Chapter 1: Here is my hand, my heart, my throat, my wrist
It's a different thing, waking up with another human being. He vaguely remembers, years ago, curling up next to his mother, on top of cushions she'd dragged from the couch and spread out in front of the bay window. Warm sun sliding through the panes and draping over them as she read aloud from Where the Sidewalk Ends and stroked his hair and he drifted slowly off to sleep. When he woke up, she would be sitting beside him, her feet wedged under his as she wrote her own poetry in a pink and white composition notebook.
Then she dies, and his father throws her notebook - all of her notebooks - into her grave with her. It's many, many years before Isaac falls asleep or wakes up with another human being.
Until today. Until Stiles.
He comes awake all at once, like he always does, a rush of panic and displacement sending adrenaline coursing through his veins, shock-y and quick, until he gasps in a breath of air. The taste and smell of Stiles is all around him, all over him, just as much as Stiles' arms and legs are tangled up in his. The tension hemorrhages out of him in one woozy moment and he curls back into Stiles.
The air in the hotel room is cold; they've kicked the blanket off sometime during the night and it's a reminder of the fact they're only wearing boxers that don't do anything to ward off the chill. He tries to stealthily use his feet to pull the cover up, without waking Stiles, but he fails; Stiles mutters and twists, and then sits up just long enough to yank the blanket over them. He winds his fingers into Isaac's hair and maneuvers him until his face is buried in Stiles' shoulder and Stiles' leg is wedged between his.
“It's hours until check-out. Go back to sleep.”
Isaac breathes through his nose, just so he can smell himself on Stiles' skin, smell his scent imprinting all over him in a way that makes his wolf both rabid and calm. They won't have to wash it off, not anymore. Stiles promised. Stiles swore. And Isaac believes Stiles.
He goes back to sleep.
Chapter 2: The rocks dig into my skin like arrowheads
Stiles has a scar on his right hip, souvenir from the night they kill Peter Hale. He doesn't even know where it came from, the broad, curving, smiley face of a cut he finds the next day, but it scabs, and then flakes, and then leaves a shiny, pink, pencil thin line, that writes its own story for a history he'll never be able to tell.
He also has a long, red, puckered scar that runs the entire length of his spine, but they don't ever talk about that one.
Isaac doesn't scar anymore, preternatural healing keeping his skin perfect and blemish free, even when it's his Alpha that does the breaking. But the bite can only fix what comes after, not the damage from before, and his back and chest will always bear witness of his lineage, will always mark him as the son of his father.
But those scars, those scars are negligent, are nothing; Stiles doesn't even really see them anymore, only acknowledges them as the keyholes they are, the doors to the places in Isaac that will never heal, that will never be lucky enough to carry scars. When he trips his fingers over them, he's not really touching skin, he's just using them as proxy, as a place to spread a balm that, for a minute, or five, or sometimes a whole day, will sink through epidermis and bone and blood, and scab over all the damage inside of Isaac.
They will never be anything approaching healthy. Isaac will always be just a little bit psychotic, just a little bit too ready to tear someone apart, and Stiles will always have to be the one to jerk him back from the edge. The shadow of Beacon Hills will never stop looming over their shoulders. But if they're measured in the spaces in between, in the minutes of quiet, in the minutes of laughter, in the minutes of wild, uncontrolled dancing with the music turned up full blast in their dorm room, then Stiles still thinks they're coming in as a win.
Isaac runs his tongue across the scar on Stiles' hip, presses his lips to either end. “I like this one,” he says quietly, a tiny smirk just twisting the edge of his lips.
“I know,” Stiles answers, as he rests his thumb on Isaac's mouth, lets him wrap his tongue around it and draw it inside.
Chapter 3: Another chapter where the hero shifts from one foot to another
Isaac almost kills someone today. He almost kills someone because they touch Stiles. They touch Stiles and they touch him wrong, and the stink of their want is suffocating. And Stiles doesn't even notice, he never notices, never sees how many people would be happy to take him away from Isaac if he just gives them the chance; never picks up on the eyes that follow him greedily around campus and fling suggestions of “study sessions” and “open mic nights” and five hundred other things that are all just flimsy excuses to get him alone in an attempt to seduce him into their beds.
