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When There’s Blood On Your Tongue (And You’re Ready For War)

Chapter Text

October 27th - 1:30 am

Stiles dropped down from his perch on the windowsill and crouched against the wall, waiting to stand until the hush beyond his bedroom door became a constant and unbroken hum. The adrenaline that had propelled him up the side of the house was ebbing fast. He skirted his bed on shaking legs, the urge to crawl up the mattress an insistent itch he couldn’t indulge.

Rolling his shoulder, he pressed his thumb into the joint and kneaded the knot of pain tangled in the muscle. He swayed to a stop in front of his bureau and, tugging his collar aside, studied the bruise that spread like nightfall across his skin. Lies formed to coat his tongue; he swallowed them all, resolving to settle on an acceptable excuse before his teammates stripped down to suit up for early morning practice. His gaze lifted to the mirror, honed in on the twin scrapes of dried blood his fingers found. The pinprick holes felt like chasms beneath his nails. His lashes drifted down as he breathed through his mouth, filtering the acrid scent of sweat and smoke and blood.

The quiet broke, punctured by the sharp snap of cracking bone. Stiles cocked his head to the other side, opened his eyes. He held the weary stare of the wolf reflected back at him for an extended moment. The paint he’d applied hours before smeared under his knuckles, blurring the shading and shedding the illusion of fur. Wiping the mess on his hoodie, he slid open the top drawer and rifled through the contents, pulling out a small bottle, a clean cloth tucked between his fingers and the glass. The cap discarded, he laid the thick cotton across the mouth of the bottle and upended it.

“Were you ever going to tell me?”

Stiles sifted through the shadows pinned to the corner of his room, the cloth pressed to his temple. “Can we maybe do this another time, Derek?” Turning his attention back to the streaks of paint near his ear, he added, “It’s been a long--”

“It’s about to get longer,” Derek said, pushing away from the wall. “You lied to me--”

“Because this has nothing to do with you. Which, okay, I get how that might be a point of confusion,” Stiles said. “Considering our track record. Oh, and your overblown sense of entitlement to my time.” Propping his elbows on the bureau, Stiles rested against the solid wood. He refused to lose whatever advantage he possessed by sinking to the floor, his eyes closing before his ass hit the carpet. “But the way I saw it? There was no reason--”

“Is that right?” Derek crossed the room in the slip between seconds. Easing the cloth from Stiles’ slack grip, he returned it to Stiles’ cheek, guiding it over the bone with his thumb and smoothing it down to the corner of Stiles’ parted mouth. “Why a wolf, Stiles?” Pitched low and quiet, Derek’s voice struck Stiles like a lash and, swallowing, he checked the instinct to shake his head. To deny the truth Derek was hunting for. “If there really is no reason,” Derek continued, “why did you choose a wolf?”

Derek’s eyes followed the cloth’s path over Stiles’ lips; his pupils expanded, staunching the crimson that bled into his irises. Stiles’ answer stalled on his tongue. Blinking to sharpen his focus, he firmed his resolve to ignore the heat Derek threw off leaning in, intent on stripping Stiles of his disguise. “Easy,” he said, and licked the slick olive oil off his lips. “Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf? If the Grimms were right - and you should know - the answer is pretty much everyone.” Long fingers circling Derek’s wrist, Stiles drew his hand down. “That fear? That’s what I was going for.”

Twisting his hand before Stiles released him, Derek reversed the hold, examined the abrasions on Stiles’ knuckles. “What do I have to do?” he asked, stroking his finger over the torn skin. The black and gray pigment absorbed by the creases faded under carefully applied pressure. “To get the truth from you.”

“You could fuck me.” Stiles notched his chin up, holding ground as Derek’s grip tightened and eyes narrowed. “All sated and sleepy, I’ve been known to give up a few secrets.” Too late to bite his tongue or consider the consequences of using his body as a bargaining chip, Stiles let a minute and then another pass in silence. Exhaustion bore down on him, damming the shame that pooled in the pit of his stomach over being willing to take whatever he could get from Derek. “So that’s a no?” He jerked his hand free. “Fine. Get the--”

Derek dropped his head, and with his lips against Stiles’ ear murmured, “Of all the things you could put in my mouth, I wouldn’t have thought you’d go with words.” His teeth scraped down the line of Stiles’ throat. “I didn’t say no.” He pulled back, held Stiles’ unblinking stare. “And I’m not leaving.”

“In that case.” Stiles reached for Derek’s belt. “I hope you don’t mind doing most of the work. Or I’ve maybe got enough energy to bl--”

A growl rolled over Stiles’ voice. His fingers were trapped, caught between stiff denim and the taut stretch of skin beneath Derek’s navel. “You’re going to want to take care,” Derek said. “Watching you earlier it was all I could do to keep--”

Fumbling his attempt to slip the button on Derek’s jeans free of its mooring, Stiles’ head shot up. “You followed me. I can’t be--No, I can. I totally can.”

“You have no idea how--” Derek shook his head and unhooked Stiles’ fingers. “I didn’t say no, but I didn’t say right now. Like this. I want answers, Stiles. Let’s start with what the fuck you were thinking.”

Chapter Text

October 26th - 1:15 pm

“What the fuck is this guy thinking?” Jackson asked, sliding into the seat across from Stiles. “Using a stick to go after thugs--”

“Thugs? Is this...” Stiles swept the cafeteria with a squint-eyed glare and, leaning low over the table, hissed, “Have we been living in a Raymond Chandler novel all this time? And no one told me?”

“More like Gotham,” Isaac said, and straddled the chair next to Scott. Sifting blunt nails through dark hair, he curled a loose hand around Scott’s nape. His stomach tight, Stiles watched his friend brush a soft kiss against Scott’s smile. Isaac eased back, caught Stiles’ gaze before it dropped to his napkin and widened, sighting the sharp and intricate folds he’d pressed into the paper. The back of his fingers sliding along his cheek, Isaac chased the blush falling down the pale curve. He cleared his throat. “But, ah, our vigilante doesn’t have Wayne’s style. Or weapons. Unless that stick is tricked out somehow.”

