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Where You Still Remember Dreaming

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“So that worked then,” Erica says. She’s standing over Derek, peering down at him where he’s sprawled on the ground, staring up at the sky.

He blinks, and tries to focus on her, head spinning. He feels drugged, high, that feeling of connectedness with everything still thrums through his veins, less powerful than before but present nonetheless. His head lolls to the side and he sees the others standing around him.

“That was pretty cool,” Isaac admits, head tilted speculatively to one side. “For a minute there, this place lit up like Times Square at Christmas.” The others all nod their agreement.

Taking a step forward, Boyd sticks his hand out and, after a beat, Derek takes it and gets to his feet. He doesn’t know how long he’s been lying there, but the sky is tinged pink, dawn creeping over the edges of the horizon. “Nearly morning,” he mumbles.

Next to him, Erica yawns widely. “Yeah, I need my bed. S’been a long night.”

“True,” Boyd says, “We should probably be getting back.”

Derek turns to Stiles. “Will you?”

“Sure,” Stiles says, and makes a familiar gesture. Nothing happens.

“Come on. Come on. Let’s get going,” Isaac says, nudging him with his elbow. “Some of us aren’t supernatural badasses. We need our sleep.”

“Uh--” Stiles stares down at his hands.

“What’s going on?” Derek asks, stepping forward.

“Yeah, I-- uh-- huh.” His voice sounds weird, hollow, disbelieving. “I can’t.”

“You can’t?”  Boyd says, just as Derek asks. “Are you okay?”

Finally Stiles looks up. “Yeah,” he says, and then again, a little stronger, “Yeah, I’m fine.” A smile spreads slowly across his face, bright and radiant as the rising sun.

“Can’t do what?” Isaac asks.

“I can’t take us home.”

“What?”

Stiles starts to laugh, quiet at first, but soon it bubbles up out of him like water from a fountain, and he slaps a hand over his mouth to contain it, shoulders shaking.

“Wait. Wait a minute. Are you fucking with me right now?” Erica asks, staring at him.

“No! No.” Stiles clutches his side, as he tries to compose himself. “No. I’m not. I’m-- It’s gone.”

“But you’re half-fae,” Derek says. “You’re magical, you’re--”

“Yeah, I am. I still am. But I guess ripping a hole in space time to get places was a magical guardian of the forest thing,” says Stiles, “and not a fae thing. And I’m not that person anymore. I’m just me. I’m-- I’m free.” His voice breaks over that last word, his eyes look a little moist.

Derek reaches out a hand and takes one of Stiles’ squeezing it tight.

“Okay, well, not to rain on your parade or anything, because this all sounds very significant and y’know, important for your emotional wellbeing, or whatever,” says Erica, “but, just so we’re real clear, are you saying we have to walk home? From here?

“Uh-- sorry? I guess?” Stiles says with a sheepish shrug. “It’s probably only about seven miles.” he gestures in front of them, over the tops of the trees. “Just walk that way to the old train depot. You parked near there, right?”

Only seven miles?” Erica and Isaac say in unison.

“Eh. We can walk it.” Boyd shrugs.

“Easy for the werewolf to say,” Erica mutters.

Boyd’s answering grin is more cheshire cat than werewolf, and Erica rolls her eyes.

“But--Okay. So, just a minute,” Isaac says, tapping his chin with his forefinger. “You’re half fae? Like a fairy? Seriously? Fairies are real?”

Stiles nods. “I mean probably not the way you--”

“What sort of magic can you do?” Isaac asks, “I mean, could you conjure something caffeinated? Or maybe bacony-- y’know, sustenance for the journey?”

“Ummmm--” Stiles’ face scrunches up apologetically. “No?”

“But what can you do then?” Isaac says. “Is there like a godmother gig that I can get in on here? Is that a thing? Do you grant wishes? Because--”

“This isn’t Cinderella” says Stiles, cutting him off. “You’ve watched too many Disney films.”

“Okay, but do you have wings?” Isaac continues, squinting at Stiles’ back like he might be hiding them under layers of plaid, and then his eyes light up. “Oh my god, can you teach me to fly? Because then we could all fly home. Do I just need to think happy thoughts?”

“Isaac--”

“Because I think I could do that. I mean, I’ve taken a few tests online and I’m kind of an Eeyore more than a Tigger, but, well, I like to think of myself as a realist, and--”

“I am not Tinkerbell,” Stiles bites out, jabbing a finger at Isaac, whose face morphs from sincere wide-eyed questioning to the most shit-eating grin Derek has ever seen. “Ohhhh,” Stiles breathes, “You asshole--” He swats a hand at Isaac, who skips back a step laughing.

“Okay, enough. Enough. We can walk,” Derek says, holding up his hands. He refuses to let the conversation derail further. “I know for a fact that there’s caffeine and bacon back at Stiles’ place. The sooner we leave, the sooner we’ll be back.” Not that he thinks anyone will want coffee once they get home, more likely they’ll just want to go to bed, but he doesn’t say that out loud.

