Four years out of Beacon Hills and Stiles’s life is not what he had anticipated. He graduates from the FBI academy, sure, in the top five percent of his class, despite some of his lecturers’ open reservations about his ability to study without keeping up a constant running monologue. Rather than going down the criminology path like he always thought he would, he’s drawn instead to the science and technology side of investigation. Really it isn't that much different from pinning strings to noticeboards; instead he creates logarithms that show patterns and previously unseen connections within data.
Within a year of leaving Quantico he is headhunted to a military facility in Colorado, given a mid-level security clearance and stuck in a lab to: “factor and mitigate the risk of terrorist attack using high specification technology”. He isn't actually told the main purpose of the base, but Stiles doesn’t mind, not at first. He spends his days working by himself in the lab, extrapolating data and running simulations using a program he created, investigating strange, not-quite-obeying-the-laws-of-physics technology, and tells himself this is what he’s always wanted to do.
Stiles isn’t stupid. He isn’t even movie sidekick stupid, so it only takes a few presentations to his superiors showing cause and effect of the shouldn’t-even-work-tech for him to start thinking he’s dealing with space or time travel. Magic isn’t outside the realms of possibility either. Stiles has found that scientists often make terrible liars, so casually asking anyone what they’re working on in the mess usually results in stutters and spilled drinks and dropped papers. Colonel O’Neill refuses to answer any more of Stiles’s questions and has started rubbing his temples whenever he sees Stiles approach. “Need to know, Stilinski, remember?”
He kind of reminds Stiles of his dad.
“I know but if I just knew a tiny bit more though…” Stiles follows the Colonel until O’Neill pointedly gestures towards the ‘Restricted Area’ sign on the door he was about to walk through. Stiles holds up his hands to stop him.
“You know I’d be more help around here if you just told me something ... aaand he’s closed the door.”
So Stiles just goes into work every day, tells himself he’s saving the world even he if he isn’t sure exactly how, and no-one knows about it. At night, in his tiny apartment just outside the base, he skypes with his dad and Scott, tells them he’s happy and busy and making friends.
Stiles is reading reports on his tablet and drinking from a bottle of water in the base mess hall when he realises there is someone standing at his table. Dragging his eyes up from the calculations he chokes on his water and then spits some all over Derek, who barely flinches.
He hasn’t seen Derek since the final showdown in Beacon Hills, when he saved Derek’s life (again), Derek saved his (again), and they had an awkward goodbye just before Derek drove off into the sunset. Stiles even got a thank you out of him for proving that Derek wasn’t guilty of mass murder to the FBI in about a day and a half.
“You’re welcome. Do I get a hug?”
“No hug. Okay. Good seeing you, Derek.”
Derek stared at him for a long moment. “See you, Stiles.”
Stiles had watched the red of the tail lights fade. Scott told him Derek is travelling in South America, and Derek texted back about once for every twelve of Stiles’s to confirm he wasn’t dead.
And now Derek is standing in front of him with his usual expression of faint exasperation. “Derek, holy shit, what…”
Derek sighs, pulls out the chair next to Stiles and waits for him to stop spluttering. Stiles manages to swallow and realises Derek is wearing standard marine garb: combat trousers and boots and a close-fitting long-sleeved top. His hair, while still spikey, is more closely cropped to his head. The beard is gone.
“Dude, are you undercover or something?” Stiles hisses. “You’re gonna get me fired! Or, like, court-martialed!”
“I’m not undercover, Stiles, I work here,” Derek says patiently.
Stiles boggles. “You work here? How? Why?”
“Special Task Force. That’s all I can say, as you don’t have clearance.”
“Hey, I so do! I have really high clearance!”
“What’s the Stargate Program?”
“It’s, it’s a theoretical defence system--”
Derek snorts. “You don’t have clearance.”
“And you do? How do you?”
Derek shrugs and steals half of Stiles’s untouched sandwich. “I got recruited. Seemed like the right thing to do. And I’m getting paid, which makes a change.”
“But you’re not military, or a scientist, or a federal agent. You’re... Derek,” Stiles says weakly.
Derek smirks. “And yet I have clearance,” he says, then takes a big bite of the sandwich.
“Wait, is it because of, you know, grrr?” Stiles says in a low voice, making a clawing motion.
“That’s part of it. Plus I heal. Helpful in intense situations.”
Stiles is baffled. “Intense situations around here? Like what?”
Derek pushes back his chair. “Good seeing you, Stiles.”
But Derek is already heading out the door.
“You owe me a sandwich!” Stiles yells after him.
Stiles keeps working on his reports over the next few weeks, filled with resentment that he doesn’t know as much as everyone else seems to. He sees Derek in the corridors sometimes, and he usually looks genuinely happy to see Stiles, if a small nod in his general direction means happy in Derek’s world. Stiles asks Derek if he wants to come round for pizza in between training missions, and to his surprise Derek agrees. They trade barbs over beer and pepperoni with extra cheese. Stiles wishes he could get Derek drunk so it would be easier to get information out of him, as he seems impervious to any of Stiles’s usual methods of interrogation.
Finally Derek says, not unkindly, “Look, you know I can’t tell you anything. So how about you stop trying to get it out of me, and keep doing what you’re doing in the lab. They’re bound to give you clearance sooner or later if you impress them enough.”
Stiles chews on his thumbnail then punches a couch cushion. “Yeah. Sorry.”
Derek stretches. “Don’t get mad at me because I won’t breach national security.”
“I just... I hate being so close, you know? Knowing there’s something, that last piece of the puzzle that’s just out of reach. All those years in Beacon Hills, while you guys did the fighting and biting, I was usually the one figuring it out, that’s what I did, what I was fucking good at. And now, they want my brain, they want the puzzles solved for them, but I don’t get to see the whole picture.”
He glances over at Derek, who looks mildly sympathetic.
“Stiles, you’ll prove yourself invaluable somehow. I only know because... I need to know.”
“Yeah, well, maybe if I knew, I could make some real changes. How am I expected to do my job when I don’t know why I’m doing what I’m doing?”
Derek shrugs. “Maybe that’s what they’re thinking. You’ve been proving yourself up to this point. Maybe you’ll be given clearance so you can use what you’ve been working on and apply it to…"
Stiles’s eyes widen.
“... the problem,” Derek finishes.
Derek claps him on the shoulder as he’s leaving. “Don’t quit. From what I hear, you’re doing a great job.”
“Yeah? You heard that?”
“Try not to let it go to your head. Thanks for dinner.” Derek gives Stiles’s shoulder a squeeze before he heads out. Stiles leans his head on the doorframe and watches Derek’s back disappearing down the stairs.
Two things happen the following week: one of the control room technicians gets transferred to the Pentagon, and a report Stiles wrote ends up in the hands of the General. Stiles is walking toward his lab, nose in his phone when he’s yanked into a side corridor. “Hey!” he yelps.
“Quiet,” Derek growls, pushing him up against the wall.
“Oh my god, just like old times. What the hell, Derek?”
Derek loosens his grip. “I heard you’re getting bumped up.”
“You’re getting clearance. They want you on the control room team.”
“Shut the fuck up!”
“Try to look surprised when they tell you. Just thought you’d want to know beforehand.”
“Bullshit. You wanted to see the look on my face when I found out, don’t lie.”
The corner of Derek’s mouth quirks up. “I’ll buy the beer once your clearance gets confirmed.” He lets go of Stiles’s shirt, pulls it straight and walks around the corner. Stiles pauses for a beat then decides he doesn’t care about the security cameras. He does a twisting leap of joy in the air, then clears his throat and heads back in the direction of the lab.
Three days later he texts Derek. “Pizza. My place. 7pm.”
Stiles is uncharacteristically quiet as he lets Derek in. Derek says nothing while he takes his jacket off, sets the six pack he’s brought down and then pops the cap off one. He leans against the tiny kitchen counter and takes a swig, steadfastly ignoring Stiles who is practically vibrating under the pressure of waiting for Derek to break first. Derek takes pity on him when Stiles throws himself face first across the countertop, gripping the edge and groaning dramatically.
Stiles ricochets off the counter and grips Derek’s t-shirt in both hands, almost making him spill his beer. “The Stargate is part of a giant network of wormholes to other galaxies? The lost city of Atlantis exists? Hyperspace travel exists? Motherfucking aliens?! ‘Try to look surprised when they tell you, Stiles’?!’”
Derek nods. “Pretty much.”
Stiles steps back. “Okay. I have the damn clearance. Spill your guts. Tell me eeeverything.”
Stiles paces around the room while Derek sits on the sofa and eats pizza while he explains that some werewolves, once they’d passed an intensive background check, had been recruited by an enterprising section of the US military. They realised that werewolves’ ability to heal might be useful in the fight against the Wraith, an alien race who had the ability to literally suck the life out of a human body.
“So, are there Wraiths here, on Earth?”
Derek swallows his last bite of pizza. “No, not here. Not if we can help it.”
“So, how are you going to fight them?”
“That’s only part of it. There are away missions and base security and…” Derek leans against the back of the couch and turns his head to look at Stiles. “I’m going to Atlantis. The Daedalus returns to Earth in a week and I’ll be on it when it heads back out again.”
"What's the Daedalus?"
Derek narrows his eyes. "Haven't you read the specs?"
"Dude, there are literally terabytes of stuff for me to get through. Gimme a chance to catch up."
"It's a second gen interstellar starship."
There's a long pause. "Shut up. Just shut your mouth."
Stiles sits beside Derek on the couch and takes a long swig of beer. “How long are you going for?”
“Not sure yet. They have to see how we do out there. Six months, maybe?”
“Why aren't you going through the Stargate?”
“The Daedalus is going anyway on a supply run. It saves Atlantis from needing to power the gate if they don't have to.”
Stiles picks at his beer label and doesn’t meet Derek’s eye. Derek lays a warm hand on the back of his neck. “Sorry I couldn’t tell you before now. I wanted to.”
“Bullshit. You could have told me you were leaving without needing to say where.”
Stiles shifts his gaze. Derek has the grace to look guilty. “I thought you were used to me taking off.”
“No, Derek, not used to it. Just, had to deal with it since you never really gave us a fucking heads up on the matter.”
“Thought you wouldn’t care either way.”
“Well, I do, I care, all right?” He’s so sick of Derek acting like a martyr and using that as a reason not to form attachments, or walk away from the ones he has without looking back. He wants to say so but the four beers and the warm weight on the back of his neck is making it difficult to focus. “If you must know, it’s just nice having you around. People here don’t really... get me.”
