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Our Memories Are Numbered

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Steering the Jeep onto the dark road to his house one-handed, Stiles gropes inside his backpack for a tissue. The rain comes down hard on the windshield, blurring the road and the watery headlights of oncoming traffic.

“Don’t you have like, a sixth sense for weather changes or something?” Stiles asks Scott, cringing when shifting gears makes his t-shirt slide cold and soppy over his back.

“Like a spider sense?” Scott asks, just this side of too serious and Stiles snorts.

“Does it tingle?”

“Dick.” Scott leans into Stiles’ space and violently shakes his head, spraying Stiles and the steering wheel with more water.

“Dude,” Stiles yells, shoving Scott’s shoulder, “what the hell?”

“Revenge for the dog jokes, man,” Scott tells him, already reaching for the door handle as Stiles pulls up in front of his house.

“Just get out of my car, it’s starting to smell like wet––”

“Yeah, yeah,” Scott drawls, flashing Stiles a grin and then readying himself to sprint to the front door. “Later.” The car door slams shut and barely a second later, Scott’s on his porch. In moments like this, Stiles envies him his wolf-speed maybe a little.

The lacrosse gear in the back is starting to smell like stale laundry and damp leather, so Stiles heads home. He’s lucky it’s late because he’s swerving over both lanes as he blows his nose repeatedly, stuffing tissues in his jeans that’ll leave clumps in the washing when he forgets about them. It’s when he’s in the wrong lane that he sees something streak through the woods, a flash of white in his headlights.

“What the ––” Stiles mumbles, slowing abruptly. He thinks he imagined it when he sees it again: there’s someone sprinting along the road, weaving through the trees, running like the devil’s on their heels.

“This is none of your business,” he says to himself, leaning over his steering wheel and squinting into the night, trying to see through the onslaught of rain. “Curiosity gets your best friend bitten.”

Slowing down, Stiles glances to the left. There’s no way to get a good look in the darkness but this clearly isn’t someone going for an evening jog, and who’s he kidding, he can’t do it. He’s not going to leave a person out there in the dark, maybe running for their life. It’ll only keep him awake at night and Stiles really doesn’t need to add anything to that list. Stiles scrubs his face hard and fast with both hands, causing the car to swerve even more. “Ah, shit.” He grabs the wheel, speeding up to overtake and then pull onto the shoulder fifty yards in front of the runner. “I’m so gonna regret this.”

A gust of wind and water hits him in the face when he rolls down his window and sticks his head out. “Hey, do you need help?” Stiles yells. The runner skids to a halt and Stiles’ jaw drops. He blinks the rain out of his eyes. “Derek?” Stiles hesitates only for a second and then he’s opening his car door, jumping out of the Jeep and leaving it idling, because Derek Hale on the run can’t mean anything good.

Derek is barely out of breath but his shoulders are hunched over, his whole posture a flashing warning. There’s no blood as far as Stiles can see, which is pretty far since Derek is wearing nothing but a pair of jeans. He’s snarling but his fangs retract as soon as his eyes meet Stiles’.

“Are you all right?” Stiles tries again, because this is weird even for Derek.

“Get back,” Derek hisses, stalking around Stiles in a half circle. Stiles keeps very still, tries to be as non-threatening as possible even though he’s pretty sure his rabbit-fast heartbeat is giving him away. It’s not that he’s afraid of Derek –– who, lets be fair, looks like a drowned cat –– but the something Derek’s running from could be here any second.

“What’s on your tail?” Stiles asks when Derek makes no move, chancing a glance back to where Derek came from. The woods and the road are both quiet. Even the rain is slowly letting up. “Why aren’t you shifting if you need to run?” Derek still says nothing and Stiles rolls his eyes. He’s clearly not going to get anything else out of him and the rain might be less but it’s still wet. “Come on.” Stiles takes a step toward Derek and reaches for him. “Get in the car, I’ll get us out of here.”

“Don’t come near me, boy,” Derek says, hunching lower to the ground, nails extending.

Stiles frowns. “Derek?” he says, quieter, worry starting to creep up his windpipe, “it’s me. Stiles.”

Derek’s eyes widen a little, tilts his head to the side as if he’s dividing his attention between Stiles and the sounds of the night. “You know who I am?”