“Why are you,” Stiles pointed at Jackson, “and you,” speared his finger at Isaac, “speaking in italics? It’s a stick. No emphasis required,” he assured them. “But since you brought it up, you might be wondering if I’m jealous yet another dude is stealing my Batman thunder. And, you know, I--Can see you, Jackson. Rolling your eyes is rude, and we’ve had the manners talk, like, a thousand times. But let’s recap: use them. Anyway,” he said, and shot a disbelieving glance at Scott. “I’ve decided I’m more like Dick Grayson. Think about it. Sidekick turned hero. In possession of a superior ass. The similarities are uncanny. Am I right?”

“No,” Scott, Isaac and Jackson answered in chorus.

Stiles blinked, frowning. “Why do you guys always have to sugarcoat your opinions? It’s hurtful. Like you think I can’t take it or something. But you have a point,” he agreed. “My ass is--”


What?” Stiles made a hasty grab for the table, smacking the front legs of his chair on the ground. “No. My ass is definitely not Derek’s. And why can’t we have one conversation--Put that eyebrow down, Isaac. I’m serious--”

“Yeah.” Jackson smirked. “Seriously in denial.”

Stiles swung his head around. “Why are you even at this table?”

“Why are you?” Jackson countered.

Crossing his arms, Scott mumbled, “Here we go.”

“If I give you this,” Isaac began, and tugged a sealed orange wrapper out of his jacket pocket, “can we get back to the stick-wielding, red-hood-wearing problem at hand?”

His hand thrust out between them, Stiles motioned for Isaac to rip open the slim sleeve of candy. “You give me one of those, I’ll--”

“Do not finish that sentence.” Scott slapped a peanut butter cup onto Stiles’ palm, and turned to Jackson. “Why are you sitting here?”

Swiping his tongue up the pad of his thumb, removing the thin layer of chocolate coating it, Jackson jerked his chin in Stiles’ direction. “Probably for the same reason Hale’s been looking for him.”

“What?” Stiles paused mid-bite to gape at Isaac. “Why? What’d I do now?”

Isaac tossed the balled-up wrapper into the trash. “I was trying to tell you, but then you--”

“I know what happened.” Stiles waved it off. “I was there. Here. We’ve all agreed to forget about it--”


“Shut it, Jackson. Why is Derek looking for me?” Stiles asked. “And is he on his cycle? Because if he is, I will continue to not be found until it’s over.”

Scott grinned. “How can you tell?”

“Truer words, my friend,” Stiles intoned. “He’s always--”

“The Alpha of this pack,” Isaac said. “And the person most likely to rip our throats out--”

“With his teeth,” Stiles and Scott chimed in.

“--for suggesting he exists in a constant state of PMS. And if...these last couple of weeks, he’s’s because he’s preoccupied.” Isaac glanced out the window, his brow creased. “It’s only a matter of time before that circling pack fucks with us, and now there’s this guy--”

“So that’s it,” Stiles said. “That’s why he’s been looking for me. He wants me to do my thing. Find out where the other pack’s holed up.”

“Yeah. At least that’s part of it,” Isaac said.

“Part of--Never mind. Let the surprise kill me.” Stiles toyed with the fork on his tray and sighed. “If I go over there is he gonna snap his fingers? Expect results yesterday? Because I have this essay, and Derek’s gotta learn that he can’t--”

“He knows.” Isaac’s fingers laced through Scott’s; he brought their joined hands to his lap, and held Stiles’ eyes. “He knows he can’t have everything he wants.” A complicated Morse code tapped out under Isaac’s thumb. He opened his mouth, seemed to think better of it, and changed the angle of his lips to slant a crooked smile at Stiles. “But you could do it as a favor for me, if that makes you feel--”

“Like you’re abusing your position as my best friend’s boyfriend to get me to do Derek’s bidding?” Stiles canted his head, shrugged. “I can work with that.”

Jackson snorted. “Really? So all I had to do was hook-up with--”

“That would be a hell no,” Stiles said over Isaac’s rolling growl and Scott’s choked cough. “On every possible level. And on that truly disturbing note--” he pushed back from the table “--I’m going to the library.” Stiles looked up at Isaac, blindly untangling his backpack’s strap from its chokehold on the chair’s scuffed leg. “I’ll swing by Derek’s after.”

Isaac nodded. “Sounds good.”

Stiles stood, turned. His arms shot out, pinwheeling before he landed in an awkward sprawl on the dull linoleum floor. “I’m okay!” He bounced up. “I’m good! Just...stupid bag.” He mimed massaging his wrist and fastened the button at his cuff, covering the tip of a fading welt. Peering through his lashes, he made the rounds of the faces at the table. Certain none of them had noticed the injury, he said, “That strap. It came out of nowhere. I mean...nowhere.”

“How is it you haven’t fallen off the bench you’re constantly warming?” Jackson asked.

“He has.” Scott patted Isaac’s head, burrowed into his throat. Silent laughter shook Isaac’s shoulders. Unrepentant in the face of Stiles’ betrayed frown, Scott said, “Don’t you remember--”

“Sure, but instead you could always remind me why we’re friends. That would actually be helpful.” Stiles sniffed, hitching his backpack up his shoulder. “That goes for all of you, by the way. Except Jackson, who’s more of an asshole than a friend. So really just the two of you. I’m going now,” he said, taking slow, backward steps. “Hey! Which aisle do they shelve the Midol on? Thought I might pick up a box, just in case.”

“Get out of here,” Isaac said, and with his sleeve wicked away a bead of moisture trapped by his lashes at the corner of his eye. “I’ll tell Derek you’re coming in voluntarily.”

“Good idea.” Making a break for the door, he muttered, “Maybe he’ll go into cardiac arrest from the shock.” In the hall, he heard Scott’s confused, “So who’s Raymond Chandler?” and grinned.


“Where have you been?”

“Derek.” Stiles heaved his backpack up, making a show of shoving it through his Jeep’s open window. “Didn’t Isaac tell you I was gonna stop by? I had this theory you’d--”

“The last couple of nights,” Derek demanded, and stepped off the curb. “Where were you?”

