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You wake up with the taste of blood in your mouth. The metal tang of it filling your tongue as you lurch out of your dream, hot-metal red and crumbling around you. You spit, eyes burning.

You can hear your own terrified breaths like a storm roaring in your ears. Your skin heated and prickling and too-tight, you want to scramble out of it, tear at the seams. You untangle your legs from the covers on the old mattress placed haphazardly on the floor as a makeshift bed, the springs squeaking under your weight. You put your head in your hands, think hard and carefully about nothing, try to will away the screams and white-hot flames that engulfed you minutes ago. Your hand slips on the sweat of your brows, and you flinch, the skin cooling in the air. For a moment you go deaf and blind with loss.

You dream of being in that fire. The fire that took your family with it and all of anything you thought could resemble happiness. You dream of being trapped, and dying a slow and blistering death surrounded by the ones you love. You wish so badly that they didn’t die, and even in your dreams you’re not absolved of that guilt.

Dreams that are constant enough they’re given titles, and sequels. A cast roll at the end, faces you only ever see when you’re unconscious, that are gone in the morning, so it doesn’t really count as remembering.

Your real memories of them are weaker than the ones you made up. The ones you picture them in pain, trapped under the cracking wood, screaming your name, because you did that to them. You did. You and your useless heart.

The anger you hold towards those directly responsible cannot rival the anger you hold towards yourself.

You shake your head to clear it, and your other senses come back to you as you awake fully. You calm yourself by taking account of your surroundings, the time, the days before the next new moon. You run your fingers across the back of your neck, feeling the indent of inked skin like a rosary. It’s two in the morning, and the station is empty. Boyd and Erica have gone home, to keep up the semblance of normality in their respective families no matter how broken or toxic they may be. Only Isaac remains with you here, having no family left himself. He sits now on the roof of the building, you can hear, nursing a bottle of your whiskey he stole - the only skill you never had to teach him twice, picking locks.

Personally, you prefer Boyd’s stoic nature and century-old cynicism over Isaac’s bitter sarcasm and broken heart so akin to yours - but you’re all he has now, and he admires you secretly. In any case, he’s easier to deal with than Erica, who you can hardly be in a room with most of the time, her brash and overt character getting on your nerves often than not. You fight viciously, like siblings, and the other two have to split you up and keep you from hitting too close to home, or coming to real blows, wolfing-out - every time a close-call. Isaac knows how to bring her down from her violent bouts of anxiety. He knows how to get Boyd to open up, speak his mind.

He knows you have dreams. These dreams of heat-death. He knows your secret, and you don’t let it bother you, because you know all of his.

You share a companionable silence, fifty feet away from each other. You wish you were less awkward around teenagers, considering all the time you’ve been spending with them. You wish you were an Adult, then maybe you’d know how to react.

Speaking of teens - you see a blue light blinking underneath your sheets, and you pull at it until you see your phone, showing you have two unheard messages.

You listen to them and one of them is from Scott, and the other from Stiles. They get more harried one after the other, and you’re already pulling on your boots, looking for the keys.

Scott’s message is along the lines of, “Dude, there are like ten werewolves camped out downtown right now. Are you aware of this? Call us back.” And no, you were not aware.

Stiles is telling you “We’re in a bit of trouble here, and my car’s been rendered.. not-working-” and your ears buzz and you have to listen to it at least twice before you understand fully what he’s saying.

You call Stiles back, and he picks up immediately. He says “Hey,” and you realize he’s beginning to open with that more often these days. No more ‘oh my god,’ and ‘jesus, will you stop that?,’ and you think it’s an unconscious adaptation he made. You didn’t have much time to think about it before, and now, you need to catch yourself before you echo it back. It seems too casual of a greeting between two people with trust issues, harbouring a tentative pact at best. It makes your heart do fucking flips. Uncalled for.

“So, there’s another wolf pack -- in town, I don’t know if you realized --- and we -- currently stranded, to put it mildly.”

There’s a loud rumbling noise from Stiles’s end and you need to strain to hear him as he rambles, out-of-breath in your ear. “What?” you ask, frustrated. Stiles has a problem with clarity and paraphrasing and is generally bad with phones. You duck your head, and your hand’s a fist in the sheets, trying to understand, to piece together the fragments of Stiles’s voice in your sleep-haze. The roaring in your ear reminds you of your dreams and you think you’re about to panic or throw-up or something as dramatic.