“Yeah, I don’t really get you either.” Derek finally takes his hand away. “Apparently you can send emails from Atlantis, don’t ask me how. I’ll keep in touch this time.”
“Hey, you better. I need to know everything, dude.” Stiles stares at him. “You never used to be this nice to me.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t like new people. I’d be nice to Peter if he turned up here.”
“Well, that’s a complete lie, and we both know it.”
Derek’s mouth twitches. “I should go.”
“Right, yeah. I’m sure you’ll have tons to do over the next few days.” He stands up and Derek follows him, grabbing his wrist.
“Stiles, calm down.”
“I am calm.”
“You’re really not. Heartbeat, remember?”
“God, your hearing is really annoying sometimes, you know that?”
Derek considers him for a moment then, without warning, pulls him into a hug. Stiles lets out a small squawk. “Have you caught feelings, Sourwolf?”
“Maybe you’re rubbing off on me.”
Stiles snorts and lifts his head.
Derek rolls his eyes.
Stiles keeps himself busy over the next week, monitoring all gate activity for Earth, Atlantis, and several other key gates across the entire network. Any free time he has he spends reading anything he can get his hands on about the history of the SGC. It’s eventful. He gains more respect for O’Neill seeing what he’s pulled over the years protecting Earth from the bad guys. All of the theory Stiles has been working on starts to make a lot more sense now he knows what it’s being applied to.
As well as working on the gate, the techs get taken to the chair room to run diagnostic work. Stiles tries to act cool and focus on the readouts on his tablet whilst his fingers itch to touch. The chair is acting glitchy and he has resigned himself to doing boring simulations when Monroe, the lead technician announces, “We should run some practical tests to see if our calculations are correct. Anyone here got the ATA gene?”
No-one volunteers. Monroe rubs his eyes. “Shit. We’ll have to finish this another day, that’s gonna knock our times back.”
Stiles raises his hand. “Well, I mean, I don’t know that I don’t, so I could try if you think it’s worth a shot.”
“You know only a tiny percentage of humans carry the gene, right Stilinski? You haven’t even been scanned for it.”
“No, because I only got promoted to the gate room last week and I think they didn’t want to expose me to any Ancient technology before then because I have a tendency to make grabby hands with any sort of interesting tech, and--”
Monroe holds up his hand. “Stilinski. If it will shut you up, sit in the damn chair.”
Stiles shoves his tablet into the arms of the tech next to him and leaps toward the chair.
“Hey hey! Stilinski, you break it, you buy it. And these babies are worth about twenty billion dollars to the US government, so try not to scuff the paintwork, okay?”
Stiles slides carefully into the chair and looks around him expectantly. Nothing happens. Monroe smirks. “Guess you’re one of the 99%, Stilinski. Okay, get out--”
The chair suddenly reclines. Stiles grips the arms as he sees images in his head of the vast range of drone weapons the chair controls laid out before him, and simultaneously a grid of all objects flying and in orbit around Earth. Stiles is aware of every aircraft, satellite, hot air balloon, everything that is above the Earth’s surface. His awareness shifts to the base missiles controlled by the chair. Overwhelmed, and without meaning to, Stiles arms them. All of them. An ominous alarm begins to sound in the chair room.
Monroe rushes forward, panicked. “Stilinski! Okay, well done, you can activate the chair, now disarm the missiles, for fuck’s sake!”
Stiles tries to focus. His chest is heaving. It’s too much input, far worse than the onslaught of unmedicated ADD. He can see everything, can affect everything, but can’t dial it back and focus on one thing at a time. The chair is throwing it all at him.
He hears a voice yelling his name, but isn’t sure who it belongs to.
“Right! Right.” He breathes slowly in and out, and concentrates on the missiles, disengaging them one by one. As the last missile is finally disarmed, the alarms fall silent.
Stiles is pushed upright as the chair powers down. His breathing sounds harsh in the ringing silence. He opens his eyes to see Monroe and the other techs, as well as about twenty marines, General O’Neill, and Derek. Everyone is staring at him, not moving.
“The fuck was that, Stilinski?” O’Neill roars, making Stiles jump. “You just armed SGC’s entire missile load!”
Stiles cringes. “I don’t know? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. They just... did it.” He climbs out of the chair, limbs shaking.
O’Neill turns to Monroe, and it’s his turn to cower. “Did anyone check what this kid was capable of before, I don’t know, putting him in the goddamn weapons chair?”
“Sir, I didn’t think he would actually... We needed someone with the gene... I didn’t even think he had it!”
O’Neill glowers. He turns to everyone in the room. “All right, show’s over! Get back to work. You too, Stilinski, probably best you stay away from the chair of utter annihilation for the foreseeable future.”
Stiles nods rapidly. Derek drags him by the elbow out of the room, muttering, “Come on. You need some air.”
Stiles stumbles along beside him, avoiding the unnerved looks of everyone else. They look at him like he’s a freak, and it’s nothing new, shouldn’t hit him so hard, but this isn’t the first time he’s nearly destroyed everything around him because of forces outside his control. Derek keeps hold of his arm and pulls him through the crowd, down the corridor and through several sets of doors until they hit the cold air and early morning sunshine outside the base.
Stiles waits for the barrage of questions, but Derek doesn’t say anything, just stands close as Stiles leans on a wall, taking big gulps of air and waiting for his heartrate to return to normal.
“You okay?” Derek asks quietly.
Stiles clenches his fists to stop them from shaking. “I could have killed someone, Derek.”
Derek shakes his head. “No, you couldn’t. That’s not you.”
Stiles huffs out a harsh laugh. “You sure about that? Did it before, remember?”
“That wasn’t you either. And this time it was the chair. Everyone struggles to control it the first time.”
“Yeah, but they don’t nearly blow up every aircraft and satellite in the western hemisphere.”
“Is that what you saw?”
“Yeah. I saw everything. Every single thing that could possibly be blown up, and every weapon in the SGC defence system. Could have sent them all out. Kaboom.”
“What?” Stiles asks with suspicion.
“I just, I didn’t know the chair could do that. People sitting in it are supposed to set off the holographic display, but that display wasn’t on when you were in the chair.”
“I just saw it. In here.” Stiles taps his temple. “I thought that was normal.”
Derek shrugs. “Maybe it is. There’s a neural interface, so maybe that can be extended to a visual connection.”
“Maybe. Oh god. I’m gonna get fired. Pretty sure you’re not supposed to arm all the missiles on the base.”
“You won’t. You controlled it, remember?”
“I bet General O’Neill doesn’t think that.”
“He will. He’s a smart guy; he’ll see what happened for what it was.” Derek’s watch beeps and he checks it. “I have to get back. You okay?”
“Peachy. I just need another minute out here.”
“I’ll see you before I head out.”
Stiles nods at him. Derek walks back into the building. Stiles takes a few more deep breaths before steeling himself and going back to the control room.
Derek arrives at Stiles’s apartment the following night to find Stiles in a hyperactive mood.
“I take it you’re not fired?”
“No, not exactly,” Stiles says, bouncing on his toes.
Derek waits for him to continue, then lifts his eyebrows when Stiles doesn’t immediately blurt it out. “So? What happened?”
“I’m, I’m... They want me to go on the Daedalus. In three days. They want me in Atlantis.”
“Yeah. Oh my god, Derek. O’Neill called me into his office this morning, and Monroe was there, and apparently they analysed the data that came out of the chair when I was in it and they’ve never seen anything like it. There’s only one other guy, Colonel Sheppard, who’s controlled the chair like I did, and he wasn’t even close to that. He’s the top military guy on Atlantis right now. They want me to meet him and see what I can do with the tech on Atlantis. So I said, I said I’d think about it.”
“Think about it? What’s there to think about?”
Stiles sinks onto a stool. “It’s six months. At least. Away from my dad... and I thought maybe you wouldn’t want me to come.”
“Your dad will be fine. And I want you to come.”
“You sure? There would be no getting away from me, and I know I start driving you crazy after a while, and this isn’t just us running around in the woods. There are other people and expectations and aliens --”
Derek holds up a hand. “Stiles. This isn’t about me. Do you want to go?”
Stiles looks up at him. “I don’t know. I’m freaking out. You’ve had some time to get used to the idea. I just sat in a chair and now they want me to go fight aliens in an ancient city in another galaxy. What if I suck at it?”
“You won’t. But if you do...” Derek shrugs. “Then they send you home again. What have you got to lose?”
Stiles taps his fingernails rapidly on the countertop. “I guess.” He stands up and paces then starts laughing. “Oh god. We’re going to another galaxy. On Wednesday. Like, that’s the day we go to another galaxy.”
“Takes three weeks to get there, but yeah, it is.”
Stiles spends the next three days in intensive training. They let him back in the chair after a scientist who has the gene shows him some focusing techniques, so this time he knows what to expect and how not to get overwhelmed. He looks at it as an intense 3D immersive video game, albeit one with real life consequences. O’Neill stands by through the whole process, watching silently. When they’re finally, finally done and he admits that Stiles has better control of the chair than he ever did, Stiles is floating on air.
He tells his dad and Scott that he’s going on a six month training expedition, but that he can email and maybe even skype. He doesn’t mention Derek, figuring it might be hard to explain that both of them happen to be on the same expedition.
Getting on board the Daedalus means being transported, which means Stiles has to summon all his self control to not act like a crazy person. Derek seems to take it in his stride, naturally. They are welcomed on board along with the other marines and basically told to stay out of the crew’s way and not to touch anything. With limited space on board, Stiles is quartered with Derek, unsure if it’s by Derek’s request or the General’s so Derek can keep an eye on him.
“Looking forward to three weeks in a confined space with me?” Stiles asks, as he throws his stuff in the top bunk.
“Just be quiet before 8am and we’ll have no problems,” says Derek, peering out the viewfinder.
Stiles explores the parts of ship that he’s allowed to access and is very satisfied to find it similar to the Enterprise in many ways. His work is limited to research and simulations and pretty soon Stiles gets sick of not being able to walk outdoors. Also, sleeping in the same room as Derek every night takes a little bit of getting used to.
Derek drags him to the on-board gym every day to burn off energy from being cooped up on the ship. Stiles initially protests, but when Derek threatens to lock him up in the cargo bay so he can bounce off the walls there instead of their cabin, he grudgingly goes along with it. Derek makes him do weights and cardio until he’s lying on the floor in a sweaty heap, pleading for mercy. The years of lacrosse with Coach and trying to keep up with werewolves were nothing compared to Derek’s unrelenting circuits.
