Chapter 1: And Then There's You
It takes a surprising amount of effort to keep from lurching forward and throttling the elf standing before him. Were Derek not in the middle of the Dalish camp acting as a representative for the Pack, and if this...brat was not the son of Keeper Stilinski, he would not hesitate to simply toss the fool into the nearest creek and sit on him.
"You know, you don't look like a werewolf, Hale. You're missing the long fangs and gruesome claws," the young elf says, raising his hands and curling them into mock claws and baring his teeth comically. Derek rolls his eyes hard enough that it seems only a miracle from Andraste herself they do not fall from his skull. "I thought your kind liked to snarl and devour everything that had a pulse and - "
"We do," Derek growls, cutting off the idiotic explanation and keeping his arms crossed tightly over his chest as he leans down toward the elf, pointedly sniffing the air around him. "Especially little Dales that like to steal their father's ale." He smirks, flashing his sharp canines as the boy's eyes widen in shock. "It makes the blood taste so much sweeter," he finishes, smug.
There is a single beat of silence, puncuated by only a brief hint of trepidation coming from the elf's pores, before a grin splits the smooth face. Not intimidated by the werewolf's proximity, apparently, he leans even more toward Derek and whispers, "Your sense of smell that good, huh? Awesome."
Derek fights back the urge to drag a palm down his face and jerks back, annoyed.
The young elf steps back and whips around all in one motion, innocently crossing his arms behind his back. It's obvious even to Derek that he is making a vailiant effort not to fidget as Keeper Stilinski comes forward and puts a heavy hand on his shoulder.
"Yo, Da...Father. Keeper. Sir." Derek snorts. The Dalish are all so very formal, even within familial relations.
"Why don't you go finish helping the others repair the nets?"
"Aw, c'mon, can't I sit in? I won't touch anything this time, I promise. You won't even know I'm there."
The young elf makes a frustrated noise and flails his arms. "Okay, okay. I'm going."
The Keeper nods and turns back to Derek. "I apologize if my son gave you a difficult time. Shall we begin?" He waits for Derek's grunt of affirmation before leading the way to the heavy canvas tent meant for councils such as this, Dalish symbols boldy stitched into the sides.
Feeling eyes boring through his back, Derek looks over his shoulder and catches Stiles' gaze, smirking when the elf's fair complexion flushes a light pink over his cheeks and tips of his ears. He snaps at the air in Stiles' general direction and watches with a satisfied air as the young elf goes even redder with indignation and quickly scurries off.
Chapter 2: Same Directions
Treaties are binding and Stiles eavesdrops.
Derek waits for the Keeper to take a seat before doing so himself, angling his body so that he has an uninterrupted view of the tent proper. The hides carpeting the ground are smooth deer pelts stitched together with thick twine. Comfortable, yet also reminding him that he has yet to eat much more than a small quail in the three and a half days it took to reach the camp. Even the tantalizing scents of the Hallas outside are making his jaws ache with the want to sink fang into flesh.
"We have recieved word from our southern cousins of a Witherfang and his followers. I thought werewolves were all but wiped out in the aftermath."
"Only the afflicted ones, Keeper. Most of those that lived in the Brecilian forest were corrupted and the product of Keeper Zathrian's rage. Those wolves were cursed men, nothing more."
Keeper Stilinski raises an eyebrow, obviously having not expected such a claim. "Ah. I take it that the Hale clan's blood remains pure, then?"
Derek carefully schools his expression before answering. "That is what I came to speak to you about. My family was attacked a fortnight ago while we slept. The woods were set aflame and those who tried to escape were cut down by arrows and blades." Unconsciously, his fangs begin to lengthen and he knows by the slight stutter in the Keeper's heartbeat that his eyes are shimmering their telltale poison blue. "The attackers were Dalish, Keeper."
"Is that so?" The elf gives him a hard look, affronted at the implications that his clan turned into murderers. "I am very sorry for your loss, Derek. But my clansmen are not responsible for this. We have a binding treaty with you Hales, of which we have stayed true to all these years." He narrows his eyes slightly. "What makes you so certain they were Dalish?"
Derek reaches into his pocket and tosses the arrow head he had wrenched from his sister's skull between them. It lands with a dull thump, the glinting silver stained even darker under the low light of the lanterns. The fish oil the Dalish use for fuel burns softly, much more muted than the animal fat Derek is accustomed to seeing used around his home. Somehow, it makes the weapon less threatening.
Carved into the surface of the weapon on each facing is an intricate design. The sign of the Dalish. Keeper Stilinski picks the piece up grimly and closes his fingers in a loose fist. "You're telling the truth."
"The Dalish slaughtered my family, Keeper, despite the treaties. The Law has been broken."
"So it seems."
Derek digs his fingers into his thighs to keep from reaching across the small space and ripping out the elf's throat. "Blood for blood, elf. I'm promised vengeance."
Keeper Stilinski sighs and rubs his forehead. In another time, Derek might have felt sorry for the aging man. His shoulders slump with more weight than should be laddened on someone of his caliber and he appears older than he truly his. Perhaps that is what happens when one is thrust into his kind of position, leader of a nomadic clan. The previous Keeper must have passed on into the Fade sooner than expected for Stilinski to take up the role.
As it stands, Derek feels nothing but bitter resentment for the elf. He can still smell the smoke and charred flesh of his Pack on his clothes.
"I'm sorry, Derek, but I can't allow you to hurt anyone in this camp. The ones who attacked your family are indeed Dalish, but it was not us. Look," He uncurled his fingers and held his hand out, palm up. "These markings are from another tribe. You know them already. They split from our clan many months ago. I have no say over them anymore."
"You can tell me how to find them," he growls, low and dangerous. He knew the moment he stepped into the camp the ones he sought were not there. Had they been, blood would have already been soaking the forest floor for miles.
"No," the elf starts, tensing at Derek's menacing snarl. "I was not informed of where they were relocating."
"You know I don't," the Keeper snaps back. Indeed, his heartbeat remains steady, if albiet quick, though that is more out of stress with having a werewolf in his tent than falsehood. "I do not know where they have gone. The Argents have always been distant from us even when we shared the same camp. I didn't know their prejudices had gotten so terrible that they were plotting this, or even acted on it. If I'd any idea..."
Derek sighs roughly and looks away from the Keeper's stormy expression. He is slightly mollified by the fact that the elf also seems offended and upset by what has happened.
"I'm sorry, Derek. There is nothing I can do."
"Then we're done here." Derek stands abruptly. He stops short of leaving the tent, however, when he hears a quiet scuffling, too quiet for even the heightened senses of the elven folk to catch, outside the tent flaps. A quick scenting of the thickened air and Derek almost scoffs loudly at catching a whiff of sweetened ale and the appealing scent of the woods. He can hear Stiles' fluttering heartbeat like quiet drums in his ears.
A rogue in training, Derek guesses. The elven boy will need lots of training if he believes he's being stealthy right now.
