There’s blood on the moon,
And shadows in the streets,
There’s a fire in my heart,
So I push to keep you safe.
If there was one thing Stiles had learned about werewolves, it was that he was never done learning. There was always something else out there that would surprise him. It made preparing for the worst continually harder. Especially since when you never really know exactly what to expect, there was little you could do to prepare at all.
That was the curse that came with having a werewolf for a best friend. One of many, many curses. Another curse was how a certain other werewolf, who brooded so much that Stiles was sure the guy practiced it in front of a mirror just to make sure he had it right, kept popping up at some of the worst times. And Stiles would swear, he would swear on his own mortal, non-werewolf ass, that Derek ‘Broody McBrood’ Hale did it on purpose, just to torture Stiles.
But surely, of all the places in Beacon Hills, the boys’ locker room had to be a safe, Derek-free zone. Because somewhere had to be.
“Dude, you’re overreacting,” Scott informed him, changing into his jersey and rolling his eyes as he did so.
Stiles shook his head in disagreement.
The topic of choice today was to do with a phone call of his dad’s that he may have overheard earlier that morning. Two teens had gone missing since the start of the new semester that week. The cops were assuming they had ran away, because hey – apparently that was going around. A little like werewolf bites. The body discovered on the outskirts of the woods? Well, that was just the icing on top of the already sugary, chocolate coated, cream filled cake.
And it was only Thursday.
“None of this sounds fishy to you?” Stiles countered. “Two more runaways? Count them, Scott – two.”
“Derek wouldn’t do that,” Scott argued, tone hushed and uncertain.
Stiles hadn’t even mentioned Derek, and thinking about him didn’t count, which just went to show that no matter how much Scott declared the big bad Alpha to be innocent – he was thinking the exact same thing.
“Really?” Stiles questioned, doubtful with just a hint of condescending. He jerked his head toward Isaac, who stood several lockers down from them, gearing up for lacrosse practice. Stiles still hadn’t even changed his shirt, one arm caught in the sleeve. “Derek wouldn’t do that?”
“He’s saved our lives, Stiles,” Scott offered up, “And he helped save Jackson.”
“Yeah-ah?” Stiles answered, brain and mouth stalling for a moment. “But not before trying to kill him. And by the way, just for the record – we saved his life. In fact, no – I saved both your asses.”
But Scott closed his locker door and shook his head, not in disagreement but in the usual way he did when he was beginning to get exhausted just from listening to Stiles talk. Too much protein and meat in his diet, not enough fresh fruit to help with his stamina.
“I’m just saying, dude,” Stiles continued, “People have gone missing, and I don’t know if you’ve noticed but ever since he showed up last year – when stuff happens around here, it usually involves werewolves, or Derek... or both. Mostly both.”
Arm still trapped in his shirt, he decided to just go for it and pull the whole thing off over his head. Not his wisest move. He wasn’t quite sure where it went wrong, but it definitely went wrong and yep, he was definitely trapped now... unable to see anything with his shirt halfway up over his head and his arms tangled somewhere inside it.
“Hey, Scott...” he started, voice muffled by the fabric. When Scott didn’t answer, he swung left and right, attempting to dislodge himself from the shirt whilst also trying to get Scott’s attention.
“Scott? Buddy?” He took a step forward. “A little help here-” And toppled right over a bench and straight to the ground with a painful bang. On the plus side, he was free now. “Nevermind...”
Silence answered him, and it was when he recovered enough to pull the offending shirt completely free that he realised the locker room was almost deserted. Everyone else had made their way out onto the field – well, except for Scott and Isaac – and right there, in the doorway, Derek loomed. He loomed, because Derek couldn’t just stand there – he had to do it in an opposing manner that could only be described accurately as looming.
There went Stiles’ Derek-free zone.
“You shouldn’t be here,” Scott spoke, and there was definitely a level of tension there and really, it didn’t surprise Stiles at all. Sure, Scott defended the guy, but ever since the whole thing with the warehouse and Jackson, there had been a level of tension between the two. But then, there always had been.
“Relax,” Derek answered, hands dug deep into the pockets of his leather jacket, “I didn’t come here for you.” His eyes flickered to Isaac briefly before going back to Scott. “I could use your help though, if you’re not too busy running around without a pack.”
“Hey!” Stiles called up from his position on the floor, then, remembering he was still on the floor, he pulled himself up and tried again. “Hey, I’m pack.”
Derek raised an eyebrow, either sceptical or amused – Stiles couldn’t decide which.
“I mean, I’m his pack,” he clarified, moving to stand beside Scott and nudging his best friend lightly in the side. “You said so yourself, remember?”
Derek said nothing, just shook his head a little, his mouth quirking a mere smidgen in one corner. And Scott, he just acted like neither of them had said anything regarding packs.
“Why do you need my help?” he questioned, redirecting the conversation with a tone that suggested he hadn’t decided whether Derek would actually get his help or not yet. Usually that meant that whatever decision he went with, Stiles would end up getting dragged along for the ride.
Stiles didn’t wait for Derek to answer, cutting across the Alpha before he had even managed to open his mouth fully. “You’re here about the body! I knew it! You know something. Werewolves, right? Another pack?”
There was an excessive rolling of eyes, mostly on Derek’s part, before he answered on a heavy sigh. “Yes, no, and I don’t know – maybe...”
“So why’d you need me?” Scott’s brow furrowed.
“I need to check out the place they found the body, but...” Derek trailed off, his eyes falling to the ground, and Stiles knew why. He hated this, he hated asking for help, and yet there he was, asking all the same. “There’s something else I have to check out tonight as well, and it has to be tonight. By the time the cops have cleared the crime scene, I won’t have time to do both.”
“So you want me to be your sniffer dog?”
Isaac took a step forward, head cocking to the side in puzzlement. “What about me?”
“You’ll both check out the crime scene... see if you can find any traces of a pack, you’ll work better in a pair. That is – if Scott agree.” Derek lowered his head, but kept his eyes level with Scott awaiting an answer that came in the form of a reluctant nod.
“Is this about th-”
But Derek cut over Isaac’s question in too much of a hurry to not be suspicious, shaking his head. “No, I don’t think so.”
That just seemed to confuse Isaac even more, though honestly, Stiles felt if anyone should be confused – it should be him, and maybe Scott. But then, he was never quite sure about Scott’s level of confusion anymore after the stunt he pulled with Gerard Argent.
“So, I guess this means another night of reruns for Stiles then,” Stiles cut in.
Derek’s mouth definitely quirked that time, his eyes gleaming in a way that made the smile drop from Stiles’ lips and caused his shoulders to sag. It was the type of look that said ‘I’ve got some special punishment in mind for you’, and as the next words passed the Alpha’s lips, Stiles knew it to be true.
“You? You’re coming with me.”
“What?! Can’t I just go with Scott and Isaac? I mean, you don’t really need anyone tagging along... do you?”
“I need a lookout.”
“And your uncle is too busy catching up on his shows to help out?”
There was a low growl from Derek and a flash of a predatory smile that was really more of a warning.
“Okay, fine! No need to get so grumpy about it. But really? You can think of no one better than me to be your lookout? Someone who you maybe won’t threaten to maim and injure all night long?”
Apparently though, the answer to that question was no, which was how Stiles found himself sitting in the passenger seat of Derek’s Camaro with Derek warning him to shut up for the umpteenth time. This was exactly why he needed a Derek-free zone.
“We’ve been sitting here for two hours,” Stiles informed him, not that he had been counting each long, drawn out minute as it ticked away far too slowly for Stiles’ liking. Nor had he been watching as the bright blue sky turned a darker shade, or taking notice of how the street before them had gradually emptied, leaving just them... sitting in an unbelievably conspicuous, shiny black Camaro. “Just, tell me you at least brought snacks?”
He waited for a response and got nothing.
“A drink? A stick of gum?”
“Anything at all? No? Nothing? Nada... zip?”
“Stiles,” Derek drew out the name in low warning, no growl present, but definitely a hint of tight impatience.
“Okay, okay... shutting up.”
And he did, for all of ten seconds.
“Just... what exactly are we doing here?”
“Waiting,” Derek answered, before adding, “Quietly.”
Stiles had to scoff at that. How could he not? Of all the people Derek could have chosen, he had dragged Stiles along – the one person of the group who knew the Webster’s definition of the word ‘quiet’ off by heart because he had been forced to read it aloud in front of class that many times. But then, this was Derek... and there really was no one else, and Stiles actually kind of hated him for that because he understood how it felt. But Derek was a big bad ass werewolf, and that had to count for something, right?
The sound of the engine turning over brought Stiles out of his thoughts and he sat up straighter in his seat, gaze searching ahead for any sign of activity. He barely caught the shadows shift ahead but there was no doubt in his mind that Derek could see what was happening perfectly. After another breath, the car started to move, slow and steady.
Stiles opened his mouth to say something, but the almost immediate glare from Derek had him snapping it shut once more. Of course, it made sense to stay quiet if the person they were tailing was a werewolf – one wrong word and they would give away their plan. Not that Stiles really had the first clue about what the actual plan was.
He began to catch on though, when he lost sight of the figure ahead completely and felt the car coming to a stop a little way down from a couple of old warehouses that were clumped together.
“You’re going in there, aren’t you?” he questioned before Derek had even turned the engine off and reached to undo his seatbelt.
“Yes,” Derek answered, short and clipped. “And you’re staying here, in the car.”
“What am I? Your pet Chihuahua?”
Derek didn’t answer, just gave him the patented ‘you’re talking again’ glare that Stiles had fast become accustomed to. He opened the door and stepped out, allowing the cooling breeze in from outside before blocking it again as he leaned back in to look at Stiles.
“Don’t move from this car,” he warned, because it did sound more like a warning than an order. Things often did with Derek.
“Or you’ll beat me to a bloody pulp with the parking brake, yeah – I get it.” Stiles rolled his eyes.
When his gaze found Derek again, he couldn’t help but notice the slight hesitancy there and what couldn’t be worry, but looked very similar. He was actually reconsidering having Stiles there and Stiles didn’t know whether to be insulted or happy about that. But, he was already there so there was no use in Derek changing his mind.
“Could we hurry this along at all?” Stiles asked, cutting Derek off before he could voice or act on the change of mind clearly written in his eyes. “I have a chemistry quiz tomorrow that I can’t study for while I’m playing lookout for your little spy-wolf ass.”
The look on Derek’s face didn’t melt away completely, the frown still evident, but he nodded all the same and closed the door. Stiles lost sight of him not long after he had crossed the road, but his gaze still traced the shadows along the path he thought Derek may have taken. As for the rest of the street, it was as silent and as boring as the inside of Derek’s car.
One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi.
And Stiles was bored, his knee bouncing continuously, desperate to be out of the car and wandering about and just doing something. He still searched the street, letting go of a deep sigh, but his eyes never lingered on one spot long enough to notice any movement that may have happened. It was official, being stuck in the car alone was only marginally worse than being stuck in the car with Derek. At least with the latter he had the option of dragging Derek down to his level of despair.
He pulled his phone from his pocket and checked the display. Ten minutes, that’s how long he would give Derek. Ten minutes was plenty of time to check out whatever he had to check out and then get back to the car. If he wasn’t back by then, Stiles would just have to pull up a webpage on his phone on how to hotwire a car.
Okay, maybe seven minutes... or five. Yes, definitely five. Maybe even three if Stiles went to help.
“Next time,” Stiles muttered, opening the car door and pushing out, “you stay in the car and keep lookout.”
He barely made it across the road before the noises from within the warehouses started to filter through on the empty air. Cheering, like at a lacrosse game, except it lacked innocence, holding a strange brutality about it that made Stiles pause. The voices were rough, the words unclear, and Stiles took another few steps until he could see the first few orange flickers of warming fires.
It was the hand on his shoulder that stopped him dead, and considering the way his heart sped up – he was pretty damn sure he would be dead any moment.
“I thought I told you to wait in the car,” Derek demanded, spinning Stiles around to face him, voice and grip even harsher than usual, a spark of something in his eyes that made Stiles speechless for a fraction of a second.
“Yeah, well,” he forced out, “my dad told me to be home by nine, but I don’t see that happening either.”
Derek just shook his head and tightened his grip, turning away from Stiles and back to the car. “We’re leaving.”
“Leaving? Why? What’s happening back there? What are they-”
The shrill cry of pain sliced right through his words, and right through him, a cold shiver setting him on edge. Derek’s head had snapped around again, gaze searching the direction of the flames, that spark burning even more intensely in the depths of his eyes. Panic. That’s what it was.
“Move,” Derek ordered. “Now!”
Stiles didn’t hesitate. His feet were already moving, Derek’s grip now on his lower arm though just as tight, dragging him along. But instead of lumbering him into the car, Derek stopped just short and forced Stiles to a stop too.
“Take your jacket off,” the Alpha ordered, already slipping out of his own leather jacket.
“Dude?” Stiles moaned. “What? Why?”
And there was that glare again which made Stiles relent, unzipping his hoodie and starting to pull it off. As soon as he was free of the material, Derek tugged it away and thrust his own jacket into Stiles’ hands.
“Put it on.”
“You want me to wear your jacket?” Stiles shook his head. “I’m not gonna wear your freaky leather jacket.”
“Put the jacket on, Stiles,” Derek went on, slow and commanding, but still with that strange sense of urgency.
“Why? Why are you making me wear your jacket?”
“Because any moment now, those werewolves back there are gonna catch your scent, and right now – they’re just looking to slap a collar around the first human they find to play in their little ‘games’.”
Stiles didn’t need to ask what games. He was fairly certain he didn’t want to know, not if that cry of pain was anything to go by. “And wearing your jacket will help me, how?”
“Because you smell like a human, Stiles. My jacket will mask that scent.”
“Yeah, maybe, but I’ll still smell like me.”
Derek shook his head. “My scent is stronger.”
A small scoff slipped past Stiles’ lips and he looked Derek up and down briefly. “You’ve got that right, buddy.”
The look Derek gave him was more bored than affronted, his jaw tightening only slightly. He said nothing, but Stiles was slipping the leather jacket on, so he was probably left speechless at Stiles doing something he was told for once.
“Ya’ happy?” Stiles asked, a tight smile forming across his face.
Still silent and far too stoic, Derek nodded his approval and immediately began the process of pulling Stiles’ jacket on... which, really? Was that necessary?
“Oh man... come on! You’re gonna stretch it! You’ve got too many... muscles.” He waved his hand all over Derek to emphasise his point. “And there... yep. Stretched. That’s never gonna shrink back, you know that, right? You totally owe me a new jacket now.”
“I’ll buy you a new one as soon as I’m finished saving your life,” Derek answered, a low and tight growl to his voice. He inched forward and dug a hand into the pocket of his leather jacket, surprising Stiles somewhat, until he pulled out the keys to his Camaro. “Just make sure you keep my jacket on until I find you. If you take it off beforehand, I’ll kill you myself.”
“Wait? Find me? Where are you going?”
Now the keys were being thrust into his hands, and this night had taken a hugely surprising turn.
“I’m going to try and lead them away, what do you think?”
“But you just said...” Stiles began, the argument falling away at the look in Derek’s eyes.
“I know what I said... but, just... trust me, okay? It’s the best chance we have. They’re more likely to catch a whiff of me wearing your jacket whilst on foot, than of you in the car.” Derek paused, raising his eyebrow as if expecting Stiles to interject and argue some more. When Stiles said nothing, Derek continued. “Get in the car and drive, just drive. I don’t care where you go, just so long as it’s away from here. Find Scott and Isaac – have them babysit you until I’m done here.”
Speechless, Stiles stood there, keys in his hand, mouth hanging open.
“Go!” Derek demanded, pushing him toward the car a little. Then his attention was back on the warehouses, his head snapping around so fast that Stiles knew he must have heard something. “Stiles, go – now!”
And really, Stiles couldn’t argue with that command at all.
I actually wasn't going to be posting a new chapter until this Monday, but I've been quite productive with writing this fic, so here we go... an early update. Next update should be this coming Monday.
Also, I forgot to mention before - this takes place post Season 2, so beware of spoilers and such.
Derek waited for the car to reach the end of the road before setting off in the opposite direction. Slow at first, to make sure the wolf pack were following him and not Stiles, because they had definitely picked up Stiles’ scent now. He could hear them clearly, and he could smell them too. Their excitement, anticipation... but mostly, their brutal bloodlust.
The scent mixed heavily with the bitter trace of iron and death in the air.
It was a sickening reminder of just how dangerous these new wolves were and of how important it was for Stiles to get out of there, unharmed.
He dared a glance behind him, saw movement on the street and on the roof of a building close by. He had counted four of them back at the warehouse, and he counted four now. Yet even though his senses told him four, his gut told him he was wrong. There was a fifth somewhere else, hidden in the shadows and watching on. He just hoped they were all watching him.
Quickening his speed, he turned his fast walk into a slow run, making sure to keep the distance. Full speed was out of the question, as was anything that would cause them to question the human scent surrounding him. At that moment in time, outrunning them wasn’t on the cards. He just had to lead them far enough away for Stiles to be safe.
The wolves were hunting him, and for now, that was enough.
His uncle had been right about the new wolves in town, and about their purpose. As far as Derek could tell, the pack following him weren’t linked to the Alpha pack, but rather, they had their own agenda. Jaw tightening and hands forming fists, he berated himself and his own stupidity. He should never have brought Stiles along. He should have risked it alone.
His stomach twisted when he lost track of one of the group, and he stumbled. He had to know where they were, not for himself, but for Stiles. If his plan didn’t work, then he had to be able to get to Stiles before they did. Heart racing, he righted himself and searched the street desperately for the missing member of the pack. He only calmed when he once again counted four.
Stiles was safe. Stiles had to be safe.
He turned down another street and raced forward. They were catching up to him far too quickly now. At this distance, his scent and Stiles’ would be mingled just enough to confuse them, but any closer and they would know they were chasing a wolf.
He had no choice. It was time to stop leading them away and time to start losing them altogether.
Tugging his phone from his pocket, he sent a hurried text to Scott, demanding he get to Stiles as quick as possible and then meet him at the Hale house. They needed to talk. Text sent, he slid the phone away and skidded around the corner. Within a moment, he was on all fours, ready to race off through the shadows that the night offered up – but not before he saw the pair of red eyes watching him from the distance.
And that made five.
Driving someone else’s car was always strange, until you got used to the clutch and the biting point, and figured out how much pressure you needed to apply to the brakes to make the car slow down just enough to make a speedy turn, and how much you needed to press the throttle to zoom off once again. With his Jeep, Stiles knew exactly where he was. With Derek’s car, he felt like he was in a full on 3D video game; Grant Theft Auto: Beacon Hills, Special Edition, real live werewolves included – warning, life threatening situations may result in actual death.
He shifted gear, a little envious of how it didn’t stick, and took another turn, heading away from the town and out towards the woods instead. Scott and Isaac would be out there somewhere, and if Derek said to get to them, who was Stiles to disagree? It beat getting his ass handed to him by a bunch of werewolves – which, really, wasn’t any different to any other day in his life. Except, sometimes it was hunters instead of werewolves doing the ass handing...
When the streetlamps ended, the moon lit the road ahead where the headlights didn’t reach. It wasn’t full, but it wasn’t far off either. It allowed him to keep a lookout on the road behind him for anything strange, or rather – for any werewolves who had decided that Derek wasn’t good enough bait. It seemed the jacket swap was working though, and as much as Stiles was still pissed about having his favourite hoodie stretched, he had to admit that the leather jacket was strangely comfortable and warming. Even if it was too big and did smell of Derek; a little like ash and fallen leaves, and dirt and fresh air... and something else that Stiles was still trying to figure out when he saw them.
So distracted by his thoughts, he had barely caught sight of them at first, the two figures racing along the outskirts of the woods, but they had definitely caught sight of him. He slammed on the brakes and skidded to a stop.
They doubled back and he left the car where it was, in the middle of the road, jumping out of the driver’s seat to meet them halfway. Mind racing, along with his heart, he watched Scott and Isaac straighten up, leaving Stiles to imagine they had been running on all fours – a talent that apparently came with being a werewolf.
The complaint about Derek being Derek, and by extension – grumpy and cryptic, was already on the tip of his tongue, his arms opening out in greeting and exasperation. For once though, Scott cut over him.
“Dude, why are you driving Derek’s car?” he asked, brow burrowing and eyes moving from Stiles’ face to the jacket. “And why are you wearing his jacket?”
He wrinkled his nose and Stiles let out a sigh, lowering his arms back to his sides. Of all the questions Scott could open with, those were the ones? Nothing like, ‘hey, how are you? What’s the rush? Where’s the douche of a werewolf we left you in the care of?’.
“You reek of Derek,” Scott continued.
“Yeah,” Stiles agreed, somewhat aggravated by the fact, though arguably probably not as much as he should have been, “I know!”
Isaac tilted his head to the side and surveyed Stiles silently, reminding him of one of those Labrador puppies with the curious eyes and soft features. Except, he was bigger and more human shaped... but he definitely had the eyes down.
Stiles huffed out, shoulders slumping in defeat as he looked between the two. “What?”
But whatever had been bothering Isaac was pushed to the wayside and he turned away from Stiles to look to Scott instead. “We should get to the house.”
“The house?” Stiles frowned, questioning, because he was really starting to get the impression that Scott and Isaac knew more than he did at that point. “What house?”
“Derek’s house,” Scott answered as if it was obvious, and he pulled his phone from his pocket to pass to Stiles. “We were in the middle of tracking a scent when I got this. Sounded urgent...”
Stiles read the message and felt his shoulders sag even further. When he finally did get home, his father was going to murder him and bury his body in the back garden, Sheriff Badge be damned. Well, at least being killed by his father would beat being mauled to death by an angry Derek. “Well then, we better not keep him waiting.”
The house was still empty by the time Derek arrived. Well, empty except for Peter, who leaned casually against the doorframe at the entrance. A smug smile sat on the older man’s lips, eyebrows raised in a way that said he already knew the answer but he was going to ask the question all the same.
“Well?” he prompted, his eyes never leaving Derek.
Derek grunted in response, jaw tightening as he climbed the steps and breezed past Peter and into the house. “You were right,” he relented, words as tight as his jaw muscles.
“Of course I was,” Peter answered, following Derek into the main room – the place that was once the family room, the true heart of the house. The home.
It was blackened and disused now though, and just being there always caused an ache in Derek’s chest. Even with the adjustments and ‘improvements’ his uncle had been making – a cushion here, a bookcase there – it would never be the same.
“You left out the part about them using humans,” Derek continued, his back still to Peter, hands forming fists.
Peter let out a laugh, small but amused, which just served to anger Derek more. “A minor detail, unless... no, don’t tell me. Stiles? Really? You took Stiles with you?”
Derek swung around now, to glare at his uncle, but he stilled his tongue as he heard the sounds of his car pulling up outside the house. He stopped the words from slipping out, the words that Scott didn’t need to here. It didn’t stop them from circling his mind though. Stiles could have been killed.
“Well, that explains the change of clothing,” Peter continued, as if he hadn’t just felt the shift in air around Derek, or heard the stutter in his heart. “Adorable, really. The red really brings out the colour of your eyes.”
Derek could only growl at him, making the movements necessary to take the hoodie off. It was off and hanging over the back of a dusty armchair by the time the three stragglers entered the house and made their way through to the main room.
He would deny it if anyone asked, but Derek’s gaze moved straight to Stiles first and foremost, taking in every inch of him, searching for any harm that may have happened upon him. But Stiles was fine, aside from a hint of annoyance that tainted his scent and played upon his features – lips twisting in the way they always did when something was on his mind that he wasn’t happy about.
“You werewolves are ruining my life,” Stiles offered up, trudging into the room and dropping down onto the same armchair housing his hoodie. He snatched the hoodie up and cradled it to his chest but Derek noted how he didn’t change into it, still wrapped tight in the leather jacket. “Just so you all know, I am going to fail my Chemistry quiz tomorrow – and I blame you. Each and every one of you.” He pointed to each of them, sweeping the room with his finger before landing on Peter. “And you especially.”
There was a flicker of amusement in Peter’s eyes, and Derek could see the words already forming at his lips, just underneath that smarmy smirk of his. So Derek cleared his throat and took a step forward, cutting his uncle off before he could say anything directed to Stiles... at all.
“Did you find anything?” he questioned, focusing his attention on Scott and Isaac who still remained at the entrance to the room.
“Yeah, we did,” Scott answered, his words impatient, “but then I got your message and now we’re here.”
“I messaged you because this is important,” Derek shot back.
“Really?” Scott raised a sceptical eyebrow. "So important that you couldn’t tell us whatever you have to tell us before?”
Derek took in a deep breath and let it go on a low, frustrated growled. He never even got any words out before Peter interrupted him.
“What my verbally challenged nephew is trying to tell you is, we have guests,” Peter voiced. “A new pack has come to town.”
Scott nodded, tensing up. “I know. The Alphas.”
At that, Derek cocked his head to the side, more than a little confused and surprised that Scott even knew about the Alphas. Yet, even as he looked over the young Beta, he knew it shouldn’t have surprised him at all. Scott had grown so much since the Bite. He had grown into a capable and competent wolf, and above all, he had grown close to Isaac – who was looking far too sheepish at that moment in time.
But Derek wasn’t given the chance to question him on it because Stiles’ head jerked up and away from his hoodie, his gaze moving between them all. “Alphas?” he asked, because apparently there was still one person left in Beacon Hills who didn’t know about them. “As in plural? As in more of...” He motioned to Derek with a wave of his hand, “...that?”
Peter cocked his head to the side, once more surveying Stiles. “That’s generally what the ‘s’ at the end implies, yes.”
That look was back on Stiles’ face, that dissatisfied one that said he wasn’t happy about being kept in the dark on such a matter. “And no one thought to mention this to me? There’s a bunch of freaking Alpha’s walking around town and no one thought to tell Stiles? What is this? A secret werewolf club thing where you only pass on information to the VIPs whilst Stiles just sits around like a good little hum-”
“Stiles!” Derek cut across him, the name sharp and filled with promises – none of them good.
It silenced him almost immediately, his ramblings disappearing to be replaced by discontent, under the breath mumblings. So Derek continued on while he had the chance.
“The Alphas aren’t our problem. Our problem is the other pack that’s just arrived.”
Neither Scott nor Stiles had anything to say to that, though Stiles did open his mouth, his lips forming unspoken letters as if he was trying to work out what exactly to say to that. Out of all of them, it was Isaac who spoke next – his brow creased in the centre and tone a little unsure.
“Why are they here?”
Derek took a moment to attempt to compose an answer, his gaze falling to the floor momentarily. He opened his mouth to explain, but Peter took over.
“Here’s the thing – the Argents, and hunters like them, they hunt us for a reason. I mean, you don’t exactly hear about the big bad wolf protecting little red riding hood, now, do you? There will always be those who embrace the wolf and they’ll find ways to appease it.”
“Like by murdering the people linked to the death of their entire family?” Stiles offered up, his eyes far too wide and innocent once he seemed to realise that the words had actually tumbled from his lips, and therefore everyone in the room had heard him – including Peter.
Derek had to wonder how often that happened, he imagined it to be often.
The look Peter sent Stiles was no more dangerous than any other look the older man had sent the youth before, but still, it had Stiles shrinking back into the armchair more than any other look might have done. Derek rolled his eyes from exasperation, his head and neck rolling with them.
“The point is,” he continued where Peter left off, “this pack is dangerous. They’re here because they’ve probably been forced to flee wherever they were before, and they’ll be here until they’re forced to run again, and so long as they’re here – you can expect the body count to rise because they don’t play by any moral codes.”
“Why do they want to kill anyone?” Isaac questioned.
“It’s a game.” Derek took a breath before continuing. “Have you ever seen a dog fight? Two dogs genuinely trying to rip each other’s throats out? That’s what they’re doing.”
“They’re holding illegal dog fights?” Scott raised both eyebrows, words perplexed in a way that only Scott managed to pull off.
Stiles shook his head in answer, the movement catching Derek’s gaze. The look of understanding in the youth’s eyes, the way a perfect calmness swept over him... Derek knew he understood, before either Scott or Isaac. Not just because he had been there at the warehouse, but because Stiles was always so in tune with these things. Stiles was always the one to get it.
“They’re using humans,” Stiles supplied, and Derek nodded, because that was exactly it.
It seemed to take a moment for that knowledge to sink in with Scott, but when it did, his eyes widened and his mouth dropped open. “They’re making people fight each other? Why would anyone do that?”
“Entertainment,” Derek answered, though he disagreed with the sentiment immensely. Violence may have featured heavily in his life, but it wasn’t by choice. He still remembered the life he had before the fire, when the most violence he encountered was the somewhat playful kind with Laura. She always won.
Stiles eyes were locked on Derek, his tone almost flat when he spoke, but his eyes were full of mixed emotions – one of the most prominent being fear. “They’re doing something to them, aren’t they? The people...”
Again, Derek nodded, not knowing what else to say. It went unspoken between the pair of them, both knowing what it could have meant if the pack had gotten a hold of Stiles, and Derek knew that should have been enough to make Stiles walk away. It should have been enough to make Stiles tell them all they were on their own. But he didn’t, because that just wasn’t Stiles.
What he said instead was, “So what do we do now?”
Huge thank you for reading and for the comments!!!
As it turned out, Stiles didn’t get an actual answer to his question. What he did get, was bundled up in Derek’s car and dropped off at home, whilst being told to behave and not to go wandering out at night alone – because that had been exactly what Stiles had been planning on doing. He made it all the way to the landing outside of his room before he remembered he was still wearing Derek’s jacket. His dad chose that moment to step out of the bathroom.
