Stiles knew he was there. There were invisible walls all around what made him Stiles, solid and impenetrable walls. The black smoke filled up every other nook and cranny in his body. He could see his hands move, heard his mouth talk. He could even see the look in his dad’s eyes when whatever was in his body pinned his dad to the wall and walked past him. But all Stiles could do was batter at the transparent wall between him and the rest of his body and wail and scream.
He stopped when he realized that the black smoke seemed happy at that turn of events.
Stiles hoped that Scott would realize it wasn’t him. They had lists, made up way back before they even knew werewolves existed, to check identities in case of replacement by pod being. Stiles wondered where Scott’s list was. His was stuck to the top of his drawer. The only problem was that it included things like “sudden strength” and “lack of asthma” so there was that. Maybe they should update it.
Stiles’s list had included awkward silences and sudden ability to play lacrosse.
The creature that had taken up residence in his body wasn’t pretending to be Stiles Stilinski. It didn’t make Stiles go to school and sit in class and talk to his friends. It didn’t even let Stiles eat. It didn’t drive his Jeep (although it spent a long time raking in his trunk, among his supplies). Instead it walked into the center of Beacon Hills and surveyed the place.
Stiles could see Scott just inside the coffee shop, talking to Isaac. Scott looked out the window and waved, his easy grin firmly in place. Stiles couldn’t respond and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t wave or gesture or say anything. Stiles tried to scream but no one heard. Whatever had taken up residence in his body (and he was starting to think words like demon and devil and fuck, oh fuck) was not going for stealth, not looking to take over Stiles’s life.
The creature must have found what it was looking for. A deep sense of satisfaction and anticipatory excitement seeped through the wall imprisoning Stiles. That worried him more than anything. He knew that whatever this creature, this black smoke, was up to, it wasn’t going to be good. Stiles tried to calm down, to think. He attempted to recite his times tables. But nothing worked. He worried.
The creature seemed to be picking through his memories now, wheeling through the key events in his life like it was a movie on fast-forward. When it got to memories of Scott being bitten and of Derek, it seemed to slow down, take it all in. There was pleasure in the black smoke now, something dirty and wrong and anticipatory. Stiles beat his fists against the blank clear wall that kept him apart from his body, beat it until his fists were bloody, but none of it made any difference.
Instead it looked rather too closely at Scott, who suddenly folded over the table, blood frothing at his mouth. Stiles watched helplessly as Isaac scrambled around the table, holding Scott up so Stiles could see the look of agony on his face. Whatever the smoke was doing to him seemed to stop and Scott slid back down into his seat, shaking.
Then Stiles’s body walked through town, ignoring everything, heading straight to the destination it was concealing. Stiles began to panic.
Derek was alone in the dark of the warehouse when the thing wearing Stiles strolled in like it owned the place. Stiles tried to warn Derek, tried to make him hear the yelling, the screaming. “Run!” he shouted with all his might. Derek actually smiled in welcome, standing up and dumping his book onto the concrete.
The creature flexed Stiles’s hands and then Derek was pinned to the wall, much like his dad had been. But instead of letting him slip to the floor, stunned and shocked, the creature kept Derek trapped there.
“Hello, Mr. Derek Hale. I’ve heard so much about you.” And, with the flick of a finger, a wide red slash opened across Derek’s cheek. It healed as Stiles watched and Derek’s breath heaved in and out, his eyes fixed on Stiles’s body. Derek’s nose twitched, as if he was sensing something unpleasant.
“You’re not Stiles,” he finally said. At least someone knew that, even if his body was doing the most horrible things. Stiles pushed at the wall again, searching for any cracks. But then he had to stop and listen.
“He’s in here, you know.” The smoke was speaking quite conversationally. He didn’t sound like himself. Something too calm and collected, too measured. The cadences were all wrong. “He’s screaming away like someone can hear him, trying to push me out. It won’t work. I’ve been doing this for a very, very long time.”
The smoke flung out a hand again but this time it was to pull a chair over from the pile by the camp heater the others used sometimes. Stiles was made to sit, his legs crossing. Derek seemed to be struggling against whatever was holding him, those invisible ties, but to no avail. His muscles flexed and strained and if Stiles had been watching in another place, another time, he might have found it arousing, intense, wonderful. Instead he found it horrifying.
