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It's a Wild Pitch (But He's a Contact Hitter)

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 It's humanoid in shape. And a lot smaller than Stiles imagined it would be, slimmer. Probably about the size of himself or Scott. He imagined some colossal, bulking mass of ice, something that towers over them. He's actually pretty sure he's a little taller than it in reality. This new revelation isn't comforting. It's pretty fucking distressing, to be honest.

“Crap,” he breathes out, staring down at the melting figure on Deaton's examine table. Deaton is contemplating the elemental with a somber look that seems to agree with him. Scott looks between them, confused.

“What?” he asks.

“It's small,” Stiles says. Scott seems further baffled. He gestures to the table.

“Isn't that a good thing? It was easy to take down. We thought they were supposed to be something like out of World of Warcraft,” he says. Stiles and Deaton don't say anything at first, still watching the elemental warily. He groans. “Why is this bad?” Deaton finally looks up from the table.

“It's too small to have created the radical change in weather we've seen,” he explains, moving around the table. “The dramatic drop in temperature, the near blizzards. For something like that to happen, it would require either a very large elemental-”

“Or several small ones,” Stiles finishes for him. Deaton nods.

“You mean there are more of these things out there?” Scott asks. He suddenly looks tired and resigned. Stiles knows that look well. It's the same look Scott gets when he realizes he was supposed to do the entire section of algebra problems, not just the even numbered ones.

“I'm afraid so,” Deaton says with a small, sympathetic smile. Scott sighs and rubs the back of his neck.

“Okay, so, we just go around and find them. Bringing this one down was easy,” Scott reaffirms. Stiles scrubs a hand over his face.

“How?” he asks, simply. Scott turns to look at him and frowns. Stiles pushes off from the counter he's been leaning on. “They don't have a scent. And since they're not two ton giants the size of trees, odds are, dude, we're not gonna hear them coming. We literally just stumbled into this one,” Stiles says, pointing to the table. The elemental has been steadily melting and is slowly losing its shape. It's starting to look less like a smooth, man-sized sculpture and more like a simple chunk of ice. At least its creepy, soulless eye sockets aren't glowing that dark blue color anymore. Christ.

“You say it became hostile only when it noticed you?” Deaton asks, bending to examine the elemental again. Scott drops into a chair and nods.

“Kinda? Stiles and I went to the lacrosse field for a snowball fi- ow! I mean, to practice!” Scott rubs his arm where Stiles pinched it. Stiles rolls his eyes and Deaton chuckles. “I noticed something moving along the treeline, so we went to check it out.”

“We got about twenty feet away, it saw us looking at it, and the freaking thing just started charging at us,” Stiles butts in. Seriously, though. Supernatural being or not, bull-rushing people is not okay. There's rude and then there's Derek-level rude. Speaking of which- “Uh, hey. Getting back to how we find these things,” he starts, shifting his feet. “Do- uh. Do you think maybe we should talk to Derek?” Stiles winces, anticipating Scott's reaction. It turns out to be less explosive than he expected, though Scott's still obviously not happy about the idea, huffing and crossing his arms.

“Would he even listen? He doesn't exactly like us.” And that might be an understatement. No. No, it's definitely an understatement. Stiles can't help the brief flash of Derek's betrayed expression that night in the warehouse with Gerard, so he tips his head, conceding Scott's point.

“Give me some time to do some research. I'm ashamed to say I know only a little concerning their nature and next to nothing concerning their behavior.” Deaton says.“I'll talk to Derek.” He looks back to Stiles and Scott. “No matter what his feelings are toward the two of you, I believe dealing with the threat at hand is something he'll find more pressing. The weather is only going to get worse the longer the elementals stay. And the colder it gets, the stronger they become. Derek will want them out of Beacon Hills as soon as possible, I can almost guarantee."

-

Stiles really hopes Deaton is right, because he's pretty sure he's going to lose some fingers at this rate. It's early November in northern California and it is fucking freezing. The first snow storm practically shut down the town for a better part of a week. Beacon Hills isn't equipped to deal with this kind of weather; it took forever to get the roads clear enough for emergency vehicles. Power had just recently been restored to most neighborhoods and, since the storm had caused some significant damage to the middle and high school buildings, classes are being held at the community center and local churches after three days of blissful freedom. The Sheriff is crazy busy making sure everything was being taken care of (from the roads, to the emergency services, to little old ladies who lived alone) that Stiles doesn't have the heart to call him right now.

Even if he is close to getting frostbite.

With a frustrated groan, Stiles stops pumping the jack and pushes himself out from under his Jeep. He brings his hands up to breathe warmth back into his fingers. There isn't another vehicle on the road for as far as he can see in either direction and isn't that just awesome. Whatever, he's almost got the jack high enough to change his tire. Now if only he could feel the jack, he might start making better progress. He's never leaving the house without gloves. Ever. He'll wear them in summer and be thankful he has them. That's assuming he still has hands by the time he's done here. He's about ready to give the jack another try when he sees a car coming up the road. Part of him wants to flag the driver down and ask for help, but his dad has made him sit through way too many stranger-danger films and lectures as a kid that seeing the other car enacts a Pavlovian response of pulling out his cell phone and pretending to be on line with a tow company (which is what he would have done in the first place if the good citizens of Beacon Hills hadn't have been asked to reserve those calls for emergencies only until further notice).

But the car is slowing down and at this distance Stiles is able to make it out.

The black Camaro pulls off to the side of the road and stops a few yards behind Stiles' Jeep.

He almost feels guilty for the sudden rush of fight-or-flight he has when the driver's side door opens. As mad at them as Derek is, Stiles is beginning to realize that he's not the type to just ambush teenagers on the side of the road at the first opportunity for the sake of revenge. Right?

“You're alone.”

Fuck.

Stiles' posture becomes stiff; everything in his body is telling him to run as Derek walks closer. Either the rapid pace of his heart gives him away or he's doing a rather poor job of masking his anxiety (possibly both), because Derek stops in his advance and holds up his hands, palms out.

“Deaton told me about the ice creatures,” he explains.

“Elementals,” Stiles specifies automatically. Derek just rolls his eyes.

“Whatever. You still shouldn't be on your own,” he says. Stiles pauses and takes a moment roll those words over in his mind. He opens his mouth to ask what difference it would make to Derek, but he decides against it and instead looks down at his flat tire.

“Scott and I split up to cover more area,” he says, lowering himself onto the freezing ground (fuck, it's cold) and shimmying under the Jeep. His hands are still stiff, but Derek's not wrong. He shouldn't be out in the open like this when there's who-knows-how-many of those things lurking around. A hand on his ankle makes him flail hard enough that his head hits the undercarriage of his Jeep. Cursing loudly, he pulls himself out from under the vehicle and rubs his forehead. “Fucking ow, man!”

“Move,” is all Derek says to him, no apology, no hey, sorry for being a complete creeper there, Stiles. But Derek is pulling off his leather jacket and tossing it at Stiles head before Stiles can say or do anything about it. In fact, as soon as it hits his face, he has to suppress an indecent moan because it's so fucking warm. The jacket is a blanket of heat on his face and he can't get his hands in it fast enough. He knows better than to put it on, but he can certainly stand there and hold it and by that he means get his hands and arms all up in it, oh sweet relief. It's only after Stiles finishes planning his wedding vows to the jacket that he sees Derek under his Jeep.

