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Oh my (let me look at those eyes)

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Oh my (let me look at those eyes)
Things spiral quickly after Jackson is “cured.” Erica and Boyd make it back eventually, left beaten, broken, and near death at the border of Hale territory. He and Peter carry them back to the Hale house, and Peter holds them down, quieting their screams as Derek pops their bones back into place, licks the blood from their open wounds. They fall asleep and Derek doesn’t stay with them, doesn’t need to stick around and see how Peter looks at him, like he’s failed, because he knows.

Derek could say he isn’t sure how things got so fucked up, he could claim ignorance, bad luck, anything, but he knows. He knows why. It’s his fault. From the moment he let Kate Argent into their world, into his home, his family, his pack, it was over, because everything he touches burns to the ground.

And now the alpha pack is coming, and he knows—knew from the moment he and Peter saw that sigil marked on the scorched wood, glowing, incandescent in the moonlight.

They were all going to die. And Derek can't stop it, feels so bone-tired, that he just wants to lie down and let it happen.

Derek doesn’t sleep much anymore. How can he? He has a pack, sure, but it’s splitting apart at the seams, limping on its last legs like a sick and dying animal. Scott doesn’t trust him, Derek certainly doesn’t trust Peter (a man whose very re-appearance has defied nature), and Erica and Boyd spend most of their time wrapped up in each other, speaking in quiet whispers, shrinking away whenever Derek tries to approach.

Isaac he trusts, thinks maybe the boy is the only good thing to come out of this whole nightmare. He trusts Derek completely, wholly, like a brother, and they really are family. When Derek does manage to fall asleep, he wakes up gasping, his nostrils filled with the memory of the harsh scents of smoke and fire and ash, and Isaac is there, curled into his side, whining softly.

He thinks a lot about that night, when he bit into Gerard’s flesh, tasted death and decay and poison. He thinks about the look on that Stilinski boy’s face, like his whole world was breaking apart.

“The sheriff’s boy—Stiles—he’d make a good wolf,” says Peter.

“He never talked,” says Erica. “He didn’t sell you out, any of us.”

Derek closes his eyes and sees black eyes and bloody lips, freckled skin marred with bruises.

He doesn’t know why it bothers him so much, but it does.

He doesn’t know why, but he asks Isaac to watch over him—the human boy stupid and fearless enough to run with wolves.

The new den doesn’t feel right. Sure, yeah, it’s nice not to live in a house marked by death, haunted by ghosts and guilt, but it still feels wrong. It goes against every instinct, to run and hide like this, but it’s necessary (that’s what he tells himself, every morning, every day). At least the house’s condition, rotted wood and peeling walls, gives Derek something to do, something to work toward. While the pack is at school, he and Peter do the best they can to repair it. The master bedroom is all cleared out—it isn’t much, a pair of ragged curtains to keep out the sun, and a giant brass four-poster, creaky and a little rusted at the bottom.

As alpha, he supposes he should be the one to stay in it, but he rarely sleeps anyway, so he doesn’t even snarl when Peter jokingly claims it for himself. He just shrugs and brushes past him, not saying another word as he jumps down the stairs, out the door, loping into the dense forest, letting the trees swallow him up Peter talks too much and doesn’t really say anything. It’s maddening.

This is the only way he feels like he has any control, as he strips bare, letting the wolf take over.

He hasn’t gone full wolf in so long. It feels like the first exhale after nearly drowning. His human instincts fall to the background, and he feels solid, still, standing in the shadows of dappled sunlight and ancient oaks.

He runs until he can’t run anymore.

He runs until he feels free.

//

Derek can hear them coming from a mile away. Stiles has so many tells—the frantic, hummingbird’s pace of his heart, the way he practically vibrates with excess energy. So, Derek’s already pulled his jeans back on, coming out of the trees to meet them when the jeep rolls up. The first frost has passed, so the air is crisp, and Derek can see his breath like smoke hovering in the air. He wishes he could feel it. It’s been a long time since he felt the cold.

When the pair jumps out of the car, Isaac already looks guilty, whimpering softly under his breath as he presses into Stiles’s side. Derek wants to growl at the beta, show his teeth, but Isaac is already so jumpy, and it’s been hard enough convincing him he wouldn’t get hit if he so much as breathed wrong.

He settles for what he hopes is a disappointed glare.

Of course, the first thing Stiles does is mouth off—he always does (it’s why he’d make a terrible Beta, no respect, no submission). His wolf prickles in indignation, but all Derek sees are the blooms of black and blue against Stiles’s cheek, the split in his lip, still slightly swollen from where Gerard’s hands struck. But there’s only anger in the boy’s eyes as he spits words as hot as fire: “Call off your fucking dogs okay. I don’t need a babysitter. I don’t need anything from any of you.”

It makes Derek see red, literally.

“We never found Gerard’s body,” he says, trying to keep his tone flat and dull, disinterested.

“Isaac, go inside,” he adds, turning to the young beta. Isaac flushes, but he nods, and when he passes by, Derek reaches a hand out to squeeze his shoulder reassuringly. He watches the tension drain from the boy’s body with a feeling of satisfaction because that’s the one thing he seems to be able to do right.

“Don’t fight me on this, Stiles,” Derek growls when they’re alone. He isn’t sure how much Stiles knows—about the alphas, about Boyd and Erica (probably more than he should, certainly more than Derek wants him to), and seeing Stiles’s body, bruised and broken like this, all it does is reinforce his worries.
Derek huffs in annoyance when Stiles glares right back at him. It shouldn’t drive him crazy like it does, that Stiles won’t give in to him, doesn’t even flinch under Derek’s gaze, his eyes bright, golden-brown, and unflinching. If Derek is honest with himself, it makes him nervous, but this rarely happens anyway, so it’s something he tries to push back down into the recesses of his mind.

It bothers him, he thinks, because Stiles (despite his struggling, his stubbornness, the fact that he seems to have been dragged into Derek’s life kicking and screaming) is pack. He knows Isaac can sense it, Peter can see it, and Derek can certainly smell it. Stiles, despite his complete and utter humanness…he feels like pack, smells like woods and earth and den and…

Something.

A few months ago, he might’ve been able to solve this with some force—a little man-handling, a snarl, a glimpse of teeth. But he looks at Stiles’s broken face, knows he’s seen too much horror and blood and evil, the whole Big Bad Wolf routine is just going to fall flat. Because Derek looks at Stiles and he doesn’t carry himself like a teenager anymore. He carries himself like a soldier.

It makes something in Derek ache.

He can’t help it, he lets out a soft whine, clipped, brief, but he feels like the sound echoes in the hollow quiet of the trees, not even muffled by the wind and the creak of quaking branches. He follows it with a growl, rumbling deep in his throat, just to cover it up. But he struggles to fight the urge—as alpha—to comfort and heal. It’s both satisfying and infuriating, and the two feelings war in him, making his stomach churn and his chest feel like there’s a fire burning in it.

“You don’t know anything about what’s coming,” Derek says. He knows Stiles carries his scent, they all do, his pack. Stiles is marked, just as much as they are.

“Hate me, hate Isaac, fine. But I—we—can’t leave you unprotected.”
Stiles just scoff like what Derek says means nothing. “I’m not unprotected. I’m not—I have Scott, and I’m not completely inept,” he pauses, breathing deep, “and I’ve made it this far, haven’t I?”
Derek laughs at that, he can’t help it—but it’s cold and bitter even to his own ears, an empty sound that makes his skin crawl. He knows, and Stiles should know, better than anyone, that it isn't Scott who plays the role of protector in that relationship. Looking into Stiles’s eyes, seeing the glimpse of uncertainty right before it fades into stubborn arrogance, maybe Stiles is starting to realize that it’s been a long time since any of them could depend on Scott for anything.

He isn't quite sure when it happens, but somehow Derek is close enough to Stiles to see the thump, thump, thump of his pulse, beating frantic against the skin of his throat, stretched thin over sharp collarbone. He sees the marks of another man’s hands, bruising and cruel, where they dug into Stiles’s shoulders.