With minimal grumbling, they all turn and start to traipse down the hill together in the direction Stiles indicated. The other three go ahead, but Stiles walks side by side with Derek, his hands jammed in the pocket of his jeans, their elbows knocking together companionably. “So,” Stiles says, eyeing him askance, “we’ve reached that stage in the relationship where you’re volunteering my apartment and refrigerator for pack breakfasts, huh?”

“Uhhh--” Derek can feel his ears turning beet red. “Sorry. Was that not? I can--” After everything that happened it had just felt so natural. His jaw clenches.

Ahead of them, the others have already reached the treeline at the bottom of the hill, Erica has convinced Boyd to give her a piggyback, and Isaac’s wondering aloud whether there are mountain lions in the woods.

“It’s fine,” Stiles smirks, taking pity on him. “I’m just teasing. It made me laugh is all.”

“But I shouldn’t--”

“No. You totally should. Mi casa es su casa. In fact--” Stiles clears his throat. “--I was gonna say, you should take over my place officially. Y’know, once I’ve--” he gestures vaguely.

Derek swallows. “Are you sure?”

Reaching out Stiles takes his hand, tangling their fingers together and squeezes. “The surest.”

There’s a bright burst of laughter ahead of them, and then the sound of someone singing, “On top of spaghetti, all covered in cheese--” Moments later everyone joins in.

 

-

 

It takes them nearly three hours to get back to Beacon Hills all told, and it’s almost nine in the morning when the five of them fall through the door to Stiles’ apartment hungry and exhausted, but happy.

Derek and Boyd have the most energy, still buzzing from the full moon. They commandeer Stiles’ kitchenette and make bacon and eggs, while the others face plant onto the couch or sprawl on the floor, too tired to do much other than stare into the middle distance with that slightly wild eyed look that comes from having had no sleep in over twenty-four hours.

By the time Derek and Boyd have actually plated up the food, and placed it on the coffee table, Isaac and Erica are both sleeping and have to be gently shaken awake to eat.

Derek takes a seat next to Stiles on the couch and hands him a plate. Stiles smiles tiredly, but takes a forkful of egg and chews, eyes fluttering shut in pleasure. “Okay, yeah, s’good,” he mumbles. “First we eat, and then bed.”

Which is basically how it pans out. Erica and Boyd scarf their food down and then stagger to their feet and disappear downstairs to Erica’s apartment, leaving only Derek, Stiles, and Isaac, who is sitting cross-legged on the floor by the coffee table, face mashed into what’s left of his scrambled eggs, breathing evenly. As they watch, he starts to snore.

“You pick him up and lay him out on the couch,” Stiles says with a yawn. “I’ll get a couple of blankets.”

Once Isaac is tucked up safe and snug, Derek follows Stiles into his bedroom and they undress and crawl under the sheets together. Stiles is out like a light almost as soon as his head hits the pillow, but Derek isn’t quite ready for sleep yet. Instead, he curls around him, his front to Stiles’ back, arms wrapped tight around his waist, and buries his face against the skin at Stiles’ nape, breathing in his scent. He knows he won’t have this much longer, and tired as he is, he wants to savor it while he can.

He isn’t sure how long it takes for him to finally tip over the edge into sleep, but it’s a while.

 

-

 

When he wakes the sun is high in the sky, it’s late afternoon and after a moment battling with himself over whether or not he actually wants to be awake yet, he rolls onto his back, blinking up at the ceiling.

Next to him, Stiles is an untidy sprawl of limbs, snoring gently. Derek watches him a long while, the flicker of his eyelids as he dreams, the dark smudge of his lashes against his cheek, the even movement of his chest as he breathes in and out, in and out; Derek watches Stiles and his heart aches.

He never thought he’d fall in love, never imagined in his wildest dreams that it was something he’d be allowed to have.

Years spent filled with grief and mired in guilt. Mostly he’s grown used to solitude, his heart too bruised to ever let someone in again. So he embraced the blame and let it color all his memories, let it inform every decision he made, because he didn’t feel he deserved a happy, comfortable, life when his own naivety had robbed his family of theirs.

Except somehow, over time, the guilt has dimmed without him even realizing and the memories, good and bad, are slowly fading too, turned sepia with age-- scattering out of reach like sand blown by the wind. He still misses his family, will always love them and honor their memory, but gently, naturally, it’s become the dull ache of an old injury that flares up when the wind blows cold. He can live with it. He’s learned how.

He’s punished himself enough.

And now Stiles is here, or at least he’s here for the moment.

The truth is, Derek’s had a lifetime of practice losing the people he loves, having them leave him behind and go where he can’t follow.

But that isn’t what’s happening here, he reminds himself, he isn’t losing Stiles. He’s letting him go.

There’s something between he and Stiles. Something that transcends time or space. What’s a hundred or a thousand miles of distance, when, well over a hundred years ago, Stiles’ mother had drawn a triskele on Stiles’ skin, and told him that Derek would be the one to save him.

And Derek has, he will. He wants to. He’s letting Stiles go and he’s doing it gladly.

For once, he isn’t the one who fucked up. He isn’t the one hurting people. For once, he gets to do something good for someone he cares for. He gets to love someone and know that they’ll be whole and happy, living the life they want to because of him .

That’s worth something.

That’s important.

And it feels like he can bear any amount of distance, if he has that to comfort him.

