The first sign that something’s wrong comes in the form of Lydia Martin stalking up to Scott in the hall after first period and snapping: “What the hell is going on with Stilinski?”
Stiles had graduated to a first name basis with Lydia at least since the winter formal (Scott should know, Stiles had made a celebration out of it, toasting the occasion with a slopping bottle of Jack Daniels, composing odes to the way his name sounded on her “perfect, probably berry-flavored lips”) so this immediately catches his attention.
“What do you mean?”
Lydia’s hands go to her hips as she continues stalking forward, leaning right into his space in a way that makes him fight the urge to flinch away.
“I mean that he’s walking around school looking like a reject from the Lost Boys, and I do not use that comparison lightly. When I asked him how the research for our joint chem project was going he called me babydoll. Babydoll, McCall. Get your friend in line before he ends up with one of my Louboutins up his ass and has to foot the bill for the dry cleaning.”
Which is weird, for sure, but Stiles hasn’t always had a history of being entirely coherent around Lydia Martin, and even though he seems to have more or less given up on his epic crush in the light of her “true love’s resurrection” moment with Jackson (claims of a ten year plan notwithstanding), Scott shrugs the encounter off quickly enough.
He’s not really sure what a “Lost Boys reject” would look like anyway. Is that a band, or…
Or maybe Stiles in a leather jacket over tight jeans and a red tank, with too-spiked hair (Scott hadn’t even realized it had grown far enough out of his buzz cut to spike like that), leaning against a locker and looking for all the world like he’d just need a cigarette between his lips to look at home in an eighties teen movie.
His friend’s gaze slides his way, narrowing as it does. By the time he’s looking at Scott it’s a full-on squint. He pulls it off in a way Scott never would have expected, and he bites down on a grin.
“Is this your Derek impression or something?”
Stiles doesn’t smile back, eyes rolling and pushing off the lockers with his elbows.
“Here to blame me for some new disaster, McCall?”
The demotion to last name, on the tail of Lydia’s scathing usage, pushes the smile right off Scott’s face.
“What? Stiles… no? Are you mad at me?”
Stiles’ brows crease for a second before he forces his face back into a scowl.
“Don’t act like that.”
“Like what?” Stiles huffs and starts to stalk off, and Scott moves after him. “Hey, sorry I insulted your new look, ok? It surprised me, but if it’s what you—“
Scott feels his jaw crack before he even registers Stiles swinging, impossibly fast. And then the ground is slamming his face hard. There are shouts of alarm from somewhere up the hall, but all he sees when he looks up, clutching his cheek, are Stiles’ eyes blazing crimson before bleeding back to brown.
“We’re done, Scott. Got it? Don’t talk to me again.”
“Is Derek alive?”
His jaw had taken too long to heal, while he’d huddled in an out of the way bathroom avoiding the eyes of other students and teachers. It had given Scott a long time to think, to replay the memory of his friend’s unnatural strength, of his eyes blazing alpha red.
And what he’d come up with… the only explanation he’d been able to come up with…
Erica greets his question with an amused snort, tossing a curl back over her leather-clad shoulder. Now that Scott’s standing in front of one of Derek’s betas, he can recognize how she and Stiles seem to fit together today, like a punk-edged, bad boy wannabe unit. Like they’re wearing some coordinated uniform of Derek’s pack.
Not Derek’s pack anymore though, not really. Not if Stiles had… Scott shakes the thought, swallowing thickly.
“And you would actually care one way or the other?” Erica muses, spinning the combination to her locker with an effortless twist and frowning when it doesn’t open.
“Well if he’s not dead I’m going to kill him. So there’s that.”
Derek’s the alpha, so it’s the only explanation. He’d gotten to Stiles somehow, turned him. Probably in some stupid new attempt to draw Scott in.
But he’d obviously underestimated Stiles, because now Stiles is the alpha.
His hands clench into fists.
“Look, you’d know, right? He’s your alpha, you have a bond or whatever. You’d feel it.”
Erica twists the lock again and scowls at it, before turning her critical gaze toward Scott instead.
“What is this about?”
Her brow quirks at that, the dismissive attitude bleeding away. A strange sort of scent filters into the air, something heady it takes him a few seconds to identify.
“What, you mean how he’s a total sex god today?” Arousal. Scott wrinkles his nose, and Erica shrugs, unashamed. “He’s got this whole aura today, like this perfect mix of don’t fuck with me and please fuck me.”
Which is way more than Scott had ever needed to hear about his best friend, thanks very much. Erica’s attention, caught up in some brief, distant daydream, snaps back into focus a moment later.
“Shit, you think Derek—“
“I don’t know,” Scott says fast, and he doesn’t. He’s getting less sure by the second. Because if Derek had been the one to turn Stiles, then he’d have to be dead, right? But Erica doesn’t seem concerned, which means… what, there was another Alpha in town? That Stiles faced and dealt with without telling Scott anything about it?
This is too much for him, and it hits him with a sharp ache that Stiles would normally be the one figuring all this out, putting the pieces together.
“Look,” he says, forcing his voice to stay even, though he knows his heartbeat is spiking audibly, “Can you just tell me where Derek’s staying now? I know it’s not the Hale house anymore.”
“Ask Stiles,” she replies, all false sweetness and honest delight. “Apparently he and Derek are close now.”
She trails a finger thoughtfully across the face of the locker, before shrugging and snapping the lock with a sharp tug. Scott winces, glancing around. A few people had looked up at the sound of grating metal, but go back to their conversations a few seconds later, unconcerned.
It isn’t until the locker’s open and the scent of rose perfume floats out that Scott realizes “This isn’t even your locker!”
She hushes him, rifling around with a deft hand and pulling out a Hershey bar.
“I smelled chocolate. Any girl will understand the need to share.”
She pushes the locker door carefully shut, until at a glance no one would notice the thing’s half off its hinges. She hums at it, thoughtfully.
“So Stiles has joined the ranks… That should definitely make things more interesting back home.”
Derek wakes up to a sense of wrongness. It hangs in the air around him, intangible but still grating, forcing his eyes to flash crimson at odd intervals, as though rising up to some unknown challenge.
So it’s not too much of a surprise when his phone rings two hours later with a call from Erica. The content of the call, though…
“I didn’t turn him,” he says, and Erica makes a disappointed sound. He barely hears it, mind already racing.
So, the alpha pack has made its first move. …And its first move was turning Stiles? There must be more to it than that. After all, there’s no reason that a teenager -- even an ally -- being turned should even affect Derek this way, a needling awareness like pins pressing under his skin, urging him to move, investigate, defend, protect.
He comes out of his thoughts already on the street, seeking out the sense of wrong rival threat, and realizes what it must mean almost the same time Stiles comes into view.