"Wait," the Keeper says, reaching out as if to touch but dropping his hand at Derek's sharp warning glance, unware of his son crouched outside straining to listen to every word. "Wait. Why don't you stay and rest a while? Recover from your journey. It's dangerous to travel in these parts after dark."
"I'm the most dangerous thing out there, Keeper," Derek retorts flatly.
"Perhaps. But the Darkspawn have been pushing further into these woods, and even a werewolf is suspect to the taint. You are no good to your family dead, Hale."
He swallows back a growl and settles for glaring, flexing his fingers at his sides. "Are you trying to order me?" A startled gasp from outside makes him twitch with irritation.
The Keeper glances from Derek's hands and back to his face with a slight, amused smile curving the edge of his mouth. "Consider it a strongly worded proposal."
Derek snorts. "I don't want or need your pity."
"Then how about a compromise?" The werewolf's eyes narrow in suspicion at the words, and Keeper Stilinski continues with an encouraging nod. "Your home is destoryed, your family murdered - please, calm. I don't mean to offend. Still, that is the truth of the matter, and you have nowhere to go. Stay with the clan for now and recover, regain your strength. I can see the exhaustion on you like a disease."
Derek wrinkles his nose. "I don't see how this is a compromise."
"As I mentioned before, the Darkspawn are encroaching on these lands. In exchange for a place to sleep and hot meals, you can help us fight them back and secure the camp."
"Like a well-trained Mabari hound, you mean. I am no mutt, Keeper Stilinski," he snaps, temper sparking.
"No, of course not. You are a man in pain and I am offering a distraction to help you heal. This doesn't have to be complicated, Derek. Take it for what it is."
He scoffs and crosses his arms defensively. "It still sounds like pity to me." The last thing he wants or needs is charity from some pointy-eared group of vagabonds.
"If you need more incentive to take the offer, then fine." The elf stubbornly crosses his arms as well and Derek can sense the command in his tone, a glimpse of the powerful Keeper of the Dalish. "The treaties dictate aid to whichever clan is in need at the time, indepting one to the other until such a time that peace is settled once more. You are currently stranded with no Pack to protect you. The Dalish are facing a very serious threat that could erase our existance. Help us, and we will help you."
Derek studies the Keeper for a long moment. Logically, he has no choice, really. He is bound by the treaties their clan's forefathers signed with blood magic, and to break it would cause more trouble than he is willing to deal with. His pride stings, however, at the notion of accepting help from elves.
He opens his mouth to deliver some biting comment and circumvent the proposal once more, but Keeper Stilinski cuts him off. "Do this, Derek Hale, and I will help you seek out the Argents."
And, really, with that he cannot refuse.
He has not forgotten the little rogue Dale hiding just outside the tent, so when the formalities are over and Derek exits, he takes a few steps out to make sure he will be followed and, once confirming it, continues on around the back of the Keeper's tent. He stops when he is out of sight from the nearest elves and narrows his eyes dangerously.
"Do you always listen in on your father's councils?" he growls, shooting a hand out to the side and gripping tightly around a thin neck. Stealth broken, Stiles snaps back into view and Derek shoves him against one of the strong oaks scatterd in the clearing.
"Eep!" Stiles is scrabbling at the grip around his neck and kicking at Derek's shins, big brown eyes even larger than the first time they'd met, and panicked. Derek can smell the shock and acrid bite of fear on him, dense and heavy like molasses. It makes his instincts hum pleasantly at the thought of a hunt, of chasing down prey.
Derek watches him squirm and smothers the cruel smirk that wants to split over his teeth. He glares from under his brow, a deep rumble vibrating from deep within his chest and freezing Stiles against the tree.
"If I catch you eavesdropping on me again, I'll rip your limbs off and eat them," He tightens his grip and feels Stiles' pulse pounding against his fingers, in his ears. "...while you watch."
"Eugh!" When Derek releases him, Stiles drops the few inches he had been pinned and coughs loudly, struggling for air and leaning heavily back against the tree, clutching at its bark to stay upright. "Y-You...Maker's breath, you could've killed me! How did you even - I was stealthed, you shouldn't have been able to...how the hell did you see me?"
Derek snorts and bares his teeth in distate. "Your 'stealthing' is child's play. Even a dwarf blinded by drink could have sensed you." He steps back and turns to head back into the forest, intent on hunting game for his empty stomach. He might be under the Dalish care now, but he'll be damned if he is going to eat their seasoned, cooked meats and sickly sweet foods. "Go play with your little elf friends."
He hears more than sees the pinched face Stiles makes at his back. "Where are you going? You're agreed to stay and help us, you can't leave! What are you doing?"
Derek keeps walking. "Hunting." Stiles takes a step after him. "One more step and I'll make you the prey, brat."
He continues on without anymore interruptions.
Chapter 3: From the Ashes
Time heals all wounds, but sometimes one needs the help of another to heal completely.
The forest is so silent, frozen in that brief moment right before the sun rises over the horizon and the last vestiges of darkness fade away under the warm glow of morning. The Earth holds its breath in anticipation. Creatures scattered far and wide feel familiar stirrings deep within their cores, beckoning them awake to witness the birth of a new day. Derek inhales deeply and lazily opens his eyes, limbs tired and heavy after such a long night spent chasing the moon. Light peeks between the trees and scattered leaves, splaying a distorted patch of patterns over his body and he yawns, jaw making a muted popping sound in the resounding quiet.
He has spent many days in the company of the Dalish now. The burning thirst for vengeance has not left him, though it has become more bearable. When he sleeps, his dreams are not haunted by fires and the screams of the young ones nearly as much as they used to be. He is not at peace by any stretch of the imagination. There are times when it is all he can do to remain passive instead of giving in to the urge to rip through the nearest flesh and bone just to hurt something. To watch something break and suffer like he has done.
It helps, strangely enough, being around the elven folk, though. They are not his Pack, but they are an affectionate people, expressive and familiar by touch just like Derek is accustomed too and they have no trouble with pulling him into their habits. A casual pat on the back here, a friendly squeeze of his arm there - it is more grabbing than he's used to, but the comfort is the same. It soothes the ache being welcomed so easily.
The forest comes to life around him and he rises with it, padding through the tallgrass to the river where he had left his clothing hung in a tree. There area is undisturbed as he nears and he lets himself relax. He is far enough away from the camp that he won't disturb anyone and vice versa; the people may have accepted him into their camp and allowed him to take refuge among them, but the fact remains that he is a werewolf, not an elf. Some things are better left hidden by the forest.
A contented sigh pushes itself from his chest as he wades into the chilled water, scrubbing dirt and blood from the midnight hunt off his skin. It had been especially lonely running and hunting alone last night. Given that it was his first full moon on his own, he supposes he should get used to it seeing as there will be many more in his future. His lips twitch in distaste at the thought and he ducks under the water to dispell it.
When he breaks the surface, he is immediately aware that he is not alone any more. The familiar heartbeat thumps steadily in his ears and he doesn't have to turn to know that Stiles is sitting on the bank watching.
