Derek Hale rubbed his forehead in irritation, feeling a headache beginning to form behind his eyes and wishing he had the energy to find some painkillers. How did Werewolves even get headaches, anyway? Shouldn’t his brain just be healing itself to avoid the pain he was currently experiencing? Apparently not even wolves could escape the pain and monotony of homework.
Figures, he thought with an annoyed sigh.
He tapped the end of his pen against his book, staring at the words as they floated off the page and around his head, doing nothing to help with the pounding in his skull.
His eyes strayed to the clock, wondering if he could argue he’d studied enough for one night, but it was barely eight-thirty. Definitely not a reasonable hour for him to throw in the towel and call it quits. He would never pass his PoliSci exam if he didn’t get at least four hours of studying in before the next morning, but it was so hard to concentrate.
He was cold, tired, grumpy, and his roommate had stolen the last of his fucking coffee again. If he, Isaac and Boyd didn’t get an apartment together next year and Derek was forced to live with another fucking waste of space again, he was going to get arrested for murder.
Laura would skin him alive if he got arrested one more time, especially if it was for a just cause this time and not life or death. She was troublesome that way.
Truthfully, his current roommate only survived the year so far because he and Derek never tended to cross paths. If they had, Derek would have punched his teeth into his skull for constantly going into his things.
Derek knew he had coffee left last he checked! He hadn’t magically woken in the night and made himself a cup with the bottom of the can! It hadn’t magicked itself out of existence to punish him!
He hated people. Humans especially. He hated them with a burning passion. He couldn’t wait to be done with this whole school thing so he could get on with his life and be a hermit somewhere far, far away. Especially far from Laura and Isaac. He didn’t need his social butterfly sister and womanizing best friend dragging him out to help him get a life. They did that more than enough now, and when Derek didn’t have the “studying” excuse to give them, things were going to get really violent really quickly.
Thankfully any damage to either of them would heal relatively quickly, but Laura tended to get bitchy when he ruined her shirts. She complained they were expensive, and he insisted they wouldn’t get ruined if she left him alone. Given she was elsewhere now that they were in university, he only had to contend with Isaac, who usually got dragged away by Boyd before violence ensued so overall, for the moment, he was surviving.
Barring this fucking homework, anyway.
Resuming the tapping of his pen and resting his cheek against one closed fist, he straightened instantly when his phone vibrated on the desk beside the open book. Dropping the pen, more than happy to be distracted, he picked up his phone and scowled down at it.
It was an unknown number, and he almost rejected the call before remembering what had happened the last time.
Isaac and Boyd had gotten drunk on aconite at a Frat party and gotten arrested for public indecency—Derek hadn’t asked, he hadn’t wanted to know. At the police station, they’d been given their one phone call and Isaac had used it to call Derek. Not recognizing the number, Derek hadn’t answered. They were just lucky that he’d answered the second time, though why Boyd had been stupid enough to try Derek again when it hadn’t gone through for Isaac, Derek didn’t know—he blamed the alcohol, Boyd was usually the smart one—but it had worked out. Seeing the same number twice in a row had prompted him to answer, and he’d gone to bail the fucking morons out.
This was different, though. It wasn’t a phone number, it was a legitimate “unknown number.” He hated those. Still, it wouldn’t be a telemarketer—not that they’d call at eight-thirty on a Monday night anyway—so he figured he should answer just in case.
Maybe Isaac had finally gone to the hospital to have the stick up his ass surgically removed. Would make shitting easier, at least.
Swiping the bottom to answer the call, Derek put the phone to his ear.
He jerked the phone away when he got a burst of static, scowling, and started to hang up when it disappeared and he heard laboured breathing on the other end.
“—ek! Derek, it’s happening!”
Derek frowned, putting the phone back to his ear. “Hello?”
“It’s happening!” the voice repeated, shouting down the line. It was odd, because Derek could tell he was shouting, but it sounded distorted, like he was underwater, or shouting from really far away. “Derek, it’s fucking happening! I—shit!”
Derek jerked to his feet, gripping the phone tightly in one hand. The person on the other end was cursing and shouting, while the sound of gunshots echoed loudly in the background.
“Who is this? What’s happening?” Derek demanded, hand tightening dangerously around his phone while he started for his door. He had to loosen his grip before he crushed it in his hand.
Derek stopped in front of his closed door, not even sure what to do. Was this real? It didn’t sound like a video game in the background, and the person on the other end—who knew his name, though Derek didn’t recognize the voice at all—sounded scared out of his mind.
“She’s coming! Derek, please! You have to—” Another loud burst of static and Derek jerked the phone away again, feeling his palms sweating and wondering what to do.
This was different from other situations. Usually he was there, in the moment, able to protect, to help. But right now, all he had was someone begging for his help on the other end of the line, with no idea who they were, where they were, or who was after them and why.
He hadn’t felt this helpless since his parents died.
“Hello? Are you there? Hey!”
The static disappeared and the person spoke, but it sounded like they were mid-sentence. “—race! Please, you have to hel—” Static again, but he didn’t pull the phone away this time. He just waited, heart hammering in his chest, feeling cold all over. This sounded real. This sounded extremely real. “—ek, she’s going to kill me! She has a gun! Help me! Please, help me! I—”
This time, the person on the other end cut off, but not because of static. Derek heard one final gunshot, and then the line went dead.
He stood in the middle of his room for a few long seconds, hand gripping his phone tightly and mind racing. Had he just heard someone die? Had someone literally just died on the other end of the phone?
Forcing himself to abort the panic that wanted to overtake him, he pulled the phone away from his ear, stared down at the screen, and tapped the emergency button for the first time in his life since getting a smartphone.
It prompted him to confirm he wanted to call 911 and he confirmed, then put the phone back to his ear.
The line rang only once before it clicked.
“Nine-one-one emergency response, do you need fire, ambulance or police?”
“Police,” Derek said immediately, beginning to pace. His heart was still pounding in his chest, and he was struggling to remember as much as he could about the conversation. His brain was surprisingly calm, repeating the words over and over on a loop, trying to keep everything he could in his head. He could only assume years of Supernatural stupidity was making it easier for him to handle this.
Still, usually he managed to help. This time... this time someone had died.
He heard typing on the other end, the operator obviously beginning their log of the call to determine what he needed from the police, and then spoke. “What is the nature of your emergency?”
“I think someone just died,” Derek said, not even sure how to address what had just happened.
“What location are you at?”
“I’m at—in my dorm, it’s not—” He cut off, scowling and feeling frustration beginning to rise. He reached up to run his hand through his hair and tugged harshly, trying to ground himself. This was insane. Fucking insane! “I was studying in my room when I got a call from someone—”
“Who was the call from?” the operator cut off. That irked Derek, but he knew she was just doing her job. He could hear her typing away in the background.
“I don’t know, it was an unknown number. I answered it and I heard someone screaming for help on the other end. It was a guy, probably around twenty or so. He sounded scared, and there were gunshots in the background.”
“Did you recognize this person?”
“No,” Derek admitted, feeling useless, which only furthered the feelings of frustration rising in his chest. “They knew my name, so I must know them, but I couldn’t—I didn’t recognize the voice.”
Derek hated that. He hated that someone had called him while being shot at and he had no fucking idea who it could be. If he at least had a hint, he would know what to do, but he didn’t!
All he knew with any real certainty was that it wasn’t Isaac, and it wasn’t Boyd.
He continued pacing and tugging at his hair, answering the operator’s questions and providing details on what he could. She asked for his name, address, phone number, and if they could trace the unknown number from his phone. When he confirmed they could, she went silent for a long while, typing away.
A few minutes later, he heard a knock at the door and opened it to find two police officers in full uniform along with a very confused and worried RA. He and the operator hung up and Derek reiterated everything to the two men, one of them asking questions while the other wrote in a notepad.
The officer was fairly nice, but direct and quick. Derek liked that, because maybe this person who’d called him was still alive and hiding from the gun-toting maniac. Maybe the cops would find them and save them before they got a bullet to the brain.
He let them take his phone with them, hoping they wouldn’t snoop in the photos but figured embarrassment was worth saving someone’s life. One of the officers gave him their card and promised they’d get his phone back to him as soon as possible. He watched them walk away while the RA stood awkwardly in the hallway. Derek could see them fidgeting uncomfortably and they were practically oozing anxiety at him. When they asked if he needed anything, he said no despite wanting to call Laura, and then shut the door in the guy’s face.
Standing on the other side of the door, he took a minute to calm himself down, his fangs pressing against his gums and fingers aching at the need to wolf out. Studying was out of the question after what had just happened, so he changed into some sweats and yanked a sweater over his shirt before going out for a run. He didn’t usually like running in the winter, it was hard to breathe when the air was so cold, but if he didn’t get rid of the excess energy, he would go insane.
More than once during his run he reached for his phone to call Laura before remembering he didn’t have it anymore. He wasn’t really a chatty person by nature, he preferred being left alone, but this entire situation had rattled him to an almost paralysing degree and if he didn’t talk to someone about it, he would go insane.
He passed the main common block on his way back to his dorm and detoured to see if he could borrow the phone at the front desk. After giving a brief summary to the annoying cheerleader bimbo at the front so she would fucking let him use the phone and stop flirting with him, he paused before dialling. He wanted to call Laura, but he wasn’t willing to have the full conversation with the bimbo staring at him with hearts in her eyes. Instead, he dialled Isaac’s number from memory and waited.
He answered two rings later, sounding distracted and tipsy. “What is up! Who is this? What’s happening?”
“Isaac,” Derek said, “I need you. Now.”
He wasn’t sure what he must’ve sounded like, but Isaac seemed to sober up ridiculously fast.
“Derek? What is it? Are you okay?”
“I need you. I’ll be in my room.” He hung up without another word.
He didn’t thank the girl behind the counter, and ignored her inquiries as to whether or not he was okay, the scent of arousal nauseating him after what had just happened. Instead, he turned and headed back outside, jogging the last stretch back to the dorm. He was shivering when he finally got his door open, the brief stint in the common block not nearly enough to warm him up. Werewolf or not, he probably should’ve grabbed more than just sweats and a sweater to head out into the snow. That or transformed into his wolf form, which would’ve fared better.
He changed back into his pyjamas and grabbed the same sweater, yanking it on over his head and falling into his chair.
Staring down at his book, he knew there was no way in hell he’d fall asleep tonight, let alone have the brain capacity to do this exam tomorrow. Not when he might’ve heard someone die.
What if he opened the newspaper tomorrow and read about a murder? What if it was this murder? What if it wasn’t? He would never know unless the police traced the call and found the person on the other end.
He couldn’t stop thinking about how terrified they’d sounded, how laboured their breathing was, how shaky their voice had been. He couldn’t get the terrified shouts out of his head, the desperate pleas for help.
