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we are shining (and we’ll never be afraid again)

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“Was it Gerard?” Derek asks, nodding towards the side of Stiles’ face. Stiles’ hand flies up to cover it, as if that can somehow make Derek un-see. 

“Does it matter?” Stiles asks, a tiny shrug of the shoulders, as if his own well-being really doesn’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. Derek can’t begin to process how wrong that is. 

‘I need to know who to kill,’ are the words Derek isn’t saying as Stiles turns away, towards the puddle of blood on the floor – Gerard’s blood. 

Derek wants to say more, wants to take away Stiles’ bruises, wants to know every last thing that happened so he can plot some serious revenge. But everyone is there – licking their wounds, celebrating their victories, trying to process their defeats. And Jackson is standing there, butt naked, and now part of his pack. And everyone is looking at Derek like he knows what to do next. 

So no, he can’t indulge in whatever it is that he feels for Stiles right now. He just can’t. 

***

A few days pass and it feels like the calm before the storm. Scott has been avoiding Derek – and with Scott, Stiles. Isaac hasn’t left his side for more than a few hours, and – annoyingly enough – neither has Peter. Erica and Boyd are still gone. And Jackson… well, Derek has tried to teach him stuff. But Jackson is stubborn and thinks he knows everything and can do everything by himself. It pisses Derek off to no end, but it’s not like those feelings are completely foreign to himself, so he gives Jackson time and space. Isaac assures him that Jackson will come around, and Derek wonders when Isaac became the closest thing to family as he can get. 

The scrapes on Stiles’ face have faded – it’s the first thing Derek notices when he finds himself standing on the Stilinski’s doorstep – but the anger bubbling up inside of Derek hasn’t. 

“We haven’t found Gerard’s body,” Derek tells Stiles by way of introduction. 

Stiles nods slowly, looking over his shoulder inside the house, before stepping out and closing the door. It’s obvious that Stiles’ father is inside. 

“That’s not good,” Stiles says, leading Derek a little bit further from the front door. 

“Not sure how long he’ll be able to survive though,” Derek says. 

“Right,” Stiles nods again, shoving his hands deep in his pockets. 

There’s an awkward silence, in which Derek can’t help but stare at Stiles’ cheek and lip, like if he looks hard enough, he can still see the blood. 

“Dude,” Stiles says, frowning at him. 

“Sorry,” Derek mutters, quickly turning his gaze at the ground. 

“Why are you here?” Stiles asks, and Derek clenches his jaw and pretends he doesn’t feel rejection. 

“There’s an Alpha-pack,” Derek says, getting down to business. 

“Wait, what?” Stiles frowns like he hasn’t heard right. 

“An Alpha-pack,” Derek repeats pointedly, “A pack of Alphas? They’re here. I don’t know what they want yet. I just thought Scott should know.” 

“And I’m the messenger,” Stiles states, put-upon. 

“I’m not exactly Scott’s favorite person, I think,” Derek says, huffing slightly. 

“And you’re mine?” Stiles snaps, and it feels like a punch to the gut to Derek. 

“Just let him know, alright?” Derek says, a little too loud, as he turns away and towards his car. 

“Yeah, sure!” Stiles shouts, “Whatever you guys need me to do, right? I’m a good tool when it comes right down to it anyway. I’m a good  message .” 

And when Derek’s head snaps around, Stiles’ hand flies instinctively towards his cheek, and Derek knows… beating up Stiles was a message. A message to Scott, most likely, but Derek hears it loud and clear. Can feel it rise up inside of him, and he has to  fight  to keep his claws and fangs at bay. The growl is impossible to keep in, however, and before he knows it he’s right up in Stiles’ space, his hand mere inches away from Stiles’ face, but not daring to touch. Stiles flinches but Derek simply cannot help himself.

His breathing is loud, and his voice sounds harsh when he says, “You should never have gotten mixed up in this.” 

“Because I’m weak, right?” Stiles says, and Derek can hear the self-loathing in his voice. “Because I can’t do anything right.” 

Derek shakes his head, takes a step back as he tries to regain control of himself.

“No…” Derek says, swallowing hard. “Because you are  our  weakness.” 

He leaves Stiles standing there, unable to look any longer at the hurt in his eyes. 

***

He has no idea how Stiles managed to find him –  ‘can’t do anything right’, my ass , Derek thinks – but here he is, letting himself into the abandoned loft they’re currently squatting. 

Isaac looks from Stiles to Derek, then at Peter when he grabs him by the arm. 