Stiles is saying, “-- surrounding us, and I need you to come-- ---”

“Where,” You ask, desperate.

“--they’re-- -- Derek--” and the signal cuts.

Fucking hate cellphones, and you’ve never bothered using yours. Your wolf-hearing never works on them, the static indecipherable. But Stiles can’t hear the subtle calls Scott can, and you’ve all gotta be discreet with the howling, or at least start to be.

You grab your jacket- the linings, once golden, now black and matted with blood, bending the leather into a permanent shape. You’ve been gritting your teeth and it's hurting your head. You jump in your car, and Isaac’s already in the passenger seat, rolling down the window and sticking his head half-way out.

“I can follow Scott,” he says with confidence.

You open a crack in your window too, because you could probably spot Stiles from outer space if it came down to it.

You’re pretty in over your head, to put it mildly.

 

 

---

 

 

You find teenagers like someone would find stray dogs. They’re lost and fucked up and can’t take care of themselves, no one ever having taught them how. No one ever taught you either, but better you than nobody.

You stumble upon Scott, the once-Beta turned by your psycho uncle, who refuse to have anything to do with you. He’s stupid, head-strong, doesn’t realize that an Omega is the worst thing to be in this business. He surrounds himself with soft humans that could be so easily taken from him, but he remains confident in his ability to protect them and theirs to protect him. He turns out to be the best protége you’ll ever get, learning as it comes, feeding off of his own loneliness and uncertainties, turning it into a shield. Careless at times, but focused when it matters. Running faster to save his friends and family than anything you’ve ever witnessed.

There’s this other kid. You don’t know his name but he’s the sheriff’s kid, so, everyone avoids him. You would’ve avoided him too if you knew. You tried, anyway.

He’s Scott’s right-hand. Smart, stubborn, clumsy as hell. He’s sarcastic, he pines, he should be everything that annoys you but you’ve gotten weirdly used to it, conditioned by his constant and relentless existence. He’s quick on the draw and useful at times, but he’s still a human, and therefore a liability.

He’s a liar. Though not a perfect one, and it doesn’t please him, little hitch of his heartbeat giving him away every time. He’s an ass sometimes, unintentionally. But he knows it, the steady churn of guilt pouring out of him like a loose faucet. But more than anything he’s loyal, and that makes you see him differently. He’d give his life up before he does his friends, his family.

You’re not sure why he’s sticking around, as you’ve given him little cause for it. But he’s always there when Scott’s there, appearing always and without fail, that precise off-beat of his heart running like a metronome.

You threaten him, beat him down into submission, though he only ever complies half-assedly. You give him a hard time, too hard for a human to take much of. You want to warn him off you and your kind. You want him to stay out of the whole thing if possible. He bleeds too easy and it enrages you, irrationally - makes you bare your teeth and kick inanimate objects.

You keep inadvertently intruding into bits of his life - involving his best friend in your plans, being interrogated by his dad, crawling through his window and waiting around until he gets home, picking at his stuff. And he fights back. He fights back like hell, and the nerve on him. You almost laugh.

He calls you out on your shit, puts his hands on you without reserve. And it does something weird to you so you pull away, twist out of his grip, threaten him off until it sticks. It never sticks. He does it like it doesn’t even occur to him.

He questions you and asks you your motives like he’s entitled to them. And you begin to answer more willingly each time, because he’s becoming more and more convincing. Or you’re getting easier.

There are moments you try not to think about that give away precise moments in history when Stiles started to become your own liability. The smell of chlorine still makes you skittish.

You find yourself trailing him more often, making sure he doesn’t get into anything he couldn’t live with. You keep finding yourself braced in defence, an arm thrown in front of Stiles standing behind you. The idiot doesn’t know how to run.

You bare your teeth, just stupidly irritated at how fucking soft he looks under all of that useless cloth. It drives you crazy. The muscles in his arms and stomach are firm but nothing as real insulation, his heart running quick and mercurial just inches beneath, ruining you with each beat. It's become a problem.

Consequently, you end up forming a pact with Scott and his pack by the end of the Kanima business. You wisely decide that you are better united than divided, and begin to borrow help from each other when the need calls for it. You try to keep each other alive, as if you haven't been doing that already.