“Out.” The even and steady beat of Stiles’ heart was a deceit, lending the lie on his tongue a semblance of truth. “You know. On a date.”

Derek prowled closer, crowding Stiles against the battered driver’s side door. “With who?”

“Does it matter? I’m here. You’re here. Snap your fingers.” Stiles slid the pen out from behind his ear, rolling it between his fingers. “I’ll be your huckleberry.”

Eyebrow arched, Derek asked, “What?”

“You’ve never seen--Of course you haven’t. Forget it,” Stiles said, tossing the pen through the window. “So Isaac mentioned you’ve been looking for me. What do you want me to find out?”

Hooking a finger on Stiles’ collar, Derek peeled the material away from his neck. “That’s a nasty bruise.” A long, pointed claw grazed Stiles’ spine, pricking the concealed heart of the contusion. “How’d it happen?”

Stiles lowered his eyes to Derek’s hand on his shoulder. He concentrated on the metronomic sweep of Derek’s thumb over his throat, trying to distract himself from how that rough pad felt on his bare skin. “What? That?” His lips drew up at one corner, imitating Jackson’s patented smirk. “We got a little carried away last night.” Shrugging off Derek’s grip, Stiles adjusted the flannel he wore unbuttoned over his t-shirt so it covered the dark splotch of color. “You know how it goes,” he said. “And, anyway, you think that’s bad? You should see him. Hickeys.” Stiles skimmed his fingertips across his chest, trailing lower. “Everywhere.”

His nostrils flaring, Derek shook his head. It was an imperceptible shift, one Stiles wouldn’t have registered had Derek not been standing so close. If every breath Stiles took wasn’t laced with leather and woodsmoke, the hint of amber he associated with Derek’s wolf. Inhaling deeply, Stiles almost missed Derek’s, “Why?”

“Why? You mean, why did I suck every inch--”

“No,” Derek bit out. “Why are you--” His chest rose on a deep, prolonged breath that pulled taut his ribbed tank, drawing Stiles’ eyes down to the ridge of muscle he’d wanted to map with his tongue since--“Stiles.” His gaze skittering up Derek’s face, Stiles cataloged the tense jaw and compressed line of his mouth, the snap of red over stone green. “Our pack takes priority. If you’ve got another date planned, cancel it. Until this rival--”

“About that.” Stiles swallowed. “I’ll find them. Just give me a couple of days, okay? There are some old maps at the library. They’ve been helpful in the past, and I think--”

“Do what you can there, but they’re not our only problem.” Derek shoved fisted hands in his jacket’s pockets, considering Stiles. “What does your father know about this guy--”

“With the stick? Not much,” Stiles said, and huffed out a breath. “Look, my dad’s not Commissioner Gordon. As undeniably cool as it would be, last time I checked there wasn’t a light on the roof of the station. All he’s got are a few reports of a man wearing a red, hooded sweatshirt who carried something that looked like a stick, but could have been a pipe or tire iron, and some photos of a blood trail. That’s it. Now can I--” Stiles yanked on the Jeep’s door handle “-- so I can get to work? Because let’s face it, who’s going to save the day if not me? With my unequaled--”

“If he picks up any new leads--”

“I’ll tell you. Or I’ll tell Scott, and he’ll tell you.” Stiles hesitated. “Why is this guy such a hot topic?” he asked finally. “First Jackson, now you. It’s not like he’s come after--”

“Not yet,” Derek said. “But until we know more, he’s a threat. One I expect you to take seriously.”

“Meaning, what...Enforced curfew? Haul the buddy system out of the kindergarten closet?” Stiles lifted a hand and held it up, palm out. “I call Isaac.”

Derek’s brow furrowed. “Isaac?”

“He comes stocked with peanut butter cups.”

“Peanut butter cups?”

Stiles clapped Derek’s biceps. “Your grasp on the English language is getting better every day, buddy. Good for you. Now, just keep repeating everything I say and you’ll be an honest-to-God wordsmith in no time. We’re talking Shakespeare-worthy shi--”

“Don’t you have an essay to finish?” Derek smiled, baring his teeth. “And speaking of that, where’s my Midol?”

Palming the back of his neck, Stiles said, “You, ah, know about that? Who was it? Was it Scott? It was Scott. One of these days--”


“Of course,” Stiles seethed. “Fucking Jackson.”

“I’ll pass.” Derek shrugged a shoulder. “He’s not my type.”

“Type? You have a type? What is it?” Stiles called, suppressing the urge to follow Derek to his car. “That hot--”

“Stiles,” Derek said, and swung the Camaro’s door open. He slid behind the wheel, settling into his seat before looking back at Stiles. “Find them for me.”


Stiles lifted a red marker to his mouth, biting down on the cap. He jerked his head back and spit the plastic out, spreading sheets of paper across his desk, carefully aligning streets and matching buildings split in half by breaks in the pages until the map was whole. He pressed the felt tip to the paper, cutting lines across sections of the town he’d ruled out, and stepped back. “So where are you?”

He ignored his phone, vibrating on the mattress, and bent over the map. Digging a coin out of his pocket, he spun it and watched it turn, tilt. He flicked the dime out of the way and circled the area it had covered when it fell, deciding it was worth a shot.

Crossing to his closet, he dropped to his haunches and slid a shoebox out from the back corner. The lid flipped off and forgotten, Stiles looked down at the pots of paint and red cotton, and got to work.

Chapter Text

October 26th - 11:10 pm

“Nice night.” Stiles stopped next to the park’s single swing set and rolled the shaft of a modified lacrosse stick from the curve of his neck to the edge of his shoulder blade, waiting out the slow, head-to-toe perusal of the two men swinging out of sync. He met their amused stares with a saccharine smile. “Mind if I join you?”

The shorter of the two blew a smoke ring that hit Stiles’ chest and wavered, dispersing like steam rising off of sun-warmed pavement. He tossed his half-burnt cigarette to the ground at Stiles’ feet. “What are you supposed to be?”

“You mean this?” Stiles pointed to his face. “Or this?” he asked, tugging on his hood.

