Frankly, Derek is amazed he hasn’t died yet. He’s lived through things that should have killed him—the Darach, the Alpha Pack, the Nogitsune and the lower flight demons from Hell—yet somehow came out kicking every time. Others have died in his place (He should have died instead of his family or Laura or Erica or Boyd or anyone, really. It’s a fact.), leaving him alone to flounder in the unexpected gift of life. So what did he do?
He wasted it. He punishes himself by living a half-life, staying in the burnt out shell of his house or a run down train depot. He doesn’t allow himself to buy those soft, colored clothes he sees in the mall when the pack goes and drags him along. Instead of picking up a basketball and playing a few rounds with Scott, Isaac, and the rest of the betas, he sends himself on punishing runs that test his endurance and leave him empty and rubber-footed.
Of course, he should have known that his luck would ultimately run out. It was on one of these runs (He couldn’t even follow his own instructions. Hadn’t he always admonished the pack to travel in groups or in pairs at the very least?) that the coven snared him in a pre-set pentagram and cast some kind of horrific spell on him in some very old and unintelligible language—which means he’s going to die alone in the forest, which is nothing more than he deserves—causing his body to seize and convulse and generally be in more pain than he’s ever felt in his entire life.
Yeah, he reflects, staring up at blue sky, not his best day. So he’s probably going to die, and Cora’s never going to know because she’s living on some farm in Argentina, but that’s okay because they only talk once a month and she probably doesn’t miss him that much. The pack will miss him, but Scott can take over. He’ll be a good alpha, probably a better alpha than Derek is right now (though not for lack of trying, but nobody ever gave Derek How to Be a Good Alpha in 10 Easy Steps, did they?), and the pack will move on.
Another streak of pain locks his body in a long line of agony. He howls, feeling like his spleen is being ripped out of his chest. Stiles skids into the clearing just as Derek hunches over on all fours and starts vomiting the black gunk that is a Very Bad Sign.
“Derek?” His heartbeat is frantic, and his scent reaches Defcon 4 levels of distressed, which only serves to make Derek unhappier because Stiles’ warm, mellow scent is his secret happy place. “Derek, what’s wrong?” He comes over, long hands making as if to reach out and touch him, but they hesitate and fall away. “The pack freaked out, felt like something happened to you. We’ve been looking for you for over an hour!”
“Witches,” Derek grunts, breathing in deep, uneven gulps. His body is beginning to shut down, unable to deal with whatever is happening internally. He feels a rib break, and then a bone in his leg, and curls up on his side. “Spell.”
“Okay. Okay.” Stiles breathes deep. “What kind of spell? Do you—Derek, stay awake, Derek, don’t close your eyes—do you know what kind of—“ he cuts himself off, his scent acrid and hopeless and helpless. “I can fix you, Derek, I just need to know what’s wrong.”
Derek whines, high and reedy. Something else snaps. Collar bone, perhaps? “No idea,” he says after the spots blinding his eyes clear up and his jaw unlocks from its gritted position. “They were old and had dreadlocks and seemed to enjoy casting deadly spells on random passersby.” He pauses, hears Stiles’ breath hitch in a held back sob. “It’s fine, Stiles. It’s okay to not know every once in awhile.”
A warm hand on his face prefaces Stiles’s own angry visage as he looms over Derek. “Don’t say that,” he begs, “don’t give up. I can hear you doing it. Beat the odds again, Derek. You’re a survivor.”
He breathes in evenly, turns his face into the caress and closes his eyes for a moment to gather his strength. “I’m going to die, Stiles. It’s okay. There’s nothing you can do.” The teen begins to cry, amber eyes liquid bright and mouth twisted in a line of denial. “Don’t be scared. We all die eventually. Like you said, I’m a survivor, but only because I escaped death so many times before.”
Another wave of broken bones. He thinks he passes out for awhile, because when he surfaces again Stiles is pressing a hand against his chest and glowing, trying to heal him with all his power. “Stiles. Stop.” The command and accompanying growl is weak, he knows, but he’s working with what he’s got.
