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A Criminal and His Lucky Charm

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If someone had asked Stiles Stilinski if he was considered anything special a few years ago, he would have laughed at them before rolling his eyes. He never once considered himself to be important, let alone worthy of all the attention he suddenly found concentrated on him. And he blamed it all on Derek Hale.

Until Derek Hale walked into his life, Stiles was the residential nobody. Well, not nobody—he had an unimpressive reputation of his own before he rose as a member of the Hale family. He was the Boss’s right hand—the person not to cross, unless you wanted to go missing. He was Derek Hale’s second in command, the guy who got to walk into the room late and lean against Derek’s chair without the blink of an eye interrupting whatever Derek was saying. He was Derek Hale’s—his mind, his body, his everything; he gave it all to Derek.

Derek Hale valued Stiles above everyone—everything. Stiles betrayed that, and now, with Derek’s hand around his throat, he was going to die for that betrayal. His Adam’s apple bobbed against Derek’s hand as he swallowed the lump in his throat. His breathing was shallow and patient as he waited. In the end, he figured if he had to die, dying in Derek’s arms wasn’t so bad. He could at least have that.

~*~

It all started with Stiles walking into The Howler, the famed club that functioned as the front for the entirety of the Hale family business, almost a year ago. He knew what he was doing was dangerous, but the thrill he felt tingling up his spine made it worth it. He wasn’t surprised when a drink found its way in front of him—he found out in college that he had an allure that pulled most women—and men—into striking up a conversation with him.

Stiles was, however, surprised when none other than Derek Hale sat next to him. His heart was hammering in his chest as he conversed with Derek over the loud noise of the club. He managed to charm his way into meeting Peter.

Peter became the Head of the Hale family once Laura was murdered almost a year ago. Peter’s reign was bloody and merciless, no one safe from his retribution as rival families fell. Derek remained as a loyal second, just like he was with Laura.

Peter liked Stiles.

It was Peter that brought Stiles in, keeping him close. There was a tension growing between Derek and Peter, and Stiles wasn’t helping it by being in the middle. Peter openly stated his fondness for Stiles, his flirtatious manner and propositions only growing the more Stiles steered him away.

Derek didn’t like it.

It was Stiles who found out the truth about Peter. He showed Derek the evidence. He showed him the receipts, the photos, the voice mail Peter left Laura to meet him the night she was murdered.

Derek remained silent the entire time Stiles talked. It wasn’t until he finished, the silence growing, that Derek stood up, calmly buttoning his jacket, smoothing the material out.

Stiles flinched when Derek flipped the desk.

Stiles thought he had successfully convinced Derek to carefully plan it through. He thought Derek would let Boyd and Isaac prepare the necessary measures.

That night, Derek came back to the mansion looking disheveled, his body surprisingly at ease. His hands were covered in blood. Everyone but Stiles panicked, asking questions as they scrambled to get ahead of it.

Lydia chastised Derek for making her job more difficult, working to arrange everyone to cover up Derek’s place in Peter’s death. Stiles obeyed her when she told him to bring Derek upstairs to clean him up.

“I left him out there,” Derek uttered when Stiles shrugged him out of his jacket. He stared down at his hands, unable to look away from the blood. “Where he left Laura.”

“Lydia will take care of it,” Stiles answered, rolling Derek’s sleeves up to his elbows before turning to run the water in the sink.

Derek shook his head. “He laughed. I confronted him and he … he laughed about it. He said he was glad he did it. That she—” he closed his eyes, taking a few breaths to calm himself. “That she deserved to die like an animal. She wanted peace—she wanted to disband it all. He used my guilt to— to keep me as part of the family.”

Stiles moved to kneel in front of Derek. “Look at me,” he softly instructed, his hand gently cupping Derek’s chin. “The family is yours to run now,” he instructed. “You can disband it, like Laura wanted. You can walk away from it.”

“I killed him,” Derek replied, still focused on the blood staining his hands. “I killed him like the animal he was.”

“You can do what you want, Derek,” Stiles stated. “Just remember that, okay?”

~*~

Stiles knew he was in trouble when Derek stopped smoking for him.

They had just rolled around a bit in the sheets, their potential nap ruined when Jackson called up to let them know Derek was needed. Stiles placed a last kiss on Derek’s lips before rolling onto his back. He stared at the ceiling as he recalled that he had a meeting with Agent McCall today.