 

 

---

 

 

Isaac ends up finding Scott, catching on his scent half-way down King St. and you turn sharply into a storage park, lines and lines of compartments on wheels. You pull over and you know immediately Scott and Stiles are locked in the one situated near the lit-up warehouse building. You can smell the pack now. There are a dozen of them, at least.

You and Isaac share a look and get out of the car, hop over the wire-fence, dampening the sound of your movements as you trot to the cargo. You can taste the struggle in the air, a brief violence followed by blood rising to the skin - it pleases you that they were able to fight back, even if only for a little bit. You wonder if the werewolves took into account of the fact that Stiles was human. The thought makes you hurry.

Your hands scrabble at the lock, the sweat on your palms losing grip on the sleek metal. Isaac looks at you meaningfully, and you snarl, feeling sick. The soft murmurs from inside the compartment are of Scott’s cadence, and you can’t hear Stiles at all. Scott, too, becomes silent at the sound of the lock.

You open it finally, and the two teens are revealed to you in the dim square of light. They’re bruised but not broken, the offenders not having found them of much threat, as yet. Scott’s hands and legs are in zip-ties, made of a malleable metal that appears to be unbreakable by any force of strength - though he's tried, the skin around it stiff with dried blood. And only Stiles’s arms are tied behind his back, but his mouth is closed shut by a piece of duct tape. You feel a pang of sympathy for him, and the offenders too, to have been driven to do it. But generally, you kind of want to punch walls. There are purple marks blooming on Stiles's arms under the ropes.

You drop the lock on the ground and lift yourself into the cargo. You can’t help the shiver of relief at Stiles’s alive and very much expressive eyes, rolling a little, telling you, ‘fucking finally.’

Isaac goes to Scott automatically, and they share a whispered greeting of dudes and mans as he unties the constraints. You go to Stiles and remove the tape first, a little harshly, as retribution for the grief he's caused you. His mouth becomes mobile again and you glance down at it without thought: red and raw and cursing you half to hell. You snatch your eyes away before you’re noticed.

A grin spreading on both your faces without much prompt. The adrenaline is getting to you, or so you blame. It’s a foreign feeling, and you turn your head before it just gets worse - you keep thinking: dangerous.

You turn him to untie his arms, and he’s saying under his breath, “- you’re so, so late and so useless but you’re here, and I could just, kiss you.

You’re mind does something weird in that moment, and you take that unironically, consequently freezing in place. Scott and Isaac are already out the door, keeping watch - you're in a cargo park thirty feet from a dozen werewolves - and Stiles could kiss you.

You’re staring, and you watch in fascination as Stiles’s face gradually falls from ecstatic relief to a slow realization of what he just said, and how literally it’s been taken. Your mind blanks and you’re still holding on to him with both your hands.

Distantly, you know that Stiles just says shit all the time, meaning nothing by it. But it’s just not quite reaching your brain at the moment, being currently full to the brim with Stiles under your hands, and the very, very present mouth in question, inches away from your face.

Stiles blinks and your hand twitches on his knee, and you don’t know what’s fucking happening here. You’re seeing flashes of the future, the feel of Stiles’s pink tongue and sleek teeth like sensory memory you’ve yet to attain. Stiles licks his lips and you almost lose ground.

“What are you guys doing,” Scott whisper-yells, understandably stressed. Isaac is looking at you like you’ve gone soft.

It’s effective enough. It breaks you both out of the reverie and you blink into motion, crawling out of the compartment and dashing to the car.

"Can't even take a nap anymore," you growl at them under your breath, trying to ignore the fact that you're probably beet red.

"We're really, really sorry. But werewolves." Scott whines eloquently.

Stiles won’t look at you, but he has a hand on your shoulder, having sprained an ankle, and his weight on you is your only constant as you drift in and out of sanity. You can't even believe you're this easy. 

You sneak a look at the lit building as you pass, anger flaring in you for a moment - but you’re hilariously outnumbered, and you can hardly form a coherent thought right now, so any sort of encounter with a pack of werewolves, twelve-strong, is a bad idea.

“I can’t believe they only gagged me.” Stiles complains in the back seat all the way back to his house. “They didn’t even tie my legs. I could totally have saved us with just my legs if given the time and the opportunity.”

“Totally,” Scott mumbles by rote, falling asleep beside him. Isaac is smirking out the window, hiding it behind a hand, but you catch him in the reflection.

“They blew out my tires too.” Stiles gestures to all of them, “You all need to stop showing off your claws on my goddamn car. Please, overcompensate on someone else’s Baby.”