“Come on, we need to go for a walk,” Isaac says, leading Peter towards the door as Stiles stands there, awkwardly. 

“You realize we’re not actual dogs, right?” Peter mouths off, but lets himself get escorted out anyway. 

Stiles watches as they leave, waits until the door closes before he asks, “You haven’t forgotten the part where he tried to kill us all, right?” 

Derek sighs, tries to think of a way to explain why he even keeps Peter near, but fails. He settles for, “He’s not going to hurt Isaac.” 

Stiles nods, like it’s an acceptable answer somehow, then just lets himself fall down on the couch, spreading his arms over the back like he’s making himself comfortable, like Derek’s going to offer some drinks and Cheetos any time now. 

“You know you are really annoying, right?” Stiles says after a moment of silence, and Derek breathes away the rise of anger in his chest. 

“’cause, for the most part I think you really hate us,” Stiles goes on, not even waiting for Derek to interrupt. He leans forward, elbows on his knees. “Me and Scott. But you kind of need Scott, so you’re half-nice to him occasionally. Me? I’m just collateral damage, and I’m the easy target, so it’s not like I don’t understand why you hate having me around. But I just want to make it very clear that it’s not my  fault  that I’m only human, and I never asked for Scott to be turned. It was  your  crazy uncle that dragged us into this, and  you  wanting Scott for your pack, and I’m really sick and tired of being the punching bag and then being blamed for being one as well.” 

“Where do you even get this?” Derek snaps, ‘cause seriously? How can Stiles get this so wrong? 

“I’m the weakest link, right?” Stiles says, his face hard and closed-off, and not like anything Derek ever wants to see again. 

“That’s not even remotely what I said!” Derek says, frustrated.

“But you…” Stiles starts, but Derek cuts him off. 

“How could you be my weak spot if I hated you?” 

Stiles opens his mouth, but snaps it shut again, jaw clenched as he mulls this over. 

“I’d just let you die and we’d be done with you,” Derek mumbles, fingernails digging in his palms. 

“So why don’t you?” Stiles asks. 

“You’re not stupid, Stiles,” Derek says with a huff. “You don’t need me to spell it out for you.” 

“Yeah, you know, it might help me understand if you were actually  nice  to me every once in a while,” Stiles says, and Derek can feel the annoyance build up inside him, can feel it radiate off him. Can feel the exact moment where Stiles gets what Derek is saying. 

“I don’t do nice,” Derek just says, even if it does make him sound like the biggest douchebag around. 

“Yeah, well…” Stiles says as he heads for the door. “You’re gonna have to if you actually wanna get somewhere…” 

And Derek knows it’s generic enough to mean anything, but he  knows  what Stiles means, what Stiles is implying. 

He lets him walk out the door anyway. 

***

The thing is, Derek isn’t sure he  wants  to get somewhere with Stiles. He isn’t sure he’s ready to take that risk. To expose Stiles even more to the dangers of everyone out there that wants to kill Derek. And if he’s quite honest, to expose himself to the dangers of opening up his heart again, of letting someone in. 

But it’s too late for Stiles to change allegiance, not that he’d ever want to anyway. Derek knows that there’s something inside of Stiles that makes him protect everyone else first, regardless of his own safety. 

Derek wishes he could say the same thing about himself. Wishes he was  good , and not just looking out for his own survival. He wonders if maybe he feels the way he does about Stiles because Stiles just might be the better man. And maybe, just maybe… Stiles could make Derek a better man too? 

And despite not being sure about wanting to get somewhere with Stiles, he’s standing here at the Stilinski house again. He figures ringing the doorbell is nicer than sneaking in through the bedroom window, but somehow he hadn’t really counted on Sheriff Stilinski being the one to open the door. 

“Derek Hale…” Sheriff Stilinski says warily, and it’s not like Derek doesn’t know why. 

“Uhm…” Derek hesitates, wondering if it’s too late to run. 

Sheriff Stilinski crosses his arms in front of his chest, waits for Derek to speak. 

“Hi,” Derek finally says, “Is uh… Stiles here?”

“Yeah,” Sheriff Stilinski says, looking over his shoulder inside the house, “I think he’s just about to go out to the park for some lacrosse with Scott.” 

“Scott just canceled,” Stiles mumbles from somewhere inside the house, then comes to stand beside his father. 

“It’s okay, Dad,” Stiles tells him, a hand on his shoulder as his father takes one last look at Derek and steps inside. 

“I could fill in for Scott,” Derek says. 