He fell back from his pushing, exhausted.
“I was somewhat surprised to find out, however, that werewolves existed.” The creature inhabiting him was studying his nails. It was like every clichéd villain ever. “I found out from a very pretty blonde scrap I was taking apart on my table one day.”
Derek stopped struggling and hung against the wall. Stiles sat up and paid attention. A horrible suspicion about who the creature was talking about started to unravel in his mind.
“She screamed, of course, but not just in pain. She was very, very busy using precious lung capacity to screech out her lust for vengeance, you know. Normally that urge is tortured out well before they turn them over to me.” The creature seemed satisfied with its examination of Stiles’s hand and lifted it, palm up. A sizzling sound accompanied by a horrific burning smell assaulted Stiles’s nose. He watched in horror as Derek’s thin shirt burst into flame and fell off him in ashes, the skin underneath already healing. It still took too long for the raw redness to vanish.
“She kept saying your name, Mr. Hale.” Stiles felt himself moving up off the seat, across the floor in a prowl, a roll that was completely unlike his usual stumble and/or run for his life gait. He felt like his hips were moving in ways that they really weren’t supposed to. “She screamed your name over and over again. She didn’t beg me to stop as I carved up her skin. All pretty Kate wanted was to carve up your skin.” The smoke ran one of Stiles’s hands over Derek’s cheek. “I decided to come up here and see what all the fuss was about.”
The demon riding his body finally knelt before Derek. Stiles could feel the cold shock of the concrete but it didn’t bother the demon. Instead it brought Stiles’s nose all too close to Derek’s crotch, breathing in and then sticking out his tongue. Derek wasn’t looking down. Instead his eyes were fixed on the far wall of the warehouse, impassive. Then the creature started licking up Derek’s stomach, Stiles’s tongue flat and wet, leaving a gleaming trail behind it. “I plucked this out of her mind. She liked doing this to you, before when you were barely an adult and then when she had you all at her mercy. I admired that about her while I broke every one of her bones.”
“This body, this Stiles? He’d like to do this to you as well. Sometimes it’s all he thinks about, you and him.” Stiles could feel his mouth curve up in a grimace that probably looked like a smile, for all it was too wide, too toothy.
Stiles would be lying if he hadn’t imagined touching Derek like this, mouthing his way up his magnificent abs, running his lips over Derek’s nipples, tasting his skin and sweat. He’d hoped it might come after an extraordinary amount of making out. Serious kissing. And maybe a bit of talking where Derek admitted his undying love. Or lust. Or a smidgen of liking for Stiles. He wasn't too sure what he wanted there. Was this to be the grand romance to knock all other romances out of the park? Or was it going to be a friends-with-all sorts of exclusive-benefits thing? Stiles knew that while his head was fixed on friends, his heart was probably wandering towards something that was closer to the kind of relationship he wanted to have, something like his mom and dad had. And for some reason, he'd fixed onto Derek.
And now his body was being used as a puppet, dancing about under someone else's control. And Derek was going to associate his mouth not with sexy making out but with demonic creepiness and being pinned against a wall. And he knew all about Stiles’s dirty little secret. But Stiles couldn’t worry about that right now. He pushed so hard against the wall that he nearly blacked out. He fell back again, wondering what he could do, racking his memories of all that research he'd done to see if there was anything useful, anything that was sneaky and Stilesian. He was coming up very, very blank.
"We used to think you were a myth, you know. A creature we could torment and tease and not break all too soon." Stiles was pressed up all against Derek now and was basically breathing into his mouth. Derek was still fixed on that point over Stiles's shoulder. It was as if his mind had gone somewhere else. "It's fun to torture someone over and over again. But up here, the smell, the taste—The reality of it all just makes it so much better."
The creature trailed off and stepped back, leaving Derek pinioned to the wall. Then it pulled out what it had taken from Stiles’s trunk. It was a knife, one he'd stolen from some hunters determined to slice and dice. He could feel the smug glee from the demon as it tested the blade, watching a thin line of red appear on his thumb. This knife wasn't the largest Stiles had seen but it was wicked looking all the same, a silver shining blade, slightly curved, with a needle sharp point. He wasn’t even sure why he’d kept it, thrown it in with all the other crap he trailed around with him. Stiles regretted it bitterly now.
