in pain. His dad must have thought the worse.

“I’m okay dad.” And he was, because the pain wasn’t his. It was Derek’s. Stiles was sure, 100% sure, that it wasn’t his pain. The connection had flared up because Derek was in horrendous pain.

He wasn’t sure how he could have survived whatever had caused the pain. He was saved from his thoughts as his dad stood up, nodding to the doctor as he stepped out of the room.

“There are some people here to see you Stiles.”

Before Stiles could ask who it was, his dad stepped out of the room and in walked the pack. Lydia and Allison both looked ashen, Danny and Scott looked shaken and worried, and Jackson actually looked worried.

He tried to smile but his doctor must have upped his dose of pain killers because he felt lopsided and a little like his skin wasn’t entirely attached.

“God Stiles, you look terrible.” For some reason Lydia saying that made him laugh. He tried to hold it in but the laugh wracked his body. When he stopped, his friends were watching him like he was crazy.

“Sorry. I’m okay. Pretty sure I’m high as a kite, but I’m great.” That got a laugh out of the group and they fanned themselves around him, all seeming to check him over for visible injuries. All of them noticed his hand, but none of them asked about it.

“So, what happened? Do you know?”

Stiles looked at each of them in turn and thought about it. The fact remained that he did know what happened. He knew what caused the pain, even if he didn’t know the cause of the cause. That made no sense, did it?

“No, you’re not making any sense.” Stiles blinked at his friends until he realized he’d said that out loud. He sighed before adjusting his bed, rubbing his hand over his forehead as he did so.

“This is going to sound crazy.” That got their attention.

--------------

Their faces when he finished his story, telling them everything that had happened since Derek had killed his uncle Peter, were almost comical. He might have laughed, but he’d blame either hysteria or the drugs if anyone called him on it.

It had felt good to tell someone though. He’d kept it in, just between him and Derek, but they deserved to know. If it affected him and Derek, it affected them all. That’s what it meant to be in a pack.

Scott was the first one to break the silence they’d fallen into.

“That’s what the headaches were! When you thought you had what your mom had before she died. The headaches were the connection, right?”

Everyone looked pretty astonished by that, which made Stiles remember that he hadn’t told anyone but Scott about the headaches. Yeah, they probably weren’t very happy to know he’d mildly thought he was dying for a while there.

“It triggered this morning in a way I’ve never felt before.” Lydia bent down, sitting on the bed next to him and grasping his hand in hers.

“I wish you would have told someone before now.”

Stiles returned the pressure as much as his pained fingers would let him before dropping it back to the bed.

“It doesn’t answer the question of what caused it. Derek is in immense pain, he may be in serious danger. I’ve never felt it like that before. Even my accident, which was the most pain I‘ve probably ever been in, it didn’t feel like that.”

The group passed looks around, each trying to work out what they could do. Lydia was the first one to speak.

“I’m sure, wherever he is, he’s fine. We’ll figure this out Stiles.”

And as much as Stiles wanted to believe that, he just couldn’t.

“You don’t understand what it means. That much pain just from the connection means that he had to have been in such an immense pain that…I haven’t even felt it in a while. He might not have surviv--” The word didn’t even come out before someone else was interjecting.

“No. I refuse to believe that. He’s Derek. Plus, we would have felt it. Scott and I, we would have felt it. But we aren’t going to give up. We’re going to head out right now and search the town for him.”

Everyone was staring at Jackson as if he’d grown a second head. Not that he never did the right thing, but it was surprising that he was the one to rally the troops as it were. He patted Stiles’ knee as he passed, grabbing Scott by the shoulder and propelling him towards the door.

“We’ll let you know the moment we know anything.”

The rest of the pack stayed with Stiles until the doctor came in and told them to leave, eyes wide when he saw the protectiveness in their eyes when they asked if Stiles would be getting out soon.

“We’re going to want to keep him until tomorrow regardless, but we do still have more tests to run.”

The thought of more tests made Stiles slump against the bed. Derek was out in the town somewhere, probably being strung up by hunters, and Stiles was getting poked with needles. He wished he could just tell the doctor that he knew what the problem was and he’d deal with it on his own, but he knew it didn’t work that way. Instead he sucked it up and tried not to be a jerk to the doctor when he asked questions during the procedures.