“I’m going to see my dad today,” Stiles stated, letting Derek know he’d be absent.

“Okay,” Derek replied. “Is he improving?”

“Brain activity is up, so that’s something,” Stiles partially shrugged as he sat up.

“I’ll make another call,” Derek replied, not so much an offer as it was a guarantee. He sat up, his fingers running across Stiles’ back before he placed a kiss against Stiles’ shoulder blade.

“You don’t have to,” Stiles guiltily answered, his voice weak and small as he felt like curling up into a ball and dying.

“I want to,” Derek responded.

“And you get what you want,” Stiles fondly stated.

Stiles slowly slipped off of the bed. He scooped up his clothes before slipping back into his briefs. He let his eyes linger on Derek as he watched him relax into the bed. His eyes immediately honed in on the cigarette held between his lips.

“Yuck,” Stiles scrunched his nose at the smell of the smoke hitting his nostrils. “You’re such a cliché.”

Derek kept his eyes closed, folding his hands up behind his head as he slowly inhaled the cigarette’s smoke. He slowly peeked his eyes open halfway, allowing them to linger on Stiles’ body. He smiled when he caught Stiles checking him out.

“You’re not always going to look like that, you know,” Stiles sighed as he started to pull his pants on.

“Meaning?” Derek questioned as he let the cigarette hang from his lips.

“Meaning, it’s an inevitable fact that you are going to grow old and leathery from your smoking. Your lungs are going to look like Swiss cheese—riddled with holes.”

“Is that a mob joke?” Derek lightly questioned.

Stiles tried not to smile as he grabbed his shirt. He started to pull his shirt on when Derek surprised him by standing up.

Derek discarded his cigarette in the ashtray before taking a handful of Stiles’ shirt, pulling it out of Stiles’ grasp, only to drop it on the bed with little care. He pulled Stiles towards him, holding him close as he tried to kiss him once more.

Stiles laughed as he turned his head away. “No way, you stink like tobacco.”

“You’re not going to let me kiss you?” Derek asked in slight disbelief, finding Stiles’ actions more adorable than anything else.

“Not when you smell like an old ashtray,” Stiles crinkled his nose for emphasis.

“You want me to quit?” Derek seriously questioned, eyes flickering across Stiles’ face.

“Yeah,” Stiles answered, not knowing why.

“Okay,” Derek stated, as if quitting was the easiest thing in the world for him. “Every time I have a craving though, I expect a kiss.”

Stiles laughed. “You quit, I’ll give you more than that,” he replied, letting his hand slowly move down Derek’s stomach, inching closer to outright cupping his sex when there was a knock.

Derek grumbled, snatching his trousers from underneath the bed, slipping them on before opening the door to glare at Lydia.

~*~

“That’s how this works,” the Special Agent in charge stated, waiting for Stiles to reply.

“Dead,” Stiles skeptically stated. He was sitting next to his dad’s bed, Isaac waiting down with the car. This was the only way the FBI managed to speak with Stiles without eyes seeing unless they wanted to haul him in with false charges.

“We stage you being killed off by a rival gang,” Agent McCall explained. “Hit two birds with one stone.”

Stiles scrunched his nose at the term. “You want to bait them both into all out war.”

“You’re saying Hale would initiate war if you died?” The Special Agent questioned.

Stiles knew what was happening. “I am in a sexual relationship with Hale. Happy?” He grumpily confessed, glaring at them both.

“Which means you are compromised. You can’t perform your job—”

“Bullshit,” Stiles snapped. “I’m allowed to torture, extort, kill and even cover it up if need be to keep my cover. But if I’m fucking the boss, suddenly I’m compromised.”

“Those are the rules,” Agent McCall replied. “You’re the one that broke them. We can’t have an undercover operative slip up because he thinks he has feelings for the target.”

“After every single thing he’s done for your dad, I’d say you may have new feelings that may interfere with your thinking process,” the Special Agent commented.

“How are you going to stage it?” Stiles questioned. “He’s not going to believe it without my body.”

“We set up some charges, arrange for you to be placed in prison,” the Special Agent explained. “Stage your death at the hands of one of the Argent’s men. Make sure the body is disfigured enough.”