Reaching out one hand he traces his finger down Stiles’ cheek and Stiles snuffles gently, mumbles, “No more cats.”

Derek’s breath catches in his throat, his heart swells.

It occurs to him that there is at least one more thing he could do for Stiles before he goes.

Slowly he eases himself out of bed and dresses quickly, then he grabs Stiles’ keys, past the now empty couch, and lets himself out of the apartment.

 

-

 

The autoshop sign is peeling, its rusted hinges mean it squeaks loudly in the breeze. The sharp smell of engine oil is heavy in the air. When Derek opens the shop door and walks inside, there’s nobody on the little front desk to welcome him, just a chipped vase with faded plastic flowers, an old telephone with a coiled handset cord, and a sign telling him that if no one is at the front desk, he should try out the back.

Luis Castillo is a grizzled bear of a man, he could be fifty, he could be eighty, or any age in between. Barrel chested, with that ropey, sinewy muscle that comes from years of hard labor and great big hands. His face is wrinkled as a walnut, with a wide white-toothed smile. He’s wearing bright blue coveralls rolled down to his waist, a white tank top with grease smudges all over it, and a green baseball cap over wispy grey hair. He lights up a hand rolled cigarette as Derek tells him about the mountain of things wrong with Stiles’ Jeep, and what it’ll take to fix it.

“You new around here?” Luis asks, once Derek has finished speaking.

“Yeah--”

“You gonna stick around?”

Derek nods. “Planning to.”

“You working somewhere?” Luis asks, surveying him with bright brown eyes.

“I-uh--I haven’t--.”

Luis sniffs, takes a long drag on his cigarette, and blows the smoke out slowly. Eyes fixed on Derek the whole time. “See the pick up back there--” he gestures behind him. “The transmission’s slipping.” He stares at Derek, one eyebrow raised, waiting.

“I--uh--” Derek looks between him and that blue pick up. “Are the fluid levels low?”

Luis stares at Derek, expression impassive.

“A leak?”

Luis shrugs. “Why don’t you go take a look, tell me what you think.”

Derek’s about to say that all he’s actually wants is to get Stiles’ jeep fixed, but-- but cars. The smell of oil and sunbaked asphalt. The chance to spend half an hour tinkering with an engine while the radio hums a low tune in the background. He walks over to the pick up and pops the hood.

Maybe twenty minutes later, he’s run through a series of checks and determined that the car’s transmission bands are worn. When he makes the pronouncement, Luis purses his lips against a smile.

“So, whaddya say? You come back here tomorrow. Eight AM.”

“Eight?”

Luis grins, wide, like a lion. “Eight till five. You get a half hour for lunch. Sundays and Mondays off.”

“Are you serious?”

“No. This is all an elaborate prank. Smile for candid camera.”

Derek opens his mouth, then shuts it again, not sure what to say.

“I’m just kidding. Yes. I’m serious. I’m nearly seventy years old. This place is a lot for me. I’m looking for extra help. You wanna job or not?” Later, Derek will discover that Luis is actually a spritely sixty-three. But he’s fond of saying that: “I’m nearly seventy years old!” Whenever it suits him.

“Uhh--” Derek blinks. “Yeah. Yeah, I do.”

“Good.” Luis grins, all teeth, wrinkles folding into wrinkles as he smiles.

“What about the Jeep?”

Luis takes a final drag on cigarette and then throws it to the floor, and stubs it out with his toe. “What model is it?”

“Old, Cj-5, 1980 I think.”

“You can drive the tow truck round tomorrow and pick it up.”

“How much--”

“Depends. We can order the parts and you can fix it on your own time, save your buddy some cash. If you fix it on my time, that’s something else. All I ask is that when you’re here, you working on stuff I’m paying you for. Okay?”

“Yeah,” Derek says, scratching the back of his neck in a daze. “No, that’s fine. I have money. I’ll pay.”

He has the insurance money. He’s never used it before. Not unless it was an emergency. But now he has a pack. He has responsibilities. He has a life. He has a future. He has Stiles.

 

--

 

When he gets back to the apartment later that afternoon. Stiles is standing in the living room by the bookcase staring down at something in his hands. He’s wearing his plaid pajama pants, but shirtless, and Derek takes a moment to appreciate the broad muscles of his back, the sinewy stretch of his arms, his hair still sleep tousled and touchable.

“Oh,” Stiles looks up as he walks through the door. “You’re back. Where have you been?”

“I got a job,” It sounds strange even as he says, the word feels foreign in his mouth. It’s been a while.

“A job?”

“The autoshop on Magnolia.”

“Luis? He’s a cool guy,” Stiles grins. “Congratulations.”

“Thanks.” As Derek steps closer, he sees that Stiles is holding the double photo frame. The one that’s filled with actual pictures of people.

“Was Isaac gone when you left?”

“Yeah.”

“You okay?” Derek walks over to Stiles and drops a kiss on the cheek, one arm curling around his waist.

“Yeah,” Stiles stares down at the pictures in his hand. The faded black and white photo of the guy with the crooked jaw in the sharp suit, and the polaroid of the redheaded girl in the mondrian dress. “I was just thinking about what I’m gonna do now. Where I’ll go. Y’know, making some half assed plans.”