He wants to tell him, he wants to say, they’ll think you’re mine. They’ll think you belong to me and they’ll punish you for it.

But he doesn't say that. Of course he doesn't, because Derek doesn't know how. The words feel too raw and bloody in his throat so he swallows them down because he’s used to the taste of loss by now. And he thinks he’s never missed Laura so much as in this moment, because even on his best day as an alpha, it isn't anything close to her warmth and strength, the way she made everything just hurt less.

Where Laura was brave and strong and warm, he’s hard and cruel, spits words out that he isn't even sure he means.

“And where is Scott now? Moping over the girl whose grandfather tortured you? Did she watch? Did she even try to stop it? Do you think she heard you screaming?” He grips Stiles’s chin, forcing him to look into his eyes, and the boy’s bones feel so utterly breakable, hollow, like a bird’s wing. It’s tragic, he thinks, Stiles’s fragility, how easy it would be to smash and twist and shatter and bite and…

He shakes his head, pulling himself out of whatever trance he’s just fallen into, stepping back from Stiles like he’s been burned. He doesn’t look back, just goes into the house, thinking maybe it’s better this way, or maybe it doesn’t even matter at all.

Because it’s only a matter of time before this town is just bones and blood buried six feet under the earth and Derek will be the one with the shovel in his hand, digging its grave.
And Derek, he doesn’t expect Stiles to follow. In fact it’s the last thing he expects, and it’s maddening and infuriating and strangely awing—how little self-preservation the boy seems to possess that he’d go up against an alpha without even batting an eye. He feels the hand, Stiles’s frail human hand, turn him around. He could toss him off easily, but Derek doesn’t, just lets himself be drawn back, folding into the touch. Maybe it’s self-sabotage, maybe he’s a glutton for punishment.

Either way, it’s his fault.

Stiles is almost as tall as Derek, albeit much more lanky and thin, his body still a little hunched, shouldering the weight of teenage awkwardness; when their eyes lock, Derek sees fury in the boy’s gaze. Derek’s wolf howls, indignant, and he feels his eyes shift, the unmitigated lengthening of teeth, and thinks, a little incredulous, that he hasn't lost control like this since he was sixteen.

He reaches out, impossibly fast, his fingers curling all the way around Stiles’s forearm, and Derek doesn’t even think, doesn’t even process what’s going on as it happens.

The veins in Derek’s arm flex and shudder, turning the color of ink, as he pulls out all of it, all of the pain, thick like poison, from Stiles’s body. He feels twinges of it, dull and muted, a little like pins and needles after moving idle limbs— in his ribs, his shoulders, with a shudder that runs all the way up into the stiff vertebrae of his spine. Even his lips are numb as he drops the boy’s wrist.

Derek opens his mouth to say something, anything, but before he can even breathe, Peter comes into the hallway, whistling a tune like they aren't all about to be systematically slaughtered like cattle.

“Aww, if it isn't my favorite little human?” Peter practically purrs, and Derek flinches, not even having to look at Peter to know he’s staring at Stiles like he’s a piece of prime rib. Derek watches Stiles pallid cheeks flush angrily.

And this time, when Derek runs, he doesn't give Stiles the chance to go after him.
But the boy does anyway.
Of course Derek hears him coming; of course he does, because only Stiles would be stupid and reckless enough to go crashing blindly through the forest, making enough noise that anything and everything within a five mile radius hears him blundering through the underbrush. Though Derek is tempted to keep running, fleeing from…he doesn't even know what, the unshakable urge to get as far away from everyone as he possibly can.

But he doesn't, because he hears Stiles call his name and it’s something he can’t ignore even though he desperately wants to, because it’s like Stiles’s words have roped him in, and the boy is just yanking the lead, pulling him back toward the house. Snarling in frustration, Derek turns on his heels…

And that’s when he hears it:

The chorus of howls that crackles through the air like an electrical current, and it shocks every nerve, putting his body on red alert.

With a howl, he flies through the trees, not flinching, not feeling at all, as sharp thorns and spindly branches slice through his skin as he sprints (it doesn't matter anyway, as the lesions heal before they can even bleed).

By the time he gets there, he feels it, like a punch in the gut. He’s too late.

There’s five of them in all, not the whole pack, but it’s enough—one of them holding Stiles around the middle, laughing as he struggles. Derek meets Stiles eyes and he’s scared, he can see it, he can smell it—

And Derek…he’s fucking terrified.

“This belong to you?” one of them cackles, running a clawed finger across the perfect, unmarred flesh of Stiles’s cheek. “He’s pretty…and he smells good enough to eat.”

Derek’s vision goes red, and with an almighty roar, he lets go—let’s go of every shred of control he’s ever claimed to have. All he sees is claws and teeth and blood.

But it’s not enough.

It takes three of them to hold him back (they lose one, throat ripped clean out in Derek’s fury), but it’s not enough.

The woman---she gets away. And she takes Stiles with her.
When Derek comes to, he recognizes where he is immediately—the harsh sting of disinfectant and mountain ash, the frozen metal slab underneath him: Deaton’s office. He jerks up, hears a metallic clang as he sends a tin of surgical instruments clattering to the floor, his arms flailing wildly. He feels arms struggling to hold him down as he thrashes, and he roars, teeth bared, still fighting the enemies no longer in front of him—just phantoms and ghosts and—

“Derek,” hisses someone, Isaac he thinks, and Derek finally stills, opening his eyes to see his entire pack crowded into the cramped suite, their eyes blinking concernedly at him. He doesn't say anything about what happens, not at first, ignoring the searing pains in his chest and his shoulders where the alphas’ claws tore into his flesh, because it doesn't matter, not now.

“They have Stiles,” Derek says desperately. “They took him.”

There’s a chorus of swears followed by various snarls and whimpers as the realization dawns on all of them.

And this is how it goes:

They are back at the den, Deaton with them, and they are all looking at Derek like he’s supposed to know exactly what to do, waiting for him to give them their orders. It’s almost ironic, really— certainly says something about the state of his pack, that it takes a human, Stiles, to bring them all back together under the same roof. Derek sits in the corner, barely listening, his head hung, shaking as he balls his fists to keep from screaming.

And when Scott burst in, howling with fury, Derek doesn't even fight back when Scott grabs him by the throat with one clawed hand, even as his lungs scream in protest. He also isn't surprised when he sees Allison and her father, standing like sentries by the doorway, guns and crossbows in hand.

“This is your fault,” Scott snarls.

Derek says nothing, doesn't even lift a hand to defend himself, and when he stares directly into Scott’s eyes, he sees the boy’s anger fade rapidly into something else—confusion, maybe pity.

“I’m going to get him,” says Derek, finally breaking his silence. It’s not a question, but a fact, spoken low and soft, with all the weight of a death sentence, because that’s exactly what this is.

Jackson speaks, barely a whisper, from his place on the sofa, “It’s a trap. They’re just going to kill you.”

“Yes,” he says, “but I’m going anyway.”

And it doesn't really hurt, the realization that he’s okay with it, he’s ready, to die, fine, as long as they get Stiles out, he thinks it doesn't really matter what happens to him.

“You’re just going to let them kill you?” asks Erica hollowly. At that, Isaac lets out a broken cry, but Derek does nothing to comfort him this time. They don’t need him, he thinks, not like they need Stiles, not like they need each other.

He’s ready, and it’s okay.

//

Derek tracks them easily, follows the trail they left just for him, flecks of Stiles’s blood on leaves, the tattered fabric of the young man’s shirt. Argent’s car tracks him at a distance—they’re here just to get Stiles out, purely a retrieval mission, because Derek doesn't want or need anyone else to die for him tonight.

No one had even tried to fight him on it, seeing his expression, so grave and determined.

He stops in the middle of a clearing, scenting the air with rapid intakes of breath.

