The most fucked up part of this whole thing is that Derek still thinks of Scott as Pack. There’s a part of him--no a part of the wolf that’s screaming for Derek to protect Scott, to check on him, to make sure he’s ok. Derek hates that part. He wants to tear into his flesh and grab a hold of it and rip it out, then rip out all the parts of Scott that somehow managed to become tangled up inside of him.
The betrayal is all too familiar to Derek and yet it still takes him by surprise. It tastes like smoke on the back of his tongue and every time he breathes in, he chokes on the overwhelming stench of soot and burnt flesh. It’s comforting in a way that’s far too fucked up for Derek to think about right now. He’d almost stopped smelling it, almost gone entire days where his tongue didn’t feel coated with ashes, where his brain wasn’t clouded with smoke, where the sharp snap of crackling wood didn’t drown everything else out.
The pack had helped. The tangible taste of Erica’s strength made it ok to swallow again. The smell of Isaacs unfailingly loyalty made it easier to breathe. The peace of mind that Boyd brought with his unwavering presence cleared Derek’s mind until he could actually think again. And surprisingly the constant, steady hum of Stiles’s voice became Derek’s white noise, cancelling out all distractions and allowing him to focus.
But all of that’s gone now. Scott took it from him, shattering the fragile family that Derek had been so desperately trying to piece together. And he didn’t even realize, had no idea what he’d done, never even considered the consequences of his actions beyond how it would affect him, and possibly Allison. But never Derek. He didn’t figure into Scott’s life. He didn’t figure into Scott’s family. And yet Scott had been the cornerstone of his.
It took him far longer to get to the depot from the Sherriff’s station than it should have. His legs felt like lead and every single muscle in his body ached in protest when he moved. Derek wondered how much of that was the lingering effects of the toxin and how much was simply the physical manifestation of Scott’s betrayal.
Erica, Isaac, and Boyd jump when he forces the door open. It’s heavier against his hands than he remembered and he pauses for a second to steady himself. Boyd takes a step forward to help, freezing before his leg can actually move but that single act is enough to propel Derek across the floor, his head a little bit clearer now. When he gets close enough Isaac grabs the edge of his sleeve and suddenly he can breathe again. Erica bites down on her lip, her sudden insecurity makes his throat tighten and he reaches out without thinking and drags her against his side. Her fingers tangle in his shirt as she buries her nose against his collarbone. He swallows once, twice, and then a third time before allowing himself to relax into her embrace.
Isaac’s still vibrating with a nervous energy that’s starting to put Derek’s teeth on edge so he throws the Beta a questioning look. A jerk of Isaac’s head is the only answer he gets in return and when Derek looks over the boys shoulder he sees a figure huddled on the floor against the back wall. He takes a deep breath and the first thing he smells is Scott and his eyes flash red, because he doesn’t get to do this, he doesn’t get to be here, not anymore.
Erica squeezes him tighter, cutting off the beginnings of a growl from deep inside his chest and it calms him, enough to take another breath and realize his mistake. The smell of Scott is still there but it’s fading, being buried under a mountain of other smells. A sweet hint of vanilla. A crisp undercurrent of hot rain. A quick tang of vinegar. A lingering sense of something Derek can only really explain as warm. They’re familiar smells, safe smells, pack smells. Derek kisses the top of Erica’s head softly and passes her off to Isaac before making his way across the room.
“What are you doing here Stiles?” Derek asks, his voice gravely and painful as it rips from his throat, and he dimly realizes they’re the first words he’s spoken since it happened.
Stiles lifts his head up from where it had been resting on his knees, his own voice no more than a strangled whisper, so tight with honesty that it just might break when he says, “I had nowhere else to go.”
Derek nods then, leaning his back against the wall and sliding down next to Stiles. Because Scott may be Stiles’s best friend but he understand this all in a way Scott never will. Because Stiles is like them in a way Scott never was. None of them have anywhere else to go. None of them have any one else to go to. All they have is each other. All they have is this.
“Scott—“ Stiles chokes on the name and Derek closes his eyes, feels his jaw tighten but keeps his mouth shut. He wonders if he can get away with sheltering Stiles from Scott’s betrayal, because despite everything that’s happened, the last thing he wants is to take away the one person that Stiles thinks he can rely on. Derek knows that feeling all too well and he’s not so eager to be the one that shatters Stiles’s world.