“The hood makes you, what, little Red?” The other man pushed up from the swing. He was taller than Derek, Stiles thought fleetingly, and lanky where Derek was solid. “You’re pretty enough. I’ll give you that. With those eyes,” he said, leaning against the bracing post, his gaze roaming over Stiles’ face. “And that mouth.” He grasped the pull tab on Stiles’ hoodie and eased the zipper down, letting it loose just below Stiles’ sternum. “Guess that must be it,” he said, “because you’re no wolf.”

“Neither are you,” Stiles returned, ignoring the impulse to yank the zipper back up. “But I think you know where I can find a whole pack of them.”

Blue eyes darkened with unmistakable heat. “That was you? A friend of ours was spitting teeth out of a swollen mouth at the time, but he said some guy in a wolf mask was sniffing around. Asking questions. I thought it was stupidity talking,” he said, shifting forward. A nearby streetlight slanted across his face, shading the black strands swept back in a tousled pompadour blue, turning the shaved sides of his head to shadows. “But now I can see how he’d get distracted. How you were able to send him back bleeding.”

“An insulting compliment,” Stiles mused. “Interesting choice.” He pursed his lips. “I maybe would have led with something else. I mean, if you really are trying to get into my pants.” Committed to playing the game, Stiles raked heavy-lidded eyes down the length of Blue’s torso, lingering on his button fly. “But that’s okay. We should take care of business first, anyway. And that,” he said with a grin, “will be my pleasure.”

Blue tilted his head. “Oh, I think I’ll keep you.”

“Keep this up, I’m gonna be sick.” Shorty stood and moved up beside Blue. “Even with the paint, you don’t actually look stupid, kid. But if you think we’re going to--”

“I don’t think that,” Stiles broke in. “I know. The thing about me? I can be very persuasive. Persistent, too. And look.” He rotated the lacrosse stick like a baton, cutting the shaft through the still air with a whistling speed. “I even came prepared.”

“Let me guess,” Shorty sneered. “Color Guard?”

“Too young to enlist, but I’m flattered you--”

“I meant the one with the flags.”

Blue turned his head toward Shorty, his eyebrow curved up, drawing Stiles’ attention to the scar bisecting the dark line near its narrowest point. “Really?” Grimacing, Blue added, “Do us both a favor: don’t talk.”

“I have one of them, too,” Stiles commiserated. “Dumb as a box of rocks, but he tries, you know?”

“Unfortunately,” Blue said, “I do. Just like I know that any Alpha who’d leave a lamb like you to the slaughter isn’t worth your allegiance.”

“You think...” Stiles laughed. “I’m not bait and he’s not going to show up. I hope you weren’t counting on him intervening on your behalf,” he said. “Because that’s not going to happen. You’ll have to take your licks--”

“From you?” Blue’s teeth scraped his bottom lip. “Any time. So long as I get to reciprocate.”

“Do you flirt with every boy that comes along, intent on beating you until you’re a broken, bloody mess, or am I special?” Stiles asked. “Please say I’m special. No one ever does. And, hey, I might even faint then, and you’d be off the hook. At least for tonight.”

“I don’t think you’re the fainting kind,” Blue replied. “But if that’s true, all the more reason to switch sides. When we take this--”

Stiles knocked the lacrosse stick against the side of his boot. “Yeah. I’m going to have to stop you there--”

“Finally,” Shorty muttered.

“--and just when I was staring to like you too,” Stiles admitted. “But, see, there’s already a pack in residence, and they’re kind of fond of the place, humble as it is, so yours taking over? Not going to happen.”

“And you’re going to stop us,” Shorty said, “all by yourself?”

“Good question. I might let the pack have some fun.” Stiles shrugged. “Or maybe I won’t. Once you give up where you’ve been--”

“Once we--You keep saying that.” Shorty’s jaw clenched. “I think you’re bluffing.”

Stiles dug his boots into the crushed rock at the base of the swing set and jerked his upper body back, swinging the stick up, driving the metal into Shorty’s ribs as the man’s fist missed its mark, his momentum carrying him forward, into striking range. He executed a loose revolution, bringing the shaft down on Shorty’s shoulder and lashing his back, the impact sending ripples of shock up Stiles’ arms.

He shook it off and trained a measured stare on Blue.

“I swear.” Blue eased his jacket off one shoulder and slid it down his arm, repeating the slow striptease with the other. “I could get off just watching you.” The thin black shirt he wore clung to lean muscle, shifting as he shoved each cuff up over tattooed forearms. “But I think I’d like to touch. Do you mind?”

“That’s kind of what I’m here for,” Stiles said, and tightened his grip on the lacrosse stick. “So come on.”

Blue tsked. “Business first, remember?”

Stiles rocked forward to counteract the impact of Blue’s shoulder, burying into his tense stomach. Right hand clenched around the back of Stiles’ thigh, nails digging in, Blue yanked, jerking Stiles’ leg out from under him. He hit the ground, landing hard on his back, breath hissing out through gritted teeth. Pinned beneath Blue’s long legs straddling his hips, Stiles looked up through his lashes.

Twisting Stiles’ hoodie around his fist, Blue murmured, “I hope this is as good for you as it is for me.”

“I’ve had better.” Stiles tossed a handful of rocks at Blue’s face and bucked up, unseating Blue as he wrenched back, blinking dust and dirt from his eyes.

Conscious of the chill on his face, belying the sheen of sweat at his temple and hairline, Stiles pushed to his feet. He crouched as Blue rose, thought he heard a furious growl rumble out of the trees along the park’s perimeter, but all of it - the cold, the noise - receded, pushed aside by instinct and adrenaline as Blue stalked him and Shorty shoved up, moving in on his right side.