Derek grunted as the blade was driven deep into his side. The demon twisted it as it pulled the knife out, warm blood spilling over Stiles's hand. He could feel it, wet and wrong. He watched in horror as the demon lifted the knife up, licked along it like it had licked Derek earlier. It hummed in pleasure as Stiles tried once again to push his way out.
Maybe he was going about this all wrong. He started pressing the wall, fingertip by fingertip, as the creature, the devil, started slicing at Derek, sometimes shallow cuts that healed almost instantly, leaving a line of blood on the surface of his skin. Sometimes the knife would drive in, carving out flesh that quivered on the end of the knife. Stiles tried not to think too much about the eager way the demon lapped up blood, swallowed the hot flesh. He would give in to despair if he did, he just knew it.
There were no weaknesses in the wall. There was nothing he could do. Stiles tried to sink down inside himself, cover his eyes, his ears, his nose with insubstantial invisible arms. But nothing worked. He was forced to watch Derek endure, shudder, gasp, give out exhalations of air that would have been screams with anyone else. It was worse than being beaten up by Gerard. There was something dreadful in watching and being completely helpless.
He was forced to keep watching his own hands slice Derek open.
The door slammed open, metal clanging against the brick wall. The demon turned Stiles away from Derek, thankfully, as the rest of the pack spilled through. The demon started tossing them from side to side as they rushed at him. Stiles wanted to warn them but no one looked surprised at this. In fact, their rushing seemed almost tactical – one, two, three, two at once. There were always wolves running at the demon. The attacks seemed so distracting that Derek slid to the floor, sweat and blood streaked.
Stiles felt something yanking at him, like a thread was tied to his stomach and was attempting to pull it out through his esophagus. He was burning up inside and he started to panic, thrashing from side to side. The demon was going to kill him. He knew it. It was going to destroy Derek and kill him and hurt everyone he loved. But instead the feeling intensified to something approaching unbearable until the demon rushed out of him, that black smoke spilling from his mouth, his jaw hinged too wide for a moment.
Lydia stepped around the door, bearing a large book in her hands. She was speaking – chanting – Stiles realized as he coughed and coughed and coughed. Then he realized he was back in charge of his hands, his legs, his head. He closed his eyes as he felt the last vestiges of the creature slip free. He ached everywhere, inside and out, but his body was his own again. And his body knew what he’d been ingesting for the last however long it was. Stiles stumbled over to the drain in the floor and threw up.
He hurt everywhere. His bones were ringing like someone had taken a hammer to them and his muscles were cramping and burning worse than after even the most intense lacrosse practice. Or running for his life moment. It was like Gerard all over again.
Derek was healed by the time Stiles managed to stagger to his knees. He was busy running his hands over his forehead to check – again – that there were no horns there, when Derek came over.
“I’m sorry,” Stiles blurted out. He didn’t even know how to apologize. His hands, his body… For all that it hadn’t been him, it would have looked that way to Derek. Derek didn’t speak and Stiles worried at his bottom lip. He could feel his stomach rebelling again. “Don’t come too close.”
But Derek wrapped his arms around Stiles, knelt beside him and dug his nose into Stiles’s neck. Stiles could feel him shuddering still as he hugged Derek close, ignoring the blood and gore still smeared on Derek’s body. It seemed to ease the physical ache, ease the urge to throw up. Stiles began to shake, feeling Derek hold him tighter, closer. “It’s okay, Stiles. It’ll be okay.”
He looked at his silent friends, at Scott and Allison, at Lydia, Jackson, Erica. At silent Boyd, raising an eyebrow. At Isaac torn between anger and worry and pain, hand outstretched to take the ache from Stiles’s bones. And then he looked down at what he could see of Derek, a flash of dark hair and his smooth back, tattoo as black as the smoke that had invaded, blood still smeared on raw skin.
“How did you know?” he asked, when Scott had taken him home and carried him to bed in a totally emasculating manner. Stiles would worry more about that tomorrow. His body hurt all over and he wanted pills and sleep and then to shower until he’d sloughed all his skin off. His voice sounded like someone had taken a cheese grater to his vocal cords too.