He hears the growls, the snap of dried twigs, as four of them emerge from the mouth of a cave carved from water and wind into the cliff-side.

“Missing your chew-toy?” one of them crows, a man with flaming red hair and eyes to match.

Derek says nothing, his own eyes flashing in return, his hard stoicism broken only by a flinch as he sees the same brunette dragging Stiles out by the ropes around his hands, throwing him on the ground like dead weight. She follows with a swift kick of her foot, aimed at Stiles’s stomach, and Derek can’t help it—he howls a fractured, broken wail that makes an eerie hush fall over the entire forest. Even one of the alphas (a lanky boy, appearing no older than Stiles) winces at the sound.

And Stiles is looking at him, eyes frantic and pleading, and Derek offers him nothing more than a stony glance, resigned, as if to say, it’ll be over soon.

The boy, the nervous one, flinches again when Derek steps forward, and he knows this is it—reacts faster than even he thought possible, grabbing the smaller alpha by the neck, bringing it down against the hard bone of his knee where he hears the satisfying snap of the boy’s spine. He lets the boy’s body drop to the forest floor, bent at an unnatural angle.

The others howl maddeningly.

Derek nods, extending his claws, and he lets them come.
It’s not as painful as he always imagined it would be, dying. It’s kind of easy, he thinks, as he the pack swallows him up, teeth and claws tearing at every inch of exposed flesh. As they climb over him, he halfheartedly swipes with his hands, tossing them off, if only to serve as more of a distraction. His mind is clear for the first time in weeks, and he finds he only thinks of the night he saw his home burn to the ground, wonders if this is what his family felt as flames, so hot they burnt electric blue, licked at their skin, as they choked on ashes and smoke.

Maybe it didn’t hurt at all… maybe it was just like falling asleep.

When Derek sees the Argents, Allison’s father holding Stiles up, he actually feels himself smiling faintly. Everything goes quiet around him, and all he hears is his own heartbeat pounding like war drums in his ears. It’s oddly comforting, and he thinks if Laura could see him now, she might actually be proud of him. This is what an alpha does—sacrifice, and he’s okay with it.

One of the larger alphas has him from behind, locking his arms so he can’t struggle, though he’s not trying to anymore. The brunette is on him in seconds, her teeth gleaming, and blood dripping from her extended canines. Her eyes are blood red and she’s grinning from ear to ear, her hands raised to finish what she started. Derek shuts his eyes, feeling only the odd sensation of blood, wet and hot, dripping down his neck.

He waits, and he waits, but the blow doesn’t come. His eyes flash open when he hears the woman scream, sees where a bullet has pierced her where neck and shoulder meet. It’s wolfsbane, and he watches, both horrified and fascinated as her skin ripples, black and blue and ghostly white as it decays.

Derek doesn’t have to look to know where the bullet comes from. He can hear the fluttering staccato of Stiles’s heart, the shriek of pain as the gun recoils against his bruised and broken bones.

“No!” Derek growls, every limb of his own body screaming in protest as he grabs the woman by the throat and pulls, her head thrown back as Derek rips her esophagus from the inside out with a horrible squelching sound.

The last two screech in protest, abandoning Derek as they both go sprinting in Stiles’s direction and it’s everything Derek had tried to avoid.

Stupid, stubborn boy, Derek thinks, as he throws himself in front of their path, managing to gut the red-haired alpha just before he reaches out to claw Stiles from chest to groin.

The last one cries out, and it’s awful—the sound of complete and utter loss and despair—it makes the hair on the back of his neck tingle. Derek feels the tips of the alpha’s claws dig into his back, right as Derek’s teeth shred the entirety of his neck and shoulder.

He drops the limp body to the ground away from Stiles, and turns to look at him. The boy is covered in blood and definitely bruised from head to toe, but he’s alive. Alive is good.

Derek’s breathing is slow, labored, and he winces as he feels his body trying desperately to heal itself, so many alpha-inflicted wounds sucking the very life out of him. His lungs feel crushed from the outside, and his vision flickers from red to white to red again. He falls to his knees in front of Stiles, the loudest sound he’s ever heard, and then he doesn’t know anything else.
While he is gone, lost, asleep, wherever—Derek dreams. They aren’t the nightmares that have plagued his nights for so many years, no, they are memories, visions of things he’d forgotten: he’s a child again, his father picking him up and tossing him in the air, his uncle peter (whose eyes are kind, not murderous, not crazed) running with him on his first full moon, his mother’s touch, warm and soft, crooning a lullaby in a language he never had the chance to learn.

Sometimes, it’s other things, things he doesn’t understand, not consciously, but knows in his bones that they feel right: freckled skin like the constellations his sisters taught him, lips— pink and full, a steady heartbeat to match his own.

He doesn’t want to wake up. He wants to crawl inside these images for ever, curl into them like he’s a pup again, and never let go.

But slowly, the dreams begin to fade, his mother’s face becomes blurred, the memories corrupted—pain ebbs its way into the warm, bright lights he hides behind, and he hears murmuring sometimes ( it’s Deaton, mostly, though sometimes it’s Peter, sometimes Scott).

But he doesn’t fully wake up. Not for a long time. Not for days.

Though when he does, the transition to the waking world is violent and harsh, and it hurts. He gasps as his lungs work on their own for the first time in awhile, constricting rapidly as they rush air throughout his body. Deaton’s eyes are the first he sees, so dark and old and wise in ways Derek knows he can’t even imagine.

“That was very stupid of you,” says Deaton, though it’s with a fondness Derek doesn’t think he’s heard before.

He tries to speak, but nothing comes at first, just sputtering, like he’s swallowed gravel. Someone hands him water—Peter, he realizes, who’s hovering over him with an almost authentic-looking expression of concern and relief.

“I notice you didn’t try and stop me,” Derek growls, finally.

“Sometimes stupid works for you,” says Deaton, smiling.

//

Peter goes to tell the pack he’s awake. While he’s gone, Derek gets used to the idea that he actually isn’t dead, which honestly is something he wasn’t expecting. He looks in the mirror, finally, when Deaton is satisfied that he isn’t in any more danger, and it’s bad—but it isn’t the worst he’s seen. Most of his wounds have healed, faded almost entirely—he thinks, most likely due to Deaton’s craftiness. There are claw marks that will likely never fade completely, a shock of raised white lines running from the back his neck to his hips, a corded rope of scar tissue over his left shoulder, a jagged bite mark on his forearm.

But it doesn’t matter, because he’s alive.

“It’s something your father would have done,” says Deaton, arms crossed as he watches Derek in the mirror. “He would be proud of what you have done for the boy.”

Stiles.

Derek stiffens…”My father was human, he wasn’t…but Stiles,” and he trails off, his lips already forming the question.

“He’s alive, stable, and very anxious to see you,” says Deaton. The man is smiling in a knowing way that makes Derek uncomfortable, uncertain.

“In fact, he is outside right now…”
Derek sees Isaac first, the boy looking at him with his trademark dopey grin, like Derek hangs the moon, and Derek offers him a knowing smile in return. But then his gaze falls on the stumbling figure that comes barreling in after his beta, and it stops him cold. It feels a little like the world falls away, as ridiculously cliché as it sounds, because Stiles won’t stop staring at him, and it’s like he’s being x-rayed. Derek can’t remember the last time he felt self-conscious, shifting under Stiles’s intense gaze, maybe when he was thirteen, but not anytime recently that’s for certain, and the whole thing is incredibly unnerving and uncomfortable.

The way Stiles is biting his lip, the way his expression changes from familiar, stubborn indignation, then to anger, finally settling on hurt, it makes Derek’s insides feel raw. It also is incredibly irritating, something that’s sort of a relief, a familiar, welcome feeling.

And Stiles croaks out, “I’m sorry,” and all Derek can see is the way he limps when he walks, the bone-white bandages peeking out from the sleeves of that stupid red hoodie he always wears.