A cautious gaze rolled over Stiles and his father’s features played awkwardly upon his face, shifting between anger and confusion before deciding on exhaustion. He shook his head and let out a breath and Stiles knew he was staring at the leather jacket, which had become particularly weighty with his father standing there, judging him.
“I don’t want to know,” his father breathed, holding up a hand in defeat. “Just, tell me you’ve at least managed to stay out of trouble for once?”
“Define trouble,” Stiles answered, cringing at his own words and knowing the reaction they would get.
“Stiles.” It was said in warning, because apparently that seemed to be the time people used his name most – when they were berating him for something, or about to berate him.
“I swear, Dad... this is...” Not what it looks like? Nothing to do with werewolves who may possibly want to kill me? “This is nothing. No trouble.”
His father nodded once, but the look in his eyes was still uncertain. “Then would you mind explaining to me why you’ve waited until eleven o’clock to make your way home?”
Stiles wished he had an answer for that one. Any lie just tasted bitter on his tongue and his shoulders slumped from the heavy weight brought on by his father’s intense and pleading stare. He knew that every time his father looked at him, he still saw those scrapes and bruises Gerard had left on Stiles’ skin, even though they had long since faded.
“I’m fine, Dad,” he whispered softly, his gaze falling away, tongue snaking out to dampen his lips. “I swear. You don’t have to worry all the time.”
“I’m your father, Stiles. It my job to worry... and it’s my job to be angry when you disobey me, and relieved when you’re okay.”
There was a moment of silent understanding, and brief hug that consisted of his father patting him on the back before they broke apart and his father slipped past him. He paused at the top of the stairs though, and Stiles turned back to look at him.
“Just... one last thing. The jacket...”
“Daaad,” Stiles cut in before he could get any further, sensing the question in his father’s eyes. “Just... no. No.”
His head hit the back of his bedroom door as soon as he was inside and the door was closed behind him. If anyone asked, he didn’t take care when removing Derek’s jacket, and he didn’t place it gently over the back of his computer chair, and he certainly didn’t nearly grab it the next day when morning came and it was time to go to school.
Most of the day comprised of him pestering Scott repeatedly, from the moment he saw him in the parking lot, and right through every class leading up until lunch, demanding to know if Derek had said anything further about his plans to take down the wolf pack. Eventually, Scott gave in and told him Derek was checking something out while they were at school and was going to get back to them at the end of the day.
When Stiles opened his mouth to ask exactly what he was checking out, Scott cut over him with an aggravated huff, exclaiming, “I don’t know, okay? He never said. He just said he’d meet us later.”
“Us as in, all of us?” Stiles questioned, gaze moving to the entrance of the cafeteria and the lanky figure that appeared there, making its way toward them. “Or us as in, you and Isaac?”
Isaac who had just plonked himself and his tray down next to Scott with a wide grin on his face. And really, Stiles had nothing against the guy. Nothing at all. Except the superhuman speed and superhuman hearing and superhuman ability to remind Stiles even more that he was the only one in the group who wasn’t a werewolf. Scott was his best friend, so he could get away with it, and Derek... Derek at least had the decency to treat everyone like they were idiots and then go on to behave like he was a saint for putting up with them.
Stiles huffed out and took an extra large bite out of his chicken strip, glaring down at his plate whilst awaiting Scott’s answer.
It never came.
“Any word from Derek?” Scott asked instead, attention on Isaac.
Stiles refused to admit that he slunk down in his chair in a sulk. That didn’t stop him from paying attention though.
Isaac shook his head lightly. “Still waiting.”
“You don’t think he’s gone by himself, do you?”
Stiles raised an eyebrow at that. “Are you kidding? This is Derek we’re talking about. The guy does everything alone, except life threatening situations.”
“Stiles,” Scott warned, “not helping.”
Letting go of a sigh, Stiles waved the remainder of his chicken strip in Scott’s direction. “Don’t be such a worry wart. Derek knows what he’s doing. He’s not an idiot. If he goes in alone, he obviously thinks he can handle it.”
But Scott still looked worried. “After last night, I’m not so sure.”
That caused Stiles to pause. Was this a werewolf thing? Did something happen after he’d left the group? “What do you mean?”
Isaac’s brow burrowed at the centre, eyebrows drawing together as his gaze locked on Stiles in a way that made Stiles feel like he was definitely missing something. “You don’t know?”
“Clearly not,” Stiles answered, “Or I wouldn’t be asking.”
And yeah, he had to admit, Isaac did have that way of growing on you in the way a lost puppy might if it followed you around enough. Granted, this puppy was more into following Scott, but Stiles was a big boy. He knew how to share.
“Derek,” Scott explained, “Last night, he was afraid – like full on scared. I mean, he’s been afraid before, but not like this...”
When Scott didn’t continue, Stiles leaned forward and prompted him on. “Like what? Not to be fussy or anything, but the guy didn’t exactly look like he was quaking in his boots to me.”
Scott met his eyes, his face scrunching up into what Stiles had long since decided to call ‘Scott’s thinky face’ – the one he always made when he was trying to figure something out. “It was more... how he smelled.”
That was what it always came down to with wolves. The way someone smelled, their scent. It always came back to that. It often left Stiles wondering what he smelled like. Could the others tell how he was feeling from his scent? Could they sense his own fear and hear the way his heart beat far too fast within his chest sometimes? Or were they just so used to it that it got drowned out by all the new stimuli?
“And how, exactly, did he smell?” Stiles questioned. “And if you say afraid, I swear, I will whack you on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.”
“You don’t have a newspaper,” Isaac offered up, his words slow and cautious, but his lip quirked at the corner, his eyes taking on a hint of teasing.
“I am very resourceful. Extremely resourceful. In fact, I am so resourceful that...” He paused momentarily at the look on Scott’s face, biting back the rest of his sentence and replacing it with, “I am shutting up now.”
He clamped his mouth shut, loose fist bouncing against the edge of the table lightly, his mind ticking over how to get the conversation back on track because Scott still hadn’t answered his question. But time was up, the bell rang out and signalled the end of lunch, which also meant the start of Chemistry.
“Perfect,” he muttered, disdainful as he grabbed his bag from the seat next to him and made to stand. When he slung his backpack around and onto his shoulder, he frowned at the sight of Scott not moving. “Dude, aren’t you coming?”
Sheepish didn’t even begin to describe the look that took over Scott’s features. He didn’t just look like he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, but rather – he had emptied the whole damn thing which meant no more cookies for anyone else.
“I... er... Free period?”
Except Stiles knew it shouldn’t be a free period. He had seen Scott’s timetable. He had memorised it, taking note of every class they had together, whilst also taking note of the ones they didn’t – like English later that afternoon. Chemistry had come before that. Friday, straight after lunch with Ms Calloway, the somewhat sexy teacher that had warned them earlier in the week of a ‘surprise’ pop quiz.
“Since today?” Scott shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “I’m sorry, I had to change my timetable so I could finish early on Wednesday to get to work.”
Stiles raised his hands up as if to punch the air in front of his face, but he took a breath and let them fall back to his sides again where his fist lightly pounded against his thigh instead. “We had a plan, dude. We were gonna be lab partners, remember? Now I’m gonna be stuck with... Greenberg or someone.”
“Yeah,” Stiles relented, “Just don’t go running off anywhere without me. I may not be have your special werewolf superpowers, but that doesn’t mean I’m completely useless.”
By the time Stiles made it to class, most of the seats were taken, except for one at the back next to Greenberg and two at the front near the window. He chose the one closest to the window and looked out over the parking lot with mild boredom and major disappointment. But hey, at least he had Ms Calloway as his Chemistry teacher this year. She’d always been nice to him.
“Excuse me,” a soft voice came from beside him, and he turned to look at the girl standing there, books cradled in her arms, bright blue eyes wide and unsure, dark blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail. “Is anyone sitting here?”
“Hi! Er...” He fumbled, pulling his bag from the seat and shifting over so she had room to sit down. “No... go ahead. Sit... I mean, please, sit.”
She placed her books on the desk and smiled sweetly before lowering herself into the seat. “Mae,” she said, holding out a hand.
He looked at it for a moment, because first of all – she was hot. She was majorly hot, and she was sitting next to him and talking to him. Just thinking that made his mind go blank, his tongue feeling numb and thick in his mouth, until her smile widened and her eyes lowered for a mere breath, almost shyly.
“Stiles,” he answered, and he took hold of her hand, giving it a small shake.
She was warm to the touch, really warm, and her eyes were locked on his again, as if staring deep into him. Alarm bells rang at the back of his mind, the smile fell from his face, and he snatched his hand back. She sniffed the air, and yep, there it was. The alarm bells were right.
“You smell really good.” The innocent act was dropped and Mae leaned forward, moving further into his breathing space and gripping his forearm with her hand. “Fresh and sweet.”
“New shampoo,” Stiles answered, stiffening beneath her touch. “Supposed to repel werewolves.”
Her grin grew. “I don’t think it’s working, after all – you still have his scent on you too.”
He was about to ask who, but the pieces clicked into place without needing an answer. Derek. He knew he should have showered that morning and skipped breakfast instead of the other way around.
“What do you want?” he asked instead, tight and controlled, fear nipping at his heart.
She licked her lips, drawing out the motion, her eyes wandering up and down him, her grip never loosening. “There’s a full moon coming and well, it just doesn’t feel right not to celebrate it – so we’re holding an extra special fight that night. You know the type I mean, seeing as you saw the one last night.”
“I didn’t see anything.”
Her nails grew longer, lengthening into claws that sat upon the skin of his arm, threatening to go deeper. “I don’t care what you saw,” she continued. “What I care about is that I lost my best ‘dog’ last night. He had to be put down. Which means, unless I get a new one – I can’t win the next fight, and if I don’t win the fight, nobody is happy.”
Chest tightening, Stiles shook his head, attempting to swallow down his heart which had somehow lodged itself in his throat. “I don’t... that’s...”
“I’m not asking,” she said, words as tight as the smile now on her face. “The way I see it, you have to be pretty well trained for an Alpha to mark you as his.”
“I’m really not a fighter,” he tried to say, but the words were cut off when her nails dug into his skin, piercing it, and forcing him to bite down on his knuckles at the sting of pain that followed.
“Like I said, I’m not asking.” She pulled her hand away, but he swore he could still feel her nails digging in. “So let’s not make this any harder than it needs to be.”
He opened his mouth to argue, or just say something, but nothing came out, and silence echoed on until it was interrupted by an impatient cough from somewhere beyond Mae.
“Ah-hem,” were the somewhat words that followed the cough, and Stiles looked up to see the pursed lips and perfectly trimmed and arched eyebrows of Lydia.
A mixture of relief and shock flushed through him and he breathed out. “Lydia!”
She didn’t look to him, didn’t even acknowledge him, her eyes trained on the girl, her foot tapping against the ground until Mae finally turned to face her.
“You’re in my seat,” Lydia informed her, tone flat and impatient. No room for argument because Lydia always got what Lydia wanted.
Mae raised an eyebrow, gaze moving between Lydia and Stiles, but she said nothing. She simply pushed up and grabbed her books from the desk and headed to the only other remaining empty seat next to Greenberg. Stiles watched her go, but snapped his head back around to Lydia when Mae’s eyes found him again.
“She’s not your type,” Lydia answered the unasked question, rolling her eyes as she took the seat next to Stiles.
Stiles nodded numbly, gaze locked on her and wandering over the gentle frown that slipped onto her features. He watched her eyes move down and opened his mouth to say something, to thank her maybe, for saving him from another psycho werewolf, but she spoke first.
“What’s wrong with your arm?” It was said with more concern than disgust, her fingers reaching out to marks that were clear and most definitely bleeding.
He pulled back and pushed the sleeve of his jacket down. “Nothing.”
It was a clear lie, they both knew it, but Stiles also knew he didn’t want Lydia dragged into this – not like how she had been dragged into everything else. If he could keep her away from even the tiniest smidgen of this darker world he had found himself in, then he would do his damn best and keep her as safe as possible.
She didn’t object, not verbally anyway, but it was written in her eyes that she wanted to say something further on the matter. He decided to change the subject before she could.
Some of the little, old impatient Lydia returned with that question and she brushed her hair over her shoulder before answering. “Half the town still thinks he’s dead because of that stupid little thing last year, and the other half thinks he’s cursed. How do you think he is?”
It was rhetorical question. At least Stiles hoped it was rhetorical because he had no idea exactly how to answer it. Except, he was saved that awkward moment of attempting to answer it anyway as the Chemistry teacher, who was most definitely not Ms Calloway, walked through the door. But, because the world couldn’t save him without always throwing him further into the flames, it had to be the worst possible person to offer up that salvation whilst also damning him even further.
“Well, here we are again. Another year, another reason to be disappointed by the blank faces lining the class in front of me,” Harris drawled out, dropping a set of books down onto his desk with a bang. “As you may have heard, due to personal reasons, Ms Calloway has had to take a leave of absence, leaving me, once again, stuck attempting to drill even just the smallest miniscule amount of knowledge into your brains.”
Stiles sunk in his seat. If a new pack in town wasn’t enough, and not to mention the new stalker werewolf who wanted to make him her pet, now he was stuck with Harris as his chemistry teacher for another year... and judging by the silent glare, the guy still hated him.
Huge thank you to everyone for reading, and thank you for the comments also :D
And on the fourth chapter, she the sadistic writer, said: 'Let there be drama.' And there was. But I promise, update coming soon - like Monday soon, as that's my aim at the moment, update twice a week, every Monday and Thursday. Fingers crossed.
Chemistry was a mixture of elation and dread, two polar opposites in the form of Lydia and Harris – both paying almost equal attention to Stiles. From Lydia, this was welcomed, but as Harris was still determined to make Stiles’ life a misery, Stiles found himself doubly determined to keep his head down and focused on the pop quiz in front of him. But he could still feel Harris’ glare, along with the stare from his new werewolf stalker.
When class finished and he turned in his seat to look her way, she was long gone and Stiles couldn’t decide whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. Though given the way his arm still hurt, he reckoned not knowing where she was wasn’t exactly the best thing.
Scott’s new timetable meant that it wasn’t until after the last bell rang, signalling the end of the school day, that Stiles had any chance of catching up with his best friend. He leaned against his jeep, eyes trained on the front doors to the school, waiting for Scott to emerge.
“You smell different,” Derek murmured from behind him, and Stiles would swear down on his life that he didn’t jump. No jumping, at all... but okay, yeah – there was a bit of floundering.
“Dude!” he managed to breathe out after calming his heart somewhat, because werewolves... really, they would be the death of him. “You ever thought about getting one of those little bells? You know, let’s people know you’re there, being a creeper...”
But Derek just frowned and took a step closer to Stiles, and was he sniffing him? Was the brooding werewolf in front of him actually smelling him?
“Okay, seriously?” Stiles questioned, swallowing the sudden lump in his throat as Derek came far too close. “This isn’t creepy at all. You, sniffing me... that’s just... I don’t even know what that is. What’re you-”
Derek grabbed his arm a little too roughly and his words fell away to be replaced by a meagre cry of pain. If the fact that Derek’s grip was right where the stalker werewolf’s had been wasn’t enough, the widening of Derek’s eyes and the thinning of his lips most definitely were. It was Derek’s seriously pissed face, which differed from his usual pissed face and his ‘why are you talking’ face, because it also came with a vibe that told Stiles the only reason Derek’s eyes weren’t flashing red was because they were in public.
“Hey! Ow... ow... that hurts. Yep, that definitely hurts.”
Ignoring him, Derek pulled the sleeve of Stiles’ jacket up to reveal the blood and claw marks still so bright against his pale and freckled skin. He glowered at Stiles, which wasn’t really fair because it’s not like it was Stiles’ fault they were there.
“Who did this?” The words were a sharp demand, and when Stiles tried to pull his arm away to hide the wound, Derek held on fast.
“This? This is nothing... in fact, it’s less than nothing. No one did that to me...”
There was a low rumble at the base of Derek’s throat, and his eyes did flash red now. It stilled Stiles completely, stopped him from attempting to pull away again. In fact, if anything, he fell slack in Derek’s grasp, his eyes locked on the dangerous red that should have caused his heart to flutter like crazy, but for some reason, it calmed it instead. Even the pressure around his ribcage seemed to lessen, breathing coming easier, even though the answer didn’t.
Derek seemed to sense the change, the red vanishing to be replaced by the usual array of colours that weren’t quite green or blue or brown, and were far too complicated to be called just hazel. His grip softened, along with his features.
“Stiles,” he continued, the growl gone and voice so gentle it was almost a whisper, “who did this?”
But really, Stiles didn’t need to answer. Derek already knew who, and Stiles could see the exact moment when Derek realised it himself. So Stiles said nothing. There was nothing to say.
The anger was back in Derek’s eyes, the tension returning to his jaw, but his grip still remained slack. “They tracked your scent,” he finally said, gaze falling away so briefly before locking with Stiles’ once again. “How many of them? What did they say? What did they do?”
Each question was just as urgent as the last, and Derek seemed to move an inch or so closer with each because hey, personal space just didn’t exist in Derek’s mind. It had to be a wolf thing.
“It’s not that bad,” Stiles tried to answer, but the words weren’t enough to placate Derek. “Can’t we just forget about it?”
“Forget about it? Stiles, this pack tracked your scent to your school and threatened you! They’re not just gonna leave you alone now.”
“Yeah, I kind of already got that when the psycho werewolf chick told me she wanted me as a pet.”
Derek looked like he was about to say something further, push the matter more, but he took a step back instead and forced his hands down to his sides. Derek, holding himself back because, yes – Stiles was very much scarred by that encounter with Mae the twisted werewolf, quite literally, and a little sympathy would be nice.
“What happened?” Derek asked eventually, the restraint evident upon his features.
Stiles shrugged, mouth twisting in the corner at the memory. “We talked, and then Lydia interrupted and that was it.”
Eyebrow raised, Derek looked him over appraisingly. “Since when did just talking end in claw marks on a person’s arm?”
“Dude, I’m like a freaking werewolf magnet – you guys just can’t help putting your hands all over me. It’s like a compulsion or something.”
“I’m serious, Stiles.”
“So am I! Come on, admit it – I’m irresistible, right? I’m like werewolf catnip.”
Derek was halfway to burying his head in his hand, and there was a definite rolling of the eyes there as well, when he suddenly jerked it to the right instead. Stiles didn’t catch on at first, until he turned his gaze in that direction and spotted her, the crazy werewolf herself, standing there at the edge of the parking lot, watching them. Derek must have smelled her, recognised her scent from whatever lingering smells she had left on Stiles – and that thought right there just made Stiles feel incredibly dirty all of a sudden.
“You’re thinking about ripping her throat out, aren’t you?” Stiles questioned, surprised when his voice didn’t waver as much as he thought it would.
Hands forming fists, Derek nodded, already taking a step away from Stiles and toward her instead. Stiles grabbed Derek’s shoulder immediately, fingertips digging into tense muscles as he used Derek’s frame to help swing himself around and in front of the Alpha, blocking him. Leaving go of the shoulder, he held his hands out in front of Derek’s chest, inches away from being flat against the surface of that greyed shirt Derek wore too often.
Derek paused and looked to Stiles’ hands before raising his gaze to meet Stiles’. “Get out of my way, Stiles.”
“You don’t want to do anything,” Stiles offered up, knowing that if Derek truly wanted to make him move, he would do so forcibly. He didn’t need to have special werewolf super strength to do so, the rock hard muscles would do nicely.
“She needs to pay,” Derek answered, moving forward just enough so that his chest was now against Stiles’ hands. The contact seemed to stop him immediately and he moved no further, but his stare was still locked on Mae.
“Not here she doesn’t,” Stiles continued with a shake of his head.
“Because, you can’t just go over there and kill some innocent girl. It’s crazy!”
Derek met his eyes once more, offering up a pointed answer. “She’s not innocent.”
“Yeah, well, try telling that to every other person in this parking lot.”
At that, Derek seemed to force himself to relax somewhat, which in turn allow Stiles to relax, his arms falling back to his sides as he stared imploringly at Derek. The tension didn’t lessen along Derek’s jaw line or fall away from his shoulders, but he didn’t advance either, which Stiles counted as a win. When he dared a glance behind him, Mae was gone, and he breathed a sigh of relief.
By the way Derek backed off a little, Stiles guessed that even her scent was disappearing too. Wherever she was, it was no longer there, watching them. For that, Stiles was eternally thankful.
“Tell Scott to meet me at my house,” Derek spoke up, snapping Stiles’ attention back to him. “We make our move tonight.”
“Tonight?” Keeping the disbelief from his voice was nigh on impossible, so Stiles didn’t even bother trying. “Don’t you think that’s a little soon? Do you even have a plan?”
Derek cocked his head ever so slightly to the side. “Yeah, I have a plan – I’m gonna make sure they can’t hurt anybody else by whatever means necessary. That’s my plan.”
“Well, I gotta say, dude, as far as plans go – I’ve heard better.”
But Derek’s gaze flitted briefly to Stiles’ arm, the movement so quick that Stiles was sure he wasn’t supposed to see it – or the concern and anger written in Derek’s eyes. And that was it, that was all Stiles needed to know. The fact that the new pack had made a move, the fact that they had used Stiles to get to Derek and the others – that was why Derek was behaving irrationally. If Stiles had been able to keep the wound hidden like he had wanted to, Derek wouldn’t be planning something so stupidly rash as attacking the new pack tonight.
“If I wanted your opinion, I would have asked for it,” Derek answered, stoic manner returning, a blank mask falling in place over his features.
Stiles opened his mouth, ready to say something, anything, to Derek as the Alpha turned his back and headed off toward wherever it was he had come from. Ready to call him an ass for overreacting to Stiles getting hurt, and an ass for shutting everyone out whilst letting his anger get the best of him.
“Tonight,” Derek called over his shoulder without turning around. “Make sure Scott gets the message.”
“Well, what did you expect to happen?” his uncle asked not long after Derek had arrived back at the house. “You practically introduced them to his scent. They were bound to be curious.”
Derek paced the floor, letting Peter’s words wash over him, refusing to react to them. After all, it was true. Stiles getting hurt, that was Derek’s fault. Instead of leading the pack away from Stiles the previous night, he had only served to pique their interest. Because of Derek, they had caught a taste of Stiles’ scent, and they liked it. The Alpha of the pack had liked it.
Because there was no denying it. The female wolf in the school parking lot, she had been the one watching from the shadows – her red eyes taking everything in.
“I mean, what were you thinking?” Peter continued, a mocking smile twisting at his lips and causing his eyebrows to rise. “And let’s face it, ‘thinking’ – not your strong point. Throw in a little Stiles and you’re like a buddle of blind rage.”
Head snapping around to his uncle, Derek glowered at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
A bored expression fell into place on Peter’s face, his gaze level and head tilted forward an inch or so. “Like you don’t know.”
“What?” Derek growled out, demanding and sharp.
“It’s obvious you care about him.”
With a shake of his head, Derek turned away and offered up a grunt. “He’s pack.”
“Not yours though.”
The words were a sharp sting, surprisingly bitter and painful as they rang clearly in the empty air of the room. He was aware of the bare and naked look his eyes probably gave away, so vulnerable as he looked to Peter, mouth hanging open. Any argument was void, because it was true.
“That doesn’t matter,” he forced out instead, lowering his gaze and breathing out a tired sigh.
“Because you care about him,” Peter insisted.
His jaw tightened again as he practically bit out his next words. “Drop it.”
It wasn’t a matter of caring about Stiles. It wasn’t. After all, Stiles was infuriating and insufferable and he never shut up or backed down... Trouble seemed to follow him around in the same way it followed Derek, and the fact that his eyes shone with loneliness when he thought no one was looking, it meant nothing. Everything about him drove Derek mad.
“You know, you should just give him the Bite and get it over with. I mean, he fits your criteria, doesn’t he?”
Jaw clenching, Derek’s glare found Peter. “Shut up.”
“Come on, though – he just reeks of self-loathing, poor little Stiles; best friend is a werewolf, his father thinks he’s a liar and a failure... not to mention how hopelessly in love he is with that one girl who will barely give him the time of day. And yet you won’t offer him the one thing that could help...?”
“Stiles doesn’t want the bite,” Derek grit out, a low warning etched into the words – the message clear. Stay away from Stiles.
“Really?” Peter raised a sceptical eyebrow. “Have you even asked him? Because I recall a time in a parking garage when I did... and I remember that distinct skitter in his heart. You know the kind, anticipation, fear... excitement. He may have pulled away before I gave it to him, but it wouldn’t have taken much to change his mind. He wants the bite, Derek... Oh, he wants it.”
Derek was across the room in seconds, maybe less, his fingers bunched up in the front of his uncle’s shirt. In one smooth movement, Peter was slammed against the wall, the wood quaking and dust floating down around them on a spiral of chaos. Derek leaned in and bared his teeth, eyes flashing red. “You stay away from him! You leave Stiles alone.”
“I’m not the one you have to worry about, remember?”
That didn’t calm Derek in the slightest. If anything, it made him tighten his grip on his uncle’s shirt. It took him a few more huffs of breath before he reigned in his temper enough to release his uncle and take a step back.
“Stay away from Stiles,” he warned, but with less venom and growl than before.
Peter just smiled, his silence almost worse than any answer because Derek couldn’t tell what the man was thinking. No matter how much he claimed to be friend instead of foe, Derek still had his reservations. After all, this was the same man who gave Scott the Bite against his will, the same one who had used an innocent teenage girl as a backup plan... the man who Derek had grown up with, and therefore the one who knew him better than anyone else alive. And that, above anything else, made Peter dangerous.
The familiar rumble of Stiles’ jeep announced the end of the conversation and Derek refused to look at his uncle, refused to even offer up one last warning glare. It would do no good anyway. So he schooled his features and attempted to lock away that dripping pain that continued to seep into his gut from somewhere in his chest, twisting it up.
He heard the door click open, heard the footsteps making their way through the house and toward the main room, and he knew maybe he wasn’t done locking everything away. Peter’s words still bit at the back of his mind, and his hands still formed loose fists.
“Yo!” It was Stiles who spoke first and Derek rounded on him before the youth could finish getting out the rest of his greeting.
“Why are you here?” he asked, the words more throaty and frustrated than he intended, his anger aimed at completely the wrong person. Yet, at the same time, he reasoned – he was angry with Stiles, for being there. For always being there. He was a human. He was breakable, and he never seemed to care.
Stiles paused at the doorway, just behind Scott and Isaac, his eyes shifting left then right. “To help...?”
Derek shook his head. “I told you to tell Scott to come. I didn’t say anything about you coming.”
“Well, it’s a package deal, buddy – deal with it.”
“No, Stiles – not this time. Go home.”
“What?” Stiles whined, voice rising. “Seriously? Why? Because I can’t wolf out like you guys?”
“Stiles, this isn’t up for discussion.” Derek could still smell the faint scent of blood, hidden underneath a mixture of generic soap wash and excessive amounts of body spray. If it wasn’t for the fact he knew it was there, he might have missed it altogether. But it was there and Derek was quite aware of how the wound on Stiles’ arm had looked, and would still look.
Stiles took a step forward instead of shrinking away under Derek’s intense glare. “Is this about what happened with that werewolf chick?”
“What...?” Scott interrupted, glancing between Stiles and Derek, confusion evident. “What werewolf chick?”
So that explained why Stiles had doused himself so heavily in body spray.
Derek felt something snap inside of him. Was Stiles truly that careless? “You didn’t even tell him?”
“It slipped my mind, okay?” An outright lie. Stiles stank of deception and his eyes fell away from Derek’s face as he shifted from one foot to the other.
“Slipped your... Stiles, she...” But the words would barely even form in his mind so they had no hope of reaching his lips. Frustration, pure and utter frustration, bubbled through Derek, setting his whole body on edge, jaw clenching and eyes narrowing. “You are an idiot!”
“Yeah, well – I’m the idiot this Mae chick wants as a pet.”
How was that a valid argument at all? If anything, that was even more reason for Stiles to just stay away... maybe locked in a circle of mountain ash where no one could reach him.
“You think she was joking around with you?” Derek questioned. “This isn’t a game, Stiles. She tracked you down at your school. You think she’s going to just give up and leave you alone because you act like you’re not afraid?”
“Dude, my point exactly! I am the perfect bait.”
Isaac shifted from somewhere near Scott and Derek’s gaze shot to him, taking in his uncertainty and hesitation as he licked his lips and opened his mouth. “He does kind of have a point...”
“No!” Derek answered before turning to stare Stiles down – which should have been easy, him being an Alpha and Stiles being human. Nothing was ever easy with Stiles. “No,” he repeated. “You’re not bait, Stiles. You’re never going to be bait. That’s not how this works.”
“I can do this!” Stiles continued on, completely ignorant of the fact that by playing bait – he could get hurt. He could even get killed.
“You’re not coming, Stiles. You’re a distraction! I can’t think straight with you there.” The words slipped out before Derek realised they had even flash through his mind. Given the stutter in Stiles’ heartbeat and the hurt that flash across his face, Derek knew immediately that what he had meant had come out completely the wrong way.
“Look, I know everyone thinks I’m just some hyperactive kid with nothing to offer, but I can do this... This, this is one thing I can do.”
Derek felt the anger flood from him system, replaced with a hollow feeling instead. His shoulders slumped, his voice softened. “Stiles, I didn’t mean... I didn’t...” Didn’t mean it like that. At all.
Stiles wasn’t listening though. It was like watching a wall fall into place behind those amber eyes, and Derek knew that Stiles was feeling just as hollow as he was – which was worse, because Derek knew he was the cause.