“Yeah?” Derek lets the silence stretch out between them. When he inhales, Stiles scent is tinged with sadness.

“That’s Scott,” Stiles says wistfully, gesturing at the guy in the picture. “Ten years he lived here and we just-- we connected, y’know? Right from the beginning. He was my best friend, one of the best men I’ve ever met, and the first person who I really connected with after my dad died. I loved him like a brother.” Stiles sniffs. “He was a werewolf too, bitten, not born. A true alpha, the first one the East Coast had seen in a hundred years. Back then I felt sure he was gonna be y’know--” he taps the spot above his heart where the triskele sits.

“Sounds like a good guy. What happened?”

Stiles snorts. “He fell in love with a werecoyote and moved to Michigan. Had a whole bunch of kids. For years we wrote to each other. He even came back to visit once, during the summer of fifty two, just for a few days. He had grey hair then and he’d gotten kind of paunchy, but he was still Scott . He died back in eighty-five. Nothing tragic. Just old age. Apparently he passed on surrounded by his wife, his kids and his grandkids. I didn’t get to go to the funeral, obviously, so I figure the first thing I’ll do is head East, see if I can find any of his relatives or his pack. At the very least visit his grave and pay my respects.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Derek says softly.

“Sorry,” Stiles says, swiping at his nose. “I’m bringing the mood down.” He places the photo frame back on the shelf.

“You don’t have to apologize.” Derek nods at the picture frame. “What about the girl?”

“Ahhhh. Lydia?” Stiles’ mouth ticks up in a grin. “My partner in crime. She was born here in about 1950, but Beacon Hills was too small to contain her for long. She was a math genius and a banshee. Worked for NASA for a while. Travelled the world giving lectures on stuff I’ll never understand. Now, well-- imagine Blanche from the Golden Girls, but with the combined soul of Olivia Pope and Hermione Granger.” Stiles looks at Derek askance. “You have know idea what I’m talking about do you?”

“I know who Hermione is and I kinda remember the Golden Girls?” Derek says, with an apologetic shrug.

“I am going to leave you a list of books, TV shows and films to watch in my absence. I expect you to be fully caught up by the time I return.”

At those words Derek sucks in a sharp breath and stares at him, a blush creeps across Stiles’ cheek, eyes widening as he realizes what he just said.

“I--uh--”

“It’s okay,” Derek says immediately, jerking one shoulder up in a half shrug. “I’m not asking for a time frame. I’ll still be here. So leave me the list. Prepare a pop quiz.” He tries for a smile.

Stiles reaches out a hand, cups the back of Derek’s head, inhales shakily. “You’re it for me,” he says, and his voice is soft, serious. “You know that right? You’re like-- my hero. When I first got to know you, I figured I was gonna be the one to rescue you, bring you out of your shell or whatever, but it turns out--”

“That we got to rescue each other?”

Stiles smiles at that, huffs out a self-deprecating laugh. “I don’t know about that--”

“You were the first person since my family died who tried to get to know me . The first person I ever felt I could let in. The only one who seemed interested to try. Because of you I have a pack. I have territory. I’m not alone anymore.” He traces a finger along the sharp edge of Stiles’ cheekbone. “If you hadn’t turned up when you did last night, Ennis would have killed me and the others. Trust me. We rescued each other.”

Stiles rests his forehead against Derek’s and sighs. “Okay,” he says. “Okay.” And then fiercely, “But I need to be sure you understand. I might be leaving Beacon Hills, but I’m not leaving you.”

“I know,” Derek says. “I know that.” Because he does. And with that Stiles kisses him.

Derek’s kissed a few people in his life, but he’s never met anyone who kisses like Stiles does. Like it’s essential. Like Derek’s the only one that matters. Like he’s oxygen. Stiles’ lips are warm and insistent, tongue slipping into his mouth and teasing gently even as he presses his body up against him, strong and sure. Solid. Real.

Derek pulls him closer still,  trailing his fingers lightly over the smooth skin and firm muscle of Stiles' chest until he reaches the spot where he thinks the triskele would sit. Slowly he traces the pattern onto Stiles’ skin; Stiles shivers at the touch and breaks the kiss, panting hard.

“You should fuck me,” he whispers, breathes it into the damp skin of Derek’s neck as he pushes against him, grinding up against Derek like a promise. Derek’s cock is thickening in his jeans, and Stiles is hard too, so fucking hard. Derek can feel the outline of him against those threadbare pajama pants.

And this time, it’s Derek’s turn to shiver.

 

-

 

They don’t make it to the bedroom. Instead, Stiles backs Derek up against the couch, kissing frantically all the while.

“Take your pants off and sit down,” Stiles commands, between kisses, even as he pulls down his own pajama pants without grace or elegance. His cock slaps back against his stomach, thick and hot, blood rich and leaking copiously. It’s all Derek can smell, the scent musky and rich.

Derek stares at it, dazed. “I--uh--Shouldn’t we-- prep you or?”