“You play lacrosse?” Stiles asks, his hands twisting around the lacrosse stick he’s holding. 

“I uhm…” Derek shrugs. “I can wing it?” 

Stiles genuinely smiles.

“Is this you being nice?” Stiles asks, and it doesn’t sound hostile. 

“It’s a start, right?” Derek says, a nervous smile escaping him. 

“I guess it is,” Stiles says, nodding. “Let me grab you a stick and we’re good to go.” 

Stiles disappears into the house again, and Derek lets out a breath of relief. 

***

“You know, I seriously would’ve thought a werewolf would be better at this,” Stiles laughs, catching the ball easily into the net. 

Derek grumbles, but there’s no heat behind it, because he knows he’s sucking big time but it’s making Stiles smile. 

“Or are you deliberately slacking because you think that’s a nice thing to do?” Stiles asks, throwing the ball back. 

Derek catches it with his hand instead of the net, and it makes Stiles laugh again. 

“Do you really think I’d do that?” Derek asks, quirking an eyebrow. 

“Honestly?” Stiles scrunches up his face. “I haven’t got a clue. For all I know you’re some kind of shapeshifter taking on the form of Derek with the way you’re acting today.” 

Derek smiles and shrugs, like he’s going to keep Stiles guessing. Then he swings the ball back at Stiles, maybe a little too forceful and… it lands right on Stiles’ sternum and Stiles doubles over with a pained grunt. 

Seeing Stiles go down, Derek rushes over to him straight away, calling out his name. His hands land on Stiles’ upper arms, trying to keep him up, but Stiles takes a deep breath, swatting Derek’s hands off him. 

“It’s okay…” Stiles mumbles, but Derek can hear the strain in his voice, can hear the rapid beat of Stiles’ heart, can  sense  his pain. 

“I didn’t…” Derek starts, eyes roaming over Stiles’ shirt, as if he can somehow look through it. “I didn’t think it was that hard…” 

“It wasn’t,” Stiles says with a grunt, letting himself fall down on his ass. 

Stiles breathes in sharply through his nose before carefully lifting the edge of his shirt up, revealing purple and brown bruises covering his chest and stomach, barely fading. There’s scraped skin near his side, the edges pink – newly healed. 

Derek breathes in sharply, his eyes flaring red as he jerks his fingers – claws piercing through – away from Stiles’ body. 

“The real Derek it is then,” Stiles tries to joke, but Derek cuts him off with a stern look. 

“My face healed more quickly,” Stiles shrugs, like it’s no big deal. Like he didn’t almost get killed fighting someone else’s war. And Derek swears that if he ever finds Gerard, he’ll make sure there’s no doubt as to whether he is dead or alive. 

“Sounds good to me…” Stiles mutters, and Derek’s eyes fly up to meet Stiles’ gaze and yeah, he did say that out loud. 

“He deserves it for doing this…” Derek says, now-blunt fingertips ghosting over Stiles’ chest. 

“He’s done worse to other people,” Stiles tries to rationalize, but right now Derek can’t seem to care about all the other things Gerard has done. It’s for  this  he will pay. For kidnapping Stiles. For breaking Stiles’ skin. For bruising Stiles’ body. And his spirit. And he knows that he’ll have no problem letting the wolf take over if he ever gets his hands on Gerard. 

“Doesn’t matter,” Derek finally says, still crouching in front of Stiles, eyes still fixed on the colored skin of Stiles’ chest and stomach. “He did this to you.” 

“You’re serious, aren’t you?” Stiles asks, like he can’t quite hide the amazement in his voice. “You would kill him just for this.”

Derek looks up, into Stiles’ eyes, as he finally sits down on the grass. 

“Does that scare you?” Derek asks, uncommonly soft. 

“It probably should…” Stiles answers, but the tone of his voice is enough to make it clear to Derek that it doesn’t. 

“It sort of makes me feel safe,” Stiles says, and it hits Derek like a bullet to the chest just how much Stiles needs that. Needs to feel safe. Needs to know that there are other people out there that are looking out for him too. That need him to be safe. That need him. 

Derek can’t say it’s a conscious decision, but he’s finding himself brushing his lips against Stiles’. There is no hesitation as Stiles kisses back, moving his lips slowly and purposely over Derek’s. 

Derek’s fingertips are soft over the skin of Stiles’ side, as his shirt slides down over his fingers. Stiles’ hand comes up to meet Derek’s jaw, brushing against the stubble. Derek pushes himself up on his knees, to get closer to Stiles. He tilts his head, deepening the kiss, curled over Stiles now, but Stiles doesn’t seem to care as he takes Derek’s face between his two palms now and  groans  into the kiss. It sends a shiver down Derek’s spine, fills him with need and want and… a feeling that Derek rarely lets himself experience anymore, but he just can’t seem to be able to ignore it in this moment. 

