Stiles doesn't hear the knock on his front door, but he figures there must have been one, because now his dad's calling out to him,
"Stiles, do you know why Derek Hale just passed out on our front porch?"
Stiles freezes, carton of milk half way to his mouth. He looks around the empty room, wondering if it has any answers. Derek Hale just passed out on his front porch -- sounds like one of the signs of the coming apocalypse. He drops the milk onto the counter and runs towards the entrance hall.
His dad's bending down over Derek's body -- Derek's very, very still body. Fuck. "Derek?"
Down on his knees, Stiles' dad is feeling up under Derek's jaw, fingers pressing in. Stiles does a quick inventory: no blood, no external sign of injury, just Derek's prone body sprawled out on his porch, looking unusually vulnerable.
"Stiles, answer me," his dad hisses, his ear to Derek's mouth, and Stiles realizes he's just been staring. His stomach clenches uncomfortably, like he’s supposed to help somehow, though his mind's blank.
"There's a pulse."
"Awesome. Uhm, let's get him inside, because Mrs. McQuarry just looked out her window, and God knows half the neighborhood will be gathering in a minute."
When Derek's spread out on their couch, his legs and arms at awkward angles, Stiles' dad turns to him. "All right, now what, Mister werewolf expert?"
"I don't know! I haven't seen him in weeks." Stiles' hands fly up in defense. "Usually I just hit him when he's like this."
His dad eyes him like he thinks Stiles' methods are extremely suspect.
Stiles shrugs. "Hey, it’s worked before.”
It doesn't work now. There's just the crack of the slap that knocks Derek's head to the side, but Stiles does notice something odd.
"What the hell is that on his neck?" Dad asks, but Stiles is already rushing upstairs to grab the Bestiary. He's seen that mark before.
"Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fucker." Stiles flips through the pages of the heavy tome while making his way back down stairs, dreading what he's about to find. He's read about it before, and it's not exactly a good luck brand.
"Language!" his dad says; then he takes one look at the picture Stiles holds out to him and whispers, "fuck."
The beast on the page -- something called a Chuul which leaves a puncture wound that looks a lot like the shots Stiles once got for an allergy test -- is covered in a catalog of spines, horns and scales.
"What does the book say?" Dad asks.
It says we're screwed, Stiles doesn't tell him. He reads in silence for a moment, double checking a solution that sounds too good to be true. What are the odds of Deaton having a jar of fresh petals from the mirabilis jalapa in Peru?
A quick call confirms he doesn't. Stiles doesn't even spare a minute to be disappointed; there's always a plan B.
"His temperature's dropping," Dad says. He's sitting beside Derek, his hand on Derek's forehead while Derek's unconscious form trembles.
"Don't worry, Dad." Stiles sighs, reading through the ways the spell could backfire. "I'm working on Plan B."
"Now hold on," Dad says. "The last time you said Plan B, we had to rebuild half the school."
"No, that was a Plan C, Dad. This is only B. It'll be fine."
The list of warnings that accompany the spell are illegible beneath a smudge of what is probably blood. Plan B is going to suck, but they move Derek onto the floor and push all the furniture back as far as they can.
"Can you get his shirt off? I need to grab my silver dagger. We don't have a lot of time." Not that he's complaining. The less time he has to think about the consequences of what he's about to do, the better.
Stiles gets the dagger from the birch wood box under his bed. It's got a series of spirals etched in the blade, and it feels unnaturally warm in his hand.
He unbuttons his shirt and steps up to the mirror, wincing (and okay, maybe whimpering) as he carves a shallow backward image below his left clavicle to match the one he'll need to cut into Derek. The skin beneath the blade splits and smokes, healing almost instantly until the rune is a raw pink scar.
He doesn't clean his blood from the dagger.
"Jesus, Stiles," his dad says as Stiles stalks into the living room with a dripping dagger in his hand. "What the hell are you about to do?"
Derek's shirtless, shivering at his dad's feet. Stiles straddles his waist, and hopes when this is all over, if he's successful, Derek won't ruin it all by killing him.
Once the rune is carved in Derek's chest, their blood mixing on the blade, Stiles reaches for that 'spark' Deaton talks about. He can never find it when he wants to pull a prank or show off, but leaning over Derek, it flashes bright inside him.
"The poison's killing his wolf," he says. "I just have to take over that side of him long enough to..."
He has to trail off as his magic rushes into Derek.