One leg is stretched out while the other is bent at the knee and Derek's long-sleeved Henley has ridden up enough that Stiles can see just how low Derek's jeans sit on his hips and suddenly Stiles' face is warmer than his hands. He jumps back to himself when Derek give the jack three hard pumps and the Jeep is off the ground enough that the tire can be changed. Derek pulls himself up and walks around to the back of the Jeep to retrieve the spare. Stiles shifts awkwardly, both wanting to assist and not wanting to get in Derek's way because hey- if Derek wants to fix his Jeep for free, who's Stiles to stop him. Derek sets the spare aside, grabs the lug wrench, and kneels in front of the tire.

“Deaton says these things can't be tracked,” Derek says as he works.

“Not that we know of, no,” Stiles responds. Derek frowns at the hubcap as he pries it off with a claw. “But if you and Isaac help out, we can get more area covered.” Derek pauses, the spare in front of him. Stiles backtracks as fast as he can. “I mean, I know we're not exactly on good terms or anything, and the last dick-move was kind of on our side-”

“Is that how Scott sees it?” Derek interrupts as he puts the spare in place.

“Beg pardon?” Stiles asks.

“Does Scott see it as a dick-move?”

“Oh, uh. Well, to be honest I think he's kinda proud of his and Deaton's double agent plan.” And Stiles has to admit it was a good plan. But every time he replays that night in his head, the only thing in crystal clarity besides Lydia and Jackson's Power of Love Resurrection™ (ugh) was the look of absolute defeat on Derek's face.

Stiles doesn't like Derek. Derek is a creeper and a dick. He doesn't think he ever wants to see Derek look that vulnerable ever again, would erase it from his mind if he could. Because he's not supposed to feel bad for the werewolf. He's not supposed to pity him or want to apologize for Scott's actions, because Scott's plan worked (kinda) and hey, they're not all dead. That has to count for something, yeah? Stiles is just gonna keep telling himself that Derek isn't really a person and ignore how empty and brittle that notion has started to feel lately.

Derek looks back at him over his shoulder and Stiles realizes that he's just sort of... stopped talking.

“But yeah! So, if we could maybe chart out the town, assign sections, and, I don't know, walk around until we spot the bastards, that'd be awesome. Then we can all go back to making threats and angry faces at each other-” He cuts himself of abruptly when Derek stands up, lug wrench in hand. But Derek just raises an eyebrow, picks up the damaged tire, places both it and the lug wrench into the back of the Jeep. He even lowers the jack. When he's finished he turns fully to Stiles, wiping his hands on his jeans.

“Call me when you figure out where you need Isaac and me to check. We'll go ahead and make a run of the woods around the Preserve tonight,” he says. Stiles nods quickly, not trusting himself to not say something stupid that will break whatever truce it is that they suddenly have. But Derek is still standing there, looking at him expectantly. Stiles stares back for a moment, confused. The corners of Derek's mouth pull up a fraction before he nods to Stiles' arms. Stiles jumps when he realizes he's still holding Derek's jacket. He only spares a moment to regret the loss of his new bride as he practically throws it back at Derek.

“Okay then! Thanks for the free roadside assistance. I will do that thing and then I'll call you and then yeah.” Stiles wants to punch himself in mouth but instead just stands awkwardly next to his Jeep. He doesn't miss the look on Derek's face that clearly says he's laughing at him on the inside, though he wishes he had.

Because only people get amused and Derek is not a person.

Right.

-

Inevitably there is a death. She is a woman in her 20s, a clerk at one of the clothing stores downtown that Stiles has never set foot into. As far as he can gather (from eavesdropping and file sneaking), she was found along one of the jogging trails and this just reaffirms Stiles' belief that jogging is, without question, detrimental to one's health. But apparently she was one of those fitness fanatics that wouldn't let a silly thing like freezing temperatures keep her from her daily routine. The report says she more or less froze to death, but the Sheriff spent an entire night (and a third of a bottle of whiskey) trying to figure out why. There was no sign of injury, no sign of a struggle, the toxicology report hadn't come back yet, but the medical examiner hadn't found anything to signify that drugs were involved, and her heart was fine. No one could quite understand how a perfectly fit woman could simply freeze to death overnight when there was no active storm.

But Stiles knows, and he's thrown into research overdrive. He charts of the town, prints copies of satellite images of Beacon Hills, looks up known and proposed methods of disposing elementals. One thing he notices as he lays his head on his desk, one thing that keep popping up- congress. Apparently that's what you call a group of elementals, like how flamingos are a flamboyance or wolves are (heh) a pack. It's important, he knows. Stupidly important, but he's been awake for more than 48 hours between research and tailing his dad for news and updates and he's already gone through his Adderall two weeks ago and sleeping sounds like the thing to do now.

It's morning when he's jolted awake by the sudden gust of frigged wind in his room. He flails in his seat and tries to ignore the feeling of his keyboard imprinted on his cheek. His window is open and Derek is stepping over the windowsill.

“My dad isn't home,” Stiles says slowly. “I have a front door.”

“A girl died,” is how Derek feels like replying. Stiles blinks and takes a minute to make sure he didn't miss part of the conversation. He's the one that's sleep deprived and Derek's making the non-sequiturs. How was that fair?

“Yeah, I kinda got that,” Stiles says, holding up printouts. He's about to ask Derek why he's there when another gust of wind cuts through his room. He wraps his arms around himself and throws Derek a glare. “Seriously, dude, do you mind? It's fucking freezing.” Derek looks behind himself as if he's just now noticing that, hey, it's really freaking cold outside. He reaches back and shuts the window, turning back and looking a little guilty. Stiles has to know. “Do you just, like, not get cold or something?”

“I guess?” Derek offers unhelpfully. Stiles hopes the look he throws Derek is unimpressed, or at least is one that his conveys his burning jealousy. Derek shrugs and tries to explain. “Werewolves run hotter than humans. It's a little chilly out there, yeah, but it's not that bad.” He easily dodges the pen that Stiles throws at his head.

“Then why the hell do you wear a leather jacket year round, you... weirdo.”

And Derek has the audacity to look amused again. No. Just, no.

“Whatever. What do you want?” Stiles ask, his tone harsh even to his own ears. Derek looks surprised for a split-second before he frowns and his posture becomes stiff. Stiles averts his eyes. He's not ashamed. He has no reason to be.

“The girl. She was killed by one of the ice things, right?”

“Elementals,” Stiles absently corrects. It only serves to agitate Derek further.

“Was she or wasn't she, Stiles? Just answer the damn question.”

And this, this is familiar, this forcefulness, this aggression. This is something Stiles is used to despite it being unpleasant.

“Of course she was, genius,” he snaps back. “Healthy young woman just decides to lie down and freeze to death in the middle of her morning jog one day? That sound more plausible to you?” He shouldn't feel ashamed. Not when Derek looks like he's seconds away from throwing Stiles into a wall. Not even when Derek shakes his head and glares at the floor. Not when seconds pass and Derek looks less and less angry and more just frustrated. No. He won't be ashamed.