Striking out with the stick, Stiles snuck it past Shorty’s defensive stance and landed a shot that made the man stagger, bite out a fervent “Fuck.” Stiles pivoted and pulled his arm back, putting his weight behind the punch he threw, snapping Blue’s head back when it connected with his cheek, glancing off his jaw. Blood slicked Stiles’ knuckles, warm and wet on frayed skin, sliding sickly down the back of his hand. Shorty grabbed his arm before he could wipe the slick streaks off, pulling him around and ramming his shoulder into the swing set’s post. Swallowing a cry of pain, Stiles dropped to a knee and spun, thrusting his forearm up the length of Shorty’s inseam, driving it into his groin. Shorty whimpered and toppled to the ground, covering his crotch with both hands.

“Where are the rest?” Stiles demanded. He blinked at the oddly satisfied slant of Blue’s smile; the inexplicably sexy stretch of it. He took a breath, a moment to rally, and asked, “Where’s your Alpha hiding?”

“Follow me.” Blue bent, slung Shorty’s arm around his neck. “You might find out.” He hauled the other man to his feet. “Or we can go somewhere. Finish what we started here. How does more blood and fewer clothes sound to you?”

“Honestly, like--Did you hear that?” Stiles cocked his head, listening for another snarl like the one that had punctuated Blue’s questions. The skin at his throat pulled tight, drawing his divided focus to a throbbing pain near his pulse. “What the--When did he--Shorty there scoffed at my wolfy paint job and he’s the one that tried to bite? What the fuck.”

“What can I say?” Blue secured his hold, jostling Shorty, winning a pained moan for the effort. “He was raised by wolves. No manners.”

Stiles choked on a laugh. “I have one of those too.”

“I meant what I said, Red.” Blood stained Blue’s lips, drying in the stubble on his chin, but the promise in his unrepentant grin was unmistakable. “Find me.”

Stiles watched Blue half-drag a limping Shorty away, a retort dying on the tip of his tongue. He considered following, wondered if his aching muscles could go another potential round, and decided against it. “Shit.” He patted his pockets. “Where did I put my keys?”

Chapter Text

October 27th - 1:55 am

Stiles shuffled to his bed and sat heavily, the edge of the mattress a sharp ledge cutting into the hand-span strip of tender skin across the back of his thigh. “If you were there, you couldn’t have given me a ride?” He gingerly pushed back on the mattress. “I had to walk all the way home. That was...I don’t even know how many blocks.”

“How long?” Kneeling next to the bed, Derek loosened the laces and tugged Stiles’ boot off. “Stiles? How long have you been doing this?”

“I--” Stiles licked his lips, riveted on the warmth of Derek’s hand on his leg, the rough pads of his fingertips sliding into Stiles’ sock to peel it off. “What?”

“You didn’t learn to fight like that overnight.”

“No, I...The internet’s awesome,” Stiles absently replied as Derek dug into the arch of Stiles’ foot, applying firm pressure and drawing tight, interlocking circles from toe to heel. The explanation forming at the back of Stiles’ mind left his mouth as an appreciative moan he cut off with a cough. “Since the thing with...I wanted to help, okay? To do more than just--” He waved at the laptop propped open on his desk. “To actually be part of the pack.”

Derek looked up at him, confusion pressed between the slant of his eyebrows, evident at the downturned corner of his mouth. “What are you talking about?”

“You wanted me to track them down,” Stiles reminded him. “You didn’t dictate how.” He leaned forward. “Derek, you saw. I can take care of myself. I’m not weak, or--”

“Who said you were?”

“Right. So what was the message, then?” Stiles asked. “Every time you pushed me back or stepped in front of me? Every time you told me to run--”

“I did that because I--” Derek’s mouth snapped shut. Turning his attention to his lap, he gently replaced Stiles’ foot on the ground and lifted the other. “You didn’t answer me before. Were you ever going to tell me?”

“No,” Stiles admitted after a pregnant pause. “Look at it this way: I didn’t tell Scott, either. Or Isaac.”

Derek’s thumb skidded, his nail scraping Stiles’ instep. “I don’t give a shit about that.” He soothed the sting with a reverent, feather-light touch and added, “You should have told me--”

“Why?” Stiles rasped. “Just because you’re the Alpha--”

“The Alpha?” His hand still on Stiles’ calf, Derek asked, “Is that really all you see me as?”

“I...” Stiles trailed off, swallowed.

His jaw tight, Derek’s Adam’s apple bobbed roughly. “Are you going to find him?”

“Yeah.” Stiles rubbed his eyes, trying to wipe away the fatigue that felt like a thick string tangled up in his lashes, intent on towing his eyelids shut. “That’s what you want, right? I think it might be--” Frowning as Derek’s heat receded, Stiles blinked his eyes open. “What’s--Where are you going?” He surged up from the bed and moved to follow Derek to the open window, but stopped before taking a single step. “No.” Stiles saw Derek’s shoulders jerk. He refused to acknowledge Derek’s white-knuckled grip on the sill, how quickly he could disappear. “You don’t get to do this, Derek.” Shifting his head, Derek met Stiles’ implacable stare with an impassive expression that rocked the dam in Stiles’ chest, releasing a tide of anger that coursed through him like blood: burning under his skin and flushing his cheeks, spilling onto his tongue. “You don’t get to follow me and then...then show up here and make demands, and...and then do the foot thing, like you were trying to...and then just take off. You want to know why a wolf? Fine,” Stiles snapped. “Because I’m an idiot.” He took a ragged breath. “And in love with you.”

Stiles shifted his gaze to the floor and quietly added, “I thought--” He shook his head, turning away as Derek relinquished his place in front of the window. “I don’t know what I thought.”

Derek’s hands settled tentatively on Stiles’ hips. “What?” He slid his arms around Stiles’ waist and moved in, pressing his chest to Stiles’ back. “Tell me.”

“It was something I had to do.” Stiles held his spine straight; too afraid to lean back, to discover that Derek wasn’t there at all. “Mostly to prove to myself that I could. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t scared shitless every time I covered my face in that paint.” He mopped his right hand on his jeans, startling when Derek stopped the restless motion with a firm touch, his fingers splaying wide, unknowingly making room for Derek to slot his in between. “I guess I chose a wolf to…” Derek brushed his nose against Stiles’ cheek when the pause lengthened, huffing out a short, warm breath. “I’m getting there, just...I chose it to feel closer to you. Okay? And to…borrow your strength. Or something as equally and illogically romantic as that. So, ah, go ahead,” Stiles said, squeezing Derek’s fingers, “laugh.”