“We get it, Stiles.” You say, because the husky rasp of Stiles's voice is twisting your chest like a lovestruck teen, and it’s making you reevaluate your whole life. You can’t stop grinning and you hate yourself. It’s a strange night.

Stiles listens, miraculously, huffing out an abused breath.

 

 

---

 

 

You sneak into his house and Scott’s house, because you can. They don’t take any precaution - werewolves and hunters could easily come in there and trap them, take those they love. They don’t get what it means to be involved in such an economy of survival, to be wrapped up with people and non-people that are desperate, who'd do anything, and you want to at least subliminally threaten them into taking security measures. It hasn't been going well. It's laughably easy to catch them off-guard, the idea of groundless evil still foreign to them.

So you want to tell them to stay in. If they’re not going to follow your orders, fucking stay inside and don’t sneak out, but they’re sixteen and therefore idiots and the last thing they’ll do is listen to anything being told of them. They get themselves and you into more trouble than you ever remember being in.

It’s a sinister town of faithless loves and absent parents, a history of violence and inhumanity caused on each other like crabs in a bucket - and you know the kids are the ones that are punished for it.

You give them the bite, because then they can fight back. It makes sense in your head.

 

One time, you crawl through the window of Stiles’s house while his Jeep is parked in the driveway. You have a reason for it, if you could remember. He’s not in his room, and you hear water going, so you wait until he comes out. You close your eyes and carefully shut off your senses to keep from taking in too much of Stiles’s scent, strong and heady and making you see spots. It’s pretty much ingrained at this point anyway: his musk, his deodorant - the precise sodium level, that iron haze ringing heavy out of his week-old cuts.

Stiles is taking too long for a guy, and it’s not like he has hair to dry or anything. You eye the bathroom door, annoyed, and get up from leaning on his desk to stride over. As you near it, you can hear curse words, terrified gasps of pain and distress, and your heart stalls, your head empties.

You push the door in and it slams ajar and you expect blood, a struggle - your eyes already drowning in red and rage spinning your senses, claws out.

But it’s just Stiles, staring back at you. And there are terrible things happening inside his chest.

His heart is pounding and his throat is flinching, letting only little gulps of air in at a time, like there isn’t enough. His hands are shaking, grasping hard, knuckles white against the sink edge. There is water running and the front of his shirt is dark and sticking against his stomach, falling in and out in sharp jerks. Drops of water fall from his forehead and the tip of his nose, making long, winding trails down his arms and fingers.

You move towards him unconsciously, the muscles in your arm twitching as if to reach out, like you’re so prone to doing these days. He takes a step back, though his heartbeat slows down a little, and you’ll take it. You'll take anything right now.

"You scared me." His voice is ruined, wrecked out of all recognition. He blinks and something falls - you don't look.

You start to turn, having grossly overstepped, tentative pack-mates or not. "Sorry- sorry."

Stiles stops you. "No, wait. It's fine, it- It's helping."

Your concern must show on your face. He looks surprised, and then distracted. He’s snatching looks at you, and back at the mirror, then down at his feet, breathing heavy like his lungs don’t work. Why won’t his lungs work, you want to ask. You want to grab him and take him to a hospital, the police, the vet, anything. His eyes are so wide.

“What’s wrong?” You ask him, but immediately berate yourself for it. Because what isn’t? Stupid question.

He’s shaking his head before you even finish speaking, pulling away from the sink. He says “god,” like it’s torn out of him. He has a fist screwed against his face, saying “nothing, nothing” and you don’t believe it.

You think he doesn’t want to tell you why because you’ve got it worse. You want to shake him.

Stiles runs a hand down his face, blinks rapidly and bites his lip, looking straight-faced back at you. On a terrified laugh he says, “I just get like this.” His voice breaks and he loses his smile abruptly. “It’s not a problem.”

And you wonder how he got to be such a good liar. You wonder if he has lines like that at the ready, on the tip of his tongue, like ammo. It’s got him this far, knock on wood.

“That’s fine,” you assure him, despite having no authority on what’s fine. Hope that your voice doesn’t falter.

You want to go on to say he’s fine. He’s okay, and things are gonna be okay, but that would be lying too, and you haven’t done that to him yet, and now would be a bad time to start. He takes in gulps of breath like he’s drowning but other than that he’s silent, and it disturbs you profoundly, cuts at the corners of your mind. Every time you’ve seen him, his mouth has been running. But he’s gone mute now, or you’ve gone deaf.