Isaac always notices though, because Isaac has lived with the stench of other people wanting Stiles since the second he was turned. And Isaac...Isaac cannot lose Stiles. Because if he loses Stiles, then he's just the monster, just Frankenstein's creation, and there's no reason to try to be better, to do better, to earn that look on Stiles' face that says he's proud of him, that Isaac is just as good as Stiles always knew he was.
So when that girl touches him, lets her long pink nails scrape on his collar, Isaac's claws gauge holes in the wall where he's supposed to be meeting Stiles after class, and he slips back the way he came, waits for Stiles to awkwardly step away from her, make some comment about needing to meet his boyfriend – God, Stiles can be so clueless sometimes, so stupid , that he doesn't get what she wants – and then follows her as she heads back to her dorm. She's already on the phone, chattering to someone about this new boy , and about how he says he has a boyfriend but he's way too hot to be gay; not even paying attention to her surroundings.
He gets his chance when she cuts down an alley between two of the older buildings, the path dark and shadowed and absolutely deserted. He stalks her, lets his teeth and claws extend, imagines what her fear would taste like – the same fear he feels every time he imagines his life without Stiles.
And then -
Leans heavy against the brick and breathes, pulls himself together so that by the time she hears him and looks back, he's able to offer a casual nod and a wave as she hurries to brighter parts.
Because Stiles wouldn't like it. Because Stiles would be so disappointed. Because Isaac doesn't want to be the thing Derek and his father made him, but instead wants to be the thing Stiles stole.
He jogs back the way he came, rounding the corner just as Stiles is pulling out his phone to text him. He grins when he sees him, shoves his phone in his back pocket.
“Hey! You're late.”
Isaac shrugs. “Sorry. Still getting used to campus. Got lost.”
Stiles reaches out and brushes a curl out of his eyes, and makes a humming sound. And Stiles is never as naïve as Isaac sometimes pretends he is, because Isaac thinks he knows exactly what Isaac's not saying.
“Well, I'm glad you found me.” He grabs Isaac's hand and drags him behind him as he sets off. “Come on, hurry up. We're going to miss the previews.”
Isaac almost kills someone today, but he doesn't.
And that means it's another day they still win.
Chapter 4: Digging out the bullet and holding it up to the light
It's going to be a bad night; they both know it. It's only 1AM, and Isaac has already woken up screaming twice. The second time he flails so hard he knocks Stiles out of the single bed they're sharing and he hits his face on the corner of a textbook, eye immediately starting to blacken.
The RA bangs on their door. Tells them to keep it down.
Isaac is crouched in a corner, staring in broken horror at the bruise forming on Stiles' face, and Stiles knows that if he doesn't do something fast, Isaac is going to bolt, will end up spending the night in some broom closet or parking garage, or worse, find some drunken group of frat boys with which to pick a fight. He'll let them pummel him, over and over, until the wolf finally takes over and he has to fight back, has to punch and kick and headbutt until they slink away.
While Isaac's eyes start darting around to plan his escape route, Stiles starts kicking all the crap from the center of the floor to the the walls or under the beds, until he deems the space sufficient and turns to the mattresses. He pulls the one they were using off first, letting it hit the floor with a dull thump, before turning his attention to the other bed – ostensibly Isaac's, but it's been used maybe a handful of times during the whole semester. He's in the middle of strong-arming it when Isaac makes his move and darts toward the door.
Stiles steps into his path, so he either has to stop or bowl Stiles over, and Isaac pulls up so short he comes close to losing his footing.
“Stay,” Stiles coaxes.
Isaac touches his fingers to Stiles' face, where the skin is puffing. “I hurt you.”
“Technically, the textbook assaulted me. We should file a restraining order. No textbooks that big and pointy should be allowed within fifty feet of this room.”
Isaac doesn't laugh. “I made you fall.”