“Nah. I mean, go slow at first, or whatever, but I may have pregamed,” Stiles says, with a wink and a grin, as he reaches out, long fingers popping the button of Derek’s jeans, working down the zipper and then tugging his jeans and underwear down over his thighs without ceremony. Derek kicks the clothes off and then peels his t-shirt over his head, as Stiles says, “Woke up, got in the shower, came with two fingers buried inside myself and your name on my lips. I was putting on quite a show, and then I realized you weren’t even in the apartment.”

He pouts at Derek in mock reproach, one hand palming Derek’s cock and Derek whines. “Stiles--”

With that, he pushes Derek down onto the couch, knees splayed on either side of him, and leans down to whisper in his ears. “That’s right. I fingered myself, and the whole time I wished it was you. Your gorgeous fucking cock. Look at it.” He wraps his fingers around it in a light, teasing grip, jerks him, one slow stoke. Derek’s hips buck upward, eyes clenching shut, fingers clutching tight at Stiles’ shoulders, his back, anywhere he can reach. “Look at it. Look at you.”

Derek sucks in a breath, and forces his eyes open, meeting Stiles’ heated gaze. “Could say the same.”

He runs his hands down Stiles back and grabs hold of his ass, massages the cheeks, as Stiles leans down to kiss him again.

“Fuck,” he breathes as Derek works his fingers down the cleft,  finally tracing Stiles’ hole. “Fuck,” he breathes again, as Derek circles it with one dry finger.

“You got lube?” Derek asks, kissing him.

Stiles blinks down at him. “Yeah, just--” he pushes down against Derek, mashing their dicks together, but makes a complicated gesture with his hand and two seconds later a vine appears at Derek’s side clutching a little bottle of lube in one coiled tendril.

“Huh,” Derek says, reaching out to take it. “Just so you know, that’s never not going to be weird.”

“Would you rather I got up and went to get it myself?” Stiles asks, punctuating the question by grinding down against Derek’s erection again.

Derek moans. “Nooope. No. You’re good. You’re-- fuck.”

He manages to unscrew the lid without a problem, so there’s that, but he ends up getting lube all over the couch, as well as his fingers and his dick. Apparently Alpha werewolf coordination and reflexes count for nothing when Stiles is squirming in his lap and breathing dirty promises into his ear.

Eventually though, Derek manages to get one slicked up finger in easily enough, then a second soon after, proving that Stiles wasn’t exaggerating. He definitely pregamed, just like he said he did. It makes Derek’s stomach swoop just thinking about it, he lets them drag in and out, enjoying the clinging warmth of Stiles’ body, getting a little rough, as he listens to him moan and swear. Smells that warm, spicy scent, heady with arousal.

When Stiles finally sinks down on top of him, Derek’s cock buried deep inside of him, they both let out a ragged sigh.

“Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Fuck. Fuck.” Stiles chants, eyes clenched shut. “You are sooo much bigger than your fingers. “Fuck.”

“You alright?” Derek asks. He’s struggling. Torn between a desire to know that Stiles is okay, but knowing if he keeps looking at him, he’s not going to last as long as he wants to.

“Yeah,” Stiles says, “Yeah. S’good. It’s-- Let me--”

He moves slow at first, teasing. Like he’s getting used to the sensation. But Derek’s hands come up to hold him, steadying him as he changes the rhythm up, setting a brisk pace that has Derek biting his lip hard enough to draw blood, fingers pressed into Stiles’ hips hard enough that they’ll probably bruise. He can feel the change simmering under the surface, and maybe Stiles can sense it too, because he pants out, “S’okay. S’okay. You can-- you can--do it--”

That’s how it always seems to be with Stiles, like he draws the wolf out of Derek. Welcomes it. Like Derek can always be wholly himself, and when he finally dares to look up and sees Stiles, head thrown back, pink lips parted as he rides him, Derek’s eyes flicker red helplessly. He lets go of Stiles’ hips, as he feels his claws extend, and ends up digging them into the faded orange couch, hears the sound of the material shredding. Wills himself not to come. Not yet. Not--

“M’Close,” Stiles says, in that scratchy, gravel-deep voice he gets when the fae part of him comes to the surface. When Derek dares to look up at him again, Stiles’ eyes are black as polished onyx. “Can you--”

Derek forces the change to recede, and reaches out with one hand, gripping Stiles’ cock, setting a fast pace.

A few swift strokes and it’s all over. He spends all over Derek’s stomach, and as soon as Stiles comes, Derek follows him, helpless against the smell, the feel, the weight of him, the sloppy open-mouthed kisses that he’s lavishing against Derek’s neck.

“Tha’ was good,” Stiles slurs, lifting up so that Derek slides out, and then slumping over him.

Derek doesn’t think he can form words yet, but he nods, tugging Stiles over so they’re both lying on the couch, damp and sweaty and sated, and closes his eyes, listens to the sound of their hearts beating in perfect counterpoint to each other.

“How can I leave?” Stiles says eventually, propping himself up onto one elbow. “When we can fuck like that, how can I leave?.”

“Phone sex,” Derek mumbles, eyes still shut.

Stiles nods. “Skype, too. Snapchat. Facetime.”

“You’re just making words up now,” Derek says, squinting at him suspiciously.

Stiles smiles down at him fondly, smooths his hand along the rough grain of the stubble on Derek’s cheek. “Sometimes I feel like you’re the old one,” he says. “You seriously have no idea what Facetime is?”

