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Stiles is on his back on hard-packed dirt. He's cold and there are leaves stuck to his neck and there's a four inch gash in his side that he thinks he can feel his ribs through. There's so much blood around him he feels like he's floating on a pond and everything is so much dimmer above him than it was a minute ago, which is saying something because he's in the dark center of the forest in the middle of the night. And the worst of it is that he's alone, totally alone with the smell of his own blood drowning him and the soft side of him run through by a tree.

He should be angry at Scott. He should be angry at Derek. Or Peter. He should be so angry, unbelievably angry -- at anyone really, anyone to blame this on. This being the fact that he's actually going to bleed to death on the ground in the forest with wet leaves stuck to his neck and mud splattered across the front of him. Or he should be angry at himself, furious, because he wanted to see a dead body. Because he dragged his best friend into the woods and he ended up a werewolf and Stiles ended up in constant mortal danger. But he's not angry, he's just tired and sad and maybe scared, but that part kind of feels like it's slipping away along with the light.

The worst part, he thinks, is that he wouldn't change any of it. That he'd make all the same decisions, that he'd run into the woods again and again.

As his eyes slip shut, the last thing he thinks is, "This is going to kill my dad."

---

The first thing Stiles thinks when his eyes open again is, "What?" He blinks a few times, staring into his dad's face and trying to understand what he's saying. "I'm so glad you're awake. Are you in some sort of relationship with Derek Hale?" Stiles understands the words, but the sentence doesn't make any more sense than it did the first time.

"I don't understand that sentence." Stiles tries to shake his head to clear it, but he regrets it immediately. Everything is spinning. "I'm in the hospital, right?"

"Yes and I'm very glad you're awake and alive and I'd hug you but you still have a massive healing wound in your side that I don't particularly want to upset." His dad pauses for just a second. "I'm not comfortable with you dating him."

"Dad, it's 2012, you can't be homophobic."

"I'm not and you know it." His dad rubs at his chin. "I'm not comfortable with you dating an adult who's had such serious issues with the law. With me. I'm the law." He shrugs a little. "Also, it's 2013."

Stiles feels his eyes go wide because, Jesus Christ, he's been out for weeks and that's not the first thing his dad mentions? "What?!"

"I'm just kidding. Answer the question."

"Jesus, can I have a minute? I just friggin' time traveled." Stiles loves his dad and he's really grateful to be alive and awake and all, but Christ. "I don't have any relationship with Derek? Except that sometimes we're in the same room. Or vehicle. Or forest, I guess. Are you asking me this right now because you think I'm too disoriented to lie?"

"Yes." Stiles watches his dad's face shift through phases -- confused to thoughtful to kind of constipated to confused and finally a loosely resigned exhaustion -- and he hates how much extra worry he's caused, how different he used to look, younger.

Stiles swallows, throat scratching. He's been asleep for days at least. His mouth tastes like sewage. "Is there a reason you're asking?"

"He brought you to the hospital -- carried you, I should specify -- and he's been here almost every day you've been out. Which was four, by the way. I'm curious, is all. Fatherly curiosity. Concern."

Stiles rubs his eyes, grimacing at the drag of crust around them. "This is disgusting. Can I shower? What day is it? What time is it?" Stiles moves to sit up and feels every ounce of energy he'd had a second ago drain out of him through the bandaged gash in his side. "Oh. This feels very bad." He presses his palm to it and the pressure causes a wave of nausea that feels like it comes from his feet. "I hate everything, oh god."

His dad puts his hand on Stiles' back and holds a kidney bean shaped dish in front of him. "It's mostly the morphine."

Stiles swallows hard and pushes the barf bowl away. "I'm going to not try to sit up again for a while. Maybe ever."

"I'm going out in the hall to check my messages. Melissa took my cell phone away from me because she said it was disturbing your rest. I'll be right back."

Stiles closes his eyes for a second and tries to focus on the heat radiating from the gash in his side. Being thrown really far by an Alpha sucked, but taking a ragged tree branch to the ribs was way, way worse. And stupid. Present and active in a fight with half a dozen werewolves and he gets taken out by a tree.

"You're healing fast."

Derek's voice is just startling enough to make Stiles jerk up, eyes popping open. The nausea hits him again and his head starts to spin. "I'm going to throw up. On you."

"Healing, but not feeling great."

"Apparently exposing your ribs to the elements has a really serious impact on your health."

"Showing up unarmed to a territorial pissing contest between werewolves can do that too."

"Oh man, is that literal? Do you mark your territory between training and brooding? That's so gross, man. I hang out in those woods."

If Stiles didn't know better, he'd say Derek almost laughed. "Trade secret. I could tell you, but then I'd have to disembowel you."

Stiles jazz hands a little. "Too late!" He regrets his enthusiasm immediately. "Thanks for not letting me die in the forest."

"I didn't think your dad would back off so easily if it was you dead out there."

"Wise." Stiles can't help the quirk at the edge of his mouth. "Have you been hanging out here while I was unconscious to further elude suspicion? Or does Derek Hale... dare I say it? Care?"

Derek responds with his usual blank stare and a half-shrug. "The pack's backed off. It might just be for now. I wanted you to know. Scott punched the Alpha in the face for throwing you into the tree."

"I guess that gives him another three months of best friend title." Stiles grunts and tries to shift in the bed. It hurts. "After that though, we are over. This is ultimately his fault and he should be punished for it."

"Is revoking your friendship really punishment?"

Stiles rolls his eyes. "You should try stand-up."

Stiles' dad comes through the door, eyes still on his phone. "I've got to head down to the station, but I'll call you when I get home and I'll be here in the morning, okay?" He almost walks into Derek. "Oh. Derek."

"Sheriff. I'll leave you two to it. Feel better, Stiles."

Stiles watches his dad reach out and grip Derek's shoulder. "I'm heading out. Why don't you keep Stiles company 'til visiting hours are over. I'm sure he'd appreciate it."

Stiles feels his eyes go uncontrollably wide. Even Derek's expression seems to flutter for a second before steeling again. "Sure. Happy to."

Stiles does not understand at all what is happening in front of him, but he's been awake for like twenty minutes, so he's not exactly on his game. His dad steps over and squeezes his shoulder. "I'm glad you're awake. You're looking better already. Make sure you get some sleep, so maybe they'll let you out of here tomorrow."

Stiles swallows against the lump in his throat and nods. "Thanks, Dad."

As soon as he's disappeared through the door, Stiles turns to Derek. "Feel better? Who are you?"

"I can't read him like I can most people. His heart's quiet."

"He has some issues with it. I'd have never imagined there'd ever be a reason to be grateful for that before."

Derek shifts his weight from foot to foot. It's almost imperceptible, but Stiles can see the way his muscles flex as he does it. It's shockingly human. "It's strong. You shouldn't worry."

"I'm not, like, totally comfortable with you making commentary on the fitness of my dad's heart, but thanks?"

Derek nods and falls quiet again, still shifting so slightly.

"Jesus, will you sit down?! You're making me nervous as hell. I'm injured! And nauseous." Stiles groans. "I'm sure having morphine is better than not having morphine, but my stomach really disagrees. I'm so nauseous."

Derek settles in the chair next to Stiles' bed and leans over toward him. He holds his hand out, palm up. "Give me your hand."

"My dad asked you to keep me company, not court me like a Jane Austen heroine."

Derek tilts his head and blinks slowly, pushing his hand closer to Stiles. Stiles stares stares at it for longer than Derek apparently appreciates and he barks out a loud "Stiles!"

"Okay, sorry, handholding, okay!" Stiles drops his hand tentatively into Derek's, their palms settling together. "This is so forward of you, Heathcliff!"

Derek closes his other hand over Stiles' and closes his eyes. "That's a Bronte, not Austen."

Stiles suddenly feels very warm and very sleepy. It's like the fire in his wound is glowing bright and rushing outward through his whole body, leveling out the pain. He looks down at Derek's arms and there are black streaks running up along the lines of his veins straight from Stiles' hand. "Are you ok--"

"Shut up, Stiles."

Stiles closes his eyes and lets Derek do his werewolf magic, whatever it is, lets himself sink into bed, warm and... safe? He feels really safe. And hungry. His stomach is calm and it's making him want to eat a cheeseburger. Or a steak. A really rare steak. Stiles grimaces. He doesn't like rare meat. "Are you rubbing werewolf magic on me?"

"Shut up, Stiles."

Stiles closes his eyes again and thinks about eating anything other than red meat. Spaghetti. Hawaiian pizza. Chocolate chip cookies and milk. But it's futile and he keeps ending up with a mostly raw steak between his canines.

When the pressure of Derek's hands on his finally disappears, he opens his eyes to Derek settling back in the chair looking a little paler and more tired than he did when Stiles closed his eyes. Stiles feels warm and loose and exhausted and happy. His hand is bright pink and he can feel the flush in his cheeks. "It's nauseated. I meant nauseated."

Derek's eyes are closed, his palms flat against his belly. "Hmm?"

"Nauseous means to cause nausea. I'm nauseated, not nauseous."

"I don't know, your incessant chatter kind of turns my stomach."

Stiles laughs. He can't help himself. He feels like he's on drugs, the good kind that make him happy and forgetful. "That's rude." Stiles turns toward Derek suddenly. "What did you do to me? Am I a wolf? Did you change me?"

Derek shakes his head. "Are you bleeding?"

Stiles does a quick check of his limbs. "No. Well, maybe a little, but that's a preexisting condition."

"I didn't change you. I just took some of the pain."

"Thanks." Stiles is only quiet for a beat. His head is foggy and he's kind of confused. "Wait, what? Are you hurt now?"

"No. Not really. It sort of feels like the end of a hangover actually, just for a few minutes. It's exhausting."

"You can take pain?"

"Yeah. I can't help you heal, but I thought it'd take the edge off the drugs."

"I think it made them stronger." Stiles holds his hand up. It's blurrier than it should be. He should definitely have someone check on that.

"It's euphoria. Draining the pain confuses your chemical processes. Your body still thinks it should be releasing a ton of chemicals for pain management, but there's actually not that much pain to manage. Plus you're on a pretty massive dose of morphine. I can smell it on you. You stink."

"You're so nice." Stiles grins. "Euphoria is so nice."

"Scott never told you he could do it?"

"Scott is an idiot."

Derek actually does smile then, Stiles is sure of it, and it's a nice smile, kind of soft and sleepy, and it lasts just long enough for Stiles to notice the shape of at least four of Derek's teeth. "You have nice teeth."

"You should sleep."

"They're so white. That seems counterintuitive to your lifestyle."

"I got an apartment. I keep a toothbrush there."

"You're almost talkative when you're tired."

"You're talkative even when you're half-dead. You mumbled the entire way to the hospital. Bleeding out on my favorite jacket and you wouldn't shut the hell up."

"Yeah?" Stiles has never heard Derek speak so many consecutive words before. He wasn't sure he had this big of a vocabulary. Or a favorite jacket. Stiles kind of figured there was just the one and a whole closet full of black t-shirts. "What'd I say?"

"You kept threatening to kick the tree's ass. And then you said you were going to carve your name into it, so it would remember you."

"At least you knew I wasn't dead yet?"

"I could hear your heart, I didn't need your mouth."

"That's weird. Your life is weird."

Derek shrugs, eyes still closed, body sunk into the chair. "All I've ever known."

Stiles freezes because those four words are the single most personal thing that Derek has revealed to him ever in the time he's known him. Derek is being nice and talking and he hasn't even threatened to hurt Stiles in the entire time he's been at the hospital. Stiles remembers what his dad said, that Derek had carried him all that way and been there almost every day. "You're nice."

"Are you being sarcastic?"

"No, but I am being charitable. It's the euphoria. But you carried me to the hospital and you waited here for me to wake up. And then you made it not hurt so much. You're nice. Thanks."

Derek waves him off. "Self-preservation is the ultimate motivator."

"That's just the wolf. Derek Hale is nice. You're probably a hugger deep down inside of that male-model-from-hell body. A big, giant hugger. I bet you like cartoons. I love cartoons."

Stiles watches Derek palm his forehead and presses his lips together. Stiles is amazed. That's practically animated for Derek. "Stiles?"

Stiles has just settled back into his pillows, arms tucked under the covers like he likes and his eyes slipping closed every time he thinks about keeping them open. "Yeah?"

"Shut up and go to sleep."

---

They don't let Stiles out of the hospital the next day, but the one after and if he thought he felt terrible when he was in the hospital with a morphine drip and catheter, he was so wrong because being home in bed with no catheter -- thank god -- and a Vicodin prescription that his dad is doling out with the exact tightfisted caution he'd expect is somehow so much worse.

First, he has to do homework and second, no one is there to bring him his meals on a little tray with jello for dessert, and third, he isn't on morphine anymore. He'd trade his slow groaning trek to the bathroom every two hours for the catheter easily and when he gives up trying to get to the kitchen less than ten feet from the stairs he misses Scott's mom so much he almost starts crying. He was wrong about everything before: this is the worst.

He's laying face down on his bed, half-dressed in basketball shorts and socks, exhausted from changing his bandages and starving. His dad had told him he'd come home at lunch to feed him and change the dressing, but Stiles had told him, "No, no, it's fine. I feel fine. I can manage." because Stiles couldn't stand the guilt of making him miss more work when he was finally back and settled in.

He smells Derek before he hears him and that's disturbing enough because he doesn't wear cologne, this is just Derek and Stiles doesn't understand why he recognizes it so easily. Regardless, it's nice to not be totally startled for once when Derek appears in his bedroom.

Stiles' face is still buried in the pillow, so his words are muffled. "It's really creepy that you can get in here so effortlessly."

"I wanted to check on you. Your dad didn't come home at lunch."

Stiles turns his head on the pillow to look at Derek. He's touching stuff on the desk and it makes Stiles nervous. "There's a lot I'd like to ask about why you know he was going to and how you always know stuff and why you are the creepiest of all creeps but I feel very bad right now and don't want to work that hard."

"Then shut up."

"I've seen you more than I've seen Scott. That's weird."

"Allison called. She's not coming back for a while still. He's sulking."

"I can't believe you're admitting to knowing that."

"We're having meetings. He broadcasts."

"The Alpha pack?"

Derek shrugs. "They haven't crossed any more lines. Erica and Boyd haven't asked for help. They're just circling."

Stiles rubs his head against his pillow. He's in a lot more pain than he really wants to address and the friction distracts him. "It'll be bad eventually." It's not a question.

"Eventually."

Derek settles in Stiles' desk chair, legs outstretched, half-spinning. Back and forth, back and forth. Stiles wants to throw up a little bit.

"You're sick." Derek leans forward a little. "You haven't eaten."

"I had a fight with the stairs. They won. Effortlessly."

Derek disappears into the house and Stiles settles his face back into his pillow. If Derek brings him food he's... going to be really surprised but also eat the hell out of it.

Derek's gone long enough that he has to shake Stiles awake, so gently it's kind of disarming. Stiles looks up into his face, eyes bleary. "Sit up, Stiles." Derek pauses. "Can you?"

Stiles starts to shift over, but gives up immediately. "It does not feel like it, no."

Derek sets something down on Stiles' bedside, then his hands are closing on Stiles' sides, guiding him and lifting and then suddenly Stiles' is settled against his pillows with a mug of soup in his hand and he already feels so much better he can't believe it.

Derek's back at Stiles' desk, flipping through papers and generally harassing Stiles' stuff and it's making him kind of nervous because there might be secret stuff or embarrassing stuff or Derek might turn on the computer and Stiles is pretty sure the last thing he had open was porn and maybe he and Derek are almost friends now, but there are some things that are just private. But he also has warm tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich because apparently Derek is actually the best.