Stiles first notices the buzzing sound nearly two weeks in. He puts it down as a symptom of hyperspace travel - a strange, low hum at the base of his skull. He tries cleaning out his ears and dunking his head under water, but the sound persists, together with a prickling sensation under his skin like there’s a thunderstorm overhead.
Stiles doesn’t mention it to Derek at first, thinking it will just go away on its own, but after two days he’s unable to hide his growing distraction. Eventually Derek snaps at him in the gym for not concentrating.
“Are you even listening to me?”
Stiles pushes past him. “Fuck off, Derek.”
“What the hell is the matter with you?”
Stiles takes a long drink of water. “I’m trying, okay?”
“Doesn’t seem like it. Why am I bothering to--”
“You don’t hear that?”
“Hear what? If this a way to get out of training, I don’t appreciate--”
“That sound! That buzzing!” Stiles waves his hands around his head. “Everywhere! All the fucking time. It’s like I’m beside a damn transmission tower or something. Is this what happens in space? How come no-one else seems bothered by it?”
Derek tilts his head and listens, really listens for a long moment. “I don’t hear anything,” he says finally.
“Even with your werewolf hearing?”
“No. When did it start?”
“Forget it. Must be my mind playing tricks on me. Again.”
“Don’t worry about it,” says Stiles, heading for the showers. “I’ll put some headphones in or something. Sorry for yelling.”
It doesn’t get better, it gets progressively worse, so Stiles goes to the ship’s medic. They look in his ears, check his blood pressure and give him painkillers and anti-nausea meds but none of it makes any difference. Stiles just wants to get through the remaining few days on the ship, so he holes up in the cabin most of the time.
Derek gets back from a training session to find Stiles curled up in his bunk with his head under a pillow. “I can hear you scowling from here,” Stiles says, muffled.
“You can’t go on like this.”
“Hey, I agree. Please feel free to turn off the phantom sound in my head so I stop cluttering up your cabin with all my angsty suffering, as we know you have enough of that for the both of us.”
Derek reaches up and pulls at the pillow, but Stiles keeps a tight hold of it. “My pillow. Get your own.” Derek says nothing but Stiles hears the thump of his boots hitting the floor then realises Derek is crawling into the bunk beside him. Stiles comes out from under the pillow and looks at him curiously.
“Does it hurt?” Derek places his hand on Stiles’s forehead to try to take any pain away - but nothing happens. Stiles shakes his head.
“Thanks for trying.” Impulsively, he pushes his face into Derek’s shoulder, almost certain he’s going to be shoved back and left alone in the bunk. Instead, he feels Derek sigh and throw his arm over him. “If you kick me in your sleep I’m pushing you over the side.”
Derek stays beside him throughout the night. Stiles doesn’t get much sleep, just snatches fragmented by strange dreams being in of rooms he’s never seen before, and of looking out over water at night with more stars in the sky than he thought possible.
He wakes up slowly, gradually aware that he’s managed to wrap himself around Derek in the night, and Derek’s face is currently inches away from his own. He never gets a chance to be this close to Derek when he’s relaxed and off-guard, his face devoid of the scowl that makes up his expression most of the time. When Stiles is around, anyway. Right now, he just looks calm and stupidly beautiful.
Stiles is aware of the buzzing, still there, just under the surface, but for the first time in days it’s like he can choose to ignore it. Derek finally stirs and Stiles moves back to sit up so Derek doesn’t wake up to find Stiles staring at him.
“Hey,” Stiles ventures.
“Hey,” says Derek, squinting at him. “Any better?”
Stiles shrugs. “Maybe 10%. How long before we get to Atlantis?”
Derek looks at his watch. “Couple of hours.”
“Okay. Um, thanks for doing... that,” Stiles says, waving in the general direction of the bunk.
Derek considers him for a moment. “Yeah,” is all he says.
Stiles slides down the ladder and heads for the door, when the floor tilts beneath his feet and there’s an explosion behind his eyelids. “Oh god,” he gasps as he reaches out to steady himself. Derek is beside him in an instant.
“I’m good. Just a head rush.”
“No it wasn’t. And you’re not good.”
Stiles opens his eyes. “I just need to get through the next few hours, I’ll be fine once I get off this damn ship. These are the things they don’t put in the tourist brochures for hyperspace travel.”
Derek looks torn. “Stiles…”
“M’okay, Derek. Seriously, I’m good.” Stiles stands up straight.
Derek appears unconvinced. “We tell the doctor once we get settled on Atlantis. Get them to check you over again. Proper tests. X-rays and CT scans and...” He waves his hand. “All that stuff.”
“Just take it easy until we have to go. We need to be on the bridge by 1100 hours.” Derek tosses Stiles’s bag at him. “Get packing.”
Stiles starts throwing his things in his bag. He catches Derek glancing at him every time he thinks Stiles isn’t looking.
They make it to the bridge without further incident. Colonel Caldwell thanks them for their patience for the past three weeks, and tells them to await transport to Atlantis when they drop out of hyperspace. Stiles stands close to Derek, hoping and praying for the moment they drop into real space. When they finally do, there is a sudden, blissful silence in Stiles’s head; he exhales as he relaxes for the first time in days. He grins at Derek, who bumps his shoulder in response.
Then, like a shockwave, a roar erupts in his head that makes him drop to his knees in agony. He grasps his skull and from far away he can hear Derek yelling words he can’t understand before it all goes black.
Derek can’t do anything. He wants to howl, get everyone to back off, so he can carry Stiles to safety, but Derek can’t shift, there’s nowhere to run, and he can’t take Stiles’s pain away. He sits in a chair in the corridor outside the med bay, trying to just hold it together because he doesn’t think he can survive losing his pack again, has no clue what he’s supposed to tell the Sheriff if he does.
Atlantis is loud and confusing. Lights are flickering and alarms are sounding and crew are running past looking overwhelmed. Not the well-oiled machine Derek was told to expect. A man approaches Derek just as the alarms stop, dressed in dark fatigues and boots. “Derek Hale?”
Derek stands up. “Yes.”
“Colonel John Sheppard. Sorry you’ve arrived here at a bad time. How’s your friend?” He nods towards the med bay.
“They’re working on him. I don’t know yet.”
Dr Beckett, Atlantis’s Chief Medical Officer, comes out of the med bay. “Hale, is it? Colonel,” he says, acknowledging Sheppard.
“Is Stiles going to be alright?”
“Well, I’ve ordered an MRI. We’ll know more when the results come back.”
“He has ADD,” Derek says. “I forgot to say before.”
The doctor nods. “Okay, lad. It will be a while before Stiles comes round, I’ll let you know when you can see him.”
"Thanks, doc. Hale, why don’t we get you settled in?” says Sheppard.
“You can come straight back.” Sheppard says.
Derek follows Sheppard as he sets off down the corridor. “Sorry about the craziness around here,” Sheppard says again. “It’s not usually like this. Well, about seventy percent of the time it’s not like this. Our systems started acting screwy a few days ago, then today’s just been a snafu.”
Derek half-listens while staring around him, catching glimpses out the windows of the city surrounded by water.
“So, werewolf, huh?”
Derek stares at him. Sheppard grins. “Relax. It’s not common knowledge, although don’t be surprised if word gets out. I was briefed on your... status, before your arrival.” Sheppard stops at an elevator. “Trust me when I say we’ve experienced weirder things around here. And as long as you’re fighting for the right side, no-one is gonna care.”
They step out into another corridor. Derek is unsettled when he realises that he can’t smell Stiles, after so many weeks of having him in immediate proximity.
“Until we get the city back to normal, there won’t be any off-world trips. We can’t even get the damn gate working. McKay’s working on it, but going on his level of bitchiness I’d say it will be a while before it gets fixed. Speaking of...“ Sheppard breaks off as someone approaches, carrying a tablet and yelling orders into an earpiece. “McKay, what's the status?”
McKay scowls, looking exasperated at the mere question.
“If you hadn’t noticed, half the systems in the city got fried in that little glitch earlier, for no discernible reason, everyone around here has their own version of priorities on what needs to be fixed first, I’m surviving on only three hours sleep and the start of a head cold, and I’m supposed to work alongside Zalenka to get everything fixed! So why don’t you back off, Sheppard, and not ask stupid questions!”
McKay marches away stabbing his tablet. Sheppard sighs. “That was Dr Rodney McKay. He’s pleased to meet you too.”
They stop in front of another door. “Your quarters. Think you can find your way back?”
“There’ll be a proper briefing once everything settles down. Glad to have you here.” Sheppard nods and disappears down another corridor.
Derek enters the sleeping quarters, notes that his bags have been left on the bed, washes his face and heads straight back to the med bay. He’s pretty sure the elevators are not elevators but doesn’t care as long as they take him where he needs to go. He gets back to medical and stands just inside the door. Stiles looks like he’s sleeping but now only Beckett and one nurse are beside his bed rather than the entire medical team.
Beckett looks up and waves Derek over. “How is he?” Derek asks. He can smell Stiles under the harsh antiseptic of the med bay. He doesn’t smell sick, to Derek’s relief.
“Stable, now. We gave him a mild non-stimulant, to keep him calm without aggravating the ADD.”
“Why? He was unconscious.”
The doctor hesitates. “Normally I would only discuss this with Stiles’s next of kin, but I’d say you’re the closest thing to it right now.”
Pack, Derek wants to say. He’s pack, but he waits for Beckett to continue.
“We did the MRI, and then an EEG to measure electrical activity in the brain. I can tell you what we found, what I can’t tell you is why.” Beckett pauses. “His brain is... firing on all cylinders. All his neural pathways are turned on. It’s like he’s trying to do a hundred things at once, run a marathon and conduct an orchestra all at the same time. That’s why we gave him the drug, to try and slow the brain activity down and let him rest.”
Derek looks down at Stiles. His pulse is even, calm. “Is he in any danger?”
“I don’t see that the activity is doing any damage. I would be worried if he was an epileptic or if there were any signs of trauma, but from what I can see the brain is healthy, just overworked.”
“Why’s it happening?”
“To be honest, I have no idea what could cause it. I don’t know if Stiles is aware he’s doing it, because if he is it’s maybe something that relaxation techniques could help with.”
“Maybe I can help. I was able to calm him down on the ship.”
Beckett nods. “At this point I’m willing to try anything. We can’t keep him under forever.” He pulls a stool closer to the bed for Derek to sit on. “The drugs should wear off in an hour or two. You’re welcome to stay with him until then.”
The med lab quiets down and no-one comes near Derek or Stiles other than the nurse to check vitals. Stiles looks absurdly young when he’s sleeping. Derek thinks that they’re too far from home. He should never have convinced Stiles to come.
