Rain is sluicing against the windshield faster than Stiles’ wipers can clear it off, and he really should pull over and wait the uncharacteristic monsoon-esque storm out, but the only thing he can think of that would be more idiotic than traveling alone, at night, is stopping on the side of a freeway bordered with forestry. Alone.
His father’s going to kill him, if nothing else beats him to it. Lightning streaks across the sky, followed almost immediately by earth-shaking thunder and Stiles pushes the gas a little further down with the toe of his boot, eyes flicking between the blinking electric green letters of the clock on the dash and the wide, abandoned expanse of road ahead of him.
He swerves around a bad pothole and can’t help a wince at the overturned car hanging off the furthest shoulder that his headlights expose. It looks like it’s been there for years, though, so even if he’d been out of his mind enough to raid it, there wouldn’t be much left to find.
In the back seat, Liam groans piteously against the fabric, shifting his position and letting out a pained whine. A brief glance behind him, though, tells Stiles that the kid’s still mostly passed out, breathing steadily enough, and that will just have to be enough for the time being.
As he draws closer to the mandatory federal checkpoint, Stiles lowers his high-beams and sucks in a deep breath. There’s enough of Liam’s blood caked beneath his fingernails that he doesn’t even need a totem, and the sleeves of his two shirts and red hoodie should be thick enough to disguise the faint glowing that emits from his runes whenever he does any spellwork.
The guards at the checkpoint want to know what he’s doing travelling so late and Stiles laughs, spinning a tale of a flat earlier in the day, that he’s trying to make up lost time so he won’t miss his dad’s birthday in the morning, coming home in the middle of the semester is such a hassle, but I’m all he’s got, you know? He knows exactly what he looks like—had never appreciated how young he looked before all of this had started.
His magic helps, eases the temperament of the guards, though most of it is being used to completely block the sight of poor Liam from their minds. Their eyes skate past the prone body without recognition, and Stiles gets let through with a pair of gruff stay safe, sons, followed by a single mumbled you have no idea what’s out there.
He laughs as he pulls away, because he’s always been a gifted liar, imagines what the guards would have said about his runes and the illegally-harbored refugee in his back seat.
Stiles sees the former Beacon Hills on the horizon and allows himself to relax slightly, because just beyond the newly reinforced fortress is the series of underground tunnels that he’s headed towards.
The tension in his neck and shoulders is just starting to lessen when something huge slams into the side of his Jeep, sending it spinning in terrifying doughnuts off the pavement and down the side ditch.
Stiles is an old pro, lets go of his wheel for a long, terrifying second before shifting gears and switching into four wheel drive, yanking hard on the steering wheel in the opposite direction. He imagines he can hear mud spitting out from his back tires as they fight to get some traction in the deluge, but he slams on his gas and his trusty car finally shoots back onto the pavement with a jarring lurch that has Liam rolling into the front seats and letting out another pathetic whimper of pain.
In front of him is a tall, dark, inhumane shaped being, and it opens its jaw to roar, eyes flashing a deep, bloody red. Stiles spots the tag jabbed into the side of the thing’s neck and swears, apologizes to his car, and then he accelerates as fast as he can, can already guess at how much it’s going to hurt his fragile, mostly human body to be slammed up against the steering wheel on impact, but he manages to keep going, pretends he can’t hear sickening crunches as his car drives over the werewolf trying to kill him.
It doesn’t follow him, though, and Stiles keeps up the insane speed until the area starts to look a little more familiar. The turn is nearly impossible to find, even for him, which is kind of the point, and he goes down it, feeling his heartbeat slow down the further he goes, secure in the knowledge that the dozens of twists and turns as well as the five witches that live in the compound who’ve protected the place to the best of their ability will keep him safe enough.
Scott and Braeden are waiting in front of the hidden entrance, the former looking worried and the latter looking alert, but as soon as Scott recognizes Stiles’ more or less steady heartbeat and scents the air, he’s bounding towards the jeep even before it rolls to a stop.
Braeden lets out a low, impressed whistle when she sees the damage done to the right side of the car and Stiles winces. “Please tell me it’s not that bad.”
“I don’t like you enough to lie,” she tells him and Stiles flips her off even as he helps Scott pull Liam out of the back seat. Scott can carry the kid on his own, and does, leading the way into the compound and Stiles, after tossing the keys at Braeden so she can move the car to a less obvious hiding place, follows him hurriedly.