He feels Derek's wolf, hot and wild, panicked as it tugs at his magic. He lets the wolf in until he can wrap him magic around it like a blanket, sheltering it from the poison.
It should only take a moment: protect the wolf, purge the venom.
He's prepared for a fight, for it to be like Derek and his constant bickering -- a push pull. Only the wolf surges at the touch of his magic, welcoming his presence, and Stiles really isn't sure how to deal with that.
There's a shiver against his mind like fur and hot breath, and a feeling of something freed after too long tied up, and oh yeah, Derek is definitely going to kill him. Just not for the reason he'd thought.
Sure, Stiles learned how to suppress a werewolf's power and didn't tell Derek, but the real problem now is that he knows Derek's secret. Stiles can feel the wolf press close in the spiritual equivalent of licking his face and wagging. His skin's warming from the intimacy of it, and his instinct is to curl up into it, invite it in and stroke it. He shivers, reminding himself where he is -- for fuck's sakes his dad's watching this -- and that Derek's life hangs in the balance.
It takes all of his focus to stay on task and push the poison from Derek's body. It's an agonizing process with every moment connecting them further, entwining Stiles' magic with Derek's wolf in ways he's not entirely comfortable with -- ways he has no idea if he'll be able to undo.
But with the last of the poison gone, his senses return enough that he can hear his breath, and he can feel sweat and blood on his cheek where it's pressed to Derek's chest. Thank God he's bent over, because he's half hard, and even as he falls back into himself, he can still feel the wolf trying to get close to him.
"Stiles?" Dad calls from what feels like far away.
He holds off as long as he can without making his father panic. "Yeah," he says slowly, not quite ready to move. He's drenched in sweat, hot all over, not quite able to shake the fog from his brain or the contentment from his bones.
Beneath him, Derek's eyes flutter open.
Stiles forces himself to lean back, and he wipes his sleeve over the blood on Derek's now healed skin before meeting his eyes. There's panic there, sliding into confusion, but he doesn't look angry. Maybe that will come when he's had a second to recover.
Derek opens his mouth, then notices Stiles' dad and seems to think better of whatever he was going to say.
"I got stung."
"Yup," Stiles says. He should get off Derek. He's still straddling him, which was necessary when he was performing the spell and needed easy access to carve the rune in Derek's chest. He can't seem to make himself move now. "You passed out on our front porch."
"Uh, Stiles?" his dad says. "Maybe you should get off him. Give him a little breathing room."
He looks up, and his dad's expression is somewhere between extremely uncomfortable and traumatized. That's enough to get Stiles standing, but as he moves back, he feels a forlorn tug from the wolf.
The wolf he should no longer be able to feel.
The wolf that feels nothing like the grouchy guy beneath him who's now looking a little stunned.
Derek rolls to his side and sits up.
"I should go," Derek says, even as he takes a step towards Stiles and not towards the door.
Stiles’ chest tightens at the thought, and shit, they need to talk about this. Preferably when his dad isn't hanging on every word like this is an interrogation and the perp is just about to give him the final piece of the puzzle.
"Dad, can you get Derek a glass of water? The spell was pretty intense." Stiles turns to Derek. "You should sit down. You've been mostly dead for almost an hour."
As soon as they're alone, Derek grabs Stiles by the wrist. "Why do I... what did you do, Stiles?"
"You were dying; I couldn't wait around for a Peruvian florist."
Derek gives him a look like what the fuck. "It feels like--" He stops to listen, then lets Stiles go. "Your father's coming back." And now he does move to the door.
"Okay, that doesn't feel so good," Stiles says. "Don't go far. Dad's working tonight. Just hang close, and we can sort this out."
Derek stumbles out -- actually stumbles -- looking a lot less stoic than usual, and Stiles wasn’t kidding when he said the separation didn’t feel right. He wants to follow, but his dad’s back already, looking around the room like Derek might be lurking behind the furniture.
"Thanks." Stiles takes the water and downs it. The spell was intense, and it helps distract him from the empty, achy feeling growing inside his chest. "Derek left. He, uh, had to go. Somewhere."
Stiles' father raises his eyebrow, and looks more disappointed in the quality of the lie than the lie itself. Admittedly, it's not his best work.
“Well,” Dad says, “I’m just glad he’s still among the living. But if that creature’s on the loose, you need to ask Deaton about getting some of those flowers.”