Closing his book and shoving it aside, Derek grabbed his pen and a sheet of paper from his printer and began to write what he could remember of the conversation. It had started to fade slightly from the run he’d taken, but he remembered enough of it to get the gist of it down.
He was sitting in his chair, staring down at the page with his hands folded together and pressed against his mouth when there was a cursory knock on the door and then it opened.
Derek turned and saw Isaac Lahey striding into the room. He was wearing a toga and had paint all over his face and most of the white material. Two very obvious handprints were on his chest, and another scrunched impression of a hand was down by his crotch. His curly hair was dishevelled, his cheeks pink, and his eyes shining, but he looked serious. For someone who was clearly inebriated, he was doing pretty well for passing as sober.
“Did you walk here like that? It’s minus two outside,” Derek said in way of greeting.
“Boyd was DD. He drove. He’s finding a place to park.” Isaac eyed him, slowly lowering his gaze so he was inspecting him from head to toe, then back up again. “What’s wrong?”
Derek shook his head, leaning back against the desk, and crossed his arms. Isaac took that for what it was and waited. Two minutes later, the door opened again and Vernon Boyd entered the room, shutting it quietly behind him. He was also wearing a toga, but he had less paint on him and had a golden laurel on his head. He was staring at Derek with concern, glancing at Isaac for half a second before returning his gaze to Derek once more.
Now that Boyd was there, Derek held his hand out. “Phone.”
Boyd said nothing while Isaac frowned at him. “What?”
“Your phone,” Derek snapped, impatient. “I need to call Laura.”
Isaac pulled his phone from somewhere inside the toga—Derek tried not to think about it—and then handed it over, confused. “What happened to your phone?”
Derek didn’t answer and instead dialled Laura. It rang four times, and he thought it might go to voicemail when the line clicked and music exploded through the speakers. All three of them winced at the volume, and Derek had to wonder how Laura wasn’t deaf given the enhanced hearing was likely making that ten times louder in person.
“Isaac,” Laura said down the line, sounding happy and breathless. “You never call, what’s up? Did you get arrested again?”
Hearing his sister and Alpha’s voice down the line seemed to loosen the knot in Derek’s chest. He closed his eyes, inhaling deeply, the scent of pack and security soothing, then opened his eyes when he spoke.
“Laura, we need to talk. Can you go somewhere private?”
As if hearing her brother’s serious voice had sucked the happiness out of her, she told him she would call him back and then hung up. They all waited in silence, Boyd and Isaac sharing confused and concerned looks between them.
Two minutes later, the phone rang again and Derek answered, putting it on speaker phone. He didn’t have to, not with a room full of Werewolves, but it would make things easier for everyone.
“Derek, what happened?” Laura asked, a door slamming loudly. Derek figured she had gone to her car. “Why are you calling from Isaac’s phone? Is he okay?”
“I’m fine,” Isaac said, eying Derek. “He’s the one who isn’t. Something happened.”
“Tell me,” Laura ordered.
So, Derek explained what happened. His voice was even as he spoke, but his free hand clenched tightly against his other arm as a means to keep himself grounded. Isaac seemed to sober the longer Derek spoke, and when he finished off with the call he’d made to Isaac, his friend let out a slow breath and rubbed one hand across his mouth.
“You didn’t recognize the voice?”
“No,” Derek said, irritated that Isaac would even ask him that. Clearly if he had, he would’ve said so.
“But it was male,” Laura confirmed, and Derek grunted softly in ascent. “Have you spoken to Cora today?”
“Not since lunch.”
He heard a hum on the other end, Laura clearly thinking, then the line started playing elevator music. A few seconds later, Cora’s tired voice spoke down the line.
“You know what time it is, right Laura? Because not all of us have afternoon classes.”
“You’re conferenced in with the boys,” Laura said, obviously having called Cora to add her to the conversation. The only person missing was Erica, but a moment later, Derek heard her voice across the room and looked up to see Boyd holding his phone out with her on speaker phone.
Boyd had to cut off her extremely graphic hello with a gruff, “You’re on speaker with everyone.”
“Thanks for the warning, babe. Next time, let me know the second I answer.”
“What’s going on?” Cora asked. “Did someone die? Please tell me there isn’t another threat coming this way, I really can’t handle any more fucking Pixies.”
“Ugh, Pixies are the worst,” Erica agreed. “Sharp little teeth, wicked fast, I hate them. I swear, if I ever come across another Pixie in my life, I’ll—”
“Children,” Laura said loudly, clearly wanting to get the conversation moving. “Something happened, we were just making sure the whole pack was safe. Derek, why don’t you tell Erica and Cora about your call.”
Wishing they’d all thought to include the rest of the pack before he’d given them the run-down the first time, he forced himself to go through the call again, for what felt like the millionth time tonight considering the operator, the cops, the first call and now this one. Everyone was silent for a few seconds after he’d finished, and he snapped at Erica when she asked the same dumb question as Isaac about whether or not he recognized the voice.
Laura ordered him to calm down and he grit his teeth together to avoid snapping at her, too. It wasn’t their fault he hadn’t been able to do more, and he knew that. It didn’t mean he liked it, though.
Isaac was frowning in front of him, thumbnail between his teeth and eyebrows drawn as he thought, Derek focussing on the different coloured paints on his hands. Boyd was standing silently just inside the door, eyes still on Derek, watching him closely. Cora and Laura were having a murmured conversation on the phone and Erica had gone quiet, likely to avoid being snapped at again.
When Derek looked over at Boyd again, he found the other wolf studying him and scowled. Sometimes, Derek hated Boyd. He always felt like he was being dissected when they were together, Boyd’s gaze piercing and all-knowing, like he was trying to see into Derek’s very soul.
“I wrote down what I remember him saying,” Derek said after a longer than comfortable silence. He reached back for the sheet of paper and held it out in front of himself. Isaac took it, and Boyd left his post by the door to glance at it over his friend’s shoulder.
Isaac was murmuring the words, loud enough for Erica to hear, but likely not Laura and Cora. Derek angled the phone a bit more in Isaac’s direction and seeing this, Isaac raised his voice slightly.
“You said the police have your phone?” Laura asked, sounding like her thoughts were a mile away.
“When are you going to hear anything?” Isaac asked, handing the paper back.
Derek shrugged, taking it. “Might never hear back. I need my phone back, though. It’s my alarm clock.”
Boyd murmured that he would call Erica back later, then hung up on her and held out his phone without a word. Derek nodded a thanks, taking it. Isaac and Boyd were rooming together, lucky motherfuckers, so it would be easy for them to share the phone for things like alarm clocks. Derek didn’t want to miss his exam, even though he was positive now he wasn’t going to pass it.
Laura and Cora murmured that they would look into things on their end and everyone would catch up tomorrow morning after some rest, then hung up as well.
When it was just the three boys, Isaac moved towards Derek’s closet and opened it, looking through the clothes before turning to toss a pair of sweats and a shirt to Boyd. The other caught them and waited while Isaac rummaged around some more, finding additional loose-fitting clothing for himself.
Grabbing two of Derek’s towels and his toiletries, Derek tried not to feel annoyed at what he knew was coming, and just watched the two of them disappear into the corridor, heading for the showers down the hall.
Derek almost snapped that it would make more sense for him to go to their room, but his roommate was with his girlfriend and unlikely to be back any time soon anyway, so he just sat at his desk and pulled his book back over, opening it to the applicable page and trying to concentrate on what he was reading.
When his door opened again half an hour later, Isaac and Boyd were both wearing his clothes and Boyd dropped a bag by the door that had the end of a toga sticking out of it. They were both freshly showered, and Isaac had managed to get most of the paint off his skin.
“Do you have the new season of Game of Thrones?” Isaac asked, bending down in front of the small shelf Derek owned and browsing his movies. By the time he stood again, Boyd had already cued up a TV Show on Netflix and Isaac had to resign himself to whatever the other had chosen.
They didn’t say anything to Derek, and he in turn acted as if they weren’t even there, but he appreciated the company.
He hated admitting it, but the call had really shaken him. He kept having to shake out his hands to try and dispel some nervous energy from the adrenaline still running rampant in his system. He hoped he crashed soon, it would help him sleep, if nothing else.
Isaac fell asleep around one, but Boyd stayed awake a while longer watching Netflix. At three, he tried to convince Derek to sleep, but he just stared at his friend until Boyd gave up and crashed beside Isaac.
Derek stayed seated at his desk, pretending to study but actually just staring down at his book like he had been for the past few hours, going over the conversation in his head like an annoying loop.
She’s going to kill me! She has a gun! Help me! Please, help me!
And he would have. Derek would have helped him.
If only he had any fucking idea who he was.
Derek spent four days without a phone before finally hearing from the officers who’d taken it. They’d left a message for him at the front desk of the common block, and he had to go down to the station to pick it up, which was bullshit, in his opinion.
They didn’t share much information with him when he got there, but they asked a few more questions that made it easy for him to determine they hadn’t found the person who’d called him.
He tried not to feel sick on the way back to campus, clutching his phone tightly in one hand.
His grade was waiting for him when he got back to the dorm, and he was a little pleased to have passed with a relatively good grade, despite it not being as high as he would’ve liked. In his defence, someone had died while he’d been trying to study, so the fact that he passed at all, let alone with a decent grade, was already pretty fucking amazing.
Laura called him a few times a day to chat and make sure he was still doing all right. Cora only texted, seeming to realize Derek preferred his space and texting allowed him time to respond, unlike a phone call. He never heard from Erica, but he knew she was being kept up to date by Boyd.
Isaac had taken to stopping by between his classes and hanging out on Derek’s bed, and Boyd showed up around mealtimes since Isaac was in class and Derek tended not to eat if left to his own devices.
Nobody brought up what had happened, which he appreciated, but he got a call a few days after his phone was returned from one of the school councillors asking to meet. If he’d known when he’d taken the call that showing up meant a sit-down with the school shrink, he would’ve pretended they had the wrong number and gone on with his day.
It had happened. Someone had died. There was nothing he could do about it, and rehashing it every few days was doing nothing for Derek’s temper. Was he distraught by it? No, not really. Yeah, it had affected him rather badly those first two days, but now? It had happened.
No amount of talking to a shrink was going to take back what had happened, and by the third visit when she brought up the death of his parents, he stopped talking altogether and just sat staring boredly at the wall for the entire half hour they were together.
After two more sessions like this, the shrink told him he didn’t have to come back. Technically he felt like she should’ve been taking his silence as a bad sign, but maybe he made her uncomfortable enough that she didn’t really care about his mental state. Derek was used to people not caring, so it didn’t bother him. Everyone thought he was an asshole, and he did nothing to correct them of this assumption. Plus, the Werewolf thing always made humans nervous, and despite his best efforts not to pay attention to what she smelled like, it wasn’t like he could stop breathing while in the room with her, so he knew he made her nervous.