It’s about as quiet as the compound ever gets due to the late hour, but there’s still half a dozen people bustling around just near the entrance area. Scott heads straight to the medbay, and Stiles knows he’ll have to give a report to his dad and Talia soon, but he wants to make sure Liam doesn’t punk out and die after all the trouble he went through retrieving him.
Scott makes quick work of stitching up the kid’s side, grinds some wolfsbane ashes into his two bullet wounds and sucks some of his pain out through his hand without even hesitating, but Stiles knows it’s just up to werewolf healing at this point.
“Who else was there?” Scott asks in a low voice as he bustles around the medbay, washing his hands and sterilizing the equipment as best he can because it’s nearly impossible to get the stuff.
“A girl,” Stiles hedges. Scott’s shoulders tense because he knows Stiles well enough to recognize the uncomfortable lilt in his voice. “And—Scott—I saw a file for Jackson.”
Scott whirls around from the crude countertop where he’s been lining up syringes and needles, but his expression of shock melts into something more horrified.
“Why didn’t you say you got hurt?” he asks, across the room and in front of Stiles before Stiles can even blink, which is good, because as soon as Scott mentions it, his knees almost give out at the shock at being reminded that, yeah, he’s a fragile human who busted a kid out of a detention center and got into a car accident on his way back.
“I didn’t notice,” Stiles manages, truthfully, and Scott can’t seem to decide if he wants to focus first on the gash on the side of Stiles’ face or the clearly broken arm. He makes up for his indecision by gripping a warm hand around the nape of Stiles’ neck, taking the pain and scent-marking him in the same movement.
“We have to get them out,” Scott says after he’s finished splinting and wrapping up Stiles’ arm and has moved on to disfiguring Stiles’ face with his less-than-perfect stitchwork. “That girl, and—Jackson.”
“We don’t even know if he’s still there,” Stiles warns, tongue heavy in his mouth after Scott had made him take a couple shots of moonshine before the stitches. “He could’ve been—moved.”
Scott meets his eyes, expression serious and sad, because he knows as well as Stiles what that hitch had implied.
“We should tell Lydia,” Stiles says quietly after Scott ties off the thread and slathers some moonshine across the whole thing before taping it up as best he can with some clean strips of cotton taken from an old shirt. “Before the uppers know.”
“They’re probably already waiting for you, Stiles,” Scott says dubiously, and then frowns when Stiles reaches over and takes the clear bottle of liquor from him, gulping down two more shots’ worth.
“Tell them I passed out from the head-wound,” Stiles says firmly, and Scott rolls his eyes but nods in agreement, helping Stiles settle on the second cot in the tiny room without jostling his broken arm.
“I’ll get Lydia up here as soon as I can tomorrow,” he says before washing his hands again and leaving to go lie to Stiles’ dad and Talia Hale. Stiles doesn’t envy him, but he can already feel his eyes slipping shut, exhausted after being awake for nearly three straight days. The file with Jackson’s name on it flashes across his mind before he slips under.
He has nightmares of the werewolf he mowed down with his jeep, though.
Talia isn’t pleased when Stiles shows up to the mid-morning de-briefing with Lydia, who’s been caught up with his most recent escapade. She looks as though she wants to make a snide comment when he answers her somewhat sarcastic how’s your head doing with a relatively convincing better, thanks and no apology for falling asleep instead of de-briefing five or so hours earlier. She refrains though, because she’s a better person than most of the team, and her face does something terrible when she hears that Jackson’s alive.
The other reason Stiles hadn’t wanted to tell her the news in the middle of the night is because he’d known she’d spend the whole night wide awake with the renewed hope that, if Jackson is alive, there was a chance her son was as well.
Cora shifts with unease when she picks up on whatever Talia’s scenting up the room with, and Boyd edges closer to Erica out of the same discomfort. She recovers quickly though, visibly collecting herself and her expression returning to a neutral steely lilt. She distributes jobs and tasks, doesn’t put Stiles on any of the retrieval or reconnaissance teams and raises an eyebrow when he opens his mouth to protest.
Talia keeps him in his seat after the room begins to empty out, people leaving in duos and trios, murmuring to one another, a few of them shooting Stiles smug looks. Talia waits until the wolves are far enough from the meeting room before she turns her gaze to him and tells him, flatly, “You’ll be benched for the week.” There’s a pause and Stiles reflects that he’s managed not to shoot himself out of his chair and defending himself. “We wouldn’t want your terrible head injury to get worse by having you out on a mission too early,” she adds, clearly daring him to admit that he hadn’t been quite as injured as he’d led everyone to believe.