His wolf isn’t just sensing a new beta; it’s recognizing a threat to its territory.
“Thank god,” Stiles breathes, as Derek falls into stride next to him. They’re deep into the warehouse district, the part of town full of abandoned buildings half-converted into lofts.
Stiles is moving like he has a destination in mind, but maybe that’s just the way he moves now: the extra boost of confidence the power gives him. Derek catches himself watching the shift of his muscles, trying to reconcile the parts of Stiles he had last seen as a human and this man, this werewolf.
Stiles smirks at his appraising look, but doesn’t comment on it.
“You don’t have any idea what a shit day it’s been. Scott was acting like such a freak. Half the school was. My econ teacher said I was in the wrong room, like I haven’t been going there since—“
“That why you cut out of school?” Derek asks, trying hard not to stare. Stiles’ hair seems different. Longer. Tousled like someone had just had their hands fisted in it.
Stiles slows to a stop, shooting Derek a look that’s part pleased, part amused.
“Aw, Der. Is that concern I hear? For my academic future?”
He’s not sure how to respond to that – the words or the tone or the way Stiles’ eyes on him rattles something deep inside and chokes his breath away. He looks away, hands fisting tighter inside the pockets of his jacket.
Newly changed wolves are notoriously volatile, and newly turned wolves-turned-alphas? Derek can’t even imagine. He forces in a slow breath.
“What are you doing out here, Stiles?”
There’s a short, puzzled pause.
“Coming to find you,” Stiles says finally, like that should be obvious. “Let’s go for a run, Derek. I need to chase something, feel flesh tearing under my skin, you know? Run off this crazy day energy, just toss my head back and howl.”
The words sing straight into Derek’s soul, set his wolf whining to rise up and answer the challenge. It's been so long since he's just run. He’s never gone with his own betas in all the time he’s had them, all their attention focused on heavy training, warding off threats, and hanging together by a thread.
He’s nodding before he realizes it.
“Ok, let’s run.”
Stiles grins, teeth flashing, and then he’s leaning in and his mouth is on Derek’s. It’s wet and dirty and absolutely devastating, and over before Derek can even begin to process it. His throat clicks on a swallow, heart beating too fast, mouth buzzing and body battling dual urges to chase that sensation and to run, find a distant safehouse and hide out until he has time to work his head around what this all means.
Stiles laughs and turns away while Derek’s world shifts and resettles. He wants. He wants his fists in Stiles’ tousled hair, wants that mouth against his again. Wants it in a way he hasn’t wanted anything for himself in years.
...How had he not realized this before now?
Stiles is a newly turned wolf though, acting on instinct. He probably doesn’t even understand what he’s doing.
A few paces ahead, Stiles breaks into a run.
And Derek follows.
He loses track of time, chasing Stiles through the abandoned streets and out to the edge of the preserve. Stiles is at home in his power in a way Derek doesn’t understand; according to Erica he’d been human yesterday. But he knows just how to move to turn their run into a chase, to roll with Derek’s tackles until he’s on top, so he can break free.
He keeps pressing kisses into Derek’s mouth, too. Fast and playful or spine-quaveringly deep, and Derek never remembers that he should probably stop him, probably talk about this – probably ask him who turned him and what happened to them, or what this sudden fascination with Derek’s mouth is, or how they’re going to handle their joint territory – every time Stiles pounces or his mouth comes too close.
“You are so weird today,” Stiles comments at one point, and Derek’s not even sure why. This whole situation is “weird,” but that’s all Stiles’ doing.
Derek hasn’t run with anyone in years, since before he and Laura had settled in New York. He probably hasn’t let down his guard this much since he set foot back in Beacon Hills. That’s must be why he doesn’t see it coming.
The way Stiles lights up at the scent of hikers a little ways off, the way he leads the chase toward them and not away, the way he presses Derek against a tree and kisses him breathless before pushing away and darting toward them.
Derek smells the spray of blood before anything else, and he’s moving after Stiles a second later. Two men, middle-aged, are sprawled out on the ground. One’s hand is clutched over his chest, raked with claw marks – shallow, Derek notes, not bleeding deeply – while Stiles towers over them, snarling.
“Stop,” Derek snaps, and Stiles growls, still grinning. Like it’s still part of the game.
“Told you, Der, I need flesh.” He licks over bared teeth, his head rolling, sharp and lupine, toward Derek. “Just a little, though. Just these two. See, I’m behaving.”
Derek blinks between him and the fallen figures. In what world is that behaving?
But the worst thing about this, what has Derek more on edge than the blood or the injured hikers, is that smirk. This isn’t Stiles losing control; this is calculated. This is—
“You can try to save one if you like,” Stiles says, voice a croon. “I won’t be angry.”
“This isn’t a game.”
Something in Stiles’ gaze hardens at that.
“I know. But you’ll play with me anyway.”
Derek’s ready when Stiles moves, darting to intercept and tackling him to the dirt. He compensates for the way Stiles had twisted out of his grip during their run and Stiles hits the ground hard, seeming startled. Derek takes the opportunity to snarl “run” at the two stunned hikers. They both scramble to their feet and start moving, while Stiles twists in his grip.
“How the fuck are you so strong?”
Derek doesn’t bother answering, all his efforts going into keeping Stiles from writhing free. He’s stronger than anything Derek’s faced in a long time, and fast.
“Fine,” Stiles hisses as the footsteps of the hikers fade beyond hearing. He slumps back into the dirt, muscles going lax. “What the hell, Derek? Been getting extra intense with those morning workouts lately?”
Derek recognizes his mistake the second he relaxes his grip, but by then Stiles is already on top, pressing Derek down into the dirt. He doesn’t move to fight, though, or continue his hunt. He’s staring down at Derek curiously, like he’s a puzzle, and then he’s leaning forward and sucking in deep, hungry breaths against Derek’s throat.
“You smell different,” he murmurs, sliding his hands up Derek’s arms. “It’s got me all up on edge, it’s…” His tongue flicks out, tasting Derek’s skin. Derek growls, and Stiles laughs.
“Fuck.” The word falls out on a sigh as Stiles sinks down, clutching at Derek’s biceps, tugging himself in until their bodies are pressed tight all over.
Derek forces himself to not react. To think. He has a freshly turned alpha breathing into his neck. A hyperactive, teenage alpha with a craving, apparently, for violence. This isn’t something he can shout or snarl into submission, even if every instinct his own wolf is sending out is screaming for him to.
He takes a deep breath, smells Stiles and alpha and a want that nearly makes him rock upward into Stiles’ spread thighs.
“Scent is one of the most distracting senses for a turned wolf, I’ve heard.” Not just for a turned wolf, but Derek can control it.