Derek can see the boy drowning in guilt, the same way Derek has for what feels like forever, and it makes him feel sick because that wasn’t what this was at all.

So instead Derek reaches for him, whining as he puffs hot breath into the hollow of Stiles’s throat, breathing in the scent of him, so very much alive.

Derek allows himself a few moments, longer than necessary probably, finding a strange comfort in the stable, steady thrum of Stiles’s pulse, though it doesn’t stay that way for long, quickening in its pace in a way that makes Derek flinch, thinking it’s him, that Stiles is scared of him…

But before he can step away, Stiles’s arm comes up around his back and they are clinging to each other. It’s a nice moment, quiet, just of the two of them, despite the audience. Someone coughs, and Derek looks up, sees that it’s no longer just Peter and Isaac in the room with them. Scott is gaping at him, with a look of---something, his brow furrowed as he’s trying to puzzle the whole thing out.

He’s shadowed by someone unexpected, however.

And it’s the Sheriff— Stiles’s father, looking so much older, grayer, his face more ashen and lined than even Derek has ever seen. And he thinks of the only other time he’s ever seen that look on the man’s face, the night he led a boy and girl, young, yet no so young, into the back of a police car, murmuring, don’t look son, not anymore as they drove away from the smoking ruin of his home, and nine bodies, crudely covered with blankets, splayed like broken dolls on the scorched leaves of the forest floor.

Derek looks into the man’s eyes, and they stare back at him, and he knows now, thinks Derek. He has to understand, now.

And the man clears his throat, says, “Thank you.” It's soft, but Derek hears the weight behind it.

So he nods, steps back, even though the wolf in him howls in protest, reaching again for Stiles in a way Derek doesn’t yet understand.

“Take him home, he—you should take him home.”
Things are better after, not necessarily easier, but certainly calmer. It takes a while for Derek to feel normal again, for the sting to leave his muscles and joints, and it’s frustrating to say the least, because he isn’t used to having to take time to heal. Though when he does, he feels stronger than he did before, and he knows, knows without even asking Deaton, that it is the state of his pack that is the source of it, this new-found strength.

Their bond is healing, along with Derek wounds, and like the cuts on his skin, it is a slow yet steady process. It is hard for him, letting down the walls he spent years building up, but he tries. He fixes up the house almost completely, and when Isaac moves in, when Erica and Boyd set up a room to share, it almost feels like a real home. Almost.

Even Scott and Jackson have come around more, sparring with the other betas, letting Derek teach them how to fight, how to track, how to avoid detection. He knows Jackson wants him to give Lydia the bite, hears them talk about it in hushed whispers, but Derek just can’t, and even if he did, he isn’t sure what would happen, if Lydia’s immunity would put them all at risk.

If anything, Derek is more cautious than ever.

//

Stiles doesn’t come around anymore, and even Scott doesn’t seem to be seeing him much these days. When he visits Deaton, Derek doesn’t ask about him, though the vet says in soothing tones that he’s fine, he’s healing.

Several full moons pass, and the Derek feels proud that most of his pack can control themselves without his help. Erica still struggles, and he knows it bothers her that she cannot run with the rest of them, that she still has to be chained up like an animal. On the nights when it’s worst, Derek stays with her, wrapping her in his arms, even as she snarls and scratches at him.

Things get better, slowly, but they do.

//

It’s the third full moon since the night Stiles was taken, and Derek feels the pull in his veins, but he doesn’t show it. The others don’t often realize it, that sometimes it is harder for him as a born wolf—that he cannot separate himself from the animal as easily as they can. For him, the wolf is not separate, not a thing he can shut on and off, and that it took years for him to develop the iron-clad control that he now possesses.

He has done his best to let Stiles be, doesn’t even ask his betas to watch over him (though he suspects that they do, regardless). Despite the fact that every instinct claws at him, tells him to watch, care, protect this strange human boy.

And he realizes, as he finds himself outside the Stilinksi home, with the hazy yellow moon raised high over the trees that today is his birthday. It isn’t a thing he often thinks about, especially after, when more years simply meant more unwanted time to mourn and grieve. He and Laura had long stopped celebrating.
And Derek, he recognizes the scent of the boy immediately—woods, something homey, spicy, tainted only slightly by the smallest stench of chemicals (the adderall, he thinks). Derek doesn’t mean to scare him; he’s used to moving in a way that makes little noise, if any at all, and he can’t help it that his eyes automatically track every little movement of Stiles’s nimble fingers, like any predator might its prey.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Stiles sputters, dropping whatever it is he’s got in his palm. Derek’s eyes narrow, but he still smells the thing before he sees it. And Derek scowls, his eyes narrowing as he catches an odor so naturally repulsive to his kind, mixed up so unwanted in Stiles’s natural scent. Derek steps closer, his hand reaching into the boy’s pocket, pulling out the source of his distaste.

It’s such a tiny thing, no bigger than a cigarette, with a tip as slim and pointed as a sewing needle. A silver dart dipped in wolfsbane and hemlock.

Derek growls, the dart laid flat in his palm as he holds it in front of Stiles’s face.

“Argent teaching you some nice tricks?” he asks, not even bothering to hide the venom in his voice.
And Stiles doesn’t hesitate to snatch back the tiny weapon, tuck the dart safely away again. “Something tripped my mountain ash…alarms,” he mumbles, “and it was Deaton, by the way. I’ve been learning some things, I want—no, I need to be ready, for—for next time.” Stiles trails off again, his twitchy fingers tugging on his shirt, white and thin and a little too long for him.
For next time, Derek thinks. For the next time Stiles suffers because of them.

Stiles’s words seep like ice into his veins, stinging as harshly as the venom in that dart would if it were to ever pierce his skin. The way that the boy talks, like he means nothing, like he’s worth so little to them, it makes Derek's blood run cold and sluggish, like he’s frozen in place. He doesn’t understand, doesn’t know how Stiles can see it that way, when it’s obvious to everyone else what it means— when they hurt him like that, he must know, thinks Derek, he must know what it means…

Because that’s what your enemy does in war, goes after what’s most precious, what’s most valued, prized above all other things.

In the pack, if Derek is brute strength, cold and hard, immovable and unfeeling as granite, Stiles is all fire and heart, and he must know, that the only reason they are whole again is because of him.

Derek’s eyes flash as they follow Stiles’s hands, the way they pull and tug at the hem of his shirt, and that’s when Derek sees—what they’ve done to him, how they’ve marked him forever, found a way to haunt them all even after they’ve gone.

The sound that escape from his open mouth is a deafening, anguished cry, and Derek can’t help it, he has to see, has to touch. And his own hands are shaking as they cover Stiles’s, lifting the thin fabric in a slow reveal of skin, and it’s all sharp, angry lines, white and glowing in the moonlight.

And he knows in his bones, sees the hard line of Stiles’s mouth, that there isn’t a way he can ever make this right. Even if he sucked every last bit of pain from Stiles’s body, that there’d be an ache, a part of him broken that can’t ever heal right.

He wants to say something, anything, but nothing comes because he doesn’t know how to do this, not when any apology he offers would carry the same weightlessness as saying nothing at all.

So Derek traces the raised scar tissue, the triangles and curves of the mark, ingraining the memory in his own flesh because he knows that he doesn’t ever deserve to forget what he’s done to something so good and warm and perfect.
Derek, he’s lost in thought as his fingertips brush over skin he’s never really touched before, not really, not like this—Stiles feels cool and soothing under his own hands, underneath his own skin that runs so much hotter than a humans. The boy shivers, and Derek feels the gooseflesh that prickles underneath his palms, catching like wildfire as it trails up his arms too.

And Stiles mouth is open, his breathing quickened, his cheeks flushed, and Derek jerks his head when the boy speaks, when he hears the tremor in his voice, sees Stiles’s eyes alight with confusion, not fear, not hate, but something neither of them can really place.
“What are you, god, Derek….you have to stop,” and the boy’s voice is quivering, choked.