He huffs and keeps scrubbing himself clean. It's not as thorough a bath as he wishes, but there will be time for that later when he returns to the camp.
"I heard you howling last night," Stiles is chewing on the pad of his thumb when Derek glances at him over a shoulder. "I mean, I heard something howling, anyway. It had to be you though, since wolves aren't too common around here anymore with all the Darkspawn coming in. Unless it was the Darkspawn howling. Do they howl?"
Derek shuts his eyes and breathes deeply. Once again he's tempted to drown the elf and act as if nothing happened. "Stiles."
"Rude - whoa! Give a guy warning before you do that!" Stiles yelps as Derek walks back out of the river, arms flying up to block the werewolf's body from his eyes. "Geez, don't you werewolves have any sense of decency?"
Instead of gracing that with an answer, Derek rolls his eyes and roughly runs his hands back and forth through his hair to get the worst of the water out. "What are you doing here, Stiles?" he says, dragging his trousers on just so the foolish elf will stop acting like he's never seen a naked man before.
Though, to be fair, he probably hasn't. Derek has learned little of the Dalish during his stay, but he has watched how they handle intimacy - meaning, hardly at all. The young boy elves, when certain they are in love, will go out and hunt and bring back the pelt of their kill, of which they present to their heart's desire. A wedding gift of sorts. It is so formal that it baffles Derek to see how they are all so open and friendly normally, and then almost prudish when it comes to relationships. Strange, the elven people. Very strange.
"I came looking for you," Stiles says, peeking over his arms to make sure Derek is at least partially clothed before dropping them back down. "You were gone for a long time."
The thing about Stiles, Derek has learned, is that he is an odd Dale. He talks loud and long and seems to always need to be fidgeting in some way or another, while the rest of the clan, though expressive, are a lot more refined and seem to have an endless patience, whereas that concept seems totally lost on Stiles. Even now, pinned by Derek's gaze, the elf's fingers are twisting and digging into the grass almost unconsciously and his foot is tapping a nervous jig against the ground. Derek has watched him a lot over the weeks in the Dalish company. Stiles is wide open, reckless and vivacious. He is on his own level.
It should be off-putting. It should be annoying, which it is, and most of the time Derek has to really struggle to control his temper around the young elf lest he end up tossing him across the camp - but it really shouldn't be as endearing as he has started to find it lately. He blames it on the overexposure to the Dalish.
When he doesn't comment, Stiles stands awkwardly and dusts himself off. Instead of his normal tunic and pants, he is in leather armor that creaks when he moves, buckles gleaming pleasantly in the early morning light. Derek blinks and raises a single eyebrow in question. Stiles makes a slight face and glances down at himself as if wondering what Derek is staring at, and then actually blushes.
"Hunting?" Derek ventures, grabbing his shirt and shaking it out.
Stiles rubs the back of his neck and shrugs, mumbling, "Something like that, yeah." It isn't exactly a lie since his heartbeat doesn't skip, but it's not the kind of answer that was expected.
It throws Derek for a moment that Stiles is reluctant to talk. The rogue is never adverse to speaking - unless he is stuffing his face, and even then he somehow manages to garble out words around his food. Frowning, he pulls his faded tunic on and pushes the sleeves up to his elbows.
"Did you need something?" he asks absently, leaning back against the tree and sliding down to the ground to pull on his wool socks and boots. If the elf doesn't want to tell him what's running through his mind, he isn't going to ask.
"Ah - no, not...um. It isn't safe to be out here alone, Derek," Stiles scolds suddenly, visibly shaking off whatever had been on his mind and latching onto the first thing that he can think of. "Weren't you listening when the scouting party came back yesterday? Jackson was nearly overwhelmed by the Darkspawn. If he'd been on his own, he would be dead."
Derek rolls his eyes, tucking his pants legs into the tops of his boots. "There were only a couple of ghouls," he says. "I'm sure even Jackson could've handled them by himself."
"That's not the point!" Stiles retorts, throwing his arms out in a wide gesture to convey his feelings on the subject. Derek glares slightly when he reflexively jerks back even though Stiles' flailing limbs were nowhere close enough to hit him. "Sorry," the elf mutters quickly, picking right up where he left off. "There are going to be more of them and they are going to be big and nasty and throwing up taint all over the place. Even if you manage to skewer a good bit of them, do you have any idea how hard it is to get horde blood off your clothes? Well let me tell you it's - it's...actually, I wouldn't know, but I've heard it's really difficult. And sticky. Really sticky. I'm not kidd - "
"....-ing, this is serious stuff here. Maybe you don't have to worry about it getting on your clothes, but I bet you twenty copper pieces that goopy junk will clump up your fur like nothing else, buddy. Unless it's already clumpy. But, I mean, wouldn't your hair be like your fur? Because - "
Derek frowns. "Stiles."
"....your hair is always kind of nice looking. Not like I've been staring at it, because that would be creepy! I just mean that it looks soft at a glance, you know? Like - like flower petals. Only manly? Ha. Haha. That wasn't what I meant at all - no! Why are you getting up - wait, please, don't kill me! Ahhh - !"
The abrupt silence that settles after Derek claps a hand over Stiles' mouth, cupping the back of his head with the other, is so wonderful that Derek almost sighs in relief. The muffled noises of distress the rogue is making against his palm quickly drive that away, however. Derek huffs an irritated growl and pointedly tightens his hold over the young Dale's mouth.
"Stiles. Stop talking." And then as an afterthought, he awkwardly tacks on, "Please."
Stiles blinks owlishly and stills immediately. He's frozen as if Derek slapped a lightening rune to his forehead and the shocks are seizing through every one of his limbs. Pleased, Derek starts to release him. Only he doesn't, for some reason. His nose twitches imperceptively as the faint, cloying scent of -
Derek's eyebrows slowly raise of their own accord, eyeing the elf in his hold with apprehension and perhaps even a little mirth. Stile's face flushes even darker and the heady scent of arousal spikes. Derek can hear his heartbeat like war drums thundering and picking up speed, louder than usual in the silence around them.
He's tempted to hold Stiles there and bury his nose in Stiles' neck, chase that scent down over the hollow of the elf's throat, strip him of the rough, bulky armor and map out every inch of the pale skin with lips and tongue. He imagines Stiles would taste like the spices he's always dumping on food, constantly having the need make things sweeter and nearly impossible to eat. Or maybe he'd taste like fresh rain, like the tangy grass, like sunlight, warm and inticing in ways that have Derek swallowing a sudden increase in saliva just from thinking about it.
The thoughts don't trouble Derek as much as they used to, which, to be quite honest, was not much to begin with. The attraction he feels for the Dale is pleasant and warm, exciting a primal urge in him every time he catches a whiff of a potential mate in Stiles' sweat. The urge to press Stiles down into the grass and waste hours writhing and pushing against that body is nearly overwhelming, worsening the stronger Stiles' arousal gets.