“Will do. And I’ll read over the Bestiary again for anything that might help us track it down.”
They move the couch back into place, and Dad grumbles something about staying safe when he finds some blood on the carpet.
It's only an hour later when his Dad leaves, and the car can't be more than a block down the street before Stiles hears his window slide open. By this point, he's too relieved to do anything more than flop down on his bed, and say, "Oh, thank God."
The separation hasn't been painful, exactly. It's more like the kind of wrong he imagines it would feel to hear your own baby crying and just ignore it. For an hour.
Not that Derek is a baby. Or a cub. Whatever. It's just been wrong.
Derek's on top of him immediately. Stiles breathes out a sigh of relief at the surge of contentment in his chest, despite Derek's claws twisting into his shirt and the low warning growl spilling from between his fangs.
"What did you do?" Derek says, and Stiles thinks he'll be dead before he can explain. But instead of going for the kill Derek darts forward and shoves his nose into Stiles' neck, nuzzling the tender spot behind Stiles' ear.
"Okay," Stiles says, and his hips are pressing up as he reaches for Derek's shoulders. "That's... Yeah, keep--"
Derek doesn't answer, so Stiles closes his eyes and tilts his head back, arching his neck. And maybe he suspected from extensive research that a wolf might respond well to that, but right now he's not guessing; the part of Derek that's all wolf wants it.
Which makes him pause. What if it's only the wolf, and he's taking advantage? Does Derek have Stiles-related multiple personality disorder? Is he pulled between a wolf that wants and a man that doesn't?
Stiles is an asshole. A giant cavernous, putrid asshole. He pushes hard on Derek's shoulders, and it feels like trudging through tar, with both his magic and Derek's wolf screaming at the rejection.
"No," Stiles pleads, "I did this to you."
Derek whimpers in protest but he lets himself be shoved to the side. He shivers through the shock of the separation like he's been doused in a bucket of ice water. It seem to sobers him though, and his voice is stoney as he says, "Explain."
This isn't going to go well, but the only way out is through.
"So the thing that stung you -- a Chuul." Stiles huffs out a hysterical laugh and sits up. "Which until today I thought only existed in D&D for fuck's sake."
"D&D," Derek says flatly.
"Not important. It's just... The toxin is worse when you're a werewolf. Deadly to the wolf, and I might have had to sort of take the wolf part of you and make him my own for a minute? Get really friendly, just to, you know, keep you from dying."
Derek looks like he's starting to understand. The understanding isn't necessarily a good thing, he realizes, as Derek face morphs from something hungry to something darker, angrier. His fangs elongate, his head tilting like he wants to get the kink from his neck before ripping Stiles’ throat out.
"It was plan B!" Stiles scrambles backwards until his elbow connects with his headboard. "Plan A was letting you die while Deaton got on a plane for Peru. I didn't know your wolf would... do what it did. And now it's messing with how you feel. I know you wouldn't be all into this..." Stiles waves a hand in front of his chest. "If the wolf weren't so in control right now. I know that I'm not..."
He trails off, because Derek isn't even looking at him anymore. He's still wolfed out, still upset, but Stiles doesn't know how to fix this.
"I didn't mean to do this. I swear. I would never force you-- Look, I'll talk to Deaton," he says. “Maybe he can help us figure out why the wolf is making you feel something that's not real."
Derek stares at him, a mess of emotion flashing across his face as he tries to keep up with Stiles' explanation like he's following a pinball game.
Shaking his head, he says, "I don't-- that's not." His eyes flash blue when he looks up. "What you did was... it's just not done, Stiles."
"I know, okay? But it was that or you dying."
"That not what I mean. It shouldn't even be possible." Derek freezes, his eyes falling to Stiles' lap.
Stiles follows his gaze to where Derek's hand has found its way to Stiles' thigh.
"Shit," Derek agrees, but he doesn't move his hand. "It shouldn't be possible, but that never seems to stop you, does it?" He shakes his head as though to clear it, and his fangs recede. They sit in silence for a moment. "There aren't two of us."
"There aren't two of... I don't know what you mean."
"Did you think there was a man and a wolf taking turns? I was born a werewolf, Stiles. You could take away the strength and the speed, but the wolf... that's just part of me."
"Yeah, but the wolf clearly feels something for me that you don't so..."