“Stiles,” he tried again, refusing to acknowledge the glances each of the others gave him – the knowing and gloating look from Peter, and suspicion that lined both Isaac and Scott’s eyes. “This is dangerous.”
What he didn’t say, what he didn’t explain, was that he wouldn’t be able to focus whilst thinking of Stiles being in danger. He refused to admit it out loud. He could barely even admit it to himself. He had lost too many people he had cared about, and he wasn’t prepared to lose anymore. And for some reason, for some incomprehensible reason that Derek really didn’t understand at all... he cared about Stiles.
Hallo! Update time, so that also means times for thank yous - thank you for reading, and for the comments I've received so far. I'm really enjoying writing this fic so I hope you enjoy reading it ^_^ This chapter is a little longer than the others because the end scene was the one I have had planned since planning the fic, and it just didn't feel right pushing it to the beginning of chapter 6.
Another new update should be coming on Thursday!
Compromise. That was what the discussion had ended in, and in Stiles’ opinion – it took long enough. What it basically meant was that Derek had finally figured out that no matter how much he glowered or growled or argued that Stiles could get hurt, Stiles was going nowhere. Of course, the Alpha still refused to allow Stiles to play bait and made him promise to never leave Scott’s side, but Stiles could totally take that.
He just wanted to help. He needed to help. Not to prove anything to anyone else, but to prove it to himself. He wasn’t just some useless kid who happened to know a bunch of werewolves who could seriously kick ass. He needed to know he was more than that. Sure, he would never be a hero, but he wasn’t about to submit to the title of ‘coward’ either.
“What about him?” Scott asked as the conversation headed toward a close, his question directed at Derek but his gaze drifting to Peter.
“Who, me?” Peter quizzed in return, finally looking up from the large and dusty book in his hands. He had been far too quiet the whole time, his presence like an overbearing shadow that had you wishing for some light. “Ah, yes. You see, me – I’m working on a different plan, for when this plan of yours inevitably blows up in your faces. Which it will.”
Stiles wasn’t sure he liked that answer. Granted, their plan wasn’t foolproof but it wasn’t exactly a suicide mission either, which hey, was a change from the usual routine.
“He’s staying here,” Derek answered without even glancing Peter’s way.
Peter nodded and turned his attention back to the book, flipping to the next page. “But, by all means – feel free to pass on all the gory details of this latest failure when you return.”
After that, they were headed off to the very outskirts of Beacon Hills, where the ruins of an old church building stood as a reminder of the quaint little town Beacon Hills had been when it had first been founded. Nothing bad had happened to it, most of the walls still standing, painted an off-colour white on the outside that had been washed away and worn down by the weather throughout the years. The simple fact was it had just been abandoned when the newer church had been built in town – much easier to get to.
During the day, whilst they had been at school, Derek had been out tracking the scents from the warehouse, and the church was where the trail had ended. It was the perfect hideout as no one really ventured out to it anymore, and even local youths, who wanted to party and drink away from their homes, had found much better places, closer to town, where they could hang out.
Stiles brought his Jeep to a stop along the side of the road, parking behind Derek’s Camaro. The church was still another quarter of a mile away, but it would be easier to get to on foot, not to mention quieter. And, given the uncomfortable glare still settled on Derek’s face, it was going to be an extremely quiet walk.
No one spoke until they were almost at the church. Stiles tried to a couple of times, the words already at the tip of his tongue and mouth open ready, but then Scott kept glancing at him with a warning in his eyes, gaze shifting to Derek so briefly. The words were unspoken, but the message was clear: ‘Dude, do you really wanna piss Derek off even more?’ Stiles even heard the question echoing around his head in Scott’s hushed and strained voice. So he bit his tongue and let off a huff.
“This is it,” Derek said, voice hushed as he came to a stop and hunched over slightly so he was below the bushes that separated them from the church. Might as well stay hidden for as long as possible. “Isaac, you’re with me – we’ll circle around back and check to see if anyone’s home.”
Isaac nodded, crouched but ready to go at a moment’s notice.
“And we’ll wait here until you call for us,” Scott continued, reciting the plan that had already been made back the Hale house. He was already getting himself into a position where he could see the church without being seen himself.
Derek dipped his head in agreement, never once looking to Stiles – which quite honestly, the silent treatment was really starting to grate on Stiles. Considering how silent Derek was already, Stiles would never have believed it was possible to know the difference between Derek being Derek and Derek giving someone the silent treatment. But this, this was definitely the silent treatment and it was directed at Stiles.
Stiles huffed out and moved to settle down beside Scott. He could play this game too, give Derek the cold shoulder. Why not? But even as he focused on trying to ignore Derek, he didn’t miss the way the Alpha grabbed Scott’s shoulder, forcing Scott to face him as he uttered a low warning.
“He never leaves your sight, you got me?” he questioned, and Stiles turned his head just enough to see the flash of something vulnerable in Derek’s eyes. When those eyes flickered to him, he snapped his gaze back to the church immediately.
“Yeah,” Scott answered, sounding a little offended that Derek would even have to ask. Derek must have given him an even harder look because after a beat, Scott added. “I swear!”
Then the Alpha was gone, Isaac disappearing with him, leaving Scott and Stiles there, hidden in the bushes and watching the church. Stiles didn’t even wait until Derek could be considered out of ear shot before opening his mouth and breaking the silence that had fallen too thickly.
“Dude, what is his problem?” He looked to Scott expectantly and was surprised to find his best friend looking back to him with a burrowed brow and frown upon his face.
“He’s just worried,” Scott answered, eyes lowering for a fraction of a second as if he understood exactly where Derek was coming from.
“Seriously, you’re defending the guy?” Stiles let go of an angry huff and turned back toward the church. “I guess I really am just a distraction then.”
“You know he didn’t mean it like that, Stiles.” If anything, Scott’s tone sounded pleading... on Derek’s behalf! Which was just ridiculous. Scott was Stiles’ best friend, which kind of meant he was supposed to be on Stiles’ side – no matter whether Stiles was right or wrong.
“Yeah?” Stiles questioned, “And how did he mean it?”
He didn’t look to Scott, but he knew the silence that followed well enough to know that Scott was opening and closing his mouth whilst attempting to come up with an answer. Surprise, surprise – nothing came. The silence just continued on. And it stayed like that until it seemed Scott had had enough.
“Stiles,” he started, voice low and questioning. Stiles said nothing in return, which Scott took as a sign to continue on. “Back at the house, what did you mean? You and Derek... You mentioned another werewolf.”
Stiles swallowed the lump suddenly forming in his throat at the question, refusing to meet Scott’s gaze. “It’s nothing.”
But Stiles shook his head. “It’s fine... I’m fine.”
It was pointless to lie though. Aside from what had been said back at the house, there was his arm as well. It had started bleeding again, nothing major, but enough for some of the blood to seep through and stain his jacket sleeve, and definitely enough for a werewolf to be able to smell. He had seen the look Scott had given him back in the Jeep, seen the question in his eyes, but neither of them had said anything, until now.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Scott asked, because he had his dim moments at times, but this wasn’t one of them. This was one of the annoying times that he caught on far too quickly.
It took Stiles a moment to answer. “I didn’t want you to worry.”
“You’re my best friend, Stiles. You don’t have to protect me from things like this.”
Yes, I do. Stiles sunk a little, his shoulders sagging. He didn’t voice what he was thinking but he had a feeling Scott got it all the same because he fell silent again and didn’t push it any further.
The next time the silence was broken, it was by Stiles’ phone as it beeped at him, alerting him to a text. The sound made him jump, echoing far too much in the deadened night air. Scott cringed, and so did he, bowing his head and hurriedly pulling the phone from his pocket whilst attempting not to create even more noise by dropping it on the ground. Easier said than done when your life was ruled by Murphy’s law.
“Silent, yeah – I know,” he grit out, sending an apologetic look to Scott. “I forgot to switch it back at the cars. But hey, nobody ever texts me besides you and you’re here, so...”
The words trailed away and his heart clenched within his chest as he read the message over. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out, his mind too focused on rereading the message, trying to take it in.
“What is it?” Scott prompted, and when he leaned forward as if to look, Stiles couldn’t help but pull the phone back and knock the display off on reflex.
“It’s Derek,” he answered, all too quickly. “He... he wants me round that side.”
His feet were already moving before Scott had managed to process the information, his phone already back in his pocket and his mind still going over that text.
“Then I’ll come with,” Scott said, making to stand.
“No! I mean, no – he wants you to stay here and keep look out.”
Scott didn’t look convinced in the slightest, which meant Stiles had to pull out the big guns. He had to beg, and plead. So that was exactly what he was going to do.
“Just trust me, Scott.” And then because he really needed Scott to do just that, he paused in his backing away and let go of an even more imploring, “Trust me. Please.”
And it seemed Scott couldn’t find any reason to say no to that.
Derek stalked through the shadows, making his way around to the back of the church, Isaac trailing behind him. His senses were on overload, gaze searching every inch of their surroundings for any sign of movements as he listened intently for any sounds that could mean someone was close by. He breathed in the air, tasting it; but there was nothing. The scents from earlier in the day had faded, suggesting that the pack hadn’t returned.
“I don’t understand,” he said with a shake of his head, voice low and cautious as he came to a stop. “They should be here.”
“Maybe they gave up,” Isaac offered. “Saw what they were dealing with and moved on.”
“No, they’re not done yet.” He had seen the look in the Alpha’s eyes, the malicious red that was unrelenting. She may have looked young, but she was powerful, Derek could tell that much, and her pack was larger than his. That didn’t mean they couldn’t be beaten though.
“You don’t think...” The rest of Isaac’s sentence faded away into the air, his gaze focused on the way they had come. The meaning was clear without him needed to say anything.
Derek shook his head, jaw tightening. “No, if they were here – there would be something.”
Even as he said it though, doubt plagued his mind, his thoughts wandering to Scott and Stiles waiting at the front of the church. But if the other pack was there, Derek would have sensed it. There would a sign, something out of place. Yet everything was just how it had been when he had been there several hours earlier.
Shoulders slumping, he took in the area again in case there was something he had missed. They were almost to the back of the church now, but still nothing.
“Just... keep moving,” he said, setting off once more. Maybe there was something around the other side to indicate some presence, because there had to be something. Why else would their trail have led here if they didn’t intend to return?
After a few more moments of absolutely nothing, Isaac spoke up again, his words unsure and yet steady at the same time. “We’d cover more ground if it wasn’t just the two of us.”
On the surface, it was a simple obvious statement, but even without mentioning their names, Derek’s mind flashed to them. Erica and Boyd. If they were there, he would feel a lot more in control of the situation. As it was though, they weren’t and there was nothing he could do about that.
“They chose to leave,” he answered, offering up no more than that.
“They would have stayed if you had ordered them to.”
It was somewhat true. He was their Alpha after all, even if they had decided to find another pack. But still... “It wasn’t my place to decide for them. They had to make their own choice.”
Even if it was the wrong choice in his opinion, it was their choice.
After the whole thing with Gerard and Jackson, he had tried to track them down but had lost their scents at about the same place he had picked up some unfamiliar ones – no doubt belonging to the Alpha pack. Since then, there had been nothing else – which was exactly the same thing he was getting now.
Isaac didn’t say anything further on the matter of Erica and Boyd, but after walking a little further in silence, it seemed that the young Beta’s mind was filled with questions, and his next one startled Derek somewhat.
“Why Stiles?” The question had Derek’s head snapping around to Isaac, his eyes taking in the young Beta’s confused look and burrowed brow. “Why would they go after him?”
I don’t know, was what Derek wanted to say but it didn’t quite make it to his lips. “Because he’s human,” he answered instead, pausing briefly before continuing, “And yet...”
“He smells of wolves,” Isaac finished for him.
Derek felt his throat tighten and bowed his head a little in agreement.
“But it’s more than that, right?” It almost wasn’t a question, more like Isaac was looking for confirmation to a thought that had been circling his mind for awhile. He didn’t meet Derek’s gaze as he spoke, his eyes focused on the ground, but his attention focused inward, as if he was searching for the answer inside himself.
This time, Derek couldn’t find anything to answer with.
He had wondered the same thing himself. After all, Stiles wasn’t a fighter – not physically. If that was what the Alpha wanted a human for, there were plenty of beefier humans to choose from. Granted, none of them smelled so heavily of wolves as Stiles did, but they would have more of an advantage in a fight than Stiles would.
By choosing Stiles, she was challenging them – she was challenging Derek.
The thought made Derek uncomfortable, something twisting in his stomach. Again he thought of how he shouldn’t have taken Stiles with him to the warehouse. He was responsible for this, and if anything happened to Stiles, he would be responsible for that too. The thought tightened his chest and he half wondered if it was Stiles getting injured because of him that caused the ache in his chest, or just the thought of Stiles being injured.
“We should head back,” he voiced, even though it went without saying. The other pack wasn’t there so it was pointless wasting any more time out there in the open, exposed and vulnerable. “We’ll come back again tomorrow.”
It was entirely possible, after all, that the pack was using more than one hideout, a different one for each night.
It was after another couple of steps that the scent hit Derek. Faint at first, but recognisable. Death and blood. So that was why the pack hadn’t returned. They had used the church as a dumping ground instead.
He followed the scent onward, taking careful note as it led him further and further away from the church. Isaac trailed behind him, silent until they were right on top of the smell.
“What is that?” the young Beta asked, nose wrinkling up in distaste.
Derek lowered himself to his haunches and touched the ground with his fingers. The source of the sickening smell was beneath him, buried just under the surface.
“The one who lost the fight,” Derek answered, remembering the cry of pain from the previous night, along with the heavy scent of blood – the same blood that stained the leaves and dirt on the ground.
Isaac joined him at the makeshift grave, looking over the ground with that familiar frown on his face. “Why’d they bury him?”
Derek ground his teeth together, the answer coming all too easily. “They’re letting us know that they’re not planning on leaving anytime soon.”
With the first body, it had been dumped carelessly, making it easy to find. It brought attention to their presence, but so long as there were no more sudden bodies appearing in or around town, the first could be written off as an animal attack. The fact that they had taken the time to bury this one meant they were delaying the time that they would be discovered by the authorities. Because the police didn’t necessarily need to know a person was a werewolf to know they were a killer.
Derek pushed up and turned away from the body. There was nothing he could do about it except leave it there. Informing the Sheriff’s department would only put him under suspicion, and he doubted even Stiles would be able to hint at its location to his father without a few eyebrows being raised.
“I doubt they’ll be back here again,” Derek said, filling the too quiet air and already making his way back toward the church, and to Stiles and Scott.
Isaac followed obediently, brow wrinkling as he returned to his thoughts, leaving Derek to think about his own. Not that he had been left with much to think about, aside from trying to plan their next move, which was a lot harder when he had no new information to go on. Beacon Hills wasn’t exactly the largest town, but Derek had enough experience to know that there were plenty of places to hide.
They were almost at the front of the church now and Derek’s eyes locked on the spot where Scott and Stiles were meant to be hiding. But something felt off. He quickened his pace, breaking free of the bushes and headed straight across the clearing and toward the figure of Scott, who had just popped up out of his hiding place. He looked puzzled, and Derek knew why instantly.
“Where’s Stiles?” Derek demanded, stopping just short of Scott, his gaze briefly taking in the area. “I thought I told you not to take your eyes off of him.”
He recognised the panic flitting across Scott’s eyes and heard his unsteady heartbeat.
“He got a text,” Scott explained. “He said it was from you.”
He didn’t need to say anything further. Either Scott had been duped by Stiles, or someone had messaged Stiles pretending to be Derek. Whichever it was, both conclusions led Derek’s thoughts to just one person. Peter. The sly smile on his face as they had left, they way his words still echoed around Derek’s mind... Derek should have known not to trust him. He should have known that despite his warnings, his uncle would go after Stiles.
“We need to go, now!”
Heart hammering, Stiles pressed his foot down further on the throttle of his Jeep, the whole while trying not to think about how monumentally bad this idea was, and how lying to Scott was definitely not his greatest move. His palms were slick with sweat and he removed them one at a time from the steering wheel to wipe against his jeans.
“I’m going to die,” he whispered to the empty air. “My brain has short circuited and I’m going to die.”
Because even if he wasn’t most definitely walking into a trap, when Scott and Derek found out what he was doing, they would take turns to murder him.
His phone weighed his pocket down uncomfortably, a guilty reminder of the lie. He could still see the words from the text message clearly in his mind’s eyes. The hesitation he had felt had been so brief it was almost nonexistent. Now, passing the halfway point between the church and the Hale house, doubt itched at the back of his mind, persistent. But it was too late now.
You can be more than a distraction. The message had said. So when you’re bored of my nephew’s death glares, come find me.
The number was unknown, but then, Stiles had no reason to have Peter’s number entered into his phone. He had no reason for Peter to even be calling him, or messaging him, in the first place. Except, it seemed he did.
He remembered Peter’s words about having a plan of his own for when Derek’s failed. There had been no indication of what that plan entailed or what preparations needed to be made, but Stiles had a feeling now that the main preparation was to have Derek distracted by his own far too hastily planned plan. Whilst Derek refused to acknowledge that Stiles could hold some use now the new pack had their eyes on him, Peter was not so ignorant of the opportunity presented to him.
Of course, Stiles knew he was going to regret this. He was going to really regret this. If he lived long enough to that was.
When he reached the Hale house, he stopped the Jeep several feet away from the porch – all the better in case he needed a quick escape. His heart was somewhere in his throat, beating so loud that he was sure Peter would know he was there, simply by that ever persistent, too fast thumping. Even so, Stiles stayed exactly where he was, Jeep still turning over, engine a jagged rumble in the silent night air.
He flexed his grip on the steering wheel and locked his gaze on the door to the house. Not for the first time since getting that message, he wondered just what the hell he was doing. Peter wasn’t just crazy, he was a werewolf. He was a crazy werewolf who had gone on a killing spree, whilst also turning Scott into a werewolf, and to top it all off – he had kidnapped Stiles in order to find Derek. So bottom line, Peter was not to be trusted.
So just what the hell was Stiles doing there?
Taking a breath to steady himself, he reached for the key and turned the engine off, watching as the headlights died down to a mere glow that barely made it up the first few steps leading to the house. He turned them off fully. After all, it would just be his luck that it would kill his battery right when he needed the Jeep to escape.
After another moment, where he considered retreating, he pulled the key free and climbed out. Once he was moving, that was it. His feet continued onward, despite the way his head spun and mind went over all the ways this could possibly go wrong. The door was his only obstacle, but even that wasn’t going to stop him, swinging open before he even reached the top step – Peter standing there waiting for him.
“Really?” he questioned, looking over Stiles who had become stock still at the sight of the man before him. “You’ve made it all the way here and you’re thinking about running now?”
“Just... one question,” Stiles returned, making no attempt to take that last step just yet.
Peter motioned his head, inclining it as if giving Stiles permission to continue.
“Are you going to kill me?”
If anything, Peter looked bored by the question and his gaze travelled up and down Stiles, judging him. “Do you want me to kill you?”
Stiles’ mouth dropped open, half in horror at the question, half in offence. “Why would you even ask that? Why would I want to die? Because, believe me, if I did have a death wish – I would find a much more comfortable way to die than by being mauled to death by a freaking werewolf. Like... being suffocated by kittens, or in the arms of Lydia Martin.”
“On second thoughts,” Peter drawled with a shake of his head, already turning away from Stiles and heading back into the house. He left the door open, which Stiles took as in invitation to follow.
“Hey!” Stiles called, hurrying after Peter and deciding in that moment that he had had quite enough of people turning their backs on him and leaving him behind. “You called me here, remember?”
He pushed on until he had passed the threshold, where he stalled, needing a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. But even when his eyes did adjust, he could no longer see Peter. The shadows had swallowed him whole and were refusing to spit him back out.
“So I did,” came the short reply from Peter, and Stiles breathed a sigh of relief, following the sound through into the main room which seemed a lot emptier than usual.
It was strange, being there without Scott or Derek, or hell, even Isaac. He wasn’t quite sure where to put himself, what with Peter standing there by the window, bathed in moonlight from the almost full moon. The man seemed to revel in it, fingers curling and uncurling, back straight and shoulders held confidently. He looked powerful, even in human form, and without the glowing eyes and piercing fangs or sharp claws. He looked dangerous.
And Stiles felt weak.
He wanted to say he wasn’t afraid, but it would be a lie, one Peter would see through easily. The truth was, Stiles spent so much time being afraid that he just started getting used to it after awhile. Even before werewolves became a huge part of his life. After his mom died, he developed an almost irrational fear of losing his dad... and of being left alone. But that fear, all of that fear he had felt before was nothing like the fear he felt now.
The fear he felt in that moment, it was the same fear he had felt those months ago when Peter had held his teeth to Stiles’ wrist... offering promises of power, amongst other things.
He was afraid of how he would answer.
“I like you, Stiles,” Peter voiced, his eyes locked on the moon, but Stiles knew the man’s attention was on him, so he stayed put and listened without interrupting. “I really do.”
Peter turned to look at him, surveying him once more. “And well, here’s the thing: Derek can try and hide you away as much as he likes, but they’ll find you.”
He didn’t need to say who ‘they’ were. The other pack, the other Alpha. It was all too clear. They were the reason Stiles was there in the first place, because he wanted to help. He wanted to be seen as more than just some fragile human who bruised and bled too easily.
“They’ll be coming for you,” Peter continued, “before the next full moon, which is in... three days time?”
Stiles nodded, even though it wasn’t really a question. Peter knew exactly when the full moon was. So did Stiles, he kept track of these things. When his life was the way it was, he had to.
“So I’m going to give you some advice - you need to make a decision. Do you want to be the lamb?” Peter asked, taking a step forward, away from the moonlight and into the shadows where his features seemed to become deadlier, a grin forming across his face as his eyes glowed softly, offering up things that Stiles wished he knew nothing about. “Or do you want to be the wolf?”
Huge thank you for reading and for the comments I've received!!!
Stiles had too much of a head start. It would be impossible to catch up with him before he reached Peter, even though his Jeep’s top speed was nothing compared to Derek’s Camaro’s. Still, it didn’t stop Derek from applying more pressure to the gas pedal. The engine complained against the abusive behaviour, its roar loud as the pedal groaned from being pressed almost flat to the floor of the car. Derek didn’t care, just so long as the car got him to Peter and Stiles before anything could happen.
“What makes you so sure it was Peter?” Scott asked from the passenger seat, his heart racing almost as fast as Derek’s.
Isaac leaned forward from the backseat, and Derek could feel both young Betas’ gazes on him, questioning and unrelenting.
“Because it’s better than the alternative,” Derek answered, hoping he was right... needing to be right, whilst also praying that even Stiles wouldn’t be stupid enough to walk right into a trap set by the other pack.
No, if Stiles went of his own willingness, then it had to be to someone who was more ally than enemy. That left Peter.
“Why would Stiles do that? Why would he lie?” There was hurt underlining Scott’s tone and Derek glanced his way briefly enough to see the sadness flicker across his features.
Derek could understand, because Stiles wasn’t one to lie unless the situation truly called for it. If he thought a certain person should shoot you in the head with an arrow, because Derek had heard that comment, Stiles went on right ahead and said it. Stiles just didn’t lie, unless it was to protect someone.
“Why don’t you ask him? Just as soon as I’m finished killing him,” Derek replied, even though he did have a pretty clear idea as to what Stiles’ answers would be.
But none of that mattered. All that did matter was getting to Stiles before Peter could do something.
When they finally reached the house, Derek didn’t bother with parking or any of the simple things like turning off the engine. He just wrenched the door open and tumbled from the car, righting himself immediately before sprinting off toward the house. Stiles’ scent was heavy in the air and Derek followed it, barely even aware of Scott and Isaac trying to keep up behind him.
The front door was already open and Peter sat waiting on the stairs, examining his nails with a varying degree of curiosity and boredom. Derek forced himself to halt, only just managing to stop himself from toppling over Stiles – who lay there, at the bottom on the staircase, motionless...
It took Derek a moment to take it all in and process what was in front of him, his chest tightening painfully the whole while. Then his eyes snapped up to Peter, his hands clenching at his sides, body already moving to pounce.
“What did you do to him?” he demanded.
That cocky smirk spread across Peter’s face and he raised his eyes enough to survey Derek, head tilting to the side. “I just gave him what he wanted.”
It was like a match being lit in a room filled with gas. Derek exploded, leaping over Stiles with a snarl, the wolf taking over. Peter was backing up instantly, holding out a hand, his eyes still glistening because he wasn’t done yet. There was more to it.
“Ah ah,” Peter went on, with a shake of his head, stalling Derek. “You’re running out of time. I’m guessing you have maybe thirty minutes to get him to the hospital... or you’ll lose him.”
The internal battle raged for mere seconds, the need to save Stiles winning out over the desire to rip Peter apart. He turned away from his uncle, reluctant in offering up his back, but Stiles had to come first. Stiles, who’s heartbeat was far too faint and breathing far too shallow.
Scott was already beside Stiles, ready to scoop him awkwardly up. He stopped though when Derek gave a shake of his head, and backed away, because Derek was stronger.
“Get the car ready,” Derek ordered, lowering himself to his haunches and slipping his arms beneath Stiles as gently as he could. He didn’t look to see Scott racing away, but he heard the hurried footsteps leading to the car, just as he heard Isaac’s footsteps approaching him. He didn’t speak, but Derek sensed the offer of help anyway.
He didn’t take it.
Rising up from the floor, Stiles was heavy in his arms, but no more so than Derek expected. After all, Stiles wasn’t scrawny, he had muscles which were kept hidden away beneath the baggy shirts and jackets. And that just summed Stiles up, his strengths hidden from others unless they cared to take notice, because as Derek had learned, the youth was most definitely not weak. Body, spirit, or mind.
Which was why, no matter what Peter had done, Stiles would pull through. Stiles would fight it. He had to.
Scott had the passenger door of the Camaro open ready by the time Derek reached it, and after receiving an impatient glare from Derek, he climbed from the driver’s seat and into the back. Passenger seat reclined, Derek placed Stiles into it and almost immediately, Scott was there, moving forward, hands on Stiles to steady him. Derek let go with a tight reluctance. But he couldn’t drive and keep a hold of Stiles at the same time. It would be difficult enough trying to focus on driving as it was, with Stiles’ heartbeat threatening to grow even fainter.
Isaac stood off to the side, watching, and Derek paused long enough to consider him. He opened his mouth to say something, to offer up an order to give the young Beta. After all, he looked just as lost as Derek felt. Nothing came. So Derek swallowed instead and moved around to the driver’s side.
“If he tries anything, don’t stick around,” he finally said, sparing a glance up to the house and his uncle who now stood watching in the doorway. He didn’t offer any low warnings or threats, and he didn’t need to tell Isaac to keep his distance.
Within another moment, he was in the car and pulling away. Shortly after that, and they were on the road, headed straight toward the hospital. Derek kept his eyes on the road, but his attention kept flickering back to Stiles, listening to every stutter in his heartbeat and hitch in his breathing. Scott was silent in the back, his attention also on Stiles, his panic and concern clouding the air in the car and clashing with Derek’s own.
“Derek,” Scott started when they were free of the forestry and halfway through town, his voice breaking into the suddenly deep silence. “Derek!”
But Derek already knew what was coming. He could already hear the absence of Stiles heartbeat and was already pulling the car over with a sharp jerk of the steering wheel.
“I can’t hear him breathing,” Scott continued, voice rising, alarmed with a hint of fear. His fingers were desperately searching for a pulse, and Derek could see the shake in his hands when he failed to find one. “Derek, I can’t hear him breathing.”
Derek had his door open within seconds, jumping out and rounding the car in order to pull the passenger door open too. He grabbed Stiles without a word, carrying him to the path at the side of the road and laying him down upon it. Scott was by his side immediately.
“What the hell are you-” Scott started, and for the first time since getting in the car, Derek spoke, cutting over Scott with a sharp glare and even sharper words.
“What do you think I’m doing, Scott?” he snarled before dropping his gaze back down to Stiles. “He’s not breathing.”
Mind going blank, he tried to push back the fear that kept him from thinking straight, and took a deep breath. Which was it? Which came first? He remembered being taught this, he remembered being told exactly what to do. All he had to do was remember now and Stiles would be fine. Stiles was going to be okay.
He placed his hands on Stiles’ chest and took another breath to calm himself, demanding his own heart to slow enough to give him the timing he needed. He didn’t wait for it to obey before pushing down with just the right amount of force, repeating the motion over and over, and counting in his mind. The whole while he listened, praying for a stray heartbeat, something to cling onto.
Everything was too silent, Stiles was too silent.
Another couple of compressions and Derek moved on, the movements coming naturally now, as if that time he had been forced to learn first aid had been all be for this moment. But even with Stiles’ airway clear, his heart still refused to beat.
“Come on, Stiles,” Derek pleaded, already preparing for the next step – making sure Stiles’ head was tilted just right, nostrils pinched between Derek’s fingers.
He drew in a breath and leaned down, focusing solely on Stiles. It figured that the only time the kid shut up was when he was at death’s door. But Derek wasn’t about to let him go just yet. Placing his mouth over Stiles’, he let go of the breath and watched as Stiles’ chest rose with it. Then he repeated the action once more, listening... always listening.
It wasn’t until he was moving back to the first step that he heard it. A faint flutter, barely even there, but then it happened again, and Stiles’ chest began to move of its own accord, no longer needing assistance. Derek waited just in case, tempted to press an ear over Stiles’ heart just so he could hear it more clearly, thumping and working.