“Just,” Derek starts, not looking at him. “Just finish the damn map and tell us where to look. The sooner we're done with this, the better.” And then he's gone, having opened the window and jumped out.

Asshole didn't even bother to close the damn thing.

Stiles doesn't get up to close it right away. He lets the wind cut into him for a few minutes. He's not punishing himself or anything stupid like that, because he hasn't done anything wrong. It's not like he thinks he deserves to be cold. He's just lazy. He's just...

He's just lazy. That's all.

-

They start south of town. The plan is to spread out from there and head north. Simple.

“So what do we do when we find one?” Isaac asks. “How do we kill them?”

“It wasn't hard,” Scott says as he shrugs. “I threw it down on the ground really hard and it kinda just stopped moving.” Isaac looks as though he's trying to decide if Scott is being serious or not and Derek rolls his eyes so hard, Stiles is pretty sure he was in danger of pulling something.

“That was back when the temperature first started dropping,” Stiles explains. “I'm pretty sure that one was just really weak.” He throws Scott an apologetic glance. “Deaton thinks they're gonna be stronger now since it's been cold for a while. They're sorta like perpetual motion machines.” The analogy makes sense in his head, but the three blank stares he gets in return suggest otherwise. He tries again. “They need to be cold to gain strength, so they make it cold, get stronger, make it colder, get even stronger. See where this is going?”

“So the longer we wait, the worse it's gonna get and the harder they are to kill,” Isaac says, mostly to himself. Stiles nods anyway.

“Yep. That's pretty much the gist of it. To be honest, I think we should treat this little outing as a recon mission,” he says. “Full on assault might still work or it might just get our asses frozen solid. I need to find out whether or not I need to make a batch of Lydia's lovely Molotov cocktails or not.”

“Why didn't you just make them anyway?” Derek suddenly asks. Stiles resists throwing him a bitch face.

“Because I'd rather not have to steal chemicals from Harris if I can help it. Guy hates me enough as it is. He'd blame them missing on me even if I wasn't caught.”

“It's true,” Scott confirms. See, Derek? Harris's loathing of him is universal fact. Everyone knows it. Derek's second eye roll of the day suggests that he doesn't care much. Dick. Whatever. Stiles palms the handle of the bat in his hand and turns to Scott.

“What killed the dinosaurs?” he asks. Scott smirks at him.

“The Ice Age!” he in his worst Schwarzenegger impression. Isaac laughs and Derek looks as if he's seconds from walking away from all of them. See? Only people get jokes.

“What's gonna kill the Ice Age?” Stiles directs to Isaac.

“We are,” Isaac says, smiling. Derek isn't smiling.

Good.

-

Scott finds their first (technically second) ice man wandering aimlessly behind a warehouse. And that's it. Stiles ran a few blocks for nothing when speed walking would have sufficed. The thing is just shuffling its translucent feet in the snow, staring at the ground with its creepy-as-fuck glowing blue eye sockets. Scott and Stiles watch it for a while, peeking around the side of the warehouse.

“So... that's all it's been doing?” Stiles asks, quietly. Scott shrugs and nods.

“It kinda looks like a zombie, dude,” he says. Stiles hits him upside the head.

No. The last thing we need is zombie ice guys, stop it.” He rubs the back of Scott's head for him in apology. Scott pouts anyway. “Have you tried getting its attention?”

“I thought this was just a recon mission,” Scott points out.

“And I'm proud of you for controlling those wolfy impulses of maim first, ask questions later, but we need to know if we can still take 'em out.” Stiles presses the tip of his bat into the ground and makes a decision. “Be right back,” he says and he steps out from behind the warehouse.

“Stiles!” Scott whispers harshly reaching out to grab him. Stiles evades him and slowly advances on the elemental. He's got both hands on the bat and is just yards away before the elemental stops its shuffling. Stiles stops, too, hands getting clammy. Slowly the elemental lifts its head, a motion that sounds like ice being crunched together, and Stiles can't help that rush of fight-or-flight again. He holds the bat up just as the elemental's eyes glow brighter and it starts to charge at him.

Motherfu-” Scott barrels into him from the side and the ice man is crashing into the wall of the warehouse. They hit the ground and watch as ice stretches out from the point of impact, encasing nearly the entire wall. But the elemental has already composed itself again and turns to face them. Stiles and Scott roll away from each other as it charges. It follows Scott who rolls into a crouch, eyes flashing and fangs out. Stiles takes advantage of the thing's inattention, coming up behind it, swinging at its head as hard as he can.

It's a sound like broken glass, half of its head has shattered outward. It's actually pretty neat looking, Stiles wishes he had a high-speed camera and then he kinda wishes he hadn't spaced out like that because apparently elementals can still function without half a head. It swings an arm back at him, Stiles' stumbling flail that sends him to the ground being the only thing that keeps his face from winding up like his bat- frozen.

The glowing eye that is left focuses down on him. Stiles can feel the air around him drop several degrees. The snow under his hands begins to harden and the blue glow spreads throughout the ice man's body. Whatever super special attack it's preparing for is cut short when Scott does some awesome gravity defying kick to what remains of its head. The rest of the body cracks in several places before collapsing altogether.

“Cold! Cold!” Scott yelps, hopping on one foot. Quickly, he rips off his right shoe and it hits the ground with a heavy thunk. It's less of a shoe now and more of an ice brick. Stiles can't help himself. He almost died a few seconds ago. He deserves this.

“Stay cool, Birdboy,” he says. Scott stops rubbing his foot and stares at him a second before dissolving into what Stiles won't call a giggle fit (that's not manly), but that's pretty much what it is. Which means Stiles is kind of embarrassed for Scott when he noticed Derek and Isaac coming around the warehouse. Scott's laughter cuts off abruptly when he sees them too. Isaac is jogging up to the hunks of ice that's left of the elemental, looking impressed, but Derek doesn't seem to share his enthusiasm.

“For the love of god, Stiles, stop with the Mr. Freeze quotes. They weren't funny thirty minutes ago, they aren't funny now,” he says, because Derek is a parade rainer like that. But Stiles just smiles as he stands up.

“I'm afraid my condition has left me cold to your pleas of mercy.”

Scott and Isaac crack up and the contrast between them and Derek's hard scowl is a thing of beauty. Isaac's laughter trails off with a glance to his alpha and clears his throat.

“Looks like we can still hold our own against them,”he says, kicking one of the chunks of ice. Stiles is about to panic before he sees that Isaac's shoe hasn't frozen over from touching it. The ice seems to have lost whatever supernatural attributes it once had. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Scott point to his own shoe.

“Kinda. The first one wasn't able to do that. It almost froze Stiles,” Scott says. Isaac looks down at the ice again and takes a small step back. Derek looks at Stiles.

“Are you alright?” he asks. Scott and Isaac seem as surprised by the question as Stiles is, but the sudden attention makes him uncomfortable. He shrugs and smirks to cover it up.