“I’ll go over the mayor’s floorplans with Cora, then,” Stiles says mildly, “Tell her about the newest breakthrough Lydia had about how tagging might work, so she can keep an eye out.” He’s tilting his head just a little, a mockery of submission he’d picked up too young. There aren’t enough of them to keep both Cora and himself out of the fray on the same week, and Cora’s one of their quickest thinkers.
Talia’s clearly annoyed with this, but there’s not much she can do about it, so she lets him head back to the infirmary so that Mrs. McCall can check on his stitches.
Lydia and Isaac corner Stiles in the communal showers later that afternoon, when everyone is either out of the bunker or sleeping in preparation for a night trip. Stiles is naked and letting himself luxuriate in the sensation of being clean for just a moment when the plastic curtain of the stall is swept aside. Isaac yanks him away from the spray of the shower, and neither of them seem particularly inclined to mention his nudity, nor do they look like they’re ready to wait for him to struggle into some clothes.
Stiles crosses his arms across his chest and tries to force himself into a casual stance. If they’re going to act like this is normal, he’s going to do his best to play along.
“When are we leaving?” Isaac asks in a low voice.
“As soon as possible, I hope,” Stiles says testily, “Since I was showering before you got here.”
Lydia cocks her head at him and he inclines his head slightly. Stiles pushes some of his magic towards her and feels a huge swarm of feelings hovering around her, her banshee magic going haywire with anxiety and shock.
“Who’s helping Melissa at the infirmary?” she asks after a second and Stiles actually has to think about that one.
“Scott should have the day off,” he says, “But Liam—”
“Liam woke up this morning,” Isaac cuts in. “He was groggy, but he should be okay to check out tonight.”
So Scott will be free, is what he means, and it won’t look weird that he isn’t hovering around the medical center if his single beta wolf is doing better.
Stiles doubts they’ll be able to leave and return without being noticed, but leaving before he gets cuffed to a desk by his father is all he really needs to worry about. Himself, Scott, and Lydia is a big group—there’s a reason they usually go in pairs if the outing is considered too dangerous to be a solo mission, but Lydia’s banshee should be able to give him a balance support if and when he needs to do any major protective charms.
He still wants to draw some protective runes on her and Scott before the sun goes down, though, and Isaac pulls a tiny silver blade from literally nowhere at the same time Lydia throws some jeans and a shirt at him. Rolling his eyes a little, even though he knows how important this is to them, he gets dressed as quick as he can and follows them to an empty storage room, where Scott is already waiting, tattered backpack of Stiles’ most used supplies inside.
Isaac wordlessly offers his palm for the wolfsblood element and shuts down Scott’s protest before he can even get his mouth open. Lydia finishes grinding the dried larkspur flower buds in a tiny stone mortar and pestle and slices open the ear of aloe with a cold precision Stiles has always found equally frightening and attractive.
Stiles cuts into his own palm and adds his lifeblood to the gritty mixture, lets Scott add the aconite ashes in last before he pushes, forcing as much of his belief of good will and desire for protection into the goop. It darkens and Scott and Isaac both look briefly impressed as always.
Lydia, Scott, and Stiles himself get the same three runes, a jarring zig-zag of health, an arching sweep with a few notches through it for luck, and a complicated geometric curving symbol for protection. Isaac allows Stiles to use the last of it on his back, a powerful but simple shape that should let him anchor the three of them to home, since he won’t be going with them.
Stiles chants from memory, ignores Lydia’s raised eyebrow of judgment at his amateurish pronunciation of ancient Latin, pushes some more of his magic into the runes, pressing down hard until the wicks of the three candles being balanced on an errant cardboard box burst into flames of impossible heights for just a second.
Scott and Isaac share a brief look of discomfort when the aconite singes at their wolfy skin, and Lydia sucks in a breath when she feels the spell course through her, and Stiles sits back on his haunches, heart racing, one hand clutching Lydia’s, one hand clutching Isaac’s. Scott meets his eye from across the circle and swallows, pulls out a piece of notebook paper and a few pens so they can briefly bicker in writing over what the plan should be without a danger of being overheard.
They startle a pair of wolves when they stumble out of the closet an hour later, Vincent narrowing his eyes at them and Henry giving Stiles a weary look when he realizes that Stiles had been masking their scents and heartbeats, which is why the pair hadn’t noticed them in there.
“So,” Stiles says in his most obnoxious voice, turning his head halfway so he looks like he’s speaking to Isaac. “What did you think about that book I recommended?”