“Well, yeah. We’re––” Stiles hesitates, “––we’re friends.” They’re not. Not really, but enemy of an enemy and all that.

Derek stares at him and it’s unnerving. He’s not exactly known for keeping eye contact. “No, we’re not.”

Stiles sighs. “Okay, we’re not friends exactly but you can trust me. That’s the truth.”

“It is,” Derek says. It’s no question.

Stiles suppresses a shiver, hugs his arms around himself, stuffing his freezing fingers in his armpits. “What’s the matter dude, this is really freaky. Don’t you know me?”

Derek breathes in and out through his nose a few times, eyes scanning the empty road before they settle on Stiles again. “I don’t know me.”

“Oh,” Stiles whispers, dumbstruck. This is going to be bad. He stares at Derek, shudders wildly and only partially because he’s cold to the bone. “What do you mean?”

“All I know is this moment and that before, I was running.”

Stiles thinks quickly, stepping into Derek’s space again. “Right,” he says. “Okay, maybe you hit your head and your memories aren’t restoring as fast as you healed.” When Stiles looks at Derek to search for any kind of confirmation, Derek is breathing the air around Stiles. He probably smells of wet clothes and cooled sweat, which can’t be nice. “This is so –– wait –– you know you’re a, uh, werewolf, right?”

“I do,” Derek agrees easily. “And you’re not.” Derek tilts his head again, a speculative glint in his eyes. He looks more wolfish in human form than Stiles has ever seen.

“Yeah,” he says quickly, holding up both hands, “and I’d like to keep it that way.” Derek lifts one eyebrow at him and Stiles would almost call that a smirk on his face. He groans. This is going to end up biting him in the ass but Stiles’ is getting sympathy goosebumps just looking at Derek’s naked and wet chest. “So you should probably get in my car and come home with me. I really don’t know where else you can go like this. Maybe after a night’s sleep you’ll feel better, come on.”

Derek doesn’t move, just looks from Stiles to the car and back again. His fingers are flexing against his thighs but his nails are normal. “I can trust you,” he says and again it isn’t a question.

“Yes, of course you can.” Stiles says, getting impatient. It’s cold and late and Stiles can’t shake the feeling of foreboding, of worse things to come. He wants to be warm and safe in his Jeep. “And it’s not as if I’m a threat to you, am I?” he says, pressing the pad of his thumb into his eye socket, suddenly tired. “Let’s go, I’m freezing my ass off here.”

Derek nods, once, then steps forward and Stiles goes around to open the passenger door for him. It’s not until they’re in the car that he notices Derek is shivering. Jesus, he thinks, how long have you been running? “Here,” he says instead, reaching between the seats.

Slowly, Derek takes the blanket Stiles holds out, pressing it against his face once, inhaling deeply. With another glance at Stiles, he wraps the blanket around himself and makes a contented sound in the back of his throat.

For once, Stiles doesn’t say anything about puppies and their nests –– he wishes Scott was here to witness it –– just faces the steering wheel so he can drive off. Some time during the short trip home, Derek’s eyes shift from red to green and Stiles sees the tension drop from his shoulders the closer they get.

“I was anxious,” Derek says, à propos of nothing. “While I was running,” he clarifies when Stiles gapes at him. “I felt anxious so I ran. I feel better now.” It’s a good thing they’re pulling in the drive because Stiles is in danger of crashing the car.

Dad’s still at work, so that’s a relief. “Right,” Stiles says, switching off the engine. “That’s good. That you feel better I mean. Thanks for … sharing.” He opens and closes his mouth a few times but there’s really nothing else he can say about that.

“From the moment my dad comes home, I need you to be really quiet and stay in my room, will that be okay? He’s not your biggest fan right now. Well, he’s not my biggest fan right now either, but never mind. Can you do that?”

Derek looks from Stiles to the house and back again. He nods.

“Okay,” Stiles says. “Come on, let’s go get dry.”

It isn’t until Stiles sees Derek stalk into the house, nose lifting whenever he picks up a new scent, that Stiles realizes just how much Derek suppresses his wolf-side when he’s human. When they pass Dad’s bedroom Derek halts and spends a good few seconds inhaling the air before lowering his head in some sort of acknowledgement when Stiles raises a questioning eyebrow.

“I’ll know him now,” Derek says, “and not rip his throat out when he enters your den.”