Derek is no fool, he has been aware of the way Stiles looks at him, has heard the hitch in his pulse whenever Derek is near him, and has caught the helpless looks in those expressive honey-gold eyes when he thinks Derek isn't watching. It makes the wolf in him howl with anticipation, thrilled at the thought of willing mate being so close.
But he will not let himself act on the impulse. Not yet, there are much more important things to be dealt with presently. Even though the more primal side of himself whines in protest at pushing Stiles away, it is what has to be done.
Finally, Derek drops his hands and steps back, giving Stiles a wide berth and tries not to notice how the elf's face falls at the distance between them. "We should go," he says, and if his voice is a little rougher than normal, neither draw attention to it. "Before your dreaded horde arrives and rips us apart for loitering in their forest."
Stiles eyes narrow. "Are you teasing me?"
To both their surprise, a geniune smile curls Derek's lips, exposing his teeth and lighting up his eyes. Stiles blinks, and a beat later he is grinning right back, pleasantly bewildered. His pulse almost thrums in Derek's ears.
"You should really do that more often, Derek."
"Smile," Stiles says, simply.
Derek watches him turn away and fumble through the underbrush back toward camp. Inhaling deeply, calming the stirrings of want and need in his chest, he eventually follows after.
Months pass, and Derek spends a lot of his time battling alongside the clan against the Darkspawn as they increase in numbers and press into Dalish territories. They are disgusting creatures that seem to know no pain, fighting and spitting even after being immobilized and dying on the ground. It disgusts Derek to get so close in order to kill them, their stench reeking of decay and rot so strongly the very air seems poisoned by it. He hates even more the taste of them in his mouth.
His body naturally fights the taint, and by some miracle, wins out. His jaws snap closed over many ghouls' throats, claws swiping down groups of Darkspawn at a time. Their black blood grossly stains his teeth and drenches his dark fur even blacker. He does not get sick, however. He does not suffer from the taint as Keeper Stilinski warned him and Derek himself suspected. It's a small favor that he takes full advantage of.
As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, word reaches them of the Warden preparing for battle against the Arch Demon in Redcliffe. The horde marches toward the city and, sometimes at night, while the camp sleeps, Derek can hear the faint sound of thousands of feet pounding across the land preparing for war. It is exhilerating and terrifying at the same time, making Derek's gums itch with the reflex of his canines extending, hoping for a fight. A rage that he has harbored since the slaughter of his family burns hotly in his chest, and hearing the very earth around him vibrate with the coming battle only fans the flames.
The only relief is when the hunting parties head out in the early mornings to fight back the stray Darkspawn that wander through the Dalish lands. Derek goes with them, paws tearing up the ground as he flies through the trees and smashes into every enemy his sparking blue eyes land on. The gratification he feels with each kill makes him soar, helps him forget that there have been no leads on the Argents, that every trail he finds is a dead end.
Eventually, the consuming rage simmers down to a prickling annoyance. He becomes ingrained into the Dale's lives without giving his consent, without even noticing. It is as if he has adopted them as his Pack - though, frankly, it was they who adopted him. And it is so easy and comforting that he dares not fight it. Instead, he pads into the camp on full moons and curls up by the fire, dozing as the elven children run their fingers through his fur or stroke his tail, and sometimes he will pillow his head on Stiles' thigh and listen to him talk about every inane thing that comes to mind instead of spending the lonley nights howling for something he will never get back.
It is peaceful and begins to feel like a home. Derek starts to feel, if not exactly happy, then at least relaxed. He still mourns the loss of his Pack and the ache festers like a fresh gash if he happens to see or smell or hear something that reminds him of them, yet he recovers quicker.
Which is why, when it all comes crashing down in a screaming mess at his feet, he really should not be as shocked as he is.
Chapter 4: Wolf Amongst You Sheep
When Stiles laughs, he does it like he does everything else: without restraint or thought.
When Stiles laughs, he does it like he does everything else: without restraint or thought. He just does. Loud and easy and contagious and stupidly funny. Derek can't help the slight quirk that twitches his lips as he watches the rogue choking back laughter even though it is at his own expense. Apparently Derek is butchering the Dalish tongue so terribly that it induces gut-wrenching bouts of hysteria.
"It's soft, like, breathy. You're trying to make the words really blunt and it's just," he snorts around another chuckle. "It's like you're barking the words at me and all I can picture is a little wolf puppy fluffing up and gnawing on my finger."
Derek rolls his eyes and leans back onto the ground, propping himself up on his elbows and giving Stiles a hard look that is severely lacking in heat.
"Right, sorry," he manages, still grinning from ear to ear. "Listen this time, okay? You've got the freaky wolfy-ears, use them. " Lethallin. Leth-ahh-leen."
"This is stupid," he says.
Stiles knuckles him lightly on the shoulder, friendly. Familiar. Derek lets his eyes droop lazily. "It's not stupid," Stiles retorts. "You're the one that's always asking what the words mean. Well, now I'm teaching you." He smiles teasingly. "I can't always act as your translator, you have to learn how to talk to us sometime. Your grunts and growls only go so far, broody pants."
Derek eyes him quietly, tempted to point out that him remaining in the camp has been an extended stay, yes, but it is not permanent. He doesn't though, because Derek does not want to admit that a part of him is hoping that somehow it will end up being that way.
After a moment, he sighs and tips his head back, sliding his eyes shut. "Lethallin. And that means...What?"
"C-Cousin," Stiles manages, stilted. Derek cracks an eye open curiously at the jump in his pulse. "Basically. Um, yeah, that was good! Good job. Now try the...uh...female version. For when you're talking to, like, Lydia or someone.Lethallan."
The flush on Stiles' face is giving him away, as well as a multitude of other things that Derek can easily pick up, but it is his expression that is the biggest giveaway, curiously enough. Especially those eyes. Those glistening, honey hazel eyes glimmering like smoldering flames against the cold bite in the chilly air, a blaring testimony to the yearning Derek can smell on his skin like a thick blanket.
A faint smirk plays on the edges of his mouth as he opens his eyes. He deliberately lowers his voice and smoothes out the rough edges just as Stiles has been trying to get him to do the entire time. Cruel, perhaps, since Derek is well aware of what he's doing to the elf, but effective.
"Lethallan," he repeats slowly. His pronunciation is still a far cry from flawless, yet it is far better than what he has been playing it to be the entire lesson. Stiles blinks and thrusts an accusing finger at Derek's chest even as his heartbeat quickens from the velvet seduction in the werewolf's tone.
"You were faking, weren't you? I knew it! Even you can't be that dense. Scott, maybe, but not you," he says. "Wait, wait, this just means you were trying to spend more time with me." He breaks into another fit of laughter at Derek's sour look. "Aw, all you had to do was say so, Derek. I would have cleared my busy day and wasted the hours braiding your fur. Or something."
Derek rolls his eyes and gives a slight shake of his head. "You are an idiot."
"You still like me, though."
When he glances up at the oddly nervous tone, Derek notices how Stiles is fidgeting, thin elven fingers picking and rubbing the well-oiled leather bracers covering his arms. He almost looks shy. "By some strange phenomenon," Derek concedes, sharp eyes intense and calculating.