"You did werewolf stuff. You pain drained me, didn't you?"

"Just a little, so you could eat."

"It makes me very fuzzy."

"I know, I keep hoping it'll shut you up."

"Keep hope alive."

Derek laughs -- actually laughs! -- a tiny little low sound in his throat, but Stiles recognizes it for what it is and it's weirdly... It makes him happy? And it's probably because Derek did werewolf-y mojo on him, but it's still nice to think about something other than how much the giant hole in his side hurts. "It's okay to laugh," Stiles says without really meaning to. "I mean. Laughs are good. In general. Laughter is acceptable. And healthy."

Derek picks up the stack of printouts Stiles had been marking up the night he got hurt, untouched since. "Eat, Stiles."

"You should develop more variety in your speech patterns. Or, wait, are commands a thing you do because you're an Alpha? That's weird. It's like natural to you?"

Derek flips the first page over, eyes scanning. Stiles cringes. It's a bunch of collected werewolf lore and the notes he'd been making aren't exactly generous. Derek just keeps reading, pages turning as Stiles dips his sandwich in his soup. It's a good sandwich. Derek's nice. Stiles kind of hates this euphoria thing. He watches Derek laugh and shake his head, grabbing a pen off the table and scribbling something on the paper in his hand. Stiles thinks it's kind of nice to have Derek here. The euphoria thing isn't that bad. It's distracting at least. And his side isn't burning as bad, which is great. He should think about trading Derek for Scott in his friendship hierarchy. Scott hasn't come to see him at all since he's been awake. But he did punch an Alpha. Maybe he'll just be mean to Scott for a while.

"I'm out of here. You going to be okay until your dad gets home?"

Stiles looks up at Derek. His mouth is definitely hanging open and he knows he has to look confused as hell. "Uh, yes? Yeah. I'm fine."

"Okay." Derek drops the papers on the desk.

"Hey, thank you again. For the not letting me die and the feeding me and also doing your magic stuff." Stiles wiggles his fingers in Derek's general direction. "You're not doing this out of pack duty, are you?"

"What?"

"Like, because Scott is being a really terrible friend," Stiles says really loud just in case Scott is listening somewhere. "You're not... like, covering for him?"

"There is no amount of cover I could provide that would keep Scott from looking like a dick."

"I'm going to be so creeped out if this turns out to be some weird pack dynamics thing that I can't understand because I'm just a lowly human. I refuse to be a pawn in your werewolf chess game, man."

"Stiles?"

"Yeah?"

"Shut up and get some rest."

Stiles is pretty tired, really, so he settles back into the bed and tries not to anger his wound. Derek's gone before he's settled, but he half shouts, "I'm not going to sleep because you said to!" and he swears, swears, he hears a laugh in the distance.

---

Stiles doesn't see Derek the rest of the week and, if he's being honest with himself -- which, really, he's not that great at -- he kind of misses him? Maybe. Stiles can't be sure of anything, everything still hurts, but his dad's kind of loosened his grip on the prescription painkillers, so he's feeling a little generally hazy.

Scott does come to see him though. And Lydia. With a Jackson that clearly wasn't at all excited about being there if his running commentary about Stiles' smell was any indication. "Dude, the locker room usually smells better than this. You smell like a walking scab that hasn't bathed in a month."

"You're really sweet, Jackson. I'm so glad you're here. I think your presence is actually healing me."

Jackson just smiled sarcastically and went back to playing with his phone while Lydia caught Stiles up on classes. She kissed him on the cheek when she left. Normally, he'd have thought immediately about how he should've been impaled sooner. But she was with Jackson and Jackson was a wolf now. It wasn't the same. Stiles thought that must be something like growing up, but then he thought about tripping Jackson the next time it was convenient, so maybe he wasn't ready for any maturity trophies just yet.

---

Stiles heads back to school on Monday with a one-Vicodin-a-day ration and spare bandages in his bag. He's already missed two weeks and it's worth the pain to not have to catch up on any more work than he's already dealing with. He's healing, Scott tells him every time he gets close enough. "I don't know, dude, it's just this smell. Like the opposite of rot."

"I smell like growing? Am I a plant?"

Scott just grins and laughs. "Maybe. It is kind of flowery."

"Allison called."

"Texted."

Stiles throws his jersey in Scott's face. "You're gross. Love is foul."

Scott tosses the jersey back. "I can't believe Coach is making you dress. You're just going to sit there and look pained."

"I'm going to seize the moment and try to finish at least one of the assignments I missed. I think Lydia offered to catch me up to sabotage me. She wants to take valedictorian out from under me. She's using my injury for her own gains."

"You're a junior."

"It's never too early for sabotage."

---

Stiles is actually about to finish one of his English assignments, an essay on the symbolism in The Scarlet Letter because that's really unique and original, when he sees Derek. He's standing at the far end of the field from Stiles, just at the edge of the tree line. He's just standing there, which shouldn't surprise Stiles because that's mostly what Derek does. Stiles does a quick three point check around him, just in case there's a threat he's been oblivious to, but there's no one on the field but the team. He mumbles into his notes, "It's really creepy when you do that. And it's even creepier that you're probably listening to me. Who are you watching? Is this pack business? Stop standing there!"

Greenberg looks over at Stiles, one eyebrow raised.

Stiles shrugs. "I write better when I can say it out loud."

Greenberg rolls his eyes and goes back to his phone.

When Stiles looks up again, Derek is gone. He's kind of... disappointed. He technically told him to stop standing there, but he meant, "Hey! Be a not-creep and come talk to other people!" not "Slink into the woods like a terrifying stealth serial murderer." Stiles isn't very good at expressing himself. Well, he's good at expressing. It's the accuracy that kills him.

---

Stiles falls face down on to his bed as soon as he walks into his bedroom. Well, he sort of half-falls because if he really falls it will hurt a lot and he hates that, so he sort of slumps on to the bed, dropping his lacrosse stick and backpack and trying to undo his jeans against the mattress. Bed is great.

"You take a lot of notes."

Stiles doesn't scream exactly, he's been terrified, injured, and startled far too much in the last year to scream. Actually, he'd be shocked if anything close to a scream ever came out of his mouth again. But he does sort of strangle a loud "What?!" in his throat and barely stops himself from going over the side of the bed.

Derek is sitting at his desk with his werewolf packet on his knee and a pen in his hand. "And a lot of them are wrong."

"Do you find causing terror sexually arousing? Is that a thing? Is that why you spend so much time creeping up on people? Because you get off on it?"

"The notes you have about wolfsbane are wrong. Well, the lore you're citing is wrong too, but your notes aren't good either."

"I know some stuff! I've seen it work pretty damn well on you."

Derek flips the page. "I'm genuinely concerned with how interested you seem to be in mating habits."

Stiles flails his hands in Derek's general direction and pulls himself up on the bed. "That website had a lot of information, okay? I'm just gathering everything I can."

Stiles doesn't miss the curve of Derek's mouth, the smirk. And, uh, that kind of. Stiles apparently has a Feeling about that. Or his body does because his whole abdomen goes kind of warm and his stomach maybe flips a little and, yeah, that's weird. That's... definitely a symptom of being unable to use his dominant hand in its usual way.

Derek goes back to reading and Stiles sits there staring at him for a minute before he realizes that apparently Derek is just going to hang out and quietly read all of his werewolf notes and apparently... highlight them? There is a highlighter in Derek's hand. Stiles blinks a few times and then sinks back into his bed. He's tired and sore. He presses a palm to his bandage. It hurts, but not that bad, and it's warm, but not as hot as when he woke up in the hospital. He's healing.

"Do I smell like flowers?"

Derek finishes marking whatever he's deemed highlight-worthy on his current page and looks up at Stiles. "Generally?"

"No, currently. Like, do I have a floral odor around my person?"

"No." Derek sniffs once, his chin jutting out, nose up. "You smell like healing. And soap. The room is less pleasant. No flowers."

"Scott said healing smells like flowers."

"Scott says Allison's scent is ginger snaps. I don't trust his ability to accurately identify any smell whatsoever."

"So what does healing smell like?"

"Like red meat and copper."

"Oh that is gross." Stiles stops for a minute, his whole face twisting up. "Wait, doesn't that smell good to you? Oh god, is that why you're hanging around? Because I smell like... Because I smell like food?"

Stiles has never seen Derek's face that blank. It's relaxed, but utterly blank. Stiles can barely hold a straight face when he's trying to prank someone.

"I'm not going to eat you, if that's what you're asking."

"Because I'm not a woodland creature?"

"I've never eaten a human."

"You're not denying the woodland creatures."

Derek is conspicuously and disturbingly quiet and Stiles groans. "Oh, man, at least tell me you don't eat, like, chipmunks and bunnies and stuff. You at least take down deer, right?"

Derek is still conspicuously and disturbingly quiet. Stiles groans again. "I'm sorry I asked." He closes his eyes for and tries not to think about Derek biting the head off a squirrel. He's unsuccessful. "Wait, but you didn't say I didn't smell good."

"What?"

"You just said you weren't going to eat me, you didn't say I didn't smell good."

"It doesn't smell bad. It's just a stronger version of what humans smell like anyway. You all smell like bags of blood, honestly."

"That's gross." Stiles rubs his hands over his face. "But each person is like, a slightly different flavor of blood?"

"Why do you care what you smell like to me?"

"Hey, I'm just interested. We're not all big bad mythical creatures here. Some of us are just sad mortals with no super senses. Some of us are just trying to understand."

Derek goes back to reading the packet of papers and Stiles relaxes all the way back into his pillows. He stretches his arms over his head and then settles them against his sides. The drugs have worn off and he's starting to get achey and uncomfortable. He presses a pillow to his side and the pressure helps a little. Derek and Scott keep telling him he's healing, but he'd really appreciate some super speed wolf-healing now.

When his eyes open again, Derek is sitting at the foot of the bed and it is really unsettling because how long has he been there without Stiles noticing and why is he staring like that and what is he even doing here? Stiles still hasn't worked that part out at all.

"You're hurting." It isn't a question.

Stiles nods. "It's not that bad, but you know, my dad the sheriff doesn't think I should be dosing on narcotics too hard, lest it lead to a life of crime and pleasure."

Derek shifts up closer, his hip pressed to Stiles', and leans over him, pushes his hand under Stiles' t-shirt and spreads it over his ribs, just short of his bandage. Stiles notices for the first time how huge Derek's hands are. Well, all of Derek is kind of large, but his hands. And his palm is so hot against Stiles' skin and Stiles is getting that warm, fuzzy feeling and he can see the black under Derek's skin and, honestly, he feels really bad about that part and he can't stop thinking about the logistics of it, about how Derek's wolf DNA processes pain like most people process alcohol and how with a touch he can take away so much of Stiles' pain and how Derek's hand is pressed to his bare skin and how his stomach is doing that thing again.

"This is nice. I was right, you're nice."

"Stiles, shut up."

Stiles does because Derek is still touching him and he's very warm and sleepy and he can smell Derek again, like the day he made him lunch, and it's a good smell -- a really good smell, like hot asphalt and fall leaves and smoke and burnt sugar -- and Stiles still doesn't understand why he can identify the scent so clearly, but it's okay because Derek came here and took his pain away and he thinks he and Derek are friends now.

When Derek finally moves his hand away, Stiles whines a little. He doesn't mean to, but it comes out of his mouth all high and sad. He thinks Derek smiles. "You feel better?"

"Yeah, but I'm not going to be able to get any work done. This is like drugs. This is better than drugs. Are you making me a werewolf addict? Is there werewolf rehab?"

Derek doesn't say anything, but Stiles thinks he can feel things radiating from him, feelings like "You're an idiot" and "Shut up, Stiles" but they're kind of friendly and fond and he isn't insulted because it's not like Derek says nice things to people anyway. Mean is Derek's nice. Plus Derek is still sitting next to Stiles, their hips touching and Stiles thinks that's nice too.

"You smell like stuff."

Derek's eyebrows raise just slightly. "I would hope so. Most living things do."

"You smell like... the ground. And leaves. And candy."

"You must be awful when you're drunk."

"No, really. You have a smell. A scent. Maybe you're making me a werewolf. Are you making me a werewolf?"

"Not permanently."

"Are you making me a temporary werewolf?" Stiles is so sleepy.

"There's some crossover when I take the pain. Like a side-effect."

"I can smell really good right now. Plus I can feel you thinking I'm an idiot."

"I'm always thinking you're an idiot. Knowing that is not a skill."

"You are not that nice."

Derek doesn't smile. "I am not that nice." Stiles likes it better when Derek smiles.

"You made me grilled cheese and you saved my life and made it stop hurting so much. That's pretty nice." Stiles touches Derek's knee with two fingers. "Your face is nice and your teeth. And when you laugh that's nice."

"Stiles?"

"Yeah?"

"Go to sleep."

---

"So, I touched Derek's leg last night and told him he had a nice face."

Scott actually spit-takes some of the peach Snapple in his mouth on to the cafeteria table before he says, "What?" Stiles kinda remembers why he's stayed friends with Scott. Well, and the whole he was there before Mom died and he was there through all of it and he stayed over and listened to Stiles cry and pretended not to hear except for when it got really bad and Stiles needed him to hear. He's a pretty good friend, recent record not withstanding.

"I didn't know I was saying it at the time. Well, I guess I did, but I was hoping I'd forget except, man, that werewolf mojo does not work like regular drugs because I remember everything." Stiles smacks the apple out of Scott's hand. "Also, why didn't you tell me you have like," Stiles wiggles his fingers in Scott's face, "magic fingers or whatever you guys call it. I have had some very bad lacrosse practices in my day and I could've used some pain drain."

"I can explain that if you can explain to me why you told Derek he has a nice face. And why you're hanging out with Derek."

"I'm not hanging out with Derek, he just keeps showing up. My dad asked if we were dating because he was at the hospital so much before I woke up. He hasn't even threatened to rip my throat out or anything. He made me soup."

"He made you soup?"

"And a sandwich. Grilled cheese." Stiles takes a bite of his burrito. "I thought he was doing it out of some kind of pack loyalty to you because you were too busy moping to take care of your friend that almost died but he said it wasn't. You really didn't know he was there."

"I'm not in his pack and this is literally the first I'm hearing of all this."

"Just because you keep saying you're not in his pack doesn't mean there isn't some kind of weird primal thing going on there. He talked about you broadcasting your feelings and stuff. You're obviously linked."

"Why'd you tell him he had a nice face?"

Stiles pushes his shoulders up to his ears and shakes his head. "I don't know because he has a nice face? He was being nice! You try having Derek Hale be really nice to you and touch your wounds and make them not hurt and stuff and tell me you wouldn't say something equally vague and stupid." Stiles takes a bite of his apple and throws it back down on the tray. It's mealy and soft inside. He spits out what's in his mouth into his napkin and then tries to wipe the taste of it off his tongue. "Why didn't you tell me about the mojo?"

Scott scrunches his face up and shrugs. "I don't know. I've only ever done it for dogs at the clinic. I didn't even think about people. It seemed weird to be like, 'Hey, I can take away pain from dying dogs. Want to come watch me get choked up while I do it?' I mean, that's a weird thing to tell somebody."

"I will give you that." Stiles finishes his burrito and chugs half of his bottle of water. He sticks his arms out toward Scott. "Try it."

"What? No. We're at school."

"Come on! You're wearing long sleeves and I'm in pain." Stiles frowns, pouting his lower lip. "Lots of pain."

"I know you're not in that much pain because I can smell the Vicodin coming off you."