Tried being the operative word.

--------------

After more tests of different sorts and 24 hours of being in the hospital, the doctor told Stiles’ dad that they couldn’t find anything that was wrong but that they still had to get the results back from other places.

Their choices were to either keep Stiles in the hospital until they were sure or to let him go home. In the end, Stiles’ dad had sat down and they talked about it. Stiles had pushed and pushed to just go home, to wait it out, and his dad had finally given in. He couldn’t imagine what was going through his dad’s mind at the time, but if they had no inclination that it would return, why spend the money if they didn’t need to?

His dad hovered over his side when they got him to the house, not letting him do anything on his own. Normally Stiles would enjoy it, but he was too involved in what was going on somewhere in town to worry about his dad. Plus, it would be really hard to call one of the pack and find out what was going on with his dad hovering about.

“Dad, really, I’m fine. I won’t have you missing work and sleep. Please, I’ll be fine. I’m just down the stairs if something happens.”

Between guilt and general need, his dad finally gave in and went to sleep, but not until he forced Stiles to promise to yell up if he even vaguely felt ill.

Not ten minutes after his dad went to sleep, because Stiles had snuck up the stairs and listened to his snores, there was a light knock on the front door. Stiles bound over to it, tripping over his feet at the last second and almost smacking into the door. He pulled it open and pulled Jackson in by the collar of his shirt.

“Tell me what you know. Now.” No one had called or texted him to tell him what was going on yet, so any ounce of news was gold. Jackson sat on the couch, glancing up the stairs as he listened to Stiles’ dad’s snores.

“We searched every inch of the town until we got the scent. Barely had it for half an hour before it disappeared again. It was so weird, the scent was just gone. Then McCall remembered what had happened with those hunters before. How you told us they used some sort of cover up to disguise their scents.”

That was the opposite of anything Stiles wanted to hear.

“What are the odds of other hunters using that stuff too?” His chest felt tight but he pushed the thought of it away. He needed to focus on this; he could have a panic attack later.

“I asked Mr. Argent about it and he said that it wasn’t something he’d even heard of before the last hunters. Since he’s pretty up to date with hunter tactics, it has to be something just for a certain group. Guess they came to see what happened with their friends.”

Stiles remembered what Derek had said he’d done to the main hunter, the one that stabbed Stiles and later kidnapped him. The cops in town had collected the bodies when they had found them, but there hadn’t been an ID yet. All they knew was that those were the people that had gone after Stiles.

There had been a small investigation on what happened to them, but it seemed most people in town saw it as ‘alls well that ends well’ and that they got what they deserved. His dad definitely hadn’t lost any sleep over it.

“So what’s the plan?” Jackson leaned back, scrubbing his hand over his face.

“I don’t know Stiles. There’s not much we can do by ourselves. There is just Scott and I with any real training. Lydia can help us scent and hunt, but she has no combat training and these guys are probably heavily armed. Allison refuses to be left behind as well. So we have two trained wolves, one half trained half breed, and a hunter in training.”

Stiles thought that was a strange group of people but then something else stopped him. Chris Argent should be helping if these other hunters were encroaching onto their territory. That they hadn’t was actually really strange. When Stiles said as much, Jackson’s confusion and frustration at not knowing what to do went away to reveal pure anger.

His eyes kept flashing and Stiles was worried that Jackson would actually wolf out in his house. That’d probably end badly.

“We asked him for help. He said that he couldn’t offer his services.”

Feeling his own anger rising, Stiles had to struggle to keep his voice down.

“Are you kidding me? He helped the first time!” Jackson was struggling to keep something down, but it wasn’t his voice. Stiles watched as the young werewolf got his wolf under his control, his eyes no longer flashing.

“That was because a human was in danger. Because it’s Derek and not a human, they can’t interfere. Those other hunters didn’t care about hurting people but these haven’t even let people know they were in town. Mr. Argent said that because their way of life wasn’t endangered, they wouldn’t interfere.”