“I'm awesome,” he says, bending down to grab his bat. He won't know if it's still usable until it thaws out and that's kind of a problem. “So, good news and bad news, kids.” He holds up the bat. “Yes, we can still tackle them without the Molotov cocktails. However, touching them is a sure-fire way of getting some intense frostbite and I don't think any of us can rock the cyanosis look.”

“Then what do you suggest we do?” Derek asks.

“Batter up,” Stiles says, holding out the bat. He's not really expecting Derek to saunter up, eyes locked with his, and slide a hand along the bat as he takes it from Stiles hand. But that's exactly what he does and the whole thing leaves Stiles feeling a little warm under the collar. He's the first to break their impromptu staring contest and takes a step back as Derek takes a batting stance and a practice swing. His form is suspiciously perfect.

“Do you play?” Isaac asks, curious.

“I used to,” is all Derek says.

It's only when they're leaving the area (Scott and Stiles in the Jeep; Isaac and Derek in the Camaro) that it hits Stiles.

Derek has seen Batman & Robin. Derek used to play baseball.

Okay, fine. Maybe Derek used to be a person. That doesn't mean he is one now.

-

That theory too is starting to crumble right in front of his face, goddamnit.

Shopping at a sporting goods store a town over (one that isn't currently buried in snow) to buy baseball bats is not how Stiles envisioned spending the remainder of his day, but that's where they are. Scott and Isaac immediately drift to the aluminum alloy bats. Apparently Derek is some sort of baseball purist because he scoffs at the display. He starts in on a rant about how and why wooden bats are better; aesthetically more pleasing, has a more satisfying sound upon impact with the ball, and the weight of it feels more “real” whateverthatmeans. The others seem insistent on the metal ones nonetheless and eventually they all turn to him, as if waiting for him to make the definitive vote. He sighs deeply and looks between displays.

“Uh, well, to be honest, I'm gonna have to go with wood on this one,” he says.

“You would,” Scott mumbles under his breath. Stiles finds himself torn between praising Scott for catching an innuendo even he missed and smacking him upside the head.

“Sorry, Scotty-boy. Metal conducts heat,” he says.

“What does heat have to do with ice monsters?” Scott asks.

“Elementals,” Stiles corrects for the upteenth time. He's ignored by everyone.

“I think he means metal reacts to temperature more than wood does,” Isaac says. Stiles gives him a thumbs up.

“Guess who's gonna ace their physical science test next week,” Stiles says. Scott gives Isaac a brofist and Isaac looks pleased with himself. Derek is already examining the bats along the walls. He palms the barrel of one before plucking it off the rack. Stiles face heats up and he decides to leave them to it. He walks toward the lacrosse equipment and does not think about Derek playing ball for school on Saturdays, and he absolutely does not think about Derek in a uniform: cleats, cap, and all. He does, however, wonder if the Hale pack had to play backyard games during thunderstorms like in Twilight. Part of him wants to ask, but a bigger part of him wants to live, so he doesn't. It's probably (definitely) a stupid question anyway.

He realizes he always refers to them as the Hale pack. He wonders if that's what they preferred, being werewolves, or if they were fine being called the Hale family. Though most likely only other werewolves used the term pack (aside from hunters, he guesses), so maybe it's a moot point, and hey- what were groups of elementals called again? A congress? Yeah, a congress. What's a congress of elementals doing in Beacon Hills, anyway? Yet something else to ask Deaton about when he gets the chance.

He's looking at various lacrosse sticks when he sees someone walk up out of the corner of his eye. Derek is holding a bat out to him by the barrel. Hesitantly, Stiles grips the handle with his right hand. He flinches when Derek's hand clamps over his and the man walks around to Stiles side, examining their hands on the bat. He's embarrassed to admit it takes him a second to realize Derek's trying to make sure the bat suits him. The warmth of Derek's hand seeps into his... and it makes him angry. He shrugs Derek off.

“It doesn't have to be perfect, Ollivander. We're just gonna be bashing in some faces,” he says, though not too loudly. He's pretty sure the owner already thinks they're four hoodlums looking to wreck cars or some shit. He side steps Derek, head down, and walks back toward Scott and Isaac who seem happy with their choices.

He was right. The man rings them up while side-eying Derek and his leather jacket. He totally thinks they're car-smashing hoodlums.

-

They get back into town, stopping in front of Deaton's clinic. Stiles has to pull his coat tighter around himself it's so cold, while the others seem perfectly fine. Fucking werewolves.

“Okay, so it's getting late. We'll start again tomorrow,” Stiles suggests. Everyone seems down with that. No use searching to near translucent beings in the dark. And it looks like it might snow again tonight. Derek walks around to the trunk of his Camaro and opens it. There's a large, heavy blanket inside as well as a tool box, what looks to be a suitcase, and a set of jumper cables. Derek unfolds the blanket and holds a hand out to Isaac. Isaac steps forward and gives Derek his bat. He motions for Scott to do the same. Derek uses a corner of the blanket to wrap up one and then the other. He then turns to Stiles and holds out his hand. Stiles clutches the bat to his chest.

“My bat,” he says petulantly. Derek smirks.

“My bat. I bought it,” he says. “Hand it over. Like you keep bitching, it's cold. It's not good for the bats.” Stiles lifts his chin and pulls the bat closer. He wants to say that it won't really matter when they're clobbering beings made of ice, but Derek makes a move to step closer, and Stiles realizes that he doesn't want Derek being so close anymore. He fully extends his arms out, thrusting the bat into Derek's chest. The man stumbles back a bit, surprised by the sudden action. However, after a moment he takes the bat and places it in the trunk wrapped in the blanket with the others. Scott's giving him a weird look, but he ignores it.

-

"Not gonna lie, dude. I'm kind of excited about this,” Scott says, miming a home run swing. Stiles spins in his computer chair a bit.

“Slow your roll, pal. We might be able to get a few of them, ignoring that we don't even know how many there are, but who knows how long four bats are gonna last,” Stiles says. He stops spinning, giving Scott a look. “It'll be a good bonding experience, though.”

“What's that supposed to mean?” Scott asks, defensively.

“You're getting along with Derek better than I thought you would,” Stiles explains. Scott shrugs and sits on Stiles' bed.

“Yeah, well... After Deaton talked to him, he came to talk to me. At first he was kinda pissed, you know? About... about Gerard. That night.” Scott shifts, and this is the first time has seen Scott look anything but proud when talking about the incident in the warehouse. “He said it was a dick-move-” Stiles' head shoots up, but he doesn't say anything. “- and, I guess, he's kind of right?” Scott says, sort of unsure. “I mean, dude is still totally not my alpha, but this is what I meant before, yeah? How no one trusts each other. You were being sarcastic before, but I think this could help us all get used to working together. 'Cuz I don't know if you've noticed, but things just keep getting weirder and weirder around here.”

“No kidding,” Stiles agrees automatically. He's still trying to process some stuff, namely the fact that Scott was the one being super reasonable at the moment. 'Atta boy, Scotty. Stiles is beginning to think some time away from Allison has actually helped. Not that he doesn't think Scott and Allison shouldn't be happy together, but a little separation can sometimes put other things in perspective. He guesses. He's only got years of watching other people be in relationships to go on, and isn't that depressing?