Stiles breaks away, dropping another quick peck on Derek’s lips before pulling back and taking a deep breath. 

“That certainly was… nice,” Stiles’ face breaks open in a grin, his hands still petting down the sides of Derek’s face. 

“I guess I  do  do nice every once in a while,” Derek says, smiling. 

“For me?” Stiles asks, the grin still fixed in place. 

“You should feel privileged,” Derek smirks, leaning in for another quick kiss. 

“Ridiculously privileged,” Stiles smiles, pulling him down in an embrace. Derek buries his nose against Stiles’ neck and sniffles in, filling his lungs with something that can only be defined as  Stiles

***

The walk back to Stiles’ house is relatively quiet but comfortable. Derek’s carrying both lacrosse sticks, despite Stiles’ protests that he really isn’t hurt that badly that he can’t carry his own stick. And every now and then, Derek brushes the back of his fingers against Stiles’ hand, until Stiles reaches over and takes his hand in his for a second and squeezes. He lets go just as quickly, but Derek doesn’t mind. The touch lingers on his hand. 

“So…” Derek says after a while, sneaking a look at Stiles as they walk back, almost shoulder to shoulder. “How scared should I be of your father?” 

Stiles snorts, and he is way too amused as he says, “Derek Hale? Scared of something?” 

“He’s the sheriff, and can pretty much make anything look like an accident, so… you know,” Derek says. 

“You’re a walking cliché, you know that, right?” Stiles laughs. 

“A little apprehension might be in order when dating the underage son of the town sheriff,” Derek says firmly. 

Stiles ducks his head, and when he finally turns to look at Derek, Derek could swear he was blushing. 

“Dating, huh?” Stiles says, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth. 

Derek comes to a halt, waits for Stiles to face him. 

“I thought that… I mean, I thought…” he says, suddenly uneasy at his own assumptions. 

But then Stiles’ face cracks open in a huge smile, and he’s leaning forward and kissing Derek fondly, hand curled in Derek’s shirt. Derek barely has time to return the kiss when Stiles pulls away again, still smiling, smoothing the wrinkles out of the fabric over Derek’s chest. He continues walking, looking over his shoulder to see if Derek’s following. Derek is beside him in a second. 

“Glad that’s settled then,” Derek says, and damn, he’s trying hard not to be smug, but he fears he’s failing spectacularly. 

“So maybe we should just wait until my Dad’s okay with it before you go breaking any laws?” Stiles shrugs, and Derek knows exactly which laws Stiles is talking about, and the thought alone is enough to make him  want

“Yeah,” Derek says, but it comes out like a low grumble, and he’s fixing Stiles’ gaze with his eyes. 

“Or…” Stiles gulps, looking Derek up and down almost nervously. “We just get really good at sneaking around?”

***

“This is not waiting,” Derek mutters between kisses, as Stiles pulls him inside the house, pushing him against the front door. 

“Mmm.” Stiles makes a cut-off sound, continuing to lick his way into Derek’s mouth. 

“Are you insane?” Derek asks hushed, breaking away from the kiss to look around the house – even though he can tell Stiles’ Dad isn’t home. 

“Relax,” Stiles laughs, “My Dad left for work over an hour ago. Besides, you’re gonna hear him coming a mile away. The perks of having a werewolf boyfriend, right?”

“He’s gonna kill me…” Derek mutters, but dives back into the kiss. 

He twists them around, Stiles’ back firmly against the wall as he plasters his body against him. He can feel Stiles’ hard-on pressing against his thigh, radiating heat. 

“I should probably warn you…” Stiles mumbles between kisses, and Derek lets his hands slip underneath Stiles’ shirt, fingers sliding carefully over the bruised skin. 

It’s only when Derek’s mouth latches onto the skin of Stiles’ neck that he realizes that Stiles never actually finished his thought. He pulls away, looks at Stiles’ kiss-swollen lips, and waits for Stiles to continue. 

“I uhm…” Stiles starts, fingers fidgeting with the hem of Derek’s shirt. “This is all kinda new to me…” 

Derek can see a slight blush on Stiles’ cheeks, despite the fact that he ducks his head. 

“We can wait,” Derek says, even as his dick twitches impatiently in his pants, but fuck if he’s going to abuse Stiles’ body any more than it’s already been. 