“Which won't be a problem with the mattresses on the floor. And we'll even have more space. Actually I'm not sure why we didn't think of this before, because this will be way better than just using the singles. You know what? We're totally keeping it like this from now on. We can just take the frames apart and stack them against the wall and then we have convenient walkways. This is genius. Brilliance! We have a full size bed now -”
Stiles sighs and jerks the mattress the rest of the way to the floor and then sits and holds his hand out to Isaac.
“Sit. Come on, sit. Please?”
Isaac makes a face but complies, and Stiles tugs at his shoulders until he lies down with his head in Stiles' lap; Stiles immediately starts playing with his hair, an automatic reflex more than anything planned, but some of the strain disappears from Isaac's shoulders.
“Babe, you have nightmares, okay?” He doesn't bother reiterating what they both know, that the nightmares are always the worst around the full moon, when the less human part of him beats at the walls around his past, opens up cracks for all his boogey-men to escape. “I don't care.”
“I care. I don't like...hurting you.”
“And you know, I appreciate that. I really, really do. But falling off the bed is way better than freaking out because you're not here. Do you think I actually sleep? Because I don't. I just end up wandering around campus trying to find you. And I never can, because you're hiding from me, and then you just show up in the morning looking like shit, and it's got to stop, okay?”
Isaac's eyes are half-closed, because between the hair pulling and the Stiles' rambling and the late hour, he's being lulled back to sleep, and Stiles isn't far behind him. It likely won't last long – nights like this are generally punctuated by at least four more episodes before dawn – but they take it where they can.
He lifts Isaac's head so that he can slide down beside him, throw an arm and a leg over him. “Promise, okay?”
Isaac's reply is woozy and sleep fuzzed, which means he's just on the edge of drifting off. “I'll try.”
“M'kay, good,” Stiles mumbles back, sticking his face in Isaac's hair and licking behind his ear. “G'night.”
When Isaac screams them awake, less than an hour later, Stiles just pulls Isaac's head back into his lap, fumbles under the bed for a book, and starts to read.
It's going to be a bad night, they both know it, but it's just a little less frightening than it was before.
Chapter 5: This Is The Map Of My Heart
“Is this even gonna work on you?”
“No idea. Let's find out.”
They're laid out on a blanket, on top of a hill flirting with the delusion of being a mountain. Isaac is on his back, watching the stars pop into sight, one by one, while Stiles is sitting cross-legged beside him, steadily packing weed into a bat. The monstrosity Stiles calls a vehicle is parked just behind them, the dented up mess of a Jeep that had, despite Isaac's doubt, brought them two thousand odd miles across the country, and still keeps running. He's almost as fond of it as Stiles is these days, but he's not going to tell him that.
It's the anniversary of the day they've more or less christened as the start of “them”, and it's always filled with such a fucked up mix of memories, both awesome and awful, that Stiles doesn't even make a token protest when Isaac pulls out the baggie of weed he's gotten off some random kid in his chemistry class, as well as the bat – neither of them have done this before, and Isaac isn't patient enough to spend hours trying to figure out how to roll a decent joint.
Stiles just makes a face and says “We're not smoking it on campus; we're on scholarship, remember?”
Isaac doesn't care; he likes it here better, anyway, where it's just him and Stiles, and he can clearly hear the sounds of their heartbeats. There's a bite of cold in the air, but that's okay, too. If he needs to, he can be warm enough for the both of them.
Stiles finishes and tosses the rest of the baggie to the side, then screws the tip of the bat on. He holds out a hand. “Lighter.”
Isaac tosses him the little orange Bic they'd picked up at the convenience store at the mouth of the canyon. Stiles catches it and throws himself on his back beside Isaac, then sticks the bat in his mouth and lights it. He sucks hard and immediately coughs uncontrollably.
“Holy fuck,” he gasps when he finally gets his breath back, passing the bat to Isaac. “That's disgusting.”
Isaac shrugs. If it's disgusting for Stiles, it's probably going to be downright revolting for him, but he figures tasting good isn't exactly the point here. He runs his tongue around the end, and yeah, it tastes like shit, but he can also taste Stiles, and he concentrates on that as he draws in a deep breath. He fights the urge to cough, fights the burn in his lungs, and lets the smoke roll around in his mouth before finally blowing it out.