Derek pulls his hand away, slow, and smooths the fabric over Stiles’s stomach and he steps back, though the wolf in him screams in protest, wants things Derek doesn’t even know how to begin to understand.

“I—sorry, I---“

And he thinks, with a realization that hits him as solidly as a strike across the face, that he would do whatever the boy asked of him, now, in this moment—anything.
That if Stiles told him to go away, to not come back, he would go, and he would go and never look on him again.

“I don’t know—I don’t understand,” he says desperately, and the words come out hoarse and jumbled and Derek wishes he had never spoken at all.
“And you think I do?” Stiles says with a laughing, shaking his head. “Fucking wolves, man. Why can’t anything normal ever happen to me? Why are you even here? I mean..it’s me for fuck’s sake. You hate me…you hate me right? I just…fuck, it’s so cold and look at you, and you’re not even shivering. I—I need to go inside.”
For Derek, it’s a relief to hear Stiles’s familiar babbling, a welcome white noise that drowns out the half-formed doubts and questions that have been plaguing the alpha for months. A year ago, when Scott was first bitten, the boy’s endless chatter had been nearly insufferable, so alien to him, someone who’d lived so long in almost complete silence, moving through the day-to-day as immaterial as the ghosts he’d tried his best to bury.

Maybe he should go, he thinks, looking up to see that the moon has moved to its highest point, just past midnight. He thinks of Erica and Boyd, Jackson, Peter (a problem he’s yet to even ponder solving), but the thought of running tonight—it’s not what he wants, not what he needs.

“Tired,” he grunts, “Isaac and Scott can take over for one night.”

And he watches Stiles watch him, adding, “They've been better, since…”

Though he doesn't want to add that they all know what’s—who-- has been missing from the equation for far too long, longer certainly than Derek has wanted.

“I’ll go, if you want,” he says quietly, in what he thinks are the most words he’s ever said to Stiles at one time, “but I’d like to stay.”

He cocks his head, listens for a moment, not hearing the tell-tale footfalls of the Sheriff’s heavy boots, or the hum of the television, the man’s heartbeat that tends to be just a touch out of sync on the fifth beat.

“I could even use the front door for once. It might be a nice change,” he says, his tone flat, but offering Stiles a smile that’s all teeth, white and gleaming.
And Stiles actually smiles back, not a full one, just a tilt upwards of soft, pink lips. “Come inside.”
Derek follows Stiles wordlessly; his hands dug into the pockets of his jeans, doing is best not to trail too close, though he wants to. Consciously, he even tries to make noise when he moves just to put Stiles more at ease because he notes the subtle way the boy’s shoulders shake as he walks into the house and heads up the stairs, two at a time. Derek shuts the door once he’s inside the hall, it closes with a click, and he turns the lock too, just to be safe.

There aren’t any lights on in the house, it’s nearly pitch-black, though Derek can see fine, no real difference to his eyes than if it were broad daylight. He’s never been into the main parts of the Stilinksi house before; it’s comfortable here, homey, lived in, and it’s been a long time since Derek felt something like that. There are a few pictures on the walls, the ones that are there, they’re mostly of Stiles: a few school photographs, one of him in lacrosse gear. Noticeably, there are none of Stiles’s mother, though Derek remembers seeing her in town, a slight blonde, with bright eyes like Stiles’s, soft features, a thousand-watt smile.

They get to Stiles’s room, and it’s more cluttered than Derek remembers. It’s dimly lit as well, just a desk lamp switched on, the muted glow of a reading lamp. Stiles’s scent fills Derek’s nostrils—it’s everywhere in the room, and he’s swimming in it. He feels slightly dizzy, so he crosses the room, past Stiles where the boy is still standing awkwardly by the bed like he doesn’t know what to do, and slides into the armchair in the corner. He moves with an easy grace that belies his uneasiness, thankful in this case for his natural-born gifts. The boy’s room is covered with books; they line several bookcases, strewn on the floor and the desk. Some of them are older, leather-bound, and there a few he recognizes from his old home, thinks that the vet must’ve rescued them because they still bear the acrid smell of burnt wood and ash.

His eyes fall on Stiles’s bed, and he notes that the boy’s scent is faintest here, like it hasn’t been slept in. Derek isn’t surprised, though he can’t deny it worries him (although he worries a lot in Stiles’s case, regardless). He can imagine Stiles, propped up at the desk, bent over the tomes, twitching restlessly, most likely sprawled over his keyboard when he finally managed to fall asleep. There’s a book lying closest to Derek, resting on the windowsill, and he picks it up, running his fingers over the dusty spine, the thin pages yellowed with age. It’s mostly sketches, creatures Derek remembers his father telling him about—wendigos and redcaps, will-o-the-whisps, the other things besides them that haunted the forests at night.

“You can sleep, if you want,” says Derek, pressing into the back of the chair, trying his best to relax his stiff shoulders, unclench his taught muscles so he can breathe again. “I’ll just read, I’m just—I need to rest. It’s comfortable here…”
Stiles still hasn’t moved, even though Derek’s doing his best not to even glance in his direction, scared of pinning him to the wall with his eyes. Stiles’s own gaze is flitting across the room, and Derek can see his eyelashes fluttering, thin and blond, as delicate as moth wings.
Derek cocks an eyebrow, his mouth falling into its characteristic hard-line scowl. Stiles doesn’t look fine, any finer than Derek feels, and it’s not hard to know why. But honestly, here, Derek already feels more relaxed than he has in weeks, which isn’t something he cares to dissect at the moment, not at all, with the knowledge that even with the heady pulse of the moon, the wolf in him is settled here, surrounded by Stiles’s calming aura.
“I won’t bite,” he says, smirking as he pulls off his leather jacket, unties the laces of his boots, toes them off so he’s just in his socks (which is sort of funny, absurd, because he’s sure without looking at Stiles’s face that it boggles the boy’s mind that Derek is actually a person, sort-of, who wears things as arbitrary and human as socks).

“The house is—it doesn’t feel like,” Derek starts, resting his hands on his thighs as he watches Stiles pointedly, how he won’t look even look at him. Though he can hear the boy’s heart, beating fast again, and wishes he knew how to make him calm, quiet.

“Anyway, you should try to rest, too, I know it’s not—but I wouldn’t let anything hurt you,” he says. I won’t hurt you is what he really means, as he rises out of the chair and moves so he hovers over Stiles where he sits perched on the edge of the mattress, curled in on himself like he’s trying his best to turn invisible.
“Sure,” Stiles mutters. “Whatever,” and his thin, bony fingers are tugging at the fraying edges of the bedspread and he looks like a damned ghost to Derek.
What Stiles says, it hurts just as much (more, actually) as if he had slapped him, and Derek feels his mask slip just a little and it’s irritating how frequent that’s happening lately. It hurts because he can tell, even if it’s not meant as an attack on him, that Stiles doesn’t believe him, and he probably shouldn’t, why would he?

When has Derek ever actually succeeded in protecting the things he cares about?

Derek is first to look away, because he doesn’t—he’s not ready for Stiles to look into his eyes and see everything that he’s sure is written plain across his face. He shifts, moving slowly so Stiles can track his movements, until he’s sitting next to him on the bed, a respectable distance away—even though the wolf is screaming touch, get close, close, closer.

“I’m sorry I let this happen to you,” he says gruffly, and the apology sounds as stupid as he imagined it, lame and weak and just fucking meaningless.
And Stiles is laughing, laughing. “Jesus Christ, sourwolf. I mean, you literally took down the alpha pack to save me. You almost died for me. I was the fucking idiot that went crashing through the forest…looking for you… right after you’d just warned me and—“ and Stiles is rambling again, biting his lip and shaking his head.
And there he goes again, always downplaying his worth, and it makes Derek furious because Derek has never hated Stiles, despite what the boy might think, but simply kept him at arm’s length, distant, for this very reason.