"Derek says you're terrible at identifying scents, so I don't believe that. If you don't try you'll never know."

"I don't want to hold hands with you in the cafeteria, dude."

"We can go to the library. Come on."

"I don't want to hold hands with you in the library either."

"Well, it'll look a lot worse if we're in the locker room. Do you want it to look like a precursor to having sex at school?"

"You are the worst best friend."

"You never visited me in the hospital!"

Scott puts his backpack over one shoulder and picks up his lunch tray. "Fine."

---

"I want to make a wolf Viagra joke, but you look so dejected I can't."

Scott grabs Stiles' hands again, squeezing his fingers so tight Stiles winces. He closes his eyes and starts murmuring to himself. Stiles waits and waits and waits a little longer. "Dude, it's okay, I hear it happens to guys all the time."

Scott grunts and lets go of Stiles' hands. "I wonder if it just doesn't work on humans."

"Well, it does, obviously."

"I mean maybe it's an Alpha thing."

"That's cruel. Give it to the one person in the pack least likely to use it."

"Not all Alphas are dicks."

Stiles throws his hands up. "Have you exchanged greeting cards with a particularly friendly one or something?"

"I'm just saying, we have a pretty limited sample."

They leave the library together, but split for opposite directions in the hall. Stiles shouts at Scott's back, "Hey, man, it's really okay! It happens to the best."

Stiles can hear the growl.

---

Stiles smells Derek before he even steps into his bedroom and hey, that's weird because it's been a couple days and he definitely hasn't felt any lingering effects of the wolfshare -- or whatever, Stiles really needs to start making lists and naming things -- since. He's sure Derek'll be sitting at his desk reading something.

"Stiles, I can hear you breathing."

Stiles steps into the room. "You can probably hear my hair growing. That's not really a commentary on me." Stiles throws his backpack down and grabs a pair of shorts from his dresser. He starts to undo his jeans. "Dude, some privacy?"

Derek turns his eyes back to the papers in his hand and Stiles pulls off his jeans and pulls on the shorts and a clean t-shirt. He stretches out on the bed. "It'd be nice to be healed already. Taking off my pants shouldn't be exhausting."

"Some of that's the Vicodin."

"I didn't have any today. My dad said I'm well enough to suffer."

"Healing takes a lot of energy."

"Being alive takes a lot of energy."

"You smell like Scott."

"I know that these kinds of conversations are totally normal for werewolves, but that is such a creepy thing to say to a person." Stiles folds his arms under his head. "Don't I usually smell like Scott? I'm around him every day."

"You smell like Scott exerting himself. It's early and I know you haven't showered, so I know it wasn't lacrosse."

Stiles' eyes go wide and he holds his hands up in the air, gesturing. "Do you see how that's a weird thing to say to someone? 'I know you haven't showered' isn't a thing you say to someone unless you want to alert them to your history of stalking or to their general odor."

"I'm a werewolf and your primary concern about me being around is that I know too much about you?"

"It's one thing for you to know that I like tomato soup or that I don't wash my socks enough. You know too much about my scents."

Derek holds up the werewolf packet. "Scent is the primary source of ambient sensory information for wolves. You even have it highlighted."

"Knowing it doesn't make it any less weird."

Derek goes back to reading, pen in hand this time and Stiles is surprised how easy it is to stay quiet. He's tired and sore. The pain lessens a little every day, but by the time he gets home from school he's kind of out of energy and enthusiasm. He got caught up on the last of his make-up work at the end of his first week though, so at least it's only the usual mountain of homework every night. He has a check-up tomorrow and he probably won't have to bandage it anymore after that. "Scott was trying to pain drain me. It didn't work. Is it an Alpha thing?"

"It's a been-a-werewolf-for-longer-than-a-year thing. But being an Alpha helps."

"He does it to animals at the clinic."

"So does Isaac."

"But neither of them can do it to humans."

Derek shuffles the papers in his hands half-heartedly. Stiles thinks he looks sort of tentative. "My dad could do it. I've never known anyone else."

"Werewolf mojo hereditary gifts. Weird."

"Weirder than the rest of it?"

"Not particularly, no."

Stiles stretches again and closes his eyes, listening to Derek rustling papers. He can smell Derek still and if he focuses just enough, he can smell the cold air that's leaking in through the gaps around his window and he can kind of smell the dirty laundry jammed in his closet. If this is a tenth of what werewolves get... It has to be overwhelming all the time. "I can smell stuff."

"That's good?"

"No, I mean, I can smell stuff more than normal. Like, I can smell my laundry and the air outside. And I stopped before I came in because I could smell you. Is that... still a side effect?"

"Maybe you're just learning to use your senses by not running your mouth so much."

"Derek Hale's got jokes."

"No, I mean it. If you shut up once in a while, you'd probably realize how strong your senses actually are. Humans aren't wolves, but you're still animals."

Stiles closes his eyes and focuses. He can hear a lawnmower outside and the pages turning, but not much else. If he really stops moving, he can hear his heartbeat steady in his ears. He hears the pages stop turning and knows Derek is going to sit on the bed by the way the floor creaks. It's not a lot, but it's kind of cool to not be startled.

"This is the last time. You're almost healed."

"You're my hero."

"Shut up, Stiles."

Stiles does. He closes his eyes and focuses on Derek's hand sliding into place against his ribs, the heat of his palm and the callouses he can feel at his fingertips. He feels like he's drowning in a hot bath and everything smells like Derek -- hot asphalt and leaves and the smoky sweetness -- and he thinks it'd be an okay way to go, which is a really weird thing to think. His stomach does that turnover, the quick little flop, and Stiles twitches a little. He knows what that feeling means when he's around Lydia. He doesn't understand at all why it's happening around Derek.

Derek's hand is on him for a long time, the other one curled into a fist against the mattress, just touching Stiles' hip, to brace Derek's weight. Stiles feels so warm and comfortable and safe and it's crazy, his life, how there are monsters around him every day and they're the people he likes the most. Scott and Derek. Isaac. Even Jackson. How he's vulnerable not just to the monsters they attract and the hunters, but to them -- he's utterly vulnerable to his friends, a human in a den of wolves. It's not so bad. He was wrong about the worsts. The worst thing is that someday it'll end.

When Derek finally pulls back, he looks paler than he has before and Stiles feels drugged almost to the point of unconsciousness. He doesn't know how long Derek touched him, but it's darker in the room than when Stiles closed his eyes and Derek is obviously drained. Why didn't he stop sooner?

"Are you okay?"

Derek nods, running a hand over his face, and tries to stand. He's weak on his feet though and Stiles pulls him back down. "Here, here. Just sit here until it passes." He moves over on the bed and tries to situate Derek next to him. Derek is large and heavy. "You should've stopped. You look awful."

"It kept going. I didn't. I couldn't leave you with it like that. It seemed so much worse."

"I feel really good. Thank you." Stiles shifts more and Derek settles into the bed more. He did not think his life would get weirder than Derek Hale hanging out with him and literally draining his pain away, but now Derek Hale is in his bed with him. He's going to have to set the weirdness bar a lot higher.

"Are you okay?" Derek is still pale and his eyes are closed, but Stiles can see pink across his cheeks under the dark fan of his eyelashes. He doesn't think he's ever stared at anybody's face as hard. Derek's skin looks so soft where it isn't shaded with stubble.

Derek nods. "Just need a few."

"I'm sorry. I should've stopped you. I'm not very good at self-control when something feels good. I'm sorry."

"Stiles?"

"Yeah?"

"Shut up."

---

When Stiles wakes up -- and god, he'd really like to stop losing hours of his day to uncontrollable naps, he's starting to feel narcoleptic or old -- Derek is still next to him, stretched out and kind of snoring softly. All the color's back in his face and he seems steady. Stiles still feels soft around the edges and if he's honest, he kind of doesn't want to move. Derek is awfully close to him and that's pretty weird and all, but he's still so sleepy and it's dark outside. He could just settle back in and sleep until the morning. Except for how it's really quiet and he's still holding very still and even though he can still smell Derek and cold and dirty laundry, he can hear too. He can hear the front door closing.

"Shit!" Stiles jerks upright, knocking into Derek and trying to scramble out of the bed against the pain in his side. "My dad is home. Get up, get up!"

Derek goes from snoring to alert and awake in about a second and Stiles acknowledges it just long enough to be jealous and impressed. He sits down at the desk, throws Stiles a pen and a notebook, and picks up the copy of The Scarlet Letter. Stiles starts scribbling on the paper, mostly "oh shit" over and over again. When his dad knocks, Stiles takes a deep breath and tells him to come in.

"How are you feeling?" He turns toward Derek. "Derek. Good to see you." Stiles sees the twitch of his dad's jaw, the set of it. He's not actually all that glad to see Derek.

"Sheriff." Derek nods. "You look well."

Stiles kind of wants to crawl out of his own skin and into the forest as muscle and bone. Anything to escape this incredibly awkward moment. His dad tuns toward him again. "Feeling okay?"

"Yep, much better. Derek's helping me with a rewrite of the English essay I missed. Mr. Stanley didn't like it, but he gave me another shot because I still have a gaping wound in my side."

"Nice of him."

"He's an okay guy."

"Nice of Derek to help you out. Wouldn't think he'd remember junior English."

"I didn't read it in high school actually. I wasn't a very dedicated student. But I read it in a college class."

"Probably a good perspective for Stiles to have."

Derek smiles and Stiles is totally distracted by it. "I sure hope so." It's a good smile and even though he's smiling because he's being a dick, it doesn't make it any less okay to look at.

"Well, I'm going to head down and scrounge up something for dinner. You come down in about a half hour?"

"Absolutely." Stiles can still feel his heart pounding in his chest.

"You're welcome to join us, Derek."

Derek has the good sense and grace to frown apologetically. "Sorry, Sheriff, I can't, but thank you for the invitation. I'll have to take a rain check."

Stiles' dad nods and turns back out of the room, pointedly leaving the door open three-fourths of the way.

Stiles starts to talk, but Derek holds his hand up for about thirty seconds. "He was waiting at the bottom of the stairs. He's in the kitchen now."

"That was really uncomfortable."

"Why did you freak out? Am I not supposed to be here? Because you could've told me. I'd like to stay on your dad's good side."

"One, no it's not that and two, where you are concerned, my father does not have a good side." Stiles doesn't particularly want to answer the other part of the question because, honestly, would anyone want to tell Derek Hale that their dad thought they were dating? Does anyone want to tell anyone that? Everything about that conversation just screams awkward and terrible.

"I can hear your heartbeat, I know you're obsessing."

"I didn't want my dad to find me in bed with you! That's weird! That's so weird there's not a category for it and frankly I'm shocked you're not more uncomfortable with the idea of being found in bed with the sheriff's son."

"I would've gotten up and been at the desk before he got in here. It just would've been without the stench of terror that's blowing off of you right now."

Stiles fans the air around him toward Derek. "Smell it up, Hale, smell it up."

"Does your dad not know you're gay?"

"What? I'm not gay!"

"Stiles..."

"I'm not."

"Okay." Derek actually puts his hands up in surrender and Stiles wants to burn that into his brain forever because he's pretty sure that's the first time Derek has ever surrendered to someone that wasn't trying to violently rip him to pieces. He also tries to remember whatever force he called up to make two little words do it.

Stiles throws himself back on the bed and knows instantly that the pain drain is still in effect because it doesn't hurt nearly as much as it should. "My dad asked if we were dating! Because you carried me to the hospital from the middle of the forest and waited by my bedside for me to wake up. And apparently that's what people in a relationship do!"

"That's uncomfortable."

"Particularly because I didn't even think we were friends."

"Of course we're friends. Am I not nice to you?" Derek's forehead furrows enough to make Stiles nervous.

"You have been! But, you know, recently. Prior to my being almost gutted, you were kind of a dick. Most of our interactions have ended with you threatening to kill me. Or in you introducing my head to an immovable object."

"That was only once. And technically a steering wheel is movable."

"I still can't believe you talk as much as you do. It's kind of alarming."

"That might be the funniest thing I've ever heard considering the source."

"So many words! You should write a book."

"So your dad is probably pretty sure we're dating now."

"Probably. And I'm probably about to have an extremely uncomfortable and unappetizing meal of frozen lasagna. But one that is probably not nearly as bad as the one I would've had if he'd found us in bed together."

"Your dad would just be okay with it?"

"Actually, he said he wasn't because you're like thirty and often on the wrong side of the law. And then he said, 'And I'm the law.' which is a pretty good line, to be fair."

"I'm going to leave now."

"Wise."

---

Dinner is so unabashedly, objectively horrifying that Stiles kind of passes out afterwards and wakes up in a solid state of denial about everything that happened yesterday. He didn't enjoy Derek touching him and he didn't fall asleep in bed with him and his dad definitely didn't quiz him on condom usage and the dangers of not properly lubricating. It was vague and it was short and it was a clear sign of his dad's intimate relationship with Google, but Stiles will never have an erection again, which is a bummer because jerking off is kind of one of the bright points of his day.

"Dude, you reek." Scott actually waves his hands in front of his face and grimaces before setting his tray down in front of Stiles and sitting down.

"What? What? Like what?" Stiles smells his armpits and his shirt. "I smell like deodorant. And these clothes are clean. Even my hoodie is clean!"

"You smell like Derek."

"He says I smell like you."

"Well, right now you smell like him. Like... a lot. Like... how I used to smell like Allison when I left her bedroom."

Stiles shakes his head and waves his hands around in front of his face. "Are you insinuating that I smell like. I can't. I can't even." Stiles swipes his hand across the front of Scott's face like he's erasing a board. "He showed up yesterday. Again."

"You don't smell like hanging out."

"What does that even mean?" Stiles feels a little hysterical and he's not sure why, aside from the general awkwardness of telling his best friend that he platonically fell asleep next to an Alpha werewolf who he wasn't even particularly friendly with before he almost had his guts ripped out. Platonically, being the key word.

"It smells like you were, you know, close. Dude... Do you need to tell me something?"

"Are you literally asking me right now if I'm hiding a secret relationship with Derek Hale from you?"

"Uh, apparently."

"I'm not hiding a secret relationship with Derek Hale from you."

"Then why do you smell like that?"

Stiles makes a strangled growling noise in his throat and he's worried Derek's wrong about the whole temporary side effect thing. Even Scott looks kind of startled by it. "We fell asleep in my bed!" Stiles says it a lot louder than he means to and slams his forehead down on the table. "Ow, Jesus."

"Stiles! What?"

"He did his," Stiles wiggles his fingers in Scott's face, "thing and he did it for too long and he just sort of went pale and passed out and I was already in the bed and I was all mojo-drugged and fell asleep too. It was weird but it's not any weirder than Derek showing up to hang out with me in the first place."

Scott squints at Stiles. "Sleeping in the same bed with Derek Hale is definitely weirder than being friends with him."

"You're a dick."

"I'm not judging! I'm just clarifying. It's weirder."

"We're not even friends."

"Dude, you're obviously friends."

"I know I'm awesome and a great best friend. A deeply unappreciated best friend," Stiles tilts his head and stares right at Scott over his Snapple until Scott huffs and nods, "But why? Why me?"

"It's not like he's got a lot of options."

"Thanks."

"You know what I mean. You know how hard it was for us before everyone knew. Derek's not going to trust anyone enough to tell them what he is. You already know. You have built in trust."

"He doesn't trust me." Stiles chews on a bite of chicken strip. "It's not like there's a line of people waiting to be my friend. Who wants to be friends with me?"

"I ask myself that every day." Scott can't even finish the sentence without grinning.

"Ha ha, you're hilarious."