Isaac smirks and Stiles immediately wishes he’d turned to Lydia for a cover instead. “Dangerous Infaturation?” Isaac pretends to think it over. “Bodice rippers aren’t really my favorite genre, bro, but no judgment here.”
Vincent laughs a little meanly, and the pair pass the group without anything worse than a few aggressive shoulder bumps.
“Dick,” Stiles mutters, resentful, towards Isaac, once they turn the corner. They separate, because they know keeping together will look pretty suspicious. Lydia and Stiles would normally be able to get away with spending a lot of time together these days, since they do a lot of the research and tend to practice magics together, but Jackson being alive hangs over them like a sentencing, so they part ways, Stiles following Scott to go and visit Liam in the infirmary before he gets discharged.
They spend the evening with him, grabbing dinner from the mess hall and bringing it back up so they can eat with him too. Liam seems torn between wanting his alpha’s touch and wanting to snuffle at Stiles for saving his life, so they crowd in on either side of him atop the small bed, and Melissa rolls her eyes fondly at them as she leaves for the night.
Later, it’s almost worryingly easy to get out of the bunker, and Stiles finds out why as soon as he turns the key in the ignition of his trusty favorite jeep. The engine doesn’t even attempt to turn over, and, after a cursory look under the hood, it’s easy to assume what the problem is.
“What do you mean they took the engine?” Lydia demands in a hiss, her bright hair bound in two tight braids and mostly tucked under a beanie. They’re a few miles away from the entrance of the bunker, but that almost puts them at more danger from their own group, since they could easily be misinterpreted as attackers or spies.
“I’d say two, maybe three wolves could get it out pretty easily,” Scott says. “Even one could manage it, but it wouldn’t be so cut and dry.”
“Well how do we leave?” Stiles asks rhetorically. “My dad’ll notice I’m not in bed any second now, if he hasn’t already.”
Scott’s ears perk up and soon enough, Stiles and Lydia can hear the sound of an engine as well. Cora pulls up to the now destroyed jeep in a rover, smirking at them from over the top of her sunglasses, like it’s not after dark.
“Stilinski,” Cora says, after the three of them clamor into the car and she’s made a terrifying u-turn in the forest. “Where are we headed?”
Cora and Scott take down three guards each, leaving them unconscious and hog-tied but alive and relatively unharmed. There’s a brief moment of fear when they discover a wolfsbane bullet has gotten Scott in the side, but Lydia’s quick about yanking the gun in question from the guard who’d shot it and bashing it over his head for good measure, and it’s just a brief second of focus from Stiles to turn the wolfsbane inside the bullet into a tiny fire and, then, to ash, which he rubs against the wound in Scott’s ribs, ignoring his brother’s pained grunt.
“Let’s go,” Lydia says, sounding mostly collected, but there’s a stress at the corner of her mouth that lets Stiles know she’s terrified that Jackson won’t be here anymore. That he’ll have either succumbed to the scientific experiments the hunters perform on captured wolves, or that he’ll have been tagged and set off into the wild, feral and vicious, ready to take down unsuspecting humans and healthy wolves alike, so that he can be hunted for sport.
There are two doctors in an examination room straight out of Stiles’ nightmares when they get to the second floor of the sturdy building, leaving a trail of guards behind, and Jackson is strapped to the table, writhing and fighting against his restraints. The older doctor hesitates, clearly frightened by Cora and Scott’s beta faces, but the younger one, a beautiful woman with a terrible scar down her face barely blinks and shoves the syringe into Jackson’s neck, injecting the fluid and topping off the entrance point with a tag.
She looks back up at the four of them, triumphant, and Stiles doesn’t even have to think about it, just takes the air from her lungs and keeps it away until she collapses, lips blue and sputtering silently.
Stiles wants to keep going, is filled with a renewed fury, remembers how he’d found Liam in that tiny cage, weak and half out of his mind, remembers all of the people they hadn’t been able to get to in time. Scott touches a hand to the back of his neck though, grounding him, and Cora’s got the older doctor cowering against a corner, a hard look on her face. Lydia’s inching towards Jackson, even knowing he’s been tagged, and Stiles has no choice but to go with her.
“Can you fix it?” Scott asks after Cora punches the doctor in the face and lets him crumple to the ground. She’s listening intently, because it’s the worst kept secret, what happened to her brother. What they did to Talia Hale’s son when her pathetic resistance gained some traction and started posing a real threat to the hunters’ control.