After a couple of hours McKay and Sheppard wander in, bickering. It seems to be their default setting. Sheppard approaches the bed. “How is he?”
“Not sure yet. He’s sleeping now.”
“I’m sure he’ll be fine. Carson’s a great doc.”
“Not that great,” McKay says, under his breath.
Above them, the lights start to flicker.
“Not again!” McKay groans. Sheppard and McKay both go to leave the med bay but the doors remain firmly closed. McKay frantically starts working on his tablet while Sheppard barks orders into the radio.
Stiles begins to stir. “Derek?”
“Yeah, I’m here.”
“It’s so loud.” Stiles screws his eyes shut.
“Stiles, you have to stay calm. Doctor!”
“I can’t, it isn’t stopping. I can’t make it stop.”
“How am I supposed to know what it is? I haven’t been here before.”
Sheppard comes close to the bed and looks at Derek. “What does he mean?”
“Stiles.” Derek says slowly. “Can you see Atlantis in your head? Is it like you’re back in the control chair?”
Stiles nods miserably.
Beckett goes to push more drugs into the IV. “Wait!” Derek says. “Just wait one minute, let me talk to him.”
“This is the guy that armed SGC’s entire missile load, right?” Sheppard asks uneasily.
“Yeah, but I think I can talk him down.”
“Hale, if he’s the cause of all this…”
“Let me try,” Derek snarls.
Sheppard hesitates then nods at Beckett.
“Stiles. Focus on just one thing. That’s all you need to do. Let everything else go.”
Stiles huffs, eyes still closed. “The sun, the moon, the truth?”
“Whatever works,” says Derek. “What about just one system? Fix one thing.”
“What’s happening?” McKay asks, suspicious, seemingly having given up on opening the door.
Derek ignores him. “Can you fix the lights?”
Stiles takes a deep breath and opens his eyes. The lights stop flickering.
“Uh, did he just do that?” McKay asks.
“Okay, doors next. Open the doors.”
Stiles slides his hand into Derek’s and grips it. The doors open.
Derek turns to look at McKay, whose mouth is hanging open. “What’s a priority system?”
McKay just stares at Stiles.
“Rodney!” snaps Sheppard.
“Right!” McKay checks his tablet. “Well, really if the ZPM’s secondary circuits stop getting overloaded it should filter down through everything else. The city’s backup systems should be able to kick in, keep everything under control.”
“Stiles, can you do that?” Derek asks.
Stiles screws up his eyes again. “Too many systems. I can’t find it. I don’t know where it is.”
“It’s in the Central Control Tower, two levels above us. Section at the far right.”
McKay stops staring at Stiles and turns to look at Sheppard. “What?” Sheppard says. “You think you’re the only one who knows the city?”
Stiles goes still. Then: “Okay.”
McKay checks his tablet. “He did it,” he says in disbelief. “Back-up control systems have just kicked in. Everything has powered down.”
“Thank god,” says Sheppard, exhaling.
Stiles grins weakly at Derek.
Beckett clears his throat. “Right! Now that’s sorted, Stiles needs to rest. Everyone out.”
Sheppard turns to leave, then pauses. “I don’t know what that was, but if you can please refrain from doing any more damage until we can figure out what the hell is going on, I’d be grateful.” He rubs his face. “I’ll have to tell Colonel Carter about this, and I don’t know if she’ll be too happy about a crew member who can’t control what happens around them being let loose on the city.”
“I can help him control it,” Derek says immediately.
“I’m sure you can when there are no other distractions, but what happens if you’re not there? Or if Stiles is angry or hurt?”
“M’not the Hulk,” Stiles says through a yawn.
Sheppard sighs. “Look, get some rest, then when you’re up to it and feeling less volatile, I think a discussion is definitely necessary.” McKay tries to say something, pointing at Stiles, but Sheppard drags him away before he has a chance.
Stiles slumps down on the pillow. “I’m fucking everything up.”
“No, you’re not.” Derek says firmly. “We’ll figure this out.”
“Great first day on a new planet. I nearly blew it up already.”
“Well, you always knew how to make a good first impression.”
Stiles smiles, and turns on his side, eyelids drooping. “You should get some sleep, Derek. Or you’ll get grumpy... er.”
“I’ll stay a while longer.”
Systems on Atlantis are still behaving erratically, and it takes Stiles and McKay going through them for hours before McKay deems things to be back under control. Stiles is exhausted but fighting it and Derek is nearly thrown out of the med bay for snarling at McKay.
Colonel Carter comes to see Stiles and, once she realises he is not hellbent on destroying the city, she reluctantly lets him leave, as long as he checks in with Beckett once a day. The drugs are reduced down to a level where Stiles can administer them himself when needed. He can still sense the city, but it’s not a roar in his head anymore, just a soft awareness that’s no more distracting than the distant sound of waves on a beach.
He isn’t allowed to go near any of the critical systems, the gate, or the ZPM and Beckett insists he takes it easy, so mostly he explores the city. Derek has to actually do the job he came to Atlantis to do which, until they get an off-world, mission involves endless amounts of training with a scary looking guy by the name of Ronon Dex. Stiles wanders into the gym out of curiosity to find Ronon and Derek apparently in the middle of killing each other. He’s about to take his life in his hands to try and stop them when Sheppard, who looks enthralled, grabs his arm. “Relax. They’re just sparring.”
“Sparring? They’re beating the shit out of each other!”
“I think Ronon may have suggested that Derek’s hand to hand combat required some work. But not in so many words. Maybe just gestures. Couple of grunts.”
Stiles turns back to watch the fight and realises Sheppard’s right. Ronon is fast on his feet, shifting his stance so Derek is forced to constantly adjust. This isn't the kill or be killed fighting that Stiles is used to seeing Derek employ. This is tactical, no teeth, no claws, and the two of them are very evenly matched. Ronon has the height and weight advantage, but Derek is faster and angrier.
“Oh good god, there’s two of them,” Stiles mutters. “How long has this been going on for?” he asks Sheppard.
Sheppard checks his watch. “About forty minutes.”
Derek lands a few good hits which seems to antagonise Ronon. He does an actual midair spin and takes two steps up the wall to land a hit on Derek from above, knocking him to the ground. He is up instantly, but has had the wind knocked out of him and holds up his hand in defeat. Both of them look bloodied and exhausted. Ronon merely nods and that seems to be the end of it. Derek turns to see Stiles and grins, blood on his teeth.
“You are fucking crazy. You know that, right?” Stiles says.
Derek just shrugs, looking far too pleased with himself.
“Man, you are lucky you heal. That face is too pretty to get messed up doing shit like this.”
Derek gives him a look and strides out of the gym. “You coming?”
“Sure, why not, nothing else to do,” mutters Stiles. He follows Derek back to his quarters.
Derek heads to the bathroom and turns the shower on.
Stiles idly looks around. He steals a book off the shelf then kicks off his shoes and flops on the bed. He hears Derek shut the shower off and come back into the room, but resolutely refuses to raise his eyes from the page, not needing to see the image of Derek Hale dripping wet in a towel right at that moment. He hears drawers open and close, then feels the mattress dip beside him.
Stiles glances at Derek in surprise and slides to the other side of the bed, sitting up on the pillows. Derek lies on his back next to him, saying nothing. Stiles puts the book down and turns his head to look at Derek properly. His hair is damp and he's wearing a clean grey t-shirt and black track pants; there’s a cut above his eyebrow and his lower lip looks swollen.
“You pouting that you got your ass kicked?”
“Uh, yeah you did. Into the floor.”
“I chose to stop the fight then, because otherwise I was going to take him down.”
“You were going to drop the six foot four, dreadlocked, tattooed, crazy-ass muscled motherfucker.”
Stiles snorts. “Suuure.”
Derek turns to look at him. “I stopped because I was about to wolf out. Probably wouldn’t have been the best way to announce my… status to everyone.”
Stiles stares at him for a moment, a smile hovering around the corners of his mouth. “Check out my man’s self control over here! Proud of ya.”
Derek smiles and looks back up at the ceiling.
“Dude, that’s two smiles in the last twenty minutes. You are freaking me out. Are you always this cheerful after being beaten to a bloody pulp?”
“I held my own against someone who thought they were going to best me in sixty seconds. I’m allowed to enjoy it.”
Derek turns his head when Stiles doesn’t say anything. “What?”
“Nothing. I’m just enjoying the rare sight of a happy Derek Hale.”
“Don’t get used to it.”
They both stare up at the ceiling for a while. Stiles wonders why Derek hasn’t kicked him out yet. Or maybe he’s wondering why Stiles hasn’t left yet. Maybe he’s just lying there wishing Stiles would leave.
“Stop thinking,” Derek grunts.
“How am I supposed to stop thinking?” Stiles protests. “I’m sorry that my slightly higher than average heart rate and breathing is disturbing you, I’ll just leave you to it…” Stiles moves to sit up but suddenly Derek is leaning over, palms pressed into the mattress either side of his shoulders, staring at him.
“Stiles, just...” he says hoarsely, and then kisses him. It’s light, a brief press of Derek’s lips against his, then he pulls back as if to gauge Stiles’s reaction.
Stiles gapes at him. “Okay, yeah, that’ll do it,” he breathes. For a second it looks like Derek is going to pull away, until Stiles manages to get his arms up to grip Derek’s t-shirt. “Don’t you fucking dare,” Stiles says fiercely, and lifts his head up to kiss him.
Derek’s mouth is open, and their kiss turns wet and hungry, leaving Stiles is gasping for air. Derek grabs Stiles’s hands and pins him down. Their bodies are flush together and they’re both hard and grinding against each other. Stiles groans and wraps his legs around Derek’s waist, wanting more friction. They find a desperate rhythm, Derek breathing hard into Stiles’s mouth.
“Derek… I’m gonna…”
“Yeah, yeah,” Derek mutters and presses his face into Stiles’s neck, slides his hand up to grip at his hair and pulls his head back. When Stiles feels the edge of teeth against his skin that’s it, his whole body tenses and he hears Derek’s breath hitch as they come within seconds of each other, Stiles digging his fingers into Derek’s shoulder and Derek biting a mark into Stiles’s neck he knows he’s going to feel later.
Neither of them move or speak for a few moments. Stiles stares dazedly up with the warmth of Derek’s breath against his throat, and waits for his own breathing to return to normal.
Finally Derek sort of rolls off him, and they both end up back where they started, staring up at the ceiling in silence.