Stiles huffs a laugh, heartbeat spiking once more, and, by some unconscious mutual agreement, Derek leans upward in the same moment that Stiles twists down so that they meet halfway in one of the most chaste, achingly sweet kisses Derek has ever been a part of. It shocks him at first, the ease of it, but then that is quickly flooded over by how good it feels and he chases Stiles' mouth when the rogue jerks back, shame and embarressment radiating off his pale skin - only to be irrevocably smothered out of existence under Derek's insistence.
Stiles opens for him almost immediately, and it's slow-building, wet and everything Derek was not aware he was hoping to find. He licks into the warm mouth, brushing and tangling with Stiles' inexperienced tongue to guide and teach, not even aware of when he sits up completely and pulls the young Dale against him. Stiles hands push into his hair and hold on tightly and Derek smiles in the kiss, a pleased rumble vibrating from deep within his chest.
A muffled, breathy noise comes from Stiles when Derek breaks away, drawing him right back in again to lightly suck on the elf's lips, pink and shiny with spit from kissing. "That...that was unexpected. Wasn't it? I think it was unexpected. Unless you planned that. You didn't plan that, right?"
Derek huffs quietly and nuzzles against Stiles' smooth cheek. "No."
"Good." Stiles fingers keep smoothing through his hair, tugging after a moment so they are on eye level again. "Then can we do it again?"
They return to find the camp in chaos. Most of the tents are in shambles, splintered as if by a great weight, and it seems almost every surface is run through with arrows or shredded by swords. Stiles stumbles and would have fallen if Derek had not reached out and snatched him back up.
"What...?" Derek hears the elf gasp. He only shakes his head mutely, unable to comprehend what has happened even for himself. Few of the Dalish are about, but the ones that are snap to attention and whip their heads around to stare in Derek and Stiles' direction. Derek's hackles rise, skin prickling at the open hostility that is suddenly drenching the air around them.
"Stiles, thank the Maker," Keeper Stilinski breathes as he steps out of one of the dilapidated tents, quickly coming over to them and dragging his son into a rough embrace. "I thought they had found you two."
"Dad?" Stiles' voice is high and panicky, though he doesn't push his father away. Derek's mouth twitches with the want to bare his teeth as a few of the Dalish hunters pick up their weapons and edge closer. "Dad, what happened? What's going on?"
The Keeper glances at Derek over the top of his son's head and then follows his gaze out across the camp. "Halt," he commands the hunters. "You know it wasn't Derek, lower your weapons."
One of the elves begin to protest, affronted. "But he's - "
Keeper Stilinski releases his son. "Now, Harris." He waits for the hunter to begrudgingly lower his blade before turning back to Derek, his face grim. "Another werewolf attacked while you were gone."
Derek stares in disbelief, jaw locking with an audible gnash of sharpening fangs. "What?" he forces out as his hands clench into tight fists.
Stiles gapes. "When...what? How did you even - that's....what?"
The Keeper squeezes his son's shoulder. "Stiles, you should go check on your friends. Don't argue with me right now, I don't have the patience," he snaps when Stiles makes as if he's going to do just that. After a long staredown, Stiles makes an irritated noise in the back of his throat and turns to Derek.
Derek does not shake Stiles off when he grips Derek's bicep and squeezes worriedly before running off to check on his friends. The werewolf's eyes track him until he's out of sight.
"It seems we have more than the matter at hand to discuss," Keeper Stilinski notes dryly, raising a single eyebrow when Derek turns back regard him with a carefully neutral expression. "Come," he sighs, leading Derek through the loosely gathered group of hunters to the partially erect council tent. "You will not like what I have to tell you."
He was right.
The Keeper explains to Derek that the werewolf that had attacked was large, larger than Derek, and had layed waste to the camp around early morning. It tore through the camp and seemed to not really have any set goal in mind, though it is believed the beast was searching for Derek since his scent is undoubtedly all over the place. Failing to find the other werewolf, it had began attacking the people. Only a few were dead, but one had been bitten.
Derek tries not to snarl when the Keeper speaks of young Scott McCall being given the bite. When asked of his condition, Keeper Stilinski cautiously tells him that the Da'len is fine and seems perfectly healthy, but for obvious reasons they are keeping him under careful watch at the other end of the camp.
"But this is not all, as I'm sure you know."
Derek tries staying focused on breathing evenly as he nods. "The Argents were here. I can smell them. Faint, but they were here."
The Keeper gives a sharp nod. "Not all, but a few. Their Leader, Chris Argent, was not among them. His daughter was, however." The Dale's intelligent eyes watch Derek quietly, braced. "She is still with us. Please, calm yourself, there is much to be explained and very little time to do it," he says quickly, waiting for Derek's outraged snarls to quiet. "She tracked the other wolf here with her aunt and, yes, they attacked the camp because they believed we were harboring the wolf. That wolf in particular, which, she tells me, has been circling their home for the better part of a month now."
Derek squeezes his eyes shut, hands shaking with the urge to tear through the devastated camp and get the girl between his claws. "Why have you not killed her for attacking your people?" he demands tightly, snapping his eyes open at the Keeper's self-deprecating chuckle and sensing by the elf's expression that once more his eyes are bleeding blue lightening.
"She is my people, Derek. Allison is young and impressionable, but she has a good heart. I will do everything in my power to avoid a war between the Dalish. We are not like the ignorant Shemlin, we will not fight and divide as they do. We are not like the humans."
Derek snarls outright. "She is an Argent!"
"Yes, and as hard as I know you will find this to believe, not all of the Argents are to be blamed for what happened to your Pack, Derek. Her father did not order this attack nor your family's slaughter, and she admits to coming here without his knowledge. I talked with Allison. Her aunt confided in her about the attack on your family before they traveled here, and she has told me everything."
"You are not making sense, Keeper." The growl in his voice deepens. "None of this is giving me incentive to let the girl live."
"My word is incentive enough," he retorts. "You have lived among the Dalish for a time now that you are considered family - your apparent relationship with my son notwithstanding. You will not harm the Argent girl, she is protected by this clan. By you." Derek seethes wordlessly, visibly unhappy with the choice of words. "Now, Allison took this from her aunt. It depicts certain...plans and instances, including the Hale fire." The Keeper pulls out a leatherbound book and hands it over.
Derek pauses, sniffing carefully. A sense of black dread and red-hot anger is like molton lava boiling down to his core as he recognizes the scent. Still, he hears himself asking, "Who is Allison's aunt?"
The Keeper sighs. "Kate Argent. I believe you are familiar with her, if the journal is anything to go by. She seems rather - proud of what she did to you," His voice is gentle and even, void of any judgement. If Derek did not know any better, he would think the elder was trying to soothe him. "She refers to you multiple times in the last few pages as 'the perfect conquest'."
Derek does not apologize when his claws rip three jagged gashes down the cover of the book seemingly over their own volition. "Where is she?"