"Didn't you literally just tell me that you're awesome and a great friend?"

"Teenage self-esteem is complex! I'm awesome but I still completely hate myself."

"That sounds healthy."

"Don't make me start listing your personality defects, we'll be here for a week."

"If it bugs you so much, tell him to stop coming around."

Stiles considers that, really considers it, but it's kind of unpleasant in an indistinct way. He's not lying, there's not a line of people waiting to hang out with him and it's not like being around Derek is bad. But he's seen Derek kill someone and maybe that was a really bad person who is also not dead anymore, but it's still not exactly something he generally looks for in a friend. He fully saved Stiles' life. "I don't think I can do that. Not yet."

"So ask him why he's hanging out with you, you idiot."

"When did you get practical?"

"I don't have a girlfriend anymore. I have a lot of free time."

"Scott, that's what internet porn is for."

---

The week finishes out uneventfully and Stiles is grateful to only be taking home two essays to do over the winter break. One on the Civil War and another comparing and contrasting two 19th century American poets. Boring, but doable.

He's almost healed and he tries not to think about it too much because there's a point where it starts to make him feel very dizzy, but the human body is kind of cool as hell. A few short weeks ago, he had a decent sized hole in his side where he could actually kind of touch a rib and now he just has some lingering aches and a fresh, pink scar. His doctor said it's just as healed inside and that's even more crazy. He doesn't exactly want to revisit serious injury, but he's okay with being amazed by healing.

He spends his first day of break playing video games with Scott over Skype because neither of them is willing to leave the house. Last winter break, they wouldn't have stayed home even for large sums of money, but they've spent a lot more time outdoors evading extreme danger since then and the fictional violence of video games is kind of a sweet relief.

He goes out for pancakes on Sunday with Isaac and Scott and they decide to play a game of H.O.R.S.E. at the school. Stiles is tempted to ask Isaac what Derek's deal is, if he's said anything or if there's something going on that Derek isn't talking about, but then he gets really uncomfortable and awkward about the whole thing because he likes Isaac and they're kind of friends, but he's not even totally comfortable talking about the Derek thing with Scott and he's known Scott forever and one time he even had to help Scott unzip his pants because he had a broken arm. While he's busy deciding to not talk to Isaac about Derek, he misses some stupid backwards shot he wouldn't have made anyway and a totally straightforward shot from the top of the key that he knows Scott does on purpose when he realizes Stiles isn't paying attention.

Stiles doesn't know why the Derek thing has him so off. They're friends apparently! It's not like when you make a new friend there's an application process or an official announcement in the newspaper, you just are friends. Despite the limited number of people he chooses to share his time with, Stiles has made and maintained plenty of friendships before. Maybe he just has to accept that Derek is his friend and it will all stop seeming so weird.

That's when Isaac nails him in the face with the ball and everything goes dark.

---

"I don't understand. I literally do not understand how these things happen to you." His dad hasn't stopped shaking his head since he arrived.

"It's not my fault I'm surrounded by dangerous people!"

Stiles is sitting on the edge of a bed in the emergency room and Ms. McCall is just finishing taping Stiles' slightly broken nose. She holds eye contact with him for just longer than necessary and Stiles can feel all the mom vibes and the tell-your-dad-you-hang-out-with-werewolves vibes and the please-let-everyone-stop-getting-hurt vibes coming at him full force. He tries to make his eyeballs look sympathetic and sorry. She touches his arm softly and leaves to get him an ice pack.

Isaac and Scott are standing just behind Stiles' dad looking chastised and apologetic. He'd only blacked out for a few seconds, but when he opened his eyes Isaac and Scott were both above him lifting him up, Isaac apologizing over and over again before Stiles' could even get a word out.

"Who even gets knocked out with a basketball?" Scott's head is tilted slightly to the left and it takes a lot of energy for Stiles to refrain from telling him he looks like a confused dog.

"Would you like me to bust your nose and see if you don't at least go to the ground?"

"Point taken."

Ms. McCall hands him the ice pack and a prescription for Vicodin. "Considering what you just healed, I figure you deserve at least a couple of days of slightly less misery. That is not going to feel good when you wake up. Dr. Marks says you're welcome."

His dad grabs the prescription out of Stiles' hand just as he's saying thank you and tears it up. "Thanks, Melissa, but he'll deal."

She nods, smiling. "I am never one to interfere with parental decision-making. Especially when it comes to teenagers and the good drugs." She smacks Stiles on the knee. "Sorry, kid."

"You're a very mean father."

"You're welcome for not letting you become a statistic."

---

Ms. McCall was right because when Stiles wakes up in the morning his entire head feels like it's been punched in through his sinuses. When he makes it to the bathroom, he learns it pretty much looks like that too. He's red, blue, and green under both eyes and onto his eyelids. If it was anyone other than Isaac, he'd think it was intentional.

His dad has kindly reminded him of his lack of good drugs by leaving two ibuprofen, a cup of water, and a muffin on his bedside table. He downs the muffin in half a dozen bites then the drugs and water and lies down, hoping to fall asleep again. His entire life hurts.

He wakes up about an hour later with less of a headache and Derek Hale sitting at his desk, ankle crossed over his knee, and notes spread out across the floor, desk, and his lap. Stiles doesn't even really react, they are friends and it is just Derek's thing to show up without warning. A creepy and intensely uncomfortable thing, if Stiles thinks about it too much, but thinking about it too much doesn't help the easing into their friendship idea, so Stiles shakes it off.

"Is it against your religion to knock on front doors or...?"

"You were asleep."

"Do I want to ask how you knew that before coming through my window?"

"Probably not."

"That's terrifying."

"I was joking." Derek drops the papers in his hands on top of the pile in his lap. "I listened for your heart, Stiles. I'm a werewolf. This is not that complicated."

"If it was urgent enough to come in while I was sleeping, why didn't you wake me up?"

"It wasn't urgent." Derek shuffles some papers around and grabs a highlighter off the desk. "How's your face?"

"Less painful than getting impaled on a tree branch, slightly more painful than being kicked in the nuts by a six-year-old." Stiles shifts to sit against his headboard. "Isaac come home with his tail between his legs because he knocked me unconscious?"

Derek laughs a little and, oh man, Stiles is really uncomfortable with how much he likes hearing it. Scott laughs at him so often, Stiles thinks Scott just laughs uncontrollably in general. Earned laughter is different. It's short-lived though, Derek points a finger straight at Stiles' face and drops his face into classic Derek Hale Means Business. "That's a low blow."

"He knocked me out with a basketball!"

Derek shrugs. "I hear you were distracted."

"I'm always distracted! I just don't normally have balls flying at my face."

"You play lacrosse."

Stiles swings his arms around in these wild little circles. "Those aren't bigger than my face!"

The edge of Derek's mouth creeps up, just a little, just enough to show the edge of his teeth and, once again, Stiles finds himself ignoring how much he likes seeing that and how much it feels like it's getting under his skin. He spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about Derek, if he's honest with himself, and even more time convincing himself that it isn't really an inordinate amount of time.

"Am I in danger?"

"Judging by the last couple of weeks, you are a constant danger to yourself. So, probably."

"That was a both a decent burn and an excellent maneuver to avoid answering the question. I'm genuinely impressed."

Derek tips his head a little, bowing, but doesn't add anything. He just marks something else down in the notes.

"Derek." Stiles doesn't mean for there to be such a whining edge to his voice. He likes this thing with Derek, this friendship or whatever it is. But he can't explain it, can't reason it, and protection is the last option. Derek has to be protecting him.

"That Alpha didn't just throw you for fun. She had a reason. She was acting on an instinct."

"The instinct to maim and murder?"

"It was a challenge. You're... marked, for lack of a better word. You smell like the pack. You radiate a sense of belonging. But you're human. She saw you as a weak link and knew hurting you would be insulting to the rest of us. That it would make us protective. It would make her a threat."

"I'm... pack... property..."

"I know it can be confusing with all the shapeshifting, but we're not actually wolves, Stiles."

"You're the one who said pack!" Stiles cringes at his own volume. His head is killing him.

"When I was a kid, we had a dog. A dalmatian. Another pack encroached on our territory and they killed him. It was a challenge."

"Oh my god, I'm the pack pet?! Oh my god."

Derek blinks slowly at him, his face blank.

"Are you stunned silent because that's a really stupid thing to say or because I'm right?" Stiles watches Derek's unmoving face. "Oh, god. Oh god, I'm right. I'm right."

"You're not a pet, Stiles! Jesus. You're one of us. But you're human."

"And weak. Every version of this is insulting."

"The rest of the Alpha pack knows now. They know your scent. Everything about you is a billboard calling out to them to challenge us further. To challenge me."

"Why isn't Scott this worried? Why isn't he here protecting the family pet?"

"Scott's an idiot. He can say he's not part of the pack all he wants, but it doesn't change the connection. It gives him just enough clearance to ignore the things he doesn't want to deal with. This is one of those things."

"What exactly are you protecting me from? Am I going to get eaten by a werewolf? Because that sounds like a cool way to die in theory, like, at least in competition with drowning or being melted by a death ray or something, but it's not like I'll exactly be around to tell anyone the story." Stiles wishes he had a vicodin. Being cavalier with his life is exhausting and it'd be easier if he were a little high.

"They don't want to kill you."

"What. Do. They. Want."

Derek takes a deep breath. Stiles doesn't think he's ever seen Derek be anything close to pensive before, at least with this little brooding on top. "They want to turn you."

"What?!"

"It's the most insulting thing they can do, the most personal, to take one of ours by force and make them theirs. It doesn't happen very often, most werewolves don't have a human this close to their pack. You're like... gift-wrapped."

Stiles isn't sure what's worse, that he's apparently been playing family dog to a group of adolescent lycanthropes or that another group of werewolves wants to bite him. "You can't just steal someone's dog!"

To his credit, Derek doesn't laugh. "Stiles, shut up."

Stiles throws himself back on the bed with more force than necessary and regrets it immediately. It hurts his head and his side and all he can do is groan and fold his arms over his face. He talks into his arms a little, mumbling about his side hurting and his head and how his arms are actually hurting his nose but how he won't move them because he doesn't want to and he knows he's being childish but he doesn't care because a bunch of werewolves want to bite him and Scott doesn't care and he and Derek aren't really friends and. He hates everything.

Stiles is about to voice all of his frustrations louder and at length because someone should have to suffer with him, but when he moves his arms Derek is just sitting down next to his hip and sliding his hand under the hem of Stiles' shirt. Stiles eyes go wide, but he holds himself very still, settles his arms over his head and tries to breathe.

Derek spreads his hand wide over Stiles' waist, lower than he has before, thumb resting against his hip bone. Stiles tries not to think about it too much. He feels the warmth spreading out from Derek's hand, the pull of it, and tries to focus. It feels sort of magnetic, like his pain is flakes of iron hiding just under his skin. He can smell Derek too, the asphalt and smoke and sugar, can hear his heart, can almost feel the whorls of Derek's fingerprints against his skin. He hates himself for it, but he lives for this taste of the wolf, the glimmer of the bite.

"I'm not a very good friend."

Stiles is already so sleepy and he has to blink a half dozen times to clear his eyes. "If this is you being a not very good friend, I'm kind of worried what it means when you are." Stiles considers it for a minute, Derek's hand still on him, the gentle touch Stiles would've never considered him capable of. "Your good friendship must be intense."

"I mean in general."

"Is that a warning or an explanation?"

"It just is. I'm not good at." He waves his free hand as if to dismiss it. "People stuff."

Derek presses his fingers just a hair deeper into Stiles' side, his thumb grazing so close to the top of his shorts that the air in Stiles' lungs just seems to slip away. He closes his eyes. He doesn't want to examine it too closely, but he's seventeen and there's someone touching him pretty fucking close to his genitals and that someone is really good looking even if Stiles has kind of tried to avoid thinking about it too much. His breath kind of catches in his throat and he can't bring himself to open his eyes because his dick is starting to do things that he didn't give it permission to do and he can't look at Derek, he cannot.

He takes as slow and even a breath as he can manage and tries very hard to think about lacrosse and baseball and Finstock's Independence Day speech and dead bodies and cooking eggs and falling on the jungle gym when he was six and smashing his pre-pubescent nuts all to hell. It mostly works. "Are you trying to tell me Derek Hale lacks people skills? You didn't win Miss Congeniality in the Young Miss Beacon Hills pageant?"

Derek shifts his hand again, palm so hot over Stiles' side he can hardly stand it. Stiles is starting to get exhausted, like his energy is draining entirely along with the pain. The throb in his nose is gone and his headache is just a whisper of the pressure he felt before. He presses his hand to Derek's. "I'm good. I feel good. Don't kill yourself."

Derek pulls back, fingers grazing Stiles' skin for longer than Stiles thinks was entirely necessary. He tries to shut down the thought of how little he minds.

Derek sits up straight and rubs his hand against his jeans, lifts his hands and wiggles his fingers. "You sure you're okay?"

"Yeah, really. Feelin' no pain." Stiles pushes himself up until he's sitting with his back against the shelves of his headboard. He's warm and relaxed and in less pain than he has been in weeks. "Maybe you're not... good with people? But you're... nice. And you have a nice face. And your smell is nice. You're nice."

Derek smiles, his actual mouth actually shaping into a smile. There's even a tiny bit of teeth visible. "You've said that before."

Stiles has noticed that Derek has very much not moved from the bed, that they're still touching a little at the leg. It's nice. Everything is so nice. "Your werewolf mojo is very... Better than drugs." Stiles didn't feel this hazy until he sat up. Maybe sitting up is bad.

"Your smell is like leaves. Did I tell you that? Like autumn. And hot asphalt. Like when you're on the playground in elementary. And like burned sugar. It's nice. Smoky. Good."

Derek is quiet for just a second longer than Stiles is comfortable with and there's amusement on his face. Stiles feels a little laughed at. Derek's teeth flash again. "Thank you."

"I don't like not controlling my mouth."

"Do you normally have control over it?"

"Ha ha. My mouth is very controlled, thank you."

Derek outright laughs then, this warm sound that is so much bigger than Stiles would've ever expected. It's so friendly. "Stiles, you've got a lot of things, but a controlled mouth isn't one of them."

"Oh man, your laugh is so good." Stiles' eyes go wide and he wishes he could actively grab the words out of the air and shove them back down his own throat. "This mojo is unfair. Really."

Derek's face goes very still then, serious, his eyes closing. Stiles tries to talk, but Derek reaches over and presses his hand to Stiles' mouth. Stiles tries to hold still, tries to quiet his breathing. Derek's entire body is tense. He turns to Stiles. "Call Scott. Call Isaac. Tell them to come here. Now."

Stiles does as he's told, scrolls through his contacts and finishes both calls in under a minute. "Derek says come here now," is all it takes to get an okay. Derek is standing at the window when he's done, palms pressed to the sill. "They're here."

Derek nods. "For you."

"I am not prepared to be a werewolf!" Stiles is trying really hard not to panic. "I already turned down the bite once. I don't want it. I don't want it yet." He's panicking anyway.

Derek sits on the bed again, his forearm pressed to Stiles' thigh where he's bracing himself to lean in towards Stiles. "This will be over quickly. Scott's going to stay here with you while Isaac and I handle this. Jackson's drawing them back towards the woods. You don't have anything to worry about."

"Except my friends getting murdered trying to protect me."

Derek locks eyes with Stiles and Stiles sees the red creeping in, ready for the shift. He can't shake the haziness and it feels like it's trapping the fear in him, like he's wrapped in plastic and it's suffocating him. "Not going to happen."