Stiles had heard enough. He flapped his hand at Jackson, a not so universal sign for Jackson to hand him his phone. Somehow Jackson was able to understand it and he handed Stiles his own phone because it was closer than Stiles’.

“What are you doing?” Stiles shot him a smile, probably a little scary in its ferocity.

“He won’t get involved unless his way of life is endangered? Well, I’m going to endanger it.”

He looked in his friend’s phone for the number, wondering if it was strange that the entire pack had Mr. Argent’s number. It was a little odd for friends to have one of their friend’s dad’s cell phone numbers. Maybe. Especially when the friend’s dad was a werewolf hunter and some of the friends were werewolves.

“Jackson, I already told you that--” Chris picked up, voice exasperated as if he’d had this conversation a thousand times already. Stiles interrupted him before he could get further into the spiel.

“This isn’t Jackson, it’s Stiles. And I think you’re going to want to hear what I have to say.”

He waited for a second for Chris’ response, checking the phone to make sure he hadn’t hung up. When he put the phone back to his ear, he caught the response.

“You have my attention Stiles.”

----------------

The only way that Stiles’ dad would agree to go back to work was if one of Stiles’ friends stayed with him. Because his other friends were all involved in the plan they had come up with, that left Danny. Not that either of them minded because Danny and Stiles got along just fine.

They were perched on Stiles’ bed playing cards, with Stiles losing horribly each hand as his focus slipped further and further. The rescue mission had started an hour ago and no one had called or texted them to let them know what was going on.

“How did you get Mr. Argent to agree? Last I heard, Jackson said he had said ‘sorry, no can do’. Next thing I know, he’s leading the charge?”

Stiles glanced at Danny’s discard before picking it up, glaring at his hand before discarding a card he probably needed.

“Jackson said he wouldn’t get involved because his way of life wasn’t endangered. So I endangered it.”

The conversation had been pretty interesting. And pretty one sided, if you asked Stiles.

“Here is your choice. Either you can help us find Derek or I’ll go to my dad and tell him everything. I’ve got my proof. Your move Chris.”

When he told Danny that, his mouth dropped and he started to laugh.

“That’s amazing. Only… don’t you think it would be a bad idea to tell your dad about the wolves?”

Stiles and Derek had had the conversation already once before about if and when it would be okay to tell Stiles’ dad about the werewolves. Derek trusted Stiles to use his best judgment on the situation and Stiles trusted Derek to think before getting too angry.

“We talked about it. Derek’s pretty sure that because they are all my friends and we all look out for one another, my dad will ultimately be okay with it.” He watched as Danny frowned at that.

“Maybe with them being your friends, but what about Derek?”

Yeah. His dad might not be okay with his seventeen year old son dating a twenty-four-almost-twenty-five year old werewolf that was once accused of murder. Accused by his son, of all people.

He’d thought of that too, but refused to acknowledge it until it was impossible. If everything went well, Stiles hoped to never tell his dad what Derek and the others were.

They were interrupted by Stiles’ phone ringing. With a shaking hand, although he hoped Danny missed that part, he hit the speaker button.

“Hello?” There was a noise before a door shut and all that was heard was Lydia’s voice.

“Hey you two. Listen, we caught Derek’s scent again. Not sure how he managed it, but he was able to drop his scent every now and then through whatever is masking it. We traced it out of town for about an hour. There’s a hut up there but there is absolutely no way for us to get through and keep tactical advantage.”

Stiles felt his stomach clench and Danny reached over, grabbing Stiles’ hurt hand and giving it a light squeeze.

“What about… they don’t know that you have hunters, right? So let the hunters go in first and use the element of surprise. They are expecting a brute attack by the pack, not a stealth attack from other hunters. Are there wolves in there?”

Lydia was quiet for a second before answering.

“At least one other. Scott was able to get close enough to scent it. Once he got a whiff, he came back. We’re down wind, but we don’t want to take a chance.”

Stiles nodded, turning his hand to grasp at Danny’s wrist.

“And Derek… has anyone seen or… do we know if…” He couldn’t get the words out but Lydia knew what he was saying. Her voice was soft and apologetic.

