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No one noticed until it was too late.

But isn’t that always the case? You never keep looking for something once you’ve found it.

The same can be said of Stiles - no one was looking for scars, but that’s what they found.

The August sun was high, the air dry, the heat exhausting. It had been a last minute plan, scrambled together when everyone, tired after a morning of training, nearly cried when Stiles turned on the hose, stuck his thumb over the mouth, and pointed the stream of water heavenward. It rained, the water touching their skin feeling like shards of ice.

“That’s it,” he said, dousing Jackson with more water than absolutely necessary. “We’re going to the lake.”

Two hours later, they unpacked their cars, spread their beach towels, pitches their umbrellas, and just let go .

Almost all of them go straight for the water.

But not Stiles. No, Stiles hangs back, keeps his shirt on, opens a can of soda, and makes himself comfortable under the shade of the umbrella.

When the others goad him, tell him to come swim, he takes out a paperback novel and gives them all a polite, “no thanks. I’m good on dry land.”

Stiles a good third of the way through his book when they attack. Scott has both of his feet, Allison and Lydia each an arm, and Jackson just wraps an arm around his middle so he can’t wiggle his way out of their grip, or simply go limp. Erica is filming from her phone.

But Derek notices. He hears the way Stiles’ voice cracks as they walk him down the dock, their laugh nearly drowning out the hitch in the boy’s breath. He can smell the souring of the air as Stiles’ anxiety grows, can see how wide his eyes go when they start to swing him off the dock, counting until they let go.

“STOP!” Derek bellows as he runs down the dock, the wet of the wood a stark contrast to the heat of the dry, sun-warmed sand.

But he’s a moment too late. They all let go, save for Jackson, who is halfway to turning to face Derek. Jackson’s grip on Stiles slips, and his fingers stay in the fabric of the shirt while Stiles goes tumbling into the water.

When he surfaces, he’s coughing and sputtering. His blunt human fingernails scrape on the wood, making terrible noises as he scrambles to bring himself back onto the dock.

Derek’s on his knees, winding his arms around Stiles to help pull him out of the water.

They both flop onto the deck like wet fish, Stiles on his back, coughing up the small amount of water he apparently swallowed.

Everyone falls quiet.

Stiles’ pale flesh is covered in a myriad of scars. Long ones, from claws. Small ones, puncture wounds. Instead of his skin being painted with moles and freckles, he’s covered with the proof that he runs with wolves.

He’s on his feet, wrenching his shirt from Jackson’s limp grasp, storming away.

There’s no way to mistake the smell of salt water in the air; they are nowhere near the ocean.

Derek doesn’t stand up until he hears the Jeep pulling away.

It takes everyone a while to pack everything up. Everyone is quiet. Even Jackson.

Derek drives to the Stilinski house first, and a small tendril of panic sours the back of his throat when he doesn't see Stiles’ precious Jeep. He keeps to the main streets as he heads back to the loft, his eyes looking for the familiar blue, his ears listening for the rumble of Jerry-rigged parts and the sound of duct-tape rubbing against itself.

Relief floods him as he parks the Camaro next to the familiar vehicle. He enters the loft quietly, taking great care to keep his movements quiet. Even in the stairwell, we can hear the calm, gentle beat of Stiles’ heart in sleep.

The door behind him clicks loudly, much to his dismay. Stiles rouses from sleep, his body uncurling on the couch. He blinks, sleepily, then scrambles to sit upright. “Sorry, sorry,” he says, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “I went home at first, but-”

“The room was too small.”

Stiles freezes, his gaze snapping to Derek, who nears. The wolf rounds him, sits next to him, close enough for their knees to touch.

“After the fire, I couldn't be indoors for very long. If I rode in a car, I had to have all the windows down. I purposely avoided having my own bedroom for almost three years.”

Stiles swallows, the noise the only sound in the room save for the faithful hum of the refrigerator.

Derek shifts so he's completely facing Stiles.

“Can I show you how brave you are?”

Stiles looks doubtful. The rise of a single eyebrow cements the idea.

“Take off your shirt.”

Stiles snorts. “What?”

“Please. Take off your shirt, please .”

Stiles’ scent turns acrid. He is stone still, and Derek fears perhaps he's pressed too far, but after a long moment, Stiles turns, rucks up his shirt, and tosses it to the side.