“Is he...?” Scott questioned, words trailing away as if he was afraid to ask.
Derek nodded, firm. “He’s alive.”
But only just. They needed to get him to the hospital fast, so the doctors could find the problem, so they could fix him and wake him up.
The rest of the drive was a blur, a mess of headlights and streetlamps breaking into the darkness. There had been car horns blaring, because Derek knew he was driving recklessly, so much so that he was surprised there weren’t any police cars following him by the time he got to the hospital. It might have been easier if there had been. It might have been easier if Sheriff Stilinski had pulled him over and given him an emergency escort.
It didn’t happen, which was probably for the best. Though it would only be a matter of time before the Sheriff heard about what had happened. Derek could deal with that later, when it actually happened, but for now – he had to get Stiles whatever help he needed.
He parked the car at the front of the hospital, jumping out almost immediately and circling to the passenger door. His hands were already reaching for the handle of the door before he even got to it, tugging it open as soon as they could. He swooped down to grab Stiles and was already moving up to the main entrance when Scott tumbled out of the car after him. Almost immediately, the young Beta raced ahead to hold the doors open before disappearing further into the hospital.
Scott was shouting, but his words washed over Derek as Derek focused solely on Stiles’ heart and the steady rhythm that wasn’t so steady anymore.
“Scott? Scott, what the hell is... is that Stiles? Scott, what happened?” Ms McCall’s voice had Derek looking up and she approached almost cautiously, her eyes wide but her whole demeanour calm, calm and in control.
Derek clung to that, needing some surety, needing someone to step in and take over.
“Please, Mom,” Scott all but begged, “he needs a doctor.”
Ms McCall nodded and held out and arm in guidance. “This way.”
There was more chaos and more voices and Derek wasn’t exactly sure when Stiles was taken from him or when he was led away to sit with Scott on the plastic seats near the nurses’ station. All he did know was that it wasn’t supposed to be like this. When he finally started regaining himself, started to get his bearings once again, he knew that the comforting hand of Scott’s on his shoulder shouldn’t have been there. It should have been the other way around. He had no reason to feel so lost, to feel so powerless and broken.
Stiles wasn’t his pack. He was Scott’s.
It was some time later, when they were still waiting on word from the doctor who had disappeared with Stiles, that Scott decided to break the unspoken agreement of silence.
Derek was pacing, tired of sitting and needing to work out the unspent energy that was building up inside of him. Each time he felt the anger starting to bubble over, he forced himself to breathe in deep and tried to relax his muscles. His mind was ticking back and forth, trying to figure out how he could have gotten to Stiles and Peter sooner, whilst also trying to work out what Peter’s game plan was.
But the fire had twisted Peter so badly, changed him from the uncle Derek remembered and into the man he was now. Someone who Derek barely recognised, and someone who Derek would surely never understand completely.
So when Scott spoke, Derek would have been thankful for the distraction from his own thoughts, if only Scott’s words weren’t the ones Derek was trying desperately not to think about.
“You have to bite him,” Scott started, voice unwavering, gaze staring determinedly at the hospital floor. He had been thinking about it for some time, Derek could tell, wringing his hands and then smoothing his jeans with them repeatedly.
Derek had known the request, no – the demand, was coming. After all, it wasn’t like he hadn’t already thought about it himself. It was the very thing he didn’t want to consider, the one thing he didn’t want on his mind. His jaw tightened and he took a breath, his voice tense and barely even there as he answered, coming to a pause in his pacing. “I can’t.”
“The hell you can’t,” Scott answered, and Derek could feel the anger bubbling inside the young beta as he jumped to his feet. Derek didn’t need to look to see Scott’s glare, he could feel it. “You’re an Alpha! You can save him. He’s my best friend, Derek – he can’t die... I can’t let him die.”
“Don’t you get it?” Derek questioned, turning on Scott and only just managing to keep a reign on his own temper, hands forming fists at his side, nails digging into flesh. “That’s exactly what he wants me to do.”
He didn’t need to clarify who ‘he’ was. They both knew he meant Peter. But Scott was still too young, too naive to see the possible consequences of such actions. Peter had a plan. He always had a plan. He couldn’t give Stiles the Bite himself, but he could make it so Derek would have no choice but to do it. And Derek couldn’t...
“I don’t care!” Scott continued, voice rising before falling to an angry whisper at the strange looks they were getting from the few others around them. “If it wasn’t for me, Stiles wouldn’t even be involved in all of this in the first place! It’s my fault... but I can’t do anything to help him. Please, Derek... he’s saved your life before. You have to save his...”
Derek shook his head. “If I bite him now, it could kill him. Don’t you get that? We don’t know what my uncle did to him. We don’t know the effect the bite could have.”
And that was what he hated the most.
Scott opened his mouth to say something further, but closed it again almost immediately, his eyes trailing off behind Derek. Derek could hear the approaching footsteps and turned to face the oncoming doctor. Stiles’ doctor. He had a clipboard in his hand and a somewhat puzzled look on his face. When he came to a stop in front of them, he looked between the two before glancing at his clipboard again and speaking.
“You came in with the young boy just now, right?” he questioned.
Scott bobbed his head and Derek remained silent.
“I’m really not supposed to discuss this unless you’re family but there is something I need to ask... pertaining to Mr Stilinski’s case.”
“What’s wrong?” Scott took a step forward and Derek could hear the skip in his heart, that ever present underlying worry.
“Without knowing exactly what happened, and until we get the toxicology report back, I can’t say for certain, but my best guess is some form of aconite poisoning. I had a case similar to it a few months back, though not as severe.” The doctor removed a pen from his coat pocket and clicked it a couple of time before holding it to the clipboard. “Has Mr Stilinski come into contact with any strange plants recently? Eaten anything weird?”
“Wolfsbane,” Derek answered immediately, swallowing thickly. “There’s a patch near my house. I don’t know exactly what kind.”
The doctor nodded, scribbling the note down on the clipboard. The sooner he knew it was definitely wolfsbane he was dealing with, the sooner he could treat Stiles.
“Right.” The doctor slipped his pen away. “We’re setting him up with a room now, so once we have the drip going, you should be able to see him. There’s just the matter of his family...”
“I called his father,” Ms McCall answered from the nurses’ station. “He’s on his way now, but I’m sure he’ll be fine with them waiting with Stiles.”
Her gaze shifted to Derek uncertainly, but she said nothing further, returning her attention to her work once the doctor gave a nod of approval.
“I’ll let you know when your friend is settled in.”
And with that, the doctor walked away, giving Scott the opportunity to round on Derek as soon as the man was out of earshot.
“Why would Peter poison Stiles with wolfsbane?” he demanded, hushed and urgent. “Stiles isn’t a werewolf!”
Derek could only shake his head, hands forming fists once more at the thought. That was a question he would like answering himself.
Thank you so much for reading and for the comments!!
It was nearing midnight when Sheriff Stilinski arrived at the hospital. There was something so distinct about the scent of a father worrying about his son that Derek could tell as soon as the Sheriff entered the building, even with the door to Stiles’ room closed. He waited patiently with Scott and could tell he wasn’t the only one listening as the Sheriff approached. There was a momentary pause at the nurses’ station, and a few words exchanged between Sheriff Stilinski and Ms McCall, but then he was moving again.
When the door to Stiles’ room opened, Derek jumped straight to his feet.
“Sheriff Stilinski,” Scott called, moving to his feet also and having enough respect to incline his head a little as he shuffled awkwardly from foot to foot, throat moving as he visibly swallowed. His gaze shifted from the Sheriff to Stiles, and then back again.
“Scott,” Stilinski answered, voice terse and posture tense. He moved into the room, eyes flitting over Derek briefly, but not so brief that Derek missed the message there – small and clear, meant just for him: ‘I’ll deal with your presence in a minute’.
But for now, with Scott there, he was going to ignore Derek and Derek was happy to be ignored. Except Scott seemed to pick up on this and rubbed at the back of his neck awkwardly, glancing between the two.
“I’ll er... I’ll go get the Doctor,” the young Beta continued, which meant that Derek’s minute was just about up.
And yes, as soon as Scott was out the room, door closed firmly behind him, Sheriff Stilinski was there – right in Derek’s space.
“Why is that, as soon as you arrive back in town, that’s when I start finding out that not only is my son lying to me and getting himself into all kinds of trouble, but he’s getting beaten up too? And now this?” He pointed to Derek, eyes locked on him and refusing to back down. You could always rely on a Stilinski to be as stubborn as Hell itself.
“Mr Stilinski,” Derek started, gaze falling away, unable to take the accusation written in the man’s eyes.
“Sheriff Stilinski,” he reminded, the meaning clear. He had the law on his side, and he had access to weapons and handcuffs and prison cells, and there was always bound to be something he could lock Derek up for.
Derek nodded and opened his mouth to continue, but any explanation fell away because there was no explaining it. It certainly wasn’t time for the talk about werewolves, or the Sheriff would be sure to shoot him right there on the spot, not to mention that it wouldn’t be fair on Scott to rat him out as well.
“What the hell happened to my son, Hale?” Stilinski demanded, taking a step forward.
Derek took an instinctive step back, finding himself up against the wall of the room in the progress. The man before him was only human, but the power he held was so much more than the brute strength of a werewolf. He was a father in pain, a father protecting his only son and possibly last remaining family member. Derek understood how that felt, or at least he understood how it felt to fail and consequently lose everything and everyone.
Still, he said nothing, turning the question over in his head. The truth was, he wasn’t entirely sure what had happened. All he knew was that wolfsbane and Peter were involved, and neither was good news.
“Fine,” Stilinski continued, jaw tight as he lowered his hands to his hips and shifted from one foot to the other, keeping himself in check, “then let’s start with something simple: what exactly is your relationship with my son?”
Derek found himself looking up at that, eyes widening at the question – another one he wasn’t sure how to answer. After all, he didn’t really know. What was his relationship with Stiles? Sure, they both knew Scott and that was what linked them. Then there was the continued saving of each other’s lives, like a cycle that kept repeating over and over. And there was all the stuff in between too, but then, it was more than that. It had been more than that for awhile, even if Derek had refused to acknowledge it.
“I barely know him,” he finally forced himself to answer, barely able to keep Stilinski’s gaze.
“Then why are you still here?” There was anger in the undertone, and Derek knew that the question was more of a hint – a warning for him to leave.
But leaving wasn’t an option. He couldn’t, just like he couldn’t answer with an ‘I don’t know’. Because he did know. He knew exactly why he was there. He was there because he couldn’t leave and because he had to be there when Stiles woke up.
The Sheriff must have seen the look in his eyes, visibly calming in the silence the question had left behind and taking a step back. He took a breath and ran a hand up and through his hair, as if processing what that silence meant.
“He’s my son,” he said eventually, and it sounded so broken, so tired and worn, like it was what he was clinging onto – the one thing to keep him going, to get him through the day and night. An anchor, not for an internal wolf, but for something else altogether.
Derek could see the sadness in the sheriff’s eyes. He recognised it well, because it was the same sadness he saw in Stiles’. “I know,” he answered, soft as he tried not to swallow around the words.
“I’m not blind, Hale,” the sheriff continued on. “I know there’s something going on in this town, and I know you’re involved somehow. Stiles... He... Whatever it is that’s happening...”
“Stiles will be safe. I promise,” Derek interrupted before Stilinski could say anything further.
“He’s too curious for his own good and he just can’t leave things alone. So I swear to you, if anything happens to him – you’re the one I’ll come looking for.”
Derek could only nod, and thankfully he was saved the trouble of saying anything further when Scott arrived back with the doctor. As soon as the doctor entered the room, Derek shifted and slipped past him out into the hallway to leave Sheriff Stilinski and the doctor alone. Scott followed and stood with him near the door, far enough away to give the doctor and Stilinski space but close enough so Derek could hear what was being said.
“How is he?” Stilinski started, the worry clear, his attention on the doctor and Stiles. Derek imagined him to have moved to the bed, no doubt sitting next to Stiles and gripping his hand, like a father should.
“Your son is strong, Mr Stilinski,” the doctor answered. “He seems to be responding well to treatment, though it could be a few days before the aconite poison is fully out of his system. If I could, I would like to keep him for a couple of days to ensure he continues to respond and doesn’t relapse.”
“Relapse...” There was a haunted memory on that word that Derek could hear, even if he didn’t know what it was. It was clear, the fear and stuttering of the sheriff’s heart.
“Personally, I don’t think it will happen. But in cases like this, I would prefer to be sure just in case. After all, we have no way of knowing just how high the dosage was he received, or the potency.”
“So he’s going to be okay?”
There was a moment of silence and Derek hoped the doctor was nodding, then he finally spoke again, confirming the action. “There is no reason for him not to make a full recovery.”
After that, their talk dissolved into finer details and paperwork, so Derek turned his attention to Stiles’ heartbeat instead. With Sheriff Stilinski in the room, looking over Stiles, Derek and Scott returned to the seats by the nurses’ station. Time was drifting on and Derek felt himself drifting too, his eyes closing occasionally against his will before snapping open again whenever his head dropped forward.
It was the voices that dragged him from another micro nap the next time and Derek brushed a hand over his face in an attempt to wake himself up properly. He listened to the sounds of Ms McCall attempting to convince Sheriff Stilinski to go home and get some rest, uttering promises of someone calling him when Stiles woke up. It took some bargaining but eventually she won out and, whilst on a roll, declared she would drive him home once she’d clocked off because it wouldn’t do having the sheriff of Beacon Hills crash due to falling asleep at the wheel.
Whether it was because he was too tired or just didn’t notice, when Stilinski passed Derek and Scott by, he said nothing, leaving Ms McCall to fill the silence.
“He’ll be okay,” she comforted, addressing Scott and pulling her keys from her bag. “So don’t tire yourself out. Get some rest.”
“I’m fine, mom,” Scott answered, offering up a small smile.
Ms McCall hesitated before nodding, moving off without another word to guide the sheriff to her car. When they were gone, Derek and Scott returned to Stiles’ room and Derek spent the next hour attempting to keep himself awake whilst Scott used one of the spare beds to relax on. He didn’t feel himself nodding off, but somewhere along the line, he knew he must have.
Stiles had woken up in hospital before, so he recognised that faint smell of disinfectant almost instantly, and the sound of the whirring machines, beeping every so often. Even the itch of the hospital sheets against his skin wasn’t a new one; there had been plenty a time he had fallen asleep rested against his mom’s bed, and plenty more times he had woken up to find a sheet draped over him for warmth.
Having machines hooked up to him and finding himself trapped within the sheets, a foot still in a dream that continued to grow ever distant, that was different. That was enough to make him panic. Mind muddled and vision blurred, he could feel his heart racing in his chest, ribcage tightening and throat closing up to the point that he was beginning to feel like he was suffocating on nothing but air.
He fought against the sheets and the wires and the tubes, desperately clinging to each struggled breath. The lights in the room were too bright and everything was still far too blurry, his thoughts too jumbled for him to remember why he was in hospital.
“Stiles.” The voice was soothing, but demanding, the hand upon his shoulder sturdy, but not forceful. “You’re safe.”
But he didn’t feel safe.
“Breathe, Stiles,” the voice instructed. “In and out.”
Another hand found his other shoulder and something was pushed into his own hands and forced up toward his mouth. “Here,” a second voice ordered, “breathe into this.”
He did, seeing no reason to argue. Within moments the room began to stop spinning and he began to regain enough of himself to work out what had happened and who the voices belonged to.
“Asthma?” the first voice questioned, Derek most definitely, even though the sound was still muffled by the fact that Stiles’ ears seriously needed popping after feeling like he had just been submerged in a tank full of water.
“Panic attack,” Scott explained, and his voice wavered in such a way that Stiles knew he was somewhat disturbed by having to witness it firsthand.
Stiles took his time to recover, still breathing into the rough paper bag Scott had handed him, though with each breath he felt steadier and surer of his thoughts. Finally, when he pulled the bag away, he allowed himself to collapse backward onto the bed. Panic attacks. Just as fun as he remembered.
Scott’s and Derek’s hands left him, though they both remained where they were, watching over him.
“Stiles,” Scott started, low and uncertain in the silence of the room, the kind of early morning silence that tended to break sometime after seven.
“I know,” Stiles answered, cutting over him and the unformed ‘we have to talk about what happened’ that was surely coming. “Just give me a moment.”
“You were poisoned with wolfsbane, you almost didn’t have a moment.”
“Dude, I know, and I know it was a risk.”
“A risk?” Derek jumped in. “You mean you knew what my uncle was planning and you just went along with it? You idiot – are you trying to get yourself killed?”
“Hey, buddy, it’s not like your plan was any better.”
“Really? And what exactly is this master plan of yours? Die by wolfsbane poisoning? Because werewolves aren’t the only ones affected by it, or did my uncle neglect to tell you that part?”
Stiles didn’t need Peter or anyone to tell him the effects of wolfsbane. He had done enough reading on the subject to know the stuff was potent to humans and werewolves alike, and could kill just as quick as any other deadly plant out there.
“He told me what the pack is doing... to humans,” Stiles admitted instead, because Peter had said that much. He sunk a little, losing some of his fight as the words slipped out.
He wasn’t the only one, some of the tension lessened around Derek’s shoulders and his gaze softened. After all, he probably already knew. They had only skimmed over the subject before, Derek merely acknowledging that something was done. But Peter was more than happy to divulge on just what that was; stating how he believed it was now relevant to Stiles’ survival.
Scott looked between them, and when the silence went on too long, he spoke up. “What?” he questioned. “What do they do?”
“It’s a form of wolf venom,” Derek answered, solemn, and yes – it seemed he knew all the gory details. “A rare mutation that sometimes happens in Betas. Their bite doesn’t turn people, like an Alpha’s does, but it brings on a kind of rage.”
“Like rabies,” Stiles supplied at the perplexed look on Scott’s face. It seemed like an apt way to describe the effect, given that they were dealing with werewolves.
“So the wolfsbane...?” Scott continued in his questioning.
“Theoretically, it could help to counteract the effects of the Bite,” Derek added with a nod, and then he turned on Stiles and his jaw clenched, his eyes hard and unrelenting. “Except you’re not going to be bitten because you’re not going anywhere near them. You’re going to stay here until the wolfsbane is fully out of your system and you’re recovered.”
Stiles shook his head and pulled himself up. He didn’t wait for the lightheaded feeling to pass before starting to pull himself free of the wires, as well as the tube that was mostly likely feeding the antibiotics into his system. He didn’t even stop when he felt the hands on him attempting to push him back down into bed, both Scott and Derek manhandling him.
“Stop!” he called after another moment of struggling. “Just stop!”
And they all came to a halt, even Stiles. He took a breath and looked between them, their hands still mere inches away from him, ready to start in their manhandling again at the first sign of movement.
“Can’t we just talk about this?” he asked, even though he knew he had already made up his mind. He had made his decision the moment Peter had sent him that message and he refused to turn back now.
“What you did was reckless and stupid,” Derek answered. “You could have died!”
There was something in his voice there, and in the way Scott closed his eyes momentarily, that made Stiles wonder if he was missing something. He opened his mouth and choked down the curiosity because he had a damn point to make, and he wasn’t going to get distracted.
“I’m not dead though,” he said in return, “And if I don’t get out of here, it’ll all be for nothing.”
This time Derek shook his head. “You’re staying here and you’re going to take whatever medicine they give you to get better because the one thing you are not doing is, you are not playing bait.”
He turned away, his feet already moving toward the door as if to signal the end of the argument. He obviously still wasn’t used to the fact that Stiles wasn’t ever going to pay a blind bit of notice to him unless doing so would benefit Stiles in some way. Either that, or he figured that eventually Stiles would just give in to the big bad wolf routine.
Stiles pulled the last of the wires free and cringed when he pulled the needle from him arm, and wow... that was a lot longer than he expected.
“Tell me this,” he demanded, watching Scott’s head fall forward because his friend knew exactly how stubborn Stiles was, “where am I gonna be safer? Stuck in here, alone? Or out there with a pack of wolves who have my back?”
Derek paused at the door, and even though he didn’t look back Stiles could tell he was listening to every word, so he continued on before either Derek or Scott could interrupt.
“’Cause I mean, I know Scott says he isn’t your pack... but he kinda is, and I’m his... so by extension – you have to protect me.”
There was a pause there and Derek turned slowly. Stiles barely caught the distant look in the Alpha’s eyes, as if the guy was remembering something, but then it was gone and he was looking at Stiles, almost incredulously. “Are you saying you’re my pack?”
“You got a problem with that?” Stiles challenged, raising an eyebrow.
There was a flicker of something there, something Stiles couldn’t place, and then that tight predatory smile of Derek’s slipped onto his face and he stalked forward until he was at the foot of Stiles’ bed. He set both hands on the bar, spread apart so he was leaning down, his eyes level with Stiles’ and head cocked just a little to the side.
Stiles swallowed at the look in those eyes, refusing to acknowledge the warmth spreading across his skin, crawling up his back to tickle at his neck and ears and cheeks.
“You want to be in my pack, you do as I say.”
“Within reason,” Stiles added, tongue snaking out to dampen his suddenly dry lips.
Derek considered him for a moment, the grin slowly slipping away as his usual mask fell back into place. Eventually he nodded though, and thank the lord for that, because with a stare that intense, Stiles was surprised he hadn’t turned to a puddle of mushy goo within the bed sheets.
He tried to find his voice again after that, glancing between Scott and Derek and shifting uncomfortably in the bed. “So, er... is anyone going to pass me my clothes so we can get out of here?”
Okay, so I'm going to just apologise now for mini cliffhanger that waits at the end of this chapter. But if it helps, I can promise that the next update will definitely be on Monday (unless the internet shuts down and the zombie apocalypse happens...). THANK YOU to everyone for reading, and thank you hugely for the comments I've received - they're really encouraging and I'm glad you're enjoying reading this as much as I've been enjoying writing it.
If Stiles thought attempting to get dressed with Scott and Derek in the room was a challenge, then trying to convince Derek to let him go home without an escort was like attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, or trying to shove fifty or so marshmallows into your mouth at once. Derek was stubborn, but his stubbornness was nothing compared to Stiles’.
“I need my Jeep,” Stiles argued when they were out of the hospital, thanks to lots of sneaking about and the lack of people about due to how early it still was. “I refuse to leave my Jeep at your creepy house for you werewolves to use as a fire hydrant.”
Derek rolled his jaw and pulled his keys from his pocket. “Then I’ll drop it off for you, as soon as you and Scott are at your place.”
“Noooo,” Stiles drew out, coming to a stop and refusing to take another step.
Scott and Derek paused too, several steps ahead, both looking back at him – Derek with his eyebrow raised and Scott with his brow burrowed.
“I’ve seen how you drive,” Stiles went on, because Derek owned a freaking Camaro and Stiles’ Jeep was most definitely not a Camaro. They were in two completely different leagues, and there was no way Stiles was handing over the keys just for his Jeep to be abused in such a manner. “Either I drive, or Scott does.”
“You want Scott to drive your Jeep?” Derek questioned, and his eyebrow rose even further. “Scott drives like an old lady.”
“Hey!” Scott protested, but it was totally true.
“Exactly!” Stiles answered. “Which is why I know I’ll get my Jeep back in one piece.”
“Is that supposed to be a compliment?” Scott complained, his shoulders slumping a little.
But Stiles brushed the question off and continued on while he had a chance. “Look, my dad will be home and I’m pretty sure he’s more than capable of protecting me – not that I even need protecting – so just drop me off, and then you and Scott can go and get my Jeep, and maybe even take a shower, because I hate to say it... but you both kinda reek.”
Neither Scott nor Derek looked too impressed with that remark, though admittedly out of the two of them, Scott didn’t look like he wanted to rip Stiles’ throat out for stating fact. He even went so far as to sniff himself a little and wrinkle his nose up at the smell, because it was true. They needed to shower, Stiles needed to shower, and there was no way he was letting them use up all his hot water, not when he wanted a nice lengthy hot shower himself.
“Okay?” he asked, though the question was rhetorical and he didn’t wait for either of them to answer before clapping his hands in front of him, giving them a quick rub and moving forward. “Awesome. Let’s go.”
Derek was still being grumpy about the whole thing when he parked up outside of Stiles’ house, but he didn’t argue. He just clenched his jaw and looked to Stiles with both eyebrows raised in a warning that tainted his voice also. “We’ll be back in two hours, and if you’re not here when we get back, I will hunt you down and kill you myself.”
“Really? I’m not out of the hospital for five minutes and you’re already making threats. What about my health, mister? Injured party here.”
“If you were that bothered about your health, you would have stayed in the hospital.” There was an underlying threat there too, that Stiles heard clear as day. It went something like ‘if you don’t stop talking, I’ll even be so kind as to take you back there and tuck you into the nice hospital bed’.
“Oh my God! Fine, okay... I’m sorry. Just, seriously... I’m getting out now, and I’m not going to randomly get attacked by some werewolf whilst you’re gone. Not gonna happen. So please, feel free to take your time in getting back.” He held his hands out in front of him, clasped within one another, pleading to Derek, but Derek was remorseless, so Stiles’ hands fell back down with a thump and he rolled his neck like a sharp tick in defeat. “Or not. You know, whatever suits you.”
“Two hours,” Derek repeated.
“Sounds good to me,” Scott agreed from the back, earning himself a death glare from Stiles, because really, who’s side was he on anyway?
Stiles grumbled under his breath and tugged the door open, dragging himself from the car in a sulk. He trudged up the path to his house, shoulders slumped like the sulking teenager he was, and only turned around to face the car again once he was at the door. It was only when he was inside, the door closed and latched behind him, that Derek pulled away. And it was only when Stiles knew that Scott and Derek could no longer see him that he slumped even further for a whole different world of reasons.
He closed his eyes and fell back against the door, letting go of a deep sigh. Whether it was from everything that had happened, or from the wolfsbane still in his system, he wasn’t sure, but he knew that his head was spinning and his mind was having trouble trying to catch up. A little rest, without Scott and Derek looking over him as if they were just waiting on him to pass out so they could force feed him medicine and lock him back up in the hospital, that was all he needed.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
But judging by his father’s angry voice, he wasn’t going to get it just yet.
He opened his eyes and looked to the figure of his dad, offering up a sheepish smile. “Hi, Dad!”
“You... you’re supposed to be in hospital!” His father moved forward until he was right in front of Stiles, looking to him with eyes that were just as judging as Derek’s and Scott’s had been. “And don’t you dare lie to me, Stiles. They didn’t let you out, so why are you here?”
Stiles felt himself shrinking a little, wishing he could have bypassed this whole conversation. His father’s eyes were angry, but also worried, a much deeper worry that Stiles rarely saw because nothing was ever that bad. Not really. But this worry, this fear Stiles could see... he could only imagine how he would have felt if things had been the other way around and he had seen his father hooked up to machines, lying unconscious in hospital. It was too painful an idea to think about.
“I couldn’t,” Stiles started, before pausing at the look on his father’s face. He swallowed, which was actually quite painful considering how dry his throat and mouth were. “I couldn’t stay there.”
The words had a double meaning, and he knew his dad would get it. He knew his dad would understand what Derek or Scott wouldn’t. Because yes, he had to get out of the hospital so he could be of some use, but also... he couldn’t stay there, trapped within those itchy white sheets, listening to the machines and voices from out in the hospital corridor. He couldn’t stay there, not with the memory all too clear of that time, years ago, when he had been on the other side of the hospital bed, with his mother lying there. Dying.
His father softened and nodded. He did understand. Stiles knew he would. But before Stiles could make any move to push away from the door and head toward his room, his father shuffled from foot to foot and opened his mouth, as if to say something. Stiles waited, still and silent, looking his father over. And then it came.
“Stiles, if there’s something going on... anything at all, you know you can talk to me, right?”
“Yeah, I know,” he answered, but his father didn’t look convinced. If anything, he looked even more forlorn. “I’m fine, Dad. Everything’s going to be alright.”
Derek was wound tight. Every nerve in his body was threatening to snap if stretched any further. The only good thing? Scott seemed to sense this and said nothing from the back of the Camaro. He didn’t even attempt to move up front and into the passenger seat. Derek suspected the young Beta would be glad to be free of the car, and of Derek, when they finally arrived back at his house.
He glanced in the rear view mirror and caught sight of Scott watching him. Almost immediately, Scott turned away and focused on something else whilst Derek grit his teeth.
The truth was, Derek didn’t know how to handle this. Any of it. He wasn’t supposed to care and he wasn’t supposed to be feeling all of these mixed up feelings. But he was, and it made his skin itch and chest ache. Stiles made his skin itch and chest ache.
He was just a kid. A stupid kid who had no idea what he was dealing with. It would serve him right if something happened to him, but that very thought had Derek tightening his grip on the steering wheel as he tried to force the sickly feeling back down. What was it about Stiles that had Derek wanting to protect him, to keep him safe from everything?
The Bite was a gift. As his mother had told him when he was young, the wolf made you special and powerful. So there was no reason for Derek to want to keep that from Stiles, because with the Bite, Stiles would be able to protect himself. If Stiles was a wolf, the new pack in town wouldn’t want to use him. And yet...
Stiles was already special. He was human, and that made him strong in his own right. And most of all, for Derek, it meant he could walk away whenever he wanted to. He could cut ties and leave at anytime, back to a life where he wouldn’t be in danger. Where werewolves and hunters and all other beings didn’t exist.
“Derek,” Scott sounded from the back seat, clearing his throat a little.
Derek shook his head, pushing away the thoughts and turned his attention to Scott. “What?”
“You er... you missed the turning.”