“He’s working with Gerard,” Stiles says finally and Derek’s eyes snap open, looking over at Stiles. Stiles knew. He knew what Scott had done and he was still here. He’s telling Derek. He’s warning Derek and something in him almost starts to mend at that.
“I heard them talking at the station,” the words come out in a tumble now that he’s got the worst part over with. “They’ve been planning this, he’s been spying on us and passing Gerard information this whole time.” Stiles slides his fingers over his head in what Derek knows is an attempt to keep his hands from twitching. His finger tips dig into the soft tissue at the base of his skull and his knuckles turn white and Derek can hear that he’s not breathing.
Derek reaches out, sliding his fingers under Stiles’s, prying them one by one from his neck as Derek settles his palm in their place, reassuring and warm in an attempt to calm the other boy. It works if the tense breath he lets out is any indication.
“I know,” Derek tells him. “It’s ok.”
“No it is not okay Derek,” Stiles says and he sounds wrecked, utterly and completely wrecked. “It is nowhere near ok and I’m having a hard time at the moment believing it will ever be ok again.” His voice is edging off into hysteria and Derek squeezes his neck, bringing him back to the present, keeping him in this place here and now. “We could have died in there Derek,” Stiles says a bit calmer. “My dad almost—“ he can’t even think about finishing that thought out loud and Derek lets his thumb slide up into the small hairs at the base of Stiles’s skull telling him that he doesn’t have to.
“He didn’t trust us. Even when everything was going to hell and we were all he had left he didn’t trust us.” Stiles says. “And I don’t know what to do with that.”
Derek wants to tell him that it gets easier every time but he can’t think about Stiles having to go through something like this again. Derek wants to tell him that he’ll forget but you never forget, you just think you have until it hits you from out of nowhere and it’s fresh and new again and you’re doubled over by the sheer surprise of it all.
Derek doesn’t tell Stiles that he’ll carry it with him forever. That he’ll go to bed with it tonight and wake up with it tomorrow and it’ll change him in so many small ways that he’ll never find them all even if he spends his whole life looking.
He doesn’t say anything at all. He doesn’t have to.
Stiles takes a deep breath and nods and that’s that.
At some point Erica, Isaac, and Boyd make their way over and Stiles recaps the evening’s festivities for them. In true Stiles fashion he starts with Lydia’s party and goes from there, not leaving out a single detail. Derek closes his eyes and allows the words to wash over him.
There’s something about Drag Queens that Derek doesn’t want to dwell on too long, an overly hurried mention of a hallucination brought on by Lydia’s spiked punch that makes Stiles’s heart rate skyrocket and Derek he makes a note to ask him about some other time, when they’re not facing certain death from three separate camps. All the while his brain filters through the Stiles speak to pick out the pertinent information which he hopes he can use to piece this whole puzzle together and get a better look at the big picture.
He’s slowly becoming more and more Stiles-like, his hands waving around as he tells them about Matt controlling Jackson and why, yet the whole time he’s very careful not to dislodge Derek’s hand, still warm and solid and on the back of his neck, like it’s the only thing keeping him in his own skin at the moment. And if that’s what Stiles needs then Derek can give it to him.
“Did I leave anything out?” Stiles asks when he’s finished his story and the others turn to Derek expectantly.
“Lydia drugged me and used the full moon to bring Peter back from the dead.” Derek told them, not even hesitating for a second because he needed to trust them or this was never going to work. He needed to trust them or they’d never make it out of this alive.
“Dude,” Stiles says, his eyes huge as he turns to the Alpha. “Way the bury the lead! So what the plan? What do we do now?” he asks and in that moment there’s a tangible shift. Stiles has chosen his side, for better or worse. Derek’s not sure what the fallout from this will be and he honestly can’t bring himself to care at the moment because all Derek can feel is Pack.
He can feel Boyd sitting in front of him, in between Derek and the door, in between Derek and danger. He can feel Isaac ready and waiting for whatever order Derek will throw at him. He can feel Erica coiled tight and ready to strike. And he can feel Stiles, solid and there beneath Derek’s fingers.
Scott may have shattered them, but they aren’t broken, not yet. They can still be put back together. They will be put back together. And this time they’ll be stronger.