Derek shrugs.

“Ugh. It’s like an epic love story where you’re a caveman I discovered in a block of ice and I unfroze you and had to teach you about the world, and then we banged.”

Derek levels an unimpressed stare at him. “Wow, that was beautiful, you should write a novel.”

“I should,” Stiles says, fingers trailing down along Derek’s chest, tracing idly through the slick mess between them. Derek watches him, feels his dick try and stir vainly, as Stiles continues, “I bet it’d make the best seller list. There’d probably be a movie adaptation. We’ll get Henry Cavill to play Grogg, the caveman. That’s you by the way.”

Secretly, Derek thinks Stiles probably could do anything he puts his mind to, and he has no idea who Henry Cavill is, so he settles for saying, “I’ll learn how to use Facechat for you, if you want.”

Stiles smiles at him fondly. “Yeah? For me? I’m worth it?”  

“Of course,” Derek says, lips ticking upward. “After all, this is true love, you think this happens every day?”

Stiles swats him lightly on the shoulder. “Oh my god. You’re such a fucking sap,” he says, but he looks deeply pleased.

 

-

 

The days drift by. One week becomes two. Two becomes three. Stiles doesn’t leave. He talks about it like it’s an inevitability, and Derek knows he’s planning to rent a storage unit in Beacon Heights. He’s even started packing stuff in the bedroom into boxes. But he seems reluctant to set a date, and after a while Derek stops asking. It isn’t like he wants Stiles to go. There’s a part of him. A big part, that wants Stiles to stay here, with him, forever. Still, there are days where he catches Stiles looking pensive, staring off into the distance with a pinched expression on his face, and in those moments Derek knows, he knows that this part can’t last forever. Stiles is going to leave, at least for a while.

So the days pass by, Derek settles into work at the autoshop, he loves the job and he likes his boss immensely. Luis has a wry sense of humor. Sure, he likes to complain a little, but it’s mostly for show, and he has a kind heart. He takes Derek under his wing, encouraging him in what he knows, and sharing his knowledge and experience freely.

Boyd takes well to werewolfdom. He’s patient and stoic, loyal and just-- easy. All good qualities in a wolf, and a perfect first beta for Derek who has never had a pack to lead before. After the first week Boyd asks if he can introduces Derek to his mom. He wants her to be allowed in on the secret, he says, “I want her to know, Der. I’m all she has left, and she deserves that.” So Derek obliges. Mrs Boyd, or Veronica as she insists the pack call her, takes it all in her stride, and quickly becomes something of a surrogate mom to everyone. She insists on holding a pack lunch. The first Sunday they all show up she cooks enough food to feed an army of werewolves let alone Derek’s tiny pack. She plies them with mountains of crisp fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens. Then, once they’ve eaten so much they have to unbutton their pants, they help with the dishes, then slump on the couch in an ungainly heap and shout loudly at the TV as the stars of whatever reality show is airing make progressively terrible decisions. After that first time, they take turns with the cooking and hosting, but it becomes a weekly thing.

Isaac seems happier. Like a weight has been lifted. He’s affectionate in a way that Derek hasn’t seen from him before. Regularly greets Derek with a hug, teases Stiles, and roughhouses with Erica and Boyd. “I feel free,” he says to Derek one evening, as he sits on the battered office chair Luis keeps in the autoshop, while Derek’s working late, putting in time on Stiles’ Jeep. “I don’t know how else to describe it.”

Three weeks in, Erica officially asks for the bite, and Derek obliges. She’s fierce, spirited, snappier than Boyd and it shows-- she doesn’t find it quite as easy to focus on her anchor, but she gets there in the end. The first full moon after she’s turned Derek takes them back up to the Nemeton and the wolves spend the night charging through the woods, chasing the moon, while Isaac and Stiles sit on a picnic blanket near the fresh bud of the new Nemeton that’s pushing through the mound of earth. Isaac’s packed another picnic. Properly prepared this time with delicacies from the bakery-- but he still brings Gatorade and Three Musketeer bars too. “It’s pack tradition, Alpha mine!” he says when Derek asks.

Five weeks of blissful happiness has passed when Derek comes home from work one night to find that Stiles is standing among piles of half filled boxes, one of the bookshelves almost cleared of all contents. He looks up as Derek comes in, smiles, almost guiltily.

“Hey,” he says.

“Hey.” Derek shucks his jacket and toes off his sneakers, a sinking feeling in his stomach. Then, standing there in the doorway he surveys the room, feeling a little lost.

“I finally booked the storage unit. Isaac’s gonna drive me up there in his van tomorrow, so I figured I better, y’know,” Stiles makes a sweeping gesture at the piles of stuff. “Do you want to keep any of the books, or should I--”

“Yeah, maybe,” Derek swallows around the lump that’s rapidly appearing in his throat. “I mean. I only have three so, I may as well have something to fill the shelves.”

Stiles smiles wanly, and as Derek steps forward and gets a better look at him, he can see, can smell , that Stiles has been crying.

“Hey,” he says, closing the distance between them and pulling Stiles into a hug. “Hey, it’s okay.”