Eventually, things returned to normal. Winter break came and went, the next semester started, and he passed his spring classes with much better grades than his fall classes. Summer started, the three of them moved out of the dorms, got part time jobs, went home to spend time with the rest of the Pack.
He didn’t see much of Erica, given she was on Boyd like a leech most of their time home, but he hung out with his sisters while Isaac went off to spend time with some of his friends, pointedly avoiding going anywhere near his abusive father during the whole time he was home.
When the next year started, it was like nothing had happened. Derek managed to room with Boyd that year, and he could’ve sworn Isaac was convinced he and Boyd were still roommates with how often he came over and left his belongings all over their floor.
Derek burned everything in a trash can out in the back parking lot to make sure Isaac never did that again.
It took him eighteen shirts, three textbooks, one pair of jeans and way too many socks and underwear to catch on. Derek was concerned Isaac would run out of clothes before long if he didn’t figure it out soon.
Unfortunately, when he did, Derek got a call from Laura about not being wasteful since she was the one paying for all of Isaac’s replacements as his legal guardian, and Derek had glared at a preening Isaac the entire call while Laura tried to make him go deaf in one ear.
Their Sophomore year of university was boring and uneventful. Isaac went to too many parties to get drunk off aconite, and Boyd followed him around to make sure he didn’t wrap his car around a tree. Not that it’d matter, Isaac would heal, but Derek figured it was the car Boyd was concerned about as opposed to Isaac, considering the car belonged to Boyd. But whatever kept the idiot alive, he supposed. Derek would have a hard time paying rent in the summer without a third body there to help foot the bill.
By the end of that year, the phonecall was nothing more than a distant memory. An event that had occurred and been forgotten like so many others in their lives. Isaac and Boyd had long since stopped talking about it, and Derek had thrown out the police officer’s card while going through his wallet without giving it another thought.
Summer arrived with humidity and record highs, which made working indoors a Godsend.
Too bad Derek didn’t work indoors and spent the entire summer working for a construction company in the sweltering heat wearing an offensively bright construction vest.
He rarely saw Isaac and Boyd, their schedules all conflicting for a majority of the summer, and only spoke to Laura when she called him at times he couldn’t pretend to be busy.
When fall loomed once more for the start of Junior year, Derek quit his job and they spent the last week of vacation getting drunk and watching Game of Thrones.
They turned it into a drinking game, taking shots every time someone said “Winter is coming” or “You know nothing Jon Snow.”
Their alcohol didn’t last very long.
Three days before move-in, they got their room assignments, and Derek almost shit a brick when he found himself being roomed with someone else again. The only consolation he had was that Isaac and Boyd had also been split up, which had almost won them over for staying in the apartment they’d been renting for the summer.
But, the dorms were cheaper than the apartment, and without working during the year, it would be hard for Laura to support everyone without dipping too heavily into the life insurance from the fire. In the end, it was decided they would survive living apart for a year. At least they were in the same part of campus.
Move-in day was as chaotic as always, and when Derek reached his room, he scowled when he saw the door ajar because it meant his roommate had beaten him to get the choice on which side of the room he would commandeer.
Kicking open the door with his foot, ignoring the way it banged against the opposite wall and made his new roommate jump, Derek strode into the room and dumped the boxes he held onto the mattress of his bed. He only found some satisfaction in being left with his preferred side of the room.
He turned and walked back out without saying a word to his roommate. He didn’t even look at him on his way by, and ignored the noise of confusion that met his retreating back. He went to the curb to grab another stack of boxes, glaring at Boyd while he sat on the trunk of his car, texting.
Isaac had bailed to go get drunk with some friends, and Derek would worry about his liver for all the drinking he did if he weren’t a Werewolf. If Isaac wanted to go drinking at two in the afternoon on move-in day, that was his problem. He’d be the one stuck moving all his shit by taxi if he wasn’t careful. Boyd may let him borrow his car every now and then, but it was still Boyd’s car.
Just because they were all childhood friends and pack didn’t mean the patience was limitless. In fact, it was the opposite. They were so close they were almost like siblings, and could be as petty and assholeish as siblings. It was a gift that kept on giving, in Derek’s opinion, considering he already had two real siblings.
He trekked back to the room with the new set of boxes, and once again ignored his roommate. He just dumped his shit, turned around, and walked back out. This worked well for almost the entire move-in process, Boyd keeping watch over Derek’s shit while he walked back and forth between the car and the room. At least he was on the ground floor, so he didn’t have to wait for the elevator or struggle with jammed stairwells.
On the last trip, Boyd jumped off the trunk and grabbed a suitcase and duffel, following Derek into the building to his room. He dropped everything off inside the door, then headed back outside to get his own shit moved.
Derek turned to follow him, since he’d be the one sitting on the trunk this time and could take a bit of a breather, but he was stopped by his new roommate speaking.
“You must be Derek.”
Derek froze in his steps, feeling every hair on the back of his neck rise on end, the voice boring down into his very bones.
Slowly, he turned to look at his new roommate, who was grinning at him with startlingly white teeth, sparkling honey brown eyes, and an open and friendly expression now that he had Derek’s attention.
“My name’s Stiles. I’m your new roommate.”
It felt like his blood had been replaced with cement in his veins, and he stared at the idiot in front of him for so long that the other’s smile slowly slid off his face and he shifted uncomfortably. Even Boyd had returned to see what was taking so long.
“Say it again,” Derek finally said.
The other frowned at him, confused. “What?”
“My name,” he insisted, taking a few steps forward and watching Stiles stumble back, almost tripping over a box. “Say my name again.”
“What?” Stiles asked again, eyes darting past Derek to Boyd, as if silently asking for help. “Hey man, I’m not a weirdo or anything, our room assignments show each other’s names. Stiles Stilinski,” he motioned himself, then Derek and said, “Derek Hale. Well, I mean, technically the room assignment says my real name, but no one can pronounce that, so you can just call me Stiles, and not—”
Derek stopped listening to him, brain going a mile a minute.
Derek, it’s fucking happening!
He would recognize that fucking voice anywhere.
Two years. Two fucking years had passed, and now this little shit was standing in front of him, speaking his name, and grinning like an idiot.
“It’s you,” Derek said, earning him a confused look from Stiles. “The phone call. Two years ago. It was you.”
Stiles Stilinski lived a perfectly happy, normal life, thank you very much. He had gone to school, worked hard, studied his ass off, and finally gotten admitted into his first choice university. Sure, it wasn’t Princeton like his childhood friend Allison Argent, or Stanford like his best friend Lydia Martin, but that didn’t matter. This was his top choice university, and dammit, he was going to have a good year!
Finding out he would be rooming with a third year and Werewolf had been a little intimidating, but Stiles had figured it’d be a good time. Either the other guy would be out a lot and crashing with friends, or he’d be a dope roomie and they would chill and hang out while he showed him the ropes of university life and bought his underage ass some beer.
Not to say he was overeager, but he may have woken up an hour earlier than necessary and ended up waiting outside the common block like a loser for it to open so he could get his keys. His dad had helped him move everything in when he’d finally gained access to the dorms, and then promptly left to get some food to stock the small fridge in Stiles’ dorm room with.
Stiles had hoped for some beer, but his dad had just smiled at him like he was an idiot and left. It had been worth a shot, but he should’ve figured his father would abide by the law whether he was Sheriff in the area or not.
He hadn’t wanted to unpack when he’d arrived, not sure what side of the room his roommate might like, but after a half hour wait—during which his father had come and gone to get more things for his room—he’d decided he didn’t care and if his roommate wanted to pick a side, he should’ve shown up earlier.
Stiles had been halfway through his unpacking when his roommate had kicked open the door, dumped his shit without a word, and walked back out. Stiles had stood frozen holding one of his shirts, staring at the open door after his roommate’s retreating form. He’d figured maybe the other wasn’t big on moving, but he didn’t say anything to him any of the subsequent times he entered and exited the room. It was a little unsettling, and Stiles was starting to feel nervous about rooming with him. He didn’t seem at all friendly, and he hadn’t even looked in his direction once.
When he finally entered the room with another person following suit, Stiles figured that had to be the last of his stuff, so when he started to leave again, he decided to speak up. They weren’t going to survive the year together if they didn’t at least talk to one another. Despite how fucking daunting it was to talk to someone two years his senior who seemed to have resting bitch face, was a Werewolf, and looked like he could bench-press a house, Stiles sucked it up and spoke before his roommate could leave.
“You must be Derek.”
His roommate stopped in the doorway, his friend continuing on like he hadn’t said anything, and Stiles was pleased he’d gotten his attention. Maybe he was just shy and didn’t know how to make friendly. Stiles could handle that, he could talk anyone’s ear off to defuse awkwardness.
Or create it, really, he hadn’t mastered the brain-to-mouth filter thing yet.
The man at the door, Derek Hale according to the room assignment, turned slowly to look at him. Stiles went for his best smile, trying not to be put out by the resting bitch-face and how startlingly attractive he was, and continued.
“My name’s Stiles. I’m your new roommate.”
Really, Stiles? You’re so fucking lame. Obviously he was his new fucking roommate, they were rooming together and had never fucking met before. God, he was so fucking stupid.
Didn’t help that Chatty McChatterbox was fucking gorgeous. Stiles cursed the day he’d discovered gay porn because now he had double the number of people to be attracted to and therefore make an idiot of himself in front of. The pros and cons both of being bisexual.
It was hard enough trying to make friendly with a resting bitch-face, but did Derek Hale—God, even his name sounded hot—have to look so damn good while practising his resting bitch-face? His eyes were so fucking green, Stiles wanted to grab his face and squish their noses together to get a closer look at them.
He was wearing a black T-shirt that did nothing to hide the muscles of his biceps and upper body, jeans that were just this side of too tight, and lace-up boots that Stiles wanted to steal. He also had a weird, authoritative aura. It was ridiculously hot and Stiles really needed to calm his libido down considering he knew this was a Werewolf and he was probably broadcasting his attraction.
This was his roommate, not his fuck buddy. Yet, anyway. Maybe they could talk about that, if Derek Hale—Fuck, that name!—was into dudes.
Forcing himself to pay attention, Stiles realized Derek was still staring at him from the door. He hadn’t moved an inch since turning around, and was just staring at him like he could disintegrate Stiles’ entire existence by looking at him hard enough.
Slowly, the smile began to slide off Stiles’ face and he wondered if maybe he’d done something wrong. Or maybe he hadn’t and his roommate was an asshole. Or a sociopath.
Or a murderer.
Great. If he got murdered in his first year of university, he and God were going to have words at the pearly gates. He did not spend his formative years trying to get good grades and keep up with a certified genius and know-it-all smarty-pants to get fucking murdered in his first God damn year.
Stiles was still contemplating the murder theory when his roommate’s friend reappeared, staring at the back of Derek’s head with a scowl, as if silently willing him to hurry up. Either Derek didn’t notice, or he didn’t care, because he just kept staring at Stiles. It went on for so long that it looked like even his big, scary friend was starting to look uncomfortable. Stiles wanted to say, “Imagine how I feel, I’m the one he’s staring at!” but he didn’t want to draw even more attention to himself.