Like the song his mother hummed each night as she tucked him in, pulling the sheet up to his chin with a flourish, Derek’s even breathing was a soothing whisper at Stiles’ ear. Hesitantly relaxing, Stiles focused on those soft exhalations, let them calm the anxious beat of his heart.

“A minute ago…about the foot thing--You were going to say like I was trying to take care of you. I was,” Derek confirmed. “I’m going to.” He nudged Stiles’ head to the side and drifted his lips down the line of Stiles’ throat, the stubble shading his jaw scraping sensitive skin before he reached the thick pulse throbbing beneath it. “From now on.” Derek worked Stiles’ belt loose, releasing the leather from the buckle. He used the strap to turn Stiles around. “Okay?”

Arousal dug into Stiles’ stomach with claws, twisting tighter as Derek scented it, his pupils blowing wide, hunger melting the stained glass green into something darker, deeper. One sharp jerk on the buckle and the belt slithered free of the loops, hit the floor. “Wh-what are you doing?”

“Something I’ve wanted to do...Something I thought I’d never--“ Derek closed his eyes, his lips compressing into an uncompromising line; a familiar expression Stiles finally understood. Lifting a hand to Derek’s face, Stiles felt something catch in his chest as Derek leaned into the touch, dark lashes fluttering, lifting. “I didn’t say no, remember?”

Derek nodded down at the bed, removing his jacket as Stiles sat, his hooded gaze tracking Stiles’ progress as he shoved up the mattress on his elbows. With one knee balanced on the edge, Derek pressed Stiles’ legs to either side and crawled up the space he’d made, rocking forward when his hips were flush against Stiles’ thighs.

A shaky breath stuttered past Stiles’ lips. “Oh, my god.”

Holding Stiles’ eyes, Derek dropped his head and slanted his lips over Stiles’ parted mouth. He settled into the cradle of Stiles’ arms and bent legs, deepening the kiss, satisfaction a rumbling hum he poured into Stiles’ mouth, sweeter than honey on Stiles’ tongue.

Crushing the back of Derek’s shirt in his fist, Stiles answered with a deep groan, chasing Derek’s lips when he pulled back to ask, “Am I hurting you?”

“No.” Stiles buried his fingers in Derek’s hair, but hesitated, his gaze searching Derek’s face. He responded to the unrestrained need he saw there like a match to flint: swiftly catching Derek’s mouth and pulling the bottom lip between his teeth to lave the smooth, slick skin. Distantly aware of Derek’s hand skimming his side, adept fingers finding the button on Stiles’ jeans and working it loose, teasing the zipper down, Stiles’ made an unintelligible sound of approval.

“Lift up,” Derek murmured.

Stiles thrust his hips up and raised his head from the pillow, watching as Derek slid down, stripping Stiles’ jeans off. He ran a nail along the seam of the dark denim stretched over Derek’s thigh. “Your turn.”

“Not tonight,” Derek said, softly stroking a thumb over the finger-shaped bruises Blue had left on Stiles’ skin. “I could kill him for this.”

“Wha--Killing? We’re talking about killing? Like, right now?” Stiles thumped his head on the pillow and wondered, “Should I not find that sexy? Because, yeah. And Blue wasn’t so bad--”

A low, insistent growl spilled into the room.

“No talking about Bl-you know who,” Stiles backpedaled. “Got it.”

“The way he looked at you,” Derek said, his voice subdued, like Stiles wasn’t actually meant to hear the words. “And you looked back.”

“Hey.” Stiles ducked his head and caught a flash of red, flaring like pain in Derek’s eyes. “Hey. Derek, there’s…Come on. You’ve got to know there’s no one else.”

“He had his hands on…You have no idea,” Derek gritted out, “how hard it was to keep from tearing him off you.”

“I got him off.” Derek’s head snapped up and Stiles winced, granting, “Okay, maybe not the best word choice. But you can put the fangs away because you know what I meant.” He grabbed Derek’s shirt and hauled him up, smiling when Derek didn’t resist, moving to blanket Stiles like they had a history of shared intimacy. Like Stiles hadn’t only just learned what Derek tasted like; how it felt to be pinned beneath Derek’s body, his fingers stealing across Stiles’ bare skin; like Stiles hadn’t just realized that Derek’s scent was a narcotic he had willingly addicted himself to. “The point is it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t matter. My hard-on, on the other hand--Which, by the way, I’ve maintained through talk of murder and feelings, and you should remember that and be impressed now, because when you finally touch me I’m going to come in--“

“Stiles.” Derek eased his hand under the band of Stiles’ boxers. “This is where you shut up and kiss me. Before my mouth is occupied with something else.” Long fingers curled around Stiles’ erection. “Think you can do that?”

Stiles nodded vigorously.

“Now,” Derek suggested when Stiles continued to stare at him.

“Right! I’ll just--” Stiles swept his thumb over Derek’s lip. His heart jerked at the gentle pressure of Derek’s teeth on the tip before his mouth sealed over the length of it, drawing it in and licking a hot swath up from the knuckle. “N-no fair.”

“Mmm.” Derek pulled off Stiles’ thumb and took his hand, tangling their fingers, bringing their joined hands up to rest over Stiles’ head on the pillow. “Kiss me.”

Stiles obliged, wrapping his free hand around Derek’s nape. “I want you,” he breathed into Derek’s mouth. “So bad.”

“Soon,” Derek promised. “When I’m not so...For now--” He broke off and tightened his grip, stroking his hand down Stiles’ cock.

Stiles tried to keep his hips from bucking off the bed and failed, silently pleading for Derek to hasten his pace, to increase the pressure. Derek shook his head imperceptibly and nuzzled into Stiles’ throat, dragging his lips to Stiles’ shoulder, the worn cotton over the deep bruising there muffling his soft whine.