Stiles decides if he waits for Derek to speak they’ll be stuck like that forever.
“So… you always get that riled up after sparring?”
Derek says nothing for a minute then clears his throat. “I just, I needed…”
“An outlet for your animal instincts?”
Derek glances at him. “Something like that. Not that... you’re an outlet.”
Stiles grins. “I’m okay with being an outlet.”
“Stiles, you’re not just... this wasn’t just…”
“Oh wow, you’re bad with the talking after sex,” Stiles says, leaning over and kissing Derek again. “Crazy idea, but how about we just have this as a thing, and neither of us freaks out about it? Or discusses it in any great detail?”
Derek exhales in relief. “Fine by me.”
“Cool. Can we shower now because...”
Showering with Derek is awesome.
“I have a theory,” states McKay.
Carter gestures. “Please enlighten us.”
McKay takes a deep breath. “Stiles is an Ancient.”
Everyone around the conference table looks blankly at him. Stiles raises his hand. “I’m twenty-five.”
“Yes, well, not literally an Ancient. An Ancient 2.0, if you will.”
“Ancient 2.0? McKay, be serious.” Sheppard says.
“Right, once again you need to listen to my detailed explanation before rushing to judge, okay?” snaps McKay. They all look at him expectantly. “Remember that ship of Ancients we found travelling through hyperspace? Time had been slowed down for them so they hadn’t aged when we found them. And then when they arrived here Atlantis lit up like a Christmas tree and they were able to access systems we didn’t even know existed.”
McKay looks round the table. “Look, we have been able, and by we, I mean mostly me, to use a decent amount of the technology in the city. Through trial and error, mostly error, we’ve figured out how things work and how to utilise them. The puddle jumpers, the transport systems, life support, the shield. But it’s been a struggle every step of the way. The gene helps, but this city wasn’t built for us. I’d estimate we’re running at about 30% of Atlantis’s true capacity. Most of the systems here we haven’t even discovered yet.”
He points at Stiles. “But the city started acting screwy before Stiles even got here. It was like it knew he was coming. And when he arrived, it threw everything at him. Now, if he had been an Ancient, this would have been fine. But Stiles isn’t an Ancient, not in that sense of the word. He’s never experienced this technology before, not on this level, so it hit him like a ton of bricks. His brain attempted to reduce the sensory overload by going into an unconscious state when he was on the Daedalus.”
Stiles’s heart starts to race, and Derek grips his knee under the table.
“However, I believe that given the readings I’ve seen, Stiles has been able to control any and all workings of the city, just by willing it. He doesn’t have the knowledge required yet to do it with any sense of purpose or control, but when he does… He could be the next form of the Ancients as we know them. Stiles doesn’t actually have the gene. He doesn’t have the gene because he doesn’t need it. He could be the beginning of the most technologically advanced race the universe has ever seen.”
Everyone at the table looks at Stiles. He pushes back in his chair, white-faced.
“Stiles…” Derek says, but doesn’t finish.
Ronon speaks up. “I thought humans were the next form of Ancients?”
“If we are, we haven’t been doing a very good job of it,” says McKay. “We didn’t even know the Stargates existed until about twenty-five years ago. I believe we are another incarnation of them, in a way, but haven’t the real skills or insight to make the technology work for us the way it’s meant to. Stiles does.”
“I don’t,” Stiles says flatly. “I’m not some big powerful entity, I don’t want to control things or will things to do what I want them to do. I’ve seen how this story ends. It’s all good until I do something that you wish I hadn’t done, then you get scared of me and realise that everyone would be better off if I wasn’t around.”
Sheppard says quietly, “Stiles, no-one is saying that. We don’t even know what all this means yet, could be you just have an aptitude for the technology here. Doesn’t mean you’re gonna go all Pinky and the Brain on us.”
Stiles stands up. “Well until you have a better idea, I’m just gonna stay out of everyone’s way and not enforce my will on anything. That way I can’t be blamed for things going wrong around here.”
Stiles leaves, not surprised to find Derek close behind him, but he says nothing until they reach Stiles’s quarters. Stiles sits on the end of his bed and puts his head in his hands.
He looks up to see Derek staring down at him, face carefully neutral.
“You think they’re right? Am I the second coming of whatever?”
Derek snorts. “No, I think McKay’s full of shit.”
Stiles smiles for the first time since the conference room. “Really?”
“I think there’s something happening to you. But to make that jump to say you’re at a higher level of consciousness? No. You’re human. Always have been. I can smell you.” Derek takes a step closer to Stiles. “That’s not to say you aren’t affecting things around here. Maybe you are just more susceptible to the technology than everyone else is. I mean, do you want to start taking over the entire city and making it do what you want it to do?”
Stiles snorts. “Hell no.” He glances up at Derek. “Well, maybe a bit to screw with people and to see what this place can really do, but not in a ‘do my bidding tiny pitiful humans’ kind of way.”
“Then don’t worry.”
Stiles stands up. “I do worry. I am in full control of my decisions right now. There could be a time when I’m not, because it’s happened before. Sheppard even said it, what if I’m angry or hurt? What if someone else gets hurt? What if you…” Stiles takes a deep breath and presses the heels of his hands to his eyes. “I got caught up in this,” he says quietly. “The whole power thing. I thought it would be cool, but now... I’m scared.”
“We’ll come up with a plan. What happens if you get possessed. Or kidnapped.”
“And what if something…” Stiles swallows. “What if something happens to you?”
There’s a pause. “Then we figure out what happens if I get kidnapped. Or tortured.”
“You are not making me feel better, with your lists of things that have actually happened.”
“So we’ll be better prepared this time.”
Stiles drops his hands and blinks at Derek. “You used to be the doom and gloom one. I think you’ve picked up some optimism somewhere.”
“More like pragmatism. I like to prepare for the worst after what we’ve been through.”
Stiles steps closer to Derek and eyes him curiously. “Boy scout,” he whispers, and kisses him.
Derek stays still for a moment, then grabs Stiles’s face in both hands, kisses back hard and bites at his bottom lip. He walks Stiles backwards to pin him against the wall. Stiles pulls Derek’s shirt up, drags his nails up his back, then slides his hands around to Derek’s stomach.
Stiles’s hands are inching down when Derek’s ear piece sounds.
Derek curses and pushes back from the wall. “Hale!” he snaps, not breaking eye contact with Stiles, who grins and mouths along his jawline. Derek tilts his head back and exhales. “We’ll be right there.”
Stiles groans and drops his head to Derek’s shoulder.
Derek rubs the back of Stiles’s skull. “They want to talk to us.”
“I want to do this,” says Stiles, muffled.
“Yeah,” says Derek, and bites Stiles’s shoulder.
When they get back to the conference room, most of the others have disappeared, leaving only Colonel Carter, McKay, and Sheppard. Derek and Stiles sit down and no-one says anything until Sheppard looks meaningfully at McKay, who clears his throat. “So, um, I should probably apologise for the way I worded our last conversation. I didn’t mean to make it sound so… dramatic. Truth is, we’re not sure what you’re capable of, and I don’t think you are either. So if you’d be willing to work with us to figure it out, we’d be grateful.”
Stiles glances at Derek, who nods imperceptibly.
“I don’t want it to be one-sided,” Stiles says. “I need to understand how the city works. I don’t want to change things blindly on someone’s say so; I’d want to know how and why I was doing it.”
Carter sighs. “Stiles, understand there has to be an element of trust on both sides. There are some things that for security purposes we wouldn’t be able to tell you. For your safety and for ours. However, wherever possible, I can appreciate that we’d need to be open with you about the systems and processes in the city. Likewise, wherever possible, you would need to tell us what you know about what you can do here.”
Stiles considers. “I can do that.”
“You would work most often with McKay,” Sheppard says, “but there are other teams in Atlantis who it might be beneficial for you to work alongside. We can go through the details later. Sound good?”
“I want to train as well,” Stiles says. “With Ronon and Derek and the other marines.”
McKay snorts, earning a glare from Sheppard.
“It helps me focus; keeps my mind clear for a while. Plus I’d like to be able to defend myself, if needs be,” says Stiles.
“We’ll run it past Ronon, but I can’t see it being a problem,” says Sheppard, standing up from the table.
“Okay then.” Stiles stands up and then pauses. “Look, thanks for everything you guys have done for me so far, I know I’ve caused you a lot of trouble right out of the gate -- ha, no pun intended -- and I’m sorry about that.”
Sheppard laughs. “Stiles, this is just another Tuesday for us. Don’t worry about it.”
“Well, it’s hardly been…” grumbles McKay.
“Whatever, no problem, only took me hours to fix it.”
Stiles is starting to think working with McKay is going to be a blast.
“You wanna tell me what this does?”
So far, their working together has mostly consisted of Stiles sitting around bored in service conduits while McKay makes hmm noises into his tablet.
McKay waves his hand distractedly. “Oh, you know. It’s a field modulator for the secondary power conduit of one of the shield emitters.”
“Well, that’s just fascinating. When can we go play with the gate?”
McKay looks genuinely appalled. “You can’t just play with the gate! Do you have any idea… No, of course you don’t. Why am I even asking.”
“Hey, I don’t have any idea because you won’t tell me anything! All you care about are your precious readouts. Meanwhile my ass is going numb waiting for you to move on from the secondary power conduit of a shield emitter! This was supposed to be about teamwork and communication, but you’re not communicating anything! How am I supposed to learn?”
“You are learning! You’re learning about the field modulator for the secondary power conduit of the shield emitters! It can’t all be zero point modules and stargates!”
Stiles glares at him. “You know what? I’m done here. There’s no point me sitting waiting for you to decide to tell me something. I have actual work I could be doing. Good luck getting anything to work for you.”
Stiles stomps through the conduits until he finds a way back into the main corridors through a service duct, getting angrier and angrier. He’s barely aware of where he’s going, just that he needs out, he needs fresh air. Emotions cloud his control, and he can feel Atlantis pressing in on him again, too much and too loud. He finds a transporter and goes to the farthest part of the city that he can reach.
Stiles makes his way outside and sprints to the end of the pier. He sits down with his feet over the edge, grips the edge of the metal slats, and breathes hard, waiting for the roar of the city in his head to quieten down.
He sits there until the chill from the sea air forces him to head back to the city. He goes looking for McKay. He’s back in his lab, head buried in his laptop while Sheppard swivels in a chair.
“Stiles,” says Sheppard. “Everything alright?”
“Yeah,” says Stiles carefully. “Just needed a break.”
McKay doesn’t look up from his computer.
“How’s it going with the inspections?” Sheppard asks.