“The Argents,” Stiles stated. “He’s going to rip them apart.”

“Exactly our point,” Agent McCall replied.

“No,” Stiles stated. “I’m not doing it.”

“You either stage your death, or take your chances with the Hales finding out,” the Special Agent dangerously threatened. “You really think Hale will be as loving as he’s been when he finds out you’re the one snitching on all the families.”

“He won’t stop with you, Stiles,” Agent McCall added. “Your dad will be on that list. When Derek seeks retribution, he doesn’t forgive and forget.”

~*~

Stiles lied to Derek. He told him everything would be fine. That he’d be out before long. He kissed Derek as if it was the last time. It was the last time, but Derek didn’t know that. The hopeful look on Derek’s face pulled at his heart, a dull ache making him linger. He wanted to tell him everything. He wanted him to forgive him. He wanted to go back and walk into the Howler on his own accord.

But Stiles couldn’t have what he wanted.

The agents made Stiles watch them tell Derek he had been killed; all from behind the safety of the two-way mirror that separated the debriefing room from the interrogation room. He noticed the way Derek’s jaw set tight, Lydia immediately grabbing his hand.

Stiles could barely hear Derek ask to see his body, his voice soft and weak, almost as if he couldn’t find his voice. He demanded to be allowed to leave when he saw the broken look on Derek’s face. He couldn’t stay and watch the aftermath of what he put Derek through.

~*~

“He thinks I’m dead,” Stiles stated as he followed the Agent McCall through the offices. It had been months after Stiles’ fake death, kept hidden by the FBI as they finally grew closer to Derek’s trial date.

“We don’t have a key witness besides you,” McCall nonchalantly replied, as if Stiles’ life wasn’t on the line.

“He’ll kill me,” Stiles urgently answered. “As in, actually kill me. If he finds out that I’m the reason he is going to jail, he’ll find one of the most creative ways he can to kill me.”

“You think his reach is that far?” Agent McCall asked in an amused tone.

“You know his reach is that far!” Stiles shouted, more worried about his father than himself.

Derek knew what hospital Stiles’ dad was in. He knew what room. He knew what doctors were assigned him. Derek was the one that got his dad the best doctors in the country. Stiles liked to think that Derek loved him, but he knew that once Derek’s trust was broken, it was broken for good. It wouldn’t matter that Derek once loved him, or that Stiles loved Derek with every ounce of his being. Stiles betrayed Derek the moment he agreed to go undercover—before they even met.

When the FBI wanted something, they knew how to twist just right. Stiles got them to drop more than half the charges against Derek, but that was all they were willing to budge on.

“You’re testifying Stiles,” McCall answered.

Stiles ran a shaking hand through his hair. “The death penalty,” he finally uttered.

McCall actually paused his movements. “You want Hale to get the death penalty?” He questioned as he turned to look at Stiles.

Stiles weakly shook his head. “Take it away,” he uttered, not bothering to look at him. “Take it away, and I’ll testify.”

“He’ll still get life in prison,” Agent McCall replied.

Stiles looked up at the agent. “Take the death penalty away, and I’ll testify.”

McCall carefully watched Stiles. “This doesn’t change the fact that you lied to him. He’ll know.”

“I know,” Stiles replied. “I want it in writing,” he firmly demanded as he turned to leave.

~*~

Lydia smacked Stiles so hard that a loud ringing consumed his hearing. He slowly turned his head back to look at her, noticing that she had tears of joy mixed with her anger. He checked his watch, knowing that the agents assigned him weren’t going to be distracted for long.

“I’ll see to it,” Lydia finally stated, taking the forms from him. She moved to sit at her desk, ignoring Stiles until he finally turned to leave. “You have no idea what you did to him,” she softly commented.

“I know,” Stiles answered, paused by the door. “When I was with him … the whole world just seemed to …”

“Burn?” Lydia asked.

“It didn’t exist,” Stiles corrected her.

That was the thing about Derek. He could burn the whole world if he wanted—if he thought Stiles wanted it. But Derek didn't.

“Nothing mattered but him. I thought I had to get away, but the truth is … I was home when I was with him.” Stiles shook his head. “I’m not going to let them use me to put him in prison. It’s the least I can do.”