“Oh God, that's gross.”
Stiles makes a sympathetic noise and they pass the bat back and forth a few more times as dusk turns into true night. Isaac lets his body settle further into the blanket, press into the ground, one hand tucked behind his head, and listens to crickets chirping.
“Hey,” Stiles starts, “when is this supposed to -” He breaks off into a laugh that turns into a snort that turns into a giggle. “I guess now.” His head falls back so that his throat is bared. “I see why people put up with the shit taste.”
Isaac can feel it, too, thrumming through his veins and spreading to his fingers and toes, as his muscles just...jelly out. The idea that werewolves can't get drunk is bullshit – it just takes a hell of a lot more bottles – but Isaac doesn't like to drink; it reminds him too much of his father. Sitting in chem class, bored out of his mind, he doodles out random ideas in his composition book and theorizes that the reason it takes a six pack of beer to do what would normally be the job of one bottle, is due to heightened metabolisms, and the fact that alcohol works at a relatively slow rate through the bloodstream. Werewolves kick it out almost as soon as it gets going.
Pot though...straight to the lungs, straight to the capillaries....no pesky little digestive system in the way...
Isaac realizes his thoughts have hazily wandered away, and he's been staring at the way the moonlight glints off his hand for way, way too long. Point of the matter being – his theory is right. As long as he keeps steady smoking, he'll stay steadily high.
Everything feels prickly strange, but also cottony soft, and he likes the way the leather of Stiles' jacket presses into the bare skin of his forearm. His head flops lazily to the side, so he can see Stiles, who is grinning as he takes another drag and hands the bat back to Isaac. Isaac doesn't mean to ask, but his filters are low, so the words fall out of his mouth before he realizes it.
“You ever think about where you'd be if we'd done it different? Or, I don't know, I hadn't said yes to Derek, or we'd never met?”
Stiles rolls to his side and props his head on his hand. His eyes are glassy, but surprisingly focused. “You mean do I ever think about not being with you?”
Isaac takes another drag. Holds. Exhales. “Yeah, I guess.”
“Nope.” Stiles pops the “P” and grins, loose and happy. His heart rate doesn't change. Doesn't speed up, doesn't slow down, because he's telling Isaac the exact truth. “You?”
Stupid question. Of course Isaac does. Has those nightmares whether he's awake or asleep. Rationally, he knows Stiles isn't going anywhere, but the truth of the matter is that the largest part of Isaac is irrational, and always will be. But he doesn't want to talk about that, so he just shakes his head.
Stiles hooks his leg over his. “Good, because you and your disgusting good looks are stuck with me.”
Isaac traces his fingers over the knee of Stiles' pants, his skin tingling at the scrape of denim. “Know what I do think about?”
Stiles laughs, bright and loud, and clamors on top of Isaac, braces himself with his elbows on either side of Isaac's head. “Do you now?”
“Mmm hmm.” He holds the bat to Stiles' mouth and watches his lips wrap around it, watches his cheeks hollow out and his eyes go half lidded, watches as he never breaks eye contact with Isaac. Smoke drifts, thick and pungent, between them, and Stiles plucks the bat and lighter from Isaac and drops it on a patch of dirt.
“Then we should fuck.” He catches Isaac's bottom lip between his teeth and nips hard, before sitting up and pulling his jacket and shirt off.
And Isaac...well, Isaac's not going to argue with that.
Chapter 6: You take the things you love and you tear them apart
From tumblr prompts "whisper", "wrecked" and "lips".
Trigger warning for the use of a homophobic slur by Isaac's father.
When Isaac returns to the dorm room after class, it's to find Stiles fast asleep on the floor, his legs and arms starfished in every direction, and a puddle of drool on the pillow. A quick check of his alarm and his backpack confirms he's slept through at least his last two classes, and is doing a good job of sleeping through his third.