“That’s, that’s good.” Stiles swallows thickly and he swears there’s a glint of amusement in Derek’s eyes when he turns around to continue to the bathroom. “You can shower first,” Stiles says, “even though you’re far less likely to catch pneumonia than I am, I’d like to point out. But you’re filthy and I’m no fan of mud between my sheets, so,” he pushes open the bathroom door. “Towels are in the cabinet, use whatever shampoo and shower gel you want, I’ll go find you something to wear.” Derek gives him a speculative look Stiles doesn’t even try to decipher this time and he’s about to usher Derek inside when he looks down. “Oh, dude! Your feet are bleeding.”

With a small frown, Derek shifts his weight on his right foot and winces. “Sorry,” he says and Stiles stares.

“For what?”

“Bleeding on your floor.”

“That’s, um, no big deal? It’s just linoleum, I can wipe it off. Do you, uh, want me to take a look? At your foot? I mean, you’re not going to ask me to cut if off, are you?”

Derek looks at him. “If you wouldn’t mind,” he says after a brief silence. “And no cutting.”

“Good, that’s –– something we agree on. Come on.” He nearly puts a hand on Derek’s arm to steer him inside but holds back at the last second and does a clumsy hand-wavy thing instead. “Take a seat, I have a first aid kit right here.” He rummages underneath the sink and resurfaces to Derek perched on the edge of the bath, eyes on Stiles.

“Why aren’t we friends?” Derek asks.

“What?” Stiles straightens, clutching the first aid box. This night is turning weirder by the second.

“When you said we were friends, I could hear the lie but you want to take care of my wounds,” Derek says. He looks more human again but the head tilt is still distinctly animalistic.

“It’s complicated,” Stiles says, kneeling down at Derek’s feet.

“I have time,” Derek says, “if nothing else.”

Because he doesn’t know what to say, Stiles lifts up Derek’s foot and winces. There’s a large piece of green glass, probably once belonging to a beer bottle, wedged deep into the sole and Stiles can already tell it’s going to be a bitch to get out. He grabs the bath mat and puts it underneath Derek’s foot. “We kind of had to work together but we don’t –– didn’t trust each other and, I guess life got a whole lot more complicated since I crashed into yours, so, well. A lot of stuff happened. We got off on the wrong,” Stiles snorts, squeezes Derek’s ankle, “foot.”

“But it’s better now?” Derek asks. Stiles doesn’t look up. There’s something in Derek’s voice Stiles doesn’t want to see on his face.

“I was hoping it would be, but here you are bleeding on my bathroom floor.” Stiles barrels on before Derek can respond. “This is going to hurt.” He nods at Derek’s foot, shifts his knee so he can steady Derek’s ankle on it and takes a deep breath.

“Pain I can deal with,” Derek says quietly.

“Okay.” He contemplates tweezers for a second, but the glass is too thick. There’s nothing for it, he’s gonna have to use his fingers. “Just remember: me, I like to deal with as little pain as possible, so if you feel the need to claw at something, aim for anything not Stiles.”

“Your name is Stiles?” Derek asks and Stiles looks up. Derek is smiling. It’s a small smile but it’s still a lot bigger and more sincere than any Stiles has seen so far.

“Uh, yeah. That was probably rude of me. Yeah, I’m Stiles. Nice to meet you Derek Hale.”

There’s no recognition at the name at all, Derek just smiles again and says, “No maiming Stiles, got it.”

Well, no time like the present. Stiles looks down again. “Ready?”

“Ready.”

With great care, Stiles takes hold of the glass, testing it gently to see how easily it would come out –– which is not at all. “Crap,” he mumbles, trying to get a better grip. He has to dig into the skin of Derek’s sole a bit and Derek’s toes twitch. “Sorry,” he says, not looking away from what he’s doing. “I’ll try to be quick.” Stiles tightens his other hand around Derek’s ankle to keep it steady, takes hold of the piece of glass and begins to pull. It starts to move and Derek makes a low reverberating noise, but doesn’t move. Blood begins to run down the glass so it becomes slippery, and makes its way down Stiles’ wrist.

“Oh, gross,” Stiles whines but he keeps pulling until the glass comes out with a soft wet sound. He lets it fall and is taking deep, gulping breaths with his eyes closed before he notices Derek’s hand on his shoulder.