There’s no way he can escape, hide from the way Stiles’s eyes rake over him, searching it seems, for a reason that Derek would do something as unreal as trading his life away for him. Derek doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say, how to tell him that there was never any choice, that he knew from the moment Stiles was taken from him (not away, but from him, there was never any doubt who it was meant to hurt).

He wants to reach out, offer a touch that if only Stiles was wolf, he wouldn’t find unwelcome or uncomfortable. But he does, Derek knows the boy doesn’t understand why Derek wants his hands on him all the time, wants Stiles to smell like Derek, belong to Derek, be Derek’s.

Derek doesn’t even understand it himself, how things changed so quickly, after.

“You have to know,” he says, feeling his green eyes flicker with the force of his words, “that I will always come for you.”
“I mean why? I’m not even part of your dumb pack. I’m just me. I’m just Stiles. Scott would have gone, the Argent…it didn’t have to be you. ”
The wolf in him is gleeful at the challenge, at the way Stiles stares so unabashedly, and it yearns to mark and claim. Derek’s hands shake, and he cringes as he feels his claws lengthen, so he grips the blanket on Stiles’s bed, bunches it in his fists in an attempt to release the tension strung rigid and taut in his forearms like a bowstring. It helps a little, but the feeling stays.

“Because you are pack, you always have been, they trust you—more than me, I don’t blame them for it…” Derek says, rushed and quiet, fixated on the swell of Stiles’s mouth as he bites at his own lip.

And it’s not all, that doesn’t even come close to the real reason, he thinks, but he doesn’t know how to put into words the way he’s drawn to the boy because Stiles doesn’t—can’t possibly feel it the way Derek does. The way the wolf in him howls to be near him, how it’s been agonizing to be apart from the comfort of his scent.

“And you, you’re important…to me,” he murmurs vaguely. “I can’t---I have to—“ and he doesn’t know how to explain the instinct that feels so inherently animal in its reasoning, how it feels like every hurt that Stiles suffers hurts Derek more, ten-fold.

“Things have changed, that’s all I know,” he says. And it is cowardly, he knows, that he can’t even form the words that Stiles needs, that he won’t. But it isn’t right, to burden him with it, because Stiles is so young, and it’s not right, even though everything in Derek screams that it is, that is has to be.
It happens so fast, Derek hardly gets the chance to process what’s happening before it does, and he feels like he blinks and misses it. Stiles’s hand pulls him close and Derek goes, his flesh hot, veins singing at the contact.

And then, then, Stiles lunges at him, and Derek doesn’t flinch, doesn’t even move as Stiles’s lips press quick as lightning against his own and Derek goes still, can’t react fast enough because he’s so shocked at the fact that Stiles has kissed him, that Stiles wants him.

But he’s gone, before Derek can even process this new information. He doesn’t even need to look up to know that the expression on Stiles’s face is horror, mortification, because he’s already miles away from Derek, who feels the loss immediately, whose wolf feels anguished and cheated at losing what it wants most.

If Derek were cautious like he knows he should be, if Derek actually took the time to think about this, he would bury the idea because of so many reasons—too old, too dangerous, not right, not right at all.

But Derek doesn’t, can’t, not when he had him so close, there in his arms, for just a second even though that’s all it really took.

The noise he makes is positively animalistic in its neediness, but Derek doesn’t give a shit, reaches for the boy, using his brute strength to yank him into his lap before grabbing his chin and crushing their mouths together. He should be gentle, he should do a lot of things, but he’s bound under the spell of Stiles’s pulse that’s racing because of him, because of Derek’s mouth and hands all over him.

He tries not to grip his hips too hard, even though the wolf wants to replace every mark on the boy’s body with one of his own, wants to cover him until the only person Stiles smells like is him, just him, wants everyone to know it, feel it.
Derek doesn’t believe in God, he never has, but when Stiles touches him, it feels like the laying on of hands, absolving every sin, scraping off the layer of scar tissue, tough and horrible, that’s formed over his body and his heart like an icy cage. Stiles’s hands are as hot as Derek’s skin, the warmth running through him like an electric current.

When he nips lightly, bites gently at Stiles’s lips, whatever bond they had, once tenuous and thin, feels solid and real, shocking him like an electric current—it feels like licking a battery. Derek swallows Stiles’s needy sounds, the boy pressed so close to him he can feel the angles of his ribs, his sharp hipbones, even through his clothes.

Derek wants more, wants everything, wants to pluck notes from the boy’s spine like a piano, and it’s terrifying how much he wants. He feels his teeth start to lengthen, feels his eyes shift and he doesn’t know how this human, so much energy buzzing underneath his skin, has frayed the edges of his control, altering him so utterly.

He pulls away with a groan because he knows he needs to, looks away because he doesn’t want Stiles to see him like that. But he reaches between them with his fingers, thankfully not claws, feels the heat radiating off the boy’s cheeks, flushed red where all the blood’s rushed to his head, and Stiles’s skin is a shock paddle, and his own body thrums heavily in response with an energy and life he can’t recall feeling in years.

It feels like frostbitten limbs coming in from the cold. Hurts at first, but the burn feels so good.

“Sorry, I don’t---want to hurt you,” he murmurs, his heart beating loud and erratic, he’s sure that even Stiles’s weak human ears can hear it.
“Oh my god,” Stiles is panting into his ear and Derek just groans, “the only way you could fucking hurt me right now if you fucking stop. Because I would hurt you, because this is amazing and…”
When he feels Stiles’s lips, feather-light, touch as soft as a bird’s wing, it’s like someone’s got Derek’s lungs in a vice and even he can’t stifle the sharp intake of breath, the gasp that escapes his lips, chapped and cracked. And it’s then that he realizes just how deep this boy’s managed to entrench himself inside of him. That even though he wasn’t really aware of it, not consciously, not at first, he’s managed to burrow underneath his skin until his essence has wrapped tendrils around every inch of him, bones, muscles, nerves, even blood. The weight of something so bright trying to shine in his shadow, like a cut in his mouth that he can’t stop tonguing. And now, he’s the wolf in sheep’s clothing and Stiles is following him blind.

His eyes don’t leave the place on Stiles’s face, where Derek still gripping him, the bones of his cheekbones feeling almost avian-like, sharp and hollow—fragile, and he knows he could crush them easily in his fist. But Stiles doesn’t care, says you won’t like he really believes it.

Derek wants to believe it, too.

So he slides his hands under Stiles’s clothes, pulls the zipper of that ridiculous sweatshirt down, and underneath Stiles is just wearing a thin t-shirt, a little too big for him, the collar stretched.

And Stiles is staring at him under heavy lids, soft lashes framing his gaze, but by no means subduing its intensity. The boy is so pale, he glows in the dim lights of the room, as bright as the moon outside, and it makes sense since they are both the things that haunt him most.

So Derek grips the sleeve of Stiles’s shirt and tugs; it falls, revealing the smooth expanse of Stiles’s ivory curved shoulder, the long, lean line of his neck, and Derek mouth practically waters. He stalls, just for a second, but realizes he’s halfway to hell already and it’s not like he’s going to turn back now. When he lowers his mouth to the hot skin there, he wears the air gets sucked straight out of the room because right now, Derek’s sure as hell not breathing. His lips skim a trail back to the hollow of Stiles’s throat, scrapes the dip there with his teeth before swirling his tongue around that pulse point, pounding determinedly, and he tastes salt and soap and grass and den and, he sucks and licks, abusing the skin there until he’s certain Stiles is marked, branded.

The animal in him is howling in victory, reveling in the claim, the bruise that’s sure to last for days. And all Derek can think is mine, mine, mine, finally mine.
“You’re marking me, oh my god, that’s so hot. I can’t---“ And Stiles is shivering and twitching like a livewire, Derek has to tighten his grip just to keep him upright. And suddenly he feels the force of Stiles’s weight pushing him down, nails scratching at his shoulders.
e lets himself be pushed, lets Stiles scramble over him, pinning him to the mattress. Every one of his alpha instincts prickle, and he can’t lie and say he doesn’t panic just for a moment at the idea of submission, of letting go of an ounce of control. But Stiles’s breath is coming in heavy pants, his eyes like black pools, pupils dilated wide with want and he knows that this isn’t anything like that; it’s not a challenge, it’s desire, plain and simple, for closeness, for skin against skin.