“I...can’t even feel it.” Stiles smoothed a hand down Derek’s back and over his hip, brushing the tight clench of muscle at his abdomen before falling to his forearm and sliding down, fingers circling Derek’s wrist beneath Stiles’ boxers. “But your hand on me? Feels fucking amazing. I bet your mouth will--”

Derek slid down, bent his dark head to Stiles’ exposed naval and pressed a quick kiss to the pale skin under his lips, pushing Stiles’ boxers down his thighs with one hand. “Watch. I want your eyes on me,” Derek said, and sank down on Stiles’ cock, his mouth fever hot around the flushed head.

“Oh, god, I was r-right.” Stiles clutched the sheets and fought to keep from rocking his hips up, driving his cock deeper into Derek’s mouth. “Fuck it.” Strands of Derek’s hair caught under his nails as he burrowed his fingers deeper and held on. Sparks of pleasure rode his nerve endings, the urge to close his eyes growing stronger the longer he tried to hold on, to not give into the orgasm building under Derek’s relentless strokes and muted moan. “Derek...I can’t...If you d-don’t want to...You should--” Derek gripped Stiles’ thigh and sucked harder, a growl shoving up his throat.

Stiles tipped his head back and came with a choked moan. He let Derek’s hair loose to draw his hand down Derek’s jaw, drifting lower, and felt what his closed eyes wouldn’t let him see: Derek’s throat working, swallowing Stiles’ come. “Derek.”

Derek eased off and lifted his head. “I hope you enjoyed that,” he said, his voice rough, wrecked. “Because no one else is ever going to do this to you.”

“Okay,” Stiles agreed, and scooted over as best as he could on the narrow bed. Derek settled next to him, his arm a welcome weight slung across Stiles’ stomach. Rolling closer, Stiles grinned sleepily. “Hey, when do I get to ruin you for anyone else too?”

“You already have. Stiles, I...”

“You don’t have to say it,” Stiles told him, breaking the sudden, deafening silence. “I think I get it now.”

“Good. But...I want you to have the words,” Derek said, sketching random patterns between Stiles’ shoulder blades.

“And I want to hear them,” Stiles replied. “When you’re ready.” He leaned back far enough to hold Derek’s warm gaze. “Look, I’ve waited this long. I can--It’s not going to take you years, though, is it? I mean, we’re talking, what-”


“-like, maybe another couple of weeks? A month? A month’s not so--”


Stiles blinked. “Yeah?”

Derek smiled. The full curve dug into his cheek, cutting a deep dimple into his tanned skin; Stiles wanted to trace it, memorize its depth with his fingers and tongue. “First, we’re going after that pack. All of us. You find them, you call me, we fight together,” he said. “Second, there’s more to talk about, but you need to sleep. And I want a look at those bruises when we get up--”

“Wait,” Stiles interrupted. “That implies--You’re staying?”

“You’re here.” Derek tugged until Stiles was draped across his chest. “Why would I leave?”

Chapter Text

October 29th - 12:13 am

“You found it.” Blue grinned and separated from the pack, strolling forward to meet Stiles’ approach. “So.” He tucked a hand into the shallow pocket of his jeans, notching the dark indigo denim down, revealing the sharp blade of a bare hipbone. “What do you think?”

“What do--I think you should buy longer shirts. Put that thing away, man.” Stiles dragged his eyes up to Blue’s and too late realized his mistake: The man’s face was a distraction, as strong as the defined angles of his body and just as appealing. “S-seriously. There’s no reason to start flashing weapons yet.”

Blue’s lips twitched. “Of the place, Red. It’s a cliché, yeah? But the pack,” he said, canting his head in the direction of the others gathered behind him, “wouldn’t consider anything else.”

Stiles looked around, sizing up the area and counting heads. “I don’t know,” he hedged. “It’s got a certain menacing charm. You could totally make it work. Like, okay, switch out those cement blocks for a leather couch. Black, of course, because what self-respecting--”

“You ever shut up, kid?” Shorty asked.

His index finger held in the air between them, Stiles said, “Dude, first, is that any way to treat a guest in your temporary home?” He shook his head with exaggerated care. “No, it’s not. Second, I’m pretty much a mile a minute. Exceptions are made on occasion. Tonight, for instance. Because my pack is itching for a fight--”

“Hate to break it to you, Red,” Blue said, with nothing close to regret in his voice. “All I see is you--”

“Aw. That’s sweet, Blue, but you might want to look again.” Stiles swung the lacrosse stick up to his shoulder, glancing over as Derek stepped up next to him. Derek met Blue’s narrow-eyed glare as Jackson, Erica and Boyd bled out of the dark, flanking him on his right. Scott and Isaac moved up, fanning out on Stiles’ left. “What’d I tell you. The gang’s all here.”

Blue’s pack shifted and tensed, claws lengthening. Stiles studied the group, his gaze skittering from one to another, noting knives and, in one case, a heavy chain wrapped from wrist to elbow and trailing to the ground.

“This OK Corral enough for you?” Derek rumbled.

A pleased dimple cut into Stiles’ cheek. “You checked out my reference. And Jackson says you’re not a romantic.”

“What?” Jackson leaned around Erica. “When did I--”

“Christ,” Shorty muttered. “Open mouths are like the plague around here.”

It might have been the adrenaline, burning through Stiles’ veins like a lit fuse that prompted his gaze to fall to Derek’s mouth. That urged his mind to circle the memory of the night Derek had caught him out and the tight seal those lips had made, sinking down on his cock. It might have been the cool air teasing his skin, raising rough bumps against the soft cotton of his sleeves that made the thought of Derek’s tongue sliding up the slit to taste him somehow hotter. Stuck in a loop of remembered sensation, Stiles couldn’t look away despite the restless scuff of rubber soles on asphalt, the firecracker pop of knuckles on anxious hands, waiting for the fight.

Derek shifted, his lashes a dark shutter over the burning spark flickering out from his pupils. “Stop.”

It took honest effort to lift his eyes. “Right,” Stiles rasped and shook his head. “Not the time.” He gripped the lacrosse stick tighter. “Later, though?”