“You’re okay,” Derek tells him. “You did good. Look.”

“I don’t think I want to,” Stiles says, feeling weak and woozy.

“You’ll feel better,” Derek says and after a short pause, “trust me.”

There’s something significant in the mimicking of Stiles’ earlier appeal so he feels he has no choice. When he peers through one eye, he’s faced with Derek’s still fairly bloody but completely whole foot. Oddly enough, he does feel better. “Okay,” he says. “Now shower and I’ll clean up.” Stiles is about to leave when he frowns and turns back. “You do know how to shower, don’t you?”

Derek looks like he wants to roll his eyes but he just says, “I’ll figure it out,” already unbuttoning his jeans.

“Okay,” Stiles says, sounding only marginally squeaky, hurrying out of the bathroom.

First thing he does when he gets to his room after cleaning blood off the floor, is dig through his backpack for his phone because these are events Scott should be sharing in, jesus christ, why does Stiles always end up with this stuff.

He has a text message from an unknown number.

Call me urgent.

Stiles frowns at his watch. It’s ten pm which is pretty late but not terribly, so he hits the call button.

“Chris Argent.”

Crap. Allison is about the last person in the world he wants to talk to right now, but since he’s sure the feeling is pretty much mutual, he figures it’s important. “Um, hi, Mr Argent? It’s, uh, Stiles. From school. Can I uh, talk to Allison, please?”

“What about?”

Shit. It’s summer break, so Stiles can’t even use homework as an excuse. “I uh, just came from Scott’s house and he asked me to call Allison. She still has some of his stuff and he wants it back.”

Stiles can practically hear the angry nose-breaths Argent is taking but it’s the best short notice lie he can come up with. Implying the break-up is permanent probably doesn’t hurt either. “All right,” Chris says, and then in the background, “Allison? It’s for you.”

“Hello?”

“Allison, it’s Stiles.”

“Yes?”

Going by the tone of her voice, her dad is probably still there. “So, I’m calling about Scott’s iPod and those CDs you still ––”

Allison huffs angrily. “I already told you, I gave him the iPod back ages ago.”

“Uh.” Great, really helpful, Allison, Stiles thinks, annoyed. “Okay, would you mind looking one more time? He can’t find it anywhere.”

“Fine,” she says. He can hear her footsteps thump on the steps. “Stiles,” she hisses after a few seconds, “we have a serious problem.”

“Tell me about it,” he mutters.

“I can’t, not over the phone,” she says, which isn’t what he meant at all, “I need you to come to my house, as late as you can. I’ll meet you outside.”

“Yeah, no can do,” Stiles says, “I have ––” he nearly says ‘Derek’, but it wouldn’t surprise him one bit if the crazy that is Allison’s dad is tapping her phone. “I have a guest. Can’t leave him alone.”

Allison is quiet for a long time.

“Is it safe?” She asks very quietly. Stiles glances at his closed door.

“I think so,” he tells her.

“Anyone I know?”

“You’ve met.”

“Shit,” Allison hisses and then goes very quiet. Louder, she says, “Oh, here it is. I found it. I can probably ask my dad if I can drop it off at your house in the morning.”

Stiles feels a chill run down his spine. He’s still damp from the rain but that’s not it. It’s the same sort of foreboding he felt earlier by the side of the road and he doesn’t like it one bit. “Yeah,” he manages to say, “okay. See you tomorrow.” He hangs up and stares at his phone.

“Trouble?”

Stiles jumps a little. “Yeah, but nothing immediate I don’t think. I’m sure Allison’ll find a way to warn me if there is.”

Derek’s eyes pinch at the corners. “Allison?”

“She’s––” Ah crap, he’s not getting into that right now. “––my best friend’s ex-girlfriend.”

“Good,” Derek says but he’s not looking at Stiles, just turns to the bed and sits down, wrapped in a towel. Stiles rummages through his walk-in, tosses Derek an old pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt.

“I’m just gonna go shower while you, oh god, drop the towel,” Stiles says, slapping a hand to his face. When he peeks through his fingers, Derek is staring down at himself as if he doesn’t understand why Stiles is embarrassed. “I’m just––” Stiles edges toward the door and flees.