Finally, after a freakin’ eternity, Derek spoke.
“Say it again.”
His voice startled Stiles a little; it was much smoother than he’d been expecting.
It was nice though, suited him fairly well. And he really needed to stop dissecting everything about his hot and murderous roommate.
“What?” he asked intelligently.
Derek’s eyebrows lowered into an angry scowl and he stalked forward, saying, “My name.”
Stiles stumbled back a few steps, almost falling over when his foot his a box but managing to catch his balance on the edge of the desk and stepping over it. Derek got almost right in his face, eyes narrowed, and said, “Say my name again.”
“What?” he asked stupidly.
Stiles looked over at the friend in the doorway, seeing him watching the scene with a curious look on his face, and Stiles cursed himself. Fuck, Derek hadn’t introduced himself, and maybe he’d never done the whole dorm thing before. Maybe he didn’t know people’s names were listed once the assignments were made and thought Stiles was some creepy stalker.
This day was really not turning out how he’d been expecting it to.
“Hey man,” he insisted, lifting both hands as if to help appease the crazy, murderous, but extremely attractive roommate he was almost nose to nose with, “I’m not a weirdo or anything, our room assignments show each other’s names.” He turned both hands towards himself, then Derek. “Stiles Stilinski. Derek Hale.”
Derek looked like he’d swallowed something foul, and it made Stiles a little uncomfortable to realize that it was directed at him. He had definitely showered this morning, right? And his breath definitely didn’t smell that bad, he’d barely had anything to eat today!
“Well,” he said, deciding that rambling was definitely called for during this trying, confusing, awkward time, “I mean, technically the room assignment says my real name, but no one can pronounce that, so you can just call me Stiles, and not—”
“It’s you,” Derek said, interrupting Stiles’ mindless rambling about his name. He stared at his new roommate in confusion, wondering what that was supposed to mean, but before he could ask, Derek continued. “The phone call. Two years ago.” His eyes narrowed. “It was you.”
Stiles saw his friend at the door shift with interest and move a step further into the room, but given the huge angry Werewolf—who smelled so good, what even was happening right now?—was right in his face and within pummelling distance with those big, strong arms, Stiles didn’t think it would be a good idea to take his eyes off him.
He wanted to get through his first day of university without getting into a fistfight, thank you.
“Uh, no?” He hadn’t meant for it to be a question, but it came out that way anyway.
“It was you,” Derek said again, more insistent, and he took another step forward.
Stiles stumbled back against his desk, the corner digging into his spine painfully. He winced, but didn’t shift, worried any more sudden movements would have Derek pouncing on him and beating him to a pulp for... something or another. He didn’t know what he was talking about, because Stiles definitely hadn’t been here two years ago, nor had he known Derek, so the chances of him calling Derek were extremely slim.
“How did you get my number? How did you know my name? Why call me?” His voice was steadily rising the more questions he asked, and Stiles really wished someone outside would hear the raised voices and look in to check everything was okay.
Stiles was about ten seconds away from being very not okay.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Stiles insisted, holding his hands up in front of himself and trying to keep his anger in check when he saw the look of disbelief on Derek’s face. He didn’t want to let his temper get away from him right now, or this year was going to suck. “Look, I didn’t live in this part of the country two years ago, and I definitely didn’t call you. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
He’d barely gotten the last word out when Derek fisted the front of his shirt and wrenched him forward. They were so close that Stiles almost went cross-eyed, staring into Derek’s green eyes flecked with gold and brown, and God he smelled good from this close, and Stiles’ hands on his chest definitely shouldn’t move or he’d likely get his head ripped off. In his defence, he’d only put his hands on Derek’s chest to shove him away from himself, not that doing that to a Werewolf would do him any good, but a guy could hope. At least he was getting to cop a feel, even though that wasn’t what his brain should be focussing on, especially when Derek gave him a little shake.
“I was fucking upset about you for almost two fucking weeks, you little pissant! What the fuck is wrong with you?!”
Before Stiles could say anything—or take a swing, which would be bad, considering he’d probably break his hand—the other wolf in the doorway got between them and managed to pry Derek’s hand out of Stiles’ shirt. He shoved him back towards the door, turned to give Stiles an interested once-over, and then forced Derek out of the room, shutting the door behind them.
Stiles stood motionless in front of his desk, wondering what the fuck had just happened. Raking an agitated hand through his hair, he pulled his cell phone from his pocket to text Lydia, trying to stop from feeling angry, and struggling to keep his panic from taking over.
He forced himself to count backwards from fifty while he put in his password, knowing that losing control now would only mean worse things to come for the year. He struggled to remember everything he and Lydia had done in the past to keep him calm and finally felt confident he wasn’t about to have a panic attack on his first fucking day. Once he was sure, he texted Lydia.
met the roommie
not a fan
He shoved the phone back into his pocket and turned to continue with his unpacking, his movements jerky and tense while he struggled to keep his brain pre-occupied. The panic bubbled uncomfortably in his stomach, threatening to rise with each passing second, but he just focussed on his breathing and started listing names of cities based on every letter of the alphabet to calm down and keep his mind distracted. His jaw started to hurt with how hard he was clenching it, and he redoubled his efforts to focus on cities.
He was on “O” when his phone buzzed in his pocket.
What happened? And was it your fault?
Maybe he isn’t good with move-in day.
Stiles tapped back a message before tossing his phone onto his bed and moving to hang some shirts in his closet. He was still going with the cities, and felt calmer than he had before, but still not enough to feel confident he wouldn’t lose control.
Snatching his phone back up, he read Lydia’s response and saw a new text from Allison. Lydia had obviously texted her. As long as she hadn’t told his dad. He didn’t want him to worry and stick around for the entire year because of one bad experience. His roommate was just an asshole, Stiles would be fine, it wasn’t even anything to panic about, he didn’t know why his anxiety was through the roof right now.
no pretty sure hes just an asshole
whatever he moved in wth a friends help so he might never be around
I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.
Otherwise, is everything okay? How’s the campus? Are you excited?
The last of his panic slowly began to drain away at her words and he found himself smiling while replying. He didn’t check his other message from Allison while he and Lydia chatted, but when she said he had to go since she was about to start moving her own boxes, he switched screens to tell Allison he was fine and ask when she was leaving since her school started a week after Stiles and Lydia’s did.
He spent a majority of the afternoon texting and unpacking, then went to dinner with his dad. He tried to stay out as late as humanly possible, not wanting to return to the dorm and Mr. Douche McDoucheface, but he knew he couldn’t avoid him forever.
Heaving a defeated sigh when his father stopped the car beside the dorm, he bid him goodnight, promised he’d be up in time for breakfast the following day, and then disappeared into the dorm. He stood outside the door for almost a full minute before conceding defeat, reminding himself that murder was a crime, and opening the door.
Derek stared out the window the entire drive back to the dorm. Boyd hadn’t said anything when they’d gone back to the apartment to move his stuff. Laura hadn’t called, so he likely hadn’t told her anything, either, which Derek appreciated. He also didn’t mention anything to Isaac when they picked him up for dinner around five.
He didn’t think it would’ve mattered anyway, Isaac was pretty trashed and Derek pitied his liver.
They’d had dinner, and then gone back to the dorm where they’d watched a slightly less drunk Isaac struggle to get his shit packed and in the car. Like true friends, he and Boyd had hung out on the hood of the car, entertaining themselves on their phones. Boyd was texting Erica and reading a book. Derek was watching YouTube videos with the free Wi-Fi from the café beneath their old apartment.
Once the car was packed, they’d returned to campus to get Isaac set up in his dorm, which was across the green from Boyd’s and about a stone’s throw from Derek’s.
Isaac introducing himself to his new roommate had been a sight to behold, if Derek was honest. The kid looked really uncomfortable, and he seemed to get only moreso the longer Derek and Boyd hovered silently by the door. He was also a Werewolf, the scent strong, but he was clearly without a pack and didn’t seem comfortable with having three other wolves in his space.
Derek managed a smirk when Isaac threw an arm around the kid’s shoulders and insisted they go out for drinks, all the while ignoring the other’s sputtered protests that he was underage, had only had aconite once, and didn’t want to get arrested his first night at university.
Ah, Freshmen. Derek remembered being one so well. He’d broken virtually every rule in the book, and regretted not breaking some of them twice.
It wasn’t until Boyd offered him a ride back to his dorm that Derek remembered what was waiting for him there.
He’d looked him up on his phone while Boyd had been moving into his dorm. His name had been staring back at him from the assignment screen in his profile, and he understood why he went by ‘Stiles’ because Derek had gone to four different sites trying to find the pronunciation for Mieczyslaw and he still didn’t think he was saying it right.
After that, he’d spent almost ten minutes stalking him on FaceBook. He obviously wasn’t worried about people creeping on him because his profile was public and Derek scrolled through many embarrassing pictures of him.
He couldn’t find anything on FaceBook that suggested he was lying about not having called Derek two years ago, but he couldn’t really put all of his trust in a blue site full of stupidity. Even though he hadn’t heard any skips in Stiles’ heartbeat while they spoke, there had been a lot going on at the time, including Stiles’ constant back and forth smells of attraction, fear and anxiety, as well as the rabbit-fast pace of his heart which had only gotten faster the more anxious he’d become. It made it hard to figure out whether or not he was lying.
Derek wished he still had the card the police officer had given him, but even if he did, there was no guarantee the guy still worked there. Hell, even if he did, there was little to no chance he’d remember this case. It had been bizarre from beginning to end and Derek had been perfectly happy putting it behind him.
To have it rear its ugly head again now made him anxious, though he wasn’t sure why. He had no reason to feel anxious, especially given the little fucker was alive. That should’ve been a good thing, having him show up all healthy and smiling. It pissed Derek off, because he’d been worried about him for a while after the call, but at least he could put it behind him.
He tensed and whipped his head around to look at Boyd when the other touched his arm. When Boyd looked pointedly past him, Derek turned back to the window and realized they’d stopped at his dorm.
Grunting what could’ve been interpreted as a thank you, Derek exited the car and slammed the door without another word. He trudged to the entrance and swiped his keycard before tugging it open and entering the corridor.
The first floor common room was loud and rambunctious, people having introduced themselves throughout the day and starting a party before classes began in two days. Derek bypassed the festivities, ignoring whether or not his roommate was there, and headed down the corridor to his room.
It was empty when he unlocked the door and he scowled at his half of the room when he realized he’d avoided coming home all day and hadn’t unpacked yet. Slamming the door harder than he was sure it warranted, he moved to his bed and began taking all the boxes off it. He got to work unpacking his clothing and breaking down the boxes. Some were random junk and knick-knacks from home and he just shoved those three under his bed, barely having enough room to squeeze them beneath the frame. He knew they’d fit, they had every other year, but he still hated that brief moment of, “Shit, maybe it won’t fit this time?”