A quick glance around told Derek that Scott was right, and he growled at himself in frustration. Clearly he couldn’t even focus on driving with Stiles so constantly scratching at the back of his mind, so how he was meant to focus on anything else was beyond him. He manoeuvred the car effortlessly, swinging it around and heading back toward the turning he needed.
It was another five or ten minutes before they were at the house, and as Derek suspected, Scott couldn’t get away quick enough. He jumped from the Camaro and pulled Stiles’ keys from his pocket, already headed toward the Jeep. He only paused long enough to see if Derek had anything to offer up, but Derek kept his low warnings to himself. After last night, he doubted Scott needed telling again.
Derek watched the young Beta tear away, heading back into town, and waited until the sounds of the Jeep disappeared before turning his attention to Isaac who had stumbled from the house.
“How is he?” Isaac asked immediately, concern written across his features.
“He’s safe, for now,” Derek answered, pocketing his keys and heading up toward the house. “I can’t say the same for my uncle.”
With those words hanging heavy in the air, Isaac didn’t follow. He was smart enough to sense the fight in Derek and smart enough to stay out of the way. Peter on the other hand, he was cocky and possibly just a little masochistic. He greeted Derek at the door with a beaming smile and open arms. Derek’s fist connected easily with his jaw, sending the man back a few steps and into the house.
“Not exactly the hello I was expecting,” Peter retorted, bringing his hand up to his jaw and rolling it gently.
“He’s just a kid!” Derek answered. “And you manipulated him!”
“I gave him what he wanted.” The words were calm and placid, little to no defence in them because Peter was above feeling the need to defend himself and his actions.
It made Derek’s hands tighten into fists at his sides as he resisted the urge to throw another punch. “And what was that exactly?”
“I gave him a way to survive,” Peter threw back at him, “A way to fight back and defend himself, because he’s a realist. He knows they’re coming for him and he knows you can’t protect him.”
“They’re not going to get him.”
Peter scoffed, rolling his eyes and turning away from Derek, his tone patronising. “Why? Because you said so? You know, you’ll only end up pushing him away with that attitude. The tighter you hold onto something, my dear nephew, the more likely you are to break it yourself.”
“And the wolfsbane?” Derek growled out, already knowing the answer but suspecting there was more to it. There always was with Peter.
“If we’re lucky, it’ll keep him sane,” Peter explained, turning to face Derek again, head cocked to the side. “And if we’re not, then at least it’ll give them a nasty burn when they bite him.”
Of course, and there it was. The wolfsbane in Stiles’ system, it wasn’t just about defence. It was a weapon. Peter was using Stiles as a weapon against the new pack. He was practically offering Stiles up to them, just so he could take them by surprise.
“You can fight it all you want, Derek,” Peter continued, “But the sooner you stop treating him like a fragile little flower that needs to be locked away, the sooner we can get on the same page and actually do what needs doing.”
The shower was warm and welcome. Stiles stood under the head for the longest time, just letting the water wash over him and allowing it to remove the traces from the day before. The sweat, the mingled scents that he was sure would be there, and the blood from the wound on his arm.
Someone had wrapped it for him at the hospital but the stained bandages had since been discarded in the bin under the sink. If he felt up to it, he would probably try to wrap a fresh bandage around it, but given how heavy every part of him felt, he doubted that would happen. He doubted he would be able to do much else besides get dressed and collapse on his bed in order to sleep away the rest of the day.
He leaned forward against the wall of the shower, his arm resting beside the fixture for support as the water continued to flow, running down the curve of his back. Everything inside his head was still so messed up. Even with finally being alone, he couldn’t find the energy to wade through it all and make sense of it.
Since Scott had been bitten, Stiles had been there. He had always been there, somehow. Even when he didn’t want to be, even when it went against his better judgement. He was there, and it all kind of fit in a strange way. No one questioned it, and if they did, they kept the questions to themselves. But now, now Derek was all ‘you’re human, go sit in the corner and wait until it’s over’.
And once over, Stiles would have gladly agreed.
But these were his friends. This was his town. And he could do something. He could actually make a difference, even if he wasn’t a werewolf. So if he could, what gave him the right to just sit back and let everyone else take the hits? Even if it was Derek
His mind wandered to the night before and the conversation with Peter. He remembered the fear wrapping around his heart and edging its way across his mind.
“Do you want to be the lamb, or do you want to be the wolf?”
The words still circled around his head even now, the feeling that made his throat tighten as he struggled not to choke on the anxiety the words caused.
“Are you talking metaphorically here or...”
Peter’s canines had lengthened at that point, his eyes glowing softly in the dark, like a will-o’-the-wisp – a gentle light in the fog at night, leading travellers astray and to their doom. Stiles had swallowed.
“Are you going to bite me?”
The question was strangled, his throat working to keep the words down as he knew he was almost too afraid to hear the answer. But the answer had not been what he had expected, because it was Peter Hale – who did threatening loom almost as well as his nephew, if not better.
“I can’t. I’m not the Alpha anymore, remember? Only Derek can offer you the Bite.”
Stiles closed his eyes against the water trickling down his hair and over his face. He breathed out, remembering the relief that had flooded his system at Peter’s answer. There was no denying the awesomeness that came with being a werewolf, and Stiles would be a liar to say he wasn’t tempted. But that was what scared him most.
He knew the darkness. He knew it well, and he knew how it could twist up the heart and mind. Even before glimpsing real darkness in the form of werewolves and misguided hunters, Stiles had had his own moments of doubt brought on by his mother’s death. So he knew what the darkness was like, and he knew that to give in even an inch would mean the darkness had already won.
So no, he would not be inviting it into himself just so he could earn a few neat party tricks.
The water was beginning to cool and Stiles pushed away from the wall, knocking the shower off with his free hand. It didn’t take long to towel himself dry and drag himself into the oversized shirt and sweats he had left out ready. Dragging his sorry ass to his room where he could collapse on his bed, that seemed to take an eternity.
He lay there, face planted in his pillow, and breathed in. Now he could rest. He could just lie there and relax, until Scott and Derek decided to drop in on him. But for now, he would make the most of what time he had whilst trying not to think about anything werewolf related. All werewolf related things, they could wait until the actual werewolves were there, and when the werewolves were there, then they could deal with it all whilst Stiles slept properly, in his own bed, just for a couple of hours.
The gentle knock at his door had him groaning and pushing himself up.
“Seriously, dude? You couldn’t wait just like one more hour? Just one?” he questioned, before forcing himself to his feet and across the room.
“Hey, kiddo,” his father answered, looking a little sheepish when Stiles opened the door. “You’ve got a visitor.”
“If it’s Scott, tell him to come back when I’ve had some sleep.”
His father shook his head. “It’s not Scott. Not unless he’s morphed into a teenage girl since last night.”
Stiles’ eyes widened at that, some energy returning as a grin split across his face. He didn’t wait for his father to finish before he started bounding down the stairs and toward the waiting visitor, one name on his mind. Lydia.
He swung around the banister at the bottom, ready to greet the girl he had been infatuated with since the third grade, only to have the smile wiped off his face as he found himself face to face not with strawberry blonde hair but dark blonde instead.
So I am really late with putting this chapter up. I had hoped to get it up earlier than planned because I knew I was working all day today but you know... the best laid plans of mice and men... So I'm posting it now. A huge thanks for everyone for stopping by and reading and for the comments this has received so far!
Due to work being evil and taking up so much time, I'm behind on my writing which means I'm only halfway through chapter 11 instead of through chapter 12 like I'm supposed to be. But as it is, this shouldn't interrupt my current posting pattern yet and chapter 10 should be posted this Thursday...
“Hi, Stiles,” Mae answered, a bright smile upon her face as she cocked her head to the side and clasped her hands in front her.
Stiles opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out, all words failing him in the worst possible way. It wasn’t until he heard his father’s footsteps and felt the clap of his father’s hand on his shoulder that he remembered to close his mouth a little.
“I’m glad to see you making friends with the new kid, Stiles,” his father spoke up, voice gentle but tired, a reminder of how little sleep he must have had. “I’ll er... I’ll leave you two alone and go make myself a coffee.” He began to turn away before looking back to Mae again, his tone almost hesitant as if he wasn’t sure how this usually went – and considering Stiles only ever had Scott as a guest, it was no wonder why. “Can I... can I get you anything? Water? Juice?”
Mae shook her head, polite and innocent, and Stiles clamped his mouth tight shut, his nostrils flaring in anger at her, eyes narrowed.
“No thank you, Mr Stilinski,” she answered.
“Right, okay... then I’ll be in the kitchen, away from here... so you can both talk or... whatever.”
With that, his father slipped away and Stiles took a forceful step forward, reaching out to grip Mae’s upper arm tightly. Werewolf be damned, she was in his house and she had no right to be.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, voice hushed in case his father heard. “What? You can’t wait two days to make me your pet? Now you’ve gotta come invading my home too?”
“I was in the neighbourhood,” she drew out, low and taunting. Her eyes flickered down to where he gripped her arm, her smile turning amused. She didn’t try to fight it, even though Stiles knew she could. That in itself forced him to withdraw his hand.
“Forgive me if I don’t believe you,” he retorted, tight and frustrated.
She pouted, a full on bottom lip sticking out pout with fake puppy dog eyes that Stiles wasn’t buying for one minute – no matter how hot she was. “I was worried, you never came home last night. I waited, all night, and you never came.”
Well, that was just great. How was he supposed to convince Derek and Scott that he didn’t need bodyguards if his new found stalker had not only followed him to school, but had now somehow found his home? He was officially screwed. More so than he had ever been before.
“You’re really taking this creeper act pretty seriously, aren’t you?” he answered, rolling his jaw. “What next? You gonna wait until I take a shower and then do the whole Norman Bates Psycho routine?”
“Silly puppy,” she mocked, patting his face lightly.
Stiles turned away from the touch immediately, hating how he could still feel it there even when her hand fell away and back to her side.
“I don’t want to kill you,” Mae continued. “I want to play with you, and depending on just how well you perform – maybe then I’ll kill you, or maybe I’ll keep you.”
“Yes, because who wouldn’t want to be the pet of a psycho werewolf bitch?”
Her grin turned deadly, her canines already prominent enough without needing to be lengthened into full on fangs. “You know, I’m starting to feel a little thirsty. Maybe I should take your father up on that drink, and maybe a quick bite...”
He stepped in front of her, blocking her view of the doorway his father had disappeared through. “You leave him out of this, or I swear to God...”
“You’ll do what? Get your big bad Alpha to track me down? Didn’t work so well for him yesterday.”
“You think Derek’s the only badass I know? I know lots of people who would be more than willing to tear you apart. I’d do it myself but I’m not much into getting my hands dirty.”
She leaned forward and Stiles hated how close she came, entering his breathing space and looking up to him in almost wonder – like a kid on Christmas Eve, staring at the presents under the tree and imagining what would be under the bright wrapping paper, or a serial killer looking over his latest victim and imagining how they would scream and bleed and twist beneath them. In fact, the second one was most likely truer of Mae and the expression she wore.
“I bet you look good with your hands dirty,” she whispered, as if it were a promise. “Soaked in red, stained black and blue.”
He swallowed hard. It figured that the only person to ever show any interest in him would be a crazy nutjob of a werewolf who wanted to poison him with mutated Beta venom and have him fight against some other poor sap in the same position.
“Can’t say it’s something I’ve really thought about,” he answered, voice strangled from the tension. “Not exactly the kind of thing that makes it to a person’s bucket list.”
She huffed out, light and amused, before continuing on. “Here’s the deal, Bright Eyes.” A murmur, soft and low, the words like a caress – only with claws instead of fingertips. Sharp, painful claws. “Monday is the full moon and come that final bell of the school day, I’ll be waiting for you and you’ll be there.”
“What makes you think I would even consider that?”
“Because I’ll have someone else waiting for your father if you don’t show up.” She grinned, showing off her canines again. “If you don’t fight for me, he does.”
Stiles said nothing, his eyes locking on hers as her words ticked over in his mind. What was he supposed to say to that? But then, from the moment he had seen her there, in his own home, he knew this was coming. He knew she would threaten his father.
“Wolf got your tongue?” she asked, cocking her head to the side.
He swallowed hard before forcing the only word out that he could think of. “Leave.”
Amused, she raised an eyebrow, looking him up and down in a long, slow motion before biting at her lower lip. “I’m beginning to understand,” she drew out, gripping his chin lightly and giving a small, mocking squish – like a distant and overbearing aunt would on birthdays or at family gatherings. “You’re just so damn adorable.”
When her fingers fell away, he opened his mouth to speak, but his jaw was too slack, his tongue too numb to bite out the question that burned inside, his curiosity piqued. Understand what? he wanted to ask, but by the time he even managed to make a small choking noise within his throat, there was a knock at the front door and Mae had already swung away from him.
“You have a guest,” she threw over her shoulder, about a moment before she opened the door to reveal a momentarily stunned Scott.
“Stiles?” Scott started, his hand still raised as if he had been about to knock on the door once more. His brow burrowed and he looked between Stiles and Mae before comprehension dawned and his gaze locked on Mae, widening. “You!”
“Nice to meet you,” she answered, pleasant and innocent enough to fool most people, unless they had werewolf senses. “Scott? Is it?”
“What are you doing here?” Scott questioned, a growl to his voice, his hands lowering to his sides, and Stiles swore he could see his friend’s nails lengthening into claws.
Swallowing hard, Stiles took a step forward and looked to Scott, hoping to catch and hold his gaze. “Scott, let her go,” was what he said out loud, but the message he hoped Scott heard was ‘not here, not with my dad so close’.
“Cute,” Mae retorted when Scott forcibly restrained himself, claws retracting. “The pet has a pet of his own.” She slipped past Scott and out into the fresh air, looking back briefly to survey Stiles once more. “I’ll see you Monday.”
Stiles and Scott both watched her go until Stiles remembered that this was really, really bad news and his life was turning into one huge disaster after another. He grabbed the back of Scott’s shirt and dragged him into the house, closing the front door behind him.
“Derek can’t know,” he said immediately, and if it came out as a kind of whine and sounded like he was begging, then maybe that was because he kind of was. “He’ll start saying how he was right and I was wrong and how you can’t even leave me alone for two hours without something happening, and then you know what’ll happen? Twenty-four hour bodyguard, that’s what. And I mean, no offence, dude, but that’ll mean no more Stiles alone time and Stiles needs his alone time.”
Scott looked at him, really looked at him, both eyebrows raised and head tilted forward, his tone sceptical. “Do you really think Derek won’t notice?”
Stiles slumped, because the obvious answer was ‘no’. Derek would notice. Derek would most definitely notice. In fact, he would probably notice before he even reached Stiles’ house. “I’m screwed.”
With Scott there, a quick nap was out of the question for Stiles. But, hey – it was Scott, and it had been so long since they had both been able to just hang out, so it could have been worse. They were just a bag of chips and a bottle of soda away from the good old times when werewolves existed only in movies and Stiles only had to worry about his father getting minorly injured by regular criminals – who rarely wanted to eat him alive.
Except, the atmosphere was heavier than it had been in a long time. Scott was quieter than normal and Stiles was beginning to grow tired of filling in the silence with mindless chatter of how Obi-Wan Kenobi could totally beat Professor X hands down, because – hello, lightsaber and lightsabers rock!
Scott sat at the edge of Stiles’ bed, and Stiles stopped the spinning of his computer chair to face his friend, allowing the silence to fill the air for a lengthy breath before breaking into it.
“Okay, dude... seriously – what is up with you? You haven’t said one word since we got to my room.”
Scott looked up to him, as if he had been startled from his thoughts, and blinked. “I’m just... thinking.”
“Thinking?” Stiles questioned, eyebrow rising incredulously. When Scott didn’t answer, only looked down at his hands, Stiles inched forward. “Come on, Scott-buddy, this is me...”
“Derek’s right,” Scott answered after a beat, failing to meet Stiles’ gaze as he said it and looking almost guilty for saying it.
Stiles was taken aback to say the least. “Derek the brooding Alpha Werewolf Derek?”
The look Scott gave him clearly said ‘who do you think I’m talking about?’ even though not one word slipped past his lips.
“Of course that Derek, what other Derek could you possibly mean, except the one constantly trying to ruin my life. And just what exactly is he right about?”
“About you!” Scott continued, as if it were obvious. “This is dangerous, Stiles. You could get hurt, like really, really hurt. The dead kind of hurt!”
“Okay, ouch...? But, c’mon, dude – who’s side are you on here anyway?”
This time, there was no hesitation to Scott’s answer, and the pain in his voice was clear, along with the hurt in his eyes. “Don’t you get it? That stunt you pulled with Peter? You nearly died! You stopped breathing and everything. If it wasn’t for Derek...”
But then Scott’s words trailed away again, head falling forwards into his hands, and well... that just explained a lot. It explained the look both Scott and Derek had given him back at the hospital, it explained the strangeness to Derek’s voice...
“Wait, what about Derek? If it wasn’t for Derek, what? What did Derek do?”
Scott’s answer came too slow and the pieces were already falling into place, Stiles’ eyes widening.
“Please tell me... no... Derek? Oh my God...” He opened his mouth, trying to work at the words. “I was kissed by Derek ‘the big bad wolf’ Hale? Well, that’s just a whole new depth of humiliation...”
“Stiles,” Scott drew out in that ‘you’re overreacting’ voice of his. “It’s not that bad.”
“Not that bad?” Stiles asked, leaning forward and meeting Scott’s eyes. “Not that bad? Then answer me this – your first kiss, who was it? Allison? I mean, how is that fair? You get to the whole Romeo and Juliet storyline and I get Sleeping freaking Beauty. My first kiss, and I wasn’t even conscious for it. Even if it was Derek Hale...”
“He saved your life, Stiles. The dude did CPR on you... I wouldn’t exactly call it kissing.”
“Then why do they call it the kiss of life? Huh?”
“No one even calls it that anymore unless they’re in the middle of some freaking romance novel!” Scott argued, shoulders rising with the pitch of his voice before falling again.
“And what, my life isn’t romantic enough for you?” Stiles splayed his hands out in front of him, inviting Scott to look him up and down. “I mean, look at this body. I even have my own stalker werewolf, which is maybe more Stephen King than Jane Austin... but, so not the point.”
“And what is the point?”
“Derek freaking Hale giving me the kiss of life – that is the point!”
“Would you rather he’d let you die?”
“I’d rather I’d have been conscious at the time! Oh, God, no... wait.. what? I didn’t... damn. That came out way worse than it sounded in my head.” Stiles slumped in his seat, gaze drifting off and away from Scott as he tried to figure out if there was any way to take back words said aloud. Of course, he could try to blame it on the wolfsbane in his system. It addled his mind and made his mouth say weird things.
Scott shifted somewhat nervously on the edge of the bed, and even though Stiles couldn’t quite bring himself to look at him, he knew Scott was working his way up to saying something. Stiles wished he could get his mouth working again quick enough to stop any mocking that may be on its way toward him.
“Dude,” Scott started, almost carefully, as if he wasn’t quite sure he should be saying anything at all – which, if Scott was about to say what Stiles thought he was, not talking would be really good. “I... I think he likes you.”
That was unexpected. Stiles raised an eyebrow. “Who? Derek? What, because he hasn’t been his usual personal space invading menacing self? Just give him a few days and he’ll be back to slamming my head against steering wheels and throwing me up against doors... you know, the usual.”
“No,” Scott answered, lowering his head but not his eyes, a move to show he was serious. “I really think he likes you, likes you. You know... like...”
But he didn’t continue, just left the word hanging as if it was too embarrassing to say out loud, or maybe he just wasn’t sure what exactly he meant because Stiles didn’t have a clue.
“You know,” Scott whined, because that was definitely a whine.
“No, I don’t know,” Stiles answered.
“You didn’t see him, when you were... unconscious.” The way he forced out the word ‘unconscious’, Stiles could tell it took some effort – not just to say the word, but to also not dredge up the memories at the same time. “The guy was practically frantic! I thought he was going to kill Peter... again!”
“Seriously, Scott? That’s what you’re basing this on?”
“Stiles,” Scott drew out, another whine because Scott talking about feelings that didn’t involve an ode to Allison’s shining hair or sparkling personality, so not comfortable.
“Look, I’m sorry, dude. It’s just, the guy’s brood central. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even like himself half the time, so I seriously doubt he feels anything toward me besides complete and utter frustration, and probably a deep and utter loathing. In fact, most definitely a deep and utter loathing.”
Scott swallowed, his gaze falling away. “Yeah, I guess you’re right...”
But the words were empty, much like the victory that Stiles didn’t feel, because he knew Scott. He knew when he was lying and knew when he was saying something just to placate someone, to placate Stiles. This was one of those times. He didn’t think Stiles was right, and he certainly wasn’t dropping the subject for that reason. He was just dropping the subject.
Stiles opened his mouth to say something but closed it again. Scott couldn’t seriously think that Derek liked him, in any way, shape, or form. Derek barely even managed to put up with him. Hell, the guy spent half of his time either arguing with Stiles or glowering at him. No liking to be had there. None. Whatsoever.
This whole protective thing Derek had going on, that was just him taking responsibility because that’s what the guy did. He angsted about a problem he may or may not have caused, and then went about trying to fix it forcefully. He saved Stiles’ life because it was the right thing to do and despite everything, that was always what Derek tried to do – albeit, most of the time he did it in the wrong way.
Stiles folded his arms behind his back and paused at the feel of leather against his skin.
He didn’t care what Derek thought of him or felt about him... He didn’t. Right?
Once again, the best laid plans of mice and men and all that... Posting this chapter a few hours later than I meant to. I keep going over it and re-editing it over and over again, changing bits, adding bits, taking bits out... and I think I'm finally happy with it? I'm behind when it comes to writing, but I have a pretty clear idea of how the next couple of chapters are going to go so hopefully I can get focused and get them written. So fingers crossed I'll have an update ready for Monday, and if not Monday - then definitely not much later than that.
Thank you to everyone for reading and for the comments I've received. Seriously, you guys are awesome!
Peter got off lightly. Far too lightly for Derek’s liking. But Derek had more pressing matters at hand and beating his uncle to within an inch of his life would just have to wait. As for the way Peter’s words dripped from his tongue, like a sickening venom that stung on contact and then buried its way deeper and deeper until finally you could take no more, well – it drove Derek to the point of reconsidering his priorities.
“It’s not your choice, Derek,” Peter had called after him as Derek was heading back out once again, leaving Isaac to keep an eye on his uncle. “It’s his.”
Derek knew that. He knew that in the end, what mattered was what Stiles chose to do. Still, it didn’t mean Derek had to like it and it certainly didn’t mean he had to make it easy for the youth to try and get himself killed.
He arrived at the Stilinski house not long after Scott but opted for standing watch across the road rather than intruding for two main reasons. The first being that Sheriff Stilinski was still home and Derek very much doubted the sheriff would be welcoming if he caught Derek in his son’s room after the events at the hospital. The second reason, that was more to do with the pair of red eyes some way down the street.
The Alpha. She was mostly hidden by the overgrown bushes from one of the yards down the way, but her eyes were clear enough for Derek to see and focus on. She was staring right back at him, a challenge that Derek refused to back down from.
He would not be the first to look away, so he watched her, even as she finally turned her gaze toward the Stilinski home. He watched as he listened to Scott and Stiles moving about in the house, and heard the faint whispers from Sheriff Stilinski as he seemed to talk to a person who wasn’t there, asking for advice that never came. No doubt a conversation he had had many a time with the memory of his wife. The sadness in the man’s voice had Derek attempting to tune out the words, not wishing to pry into a private conversation he had no right to hear – even if it was one sided.
So he mostly listened to Scott and Stiles instead, the memory of Peter’s words still haunting him.
“Hey, kiddo,” Sheriff Stilinski called to Stiles some time after, catching Derek’s attention. It was late afternoon to early evening and already the sky was turning grey with the oncoming darkness, a chill settling in the air. “I have to head into work for a bit.”
Derek’s gaze fell as he listened closely to the hesitation in the sheriff’s voice.
“You know what, forget it,” the man dismissed, light and unsure, “I’ll just call in and tell them I can’t make it.”
“I’m fine, Dad,” Stiles answered, and Derek even made out the sound of the computer chair squeaking as Stiles no doubt spun around to face his father. “Scott’s here.”
There was a brief silence before Stiles added, “Go. I swear, I’m fine.”
Derek imagined the sheriff to be stalling, imagined the hesitation written on his features. He envied it somewhat, how protective the Stilinskis were of each other.
“You know we have to talk about what happened eventually, son,” the sheriff added.
Stiles huffed out, the noise clear even with the distance between him and Derek. “Seriously, Dad? You too? Nothing happened. I’m fine. Everything is fine, so you can go to work now without worrying about your teenage son.”
It was a lie, one that Derek doubted Sheriff Stilinski would accept just like that, but also, it seemed it was one he wasn’t prepared to dig further into at that moment in time as it seemed he was leaving. Derek watched the front door, waiting until the sheriff emerged and was in his car before making any attempt to move from his spot across the street. It wasn’t until the sheriff was well on his way and Derek had reached the front yard of the Stilinski home that he remembered the Alpha.
He glanced back toward the place she had been briefly, but she was gone and Derek wasn’t happy one bit about losing sight of her. With a gruff huff, he allowed his eyes to wander the area for any sign of her, or any of the others from her pack. When he saw nothing, he turned his attention back toward the Stilinski house.
It took less than ten seconds for him to scale the side of the house and manoeuvre toward Stiles’ window. He was pushing it open and climbing through when Stiles turned around to face him mid-rant to Scott about some movie or game that Derek had never heard of.
“Dude! Seriously! What the hell?!” Stiles threw his hands up in the air dramatically before using them to motion to Derek, frustration evident. “Are you trying to give me a heart attack? ‘Cause you know, I think you almost had me that time. This close...” He held his forefinger and thumb apart barely an inch to prove his point as to just how close it had been. “I swear, you were this close this time.”
“Your window was unlocked,” Derek answered, simple as he took in the room with a sweeping glance before allowing his gaze to wander back to Stiles.
“So you thought you’d just climb on through?”
But Derek was too distracted to answer, his gaze wandering over Stiles as his brow burrowed and an uncomfortable frown tugged at his lips. He didn’t think it was possible for the youth to get any paler than he usually was, but somehow he had managed it. He was even paler than he had been when Derek had left him several hours earlier. The treatment against the wolfsbane from the hospital had no doubt helped him, but now the drugs were no longer fighting against the poisoning, it was having an effect.
“How bad is it?” Derek questioned, concern dripping into his voice despite his effort to maintain a blank mask and level tone.
Stiles gaped at him before glancing to Scott briefly and then back again. There was a lie already forming on his tongue, for Scott and Derek’s benefit. Derek could tell, he could hear it in the skitter of Stiles’ heartbeat.
“Stiles,” he warned, low and drawn out.
“It’s not that bad,” Stiles answered, shifting uncomfortably and then going on to add an imploring, “Really.”
Derek remained unconvinced, taking a step forward. “I need to know if it gets worse...”
“Fine, yes... I’ll let you know the moment I start spewing up black inky stuff, but until then... I’m fine,” Stiles answered, cutting over Derek’s words before he could go any further. He wavered slightly though but caught himself before the swaying could knock him off balance. It was barely even noticeable if Derek hadn’t been watching so intently.
Derek wasn’t the only one who noticed. Scott was on his feet immediately, moving forward, ready to steady Stiles in case it happened again. “Stiles, I think you should lie down.”
The argument that Derek expected to hear never came. Instead, Stiles just scrubbed at his face with his hands and let out a breath. He gave a gentle nod and was already making his way toward his bed when he spoke. Each footstep was heavy, and Derek could tell that whatever adrenaline had been pushing Stiles on was quickly ebbing from his system now.
“Just wake me up if my dad calls...”
“Yeah, no problem,” Scott answered, soft and gentle.
“I mean it, Scott,” Stiles mumbled, lying face down on the bed and wrapping his arms around his pillow. “If he...” A yawn broke into his words, and Derek knew the youth must have been attempting to fight off the need for sleep for at least a good hour now. “If he calls, you wake me.”
But Scott just smiled and looked down at his friend. “Stiles, go to sleep.”
There were some more murmurings, incoherent and smothered by the fabric of the pillow. Derek didn’t even notice he was still watching Stiles, drinking in every inch of him from the curves of his body to the sound of his heart and his breathing as each evened the deeper Stiles fell into sleep. He was too focused on Stiles to focus on himself, until Scott shuffled awkwardly beside him, breaking him from his trance.
“What?” Derek asked, sharp and impatient at the look on Scott’s face.
“Nothing,” Scott answered, looking away again, back toward Stiles.
Silence stretched on for a lengthy breath before Derek huffed out and turned to face Scott, eyebrows raised expectantly.
“I heard what you said to Stiles earlier,” he prodded when Scott said nothing, knowing Stiles was far enough gone now for it to be safe to bring the subject up.
Scott shifted again before raising his head and chin, almost defensive as he looked to Derek with his brow burrowed. “So?”
“My personal life is my personal life. Stay out of it, Scott – it’s none of your business.” He turned away, moving back toward the window to stare out at what was there – to keep his attention away from the now sleeping form of Stiles.
“It is if it involves my best friend!” Scott answered, voice an angry whisper. He moved to stand directly behind Derek, chest no doubt puffed out in challenge.
Derek let go of a breath and closed his eyes. “It’s not... Stiles isn’t...” But he cut himself off, aggravated. How was he supposed to explain to Scott just what it was if he was still trying to figure it out himself?
“You’re not exactly doing a very good job at denying it, are you?”
Swallowing the lump in his throat, Derek found himself focusing on the reflection of the room in the window – taking in the imperfect image of Scott and the edge of Stiles’ bed. “Do you have any idea how much danger that could put him in? He can’t know. No one can.”