“But what about you and Derek?” Scott suddenly asks. Stiles nearly tips out of his chair, but he grabs his desk in time.

“Whodawhatnow?” he stutters out. Scott leans back onto the bed and give him that same look from before.

“Don't take this the wrong way, but you were weird around him all day today. I mean, he was actually sorta being nice, as nice as Derek gets. You totally kept brushing him off, dude. Now that was a dick-move,” Scott says. Stiles fixes him with a glare.

“Oh, more so than forcing him bite someone against his will? No, you're right. I'm the worst,” Stiles bites out. Scott just sort of raises his eyebrows, but doesn't particularly look surprised by Stiles' attack. He doesn't say anything though, as if he still expects Stiles to comment on his own behavior. “We don't even like Derek. What does any of this matter? Just because we're doing our little Marvel team-up, we're supposed to be best bros now?” He can't look at his friend, so he stares out his window. It's snowing. It's gentle now, but Scott will have to go home soon before the roads get too bad. He sees in the corner of his eye Scott shift to look out of the window as well.

“Derek's a full on creeper, yeah, but when he isn't trying to kill one of our friends... He's not so bad, I guess. He did buy us some kickass bats.”

No, no, no. This isn't right. Scott's not supposed to tolerate Derek. Forget what Stiles thinks about the the guy, Scott should be the one resisting all of this. Scott is not supposed to like Derek.

And really, Stiles can't tell who he hates more at the moment.

-

Later that evening, after Scott has left and his dad has gone to bed, Stiles still can't help the feeling in his gut that something is going to go so very wrong tomorrow. Has to. They're due for some horribly catastrophic wrench to get thrown into their gears. And this feeling, this impending sense of doom? It won't let him sleep. Not until he gets out of bed and does something about it.

So he breaks into the school building that's still undergoing repairs and only panics a little.

-

Whatever mental breakdown Stiles seems to be having is put on hold the next day, because holy fuck, this is honestly the most fun he's had the past couple of months. Their little plan of searching the town in sections has been working fairly well. The town isn't deserted, per se, but after last night, people are either keeping indoors or taking their kids to go sledding on the hillier side of town. It really is just a matter of stumbling upon the things. At first they somewhat blend in to all the snow around them, but they're getting easier and easier to spot. And once they've stopped them, that's when the fun starts. Stiles only takes a moment to consider they're actually probably (most definitely) killing these things, but then he remembers that they're only going to get stronger the longer they wait, and by that point the whole town will be frozen over. So he hangs half outside of his Jeep's window with the bat and takes two out as he drives along the back road. He watches their bodies crumble into inanimate chunks of ice through his rearview mirror and brings the Jeep to a stop. He takes out his phone and calls Scott.

“I'm five-for-five, dude! That's fifty points. What'chu got?” he asks. He can hear Scott laugh breathlessly, along with the sound of something crunching.

“Eighty points! Suck it!” Scott shouts. Stiles pulls the phone away from his ear with a disgusted curl of his mouth.

“Fucking werewolves.” Stiles wipes away the thin layer of ice that's accumulated on his bat with his overshirt. “How's Ex-howl-ibur doing?” he asks, and he has to smile, because it makes Scott groan.

“Dude, no. That's not what I named it.”

“Then what did you name it?” Stiles asks. There's silence over the line and Stiles puts a hand on his forehead. “You named it Allison, didn't you?”

“N-no!” Scott denies quickly.

“I'm ashamed to associated with you. I'm embarrassed for you.”

“Fine! Whatever. Ex-howl-ibur is doing just fine. Kinda frosty, though. But Derek told us not to warm them up when they got like this. Told us to just keep going,” Scott says. Stiles nods, even though Scott can't see it.

“Yeah, they don't conduct heat like metal bats do, but if you keep altering the temperature of the wooden ones, they'll splinter and bust.” Stiles palms the cold barrel of his own with a gloved hand. “I think I still have a few hits left in mine before it's useless.” Weapon – Baseball Bat. Durability – 65/100. Damage – Moderate. Defeat 10 elementals and unlock a super special bonus cutscene. “So hey, how do you think the others are doing?”

“Last I heard from Isaac, he had a count of six,” Scott says. Jesus, Stiles thinks. Just how many of them are there?

“So that's eighty, sixty, fifty. Where do you think Derek's at?” Stiles asks.

“One-twenty.”

Stiles flails so hard he drops his phone, though he can still hear Scott's outraged, “Oh, come on! He's a liar!” He turns to glare outside of his window and his breath catches.

Derek's smirking at him with his icy bat rested against his shoulder. He's got snow in his hair and a flush on his (ridiculous) cheekbones from all the running and smashing he's been doing. Even the visible puffs of his breath are distracting. There's snow clinging to his shoes and pant legs. He's really been hustling on this. He looks-

He looks like he's having fun.

Instead of making him angry this time, Stiles suddenly just feels sad. Like, watching a three-legged puppy happily chase a ball, sad. It must show on his face, because Derek's smirk slips.

“What?” he asks.

“Dude, you're a tragedy,” Stiles says, honestly. Derek gives him his Confused Eyebrows, but Stiles ignores them in favor of reaching down to grab his phone. “Hey, bro. Did you hear that? He's hit twelve of these fuckers. Combined we've taken out thirty-one. Thirty-one. There seriously can't be many more left. I'm surprised no one else has stumbled on them yet. With the exception of fanatic jogger lady,” Stiles amends.

“Yeah, but hey. Check it out. It's stopped snowing and I think it's actually starting to warm up,” Scott says. Stiles looks out of his windshield and scans the area. These back roads, at most, have trees running along them and not much else. However, it's enough that he does notice it's stopped snowing and that the snow on the tree tops is starting to melt. Awesome.

“Stiles,” Derek says. Stiles turns to the alpha to see him looking at something off in the distance. Where the sky directly above Beacon Hills has cleared of cloud cover, the area they're seeing now is dark, as if just before a storm.

“What do you think that is?” he asks. Derek frowns and clutches his bat a little tighter.

“Something I should check out,” he says, then takes off in the opposite direction of the storm.

“Wha- hey!” Stiles shouts. He sits in his Jeep, confused. He doesn't have time to dwell on it, because Scott and Isaac are running up to him from out of the treeline. They seem out of breath, but entertained. Busting in some supernatural heads will do that to you. Seeing that Scott's already put away his phone, Stiles does the same, putting it into one of the Jeep's cupholders.

“Where's Derek?” Isaac asks. Stiles rests his arm on the door of his Jeep and shrugs. Scott taps Isaac's shoulder to get his attention and points in the direction of the storm. “The hell is that?”

“Don't know yet,” Stiles admits. Just then, Derek's Camaro comes up alongside his Jeep. The window rolls down and Derek looks out at them.

“I'm gonna go check it out. You three make another run of the town and make sure there aren't any stragglers,” he commands. Isaac nods but Scott and Stiles both frown.