~*~

“I can’t testify against the defendant,” Stiles announced before the prosecutor was even able to get a word out. Everyone in the courtroom eerily looked at Stiles. Everyone seemed to be taken off guard—everyone except Derek and Lydia.

Lydia had explained everything to Derek, which in turn explained why Derek was so calm when Stiles walked in. His face was guarded, not giving anything away as his eyes carefully watched Stiles.

“Have you been threatened?” The prosecutor asked, his eyes moving towards Lydia.

“No,” Stiles calmly answered. “I tried to tell Agent McCall that I couldn’t testify, but he wouldn’t listen to me.” He looked at the judge. “I think he just wanted to put Derek behind bars regardless of whether he committed the crimes or not.”

“Objection, your honor!” The prosecutor quickly snapped.

“The jury will ignore Mr. Stilinski’s previous statement, and it will be struck from the record,” the judge stated before turning to look at Stiles. “You’ll answer the questions without speculation.”

Stiles nodded in agreement before turning to look at the prosecutor.

“Mr. Stilinski, do you know the defendant?” The prosecutor started.

“I do,” Stiles calmly stated. “And I am telling you, I cannot testify against Derek Hale.”

“So you know the defendant’s name but you can’t testify. Why?” The prosecutor demanded, looking as if he was prepared to tear apart anything Stiles was ready to offer.

“Because he’s my husband,” Stiles answered as he leaned forward to announce it loudly into the microphone.

The entire courtroom erupted, but all Stiles could concentrate on was Derek.

Derek’s shoulders were heavily set in a firm line, a look of ease about him as he leaned back into the chair. He looked like a lounging predator, waiting for an excuse to pounce. He looked better than anyone else in the room, his suit personally tailored to fit every part of his body just right. Stiles caught sight of the blue socks he had given him peeking out from under the cuffs of his trousers.

But it was Derek’s eyes that Stiles couldn’t look away from. His eyes were piercing. They had the appearance of calmness, but there was a storm hidden beneath the speckles of gold. Derek was angry. He was angry at Stiles.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t expect my client’s dead husband to be the key witness,” Lydia snapped back at the prosecutor when he demanded the marriage certificate. “I’ll have my secretary retrieve it from my office and bring it here. May we recess until then?”

“Convenient that she asks for—”

“You’re lucky I’m not asking for adjournment, because at this point, you have no case against my client. Once I produce this document, you have nothing but speculation.”

“One hour,” the judge snapped, cutting both lawyers off. “One hour, and I expect a legally certified United States marriage license.”

“I can give you that, a list of those who attended, and even my client’s will—he didn’t get to change it yet,” Lydia flickered her gaze over to Stiles before looking back at the judge.

“Marriage license,” the judge loudly stated as he banged his gavel. “Recess, one hour. Bailiff, take Mr. Hale back into custody.”

~*~

“Please, Lydia,” Stiles almost begged as everyone started filing back into the courtroom.

“You’re a liar,” Lydia replied. “You lied to me, and you lied to Derek Hale. Derek Hale, Stiles. The most influential man in all of Beacon Hills—who you had wrapped around your finger, I might add.”

“Just … Please,” Stiles stated, looking down out of guilt. “Please convince him not to hurt my dad. I don’t care what he does to me.”

“Quiet,” Lydia harshly whispered. “I don’t want to talk about this here. I’ll speak with you afterwards.”

If there is an afterwards. Stiles nodded in agreement despite his doubts. He slipped back into the crowd as the bailiff brought Derek back out.

Everything seemed to flash by, nothing but a series of heated arguments. Lydia put Derek on the stand to testify. Derek’s voice was soft and relieved, sounding more in love with Stiles than Stiles thought possible. The judge accepted the forged marriage license. Stiles wasn’t allowed to testify—no key witness to testify against Derek. The jury bought it. Not guilty. There was a series of flashing bulbs, hurried questions being thrown at Derek and Lydia as they embraced. Questions were being tossed at Stiles, but he couldn’t hear any of them. He focused on Derek moving towards him. He let Derek pull him in close, even wrapping his own arms around Derek’s back—he knew that this was the last time he was going to be safe in his embrace; it was the last time he was going to hold Derek.

Stiles didn’t blame Derek. He didn’t blame him as he let him take his hand and lead him out of the courtroom, heading down the steps of the courthouse and towards the waiting car. Boyd and Isaac were standing by the car, their eyes immediately honing in on Stiles. What would have once been a heartfelt reunion was covered in anger and uncertainty.