So you end up putting your hand on him, though you don’t really mean to.

You put a palm square on his chest, and you feel again the soft firmness, thrumming to an unsteady beat. His heart’s going too fast, and you think maybe it’ll burn out faster than others, and it scares you. Like heat-death.

You reach out and push at his knuckles with all your strength until his fist comes loose, roll it around in your hand until you can see the deep gouges in his palm, little red crescents. You wait for them to go away, but they don’t.

"Does your dad know you get like this?" You ask his hand, and it flinches minutely in yours.

Stiles takes in a shaky breath. "No. I've never been-- Just Scott knows. And now you, I guess."

You look up at him and you regret it immediately; his face is a mess, wet and helpless. That small indignant frown and look of stupid bravery that are so very, painfully familiar to you. His lips between his teeth and his dark brown eyes asking for everything.

You get out of there before you do something stupid.

His pulse continues to play in the backdrop of your mind as you pull out of the alley where you stashed your car. The image of Stiles bracing all of his weight on the sink won’t leave your head. You’ve never seen him like this.

 

You’ve seen it all: Stiles with fear in his chest, hands running against his sides debating flight. Stiles with blood on his mind, fist planning its quickest way home, eyes gone electric with rage, tongue red and sliding against canines that are not wolf-sharp; but sharp enough.

Stiles in peace, Scott and Allison and Lydia in his eyes, unaware or forgotten the dangers in this town. The excitement of sports and girls burring under his skin, nervous and so young it hurts to look at him.

You don’t know when it’s gotten this bad. It snuck up on you and you didn’t see it coming. You don’t remember when your pulse started to race like this, your vision clouding at the thought of even remote harm coming to him. You’re not used to this hollowness when you realize that you can’t help.

You wonder why, after all the chances he’s had to be bitten, he’s never done it. You think it’s because he’s too strong. That even after all he’s lost, he still has too much to lose.

He would probably never ask you. But if he did, when that day comes, you think you’ll be selfish and say ‘no’.

 

 

---

 

 

It might’ve been inevitable in the end. Like the heat and the cold meeting in the middle, adapting and gradually becoming just this side of bearable.

He calls you on your shitty phone, in the middle of the night, just as you are about to fall into a fitful sleep. It vibrates under your back and you squirm until you get to it. You see that it’s Stiles and you hesitate. You feel cornered, then annoyed, then a bit worried - the last time he called, he was locked in a metal box, unable to speak.

You give in. "Hey," you answer, blinking the sleep from your eyes.

"You need to take better care of your stuff. Your jacket is crusty. Your car has a million dents and it causes me physical pain to even look at it."

You have a moment to take all of that in. You come up with, "Okay?"

"Did you even know I still had your jacket? Do you even remember- I didn't steal it, or anything. You let me borrow it."

You kind of remember. Stiles kept shivering that night, the tips of his fingers like ice on your skin as he hobbled beside you. You think you might've given it unconsciously. And anyway, "What do you want."

"Nothing. Do I need a reason for calling on this.. lovely night with its distinctly not-full moon? I just want to spend some quality time. Do you know Isaac's sleeping over at Scott's house tonight? Your Beta is stealing my Bestie, Derek. Yeah, I just heard myself say that."

You run a hand over your face, feel yourself smirking.

"That's great, Stiles. But I need to get some sleep. Which, by the way, I am deprived of in the first place because of you." The end of that sentence comes out rough, low and scraped out of you, making it sound like something different. You clear your throat.

Stiles is silent for a beat, and you can hear him breathing a little roughly. The sound of wind through trees. He's walking around outside, you think. You become annoyed again. These kids are going to be the death of you.

"I do have a reason for calling," he says finally, his voice sounding close, like his mouth is touching the receiver. You shut your eyes hard, try not to focus on that at all. "I had a couple pressing questions. You said I could call if I had any."

You regret it now. "Make it quick."

Stiles huffs, pissed. You can imagine him rolling his eyes to the side, licking his bottom lip, biting it. "What are we going to do about the freaking werewolf pack camping out and hunting god-knows-what downtown? Scott and I have been pegged, by the way, and we can't even go out anywhere and risk being caught and assaulted again."

You sit up. That is a problem.