“Mmm,” Stiles sighs against his skin, nose dragging higher, into his hairline. “Yeah, gonna play teacher, Derek? Gonna show me the ropes?”
“If you need me to.” He says it sincerely. Stiles laughs into his skin.
“God, you sound so earnest. How do you do that? And... seriously, what the hell is this buzzing under my skin? It’s been going on since you found me. I thought I just needed to run but—“
Derek’s hand clenches into the dirt – better than Stiles’ side. Anything that might be considered a threat needs to be avoided at all costs.
“When two alphas are in the same space, we… it’s instinct, a territorial thing. Makes us want to prove our dominance.”
But Stiles has jerked back, is staring down at Derek with wide, startled eyes.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“It’s ok.” Derek fights to keep his tone calm, even as Stiles’ teeth start to go sharp. “It’s just an instinct, we can learn to control it. I can help you—“
“Ok, hitting pause on the roleplay,” Stiles snaps. He looks scared suddenly, and Derek can’t understand why. “I’m all kinds of ok with subbing it up but seriously, why am I feeling like this around you?”
Derek can’t even follow that, too focused on the way Stiles’ heartbeat is spiking, on the fear scent from a rival alpha that pleases Derek’s primal instincts more than he’d like to admit.
“I just told you, it’s our wolves.”
He stops fighting the urge, lets his wolf free just enough for his eyes to bleed red. Stiles own echo the change instinctively even as he scrambles backward, off Derek and to his feet.
“What the hell?”
Derek pushes himself up, keeping his shift in check, keeping every movement slow and nonthreatening.
“I know your instincts are telling you to fight, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can learn to—“
“No, what the hell, Derek?”
Stiles isn’t listening, isn’t even looking at Derek anymore. His gaze is going out like he doesn’t recognize anything around him, and Derek does the only thing he can think to: say Stiles’ name and reach out for his arm.
Stiles kicks out the second Derek touches him. The blow catches Derek square in the ribs, knocking him to his knees with broken ribs scraping into his lungs. By the time he has his breath back, Stiles is already gone.
“He bolted,” Derek announces, almost before Scott senses his presence in the room. Allison’s on her feet a second later, crossbow half-raised before she catches herself and lowers it, offering Derek a very grudging nod.
Scott reacts more slowly, his eyes loathe to drag up from the text that’s gone unanswered for the past hour.
Please come talk to me Stiles
“You saw him? Where?”
“Doesn’t matter,” Derek answers, not bothering to meet his gaze, and Scott grits his teeth, fighting the urge to snarl.
“I’m still not sure you didn’t turn him.”
Derek’s shifting more than usual, hand going from his pocket – the pocket of his leather jacket, just like the kind his betas and Stiles both wear – to scrub at his neck as he scowls back.
“Right. And then he killed me to become alpha, right?”
Scott’s jaw sets at Derek’s tone, hand itching against the urge to go clawed.
“Were there any other alphas in town?” Allison cuts in, tone cool and formal. “Wouldn’t you be able to sense them?”
Her voice relaxes Scott enough for him to fight down the wolf. He’s infinitely grateful that she’s here, being his rock, even with things the way they are between them right now. If she can handle being around Derek, Scott should be able to.
“We don’t have homing beacons on each other,” Derek growls – actually growls, his voice barely words. He’s as on edge as Scott has ever seen him. “Otherwise I’d be with Stiles right now, not here.”
He glares openly around Scott’s bedroom as though it could be blamed for their problems. Then he shifts, twisting his neck in a quick, agitated motion, and adds lowly: “There might be more alphas in the area. I haven’t seen any but there was a… message, a while back.”
Scott pushes himself to his feet, letting anger wash over him again.
“A message saying alphas were coming? And you didn’t think to mention? Didn’t think maybe we should be keeping an eye out for danger?”
“You should always have an eye out for danger,” Derek shoots back, like that’s the problem here. Like this is somehow Stiles’ fault for not having been on red alert, having seen a bite-happy alpha coming.
“Oh yeah, so is that what you told him when you saw him? ‘Too bad you got bitten and had your whole life torn out from under you, but it’s your own fault because you should’ve been more careful’? No wonder he ran off.”
Derek’s teeth bare and he stalks forward a step.
“That’s not what—“
“Whoa, hey, time out. Who got turned?”
Derek goes stiff, gaze skating to the doorway, and Scott’s follows a second later. Stiles is standing there, backpack slung over one shoulder, wide eyed and hands lifted as Allison levels her crossbow at him.
“Hey so… I got your text? What’s going on, Scott?”
Derek can’t tear his gaze off Stiles -– off his nervously flushed cheeks, his t-shirt and the flannel over it. Can’t ignore the way the length of his hair leaves Derek’s hand itching anxiously. Everything about this boy is wrong… or more accurately, everything about him is right in a way it hadn’t been earlier.
Scott makes a soft, tight sound in his throat while Stiles’ gaze darts between them all anxiously.
“Guys, you look like you’re standing at a funeral, ok? Who died? Shit, did someone actually die? And—“ His gaze flits back to the crossbow and hangs there. “Is Allison evil again?”
It's too much. Derek can’t help moving forward, catching Stiles’ shoulder and dragging his nose along the boy’s pale throat.
Stiles jolts, pulse jumping, and jerks back.
“Ok, personal boundaries, buddy. It’s a thing here in polite society.”
“He’s human,” Derek breathes, falling back a step. Scott makes another wounded sound.
Stiles’ eyes skate to Derek’s, and Derek has to look away because those eyes do things to him now that they definitely shouldn’t. Especially shouldn’t, because if this is really Stiles…
“Yeah,” Stiles replies, shifting back into the bedroom as Derek falls out of range. “As per usual. Is this the issue you needed to talk about, Scott? Has Derek bumped his head or been snorting wolfsbane or—“ He breaks off with an “oof” as Scott barrels into him, catching him in a tight hug. Allison makes a thoughtful noise, lowering the crossbow only when Scott draws back unscathed.
“Ok?” Stiles smells confused. Confused and so painfully human Derek doesn’t know what to do with it. “So I’m definitely feeling the love, thanks for that, by the way, but can we maybe start using our words now? Does this have something to do with why I ended up with in school suspension because ‘eyewitnesses’ saw me punching Scott?”
Derek wets his lips, feels the echo of hungry kisses, and slides his gaze toward the window.
“...Any chance you have a twin I don’t know about?”
They split up in search of the doppelganger, and Derek wastes a fruitless hour wandering the streets aimlessly before he finds himself back in the section of town with the converted warehouses and lofts.
He catches the scent -– Stiles alpha want –- and follows it to a tall, uninhabited building with a For Sale sign scrawled in the window. Pushes inside, trails it to the top floor.