He got his items squared away relatively quickly, practised at it by now, and was in the process of fitting sheets and blankets to his bed when the door opened.
Derek straightened and turned to stare at Stiles, the other having stopped in the doorway with one hand still on the knob. He eyed Derek distrustfully before opening his mouth, closing it, and opening it once more. No sound came out.
“Are you gonna imitate a fish all fucking night or spit it out?” Derek turned back to his bed and finished with the sheets, hearing the door shut softly behind him, followed by the click of the lock.
“What’s your problem with me?” Stiles asked, sounding defeated. “Do you really want to fight all year? I literally did nothing wrong.”
Derek straightened and turned to look at him over his shoulder. Stiles’ expression was a mix between miserable and pissed. An impressive combination, if he was honest. Derek turned to him fully, shoving his hands in his pockets, and Stiles crossed his arms over his chest. Derek knew it was a defensive move and he almost smirked at the realization that he made this guy uncomfortable.
The feeling didn’t last long when he remembered what bugged him about Stiles in the first place. He just eyed him silently, the two of them having an awkward stare-down. He noticed Stiles’ gaze dipping downward every now and then before shooting back up to his eyes. He looked at his lips, his arms, his chest, but between each new exploration he always shot his gaze back up to Derek’s eyes.
Arousal wafted off him in waves and Derek almost rolled his eyes. Horny teenagers.
“Are you gay?”
Stiles seemed taken aback by his bluntness but he squared his shoulders and scowled, hands falling to his sides and curling into fists.
“Bisexual. Why, is that going to be a problem?”
Derek didn’t deem that worthy of a response. If Stiles was too stupid to notice Derek was gay, then that was his problem.
People used to joke about him, Isaac and Boyd in high school because they fit three of the main demographics in the LGBTQ. Derek was gay, Isaac was bisexual, and Boyd was straight. The only real winner in their trio was Isaac, because he was really good at scoring with both sexes, and it made Boyd and Derek avoid bringing him out when they wanted to get laid.
Last year alone, Isaac had gotten laid a total of thirty-seven times. Derek had only gotten laid twice.
It was a fucking travesty.
Even Boyd had gotten laid more than he had, and his girlfriend was half the country away. Derek insisted Isaac’s innocent appearance made him more desirable than Derek, but then again, Derek was also extremely picky.
Knowing his roommate was bisexual kind of pissed him off, because now it meant anyone he tried to bring home might pique his roommate’s interest. It hadn’t exactly escaped Derek’s notice that he was attractive.
For a babyface, anyway.
It occurred to him that Stiles was now glaring at him, waiting for an answer that Derek didn’t feel he needed to give. He’d figure it out eventually, if he wasn’t a complete imbecile.
Turning back to his bed, he spread out his blanket and made sure the corners were tucked in with military precision before turning the top down and nodding, satisfied. He checked the time on his phone and saw a text message from Isaac.
He opened it, then immediately closed it without replying. Apparently he’d gotten his underage roommate drunk and was starting off the year as a bad influence. Derek wasn’t interested in finding out what Isaac’s plans were with the newbie.
Maybe Isaac’s Freshman and Derek could switch rooms. He hadn’t seemed particularly thrilled to be rooming with Isaac, and Derek would love to avoid staying with someone he knew had called him screaming two years ago.
When it became clear he was done speaking to Stiles, the other just scoffed and moved towards his bed. Derek heard him messing around behind him, having booted up his computer so he could watch some Netflix, and after about five minutes, the door opened again.
Derek glanced over in time to see him exit with a towel, toiletries likely in his other hand. The door locked behind him and Derek was about to return his attention to his computer when his eyes fell on Stiles’ phone.
It was sitting on the edge of his desk, charger plugged in and screen dark. He knew there would be no record of a call from two years ago, but he sat debating for a few seconds before setting his laptop aside and climbing off the bed. If Stiles was going to shower, he’d be gone for a while yet, so he had time for some snooping.
Wandering over to Stiles’ desk, he checked the door once more to make sure it was locked, and then reached out one hand to tap the screen. It opened on a background of Stiles sandwiched between two girls. He had his arms wrapped around their shoulders, grinning at the screen. The redhead on his left was kissing his cheek with her eyes looking at the screen. The brunette on his other side looked like she was blowing a raspberry against his other cheek, eyes squeezed shut.
They had to be friends from home.
He dragged his finger across the screen to bring it to the passcode and was surprised to find there wasn’t one. Who in this day and age didn’t put a passcode on their phone?
Idiots like his roommate, apparently.
He didn’t pick up the phone while he snooped, he just tapped on icons to open them and see a bit of history before closing them again. The Safari web browser had about thirty tabs open, most of them about cheap textbooks and healthy eating during first year university, but he also had two porn sites, a few manga sites, and a streaming site open.
He checked his message history, reading a conversation between Stiles and someone he had named ‘My Queen’ in his phone. They seemed to talk a lot, because the conversation from today alone sported almost a hundred texts back and forth. Maybe it was a girlfriend back home, but they didn’t talk the way people in a relationship did. Maybe just a friend, then.
He went to the contacts next, looking through all of them and hoping that he was never asked to help locate the idiot’s father’s number given he seemed to have input random names for everyone in his contact list.
He even had one dubbed ‘The Sheriff’ in his phone, and not a single one listed anything that suggested home, his mother or his father.
He got to the end of the list, not knowing what he’d been expecting to find but feeling like he should’ve found something.
Turning the phone’s screen off, he figured it was a problem for another day. Maybe Stiles’ voice just sounded like the mystery man’s. He’d seemed genuinely confused when Derek had confronted him, and even now he acted like he wanted to fix whatever problem they had to avoid an awkward, uncomfortable year as roommates.
While Derek wasn’t going to go out of his way to make friendly with him, he figured he should probably explain his actions and at least try and make the year tolerable. It had just been a huge shock to hear that voice after having heard someone with the exact same one die on the other end of his phone.
Wandering back to his bed, he resumed his Netflix binge and ignored Stiles when he re-entered the room twenty minutes later. He tinkered around on his side of the room for a while before getting into bed and pulling his own laptop closer. He watched something with headphones on while texting on his phone, and around eleven he turned everything off—including the overhead light—and rolled over to go to sleep.
Derek’s desk lamp was still on, and he didn’t turn the sound down on his computer, just kept watching his show and ignoring the angry huffing coming from the other bed. After almost an hour, the blankets across the room were thrown off Stiles and he sat up, turning to Derek with his hair dishevelled and eyes narrowed.
“Do you not have headphones or something?”
“Somewhere,” Derek replied.
“Can you maybe put them on?”
He thought about it for a second. “No.”
“Dude, if you don’t even try to make this tolerable, you are going to learn very quickly that I am not someone you want to piss off.”
Derek eyed him, seeing the way his fists clenched and his chest rose and fell. His fingers kept curling and uncurling, like he was consciously trying to stop himself from making a fist and failing repeatedly.
Checking the time on his computer, he figured it was late enough anyway and slammed the laptop shut. The sound continued for a good ten seconds before finally dying out. He set the laptop on the floor by his bed, then stood to change out into sweats. He could feel Stiles watching him while he tugged off his clothes, tossing everything into the hamper in the corner and striding to his closet in the nude. He pulled his sweats from one of the in-built drawers and yanked them on, then headed back for the bed.
He said nothing at the fact that Stiles was very obviously staring and turned off the light, plunging the room into darkness. Climbing into bed, he got under the covers and rolled over to go to sleep.
He spent the entire night tossing and turning, his dreams plagued with terrified shouting and gunshots.
Derek did his best to avoid his roommate as much as possible for the next few days, which was easy to accomplish, considering classes had started and their schedules seemed to be opposites. Derek tried not to be interested in anything about his roommate, but every time the other went to take a shower, he would check out things around the room.
He wasn’t positive, but he thought Stiles was some kind of sciences major. He had all the usual science books—Biology, Chemistry, and Physics—but then he also had a PoliSci class, lower level than Derek’s, and an English one. The English was mandatory for all students so that was probably just him getting some credits in, but it was still a weird mix.
He also found Stiles spent a lot of time on his computer. He wasn’t watching anything, so Derek wasn’t sure what he was doing. The one time he’d tried to check, he’d been faced with a password, unlike for the phone. While he didn’t know much about his roommate, he checked the hint section anyway to see if he could discern the password with that alone, but the hint was just, “Dad stay out of my shit.”
Unhelpful. And probably also unhelpful for Stiles if he were ever to randomly forget his password. Derek hated this idiot.
He hated it more every time he spoke, because more than ever, he was positive that it was the same voice he’d heard two years ago. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t lying, maybe his memory had been altered. Maybe he had made that call while being chased by, Derek didn’t know, some kind of witch or something. Maybe it had made him forget.
But it still didn’t explain why he knew Derek’s name and number, or why he didn’t know who Stiles was until he’d met him a few days ago. It wouldn’t be impossible for someone to alter both of their memories, but he would’ve mentioned a friend this eccentric to Laura, and he doubted anyone would have the ability to erase his Alpha’s memory across the continent.
On the sixth night, he lay in bed watching Netflix while his roommate sat at his desk, wearing headphones and typing away at his computer. Derek tried to catch what he was working on every now and then, but he couldn’t see from this angle and he didn’t really care enough.
He was halfway through an episode of Black Mirror when someone knocked on the door and threw it open. Isaac’s voice preceded him into the room and he was dragging along his poor roommate who looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there. He was currently holding him with one arm around his neck, but it almost looked like a chokehold given how obvious it was he wanted to get free.
“Derek. Scott and I are going to get drinks, wanna come?”
“I have class first thing tomorrow, I really can’t go out tonight,” his roommate—evidently Scott—said miserably.
“Come on, Scott. Live a little. It’s just school.” He bent down and dragged his lips along his throat.
Scott instantly recoiled, eyes flashing red. Derek jerked into a seated position but Isaac just grinned.
“You’re an Alpha?” Derek asked, surprised. This kid was younger than even Laura was when she’d become Alpha.
“Unfortunately,” he muttered. “Scott McCall.”
“Scott is a True Alpha, Derek. Have you ever heard of one so young? Said he was bitten at sixteen and became an Alpha at seventeen. Isn’t life wild?” Isaac laughed, still holding onto his roommate, but he at least had the smarts not to go for his neck again.
“That couldn’t have been easy,” Derek said, eying him with interest. “You know you don’t have to go out with Isaac if you don’t want to. Just tell him to back off.”
“Scott wants to hang out, don’t you Scott?” Isaac pulled him closer, and opened his mouth to say something when a loud exclamation of anger sounded across the room and Derek turned in time to see Stiles throw his headphones aside.