You think it through. "We gotta figure out what's going on. What they're doing here, and who is involved. And either we stay out of their way, or we get in their way."

Stiles hums nervously. "Yeah, I say we stay out of their way, but that's just me - the only rational human being ever in history. You should see these guys. There was one, who had literally, a battle-axe, Derek. No one survives a battle-axe."

You realize that Stiles's voice is doubling. You can hear a second voice overlapping the split-second delay on the phone, and it's coming from outside. Stiles came here.

You get up immediately, pulling your shirt on. "I thought you said they were overcompensating." You take the metal stairs by two and push open the hatch to the roof, the cool air hitting you head-first.

"Yeah, but they didn't need to. They just carry these things around for no reason. I swear, they could pull off war-paint." You stand up and strain your ears, hone in your eyes in the dark. Stiles is off in the distance, walking towards the station. His eyes are down, a hand in his jeans, your jacket under his arms - and you proceed to choke on nothing.

It doesn't deter Stiles. "If I hadn't been so occupied with staying alive, I would've been geeking out, to be honest."

"Um--it-- Right." You attempt, distracted. Stiles snorts at your reaction, rubs his head. You can see his face turning pink in the moonlight, the blush disappearing down his thin shirt. You walk a little closer to the edge.

You ask, your voice ragged, "Was that all?"

Stiles stops and he’s right under you. "No, um. I had another question." The way his voice wavers makes you want to hang up, but also never hang up. You keep blinking, like the light’s in your eye. You try to focus on the top of his head.

Stiles’s hand leaves his pocket and reaches up to his mouth. "The other night, when I said I could kiss you."

"Yeah?" You're teetering, half your feet in mid-air.

"...Would you have let me?"

You hop off the building, landing right behind Stiles. He jumps about a foot, staggers and falls against the tree behind him. It’s hilarious.

Stiles braces his hands against his knees for a second, and then stumbles back up to full height. His hood has fallen on to his face, bisecting it in the streetlight, lashes flickering bright. He glares, breathing heavy, stranding you where you stand.

“Give a guy a warning,” he tells you, his chest rising and falling like he’s run a marathon. You still scare him a little, but you think that’s only fair. He’s too much on your mind to be anything near normal or okay. He scares the shit out of you too.

“You want a warning?”

“It’d be nice.” But the kid’s grinning, stretching out, a hand hung loose on a branch above him. He’s an open invitation, always been, and you wonder if he knows it.

“You come here alone. An abandoned, decrepit building full of wolves, at three a.m…” He smiles a little, the smart-ass. “You don’t get one.”

You push him against the tree, take the back of his head in your hand, bring it clunking against yours. He takes in a stuttering breath, hisses, but you keep at bay, nudging his nose and letting him get used to it. Let him get less scared, and more excited. You want him to feel good, and you wonder when that has become a priority on your agenda. He runs nervous hands on your shoulders but it hardly deters you. The kid’s running his mouth, rattling off all the ways you are an ass, a terrible human being, how he’s never, ever, ever taking you home to introduce you proper to his dad because his blood pressure is high enough already. You’re close enough by then that he’s talking into your mouth, his dry lips brushing against yours, and Stiles. Stiles won’t shut up and that just won’t do. You swallow his next words whole, stealing his breath. You watch with your eyes slitted as it takes him by surprise.

You wait for him to freak out. Then you wait for it to freak you out. It passes. Stiles has his cold hands on the hollow of your stomach and you feel the heat in your body give. Passing through, just passing through.

You pull away, resting your forehead against his brow as Stiles breathes in. You think you might be smirking at him, because he whispers, “Shut up,” even though you didn’t say anything. You’ve lost that ability five minutes ago.

His eyes are shining and pulse erratic under your grip, little bursts of muscle against your chest, and it’s all so wrong your head spins.

You don’t see it coming, Stiles’s hands coming up to grasp the rough of your face forcibly, pulling you forward, eyes sliding closed against all his usual inhibitions and good reason.

You exhale into his mouth, like it’s due. Stiles’s hand is shaking a little against the side of your face, and you hold it there with your arm. You push a leg between his, and Stiles groans brokenly, “shit- ah, Derek.”

And you lose control pretty quick.

Your vision blurs as you take Stiles by his wrist and pull him inside the building. You grab his face and put your mouth on his, bite his lip, taste the roof of his mouth as you push his sweater off his shoulders, lean him down on to your mattress; still warm.