Sure, Boyd and Isaac were pissed on Derek’s behalf and for their own reasons—feeling betrayed didn’t hurt their reasoning. But they both liked Stiles. And they both knew what happened when a liar got caught.

Stiles didn’t need Derek to say anything, when he opened the door Stiles immediately crawled in, sliding across the seat. He couldn’t count the number of times he and Derek had sex in the back of this car. They were always on top of each other the second they were alone. A flurry of eager hands and desperate pants of need. His hands ripping at Derek’s shirt, not caring about buttons as Derek easily fingered him open.

Derek remained on the other side of the vehicle, his eyes staring out of the window as he didn’t bother to look at Stiles. He only spoke to tell Boyd and Isaac to put the partition up. Derek used to be too out of breath from Stiles stealing kisses here and there to get all the words out, Boyd and Isaac used to just roll their eyes, the partition almost up all the way even before Derek ordered them to. But this time, Boyd hesitated, his eyes flickering over to Stiles before he obeyed.

Stiles looked down at Derek’s hand resting against the leather seat between them. He wanted to reach out and hold Derek’s hand, something they did when things got too serious—when Derek almost got killed playing a stupid game of Russian roulette with another mob boss. The gun fired all six times, the fifth time it was up against Derek’s head, and he only looked at Stiles as he pulled the trigger. The click of the barrel turning and firing without the loud bang of a bullet made Stiles shake from the adrenaline. That was the only time he ever hit Derek. When they were safe at home, Stiles punched him—in front of everyone. He broke down crying, Derek carrying him back to his room.

Their room. It had been their room since the first time they fucked. Stiles was the only person he let in his room without supervision. He mostly let everyone have run of the mansion, but his bedroom was off limits—his inner sanctum that gave him a peace of mind. But Stiles could walk in and take a nap even when Derek wasn’t there.

Stiles knew what he was throwing away when he agreed to give damning evidence. He was just supposed to keep an eye on Derek—that was the only descriptor of his job when he started undercover. But then the demands continued to roll in. When he refused the first time, the FBI applied pressure. And they found his weak spot—his dad. Either ruin his father’s career, the only thing he had left going for him as he lay comatose in the hospital, or give evidence that would put Derek away for good; evidence that would dismantle the Hale family—permanently.

Stiles resisted his urge to run when the car stopped outside the mansion. He allowed Derek to grasp a hand around his wrist, pulling him out of the car. With all things considered, Derek was being gentle compared to what Stiles imagined. He kept his head down as everyone who saw him went from shocked relief, to outright disbelief, to no compassion or pity for what they figured was going to happen.

There’s only one way out of the family.

Stiles wasn’t surprised when Derek dragged him all the way up to the bedroom. He almost wanted to snort at how dramatic Derek could be. He wanted to make a joke—something about smothering him with a pillow in the afterglow of their makeup fuck. Maybe Derek would give him that. Christ, he was as fucked up as everyone else in the family, and he knew it. Part of him wasn’t even afraid of Derek—expecting the hit to come from someone else. But of course Derek would want to do it himself.

“Don’t,” Stiles finally stated, his voice hoarse.

Derek slowed his movements to shrug out of his jacket, turning to finally look at Stiles as he pointlessly tossed the jacket to hang over the back of his desk chair.

Stiles ran a hand through his hair before looking up at Derek. “Don’t do it yourself,” he elaborated. “I’m sure a number of the others want to. I’m sure even some of them wouldn’t mind … Dirtying me? Isn’t that what Gerard called it?” He released a weak laugh of contempt, looking away from Derek. “Stupid way of saying rape,” he almost mumbled. “But that’d make it easier—pinning it on the Argents. Handing the snitch to them would be like tossing a cow to a pack of hyenas.”

Stiles tried to keep from shaking, the thought of someone besides Derek touching him always made him feel off. But the thought of someone raping him … it was unimaginable. It was a degenerate way of harming the person every way imaginable—it took away all their power right before killing them. It was usually done to the female family members of the target. Derek never sanctioned “dirtying” to occur. But Stiles could think of some that wouldn’t mind doing that to him. Both Argent and Hale, regardless of their allegiances, were injured from Stiles’ “death.” Retribution was wanted.