Derek raises his hand, presses two fingers to a thorny scar beneath Stiles’ left pectoral muscle. “This is from when we fought the Redcap. He threw a handful of sparks at us, and you jumped in front of Allison.”

Stiles huffs a small laugh, obviously remembering the incident.

Derek's fingers skate across Stiles’ skin, his entire palm resting over grooved lines. “This was from the harpies. One had me pinned, and another one was going to claw my heart out. You pushed her off me, and in the process got hurt.”

Stiles looks away, his scent souring further.

Derek pulls the boy’s gaze back to him with a hand to his cheek. “You saved my life, Stiles. This isn't a scar, it's a war medal.”

Stiles rolls his eyes, pulls his chin from Derek's grasp, but, even in the dark, Derek can see the tears gathering at the corners of his eyes.

Derek moves on, pretends not to see.

“Here,” he continues, pressing the tips of four of his fingers to matching puncture scars. “Here is where that Windigo nearly ran you through with his antlers when you pushed Jackson out of the way.”

Derek trails his hands up, presses his fingers to the juncture of where Stiles’ shoulder meets his neck.

“And here,” he says with a sigh, licking his lips.

Stiles’ brow creases in confusion. After all, the skin under Derek's skin is smooth, unmarred.

“And here,” he says again. “Here is where I'd like to leave my own mark.”

Stiles’ pulse beats double time under Derek's touch. His breath hitches, his throat clicks as he swallows.

And then he moves .

Derek growls in approval as Stiles shuts his eyes and tilts his head back. His heartbeat may be thundering, buts it's steady, strong, sure.

The moment Derek's mouth descends upon Stiles’ pale flesh, the world stops. The only things in the universe are him and this brave, strong boy. Stiles’ hand fists in Derek's shirt as the were laves soft flesh with his tongue. His wolf howls when Derek presses blunt, human teeth to pale, creamy skin and Stiles keens . Soft suction, the press of teeth, the sound of Stiles panting in his ear; the entirety of Derek's world narrows down to this perfect creature.

Derek pulls back, wanting to admire his work, but Stiles doesn't give him a moment's reprieve. The second his mouth is gone from Stiles’ neck, they're kissing. And Derek can't remember the last time he's ever tasted something so sweet.

Stiles pulls him backwards , surprising the were enough he pitches forward and tumbles atop the boy. But Derek takes it in stride, smiling against the plush lips that press repeatedly into his own. Who else could ever surprise him other than this clever, precious human?

Stiles gets a leg hooked around Derek's waist, digging his heel into Derek's back as he squirms. He opens his mouth, laps at Derek's bottom lip, and the wolf acquiesces, indulges, slides his tongue into Stiles’ mouth.

Stiles moans, and Derek quakes above him. He needs to show Stiles how perfect he is, needs it like he needs air and sunlight.

The leg hooked around Derek's waist is used as leverage as Stiles pulls him downward, and for a brief moment, their cocks rub together.

Derek stutters, his breath hitching in his lungs as he feels Stiles, iron-hard, pressed against his own aching cock. He pulls away, leaving Stiles gasping for breath beneath him.

Please , Stiles,” he pants. “Please tell me I can-”

“I swear to god that if you think we’re not going to fuck after all of the shit you just said, I will kill you with my bare hands.

Derek’s got both hands full of Stiles’ ass as he hefts him from the couch, lets the boy wraps his legs around Derek’s waist for added support, then carries him across the room, up the spiral staircase, and crawls on his knees across his bed. He lowers Stiles to the middle of it, Stiles who has one hand wound tightly around his neck and shoulders and the other threaded through Derek's’ hair, Stiles who is making a litany of soft, pleased sounds right into Derek’s mouth, Stiles who is lean muscle and soft skin and everything Derek wants, everything he needs.

Stiles tugs at his shirt, grunting. “Off, off!” he demands. “Take it off.”

Derek leans up, pulls his shirt over his head, then looks down. Below him, Stiles stills. His eyes are completely blown, hardly a thread of warm honey, pupils wide, dark, hungry .

Leaning back down, Derek cages Stiles in with his elbows on either side of the boy’s head. He kisses him again, gently, with all the tenderness Derek’s never had the brevity to show him before.

