“What're you doing here, Derek?” Stiles asked when he walked into his room to find Derek sitting at his desk. He was soaked to the bone and dead tired from holding the aforementioned werewolf afloat not even an hour ago “I told you we weren’t having these info sessions anymore after you turned those three.”
“How many times do I have to tell you I had to turn them? I can’t be an alpha without betas.”
“You shouldn’t be alpha at all.” Stiles returned bitterly.
“Oh, yeah. And you would actually have been okay with Scott killing Peter?”
“He would have deserved it.” Stiles forced out. In his mind Peter did deserve to die, so it didn’t come off as a lie, but he knew it wasn't really an answer to the question.
“You’re a child if you think that.” Derek shot back.
“Conveniently, I am a child.”
“Well you don't have to belligerently insist upon acting like one. Scott does that enough for the both of you.”
“Scott has every right not to want to be your beta!” Stiles cried half-heartedly. He tried desperately to maintain his vendetta against Derek, but knowing the older werewolf had not actually done anything wrong, it was an unstable leg on which to stand.
“The only reason Scott’s mad at me is because he wanted me to let him kill Peter. I wasn't about to do that.”
“You just wanted to be alpha!”
“I wanted to avenge my sister and save Scott's innocence!” Derek burst. “I never wanted to be an alpha. My sister was supposed to be the alpha. She was trained and raised for it. I'm just trying to survive.”
Stiles stared at him for a while, attempting desperately to read his impassive features for some hint of insincerity so he could continue to hate him, but there was none.
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Because I need you to understand that I am just trying to protect Beacon Hills and not wind up dead like the rest of my family.”
“Scott's not going to join your pack.” Stiles returned petulantly, ignoring the sensitive topic.
“Fine. But I'm going to do what I need to do to get rid of that kanima and he's not going to stop me.”
Stiles sighed resignedly. Everything was always so combative with Derek and he wished it wasn’t. “Why are you here Derek?” He asked again.
The werewolf looked uncomfortable suddenly, shifting stiffly in the desk chair.
“Why did you save me?” He asked after an unprecedented amount of patient waiting on Stiles’s part.
“I needed you to stay alive.” Stiles answered weakly.
“No you didn't.” Derek replied. “You held me up for two hours. You could have kept yourself afloat plenty long enough for the kanima to leave or Scott to save you. Hell, the kanima probably wasn't even after you at all.”
How was Stiles to answer that? Why did he save Derek?
“You deserve to live. I maybe don't approve the choices you've made, but I can understand your motivation. If I am capable of keeping you alive, I will keep you alive.”
It seemed like lifetimes that Derek stared at him with wide, green eyes before abruptly standing and leaping through the still open window. Stiles watched after him as he crossed the lawn towards the Camaro and thought for the first time that he truly wanted Derek to understand him as well as he thought he understood the werewolf.