The bathroom is still hot and humid, and Stiles wonders what happened to him, how he could lose all his memory but still function enough to work a shower. It makes him suspect it has nothing to do with injury and that only makes him worry more.

“Are you hungry?” Stiles asks Derek after a very fast shower since Derek used nearly all the hot water.

“Sure.” Derek, dressed in Stiles’ clothes—which is almost worse than seeing him naked—is stretched out on top of the covers and makes no effort to move.

“No, no,” Stiles says, raising a hand, “don’t get up. I’ll make you a sandwich, no need to help.”

The corner of Derek’s mouth quirks as he deliberately tucks his hands behind his head. Turns out Derek’s real smiles are nice and Stiles wants to count them, hoard them. Instead, he makes a show of rolling his eyes but goes down to the kitchen anyway. Not until he’s there does he wonder if Derek even knows what a sandwich is. Well. Stiles isn’t skinning any rabbits.

By the time they’ve eaten it’s nearly midnight and Stiles leaves Scott a message saying he needs help to do with his ‘monthly problem’. He then settles in his computer chair, idly googling amnesia but it doesn’t bring up anything that’d be useful to Derek. As the minutes pass, he loses hope Scott’ll call back. They can’t do anything about this until they know more anyway.

“So what do you remember?” Stiles asks Derek, who’s looking very at home in Stiles’ bed.

“Nothing.”

“No idea how this happened to you or why you were on the road to my house?”

“None,” Derek says. He looks vaguely troubled but it doesn’t last long.

“I gotta say, I’m surprised you’re not freaking out more. In a grumpy, growly way.” There’s another long inhale, Derek tasting the air like he’s been doing all evening. He looks really relaxed, fingers threaded over his stomach, legs crossed at the ankle, ready to doze off.

“I don’t know,” Derek hums, lifting one shoulder in lazy shrug. “If there’s something I should be worrying about, I can’t remember it. And being here … it feels right. I can’t explain it.”

It occurs to Stiles that this Derek doesn’t carry any of the burdens the other one does. No dead family, no new pack, no threats to his life. His eyes slip closed as Stiles watches him and when Derek is not snoring exactly, but breathing deeply, Stiles realizes he’s either going to be sleeping on the floor or will somehow have to curl around Derek. He probably would’ve hesitated longer than it takes to switch off the light with the other Derek, but it’s easy to slip between the wall and this Derek, and then slowly into sleep.

The sheriff comes home some time after two am. Derek’s quiet growl rouses Stiles from sleep, but Derek just scents the air when slow footsteps climb the stairs. They come up to Stiles’ door and wander away again after a few seconds. Derek sinks back into Stiles’ pillows, kicks at the comforter until both their feet are covered and then blinks as if he only realizes then that Stiles is right there.

“You’re not afraid of me,” Derek whispers.

The urge to just shrug it off is there, but Stiles doesn’t think he should. “I never was, really,” he whispers back. When it comes down to it, Derek has tried to protect Stiles more often than he’s tried or threatened to harm him so, no, he’s not.

Maybe he mumbles something along those lines, because Derek says, “Good,” and shifts a little closer. “Do you mind?” Stiles is already shaking his head before even wondering what there’s to mind, when Derek is plastered to his back, warm and asleep again.

Allison shows up at eight and Stiles stays at the top of the stairs after having shoved himself in yesterday’s clothes, while Dad opens the door.

“Morning Allison,” Dad says, voice rising with mild surprise. “What brings you here at this hour?”

“Stiles called me, I have some stuff he needs to give back to Scott.” She holds out a paper bag.

“Oh,” Dad says, rubbing the back of his neck. “I, uh, do you want to go up and give it to him yourself?”

“No that’s okay,” Allison says, “my dad’s waiting for me in the car.” She’s about to turn away but she hesitates. “Tell Stiles he can call me any time, okay? It’s not because Scott and I –– that we can’t communicate.” It’s an odd choice of words, and it’s clearly meant for Stiles, but Dad doesn’t seem to find anything wrong with it. He’s clearly too busy being uncomfortable with teenage love drama.

“Sure,” he says, “I’ll uh, pass it on. Bye, Allison. Mister Argent.” With a nod toward the car in the drive, he closes the door and turns to the stairs. “Sti––” he yells, “oh, there you are. Good heavens, son, you could’ve come down and spared me.”