“Oh my God!” He rounded on them, looking murderous. “Go out drinking! Don’t go out drinking! I don’t care! Just shut up and let me study! I can hear you through my noise cancelling headphones!”
Isaac grinned at Stiles, then looked at Derek. “You’re got a fun roommate.”
“I think you mean annoying,” Derek snapped, which earned him a glare from Stiles. He just glared back, being much more practised at them.
“Hey, you’re in my Biology class,” Scott said, which broke Stiles and Derek’s staring contest.
“Yeah, you sit near the middle of the class, a few rows up from me,” Stiles said.
“Scott,” Isaac’s roommate said, motioning himself.
That earned him a weird look from Scott, but Derek had seen his real name, and Stiles was way less weird.
“Oh hey, are you in Chemistry 107, too?” Scott asked, elbowing Isaac and breaking free of his grip so he could move further into the room and up to Stiles.
“You too?” Stiles beamed at him. “That class is way bigger, I’d never have spotted you!”
Derek tuned them out as Scott sat on Stiles’ bed and they began talking about the professor for the class. He instead turned back to Isaac, who looked heartbroken at having his wingman stolen for the night. Isaac turned his pleading gaze on him and Derek shook his head, going back to his show.
Of course, that meant Isaac just wandered into the room and fell down on the bed beside Derek, practically crushing him against the wall. For someone so small, he was definitely not light. Derek elbowed him insistently in the ribs, but Isaac just kept pushing him further until eyes flashes and Derek bared his teeth.
The two of them turned, startled, to look at Stiles. He was staring at them both with a scowl, looking unimpressed while the Alpha sat on the bed, horrified.
“I’m trying to have a conversation over here. Can you both maybe act your age and put away the teeth?”
Isaac snapped his jaw playfully in Stiles’ direction and Scott’s eyes flashed red in warning. Derek felt like Isaac may have just lost a buddy, since Stiles and Scott seemed pretty chummy now. Maybe they could trade rooms, Derek would be willing to put up with Isaac’s idiocy if he could get away from Stiles and his obnoxiously familiar voice.
Derek tugged hard at the shackles around his wrists, turning towards the door when it opened and baring his fangs at the figure approaching him. He heard the laugh before she came into view, and growled low in his throat at the sight of her. She was holding a metal rod, and he knew he was about to have a rough night.
“Oh Derek,” she said with a vicious smile, moving closer to him and letting one hand trail along his chest. He roared in her face, struggling to free himself, but the manacles burned his skin, laced with wolfsbane, and he couldn’t do more than struggle against her touch.
She let out a laugh and tilted the rod so that it touched the metal chain-link fence he was attached to. His body jerked and he screamed when currents of electricity flowed agonizingly through him, his muscles spasming and his teeth gritted together.
After what felt like an eternity, the electricity stopped and he slumped forward, breathing hard, his body jerking with aftershocks and pain still coursing through him. He tried to gasp in air, struggling to keep himself on his feet, but all she did was laugh and shock him again. His back arched and he screamed around his clenched teeth, claws coming out and fangs pushing past his gums.
When she pulled away a second time, she bent down so they were at eye level, a terrible, mocking smile on her lips.
“That’s right, baby boy. Scream for me. I love listening to you scream, Derek.” She pressed the rod against the fence once more and laughed when he screamed. “Louder, Derek! I can’t hear you! Come on, Derek! Derek!”
Derek’s eyes snapped open and he roared loudly, leaping off the bed and tackling his attacker, claws out and pressed against a pale throat. He could feel fangs in his mouth and hair along his cheeks, having shifted into his Beta form while pressing all his weight against his attacker and keeping his claws as close as he could to the tender flesh of his neck.
Breathing hard, it took him a few seconds to calm down enough to get his bearings, looking around for the fence and that bitch, her laughter still echoing in his head.
He glanced back down at the body beneath him, and stared for a few long seconds before his brain clicked on who he was on top of.
He was on top of Stiles, pressing him down against the floor, claws at his throat.
Stiles didn’t look mad. He just watched him with a calm expression, eyes searching his face. Slowly, he reached out one hand and placed it gently on Derek’s knee. When Derek didn’t react, he moved the other hand up and slowly closed it around his wrist, carefully pulling the claws away from his neck. Derek could see small punctures in his skin, barely deep enough to bleed, but he’d broken skin.
“It’s okay,” Stiles said calmly, still watching Derek while he slowly moved the hand further from his neck. “You were having a nightmare. You’re okay.”
Derek just stared down at him, breathing hard and trying to wrap his head around what had just happened. When he realized he was still on top of Stiles, he hastily pulled himself free of the other’s grip and backed off, falling on his ass beside his bed and leaning back against the frame. He ran a shaky hand through his hair, sweat coating his torso, and squeezed his eyes shut, attempting to calm himself down. He heard Stiles get up and figured he was going to leave the room, get an RA, insist Derek was insane and needed to be sent somewhere else.
There was a knock at the door, and Stiles detoured from wherever he was going to answer it.
“Hi, I’m Kira, the RA on the second floor. I heard some screaming and uh, noises from here and your neighbours mentioned there might be a problem. Is everything okay in here?”
“Yeah, no, everything’s fine. It was just—sorry about that. My fault. We’ll be quiet.”
“Are you sure? Do you need anything?”
“Nah, we’re okay in here. Sorry for the trouble.”
“Okay. Well, I’m in 212 if you need anything, okay? Have a good night.”
“You too, thanks!”
Stiles shut and locked the door, and then continued to where he’d originally been heading. Derek heard Stiles’ mini-fridge open, and then shut. Then soft footsteps padded back across the room and Stiles fell heavily on the floor to Derek’s left.
When he had some control back, he opened his eyes and shifted to look at Stiles. He was leaning back against the desk, watching Derek, and when he saw his eyes were open, he held out a can of Coke.
Derek stared at it for a long while before reaching out and taking it, giving Stiles a small nod of thanks.
“You okay?” Stiles asked, Derek popping the top of the drink and taking a large swallow.
“I’m fine,” Derek muttered, wiping his hand across the back of his mouth. “It was nothing.”
“Pretty sure screaming and roaring at the top of your lungs isn’t nothing,” Stiles insisted quietly. “I’m pretty sure the whole building heard you.”
Derek tilted his head to listen. He could still hear the RA, walking down the corridor and telling everyone to head back to their rooms. He felt bad about it, but didn’t have time to dwell on it with Stiles sitting so damn close to him. He turned to glance at him, seeing him still watching him intently.
Derek’s gaze lowered to the small puncture wounds on his neck and he scowled.
“I could’ve killed you. What were you thinking? Don’t you know better than to startle a Werewolf awake?”
Stiles shrugged like it was no big deal and shifted so he was sitting cross-legged, hands on his knees. “What was the alternative? Leave you to your nightmare? This is nothing.” He motioned his neck with an absent wave of his hand. “I knew you wouldn’t hurt me.”
“How could you possibly know that?” Derek demanded angrily, annoyed that this idiot human thought he knew him well enough to trust him with his stupid life.
“Someone screaming that loudly because of a nightmare wouldn’t hurt someone else without being absolutely sure they deserved it.” Stiles shrugged again.
Derek didn’t know what to say to that, so he just scowled at him in the darkness and finished off his can of Coke. They sat in silence, Stiles drumming his fingers absently against his knees. It was obvious he wanted to speak, but he was keeping his mouth shut and Derek appreciated it. Especially when he considered how much he knew Stiles liked talking.
“Why aren’t you scared?” Derek asked after almost ten minutes of silence.
Stiles had been staring at something across the room in the darkness, but he turned back to Derek when he spoke and offered him a shrug.
“My best friend is a Banshee, and my closest childhood friend is a Hunter. I’ve seen pretty much everything from Werewolves to Kanimas to Druids.” He shrugged. “I guess this kind of stuff doesn’t really phase me anymore. When I heard you having the nightmare, I didn’t really sit and think about what you would do if I woke you up, I just knew I had to do it. When you pinned me down, I figured you weren’t yourself and I knew if I moved you’d kill me, so I just waited for you to calm down and when I could tell you were more awake, I moved your hand away.”
He said it all in a matter of fact way, as if truly having seen enough in his life to not feel worried or threatened by having a full grown Werewolf sitting on his chest with their claws at his throat. It made Derek really curious about Stiles’ life.
“Sorry I woke you,” he muttered, getting to his feet. Stiles did the same, brushing off the back of his sweats.
“It’s all good. I’d like to think you’d do the same for me if I had a nightmare.” He headed back for his side of the room and climbed back into bed. “For the record, if it helps at all, you can’t read the time in dreams. And you have more than ten fingers. If you ever aren’t sure whether or not you’re dreaming, try looking at your watch or counting your fingers. It’ll help jolt you awake.”
“Thanks,” Derek said, a little surprised.
Stiles just beamed at him from across the room and then lay down, rolling onto his side so his back was to Derek. It took him almost no time to fall back to sleep, his breathing evening out. His heartbeat was a little faster than a normal person’s, probably due to some kind of medical condition, but he was very obviously asleep.
Derek rubbed his face, setting the empty can on his desk and snatching up his phone. He pulled up Laura’s contact and typed out a message to her.
I had another dream about Kate
Roommate woke me up. Said I was screaming.
He waited, staring at the bright screen of his phone, knowing that the vibration would’ve woken Laura. As predicted, he could see that she was typing on the other end.
Are you okay? Do you want me to call?
I’m fine. Just wanted you to know.
Your roommate say anything?
Derek hesitated, then typed a new message.
He told me to read the time or count fingers. Apparently it gives away whether or not you’re dreaming.
That was nice of him. Remember to thank him.
You sure you don’t want me to call?
I’ll be fine.
Call me when you wake up?
Sure. Sorry I woke you.
You’re my brother.
And that bitch did a number on you.
If you need something, let me know.
Good night Derek.
He almost tossed his phone onto the desk before catching himself and looking over at his sleeping roommate. Instead of being a douche like he normally would be, he set the phone down more quietly and plugged it back in.
When he laid back down, he frowned through the darkness, staring at Stiles’ back while he slept.
He didn’t know what to think of him anymore. Stiles was an enigma, and Derek wasn’t sure how to solve him. All he knew was that he wasn’t wrong about his voice, and maybe it was time for him to decide whether or not he needed to talk to Stiles about it.
Scott came by more and more often after that first night. Derek didn’t mind, he and Stiles tended to go out a lot, and when they stayed in, they were usually doing homework. When Stiles got too excitable and started being loud, Derek tended to leave and hang out with Boyd. Isaac always found them, even though they much preferred when he didn’t.
It wasn’t that Derek didn’t like Isaac, it was just that he was different now that he was a Werewolf. Before he’d been bitten by a rogue Alpha, he’d been quiet, calm. He’d been a lot like Boyd, actually, and he and Derek got along great. Once he’d been bitten, he’d gotten a little louder and more outgoing. Now he liked to drink and party and have lots of sex, and while Derek didn’t judge, he also liked being left alone to do as he pleased without worrying about Isaac getting arrested.