“I don’t know Stiles. We know he is in there, but if he’s alive or… we can’t tell what state we’ll find him in. We don’t think he’s dead but…” But he might be too far gone.

Stiles hadn’t felt the connection since two mornings ago. The pain had started to disappear, although that might have more to do with the pain killers than anything. Now that Stiles had weaned himself off the pain killers against doctor’s orders, he still could feel a dull ache at the back of his head, but he didn’t know if maybe that’s what it felt like for one person if the other…

He refused to think about it.

“Call us and let us know what happens?”

Lydia agreed before hanging up. Danny kept his hand on Stiles’ wrist, squeezing comfortingly every now and then.

After a while, Stiles proposed that they stop sucking at card games and go to researching. Danny pulled out his laptop and Stiles hopped into his desk chair, pulling up the internet. Danny looked at any possible werewolf stuff going on in nearby cities while Stiles did some looking on the connection.

"What if it was related to mates or something? Like a connection to your mate?" Stiles felt his throat tighten at that but he ignored it, scrolling through a page and trying to find anything of use.

"I think Derek would have mentioned if it was related to werewolf stuff. Besides, he told me that werewolf mates were a myth or whatever. Hollywood werewolves or whatever." He hadn't been sure how to take that, because he almost would have liked to... It didn't matter, because it wasn't a possibility.

"So what about you? Have you given any thought to the bite?" Danny looked up from his computer and nodded.

"Yea. I'm going to wait until after graduation." Stiles nodded but he almost laughed. What a graduation gift. Congratulations, you graduated. Here, become a werewolf for the rest of your life.

With a sigh, Stiles dropped his head on the desk and breathed. He could feel the slight throb in his head, possibly the only remains of the connection. He could hear Danny moving behind him but he focused on the dull ache at the back of his head.

What did it mean? If he focused on it, the ache grew. The pain was there, but there was something else too. It was like… it was familiar. It felt a little like… Derek.

Stiles gasped, grip tightening on the arms of his chair. The dull ache was somehow connected to Derek, not in the normal way. It was like he could feel him. The pain blossomed once he recognized it and he focused on it. He could feel what Derek felt, could feel the pain over his body. He’d been tortured, that much was obvious.

He tried to push all of his hope through to Derek, not thinking it’d work but knowing he had to try. The others were just outside, they would be there soon. Derek would be safe.

There was more pain, coming through from Derek’s side. Stiles pushed past it to try to get a read on what was going on. Then there was something on his limbs, something hauling him up. Only they weren’t his limbs, they were Derek’s. He felt like he was nestled inside of Derek, feeling what he felt. Someone was carrying him, supporting Derek’s weight.

There was a noise and Danny’s voice that had been urgently calling in Stiles’ ear, which he hadn’t heard, was panicked into the phone.

“Stiles, they got him! The hunters ran off but Derek is alive. He‘s okay.” Stiles wanted to say that he knew, but something was different. Something was wrong. Derek wasn’t okay.

His body felt sluggish and he could feel something under his skin. He knew what it was somehow, even though there was no possible way for him to know.

“They drugged him.” He opened his eyes for a moment and looked at Danny’s shocked face.

“What?” Stiles repeated it, told him to tell whoever he was on the phone with. Danny repeated it and while he listened to whatever they told him, Stiles went back to focusing on Derek.

“Derek told them that now that he wasn’t getting it constantly, it’d wear off. He’s getting stronger already.”

That Stiles knew because he could feel it thrumming under the surface, growing more steady like a heart beat. He focused on the strength, recognizing that the connection was growing fainter.

He kept a hold of it until it disappeared. Once it was gone, Stiles could feel his own body and could feel the painful throb in his head. He glanced at his pills, pushing the prescribed pain killers away and grabbed the regular aspirin, counting out three.

“He’ll be home soon, but so will your dad. After your dad checks in on you and goes back to work, I’ll take you over to see Derek for a little while. How’s that sound?”

Stiles looked up, seeing as Danny was eying him oddly. It must have looked odd; Stiles bent over half in pain and half in concentration. It must have also been strange that Stiles knew he’d been drugged.

“Sounds good. Now, what do you say we play a rousing and challenging game of Go Fish until then?”