Derek is looking at him like he's an idiot. "We aren't separate. You, your magic, touched me. Saved me. And I responded to that like I always do. Just this time--"
"The rune," Stiles says.
Derek nods. "It intensified the bond, the one we've both been ignoring since you took care of me through the wolfsbane bullet, and it made it a tangible living thing between us. An open line. Letting my wolf, as you say, react directly with your magic."
"So great, I have a mystical bond with your wolf, and you're what... stuck with it?"
"No, Stiles. The wolf feels what I feel. That's how it's always been."
"But that can't be right. The wolf was..." Stiles leans in closer and Derek's hand on his thigh moves higher. "Seriously, the wolf really wants to get up close to me. Like 'share the same actual space as me' close."
Derek sighs. "That's what I feel. It's just not something I wanted you to know."
The hand on his leg is hot, branding him as the words hang in the air between them. Derek's fingers curl and dig into the tender meat of his inner thigh, and his legs fall open involuntarily.
"Stiles," Derek says, but the name is guttural, like it's spoken from deep in his chest. The hand that's not touching him is clawing at Stiles' mattress; the other is inching further up Stiles' seam.
Heart in his throat, Stiles makes no move either way, just keeps eye contact, giving his consent and trembling only a little in anticipation. Then Derek's thumb is pressed against Stiles' balls, circling the worn fabric of his jeans at the crotch, and Stiles swallows with an audible click.
"So, I guess I'm not taking advantage then," Stiles says in a voice that croaks out higher than he'd like.
When he's pictured them together in bed (on the floor, in the jeep, at the school -- don't judge him), he's imagined himself sounding a lot more in control.
Derek moves his hands -- damn it -- to the back of Stiles' knees and pulls until Stiles is sprawled on his back again. Derek's on all fours above him, and he leans down, his mouth so close to Stiles'.
"Not taking advantage, no."
Stiles can feel the warmth of the wolf surging forward, closing that distance seconds before Derek even moves. They may not be separate entities, constantly warring for dominance as Stiles had imagined, but the feel of them is distinct. The wolf's excited, pleased at having chosen and been accepted, thrumming with the need to be as close as possible. Derek, on the other hand, is tentative, keeping the first kiss restrained and far too chaste.
"I won't break," Stiles whispers against the corner of Derek's mouth as the kiss ends.
Derek huffs a laugh, pressing his forehead to Stiles' temple. "Are you sure about that?"
Actually, Stiles likes to think about all the ways Derek could try to break him if he'd let himself go for it. Or even the ways this bond makes everything more intense and might break them both in the best possible sense.
Maybe he's just riding the wave of emotion from a wolf that's more joyful than aggressive, but Stiles feels his magic like a hum, and he thinks he could take just about anything right now.
"Try me," he says.
Derek's eyes spark like a match dragged across flint at the words. Their next kiss is far from chaste. Derek pounces, covering Stiles' body with his own so they're touching in a million places at once, each one searing Stiles' skin.
His cheeks start to get tender from the scratch of stubble as the kissing turns desperate. They pause only when they're breathless, having forgotten to breathe in the fog of want.
It's as hungry and as wild as Stiles fantasized and a thousand times more intimate. The connection's a feedback loop, driving them higher, sharing every secret. Stiles reaches up to press his palm flat to the center of Derek's chest -- it's still bare and now very warm, moving with each ragged breath.
"You feel that?" he whispers. The feedback between them, the connection he thought he'd need Deaton to strip away, pulses in a steady thrum. It sends a hot flush all the way down through his now hard cock caught in his jeans and further to his thighs and the back of his knees. "Jesus, you're hot." He groans. "And it’s not just that, you're so... I really..."
"I feel it," Derek says, breathing his words into Stiles' open mouth. "I know."
Derek's hips jerk forward, whether it’s meant to drive Stiles insane or it's completely involuntary, Stiles can't be sure, but his back arches in response, and a low moan slips from his throat. He presses himself up, chasing the tease from the initial brush of their cocks, and Derek's hands tighten around his biceps like he's holding on for dear life.
Lost to the sensation, Stiles lifts himself off the mattress to meet the constant roll of Derek's hips. Any more friction and he's going to come in his pants, which doesn’t surprises him at all. Then Derek's growling something into his neck on the down thrust, and through the haze of lust and affection he can make out the chant of "Off" coming from above.