The grin Stiles plasters on is maybe a bit too wide to be believable, but Dad doesn’t notice, just rolls his eyes when Stiles says, “What, and miss all that?”

“Here,” Dad says, holding out the bag. “You want pancakes?”

“Nah, going back to bed.”

“God forbid you’re amongst the living before midday,” Dad grumbles, but it’s more good-natured than they’ve been in a long time. It makes Stiles feel equal parts warm and unbearably sad.

“Exactly,” he says but Dad’s already in the kitchen, so Stiles trudges back up to his room.

There’s a pink iPod in the bag that very obviously isn’t Scott’s, a Grease CD that wouldn’t surprise Stiles at all if it is Scott’s and a stack of what are no doubt love letters. He’s not going to be a terrible friend and read them, but there’s a reason why Allison went through all this trouble, so he tries to sort through them with as little damage to his brain as possible. Beside him Derek makes a face.

“What?” Stiles asks, dumping another letter that starts with comparing Allison to the moon.

“Puppy love,” Derek says. Stiles snorts, then laughs, loudly.

“You have no idea,” he says. He’s about to elaborate when he comes across a plain note, clearly written in haste and not by Scott.

Overheard Dad, Alpha pack in town. No idea what it means, but it’s bad news. Suspect they’re after Derek. Dad out meeting other hunters tonight, call me.

The call me part, is underlined three times.

“Alpha pack,” Stiles says, feeling slightly nauseous. “Does that mean anything to you?” Derek shakes his head but he looks worried. “How can that even be? I mean, isn’t that a contradiction in terms?”

“I don’t know,” Derek says, sounding small, and then, “I should go.”

“What?” Stiles flails a bit, sending some of the letters fluttering to the ground. He straightens, feeling oddly blindsided. “Where? And why?”

“I’m putting you in danger.”

You don’t usually care about that, is Stiles’ first impulse to say, but he doesn’t. It’s not entirely true anyway.

“At least wait until we know more. Was there anyone there last night? When you got in the car with me?”

Derek shakes his head again. “No. There was only you and me.”

“Well then nobody should know you’re––”

“Stiles?” Dad calls up the stairs and Stiles snaps his mouth shut. Somewhere along the conversation he’d forgotten to keep his voice down. “I’m off to work, okay? I’ll be back this afternoon after I go shopping, we’re having dinner together.”

“Okay Dad, have a good day,” Stiles shouts back. They sit in silence until the cruiser pulls away from the house.

“Just, stay,” Stiles says with a sigh, running a hand over his head. “We’ll figure it out, okay?”

“Okay,” Derek says but he’s frowning. At least it looks familiar.

Since calling Scott before ten is a waste of time, Stiles begins researching in earnest. Google brings him to a book series about a pack of predators with psychic abilities and does Stiles ever hope that that’s fiction. Everything else is useless, so he scrolls through the bestiary but his Latin is fairly non-existent. Maybe Lydia will want to help. He thinks about how she’d looked when Derek’s claws had sunk into Jackson’s stomach.

Maybe not.

“You smell sad,” Derek says and Stiles startles at the voice right beside his ear.

“Yeah, I, I was just remembering some stuff.”

When Derek shakes his head and says, “Don’t. Only good things are worth remembering,” it’s like a fist clenching around Stiles’ gut. I’ll remind you of that, Stiles thinks, but hey, your whole family died in a fire is really not a talk he wants to have, ever. “That’s good advice,” Stiles says weakly.

“It is,” Derek says. He puts his hand on the back of Stiles’ neck and Stiles goes rigid. “You’re so tense.” Strong, steady fingers slide over Stiles’ scalp, knead slow circles along his temples and behind his ears, push gently until Stiles tilts his head forward. Warmth spreads from Derek’s palm when he rests it on the nape of Stiles’ neck. It’s almost a physical thing that undulates down his shoulders, into the muscles framing his spine and Stiles groans, going boneless.

“Oh my god,” he mumbles, chin dropping to his chest, “what is that?”

“I don’t know,” Derek says easily, “but it helps you.”

“It really, really does.” He has no idea what this is, but he’s going to be pissed if it’s something Scott has been holding out on. He could’ve done with some of that particular brand of werewolf power when he escaped the Argent basement two weeks ago. “If you keep that up I’m gonna fall asleep.”