Scott bursts through Stiles' door, panting. "One of them is just standing in the yard."

Stiles' heart is pounding so hard it hurts and his throat feels dry and cracked. "Is this one of those things where everyone's going to have a nice big laugh about how this was all a horrible misunderstanding and they just want to be friends with us?"

Scott settles at the window, watching. Derek shrugs into his jacket. "Is your dad going to be home soon?"

Stiles shakes his head, panic rising like bile in his throat. "Not for hours. Is he in danger? Oh god."

Derek shakes his head. "He's fine. This is all going to be fine. I have to go."

Stiles nods and buries his face in his hands.

"I'm guessing this isn't the time to suggest Yahtzee?"

Stiles smiles at the thud of the pillow hitting Scott in the face in spite of himself.

---

The werewolf mojo has long worn off by the time Stiles and Scott hear anything. It's a text from Derek that just says, "Found them."

It's dark and his dad's come home, eaten with them, and gone to bed. Scott had said, "Don't worry, man. I can hear his heartbeat. I can hear him breathing. I won't let anything happen" because Scott was a good friend when he needed to be and that's what counted. Scott's stayed otherwise stationed at the window, mostly ignoring Stiles' idle, anxious chatter, still and silent except for an occasional wince, like he's hearing something terrible far away. He doesn't explain and Stiles doesn't ask. He can't.

They finally give up around three and try to sleep. "If anything happens, it'll wake me. It'll be fine, man."

Stiles had nodded, but it takes him almost an hour to finally fall asleep. They both wake up after just a couple of hours, mist still hanging low outside the window. Scott has one text. It's from Derek. It just says, "Stay there."

The play video games for a awhile and eat an entire Costco box of Fruit Loops between the two of them. They play games for a few more hours, each getting the same text from Isaac: "We're okay."

Stiles checks in with his dad at the station every hour and a half like clockwork until his dad yells at him. "You have to be doing something illegal if you're this concerned with where I am. Do I need to come home?" Stiles promises he isn't and sticks to checking in with whoever's on the desk with a slightly less intense frequency until his dad finally comes home.

He sticks his head in the door. "Hi, Scott."

"Hi, Mr. Stilinski."

Stiles watches his dad shake his head, a tired smile and half-laugh with it. "Pizza'll be here in thirty."

Scott leaves long enough after dinner to grab some clean clothes and the vacation work he hasn't started yet. When he gets back, he holds his phone up in Stiles' face. There's a text from Derek and all it says is "I told you to stay there." Stiles is a strange mix of delighted and amazed.

Stiles hates waiting. He hates holding still and he hates silence and he hates not knowing what's going on. He knows that being here is safer for him and safer for the pack, for everyone except probably Scott, but it doesn't make it any easier. He's too antsy to play video games or work on his English paper. Everything short of running in place really fast feels makes him feel like he's going to die.

Scott's used to Stiles' nervous energy, he's spent more time bouncing off of walls with Stiles than anyone else, so he just sits at the desk and reads for his own English paper and puts up his palm every ten minutes so Stiles can throw punches at it. Scott can be a dick, Stiles sees and knows that, and sometimes he makes stupid, selfish decisions -- his plan with Gerard had been brilliant, but so infuriatingly stupid to do it alone -- but he cares and he tries and he's Stiles' best friend whether Stiles always likes it or not.

"Dude, you have to sit down. I can only take so much."

Stiles sits down on the edge of his bed and blows out a big breath. "My face hurts."

"Maybe if you hold still for a while, it'll stop. Take some Tylenol or something. Take a nap. Take anything."

"I thought you appreciated my energy, Scott."

"I've been with you for twenty-four hours straight. I kind of want to murder you."

"I can't go for a run, I can't sleep, I don't have any drugs, I'm worried about my dad, my face is killing me, homework is stupid, our friends are in danger, I'm trapped in my house, I have to hang out with you, I can't deal with video games, and I can't jerk off. What do you want from me?"

"Sit still for ten minutes. Ten minutes. That's all I'm asking."

Stiles falls back on the bed and throws his arms up, only wincing a little at the tension in his mostly-healed side. "Fine."

He makes it about six.

Scott growls, a sound that is way more wolf than it is irritated best friend and throws a book at Stiles. "Go jerk off in the shower or something! You're killing me."

---

An entire day passes with zero contact except for one more text from Derek telling them not to leave the house until they hear the all clear. Stiles has written and rewritten an essay, slept about eight hours total, read half of a book, played two stretches of video games that lasted more than six hours, and taken four showers in 48 hours. He's running out of options. The swelling in his face has gone down almost entirely and he thinks the headache he has now is from lack of sleep and excessive sodium intake instead of the basketball making extreme contact with his face. He has two faint black eyes and the bridge of his nose is mostly a dark blob under the tape. He keeps touching it tentatively, surprised by how much better it already feels. Healing is so cool.

He's stretched out on his back on the bed watching the last of the color and light disappear from the sky. Scott's laying on the floor with his math textbook covering his face.

Stiles hears a distant howl, extremely distant, and Scott turns to him. "We have to go to the Hale house."

"Is it over?"

Scott nods hesitantly. "Yeah, I think so."

They make it out of Stiles' window and to the Hale house in the kind of time that would impress him if he weren't still panic-stricken and terrified. He hadn't wanted to leave his dad, had begged Scott to stay until Scott finally said, "If it's not over, they still want you. He's safer if you're gone."

They walk into some weird mix of elation and horror and it's palpable in the air, even to Stiles. He can smell blood and sweat and the air is so hot it feels like it's stuck to him. Erica and Boyd are sitting on the bottom stairs just inside the door, Erica's bloodied face cradled in Boyd's hands. She's smiling and laughing, which is hideously unnerving, but Stiles appreciates it because it's the only way he can tell she's alive.

He sees Jackson and Isaac next, Jackson on his knees next to Derek's head and Isaac standing over them chewing on his fingers. Derek's on the ground, stretched out and grimacing, and he looks bad, so bad, and Stiles wants to throw up. He drops to his knees instead and starts touching Derek's wounds, big open shreds of flesh that Stiles recognizes as claws. "Jesus Christ, are you okay? Is he okay?"

Jackson's eyes are wide and scared. "He is, he says he is. There's so much blood."

Stiles looks down into Derek's face. It's almost as bloody as Erica's. "Is that true? Are you okay?" He can feel Scott at his back moving around toward Isaac and Jackson, hears him asking about them.

Derek nods, slowly. "Not that deep, just need time to heal. I'm fine though. It's over. Everybody's okay."

Stiles wills his heart to slow. "Scott, go get the first aid kit out of my car."

He hears Scott's steps, but doesn't turn. "You didn't get ripped open to keep me from being turned, right? Because that's stupid. That's really stupid. I've never seen you heal this slow."

Derek shakes his head. "It's all over. The Alpha pack is gone. It's done."

"If you look this bad, what the hell did you do to them?"

Derek smiles, just that soft, no-teeth turn of his lips that Stiles has gotten so used to in these last few weeks, but it's something.

Boyd laughs, actually laughs. "He made them all submit."

"What?"

Derek tries to sit up, wincing, and Stiles pushes him back down flat. He sits down at the top of Derek's head and settles the back of his skull in his lap. It's automatic, easy. Even if Derek's not going to die, he can at least be comfortable while the open stripes of his guts knit themselves back together.

"It wasn't my idea. Boyd and Erica joined, you know, it was them. I thought they were gone. But they never committed, they never really believed they were part of the pack. It was just enough to make them all weaker."

Erica sits up slowly, Boyd's arm still around her. "We know where we belong."

Stiles would probably think it were sweet -- a chosen family and all that -- if it weren't for the pieces of Erica's face where he can still see her healing and the pooled blood at her collarbones. Scott walks in and hands him the kit. He opens it and grabs for the bottle of saline that's supposed to be used for emergency eye washes. Stiles has always wondered who was getting eye injuries so often they seemed necessary. Now he wonders if they just had a lot of gashes to rinse. He rips the cap off with his teeth and squirts it into the openings in Derek's abdomen, blood and mud leeching out through what's left of his shirt.

Derek shifts a little, more into Stiles' lap so he can sit up just the littlest bit more. Stiles thinks it's a really cruel twist of the knife that is being seventeen that his body wants to react to the heat of Derek, the closeness, even when Derek's literally bleeding out and opened up from a fight with another werewolf. "We'd been tracking them in shifts, circling toward a meeting point. We started fighting, hard, I can't believe we all made it out, and I called Erica and Boyd to me."

"He could totally feel our allegiance to this pack. To his pack." Erica is practically glowing with pride. Stiles will never understand werewolves. He's a little grateful.

"It was enough to throw their Alpha off, the one who threw you. She stumbled right after she did this to me. It was just enough."

"Bleeding out and basically dying and you still managed to out-Alpha her?" Stiles is legitimately impressed.

"Kind of. Jackson came up on her from behind and basically ripped one of her kidneys out."

"Holy shit." Stiles really, really wants to throw up. Jackson is so pale in the little bit of light from the waxing moon. Stiles imagines Jackson didn't really want to end up back in that place, hurting people. Even people that deserve it.

"I started to shift fully and it was enough to make her nervous. So I held back and ordered her to submit." Derek pauses to shake his head a little. "I don't even understand how it worked. She kneeled and dropped her head. And the rest followed."

"They're gone?"

"They are way gone." Boyd grins at Stiles.

"Jesus." Stiles scrubs his hands over his head, scratching at his scalp. "I don't even know what to say."

"Say you'll take us to Derek's apartment." Erica rubs at some of the blood on her chin. "I need a shower."

"My backpack barely fits in my backseat." He looks down at Derek's chest. He can see less meat and more skin, but blood is still pumping sluggishly from the rips in his shirt. "Plus, Derek's still... healing."

"Everyone needs to go home. To their own houses." Derek tries to sit up again and Stiles pushes him back down. Derek kind of growls, low in his throat, but settles again. "Go home and clean up and sleep."

Erica pouts. "We're supposed to be family."

"Tell me about family when you're eighteen and not trying to get me arrested for kidnapping." Derek drops his head back and closes his eyes. "Go home. Please. Be careful."

Scott's the last to file out. "What are you going to do?"

Stiles gestures toward Derek. "I'm going to take him to his apartment and make sure he doesn't die or anything."

"I'm fine, Stiles."

"Shut up, Derek."

---

Stiles helps Derek to the jeep and out of the jeep and into the apartment, all soundtracked by Derek's murmured protests. "I'm fine. I can deal with this. Go home, Stiles." Stiles is tempted to abandon him, to just let him drop when they get out of the jeep at his apartment -- anything to shut Derek up -- but Derek's weight is heavy on him, unsteady like he really needs him, and Stiles can't do it. Won't.

He makes Derek lean against the arm of the couch while he runs around trying to find clothes that in any way resemble pajamas. It's easier than he expects -- Derek Hale owns pajamas! Flannel pants and threadbare t-shirts! In dresser drawers! -- and he helps Derek get his shirt off, pausing just long enough to check that the wounds are closing before he kind of awkwardly steps back and shuffles his feet. "You should put these on." He holds out blue and gray plaid pants and a black shirt and Derek takes them, pushing his boots off with his heels. "I'm going to... not stand here."

Stiles walks toward the kitchenette at the far end of the living room and looks for food. He comes up with the makings for a turkey sandwich in the surprisingly well-stocked fridge and sets to it, even cutting it in half on the diagonal when he's done. Derek needs energy to heal. He should eat. Stiles returns with the sandwich on a plate, a bottle of water, and finds Derek settled on the couch, head tipped back and eyes closed.

Stiles sits down next to him and nudges his arm with his elbow. "Hey." Derek lifts his head and opens his eyes. Stiles holds the plate and water up. "Sustenance."

He watches the protest pass across Derek's face unsaid before Derek takes the plate and bottle from him. "Thanks." He takes a bite of the sandwich and swallows. "You don't have to stay. I'm fine."

"If you keep telling me to leave, I'm really going to start being offended. I'm delightful company and I'd appreciate if you acknowledged that once in a while." Stiles settles back into the couch. "People are going to think you're rude."

Derek smiles a little around the bite in his mouth. He's already more than half done. "You're okay."

Stiles gasps, hand to his heart. "Offensive!" He scrubs his hands through his hair and down his face. "I'm awesome."

Derek leans over to drop the plate on the table, wincing a little. "She could've at least torn up my back. It's so much easier to deal with."

Stiles grimaces. "That sentence is horrifying. I'm horrified. No part of being torn up should ever be easier. You're sick."

"Life of a werewolf."

"Aren't there any nice, peaceful hippie packs that like... macrame and wear wooly sweaters and live vegan?"

Derek shakes his head, that little pull at the corner of his mouth. Stiles has memorized it, he realizes, the half-smile. He remembers so many of the things that spark it. "Not really."

"That's genuinely disappointing." Stiles pulls at the sleeve of his hoodie, thinking. He hates all of this. He hates that he knows what Derek's guts look like and that he's made all of them more vulnerable just by being human and part of their lives. "I'm sorry that any of this is my fault." He stops again, eyes closing. "I'm sorry I'm such a liability."

Derek takes a long, slow breath like he's steeling himself against something. He looks tired. "You're not a liability, Stiles." Derek drops his head back against the back of the couch and Stiles watches the shift of his throat as he swallows. "I'm too tired to catalogue what you've done for us as a pack and as individuals and how many times your research or refusal to follow anyone else's directions has saved us. But it has and you know it."

Stiles lets that settle over him for a minute. He's good at research and he knows that's useful, but he can't fight, he can't even protect himself. "If I stick around, you're always going to have to babysit me. Someone will always have to be there to make sure I don't get eaten. Fragile little human bones and all those soft guts."

"Stop it, you're making me hungry."

Stiles laughs, barks is more like it. "If I told anyone you were funny, they'd never believe me."

"If I told anyone you were capable of holding still, they'd tell me I was hilarious."

"Jokes, jokes. Torn open and still busting on me." Stiles looks at Derek's face. He's pale and sweaty. "Let's get you into your bed, okay?"

"I can do it. You should get home." Derek pushes up from the couch, groaning, an arm across his middle like he's holding himself together.

"My dad is going to wake up to a note that I'm sleeping at Scott's." He hooks Derek's arm over his shoulder and his own around Derek's waist, palm settling at his hip. He tries really, really hard to not think about how close they are or how good Derek smells despite what he's been through tonight or how much of Derek's bare skin is under Stiles' fingers.

Derek's bedroom is really just a mattress on the floor in the middle of a mostly empty room, so it takes a good amount of coordination Stiles doesn't really have to get Derek into bed without doing further damage to the healing meat of his abdomen. They manage together and Stiles gets him settled under blankets and with a bottle of water next to him. "I'll be on the couch if you need anything, okay? Don't get up without me because if I come in here and your guts are laying on the floor because you tried to get up to take a piss and refused to ask for help... I'm going to throw up and then not shove them back into you in hopes that you might heal." Stiles entire face feels like it's melting off. "Oh god, would that work?"

Derek laughs a little, a soft noise against the pillow where he's sleepily rubbing the side of his face. "None of my major organs have ever exited my body."

"What about the minor ones?"

"I had my tonsils out when I was ten."

Stiles laughs and turns to leave. "Wait, your werewolf mojo doesn't heal... sore throats?"

Derek groans. "Stiles, do you ever read what I write in your werewolf notes?"

Stiles shrugs. "I haven't done anymore research." Stiles scratches at the back of his neck. "And I mostly thought you would just be making fun of me."

"Only on all those pages about mating habits."

"I told you, that website had a lot of information!"