There were others, besides the new pack, that would use Stiles to hurt Derek. As for Stiles himself knowing, Derek wasn’t sure he wanted to know how Stiles would react. Rejection, mocking... whatever it was, Derek was pretty sure he didn’t want to hear it. After Kate, he had never planned on opening his heart up again. Not for anyone. To have it shattered once was enough.
“Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” Scott continued, “but you’re not being all that subtle about it. I mean, if I’ve noticed... then who else has?”
Apparently almost anyone with eyes had noticed. His uncle refused to stop bringing the subject up, and then there was Sheriff Stilinski. There had been a look of understanding in the man’s eyes that Derek was sure neither of them wanted to acknowledge.
Scott understood the lack of an answer perfectly. “Peter...” he breathed out.
Derek said nothing, his gaze falling down.
“Does Peter know?” Scott pushed, determined for an answer. “Is that why he did this? He’s using Stiles? To get to you?”
“He did this because it’s our best chance of finding this new pack,” Derek answered, anger tainting his voice – at Peter, at the whole situation, at himself.
Scott grabbed his shoulder, forcing Derek to spin away from the window and face him. “And what? Now you’re all onboard with the idea? It’s Stiles, Derek. If they hurt him, he won’t heal like we do.”
“Don’t you think I know that?” Derek asked, voice rising a little before he forced himself to lower it again, glancing briefly to the sleeping Stiles. “You really think I want to let him walk himself into danger? You’re his best friend, Scott – you know him better than anyone. So do you really think he’s going to listen to a single word I have to say?”
Stiles shifted on the bed, the springs of the mattress squeaking as he curled in on himself, bringing the pillow down to hold against his chest. The words he muttered and gurgled were nonsense, whatever dream he was in having taken hold. It silenced both Scott and Derek, not that the answer to Derek’s question needed voicing. They both knew it. For whatever reason, Stiles had gotten it into his head that he needed to prove himself, and this thing with the new pack in town – that was the way he had chosen to do it.
Derek breathed out, enjoying the silence for a moment longer before deciding to break it. “Go home, Scott. Get some rest.”
“I’m not leaving him, Derek,” the Beta argued, eyes locking with Derek’s, unwavering and determined.
“I’m not asking you to abandon him at the side of the road. You need your strength for the full moon, or when it comes – you’ll be no use to him. Understand?”
It looked like Scott was about to argue further, but he swallowed whatever it was and nodded reluctantly. “Promise you won’t leave him alone?”
Stiles woke comfortably warm, to the familiar feel and smell of his own covers. He burrowed down further inside them and snuggled against his pillow for another moment as the last few remnants of sleep left him and he tried to remember when exactly he had crawled under his sheets. Even though he felt much more rested than he had upon waking in hospital, he was still reluctant to move from the warmth and comfort his bed offered.
“You’re awake.” Derek’s voice was soft and gentle, and with his eyes still closed, Stiles could imagine the guy was just some regular person instead an incredibly surly werewolf with severe problems expressing any positive emotions.
Stiles said nothing but instead found himself wondering what a genuine Derek Hale smile would look like. He also wondered if Derek had always been this way, if it was just the way he was programmed, or if he had been made that way by the fire.
“I can tell you’re awake,” Derek continued, a light challenge to his tone. “Your breathing changed.”
“Nu-uh,” Stiles murmured, a yawn taking hold around the words that were more like sounds anyway. “M’sleeping.”
“Really?” There was humour amongst the scepticism in Derek’s voice, and Stiles found himself opening his eyes a little to see if the facial expression matched the tone.
He frowned though when he found himself confronted with darkness instead. Not complete darkness, or the suffocating kind, just darkness and shadows that came with night. Pulling himself up, he took in his room with a burrowed brow. There was a glimmer of white light from the moon shining through his window, but it was overpowered by the orange glow of the streetlights.
“What time is it?” he asked, rubbing at his eyes with the heels of his hands.
Derek shifted and Stiles noted the brief electronic glow that meant Derek must have been checking his phone for the answer. “A little after ten...”
“Ten?” Stiles’ hands fell away from his face to stare straight ahead and at the shadowed figure of Derek. His eyes were adjusting fairly quickly to the dim light, but considering that Derek was nearly always smothered in dark clothing, it was harder to make him out.
Well, except for his eyes. The way the light shone in from outside, it reflected off his eyes, lighting them up, but not in the usual threatening werewolf way. No, the effect was more subtle but still entrancing. It was also distracting and made Stiles forget where he was going with his line of thought.
“Yes, ten,” Derek answered, and though Stiles couldn’t see properly, he imagined the guy to be raising his eyebrows in mocking. “The number that follows nine and comes before eleven.”
Forcing his gaze away from those eyes, Stiles growled at himself and turned to the lamp beside his bed, flipping it on. It was only when the light flooded as much of the room as it could that Stiles looked back to Derek, the effect that illuminated Derek’s eyes disappearing. He breathed out, ignoring the way his heart raced in his chest.
“You should have woken me,” he went on to say, pulling himself free of his covers and swinging his legs over the side of the bed.
“You needed the rest.”
“And Scott?” Stiles questioned, glancing around the room as he wondered where his friend had gotten too.
“I sent him home – he needed rest too.”
Stiles swallowed the lump in his throat and considered Derek. He fought the temptation to ask whether Derek needed rest too, but at the same time he couldn’t help but notice the tiredness lining Derek’s features. So Stiles said nothing, just hung his head and allowed silence to slip into the room once more. It was a few moments before Derek broke it.
“She was here,” the Alpha said, matter of fact and Stiles could feel the intense and judging gaze. “You talked to her.”
Wetting his lips, Stiles attempted to find his voice whilst his eyes found Derek. “Scott told you, didn’t he?”
But Derek shook his head. “I can smell her on you.”
Stiles took a moment to organise his thoughts before speaking. “My dad,” he went on to say, voice strangled, the words dry and itchy in his throat. “If I don’t... if I don’t go with her, she’ll come after my dad.”
Derek let go of a breath and pushed up from the computer chair to stalk back and forth across the floor. He didn’t answer straight away, as if fighting the temptation to call Stiles out on how much of an idiot he was. “And you’ve already made up your mind.”
Stiles watched Derek, voice breaking as he spoke. “It’s my Dad...”
Derek stopped pacing at that and turned to face Stiles fully. “Stiles, you have no idea what you’ll be walking into. This isn’t like dealing with Scott or someone you know on a full moon – this is going willingly into a werewolf’s den, knowing they’ll rip you apart. It’s suicide.”
“Just... answer me this,” Stiles tried to reason, meeting Derek’s gaze and refusing to look away. “That other night, how did you find them? Peter, right? He told you where to find that first guy, and from there you got lucky... What are the chances of that happening again? You need me to do this.”
“I need you to play bait?” Derek arched his eyebrows, a sardonic scoff slipping past his lips. Then his jaw tightened and he shook his head. “I’m not gonna help you get yourself killed.”
Stiles pushed up from the bed, stalking forward until he was barely more than a foot away from Derek. “You can’t stop me.”
“I can tell your father...”
“Tell him what? About werewolves? About you?”
Derek seemed to consider it for a moment before offering up a sharp nod. “If I have to, yes.”
Mouth clamped shut, Stiles could feel the tension building in his jaw as he rolled it slightly. “Why won’t you just admit that you can’t do this without me? Are you that afraid I’ll screw up?”
Something inside Derek seemed to snap and Stiles found himself pinned to the wall within a breath, Derek there in front of him. “You could die, Stiles. Don’t you get that?”
But the words were slow to process, unfocused as they washed over Stiles, because Stiles was too busy focusing on other things in that moment. Like his heart, and how it was going fifty to the dozen within his chest, and then there was the heat that flushed across his skin, and the pull that came with a dizzying feeling of familiarity. He knew, because he had felt it before – upon seeing Derek in the forest that time, looking all mysterious.
And just... No, Stiles thought to himself. No. He had shut that feeling down back then. He had shut it down and forgotten about it, because Derek was a werewolf, not to mention the guy was bad news. And on top of all that, he hated Stiles, and Stiles could only handle one person he was attracted to hating him and as she started hating him first, Lydia Martin got priority.
“Well?” Derek demanded, tearing Stiles away from his thoughts and back to the present, where Derek was still very much in his face and refusing to look away.
Stiles opened his mouth to answer, but nothing came out. With Derek right there, like that, breathing the same air as Stiles, and screwing up Stiles’ mind and body, how was he supposed to think? He swallowed hard, feeling his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat.
“Yeah,” he finally squeaked out, unsure of what else to say and almost afraid to lock eyes with Derek.
Derek took a moment too long before stepping back from Stiles and looking him up and down. His features twisted up, the hurt clearly evident – as if that single word of Stiles’ had been an assault that had caused physical pain. When he spoke, he even sounded wounded and Stiles wasn’t exactly sure what to make of that.
“But you’re going to do it anyway?”
“What part of ‘he’s my dad’ don’t you understand?” Stiles forced himself to look to Derek, to look deep into his eyes, his own gaze pleading. “If everyone’s too busy trying to protect me, who’s going to protect him?”
“You don’t think we can do both?” Derek questioned, eyebrow raised and head tilted a little to the side as he looked over Stiles.
“It’s not your job and it’s not your responsibility...”
“Pack, remember?” Derek answered, as if talking to a small child who was easily distracted... which, yeah, was how Stiles was most of the time. “That means we share responsibility. We look after our own.”
Stiles couldn’t help the way his heart seemed to stutter in his chest at the genuineness to Derek’s tone, or the way his ribcage seemed to tighten, making it harder to breathe – but not insanely so. “Then let me do this... please.”
He wasn’t sure why he was asking Derek’s permission. He wasn’t even sure why he had brought it up with the Alpha when he had deliberately avoided the conversation with Scott. Maybe it was just the idea of knowing someone had his back come Monday, rather than just hoping. Or maybe it was because Derek wouldn’t settle for his lies.
“Stiles, you don’t have anything to prove.” The gentleness to Derek’s features, the lost look in his eyes and the softness to his voice, it had Stiles thinking back to his earlier conversation with Scott. But there was no way Scott had been right, because it was Derek freaking Hale... and he was just Stiles.
He ran his tongue over his lips, his eyes darting down to Derek’s mouth, the same mouth that had saved his life and given him air when he had needed it. Swallowing hard, he forced himself to refocus his attention back on the Alpha’s eyes, which looked terribly vulnerable in that moment. “Yes, I do.”
And it didn’t matter what anyone else said. It didn’t matter if they accepted him into the pack without question. He needed to know he had a purpose there. He needed to know he would be of use to them. He had to prove it to himself that he deserved to be there.
There was a long moment where Derek studied him, something akin to understanding in his eyes. He took a breath, as if readying himself to argue further, but let it go again without a single word. It was when he bobbed his head that Stiles knew he really did understand, and it was when he seemed to back away regretfully, moving toward the window, that Stiles began to wonder if he had gotten Derek all wrong.
“Your dad’s home,” Derek went on to say, glancing only briefly to Stiles before opening the window and readying himself to climb out. “I’ll keep watch outside, it’ll be easier to sense any changes in the air from there.”
“Don’t,” Stiles started, but Derek was already through the window before the word made it out of his mouth, and by then it was too late, his next word almost a silent breath, “go...”
He let go of a deep sigh and moved to collapse on his bed, all the while telling himself that Scott was wrong... Because if the cars they drove represented the people they were – Derek would still drive a freaking sleek black Camaro and Stiles would still drive a beat up old Jeep that the bad guys, and not so bad guys, kept picking on despite the fact it was a harmless, beat up old Jeep that was hurting no one.
Two completely different leagues, one much higher than the other.
I was actually beginning to fear that I wouldn't be able to get this chapter ready for today... and I know time is getting on and I did want it up earlier, but it's here now. Chapter 11. The way things have worked out in my head, I'm think this fic is going to go up to about chapter 14, maybe 15 depending on how the scenes work out.
Anyway - HUGE thank you to everyone for putting up with me and my cliffhangers. Thank you for reading and thank you for the comments. I've been having so much fun dabbling in this universe so it means a lot getting to share this with you.
Sunday was possibly the longest Sunday Stiles had experienced in a long while. This was mostly to do with the fact that most prior Sundays had flown over far too quickly due to the abundance of homework and tests to study for, coupled with just as many ways to avoid studying. But when all Stiles was doing all day was watching the clock as he waited and twiddled his thumbs, time seemed to drag a little more. To top it off, Stiles was about eighty, maybe ninety, percent sure that Derek was avoiding him.
After their exchange on the Saturday night, the Alpha had spent most of his time standing guard outside of the house. Stiles wasn’t stupid. He knew when someone was avoiding him, and he had a pretty damn good idea why this someone was doing exactly that. After all, there was no way Derek hadn’t noticed Stiles’ heartbeat when he had him pinned against the wall, and not to mention any pheromones, or whatever it was that werewolves picked up on, that Stiles had to have been giving off in that moment.
Derek knew. Derek had to know, and his lack of contact with Stiles... that was him showing just how freaked out he was by the very idea of Stiles having any kind of attraction toward him. Stiles was used to it. It was surprising just how used to it he was.
Consequently, the most Stiles saw of the guy was during the brief meeting the small group, including Scott and Isaac, had whilst they worked out their plan for how things would go on the Monday after school. Stiles dubbed it the ‘rescue Stiles or risk him haunting your asses for the rest of your lives’ plan. After that, it was mostly Scott playing bodyguard, unless he had to check in at home with his mom, which was when Isaac took over.
Derek though? If he was there, he didn’t make it known to Stiles. But as Scott or Isaac rarely left his side, he figured the Alpha was out elsewhere.
Not that Stiles was complaining all too much, because he needed the time and space in order to figure out just what the hell was going on inside his head. It was just a shame he couldn’t do it without anyone watching over him, which was why, when Monday came, Stiles was actually relieved to be going to school.
Parking up in the school parking lot, Stiles spotted the familiar Camaro and dark figure looming next to it straight away. His heart responded by skittering in his chest, even as he told himself that not only did Derek not like him, he did not like Derek. At all.
“You okay?” Scott asked, jumping out from the passenger side of the Jeep and leaning back in for his backpack.
Stiles pulled his attention away from Derek and swallowed thickly. “Never better.”
Scott paused though, watching Stiles with careful consideration. “You don’t have to do this.”
He was talking about the plan, about Mae and her pack of overexcited, bloodthirsty betting hounds. Stiles wondered briefly what his friend would think if he knew that whilst that was a pretty huge freaking deal, there was also another problem niggling at the back of his mind – and that problem had a name. Derek Hale. He also wondered if maybe Scott already knew.
“Stiles, I swear – we won’t let them hurt your dad,” Scott offered up in his quietly confident tone. It was a tone Stiles had never really heard before the whole werewolf drama, but also one he was hearing a lot more often lately – especially since the whole Gerard Argent deal.
“Yeah,” Stiles answered, bobbing his head as he pushed the driver’s side door open and clambered out from the Jeep. “I know.”
Door closed and Jeep locked, he began the walk up to the school and Scott caught up with him in a mere breath, matching his stride.
“We’re going to get them, Stiles – all of us. Together.”
Scott still wasn’t convinced it was a good idea, Stiles could tell, but at least the guy was trying to be supportive instead of being all distant and looming off to the side and in the shadows, like a certain someone else. As for Stiles himself, he knew it was a bad idea. He knew it was the worst idea he had ever had and if he lived through it, he was going to regret ever having convinced the others to go along with it. But bad idea or not, it was the best one they had.
“You know what the worst thing about this whole thing is?” Stiles asked, pushing onward despite his misgivings.
“What’s that?” Scott questioned in return, adjusting his backpack as they both climbed the steps towards the main entrance.
“That despite everything that’s happened and everything that will happen,” Stiles began, pausing with his fingers wrapped around the door handle, ready to pull it open, his gaze moving to lock with Scott’s. “We still have to go to school.”
There was a ghost of a smile on Scott’s face, curling up the corner of his mouth briefly and shining through his eyes before he shook his head and gripped the other door handle for them to pull both doors open at the same time. They stepped on through and Stiles pretended he didn’t feel the rush of dread wash over him.
Apprehension twisted at Derek’s gut as he watched Stiles and Scott make their way into the school building. He listened to their conversation until it was swallowed up by the hustle and bustle of the other students on the school grounds and then faded completely as the first bell rang.
Whether it was nerves or just plain old unease, Derek couldn’t help but feel like something was wrong, like he was missing something. It caused his skin to crawl. Not being able to physically keep an eye on Stiles just made things worse, but aside from the fact that following the youth around, like a little lost lamb, would garner unwanted attention – it would also mean the Alpha and her pack wouldn’t make their move.
And despite what Stiles had said to Scott, that was the worst thing about it all. In order for their plan to work, the new pack had to take Stiles, and Derek had to let them.
His body tensed at the thought and his eyes fell to the ground, thoughts going back to the previous night when they had all agreed on the course of action. Then there was the night before that as well. It still played over and over in Derek’s mind, despite his best efforts to try and forget it. The feel of Stiles pinned between him and the wall, the racing of Stiles’ heart, and the way his words seemed to stick in his throat.
For the briefest moment, Derek had sensed fear from Stiles. Of course, he ignored the voice at the back of his head that told him it was more than that... more than fear. The fact that that voice sounded far too much like his uncle made it easier to ignore. It allowed him to focus on that tiny sliver of fear he had smelt, because good, he thought to himself. Stiles should be afraid.
Stiles should be afraid of the wolf. He should be afraid of all wolves. Fear was a good thing, especially in humans – humans who could get hurt. Humans who were breakable and fragile. Humans whose deaths would tear Derek apart, even if he didn’t fully understand why.
But the thought of Stiles being afraid of him, it knotted up Derek’s stomach and made him feel empty inside. He didn’t want Stiles to feel that fear around him. He didn’t want Stiles to feel threatened by the wolf in him. He just wanted Stiles to keep being Stiles, to challenge him at every turn and look him in the eye and refuse to back down.
He wanted Stiles. And the fact that it had taken so much control, being so close to Stiles... He couldn’t.
“Well, this isn’t the least bit stalkerish,” his uncle drawled from beside him.
Derek tried not to flinch at Peter’s sudden appearance, timing, or the fact that he had somehow managed to approach Derek without Derek noticing at all.
“You know, people might start talking if they see you standing watch outside the local high school,” Peter continued. “I’m surprised they haven’t already cottoned on, all these young runaways you keep turning.”
“Why are you here?” Derek forced out from between gritted teeth. He didn’t glance toward his uncle. He didn’t need to see in order to know that his uncle was studying him with a sly smile upon his face and something akin to teasing in his eyes, only much less innocent.
“What? You thought because you didn’t include me in your little planning party that I would miss out on the fun?” Peter leaned back against the hood of the Camaro. “I want in.”
Derek didn’t even need to think about it. “No.”
“Really? That’s your answer?”
“I don’t trust you,” Derek continued, glancing at his uncle briefly before forcing his attention back to the school.
“That hurts, Derek.” But any offence in Peter’s tone was merely mocking. “I’m your own flesh and blood after all.”
Derek remained silent, refusing to answer – refusing to be baited. But still, his uncle continued on regardless.
“Are you still angry about me going behind your back with Stiles?” Peter pushed. “Because that little thing, complete misunderstanding.” His next words were right in Derek’s ear. “But you know he wanted it.”
Derek started, pushing away from his car and swinging to face a too calm Peter. He could feel his canines lengthening and fingernails growing, animal instincts kicking in, and he knew his eyes would be glowing that dangerous red. But before he could do anything, Peter was gripping his arm and twisting it up and into a painful position, causing Derek to crash down to his knees from the sharp daggers of pain that sliced through him.
“This is why you need me here,” Peter went on to say, tone unrelenting and cold. “You’re distracted and if you don’t get your head in the game, you’ll lose him.”
Gritting his teeth and forcing his arm free of Peter’s grip, Derek glared up at his uncle. He hated that the man was right. Derek wasn’t concentrating on what mattered. His anger was getting the better of him rather than helping him to control the shift, and his thoughts... they were all over the place. If he had been focused and in control, he would have heard Peter approach and he wouldn’t have been brought down to his knees so easily.
“I get it,” Peter carried on. “You’re pissed and you’re confused. But right now, if he’s going to live through this – he needs you, and I know you don’t want to hear this but you need him too. Anger will only get you so far, Derek. So focus, or you won’t be able to save him in time.”
Derek pushed up from his knees and turned away from his uncle, looking back toward the school. “Why do you even care?”
“Because despite everything, you’re my family. Whether you like it or not.”
Scott had been in each of Stiles’ morning classes, which Stiles hoped would be a good thing considering how little he had been able to concentrate during any of them. Most of his time was spent tapping his pen against the textbook in front of him as his mind wandered off. The words on the page in front of him blurred, and his teacher’s voice was washed out, fading into a background drone that Stiles barely picked up, until he felt a sharp prod in his back from Scott.
“Mr Stilinski!” Mrs Farrow called from up front; her arms crossed over her chest and foot tapping against the floor much in the same way his pen still tapped against the textbook.
He forced his fingers to still and dropped his pen onto his desk before shoving his hands under it and onto his lap, where his knee now started to bounce instead. He said nothing but looked up at Mrs Farrow waiting for her to continue.
“Well, do you have an answer to my question?”
He worked his jaw for a moment, soundless words forming on his lips before fading away before they could be spoken. “Yes?” he hazarded, even though he didn’t have a clue what the question had been.
“And?” Mrs Farrow prompted, impatient and expectant.
Silence echoed on, during which he waited for a hint from Scott as to what the answer was, but then, figuring Scott’s performance during their previous year – he knew his friend would no doubt be in a similar position of having no freaking clue. So he looked down to his textbook instead and searched for his voice. “X equals... two?”
“Very good, Mr Stilinski, but this is English Literature, not Algebra. Next time, perhaps you would like to bring the correct textbook to class and maybe even spare enough energy in order to pay attention?”
He was saved the trouble of answering though, and she was saved the trouble of continuing, as the school bell rang, and chairs and tables began to scrape across the floor almost immediately after in response. So Mrs Farrow just sighed and turned away, allowing Stiles to sink into his seat for a moment. Scott was at his side, ready to leave and head to lunch before Stiles had even managed to put his things away.
“Is something wrong?” Scott questioned, tentative and nervous, as if he wasn’t entirely sure.
Stiles pulled his backpack from beneath the desk and stuffed his book into it. “Dude, I am mere hours away from having my arm munched on like a chew toy, what do you think?”
But Scott had that look on his face, the one he had worn the other night when he was being far too bright for his own good. Stiles didn’t like it one bit because he knew this meant Scott was about to start prying where Stiles didn’t want him to pry.
“Did Derek do something?” Scott asked, his face twisting up in distaste. “Did he-”
“What?” Stiles interrupted. “No! No... Why would you even think... Derek? No...”
“So he did do something?”
Since when had Scott gotten wise to Stiles’ lies? He looked up, trying to figure out exactly how to squirm out of their current conversation without letting Scott know that he was maybe, just possibly, attracted to a certain Derek Hale. The answer wasn’t very forthcoming, until he saw dark hair pass by the doorway and another way out presented itself.
“Hey, was that Allison?” he questioned, perking up and leaning to the side a little to get a better view.
Scott responded immediately. It was like Pavlov’s dogs, only instead of a bell – the salivation response was anything to do with Allison. Her name. Her scent. Her voice. He spun on the spot, and Stiles could tell he was itching to be away, to chase after her, and it wasn’t like he could blame the guy. Not since Allison had been MIA for nearly the entire summer, and now that Stiles thought about it, he couldn’t remember seeing her much during the first week of school either.
“Go!” Stiles urged, happy for Scott to be distracted. “Go talk to her.”
Scott hesitated for only a moment before nodding and disappearing out of the room, racing off down the corridor after Allison. Once his voice had faded, Stiles slumped down at the desk again and allowed his head to hit his folded arms. But he was barely even given a moment to enjoy the silence.
He heard the sound of heels, then of a chair being scraped against the floor in front of him and the sound of someone most definitely feminine dropping down into it. Then came the voice of Lydia Martin, tone demanding and impatient. “Okay, Stilinski – spill.”
He looked up to her and glanced around the room briefly before taking note of her bag still sitting on the desk at the very back. Had she waited until Scott had left before deciding to approach him? Had she approached him of her own free will? Again?
“Look,” she continued when he still said nothing, eyebrows raised and gaze locked on him, expectant and waiting, looking as if Stiles’ misery was somehow personally affecting her and would he please stop? “If we’re going to be lab partners, I can’t have you moping about. This, whatever this is, has to stop.”
“I...” he tried to start, but she cut over him before he could continue any further.
“Seriously, the lies might work with McCall and his lost puppy routine but you can’t kid a kidder... so spill.” She leaned over the back of the chair, head tilted to the side, waiting.
“You’re actually pretty scary, you know that?” he quizzed.
“And you want to get up close and personal with Derek Hale,” she countered just as quick.
That caused him to stall, his mouth falling open as he looked about the room once more and began to wonder if there was a sign above his head. Finally, he looked back to her, careful and curious. “How did you...” But the rest of the words couldn’t make it out of his mouth as he remembered that he was supposed to be denying any attraction toward the Alpha.
“Genius, remember?” she declared, and then she rolled her eyes as Stiles offered up a sceptical look. Before Stiles could say anything though, she was offering up an order. “Close your eyes.”
“Just do it,” she snapped.
And so he did. And he waited, wondering if this was going to be one of those awkward moments that could have been avoided with a good old ChapStick.
“What colour is my blouse?” she questioned, before adding a sharp. “No! No peeking.”
He forced himself to keep his eyes shut as he tried to think. Pink, with the little hearts on it? No, that was last Thursday, and the blue sweater was Friday. “Green?”
“Yellow,” she corrected, and he opened his eyes to double check.
He frowned and looked at the clearly yellow blouse. “Are you sure? Because in this light, it could be-”
“It’s yellow, Stiles,” she cut over him, no room for argument.
“Okay, yes. Fine. It’s yellow. What’s your point?” He sulked in his chair a little, refusing to look at her, sitting there in her rightness.
“You haven’t looked my way once, all morning... and not to sound petty or anything, but I am looking damn fine today. I even have a new lipstick – Cherry Blossom. It’s my perfect shade.”
“No offence, Lydia – but I’m a little too preoccupied at the moment to be thinking about your new lipstick.”
“With Derek Hale,” she added.
“What? Why would you...” But then he remembered Scott’s words and his own failure of a lie and the fact that Lydia had probably picked up on the whole thing. “Okay, yes – with Derek freaking Hale. But this isn’t... it’s not what you think.”
“I knew it,” she answered, a small triumphant cry more to herself than to him.
He let go of a sigh and pushed up from his seat, grabbing his backpack. She stood up promptly, blocking his path before he could go anywhere.
“Look, Lydia – one person I’m attracted to hating my guts is enough, I’m not... I can’t do more than that.”
She tilted her head a little to the side and if Stiles didn’t know any better, when she spoke – she sounded hurt and maybe a little confused. “I don’t hate you.”
“You don’t... what?”
“I don’t hate you, Stiles, and I don’t know what the deal is with you and Derek Hale... but I do know that if you want something in life, you don’t get it by moping around and feeling sorry for yourself.”
This time it was the look of pure scepticism that had Stiles cutting off, no words from Lydia needed – just that look. She span on her heel, a neat pirouette, and marched toward her bag.
“Think about it, Stilinski,” she threw over her shoulder, and Stiles watched her leave with his mouth still hanging open.
It took him a few moments, and a rumble in his stomach, to remember it was lunchtime and he was hungry. With a deep sigh, he slung his backpack over his shoulder and shook his head. How had he gone from worrying about being used in a human dog fight to worrying about the fact that his love life was cursed and to quickly realising that it seemed it was almost impossible for him to be attracted to someone who was not only in his league, but also not a complete psycho in one form or another?
Head down and completely lost in thought, he headed for the door to the classroom with the hope of distracting himself with food. Anything that could make him stop thinking about Derek Hale, and the knowing look on Scott’s face... and now Lydia? Just, anything. Anything at all.
“Going somewhere, Stiles?”
Anything except that.
Stiles snapped his head up, gaze immediately locking on Mae. But it wasn’t just Mae this time. She had two others with her, two bulky looking guys who crowded the door and followed Mae into the room.
“You said after school,” Stiles forced out when he found his voice again.
Mae’s grin was wicked, as was the tint in her eyes – eyes that glowed a brief and dangerous red. “I lied.”
The next part happened so fast that Stiles barely had time to process any of it. He dropped his backpack and made to scramble over the desks away from Mae’s brutes as they charged forward. It was too soon. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. The others... they wouldn’t be prepared. They wouldn’t know he was gone before it was too late. But before Stiles could make it far at all, there were hands on him, dragging him backwards and into the firm grasp of one the brutes.
Claws dug into him as he struggled to break free, but it didn’t stop him from trying.
“Dere-” he started to called, but the name fell away into a muffled choke, one of the brutes locking their hand over Stiles’ mouth, cutting him off.
He would have bitten down, struggled some more, but his sleeve was being pulled up and before he could do anything, teeth were sinking into his skin. His cry was as muffled as Derek’s name and he was sure there must have been more than just mutated werewolf venom flooding into his system because he was beginning to feel drowsy and lightheaded.
Mae was in front of him again and Stiles wanted to say something, wanted to spit in her face or some last act of defiance before he was carted away. But all he could manage was some form of a glare that he was sure didn’t look like much at all, because his eyelids were drooping and the world was quickly turning black.