The skip-pat of a familiar heartbeat reaches his ears at the top of the stairs, and he stops long enough to send out a text before stepping inside.
He finds himself in a wide, empty room with floor to ceiling windows, a spiral staircase in one corner and a wide hole punched through one of the walls. Stiles -– this other Stiles, the doppelganger -– is perching at the edge of a raised section of floor, curled into himself and looking so vulnerable that it takes everything in Derek to remember he’s still an enemy, still a threat. Appearances don’t mean anything.
He looks up slow, and Derek’s resolve wavers.
“You don’t live here,” Stiles says, soft and pained, and accusing. Derek scans back over the space.
“Why would I live here?”
Even as he says it he realizes how defensible it would be: high up and empty, out of the way of civilian casualties. How this building might actually make a good investment, if he were considering that sort of thing. This seems like exactly the type of place he would choose to live.
…What does that even mean?
Stiles pushes himself to his feet. He looks shaky, unmoored.
“Derek, I need you to help me out here. This isn’t… none of this is right.”
Derek finds himself moving forward, and Stiles looks like he’s falling apart more with each careful step.
“You’re an alpha,” Stiles says finally. Derek just watches him, until Stiles’ gaze breaks with a grit of teeth. “What are you doing here, alpha Derek?”
“Came to find you.”
Stiles lets out a rough, broken laugh, and then he’s clutching at Derek, shaky and desperate, breaths too fast against Derek’s throat. Derek allows the contact, can’t bring himself to pull away. (Probably couldn’t pull away even if he’d wanted; Stiles’ grip is so tight.)
“Shit, I… everything’s wrong here, Derek. Scott’s worried about me and my … my fucking dad…” He breaks off, head shaking fast, like he can knock away whatever thought’s making his voice quiver with the right movement.
He draws back enough to meet Derek’s gaze, eyes amber and human-red with unshed tears.
“And you… you look at me like you’ve never seen me spread out under you. Like you’ve never shaken apart in my arms.” And Stiles says it like he has. It makes Derek's breath catch, his mind shuttering against the flood of images, the want that seems to emanate straight out from Stiles and reverberate between them. Stiles’ hand clutches against Derek's back, tongue licking fast over his own lips, making them shine. “What the hell am I supposed to do with that, Derek?”
Derek feels his jaw jump when Stiles’ other hand comes up to cup it. His nerves are screaming out alpha want threat submit and he can’t make sense of any of this, of the way he wants to surrender to this so badly. He’s an alpha, he shouldn’t… no part of him should want to…
But submission of the kind Stiles is proposing has nothing to do with status. It’s about trust. And Stiles has managed to earn Derek’s trust so thoroughly in the past months that his instincts can’t keep track of the fact that this alpha with his face and scent isn’t him.
Stiles isn’t here. Stiles is still human, and is off checking his house and the school with Scott, and…
Stiles leans in to breathe a long line down Derek’s throat, and Derek lets him. Barely fights down the urge to bare his neck right into his waiting teeth.
“Fuck,” the younger alpha murmurs, drinking in heady breaths of him. “But we can fix at least one of those things, can’t we?”
His lips close on Derek’s throat and Derek whines, pushes himself away.
Not Stiles. Threat.
“What are you?”
The doppelganger stalks forward a step and Derek skirts back out of range again, hating himself for retreating, not trusting himself to stay close. Stiles -– not Stiles, he has to stop thinking of him as Stiles –- lets out a fast, frustrated sound, his eyes flashing.
“I’m the guy who wants you to fuck him 'til the worst of his bloodlust goes away.” He laughs, quick and ugly, while Derek tenses. “Come on, Derek. I just saw my dad, alive, back at my house, and came here instead of going on a bloody rampage. Thought you’d be proud.” He pauses, shaking his head, and his second laugh hits the edge of hysterical. “I mean… you probably would be if you were my Derek.”
Derek’s hand has gone clawed. He shakes it out with a careful effort.
“What do you mean?”
The younger wolf rolls his eyes, lips quirking, and affects an emotionless tone when he answers.
“It appears some sort of transposition has taken place.” And then, at Derek’s blank look, “Really? ‘Mirror, Mirror’? Star Trek classic?”
It’s such a Stiles reference that Derek finds himself not completely incredulous when he replies.
“You’re saying... you’re Stiles from an alternate reality?”
The other wolf shrugs.
“That or I’m finally having my long-anticipated psychotic break,” He paces in a step. Derek holds his ground. “Think about it, Derek. I’m not the Stiles you know, right? But I look like him, smell like him, and you can sense I’m an alpha so I’m not some kind of a mystical doppelganger playing dress up.” He pauses, head tilting. “Are doppelgangers a thing?”
“So go home,” Derek says, cutting past the question. “Do whatever you did to get here, and undo it.”
“Oh totally. I’ll just reverse the polarity of the transporter and be out of here in a jiff.” He tilts his head thoughtfully, and smirks. “Sounds easier to just kill my counterpart and stay here.”
Derek growls, teeth baring, and Stiles’ claws flash.
“Yeah, figured that’d get you going.” And then he's coming. Derek blocks the worst of the first blow with his arm, and snaps after Stiles as he skates past. It’s like the forest again, but more violent, blood spraying up with each turn in the chase.
Stiles darts in before retreating again, laughing wildly.
“I didn’t want to spill your blood, Derek, but I guess it’ll do in a pinch.”
The first time Stiles slams Derek against a wall it leaves the cement shaking. The second time, he presses his mouth, open and hungry, against the blood welling up from a cut in Derek’s shoulder.
“God, I should play rough with you more often,” he says, smiling against Derek’s skin. “Your blood tastes amazing.”
A flash of metal and a sickening crunch sends him tumbling off Derek. Erica hefts the bloody crowbar to her shoulder, frowning down at his unconscious form.
“So what… he’s a vampire? Are vampires real too, Derek? Because I might’ve wanted that option before I signed the permanent werewolf membership card.”
Derek presses a hand to his bloody shoulder, listens to the sluggish skip-pat of Stiles’ heartbeat.
“No vampires,” he muses quietly. “He’s just insane.”
They decide to chain him up in the empty loft, while they decide what else to do with him.
Stiles spends a full minute staring at him after he walks in, eyes flickering fast across the features of his slack face like he’s trying to find some obvious difference to latch onto. When he finally looks up his gaze lands, wincing, on Derek.
“I weirdly feel like I should be apologizing,” he says, and it takes Derek a second to remember that the walls –- and his clothes -– are spattered with his own blood.
“Don’t,” Derek answers, too hard with the memory of the doppelganger’s mouth and how he’d let himself want it. Stiles’ face closes off as he looks away.