Stiles clings onto him tightly. “I don’t want to leave you,” he admits. “I don’t want to, but I don’t want to stay here either. Fuck.” His shoulders start to shake, and the thin cotton of Derek’s t-shirt is getting damp.

“I know. I know,” Derek murmurs. “I know. But it’ll be okay. Remember? You’ll always have a place here. This isn’t forever.”

“I know,” Stiles sniffs. “I know.”

They stand there a long while, just holding each other, Stiles’ face buried against Derek’s shoulder, as he gets himself under control. Then, finally, with a big juddering sigh, he steps back, swiping at his nose with the cuff of his plaid shirt.

“I swear I never used to be this emotional before I met you,” he mutters. “Jesus. Okay, well why don’t you go get your books and put them on this shelf.”

Derek hasn’t touched those old books in over a month. Hasn’t had the time, they’re still sitting in the bottom of his old bag.

“Wait,” Stiles calls, as Derek disappears into their bedroom to retrieve them. “You say you have three books? I’ve only ever seen two. The Princess Bride and Slaughterhouse Five. What’s the other one?”

Rifling through Stiles’ closet, Derek finds the old black duffle bag and lifts it onto the bed. He unzips it and carefully picks the books up. Lifting them to his nose, he inhales deeply. If he closes his eyes he can imagine that the last remnants of Laura’s scent still cling to them. They’re the only part of her he has left that isn’t a memory, and they’re now so much a part of himself that he doesn’t know where they end and he begins.

“Derek,” Stiles says, poking his head round the door, eyes bright with curiosity. “What’s the third book?”

With a wry smile Derek selects it from the small pile and hands it over to him. “It always struck me as strangely appropriate for you,” he says.

Stiles reaches for it, and as he sees the cover he grins. “Peter Pan,” he says, “Seriously?”

“I guess I felt you might have a certain kinship with the boy who never grew up.” Derek lifts one eyebrow.

“Hmmm,” Stiles says, turning the book over in his hand, to look at the back cover. “I suppose I should be grateful that you’re not trying to imply I’m Tinkerbell.”

“I would never.”

“I’ve never actually read this book,” Stiles admits. He traces his finger over the cracked spine and then opens it to the first page and inhales sharply. “This book is the property of Laura Hale, age 12. Derek and Cora keep out,” he reads aloud. “That’s a pretty kickass skull and crossbones your sister drew there.”

“It was her favorite book as a kid, she always had it with her, even when she got older.” Derek plucks the book from Stiles’ hand, closing it gently he places it on the bed. “You should try reading it,” he says, tugging Stiles towards him, and dropping a kiss on his lips. “It’s pretty good.”

“Mmmm,” Stiles hums, wrapping his arms around Derek and tugging him closer. “You’re pretty good. Or something.”

“Or something?”

“Something witty,” Stiles mumbles. “It was gonna be witty, but your hotness is scrambling my brain. So just pretend I said something witty.”

Derek smirks at him and kisses him again.

 

-

 

Three days. That’s how long they have left as it turns out. Just three days. And to Derek it seems to pass in a blink of an eye. Before he can really process it, the apartment seems to be half empty, some of Stiles stuff locked away safely in a storage unit, more still thrown out completely.

“You can just leave it in your apartment,” Derek had argued on more than one occasion. “It’s still your apartment. And I don’t own anything!”

“Yeah,” Stiles had replied with a rueful smile. “But you will.”

The morning Stiles is due to leave, Derek wakes up early with a lump in his throat, his stomach tight, he opens his eyes to find Stiles is already looking at him, eyes dark and a little sad in the dim morning light.

“Der--” he says, in a choked of voice, and Derek leans across and kisses him before he can say anything else. Kisses him until they’re not thinking about what’s to come. Derek sucks him off, relishes the weight of Stiles in his mouth, the dull ache of his jaw grounding him as he bobs his head, the feel of Stiles’ long fingers pulling at his hair, the taste of him salty on Derek’s tongue as he comes.

Then, after, Derek preps him, fucks into him, tries to make it last. Tries to hold on to the feel of Stiles’ body hot and tight around him, the damp slide of skin on skin, the smell of him musky and warm, so that later when Stiles is far away, he’ll be able to remember it.

Around lunchtime they make their way to the bakery and the guys close it at midday for an hour specially. Erica and Veronica join them all, and they sit round and eat lunch together, one last meal. All Stiles favorite snacks. Boyd has made triple chocolate brownies for the occasion. A tray for them to share and a tupperware box filled for Stiles to take with him. Then once Stiles has said tearful goodbyes to the rest of the pack, Derek walks Stiles back to his apartment block. They go upstairs, grab Stiles’ bags, and Derek pockets the parting gift that he’s planning to give Stiles before he leaves.

“This way,” he says leading Stiles out the back to the place where he has parked Isaac’s van.

They load the bags into the van, and then Derek drives them down the long road out of town, finally parking up outside the old train depot. It’s weathered looking dusty and worn in the golden light of the afternoon.

“So this is where we gonna say our goodbyes, huh?” Stiles says, turning to look at him.

“We’re not quite there yet,” says Derek. And he ushers Stiles out of the van and round the side of the building where he’s parked...