Derek also found that he didn’t mind Stiles as much as he used to. Somehow, having him sit silently with him, offer him a Coke, and not pry or tease him had really given him a new perspective on him. He still found him annoying, and hated him on principle because he was his roommate, but he stopped being as much of an asshole with the TV shows and being loud on purpose.
Stiles didn’t say anything about it, but it was obvious he was happy with the change. He was even brave enough to ask Derek to go to dinner with him one night, but Derek had attempted to murder him with his look alone so Stiles had just shrugged and left to meet up with Scott.
They weren’t friends by any stretch of the imagination, but at least they weren’t making each other’s lives miserable anymore. Not that Stiles had necessarily been making Derek’s life miserable, but he was positive the voice he’d heard two years ago was Stiles.
In a way, he wondered if maybe he was just forcing himself to push him away in an attempt to avoid getting close to him. A part of him felt like Stiles was going to die, like what had happened hadn’t actually happened yet. He didn’t know why he felt that way, but somehow it seemed like the only logical explanation.
“Have you gotten any sleep lately?”
“I’m serious,” Derek snapped, irritated and, quite frankly, sleep-deprived. He tightened his hand around the phone he held and dodged a Freshman who was frantically trying to juggle books and a coffee while rushing to class. “He wasn’t lying when he said he hadn’t called me, but I know it was him. What if something happens and he gets thrown back in time and dies?”
“Derek, I think it’s much more likely you’re just mistaken about it being him. That, or you need more sleep,” Laura said, sounding slightly distracted on the other end, like she was doing homework or studying.
“We’re Werewolves, and the thought of time travel makes you think I need more sleep?” Derek asked dryly. “I didn’t say it wasn’t insane, I just said it was a possibility.”
“Why don’t you try talking to him? You know, that thing normal people do? Maybe he can shed some light on it?”
Derek didn’t think that was a good idea, but he wasn’t going to say that to Laura. Instead, he just grunted something that wasn’t a yes, but also wasn’t a no. He listened to Laura prattle on about whatever Erica was doing off where she was with only half of his attention, and then hung up when she recognized he wasn’t paying attention anymore.
He had dinner with Isaac and Boyd off-campus after his last class, and they managed to convince him to go out for drinks. Boyd drank regular beer since he didn’t want to get drunk and the bar didn’t sell non-alcoholic beer. There was no difference between the two for a Werewolf except the price, so it wasn’t really a problem.
Isaac got drunk off aconite and Derek pretended to drink but realistically didn’t. He had no desire to get drunk, and often didn’t know what Isaac kept trying to run away from. Nobody should drink as much as he did unless they needed to escape reality.
Derek also got to spend a majority of the night listening to him whine about Scott and how adorable he was, and how it wasn’t fair that he didn’t like him. Boyd and Derek shared a look but wisely said nothing. Attempting to comment on any part of that entire topic invited Isaac to start being a giant baby, so it was safer to keep quiet and let him rant.
It was well after one by the time Boyd drove them back to campus, and Derek was thankful that Scott would have to deal with a drunk Isaac. If nothing else, at least he could probably use his Alphaness to get Isaac into bed.
Derek and Boyd only waited long enough for Isaac to get into his building before driving off. The distance between their two dorms was short, so it only took about four or five minutes to get from Isaac’s to Derek’s. Once he was out of the car, he waved over his shoulder to Boyd and let himself into the dorm.
He tried to be quiet when he entered the room, which wasn’t as easy as it should’ve been. No matter how quiet Derek was because of his nature, if a door squeaked, he couldn’t control that. He was made for silence in the wild, not so much in the city.
It didn’t seem to matter anyway, because when he entered the room, he found his desk light on and Stiles asleep. Derek was actually surprised at the thoughtfulness to leave one of the lights on and slipped into the room. He was in the process of getting changed so he could get to bed when he inhaled and frowned. Turning slowly with his shirt half-off, he inhaled again to ensure he hadn’t imagined it, but the scent was still there.
He moved closer to Stiles’ bed with his shirt still over his arms and stood beside him. Stiles was sleeping on his side, clutching a pillow to his chest with his face pinched and his breathing ragged. He smelled like anxiety and fear, but he didn’t make a sound while he slept. His fingers curled more tightly around the pillow he held and his frown deepened.
Derek hesitated, standing beside him, and wondered what he should be doing. He glanced around, as if for some help, then sighed and looked back down at Stiles. Pulling the shirt off in its entirety, he held it in one hand, then reached out the other, gripping Stiles’ shoulder and giving him a rough shake.
“Hey. Stiles. Wake up.”
The wave of fear that slammed into him then almost choked him and he exhaled sharply, tightening his grip and jerking Stiles more harshly than he’d intended, but he needed him to wake up.
Stiles bolted upright in bed, limbs flailing and shout escaping him. He looked around wildly, hair matted down on one side and sticking up on the other. Brown eyes locked with Derek’s and for a few uncomfortable seconds, they just stared at each other.
Eventually, Derek turned away, rubbing the back of his neck with one hand and wandering to his side of the room to finish dressing for bed.
“You smelled wrong,” was all he said in way of explanation.
Stiles said nothing behind him, but Derek heard him reach for his phone and tap out a message. He wasn’t even silent for ten seconds before the phone began to vibrate. Stiles let out a long-suffering sigh before answering.
“I didn’t tell you so you would call.”
“You knew I would call if you told me, so logic dictates you certainly did tell me so I would call,” a female’s voice said down the line. She sounded a little uppity, in Derek’s opinion, but he tried not to make it obvious he was listening in while he pulled off his jeans and started hunting down his sweats.
“I just know you like being informed.”
“Are you okay?” the voice asked.
Derek glanced over his shoulder when Stiles sighed. He was sitting up in bed now, the covers bunched at the bottom of the bed. He had one knee bent and was resting his free arm on it, face buried in his elbow like he could hide from everything that way.
“I’m fine. Just a nightmare. I didn’t even know I was having it.”
“What does that even mean?”
“My roommate woke me up,” Stiles muttered, as if trying to say so quietly, though why he was bothering to try was beyond Derek since they both knew he could hear everything.
“The asshole? Well that was nice of him.”
Stiles’ head rose at those words and he turned to look over. Derek just cocked an eyebrow at him, trying not to look amused, and a flush started rising up the back of Stiles’ neck, embarrassment wafting from him before he buried his face in his arm again.
“You remember he’s a Werewolf, right?”
“Am I supposed to censor myself because he can hear me? Eavesdropping is extremely rude, he shouldn’t be doing it whether he has the ability or not.”
Derek couldn’t help it. He barked out a laugh, shaking his head while pulling on his sweats, and ignored the sputtered protests coming from behind him. Grabbing his toothbrush and toothpaste, he exited the room and headed for the bathroom, wanting to show Stiles a little mercy.
He thought about what had happened the entire time he relieved himself and brushed his teeth. It was interesting that both of them seemed to have paralysing nightmares, and while Stiles hadn’t been screaming like Derek, he had to wonder if the screaming wouldn’t have started had he not woken Stiles.
Once he was finished in the bathroom, he lingered a little longer than necessary in an attempt to give Stiles a bit more space. He didn’t know why he was bothering, but figured Stiles had been pretty great when he’d had his nightmare, so he owed him the same courtesy.
When he couldn’t dawdle any longer, he returned to the room, but listened in while walking down the corridor. It sounded like the conversation was over, at any rate, so he let himself back into the room and locked the door behind himself.
He glanced over at Stiles and saw him sitting up in bed with a Coke in one hand, his phone in the other. He was reading something on the small screen, taking small sips of his drink every few seconds. He didn’t look up when Derek entered.
Putting his things away, Derek crossed to his bed and sat down on it. He could feel the discomfort rolling off Stiles in waves, and he didn’t need to be a Werewolf to know he wasn’t okay right now.
Derek wasn’t good at this kind of thing, but Stiles had been there for him so he didn’t feel right just rolling over and going to bed when he was obviously upset. Derek needed silent support after his nightmares, but it was obvious that Stiles needed to get his mind off things. A distraction.
Gritting his teeth and trying to channel Laura—or even just fucking Isaac—he cleared his throat. “Uh, girlfriend?”
Stiles froze in what he was doing, shifting his gaze over to look at Derek. He lowered the can of Coke so it rested on one knee and shook his head.
“Oh.” They sat in an awkward silence. “She sounds nice.”
“She’s a know-it-all pain in my ass, is what she is.” Stiles smiled slightly. “But I love her anyway. I’m a know-it-all pain in her ass, so fair’s fair.”
Derek nodded, not sure what else to say. Stiles watched him for a few seconds longer, then went back to his phone, shoulders tense. Derek really wasn’t good at this shit.
“What was it about?”
He knew it was the wrong thing to ask because Stiles’ scent went sour and he scowled down at his phone, stabbing his finger against the screen more harshly than was necessary.
“Doesn’t seem like nothing.”
“At least I didn’t wake the whole dorm.”
Derek scowled at that, finding it to be a low blow, but then acknowledged that he’d hit first, so it made sense that Stiles would respond in kind. They had a stare-down for a while that Derek was sure he’d win, because he was more practised at them, but Stiles was stubborn so they ended up just staring at one another in silence.
Stiles fidgeted the entire time, tapping his phone against his leg, flicking the tab on the top of the can, jiggling one foot absently. It was obvious he wanted to say something but it would be like defeat if he spoke first, so they just sat there.
After a good five minutes, Derek was bored of this game and turned away, throwing back the covers on his bed and climbing in. He heard Stiles shifting on his own bed but didn’t look at him. He just leaned over to get the light on his desk and then settled down for sleep. There was silence aside from the two of them trying to get comfortable and then they both settled down.
Derek was well on his way to falling asleep when Stiles spoke, his voice so quiet Derek would’ve missed it were he not a Werewolf.
“It’s something that happened to me.”
Derek rolled over to look at Stiles in the darkness, but he had his back to him, so he couldn’t see his face.
He hesitated for a moment, then said, “Mine too.”
Stiles was quiet for a beat, as if chewing his words over. “What’s yours?”
“Torture. Hunter girlfriend who didn’t follow the code. She wasn’t a fan of Werewolves. Didn’t know at the time.” Also hadn’t known he was gay at the time. If he had, things would’ve turned out very differently.
“Sorry,” Stiles whispered.
“Possession. Nogitsune. It was bad. People died.”
Derek felt like he understood why Stiles knew different tricks to check whether or not he was awake. If he’d been possessed, he was probably obsessed with making sure he was really awake and himself whenever anything out of the ordinary happened.
“I’ll wake you up if you wake me up,” Stiles whispered.
Derek waited for a few minutes to see if he’d say anything else, but Stiles didn’t move and even when Derek rolled over for sleep, he knew Stiles was still awake.