There’s a groan from the ground, and then: “Shit, look at me.” The other Stiles is blinking heavily, pushing himself to his knees, and snorting when he realizes he’s been chained to a thick wooden support beam. He looks away from it a second later, refocusing. “Shouldn’t you have a beard?”
“You’re the crazed werewolf attacking innocent people in the woods,” Stiles returns without missing a beat. “Shouldn’t you?”
The alpha smirks, then takes a moment to examine Stiles critically.
“My hair’s longer,” he notes, and Stiles lifts a hand to run through his own, like an instinct.
“Yeah, guess that works.”
They continue eyeing each other, and Derek turns away.
“Does anyone have ideas on how to fix this?”
“I don’t know,” Erica says, thoughtful. “I’m kind of liking the visual of two of them together.”
“Now there’s an idea,” Stiles’ voice replies. It’s awful, the hot curl in Derek’s belly at the thought. He’s going to have to disappear for a bit when this is over, figure out how to erase these urges he never should have started having.
He doesn’t look back at the pair of them, dragging his phone from his pocket and stalking toward the door. The doppelganger’s bright laughter follows him out.
Stiles feels the weight of the other’s eyes on him while he scours the digital bestiary. It’s strange how much he understands this alternate him’s unconscious shifting, how he can pinpoint almost to the second when he will hum thoughtfully and speak up.
“So… you’re human,” he says finally, and Stiles shoots him a look.
“Really? Took you that long to come up with that one? Did becoming a werewolf make me way less observant?”
The other him smiles, teeth bright, as though putting Stiles on edge amuses him. Which… ok, maybe that’s not so different than Stiles’ own attitude under fire, but it’s annoying to see used against him.
Nice to know it’s effective, he guesses.
“You’re human,” he repeats, and there’s a hunger teasing through his tone that leaves Stiles’ nerves vibrating with the unwilling knowledge of being prey. To himself.
The wolf shifts against the wooden beam, spreading his legs as he settles.
“And Derek’s the alpha,” he muses. “That has to be interesting. What’s he like, alpha Derek? I only got a taste of him, earlier. He’s probably so strict, right? Scared of letting loose. Tell me he’s all rough and growly and dominating.”
There's implication all around the words, heat sparking under them. Stiles shifts, feeling flushed, and thanks whatever small piece of luck he has that Derek’s not in the loft right now. He still hasn’t returned from wherever he’d disappeared to. Without any explanation, because obviously. Scott’s gone too, off to try to wrangle answers from Deaton. Erica, from her corner, bursts out laughing.
“That’s one way of putting it.”
She’s been pretty quiet until now, slouching around the opposite side of the loft, texting her way through guard duty, and Stiles’ counterpart frowns when he finally focuses on her enough to realize…
“Is that Erica Reyes? Fuck, you’re hot too.”
She shrugs like it doesn’t please her, though Stiles knows it does.
“And you never noticed me when it would’ve mattered. Too bad.”
Their prisoner laughs, genuinely surprised.
“Wait, so I had a chance with you when you were human?”
It’s moments like this that Stiles identifies so much with the guy, he’s not sure what to even do with it.
“Don’t get ideas,” Erica says sweetly. “I don’t date serial killers.”
…Because there’s also that.
“What the hell is that, anyway?” He finds himself snapping. Because yeah, new wolves will sometimes lose control and attack, but this is something different. What Derek had said about the attack on the hikers, what Erica had said about his bizarre interest in Derek’s blood… “The killing sprees, what is your deal? Even psycho alpha Peter was killing people for a reason.”
The smile slides from his counterpart’s face. He takes in Stiles’ expression, like he’s trying to read something in it, and then looks away.
“Derek’s the alpha,” he repeats. “Guess that’s why dad’s still alive here.”
Still alive. Still. Not...
The words hit Stiles too hard, knock his next breath right out of him.
“...Dad’s dead there?”
The air in the room feels too thick, suddenly. Erica’s fingers have gone silent against her phone.
There’s something in the other him’s expression that Stiles can’t decipher. Something he's not sure his own face has ever made.
“That’s… I don’t—“ he tries, falters. “Was it Peter?”
That would make sense. Would definitely explain why Stiles would go after him, one on one. If he’d been bitten during a showdown, but had still managed to kill Peter…
“No,” the other him replies, toneless. “That was me.”
Stiles doesn’t know what his face is doing now. Doesn’t know why he’s thinking about faces when those words are trying –- and failing -– to process in his brain.
Because no, ok? No. He could understand failing to save him. Understand random accidents or health conditions; Stiles knows what it is to lose a parent, knows exactly how terrifyingly possible it is. But there are no circumstances on this earth that would make him hurt his dad. That’s not him. That’s not possible.
Whatever his face is doing, it makes his double turn away with a bitter smirk.
“Guess that just proves you’re not me,” Stiles manages finally, to the disconcerting image of his own profile. “I wouldn’t. Ever.”
The words on the screen blur for a long time after that.
He starts moving again five full minutes before Derek sweeps back into the loft, dressed in clean clothes and looking no less tense for it.
“My alpha counterpart returns,” the prisoner chirps with false brightness. And then: “The blood was a good look on you, Derek. Come here, let me taste you again.”
“What is it with you and blood?” Erica cuts in, but the doppelganger only smiles vaguely.
“The taste keeps me sane.”
Stiles feels sick all over again, and Derek looks… sad. It’s such a strange expression to follow that announcement that Stiles can’t look away. Is focused in enough to make it out when Derek breathes: “How did I let you get this way?”
He sounds guilty, which is weird, because guilt implies responsibility, implies regret, and Derek beating himself up over what some person who’s not even him might have done is so beyond stupid Stiles can’t deal with it right now. No one is responsible for what their evil twins do, ok? It’s not like it’s actually them. It’s not like they’d do those things.
The alternate catches Derek’s words too, eyes fierce for a whole other reason.
“Don’t blame him. He holds me together. He gets me.”
Derek stalks forward, snarling.
“He lets you go around killing people for sport?”
“He doesn’t let me do anything,” the other Stiles snaps. “I’m his alpha. He loves me.”
Derek recoils, and Stiles’ next breath drags in sharp enough that he coughs. Right. Pack bonds. That’s a thing.
From her corner, Erica starts laughing, long and quiet.
“Not like he likes it,” the other Stiles admits, strangely soft. Looking for all the world like he wants to appease Derek’s obvious misery. (As thought that’s even possible, Stiles thinks. Derek’s nothing if not an endless pit of bad attitude and brooding. No one can fix that and definitely not this guy.) “He saves some of them sometimes, or convinces me to hunt and not kill. Sometimes he gets me to run or distracts me in... other ways.“ His teeth flash, and Stiles shivers. "But he knows when I need it. We look out for each other.”