“No,” Stiles says quickly, pulling Derek closer to him, as if on impulse. “I just mean…” 

Stiles lets out a shuddering breath, his hips making tiny circles against Derek’s. He swallows hard and rushes out, “I’m probably gonna come in two seconds flat and it’s going to be horribly embarrassing.”

And Derek doesn’t mean to laugh, he really doesn’t, but it’s fondness and relief and… happiness flooding his system because Stiles is pressed up against him, and Stiles  wants  this – wants  him  so badly he knows he’s not going to be able to last long. 

“Ass,” Stiles says at Derek’s involuntary laugh, but he’s smiling too and burying his face in the crook of Derek’s neck. 

“Don’t worry about it,” Derek says, sliding his hands underneath Stiles’ thighs and pulling him up, against the wall, Stiles’ legs curled around his waist. “Second time is always better anyway.” 

He doesn’t wait for a response from Stiles, just attacks his mouth with his own, capturing him in a searing kiss. Stiles tightens his legs around Derek, his cock pressing against Derek’s stomach through layers of fabric, while Derek is grinding his hips down, creating friction against the curve of Stiles’ ass. 

Stiles wriggles underneath Derek’s body, arms around his neck, fingers messing up his hair, all the while making longing whimpering sounds that drive Derek close to the edge. 

“Don’t think you’ll be the only one,” Derek whispers against Stiles’ temple, thrusting down harder and faster, feeling his balls tighten. 

“That’s so hot,” Stiles mumbles, nuzzling the side of Derek’s neck, and Derek is sure Stiles didn’t mean to actually say that, but his mouth seems to have lost its filter – if it ever actually had one – ‘cause Stiles is pulling Derek closer, even though there’s no closer to get, and is mumbling a stream of nothings in his ear. 

“Oh God.  Fuck.  Derek.  Derek .” 

Derek bites his lip, grunting as he’s pushing Stiles against the wall with each thrust, faster and harder until he can feel Stiles shudder against him, a broken off sob escaping from his mouth. Stiles sort of sags bonelessly against Derek, his breathing wild, his heart rate all over the place, and the scent of come reaches Derek’s nose.

“Was that even two seconds?” Stiles sort of slurs, but Derek grinds his hips down and comes – long and hard. 

Derek’s eyes are closed, Stiles’ body still wrapped around his, breath puffing against his neck. 

“This is so much better with two…” Stiles mumbles, dropping tiny kisses against Derek’s skin. 

Derek lets out a huffed laugh, his arms still firmly wrapped around Stiles as he untangles his legs from Derek’s waist. He isn’t going far though, still clinging his arms around Derek’s neck, nuzzling his face against Derek. 

“Depends who it’s with,” Derek whispers, basking in the warm glow Stiles is radiating. 

“Yeah?” Stiles asks, finally pulling his face away from Derek’s skin far enough so he can look at him. 

“Yeah,” Derek smiles fondly. 

“You must be good for me then,” Stiles smiles, before locking his lips with Derek’s. 

And Derek can’t help but wonder if he really will be as good for Stiles as Stiles thinks. As good as Stiles is for him. But it seems like a moot point somehow, as they’re clinging on to each other, coming down from their high. And Derek can’t help but notice that Stiles is looking a bit more like himself again. A bit more healed on the inside, even if his body isn’t following quite as fast. And he hopes that maybe he has something to do with that. In any case, he takes a silent vow that he’ll do whatever it takes to protect Stiles from now on. He knows he won’t be able to keep him out of the line of fire all the time. But maybe he can jump in front of Stiles and take some of the blows for him. 

His fingers roam under Stiles’ shirt, over bruises and cuts. 

“You okay?” Derek asks, finding a clear spot on Stiles’ side to squeeze. 

“Better than I’ve felt in a long time,” Stiles admits, and Derek can see that it’s the truth in Stiles’ eyes and it almost makes him shiver. 

“I take it we’re going with the ‘sneaking around’ option then?” Derek smiles. 

“Yeah, I think we kinda blew the whole ‘waiting’ thing, don’t you?” Stiles tilts his head, a smile covering his face. 

“I think maybe we need a shower so we can blow other things,” Derek says, and he doesn’t mind when Stiles laughs at him. 

“Such a bad line,” Stiles chuckles as he takes Derek by the hand and leads him towards the stairs. 

“You’ll thank me for it later,” Derek mumbles, following Stiles swiftly. 

“Well, you did promise me something about a second time…”