“You didn’t smell like Stiles. After I recovered from the – well, it felt like someone had punched through my lung from the inside – in the coffee shop, Isaac and me tried to follow you. Then we went to Lydia and she worked it all out.” Scott shook his head. “That was not cool. You were stinking like rotten eggs.”
“Not cool,” Stiles repeated. He could feel the pills kicking in as he lay there, watching his ceiling. He was already starting to float. Maybe they didn’t need to update the pod person list after all.
He was disorientated when he woke in the middle of the night. He took a moment to check that he was still him and in his bed and that no one else was sharing anything. Once the overwhelming panic had faded, he sat up and tried to work out what time it was. Reaching for his phone on the nightstand, he could sight of a figure slumped in his chair. With a certain accepting inevitability, he flicked on the light.
Derek looked whole. There was no more blood, no more wounds littering his body. He was wearing his usual armor of black leather jacket and a scowl and Stiles shrank back against his pillows, drawing his knees up and wrapping his arms around them like that would give him some kind of protection. Derek shifted in the chair, half in shadow, before pushing himself up and coming to sit on the end of Stiles’s bed.
Now Stiles could see him clearly, Derek looked unsettled still. There was something wild around his eyes, the suggestion of lines perhaps, the color of his irises shifting in ways that suggested Derek’s thoughts were racing through his mind. His cheeks were heavier than usual with stubble. But he didn’t say anything. Instead Derek watched him and, in return, Stiles watched Derek.
“You smell better,” Derek finally allowed.
“I showered.” Stiles picked at his comforter. “I’m sorry.”
“It wasn’t your fault.” Derek’s hand shot out, hovered in the air above Stiles’s knee for a moment before it was gently lowered to rest between them. “You smelled wrong.”
“Scott said.” Stiles rubbed at his eyes and dropped his hand to nibble at his thumbnail. Derek finally reached out, pulling gently to lay the hand back on top of Stiles’s knee.
“It wasn’t your fault. You were forced, you didn’t want it,” Derek added.
“I wanted it. A little,” he finally settled on. Derek looked at him but he wasn’t wolfing out or flashing even a hint of red eyes or claws. “Not the whole hurting you thing. The…” He saw the instant Derek got it because Derek shifted uncomfortably and his hand tightened on Stiles’s knee. Then it was as if he consciously relaxed.
“I know – I knew. I just…” Derek shrugged, an undulation of muscle and shoulder that seemed to say much more than Stiles’s own jerky movements, too fast, too half-finished. “I didn’t believe you wanted me. Had chosen me.”
“Not much choice,” Stiles half-smiled. He wouldn’t have chosen this moment – or possibly there was no such thing as a good time to have this conversation. But perhaps that was just them all over. “Have you seen you?”
Derek shook his head. “I’m not special. I’m not…safe. I’m not anything except a fucking magnet for trouble.” It was the profanity that had Stiles scrambling out of his sheets and nearly falling out of the bed in his rush to get closer to Derek, to reassure him.
He ended up closer than he’d probably meant to, hands resting on Derek’s shoulders. The fact he was so close allowed him to see Derek’s unease and his rigid control, every muscle tight with the urge to fight or flee. Stiles patted at Derek’s shoulders, petting almost. Derek slowly relaxed, eyes searching Stiles’s face, catching on his lips more often than he probably intended. Stiles slid forward, aiming for the crook of Derek’s neck, where Derek had held on to him earlier. Derek didn’t let him reach it, didn’t let anything as innocent as a hug start.
Their first kiss was a mash of lips, too hard and soft at once. Derek’s hand cupped Stiles’s cheek, drawing him upwards until they were face to face, equal. Then he tilted his head and deepened the kiss, mouth hot against Stiles’s. Stiles clutched tight, unwilling to let Derek away, let him stop. Possibly ever.
There should be more conversations, more explanations. There should be. But sometimes all Stiles wanted, needed, was this. Derek finally broke the kiss, settling against Stiles’s neck, his lips moving silently against the skin.
“This is you,” Derek said. “I know it’s you.” Stiles clung tight to that certainty.