“What about Scott?” Stiles finds himself asking, because there’s something in Derek’s expression now that’s setting him on edge. Something like… god, if Stiles can put a word to it, longing.
Like he’d want that, want to have that kind of relationship. Him and Stiles looking out for each other, keeping each other off the border of crazy. It makes Stiles’ heart clench, whole body going tense with the sense memory of holding two hundred pounds of dead weight above water.
The doppelganger holds Derek’s gaze for a few more seconds, eyes hot and inviting in a way that leaves Stiles wanting to slap a hand over them for decency’s sake.
Christ, what is other him even thinking, looking at Derek like that?
It goes on too long, and Stiles has almost forgotten his question by the time his counterpart looks to him with a snort.
“Can you really see Scott putting up with me killing innocent townsfolk on the regular? He’s not as understanding as Derek; he kept trying to stop me and fix me. Eventually he made me choose.”
“And you chose killing?” Stiles confirms coldly. His double’s smile is wide and painfully sad.
“The blood keeps me sane,” he repeats, like that’s not a completely insane thing to say.
Scott returns a short while after that, Allison in tow, walking straight past the prisoner and coming to a stop in front of Derek.
“Have you heard of a thing called a wishing stone?”
The way Derek’s face shifts in shock is answer enough. Scott nods grimly.
“Deaton thought so. Said your family knew about it.”
“Legends,” Derek confirms after a moment. “Bedtime stories. I didn’t know they were real but—“
“If you had the motivation, you might be able to track one down,” Stiles finishes. It makes sense. If this Derek has heard about it then his counterpart probably has, too. It's their best lead, anyway, since they've got exactly zilch else.
Derek’s gaze slides to him and then away fast. He’s been doing that all day, like he can’t quite let himself look at Stiles. Annoyingly, he seems to be able to look at his killer wolf counterpart just fine. Not that Stiles is keeping track. He sets his teeth.
“What does it do?”
“What it sounds like,” Scott answers, when Derek doesn’t. “Grants wishes. It’s supposed to fulfill the greatest desire of its user’s heart.”
“...And this alternate Derek’s greatest desire was to send his psycho alpha to another dimension?” Stiles snorts, and it’s probably petty just how pleased he feels when he levels his eyes on his counterpart. “Guess he didn’t like you as much as you thought.”
“It only works for twenty-four hours,” Derek cuts in, because obviously he can’t let Stiles have just this one thing. “At least, according to what Peter always told me.”
Erica clicks her tongue, sounding frustrated.
“Ok, so what would even be the point of that? Sending him away for a day?”
Allison hums thoughtfully – Stiles can see her tactical brain working fast.
“Maybe he wanted a day to plan a coup, or a day’s head start to get out of town.”
“You’re all idiots,” Stiles’ alternate scoffs, and he’s caught Derek’s gaze again. Derek’s eyes are soft in a way Stiles hasn’t seen since that night in the pool, when Stiles called Jackson an abomination and Derek looked at him like he finally felt understood.
He thinks he gets it, then. Gets why this other him has managed to earn that look from Derek. Gets what pack means to the guy, and that no version of him would turn away from it, or try to escape when things got tough.
...Just like no version of Stiles would kill his dad in cold blood.
“He sent you here to make peace with it,” Stiles finds himself saying.
His alternate’s lips twitch, pleased, but Stiles’ eyes are on Derek. Watches his gaze slide from the doppelganger, and meet Stiles’ eyes with a grateful look. Stiles feels something warm, deep in his chest, at the sight.
Suck that, evil twin. Stiles gets Derek too.
“It was an accident, wasn’t it?” Stiles asks as they rattle down the road toward his house. He’s been thinking it since the loft, but he needs to know before they get there. He needs to understand this other him, this him that could have been him, before he lets him anywhere near his dad.
There’s no reason to let them near each other, not really. If Deaton’s right and the alpha-him was brought by this wishing stone thing, they should just be able to keep him chained up and wait for dawn. Stiles had almost decided on that (it’s his dad, he gets final call, thank you very much), but it turns out he’s not actually a sociopath.
Which hey, hopefully means his counterpart isn’t either?
But if he’d been brought to a world where his mom was still around, and was sent home again without getting the chance to see her…
The alternate’s sitting in the backseat, hands still chained. Derek –- the only one a match for his strength -– sits next to him, holding the other end.
“I was bitten by Peter,” he says after a long quiet. “Right after the winter formal. We were looking for Derek... he’d been kidnapped by Kate, and... Peter said I was too valuable an asset not to ‘recruit.’” Stiles’ hand twitches, feeling the echo of Peter’s breath hot on his wrist. He hears a rustle of chain, glances in the rearview mirror to find his counterpart rubbing his own absently. “Then there was a showdown at the Hale house, everyone was there fighting. I got in the last blow.” He snorts. “Scott thought it would turn me human again, killing the one who’d sired me. Guess not.”
“Dude,” Scott breathes. “You became alpha right after turning?”
Stiles’ mind races for a quip about his epic leveling up skills or basically being Scott’s boss now, but the glazed, distant expression on his double’s face stops him.
“I bit him,” he continues. “Dad. To turn him. But…”
“Sometimes the bite doesn’t take,” Derek says, low. The alternate shoots Derek a quick, commiserating look, and Stiles knows there’s more to that story, more to Derek’s tone. It bothers him more than he can really wrap his head around to be an outsider to that silent understanding.
Of course his alternate would know more about Derek’s past than he does. They’re close in this other reality. They’re pack there.
While Stiles is just the guy who’s saved Derek’s life a dozen times over. So whatever.
He drags his focus away back to the road, voice going sharp.
“So you turned and what, just went on a biting spree? That seems to be a thing alphas do.”
“Not really,” his own voice answers back, breezy again with false brightness. “After I turned I thought I could figure things out. I’d helped Scott control his shift, you know? How much harder could the alpha thing be? So I blew off Derek’s offers to help, and Scott had no idea at all how to deal with me. And there were just all these urges, you know? To build and protect, to not be alone.”
“To have a pack,” Derek intones, knowingly. Stiles’ hands tighten on the wheel.
“And then it just made too much sense to turn my dad. Real family and pack family together, you know? I told him about what I was, and he agreed.”
“You told him?” Stiles cuts in. It’s not the time, probably, but he can’t help himself. “He was ok with it?”
The other him sighs.
“He wanted us to be in it together. Wanted to protect me. And I wanted him to be stronger, safer, you know?” He breathes out slow. “And then I killed him.”
Stiles probably shouldn’t be driving during this. He focuses on the road, his speedometer, crawls to ten before making a careful swing onto his street.