“Oh, tons of fun,” says Stiles.
“Made much progress?”
“Yeah, I know every inch of service conduit four.”
Sheppard twists to glare at McKay. “Rodney!”
“We have an entire city to work through. We have to start somewhere!” McKay protests. “Stiles just doesn’t want to listen.”
“Listen to what? You muttering at your tablet?”
Sheppard rubs his eyes. “Okay, clearly you two aren't off to the best start.”
“Hey, I'm doing what I said I would. McKay's just refusing to tell me anything!”
“I am telling you things. You just don't listen!”
Stiles is starting to realise why Sheppard and McKay have been bickering every time he’s seen them.
Sheppard sighs. “Right, here’s what we’re gonna do. Stiles, this week, you can work with Zalenka and the other tech team on the rooms off the Gate room. McKay can go through the data he has collected so far and starting next week you can try working together again, sharing information this time.”
“Fine by me,” says Stiles.
“Fine,” sighs McKay.
Stiles groans dramatically as Derek walks into his quarters. He looks at Stiles on the bed, then back at the door. “At least you’ve got opening doors without needing to touch the sensor down.”
“I thought Ronon went easy on you.”
Stiles lifts his head up and scowls. “We can’t all be blessed with werewolf stamina and the muscles of a Greek god.”
Derek comes over to the bed and pushes Stiles’s shirt up his back, then puts both hands on the skin there and starts to draw the pain away. Stiles groans and presses his face into the pillow. “Oh my god, whoever designed this feature deserves all the medals.”
Derek keeps his hands on Stiles’s back until he wriggles.
“I’m good. Thanks.” Stiles rolls over, feeling a little buzzed. “You are better than drugs.”
Derek smirks. He pulls off his shoes and straddles Stiles’s hips. Stiles swallows. “Not that I’m complaining, but after that training session today I don’t know how much I’ll be able to contribute here.”
Derek rubs Stiles’s hipbones with his thumbs. “Just lie still then.”
“How still are we talking?”
“Shut up, Stiles.”
Derek puts his hand on Stiles through the material of his sweatpants. Stiles exhales through his teeth as Derek pulls the waistband out of the way and wraps his fingers around him. Derek goes slow, so Stiles presses forward, trying to get more friction.
“Fuck, Derek, please. ”
Derek stares down at Stiles, his eyes dark. “What do you want?”
“Just, please, faster.”
Just as Stiles opens his mouth to protest, Derek bends down and swallows him. Stiles gasps and arches his back, not just at the sensation of the warm wet mouth around him, but the fact that it’s Derek dragging his tongue along the length of Stiles’s dick. Stiles groans and shifts underneath him, and Derek lays his palm flat on Stiles’s chest and pushes him down on the bed. He lifts his head to look at Stiles, eyes narrowed.
“I said lie still,” Derek says, in a low growl. Stiles threads his fingers into Derek’s hair and holds on as Derek swallows him back down.
Derek doesn’t let up for a second, and Stiles grabs on to Derek’s hair so hard he thinks he’s going to pull it out.
“Oh god, I’m gonna… ” Stiles tries to pull back but Derek holds him down and swallows as Stiles comes. He’s still gasping for breath as Derek moves up to lie on top of him, thrusts against him into the crease of his hip, and comes as he chokes Stiles’s name.
Derek collapses beside him. After a minute he gets up and Stiles can hear water running in the bathroom. Derek returns with a washcloth and gently cleans them both, before sliding back in beside Stiles.
“You think it’s against regulations to sleep in each other’s quarters?” Stiles mumbles, nearly asleep.
“Well, you can turn off the lights and security feed with your special mind powers when I sneak out in the morning, so I think we’re good.”
“You are a genius, Derek Hale.” Stiles manages to drag his head close enough to Derek’s on the pillow to kiss him.
“I’ve been reading the Atlantis mission logs,” Stiles says to McKay.
“Yeah? Learn anything interesting?” McKay says in a bored tone, not looking up.
“Uh, only that you’re a freaking superhero, dude,” says Stiles.
McKay straightens. “Are you making fun of me?” he asks cagily.
“No! I’m serious. Everyone here would have died fifty times over if it weren’t for you. Really, McKay, I’m impressed.”
McKay smiles self-consciously for a brief moment then ducks over his laptop again. “Yeah, well. It’s amazing what can be accomplished under threat of immediate bloody death. And it’s not like anyone else around here can do what I do.”
“And so modest with it,” says Stiles.
Derek gets to go through the gate before Stiles does, on a reconnaissance mission to a pre industrial planet. Stiles does a pretty good job of hiding his envy by working every hour he can, figuring out how each system in Atlantis intrinsically links to the next.
The mission takes two days; Stiles works fourteen hours the first day and sixteen the next. When the teams returns he’s finally sleeping and doesn’t hear anything until he gets called to Carter’s office early the next morning where the whole team are waiting.
“You wanted to see me?” Stiles asks.
“Yeah, we found something on that planet we’d like you to come take a look at,” says Sheppard.
“Really? What is it?”
“That’s the thing: we’re not sure. McKay got readings of something, possible Ancient tech out in the sticks, but the signal wasn’t strong enough for us to actually find it, so we thought you might be able to help.”
“I thought that planet didn't have any advanced technology?”
“There’s Ancient technology scattered all over this galaxy. It’s a matter of finding it. And whether it works if we do find it is another story,” says McKay.
“So, what do I do with this mystery object once I get there?”
McKay and Sheppard exchange looks. “We just wanted to see if you could, you know, turn it on,” Sheppard says.
“But you don't know where it is, what it is, or what it does?”
“Well, not exactly, no. But the only way to know is to find it and examine it,” says McKay.
“What if it turns out to be a weapon?” Derek asks.
“I agree this is not without risks,” says Carter, “but I'd prefer we examined it and made it safe if necessary rather than it falling into the hands of an unprepared group of people. Or into the Wraith's hands, for that matter. Stiles, McKay says you have a better grip on the technology here now, and this wouldn't be like in the city. There would only be one thing to focus on.”
Stiles hesitates. “Look, I still don't know what effect I have on Ancient technology, not really. Especially one that’s been exposed to the elements for god knows how many years. How do we know it won't have degraded over time?”
There's silence. Finally Sheppard says, “I understand, but I agree with Colonel Carter that I would rather we figured out what it was rather than just leaving something that could be useful. You wouldn't have to get near to it, just try and see if you’re able to boost the charge a bit so we get enough energy readings off it to figure out what it is. If there are any indications that it's dangerous, we shut it down and get out of there.”
Stiles takes a deep breath. “Okay.”
Stiles is packing a bag when Derek appears in his quarters. He pulls the jacket Stiles is holding out of Stiles’s hands and kisses him, then puts the jacket back.
“Missed you too, big guy.”
They step out from the gate into dense forest that smells like pine and something unidentifiable. Stiles looks back at the gate, frowning.
“What?” McKay asks.
“Nothing. I just thought it was going to be, you know, whooshier than that.”
“Whooshier. I’m sorry, had we known you would be disappointed we would have let the Ancients know that their near-miraculous method of subatomic intergalactic travel wasn’t exciting enough for you.” McKay stomps off, muttering.
Sheppard hides a grin. “The readings came from three clicks east.”
Stiles tries to play it cool on the walk, but can’t help looking in every direction, trying to take it all in. He can’t stop cataloguing all the differences and similarities between this place and Earth
Eventually McKay says, “It’s around here somewhere.”
Stiles can feel it, something nearby, very weak, but steady. He starts off, and the others follow. They crest a little hill and pass what Stiles would swear up and down was a tree with watermelons hanging off it, until he finds what he’s looking for. Stiles stops. “It’s here.”
“Where?” Sheppard asks.
Stiles points. “There.”
“That big rock?”
“That’s... not a rock,” says McKay, holding his scanner towards it. “It’s emitting something.”
“Stiles, Ronon, stay here while we take a look,” says Sheppard. “Stiles, shout if anything changes.”
Stiles cools his heels and tries his best to keep watch, but really he just wants to see what’s so special about the big weird rock. McKay calls him over. As Stiles is getting closer, McKay says, “I don’t think it’s dangerous. It’s not strong enough to do very much, anyway.”
Stiles squats down to get a look at the rock. There are several symbols embedded in the side of it. “This look like a DHD to you?” Stiles asks, looking up at McKay.
“A simplified version of one, yes.”
Stiles rests his hand on the top of the rock for balance and immediately the symbols light up. “Uh, oops.”
McKay holds up the scanner. “Okay, so you’ve turned it on. Still not sure what it’s doing.”
Stiles stares at the symbols. “I might have an idea.”
Derek raises his P90, his eyes on the treeline. “I think we have company.”
“Where?” Sheppard says, turning around, as Ronon takes aim.
A small boy emerges from the bushes. Sheppard pushes Ronon’s gun down.
“What are you doing?” asks the boy.
“Nothing. Go away,” snaps McKay.
“You’re the visitors who came through the Ring of the Ancestors a few days ago. What are you doing out here?”
“Just out for a walk,” says Sheppard. “Aren’t you a bit far from home?”
“This is my home. These are my father's lands. What are you doing with that?” the boy asks, pointing at the rock.
“Nothing. Just resting here for a moment. Maybe you should go back to the village, kid,” Sheppard says.
“It doesn’t work.”
“What doesn’t work?”
“That. The Ancestors left it behind. But it doesn’t work.”
Just then the rock lets out a faint beep. McKay rolls his eyes and glares at Stiles, who shrugs helplessly.
“Did you fix it? How did you do that?” the boy asks, craning his head to try to get a closer look. “My father said only the Ancestors could make it work.”
“Look kid, just go home, okay?” McKay says sharply.
The boy looks put out but goes to leave.
“Wait!” Stiles says. “Are there more of these things anywhere? Like scattered around the place?”
The boy fixes Stiles with a strange look but nods, then turns and runs away.
Sheppard turns to look at Stiles. “What was that about?”
“I think I know what this is,” says Stiles. “A transmission hub, kinda. The reason the signal is so weak is because it works in conjunction with others. Maybe it was an early experiment for the Ancients, like a basic planetary communication network. It doesn’t appear to have any larger function than that.”
“So that’s all it can do? And without the other hubs working it’s pointless?” Sheppard asks.
“I think so, yeah,” says Stiles.
Sheppard sighs. “Well, good to know. Glad we freaked out a small child to gain this important intel. Let’s head back, shall we?”