"She went after the rogue werewolf. Allison refused to help her once it became apparant that Kate did not care to hurt her own people."
"I can track her." He stands abruptly, clutching the journal in his clawed hand. "What did you plan to use this for?"
"Evidence against Kate. To avoid further conflict between us and the Argents, we can present that to justify any action we take upon her." Keeper Stilinski rubs his forehead as he mutters bitterly, "She has much to account for and I will not allow her to walk free."
Derek dips his head in a stiff nod and hands the book back. The Keeper holds the opposite end, but does not pull it from Derek's hand just yet. "You aren't going to read it?" he asks.
"No," Derek says. "I have already lived through it once."
When they have finished discussing what needs to be done, Derek follows Keeper Stilinski out of the tent and is not the least bit surprised to find Stiles and his group of ragtag friends waiting expectantly for them. The Argent girl is with them, standing nervously next to Scott, nearly behind him.
He watches her as the Keeper and Stiles argue about who will make up the hunting party to track down the rogue wolf and Kate. She is young, perhaps Stiles age, and beautiful. Derek can see Kate in her. He growls, soft and threatening, stopping when Scott steps further in front of her, blocking her completely from view and narrowing golden eyes on him. Derek snorts and turns back to the Keeper.
"There's no need for a hunting party, I can do this alone. I prefer it," he adds, giving Stiles a pointed look.
The rogue's jaw drops. "Screw that!" he exclaims at the same time that Jackson says, "That isn't fair!"
The two shoot each other accusing glances and Scott chimes in before they can turn on each other despite being in agreement. "Isn't it safer to take a party with you?"
Even Lydia, who Derek has not had much interaction with at all except for a passing glance or brief conversation when he is with Stiles and the elf feels the need to chat, is there and throws her opinion in. "It is pretty foolish, you know. Aside from the raving lunatic of a werewolf and Allison's trigger happy aunt - no offense, Allison - there is the Darkspawn to think about." She gives Derek a critical once over. "You need us."
Derek growls and pushes through them, ignoring Stiles' squawk of protest. "I don't. Stay out of the way."
By the time he hits the woods, he is running with Kate and the werewolf's trails burning through his senses, Stiles' calling his name barely even an echo in the back of his head.
Chapter 5: We Must Be Killers (Children of the Wild Ones)
His punishment is to never forget.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Derek's father is an admirable man. Tall as the trees, steady as a mountain, swift as the wind and as powerful as a raging storm undulating the ocean waves into ever rising walls of ruthless rage. He is unwavering in decisions, never bullheaded and always patient. He is the force holding the Pack as a united front against a world divided, and he is the idol to which Derek always turns his eyes toward in times of need, or even when he simply wishes to gaze upon the man who breathes life into what seems the very roots of the forest.
He makes a strong Alpha, and the Pack is that much more bonded because of him. At his side is a woman who matches him strength for strength, beauty incarnate and nimble against his granite exterior. Where the Alpha is stone, she is gentleness and quiet authority. She coaxes respect and admiration through caressing fingertips, by soft words from softer lips and sparkling eyes that dance with laughter. She is a mother, protector, fighter, warrior and mate. She is his equal in all things; when the Pack hunts, she runs abreast him. When they feed, she does not wait for his permission. When they sing the moon's song, her howl is just as loud, just as leading, as his.
Together, they have the world at their feet and the sky at the tips of their fingers. The Pack kneels, not because it is customary or ritual or demanded when they pass, but because they want to. Because in their blood they feel the sense of love and devotion that the pair execute, that they give without question, without restraint, can sense the hope and pride behind those molton, wine-red eyes, and know that they are safe.
Derek learns from his parents to be a patient wolf, a strong man, and a loyal being with a sense of noble propriety. He learns from his father the responsibilities of becoming a man, how to see the world through the eyes of a hunter, how to calculate and take down one's enemy, the distinction between friend and foe, to rely heavily upon his instincts ("When the darkness blinds you, when the roars of battle deafen you, when you are rendered defenseless and alone," he says, one hand large and heavy on Derek's then-small shoulder. "That sense inside you is all you have left. Listen to the animal inside, and never doubt it for a second, Derek. Let it lead you."), and to protect his brothers, sisters, cousins, the whole Pack, through unimaginable perils.
From his mother, he is shown how to command an unruly Pack with his voice. She teaches him how to stalk with deadly precision, how his eyes can become just as sharp and dangerous as his fangs, just as cutting as his claws. She murmurs words laced with silver and fire and nutures the impassioned flames from his own speech. Her hands brush through his hair as she speaks of love, touches his jaw when she tells him of laughter, and pushes him into a flying sprint as she whispers, "Your heart will soar, someday, my cub. Into the sky and through many storms. Never give up, drink it all in. Do not be afraid to ride the lightening."
His Pack is his entire world, from the time he takes his first breath to the last possible second he spends racing with them through the trees, trying to outrun rapidly consuming fires. The smoke is nearly impenatrable, the fire hot and scalding against fur and skin. He does not stand a chance against such a force and, in the chaos of attempting to gather with the Pack, he is separated, and ultimately spared.
It is a nothing short of a miracle from the Maker himself that Derek lives, that he collapses into the river and only just manages to pull himself safely to the other side before losing consciousness. He lives, yet he is broken beyond repair. Damaged, singed and coated in ash despite the river's cleansing waters. His mouth will forever have the lingering taste of ash, his nose always scenting the phantom hint of smoke, and his skin, the press of sweltering heat.
His punishment for surviving is to never forget, because it was his fault it happened.
Each memory, every single recollection, comes back to him now as he bounds through the forest. Kate's scent is strong, and he can picture her just as clearly as if she were beside him now, running, like they had done once, together. Like his parents had. A lifetime ago, it seems. He curses the day he ever looked upon the elven woman and thought what he felt was ever anything more than poisoning lust.
A clearing lies ahead. He can smell the open air - along with that bitch - already and he begins to shift, stripping his shirt and throwing it roughly away, not caring for his boots or trousers, and snarling with a dark rumble as his bones break and realign. He never stops running. One moment he is on two legs, the next, four. The rage that has been slowly fading, sleeping, in his chest suddenly blazes back up as he bursts into the meadow with a howl of pure, unadulterated hate.
She smiles when he meets her eyes. "Hello, Derek."
He goes for the throat.
"Okay, it's clear. You sure you're going to be okay?"
Scott nods. "Yeah. I mean, I can feel it. Like, it's calling me, and I want to go. We can find it like this, and stop it before anyone else is hurt."
Stiles still looks unconvinced, and he isn't the only one. Lydia flips her hair and crosses her arms. "Who's to say you won't turn on us, hm? Seems to me if that thing is calling you and you want to obey, we have a problem."
"This is just perfect," Jackson scoffs. "McCall's been turned into some dog's bitch and I can't even take the time to properly milk it."
"Ugh, Jackson, do us a favor and shut up," Stiles snaps. He only flinches a little when Jackson glares and jumps at him. "We're not here to fight each other, damn it. Derek went after that thing alone and - "
"We get it. You want to save your boyfriend."