He lets Stiles claim his mouth, opening to him, winding his hand into the strands of Stiles’s hair, grown longer than it’s ever been, and he tugs, scratching at his scalp with blunt nails. And just because he can, because he knows he wants it like Derek does, he rocks their hips together because he wants to hear him gasp again. Because Derek wants to give him this. He kisses him, traces the contours of his open mouth, and maps the shape of his lips until he’s sure he’s memorized them. He slips his hand up Stiles’s spine until he arches above him, digs his fingertips into the soft flesh of his hips. Derek’s touches are forceful, but controlled. For Stiles, he takes his time, lets his hands wander all over and tries his not to lose his mind when the boy is so soft and warm and perfect.

It’s still terrifying, how real this is, the weight of Stiles on top of him, but he needs this, finally feels like the missing pieces, the hollow, aching parts of him are slowly being filled. He pulls back, holds Stiles’s face in his hands, mesmerized by the boy’s bee-stung lips, swollen and raw because of him, runs the pads of his callused fingers over his bruised mouth and bares his neck, submitting, even though it goes against everything he knows, because he….because he wants, needs Stiles to know that the trust goes both ways, that it always has.
It’s still not as easy as he wants it to be, as he exposes the most vulnerable part of him, as he let’s Stiles’s mouth, full and pink, trace the lines of his veins, the arteries pumping, life, oxygen through his body. He lets his hands fall to his sides because he feels the bones of his fingers shift as his claws extend, so he grips the blankets again, like he did earlier, because it seemed to help, cringing as he hears the fabric rip under his ministrations

“ m’sorry,” he mutters brokenly, arching up unwittingly against the wet press of Stiles’s tongue under his shirt. His skin feels scorched, like he’s been burned, and he feels the sweat pooling on his forehead, the hammering of his heartbeat like lead in his chest, his blood spiked with want, thick and heavy.

He groans again, biting his own lip this time, and he tastes blood, metallic and sweet, his own, and it’s ridiculous, he thinks, how undone he is by the simple press of the boy’s mouth on his flesh, so alive. But he wants more, he thinks, than the boy can give, wants everything, wants to swallow him whole.

As fast as a blink, he flips them and he stills for a moment, his weight braced on his forearms resting on both sides of Stiles's head.
ek’s mouth falls open, gaping at the boy who’s so willingly laid himself bare for him—it floors him, he can’t even---thinks if he shuts his eyes, looks away from Stiles’s eyes, closes them, that Derek will wake up and it will all have been a dream, fleeting and errant like the wind.

Because this, this is exactly what he dreamt of that night, he knows it now, that lying on Deaton’s table was moment that Stiles’s soul was scratched on Derek’s bones, marking him as much as the bruise that blooms like the sweetest flower across the boy’s throat.

Derek’s shaking, he can feel it, suspended over Stiles’s body, all lithe limbs and pointed angles. The wolf basks in Stiles’s blatant show of submission, in the way his pulse quickens so notably that Derek can practically see it trying to beat its way through to the other side. The boy’s name slips out from Derek’s mouth as he eases down, presses a little more of his bulk against Stiles’s, relishing the way they slot together, like Stiles was made for this, for him.

He nuzzles into the dip of Stiles’s shoulder, lapping at sliver of skin behind Stiles’s ear where his scent is strongest. The taste of him is more than Derek could ever imagine, sweeter, headier than wine, than honey. And as a born wolf, he’s never been drunk, but he imagines that this must be exactly what it feels like, every nerve buzzing, his vision swimming.

“You drive me crazy,” he murmurs pressing the tips of his canines over Stiles’s throat with the barest pressure, and the darkest parts of Derek sing at the contact, knowing how stupidly easy it would be to bite down because Stiles would make the most gorgeous wolf, so strong and perfect. But Derek would never, knows he would never ever hurt him like that, that Stiles holds on to his humanity like it’s the greatest gift because it is.
Derek doesn’t even try to stifle the moan that’s ripped from his throat as he feels Stiles’s nails, the palms of his hands warm and damp with sweat, as they skitter down his back. Derek feels his spine ripple pleasantly as he bucks into the touch, resuming his assault on the swell of Stiles’s bottom lip, fucking into his mouth with his tongue, tracing seams of that stupid, sinful mouth. Any restraint he might’ve had is gone, out the window, and Derek grinds shamelessly into the supple curve of Stiles’s hip, seeking his own release as much as Stiles’s.

His touches are fearless, teetering on the edge of almost too rough, now as he hooks his thumb into the waistband of Stiles’s jeans, teasing the hypersensitive skin hidden just underneath. He bites at the soft flesh of Stiles’s earlobe, scraping his teeth over the boy’s pebbled nipples, the middle of his chest where the most perfect blush as spread under Derek’s lavish attention.

“Fuck---so gorgeous, everyone’s gonna look at you, know you’re mine,” Derek growls, punctuating the words with another slow drag of his hips.
nd when Stiles goes still beneath him as he says those words, for a second, Derek’s sure he’s ruined it all, whatever this is. He panics, his mind flooding with all the ways that this could possibly be wrong. He thinks of Kate, how she’d been with him when he was just sixteen. And Stiles, he’s just a kid, just seventeen and isn’t what Derek doing just the same? Doesn’t this make him as much a monster as the Argents claimed that him he was? He shuts his eyes under the weight of all that doubt, and when he opens them again, gazes at the boy’s face, it feels like Derek has emerged from the darkest depths of an ocean filled with bad memories, has narrowly avoiding being dragged beneath by the undertow.

Stiles’s breathing is labored, the bright gleam of his eyes like melted amber, honeyed mahogany; he knows that it’s not anything like what Kate did to him because the boy looks so utterly desperate for whatever Derek can give him, and from the jackrabbit’s pace of his pulse, it sounds like Stiles’s heart is ready to beat itself out.

And he’s so quiet, which Derek never imagined Stiles to be, especially in a situation like this. He’d thought Stiles would be running his mouth off non-stop, because that’s how he seems to react to everything, like talking is the only way he can handle what gets thrown to him day-to-day.

But so far, Derek’s only heard muted sounds, needy, wanton little moans and gasps that catch in the hollow parts of his throat. Derek, who never speaks if he can help it, is the one who can’t stop murmuring nonsense into the soft expanse of Stiles’s belly, his neck, because he wants to brand him with not only his teeth, but his words, hoping they’ll stay just as long beneath the skin as the bruises on top of them.

“What do you want, tell me, I want you---whatever you need, I want to give it to you, just let me---“ he whispers, his fingers fiddling with the buttons on Stiles’s jeans. Derek already knows what he wants, what the wolf wants—Stiles spread open and vulnerable underneath him, naked and begging for his touch
And Stiles laughs, grinning into Derek’s mouth. “I want you, you idiot. I fucking want you.”
That’s everything Derek needs to continue, the frantic pleas spilling from Stiles’s lips, consenting wholly to Derek’s will. Groaning at the way Stiles arches for him, he works quickly with practiced fingers, tugging Stiles’s jeans off, leaving them in a crumpled heap on the floor, followed shortly by the boy’s underwear until Stiles is just there, laid out like an offering to the gods, to him, and it’s so close to being too much. Derek’s eyes rake over the white ivory of uncovered skin, and his pupils feel blown wide, so dilated, his vision so painfully enhanced that the way the beams of moonlight play on they boy’s bare flesh is as hypnotizing to him as the moon itself as it dapples across the expanse of him, glittering like the most precious of jewels.