Below him, Stiles whimpers.

Derek can’t help the growl that escapes him. He moves his mouth, kisses the corner of Stiles’ mouth, his jaw, behind his ear, slowly moving down the boy’s neck. He gets to Stiles’ chest and proceeds to map the expanse of skin before him with his lips. He loves the way Stiles’ breath hitches as he licks across the scar the harpy left. The Redcap’s mark is next, Derek pressing the flat of his tongue against the marred skin. Each puncture scar from the windigo gets a kiss.

He continues that way, all the way down Stiles’ chest. He kisses and sucks, marks and laves his way to the waist of Stiles’ jeans, using nothing but touch to open the button and fly. He pulls them off Stiles’ legs, tosses them to the side, and attacks his underwear the same way.

But when Derek finally has Stiles naked is when things stop. Stiles’ arousal, strong and musky in the back of his throat, wanes, gives way to the stinging, bitter taste of doubt.

“Don’t,” Derek growls, his hands coming to rest on Stiles’ hips, rubbing in what he hopes is a reassuring manner. “You’re beautiful, Stiles. You’re so beautiful.

The scent of uncertainty eases, but doesn’t dissipate. Stiles hears him, but doesn’t truly believe him. That’s when Derek realizes he’s staring down at Stiles, his eyes glowing Alpha red, fangs peeking out from behind his lips.

Derek doesn’t know what else he can say, so he lets his actions speak for him, instead. He returns to kissing every single scar, mark, bruise, and mole across Stiles’ body, trailing his lips down Stiles’ thighs, all the way to his ankles.

When he looks up, satisfied, the sight he takes in is the most beautiful he’s ever seen. Stiles’ back is arched like a bow, his head thrown back, his hands fisted in the sheets, knuckles white. Pale flesh is rubbed red by Derek’s stubble-burn, and the spaces that aren’t are a different shade of pink from Stiles’ flush.

He wants more.

With a hand on the boy’s hip, Derek urges Stiles to roll over.

Derek practically purrs when he’s presented with a brand new, pale canvas to mark with his teeth, to paint with his tongue. He starts low this time, starts at Stiles’ left ankle, a dotted scar from when he’d fallen in the forest somewhere, running alongside his wolves. There’s one on the back of Stiles’ right calf, and Derek recalls when Stiles had vaulted over a fallen log, trying to dodge a ball of flame from a pyromancer. There are another few long claw marks resting on the small of his back, another keepsake from the harpy battle.

When he reaches the back of Stiles’ neck, he mouths at the soft skin there, bites at it, revels in the way that Stiles keens beneath him, whimpers, his heartbeat giving away the fact that he’s moments from sobbing with want.

Derek reaches up, his mouth still attached to the back of Stiles’ neck, and digs through his bedside drawer, procuring a tube of lubricant. Stiles, still dazed, doesn’t even notice until the sound of the tube clicking open makes his heartbeat stutter. But Derek presses on, trusts Stiles enough to tell him if it’s too much, too far.

Ushering Stiles up on his knees, Derek ignores his little sounds of protest. Stiles listens without being told, but, always curious, peeks over his shoulder.

Derek looks him in the eye as he swipes his tongue over his puckered hole.

Fuck!” Stiles half shouts, half whines. His eyes clamp shut, and his hands fist in the bedspread. He moves, presses his face into the pillow below him, and spreads his knees further apart.

Derek growls his approval.

Stiles is sweet and responsive under his tongue. Derek laps and nips, kisses and soothes, and Stiles keens and cries through it all, panting, Derek’s name the only word passing over his lips.

He squeezes the tube in his hand, coats his fingers, and Stiles tenses under him.

But Derek won’t back down, not now, not unless Stiles asks. Instead, he presses his tongue into Stiles’ body and basks in the way Stiles opens for him. His tongue plunges in and out, laps, sucks, presses in again, and slowly, slowly , Derek presses a finger in.

Below him, Stiles thrashes.

He pulls his tongue away, but not his mouth, instead pressing into Stiles’ tight heat with another finger, lapping at the pink rim, exalted in the noises he’s pulling.

A third is added and Stiles chokes when Derek’s fingers brush over the little bundle of nerve inside of him.