You pull at his ear with your teeth, fingers busy on his fly, and Stiles makes a startled noise, puts his hands on you. You growl, grabbing his arms, pushing him under you. Stiles is panting, puffs of breath hitting your skin and you duck your head, taste him again.

There are ten thousand things you want to do to him right then, and you think that if you hurry you’ll have enough time before it all goes wrong. Your hands shake and for once it’s not with rage, and it changes you. You can’t believe any of it. You will run with this until your legs give out, and you can’t fathom how.

Until Stiles pushes a hand up against your chest - not pushing you away, but a near-thing. You can feel your wretched heart reverberate against the hard flat planes of his fingertips. You make a falling sound and pull away, because things are going terribly.

You’re seeing the pink fingerprints on his arms. Two, neat little slashes of red on his cheek from somewhere or other, the cut on his temple from weeks ago - still there. You see that everything put on Stiles’s skin stays, leaves a mark. You let go of his waist so fast you get burns.

You realize how fucked up this is, and how fucked up you are, and you will not be that person to a sixteen-year old kid. You will not be his downfall. The irony of it alone will kill you.

You try to scramble off him, cursing under your breath, your arms uncoordinated and feet tumbling for purchase on solid ground - until something tugs you back down. Making you lose balance and drop your hands on either side of Stiles’s head. You become face-to-face with him and you let out a shuddering breath, because he has a fist in your shirt and he's looking at you in this way.

Not like you’re his whole world, because that’s ridiculous, and Stiles is that only sometimes. But like he’s willing to stop talking and stop breathing for a moment if it means your mouth will be on his. Like he’s willing to drop everything if it meant you’ll both shuck your shirts, press skin against skin. Completely willing, eyes bright and drifting, if only you'd just get over there.

“Stay, man,” he says, pulling you down. Like leaving is the stupidest thing you’ve ever come up with. God, what are you thinking.

His thumb presses against your side, and he’s smiling with half his mouth, looking excited and nervous, telling you, “Just, slow down.” And you don’t think you can.

You finally let out the breath you’ve been holding, and Stiles grins, shakes his head. You fall into him, speaking incoherently against his throat, making promises you can’t keep - trailing down and down under, careful not to leave too much of yourself behind.

 

 

---

 

 

You wake up with the taste of gum in your mouth. Your tongue feeling mint-clean and stale from over-use. You feel warm, but not too warm. Your arm is laid-out beside you and the strip of open skin is cooling quickly, raising goosebumps, implicating a recent loss of heat and contact and solid weight that was there. You figure dazedly, half-awake, that you don’t chew gum.

There is a rustle by your head, a dip in the mattress rolling it to the side against your agency. You watch upside-down as Stiles struggle with his shoes, tongue in cheek as he tries but fails not to wake you. You look at him from beneath your lashes for a while in the dark, as he puts on his hoodie, zips it to the top, breathing out carefully. There's a dark mark just under his ear and you bite your tongue pretty hard to keep from making a noise. You close your eyes and wait for him to pass through. You feel sad and that pisses you off, because you don’t have that right. You think yourself the worst, and it’s just the same old.

You lie there for what feels like hours, feigning sleep. You wait for the shuffle of feet and the start of his car. You wait for the gradual and inevitable loss of pressure.

Stiles puts a hand on your chest and kisses you. Quick and soft, barely there and gone, like he’ll get caught. You hear a little gasp of breath, and his feet tripping on nothing as he gets out of there. Leaving the building with a soft clang of the door, the brisk, midnight air slipping through the crack and reaching you like a sudden change of weather.

You blink, deeply and utterly out of it.

You have a hand on your stomach, feeling like the air has been punched out of you. You move it up your chest, your throat, to your mouth. You let it linger there for as long as you can stand it, barely touching your lips, and then you cover your eyes. Your face is hot under your arm, and you are so very, very fucked.

You’re blind and deaf and the only thing you know is the feel of Stiles’s skin on yours, and it makes you swear, makes you grin, press your face into the sheets and grimace because this is the worst idea you’ve ever had, and you don't feel even a little bad about it. Nothing’s going to be fine, and you know it, but Stiles knows it too, so you can’t be that bothered. It can’t be too bad if Stiles is fine.

You lie there, stupid happy and seeing color, and you hope with everything you have that you’ll dream tonight.