Then his alternate’s saying, too evenly: “I still taste his blood in my mouth sometimes. Can smell the black bile he choked up while he died.”
And that's too much, that's too––
Stiles pulls over too sharply, bumps the curb, and stumbles out. He’s not drawing in air, vision going hazy, filling up with horror movie images of his dad dying in his arms from a bite he’d inflicted.
He can see it, the rest of the pieces falling together after that. Trying to lose himself any way he could, seeking out other people’s blood to try and drown out the taste of his dad’s death. Pushing Scott away because he was too close to it all, because he couldn’t deal with the disappointment in those eyes every time he fell a little further. Seeking Derek out in desperation, for control and pack and escape.
A hand touches his arm and he jolts, starting to breathe again. He looks up, finds Derek’s eyes on him, steady and grounding.
“Good?” he says simply and Stiles nods, too big and too jerky. His elbow feels cold when Derek’s hand drops away.
They move quietly up the street to Stiles’ house. At one point Derek nods at a stray patch of shadow, and Boyd materializes into view. Stiles’ eyes narrow because -- hello, secret werewolf stalker much? -– but Boyd just steps in close to Derek.
“Isaac’s still at the McCalls',” he says, and Derek nods. “Hasn’t been any trouble here so far.”
“We brought the trouble with us,” Derek replies, and Boyd’s eyes stray from his alpha, double-taking when he sees the pair of Stileses. (Stili?)
“My dad?” Stiles asks, trying not to feel touched that Derek had sent his betas to play guard over potential crazed-Stiles targets. Boyd drags his gaze from the doppelganger and nods toward the side of the house. They trail slowly around, and Boyd sinks back into the shadow as though he’d never been there at all.
Stiles knows he’s the only human present, and the wolves can probably see straight through the shadow trick, but it’s cool, ok?
He focuses on that instead of the way his alternate’s hand goes to grip Derek’s arm as they get near the window. He doesn’t want to wonder if anchors transfer between realities. Or if Derek would let Stiles hold onto his arm like that without flinching. Doesn’t want to think about why he’s thinking about that at all.
So he thinks about Boyd, and how werewolves would make the best spies, and laments Scott’s distractible tendencies because… moving silently, super senses? That would be an epic career path if Scott had the focus for it.
His attention drags back when his double lets out a low, wounded sound. They’ve moved far enough to see into the living room, to catch sight of his dad on the couch, dozing in the light of the TV.
“I saw him before, for a second,” he says, moving closer. The chains on his wrists rattle at the pull. “But I ran without even… I thought I’d gone insane.”
They’d agreed to let him see him from a distance, that’s all. Just too see him and maybe find some comfort in the sight. But now that they’re actually here… now that Stiles knows the whole story, can his counterpart’s longing like a physical ache…
“You have five minutes,” he says, before he can talk himself out of it. “Sneak through my window, snag a hat first. Just ‘cause these idiots didn’t notice how much longer your hair is, doesn’t mean dad won’t.”
“…Are you serious?” He turns from his dad’s dozing form and meets his own eyes, startled-wide and staring back skeptically. “Dude you… you know what I’ve done. You’re seriously letting me in there?”
“You’re seriously trying to talk me out of it?” But the fact that he is, strangely, is comforting. If his evil twin had any plans to hurt his dad he wouldn’t do that. He’d dive at the chance without hesitation.
He’s not about to risk his dad on assumptions, though.
“Derek’s going in with you. You do not give away what you are, you do not touch him or I swear to god I’ll tear your skin off your bones strip by strip and sew wolfsbane inside your chest cavity.”
“Creative,” his alternate says, suitably impressed. But he’s dead serious when he adds, “I swear. I wouldn’t hurt him again.”
Stiles glances to Derek, who nods a confirmation, and Stiles is already relaxing before he realizes he’d just literally trusted Derek more than he trusted himself.
And wait, though. What the hell is that about?
Not the time.
”Five minutes,” he repeats, and Scott produces the key for the shackles.
“So…” Scott hedges, once they’re alone. “Evil, alternate dimension Stiles. I think this might actually be the weirdest thing that’s happened to us.”
“Weirder than Peter coming back from the dead? Jackson turning into an actual lizard person? …Me taking Lydia to a real life dance?”
Scott chuckles at that.
Through the window, Stiles’ counterpart comes into view. He’s taken off his jacket and thrown on a loose plaid shirt in its place. One of Stiles’ little-used baseball caps is on his head, twisted backward, hiding his too-long hair. He looks indistinguishable from what Stiles sees every day the mirror, and Stiles scrubs at his own neck self-consciously.
Does he really look like that from the side?
“Yeah, no. Definitely the weirdest. I mean… look at me in there.”
He’s come to a stop in the living room doorway, waiting a few beats before straightening his shoulders and trailing forward to the couch. Derek hovers, barely visible, at the edge of the hall, and something that’s been building up inside Stiles’ chest finally breaks loose.
“…And I think I’m kind of bi?” He hears how that sounds before he even sees Scott’s expression, and rolls his eyes. “Him me,” he corrects, waving a hand toward the window. “Alternate reality werewolf me.”
Scott glances between them, lips twitching a little.
“I dunno man, I mean. I’m not actually seeing a whole lot of differences, you know?”
Stiles makes a face, chest fluttering strangely when Derek’s gaze seems to skate toward the window. He shakes the feeling, focusing his attention back where he needs it: on his dad, and the wolf prowling toward him.
He stares down at his dad’s sleeping form.
Not his dad. Not really.
It smells like his dad, and the scent makes him whine, makes him sink down onto the couch next to him, drinking it in.
The man startles awake.
The words feel strange on his tongue, heavy after all these months. He’d gone to his dad’s grave all of once, the scent of dirt and death all hanging so thickly he hadn’t been able to force a word out.
Not that he knows what he would say, after what he’d done.
His not-dad is frowning now, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and fixing him with a discerning look.
“What’s going on, kid?”
His gaze skates away. He feels like a teenager again, for the first time in months.
“What? Hey, no. Why would you think something’s going on?”
His dad sends him a skeptical look and he aches with how familiar it is.
“Stiles, your face is practically confessing for you.” The cop speak makes Stiles' lips twitch, his chest tightening. It’s too much, too familiar, and he's not sure he can handle this. His dad catches his arm. “Hey, Stiles. Didn’t we promise we’d start being more honest with each other?”
The words, the contact... it’s all almost too much.
But Derek’s heart beats out a familiar rhythm in the hall, soothing even past the grating edge of alpha rival threat. It grounds Stiles the same way it always does. He can handle this. He has to.
He drags in a deep breath of his dad’s scent –- not blood, not bile, just family -– and lets himself look up slow to meet the man’s eyes.