Stiles sees the grin break out across Derek's face, big and blinding and irresistible. Stiles is starting to realize that he's in a lot of trouble. A lot. "If there's a link to Bad Dragon in the sidebar, I promise it's not reliable."

Stiles feels his face go hot and red and he didn't want to click on that one, but it just kept coming up and the internet is a terrible place. "You looked too!"

Derek only laughs again in response.

Stiles stands in the doorway for a minute, watching Derek settle. He feels like a little bit of a creeper, but with the sheer number of times that Derek has just appeared in his bedroom, he thinks it's fair. Derek looks flushed and sweaty now and Stiles knows that's part of the process, he's seen Scott and Derek heal before, he knows what it takes out of them, but he can't help worrying. He steps over to the side of the bed and presses the back of his hand to Derek's forehead. It makes him think of his mom.

Derek only shifts a little in response. It's almost impossible to sneak up on a werewolf. Stiles is used to it. He pulls his hand away -- Derek's warm, but it doesn't feel like his brain is cooking -- but Derek catches it at the wrist, thumb and index finger meeting around the bones. "Stay."

Stiles' entire body freezes and it feels like every particle of matter in it is vibrating, starting at his wrist, at the exact point where the callused side of Derek's thumb is touching his pulse. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine." Derek tugs Stiles' arm a little, just this unbelievable nothing of a touch. "Please." Stiles can't believe the tenderness Derek is capable of. He's vicious teeth and leather jackets and brooding and stubble, not fingertips and pleases and clean sheets.

Stiles nods, swallowing, and Derek releases the grip on his wrist. Stiles pulls his hoodie off over his head and pushes his jeans down. He's wearing boxers and a t-shirt and he takes a second to convince himself that it's not any weirder sleeping next to Derek Hale in that than it was in pajamas. He's almost successful.

Stiles pulls the blanket and sheet down and settles in next to Derek. He hasn't intentionally shared a bed with anyone in years, since he and Scott got too old for it and settled for sleeping bags on the floor. Sleeping next to Derek had been accidental before. This is different.

He lies on his back for a while, staring at the ceiling and listening to Derek's breathing. He's not comfortable, but he can't commit to a position. He normally sleeps on his right side, but that would put him facing Derek and this entire situation is already more uncomfortable than he'd normally be willing to deal with. Turning the other way seems almost as weird, but sleeping on his back is never going to happen. He doesn't know how. He thought it was something that he'd figure out in adulthood, like taxes and bran.

"Will you just move, already?"

"What?"

"You're miserable and tense. I can feel it coming off of you like heat. You're killing me."

Stiles begrudgingly shifts onto his side so he's facing Derek. "You guys have the weirdest extra senses."

"You don't need werewolf senses to read you. You broadcast."

"Yeah? Is it a good show?"

"It's more like static, like middle of the night TV snow. Loud and endless."

"I think I should be offended." Stiles thinks for a minute, chewing his lip. "But you can pick out the meaning."

Derek shifts a little, turning to face Stiles without disturbing his wounds. "It's like VHS tracking. I know how to adjust it and read you."

"You're lucky my mom was loyal enough to her VHS Disney collection that I can understand that."

Derek smiles, the soft one, the one Stiles thinks he's starting to obsess over. There's this little flash of teeth and Stiles can't stop staring. He can't stop thinking about what Derek is saying, that he knows Stiles. He remembers that Derek has spent the last few weeks with Stiles, protecting him, that whether Derek admits it or not, part of the reason his body is piecing itself back together right now is because he wanted to keep Stiles safe. Stiles feels really warm all over, his throat tight. Derek is so close to him, it would be effortless to reach across the space between them and just touch. He can feel the heat pool in his belly, the want. Shit.

"Stiles."

"Yeah?"

"You're broadcasting. A lot."

Stiles cringes so hard it almost hurts. He smashes his face into the pillow. "I'm seventeen."

Derek stretches his arm out in the space between them, the palm of his hand pressing slowly and evenly against Stiles' chest, below his heart. "I'm not."

Stiles turns his head, one eye seeking out Derek's face. Stiles' heart is pounding and Derek is staring at him, his face relaxed and unreadable. Stiles thinks he sees something there, in the set of Derek's mouth and the crease of his forehead, solemnity and hope, Stiles thinks, already berating himself for thinking it, something like hope.

Stiles lifts his hand, hesitating a little -- not shaking, Stiles does not shake unless he's in serious mortal danger which, though often, isn't now -- before pressing it to the top of Derek's against his chest. "Is this you marking me as your mate?"

Derek shakes his head, sighing, but he doesn't move his hand away. "Do you ever not make jokes?"

"You have claws and fangs. I have jest. We all have our defense mechanisms."

Derek slides his hand up Stiles' chest, the trail of heat spreading outward to the very edges of Stiles' body. He can feel it in his toes, in his fingers, in his teeth. Derek's palm settles against the side of Stiles' neck, thumb at his jaw. Stiles holds completely still, his mouth open, eyes half-closed, everything so, so quiet. "I know your smell with or without the werewolf mojo side effects." He's not sure what possesses him to say it or what he means by it, but it's true.

"We smell stronger than regular humans."

"You smell stronger to me. You smell... right."

Derek licks his lips slowly, eyes never leaving Stiles', his thumb grazing the edge of Stiles' mouth. Stiles can't stop the little sound that escapes him, something between a squeak and a moan, his eyes falling shut. Derek Hale. What is happening? How is this his life?

Stiles opens his eyes. "Man of few words, huh? Strong and silent type, that's your thing. I forget sometimes, with the laughing and the smiles and the jokes." Derek's still staring at him, thumb alternating soft little strokes and gentle pressure against Stiles' jaw. He smiles at Stiles, this warm one with his front teeth that hits Stiles low and hot. He feels like he's been sex-punched and the heat is crawling up his throat and into his face in response.

"Your heart is pounding."

"This is kind of an intense situation!" Stiles hates how shrill he sounds, how nervous, how virginal. He's almost embarrassed enough to bury his face in the pillow and force himself to sleep, maybe even to crawl out of the room with his forehead on the floor, but Derek is still touching him and smiling and it doesn't seem mean, just fond.

"I can stop." Derek's hand stills, the smallest gap opening between his palm and Stiles' skin.

Stiles catches Derek's wrist in his hand and presses it back to his neck. "No. Please don't." Stiles drags his hand down Derek's arm, his fingertips smoothing the veins, settling at his elbow where it's resting against the bed.

"Jesus, Stiles." Derek shifts, tries to settle on his side before hissing softly through his teeth.

Stiles palms his chest, presses him back down to the bed, gentle. He leans up over Derek, chest pressed to Derek's side. "Please don't reopen your guts. I will throw up."

Derek's arm is trapped under Stiles' side and his hand settles easily in the small of Stiles' back. The warmth is overwhelming, the touch is overwhelming. Stiles doesn't know what's happening really, what any of this means or where it came from, how long both of them have been pushing and pulling at whatever it is inside their heads, but it feels so easy now, so automatic. Stiles is here and Derek is here and they're separated by cotton and he can smell the sweat at the hollow of Derek's throat and the copper of his healing wounds and it's because all of it is right there, next to Stiles, under his palm, so close.

Derek raises his other hand and settles on Stiles' jaw, the pad of his thumb against the swell of Stiles' bottom lip. Stiles doesn't realize he's holding his breath until it rushes out of him, rasping in his throat. Derek smiles and then he's pulling Stiles down, firm pressure at his jaw, but so gentle, and pressing their mouths together. It's half a kiss, if it's anything, just dry lips against each other, Derek's thumb tracing the corner of Stiles' mouth, but Stiles' eyes slip shut and all he can hear is the rush of his own blood in his ears.

Derek pulls back for just a second, but Stiles chases him, kissing him, really kissing him, hands scrabbling against Derek's chest and shoulders. It's so hot, so unbelievably, unimaginably hot and Stiles can't stop moving his hands. He touches Derek's arms and his jaw, fingers rubbing at the stubble there. Derek's still holding his back and his face, thumb drawing tiny circles just under his ear, and it's making Stiles crazy and hard and desperate.

One of Stiles' hands pauses at Derek's throat and Derek freezes. Stiles feels Derek's fangs shifting into place against his mouth and he pulls back, careful not to move suddenly. "Did I just threaten you? Did I push an Alpha button?"

Derek's eyes drop close and Stiles realizes how hard Derek's breathing, how red his mouth is. Jesus. Derek presses their forehead together, nodding a little. "Kind of. Not really. It's just an instinct. Weak spot."

Stiles nods, but he doesn't move his hand. He lets his thumb press into the hollow of Derek's throat. He should be scared. He should be terrified. It takes a lot to make Derek shift against his will. But Stiles isn't scared. Well, he's a little scared. His entire life has been about being marginally frightened at all times, why should sex change that?

Holy shit sex, Stiles thinks. He's in bed with Derek Hale. He's in bed with a werewolf. He doesn't want to leave. He just inadvertently threatened a werewolf while they were making out. There's almost nothing Stiles wouldn't have risked for a chance at sex before supernatural shapeshifters became a part of his daily life, why should that change?

He leans in close, presses his mouth to Derek's neck. He feels the growl at the back of Derek's throat, the tension in his neck and shoulders. He breathes deep against Derek's skin, noses at the impossibly sharp cut of his jaw, careful of his break. Even if it hurt, it'd be worth it. He knows he's pushing, pushing everything, pushing Derek. Risking whatever this is, tenuous as it is. Whatever this is, whatever it ends up being, he wants Derek to trust him, wants him to trust him completely, all the way down to the center of his wolf. He wants Derek to trust him the way he's realized he trusts Derek.

He wants to say something, something like "I would never hurt you" or "I need you to trust me" or "I want to make you safer," but none of it feels right in his mouth. He settles for pressing a kiss to the thrumming pulse in Derek's neck and holding himself there, teeth edging at Derek's skin. He can feel Derek's heartbeat under his hand, fast and steady, can feel the tips of Derek's claws gentle at his spine. He closes his teeth on Derek's neck, soft but insistent, and Derek's chin tips up, this thready moan breaking the almost-silence of their breathing.

Stiles can't help but grin against Derek, panting and half-laughing against him. "Was that you submitting? Am I the Alpha now?"

Derek groans, his hand moving to the back of Stiles' head, fingers working against his scalp. "That was me giving in to how fucking bad I want you."

"Fuck." Stiles' entire body shudders and he feels his stomach drop out like he's on a roller coaster. He's so fucking hard and it's killing him to be this close, to hear Derek responding to him. Derek Hale. Derek Hale. If this lasts any longer than the next ten minutes -- okay, five -- he's going to do something about the utter disbelief consuming him. "Fuck."

"Would if I could, but I'm not exactly fit."

"Oh my god." Stiles drops his forehead on to Derek's shoulder. "Who are you?"

Derek's arm closes tighter at Stiles' waist, pulling him closer against his side and chest, his other hand moving to hold Stiles' neck again. Stiles gives in to it, sinks into Derek, settling, careful of where he was falling apart not all that long ago. He grimaces. He's never not going to be horrified by anyone's insides being exposed, regardless of how quickly they heal. Stiles groans into Derek's skin at all the new contact and buries his face in Derek's neck. "How did this become a thing without me noticing? Not that I mind, to be clear. I do not at all mind. I am very much a checkmark in the column of not minding and a great big red one in the 'Yes Please and Thank You Good Wonderful Really Super Into This' one."

When Stiles looks up for the answer, Derek's smiling at him, soft and exhausted. "For me? About a second after you got hurt and I realized the Alpha pack saw you as valuable. It all became pretty clear right then." He touches his thumb to Stiles' jaw. "I don't know when it became whatever it is to you. But that night I slept over. It was different. It felt like you were telling me it was okay to try."

"Oh god, did I get a boner?" Stiles is pressed up against Derek, just fabric separating them, they've been kissing and Derek's hand is on his neck, and he's pretty sure they're about to commit some kind of sex act that ends in their mutual gratification, but he can feel the heat in his cheeks anyway, the sheer humiliation of getting busted with a boner.

Derek laughs, soft and close enough that Stiles feels it against his skin. "No. Well, maybe. But it was just a feeling. Do you need a diagram or something?"

"Nope, no, I am definitely not in the camp of needing to overanalyze this. I am one hundred percent prepared to go straight to the doing stuff and not talking about feelings part." Stiles pauses for just a second, worrying his bottom lip with his teeth. "Why now? Why not last week? Why not while we were in my bedroom? Why tonight? Why not sooner?"

Derek sighs. "That sounds like you needing to overanalyze this."

"I'm just curious!"

"The Alpha Pack is gone. It's... safer. It was bad enough they saw you as valuable to the pack. If they saw you as--"

"Your mate?"

"Stiles."

"Sorry."

"If they saw you as valuable to the Alpha, to me? It would've made you even more of a trophy to them."

"Thanks for not trying to get me extra killed."

"You're welcome."

Derek pulls Stiles closer and it's the first contact Stiles' cock's made with Derek's body. Stiles' breath catches in his throat, this loud rasp of sound against Derek's skin. He'd be embarrassed by it if it didn't feel so fucking good, if it didn't make Derek dip his mouth to his and kiss the living hell out of him. Stiles can't believe anything about this, that he's kissing Derek or that he's kissing someone this hot or that he's kissing anyone really and that it's so hot and that he can feel it through his entire body, like it's in the ends of his hair and his kneecaps.

Stiles has kissed three other people in his life: Shelly Warner when they were six and she'd just punched him so hard he got a nosebleed, Veronica Elroy freshman year when they were playing Seven Minutes in Heaven at her birthday party, and Nicki Clark last Christmas when he and Scott got so drunk in her backyard that they passed out on her lawn. None of those had been anything like this.

Derek's mouth is so hot and slick against Stiles' and he's torn between never, ever wanting to stop and wanting to drift out of his body so that he can watch what's happening, so he can see Derek's hands against him, pushing up under his shirt, and the way Derek pauses every minute or so to breathe against Stiles' mouth and bite at his bottom lip. This is so much better than the other kisses, so much better than Stiles could've ever imagined. He feels lost in it, the bristle of Derek's three-day beard grounding him in it, in whose mouth is against his, in whose hands are under his shirt against his back.

Stiles hasn't kept track of his hands, too lost in following Derek's lead. A twinge of pain from his healing nose shakes him back to awareness long enough to take stock of where he is. He's half on top of Derek, his leg thrown over Derek's, knee settled in the vee of Derek's legs. He has one hand braced against the bed and the other is just draped against Derek's waist. Derek is hard. Derek is really hard. Derek is hard against Stiles' leg and he's groaning as Stiles shifts, actually moans when Stiles' hand settles low on his hip, fingers sliding under his pajama pants.

"Oh my god." Stiles tucks his head under Derek's chin.

"You say that a lot."

"It's an expression of disbelief, amazement, wonder, astonishment. At this point it's shocking I say anything else." Derek spreads his hand wide over Stiles' cock through his boxers and Stiles' jerks forward into the touch. "Fuck."

"You say that a lot too." Derek doesn't wait for another response, just slides his hand into Stiles' boxers and closes his fingers around Stiles' cock. Stiles doesn't moan, he whimpers, waves of pleasure curling out under his skin. He pants against Derek's neck, teeth catching at the hollow of his throat. "Is this what it takes to shut you up?" Derek strokes, gentle and slow. It's so close to already being too much that Stiles thinks he might maybe start sobbing at any second. He'd be embarrassed at how easy he is, how much his cock is leaking, how little it's taken to get him to this point already, but it feels too fucking good to care. "If I'd known it was this easy, I'd have tried this method a whole lot sooner."