“Dude, we've been over this. You're not my alpha,” Scott says. And as well as everyone's been getting along on this little venture, Stiles feels the very moment tension between them begins to climb again. Derek frown has become more of a scowl and Isaac's eyes keep shooting between him and Scott as he shifts his feet. This isn't really something Stiles wants to deal with right now, so he distracts them all by opening the driver's side door and hopping out. He reaches in to grab his bat and then throws the keys to Scott who catches them, confused.

“You and Isaac currently have a better batting average than I do. You guys can make a quicker run of the town. I'll go with Babe Ruth here and check out what's going on with the storm,” he says, running a hand through his hair. Both Derek and Scott look like they want to protest, but both also seem to realize it's a gesture to keep the peace. Reluctantly, Derek leans over to open the passenger door. Stiles brofists Scott and Isaac before climbing into the Caramo.

Stiles leans forward, trying to get a better look outside of the windshield. As they get closer, Stiles can see the tops of trees getting tossed about by the wind. Rain starts to pelt the Camaro. Steadily it goes from rain to sleet. Stiles can feel the Camaro jerk a bit as the wind picks up. He spares a quick glance toward Derek. The man is gripping the steering wheel tightly, eyes focused intently on the road in front of them.

“Easy does it. We don't want to make a mess of the stuff in the back,” Stiles reminds him. He can feel the temperature dropping and he huddles a little tighter into himself. Derek must have noticed because he finally speaks up.

“I think we're getting closer to the center of it,” he says. Stiles doesn't know if that was meant to be reassuring or not. The back road stretches farther, but Derek takes a turn down a trial into the trees that Stiles never would have seen for the life of him. They get about a quarter mile in when Derek begins to slow down. Snow had begun to fall and it was making it difficult to navigate the car. Stiles undoes his seatbelt and grabs his bat. He looks to Derek, who's frowning.

“Well, into the great white yonder?” he tries. Derek frowns harder.

“This was a bad idea. You should have stayed with Scott and Isaac,” he says, throwing concerned looks outside the windshield. Stiles rolls his eyes and reaches for the door handle anyway. He shrugs off Derek's hand when the man tries to pull him back in. He almost wishes he hadn't, because it is fucking cold as balls. The wind knocks him about for a second before he regains his footing. It also, however, slams the car door shut. Stiles winces and hopes Derek doesn't maim him for that. He clutches his bat and starts walking forward just as the older man is climbing out of the Camaro as well. He seems resigned to the fact that Stiles is going to do whatever the fuck he wants, and a part of Stiles is actually sort of pleased with himself. He uses his bat to point out in front of them both.

“Think we should start there?” he shouts over the wind. Derek doesn't say anything, just heads to where Stiles is pointing.

They only get a few yards before they hear it.

It's a low rumbling. The kind Stiles can feel in his bones and, if possible, it gets even colder. Derek reaches behind him and braces Stiles with an arm just as a tree crashes in front them. Stiles stumbles and drops his bat. Not that it really matters. There's no way their bats are gonna be any help.

Not when the elemental in front of them is about the size of a house.

It's not like the others, humanoid in shape. No, this one is on all fours and looks more like a bull. It clomps at the ground like one too, and that's all Stiles needs to jump to his feet, grab Derek by the jacket sleeve, and start running to the side. He can hear it behind them, but the trees are slowing it down considerably. He hears their trunks splinter as it crashes into them, rears back, and crashes again until they fall. He knows Derek is so much faster than him, be he's still close, running at Stiles side, occasionally chancing a glance back. It's a good thing Stiles is too scared to do the same, otherwise he wouldn't have seen the huge fucking drop-off in front of them. He throws an arms out to grab Derek and they both come to a halt; Stiles nearly topples into a bank of snow.

“Where the hell did this one come from?!” he hears Derek yell over the wind. Great question, Derek. Apparently this is the secret boss. Stiles doesn't even have time to come up with any realistic theories, the ice bull is just so eager to make their acquaintance. Just when a plan is formulating in his head to jump out of the way at the very last minute, to let the damn thing take a nice long fall, Derek is barreling into him from the side, grabbing his arm and running. The elemental manages to skid in time before falling. Goddamn Derek and his goddamn heroics. Not much Stiles can do about it now, because Derek practically flings him in the direction of the car.

“Go!” he shouts. And then the asshole is turning back around and charging toward the ice bull. Stiles loses sight of him in the white curtain of heavy snowfall. He can feel panic rise up in his arms, feels it plug up his throat, and make his legs weak. But the sound of yet more trees being felled spurs him into action. He runs to the Camaro.

It doesn't take him long to find it. The black paint job stands out even in the sudden storm. It won't much longer; snow is building around it. He prays for a quick second that Derek didn't lock it and tests the handle. It clicks open and Stiles nearly brains himself on the door in a rush to pull the trunk latch. He slams the door shut again and throws the lid of the trunk open. He removes the blanket safely wrapping the two bottles he prepared last night and grabs them. The contents swish almost too violently as he runs but Stiles can't bring himself to care. He does slow down a bit after the third time he nearly trips, but he has to hurry.

He's out of breath by the time he makes it to back to the ravine, but makes it just in time to see the body of the elemental glow blue as it kicks Derek into a tree. The sound of the impact is sickening. The tree cracks and looks in threat of toppling over backwards. Derek crumbles in front of it and doesn't move. He doesn't try to get back up. He doesn't cry out.

Nothing.

And nothing is what Stiles feels for a long second. It's like time has slowed down and everything has stopped along with Derek. He can't hear the wind or the storm, he can't feel the cold seeping in through his jacket and gloves, he can't even get a full breath of air. It's only when the ice bull focuses its attention on him that he can feel the weight of the Molotov cocktails in his hand.

The elemental has its back to the ravine and Stiles aims for its glowing eyes.

Glass breaks on what seems to be the thing's forehead, but it cries out nonetheless, thrashing its huge head from side to side. Flames follow it, spreading along its face as the liquid runs down. It's trying to rub its head into the snow on the ground, but Stiles takes advantage and throws his remaining bottle at its front feet.

He's dead on this time.

The elemental rears back with a pained roar and stumbles. It does not, however, regain its balance. The sound it makes as it crashes into the ravine is almost deafening and the ground shakes with it. Stiles is close to hyperventilating but he has to be sure. He scrambles to the edge and peers over. Sides of the ravine are crumbing on top of a massive pile of ice, ice that no longer pulses with that dark blue glow. He backs away from the edge and tries to calm his breathing, but the wind seems to be making one hell of an effort to make that as difficult as possible. And Derek-

Stiles whips his head in his direction. He hasn't moved at all and snow has begun to pile on top of him. Stiles makes his way over to him as quickly as possible.

“Hey!” he calls out. “Hey, you-” He trips. “-Goddamnit. Derek! Hey, wake up. I just went full on Shadow of the Colossus and you didn't even watch. That is so rude, I can't even begin to-” He drops next to Derek and starts digging him out. He pushes the man over and allows himself a bit of a freak out. Derek is covered in a layer of frost, but that's slightly less worrying than how fucking blue he is. Stiles can only think of Scott's shoe and their baseball bats and the fanatic jogger lady and this is so far beyond good that Stiles is having a hard time thinking straight.