He can see every goosebump, the hair like soft down all over him, the arousal that hangs over them both like hazy fog. Derek takes several steeling breaths to steady himself, reaches down to unzip his own pants, just freeing himself enough that the ache, the pain of wanting, doesn’t kill him. He can’t help stroking himself a few times, either, just because the way Stiles is naked, bare for him, makes him pulse, makes him crave.

Because he doesn’t know how this can be real, all for him. Can’t believe that this is what was hidden, underneath the baggy, shapeless clothes, underneath that shell of restless, buzzing energy, the clumsiness Stiles hides behind like a shield. But he’s glad, he thinks, with a possessive jolt of noise, that no one else can tell, can see it, because if they all knew what was there, under the surface, who wouldn’t want to devour the boy?

Derek kneels between the boy’s legs, reaching underneath the bends of his knees to pull him close so that he can run his palms over everywhere, all of him. And yeah, it’s pretty wolfish, what he does next, scraping the scratch of stubble over the bow of Stiles’s foot, then his calves, the fleshy inside of his thighs just so he’s sure to smell like Derek’s everywhere. He scrapes his rough tongue over the fine bones of Stiles’s ankle, kittenish licks all the way up the lean lines of his legs. Derek never knew it was possible for someone to blush with their entire body, the flush spreading hotly all the way to the tips of Stiles’s toes, blood humming for it.

Or, he thinks, how Stiles has freckles everywhere, even on his thighs, the arc of his hipbones. Someday Derek will count them all, taste every last one with teeth and tongue, but the way Stiles thrashes under his hands, now isn’t the time when they’re both so close to breaking.

He digs his nails into the glowing stretch of Stiles’s flanks, nuzzling into his groin where Stiles's scent is so rich, an alluring bouquet of sweat and salt and longing. Finally, he touches where Stiles needs it most, gathering the moisture at the tip of him with his thumb, wrapping his hand over the swelled flesh. Derek licks his lips, because it’s mouthwatering, the sight of him, and he follows with the trace of his mouth, licking a heated stripe over his length before swallowing him down, relishing at the weight, thick and soft as velvet.

He wants to hear Stiles come apart, wants to see it, wants to burn it into his memory like cauterizing a wound.
nd Derek, he’s fine, he’s under control—really, as he holds Stiles between his lips, his palm a steadying weight in the dip of Stiles’s bellybutton. But the boy grabs onto his hair, pulls hard, fingertips a delicious grate against his skull and Derek can’t help it—the pace of it all becomes brutal as Derek takes him down so fully, utterly, that the boy is essentially fucking up into his mouth, but it’s okay because Derek wants it, needs it. It’s a sharp contrast to the gentle, reassuring massage of one hand on the concave of his hips.

He looks up, moans as he takes in the sight of Stiles, with his mouth thrown open, a perfect ‘o’, his lips shiny and abused, so blood red and completely indecent. It’s not like Derek has had a steady stream of romantic partners, and never any relationships, not since Kate, not since his world collapsed. And he’s seen people in all matter of wanton displays, girls who moaned so juvenilely, loud enough to make his ears ring painfully, men that swore like sailors, but nothing compares to this skinny teenager with a face that’s so strangely beautiful. Nothing. And when Stiles cries out Derek’s name, he thinks, no, knows, that he could come just from this, just from watching Stiles fall so gorgeously apart underneath his hands,

Derek sees him bite his own lips, and he’s drawn immediately forward, pulls off with an obscene pop that, if Derek had any shame whatsoever, might’ve made him blush. The grip he has on Stiles’s chin is bruising, and the thought thrills him, a perfect replica of the pads of his fingertips on Stiles’s cheekbones. So blatantly vulgar in its display, leaving no doubt as to what caused it. He attacks Stiles’s mouth, not really even a kiss, just a sloppy, hot press of teeth and tongue as he continues to stroke him.

“Let go, let me—fuck, let me see it,” he hisses, his voice so course like gravel it doesn’t even sound remotely human.
He smells the blood before he feels it, a flash of pain (yet, not pain, not really, just feeling) and it makes him whimper because the sparks that tickle up his spine, like they do every time he heals, hits him deep in the pit of his stomach, makes him sweat, makes him moan, and he gasps into Stiles open mouth, clinging to him.

And then he feels it, the way Stiles goes rigid in his arms, throws his head back like he’s looking to the sky, and Derek thinks yes, yes, yes, as his grip tightens, forcing Stiles to look right at him because there’s no way he’s missing this, no way. Stiles’s release comes in ribbons, spilling over Derek’s hands, Stiles’s chest, and it’s gorgeous, fucking gorgeous, and Derek doesn’t even hesitate, ducking down, lapping at it with his tongue, sucking it off his fingers, because the scent is so bitingly Stiles it makes the wolf in him wail.

He works his way back up to Stiles’s chest, his neck, pressing lips wherever they happen to fall—the bridge of Stiles’s nose, the slight furrow in his brow, his eyelids, his ears, ending with kiss on the boy’s forehead so gentle and sweet, it’s more than Derek ever thought he could give anyone. His hands come up behind Stiles, resting at his lower back, fingertips playing in the divot in between his hips.

Derek is still hard, but he barely notices, so enraptured by the blissful, fucked out glaze that's fallen over Stiles’s face, his eyelids heavy over darkened eyes--almost black.

And Derek thinks, in that moment, I love you, I do but he can’t say it, not yet, not when it still catches in his mouth, still makes him choke. And he hasn’t cried in so long, didn’t even when he buried Laura, when he stood over her open grave and saw her lying there, stiff and motionless and gone. Nothing came then. But now, he feels his vision cloud, and there’s a lump in his throat, though it doesn’t feel like sadness. It feels like everything.
And he would never ask Stiles to do anything for him, but he doesn't get a chance to even entertain the idea of simply taking care of it himself because the boy is touching him, soft, cool fingers surrounding him whole and he grunts, pressing into the hand that reaches for him. And the teenager's words are tinged with tentative uncertainty, honestly like Derek would, could ever say no when Stiles looks like that, looks at Derek like he isn't as broken and fucked up as he feels.

"You are--" and Derek tries so hard to find the words to say what he wants to but he can't, he feels too much, as he juts his hips frantically, mumbling quietly into Stiles's hip, gripping the boy so hard like he's afraid he'll let go because he is, it's what he's always afraid of. That someone will look inside and figure out he's rotten, ugly and twisted in side like charred wood.
There’s nothing more he can do than just fall into the touch, letting Stiles bear the brunt of his weight as he burrows deeper into the crook of Stiles’s shoulder, his breathing heavy and labored. He keeps his eyes squeezed shut because he knows without opening them that he’s shifted and he doesn’t want to see the world as an alpha now, tinged an angry crimson, he just wants this—the silk touch of Stiles’s hands on him.

His release hits him with all the subtlety of a bullet, and Derek barely has time to react as he frantically turns his head away from the boy, his fangs sharp and deadly as razors as he snaps his jaw, aching for something to bite, something that isn’t Stile, because it can’t be. He settles on his own wrist, groaning at the sweet pleasure-pain of piercing of his body’s own thick flesh. He feels hot blood, metallic and sweet, spurt freely from the wound, and he winces, looking down in awe as the gash flickers and shrinks until it’s nothing more than a pinprick of silver-white scar tissue, like it didn’t happen at all.

His heart is still pounding in his chest, and he’s sure Stiles can see it, feel it too, as every muscle in his body goes boneless and lax. And he isn’t sure how this has happened, how the hyper-vigilante control he works so fiercely to maintain could be unraveled at the slightest touch from this boy so young, so human. The way Derek feels, the way his emotions are so real, bubbling so close to the surface, he feels like he did when he was thirteen, so erratic, a slave to instinct and desire. He’s still shuddering and shaking from his climax, still feels it humming like bees in his veins. And he’s so tired, drowsy, drunk on the high of so much bliss all at once. He wants nothing more than to curl around Stiles, nest together in a pile of blankets, to wake up with the warm, secret knowledge that he has found his other,

His Mate.