“I knew it!” Stiles says, beaming at him, and running over to Roscoe. The window isn’t saran wrap and duct tape anymore. The bumper is no longer tied on with string. Every part of the engine has been finely tuned, the worn tires replaced, the car waxed so the blue paintwork all but gleams in the sunshine.

“You knew?” he says, feeling slightly disappointed.

“What? You really thought you’d kept it a secret?” Stiles says, arching an eyebrow at him. “Why do you think I haven’t bought bus tickets or another car?” He laughs gleefully as Derek tosses him the keys, and opening the door, he climbs inside. “Oh my god, is that a new sound system? Seriously?”

Derek shrugs bashfully and Stiles winds down the window and leans out. “I have the best boyfriend,” he says grinning madly.

“Don’t you forget it,” Derek says, and steps forward to kiss him.

When they part, Stiles cheeks are pink, lips kiss-swollen. He blinks at Derek with wide brown eyes. “This is really great. Thanks. It means a lot. And I--I have something for you, too.” He reaches into his back pocket of his jeans and pulls something out.

As he hands it over, Derek’s fingers close over cool smooth metal. He looks down, fingers curling tight around the hard edge of the Sheriff’s badge in his palm.

“It was my Dad’s,” Stiles says, a slightly trembling edge to his voice. “It’s the, uh-- the only thing I have left of him. I’m giving it to you for safe keeping. It’s my most precious possession, so you know I’m coming back for it. Okay?”

The lump that seems to have taken up permanent residence in Derek’s throat today is suddenly back with a vengeance. “I have something for you too,” he says, willing his voice steady.

“Other than the car?” One of Stiles’ eyebrows disappears into his hairline, and Derek feels a little bit of genuine satisfaction that in this, at least, he might genuinely be able to surprise Stiles. He reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a book, handing it to Stiles, who takes it curiously.

“You’re giving me Peter Pan,” he says, softly. “Derek, are you sure--”

“You should finally read it,” Derek says, aiming for nonchalant and missing grandly. “I want you to have it.”

Stiles looks down at the book, swallows hard, and then says, “There’s a bookmark in it.”

“I know,” Derek says. “I put it there. For you.”

With a swift glance at Derek, Stiles opens the book to the page in question, and his breath catches in his throat, as he sees the line that Derek had painstakingly underlined in pencil last night, and the small note he’d left in the margin. “To live will be an awfully big adventure,” Stiles reads aloud, and then, his voice breaking a little as he reads Derek’s message, “Live fully. Embrace the adventure without guilt or regret, and I will too, promise. I love you. Derek.”

The thing is, right now Stiles’ big adventure is out there somewhere, on the horizon, and Derek’s is here in Beacon Hills. In that moment Derek wants to thank him for the last few months. To tell him that until Stiles came into his life he’d forgotten what it felt like to really feel alive. He’d forgotten what it felt like to laugh, to love and be loved. To have the security of family and pack. And for him, that’s the biggest adventure of all. He wants to say all that and a million other things that are all sitting on the tip of his tongue, but he doesn’t get the chance, because Stiles scrambles out of the Jeep, book still clutched in his hand and throws himself at Derek. Wraps his arms around him and clings to him. Kisses him fiercely.

“Remember this moment,” Stiles breathes. “Remember me. Don’t you fucking forget me okay?”

“I couldn’t,” Derek says quietly. “I can’t. I won’t.”

They’re there a while, neither one quite able to bring themselves to the point of separating, but finally they pull apart. Derek helps Stiles load up the Jeep with his bags. They hug each other one last time, then Stiles opens the door to the Jeep and climbs in, swiping at his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt.

“Okay,” he says, staring straight ahead. He puts the keys in the ignition and twists, the engine turns over, purring to life. “Okay,” he says again, and when he turns to look at Derek his eyes seem to glow whisky gold in the late afternoon sun.

It strikes Derek then that Stiles has always been a strange dichotomy. There are times when he’s seemed old, wise beyond his years. There are times when he’s seemed snarky and playful, every inch the boy who never grew up, perhaps because he’s never been allowed to grow past the boundaries of this place. But as Stiles breathes out now, shoulders going lax, he looks truly happy, at peace in a way Derek has never seen before. Younger than his years. Strong. Ready. For whatever life is about to throw at him.

Derek steps forward, crosses his arms and leans against the window of the Jeep.

“I love you,” Derek says.

Stiles exhales slowly. “I love you too.”

“Call me when you stop for the night, okay? Or before, if you want.”

“I will.” Stiles waggles his eyebrows. “Tell Erica to install Snapchat on your phone. I demand dick pics.”

Derek shakes his head with a put upon sigh, biting his lip against a smile. “You always know how to bring real class to a tender moment.”

Stiles laughs brightly at that, and then kisses him sweetly one last time. When they finally part, he clicks his seatbelt in, and then as Derek steps back, pulls out of the parking space and away.

Stopping as he’s about to turn onto the main road, he looks back briefly and waves at Derek one last time and Derek waves too. Then he stands there and watches as the Jeep drives down the dirt road and away. Watches until the Jeep is nothing but a speck in the distance. Watches until there’s nothing left but the dust cloud plume in its wake. Then he turns back, climbs into the van, his heart strangely light, and heads for home.