But he manages to do it anyway.

He hefts Derek up under the man's arms with a groan. Securing his arms around Derek's chest, he digs his heels in and starts the long trek backwards to the car. He has to stop several times to catch his breath. His muscles are aching and Derek is not a light man. And while it seems like the storm is lessening in intensity, it is still so fucking cold. He tries to focus of the pattern of their progress. His shoes (now soaked) further packing in the snow, the slide of Derek's body on the white covered ground with every tug. Pack, pack, slide. Pack, pack, slide. Just when he thinks his own body is about to give out, he casts a glance over his shoulder and sees it. Derek's car. He lets out a near hysterical laugh and it's like his second wind has finally kicked in. He drags Derek a little further before letting him drop (sorry, dude), and rushing to dig out the car as best he can.

It takes some maneuvering, but he manages to get Derek laid out in the back seat.

“Oh... my god,” he pants out. “Is that all muscle, you asshole? God forbid you miss a day of your Extreme Wolf Workout.” He peels off his gloves reluctantly, reaching for Derek's face. “That's it. I'm putting you on the same diet as my dad, do you hear- Jesus!” He yanks his hand back immediately. Derek's face is ridiculous levels of cold. His pale skin and blue tinged lips probably should have given that away, but...

But Stiles can still remember the intense heat of his leather jacket and warmth of his hand. That's the way Derek is supposed to feel, not like this. If it weren't for the occasional shiver racking his body, Stiles could have easily mistaken him for dead. He slaps Derek a couple of times across the cheek. Not even a twitch. Fuck. Right, okay. He just needs to get him warmed up. Easy, no big deal. Stiles begins to pat down Derek's icy jacket and the pockets of his jeans.

“... Where are your keys? Derek, where are your keys?” Great, he was starting to panic again. Could they have fallen out near the ravine? Did the universe really hate them both that much? Stiles frantically yanks at the jacket, struggling to pull it off. He turns its pockets inside out, shakes it several times, but all that falls out is a damaged cell phone, and eventually he throws it and the jacket into the front seat with a frustrated shout. He buries his now cold-numbed hands into his hair. Fuck fuck fuck! He left his own phone in the Jeep like a goddamn idiot. He leans over Derek again, grabs him by the shoulders, and gives him a few harsh shakes. “Derek! Come on, asshole, wake up! You need to be awake and helping me look for your keys, not taking a nap.” Derek refuses to wake up. If anything, he's more still now than he was before; he's stopped shivering and Stiles has done enough survivalist Wikipedia searches to know that is so not a good thing (he also knows what to do if he ever gets buried alive, but that's beside the point). He tries to take deep breaths again, but they're shaky and shallow. Then he remembers.

He climbs over into the front, pulls the trunk latch again, and practically throws himself out into the wind and snow that's still falling. Running to the trunk, he allows himself some kind of mad victorious laughter as he pulls out the heavy blanket from before. He gathers it up and gets his ass back into the car. It's only when he's crawling into the back with Derek that he realizes something kind of important. Derek's clothes are soaked. His clothes are soaked. They are both soaked and freezing, one obviously moreso than the other, but fucking hell. He dumbly holds the blanket in his hands, looking between it and Derek, trying to weigh his options. He quickly comes to the conclusion that he has very few. Okay. Okay.

Fine.

He drops the blanket for a moment to pull off his jackets, followed by his hoodie and the shirt underneath. He immediately regrets this decision as the cold air bites into him. With shivering hands, he undoes his belt and proceeds to strip. He's already decided that they're both gonna keep their underwear on because there's really only so much his brain can take right now. Were this under different circumstances, Stiles is pretty sure he'd tackle undressing Derek with a greater amount of hesitation (or enthusiasm, his treacherous mind supplies), but Stiles' hands and limbs are getting harder to control, his movements stiff. He gets Derek's Henley and shoes off and starts undoing his belt with no small amount of difficulty. He does his best to ignore the deep bruising along Derek's torso that has yet to heal and the cut of his hipbones and the ridges of his abs and- He wrenches the fly open and nearly has a heartattack.

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

Derek goes commando. Who. Fucking. Knew.

Stiles briefly entertains the idea of just letting Derek keep his goddamn jeans. But... ice clings to the denim, and it has to be so fucking cold. Breathing deep, Stiles focuses on the outer seams and pulls. As soon as he gets them off, he throws the blanket over Derek's lower half. Their clothes get tossed up front with the leather jacket and Stiles spends a good two minutes shivering in the floor of the backseat before he simply can't take it anymore. Tentatively, he pulls the blanket back and tries to arrange himself on top of Derek in the least inappropriate way possible, which turns out to be a fucking joke, because there isn't one. Derek's skin is chilled to the touch; Stiles doesn't think he's in much better condition. Certainly not warm enough to really help the frozen werewolf underneath him, but as soon as he rest his weight fully onto Derek (mindful of the bruising), the ache of his muscles comes back full force and it makes his shivering that much more exhausting.

“You don't get to kill me,” he says quietly. “I'm saving your ass for the second time today. You can throw me into something if you wake up, deal?”

His hands grip the blanket to the leather seats and he tries not to think. About whether or not Scott and Isaac will come looking for them. About where the fuck this larger elemental came from. About the firm, cold shoulder under his head, or the expanse of werewolf birthday suit he's pressed against. About the painfully slow pace of Derek's heart beat and breathing. About how fucking tired he is all of a sudden... About whether or not this is the super special bonus cutscene, because if it is, this game is fucked up.

After what feels like hours, he stops thinking all together and falls into a fitful sleep.

-

When he slowly wakes again, who-knows-how-long later, he's warm.

Scratch that. He's sweltering.

The body under him is no longer doing its best impression of an ice cube- oh, no! Stiles shifts and his chest slides easily against the one he's on top of. Great, they're sweating. He tries to push up on the seats but arms that must have found their way around his waist while he slept tighten and pull him back down. He hasn't opened his eyes yet, but he really doesn't want to. Seeing meant believing and he's not quite sure this isn't a fever dream yet, because hey! Derek doesn't have pockets at the moment, which means he's definitely happy to see someone. Stiles feels his face heat up as the hands pressed into his back begin to move, one sliding to his hip, the other trailing higher up his back.

Stiles can't help the wave of arousal he feels. He's a healthy (virginal) young man of seventeen with arguably one of the most attractive people in California or, you know, ever feeling him up. He should be allowed a little leeway here. But there's a good chance he'll get none, because just then Derek takes a deeper breath and stretches his legs which are tangled with Stiles, oh holy mother of-

Stiles feels the moment Derek wakes up. The hands stop their minute movements and he can hear the heart under his ear pick up its pace. He still refuses to open his eyes. If Derek's gonna kill him, he'd rather not see it coming, thanks. He feels Derek's head shift, his chin coming to rest near the top of his hair. Stiles forgets to breathe.

“... Am I dead?” Derek's voice is rough in the quietness of the Camaro. Stiles lets his breath out in a rush.

“Why, is this your version of hell?” he asks back. Derek's hands tighten on him for a quick moment, before he brings them up to Stiles arms.