Derek’s other hand moves from where he’s holding Stiles open, reaches around, and gives the boy’s dick a firm, hard, tug, followed by another and another and another and-

Stiles comes beautifully .

Derek’s breath catches, his dick twitching where it rests, hard and neglected, against his thigh, leaking precome.

Whimpering, on the brink of tears, Stiles writhes beneath him, under his touch, his voice raw as it crawls from his throat.

It will never be enough, Derek realizes.

He presses a fourth finger in and Stiles tears at the sheet with his fists, dragging in great gulps of air as he shudders.

Delicately, Derek pulls his hand off Stiles’ softening cock. Unable to help himself, he brings his hand to his face, laps the streaks of Stiles’ come off his fingers. He growls, long and low, at the salty taste that bursts on his tongue, his wolf baying, running joyous circles in his head over the way he can make Stiles come apart with little other than his hands.

One of Stiles’ hands unclenches from where it’s fisted in the sheet, and he reaches back, his tired fingers trying to grip at Derek’s thigh.

“Please,” he cries, his eyes closed. “Please. Please, Derek, fuck me.

Derek gently pulls his fingers from Stiles’ body, unrepentant in the joy he feels when Stiles whines at the loss. He coats his cock in lube, his body thrumming. He leans over Stiles’ prone form, lines up the head of his dick with Stiles’ dripping hole, and pushes .

“You’re beautiful.”

It’s the most wonderful thing he’s ever felt, the way Stiles takes him, clenches around him, shudders under him. He presses in slowly, wishing he could simply bury himself, but unwilling to hurt Stiles in any way. Eventually, he bottoms out, Stiles’ ass pressed tight against the curve of Derek’s body.

Fuck! ” Stiles pants beneath him. “Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Please, Derek, don’t-”

Derek can’t deny him. He pulls out slowly, then pushes in again, just as slow, but with a fragment of force behind it.

Stiles wails under him.

Derek keeps going, his pace slowly increasing, each push forward eliciting a delicious sound from the body beneath him.

A fine sheen of sweat makes Stiles’ body practically shine in the light that’s filtering past the curtains. Derek, unable to help himself, bends further and laps at the back of Stiles’ neck, tasting the salt on his skin, tasting Stiles’ want .

Stiles gasps, his back going taught, and Derek’s rhythm studders. Its takes him a moment to realize what, exactly, is happening-

He’s knotting .

Derek swears, moves to pull out, but Stiles follows the movements of his hips, pressing his ass further back, unwilling to let Derek pull out. “Don’t you dare ,” he cries. “Please. Oh, God, please. I want it. I want it, Derek, I want you to knot me, I want-”

Derek snarls , pressing forward with more force than he means to, pinning Stiles against the mattress. He pumps in and out, his knot expanding, and with each pass of it past Stiles’ rim, the boy keens, cries, sobs Derek’s name.

He pushes in one final time, drapes himself completely over Stiles, his fangs itching to-

“Bite me,” Stiles begs. “Leave a mark, Derek. Please, please, please-”

The scent of Stiles’ climax is what sets him off. He buries his fangs into the soft, unmarked skin, his own orgasm rushing over him. He grinds his hips against Stiles’ ass, growling at the hot, coppery taste of blood as it bursts in his mouth, emptying himself into his perfect, beautiful human.

It’s a good few minutes before Derek can collect himself. His fangs receded, and he laps at the marks left behind, his saliva willing the wounds to heal with werewolf-like speed. Stiles hisses, his breath stuttering, then moans.

Derek closes his eyes.

He doesn’t mean to fall asleep. He truly doesn’t, but the next time he opens his eyes, the room is dark, save for the light that’s flooding in through the open bathroom door.

There, in front of the sink, Stiles stands, stark naked, skin littered with the marks that Derek has left. He’s leaning over the counter, one hand bracing himself, the other’s fingers gently running over the newest scar on his body, the one Derek had bit into his neck.

Their eyes connect in the mirror. It’s a tense moment, Derek not completely sure where they stand now.

Then, Stiles smirks, turns on his heel, and clicks off the bathroom light as he walks back to bed.

Derek pulls the covers back, and Stiles climbs in, pressing their bodies close.

“You’re beautiful,” Derek whispers, his hand cupping Stiles’ cheek.

Stiles smiles against his palm, and, this time, Derek knows he believes it.