“If your Alpha won’t oblige you, I will,” Blue said quietly, and Stiles realized he’d heard it only because Blue was closer than he should have been. He could reach up and smooth Blue’s smirk into something softer, something that teased and taunted, and promised things Stiles had never considered before that night in the park. “I’ve been wanting that mouth of yours--”

Derek bared his teeth. “A word of advice.” He raised his hand and hooked the sharp point of his nail into Blue’s shirt, slicing the thin material as he drew his finger down, painting a fine line in slick red down Blue’s chest. “Shut the fuck up.”

Blue flicked his eyes down and swiped his thumb across the beaded blood, smearing it over his exposed skin. When he looked up, the curve of his smile was vicious and unwavering around the glistening tip of his thumb. “It’s our first time and you’re likely nervous,” he said, “but I’ve no need for foreplay. Not tonight.” He moved forward, stopped with the toes of his boots flush against Derek’s. “It’s when I’m done with you I’ll take my time. Red deser--”

Stiles heard Derek’s sharp snarl and saw Blue stumble back; he braced himself as the cool air stirred, unsettled by the rush of Blue’s pack surging forward. “Guys, fighting’s never accomplished anything,” he said, and spun out of Shorty’s path, lashing his fortified stick across the back of the man’s thighs. “Didn’t get enough of me last time?”

Shorty staggered and turned, mouth open to retort but he grinned instead. Stiles sensed movement at his back and then he was falling, long strands of auburn hair slipping down his cheek, curling like a noose around his throat as the woman went down with him and straddled his lower back. Forced against the ground, the skin stretched over his cheekbone split, spilling blood onto a jagged shard of rock. “That,” he grit out, sliding his legs up to use his knees for leverage, “didn’t tickle.”

“Perhaps this will,” she said, and sank her claws into his side.

A pained yelp parted Stiles’ lips as he recoiled, trying in vain to disengage. Twisting her hand, she dug in deeper, and Stiles used the blood dripping into his mouth to swallow a hoarse shout. “What the...the fuck?”

Her weight shifted forward as she leaned down, her breath soft and warm on his ear. “Con should’ve known better,” she said, “than to warn me off hurting you.”

“Wh-who?” Stiles asked, buying time. He palmed the ground, searching for the lacrosse stick or whatever he could get his hand on to use against her.

“That’s right. You called him something else,” she said. “Blue. For his eyes? Or that hair? Do you know what it feels like, twisted around your fingers?” Her free hand clamped tight as a vise on his shoulder, she held Stiles in place and raked her claws up his ribs, shredding shirt and skin. “He wants you. Was willing to bargain with his--”

“Are you going to hurt me for real?” Stiles snapped, unwilling to rely on the white noise of the fight to drown her out. When he was home, groaning into his pillow every time he tried to move he’d figure out why it bothered him that Blue was willing to offer something in trade for Stiles’ safety. “Or bore me so I’m forced to do it myself?”

She laughed and the sound was sweet, a strangely melodic distraction that left Stiles gaping up at her as loose gravel scraped his back and elbows. Her ass snug against his groin, her claws crept up his chest until the pad of her index finger pressed into the well between his collarbones. “Last I looked, your Blue was holding his own against your Alpha,” she told him, wrapping her hand around his throat and applying pressure. “I’ll kill him--Derek, was it? If he’s not already dead.”

Stiles bucked up with his hips and shoved with his legs, both hands gripping her wrist. She kept her seat and smiled down at him as she tightened her hold, stroking light fingertips over the unblemished side of his face. “I’m glad you left off the paint. I wanted to see your face when--”

A tattooed forearm slid across her throat, silencing the demand Stiles saw etched into the shocked lines bracketing her eyes before Blue wrenched back, pulling her up and off. “What’d I say, Ceara?” Blue asked, his voice hushed like a lullaby. “What’d I tell you would happen if you went after him?”

Stiles scrambled back on his elbows and sucked in a wheezing breath. Derek crouched down beside him, blood a dark stain at his forehead and mouth. Watching Ceara jerk and writhe in Blue’s restraining arms, Stiles slowly sat up and asked, “Took long?”

Derek’s hand was warm and reassuring on his neck. “He can’t be--”

“Go,” Blue snapped. “Get him home.”

Nausea rolled through Stiles’ stomach but he attempted to stand, plucking his shirt away from the gashes on his side and ignoring the pain that made each one feel like a chasm carved down to the bone. “That’s...shit...going to sting in the morning.”

“Here,” Scott said, and pressed the lacrosse stick into his hand. “In case.”

“We’re not done,” Derek said. “She’s either dead or gone--”

“I’ve not got this knife between her ribs for the hell of it,” Blue said. Stiles’ focus shifted from his pack, stepping over or around the prone bodies on the ground, to the butt of the handle snug in Blue’s steady grip and the bloom of color unfurling on the fabric wrinkled behind his clenched fist. “I’ll take care of her and they’ll be gone by morning.” He jerked his chin up. “Go. Get him seen to.”

“She’s your Alpha,” Derek said. “You’d kill--”

“She knew. Has always known,” Blue said, like that explained it. “Now, you going to let our boy bleed out or--”

“I think he’s telling the truth,” Scott said, edging closer to Stiles. “We should go. Stiles is--”

“Standing right here, for one, and I’m fine,” he said, and grimaced. Resisted the urge to wipe away the wet slide of blood down his waist. “If you squint. Maybe.” He waved it away and instantly regretted it. “Then again.”

Derek glared at Blue, his jaw clenched. “Fine. But if--”

“Fucking hell.” Blue twisted his wrist and jerked the blade out; he flipped the knife and pushed it through Ceara’s chest. “It’s a start, yeah?”

Stiles blinked at the ground where the spray of her blood had fallen like rain. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m good to go. So...Could we get on that?”

A rumble of assent rose around Stiles. He tried to turn and it was clumsy, but he managed to stumble a few steps before Derek’s shoulder pushed under his arm. Stiles hissed, helped Derek’s fingers find a hold that didn’t put pressure on his abused side.

“Red?” Blue called.

Stiles gingerly shifted, looked back. “Yeah?”

“You found me.” Blue smiled and inclined his head. “I’ll soon be returning the favor.”