“You need it,” Derek murmurs, turning the desk chair until Stiles is facing him. He pulls Stiles to his feet and normally Stiles would put up some sort of resistance but he feels really right. “You need this,” Derek says again, and he tugs Stiles close, one hand on his neck, the other low on his back.

It’s such a simple thing but it swells thickly in Stiles’ throat. He doesn’t want to make a big deal out of this, but it’s been so long since someone just stopped for a second and looked at Stiles, saw the constant anxiety he carries around with him. Derek’s hands tighten. He makes a small noise, crowds closer until his nose is pressed against Stiles’ neck.

“What are you doing?” Stiles asks, feeling breathless. He hesitates, unsure of himself, then brings up his hands and fits them carefully against Derek’s sides. He’d call it a hug if this was anyone but Derek Hale.

“I want you to stop feeling like this,” Derek says, voice muffled.

“You can tell how I’m feeling?” This is not something Stiles wanted to know, because oh god, how is he supposed to keep anything secret around these guys? Derek just holds him tighter until all Stiles can do is hug Derek back. Standing pressed chest to knee with a hot body in his own bedroom is a whole new experience and Stiles isn’t entirely sure what to do with it.

After letting Stiles cling to him for a few minutes, Derek begins to move down. He’s just rubbing his face over Stiles’ clothes, eyes closed and inhaling deeply like he’s in scent heaven. Stiles isn’t sure what kind of response is appropriate here, it’s not like he’s got a lot to compare to, (and he’s also trying very hard not to contemplate the visual image of Derek sliding down his body) but he desperately wants to pet Derek’s hair. To make sure he doesn’t, he fists two handfuls of Derek’s sleeves and holds on while he wonders if it’s possible to pass out from forgetting how to breathe. When Derek’s halfway down Stiles’ sternum he stops, pushes up Stiles’ hoodie and t-shirt.

“Dude, dude,” Stiles squawks but Derek holds him still by spreading his fingers over Stiles’ ribcage and dragging his nose over Stiles’ heart. It tickles and Stiles can feel goosebumps rise because Derek’s nose is a little cold, until Derek turns his face and rubs them away with the stubble of his cheek. “What––” Stiles croaks, cradling Derek’s skull, to push him away or hold him closer, he hasn’t figured out yet.

“Here,” Derek says, breath gushing warm over Stiles’ nipple. “This is where it hurts.”

Oh.

“Yeah,” Stiles quietly says, his shoulders relaxing. He gives up and cards his fingers slowly through Derek’s hair. “I know, but there’s not much we can do about that now.” The warmth of Derek’s mouth leaves him, his t-shirt sliding back down and then Derek is looming over him, eyes twinkling.

“I can distract you,” he says, tilting his head toward Stiles’ bed.

“Oh my god.” Stiles goes a bit cross-eyed at the mental image of that. “Jesus christ. That’s not –– we’re not –– Derek, you don’t even like me.”

“Then I’m an idiot,” Derek says. He gravitates toward Stiles just a little more, lets their mouths touch. It’s not a kiss by a long shot, but it’s certainly not accidental either.

“Okay,” Stiles says, unable to move even though Derek steps back, smirking a bit. “This is uh, distracting all right. And not at all motivating to help bring your memory back.” He swallows dryly and pushes his hoodie down.

“You don’t like me either?” Derek asks.

“I–– you’ve got a lot on your plate, it’s not, it’s not your fault.” It’s pretty awful when Derek looks down at his feet. Stiles elbows him in the ribs. “But maybe I’m an idiot too, right?”

“Right,” Derek says. He gives Stiles a sideways glance and smiles. “Come to bed?”

“Um,” Stiles says but Derek rolls his eyes and drops to his knees. He gives Stiles a smirk that says he knows exactly what he’s doing and Stiles just thinks he should thank his lucky stars the real Derek isn’t such a flirt or Stiles might’ve done something inadvisable by now.

When Derek has Stiles shoes untied –– helping him out of them with really unnecessary ankle rubbing –– he tugs Stiles over to the bed and lies them down. “Just relax,” he says, slipping a hand under Stiles’ hoodie, mouth open and warm against Stiles’ shoulder, “for a little while.”