“Sleep, Stiles,” Mae whispered in his ear. “It’ll be time soon.”
I'm only, what? An hour late? Being that it's now technically Friday here in Britain if you enjoy being technical... but hey, at least it's still Thursday in some parts of the world! Like America! This chapter was HELL to write. Pure evil. But still, I hope you enjoy!
And thank you again to everyone for reading and for the comments ^_^
Peter studied his nails, or rather his claws, as he leaned against the car beside Derek. Not in the absent way a teenage girl may when checking to see if her nail polish had been chipped, but more like a sadistic butcher looking over his selection of knives as he checked to make sure they were all nice and sharp. Nice and ready. After all, it wouldn’t do to step up to the chopping block and find your best blade dulled.
Jaw tight, Derek tried his best to ignore him, which would have been a lot easier if the man wasn’t like an itch you couldn’t scratch because the more you tried the more persistent it became. Instead he tried to focus on the school, which was even harder to do when his uncle decided to talk as well.
“It’s a good thing they chose Stiles,” his uncle spoke up, claws retracting and attention now on Derek.
Derek closed his eyes and took a deep breath, forcing himself to remain calm and in control. When he opened his eyes again, his voice was terse but steady. “It’ll be a good thing when I’ve finally dealt with them and they’re no longer a threat.”
“And because of their impeccably good taste, you’ll be able to do just that,” his uncle quipped in return, voice light and almost playful, if not for the darker undertone that tainted the words. “Now, if it was some other poor sap they’d chosen – well, we could have been running around for another month trying to track them down.”
If it was some other poor sap the Alpha and her pack had chosen, they wouldn’t be wasting their time with this little game of theirs. But no, they had chosen Stiles and all of this... everything they were doing, it was a power play – an attempt to exert their dominance.
Derek gritted his teeth together, about to say something further to his uncle, but the words didn’t make it out of his mouth as a voice that wasn’t Peter’s made it to his ears. Strained and panicked, recognisable instantly. Stiles.
An incomplete cry that was almost lost completely to the chatter of the other students at lunch. It had Derek moving immediately, pushing away from his Camaro without a word to his uncle. His feet slammed against the solid ground of the parking lot as he raced across it and toward the main doors of the school.
He strained his ears, listening for anything else from Stiles or Scott, but heard nothing. It wasn’t until he was dodging students in the too full hallway that he caught sight of strawberry blonde hair and with it a faint scent of Stiles. He forced himself to stop just to the side of Lydia, lightly gripping her upper arms automatically as he turned her around enough to face him. Her eyes grew wide, a mixture of curiosity and fear in her gaze, but she didn’t pull away.
“Where’s Stiles?” he demanded.
She opened her mouth and the spark of fear in her eyes grew, but Derek could tell that it wasn’t herself she was fearing for now. “Down the hall,” she answered, voice barely a squeak, “third door on the right.”
He offered up only a brief nod in thanks before racing off again, heading straight toward the room Lydia had directed him too. Most of the students were quick enough and mindful enough to get out of his way, and the unlucky ones that weren’t... well, it was their own fault if they woke up with bruises the next day.
The door was already open when he reached it, his pace slowing as he stepped on through into the room, blood turning cold, until he finally came to a stop and could only stare at the scene in front of him. There had been a definite struggle, a desk or two upturned and a few more out of place, marking the area the pack must have grabbed Stiles. Because the most prominent thing of note was that Stiles was not there.
Stiles was not there and neither was the Alpha or any of her pack.
Derek moved forward and further into the room, cautiously, almost afraid of what he would find. Stiles’ backpack was mere feet from the door and Derek bent enough to pick it up as he came to it, his fingers tightening around the handle at the top like it was a lifeline to keep him grounded. A lifeline he nearly lost when he saw the blood, little drops of it amongst the chaos of the desks and chairs, staining the off-white linoleum floor.
A strange emptiness slipped inside of him, starting in his chest and spreading further outward. For a moment, the world wavered and tilted before threatening to crash around him. For a moment, he felt like he was in the middle of a dizzying dream and he just needed to wake up. If he could just wake up...
“Relax,” Peter called from the doorway, snapping Derek’s attention away from the emptiness and the bloodstained floor. “They can’t do anything until tonight, when the moon is out.”
That wasn’t comforting in the slightest.
“I don’t care,” Derek answered, voice sounding a lot more absent and lost than he had meant it to, his grip tightening further on the backpack. He forced himself to swallow hard, pushing down the panic that started somewhere near his heart and attempted to climb its way up his throat.
Without another word to Peter, he pushed onward, back toward the doorway. Stiles was gone, they had taken him, and there was nothing else to be found in that room, nothing but the sickening sight of drops of red. That was enough to distract his thoughts, enough for him not to notice Scott until he had walked right into him at the doorway, the young Beta looking more than a little stunned.
“Where’s –” Scott started, but the words were cut short when Derek gripped a hold of him and slammed him into the wall beside the door.
“You were supposed to be watching him,” he accused, voice stronger than it had been before, but even he heard the underlying desperation.
The rational side of him knew Scott being there wouldn’t have made a difference; it argued that they would have waited for another time when Scott couldn’t have been there and when Stiles had snuck off to use the bathroom by himself or something of the like. But still, Derek needed someone to blame and Scott was the easiest target. He was the only target within reach.
“They weren’t supposed to...” Scott began to argue, voice wavering. He didn’t attempt to fight back against Derek’s hold, just allowed Derek to pin him to the wall as he stared down at Derek like a kicked puppy, hurt lining his gaze. “Why would they do this?”
“What did you expect?” Peter drawled from the side, and Derek turned in time to see his uncle roll his eyes. “They’re the bad guys, remember? They don’t play fair.”
Why would they, when playing dirty meant they stood more chance of winning?
With a barely controlled huff, Derek released his hold on Scott and shoved Stiles backpack at his chest, taking note of how Scott seemed to cling to it almost as desperately as Derek had, as if by doing so meant he still had a hold of things. A hold of Stiles.
“And I’m just about done playing their games,” Derek shot back at his uncle, turning to pace a little, only stopping when Scott spoke again, bringing Derek and his thoughts back to the room.
“What’s that smell?” Scott asked, and Derek could hear the confused frown in his voice.
And now that Scott mentioned it, the air was tainted with such a faint scent that it was easy to miss, but at the same time, it was such a familiar scent that Derek should have caught it. Ash and smoke. He looked to Scott, watching as he sniffed at the air and moved further into the room, toward an air vent in the wall.
Grabbing a chair and pushing it up against the wall, Scott made quick work of the cover of the vent and pulled out what looked like an incense burner. In fact, it was most definitely an incense burner. Derek let out a breath at the sight of it, understanding immediately.
Scott looked to him, eyes questioning.
“It’s an old tribal trick.” He moved to stand in front of Scott as he answered, watching a small piece of ash fall toward the floor from one of the sticks burning away. “They used to use smoke to cover up their scents.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Scott asked, looking down at the burner as if it were an unsolved Rubik’s cube.
“They’re trying to mask their scents,” Peter answered, “and Stiles’ too. They’re trying to make it harder for us to follow them.”
Time twisted strangely, disjointed and broken. In one moment, Stiles was floating, mindless beneath a cloudless sky, midnight blue in colour and speckled with the sparkling gems of stars. Then in the next, he was drowning, the world turning upside down – the sky now a river of blood and Stiles a rock that was sinking far too quickly.
Pain bit at his arm, right where he remembered something else biting too. But his mind was too foggy to remember exactly what; his thoughts too focused on trying to capture one last breath of air before the river pulled him completely under.
On top of that, lava was running through his veins, he was sure of it; ash filling up his lungs and setting fire to them from within. But despite it all, he shivered. A deep chill crept through his bones, fighting against the blazing hot warmth that wanted to consume him whole – much like the mouth that the river was leading him to. An actual freaking mouth, with teeth – huge sharpened canines, and Stiles felt far too heavy to do anything but float right on through and into the darkness that swallowed him whole.
It took him in and welcomed him. Stiles welcomed it too, because at least he could breathe again, even if it was only in sharp, painful bursts. Then the pain spread further, what felt like claws scratching at his skin. Small nicks at first, mixed with the feeling of fur and hot breath. Then came the bite and a low and distant howl.
It was those two things that brought on a small sense of clarity, just enough for Stiles to remember what had happened, enough for him to realise the werewolf venom was taking hold. It was digging its way into him, spreading throughout him, the wolfsbane in his system too weak to push the venom out completely... only strong enough to give him that moment of lucidity before the world, and his head, exploded.
“Shhhh,” a voice whispered in his ear, fingers brushing lightly over his head and down behind his ear, the motion repetitive and almost relaxing, the pain easing somewhat. “It only hurts if you fight it.”
But Stiles didn’t want to stop fighting, especially when he opened his eyes to find he had fallen out of one nightmare and straight into another. Everything was dark, which meant he had been unconscious for a lot longer than he wanted to think about. Fires were burning though, here and there, the orange glow of the flames providing enough light for Stiles to see by, or at least kind of see by, if his vision wasn’t so fuzzy, his brain still trying to catch up. But he could see Mae in front of him, watching him.
She grinned at him, like a predator, her eyes glowing a soft red before returning to their natural colour. He tried to open his mouth to speak, but his throat was dry and it hurt too much to think straight. Instead, his gaze lowered to his arm and the blood that stained his skin; some still fresh, some dried and crusted. But through it all, the teeth marks were clearly visible.
“Don’t worry, Puppy,” Mae mocked, as if sensing his thoughts, her tone light and airy, sounding like she was talking to a dog and not to Stiles. But Stiles knew better. “You’re still human. It wouldn’t be fair on your opponent if you weren’t.”
As if on cue, Stiles heard noises from up ahead, metal scraping against metal, low growls and whimpers. His attention was dragged away from Mae and toward the young boy being carted into what Stiles could onto describe as an arena. It wasn’t until the moonlight hit the boy, shining in through the huge gaping hole in the ceiling of the building, that Stiles knew he recognised him.
Beneath the feral look, the matted hair and wild eyes, the torn and bloodied clothes, Stiles knew instantly who the young teen was. He recognised him from around school, a year or two younger than Stiles, shy and timid, the type to fade into the background if not for the fact that everyone knew he was the son of a teacher. Ms Calloway’s son.
So he had been the other teen missing, and if Stiles was right, he had only been missing since last Wednesday and yet he already looked so lost. It made Stiles wonder how long before he would begin to look like that too.
“How much do you know about the ancient Romans?” Mae asked, reminding him of her presence.
Stiles remained silent, his gaze still locked on the teen up ahead. How much of the blood on his clothes was his own?
“I never liked history,” she drawled, taking his silence as a sign to continue. Her fingers gripped his chin and she forced him to meet her stare. “It bored me. But I do remember reading about the Roman gladiators. Fun stuff.”
“Ye-ah,” Stiles choked out, speech taking more effort than it should, “I can see why something like that would appeal to someone like you.”
Mae leaned in closer, licking her lips almost tentatively. “It’s a good thing I like that smart mouth of yours.”
“Well, you’re probably the only one,” Stiles tried to say, except the last of his words were lost to a groan of pain as he doubled over and his vision wavered. Not a good sign. Not a good sign at all.
“It’s the full moon,” she told him, as if answering a question he had put forth. Stiles could hear the smile that twisted up her lips and the fascination that lined her voice. “It’s pulling you, telling you to give in...”
Gritting his teeth, Stiles knew it was true. What control and sanity he had, he knew it wouldn’t last. It couldn’t last. He could feel the empty hunger growing in the pit of his stomach, begging to be fed with each spiked heartbeat. He could feel the itch beneath his skin, fuelled by the anger and fear building inside of him. It was no doubt nothing compared to what Scott or the others felt during a full moon, but it was intense all the same. It was demanding, and the only thing he had to cling onto was the hope that the others would find him – the hope they would reach him in time.
“Give in, Stiles,” Mae urged, wrapping a hand behind his neck and forcing him up from the ground. “I’ll make it worth your while if you do.”
He wanted to say ‘never’ or something equally heroic. It never made it out of his mouth. Nothing did. And his body felt far too foreign for him to fight the hold she had as she made him move forward, on toward the arena. He could see the place more clearly now, even as red danced briefly over his vision and he forced himself to shake it away.
It looked like an old warehouse, much like the ones he and Derek had found the other night. Only this was larger, the rafters so high they were hidden by shadows. Four concrete columns stood tall in the centre of the warehouse, marking the corners of the arena and metal and mesh ran around the rest of it, a lower border to separate the fighters from the observers. They must have been getting this one ready special, just for the full moon.
Something was being pushed into his hands and he looked down to find his fingers wrapped around a metal rod, about three foot or so in length.
“Don’t disappoint me,” Mae warned, stepping back away from him and nudging her head toward the makeshift arena, urging him on. “Or I might have to pay your father another visit.”
If it wasn’t for those last words, that small reminder of why he was here, he would have hesitated longer before clambering over the metal barrier. But he didn’t. He forced himself over and then pushed himself to his feet as he looked to the teen opposite him. It was then that he realised the teen was being held back. He had been completely overtaken by the mutated werewolf venom, and Stiles could tell by the look in his eyes that he wanted nothing more than to tear Stiles apart.
There was no loud warning bell, no clashing and banging of metal, no great call out to start. Just a simple whisper, filled with anticipation and bloodlust, Mae’s voice barely a breath in the background as she whispered, “Now.”
The teen was released and Stiles barely had time to prepare.
“Maybe we should talk about this?” Stiles tried, even as he felt something within his chest responding to the oncoming teen, preparing itself for the fight that Stiles didn’t want.
The last few closing steps were rushed, and Stiles was knocked off his feet, landing on the floor with a hard thump. The teen landed on top of him, surprisingly heavy despite the teen’s thin frame, and Stiles swore he saw a flicker of golden yellow in his eyes. Paler than the light he was used to seeing in Scott’s, but present all the same.
The wolves went wild, cheering and calling out, rattling at the metal barriers, urging the fight to continue. The words were lost on Stiles, but he knew what they wanted to see. They wanted blood, they wanted brutality, and they wanted the ultimate result – death.
He forced the metal pole between himself and the teen, his grip spread out along it as he tried to push the teen off of him whilst also trying to push back the rage that was beginning to intensify inside of himself.
“Kevin? Right? We don’t have to fight...” Stiles tried once more, but the teen didn’t even flinch at the mention of the name, his eyes completely lost to what Stiles could only call madness. It made Stiles freeze, fear twisting at his insides, unable to stop the thoughts of ‘what if’. What if Scott and Derek couldn’t find him? What if they couldn’t get to him in time? What if he became this?
Claws dug into his shoulder and he cried out. Anger bubbled up and over, instinct taking control. He felt the low rumble in chest and throat, and heard the growl that escaped, tearing up his throat as it did so – as if it were an animal trying to claw its way out of him. With more strength than he thought he could possess, he pushed up one more time and sent the teen flying backwards, away from him.
Clambering to his feet immediately, he saw the teen do the same, and he took in every inch of him. The way he lowered his body, the fact that the claws on his fingers were metal and attached to a glove that fit perfectly, not the natural claws of a werewolf... now dripping with Stiles’ blood. He used them so instinctively though, which made Stiles cling all the tighter to the pole – a human weapon, for human hands.
He lowered his own stance, readying himself for the next attack, fingers wrapping tightly around the metal pole, his vision flashing momentarily red once more. A quiet confidence settled in him, and the rational part of him knew that was a bad sign. But that rational part of him was too quiet, too small to remind him that he just needed to stay alive... nothing more.
Then the teen was advancing once more, quick and agile, but apparently not quick or agile enough. An arrow hit his leg and he went down momentarily. It shook Stiles, brought him back to himself enough for him to realise he wasn’t alone anymore. But the moment was short lived because the teen was up again and racing straight toward Stiles, even more determined than before.
The confidence Stiles had felt shattered. If he didn’t do something, he could get seriously injured... but he if did... was he willing to pay that price?
He braced himself, ready for the hit. It never came.
Something heavy landed in front of Stiles, a silhouette of bulk and muscle, back turned and claws ready for a fight, ready to protect. And Stiles breathed out. He had never been so glad to see Derek.
Hey guys! It's Monday, so guess what? I'm back with another update!!!! The penultimate chapter!!!! Thank you to everyone for reading, and for the comments I've received! You guys rock!!!
Final chapter coming soon...
Finding the warehouse had been easy, thanks to the new pack underestimating them and thinking they would rely on werewolf senses alone. But it was the twenty-first century, and technology had proven itself useful to them in the past, so GPS tracking it was. The hardest part? That was the waiting – waiting for the right time to attack, when the other pack was too distracted to notice them all slipping into place.
Derek hated it. He hated reigning himself in when he could see Stiles, right there... hurt and bleeding. He hated being perched in the rafters, hidden by the shadows and looking down at the scene, watching as the Alpha loomed over Stiles, watching as she dared to touch him.
“Patience,” his uncle whispered, the word barely a breath and scarcely even loud enough for Derek to hear.
He felt Peter’s hand on his shoulder, keeping him from jumping down right there and then, and he forced himself to watch until finally the other pack was distracted by the fight in the ring between Stiles and the other teen. Until finally it was time.
Allison was the first to make a move, doing so after an approving nod from Derek. Her arrow ripped through the air and into the teen’s leg, stalling him. Then they all moved at once, each one of them toward their marked targets, and Derek – he dropped right into the ring, placing himself between Stiles and the feral teen before him.
He let a warning growl out, but he wasn’t expecting it to work. After all, the kid wasn’t even a wolf, let alone part of Derek’s pack, and survival seemed to be the last thing on the kid’s mind – he just wanted to fight, to spill blood, and to kill. So the growl didn’t stop him, nor did the flash of teeth from Derek.
Everything about the way the kid moved; it was raw, pure instinct. No tact to it at all. No precision. The kid leapt forward, all offence, no defence. It made it easy for Derek to shut him down. As the kid reached him, his claw’s dug into the teen’s shirt, gripping tightly enough for Derek to control the teen’s next movement, enough for him to control the momentum and send the kid down the ground at Derek’s feet in one swift and easy slam.
When the kid attempted to get back up, an arrow landed next to his head and he fell still. A soft thump on the ground brought Derek’s attention to Allison as she approached, reloading her bow once more.
“I’ve got this,” she said, her face stern and determined, even though her voice wavered a little, unsure of herself. “The others need you.”
A quick glance around gave him enough time to see what was going on. Isaac and Scott were fighting side by side, matched up against three of the Betas from the other pack, whilst Peter dodged the blow of the last Beta before landing a couple of his own. As for the Alpha, she stood off to the side, ready and waiting. Her fight was with Derek and she knew it. But first, he had to see to Stiles.
He turned away from Allison and looked to Stiles. Despite the blood that coated his arm and stained his clothes, despite the bruise that was starting to form on his jaw and the way his body tensed against the pain no doubt coursing through it, there was a ghost of a smile on his face, aimed at Derek, relief in the young teen’s eyes.
Derek moved forward, just in time to catch Stiles before what must have been an extra intense surge of pain tried to force him down to his knees. Arms wrapped around Stiles, Derek held onto him until the pain had passed and Stiles’ breathing had evened out somewhat. He didn’t wait for Stiles to protest before hauling him up and into his arms like he was nothing more than a bundle of cloth.
Once he was over the barrier and out of the ring, he placed Stiles down so he was leaning against the wall of the warehouse, out of the way and safe from all of the fighting going on around them. He lingered for only a moment before attempting to pull back and join the fight, but Stiles caught his wrist before he could go.
“It’s okay,” Derek told him, his fingers moving up to Stiles’ face, the pad of his thumb tracing along Stiles’ jaw line, tracking the bruise there. “You’ve done your part.”
He didn’t wait for Stiles to answer. He didn’t wait for any response before pulling himself free of Stiles’ now slack grip and spinning on the spot to face the Alpha, Mae as Stiles had called her before. She had moved forward, out of the shadows and into the steady stream of moonlight, her body lowered and claws out, ready for the fight.
He lowered himself too, nails lengthening, along with his canines, upper lip curling into a vicious snarl. Rolling his neck, he allowed the shift to take hold, allowed the wolf emerge, watching as Mae did the same. They both stayed like that for a long breath, staring each other down, and the tension built up inside of Derek, pulling at his muscles until finally he could take no more.
Together, they sprang forward, racing toward each other across the empty space of the warehouse. And together they pushed up from the ground on that last step, colliding with each other in midair, nails digging into flesh as they twisted, a clumsy and violent pirouette, filled with the snapping of teeth and the sharp sting of claws.
When they landed, they fell apart, their postures almost a mirror of each other – bodies spread low, one leg stretched out the side and one hand tracing the concrete floor beneath them, ready to push up at a moment’s notice. He saw her eyes flicker right, toward Stiles, before meeting his once more, the muscle in her leg twitching, a light spasm that told Derek all he needed to know.
He swung around, clockwise and away from her, bringing himself upwards as he turned. At the same time, he saw her push up from the ground, shooting straight towards Stiles. Derek caught her in the chest with his claws as his turn came full circle, and slammed her down to the ground before she could get any further. As he made to bring her up once more to slam her down harder, she gripped his wrist tight with her hands and brought her leg up and around enough to wrap around his upper arm and torso.
The movement, and the strength behind it, had them both rolling to the side where she landed on top of him, straddling his hips. The red shone brightly in her eyes, dangerous and deadly, the intent clear when she raised her hand up behind her head, ready to slash down.
Derek was quicker.
He reached up with both hands and allowed his nails to sink into her shoulders before she had the chance to follow through on the motion. Bucking his hips, her dragged upward and used his strength to pull her up and off of him, continuing on to throw her over his head and back away from Stiles. He used the momentum of the throw to flip himself over too, landing neatly on his feet.
Of course, the downside to that was his back was now to Mae. Never a good thing in a fight. It meant that as soon as she recovered, she was at him before he had a chance to turn, jumping onto his back and latching herself onto it. Nails digging into his chest, she snarled in his ear, breath hot against his skin.
“If I had known you cared so much about him,” she whispered, her voice coarse and rough, “I’d have made it harder.”
Derek didn’t answer. Instead he reached back and attempted to pull her up and over. She wasn’t budging though, her legs wrapped around his waist and her claws ripped through his shirt to scrape along the skin of his torso, refusing to be thrown off even as he twisted and swung himself side to side, back and forth.
It was when she dug her claws in extra deep, burying them into his flesh, and he cried out from the pain it caused, that he moved backward, pace quickening with each step, until they both slammed into a concrete pillar. It only served to make her tighten her grip, so he moved forward, ready to try once more.
She shifted before they could hit the pillar again, unwrapping herself and throwing her feet backward to push against the pillar and forcing Derek to stumble forward and away from her. When he righted himself and spun to face her, she lashed out at him, hand swiping through the air towards his abdomen. He jumped back just in time for her to miss.
When she came in for another attempt, Derek brought his own hand upwards. His nails slipped easily into her stomach as hers stopped just short of the bare skin on his arm. The look of surprise was evident on her face, but before Derek could do anything more than throw her backwards and away from him, something else slammed into his side and caused him to stumble.
“Derek!” Scott called out from across the warehouse, and when Derek righted himself, he saw that one of the three Betas Scott and Isaac had been fighting had broken away. Another lay motionless on the ground and the last had its attention locked on Isaac.
As for Peter, Derek couldn’t make him out and he didn’t have time to search as the Beta that had attacked him moved in for another shot. Derek deflected him easily, stepping to the side as the Beta overshot and ended up tumbling over his own feet and falling to the ground. He was up again though, in an instant, and shooting back toward Derek as Derek heard Scott’s footsteps racing across the warehouse toward them both.
It didn’t matter though because Derek was an Alpha. He was stronger than this Beta, and quicker. Which meant, when the Beta was almost on him, Derek dodged the attack and grabbed a hold of the Beta’s neck with ease.
Scott skidded to a halt just beside him, ready to help out even though it wasn’t needed. Except, it seemed the Beta had been the perfect distraction for Mae, and now Scott and Derek were right where they were supposed to be.
“Really?” Mae’s voice caused Derek’s stomach to drop, or rather, it was the direction her voice came from that caused the sickening feeling to form.
His gaze snapped to her and he immediately dropped hold of the Beta. Not because of anything she was threatening, but because he wanted to make better use of his hands – such as by using them to tear Mae apart. But he couldn’t. Not right then. Because Mae had all the right cards. Mae had hold of Stiles.
Her nails cut into the exposed flesh of Stiles’ neck, blood already beginning to trickle from the fresh wounds. The look of resignation on Stiles’ face, his eyes closed as if he was afraid to see the looks on their faces, and his throat visibly working... it had Derek wanting to surge forward, to attack. But as if she read his mind, Mae’s grip tightened around Stiles’ throat as she held him in front of her like a barrier.
“Did you think it would be that easy?” Mae questioned, her features human once more. “Did you think I wouldn’t be prepared to fight?”
Derek didn’t care. He didn’t care how easy or difficult it was, or what fights he had to endure. He just had to keep Stiles safe. He had promised the Sheriff he would. He had promised himself...
“Let him go,” Derek demanded, voice low, his own features shifting back to human – though his nails remained lengthened, fingers stretched out, ready.
“Why would I want to do that?” Mae cocked her head gently to the side, gaze leaving Derek to roam all over Stiles. Her fingers readjusted on his neck so the cuts were revealed, the marks and blood clear against the pale skin. “I mean, that scent... it’s intoxicating.”
Scott shifted beside Derek, but remained where he was. He knew exactly how the young Beta felt – wishing to do something but knowing if they tried, she would be quicker. She could have Stiles dead before they even reached her.
“If you hurt him...” Scott started, the ‘more’ going unsaid because it was clear she had already hurt Stiles – too much. His words trailed away though, along with the threat as Mae’s gaze snapped to him.
“Hurt him? Who said anything about hurting him?” she asked, a sly smile finding its way onto her lips, revealing her canines in a dangerous manner. Her attention moved to Stiles’ neck and she closed her eyes briefly as she breathed in, before opening them once more, her tongue dragging across pale skin, tasting the blood that still trickled from the cuts. Her canines grew and scraped over Stiles’ Adam’s apple before coming to a pause. The threat was clear and Derek felt his heart stutter in time with Stiles’.
“You’ve cost me half my pack,” she accused, moving her head back slightly, but not enough. “So it’s only fair I get to keep him in return.”
It was true that Isaac was still fending off one of her other Betas, keeping the Beta’s attention away from what was happening with Mae, even if it meant taking a few hits. But Isaac had improved greatly, so Derek had no doubt he would come out on top. As for Peter and the other Beta, well... Derek couldn’t see the other Beta but he could see Peter emerging from the shadows looking pleased with himself.
That just left the final Beta, who remained motionless to the side of Derek. He was still alive, but he was weak. Even in the dim light of the warehouse, Derek could see the thick black veins slowly spreading across his skin – which made him the one who had bitten Stiles back at the school. It was only a matter of time before he was dead, if not from the wolfsbane, then from Derek’s own hands.
“All of your pack,” Derek answered, attention back on Mae.
“What?” Mae snapped, the confusion and denial evident in her voice.
“You’ve been beaten,” Derek informed her, back straightening. “You’ve lost your pack. Right now, you’re no better than an Omega.”
She scoffed, dry and harsh. “Not if I bite him. If I bite him, he’ll be mine.”
“If you bite him, you risk infection.”
Bewilderment settled on her features. Even now she hadn’t realised. Even with Stiles fighting her every step of the way, she had no idea about the wolfsbane.
Derek nudged his head to the Beta beside him. “Look at him,” he told her. “What do you think did that to him?”
He could see the exact moment she realised. He could hear it in the way her heart suddenly sped up and see it in the way her face paled. After all, she’d already had a taste of Stiles’ blood. It might not have been much, but it was something. So anything more? Well, it would be best to avoid that situation.
“Surprise,” Stiles choked out, and the defiance would have warmed Derek in some way, if not for how lost the word was, how pained and forced it came out, like it had taken every piece of strength Stiles had to say it.
Mae straightened, something deadly settling in her eyes, lips thinning. “I can wait.”
Stiles opened his eyes at that, his face set, determined. There was a soft glow in his eyes, so dim that Derek barely even caught it, but it was there, a smidge of golden yellow within the usual amber. When he spoke, his voice held conviction, but also more strength – which meant he was losing the battle with the wolf venom. He was allowing himself to lose, so he could fight off Mae.
“No,” was all he said, but it was tainted in darkness and it was enough.
A scowl slipped onto Mae’s face, but it didn’t last long. It was taken over by a seething hiss as Stiles pushed backward. The movement itself wasn’t strong enough to cause the look of pain that flashed across Mae’s eyes, but the broken piping sticking out from the wall, and now through her side, was.
It forced Mae to let go of Stiles, and without her supporting him and holding him up, he stumbled forward. Scott was moving toward him instantly, which meant Derek could focus on Mae. She was already pulling herself free of the pipe even as Scott grabbed a hold of Stiles, steadying him.
“Get him out of here,” Derek ordered, knowing that despite their differences, Scott would obey. If it meant saving Stiles, his best friend, Scott would do what he needed to do, and Derek – he would finish what he had started.
“Where to?” Scott demanded, desperate.
Even with his attention on Mae, Derek could see the way Stiles clung to Scott, his grip so tight on Scott’s arm tight as his back arched and he fought against the venom’s control. Derek had grown up with the wolf, but even he knew how strong it was when the moon was out. Whatever was happening inside of Stiles, between the venom and wolfsbane, there was only one person who would know what to do.
“Deaton,” Derek answered. “Take him to Deaton. I’ll meet you there.”