Of course he's sleeping. Of course he's worn out. Stiles must be fucking exhausted, because he's had to sit up all night with Isaac again, because Isaac is so stupid and pathetic and broken that he can't stop having panic attacks and nightmares. It's been four years since his father died, two years since he's even had to see Derek Hale in passing, and anybody else would have gotten over it. Tons of people have it way worse than he did, and are fine. But because he's Isaac, because he's weak, and because he'll never ever be the kind of man Camden was, he wakes up screaming in the night, or comes too close to killing people, or runs and hides like the sniveling coward he is, and Stiles is stuck cleaning up his mess.
Half a dozen times a year, he thinks about it. Sometimes makes actual plans and packs a bag, walks out the door while Stiles is in class. Because Stiles doesn't deserve this, doesn't deserve to be held to a promise made at sixteen fucking years old. But because he's weak, he never makes it more than six feet before he's running back, stuffing everything back in drawers, and hoping Stiles doesn't notice the mess. He just keeps right on ruining Stiles' life, and dreading the day Stiles comes to his senses and starts despising him for it.
Isaac knows he's the kind of boy that's made to be despised. Otherwise, he wouldn't have been such an easy target for men like his father, or Derek.
He drops his backpack on the floor and kneels down next to Stiles, nudges and pushes at him until he's curled up on his side and Isaac can lie down behind him. He wraps his arm around Stiles' waist and nuzzles the back of his neck, breathing deeply to smell the ever present scent of Isaac-and-Stiles that is soaked into their skin and everything they own.
Stiles tells Isaac he's strong; tells him he's one of the strongest people Stiles has ever known. And some days, Isaac almost believes him. Just not days like today.
“I'll be better,” he whispers into the back of Stiles' neck, confident in the knowledge he can't hear him and is dead to the world. “I'll take care of you.”
And he goes on whispering things. Silly things, unrealistic things, stupidly mushy things that would make his father mock him and call him a fag; things that scare him and things that petrify him, and things that make him wish the bite had killed him instead of turning him.
At some point he's aware Stiles has woken up, that his hand has crept up to cover Isaac's, but he still keeps whispering, while Stiles lies quiet, listening. It's a familiar routine, like their composition book, and their music, and all the little things that hold them in one piece.
Stiles brings Isaac's wrist to his mouth and licks his tongue against it, right over the pulse point, and Isaac fits human teeth over Stiles' shoulder and gently bites down. When Stiles rolls over to face him, Isaac smooths down his bedhead with careful fingers, before ruffling it all back up again.
“You missed class.”
“First time in the semester. I can afford one day.”
Isaac swallows hard and licks his lips, then forces the words out before he can take them back and keep them secret. “I made an appointment. With that therapist. I want you to come with me the first time.”
And Stiles doesn't make a big deal out of it, doesn't do a victory fist pump, even though he's been leaving that damn business card everywhere for the better part of two years, ever since they have their huge blow-up and Stiles tells Isaac that needing help doesn't make him weak, and Isaac tells Stiles he has no fucking clue what he's talking about.
(Isaac goes out and gets drunk and doesn't talk to Stiles for a full twenty-four hours, and it's miserable and stupid and gross and he thinks he sees his dad when he looks in the mirror. Stiles doesn't comment on the missing mirror or the few shards of glass on the floor when he gets back to the room, just throws himself on top of Isaac and kisses him, before telling him he stinks and dragging him off to the shower.)
“Good. Okay,” is Stiles' only response, even though Isaac can see he's fighting not to grin. “Just tell me when.”
“Friday. She had a cancellation.”
“Yeah, okay.” Stiles reaches for his phone before hesitating and looking back at Isaac. “I wanna tell Dad. Is that okay?”
It's not okay, it's really not, but then again it is, and if anybody besides them has a right to know, it's Stiles' dad, who spends assloads of time and money to fly out to see them, so they don't have to go back to Beacon Hills to visit him.
“Wait until Saturday.” Just in case. Just in case Isaac chickens out and cancels, he'll only be disappointing one person and not two. It's a distinct possibility. Stiles doesn't know about the seven other appointments Isaac has made and then ditched at the last minute.
This time...this time, though, he's going to be strong.