“This about a certain phone call I got today from school? You and Scott were fighting?”
He feels the tears prickling and his next breath escapes rough, and then he’s being wrapped up in a hug before he can think to flinch from it.
Alive dad affection concern alive
He has his hands fisted in the back of his dad’s shirt and he’s gasping in too-fast, ragged breaths. Drinking in the overwhelming scents that only make him shudder harder.
“Sorry, I’m so, I’m so… I didn’t mean to, I…”
He’s not sure how long it goes on, the tension building until it can’t anymore, until sheer exhaustion has his half-choked words easing into quiet sobs. And his dad just sits there, rocking him like he’s a kid again, shushing him until he finally goes quiet.
Then he lets out a tired sigh.
“Talk to me, kid. I thought we were doing alright.”
He laughs into his dad’s shoulder, wet from his own tears, and draws back.
“We’re doing great,” he says, honestly, because this Stiles really is. And then, hitching in another breath, imprinting his dad’s scent to his memory, over the bitter memory of death: “And I’m working through some things, but I’m getting better.”
For a few seconds it looks like his dad’s going to press this, but then he claps Stiles’ shoulder, nods.
“I raised a smart kid, Stiles. Whatever’s going on, you’ll figure it out.” It’s like something fractured inside him slowly repairing. And then: “And you know you can always come talk to me, right?”
A cold, silent headstone.
“Yeah,” he says, thick. “I know.” And then, because he can’t let this go without saying it, he’d never forgive himself: “I love you, dad.”
His dad’s brows crease, but he just pulls Stiles in for another tight hug.
“Love you too, kid.” He looks at Stiles again like he knows there’s so much he’s not saying, like it’s working against every instinct for him to just let it go. In the end he just sighs, pushes himself to his feet. “Alright then, it’s late. I’m gonna hit the hay. You should too. School night.”
Stiles nods, lips twitching at the absurdity of it -– a bedtime. Aches to have that for real in a way he never would have expected just a few months back. Curfews, even dodging them… This human him has no clue how good he has it.
His dad pauses in the doorway, looking serious.
“Stiles, I was meaning to ask you… what’s with the hat, anyway? Thought you outgrew that phase.”
He barks out a wet laugh.
“Just trying something different today, I guess.”
He’s still smiling when his dad’s bedroom door clicks shut, when Derek moves silently into the room to hover at the edge of the couch.
“Ready?” He offers, tilting his head.
His Derek would have sunk down on the couch next to him. Would have gathered Stiles into his chest and run soothing fingers through his hair until he was ready to talk about it.
...His Derek’s deepest desire had been to send Stiles to where he could heal.
He closes his eyes and listens to his dad’s steady heartbeat.
“Yeah,” he says, pushing himself up. “Let’s get out of here.”
He feels it starting even before they’re back to Derek’s loft. The abandoned loft, in this world, at least so far.
When he steps out of the jeep he stumbles, like the ground isn’t quite there under him. Derek’s there in an instant, bracing him, and for a second he wonders if he’s already back home. But there’s a definite buzz of wrong at the contact, and he blinks up at wary, kaleidoscopic eyes as he straightens.
“It’s not ‘cause we’re both alphas,” he says, because the thought’s been floating in his head for some time now. “It’s ‘cause we’re the same alpha. Paradox.”
Derek’s brows furrow, and he lifts a hand, dizzily, to smooth the creases out.
“Time’s up, alpha Derek. Think I’m headed home.”
The other Stiles -– all bright and shiny and human –- paces into view. His scent is a muddle of too many emotions, expression full of questions he’s waited too long to ask, and just realized he’ll never get answers for. Stiles knows the feeling.
“Hey, human me.”
“I think that has to be speciesist or something,” the other him complains. And then, “Well, can’t say it’s been fun. Be good, don’t kill any more people.”
Stiles’ lips twitch, the scent of dad still hanging around him, spicy rich and tinged with gun oil. He’d forgotten the scent these past months, hadn’t been able to drag it up past the ugly taste of his blood and black bile.
If he’s lucky, he thinks, he won’t need the blood anymore.
“Take care of dad. Don’t let him get the bite, ever.”
His counterpart nods, eyes wide and solemn, and Stiles finds himself smiling a little when he turns his gaze back to Derek.
“And you. You need to look out for you more, ok? And not in a ‘kill or be killed’ kind of way, seems like you probably do enough of that.” Derek’s eyes narrow, all tense confusion. His Derek had been like that too, back in the days when Stiles first met him. All closed off and constant, low-simmering anger, running on sheer adrenaline and trapped survival mode. Stiles lets his hand drift, thumbs across his nape. “That run today? Before all the bloodshed? That was good, right? You felt that. You need to let loose sometimes, man. I’ve been doing a lot of things wrong, but not everything.”
Derek doesn’t resist when he kisses him, leaning into the pressure as Stiles licks in, deep and filthy, and letting out the sweetest little, needy sound. He makes a show of it, grinning at the sound of a caught breath and a speeding skip-pat of a heartbeat. When he draws back, his gaze lands on his counterpart, looking shocked and hungry, all startled realization. He quirks a brow, while his alternate’s tongue drags over his lips.
“Yeah, ok… definitely bi.”
Derek’s attention turns to the human, eyes searching and tentatively hopeful.
Well, at least he’d maybe done one good thing for this world.
“Definitely,” Stiles replies, flashing a grin as the world fades pale and then painfully bright around him. “Bye!”
When the world shimmers back into view around him, he’s on an empty midnight street, standing where he’d just been. There’s a light shining out from Derek’s loft, shifting and darkening while a restless figure paces the length of the window.
Derek’s eyes flash blue, hopeful and repentant, when Stiles pushes his way inside.
“I’m back,” Stiles echoes carefully, and Derek’s face tightens.
“...I’m sorry I couldn’t find a way to let you stay.”
It’s not the apology Stiles is expecting, though he probably should have. He’s dating the worst martyr on the planet, after all.
He crosses the room in slow steps, Derek watching him like he’s not sure what he’s expecting. Anger, maybe, or the bone-deep bloodlust Stiles barely even remembers anymore.
When Stiles leans in, Derek sinks into the kiss with something like relief.
beta family love home
Stiles still misses his dad with an ache that won’t ever go away, but even if he could have stayed there… that wasn’t his world. That wasn’t his life.
And he couldn’t bear losing this either.
“Idiot,” Stiles proclaims fondly, pulling back to smile at his beautiful, loyal beta, who had been willing to give up his world for him. “Let’s go for a run, Derek.”
Derek searches his eyes.
“Just a run?”
“Just a run,” he confirms. Steadies himself and adds, “Maybe stop by the cemetery on the way.”