“It shouldn’t be through his system yet,” Lydia murmurs, one hand curling around Jackson’s jaw, the other hovering over the tag sticking out of his neck. They drag his unconscious body down two flights of stairs and fold him into one of the reinforced cages in the basement. Stiles feels sick to his stomach, being back down there, knowing that there’d been more wolves trapped there just two days earlier.
“I can try,” Stiles says, and her eyes dart towards him. Scott and Cora are loading Jackson’s cage into the back of the rover, struggling even with their wolf strength, trying to work as quickly as possible, because the alarm system of the building is shrieking a warning into the night.
“How dangerous is it?” Lydia demands, and Stiles swallows, gesturing without any real intent.
He’s saved from answering when a huge darkened form comes crashing through the trees, rolling easily and bounding onto hind feet in one smooth move.
“Cora, you need to help Lydia get Jackson back to the base,” Stiles says as steadily as he can while Scott tackles the tagged werewolf, his own eyes bleeding red to match those of the fully-shifted mass. “Scott and I can get back on our own, and the cage can hold Jackson until I can cure him.”
It’s all bullshit, he doesn’t know that he can cure Jackson, and he certainly doesn’t know that the cages will be able to hold him, but Cora either can’t tell with his heart already pounding so quickly, or she doesn’t care. It’s been drilled into them for ages: save as many as you can, but don’t hesitate. It’s what had happened to her brother in the first place. He’d gone back.
Lydia sends Stiles a wide-eyed look of terror, pushes as much of her banshee magic towards him as she can, meant as a reassurance or a promise, he’s unsure, but she lets Cora manhandle her and Jackson’s seizing form away from the clearing in front of the clinic.
Stiles doesn’t wait until they’ve left, just turns towards Scott and the tagged wolf, grappling with each other, snarling and swiping claws. He pushes Lydia’s magical reassurance towards Scott, drags the tether to Isaac back at base to the forefront of his mind and his breath hitches when Scott seems to gain the upperhand.
Stiles stays out of the way, is used to letting one of the wolves do the physical fighting while he keeps to the side and assists with his sometimes-magic as best he can. When the tagged wolf throws Scott into a cluster of trees and Scott stays down, Stiles doesn’t falter, fights against every instinct he has that tell him to check on his brother-in-arms, brother from another mother, takes the air from the wolf’s lungs as best he can. It’s somehow harder doing this trick on a wolf, either stronger lungs or Stiles’ predisposition to trust most of the wolves in his life affecting how his magic works, and the creature stumbles towards him, clearly having recognized him as a threat afterall.
A swipe of those claws leaves Stiles gasping and swearing, but they’d only gotten his arm and his fingers can still move, so he tries not to worry. He pushes back harder, yanking the air away from around the wolf instead of trying to draw it from the thing’s lungs, tries to keep a cloud of airlessness around its head and seems to be mostly succeeding, because it’s slowing down in it’s charging enough that Stiles can scramble away.
He stumbles, because of course he does, and his concentration is shattered enough that the air returns to the beast, but Scott’s clamoring out from his pile of woodchips and lunging at the creature once more, growling low and angry, arms and legs shifting in the air until he’s in his own alpha form, landing on the tagged wolf.
Scott and the wolf fight and clamor for dominance and Stiles tries to focus enough away from the fiery pain in his arm that he can keep their scents and noises mostly masked and also keep some of his lifeforce pushing towards Scott’s true alpha strength. Scott keeps gaining control, but he’s not operating on his savage hindbrain like the feral wolf is, and it’s tripping him up. He gets claws dug deep into his side as the thing tries to force submission, and Stiles moves towards the pair of them without a thought.
“My turn,” He says, baring his teeth in a move he’d inadvertently picked up from so much of his time spent around wolves. The thing notices him again and comes towards him, eyes bloody red and alpha form strangely familiar.
It’s the one he’d hit with his car, Stiles thinks, mind going haywire, wondering if it’d somehow picked up his scent and followed him here, wondering if that puts the bunker in danger, since this one was hardly the only tagged wolf Stiles has ever encountered. It’s getting closer, though, and Stiles steadies his heartbeat and finds his spark, glowing warm deep inside of him, and yanks.
The air becomes cloudy and hard to see in as all of the mountain ash in the area comes hurtling towards Stiles, because he’d had a theory and he was correct in thinking that it was still the hunters’ primary source of protection and leverage. He clamors for control of it, wrests it into shaky ropes suspended in the air between himself and the beast, and then pushes, sending it hurtling towards the wolf, trapping it and injuring it in equal measure.