He does not blush. "Jackson, shut your stupid face! He went after that thing alone and after what you guys've told me, it doesn't sound like he's got a chance in hell of killing it. Besides, it attacked our home. This is just as much our fight as his."
"What about Kate?" Scott asks.
Allison winces. "Keeper Stilinski said he was going to hand her over to my dad for punishment. Right, Stiles?"
"Yeah. We've still got a little bit before the party is dispatched to drag...er, bring her back."
"We can't let them get near the wolf, they'll be killed," Scott says.
"What makes you think we fare any better, exactly?" Lydia raises a perfectly trimmed eyebrow.
"Because," Stiles cuts in, grinning. "We're awesome."
Jackson rolls his eyes. "We're dead."
Derek falls with an arrow in his shoulder and hind leg. Kate's bow lay in pieces nearby. It hurts, Maker, it hurts. Still, he pushes himself back up, jaws snapping closed on nothing but air as he charges at Kate once more. She keeps dodging him, dancing just out of reach, and laughing. She is very skilled in combat. He knew this already, knew she would be able to match him simply because of the time they spent together. She knows him. She knows how he fights.
He thought it a game back then. Figures it was just a way to study his style without bringing too much suspiscion. Such a pup mistake, he realizes now.
"Come on, love," she taunts, waving her staff. The same one that cast the fires that devasted his life, the same one that put him under her wretched spell. "I know you can do much better than that."
He snarls and limps in a circle around her. The arrows twinge and burn and he wants to chew them out, but he'd have to present his neck to her in order to do so. Another feral noise rips from his throat out of frustration.
Kate strokes the birchwood. "Oh, Derek, I can feel your anger from here," she purrs. "It's so...delicious."
Once more, he flings himself at her, only to bowl over as a cone of sheer ice explodes over his chest from her staff. The icicles, sharp as any knife, are embedded in his skin, and it feels like they are working themselves inside, in to his lungs. It gets difficult to breathe. His legs begin to shake as he tries to get up, and he ends up collapsing back into the snow.
"That's right, baby," Kate croons. She is smart enough to keep her distance, and Derek wishes she wasn't so he could sink his fangs into her wicked body and never stop tearing it apart. "You look so good in red."
Belatedly, he glances around him and notices the snow stained red. It pools around him from his wounds and streaks from where he's slid deep grooves into the mounds. A small part of him notes that he's lost too much, that he could die. And then a bigger part of him realizes that he's dying already.
His eyes turn back to see Kate walking purposefully toward him, aware of his shortened breath and fading sight. "Game over already? It was just getting fun," she says.
Derek only manages a breathless growl, body suddenly too weak and numb to manage much else. The first hint of Stiles' scent doesn't register until he can sense the elf right behind Kate, too beaten and exhausted to notice sooner, and by then it's too late to bark a warning. Stiles is stealthed, but it won't matter. Not against someone of Kate's caliber.
"You've made friends, Derek," Kate mutters. She spins abruptly and hits Stiles hard enough across the shoulder with her staff that he's knocked off his feet. Derek lunges and bites at her leg in the split second she's distracted, scrabbling for a better hold when he actually sinks his teeth in. She shrieks and brings down the end of her stave in a brutal stab to Derek's temple. Lights explode in his vision even as he tastes rich, thick blood pouring into his mouth.
He's disoriented, sick and reeling in the snow. Kill me, he thinks. End this. End it all. Kill me, killmekillmekillme.
He doesn't know when he changes back to human, but he does. He can't see and the wind is roaring like a feral beast through his ears. The very ground seems to be shifting and roiling like the ocean beneath him, and it's all he can do to just hold on, but he doesn't want to, anymore. He doesn't. There is too much pain, too much confusion, and he can taste death in his mouth, mixing with the ash. It hurts. It hurts.
"I know, Derek, I know. Just...stay with me, it's okay."
"Yeah, it's me. I've got you, hear me? I've got you. Fuck, you're bleeding so much - I don't...I can't - where are your clothes, even? "
He thinks he hears Kate screaming threats, and he struggles to open his eyes. Everything swims, though, making him sicker and he ends up squeezing them shut again. Stiles' arms tighten around him and he might be groaning, but it's so hard to make sense of anything anymore.
He catches the rogue wolf's scent then, and he thrashes because he knows that scent. He knows that scent almost as well as Kate's, and with as much malice. Peter Hale had caused mutiny in the Pack in a single-minded drive to become Alpha. He killed Laura - beautiful, funny, sweet Laura - and would have killed Derek as well had Peter's brother, Derek's father, not banished him all those years ago. A lone wolf, a wolf cast out of his pack, is a sentence worse than death. Derek can smell the sickness of the Omega on Peter, his lonliness tangible and as black as his heart; tainted worse than the Darkspawn.
Derek tries to warn Stiles, but the elf keeps holding him down and yelling and Derek can hear his heartbeat, can hear everyone's heartbeat, and it's all so damn loud that he wishes he could break away from it. He thrashes harder, ripping his wounds wider, bleeding more, breathing faster, hurting, screaming through all the pain and suffering, wishing, hoping...failing...dying...
"No! Derek, no! Stop - "
"Stiles, don't go near it!"
Everything is rushing in and out of focus, but somehow he's moving. Somehow he's dragging himself across the ground. Peter's damaged face looks up at him through torn, ripped flesh, mutilated by the Dalish and painted in Kate's blood. Death. Derek can smell it in his uncle's lungs.
"You can't handle being the Alpha," Peter rasps. "It will destroy you."
"Derek, get away from him!"
"I should have killed you the day you were born."
Derek rests a trembling hand on his uncle's throat and mumbles thickly, "You should have." and rips it out.
Allison remains in Keeper Stilinski's camp, much to the irritation of her parents. They do not force her back, however. In light of Kate's betrayal and upon being presented with her journal, they begin working toward an alliance once more. They allow their daughter her space, though there are bold restrictions of her time spent in Scott's company. No one really enforces it, however, once they notice.
Kate's body is returned to the Argents to deal with as they wish. Peter Hale's body is never recovered per Derek's request ("Let the bears pick his bones clean."). Time passes and heals wounds that seemed at one time grievous and life-threatening. Derek begins teaching Scott how to control himself, along, regretably, with Lydia, who had suffered the bite from Peter before he died. In the passing months, Jackson also joins their ranks, having no family of his own, and the permission of the Keeper. Though Keeper Stilinski had done his best to prevent it , he had to accept the fact that it was what Jackson wanted and that it would give the young elf a chance to have a family since the death of his birth parents.
The camp is still wary of them all. They do not fully trust these wolves living among them, even though each has had some hand in helping Scott, Jackson and Lydia grow. After having Peter destroy their camp and murder their loved ones, however, Derek does not blame them. Were he in their position, he probably would go to great lengths to keep them out of the camp entirely.