The negation is swift. “No.”
It’s difficult to breathe. Something must have punctured a lung. “I have to tell you something, Stiles. You need to listen, because I don’t want to die midway through and leave you hanging like they do in the movies.”
Stiles wipes a hand over his face, giving a weak, wet chuckle. “I don’t give up,” he says, “you should know better by now. Start talking. I’m going to keep trying.”
Derek doesn’t know where to begin, but he does know what’s most important to convey to Stiles, the boy in front of him. He has regrets, things he wishes he had told the others, but Stiles…him, especially, he wishes he had done things differently with. “I’m sorry for being an asshole.” It’s wheezy, but sincere, and Stiles’s head snaps up to meet his gaze, looking horrified.
“What? Is this a deathbed confession? No, Derek, don’t apologize for anything!”
“And I want to tell you that I’m sorry I treated you so badly. I’ve always been worse to you.” He pauses, gathering up his courage. There’s no time to be scared or awkward. It’s going to have to come out as best as he can say it—if he had done it differently, he would have courted Stiles in the way of the wolf, scented him and marked him and made his affection abundantly clear. But that’s not going to happen, so this is all that he has to offer. “That’s because I’m in love with you, and as you’ve told me repeatedly, I’m an emotionally constipated asshole.”
Stiles’s mouth, red from being bitten so often, drops open. “You’re—you…you’re an asshole, Derek. You’re waiting to tell me this now when you’re literally dying in front of me?” Despite his harsh words, he strokes Derek’s hair. “I—I don’t even know—“ he breaks off from his stammering, looking devastated but determined, and leans forward, pressing his mouth to Derek’s.
The kiss is dry, short and chaste and sad, so sad that Derek can feel the impression of goodbye on his lips and smell the salt from the tears on his cheeks. “I’ve loved you for years, Sourwolf,” Stiles murmurs against his lips.
Derek smiles, reaches up for one last press of soft lips underneath his own, and is surprised to feel that he suddenly doesn’t feel so bad anymore.
“I…” he begins, trails off into silence.
“Derek?” Hands touch his face, his neck, worriedly. “Derek, talk to me.”
“I think the spell stopped?” He tries the words out slowly, rolling them around in his mouth before saying them. Already, he can feel the crushing pain stopping as his werewolf healing takes control and begins knitting him back together. It’ll take days, maybe a week, before he’s okay. “My lung is healing.”
Stiles is disbelieving, insists on checking him over with a detection spell of his own. “What the fuck?” He’s almost beside himself, scent fluctuating between elation and hope and acrid fear. “What the hell stopped it?”
“I have no idea,” Derek replies honestly, a thought slowly forming in his head. “Could it be,” he hesitates, feeling like an idiot for even suggesting it, “could it be the kiss?”
Stiles barks out a laugh. “A la Disney style? I don’t think so.” But there’s doubt creeping over his face as he mulls it over. “I mean, Deaton never—but that grimoire has a section on—“ he cuts himself off, looking at Derek.
“You’re an asshole,” he says, leaning over and carefully caging Derek under him without touching a single part of his body, his legs and arms like brackets.
Derek tries for innocence. “How’s that?” He fails miserably, feelings his cheeks and tips of his ears flush pink.
“You can’t fucking do a deathbed love confessional, Sourwolf.” He’s poked in the chest, hard, and Stiles pulls back, looking horrified. “Oh my god, I’m sorry. Did th—did I hurt you?”
Derek beams helplessly, grin cracking his face in two. He reaches up, ignores the fracturing pain in his right arm, and pulls Stiles down against him. “Shut up, Stiles,” he says against his mouth. “I’ll do whatever the hell I want, and right now, that’s to kiss you. Got a problem with that?”
His eyes are wide, and he begins to shake his head in frantic negation. “No. No problem. Niet. Non. Nein. The Stiles doesn’t have—“
Sighing, Derek closes the gap and shuts Stiles up as best as he can with his mouth, relishing in the soft give and wet heat he encounters. Fuck witches and spells, he thinks, but at least they galvanized him into a confession.