"Not really." Stiles is holding his breath, his entire body tense. "I even talk while I'm jerking off." Derek thumbs the head of Stiles' dick and Stiles can't stop the hiss through his teeth. "Just trying. Not. To come."

"Yeah?" Stiles can fucking hear Derek's smirk and it takes all of the energy focused on not coming already -- Derek's hand is dry for fuck's sake, he can't be this fucking easy -- to not bite down hard on Derek's shoulder.

"Yeah. Dick." Stiles pulls away completely and stands up on the mattress, he holds there just long enough to acknowledge how visible Derek's pajama pants have made his hard-on and how the front of his own boxers are already stained dark from pre-come, just long enough for Derek to look up at him expectantly, and then settles his knees on either side of Derek's hips, straddling his thighs.

Stiles settles his hands on Derek's waist, under his shirt, and Jesus that's incredible, hot and solid and strong and he can feel each flex as Derek adjusts to Stiles' weight on his legs. "I'm... new. To this."

Derek pushes up on his elbows, staring up at Stiles. "Trust me. I know."

"I should definitely be insulted by that."

"Virgins have a smell."

"Shut the fuck up."

"Smells like fear."

"Shut the fuck up." Derek's face is utterly stoic and Stiles goes through phases of disbelief and horror before settling on disbelief again. Derek has to be fucking with him.

Derek grins, finally, and Stiles glowers at him. Considering they're both still hard as hell and Stiles is straddling his thighs and kneading them with his fingers, it's not particularly effective. Derek sits up and pulls his shirt off over his head. Stiles has seen it before, several times -- Derek has kind of a hard time keeping his shirt on honestly -- but it's still somehow incredibly hot and kind of slutty. "You take your shirt off, like... sluttily."

"Sluttily?"

"I'm not judging! I, myself, would kill to be slutty. I'm just saying." Derek's close enough that Stiles can feel the heat of him. "How're your guts?"

Derek arches his back so he can show Stiles how he's healed. There's hardly a mark on him. "Still weak, but good."

Stiles shakes his head, fingertips trailing over the little bit of scarring that hasn't faded. He's seen Scott heal enough times to know that they will. "Awesome."

Derek spreads his hands wide at Stiles' waist under his shirt, leans in to nip at his throat. "You smell good to me." Stiles opens his mouth to respond and Derek grunts. "No, not like food, Stiles." Stiles grins. "You smell like spring in the forest. Warm. And rain." He presses his mouth to the pulse in Stiles' neck, teeth pressing in just so. Stiles' breath catches in his throat. "You smell like sex."

Stiles gestures between them. "Yeah, duh."

Derek growls against his neck, pulling Stiles closer and, oh god, Stiles kind of feels like he might die. Friction and contact and the hot press of Derek's cock against him. "No. Always. For months at least. I thought I was imagining it."

"Oh." Stiles is panting, hands on Derek's bare back. "That's... weird."

"It makes me crazy."

Stiles grins and barely refrains from doing some kind of celebratory gesture. It seems inappropriate to high-five someone because your natural odor turns them on. "I'm sorry?"

Derek growls and breathes in against him and then they're kissing again and Stiles could probably die like this and be okay with it. Derek's hands are moving all over his skin under his shirt, skimming the waistband of his boxers. He makes this soft irritated noise in his throat and then yanks Stiles shirt up until all Stiles can do is grab it and pull it off. He feels awkwardly exposed. He doesn't even like changing in the locker room. Derek just leans back a little and stares at him, smiling. "Very nice."

Stiles covers his face with his hands. "I hate you." Derek presses against him, all that hot skin, and Stiles can't help but groan.

"I mean it."

"Shut up."

"Gladly." Derek presses his mouth to Stiles' shoulder then starts a slow path of kisses and bites down his chest, as far as he can go with how close they're pressed together, which is really just far enough to slide his tongue against Stiles' nipple. Stiles moans, head tipping back, and Derek takes the opportunity to suck a mark into a larger than necessary patch of skin at the base of Stiles' throat. Stiles would complain, really, that's going to show and he's not sure he wants to explain that to anyone, but his cock is straining against his boxers and Derek's hands are pushing at them, pushing them down and, Jesus. "Oh my god."

Derek pushes his pajamas down and Stiles has to look down because Derek's thumb is rubbing at the head of his cock and he's not going to miss the opportunity to burn that into his brain for eternity. Regardless of this moment and whatever it is or how ever long it might last, he's still going to jerk off a lot and this is going directly into his spank bank savings account. Derek's cock is... impressive and, oh, maybe Stiles is into dudes a whole lot more than he thought because -- Jesus Christ -- his cock twitches and his mouth kind of starts to water. He doesn't particularly want to examine that last bit because wow, yeah.

Derek leans away and comes back with a bottle of lotion from the little pile of stuff at his bedside. "I... don't really keep lube around."

Stiles bites down on the urge to laugh. Derek talks. Derek says lube. Stiles' life has taken a sudden and bizarre turn. "Dude, I regularly jerk off with conditioner."

"That can't be good." Derek's teeth press at his bottom lip as he squeezes lotion into his hand and moves his hand back to Stiles' cock.

Stiles squeezes his eyes shut, mouth dropping open with a moan. "I'm not, fuck, picky, is what I'm saying." Derek shifts and Stiles watches as he curls his huge hand around both of their cocks at the same time. It is the most unbelievable fucking thing Stiles has ever seen. "Fuck, Derek. Your fucking hand. Jesus."

"You do talk a lot." Derek adjusts his hand again, his thumb gliding slick over the head of Stiles' cock, and Stiles falls forward against him, forehead pressed to his shoulder. "It's kind of hot."

"And everyone's always -- Christ -- trying to shut me up. I'm a gift."

Derek palms the back of Stiles' head with his free hand and kisses him. Murmurs, "You are" against his mouth before sliding his tongue against Stiles'. Stiles can't breathe, keeps breaking the kiss to pant, moaning into Derek's mouth, hips jerking, cock sliding so easily against Derek's, against his fingers.

Derek grabs Stiles' hand and presses it to their cocks, folds his fingers around Derek's so that they're moving together, Derek's hips jerking up, his cock sliding against Stiles' fingers. Stiles can feel it then, burning low and fast. He's going to come and he's going to come fast. He tries to distract himself, but the only thing he can focus on is the stroke of their hands together and Derek's mouth against his shoulder, breathing hot against him.

"Come on, Stiles. Stop fighting it."

"What?" Stiles has to close his eyes because the flex of Derek's abs, the swell of his bottom lip, the sight of their hands together around their cocks, it's all making him crazy.

"I want you to come." Derek's voice is so low, just a growl, and it hits Stiles like thunder or lightning or a punch of fire to his gut and then he does, he comes, all over their hands and Derek's belly and his own thigh and Jesus fucking Christ Stiles could never have imagined it being this good, never could've imagined any of this at all.

He just sort of collapses against Derek, Derek's arm going around him and holding at the small of his back. His entire body is shuddering, Derek's hand still around their cocks. He breathes hard against Derek's neck and if Stiles were the kind of person who blesses other people, he'd bless Derek and his apparently unending patience because he just sits there, holding Stiles and letting him come down. When Stiles has recovered enough, he nudges Derek's hand away and wraps his own around Derek's cock, still slick with lotion and now Stiles' come. Derek is heavy and hot and so fucking hard in his hand. Stiles jerks him once, slow, getting a feel for it, and Derek moans against his ear.

Stiles has spent an enormous amount of his masturbatory life imagining what it might be like the first time he got to this part -- well, the part leading up to this, the part where he got to come -- and it was never like this. It was rarely -- though far less rarely lately -- guys and it was never Derek -- except for that one time, right after he'd mojo-ed Stiles for the first time, but that was out of Stiles' control -- and it was never this easy. He was here and Derek was hurt and then Derek was mostly healed and they were touching and it was incredible. Stiles knows that the second it's over, the second his hand isn't slowly working Derek's cock, the second they're untangled, he'll start obsessing over what it means and how he feels because no matter how aloof Stiles wishes he could be, he's not. He's not at all.

Derek digs his fingers into the back of Stiles' neck, pulls him in for a hard kiss, all teeth and bruised lips. Stiles has just enough foresight to keep his nose out of it and he's going to make sure he stays uninjured because he wants to bury his face against every inch of skin on Derek's body. Derek growls against his mouth and it is so much wolf that Stiles kind of shivers involuntarily. "Get out of your head."

"Sorry, sorry." Stiles readjusts his grip on Derek's cock and Derek groans, kissing him softer. He starts to jerk Derek off, ignoring the weird twist of his wrist because of the angle, and focusing on the noises Derek's making. He doesn't talk, but the sounds, Jesus. Stiles' breath catches, watching Derek's body flex and shake, watching his cock slip through Stiles' fingers, hearing how much Stiles' touch is getting to him -- Stiles has watched a lot of porn in his life and nothing, nothing has been as hot as this is.

Derek's fingers tighten on the back of Stiles' head, just on the kind edge of painful. "Do you ever stop thinking?"

Stiles shrugs. "Not really."

"Focus." Derek rolls his hips and Stiles doesn't know if he hates being seventeen or loves it because his dick kind of twitches in response and he hasn't even gotten Derek off yet, how is this happening?

"I'm new! I'm very nervous about doing it wrong!" Stiles hides his face in Derek's neck, murmurs. "Want it to be good for you."

Derek laughs into Stiles' hair, soft and easy. "Already good. Good 'cause it's you."

"You are killing me." Stiles decides he's going to be the authority of his own sexual destiny or something right then and pushes Derek back on the bed, sliding up to lie against his side again. Derek moves with him, hands still on Stiles, and pulls him closer as they settle. Stiles shifts his hand, finally finds a position that doesn't make him feel completely incompetent, and makes Derek moan against his ear. "Finally."

He tries hard and fast and long strokes and little touches at the head with his thumb and slow and finds a combination of even, tight-fisted strokes that actually make Derek's back arch. It is so fucking cool. Also, hot, extremely, unbelievably hot. Stiles is definitely going to be hard again soon, really soon. "Yeah, you like that."

Stiles regrets it as soon as it's left his mouth. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I don't even know how that came out. I don't understand my mouth."

To Derek's credit, he doesn't laugh, just groans and tips his head back, hips jerking. "Stiles."

Stiles kisses Derek because he thinks anything has to be better than him trying dirty talk again and he feels the second it goes from what he thinks is Derek kind of humoring him to Derek wanting it, from relaxed and easy to desperate, to hungry. Derek bites at Stiles' lip, crushes their mouths together hard enough that Stiles should want to complain, but instead just feels really, really good, and fucks up into Stiles' fist. Stiles tightens his grip, presses his thumb to the head of Derek's cock, and pulls away just long enough to murmur in Derek's ear. "Can't wait to see you come."

Stiles doesn't have time to be impressed with his one good line because Derek obliges almost instantly and it is so worth the waiting, the awkwardness, and the whole getting impaled on a tree part. Derek comes hard over Stiles' knuckles, teeth sinking into Stiles' shoulder. Stiles strokes him through it, easy like he does on his own, until Derek groans for him to stop.

Stiles falls on to his back, wiping his hand on his boxers and stretching his arms up over his head. It's a little bit of a victory dance, but he doesn't care. "That was awesome."

A wad of fabric lands on Stiles' abdomen and he holds it up, it's stained from Derek apparently cleaning himself up. "Dude, this is my t-shirt."

Derek grins sleepily, already tucked back in his pajama pants. "You can grab one of mine in the morning."

"I'm staying? Still?"

"Stiles?"

"Yeah?"

"Shut up and go to sleep."

Stiles grins and scoots slightly closer to Derek than is at all necessary. "'Kay."

To Stiles' credit, he only stays up obsessing for fifteen minutes. He's deep in some sort of fever-dream about Derek taking him to prom. It'd be humiliating if anyone could see it, but since it's only in his head -- what a relief it had been at nine to learn that his daydreams and fantasies did not in fact pop up in bubbles over his head like he thought they did -- he lets it play out. They mostly make out on the lacrosse field anyway. He only gives up on it because Derek hits him in the chest with a pillow and tells him to go to sleep again.

---

Stiles wakes up in the morning to very loud shrieks of "Oh my god" and "He's in bed with him" and opens his eyes to find Erica in the doorway, Boyd and Isaac's faces over each shoulder. Stiles grimaces and waves before he buries his face back in his pillow. He feels Derek shift next to him. "Go make pancakes and shut up."

Derek shifts again and then his face is pressed to the back of Stiles' neck, arm draped over Stiles' ribs, gentle against the scar tissue there. "I shouldn't have given Isaac a key."

Stiles can feel the heat in his cheeks, embarrassment and joy and all this stuff tangled up inside of him at once -- Derek pressed to him and Erica and Boyd and Isaac already knowing, probably knowing the second they'd walked in the door. "At least we get pancakes?"

"Boyd makes really good pancakes." Derek sniffs at Stiles' neck, drags his teeth against his hairline. "You smell like me."

Stiles tries to stifle the shiver it sends through him, all heat and pleasure. "I probably smell in general."

Derek pulls at Stiles' ear with his teeth then hums against the skin of his jaw. "Like sex. Like you're mine."

Stiles can't stop the shiver that evokes and presses back against Derek's chest. "Possessive."

"Comes with the territory. If you want it." Derek punctuates his sentences with sharp little bites to the back of Stiles' neck and shoulders.

Stiles groans. "Everyone can hear you. They're werewolves."

"They already know. Knew." Derek rubs his cheek against Stiles' arm. "Waitin' on you."

Stiles closes his eyes. Last night was incredible and his life is kind of entirely unbelievable. There's a werewolf spooning him and three more in the kitchen making pancakes. He can hear Isaac laughing. He closes his eyes and tries to focus. He can smell Derek, feels like he's drowning in it, but he can smell cologne too, Boyd's he thinks, and he can hear Erica's heels clicking on the laminate floor in front of the sink. He can almost feel Derek's anticipation rolling off of him, the want, even, he thinks. "Can I wait 'til after pancakes to pledge the rest of my life to you? I hate to make decisions on an empty stomach."

Derek's laugh tickles the little hairs at the back of Stiles' neck and he's okay with admitting how much he likes it. Derek Hale laughs! "Yeah, sounds good. I'm starving."

Stiles moves to get up, but Derek pulls him back flush against his chest. He mouths at Stiles' shoulder, bites at the back of his neck. "You sure you want to get up? Food's overrated." Derek rolls his hips and, wow yeah okay, Derek is hard against his ass and that's... Nice.

"Oh my god."

"I like when you say that." Derek grinds up against Stiles again, fingers slipping into his boxers.

"Are you high? Oh my god." Stiles pushes away from Derek. He doesn't want to, not at all, but they have to get up. "If you start that, I will never leave. I will never get out of this bed again. I will never leave."

Derek sighs and pushes himself up. "I'd say I'm okay with that, but it's kind of a terrifying prospect."

"Precisely."

It takes them longer than at all necessary to sort out clothes and get dressed because Stiles' t-shirt and boxers are unwearable and gross and Derek keeps stopping him, pushing him up against the door, and kissing him until Stiles' thinks he might pass out or come.

He's still hard when they walk out into the living room, but he's at least wearing jeans and a t-shirt and his hoodie, even though it has blood all over the pocket, and feels like he can sort of contain himself. At least for the moment. Derek is brooding and stoic again in almost the instant he breaches the doorway. Stiles wonders if he took acting classes or something. He doesn't know anyone who can turn any of their emotions on and off like that.

He sits down to a stack of pancakes shaped like dicks. His friends are assholes and he hates everyone.