He’s ready to put it down, force it to choke on mountain ash until it can’t breathe anymore, because the bunker needs to be protected more than his moral soul, but Scott manages to pull himself up into a mostly sitting position, bones and skin already knitting themselves back together, albeit more slowly, because he’d been fighting with a tagged alpha.
“Stop,” Scott says, breaths coming in wet, blood on his lips that has Stiles forcing down instinctive panic, because his friend is okay. “Stiles.”
“It’s the same one I ran into when I got Liam, Scott,” Stiles says, without stopping. The wolf is crouched low, some semblance of on it’s knees as it struggles to breathe and move closer to Stiles at the same time. “I can’t have it following us home.”
“Stiles,” Scott says again, and his voice is so steady, powerful and familiar in equal measure. “It’s Derek.”
The mountain ash falls to the forest ground, Stiles’ ability to believe it could hurt the tagged wolf in front of him having fizzled out after being told who exactly the tagged wolf is. He doesn’t doubt Scott is correct, but he has barely a second to be shocked before he gets taken down by Talia’s estranged, feral son.
Scott’s shouting, panicked and pained as he likely tries to get up and find a good entrance point to take Derek off of Stiles’ puny human body without harming aforementioned puny human body. Stiles barely hears him, because he’s got some truly massive teeth trying to snap and rip out his vocal cords or something equally as violent and hard to recover from.
It barely notices and certainly doesn’t care when Stiles shifts around, fist closing around the slim cylinder he’d hidden in his pocket before they’d left the base earlier that night. Being seconds from death was probably not the best time to test a theory, but Stiles had a good feeling about this one.
He believed in it, even, and it’d taken him years to understand how powerful something like that was. He shifts as best he can, getting his bearings so he can angle his fist as best he can, and then uses a burst of magic so he can plunge the syringe up and through Derek Hale’s ribs, until the needle pierces his heart.
His thumb releases the contents into Derek’s bloodstream and his own heart is pounding hard in fear, that this might not work, that he might die.
But the fear is short-lived. The hunters like to tag wolves in their necks because of its symbolic meaning: the submission factor of having a vulnerable neck. Something plunged straight into a heart takes effect just that much faster, being pumped into every artery, being carried into every crevice of the body.
Derek Hale’s body starts seizing atop Stiles’, the same way Jackson’s had earlier, and Stiles rolls them as best he can, scooting a few inches away before he reaches out and yanks the tag out of the man’s neck. He’s scarcely brought his arm back into his own personal space when he meets Derek’s eyes. And they’re finally back to long-familiar green-grey kaleidoscopes that Stiles has always loved.
Scott’s unimpressed with Stiles’ half-hearted I had a haunch, bro, delivered with a shrug and a helpless gesture. They’re standing a little ways away from Derek, who’s still sitting on the forest floor, naked and examining his hairless, human hands with something like wonder. Derek can definitely hear them, but he shows no sign of it, so Stiles is willing to pretend if he is.
“Do you know what this means?” Scott asks, and he’s definitely talking about what it means for the reign of the hunters’ control, and what it means for Jackson and every other tagged wolf they manage to get their hands on, but Stiles can’t help but think about what Derek being cured means for him on a more personal level.
Levels that had involved kissing, before Derek had been abducted during a poorly-planned rescue mission.
Speaking of which—“We should definitely head back,” Stiles says, loud enough that Derek doesn’t have to pretend he isn’t listening if he doesn’t want to. “It’ll be sunrise soon, and we don’t even have a car, so we won’t be able to use the streets, nevermind patrols and checkpoints.”
Scott wants to tie up a few loose ends with the clinic though, finds a duffle bag and shoves as many files as he can find into it, so they have somewhere to start when they’re done convincing Talia that wolf recovery is a viable and logistical next move.
Stiles goes over to stand near Derek while he does that, presses his palm into Derek’s bare shoulder and squeezes. Derek’s not looking at him, but he’s not staring at his hands anymore either. He’s shifted his gaze to the building that Scott’s exiting, staring at the place with some terrible expression on his face, and Stiles knows it’s going to be a journey to get him back to functioning human, nevermind potential romantic partner, if he even wants that and is comfortable with that, anymore.
But he can do one more thing for Derek before they head home to discuss the next step in their tiny revolution.
The three of them walk out of the clearing, leaving the smoking, burning building ablaze behind them.