Things settle, after a time. They might not ever go back to being peaceful, but it is nearly comfortable again, and Derek takes the time to deal. He stays away most nights so that he can howl himself hoarse at the barebone sky from the deaths that haunt his dreams, from the weight that pushes down on his shoulders. He is having trouble letting go of all the hate that has fueled him up to this point.
It is not nearly as hard to deal with as it would be were he without a Pack - and that thought alone, the fact that he is Alpha of an actual Pack, leaves him poleaxed - but it is still difficult. They are his family, but they aren't his family.
It is one such night when Stiles approaches him for the first time since the fight. Stiles attends the training sessions, and even joins, sometimes, but this is the first time he's come to Derek alone. This is the first time he's come to Derek as a person instead of tag-a-long of friends'. It had been an unspoken request that Derek wanted - needed - space.
Derek looks at him from his place leaning against a boulder overlooking the valley of the camp. The rogue is nervous, fidgeting and rubbing his pink fingers together for warmth. His armor is gone, replaced by a thick shirt, smooth deerskin pants and rough leather boots.
"I'm fine." Derek says.
"Liar," Stiles replies easily, coming up to lean beside him on the boulder.
Derek raises an eyebrow but doesn't push him away. Stiles grins. "What do you want?"
"Just to talk." He shrugs. "You've been uh, kinda weird lately. You can talk to me, you know? A little heart to heart. I'll even let you cry on my shoulder."
Derek rolls his eyes. "No."
"Or I can give you a hug? I give good hugs. "
He glares. "No."
"A big 'ol Stilinski bear hug. It's good for the soul. Makes everything better. Me and Dad are renowned for it," he says, widening his arms and moving as if he's going to really hug Derek. "C'mon, sourwolf. You'll love it."
"Sour - what," he starts, only to nearly bite off his own tongue when his jaw snaps shut as Stiles does hug him. And...and it's nice, if he's being honest. Derek didn't realize how much he was beginning to miss this, miss Stiles. He stays immobile long enough for Stiles to become uncertain and start to pull away before he wraps his own arms around the Dale and pulls him closer, holds him against himself, and buries his face against the warm neck.
Stiles melts against him, and they stay like that for a long time. Derek surprises himself by how much he enjoys the simplicity of it.
"My dad always says that killing doesn't solve your problems," Stiles says after a while. Derek lifts his head so he can see, though he keeps his arms where the are. Stiles tilts his chin up with a thoughtful grimace. "because the dead can't atone for what they did, which makes sense, sure. But, I don't know, some people - some people just deserve to die."
Derek searches Stiles expression for something, not even sure himself what for, perhaps regret or the like, but there is none. There is open honesty and admiration and an anxious gleam to his bright eyes, but not even a hint of guilt or regret. Derek feels his shoulders relax, feels himself lean forward, bumping his nose against Stiles' and tracing along the warm skin. He doesn't say anything, doesn't know what to say, and presses their mouths together in a searing kiss that lights Derek up from the inside.
It's different than the first time they did this; hotter. Darker. Derek straightens and holds Stiles' face in his hands as he tilts head to delve deeper into the wet warmth, slotting his thumbs behind his pointed ears. A pleased noise quietly rumbles from his chest when Stiles moans into his mouth and clutches his biceps, clinging.
"As fun as this is," Stiles babbles quickly when they break apart, diving back in for a quick kiss before continuing. "As fun as this is, I'd rather take it back to my bed, wouldn't you?"
Derek quirks a barely noticable smile. "Where your father is. Maybe we should wait - "
"Fuck that! Dad's busy doing...Keeper things." He jerks Derek back in again, and gets trapped against the boulder for his troubles with a knee shoved between his legs and hot hands inching up his shirt. "Ohmygod. Maker. Andraste. Fuck, please - please?" Derek nips at the sensitive skin of the elf's neck and chuckles.
The Keeper is indeed tied up with 'Keeper things', oddly enough, and the rest of the Pack along with the entire camp are sleeping in their respective tents, so the two of them quickly make their way to Stiles' stuffed bed in the late (or early, depending on how look at it) hours of the morning unmolested. Mostly.
Derek pushes Stiles onto the padded nest of bundled tall grass wrapped in animal fur and hides, chasing his bee-stung lips and nearly clawing away anything that keeps that flushed, sweating skin hidden. Stiles is panting against his mouth, squirming and dragging his blunt nails over Derek's back. Throaty, keening noises fall whisper-soft against Derek's ear as he knees the Dale's legs apart and grinds, delighting in the heightened yelp and Stiles' wild eyes when they lock on his.
He backs up long enough to strip before falling back down again, moving and rocking, sliding against the slick heat of Stiles' body and growling with impatience at not being in already, not claiming like he so desperately wants. And Stiles is all motion beneath him, urging and pleading, writhing when he's touched because it's so new for him, and Derek is trying, oh he's trying so hard, to be careful, but it's hard when all he wants to do is take.
"De - Derek, please, fuck. Derek."
He clutches his hands into the furs on either side of Stiles' head, bracketing him in with arms as hard as stone. He feels his eyes change, feels them bleed red, and sees the surprise flit over Stile's face like a quick rabbit fleeing the big bad wolf. "Don't," he says. Growls. Pleads. "Don't be afraid of me."
Stiles reaches for him, pulls him down and wraps around him, moves until Derek is inside, and gasps. "I'm not."
His pulse does not falter with a lie, he does not shake or stink with fear. He smells like the forest, like sweet pine and fresh water and damp earth. Derek licks and bites at his throat, marking, inhaling that earthly scent. He smells like home. He feels like home. Like Pack, like family.
Derek sinks in further, his own heart pounding hard enough to break his ribs and fly from his chest. Your heart will soar someday, my cub. A groan rips past his fangs. He knows, he knows, with everything his father ever taught him, with everything the wolf is, who Stiles is. What Stiles is. Hope. Faith. A new beginning from the ashes of a broken life. Never give up. An impetuous, impulsive, dangerous, cyclonic burst of energy that never stops, never slows down, just builds and builds, crackling with heat and excitement, striking Derek through the chest so he can taste the ozone on his tongue. Do not be afraid to ride the lightning. A bolt of blinding electricity threatening to sieze Derek's damaged heart without warning.
He takes, and he gives, and he gets back. Stiles breaks apart beneath him and tears Derek down as well, blown apart as completely as a star exploding in the sky. Equal, matched, together, because it is the way it should be. Because Stiles compliments him in ways no one else can, in ways he does not want anyone else to. He can feel Stiles in his blood, can feel his beating heart as his own. There is no end and no beginning, no distinction of who is whom because they are one being, one unit. When he rests his hand on Stiles' chest, it is Stiles' hand on his chest that curls gentle fingers seeking touch. When Stiles' eyes close, it is his eyes that shut as sleep claims them. When he inhales, it is Stiles' lungs that expand with air as they breathe. A mate, a partner, a leader of a Pack. His family.
Ending influenced by Sonnet 17 by Pablo Neruda!
Thank you, Lassendri, for giving me the name XD