---

Stiles is home and showered before noon and he's been stretched out on his bed doing nothing for almost an hour -- well, almost nothing, he jerked off in the shower because it was dire, but now he can't stop touching the bruises on his neck and he'd probably be knee-deep in some kind of Puritan shame over it if it weren't so god damn hot -- when he remembers the werewolf packet. The werewolf packet that Derek's been making lots and lots of notes in, apparently.

He sits down at his desk and starts flipping through the pages. There are big passages of highlighted stuff, mostly notes on pack dynamics that Derek has marked "close enough" next to in his tidy, all caps handwriting. There are also huge swaths of it scratched out with big Xs and "bullshit!" and "this doesn't even make sense" and "NO." Derek has helpfully illustrated what Stiles knows for a fact his dick does not look like in pink highlighter over one of the pages on mating rituals. It's a giant knotted dog dick. It's remarkably detailed. Stiles is horrified and impressed.

There are tons of notes on the pages about anti-werewolf weapons and plants, enough that Stiles is going to need to type it up and start some kind of actual database, something with heavy encryption and a password system. Maybe he can ask Danny for some really vague help because Stiles' IT skills are pretty much limited to not titling his porn folder porn.

Somewhere around the pages about the rapidity of infection and the rate of survival, none of which are accurate according to Derek's notations, Stiles notices the extra things, the little bits of Hale family history that Derek's left him. There's the story about Derek having his tonsils out and how the wolf can't always heal a chronic affliction. There's a tiny little story about the first time he saw Laura shift and how jealous he was. There's a little bit about running with his mom under the full moon, a half-remembered recipe for his dad's chili. There are little sketches of the triskelion in the forms it's taken for the Hales over generations and marks from other packs they've had alliances with.

Somehow, as he was keeping Stiles company, protecting him, Derek's bared his history in the margins, made himself known to Stiles more completely than Stiles would've thought possible. It's kind of overwhelming.

"I thought you'd been reading it all along. I don't tell people much. Normally."

"Fucking Christ Jesus." Stiles puts his hand over his heart and tries to remember how to breathe. "I'm too young to have a heart attack."

Derek smiles. "Your heart's fine. But sorry anyway." He curls his fingers into Stiles' t-shirt and pulls him close, presses one kiss against Stiles' shoulder.

Stiles grins. "Who knew you'd be such a romantic."

Derek presses them together, one hand still in Stiles' t-shirt, the other digging into his hip. "Wasn't really hoping for romance." Stiles can feel how hard Derek is through their jeans and, wow, that's never going to not totally work for Stiles pretty much instantaneously.

"Did you seriously come here in the middle of the day to take advantage of me?"

"Is that a problem?"

"No, nope, not at all." Stiles presses their mouths together, tongue sliding against Derek's and, yeah, kissing is great, super great even and Derek should probably get some kind of award for it because he really seems particularly skilled at it.

Derek manhandles Stiles on to the bed, sliding on top of him before Stiles is even all the way against the mattress and, man, Derek is strong and eager, not that Stiles is complaining about either because Derek's hands are all over him, under his shirt and dragging over his hipbones. Stiles had always figured that when this time came, he'd be overeager and grabby, but Derek is outpacing him by a mile and it is so hot, especially because Derek keeps grinding down against Stiles and moaning into his ear. Stiles is going to die. It's the only possibility. He's going to have an aneurysm or something and this is a hallucination before his brain finally explodes. "Am I dying?"

Derek stops moving and stares down into Stiles' face. "Philosophically or literally?"

"I swear to god if you say 'as soon as we're born we start dying' I will murder you with my bare hands."

Derek laughs. "You're fine, Stiles." He bites at the underside of Stiles' jaw. "Should I be worried?"

"I just can't imagine a logical world where this would be happening. I'm either in a coma and this is the world my subconscious has created for me or I'm about to have an aneurysm or I'm being mindfucked by a super villain. There's just no way this is real."

"Your subconscious has all the freedom in the world and it gives you us? Having sex? That's what it would do with its time?"

"I'm seventeen. Of course that's what it would do with its time."

Derek laughs against Stiles' neck, pressing these distractingly soft little kisses along his collarbone. "It's real, Stiles. I want you." Derek rolls his hips. "Really badly, if that isn't clear enough."

Stiles moans and then gestures wildly to Derek's entire body. "See? That's just more proof that this can't be real. What do you want with me? We weren't even friends a month ago!"

"You caught me. This is real, but it's all an elaborate plan."

"I knew it! To humiliate me?"

"To make you my love slave so I can have you at my beck and call at all times."

"Did you just say love slave? Really? That's what you got?"

Derek bites down at the pulse in Stiles' neck. "I'm distracted. What do you want from me?"

"This is really disappointing. I thought you'd be cooler. My subconscious sucks."

"Maybe it'll get it right next time." Derek grinds down against Stiles, his hands pushing Stiles' shirt up, head dipping down to lick a hot stripe up Stiles' side.

Stiles makes a strangled noise in his throat and squeezes his eyes shut. He can't concentrate on the difference between reality and fantasy when Derek's touching him and, oh god, sliding down and, Jesus Christ mouthing at Stiles' cock through his jeans. "Holy shit." Stiles makes this really high, embarrassing, stuttering whine and throws his head back against the pillow. If this is all a dream, he doesn't ever, ever want to wake up.

Derek undoes Stiles' jeans and has them down and off in what seems like a nanosecond to Stiles and then Derek's mouth is back against his cock through just his boxers this time and Stiles can't do anything but kind of flail and chew on his bottom lip and make a lot of really undignified noises. He doesn't know what to do with his hands. Scott said Allison would get pissed whenever he got too touchy with her hair and Stiles really, really doesn't want to make Derek angry while his mouth is so, so close to Stiles' cock because one, he might stop, and two, he has a lot of teeth. Very, very sharp teeth.

Derek takes his time with Stiles' boxers and Stiles is grateful for the breather, for the seconds between Derek's mouth touching lower and lower as he pulls Stiles' boxers down. Once they're gone, Derek kind of... buries his face at the base of Stiles' cock, chin against Stiles' thigh, and takes a long, deep breath and, oh. Derek's a werewolf. Derek is a werewolf. It's not something that Stiles usually forgets and it's some mix of terrifying and weirdly hot to realize it now while Derek is breathing him in, smelling him.

He doesn't get to examine that train of thought for very long because Derek takes Stiles' cock into his mouth and everything kind of goes white and blinding and Stiles thinks, for just a second, this is it, this is how I die before Derek starts sucking and moving his tongue against the head of Stiles' cock and oh my god. "Derek, Derek. Fuck." Stiles babbles incessantly for what feels like forever before he just runs out of expletives. "There aren't enough words in the English language. There are actually not enough words. Holy fucking Christ."

Derek pulls off with this unbelievably pornographic pop, mouth red and swollen, and Stiles has to cover his face with his hands. "This isn't real. None of this can be real. My subconscious is protecting me from my imminent death by putting me in a werewolf porno. What is happening? Where am I? Who are you? Are you a clone?"

Derek presses his face into the curve of Stiles' hipbone. "If I told you, it'd all collapse. At least let me finish first." He doesn't wait for Stiles to reply, just sinks back down, taking him deeper into his throat. Stiles wishes his subconscious would at least let him last a little longer. Fuck. Stiles' hand closes in Derek's hair before he realizes what he's doing. He starts to jerk away, but Derek moans and it's almost too much, Stiles' entire body tensing, so fucking close already because apparently Derek wants his hair pulled while Stiles' dick is in his mouth and Stiles is definitely going to tell Scott that because it's only fair with all the shit he had to listen to about Allison and Scott's Sexual Escapades.

He pulls again, harder than he means to, and Derek's answering moan is apparently all Stiles' body can take because he comes, hard, with this obscenely loud groan and his fingers still tangled in the short hair at the back of Derek's head and Derek just swallows, like it's nothing, like it's the easiest thing. Stiles throws his arms over his face and pants, Derek crawling up his body and planting kisses at random intervals. "Fuck." Stiles can't even remember his own name.

"Sorry, I should've, you know, given a heads up."

Derek laughs, a soft huff of air against Stiles' neck. "I didn't expect you to have enough warning."

Stiles' scoffs. "Rude."

"Maybe I was just saying I'm that good."

Stiles sighs, dropping his arms from his face. "Well you certainly are that."

"Still think you're in a coma?"

"No." Stiles turns so he and Derek are facing. Derek's mouth is still swollen and red. Stiles can't help but touch it with his thumb. "I've accepted this as my reality. If it were my subconscious' doing, I'd have definitely lasted longer than that."

Derek grins against Stiles' thumb, laughs softly. "Solid reasoning."

Stiles is quiet for a minute. "At the very least you would've wolfed out instead of getting me off." Derek laughs, soft and long. Stiles really, really likes it. "I promise I have plans to return the favor. I'm not a dick. I just can't control my legs yet."

Derek presses mouth to the tender skin just below Stiles' ear. "I won't lie. I'm a little proud."

"You are chatty in and around the sex time period. It's unnerving."

"Everyone's always saying I never talk. I talk all the time."

"Nah, you're brooding and stoic. The strong and silent type. All that."

Derek kisses Stiles, probably mostly to shut him up, which he kind of resents, but he kisses him back anyway because he likes it kind of a lot and really likes how much Derek seems to like it even if Derek's mouth tastes like Stiles' come. Stiles is not going to be That Guy. He palms the side of Derek's face, trying to track every detail of it, how smooth his skin is now, the nick at his jaw that Stiles can feel under his ring finger, the sharp turn of his jaw and the curve of his neck into his shoulder. He can feel Derek's pulse just under the skin, can smell all those things he's learned are part of him. All these tiny little pieces that fit together and make a person, that make Derek.

He's so lost in it that it takes him a minute to realize that Derek is grinding against him, one hand on Stiles' neck, the other at his waist. Stiles grins against him and slips out from underneath him, sliding off the bed. "I, uh, I want to... Can you sit on the edge of the bed? Without your pants?"

Derek looks up at Stiles, eyebrows raised. "Why?"

"Can you please just shut up and cooperate for once?"

Derek nods, half a smile pulling at the edge of his mouth and stands up long enough to strip his jeans and t-shirt off. He sits down. "Good?"

Stiles nods and drops to his knees in the vee of Derek's legs. He is nervous. Nervous because he's never done this before and he wants it to be good and he's seen Derek's cock and now it's supposed to go in his mouth where his teeth are. This seems like a terrible idea. He presses his face to Derek's thigh, just close enough that he can smell the heat of Derek's body, the salt of him.

Derek presses his palm to Stiles' cheek. "You don't have to, you know? I'm not even asking."

Stiles waves him off. "I know, I know." He takes a deep breath, noses gently at Derek's cock through the cotton of his boxer-briefs. Derek groans, fingers going tight in Stiles' hair and, oh, that's kind of okay. Really okay. He's not going to mention that one to Scott. He catches his fingers in the waistband of Derek's underwear and pulls them down enough to pull his cock out and, yeah wow, it's a lot bigger when it's right in Stiles' face than it seemed in his hand last night.

Derek reaches down, thumb pressing into Stiles' bottom lip. "I'm not going to lie. You look unbelievably hot like that."

Stiles' whole body feels electric and he can't even pretend to be cool. Derek thinks he's hot. "Yeah?" Stiles drops his head and presses his mouth to the head of Derek's cock, dragging it across the swell of his bottom lip. He feels a little like he's imitating porn and probably badly, but Derek moans, fingers going tight at the base of Stiles' skull.

"Jesus, Stiles."

Stiles opens his mouth, taking stock of his teeth and his tongue, and takes a deep breath before taking Derek in. It's salty and hot and seems impossibly big, but he slides down until he can't take anymore and gives himself a second to adjust. Derek is still above him, hand just gentle pressure against Stiles' head, waiting, so patient. Stiles sucks a little, cheeks hollowing, and Derek moans. "Stiles."

Apparently what Stiles needed was reassurance because now he's ready and he kind of throws himself into it, hands and mouth and moans around Derek's cock because it turns out that this whole sucking someone's dick, sucking Derek's dick, is a thing he is totally into. Derek's appreciative noises are also, like, awesome and he's babbling too, all these soft murmurs of Stiles' name, and filth, actual filth.

"Your fucking mouth, Stiles. Fucking made for this, made for me."

Stiles tries not to get distracted, catches Derek with his teeth just once, apologizing with his tongue, with redoubled efforts and a little bit more down his throat. It doesn't take long for Derek to groan, "Close" and Stiles can't help but feel a little smug. He wants to let Derek come in his mouth, wants to give Derek what Derek gave, wants it. He nods, hums around Derek's cock a little, jerks him off, sucking at the head. He can feel Derek holding back, pulling at his hair, trying to pull him off. He pulls off for just a second. "I want to. Come on." and swallows him back down.

Derek's thighs tense around Stiles' ribs, almost too tight, but it's worth it when Stiles looks up to see Derek's head tipped back, mouth open, entire abdomen tense, and then the moment he comes. Stiles can barely swallow around him, hot and salty and a lot, which Stiles is going to remember later when they're talking about the notes again because it seems like a thing he should remember. Stiles takes as much as he can, stroking Derek through it, and it's so much less gross than he'd imagined, which is kind of a relief. He's probably not going to mind doing this again. And again.

He pulls back and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. Derek falls back on the bed, pulling Stiles' arm. "Come here."

Stiles tucks Derek into his boxer-briefs and crawls back up the bed to settle against him. Stiles is warm and sleepy and loose-limbed. Sex is exhausting.

Derek kisses Stiles and Stiles focuses on not caring about the come that was just in their mouths. If Derek doesn't care, Stiles refuses to. He kisses Derek back hard. He will not be That Guy. It feels incredible no matter how weird he might think it is. He thinks kissing Derek is probably never not going to amaze him. He's okay with that.

"You have a really filthy mouth." Stiles grins against Derek's jaw. He feels almost as punch drunk as he did after Derek werewolf mojo-ed him so hard they both passed out.

"You're one to talk." Derek presses his thumb to Stiles' lower lip. Stiles can feel how swollen it is.

Stiles shrugs. "Just using my god-given gifts. Didn't hear you complaining."

"Stiles."

"Shut up?"

"Please."

---

Stiles prints out some new notes for Derek to mark up next time he appears in Stiles' bedroom. Some of it's about healing rates in bite-wolves versus born-wolves. Stiles doesn't know anything about the numbers, but the details are too specific to be fiction. There are a couple new pages about speculative cures and bite-wolf success rates. He even prints out a couple of pages about mating rituals and makes sure to pull them from a less than reputable site. Derek should have something to laugh at.

The last page he prints is just a bulleted list:

Characteristics of the Lycanthropa Beaconus: Derek Hale Subspecies

  • brooding and stoic
  • actually talks a lot though
  • has a filthy mouth during sexual activities
  • keeps lotion next to his bed
  • copious orgasmic output, copious
  • makes a mean grilled cheese
  • really likes blowjobs (may not be exclusive to this species)
  • has a fondness for black t-shirts and leather jackets
  • impressively endowed, like, really
  • often refuses to ask for help when he needs it
  • smells like hot asphalt and dry leaves and smoke and burned sugar
  • has an extreme weakness for the Homo Sapien: Stiles Stilinski Subspecies
  • even if he usually refuses to admit it
  • even if he's shaking his head right now
  • and can only admit it right after he's had an orgasm
  • is luckily also irresistible to Homo Sapien: Stiles Stilinski
  • and should be more grateful for it
  • When Stiles sees it again, Derek's drawn an extremely accurate diagram of Stiles' dick on it.