“Depends,” he replies. Stiles sighs and finally opens his eyes. There's snow still on the windshield, but he can still see the world beyond it; the snow has finally stopped and it's night. He lets a few more seconds pass, but Derek neither says anything further nor does he try to maim him. Stiles shifts and raises his head to look at him. It's dark, but Derek's eyes reflect what little light there is.

“On what?”

“... On whether or not you're going to make me play an inning naked,” Derek says, and it's a lie. Stiles doesn't even need super wolf powers to pick up on it. This is an out for both of them. Derek's giving them an out because neither of them is quite ready for... whether it is that's happening right now. Even if Derek feels amazing under his hands. Even if he is looking at Stiles like that. He doesn't know what Derek's reasons are, but he knows his own well enough; he's only just now getting it through his thick skull that Derek is Soylent Green. Derek is people.

Quiet, hysterical laughter begins to shake his body and he drops his head onto Derek's shoulder. He can almost feel Derek's concerned stare on the top of his head, but he can't help it.

“Are you okay?”

“I tipped a giant ice entity thing like a cow,” Stiles wheezes out and can't stop laughing.

It kills whatever moment they might have had. It's probably for the best.

-

Derek insists on being the one to change outside of the car, and Stiles only steals a glance at his ass once, maybe twice, but definitely not a third time, though to be honest that's just because the rear window was too fogged over. His own clothes are still damp and cold, but he sucks it up and pulls them on, only briefly getting caught up in his jeans. He tumbles over the center console just as Derek is wiping the snow off of the windshield. He can't hear Derek's laughing at him, but he can see it. Dick.

“Just go find the keys, asshole!” he shouts to the glass. Derek gives him the finger, keys dangling from it. Smug son of a bitch.

They don't really say anything as Derek maneuvers the car out of the area and back onto the back roads. It's not a bad silence, but it's definitely what Stiles imagines an awkward morning after feels like.

“So, uh. How- how's your...?” Stiles gestures to his own torso. Derek glances down at himself and takes a hand off of the steering wheel to rub at his sternum.

“I've had worse,” he says simply.

“Oh, sure. What's getting bronco kicked into a tree for you? It's not like you were rendered unconscious or anything,” Stiles quips. Derek raises an eyebrow at him before turning back to the road.

“It wasn't the kick so much as... whatever the hell it did when it touched me. I'd never...” Derek trails off for a moment. “I'd never been that cold before. Is that what it's like for you humans? How the hell do you survive winters?”

“Yeah, well, not all winters come with an invading congress of elementals and oh my god!” Stiles shouts in revelation. Derek slams on the brakes and the car fishtails on the ice a ways before Derek reclaims control. He looks around, wide-eyed.

“What?!”

“That's what they were doing!” Stiles exclaims, bouncing in his seat. “Dude, oh man, we have to get to Deaton's. Like now. Right now!”

“Alright, okay, calm the hell down.”

You calm down!”

-

“The Canadians are to blame, right? Canadians kick them out?” Stiles and Derek aren't even all the way in the building before Stiles is shouting back to Deaton. Said man walks out from his examination room looking amused. He walks over to the front and flips the CLOSED sign and Stiles realizes that it's probably not as late as he first assumed if Deaton's clinic was still open when they got here.

“I beg your pardon?”

“The elementals. Derek and I just partook in the running of the bulls. All those human shaped ones we found? They were like scouts, yeah?” Stiles leans over the counter excitedly. “That's why they kept out of sight. That's why they were making it their own personal winter wonderland for, like, the queen elemental.”

“Where the hell are you getting this?” Derek asks, looking between him and Deaton.

“They're a congress. A group. Groups need a social structure, don't they, Mr. Alpha Werewolf?”

“... Well, what does that have to do with Canada?” Derek tries lamely.

“They had to come from somewhere, dude,” Stiles answers, as if it's obvious. Deaton smiles and reaches behind the counter to pull out an old, leather bound book that's seen better days.

“I don't know about that, Stiles, but I can say you're fairly close with the rest,” he says, placing the book on the counter. “I'm assuming you've already located the “alpha” elemental.”

“Uh, yeah. It's at the bottom of a huge-ass ravine,” Stiles says and then throws a look over his shoulder to Derek. “You're welcome.” Derek rolls his eyes. Deaton taps the book.

“This finally came to me today, though it seems to be unnecessary now. But perhaps you would like to look through it anyway.” Stiles is already making grabby hands at the book, and Deaton chuckles as he hands it off to him.

-

Deaton is closing up the clinic and Derek is unlocking the Camaro while Stiles tries (and fails) to read and walk at the same time. They both climb in and Derek asks him if he should drop him off at home.

“No way, dude. Scott has my Jeep. And if he played it smart, he told my dad that I'm sleeping over at his house when we didn't come back right away,” he says, flipping through the book. Great more Latin. The third declension will be the death of him. Derek nods and puts the car into gear. “Oh hey, should we go and get our bats? You paid a ton for them,” Stiles asks, but Derek shakes his head.

“They're probably useless now. Certainly not good for a game,” he says absently.

“Did you hit home runs every game like a showoff?” The question is out of his mouth before he can help it, but he pushes on. “If I look through old yearbooks will I find your picture above the words “team captain,” because that would just figure.” Derek doesn't say anything, but he doesn't look angry either. His eyes are darting around the winter scenery beyond the windshield and his ears are turning a bright red. “Seriously, you're going to be shy, now? Dude, I've seen you naked.”

“I wasn't team captain,” Derek says quietly. Then he glances over at Stiles with a smirk. “And I only hit a home run every other time.”

“You mean every other game?”

“Every other time I was at bat.”

“... Fucking werewolves.”

-

Stiles sits on Scott's bed and recounts his glorious act of heroism, embellishing a little here and there. So maybe the ice bull wasn't the size of five story building and maybe Derek didn't actually call out for him to save him, but hey. It's his story, he'll tell it like he damn well pleases, even if he leaves out the naked snuggling. Scott nods periodically, obviously not believing a word (even the really for real true parts!), and he looks a little uncomfortable.

“Dude, I'm totally serious! I killed the thing! Me!” Stiles says emphatically. Scott nods again.

“Yeah, okay! Sure, dude. That sounds awesome.” He's lying. Goddamnit. Stiles frowns and kicks at Scott's legs.

“Where the hell were you and Isaac anyway? We were gone for hours,” he asks. Scott suddenly turn a bright red and shrugs. “I can't believe you didn't come looking for me.”

“We did!” Scott asserts defensively, and he looks as though he immediately regrets it.

“You tried to find us?” Stiles asks. Scott has his guilty puppy face on.

“Uh, no. No, we found you,” he says slowly. Stiles stares at him confused. “We, uh... we figured you guys just wanted some, uh, some privacy.”

It takes Stiles longer than he's proud to admit to catch on.

“Dude! You saw us in the car?!”

“I'm trying to erase it from my mind, actually.”

“We almost froze to death, dumbass!”

“Isaac thought you guys were doing some weird Titanic reenactment. Stiles? Hey, where are you going? I already told your dad you're staying the night! Stiles? Uh, okay, see you tomorrow I guess.”