“I’m not giving you to the Argents,” Derek curtly answered.

“Then call Jackson up here,” Stiles replied. “He’ll be happy to kill me. He’d be happy to serve time for killing me. Just …” He took a deep breath before continuing. “I know what I did was wrong. Even telling Lydia what the prosecution had planned—getting fake-legally married … none of that changes that I broke your trust. And I know … I’ve seen what happens when people do that.”

Stiles saw the aftermath of what happened to Peter when Derek found out that he was responsible for Laura’s death. He was the one that washed the blood from Derek’s hands. He held Derek’s shaking body throughout the night, rubbing circles into his back.

“Just please don’t hurt my dad,” Stiles weakly pleaded, knowing he didn’t deserve to ask for anything from Derek. Derek had the ability to do whatever he wanted, no consequences waiting for him—Stiles had made sure of that when he blew the government’s one chance to bring Derek’s down.

“Your dad has nothing to do with this,” Derek answered, his voice hollow and calculating.

Stiles nodded. “I know it means nothing, coming from me … but thank you.” He turned and looked at the balcony. When Derek didn’t make a motion to call for someone else, he figured he meant to do it himself. He moved to head over to the balcony, brushing the billowing curtain out of his way. He allowed himself to briefly smile when he noticed that the sun was slowly descending behind the tree tops as a soft burst of orange stained the sky—it wasn’t such a bad place to die.

Stiles drew a steady breath when he heard Derek’s footsteps draw closer to him. He placed his hands on the railing, his fingers nervously drumming against the marble beneath his hand. He closed his eyes when Derek’s fingertips traveled up his spine, ghosting against his neck. He released a small shudder when Derek wrapped an arm around his waist, pressing Stiles’ back into his chest.

Stiles barely parted his lips as he drew in a sharp intake of breath when Derek’s hand wrapped around his throat. This was it. This was how Derek was going to do it. Close. Personal.

“Do you remember what Peter told you when you first joined?” Derek’s chest softly rumbled against Stiles’ back.

“There’s only one way out of the family,” Stiles replied, Derek’s hand merely cupping his throat, no pressure present.

Derek’s thumb slowly caressed the delicate skin just under Stiles’ jaw. “And what I told you the first time you shared my bed.”

Stiles tried to blink away his tears as he recalled the night. It had just sort of happened. Stiles had almost died, Scott stitching him up and reprimanding him for not letting Isaac accompany him into the warehouse. Stiles argued that it wasn’t his fault that the Argents had set a trap, nearly killing him before he escaped. A long gash ran along his side, causing him to limp his entire way back to the car, were Isaac proceeded to panic that Derek was going to slowly murder them before drowning Beacon Hills in blood if Stiles died on their watch. Boyd, on the other hand, remained stoically confident that Stiles would make it to Scott’s just fine—that or he was indifferent to Stiles dying, which Stiles took offense to.

Isaac was right about one thing—Derek was pissed all the same when he saw Stiles’ shirt cut and covered in blood. Stiles tried to play if off, smiling when Derek made his way across the foyer. He made light of the fact that he needed Isaac to keep standing.

Their fight escalated more than the others, ending in Stiles doubled over in pain as he pulled at his stitches, Derek grumpily carrying him up to his room. Stiles let Derek take his clothes off, allowing him to inspect Scott’s handiwork first hand, confident that he wouldn’t stop pestering him until he saw it.

The kisses that followed were the first sober ones shared. There were plenty drunken kisses that happened before, particularly when Stiles couldn’t hold his tequila, but none of them ever amounted to anything. Stile didn’t know if it helped that he was already undressed, or that his life had been threatened. Either way, these kisses ended with a very naked Stiles using a very naked Derek’s chest as a pillow.

As they both started drifting off to sleep, Derek’s fingers continuously ghosted over the bandage covering Stiles’ stitches. Stiles was almost asleep when he heard Derek speak.

If you’re going to die, it’s going to be my hands that do it, not someone else’s.

Those words would have scared Stiles if they came from someone else. From anyone else, those words would have been a threat. But from Derek, they were a promise. No one was going to touch him ever again.

“If I’m going to die, it’s going to be by your hands, no one else’s,” Stiles finally answered. He reached his hand down, tangling his fingers with Derek’s hand that rested over his stomach. He closed his eyes and waited for Derek’s fingers to tighten around his neck.