Chapter 7: Grape
This is for Genni, who requested Isaac sucking on a popsicle. So, yeah, you know exactly where this is going. And wow, this is actually 100% angst free. How did that happen?!
“Jesus, you're like the best porn ever.”
Isaac is sprawled on his stomach across the bed, his textbook open in front of him while he studies something having to do with 15th century politics in feudal China. He's absentmindedly sucking on a grape popsicle, and Stiles just cannot take it anymore.
Isaac puts his finger on the page, to mark his place, before lazily turning his head so that he can look at Stiles, where he's sitting cross-legged on the other bed, his textbook resting, unread, in his lap. He hasn't been able to summon quite the same focus Isaac has, but honestly, it's not his fault. It isn't .
“Huh?” Isaac asks, nose wrinkling a little in confusion.
“Oh, come on. You can't tell me you don't know what you're doing.”
Isaac rolls his eyes and turns back to his book. “I think midterms have short circuited your brain.”
Well, that just won't do. Stiles shoves his notes and reading to the side and stands up. “Come here.”
“Whyyyy?” Isaac whines around a mouthful of popsicle. The whole reason they're sticking to this “study on separate beds” routine is because they learned early on that they tend to get...distracted...if they try to cram together in small spaces. So Isaac's protest is probably reasonable, all things considered. But Stiles isn't feeling very reasonable at the moment.
“Just do it, okay?”
“Jesus, fine.” When Isaac is finally standing, Stiles grabs his free hand and drags him over to their shitty little dresser, and positions him in front of the mirror. The dorm's a/c has been on the fritz for the past few days, leaving the room hot and muggy, so both of them had long since shucked their shirts, and Isaac has a faint sheen of sweat across his chest.
Stiles stands behind Isaac, so he can watch him watch both of their reflections, and gently wraps his fingers around the wrist gripping the popsicle stick. He drags both their hands to Isaac's mouth and then lets go.
When Isaac complies, even while rolling his eyes, Stiles moves to rest his chin on Isaac's shoulder. He watches him for a few seconds, sees Isaac's eyes darting between his reflection and Stiles', sees the minute he notices the dilation in Stiles' pupils.
Stiles slips his arms over Isaac's, and slowly traces his mouth, tripping his fingers around where his lips are wrapped tight around the popsicle. He presses his pinky at the seam where Isaac's lips meet, dipping the tip just inside when Isaac obligingly loosens his suction. He drags it out, uses it to spread grape flavor across Isaac's mouth before stroking back to Isaac's cheeks. He spreads his fingers on either side of Isaac's face, down into the hollows created by the pull of his tongue and throat.
And all the time he watches Isaac, watches as a flush starts at his chest and travels to his throat, then snakes over his face. He watches Isaac's pupils blow black and his irises slowly begin the transition from blue to yellow. He watches Isaac stare at him, can practically feel the closed circuit loop of his lust feeding into Isaac's and then making its way back to him. He drops a hand to Isaac's chest, pulls him back against him and shamelessly grinds his dick into his ass, while he nips his earlobe.
“Do you see?” he breathes. He's always surprised at the depths his voice falls to at moments like these, and the way it makes shudders run through Isaac's body.
The popsicle falls on the floor with a soft plop, completely unnoticed, as Isaac flips around, grabs Stiles by the hips, and shoves him back into the dresser. Then he's dropping to his knees and tugging at the elastic of Stiles' shorts, yanking them down fast enough that the sound of a seam ripping fills the air.
And oh, God, yeah, yeah, yeah...Stiles gets a white knuckled grip on the edge of the dresser to keep from collapsing, and burrows his other hand in Isaac's hair, just milliseconds before Isaac wraps those fucking exquisite lips of his around Stiles' dick and takes him in all at once, all in one go.
Stiles howls and curses and bucks, while Isaac jerks his own dick out and jacks himself at the same time he's driving Stiles out of his goddamn mind. They've got midterms in an hour, and scholarships riding on grades, and normally Stiles is the one keeping them on course. This time, though, he's pretty sure they can make an exception.
Fuck yes, studying can wait.