“I think that went well,” Stiles says to Derek on the way back to the gate. “I didn’t break anything or fall down a well or accidentally corrupt an entire society by exposing them to inappropriately advanced information. I’d count this mission as a success.”
“Definitely a success by McKay’s standards,” says Sheppard.
“Hey! You know it’s very rarely my fault when things--”
“What’s wrong?” Stiles asks.
“I think we should move faster.”
“Wraith?” Sheppard asks.
“No, people. Too many people, all heading straight for us.”
They speed up but the terrain is uneven and covered in tree roots and Stiles stumbles several times, only kept upright by Derek’s firm grip on his arm. They only manage to get a few hundred feet when their path is blocked by a wall of people armed with pistols emerging from the trees. Derek stops and looks around for another way, but there are people coming from all sides. They’re surrounded. They form a circle, back to back, weapons trained on the crowd.
“Sheppard, there must be over a hundred of them,” hisses McKay.
“I can see that, McKay,” says Sheppard.
“So much for pre-industrial,” says Stiles.
“They are. Those weapons look like Genii,” says McKay.
“Fuck,” mutters Sheppard.
A man steps forward from the crowd. “My apologies for the inconvenience, but I’m afraid we can’t let you leave just yet.”
“What’s this about?” Sheppard asks.
“It seems that one of your party was able to activate the Ancestral device a short distance from here.”
Derek stiffens beside Stiles, a low growl in his throat.
“What of it?” Sheppard asks, grip tightening on his weapon.
“We will need to keep him here. The rest of you are free to leave.”
Stiles grabs a handful of the back of Derek's jacket.
“That's not happening,” snarls Sheppard.
“Very well. Then you will all die,” the leader says.
“Ronon, how many you think you can take down?” Sheppard whispers.
“Some. Not enough,” says Ronon.
Derek shakes his head. “This isn't all of them. There's more behind them in the trees.” He looks at Stiles, who can see the desperation in his face. “Sheppard, we can't make it to the gate.”
Sheppard is still aiming his weapon at the leader of the group.
“I promise that we will not harm him,” the leader says. “We also have no wish to start a war with your people, so leave now and do not return and you will not be harmed. You have my word.” He fixes his gaze on Sheppard. “Understand, however, that we are willing to sacrifice as many of our people and yours as it takes to keep him here. No one has been able to use that device since the time of the Ancients.”
“Well, that’s a problem for us, you see, we don’t leave anyone behind. Stiles isn’t a commodity, he’s a member of our crew. If it’s technology that you want I’m sure we can come to some arrangement,” says Sheppard.
The leader shakes his head. “No arrangement. We already have the technology we need, what we do not have is someone who can use it. We have lost many of our people to the Wraith and other invaders, we must have him to ensure our future survival.”
Derek's growl gets louder, and Stiles sees his eyes turning blue. “Derek, you can’t take this many on!” Stiles whispers desperately, feeling Derek struggling to hold back.
“Sheppard! What do we do?” McKay asks.
Sheppard looks back at Stiles, an agonised look on his face, and Stiles nods and lets go of Derek.
“Stiles, don’t move!” Derek hisses.
“Out of options, Derek.”
Derek grabs Stiles's wrist and won't let go, and the people surrounding them raise their weapons.
“You gotta let me go,” Stiles pleads. “I'll be okay but you have to go now. Just get out of here, please.”
“Derek.” Sheppard says quietly. “We have to go.”
“It's okay.” Stiles finally pulls his wrist out of Derek's grasp.
Two men walk forward and grab Stiles. He can still hear Derek growling as he’s dragged away and loses sight of him.
When the team arrives back at Atlantis, Sheppard turns to Derek as if to say something and Derek wolfs out, knocks Sheppard to the ground and roars. They’re instantly surrounded by at least eight armed marines, and Ronon and McKay aim their weapons. Carter flies down the steps.
Sheppard doesn’t flinch. He stares Derek down.
“What the hell is going on?”
Sheppard waves off Carter. “There was an ambush. They took Stiles.”
Derek feels his teeth lengthening, but he doesn't care anymore. “You made us leave him there.”
“Hale, in case you hadn't noticed, we were outnumbered by at least a hundred to one and we were out of fucking options!” Sheppard yells. “You think I like leaving a member of my team behind?”
“He could be dead because of you!”
“He's not dead.”
“You don't know that!”
“Hale, calm down, alright? This isn't going to help bring him back.”
“Then what will?”
Sheppard nods at the marines. “If we go back there will you be able to track him?”
“Yes.” Derek backs off, and the marines lower their weapons.
“Okay. We don't have the manpower to go in and overwhelm them, so we wait until it's dark with a jumper, go in cloaked, get as close as we can, then go find him.”
“The longer we wait the less chance we have of finding him!”
“We go now we walk right back into the same trap. We wait.”
Sheppard heads towards the jumper bay.
“Uh, what just happened?” McKay asks.
“Nothing,” says Derek.
“But… your face changed, and those teeth,” McKay gestures towards Derek’s mouth.
“Oh for god’s sake. He’s a werewolf!” Sheppard calls back as he’s walking away.
McKay gapes at Derek, while Ronon looks between the two of them.
“What’s a werewolf?”
They load up the jumper, full tactical, deciding only to take one to avoid the need to use the gate more than once.
Sheppard approaches Derek as he’s checking his weapons. “You got it together?”
Derek glances at him. “I’m good.”
Sheppard stares at him for a moment then walks into the back of the jumper. “We leave in five.”
They get through the gate, cloak, and fly low above the treeline.
“How long since Stiles was taken?” McKay asks.
“Seventeen hours,” answers Derek.
“So where do we even start looking?”
“He’s important to them, so he’ll be somewhere secure. They wouldn’t risk keeping him just locked up in an outhouse,” says Sheppard. “He’ll be in the main township near where they took him. They haven’t had time to take him further than that and they’d be on foot.”
Sheppard lands in a small clearing half a mile outside the town. “The only way this works is if they don’t discover us. We can’t risk a firefight before we get to him.”
They cautiously circle around the edge of the town, then down through a back street. There are a few people wandering about, but it’s mostly deserted. They stay in the shadows and start towards the council hall where they had met to exchange supplies two days earlier. Suddenly Derek hears something that makes him stop. “What is it?” Sheppard whispers.
“I hear him. Stiles’s heartbeat. He’s close.” Derek tilts his head. “Something’s not right.” He points towards a large freestanding building, which has two guards posted outside.
“He’s in there.”
Sheppard glances at Ronon. “Can you get us in there?”
Ronon frowns but makes his way towards the guards. They watch him edge up the side of the building then simply step out in front of the guards and crack their heads together.
McKay sighs. “Crude but effective, I guess.”
The room is empty, but there are two sets of heartbeats coming from behind a door in the back, and one of them belongs to Stiles. Derek points at the door and Sheppard nods. He counts down, opens the door, and Derek walks through, followed by Sheppard and Ronon, weapons raised.
The group leader from earlier is holding a gun to Stiles’s head. He opens his mouth to say something, and Sheppard shoots him. Derek fires him a grateful look but goes straight to Stiles, who’s tied to a chair but slumped forward, seemingly unconscious.
“Stiles?” Derek slices through the bindings with his claws, and gently tips Stiles back. Stiles looks at him through slitted eyes.
“No, I’m not. We’ve come to get you. Can you stand?”
“I saw you die. I saw it. You’re not real.” Stiles pushes weakly at Derek’s chest.
Derek gently lifts Stiles’s eyelids. “His pupils are dilated and his pulse is erratic. He’s been drugged with something.”
Sheppard grimaces. “Think you can carry him out of here?”
Derek picks Stiles up. Stiles mumbles quietly, but doesn’t struggle.
They make it to the back road out of town before they hear shouts behind them. “I knew that was too easy,” says Sheppard. “Derek, get Stiles to the jumper. We’ll keep them busy.”
Derek nods. He runs through the trees, dodging branches until he reaches the jumper.
Sheppard, Ronon and McKay aren't far behind and they’re taking fire. Derek lays Stiles down in the back and straps him down. Then he grabs his gun and shifts, snarling. He takes down three of them before he’s six feet out from the jumper then leaps on a man who’s taking aim at McKay, tearing his throat out.
But no matter how many fall, more men keep streaming through the trees.
“Derek! Fall back, now!” Sheppard yells.
The other three make it into the jumper, firing behind them. and Sheppard starts it up. Derek shoots as many of them as he can then makes a run for it. A burning pain shoots through his shoulder but he ignores it and keeps firing, as his boots hit the ramp and the jumper rises into the air.
Derek kneels down to check on Stiles.
“Derek.” Ronon points at Derek’s shoulder.
He shakes his head. “It’s nothing.”
McKay and Ronon exchange glances. “You’ve been shot, Derek,” McKay says.
Derek puts his hand on Stiles’s forehead as Sheppard takes the jumper through the gate.
Stiles opens his eyes. He’s back in the med bay. He suspects he’s been there a while, but has no real idea how much time has passed. He’s been struggling for wakefulness since he was brought back to Atlantis, like he was swimming in deep water, trying to kick toward the surface. He remembers waking up angry, thrashing, just wanting to be lucid and clear but not being able to hold on to it. He remembers Derek, always there with soothing words and strong hands.
Stiles feels awake now, finally, but alone. It must be late, as it’s quiet and dim in the med bay. He sits up and waits for the dizziness to pass. A clinician approaches him. “Hey, you’re awake.”
“Yeah,” Stiles says, his voice raw. “I gotta go now.”
“Oh, no, you really need to stay until Dr Beckett discharges you.”
“I heard him say the drugs were out of my system, so I’m discharging myself.”
“You heard that…? No, really, you need to stay. We need to run more tests just to be sure…”
Stiles gets down off the bed, wobbling in his bare feet, and pulls the IV out of his arm. “I’m leaving. I’ll come back in the morning, like a good boy.”
“Mr Stilinski, you cannot…” He reaches out as if to take Stiles by the arm, and the lights in the med bay flicker. The clinician hesitates.
“Look, I know you’re just doing your job, and you can tell Dr Beckett this is all on me. But if I don’t get a shower and sleep in a room without someone checking on me every five minutes I am going to lose my mind. So if you’ll excuse me.”
Stiles manages to make it back to his quarters without anyone stopping him, where he stands under the shower, scrubs himself all over, and watches the water swirl down the drain for what feels like an hour. He changes and is heading towards bed when his door sensor sounds. He pauses, wondering if it’s Beckett come to drag him back to medical.
“Stiles. Open the goddamn door.”
Stiles debates for a moment then reluctantly opens the door. Derek strides up to him, looking pissed.