“I meant it,” Derek’s breath tickled Stiles’ ear as he spoke.

“I know,” Stiles weakly answered.

“You’re not going to beg,” Derek stated instead of asking.

“Begging implies that I did something capable of being forgiven,” Stiles answered as he opened his eyes, part of him wanting to turn and look at Derek. “But if you want begging …” He ignored the cold chill that ran up his spine as he thought of what his last words could possibly be. “Please forgive yourself.”

“For what?” Derek’s voice was rough next to Stiles’ ear.

“For allowing yourself to let someone in,” Stiles replied. “For letting me love you. I didn’t deserve it, but that wasn’t your fault.” He closed his eyes, unable to stop the tears rolling down his cheeks. “Derek, please, just do it. Please— please don’t drag this out.”

Stiles clamped his eyes shut, waiting for the vice grip that would slowly choke the life from him. But instead of pressure, Derek’s hand withdrew from Stiles’ throat completely. He hesitated in opening his eyes, catching sight of the sun withdrawing beneath the treetops. He turned to look at Derek.

“I can’t,” Derek stated. “I never could. Not to you.”

Stiles shoved by Derek, heading back into the bedroom. He ignored the sound of Derek’s steps following him. He marched over to Derek’s bedside nightstand. He ripped the drawer open, pulling out the handgun he knew Derek kept there. Derek had shown him one night, in case something ever happened when he wasn’t there. He turned to look at Derek, tightening his hold on the grip as he raised the gun to press the barrel against his temple.

“Stiles—” Derek made an abortive move forward, a small attempt to stop him.

“Don’t,” Stiles argued, tears burning his eyes. “This is how it ends, Derek,” his finger grazed against the trigger, itching to pull the small lever. He wanted it to end—he didn’t want to hurt anymore for everything he did.

“You’d do that to me?” Derek asked as he took a confident step forward. “You’d make me watch you die?”

“You should want to watch me die,” Stiles snapped.

“I don’t,” Derek argued, taking another step. “You told me I could have whatever I wanted—the night I killed Peter, remember?”

Stiles hesitated, his eyes focusing on Derek’s moving steps.

“I knew,” Derek answered. “I knew you were a cop.”

Stiles almost stumbled backwards from those words.

“You were a cop, but you chose to lie about Peter,” Derek continued, only a few steps from Stiles now. “You helped me dodge more than one indictment. You just lied on the stand. You ... you forged the marriage license,” he stated, still in disbelief of the lengths Stiles went to. “All of it just to keep me out of prison.”

Stiles suppressed a sob when Derek’s hand reached for the gun. He let him pull the gun away from his head, easing his grip as Derek took the cold metal from his grasp.

“What do you want?” Stiles weakly questioned, begging for an answer.

“You,” Derek stated as he leaned forward to place the gun on the nightstand. “And if you need my forgiveness for what happened in order for that to work, then I forgive you.”

Stiles trembled as Derek reached a hand up to cup his cheek. He blinked away the tears burning his eyes.

“But it doesn’t matter—not to me,” Derek stated. “It won’t matter to the family.”

“Derek, I …” Stiles bit back his words, not knowing what to say. It was all he ever wanted. “I don’t know what to do.” No one was manipulating him into getting what they wanted, giving him the freedom to choose for the first time.

Stiles wanted nothing more than to stay with Derek. He didn’t want to have the FBI hanging over him. He didn’t want his guilt weighing him down. He just wanted to hide in Derek’s embrace for the rest of his life.

“Marry me,” Derek stated with ease. He took the last step, easily crowding into Stiles’ space, an action Stiles welcomed. He placed Stiles’ hand on his chest, keeping his eyes on him. “Save me.”

Stiles grabbed Derek, pulling him into a kiss. It was similar to the one Stiles had given him when he was arrested. He kissed him as hard as he could, every fear and hope mixed together as Derek embraced him.

Derek dismantled the family. He took Stiles far away from California when the Sheriff finally woke up from his coma. He relocated them away from it all, leaving that life behind him. He married Stiles on a private island in the Mediterranean, the sun setting as he slipped the ring on Stiles’ finger.

Derek had everything he wanted, and Stiles felt like he was home for the first time in a long time.