For a sharp moment, he thinks Derek wants to stop, and he doesn't understand, because how can he get off Derek when he's pinned to the sheets? But then Derek's pulling the hem of his shirt until it's tucked under his armpits. The button and zip of his jeans are next, and they're half way down before another roll of Derek's hips derails them.
"Fuck it," Derek says, fisting a hand around Stiles' cock, which is not fair -- not fair -- because Stiles is about to come, and he hasn't even seen Derek naked yet.
He shoves Derek back enough that he can finally get at Derek's belt -- who the hell wears a belt at times like this? -- and he tries to find enough focus to complete his task. It's not easy. Derek's hand hasn't left his dick, and he's saying shit like just let me and come on, come on as he pumps faster, as if Stiles orgasming is all Derek's ever wanted. The connection between them is telling him it's true, but Stiles just isn't ready to accept it.
It takes a few minutes, Stiles’ clumsy fingers struggling with Derek's tight jeans, but it's worth it when he finally gets a hand on Derek's cock. It's gorgeous, thick and hard, and fits so perfectly in Stiles' hand that he mirrors Derek's strangled whine with the first tug.
"Stiles." Derek squeezes his eyes shut and tightens his grip on Stiles' cock, losing his rhythm. "Fuck."
They're entwined, every part of them, inside and out, and it's hard to tell one from the other -- just a tangle of body and soul, sweat and need. The mark on Stiles' chest burns like he's being freshly cut.
A few hours ago he didn't know Derek wanted him, and now the mark's telling him it's a hell of a lot more than want.
The tension that's been building pulls him taught, his head thrown back until he can't see Derek in the dim room. But Derek's sliding up to lean close, his mouth falling open on the in breath.
"Yes," Derek says in a moan, like he's the one who's coming, but damn, it's definitely Stiles. Everything's being drawn up and out, heart and heat and magic, until he's calling out Derek's name, hanging in some strung-tight balance for an age before dropping back to the bed, strings cut.
Stiles lies boneless while Derek bats Stiles' unmoving hand away and takes over finishing himself off. After a half-assed noise of protest, Stiles lets it go and watches, mesmerized.
Derek's a work of art, hovering over him with one hand on the mattress by Stiles’ ear, the other fisting his own cock in a blur; his abs twitch with every pump. He's breathing like it's painful and there's not nearly enough oxygen in the room for what he needs. His rhythm stutters, and Stiles realizes what's about to happen the second before Derek paints Stiles' abs and crotch in thick white strips.
He feels the wolf preen, so fucking pleased with this new development. It matches the tingle he gets from the rune on his chest, like a lock sliding into place with a satisfying click.
Something changes then. He can still feel the wolf; maybe he’ll always be able to feel the wolf -- and seriously, he’d have no complaints about a connection to the part of Derek that’s all easy affection and belonging -- but the stress and the fear of separation have gone.
For a few minutes there's just the sound of their breathing, loud in his room against the murmur of evening insects outside his window, and Stiles feels like he's back after a long absence. There's his laptop by the bed; there's the same blue sheet bunched beneath him. There's Derek with his face still in the frown of deep pleasure, with his wolf curling up and settling in. But all of it is new on the other side of what they've just been together.
"We're..." Anything he says now is going to be less than what this means to him.
Derek reaches down to slide his fingers through the mess on Stiles' abs. "Off," he says, pulling Stiles' shirt further up.
"Demanding I strip so you can rub your jizz all over me?" He rolls his eyes, but sits up to peel the shirt off. He has a vested interest in keeping it clean, anyway. His dad does the laundry. He tosses the shirt onto the floor and lies back. "Have at it, but I'm showering before it gets crusty."
Derek's staring, eyes wide and serious, and the tension in the room racks up a notch.
Reaching out, Derek's hand hovers over the pink scar of the rune Stiles made an hour or so before. "You… did this?"
"Yeah, I saved your life, remember?" Stiles says. "Long lasting and unknown consequences and all."
An untold emotion flickers across Derek's face as he lets his hand fall to Stiles' chest, covering the rune. "This is… us," he says.
And Stiles can feel what he means, the connection there, through the touch, that link of wolf and magic, physically represented in the damaged skin of his chest. In a week, a month, it will be only faint silvery lines. But it's permanent; it feels permanent.
"Are you upset?"
Derek looks up and him, and shakes his head, nuzzling back into Stiles' shoulder. He sighs and shifts a bit, but his hand never leaves the rune. "Thank you."