“What the fuck are you doing? I’m taking you back to med bay, now.”
Stiles steps away. “I’m not going back.”
“Yes you are, Stiles, I’ll carry you there if I have to.”
The door lock clicks, and Derek glowers at him. “Don’t think I won’t break through it.”
Stiles is suddenly very tired. “Derek, can we not do this right now, please?”
“Stiles, you need to be…”
“I can’t!” Stiles interrupts him, his voice cracking. “I can’t be in a room with people watching me, okay, Derek? Can I stay here, please, can you just let me stay here?”
Derek looks stricken. “Stiles…”
“Don’t. Don’t placate me, you never used to do that. You’re supposed to tell me to shut up and throw me against the nearest hard surface.”
“I can if you want me to.”
Stiles smiles but feels his eyes getting hot. “Thanks for coming back for me.”
Stiles reaches out to Derek’s shoulder, and just lays his hand on it before Derek steps forward and wraps his arms tightly around him. He puts his hand on the back of Stiles’s head. “Want me to stay with you?”
Stiles nods into Derek’s shoulder. They get into bed and Derek doesn’t say anything, just lies behind Stiles and puts an arm around his waist.
Stiles dozes for a while, unable to sleep properly. The room is just starting to get lighter when Stiles hears Derek whisper, “I’m sorry.”
Stiles breathes a laugh then turns around to look at him. “On a scale from one to ten, how mad were you when you got back to Atlantis?”
“I wolfed out at Sheppard in front of everyone and Ronon and McKay nearly shot me.”
Stiles raises his eyebrows. “Yeah, that’s pretty mad.”
He rolls onto his back. “It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t Sheppard’s fault either.”
“Do you want to talk about it?” Derek asks.
Stiles shrugs. “Not much to talk about. They did the whole good cop, bad cop routine. Nothing I haven’t seen before. Then I think they got sick of me talking and drugged me, and things got confusing.” He looks around at Derek. “They told me they’d killed you, that no-one was coming for me, so I might as well do what they wanted me to do. And I started to believe it. Believe that I’d seen it happen.”
Stiles turns and clambers over Derek, fisting his t-shirt in both hands. “This might be a lot to ask, but would you mind not running headlong into battle for a while? Because I can’t, I don’t think I can--”
Derek stares up at Stiles, his eyes dark. He nods.
Stiles bends down and kisses Derek hard, pushing his hips back so he’s lying flat against him. “You shouldn’t do this right now, you’ve just been through--” Derek says.
“Shut up, I need this, I want this,” Stiles says desperately. Derek hesitates then pulls Stiles’s shirt up and over his head.
“Oh god, you too, shirt off, now,” Stiles says, grabbing handfuls and pulling it up.
Derek holds on to Stiles’s lower back and sits up, tugging his shirt out of the way and kissing Stiles hungrily. Stiles holds Derek’s face in his hands, then slides them back to pull at his hair.
They are grinding against each other, almost as an afterthought, and Stiles groans and tilts his head back. Derek drags his teeth down Stiles’s neck and bites at his shoulder blade.
“I couldn’t smell you,” he whispers into Stiles’s skin, sounding wrecked. “When I got back to Atlantis. I couldn’t hear your heartbeat.”
Stiles touches the back of Derek’s head and swallows. “It’s okay. I’m okay.”
“I really want to fuck you."
Stiles can’t move. “Here?”
“Yes. We can do that. I want to do that.”
Derek flips them over so Stiles is lying back on the bed. Derek moves his mouth down, breathing Stiles in, and Stiles shivers at the sensation. Derek is barely touching him but Stiles can feel the warmth of his breath and the occasional drag of his lips and teeth against Stiles’s stomach. Derek is holding on to Stiles’s hips like he is trying to hold him in place, keep him close. Stiles pulls his fingers through Derek’s hair again, liking how it makes Derek relax into him.
Derek bites into Stiles’s hipbone, not enough to break the skin but hard enough so that Stiles flinches. Derek rumbles a low apologetic sound in his throat but doesn’t stop touching, blunt fingernails digging into Stiles’s sides. Just when Stiles thinks Derek is going to put his mouth on him, body straining at the thought, Derek flips him on the bed instead.
Derek runs his tongue down Stiles’s back, from between his shoulder blades to the base of his spine, and Stiles has to grab fistfuls of the pillow just to hold on to something. Derek's tongue keeps moving down, and when Stiles feels warmth pressing at him he feels a flush of embarrassment and tries to move away, but Derek pins him firmly in place. He licks with firm flat strokes and soon Stiles is writhing against the mattress, unable to keep still.
Derek pushes one finger in, then two, and Stiles makes muffled noises into the pillow. When Derek removes his fingers and gets off the bed Stiles yelps in outrage. “So help me, you had better be getting lube or I am going to kill you.”
Derek reappears and kisses Stiles’s back, pulls him up onto his knees. “Relax.”
“I am relaxed. I would just prefer you didn’t disappear at an opportune fucking moment, like--”
He feels the blunt pressure of Derek pushing into him.
“Fuck,” Stiles croaks, pressing his face into his forearm as Derek slowly fills him in one smooth thrust. Derek has one hand on Stiles’s hip and another spread flat between his shoulderblades, and Stiles can feel Derek’s muscles trembling with the effort it takes for him to stay still and let Stiles adjust.
“Yeah, just. Yeah. Move. Please, start moving.”
Derek exhales, a long low breath, and does what he’s told. Slowly at first, then he puts both hands on Stiles’s hips and really starts fucking into him. Stiles can feel the heavy pressure of him inside, and can’t help but make low groans in his throat at every thrust. He would slip down if it wasn’t for Derek holding him up.
Stiles is close but not there, and tries to wrap a hand around himself but doesn’t have the strength to stay up on just one hand, and so falls forward again, making a noise of frustration. Derek takes pity on him and moves his hand from Stiles’s hip, and Stiles has to bury his face in the pillow as he groans loudly and comes all over Derek’s hand.
Derek’s rhythm stutters and he falls forward over Stiles, grinding his hips and biting the back of Stiles's neck when he comes.
Derek collapses on top of Stiles, breathing heavily. Stiles intertwines his fingers with Derek’s and just lets his body come down, needing the solid weight on top of him. Finally Derek slowly pulls out and lies beside Stiles on the bed, staring at him. Stiles says nothing for a minute, just smiles faintly and waits for his heartrate to return to normal.
Eventually he says, “You’re very bitey during sex. Possessive much?”
Derek hesitates. “Yes,” he says quietly.
“Oh. So it’s a thing? Like a claiming thing?”
“If you want it to be.”
“You could at least buy me dinner first.”
“Oh yeah.” Stiles suspects this conversation might be a big deal, but feels too sleepy and zoned out on endorphins to over-analyse. “Does this mean you’re mine too?”
Derek keeps staring at him. If Stiles didn’t know any better he would think Derek was nervous. “If you want me to be.”
Stiles takes a deep breath. “I think so. We keep saving each other’s lives, right? Gotta mean something. And you are ridiculously hot, like, inexplicably hot, and the sex is insane, and…”
Derek shuts him up by kissing him.
Stiles keeps himself to distant parts of the city, trying to fix smaller, redundant systems rather than anything that will attract attention. He doesn’t want to go off world and Sheppard doesn’t push, but he knows a time will come when more will be asked of him.
Derek finds him in a random storage room and calls him on it.
“I never see you in the control tower. You’re always off in some other part of the city fixing something no-one really cares about,” he says, leaning against a service panel.
“Well, maybe they will care about it once I fix it, you ever think about that?”
“Don’t you want to work on more important things than this?”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea anymore.”
“For me. For everyone.”
Stiles turns around from the circuit he’s working on and drops his tablet on the floor.
“I went to one planet. One. Looked at one tiny insignificant piece of technology that didn’t even do anything, next thing I’m tied up screaming because I think they’ve killed all my friends to make me do what they want me to do. How do I know that won’t happen again? Only next time they actually do kill everyone?”
Derek flinches at the ‘tied up screaming’ part but doesn’t let Stiles off that easily. “What’s the alternative? You leave and go back to Earth?”
“Yeah, I’m thinking maybe yeah.”
“What happens if they need you here?”
Stiles gets up and sits beside him.
“I need to tell you something. That I haven’t told anyone, not Sheppard, not McKay, not anyone.” Stiles takes a breath.“I’m pretty sure, I mean I haven’t tested the theory, obviously, because that would be a terrible idea…”
Stiles swallows. “I think I can control the gate network. And by control I mean do anything with it. I could shut it all down, right now. Go in and out of any gate. I don’t need to know the address, the system is just in my head. I didn’t even really notice until I realised I knew where every gate was without even thinking about it.”
Stiles looks at Derek, who looks unnerved. “Derek, if anyone found out about that. If the Wraith found out about that and got hold of me? Game over. So... I think I should go home. And stay away from Stargates for a while.”
“Is being on Earth going to be any safer?”
“Safer than here.”
Derek nods. “I’m coming with you.”
“You don’t have to. I’m not asking you to. I know you’re doing a good job here.”
“Stiles. I’m coming back with you.”
Stiles sighs in relief. “I was really hoping you’d say that.” He reaches out and pulls Derek towards him by the collar, and kisses him.
McKay only stopped complaining about missed opportunities and unprecedented technological advances when Stiles improved the efficiency of the ZPM by thirty percent and combined the shield with the cloaking mechanism without requiring any more power outlay.
Sheppard was at the gate to see them off. “You have a job here anytime you want, you know.”
“Well, yeah. We all know how much you need me,” says Stiles. “Okay, anytime there is a major, and I mean major, incident, you can call me. Or text, or something. I do kinda like it here.”
Sheppard grins. “Will do. I know Rodney will miss having you around. He’ll never say it and will complain non-stop about you, but I know he’s thinking it on the inside.”
“Tell him he can email me with any questions.”
“I’m sure he’ll appreciate that,” says Sheppard. “In his own unique way.”
The gate activates and Derek shakes Sheppard’s hand. “Colonel.”
“You too, Derek. Welcome back any time.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Stiles looks around the gate room. There’s still a part of him that wants to stay, but he’s looking forward to seeing his dad too, and Scott. He’s going to want to tell them everything about what’s happened to him, it sucks that he won’t be able to confide in Scott about most of this. And explaining to his dad about Derek, well, that’s going to be a whole other conversation.
Stiles catches Derek’s eye. “Hey. I’ll buy you dinner when we get back.” He hikes up his bag and walks through the gate, and Derek follows one step behind him.