Scott nodded, firm and sure, already making his way toward the exit of the warehouse, helping Stiles along with him.
Mae, however, wasn’t about to let them go so easily, which was exactly why Derek had to stay behind. She snarled and growled, vicious and deep within the throat. Her head thrashed from side to side, neck and shoulders cracking, features morphing and shifting. The transformation was sickening to watch, because this time, she was going all out.
Derek prepared himself, knowing what was coming.
When the shift was over, Mae was no longer recognisable beneath the bulky mass of tawny fur, red eyes gleaming. She snarled once more and looked to Derek only briefly before resting her gaze on Scott and Stiles. Derek darted forward immediately, using the environment of the warehouse to help him get in front of her before she could reach them. Throwing himself at her, he slammed into her side with his feet and knocked her off course.
As soon as she righted herself, she turned on him, studying him, taking in every inch of him and no doubt searching for weaknesses. Then she dropped down to all fours and Derek knew this fight wasn’t going to be easy. It would be bloody and painful, because she wasn’t aiming to just get him out the way. She wanted to kill him. She wanted to tear him apart and then go chasing after Scott and Stiles.
And Derek, he wanted to do exactly the same thing.
Hey guys! I'm late! I know. I really wanted to have this up yesterday but it has been such a hectic week and this chapter wouldn't end. Seriously, it's actually the length of two chapters which meant I could have easily split it up into two chapters... but I promised this chapter would be the last so I decided to keep it altogether.
HUGE thank you to everyone for reading and for the comments this story has received. It has been so much fun writing this and I hope you enjoy this final chapter, otherwise I might just cry. In fact, I might cry anyway because I have no idea what I'm going to do with myself once I click that little button that posts this... Thank you for sticking with me through evil cliffhangers and all the other torments, you guys are awesome!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It had been years since Derek had fought one on one with a fully shifted Alpha. He still remember it clearly though. He remembered Laura taking her place opposite him as she informed him how important it was to learn these things. The scent of ash and smoke and fire had still been heavy on the air around them, even though Beacon Hills was many miles behind.
He remembered how brutal Laura’s claws had been and how much heavier she became when she pinned him the ground and bared her teeth. But most of all, he remembered how she had gone easy on him.
Mae wasn’t Laura. She wasn’t there to teach him any lessons and she certainly wouldn’t go easy on him.
Good¸ he thought to himself, because he wasn’t going to go easy on her either.
Nails lengthening, Derek rolled his shoulders and flexed his muscles, readying himself. He felt the wolf take hold, felt the shift of his features and knew his eyes would be glowing that soft and deadly red to match Mae’s. But unlike Mae, he didn’t allow himself to transform completely. He locked that primal instinct away and instead focused on everything he had learned; from Laura, from Peter, and from every other time he had been forced to fight.
She began to circle him, so Derek mimicked her movements, like he was her reflection in a mirror, following the path around, eyes locked and teeth bared. When she leapt forward, Derek rolled to the side, out of her path, and righted himself with just enough speed to deflect her next attack.
Mae was all teeth and claws, aiming for his throat whilst trying to keep hers protected. It was a violent wrestling match, her muscles even more powerful in wolf form. But Derek wasn’t some young, naive Beta anymore. He had his own strengths, and he had a pack, no matter how small it was. That, along with the fact that he needed to win, that fuelled him on. That made him an equal match.
Rising to her hind legs, Mae pushed forward, nail digging into Derek’s shoulders as she pinned him against a column. He turned his head away from her snacking jowls and attempted to push her away. But she was determined, and Derek could feel the flecks of her saliva hitting his face, warm and wet.
There was a pained howl off the side, followed by the sound of footsteps racing across concrete. Then Isaac came into Derek’s line of sight, his shirt stained with blood and several cuts already healing across his cheek. His eyes glowed golden-yellow and he bared his teeth, nails lengthened and ready to attack. He was done with Mae’s last Beta and had come to Derek’s aid.
A low growl escaped from Isaac’s throat, a warning, and Mae turned her head his way, snarling at him. Derek took advantage of the moment, the brief distraction, and used all his strength to push her forward, to throw her backwards and away from him. She landed on the floor several feet away and skidded on her back until she slammed into the wall.
It gave Derek the time he needed to move to Isaac’s side and grip the young Beta’s arm enough to redirect his attention toward Allison and the kid she still held at arrow-point in centre of the warehouse.
“I’m fine,” Derek said, urging Isaac forward. “Help her get him out of here, then find Scott.”
Isaac seemed to think about it for a breath before offering up a begrudging nod. Within a moment, he was moving away toward Allison and the kid, and within the next moment, Derek was being slammed to the floor by Mae.
Her teeth went straight for his neck, her breath rancid and hot. It was only through quick reflexes that Derek managed to roll to the side enough to avoid having his throat ripped out. But as soon as Mae realised she had hit nothing but fresh air, she was adjusting her aim and going in for the kill once more.
Squirming beneath her grip, Derek planted his feet on her chest and pushed up enough to pull himself free. He climbed to his feet immediately, set to put some distance between himself and Mae, enough to give him an advantage. But before he could make it far at all, he was thrown forward by a harsh swipe from Mae that cut deep into his side.
The low barrier around the centre ring stopped his momentum forward, the metal creaking and protesting against the blow it had received. He didn’t wait to clamber over it and into the ring, falling onto his front as another swipe from Mae sliced at his thigh. He rolled over though, and onto his back before she could launch herself at him, his hand snaking out to wrap around the metal pole Stiles had dropped earlier.
By the time she dove forward, it was too late for her to stop.
Derek brought the pole up in front of him and it ran her through the chest, stopping her dead. Her eyes widened and she began to shift back to human form, her hands coming up to wrap around the pole as if to try and pull herself free. Derek gave it another shove and twist, and her fingers fell away.
Bringing himself to his feet, he moved forward with the pole until Mae’s back was on the ground and she was staring up at him, helpless and unmoving. She coughed once, blood splattering up and out, filling her mouth, and Derek glared down at her.
“What? No final words?” Peter drawled from beside him, appearing now the battle was done.
Derek grunted, but otherwise ignored him, deciding instead to focus his attention on Mae. When he was satisfied that she wasn’t going anywhere, he pulled the pole free and threw it behind him, where it clattered against the concrete floor before falling still and silent. That was when Derek lowered himself, claws ready as he stared Mae down.
She knew what was coming. She knew there was no stopping it. And she knew exactly why he was doing it. He didn’t need to warn her to stay away from Stiles now, or the rest of his pack, because she wasn’t going anywhere.
He raised his hand and brought it down in one swift movement, right through her throat. After another moment of wet gurgling, Mae’s eyes fell dead and Derek pushed up once more.
“You could have at least come up with a memorable one liner that she could take to her grave,” Peter continued on, and Derek could hear the roll of his eyes.
Derek said nothing, just allowed his gaze to roam the warehouse, looking over Mae’s Betas, lying beaten and broken, as dead as Mae. Even the Beta who had bitten Stiles was barely even alive, which for Derek, meant he wasn’t dead enough.
Peter placed a hand on his shoulder though, as if sensing his thoughts. “Go. He needs you now. I’ll see to all this. Trust me.”
And whilst Peter was the last person Derek trusted fully, he was also right. Stiles wasn’t out of the woods yet and Derek needed to be there with him.
Thinking straight was pretty much impossible for Stiles at that moment in time. In fact, thinking at all seemed to take too much effort. At that point, Stiles was happy to just let Scott drag him along. All thinking, all questions... well, he would just have to trust Scott because the pain currently trying to tear his body apart? That was taking up most of his attention.
Everything was a blur, and Stiles had decided that closing his eyes and just trying to block it all out was the best option. He was aware they were in a car and that car was moving, and he was aware of Scott talking to him, voice panicked and trying to be calm, soothing. As for what Scott was saying, Stiles didn’t have a clue. It washed over him as another wave of pain coursed through him.
As the pain ebbed away once more, he felt a sharp cold spread across his back. The shock of it caused his eyes to shoot open, a too bright light shining down into them, making everything go out of focus. They definitely weren’t in the car anymore, and if Stiles didn’t know any better, he had been lowered onto a block of ice.
“Hold him still,” a familiar voice ordered off to the side.
Strong, firm hands obeyed, gripping hold of Stiles and holding him down. Then there was another pair of hands, warm and tentative, working at his arm, and for a moment, Stiles felt himself relax. It didn’t last, a sharp prick of pain digging into his skin.
“What is that?” Scott’s voice, cautious and worried.
“Just a little something to help him sleep,” the first voice answered, soft and warm, just like the hands. “Shhhh, Stiles. It’s okay. Just relax...”
Stiles couldn’t find it in himself to argue or fight against it. He couldn’t find it in himself to do much more that what the voice suggested. So he let sleep claim him. He allowed the darkness to slip in, and the next time he woke, it was from a dreamless sleep that left him feeling more than a little wrecked, but better... clearer.
“How is he?” A female voice. Allison’s voice.
Stiles frowned. Hadn’t she been avoiding them lately? But then, if he was right, he remembered seeing her briefly at the warehouse along with everyone else. Then again, he also remembered a strange look in Derek’s eyes and the feel of Derek’s fingers on his face, so he wasn’t too sure about how much of what he remembered was real and how much was not.
“He’s strong,” Scott answered, the words full of belief and hope, but still tinged with worry, which meant it was time for Stiles to let them know he was awake before either of them started working on a eulogy.
He let out a groan and forced his eyes open, this time prepared for the glare of the lights. But the room was dim, the only lights coming from beyond the doorway several feet ahead of him and a dim lamp somewhere behind. Propping himself up on his elbows, he took in the room and groaned once more. Of all the places to wake up, he should have expected this, and yet the vet’s was the last place he expected to be. And lying, shirtless, on a cold metal table? That was just awkward.
“Ah, you’re awake.” It was Deaton who noticed him first, his voice coming from somewhere behind Stiles.
Allison and Scott swung away from each other to look at him too then, a slow grin spreading across Scott’s face and a look of relief falling onto Allison’s, her arms folded over her chest as if she was trying to make herself smaller by hugging herself. They moved forward in unison to stand at the bottom of the metal table, and Stiles pretended he didn’t feel that strange hallow feeling at the thought that they were the only ones there... that Derek was nowhere to be seen.
But before he could linger on the thought, Deaton grabbed Stiles’ attention as he came to stand beside the table, looking Stiles over in a way that said the man knew too much. “You’re very lucky, Mr Stilinski.”
Given that his head still felt as if it wanted to exploded, and he was pretty sure his body was just one giant bruise, Stiles didn’t feel very lucky. His torso was covered in bandages that wrapped around his shoulder, the first few trickles of red staining the white and reminding him of the ache and stingy that existed beneath those bandages. If he was going to get infected with mutant werewolf venom, it could have at least given him a few extra healing properties. But nope. Nothing. At all. Just pain.
“But he’ll be okay, right?” Scott questioned, his voice almost pleading.
Deaton let go of a small snort, his lips twitching partially into a smile as he turned away, back to the worktop he had been at before. “He’ll be craving red meat for awhile, but he should make a full recovery.”
Stiles stared after Deaton, opening and closing his mouth repeatedly until the words finally slipped out. “You’re joking, right? That was a joke...”
But Deaton’s features were stoic as he tossed a quick look over his shoulder. So Stiles turned to Scott instead, hoping for a better answer only to receive a look of pity.
“Scott? Dude... Buddy, c’mon...”
“At least you’re not a werewolf,” Scott offered up, shrugging helplessly.
Stiles wasn’t impressed.
“Believe me when I say this, Mr Stilinski,” Deaton continued, turning back toward him with a needle in his hand, “this could have been much worse. Scott filled me in on everything, and I must say, that whilst reckless, your little wolfsbane trick may very well have saved your life. Your young friend may not be so lucky, though I will try my best to help him.”
Stiles could only nod at Deaton’s words, barely paying attention to them because the guy was walking toward him with a huge needle in his hand filled with who only knew what. “Yeah... that was...”
But his words died away because Deaton was rounding the table and moving up to Stiles’ left side. He reached out for Stiles’ arm and that was when Stiles was pulled from his trancelike state of watching the needle. Forced into action, he tugged his arm away and held it close to his chest, eyes wide as he stared at Deaton. “What the hell?”
“Relax, Stiles,” Deaton droned, voice low and calm. Stiles imagined it to be the tone he used when dealing with skittish animals. “I’m only trying to help.”
“By sticking me with a needle?”
There was a ghost of a smile on Deaton’s face again, the man clearly amused by Stiles’ reaction. “It’s just a little something to help with the pain, that’s all.”
Still, Stiles was hesitant. For one, huge needles usually meant more pain. For another thing, Stiles had seen pain meds at work. They tended to dull all the senses, and considering Stiles had pretty much just started getting his back, he figured pain was the least of his worries.
Deaton nodded, dropping his hand away. “I understand. Now, if you excuse... it looks like you have another visitor and I have another patient to attend to.”
Stiles barely had time to open his mouth and burrow his brow before he heard the ring of the bell from out front, announcing the arrival of someone else, and he wasn’t given the chance to ask about the state of the other teen because Deaton was talking once more.
“Just come on through, Derek,” Deaton called out, even as he moved away from Stiles and placed the needle on another worktop. “Scott? Allison? Perhaps you could give me a hand with your young friend? I believe Isaac deserves a break from watching over him.”
The three of them moved away and toward a door at the back of the room just as Derek made his way in from the main entrance, looking worse for wear. Stiles swung his legs around and off the table almost instantly, eyes locked on Derek and the blood staining his shirt. He pushed off from the table and wavered, dizziness hitting him square on as his legs threatened to give way.
“I’m okay,” he answered, before Derek could speak, one hand gripping the table to steady himself. “Just a little woozy.”
“You shouldn’t be standing,” Derek chided, though the words were too gentle to be a true reprimand. If Stiles didn’t know any better, he would have said it was just friendly advice.
“I’m fine...” And maybe it wasn’t a complete lie.
He looked up to meet Derek’s gaze and felt his chest tighten at the look on Derek’s face. The vulnerability written there, coupled with the state of the guy’s shirt and the still healing cuts Stiles could make out, Derek looked almost human. Almost normal. But most of all, he looked young...
“Derek,” Stiles started, before swallowing hard at the lump in his throat. He made to move forward, toward Derek, but the pain in his shoulder brought him to a halt and he found himself gritting his teeth instead.
Then the pain was gone, and Derek’s hand was there, fingers tracing Stiles’ skin. It took him a moment to realise what was happening, but then he saw it. Derek’s face twisted up a little before the guy carefully pulled down the mask once more, and Stiles understood. He vaguely remembered Scott telling him something about taking away pain from the some of the dogs at the vets, but that was with dogs and Stiles had never seen it firsthand.
“You’re hurting,” Derek pointed out, as if that wasn’t already obvious to Stiles and therefore he needed to make Stiles aware of it.
There was a heat rising up through Stiles. He could feel it warming his insides and prickling at his skin. His stomach flipped, nervous and excited, and he wasn’t sure exactly why until he noticed just how close he and Derek were. Lydia’s words came flooding back to him, and he wanted to deny it. He wanted to deny any form of attraction to Derek freaking Hale, but the guy was standing there in front of him... taking away his pain.
He opened his mouth to say something but closed it again when he realised he didn’t have the first clue what it was he wanted to say. ‘Thank you for saving me’, didn’t seem enough and ‘I think I’m attracted to you’ just seemed like a sure way to get shot down. But Derek was looking at him with those eyes, the same ones Stiles remembered seeing back in the warehouse.
“I should go,” Derek began, his gaze dropping away from Stiles and down toward the floor instead, his hand beginning to pull away from Stiles.
Stiles gripped him though, wrapping a hand around Derek’s lower arm and keeping him where he was. “You’re injured... Deaton should...”
“I’ll heal,” Derek interrupted, but for the longest breath, he didn’t make another attempt to pull away and during that whole time, Stiles couldn’t help the way his eyes flickered to Derek’s lips before searching his gaze once more.
He swallowed then licked his own lips and that was when Derek did pull away. He was gone before Stiles remembered how to talk, and barely a moment after, Scott emerged from out back, looking more than a little sheepish.
Neither of them said anything at first, silence settling in for a brief breath. Then Scott broke it.
“Stiles...” he breathed out, not quite pity, but not far from it.
It would be useless to lie. Still, it didn’t mean Stiles wasn’t tempted to do just that. Instead though, he set his jaw and stood up straight, his feet already moving forward.
“Just... give me a moment,” he told Scott, and then he was out the door, because hey – he had been kidnapped by wolves and forced to fight for his life. He had been infected with mutated werewolf venom, and had also survived a dose of wolfsbane courtesy of Peter Hale. His best friend was a freaking werewolf, and Stiles was attracted to nutjobs with communication issues... He hadn’t given up with Lydia, and he would be damned if he was about to give up so quickly on this latest nutjob.
The breeze hit him as soon as he stepped out of the building and into the cold night air, but he ignored it and pushed onward anyway. His eyes searched the darkness but the shadows were empty and Derek was nowhere to be seen.
“You can’t hide from me forever!” Stiles called out, coming to a stop at the edge of the road, gaze still searching. “Pack, remember? Which means it’s only a matter of time before you have to face me!”
“What are you doing, Stiles?”
Stiles started, flailing a little at the sound of Derek’s voice behind him. Spinning around to face him, he opened his mouth but found he didn’t actually have an answer. He had no idea what he was doing. Maybe he was following Lydia’s advice, or maybe he was just making a fool of himself.
Derek raised an eyebrow, expectant and waiting.
“You...” Stiles started, before stalling once more, unsure what was supposed to come after that.
Bobbing his head, Derek’s face was perfectly unreadable – his mask so carefully put together that Stiles had no idea what the guy was thinking. It made this whole thing even harder. At least when there was anger, Stiles normally found enough of his own to fight back.
“What was that?” Stiles demanded, motioning the vets with his hands. “Back there... what was that?”
Derek’s jaw stiffened ever so slightly, but Stiles caught it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“It’s a full moon, buddy – so I know all about how your senses are heightened. My best friend’s a werewolf... So don’t tell me you didn’t notice.”
“Notice what, Stiles?” And there was the anger, that slight hint of irritation that Derek always reserved especially for Stiles.
“Me,” Stiles answered, “liking you...”
Derek scoffed and shook his head. “You’re not attracted to me. You’re attracted to the wolf.”
“Nope,” Stiles answered, strong and persistent. “I’m pretty sure it’s you.”
“You hate me.”
“Most days, yes... and you hate me too, so that makes us even.”
Derek let go of a huff of air, looking anywhere but at Stiles. “Whatever it is you’re after, it can’t happen... You can’t... We can’t...”
Stiles took a step forward, defiant. “Why not?”
“You could have died tonight, Stiles!” Derek took a step forward too, grabbing Stiles’ arm and raising it up for him to see the bandage wrapped around it, covering up the bite mark. “You’re not a wolf. You don’t heal like we do.”
But Stiles was undeterred. “I don’t care.”
And that was it, right out there like that. It silenced them both, stilled them. Derek’s gaze fell, guilty, as if he had been caught saying something he wasn’t supposed to... a secret that Stiles was never meant to know. And maybe that was exactly it.
“You care...” Stiles breathed out, almost unsure of the words.
Derek gritted his teeth and rolled his head away, frustration clear. “You don’t get it... Everyone I care about... they either die, or they end up betraying me. Either way, they always leave.”
Stiles let go of a light snort. “I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m kind of like a bad cold. Scott’s been trying to shake me off since we were kids... look how much good that’s done him.”
But Derek wasn’t giving in, turning his gaze on Stiles, pleading. “You could die.”
“Yeah, I could.” Because it was always possibility. In fact, it was a definite. One day, he was going to die and he had no control over that. “But, you know what? This is my life... Full moons, werewolves, hunters, kanimas... I couldn’t get out even if I wanted to. Someone’s got to watch that idiot’s back in there.” He motioned toward the vet’s as he spoke before bringing his arm back down to his side.
Derek said nothing, his gaze only falling to the floor.
“I’m not asking for your hand in marriage here, Derek... Hell, I don’t even know what I’m asking. I just... there’s something here. Between us. Just, tell me if I’m right...”
But again, Derek said nothing.
“Or tell me I’m wrong and I’ll leave you alone.”
At that, Derek hung his head, his silence so deafening that Stiles felt tempted to clamp his hands over his ears to keep himself from hearing it. It was answer enough for Stiles. It said all that needed to be said.
Swallowing hard, Stiles nodded, understanding. “Right... Of course. I should... I should go help Scott.”
He righted himself, stepping away from Derek and turning to walk past him. The cold in the air brushed over his skin, biting at it and causing his teeth to chatter, but he ignored it. He ignored how opposite it was to the warmth he had felt rising inside of him when Derek had stood close. And he pushed on.
He barely made it a foot before he felt a hand wrap around his upper arm, stopping him in his tracks. Looking back, he met Derek’s gaze, trying to figure out what was written there. Derek’s touch was warm and his grip was firm. He looked so unsure, so lost. Nothing at all like the big bad Alpha Stiles was used to seeing, nothing like the mask Derek usually wore.
“Yes...” Derek forced out, the word so quiet that Stiles almost never heard it.
“Yes, what?” For a moment, fear spiked in Stiles’ chest, a painful ache settling in. Yes, he was wrong? Yes, Derek wanted Stiles to leave him alone?
But then Derek was pulling him closer, pressing himself into Stiles and wrapping his arms around him, becoming a shield against the cold air, warming Stiles through. Even his breath was hot against Stiles’ ear as he spoke. “Yes, there’s something there.”
When Stiles swallowed this time, it was for a completely different reason. “You’re hugging me...” was all he found he could say, his mind blank, too shocked by Derek’s closeness to think.
Derek snorted and held on a little tighter. “You’re cold.”
“I should be cold more often...”
Derek just hummed in response, so Stiles closed his eyes, a flicker of a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
“You know,” he murmured, “my lips are cold too... freezing actually. In fact, they’ve never been mo-”
He didn’t expect anything, which was why it took him by surprise when Derek’s mouth pressed against his. Gentle, a brief caress before becoming something more... firmer, more sure. Stiles answered it with a sense of desperation, pushing back and working with Derek’s lips. A tingle played across his skin, like the sensation of pins and needles, slowly spreading out to race down his back and then further outward still, across the skin over his arms and down to his fingertips until he found himself gripping at Derek’s shirt, holding on with everything he had.
All other thoughts disappeared with that kiss, the world fading into the background more and more the longer it continued. Stiles’ mind was foggy, everything muddled up, but unlike before, the sensation didn’t worry Stiles. It didn’t feel unnatural or wrong. If anything, it felt safe. Derek felt safe.
Then they broke away and Stiles was left still feeling a little fuzzy. He had the feeling that if Derek were to release him now, he would drop straight to the ground. But Derek didn’t release him. He just rested his forehead against Stiles’ and shared his breathing space.
“I don’t know what this is,” Stiles murmured into the air between them, “but I kind of like it.”
“You’re an idiot,” Derek murmured right back, but there was a tone of fondness there.
“Yeah, and you’re the idiot who kissed this idiot.” He couldn’t help the smile that slipped onto his face, and he could practically hear Derek rolling his eyes.
And Stiles could accept that. He could totally accept that, because now Derek had the perfect way to shut him up, so who was Stiles to complain? It gave him a glimmer of light amongst the shadows, something to hold onto, and Stiles needed that. He hadn’t known how much he needed it until that moment.
Derek guided Stiles back into the vets when he felt another shiver ripple through the teen. Exhaustion was settling in, he could tell with each sluggish step Stiles took and each yawn that stole away Stiles’ words as he tried to insist that he was fine. By the time Derek parked Stiles down on one of the chairs in the waiting room, Stiles’ eyes were already beginning to flutter closed, and by the time dawn came around, the kid was gone completely.
Derek listened idly to the others talking and was only half aware of them spilling out into the waiting room and of Deaton picking up the phone and holding a somewhat short conversation with who Derek could assume was the sheriff’s department. His attention was too focused on Stiles leaning against him, head on Derek’s shoulder and mouth hanging open ever so slightly.
“Well, it’s done,” Deaton said, placing the phone back down on the hook. “They’ll be on their way anytime now, so you should all make yourselves scarce before they appear.”
Letting go of a sigh, Derek began to extract his shoulder from beneath Stiles whilst trying not to wake him. It took a moment, but he managed it and lay Stiles down across the chairs as he righted himself, working out the stiffened muscles in his back and neck. When he was done, he looked back to Deaton and studied the man.
“Will he make it?” he asked, speaking to the vet for the first time since Derek had arrived there. He didn’t clarify who he meant, but he knew Deaton would know he was talking about the other teen.
“He wasn’t as lucky as Stiles, but if he’s strong, then yes, I see no reason why not.”
Derek bobbed his head in response, slow and cautious as the words sunk in, his gaze moving back to Stiles. He could feel Scott moving to his side, could hear the uncertainty in the young Beta’s heartbeat, and Derek knew exactly why.
“I’ll take him home,” he answered the unasked question, already dipping to take Stiles in his arms.
It was when he reached the doorway that Scott finally spoke up, and Derek turned to look to him. “Derek... take care of him. He needs someone to do that...”
Derek just offered up a brief smile in reply before moving off again.
When he arrived at the Stilinski house, it was just as the Sheriff was opening the front door, half a pancake between his teeth as he pulled on his jacket at the same time. He paused immediately at the sight of Derek, hand moving up slowly to pull the pancake from his mouth.
“What in the blazing hell?” Stilinski questioned once it seemed he was over the initial shock, his eyes flicking back and forth between Derek and Stiles still sleeping in his arms – wrapped up in a blanket from Deaton.
“He’s fine,” Derek answered immediately. “He just needs to rest...”
Stilinski mulled over the words for a moment and Derek wondered if the man was considering dropping his half eaten pancake in favour of grabbing his gun instead. But he didn’t, he just stiffened, jaw tightening as his eyes locked on Derek, determined and unwavering.
“I got a call from the station,” he started, slow and careful, in a manner that told Derek the man was piecing things together. “They received an anonymous tip during the early hours about one of the missing teens... then they tell me that our local vet just called telling them he’s found the other one. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”
Derek shook his head, forcing his face to remain blank. “No, sir.”
Stilinski seemed to consider that for a moment before offering up a curt nod, his eyes letting on that he wasn’t fooled for a moment. “Good,” he said, terse, “let’s keep it that way.”
Derek said nothing in reply, just nodded in agreement and waited for Stilinski to continue on, waited for him to ask more about what had happened or demand that Derek hand Stiles over and flee as fast as he could. But the sheriff did neither of those things, he just stared Derek down, his gaze softening only ever so slightly, then finally, he spoke.
“Do we need to talk?” he asked, the warning evident in the tone.
Shaking his head, Derek made sure to keep Stilinski’s gaze, refusing to look guilty under the scrutiny. “No, sir.”
Stilinski shifted, looking down to Stiles for a long moment before returning his attention to Derek. “If I find out...”
“I would never hurt him,” Derek interrupted before the man could continue, conviction in his words.
“Good,” Stilinski answered once more before pushing the door open once more and stepping to the side.
Derek took that as an invite to enter and he moved forward, sidestepping the sheriff and crossing over the threshold and into the house. Before he could make it any further though, Stilinski was speaking again.
“I probably won’t be home until after lunch, so make sure he eats something...” There was reluctance in the sheriff’s eyes and hesitation in the way he went to close the door, but there was something else there too, which under any other circumstances, Derek thought may have been acceptance.
“I will,” Derek answered, and after another moment, the sheriff was gone and Derek was moving toward the stairs and beginning the climb up to the second floor.
“I think he likes you,” Stiles murmured sleepily against Derek’s chest, and Derek looked down to see a small smile on the teen’s lips.
“I think he wants to shoot me,” Derek offered up with a snort, pushing open the door to Stiles’ room before moving in.
“It’s the surly face,” Stiles retorted, but his words were lost as another yawn took hold.
Derek fought the temptation to roll his eyes, laying Stiles down on his bed and moving to pull the teen’s sneakers off. “Shut up and sleep,” he ordered.
Sneakers gone, Stiles pulled himself under the covers and pushed himself over to one side of the bed, leaving enough room on the opposite side for another person. Derek eyed it with caution before Stiles forced one eye open and looked to him.
“Even werewolves need sleep, right?” he questioned, eye closing once more, his lip hitching up a little in the corner. “C’mon, dude... I swear I won’t bite.”
Derek did roll his eyes at that, letting go of a low growl of frustration. But he dropped down onto the bed all the same, and pulled his boots off, letting them land with a thump on the floor. It took him another moment to lay himself down on top of the covers, facing Stiles, wondering the whole while why it didn’t feel as uncomfortable as it should have done?
“Go to sleep,” Stiles told him without opening his eyes, a knowing but sleepy smile falling into place.
Derek grunted but closed his eyes. “That’s my line.”
“Mmmhmm,” Stiles hummed at him in mock agreement, but he said no more and Derek could already hear the way his heart began to slow, along with his breathing, sleep claiming him.
Opening his eyes briefly, Derek looked over him, taking in the peacefulness on Stiles’ face and the contented smile that still tugged at his lips. He drank it in, allowing the peacefulness to spread throughout him too. Maybe it wasn’t so bad, letting someone in after all this time... and maybe it wasn’t so bad that that someone was Stiles. At least Derek knew, with Stiles there, within his reach, he was safe. No one could take him away if Derek refused to let him go...
Derek just had to make sure to keep holding on tight.
He could do that.
He would do that.
He would hold Stiles close, and maybe along the way, they would figure out just what this was...
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING!