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Riding the Lightning

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Stiles doesn’t remember much of his walk back home. He has fuzzy memories from stumbling through the woods: from the sound of his terrified heartbeat in his ears, and the way rocks and sticks hurt his bare feet.

The first thing that he actually does remember, clearly, is opening the front door to his dad’s house and walking up the stairs to his bedroom.

There’s his dad, sitting in Stiles’ desk chair with his back against the door, talking lowly to himself. Or maybe it’s just Stiles’ ears that aren’t functioning properly. His dad is seemingly unaware of Stiles being there, and a stray thought crosses his mind: why is his dad is in his old bedroom, in his chair?

“Dad,” Stiles says, and his voice sounds alien to his own ears, rough and dry as if he hasn’t had anything to drink for days. Maybe he hasn’t.

His dad whirls around in the chair and stares at him. Stiles tries smiling, but the muscles controlling his mouth seem to be malfunctioning.

“Stiles.” It’s basically nothing but an exhale.

Then his dad is on his feet, and suddenly Stiles is pulled into an embrace. His bones protest, but it doesn’t really matter.

“You’re alive.”

“Yeah, of course I’m alive,” Stiles replies, unsure why his dad makes a statement like that.

His dad creates space between them, holds him at an arm’s length and grabs his chin, as he scrutinizes every inch of Stiles face and body.

“Son, where have you been?”

Stiles blinks slowly, and for a moment, it’s like his brain can’t decode the message his dad is trying to send him. And then something clicks into place, a big back empty space of memories that aren’t exactly there, but now he’s suddenly aware that they’re missing.

That’s when he starts to shake, cold sweat breaking out over his body, and his heart suddenly pounds violently in his chest, like it remembers something his brain can’t recall.



 


The next thing he knows is the white, white ceiling of the room in the hospital. There’s an armed police officer standing at the door. When he notices Stiles turning his head, he disappears outside for a moment, and then comes back, closing it behind him.

Stiles briefly wonders if all police officers are told to stand with their legs wide apart and arms folded in front of them, or if this guy has watched Cops one time too many. Then he frowns, as the realisation hits him: there’s a police officer standing in his room. With a gun.

Stiles knows enough to understand that it isn’t normal procedure to have police officers in hospital rooms. Not even when the person there is the sheriff’s son.

“What did I do?” he asks, and he feels the shakes start to break out again. His dad chooses that very moment to enter the room. “What did I do?” Stiles repeats, and his dad looks confused for a moment, before Stiles nods towards the officer still standing by the door.

“Son, you didn’t do anything.”

Stiles can’t help to roll his eyes at this, even though it feels a bit like they’re going to fall out of his head when he does.

His dad sighs lightly, like he expected this but hoped his instincts were wrong. “He’s here to protect you.”

Protection. Stiles doesn’t need protection. He survived high school.

He frowns when his dad fumbles for his hand and grasps it surprisingly gently. Stiles might still be a bit disoriented, but he has no trouble telling that his dad is worried. Scared, even.

Seeing his dad without his usual confidence makes something chafe in the pit of Stiles’ stomach.

“What’s the last thing you remember?” His dad asks.

He blinks, confused for a moment when nothing immediately comes to mind. He tries focusing harder. There’s that black, empty space again, placed perfectly in the middle of now and before. Going back further, he starts getting fuzzy images, memories, of a party. The one where Scott made him do a keg stand twice in a row. He remembers grasping the edge of a table to keep his balance, but after that, everything’s gone, until he finds himself stumbling through the woods. Terrified. Running. He just can’t recall from what, or who.

His head starts pounding violently when he tries to remember more. It’s like his brain doesn’t think he’s prepared to know, so it has blocked everything out.

“I...” he begins, but trails off. His voice sounds weird again, far off. And there is so much seriousness in his dad’s eyes that he suddenly has stage fright. “I remember a party. With Scott.”

That’s when he realises something else and nausea twists in his belly. “It was at college. How did I get home?”

“That’s what we’re trying to find out. You disappeared two weeks ago, Stiles. From your college, and somehow you ended up on the doorstep to your childhood home. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t ask you too much, or tell you too much too soon. They say it could be too overwhelming for you.” His dad shrugs like he’s not sure what to believe, but Stiles is quite certain that he has way too much respect for professional people to actually disobey them.

“But they have examined you,” his dad continues, and Stiles doesn’t like the tone of his voice. It’s like the weight of the world has been placed upon his shoulders. “There are traces on your body...”

But it’s like his dad can’t even finish the sentence.

Stiles looks down, somehow expecting to find a leg missing, or maybe both. But everything seems intact.

“They’re—” his dad breaks off again, with a frown this time. It’s like he remembers something. “It’s important that you try to remember how you got them, when you feel better,” he says finally, but it sounds like there is so much more he wants to explain.

Stiles’ brain tries to grasp something, pull something out of that black space back to surface, but it doesn’t succeed. He just ends up dizzy and scared, his heart pounding in his chest again, without knowing why.

“...so we’re going to keep you under supervision twenty-four hours a day. I'll still have to work, so whenever I'm not home, my best deputies will be taking turns, okay?”

Stiles blinks. Then nods – okay. He doesn’t understand, but his body and brain is too drained of energy to manage anything else but accepting. He feels alien in his own body.

Scott comes for a visit. Just a short one, because he wasn’t allowed much time off from school, but Stiles appreciates him being there all the same. He looks like he’s about to cry every time Stiles says something, and on occasion, Scott grabs his hand and squeezes so hard that it feels like his fingers are going to break. At least he’s sticking to the non-hugging rule the nurses set up, even though Stiles can’t for the world understand why.

Scott alternates between saying: “I’m sorry” and “It’s so good to have you back”. It takes Stiles almost three hours to convince him that this isn’t his fault.



 


Getting back home is a relief, and also frightening.

Stiles can’t sleep unless he has taken a pill. The times he tries to go to bed without them, he just ends up staring at the ceiling and with the constant, gnawing feeling in his brain that there’s so much more he knows.

The rest of the days just slip by in a blur. He doesn’t really do anything. He can’t concentrate enough to read, or watch a movie. His dad doesn’t think the internet is a good idea, so Stiles doesn’t even have his own phone, but one of those old flip phones without an internet connection.

He texts Scott regularly, but sparsely. Scott is worried and still blames himself, and Stiles knows he should comfort, but there just isn’t any energy for that.

His dad still hasn’t explained much, and seems to be more worried about the fact that Stiles isn’t asking many questions, than whatever it is that bothers him enough to put Stiles under constant supervision. He’s even searched through Stiles’ room twice, looking for a hidden laptop or smartphone. Every time he’s come up empty handed – of course – he’s so ashamed that he eats salad, only to please Stiles.

It’s disturbing.

The only thing he actually has managed to find out is that the marks on his body are of significance for another case his dad is working on, but he doesn’t know any of the details, and there are still no memories of his own. The marks are two parallel spots on several places on his body, and if he had his phone he’d Google for answers, but right now he knows nothing more than the feel of them every time he runs his fingertips over them.

The mirror reflects someone pale, with fading bruises and dark circles under their eyes. There are shadows beneath his cheekbones and his ribs are more prominent than he remembers. Sometimes he stares at himself, expecting the reflection to move on its own, because he feels so foreign to himself. The dull look in his eyes, when he’s staring back at himself, scares him more than the marks on his body.

He somehow starts to get back to himself, like the connection to his personal internet suddenly has started working again, but at 2G. His dad is at the station, working on his case, whatever it is, so there’s one of his deputies starting his shift. The thing about his dad’s deputy, though, is that Stiles knows exactly who he is. He’s one of those guys who used to be teenage criminals, bad boys, and then shaped up, deciding that they prefer the other side of the law instead.

His dad often says that they make the best deputies, but judging from what Stiles has seen of Derek Hale, he’s not so sure he agrees. They’ve met a few times before, and Derek is boring. He’s formal, yet somehow managing to be rude at the same time. The other deputies talk to Stiles, and answer his questions (as long as they aren’t about the case, of course). Derek does, too. He just chooses the shortest possible answers, and it’s like he’s in a competition to use the least amount of words ever, in a lifetime. Stiles knows that Derek can talk, because he speaks quite a bit with Stiles’ dad and with his co-workers. Apparently, it’s just Stiles that isn’t worthy of his social time.

Derek is leaning against the kitchen counter today, holding Stiles’ favourite coffee cup, the one with the kitten in a police uniform, in one of his giant hands, and barely looks up when Stiles enters the room.

“Hey,” Stiles says, and grabs the juice to drink straight from the box. The other deputies usually frown and tell him that it’s gross, and Stiles always replies with telling them that he’s the only one drinking juice in this house, so he only shares bacteria with himself.

Derek only rewards him with a flat look.

“So, you’re today’s babysitter?” Stiles sits down at the kitchen table and holds the juice box in both hands, resting them against his knees. It might work as protection if Derek suddenly loses his temper.

Derek makes a barely-there shrug. “Obviously.”

“Yeah.” Stiles glances out the window. Sometimes he’s afraid of what he’ll find there. If something’s going to trigger his memories and things will be so much worse than he has expected. His theories are running wild; maybe he was raped, maybe he was gagged and bound, maybe he was buried alive. Perhaps all of the above.



 

A week later, Stiles still depends on his sleeping pills and still hasn’t access to his phone or computer. The black box in his head is still locked and gets scarier every day. He tries not to think too much about it, because that’s when his imagination gets a hold of him. He’s not even sure that he wants to remember anymore.

Boyd is watching him now, and he’s Stiles’ favourite. They end up watching TV shows together on DVD, and some on regular TV, but Stiles has noticed that Boyd avoids the news channels. His fingers itch to take the remote and see what he’s being kept away from, but he’s too scared.

Boyd is nice, though. He doesn’t necessarily talk much, but he asks Stiles questions and wonders how he’s doing. He smiles a lot and he’s huge, making Stiles feel much safer.

It strikes him as odd that he can feel unsafe, when he has no idea what he’s being afraid of.

Derek Hale has the night shift, so that both Stiles and his dad can try sleeping for a while. Stiles finds him in a kitchen chair, drinking coffee from Stiles’ favourite cup again, leafing through a magazine, when he pads downstairs barefoot to have a snack before he goes to bed.

“Aren’t you at least supposed to look up, you know, to make sure that I’m not someone dangerous?” Stiles asks, when Derek keeps leafing through the magazine like Stiles is non-existent.

“Didn’t have to.”

“Why?” Stiles prods, before he can stop himself.

“It’s the way you walk,” Derek clarifies, but he still doesn’t look up.

“There’s nothing wrong with the way I walk.”

“Never said there was.” The tone in Derek’s voice makes it clear that there is, though.

Stiles makes a face at Derek, before he leaves the kitchen without his evening snack. Derek doesn’t seem to notice that either.




 

A few days later, Stiles finds out what’s going on.

His dad sits him down at the kitchen table, looking nervous, as he’s constantly clasping and unclasping his hands.

“I’ve been talking to Ms Morrell, the hospital counsellor,” his dad begins, and Stiles shrugs.

He knows who she is. For a while she worked at his High School, and now she has her own thing, collaborating with the hospital when it comes to people like him, apparently. His dad has mentioned her a lot, when he tries to explain why Stiles isn’t allowed to know something. Anything. He has also suggested several times that Stiles should go see her, but Stiles has refused.

“She thinks it’s time for you to learn more about this.”

“Finally,” Stiles sighs, but inside he’s crackling. He clasps his hands between his thighs, and presses them together to keep them from shaking.

“And you still don’t remember anything?” His dad asks carefully.

Stiles is quite sure he’s just trying to make a smooth transaction, or trying to figure out of to break the news.

“No, I promised to tell you if I did.”

His dad nods and rubs his face briefly. “Yeah, you did.”

There’s a heavy silence for long after that, and Stiles really tries to wait it out, but the anxiety just grows. He figures it’s a bit like ripping off a band aid.

Dad,” he snaps.

“There’s no easy way to tell you this, son. Ms Morrell wanted to be there when we told you, but I asked to do it by myself. Figured you weren’t up for the audience.”

“Thanks.” He says it reflexively, not exactly sure what word just left his mouth until it's already out there, because his brain is too preoccupied with what his dad’s going to say next.

“The marks on your body,” his dad begins bluntly, twisting the wedding ring on his finger over and over, as he does.

Stiles’ hand immediately finds the place on his left thigh where the last marks are still visible against his skin. He’s sure that they’ll leave scars, eventually. Permanent memories on his skin. Maybe, at that point, he won’t want to remember.

“Yeah,” he rasps, when he realises that his dad has been waiting for some kind of confirmation.

“The case we’re working on...” his dad says slowly, like he’s trying to find the words as he goes. “It’s...the victims...they have some similarities with you.”

This isn’t new to Stiles. He already figured out as much, since he’s already been informed that his marks have something to do with the case his dad is currently working on. “I know.”

“It isn’t just any case, Stiles.” The distressed look on his dad’s face is unsettling enough to keep him from saying anything. “It’s the worst one we’ve had in years. In decades, even.”

Stiles can see how his dad is gathering the courage to drop the bomb, and his own hands are shaking violently between his thighs, sweat coating his palms. He’s even afraid to blink.

“It’s a serial killer.”

And then it’s just out there. And Stiles waits for his own reaction. For memories to rush back into his mind, or a breakdown, or relief. But there’s no change.

“It’s...it’s a guy we’ve been looking for, for a while. His victims all have the same marks as the ones you have on your body.” His dad clears his throat awkwardly; perhaps he’s trying to hide how close to tears he is. How scared he is. But it’s written all over his face. “We’ve never found anyone alive before.”

“Oh,” Stiles hears himself say. He sounds like a child. “So this is why our house suddenly is so crowded?” he tries, wondering where his ability to always be the comical relief in situations went.

“Yes,” his dad says firmly.

Because they’re afraid that someone will come after him.

“I see,” he whispers, squeezing his hands tighter, but the shakes have already spread up the length of his arms.

He closes his eyes, just for a second; trying to clear his mind, calm his body. And then his dad’s right there, pulling him close, so hard that it hurts.

“We'll be okay, son. You'll be okay.”




 

Stiles is allowed to watch TV again, and he gets his phone and computer back. He doesn’t use them for anything but watching movies and texting anyway. He doesn’t want to know any details. It makes him feel like he doesn't know himself anymore – he used to be the one wanting to know everything.

He’s watching Animal Planet when Derek Hale starts his shift that evening, just has his dad waves goodbye. It’s the first time Stiles has appreciated having Derek there. Not because he’s particularly good company, but because he’s supposedly one of his dad’s best deputies and he looks like he can kill someone with his bare hands.

Stiles feels less unsafe when Derek or Boyd is around, because they’re frightening in the best of ways.

“Animal Planet?” Derek asks, or more like points out, when he enters the living room. He has Stiles’ favourite mug again.

“Yeah.” Stiles shrugs. “There’s nothing else worth watching.”

Derek nods curtly and sits down on the armrest the farthest away from where Stiles is sitting. There’s a weird sense of safety, or maybe relief, when his gaze falls on the holster at Derek’s hip.

“Have you killed anyone?” he asks, nodding towards the gun.

“Before or after I became a cop?”

Stiles can’t help but stare for a moment, trying to figure out if Derek is being sarcastic, or if he really has taken a life.

“I don’t think you’re allowed to become a cop if you’ve killed someone,” he says finally, because he can’t read Derek’s stupid poker face.

“That’s only if they find out.” Derek takes a sip from his cup and watches a lion hunt down a zebra on the television.

“That’s not funny,” Stiles mutters.

“No.” Derek puts down the cup on the coffee table and stands, probably preparing to sit down in his usual spot at the kitchen table.

“No as in: No, I haven’t killed anyone, or no as in: no, it’s not funny?”

Derek doesn’t answer; he just walks out of there. It isn’t until Stiles is back in his own room, tentatively opening his laptop, that he realises that this is the longest conversation he’s ever had with Derek. It’s even weirder to realise that the guy is downstairs, probably doing crosswords in yesterday’s newspaper (because he’s probably already finished with today’s) like he belongs there.

There’s a beep on his phone and a text from Lydia lights up the screen. It’s nothing new – basically the same thing everyone else has texted him over the last couple of weeks: ‘How are you?’, ‘What happened?’, ‘Are you alive?’, ‘I’m worried about you!’ The funniest thing about it all is that most of them are from people he barely knows. He suspects that it’s the usual thing humans do when something extraordinary happens to someone they know the name and face of – you just have to find out all the details.

This is also the reason as to why he hasn’t logged onto Facebook in forever.

He types in the site address to Google instead, even though it’s much easier to search directly via the address bar nowadays. It just feels better to do it the old-fashioned way. Or maybe he’s just trying to put off the whole thing for longer. The bad thing about a good internet connection, though, is that it doesn’t give you much time to think or gather courage when you’re waiting for the page to load.

It’s more like he had the time to blink once, and then it’s just there, glaring at him. He stretches his fingers carefully, and traces the outline of the space key with his fingertips over and over. He’s not even sure what he’s searching for. Or...he knows what he wants to find – answers, details – but he doesn’t know what to search for to find them.

The website of the local newspaper doesn’t contain much. Well, with a quantitative perspective, there is a lot, because there are a whole bunch of articles about the serial killer. However, quality wise, there isn’t much. There are no details, there are no signatures, and there are no quotes from the actual police. Stiles doesn’t find out anything that he doesn’t already know from the talk with his dad.

He sighs and closes his laptop again. Maybe it’s better if he doesn’t know more than he already does.



 

That night, Stiles has his first nightmare.

It’s dark and smells of wet dirt. He can feel the chill from the ground through his jeans; the damp ground beneath his fingertips.

He can’t see.

There’s a faint sound of someone sobbing, close enough to hear, but too far away to place exact location. He feels like he’s heard these sobs before, like they should feel familiar.

He’s huddled into a corner and hugs his legs close to his body. He’s shaking, and his hands feel cold, his fingers stiff. They hurt when he flexes them.

He can hear footsteps. The dull sound of boots on dirt. His heart beats faster in his chest, and he presses closer to the metal digging into his back – it feels like stabbing needles through his thin shirt – moving away from the sound, even though there’s nowhere to go.  

Someone’s talking. It’s too low for him to make out words, but the sound of the voice makes him freeze to the marrow. His eyes close on their own, like they know what’s coming.

Then, there’s a faint buzzing sound and the short silence is suddenly filled by a scream.



He half expects to shoot up sitting in bed, panting or shouting. Instead, he slowly blinks back to his room, to the familiar, blue walls and the soft covers of his bed. The flowery smell of their laundry detergent and the loud sound of knuckles against his closed door.

“Stiles.”

For a moment, his heart seizes in panic, but then he recognises Derek’s voice.

“Stiles.”

He grabs a hold of the sheets, as he realises that his hand is trembling. There’s a sheen of sweat stretching from his hand and up his arm, probably all over his body, he realises, as his brain starts reconnecting with the rest of his limbs.

Stiles.”

“Yeah,” he croaks, only now realising that he hasn’t replied. He had somehow expected Derek to open the door, but instead there’s the sound of footsteps retreating, and then the familiar creaks of the staircase.

Stiles closes his eyes for a moment, tries to calm his harsh breathing and the trembling of his fingers. He wipes the cold sweat from his face with the back of his hand and lets out a slow breath. The clock on his nightstand tells him it’s barely three in the morning and that he should get back to sleep, but his sheets are sticky from cold sweat and every time he closes his eyes for longer than blinking, his heart starts pounding frantically.

He gets up instead. The muscles in his legs are trembling like he’s just run a race and his t-shirt sticks to his back, damp from sweat.

“I need a shower,” he mumbles to himself, and grabs a fresh shirt from his desk chair. Well, ‘fresh’ is probably debatable, but he hasn’t used it more than once. He opens the door to the hallway carefully and looks around for a long time, before he dares walking the few steps to the bathroom.

The shower doesn’t last long, because he feels vulnerable behind the shower curtain. It’s like he’s isolated from the world, but everyone can still see him. Derek is sitting on his usual kitchen chair when Stiles enters the room. He looks up when Stiles enters this time.

“You okay?” he asks, frowning a little, when Stiles sinks down into the chair opposite of him.

“Yeah, just...” Stiles trails off with a shrug.

“Nightmare?”

Stiles nods, and he feels a bit stupid. “Was I...was I loud? I mean, since you heard me and all.” It feels somehow more horrifying knowing that Derek must’ve heard him having a nightmare, than the time someone took his clothes when he used the communal showers back at college.

“No, I just happened to walk past your door.”

“Oh, okay.”

It’s awkward, sitting at a kitchen table with Derek Hale who’s reading a book. But it’s better than being alone upstairs, with his nightmare. When the dawn is shimmering at the horizon, making the clouds look like pink cotton candy, he gets up to grab a snack. They haven’t said a word to each other, but Derek doesn’t seem to mind Stiles breathing in the same room as him, at least.

“Are you hungry?” he asks, when he grabs the frying pan and eggs from the fridge.

Derek looks up and his gaze grows distant for a moment, like he’s checking, and then he nods.

“Omelette?”

“Please.”

Derek doesn’t say anything while Stiles is cooking, but he has closed his book and his gaze is lost somewhere outside the window. Just as Stiles grabs two plates to serve the omelettes, he notices Derek tensing and his hand twitching slightly towards his holster. A moment later, he relaxes and Stiles sees the mailman make a stop at their box.

“Is that your regular mailman?” Derek asks, eyes still trained upon the person outside.

“What?” Stiles snorts.

“Is that your regular mailman?” Derek snaps again.

Stiles squints at the man on the other side of the hedge. “Yeah, he’s the same one we’ve had for years. Why?”

“He’s thirty minutes early.”

At times like these, Stiles wonders if his dad has told his deputies that they’re working for the BAU and are the real “Criminal minds”. Because honestly.

“I don’t think they’d put a bomb in my mailbox, though.”

Derek glares at him. “You can’t be sure of that.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Stiles tries.

“You’re telling me that you feel safe?” Oh no, Derek is in grouchy mode.

“No, that’s not—”

“Because you’re not. We’re not here twenty four hours a day, because we think it’s fun. Do you even realise what it would take for Sheriff Stilinski to have been granted these resources that cost the government money?”

“I just figured it was my dad going overboard.”

“You’re wrong,” Derek states simply, and he looks angry. Stiles can’t grasp why, though.

“Maybe it’s more me not knowing,” Stiles snaps, because for the love of god, Derek isn’t allowed to treat him like this. “Maybe it’s because I don’t get to know anything. I have so many questions that I don’t have answers to!”

“Ask away then.”

He’s so surprised by Derek’s offer that he forgets what he was going to say next. His dad usually avoids the questions by suddenly remembering that he has an important phone call to make, or just now remembering something crucial. Boyd, and Erica, who’s the third deputy out of his dad’s favourites, won’t say much. Stiles doesn’t like to ask them, because they look so uncertain when he does. His dad has probably told them not to say anything unless he’s around.

But Derek is offering.

“I—” He swallows so heavily that it’s audible in the room. “I don’t know anything about the...creep.” Because serial killer is too difficult to say.

“We think he’s a white male, forty to sixty years old, highly intelligent and a sadistic asshole.”

“I’m thinking that last bit isn’t in the official file.”

A corner of Derek’s mouth quirks upwards slightly, and he nods his thank you when Stiles remembers the plates in his hands, and puts them down on the table. He’s not exactly hungry anymore, but Derek looks like he’s starving, when he grabs a fork and digs in. Stiles wonders briefly if they eat anything while they’re here. On the other hand, it's early morning and Derek might have a six pack hidden underneath all his clothes, so he's probably hungry all the time.

It’s difficult trying to put the pieces together. Somewhere, he expected things to click into place. At least partially. But even with the description Derek is giving him, nothing and no one comes to mind.

“What more can you say?” he asks carefully, and pokes his omelette with the fork, like it’s a small animal he’s checking if it’s still alive with a stick. It's all dead though, obviously.

Derek looks at him for a long time, eyes narrowed, as if he’s trying to determine whether Stiles actually wants to know or not. Stiles wants to know. At least he thinks he does. The scary part is not knowing if he’s ready to, despite how much he wants to. It’s like jumping from a bridge not sure if he’s supposed to expect five feet of water, or fifty.

“He likes electricity,” Derek begins, and something flickers over his face, like he’s doubting how detailed he’s supposed to be. “He likes hurting people with electricity,” he amends finally.

Suddenly, Stiles’ ears are filled with that faint buzzing sound from his nightmare, and he realises that maybe it wasn’t all just a dream.

“In what way?” But this part, he isn’t sure if he wants to know. Derek seems to realise that, too, because he clears his throat and swallows down another piece of his omelette.

“In very disturbing ways. We think that the marks on your body have something to do with it.”

Stiles’ hand immediately goes to his thigh, like every time he speaks to someone about his marks. They itch strangely, whenever he thinks of them, like they’re trying to make him remember.

“We don’t know much more than that,” Derek confesses. “No one has come back alive, before you.”

“I just don’t understand why,” Stiles breathes. The worst thing is that he can’t even remember how it happened. If he managed to escape, if he was let out by someone nicer, or if he was sent back on purpose, to lead attention away from something else.

“He’s one sick bastard,” Derek says, as he pushes the plate away from him. “We think he made a mistake somewhere, and that’s how you got away. It’s important that you tell us all you remember, because it could be our only chance to catch this son of a bitch. He’s never made a mistake before.”

“Great.” Stiles smiles tightly. Like he needed any more pressure to remember. He thinks of his nightmare again, but it feels stupid to tell Derek about it. It’s probably just a dream that might confuse more than it would actually help.

“So, about your dream,” Derek says, like he’s read Stiles’ mind. Creepy.

“Yeah, what about it?”

“It must have been quite intense.”

Stiles shrugs. “I guess. It was a nightmare.”

“But you’re not completely sure that it was just a nightmare, are you?”

Stiles wonders if the intensity of Derek’s gaze is burning holes through his forehead, because Superman could learn from that.

“Dude, what are you? Professor Xavier? Do I need to wear a helmet whenever I’m around you from now on?” Stiles hugs his legs close to his chest, feet in front of him on the chair. And just like that, it feels like he’s back in his nightmare, with the damp dirt floor beneath him and clammy air seeping through his clothes. “Stop trying to analyse me.”

Derek blinks, and then he looks a bit embarrassed. “Sorry. I’m used to criminals.”

“Actually, I download quite a bit of movies and music,” Stiles tells him generously. Anything to steer away from their previous subject.

“I don’t think you can surprise anyone with that statement,” Derek snorts.

“Why? My dad’s the sheriff! No one would think I do stuff like that.”

“You wear plaid over t-shirts that say: I see dead pixels.”

“But if you look closely, there are dead pixels! See, it’s--”

“Just shut up, Stiles.” But Derek doesn’t look mad.

When Stiles goes to bed an hour later, he doesn’t have another nightmare.



 


Stiles likes it when it’s Erica babysitting him. That’s what she calls it, at least, but she seems to have as much fun as he does when it comes to video games. Both Boyd and Derek are terrible at video games, but Erica is mean. She even beat Stiles in a game he’s been kicking everyone’s ass in, since he was eleven.

Eleven.

“I’m thinking that you’ll be allergic to games when you’re allowed to get out of here,” she says, after she’s kicked his ass for the hundredth time that hour.

“Oh please,” Stiles snorts. “This is what my summers usually look like. I play with Scott constantly. Sometimes we barely even sleep for a week.”

“That completely explains why you’re made of translucent skin, pointy bones and candy.”

“Candy - because I’m so sweet?”

She glares at him. He would laugh, if she didn’t carry a gun. “No, because I feel sick when I’ve been around you for too long.”

“Oh, ouch, even Derek is nicer than you.” He’s mock hurt, clasping a hand over his chest.

“Oh no, even Derek?” Erica looks appalled. Obviously faking, but still.

“What about Derek?” says...Derek.

Stiles drops the controller on his foot. God damn, he had no idea such a small piece of plastic could hurt this much.

“Stiles just said that you’re way hotter than me.” Erica smiles sweetly, and Stiles is too shocked to get a word out.

Derek snorts at them, like they’re stupid, and then he motions with his thumb over his shoulder. “Time for you to leave, Reyes.”

“Aw, party pooper.” Erica sticks her tongue out, but Stiles wonders if she wouldn’t rather stick it down Derek’s throat. “FYI, I agree with Stiles.”

“Oh my god,” Stiles flails, unsure if he’s supposed to feel embarrassed for his own sake (even though he didn’t even comment on Derek’s looks!) or because he’s witnessing some weird flirting going on right on front of him. “I can’t believe you actually said ‘FYI’!”

Derek just looks really tired of them both already, and then very relieved when Erica disappears out the door. Stiles kind of misses her, even though she’s been gone about five seconds, but the energy always gets so much more intense when Derek’s around. He even watches TV like it’s going to change his life.

“So,” Stiles beings, when Derek doesn’t move from the doorway. He’s always weird like that. “Can we go outside or something?”

“No.”

Well, it wasn’t like Stiles had expected a yes anyway.

“Okay, well, maybe I can show you a really sweet t-shirt I want. It has the Facebook thumb on it, and it says: You like this. Awesome, right?”

“So people will know that they like you?” Derek asks dryly. He doesn’t seem all too convinced about the t-shirt’s level of awesome, but Stiles already knows not to expect much from a cop.

“Sometimes people need someone else to tell them how to feel. I mean, I’m complex.” He motions for Derek to look at the screen, and ignores the roll of Derek’s eyes.

He steps around the couch anyway, to look at the screen from over Stiles’ shoulder.


 


Being locked up in a house gets boring after a while. Especially when Scott, Allison and Lydia keeps calling and texting him to tell him about all the awesome things they’re off doing at college. Stiles doesn’t even want to think about how much he’s missing out on, even though he’s pretty sure that his case is something his professors will be understanding of.

The terror from his nightmare has started to wear off, and he has soon played all his video games from beginning to end. It doesn’t really matter that Erica and Boyd are pretty good company, or that even Derek is warming up a little towards him. He’s too bored.

So, when a warm Wednesday midmorning comes along, with his babysitter (this time it’s a guy called Greenberg that Stiles just doesn’t connect with) being downstairs, caught up in the latest rerun ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’, Stiles sneaks out the window.

It’s a bit tricky, and his neighbours must think he’s an idiot, if they’re watching him now. It’s not very complicated to climb down on the porch roof and then get to the ground, but it’s time consuming if you want to be quiet. And Stiles very much wants to be quiet, because he’s just taking a walk to the store and back. Maybe buying himself a new comic and pop tarts, that he can hide in his room forever.

He needs to see faces of new people, and smell air that isn’t inside his house.

He’s lucky that Greenberg seems to be the most unobservant cop in the universe, because even though he makes a sound that’s definitely audible when he jumps down on the porch roof, Greenberg doesn’t seem to notice.

At first, the walk is awesome. The neighbourhood is quiet, because all the kids are already in school and the housewives are probably busy cleaning, or doing laundry. It isn’t until he’s getting to an area with fewer houses and more trees that he starts getting a bit twitchy.

It’s not that he’s worried, per se. He’s just unaccustomed to being outside after being inside for so long. Every sound makes him jump, and it doesn’t matter if it’s from the trees or from someone’s lawn mower. He bites the inside of his cheek and keeps walking anyway, because he’s going to get in so much trouble for this, that he’s at least getting something from the store so it’ll be worth it.

A black SUV catches up to him when he’s about halfway to his goal. For a moment, he’s worried that Greenberg has noticed that he’s gone already and is coming to fetch him, when it slows down next to him. Just as he’s about to turn and look at it, deciding that it can’t be Greenberg – because he’d have to use a police car, right? – it drives off. He’s confused for a second, but then he remembers that Mrs William down the street has a car just like that, so she’s probably just slowing down to check on him. But there’s an uncomfortable feeling at the pit of his stomach that he can’t quite get rid of.

When he finally gets to the store, he’s sweaty all over and there’s a coppery taste in his mouth from when he accidentally bit his cheek too hard when a dog barked. The air in there is cool and makes him shiver. He checks his pocket as he walks down the aisles, making sure that his wallet is there. They’ve moved things around since last time, so it takes him awhile to find the pop tarts. He grabs a packet of red vines as he heads towards the comics. There isn’t much to choose from, but he manages to find one he thinks that he hasn’t already read, at least.

It feels like people are staring at him, when he walks towards the registers, and his heart is suddenly beating hard. The cashier smiles widely at him, though, so he feels a little better when he hands her the money.

Whatever good feelings he had, though, disappear within two seconds when he steps outside. At first, it’s because he just now realises that he’s going to have to walk all the way back home. And then it’s because he notices Derek Hale stalk towards him. It’s probably just for the actual door, until his gaze sets on Stiles and he grows rigid for a moment.

Then his steps turn even more resolute.

Derek is the last person Stiles wants to catch him doing something stupid like this. Even his dad would be better. For a moment he contemplates running, but then he remembers that Derek chases down criminals for a living, so the only thing that would get him is an even angrier Derek. And he already looks pretty pissed off.

“Stiles,” Derek bites out, when he’s close enough for Stiles to hear him.

“He-ey, Derek,” he tries, but the way Derek carries that leather jacket is kind of distracting. Perhaps leather jackets should be an official part of the police uniform.

Then, Derek grabs his arm and drags Stiles with him, like he’s a little child. It probably looks that way, too, since Stiles has his arms full of candy and a comic book.

And okay, Stiles feels incredibly stupid already, and Derek hasn’t even started yelling at him yet.

“What the hell were you thinking?!” Derek snaps, as he pushes Stiles into a very sleek looking car. He even does that thing where he puts his hand on Stiles head, so he won’t bang it when he gets in. The only thing missing is the handcuffs.

Great.

“Probably wasn’t, to be honest,” Stiles confesses, when Derek slips into the seat next to him.

“I just got a call from your dad, and he was out of his mind. He said you had disappeared.” Oh yeah, Derek is mad. Mad, mad, mad.

Stiles waits with his response until the engine has roared to life, and they’re leaving the parking lot.

“No, I just...went for a walk. Needed to stack up on candy and literature.” He waves the comic in Derek’s general direction. It’s just an act, him pretending that he wasn’t at all terrified on his way there, or that he doesn’t realise how stupid this idea was. He just doesn’t want to admit it in front of Derek.

“You’re an idiot,” Derek snaps. He pulls out his cell phone from his pocket, scrolls through the latest calls on his phone and presses the name Stiles knows far too well. There is a moment of silence, when Stiles assumes that there are signals going through, and then Derek says sharply: “He’s with me. I’m bringing him back.”

“What, I don’t even get a codename?” Stiles asks when Derek hangs up.

He only gets a dark look in reply.

Damn. He’s messed up royally.

“I’m sorry, okay?” he says before he’s able to stop the words from getting out. “I’m really sorry. I was so bored and I felt like I was going mad, being locked up like that.”

“It’s for your own protection,” Derek replies stiffly.

“Yeah, I know. It doesn’t make it any less boring.”

“Well, I’m sorry that we’re not funny enough while we’re trying to save your life,” Derek retorts.

Stiles shuts up.



 


His dad is absolutely livid. With right. He yells at Stiles for an hour straight, and then he hugs him for ten minutes without letting go, no matter how much Stiles protests. He’s probably grounded for the rest of his life.

Derek has the night shift, and Stiles feels like an ass because he made Derek work on his free time, before his actual shift started. He was probably going to buy shampoo or something else super important.

The atmosphere is tense, and Derek doesn’t speak to him. Stiles doesn’t really get why, because his dad is the one who’s supposed to be the angriest and they have already made up.

“Do you want to play a game?” Stiles asks, and offers a controller.

“No.”

That’s the first thing Derek’s said since they got back. Which was five hours ago.

“I said I’m sorry,” Stiles mutters, resting his chin on his knees.

“Yes, because sorry magically fixes everything.”

“Oh my god!” Stiles shouts, surprising even himself a little, but Derek just stares at him. “Will you just stop?! I know I was stupid, all right? I know I messed up. I know I should’ve stayed inside. But I’m starting to feel like I’m the one who’s torturing people with electricity here, not that guy, whoever he is.”

The silence is so long that he wonders if he accidentally killed Derek with his shouting, but then:

“Just one game.”

A few hours, and more than ‘just one game’ later, Derek has even cracked a couple of smiles.

“You should go to bed. It’s almost midnight.”

“I didn’t know there was a certain bedtime when you don’t have anything to do the next day,” Stiles protests.

“Just go to bed, Stiles,” Derek sighs, and Stiles actually obeys. He’s put Derek through enough today already.

That night, Stiles has his second nightmare.

It starts out the same : the solid darkness, the clammy air, the press of cold metal against his back. Or maybe it’s him pressing himself against cold metal. Tears are streaming down his face, and the panicked rush of adrenaline is pumping through his body.

For a moment, he wonders why he’s crying, why he’s so afraid that he’s lying in foetal position on cold, damp dirt. But then he hears it, and it’s like he’s heard it so many times before, because the way his body jerks and his throat clench in fear, feels so familiar. It’s a scream – broken and tired, like it’s been worn out. Like life has started to seep away from it.

Just as Stiles thinks he’s heard it for the last time, it rings through the silence again. Weaker, each time.

And then, he holds his breath. Counts to ten, and then again. But it’s just quiet now.

His body is aching when he wakes up, muscles straining like they do after a tough workout. His hands are cramping around his hold of the sheets, and his body is sticky with cold sweat. He's scared, chest heaving in rapid, shallow breaths.

It takes him a moment, much like last time, to register the knocks on his door.

“Stiles?” Derek asks. He sounds worried.

“Yeah,” Stiles rasps, and he wonders if he’s been loud, because his throat feels sore.

After a moment, the door to his bedroom cracks open and Derek’s form fills up the space. Something tight loosens in Stiles’ chest. Like a little bit of anxiety is suddenly washed away.

“Are you okay?” Derek enquires, after a long moment of silence.

Stiles nods almost violently. “Yeah, yeah. I’m fine.”

Derek scrutinizes him, and then he nods before he closes the door behind him as he leaves. It isn’t until Stiles has managed to get enough energy to go to the bathroom that he notices that his face is swollen from dried tears. There’s no way Derek bought that he’s fine.

He’s not fine.



 

Ms. Morrell is nice. She has a calm voice that makes him feel slightly like he’s being hypnotized when she speaks to him. They’re at the kitchen table and Erica is in the living room, giving them some space. Stiles doesn’t exactly want space, because he doesn’t feel like talking to Ms Morrell at all.

There is nothing he can tell her.

“How have you been lately, Stiles?” she asks, and he’s trying to tie his lacrosse stick properly.

He shrugs. “Fine.”

“I heard you went out on an adventure the other day?” She makes it sound like a question, but it’s really not. Maybe that’s the way they learn to speak, these psychology people.

“Yeah.” When he looks up briefly, her eyes are still set on him, like she’s expecting a longer answer. “I couldn’t stand being locked up anymore.”

“But you do know that it’s for your protection?” She has a small smile on her face, like she’s understanding and open to everything he might come to say.

Stiles doesn’t like counsellors. He’s been to too many in his life, especially after his mother died. If he wants to talk about his issues, he’ll do it with Scott.

“Yeah, I just wasn’t thinking. I won’t be doing it again.”

“Do you remember anything?” she asks then, like she senses that it’s about time to change the subject. “Anything at all? Or anything that you want to talk about?”

At first, he’s on the verge of saying no, just because he doesn’t want to talk about it. But it’s not just about his problems anymore; it’s also about a serial killer that his memories could be the key to find. He can’t decide not to talk to her, just because he doesn’t feel like it, when there are other people involved than him alone.

“I’ve had a couple of nightmares,” he says at last. He thinks his words lights a spark of interest in her eyes, but her voice remains calm and soothing as she speaks.

“Please tell me about them.”

Suddenly, his throat feels thick and dry, and he swallows manically for a while, as he tries to find the words. Maybe he’s mostly trying to find the courage to talk about it. He tries to picture the place in his nightmares, thinking that perhaps it will be easier to describe them that way.

“I— They’ve both started with me being in...I think it’s a cellar, because the floor is made of dirt and it’s always cold. I don’t remember seeing any windows.” He goes quiet for a moment, trying to put a word on the small, confined space he’s always found himself in. And the metal digging into his back. “I think I’m in a cage,” he whispers at last, feeling cold terror creep up his skin, leaving goose bumps in their way.

“What more do you remember from your dreams, Stiles?”

“There are other people there, I think. I can’t see them, but I’ve heard them. I’ve heard them cry and scream. I feel like I know what’s happening to them in the dream, but I don’t know. I’m terrified in my dreams, and it feels like I know exactly what’s going on.” He tugs at his hair, trying to draw his focus from the anxiety and fear, to the pull of his hair roots. “There’s this sound that I can’t place. It’s like a humming or a buzzing sound. Low, but it’s definitely there. It’s almost like you can feel it on your skin, but not quite. I guess—” He almost feels like crying now, as he’s able to put the pieces together: the things he’s learned from his dad and Derek, with the images from his dreams... “I guess it’s the electricity.”

“Is there anything you recognise with the person doing this to the other people there?”

“No. I don’t see him. I don’t have a face. I’ve heard his voice once, but I can’t remember it. Only that it scared the crap out of me.”

She nods and writes something down, but closes the notepad before he has a chance to read it.

“I don’t even know if it’s real,” he whispers after a moment.



 

He doesn’t feel like talking that evening. It seems to worry Derek, who keeps glancing at him when he thinks that Stiles doesn’t notice.

“Are you okay?” Derek asks finally, when Stiles has barely responded to his attempts at making conversation.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Stiles replies, but it’s obvious that Derek doesn’t believe him. He hugs his legs to his chest and rests his chin on his knees, watching the TV with unseeing eyes. It’s mostly colours flashing by. He feels the dip, when Derek sits down next to him, and the warmth from Derek’s body heat starts to slowly seep through his clothes.

It makes things a bit better.

Derek must be tired of being here. Of working in someone else’s home when he probably wants to be out on the street, solving crimes. He couldn’t have expected weeks of babysitting the Sheriff’s son. Especially since he’s working so much. Derek is there almost every day, either at night or during the day. The house feels strangely empty the days he has off, which is odd, since he doesn’t take up as much space as Boyd and isn’t as loud as Erica.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles says.

“For what?”

“That you have to be here all the time. I bet you’d much rather be out there patrolling, or something.”

“Yes, putting the drunks in the drunk tank is the highlight of my day,” Derek says dryly.

Stiles snorts. “I bet there are other things—”

“It’s also very exciting to ticket people for speeding, or public urination,” Derek continues. “Not to mention shoplifters.”

“Okay fine, I get it,” Stiles snorts, but he can’t help but smile a little. “Being a cop sucks.”

Derek shakes his head. “No. I like it.” He seems to think for a moment, before he speaks again: “I like the diversity. No day is ever the same. I don’t mind being here, because as soon as this is over, I’ll be out there ticketing people for speeding again.”

“I bet you’ll miss me.” Stiles smiles into his knees and dares a quick glance at Derek, who’s staring at the TV.

He just hums in response, like the Proactiv commercial is the most fascinating thing he has discovered in years. Stiles doesn’t understand how anyone is able to look at Justin Bieber with that kind of interest.



 


That night, Stiles has his third nightmare.

He’s in the cage again. Everything is so quiet. It’s deafening.

He sits pressed into a corner, the metal digging into his back, but he feels safer that way. His shirt is plastered to his body and he isn’t sure if it’s from sweat or the damp air.

The sound of voices reaches him, before he hears their footsteps on the floor. It makes him want to puke, and his heart is beating so hard that it’s difficult to breathe. He curls in on himself, presses impossibly further away from the sound their voices.

There’s a faint light hurting his eyes, along with the creak from a door getting opened and closed. It’s only there for a moment, but he thinks he’s able to see someone else move out of the corner of his eye. They are in a cage, too, closer to the door.

The voices have gone silent now, and the sound of one pair of boots is resolute. He hears the humming of electricity, before the scream and he hugs his arms tightly around himself. Putting his fingers in his ears, trying to keep the screams out, but the weak echoes of them still make it through.

He starts crying at the fifth scream. Or is it the sixth? That’s when the door opens again and a faint, fleeting strip of light illuminates the black leather boots of one person, and a long, black stick, that’s been pushed through the bars of the cage.

He shouts to shut the fucking door, and then there’s another scream.

Stiles wakes up panting, bathing in a pool of his own cold sweat, sheets strangled in his hands. He’s holding onto them so hard, that his fingers are cramping. It takes a moment for him to fully grasp that he’s in his own bed, safe. Tears are streaming down his face, wetting his pillow case.

It takes another moment before he registers the familiar sound of Derek’s knuckles against his door.

“Yeah,” he rasps, even though Derek hasn’t said his name yet. He still knows what the knocking means.

Derek cracks the door open almost immediately this time, and steps into the room. His eyes are huge and jarred, gaze trained on Stiles’ face.

“You okay?” he asks.

For a moment, Stiles thinks about lying, saying that he’s fine, like he usually does. He’s sure that Derek wouldn’t push, even though the lie would be obvious to both of them.

“No, I’m not okay,” he says finally.

There’s an awkward moment of silence, and then Derek nods with an affirmative sound.

“I think I’m just going to take a shower. It feels like I’m drowning in my own sweat here.” He tries to say it as a joke, but it only comes off as small and frightened.

Derek nods again and moves out of the way, when Stiles moves to walk past him in the doorway. “Do you want...tea or something?” Derek says stiffly, like he’s read in a book that you’re supposed to ask this, rather than actually wondering.

The terrified lump in Stiles’ stomach loosens somewhat anyway.

“No, thanks.” He gives Derek a quick smile. Tries to, at least. “I’m just going to shower and then try to go back to sleep.”

He sees Derek nod, out of the corner of his eye, as he disappears into the bathroom. He stays there longer this time, trying to shower the chill in his bones off of him along with the suds of soap. Trying to make the sound of running water chase away the one from buzzing electricity. His fingers and toes are pruny when he finally steps out again, but he feels much less afraid.

When he steps back into his bedroom, he first notices the cup on his nightstand, and then the fresh sheets in his bed. The tea has grown cold, but still smells like lemons. He takes a few sips anyway, before he slips down beneath the covers.

His eyes fall close, eyelids heavy, almost immediately. It’s like his body is drained from energy and the cool feeling from the sheets makes him feel safer, somehow. He hears the familiar sound of Derek’s footsteps in the stairs, but doesn’t manage to open his eyes, when he hears them stop in his open door. He doesn’t even have energy to get up and close it.

“Thanks,” he says, but it comes out as more of a guttural sound.

Derek seems to understand anyway, because he hums something, and Stiles hears him remove the cup from the nightstand, before he leaves again.

“Thanks,” he mumbles a second time, when Derek shuts the door behind him.

Stiles doesn’t have another nightmare that night.



 

For a while, things seem to be on a standstill. The police aren’t able to make any progress in his case, since they don’t have much to go on, and Stiles isn’t allowed to go out. None of his friends are able to come visit him, because they’re in the middle of a semester, and he’s sick of Erica always beating him when they play.

Boyd is worried that he’s going to take off again, to the point where he looks like he wants to follow Stiles to the bathroom every time he’s going to take a shower or use the toilet.

Derek is weird. One day he’s forthcoming and almost warm when they speak. The next Stiles feels like he’s shut off and too focused on the case. It’s confusing. They have tea in the middle of the night whenever Stiles can't sleep, and lemon tea tastes a lot better when it's hot. Derek is always much warmer at those times than during the days. It almost becomes a thing.

It’s not strange that he’s sick of them all, since he almost wanted to kill Scott when they were off to lacrosse summer camp for two weeks one summer in high school. He doesn’t even know these people half as well as he knows Scott.

Some days he just spends watching Mrs William drive up and down the street, imagining her stressing out over the fact that she’s forgotten to buy milk again, or maybe it’s her son’s football gear this time. He doesn’t remember her having that toned windows, but it doesn’t really matter, since he’s watching her from too far away to see anything but a silhouette anyway.

Derek asks him about her car one day, when she has driven past the house four times in as many hours. “Is that someone you know?”

“Yeah, it’s Mrs William. She lives down the street.” Stiles shrugs and Derek nods. That’s their all of their conversation that day.

Perhaps he should have been a bit more worried over the fact that Mrs William started to drive by his house after the day she drove past him when he was on his way to the store. If he had been, he wouldn’t have been woken up in the middle of the night by Derek shaking him.

“Wha—?” Stiles begins, but Derek claps a hand over his mouth.

“Get in the closet and stay there.”

Suddenly, Stiles is wide awake and his heart is pounding in his ears. He has always wondered how he would react in a situation like this, and apparently he’s really good at taking orders quietly, because he slips into the closet without a word. When he closes the door after him, he sees Derek draw his gun and disappear toward the staircase.

The darkness in the closet is scarily familiar, and the confined space makes him feel like he’s choking. He’s pressing his back against a solid wall, but the memory of cold iron pressing against his skin through his shirt is so vivid that he can feel it even now.

The house is so quiet, that his breathing sounds loud. If it had been anyone else but Derek waking him, he might have left the closet by now. But he trusts Derek.

It feels like forever passes by, with his heart pounding, his breaths short and shallow, and nails digging into his palms. Then he hears it. The all-too-familiar sound of the front door opening and a second of silence, before someone shouts. And then there’s gunfire.

He’s sure that it doesn’t last longer than a few seconds, but nothing has ever felt so eternal before in his life. Then there’s shouting again, but his ears still seem unable to make out the words. It’s like they’ve stopped decoding language altogether. He hears an engine roar to life outside, and the screeching of wheels on asphalt.

And then there’s just silence again.

He doesn’t even realise that he’s crying, until the closet door opens after sirens have arrived outside and there are people banging through his front door over and over again. He somehow expected Derek, but it’s his dad that crouches down in front of him.

“It’s okay, son,” is all he says, and pulls Stiles close for a moment, before he gets up, wincing as he stretches his legs out. “Come on, let’s get you out of here.”

It takes a few seconds before Stiles can will his body to move, but he finally manages to pull himself together and get out of the closet. There are people everywhere: police, paramedics, probably aliens, too. But Stiles isn’t able to focus enough to register their faces.

He looks for Derek in the crowd, but doesn’t find him until he’s downstairs. There’s blood on his hands, and for a moment Stiles thinks that he’s going to faint. He tries to see where it’s coming from, but Derek looks unscratched.

“What happened?” Stiles asks, his voice coming out half-strangled.

“That wasn’t Mrs William’s car,” Derek says simply, and lets a paramedic look him over.

“Whose blood?” Blinking goes slowly and everything else seems to move so fast around him, but Derek is standing still right in front of him. He looks down at his hands, like he just now realised that they’re covered in blood. Then he frowns.

“Erica’s,” he replies, and looks away for a moment, before fully meeting Stiles’ gaze. It’s like he knows that Stiles’ heart is cramping with panic. “Don’t worry, though, it’s just a flesh wound. She’ll be fine.”

“Hale, go wash that off and go home. Stiles, do you want anything to drink?”

Stiles had forgotten all about his dad being there, but as he speaks, he feels the weight of his dad’s hand on his shoulder.

“No, I’m fine,” he answers automatically, and winces when his dad squeezes his shoulder.

“He wants tea,” Derek says firmly, before he walks out the front door, like the blood on his hands won’t look weird to their neighbours at all.

“Is there something going on here that I should know about?” his dad asks. He's looking from Stiles to Derek, who's unlocking his car outside. Stiles refuses to reply, but he smiles a little despite himself, when Derek turns to look up to at the house one last time before he gets into the car.

“Tea, huh?” His dad asks softly.

Stiles blinks and he feels more back to his normal speed again. “Yeah.”

“Tea is a wise choice.”

His dad prepares the tea as soon as most of the crowd have left their house. Boyd is left, looking worried, and Stiles figures it’s because of Erica. They were colleagues, after all. Then there’s Greenberg. Apparently, they felt as if they needed to have even more people on watch.

“What happened?” Stiles asks once more, this time directed to his dad, as they sit down at the kitchen table. He feels like he should be more shaken than he is, but maybe it hasn’t sunken in quite yet.

“Derek grew worried over having a car driving past our house a number of times a day. He didn’t put much into it when you said it was Mrs William’s car, but then he noticed that it didn’t have any plates and that it seemed to come by more often every day. So he decided to join Erica’s night watch tonight, even though I didn’t know about it until now.”

“Oh.” Is all Stiles can find it in him to say. If he had been paying better attention to his neighbours’ cars, Erica probably wouldn’t even have a flesh wound by now.

“It’s not your fault. Mrs William does have a car like that. What I’m mostly confused over is how they found out that you were here. If they had known who you were, they would have come here sooner.” His dad frowns and grimaces when he takes a sip from his mug. “Honestly, I’ve never understood this British crap,” he comments, and puts it down again, pushing the mug away from him.

Stiles would have snorted at him any other day, but he’s busy remembering the car slowing down next to him, when he was on his way to the store. “That was my fault.”

He winces when his dad looks up. “When I got out of here, you know? I— there was a car slowing down next to me on my way to the store. I thought it was Mrs William checking on me, so I didn’t think about it too much.”

“That explains a lot.”

“Sorry.” He spins his mug around slowly, watching the tea move.

“What’s done is done,” his dad replies, and to Stiles’ relief, he doesn’t sound angry.  

“Did you at least get the face of one of them?” He has a bit of hope for about one second, until he looks up and catches his dad shaking his head.

“Unfortunately not. They wore masks. It feels strange that they’re coming after you like this, after having used electricity on their victims before. Well, I have to start assuming that there are at least two of them now, unless he hired hit men.”

“In my nightmares, there were two of them, at least.”

His dad sits quiet for some time. “And both you and Ms. Morrell think these nightmares are more than just nightmares, correct?”

Stiles nods. “Yeah.”

“I’d like for you to talk to Ms. Morrell again. Soon. If we don’t get a name of the owner of the car, I think we’re quite clueless in this case. Again.”

Stiles doesn’t like talking to people that want to dig through his brain, but if it could take some of the weight off of his dad’s shoulders, he’ll agree. “Okay, sure.”

“You did good, son.” His dad says and squeezes his shoulder hard, after getting up from his chair. “I think you should try and get some sleep. I’m sure Derek will be back tomorrow, since he’s always around all the time anyway. Even when he’s not supposed to be working.”

Stiles shrugs and puts his empty tea mug in the sink. It’s not until he’s in his room, under the covers, that he realises that: Wait, what?!Derek is around even when he’s not supposed to be?

And then he isn’t able to fall asleep until the digital clock on his phone says it’s 8:13 AM, and he can hear Derek’s voice downstairs.



 

When he wakes up again, it’s 1:30 PM, and he’s still tired. He gets up anyway and pads downstairs, with a quite unfamiliar feeling in his stomach. It isn’t just the fear that he can feel like a cold stone in the pit of his stomach, ever since he opened his eyes again.

Reality is there now, checking up on him, making sure that he knows that he isn’t safe. That his whole thing isn’t just another one of those frighteningly real nightmares that makes your skin crawl for days afterwards.

People came looking for him last night. They had guns. They weren’t afraid to use them. Erica got shot as she protected him. And he was locked inside a closet, freaking out, even though he was alone with a bunch of badly ironed clothes.

He tries not to think about it too much, pushing it into the back of his mind. He can deal with everything when this is all over.


 

A week later finds Derek and his dad at the kitchen table, talking about something that apparently isn’t for Stiles’ ears, because they fall quiet when he enters the room. He tries smiling, but they don’t smile back. He thinks that he sees Derek’s mouth twitch, but his dad has his serious I’m-the-Sheriff face on.

It’s funny, because Derek looks and acts a lot different around his dad than he does when they’re alone, or around the other deputies. Now, Derek is serious and lets Stiles’ dad make the calls. He seems to hang onto every word Stiles’ dad has to say, and nods like he agrees on everything. Around Stiles and the other deputies, however, Derek is the one that makes the calls, the one that shuts the others up and the one that does his best to keep them all safe. He’s always serious, but he cracks a smile or two around Stiles, anyway.

“What’s up?” he greets.

“Just work,” his dad says lightly. A little too lightly, probably. “Eat your breakfast in front of the TV. Please.”

He adds the last word when Stiles frowns at him. Like that changes the fact that he’s getting told to leave a room. He leaves them alone anyway, though, because last time he didn’t do what he was told, it led to a deputy being shot. Erica did, indeed, only get a flesh wound, but his dad wants her off the job for another week at least.

Animal Planet is more boring than usual. Gorillas’ mating rituals aren’t exactly what he wants to see when he’s eating, but he doesn’t feel like reaching out to switch the channel. He’s been drained of energy lately, ever since they had late night visitors.

He’s almost asleep again, half-lying on the couch with the crust from his sandwich still on the coffee table, when his dad sticks his head through the door.

“I’m leaving for the station now. Will you be okay?”

Stiles doesn’t like his dad leaving him alone. Not because he’s worried that there will be people breaking into the house again, seeing as there are more people around now, but because he’s afraid that someone might target his dad instead.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” he says, despite the way worry gnaws in his chest.

“Boyd and Greenberg will be here in a moment, and Derek will stay with you.”

“Dad, I’ll be fine,” Stiles repeats.

“All right, all right.” His dad raises his hands and disappears into the hallway again. “Hale, I expect you to take care of my son while I’m away,” Stiles hears him say before the front door closes.

“Yes, sir,” Derek’s voice replies from the kitchen, even though Stiles is pretty sure that there’s no way his dad will ever hear that reply.

It takes a few minutes before Derek enters the living room.

“So what exact needs can I expect you to take care of?” Stiles grins from the couch. He knows that it’s inappropriate, but what the heck, it isn’t like they haven’t been over all the appropriate subjects already. Also, ever since his dad told him about Derek being there even when he wasn’t supposed to, or the fact that Stiles might not be laying on this couch right now if it wasn’t for him, he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Derek in his uniform.

Derek looks like he’s choking on air for a moment, before he’s able to pull his features back into place. “I’m on duty,” he says, voice strangled.

Stiles grins wider, because that’s not a what the hell are you playing at Stiles. “Relax. Just because you save the day, doesn’t mean I’m going to drop my panties.”

He has to bite the inside of his cheek so not to start laughing, when Derek’s face turns decidedly more red. He clears his throat awkwardly and Stiles wonders for a moment if he’s going to walk through the door and never come back. But then: “You wear panties?”

Stiles falls off the couch.

He hears Derek snort and sees his feet leave the room. “You know I could!” he calls after Derek. “Whatever floats your boat, man!”

“Shut up, Stiles.”


 

When Scott finds out what happened, he doesn’t care about missing out on classes. He shows up on Stiles’ doorstep, clearly pissed because he wasn’t told about this earlier, and then he hugs Stiles for a million years.

It takes everything Stiles has not to break down and cry.

Scott brings a new video game with him. “You can keep it when I leave,” he says, and Stiles doesn’t think he realises what a glorious gift this is.

And suddenly, there is a bit less of fear in his life, and few more laughs.

“So, how’s college nowadays?” Stiles asks, as they lay splayed out on the living room floor with an empty bag of cheez doodles between them. His fingers are sticky and his tongue feels gross, but it’s definitely worth it.

“You were the talk of the town there for a week after you disappeared, and then things calmed down, until people found out that you were back. Then you were the hot topic for another week or so, and now people are mostly wondering what they’re gonna dress up as for Halloween.”

Stiles snorts.

“How’s it going for you? Living like a criminal, all locked up and stuff.” Scott gestures vaguely around him, referring to the house, Stiles thinks.

“It sucks,” he replies truthfully. “For a while it was okay. I mean, I’ve spent weeks inside during summer playing video games, but after a while it becomes hell. Especially since I’m not even allowed to go to the store.”

“But you did anyway,” Scott points out, and reaches for the empty cheez doodles bag. He drags his fingers along the inside and licks the crumbs off of his fingers.

“Yeah, look where that got me,” Stiles sighs.

“Dude, there’s no way you could’ve expected that out of sneaking off to the store. There’s no logical correlation between those events.”

“Just handed in a paper?” Stiles snorts, recognising the way of speaking all too well. It’s what happens to your brain when you’ve been using all the intelligent-sounding words you have in your vocabulary, and then some.

“Yup. Got an A.” Scott grins. “Anyway, it’s not your—”

Stiles looks up, when Scott breaks off, and notices Derek standing in the doorway. He’s been keeping to himself since Scott arrived, and Stiles kind of misses getting Derek all flustered with his innuendos. It was basically his only entertainment for a couple of weeks.

“Aren’t you going to eat?” he asks.

“We have eaten.” Stiles points towards the cheez doodles bag, which Scott helpfully holds up. “Lots of...calories.”

Derek rolls his eyes, but he disappears back into the kitchen again. He’s probably discussing some very important police stuff with Boyd, because they have been in there all day.

“So, when are you going to tell me about that guy?” Scott whispers, loudly, as soon as Derek is (supposedly) out of earshot.

“What? There is nothing to tell.

“Touchy subject, obviously.” Scott holds up his hands, like he’s giving up, but he looks far too pleased for Stiles liking.

“He’s one of my dad’s deputies.” Stiles feels the need to explain.

“M-hm.” Scott nods and eyes him pointedly. “And?”

“And nothing!”

“That’s a whole bunch of tense nothing right there between you.”

“Can I have a new best friend?” Stiles sighs and rolls over on his stomach, hiding his face in his arms. If he can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

“Sorry, no refund.” Scott grins madly at him, when he looks up.

That’s how Stiles knows he has lost. “I don’t know. I like having him around.”

“But that guy is one of the people that were here when you had that break in, right?”

“Yeah, Erica is the other one. She’s awesome.”

“And he’s kind of awesome, too?” Scott puts it as a question.

“I might have a bit of a crush,” Stiles admits finally. “But maybe it’s just Stockholm Syndrome, or something? I’m locked up into this house and he’s one of the few people I can hang out with.”

Scott snorts loudly. “You’d drool from a mile away even if the situation had been different.”

“No, I’ve known who he is since before. I’ve met him before.” Stiles rubs his hands over his face, frustrated. It’s difficult to pinpoint his exact feelings towards Derek. “Maybe it’s this thing where you go for the hottest person available, you know? That thing that happens when you’re stuck on a deserted island, or the Big Brother house? You suddenly have a much more limited group to choose from, so you go for the best one out of the bunch.”

“I call bullshit,” Scott says simply.

“I just told you that I’ve met him before, when I’ve visited my dad at the station.”

“So, what changed?”

Stiles falls silent. It’s an easy question on paper, but so much more difficult to answer. “I guess we’ve gotten to know each other better.”

“See.”

“I don’t like you anymore.” But Scott is beaming when Stiles looks at him, so obviously he can’t stick to his words for more than two seconds.

“Do you think we can ask your deputy to get us some pizza?” Scott asks thirty minutes later, when he’s starving once more.

Stiles can relate.

“If you want us killed.”

“Do you think he’ll let us get pizza delivered, then?”

“If you want the pizza delivery guy killed.”

As it turns out, Boyd is more than willing to let them get pizza delivered, as long as he gets a few slices on his own. Derek looks displeased, but he doesn’t say anything and he even sits down to eat with them. Scott makes sure that Stiles ends up next to Derek, because he’s an asshole like that.

And maybe Stiles bumps his knee against Derek a few times, not-completely-by-accident.

Life sucks even more when Scott has to leave to go back to college that Sunday.


 

“So, Stiles, since our last meeting, have you had any more nightmares?” Ms. Morrell asks him, when she sits opposite of him at the kitchen table once more.

He shakes his head. It’s both a relief and a disappointment, because he’s scared of them and at the same time, they’re his only hope to get out of here.

“Why do you think that is?”

At first, he wants to shrug the question off – how is he supposed to know?! But then he lets himself think about it for a while, tries to remember that he’s not here for himself, but for a lot of other people as well.

“After those people came into the house and Erica got shot, I tried not to think about it too much. I didn’t want to feel like my anxiety and fear took over, you know, took over my brain capacity.”

“Would you say that you’re afraid of remembering?” she asks bluntly, and Stiles feels himself turning defensive immediately.

“No!”

“Okay.” She writes something down, but once again, she closes the notepad before he’s able to read what it says. “That’s good.”

Stiles doesn’t remember much of the rest of their conversation, because he keeps asking himself if he really is too afraid and if that’s why he can’t remember.

He tries to push that away, as well, along with the constant fear that has a freezing hold of him, but a week and a half later, he has to rethink his decision.

His dad sits him down at the kitchen table and the room is empty except for them.

“What?” he asks, before his dad has a chance to speak. It sometimes feels easier this way, in his situation, like at least a part of the conversation is on his terms, even though he’s completely powerless.

“It’s about Heather. You remember Heather, right?” His dad looks worn out, face ashen and his wrinkles are more prominent than ever. He hasn’t been home much to sleep lately and Stiles worries about him a lot.

“Yeah, sure. I remember her. Why?” A part of him already knows that he doesn’t have to ask, because it’s obvious. Heather is his childhood friend whom he doesn’t meet often, but they always have a good time on the rare occasions they do.

“She disappeared from her home a couple of days ago.”

Stiles’ entire body grows cold and rigid. For a moment, he can’t remember how to speak, and when he finally manages to get out a weak: “What?” it’s barely audible.

“We think there’s a connection to your case. That it’s the same suspect.”

No. “No.”

“I’m sorry, son. We’re doing our best, and I know that you’re doing your best to remember. I wanted you to know before you found out from someone else.”

“Thanks,” Stiles manages, but his mind is already reeling far away from the room and their conversation. Maybe Ms. Morrell was right and that he’s putting off remembering because he’s too scared of what he’ll find out. But if she is right, there must be a way to make him work through it.

It’s been difficult, but possible, not to think about what happened before when the others were just nameless and faceless. He knows Heather and there will be an empty spot left after her in his life, if he can’t get her back in one piece. She would do the same for him. He’s sure of it.

Half an hour later, he’s on the phone, dialling the number from Ms. Morrell’s card.

He looks pale even to his own eyes, as he stares at himself in the mirror. He doesn’t even hear the door open or Derek entering, until their eyes meet in the reflection.

“Ms. Morrell is here. She says you wanted to see her.” Derek sounds a bit sceptical, but his eyes work over Stiles features in the mirror like they’re searching for something.

“Yeah, I called her.” Stiles nods. “I— She’s going to help me remember.”

“I see.”

Derek waits patiently for him to gather enough courage to walk downstairs. Stiles wants to ask why he doesn’t walk ahead, but Derek’s presence makes him feel calmer, so he keeps quiet.

“Hello, Stiles,” she says, when he finally walks into the kitchen. Her voice seems even more soothing than usual. “I’m glad you decided to call me.”

“I’m not, but there’s no other way I can do this and I want to help Heather.”

“Of course.” She smiles.

Derek is there right behind him and Stiles can feel his body heat mould together with his own. It feels more comforting than her smile.

“Do you want me to stay?” Derek asks, and a weight Stiles didn’t even know he was carrying is lifted from his chest.

“Yes. Yes, please. If you don’t mind. I’d...yeah I’d like that. If you’re sure? I mean I understand if—” He finds himself babbling. It’s been a long time since he babbled.

“I’ll stay,” Derek says firmly.

“Thanks.”

He somehow expected Ms. Morrell to bring a bunch of weird pendants to hypnotize him with, or maybe a sleeping draught. But she sits calmly at the table and waits for him to find a comfortable position on his chair. Derek is next to him, quiet but calming.

“How are you feeling right now?” she asks. There is no notepad on the table now.

“Scared,” he admits. There’s not much left but honesty now. There’s this ache of anxiety over his body, pressing, pulling at the same time. Like it can’t quite decide. “I’m so scared that it hurts. All over.”

“Tell me what you’re scared of.”

“I’m scared of what I’ll remember. Sometimes I feel like I won’t be able to handle it, sometimes I’m sure that my fantasies are way worse than the truth can ever be.” He swallows. “I don’t think I’d want to remember, if it wasn’t for Heather. Maybe a bit for me, too; it feels like I won’t be able to survive if I don’t know. If I haven’t done my best to save her.” He shifts in his chair, tries to find a more comfortable position. “But I’m scared of how much it will hurt to remember.”

“If it’s about survival, isn’t a little agony worth it?” she asks, her voice still calm and soothing.

“I mean, what if it just gets worse? What if it’s agony now and...and it’s just hell later on.”

She smiles again, but it isn’t as soft now. She’s not going to let him back out of this. “Then think about something Winston Churchill once said: if you’re going through hell, keep going.”

He gets to relax, calm his breathing and lets her guide him through the corners of his mind. It’s difficult at first, letting himself go. Then he feels Derek shift in the chair next to him, and he knows he’ll be okay.

It starts out the very same. He’s in his cage and his clothes are damp, whatever is left of them. His body aches down to the bone and he’s quivering, scared.

They have used the stick on him so often now that he’s lost count. It took his body a long time to stop its involuntary spasms after the last encounter. It’s some kind of modified stun gun, or the like, he’s figured that much out. And it’s his abductors’ favourite toy.

He never thought he’d learn how it would feel, but every time it’s like a giant has grabbed a hold of him and started shaking him violently. He’s never been so aware of his breathing before, because of the way it forces him to gulp in air, while the rest of his body is out of control. Sometimes it feels like there’s a wire strung between his forehead and neck, making his shoulders tense up towards his ears.

On occasion they make him get out of the cage and stand up, only to laugh as he falls down. But mostly they just use it on him where he can’t get away, like a wild animal in a cage.

He knows there are worse things to come. He’s getting closer to being led into the other room, where no one ever comes back from. He has ideas of what will happen, but something tells him it will be worse than his nightmares.

The stages are the same as with the person before him and perhaps the one before her as well. She disappeared the same night Stiles got here. First there’s the disregard, like he doesn’t exist. Their attention turned towards others – others he never even learned the names of. People he probably never will know the names of either.

And then there are the gradual steps from them using the stick on him once, like it was a onetime thing. Then step-by-step, like it was rare and never with any real pattern. Then, before he knows it, his body and brain are barely allowed to calm down, before they’re set on fire again.

He’s accustomed to huddling in the darkest corner now, even though that has never helped. Perhaps that’s a part of the human nature – maybe this time flee will work, since he can’t fight.

And then the games began, the way they made him try to crawl away, his body still convulsing from aftershocks. The laughs, when he failed. Of course he failed.

He’s seen it all before, with others. Now it’s his turn.

Their faces are not what he expected. It’s an old man, his hair balding and grey, almost white. His eyes are dark and cold, even when he’s smiling. It’s not hard to guess that he’s the mind behind this, because he’s calling out the orders, making the decision. He’s the one that scares Stiles the most.

The other man is plain; someone who might pass you on the street and you wouldn’t remember it two seconds later. That guy in your English class that you always forget when you’re listing names. Stiles thinks they are about the same age, and maybe they even went to college together at some point. There’s something uncontrollable about him that makes him worried, like if the older man wasn’t around, he could do anything. Somehow, that is less frightening than the calculating, planning man who’s giving him directions. The older man calls him Matt.

It’s been so long now, and he has no idea if it’s night or day, or how long he has spent here.

This time, he gets food and water to drink. The last supper, he thinks and knows he’s right. He’s seen this before. Still, the thought is like a realisation, setting his body into convulsion again, but from tears and fear, this time.

He refuses to eat, but he keeps the water. It’s lukewarm, but he thinks he hasn’t been drinking in days.

Matt is alone. He doesn’t say anything and Stiles tries to pretend like he doesn’t exist. It’s easier that way, leaving Matt’s sick mind to himself and not encourage his games. There’s no one here to hold him back now.

Only one left,” Matt sing-songs, placing the lamp on the floor, and drags the stick over the bars on Stiles’ cage. “Only one left. What shall we do about that?”

Stiles looks the other way, refuses to say anything, to acknowledge Matt’s existence.

You know, I have a friend who wants to be just like me. Who’s jealous of the tutor I have. He has no idea how limiting it is, how it’s killing my creativity.”

What a shame,” Stiles says, before he can stop himself.

It really is. I could be a legend, by now. I could be all over the papers, all over the news.” He closes his eyes and smiles. His face looks inhuman in the way the lamp illuminates his features.

Stiles wishes that he could come up with a joke right now, but he’s just terrified. If the older man doesn’t come down into the basement now, there is no way that he’s going to survive the night. He has a feeling that it will be a lot more painful and bloody than his death would otherwise be.

I’m not supposed to be here,” Matt explains, apparently already tired of fantasising about his name being said on the news and mentioned in newspapers. “He gave me strict orders not to be. Said I wouldn’t be able to handle it, to control myself.” He knocks the stick against the bars of Stiles’ cage again, hums to the sound, like he knows this song. “I don’t understand why anyone would ever need control for this. It’s just about killing someone. I mean, shouldn’t it be better with less control?”

I’m not particularly versed in this whole...serial killer area, so I can’t answer that. Sorry.”

Matt laughs, which is highly unsettling on its own. Stiles heart is beating like it’s losing control over its rhythm, and he’s shaking all over. He hopes Matt doesn’t notice, thinking that it’ll only make it more fun for him.

He falls quiet abruptly, like he remembers something he doesn’t like much.

I was thinking that I could show him that I’m ready. That I can do this on my own. I got you here, didn’t I? It wasn’t so hard. We used to take the same class, last semester. You were always in the front row, and no professor could stand your questions. I was at that party, even though I wasn’t invited. The Welcome-back-to-our-college-where-just-certain-people-matter’ party. Even though I dropped out. You were invited, weren’t you? So liked, even though no one could really stand you.”

Stiles wants to laugh at the ‘liked’ part. Scott was the one invited; Stiles just tagged along.

It was easy. You downed whatever drink anyone put in your hand, so drugging you wasn’t hard. You were out of it before I could even get you to the car. So heavy for such a skinny guy. I think I sprained something in my back as I got you into the backseat. No one even noticed. Do you know why? Because people get so drunk that they pass out all the time at college parties.”

Stiles feels a bit sick. He should know better, being a Sheriff’s son. He should have known better than taking a drink from someone else.

Matt seems lost in his story. “You weren’t the right type, though. Especially since you’re a guy. But I still got you here, on my own. It’s only fair that I get to finish, right?”

Stiles keeps quiet, hoping that Matt will continue speaking, but instead he get to his feet and walks over to the hatch and fiddles for a while with trying to find the right key. It takes him a few tries and Stiles presses as far away from him as possible.

You know what’s funny?” Matt asks, as he pushes the hatch to the cage open. It whines on its hinges, and Stiles feels the bars dig into his back, as he presses even harder against them.

He can't breathe. This is how he’s going to die.

You know what’s funny?” Matt repeats, sounding irritated this time. He beckons for Stiles to come closer, but Stiles only presses harder against the bars. It feels like his heart is failing in his chest.

“You know what’s funny?!” Matt yells, and grabs a handful of dirt and throws it in Stiles’ face.

He blinks just in time to keep it out of his eyes, but when he opens them again, he kind of wishes that he hadn’t. Matt’s face is contorted in rage and the light from the lamp.

No,” Stiles manages to croak finally, when Matt reaches for the stick. “No, what’s funny?”

It’s funny that we had the same class for an entire semester, and that I still never learned your real name. Or anything about you. You know what else is funny?” Stiles shakes his head. “It’s funny that your scattered limbs, all over these woods, will be what make me famous.”

Stiles doesn’t have to think about what that even means, when he sees the large knife Matt pulls out. At this point, he has stopped being afraid, like his body and brain knows that there is no use. Now he just sticks to hoping that he will die quickly, that it won’t hurt too much.

Matt beckons him closer again. Stiles doesn’t move.

Matt cocks his head to the side, a slow smile spreading across his features. “Oh, I see. Stubborn.” He sounds almost fond now, making Stiles stomach turn. “Well, I guess I’ll just have to start with what I can reach.”

He starts to inch closer, moving on his knees, because the cage is too small to allow his full height. Stiles tries to close his eyes, but his body won’t let him. Instead he’s staring, terrified, eyes watering, as Matt’s fond smile turns more contorted with each inch he gets closer.

He thinks his heart has stopped in his chest, or maybe it’s just beating too rapidly for his senses to catch. It feels like he’s suffocating.

Matt is tracing the edge of the knife with his forefinger, back and forth, back and forth. The light from the lamp catches the blade and reflects in Stiles’ eyes, making him temporarily blind. Matt laughs, does it again, on purpose this time.

He reaches for Stiles’ foot. He yanks it away, but there’s nowhere for him to go. Matt is blocking the exit.

Matt grabs his ankle and Stiles can’t kick him off. He’s too weak.

Pity there won’t be much of a struggle, don’t you think?” Matt smiles.

Stiles tries to say something, anything, just so he won’t go in silence. Before he’s able to say anything, though, someone yells from above them.

Matt’s expression changes quickly. Suddenly he’s afraid and he’s out the cage before Stiles is able to grasp what’s happening. He fumbles with the lock again, swears, and then grabs the lamp from the floor and bounds up towards the door.

Stiles hears the door shut, but he can’t hear the too familiar click of the lock.

He waits, and waits, and waits. His hearts calming down with each minute that ticks by without Matt reappearing. It feels like he’s waiting for hours, before he dares to stretch his legs out. His joints are stiff and protesting wildly when he wiggles his feet, trying to get his blood circulation back on.

It isn’t until a while later that he notices the lock on his cage looking strange. It hangs in a weird angle, and it isn’t until he moves closer that he notices that it isn’t locked properly. He sticks his fingers through the bars and wiggles it. Suddenly his heart is pounding for a completely different reason – he should be able to get this off, to let himself out.

His fingers are too stiff at first, to get a good grasp. He swears and, at one point, he even starts crying from frustration, sweat breaking out on his back. And then it falls to the ground silently, the dirt floor affectively muffling any sound.

He pushes the hatch open slowly, suddenly worried that there will be some kind of alarm going off in the house when he does. He opens it an inch at a time, waiting and listening, before he pushes it open another inch. There is no sound.

His legs are shaking and they feel foreign to walking, when he moves towards the cellar door. He has no idea what’s beyond it, what’s waiting for him. Maybe they have a guard dog, maybe they’re waiting, laughing at him.

Perhaps it was all in their plan to begin with: letting him think he was able to escape.

His fingers tremble as he pushes the handle down and the door opens a fraction soundlessly. The house is quiet on the other side, and he can see nothing but darkness through the crack. He waits, again, trying to catch any sign of someone being on the other side.

He jerks, heart going wild in his chest, when a clock starts chiming lowly. One. Two. Three.

It takes a moment for him to calm down enough to push the door further open. It’s still quiet and he’s able to make out the silhouettes of furniture on the room on the other side. They look odd, but the room is too dark for him to be able to make out why.

He lets the door swing open fully, but stays where he is. Listening so hard that his head starts hurting. There’s still only silence.

His body wants to run, to get out of there as quickly as possible, but he has no idea where in the house he is, or where there’s a door he can use to get out of there. He scans the room carefully, notices a jacket hanging over the back of a chair, and a pair of boots in one corner.  

One looks like an ordinary door, with a simple handle and no keyhole. The other, when he looks closer at it, has a full lock and a much heavier handle. It has to be the one. He looks around for any kind of alarm, but there’s nothing blinking or any sign of wires.

It strikes him as odd. The older man seems like such a man who would put security high on his list of priorities.

He tries the handle slowly, trying to listen for any kind of sign that someone’s noticed that he’s gone. It’s locked, but he doesn’t need a key to unlock it. The next time he pushes the handle down, the door swings open.

Cool air presses against his face in an instant, almost bringing him off focus.

Everything is still quiet.

Outside there are scattered trees, but they’re growing closer and closer together the further he looks. He takes the few steps down, feels ground beneath his bare feet. Real ground. For a moment, he looks around, but there’s no one to be seen.

So instinct takes over and he makes a run for it.

At first, all his brain is chanting is that he needs to make it to the edge of the woods, and then he reaches it. There’s no sound of anyone coming after him, but he dares a glance over his shoulder. It’s a square house, probably a side building. He thinks he recognises it.

It’s not until he’s running into another clearing, with a huge, burnt out house, that he knows why. It’s the Hale house. He has been here hundreds of times as a kid, even though it’s private property and he’s not allowed.

But he knows the way home.

He keeps on running, even though his body is tired, even though his lungs are burning. Even though there’s a stabbing pain between his ribs. He’s sure that they must have noticed by now, that they know he’s gone. They’re coming after him.

He runs faster, even though he’s too tired. He trips over rocks, steps on something sharp – maybe glass. But he gets up and keeps running all the same.

And then he’s there, in front of his childhood home. The sky is turning pink at the horizon now. His feet are bleeding. He stops running.

He’s shaking violently, and Ms. Morrell is not smiling anymore, when he opens his eyes.

“You did well,” she says quietly, and nods towards the cup of tea in front of him at the table. “You can be proud of yourself.”

It takes him a moment to collect himself enough to reach out for the hot mug. It scalds his palms, but he feels alive. Feels safe. It smells lemon when he inhales, as he puts the mug to his lips.

Derek is sitting silently beside him. There’s a hurt heartbeat before he’s able to connect the dots. The Hale house, of course. It’s where Derek grew up.

“I’m sorry,” he says, mainly just to break the deafening silence.

“You have nothing to apologise for,” Derek replies, and then it’s like he’s waking up from a trance. Suddenly, he’s on his feet, on the move. Stiles can hear him talking to someone in that articulate, professional voice he uses around his colleagues.

“You did well,” Ms. Morrell says again, when Stiles’ gaze finds her again. “This will be of tremendous help.”

“They know who I am, so I’m sure they’re not still there.”

“Sometimes people tend to overestimate their own safety,” she replies simply, and Stiles shudders as he wipes the drying tears off of his cheek with his sleeve.

He’s all too aware of that.


 

A few hours later, he’s still in numb shock. His brain feels fuzzy and slow, like it’s trying to process all this new information. It’s like when he tries to download too many torrents at the same time back at college.

Erica’s there, sitting next to him on the couch with one arm still in bandages, even though they’re smaller this time. She tells him that it only hurts when she tries to strangle someone, and he’s inclined to believe her. She’s banished Greenberg to the kitchen, and Stiles suspects that he’s moping because he’s not allowed to watch TV.

His dad is away with the rest of his deputies. They’re going to the old Hale house, and Stiles isn’t sure what will happen.

In the meantime, he’s on his couch, too distracted by anything and everything to even play videogames with Erica. Instead, he stares out into blank spaces and prays that everything will go as planned.

He has no idea what that plan is.

Time goes by slowly, and he only half-listens to her voice. He’s pretty sure she’s only talking to make sure there’s no room for silence.

He jerks back into more of his old percentage of functioning, when there’s a bang and a shout at the door.

“What the hell?” Erica says and gets up. “Wait here.”

She makes hand gestures at Greenberg that Stiles doesn’t understand, when they walk past him, and he disappears in the other direction.

Stiles is right behind her when they enter the hallway, just in time to see the front door swing open.

There’s Matt. He looks just like in Stiles’ memories, with his face contorted in rage and the knife in his hand is scarily familiar.

“You know what’s funny?” he spits out, as he takes a step inside the door.

Stiles’ body grows cold.

“Drop your weapon and put your hands where I can see them,” Erica says calmly, and Stiles suddenly notices that she has a gun pointed towards Matt.

Matt only smiles, though. “Oh, I remember you. How’s your arm?” Then his gaze locks at Stiles again. “You know what’s funny?” he sing-songs and takes a step closer.

“Does it look like I give a shit about what you find funny?” Erica snaps. “For the last time, drop your weapon or I will shoot.”

You know what’s funny?!” Matt yells, and it’s like Stiles is thrown back into his worst nightmare.

Then there’s a loud bang and Matt sags to the floor, knife clattering from his grasp. Erica kicks it into the living room, where it slides underneath the couch, and then bangs the front door closed and locks it. “I think he’s alone, but we can’t be sure,” he says, and rolls Matt over on his stomach, probably a bit more brutal than necessary, and handcuffs him. Two seconds later Greenberg is back, confirming that Matt indeed was alone, and talks to someone over his intercom. What feel like three seconds later, the place is overflowing with police.

“Such a wimp. Passed out from getting a bullet to the shoulder,” she snorts. “I guess we’re even now.”


 

A month and a half later finds Stiles on his way back to Beacon Hills from college. His dad insisted on him taking the rest of the semester off, but Stiles refused, insisting that he’s done with abnormality in his life for a while. He has trouble sleeping and goes to a therapist weekly to discuss his trauma. Stiles isn’t even going to make fun of that expression, because he’s even too scared to go to the bathroom alone some nights.

He’s taken to live with Scott, and it’s easier than living alone. Scott knows what’s going on when he wakes up kicking and screaming, night after night.

When things are especially hard, he tries to stick to Ms. Morrell’s words. When you’re going through hell, keep going.

And he does, every day, even though it’s a struggle. Some days more than others. He thinks it’s slowly getting better.

“Dude, snail-pace,” Scott usually tells him, when Stiles gets frustrated over still having nightmares, sudden social anxiety and claustrophobia. “You’re supposed to do this at a snail-pace.”

“There’s no such thing as snail-pace,” Stiles snaps then, but it makes him feel a little easier every time Scott says this. Like he isn’t weird for not being all right after a month. Not even when he’s crossed the line to two.

Snail-pace.

His dad gives him a bone crushing hug, as soon as he steps inside the door. He can feel his ribs scream in protest, but it’s worth it. His dad has been about as scared as Stiles has, when he’s been back to college. He has called every day. Sometimes even several times.

Stiles hasn’t had anything he could call conversation with Derek since that session with Ms. Morrell, however. They exchanged a few words whenever Derek was at his house after they arrested Gerard Argent and Matt Daehler. Gerard denied, but Matt confessed to everything, and Heather got out of there safe and sound. Her family decided to go to England for a while to allow her to get away.

According to his dad, Derek took a couple of weeks off, as soon as they had handed Matt and Gerard over to other authorities and a place where they aren’t likely to get out of before the trial.

Their not-exactly conversations contained nothing but him asking how Derek was and getting a short reply, and the same question in return. Derek always left quickly after that.

Stiles kind of misses his lemon tea whenever he wakes up after a nightmare or isn't able to fall asleep at all. He hasn’t been able to find the right kind in the store.

“It’s good to have you home, kid,” his dad says, and his voice sounds thick.

Stiles tries to ignore the lump in his throat when he presses his face into his dad’s shirt. “It’s good to be home.”

A couple of days before Christmas, he’s at the grocery store, feeling riled up and anxious. Last time he was here, he managed to get noticed by the wrong person and got Erica shot.

It’s when he’s checking out the tea section, trying to find that lemon tea, that he spots Derek further down the aisle. He’s picking up pasta.

“Hey,” Stiles says, and walks closer.

Derek looks up and he’s clearly surprised, before he’s able to put his features back into place.

“Hey,” he replies, and there’s a strange angularity to his voice.

“Care to spill your secret?” Stiles smiles and Derek looks very confused.

“My secret?”

“Yes, what brand that tea you gave me is. I can’t find it anywhere.”

Derek’s eyebrows shoot up, like this is the last thing he expected. “It’s from England.”

Stiles grimaces. “Crap.”

“Why?”

“I told you, I’ve been trying to find it.”

“Yes, I know. But why?”

Stiles hesitates for a moment. “It’s…I kind of miss it when I wake up from my nightmares. Or, you know, when I can't sleep.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Yeah, well. Not your fault.”

“So, how are you doing? Except for the nightmares.”

“Crap,” Stiles confesses.

“How come?”

“It’s mostly the sleeping. For some reason, I felt much safer when my house was full of cops.”

“Can’t imagine why,” Derek interjects dryly.

Stiles smiles. “And then there’s the fact that I was abducted from college, and that they broke into my house when I was asleep. So I’m just not really feeling safe anywhere.” He says it bluntly, and expects Derek to flinch like people always do whenever he gets sick of their questions. In this case it isn’t because he’s sick of Derek asking, though; it’s because he wants a reaction.

Derek doesn’t flinch, though. He just looks sad. “I’ve been wanting to apologise,” he says finally, breaking the silence and changing the subject altogether.

“For what?”

“For not doing my job properly after we got them. I felt, I feel, guilty because they were using my old house. And because I didn’t put the pieces together. Years ago, I was dating Gerard’s daughter, and she’s the one that burned the house down. No one died, but she was put in jail and then she fled the country. I should’ve guessed…”

“Oh, shut up, Derek,” Stiles snaps. “How were you supposed to guess that they were using your old house? We didn’t even know who it was until the very last minute!”

“If I had known who she really was, and what her father was like, I would’ve made different choices.”

“You know, my friend’s girlfriend happens to be his granddaughter, and she’s amazing. Even her dad is sane. So I’m thinking the crazy gene is something that runs strictly father-to-daughter in this case. I’m pretty sure it’s not a sexually transmitted disease, either, so I think you can relax.” He remembers Allison's tears and apologies, like she could somehow be blamed for the deeds of a person she hadn't met in fifteen years, just because they happened to be related.

“I thought you blamed me.”

“I’m pretty sure that the only one here blaming you is you.”

The corner of Derek’s mouth quirks up a fraction. “Your dad tells me you’re in therapy.”

“Yeah. Jealous?”

“No, I was about to say that I don’t think it’s working. You’re still insane.”

"So," Stiles says, as he's shifting his weight from his right foot to his left, and then back again. "How are you?"

Derek looks away for a moment, like he's thinking about his answer. "I'm good."

"Liar."

"No, I am. Now."

Stiles doesn't know what to say for a moment, so he keeps quiet.

"It's a lot better now, when I can see that you're all right."

"You were worried about me?" Stiles asks in amazement.

"Of course," Derek says simply.

Stiles stares. "Oh."

A middle-aged woman clears her throat behind them, because they're blocking her path.

"I should get going." Derek moves to the side and grabs the nearest packet of pasta.

"Are you busy tonight?" Stiles asks, before he can stop himself. He has a feeling that Derek is going to disappear again if he doesn't do something.

"No, it's my night off. Why?" Derek side-eyes him, like he can't make out what Stiles is getting at.

"I thought that maybe I could drop by and you could show me that tea brand you used."

"Sure," Derek answers with a shrug, after a short pause. "I'll be home after eight. Ask your dad for directions."

And then he's gone.

Lydia is visiting when he gets back from the store. She’s sitting at the kitchen table, casually discussing mathematical stuff with his dad that’s probably too complicated for Stiles and him to understand, but Lydia is brilliant, so it’s not really a surprise.

“Hey, Lyds,” he greets, when she hugs him close with one arm and then pushes him away enough to scrutinize him with the other.

“Typical you, Stilinski, to go get yourself kidnapped while I’m on the other side of the country.”

“Sorry, I really should’ve planned this better.” He smiles weakly, but knowing that Lydia is one of his best friends now is one of the best things that have ever happened to him. Even though Scott is just as smart as anyone, he doesn’t share the same interest in doing research for things that Stiles does.

“Definitely. So I thought I’d occupy you for the evening.”

Stiles’ heart sinks.

“What?” she asks sharply.

“I kind of promised I’d go to Derek’s tonight,” he confesses, and he notices his dad look up, very non-discreetly, from his three-day-old newspaper. Stiles definitely inherited his bad eavesdropping skills from someone.

“Derek?”

“He’s one of my dad’s deputies. We’re just hanging out.”

“Maybe you could bring Lydia?” his dad asks. Stiles very much remembers him saying that ‘tea is a wise choice’, but maybe that didn’t count for spending evenings in Derek’s apartment. His dad has a tendency to still think that Stiles is still fourteen.

Lydia suddenly smiles brightly. “Sure, Mr Stilinski, that’s a great idea!”

Stiles wants to kill her just a little bit.

“I say we go to my place first, so I can dress accordingly.”

Stiles makes sure to get directions to where Derek lives from his dad before they leave, but he’s not nearly as excited as before.

“So,” Lydia begins, as soon as they get inside the front door to her parents’ house. “Is this the guy who asked if you wear panties?”

“Oh my god!” Stiles fights the urge to beat his head against the nearest wall. “You can’t say that out loud! I was drunk when I confessed that to you. Over Skype. Nothing I say on Skype is okay to use against me!”

“I thought I’d lend you a pair before you head over there, if you want.”

Stiles almost stumbles over his own feet as he tries trailing after her upstairs. “What?!”

“You’re going there for sexy times, right?”

“I’m not having a threesome.”

“Oh please, like I’m going to cockblock you, Stilinski. I just agreed to get your dad out of your hair.”

He reacts strangely to her words. At first it’s relief, because he sure as hell doesn’t want Lydia with him to see Derek, no matter how awesome she is. And the next moment, he’s almost shaking from nervousness. Being alone with Derek opens up a whole other repertoire of options than before.

“You’re the best kind of friend,” he manages finally, when his brain has decided that it’s mostly good that he’s going to Derek’s alone.

“So, how about panties?”


 

Stiles almost feels like throwing up when he knocks on Derek’s door, three hours later. He hates how exceptionally talented Lydia is when it comes to convincing people of her ideas. Panties aren’t the least bit comfortable when you don’t have the body they’re designed for. Also, lace is kind of itchy.

It takes forever before Derek slides the door open. He lives in that industrial area just behind the centre of the town that has been rebuilt into supposedly really awesome apartments. Stiles just thinks it’s super weird that they don’t seem to have normal doors and that the elevator seems to be one of those that takes at least three lives a year.

Derek’s hair is a wet and messy when he opens, and his Henley clings to his torso just so, telling Stiles that he hasn’t had time to dry himself off completely after a shower.

“I’m sorry, am I early?” he asks, knowing full well that he isn’t. He’s even fifteen minutes late.

“No, I was running late from my workout, sorry.” Derek steps aside and gestures for Stiles to step inside.

And yeah, the apartment, the loft, truly is awesome. One wall is completely made of windows and the walls are bare bricks. It’s sparsely furnished, just like Stiles somewhere imagined it would be, and there’s a bed that looks like it’s been hastily made.

When his eyes make their way back to Derek, Stiles finds him watching him intently, like he’s trying to determine the verdict.

“This is awesome.” It feels unnecessary to say, because, duh, Stiles would sacrifice a lot of things to have an apartment like this instead of sharing one with Scott back at college. But the way Derek visibly relaxes makes Stiles want to say it a thousand times more.

“How was your workout?” he asks, when he’s been standing awkwardly inside the door for a few seconds.

Derek shrugs. “Same as always.”

Stiles had kind assumed that it would be pretty awkward hanging out with Derek, because Derek isn’t exactly a social butterfly and Stiles isn’t a genius when it comes to knowing what to say and what subjects to stay away from, but this is almost painful.

They end up watching re-runs of Jersey Shore, mostly because Derek isn’t sure where he’s put the remote and because Stiles is kind of okay with sighing over other people’s stupidity along with Derek. It’s also safe. No one gets abducted, dates a psycho girlfriend or becomes friends with a stun gun in Jersey Shore.

A lot of people seem to wear lace panties, however, and the ones Stiles are wearing are kind of ruining his night. He can’t find a comfortable position to sit in and they kind of ride up between his butt cheeks every time he moves even a little bit. He finds Derek frowning at him several times when he fidgets on the couch for a more comfortable way to sit. And then he just gives up.

“I think I should head home soon,” he says, because Derek hasn’t exactly been a ray of sunshine over his company either, so it’s probably for the best. He hates Lydia for ever coming up with this idea.

Derek’s face falls for a moment, until he manages to take control of his face, but Stiles stomach has already dropped from bad conscience. Okay, so maybe Derek is just emotionally constipated and kind of likes having Stiles around.

“Or, you know, I could stay for a while. If it’s okay for you.”

“Yeah, sure. Stay as long as you want.” Derek doesn’t sound overly welcoming and here share my house, my home and my heart, but he sinks deeper into the couch like he’s a bit relieved.

The cold light from the TV makes his face more angular, casting shadows under his cheekbones and accentuates the sharp line of his jaw. Stiles’ gaze pauses a moment on Derek’s long lashes and still-mussed hair, and states that he’s the perfect combination of utterly sexy and adorable. He wonders briefly how many people speed intentionally whenever Deputy Hale is ticketing people for driving too fast.

Stiles isn’t able to fully enjoy it, though, and he swears that he’s never, ever wearing panties again. Not even for Derek Hale. He’s not even half-convinced that Derek is into men in women’s lingerie.

“What?” Derek asks, and Stiles blinks back to reality, only to realise that Derek is staring back at him.

“Sorry, just got lost in here.” He points at his head vaguely and tries, as discreetly as possible, to find a more comfortable position for the hundredth time.

Derek frowns a little at him when he does, like he’s trying to determine what’s wrong. Stiles feels a bit guilty, though not entirely sure why.

“Can I use the bathroom?” Stiles asks, preferring going commando to this irritating piece of garment.

“Yeah, sure, it’s the left door over there.” Derek points towards the opposite wall, just beside the front door there’s a smaller one that isn’t made of iron. Nice. “You look like you’re going to take off any second,” he remarks, when Stiles fidgets his way across the room.

“What?” Stiles turns towards him, feeling uneasy and like Derek has X-ray vision and knows what he’s wearing underneath.

“It’s fine if you want to leave,” Derek points out awkwardly, his voice angular again.

“No, I don’t want to leave,” Stiles promises. God no, he just wants to take this hell off a garment off his body.

“Okay,” Derek doesn’t sound convinced. Then he looks embarrassed. “Right, I forgot why you came. I’ll go get the tea box.”

“No!” So Stiles is going to gravelly mess things up, because Derek is emotionally constipated. “I mean, that’s not the only reason. You know that.”

Derek looks confused, his mussed hair adding even more to the look. Stiles fights the urge to pinch his cheek a little bit.

“I’m not trying to make up an excuse to leave. I’m actually trying to enable myself to stay longer, because I want to.”

Derek is frowning, and yeah, maybe that wasn’t the best thing to say when Stiles just said that he wanted to borrow the bathroom.

“Okay, this is embarrassing and probably not anywhere near what you’re thinking right now. But I...I’m just going to take something off, in there, and then come right back. Okay?”

Derek is staring.

Stiles rubs his hands over his face in frustration. “I—er, okay, I get that I’ll have to explain everything now, or your brains is probably going to make things worse than they actually are. Or not, I’m not sure.” He takes a deep breath; Derek is still looking at him without saying anything. “You remember that conversation, right? When you asked me if I wear panties.”

Derek’s gaze snaps down to his crotch and then back to his face; he looks far closer to getting a seizure now than a minute ago.

“It’s all Lydia’s fault.”

Derek looks like he’s too shocked to even listen.

“Okay, so maybe I told her about that conversation one time, when I was drunk and she kept nagging me tonight, and after two hours of convincing arguments from her side, I agreed.”

Derek still looks the same.

“She is smarter than Einstein! How was I supposed to say no?!”

There’s a beat of silence.

“Derek? Did your brain die?” He briefly contemplates calling Lydia and yell: I broke Derek! What do I do?! but then Derek snorts. He looks out of his element: eyes wide, mouth half-open, hands clenching and unclenching repeatedly.

“God, I was actually worried there for a while.”

“For about three seconds?”

“Something like that.”

Derek smiles a little and then he grows serious again, eyes darting briefly down to Stiles’ crotch again. “Are you serious?”

“Yes, and they aren't comfortable. At all. I now understand the reason behind underwear for men being invented.”

“Why?”

Stiles blinks. “Well, for the most obvious reason - most men have dicks, most women don’t. Even though there are quite a few exceptions, of course. I’m just thinking we should call it: underwear for people with dicks, and underwear for people without dicks.”

Derek looks strangely amused and doesn’t roll his eyes the way a lot of people at college tend to do when Stiles starts talking. “No, I meant: why are you wearing them?”

Stiles wants to go with: Lydia made me one more time, but then changes his mind. “I was, maybe, theoretically, absolutely-no-pressure-intended hoping that we would, you know. Have sex.”

Derek is silent for a moment, and Stiles can’t swallow down the dryness in his throat or mouth.

Then he's suddenly crowding Stiles against the bathroom door, toe to toe, and Stiles can feel his breath against his face. Warm, spicy coffee. The kind mixed with hazelnuts.

Derek kisses him then, and somehow Stiles had expected a slow, searching, just-lips-brushing-against-lips kind of kiss. It is, at first, for about three seconds, before Stiles’ hands get a hold of the hair at the nape of Derek's neck. And then Derek is all over him, pressing their bodies together so hard, that Stiles can barely breathe between the heavy mass of Derek’s body and the hard surface of the door behind him. Not that he minds.

Derek’s lips are hot and wet, his hands on Stiles’ hips, holding him in place. His stubble burning lips and the skin of Stiles’ chin, cheeks, throat and the patch of skin peeking out at the neckline of his shirt. He scrabbles at the back of Derek’s shirt, needing the feel of skin beneath his palms, but Derek pulls away.

His hair is perfectly ruined, mouth swollen and red, and half-open. He looks at Stiles wide-eyed, like he wasn’t quite expecting this. Stiles just wants to yank him back in by the front of his shirt.

“Bed?” he asks after a moment, and his fingers curl around the belt loops of Stiles’ jeans, pulling him away from the door.

“Stupid question award,” Stiles remarks, trying to get himself to focus on something other than the way his dick is pressing against the thin lace.

Derek kisses him again. This time it’s different: slow and softer, and Stiles can’t help but make a small sound when Derek’s tongue slips just between his lips. He willingly obliges when Derek urges him down on the bed. He even helps getting his shirt off.

Derek closes his eyes briefly when Stiles slips his hands under the hem of his shirt, stroking upwards over the planes of his stomach and chest, feeling nipples harden under his palms. He bunches up the bottom of the Henley and leans in, kissing Derek’s navel, then the faint trail of hair beneath it. He can feel the muscles contract at the touch of his lips, and then relax, only to contract again when he moves lower. The sound Derek makes when he brushes his lips over the bulge in Derek’s jeans makes his cock twitch, and he’s just about to unzip, when Derek pushes him back against the mattress.

He groans when Derek’s mouth finds the hollow of his throat, when his tongue grazes his nipples and when Derek’s hands move up his thighs. Then Derek strokes the inseam of his jeans, moving one painful inch upwards at a time, and Stiles feels his cock twitch, precome wetting the fabric of his panties.

Hastily, he reaches down and unzips his pants, sighing lightly as he drags the zipper down. Derek groans when he lifts his hips from the bed and pushes the jeans halfway down his thighs. And Stiles feels so very bare under Derek’s scrutinizing gaze.

At first, he just stares and Stiles stares back at him, at Derek’s face, at his chest heaving, and then down at himself where the head of his cock is peeking up over the waistband of his panties.

“Fuck,” Derek breathes, and strokes the lace over Stiles’ hips with his fingertips, like he can’t quite believe his eyes, then with his palm, slowly sliding over to work the length of Stiles’ cock through the fabric. His hips jerk when Derek’s thumb does glorious things to the head of his cock.

He closes his eyes when Derek leans down, and the muscles in his thighs tremble when Derek starts licking him through the thin lace, every stroke with his tongue seeping through.

“Shit,” he breathes and bites back a mewl when Derek pushes his thighs apart, wide.

Derek keeps lapping him and Stiles can’t put together coherent thoughts anymore, when Derek starts stroking his balls and then dips his fingers lower, rubbing slowly over the skin there. And Stiles could have happily come right there, but he holds back. He almost loses it when Derek moves even lower, pressing his fingers at the rim of his ass and Stiles’ hips buck of the mattress.

“Derek,” he gasps, and forces his eyes open. He tries to ignore the way his cock twitches, and the way his body flutters under Derek’s fingers that keep on pressing, despite the fabric stopping him. “Derek, you need to get your clothes off and fuck me.”

“Yeah,” Derek agrees, groaning loudly and licks at the hollow of Stiles’ hip. He presses his face against Stiles’ crotch, inhaling deeply. “Fuck, you’re perfect.”

He gets off the bed, yanking the Henley over his head and starting to unzip his pants. Stiles watches, his body contracting at every inch of Derek’s body that gets revealed. He reaches down into his panties to stroke himself when Derek steps out of his jeans, leaving them in a heap on the floor. There’s a wet stain at the front of his boxer briefs, and Stiles can see his cock twitching when Derek notices him stroking himself. Derek’s Adam’s apple bobs in his throat when he swallows and Stiles can’t help but smirk. He did this. It's all because of him.

Derek stands frozen for a moment, but then he reaches for the drawer in the bedside table and tosses lube and a condom on the bed before he pushes his underwear down as well.

Stiles just looks for a moment. He thinks he has the right. His entire body protests when he gets up on one elbow and reaches for Derek’s cock, just feeling the warm weight of it in his hand for a moment. He strokes the precome down the length slowly, and then leans in to rub his tongue over the head, making Derek’s entire body jerk.

“Stiles,” he says, voice strangled. “Later. We can do that later. I really need to fuck you right now.”

Stiles entire body clenches down on itself and he lets out a shaky breath. He thinks about kicking his underwear off, but hell, he doesn’t care if they’re uncomfortable because they drive Derek crazy.

“Want me to keep these on?” he asks instead, and pulls at the waistband a little before letting it snap back against his hip.

Derek swallows and then nods, like his mouth is too dry to speak.

He rolls over on his stomach and lifts his hips slightly, spreading his thighs. Derek's hands are everywhere: rubbing the small of his back, kneading his thighs, his ass. He shudders when he feels the panties get pulled to the side. Derek’s fingers are cold and wet when they brush his entrance and he almost twitches away from the sensation. Derek works him slowly, and Stiles has to beg him before he presses the first finger inside. He pushes back against Derek’s hand and groans when he feels warm lips between his shoulder blades, and then at the nape of his neck.

“So good,” Derek says quietly, and Stiles isn’t sure if he’s talking to himself or not, but he arches his back all the same, whining when Derek finally lets him get a second finger.

Things get blurry after that, his thighs start trembling, his cock leaking steadily against his stomach and the sheets beneath him and he can’t stop the sounds from coming out as Derek’s fingers work him open.

“Come on,” he rasps, face pressed into the covers. “Derek, come on!”

For a moment he thinks that Derek won’t oblige, but the he pulls his fingers out and Stiles has to bite his lip to stay quiet. He shudders at the sound of a foil packet getting ripped open and the cap of the lube getting snapped open.

“Turn around,” Derek says and helps Stiles to roll over on his back.

Stiles is sure that he looks absolutely wrecked; his mouth feels sore, he’s pretty sure that he has hickeys in weird places and the inside of his thighs are mostly covered in lube. But Derek looks like Stiles is the best thing he’s seen all day, his eyes rapt as they rake all over Stiles, only to latch onto his face, locking eyes.

“Pillow,” Stiles manages, and Derek leans over him to grab one. Stiles lifts his hips as Derek pushes it underneath him.

Derek’s eyes drop low again, and Stiles spreads his thighs further, giving him access to everything. Derek briefly drags his fingers over his entrance, like he can't help himself, and then leans down to kiss him. It’s short, kind of rough, leaving Stiles whole body pounding. Derek sits back on his knees and helps Stiles wrap his legs around his waist and strokes down his cock a few times, adding more lube.

Stiles tilts his hips and lets out a small sound, when Derek pulls the panties to the side again, as far as they go. His eyes roll back in his head when he feels the blunt pressure of Derek’s cock against the rim of his ass, the muscles in his thighs twitching.

He wraps his legs tighter around Derek’s waist, urging him to keep pushing and groans when his body stretches and gives in easily. Derek starts slowly, letting Stiles’ body adjust even though he doesn’t want it, doesn’t need it. Stiles digs his fingers into the muscles on his back, latches his mouth onto that patch of skin just where Derek’s throat meets his shoulder and holds on.

The little sounds Derek makes whenever he pushes in makes his cock twitch and leak against his belly, and the groans he lets out when he pulls out makes him dig his heels into the back of Derek’s thighs and help pushing him back in again.

“Fuck, Derek!”

Derek grabs his ass, leans over him and pulls their bodies together, rubbing himself over Stiles cock every time he pushes back in. Over and over until Stiles throat is sore and he can’t help but reach down and rub his thumb over the head of his cock furiously until he’s coming so hard that the muscles in his stomach bunches painfully with every spurt. The sounds stutter out of him, his body jerking and Derek just holds him in place, keeps fucking him until he’s coming too, groaning loudly.

Derek stays put for a while, after he’s pulled out, and Stiles cards his fingers through Derek’s hair, letting their heart rates slow.

“Don’t expect me to wear panties all the time,” he comments, when Derek presses his lips against the skin below Stiles’ ear.

“I don’t,” Derek replies quietly, and rises onto his elbows.

Stiles isn’t able to look away when Derek locks eyes with him. Not that he wants to.

“I could wear them sometimes though,” Stiles offers. It’s mostly because if Derek even reacts even remotely the way he did today, it’s definitely worth all the discomfort in the world. Not that he’s ever going to say that out loud.

Derek opens his mouth to reply when there’s a knock on the door. Well, it’s more like someone banging their fist against it.

Stiles! Hale!” His dad’s voice comes through the door and Stiles almost faints. “Are you there?”

“Holy hell, what’s he doing here?!” Stiles scrambles to untangle himself from the sheets and Derek’s body, to find his clothes and get them back on.

Derek looks like he’s going to freak out, the colour drained from his face.

Stiles looks around, but he’s not able to find his shirt. “Oh my god, Derek! Open the door!”

His dad is still shouting on the other side. There’s a slight risk that Derek will be unemployed after this.

Derek gets into his jeans faster than Stiles would ever dream off and half-runs over to the door. Stiles gives up on finding his shirt and just hopes that his dad’s eyesight is bad enough for him not to notice that he’s not wearing one. Which isn’t likely.

“He-ey, dad,” Stiles says when he reaches the door.

His dad looks from him to Derek and then back again. Stiles wants to die and when he glances at Derek, he looks like he wouldn’t mind joining.

“I guess I don’t have to ask why you didn’t return my calls,” his dad says stiffly and his face is definitely a shade darker than when he’s been exercising.

“I...I didn’t know you’d call. I told you I was going to Derek’s.”

“With Lydia,” his dad points out and then he looks like he’s going to faint. “Please tell me that she isn’t here too?”

“NO! No, it’s just me and Derek. Derek and I.” Stiles laughs nervously. “I didn’t hear my phone. Sorry. Please don’t kill Derek.”

“Of course not.”

Stiles can see Derek’s shoulders sagging in relief at his dad’s words.

“I can’t make the same promise for you, though. Be home by noon tomorrow.” His dad gives him a stern look, and then he turns toward Derek. “Goodnight, Hale.”

“Goodnight, sir.”

“Oh my god,” Stiles breathes, when the door shuts closed. “I thought he was going to kill you.”

“Me too,” Derek admits, and he looks like he’s just seen a ghost. “I think I need to quit my job.”

“Please, you’re the best thing he has in that place. He’s going to cry and disown me if you quit because of this.”

Derek kisses him then, very differently from all their kisses before. His nose brushes lightly against Stiles’ before he presses their lips together and Stiles thinks it feels like he’s smiling.

They have lemon tea before they go back to bed, and Stiles feels a knot in his belly that he didn’t know he had loosen.

He doesn’t have a nightmare that night.