By the time he woke up for class the next morning, Stiles was already gone.
“You look like hell,” Scott informed him when Stiles took a seat beside him in Biology.
“Thanks, Scotty,” he said dryly, pulling his notebook out and trying to tamp down his irritation. That was the problem with being surrounded by Werewolves: he couldn’t have feelings.
Well, he could, but they always felt the need to comment on them. It had been bad enough back when Jackson Whittmore had been riding his ass in high school, but now he had a Werewolf roommate and a Werewolf friend. At least he only really had to see Jackson at school, here he had to live with one and it sucked.
Then again, Derek had been more tolerable lately. While he was still a jerk, at least he seemed to be mellowing out. They weren’t going to be braiding each other’s hair and exchanging friendship bracelets anytime soon, but at least he could stand to be in the same damn room as him now.
He spent most of Biology thinking about Derek, tapping his pen against his notebook and knowing he would need to get proper notes from Scott later. He kind of liked that they were in two different fields and had a lot of the same classes, but he figured it was likely because they were in their first year of undergrad.
Scott wanted to be a vet, whereas Stiles wanted to do something related to forensics and criminology. He couldn’t take any of the really interesting courses until third year so for now he was stuck with the boring ones and English.
He hated English. It did not work well with his ADHD. He didn’t get the weird bullshit symbolism in the books he was reading, and he felt like it was more that there wasn’t any and professors were just pulling shit out of their asses.
Stiles could figure out almost any twist in a plot when he watched movies, and he’d done so well in online puzzle games that they started getting boring. He used to even sneak into his dad’s office to read case files and help him solve them, which always got him in trouble, but at least he was always right!
This was the thing for Stiles. This was the true magic behind connecting the dots and finding hidden meanings. Whatever was happening in books was just a bored professor trying to fill three hours a week to get their paycheck.
Stiles was definitely going to need notes from Scott for this class because he hadn’t paid attention even a little bit. Scott didn’t seem to mind, he was kind of easygoing that way. It was weird whenever Stiles remembered he was an Alpha, because he was only a few months older than him.
They tended not to talk much about their Supernatural backgrounds, mostly because Stiles had discerned enough to know that Scott had been bitten unwillingly, and Scott seemed to have determined Stiles had bad experiences with the Supernatural in general.
It worked for them. They had other things in common, barring one very touchy exception.
“I just can’t believe you’ve never seen Star Wars,” Stiles insisted while they walked towards the common block for lunch. “I mean, it’s Star Wars! There are eight movies now, how can you possibly have escaped it for that long?”
“It just doesn’t sound interesting,” Scott said with a shrug. “It’s basically cowboys in space with laser guns. I mean, how can you fill eight movies with enough interesting content when it’s just the same story over and over? And I mean, I already know that Vader is Luke’s father, so all the excitement’s just gone.”
Stiles let out a pathetic whine and clutched at his chest, horrified that Scott would say such horrible, terrible things. “You wound me, Scotty! Space cowboys? Really? Can cowboys use the Force? Or lightsabers? Do they have clones? Or Mace Windu? How dare you?”
Scott just smiled and bumped his shoulder again Stiles, the two of them continuing to razz one another on their way to get food.
They talked about Star Wars through most of lunch and Stiles made it his personal mission to ensure Scott was educated in all ways of the Force before the end of the year. He didn’t know that he’d succeed, but he’d damn well try!
When they split after lunch, Stiles went back to his room and found it empty. Derek had probably gone to class and it occurred to him that he had no idea what Derek’s major was. He was in his third year, so he obviously had a goal in mind, but they hadn’t really spoken much since the beginning of the year.
Hell, the other night in the dark was the most they’d ever said to one another, which was sad when he really thought about it. Not that Derek made it easy to want to talk to him.
He contemplated snooping around to see what he could find, but Derek would know in a second if Stiles had touched any of his things, so he thought better of it. He instead just sat down and started trying to figure out his English paper. They were supposed to write summaries of the symbolism after each chapter, but that was difficult to do when Stiles didn’t understand any of the stupid symbolism!
He was still sitting there struggling away when the door opened and Derek returned from class. They didn’t say anything to one another and he just listened to Derek shuffle around on his side of the room before he settled on his bed with his laptop.
He started typing a few minutes later, so he was probably also working on homework. Stiles ignored him in favour of struggling with his own assignment. He tapped his pen impatiently against his book, reading over the passages, and then stuck it in his mouth when he turned to type something into the word document he had open on his computer.
He couldn’t help the frustrated sighs escaping him and he knew Derek was probably getting annoyed, but he couldn’t stop himself from doing it. He was just getting so annoyed and angry at the stupidity of this assignment!
“What are you working on?”
Stiles let out a shout, windmilling his arms and whipping around, Derek standing right behind him with his ever-present scowl on his face.
“Warn a guy! Seriously! Not all of us have super-hearing, you almost gave me a heart attack!” Stiles massaged at his chest above his heart and Derek rolled his eyes at his drama.
“I could probably smell your frustration from down the hall. What are you working on?”
“English,” Stiles grumbled, turning back to it. He tensed when a hand appeared beside his own on the desk, Derek bracing himself against it and leaning forward. His chest was almost pressed right up against Stiles’ back, and he was once again reminded of the fact that Werewolves did not believe in personal space.
“You have Dr. Harris. He’s a bit of an asshole, and his assignments make no sense.”
Derek was entirely too close, Stiles could feel his body heat against his clothed back and his breath along his cheek. It was doing uncomfortable things in his pants, and he was positive Derek could fucking smell it!
“Yeah, he kinda sucks,” Stiles managed to blurt out, one hand clenched around his book and the other bunching the material of his jeans at the knee under his desk. “Symbolism makes no sense.”
“I did this in my Freshman year. Let me see if I can find my notes.”
When Derek pulled away, it was like Stiles could breathe again. He surreptitiously glanced over his shoulder and watched Derek cross back to his bed and pick up his computer. He sat down on the edge, turning in Stiles’ direction, so he hastily twisted back around to stare at his computer screen. He hated that Derek could hear his heart jack-rabbiting in his chest, and could probably smell his arousal like a fucking scented candle.
Derek was obviously entertained, if the little smile tugging up the corners of his lips was any indication. Stiles just scowled and tried to focus on his work, ignoring Derek sitting on his bed trying to find things to help him out with.
“Here.” Derek stood and set his laptop down beside Stiles’ on his desk. “These are the notes I took on this book during class. Give them a read and see if they help.”
“Thanks,” Stiles muttered, wondering why Derek was bothering to be nice to him after all the weirdness they’d been through. He wasn’t complaining by any means, but it was really weird.
Derek returned to his bed and pulled out a book. Stiles didn’t see the title, but he didn’t dwell on it and just read through all of Derek’s notes. They were really good, and he found them extremely helpful, so he jotted a few things down in the margins of his own text until he reached the end of the book. By that time, it was well past four and he realized he’d been hogging Derek’s computer for a few hours.
“Sorry,” he said when he finally clued in, turning to Derek. “You probably needed that.”
“Not really, I haven’t got any assignments right now.” Derek closed his book and tossed it aside, standing in one fluid motion. Stiles tried not to stare at him when he sauntered across the room. It was like he was doing it on fucking purpose!
“Your battery is impressive,” Stiles blurted out, shoving the laptop back towards the edge of his desk closest to Derek. “I’m surprised the laptop didn’t die.”
Derek just smirked at him and shut the screen, picking it up and dropping it back onto his own desk. When he went to sit back down on his bed to continue reading, Stiles bit the bullet.
“So what are you studying?”
Derek cocked an eyebrow at him.
“I mean, your major. You’re in your third year, right? You have to have an idea of what you’re going to do. I was just curious.”
He didn’t think Derek would answer at first, the other just staring at him in silence. When Stiles was about to give up and turn back to his computer, he finally spoke.
“Engineering. Minor in Political Sciences.”
“That’s cool!” Stiles grinned. “Engineering is great, but super hard. You must be really smart to be in that field. You must also like it because I hear it’s kind of boring, but I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. I hate math, but you obviously don’t mind it. I have to take a calc course for my major, which is stupid, but unavoidable. I want to go into law enforcement, something in criminology or forensics, haven’t really decided yet. My dad’s the sheriff of our hometown so I’ve been interested in that kind of stuff for a while, and with all the weird Supernatural stuff that always goes on, I think it’d be a different kind of job.”
Stiles snapped his teeth together, realizing he was rambling. Derek didn’t seem to mind though, that same small smile on his face again. At least he hadn’t snapped at him to shut up or turned away from him and ignored him. That was progress.
“Sorry. I talk a lot.”
“I hadn’t noticed,” Derek said, voice light.
“Oh my God, was that—did you just make a joke? Did it hurt a little?” Stiles grinned. “Holy shit, there really is a human being in there somewhere!”
Derek rolled his eyes and threw his legs back onto the bed, lying down and picking his book back up so he could continue reading.
Stiles grinned before turning back to his work. They weren’t where he wished they were, but it was progress.
He would take what he could get.
Stiles realized that he and Derek were steadily becoming more accustomed to having the other around, and their weird relationship had migrated away from roommates and more towards the realm of friends. They didn’t eat dinner together or hang out when they left the room, but every now and then Derek would help Stiles with his English assignments, and Stiles would ask if he wanted to play video games on his Xbox.
They both had nightmares every now and then, Stiles a lot more often than Derek. People had stopped coming down if Derek roared loud enough to wake the whole dorm, and Stiles had only woken up screaming once because Derek had gone to the bathroom. Usually he got to him before Stiles woke up terrified.
Probably one of the only perks of having a Werewolf roommate.
Stiles also started to notice that Derek hung around him a lot. He didn’t know if Derek was even aware of it, but he always found reasons to stick really close to him when they were talking or he would sit with their shoulders and sides touching when they played video games, and once Stiles had even heard him sniffing him while they’d been watching a movie on Derek’s bed.
It was weird, but he tolerated it. He’d grown up around weird, living in Beacon Hills, so this was nothing compared to anything else he’d encountered.
It was the night he asked Derek to join him for dinner with Scott and Derek actually accepted that he silently fist-pumped and felt like they were actually friends. Isaac and Boyd had joined them, but Stiles didn’t mind them. Boyd was quiet, like Derek, and while Isaac and Scott had a weird relationship because of their whole roommates situation, Isaac was still pretty cool.
They parted ways at the edge of the common block, the five of them heading towards their own dorms. He chatted with Derek while they headed back, talking about the movie he and Boyd had been arguing about during dinner. Derek was silent, smiling slightly as he walked along beside him, hand brushing Stiles’ every time he got too animated with his story.
When they reached the door to the dorms, Derek held it open for Stiles, who continued to chatter away while leading them down the hall to their room. They both paused in the corridor when they saw their entire floor in the common room, watching the news. Frowning, Stiles wandered over to the door, Derek following behind him. The place was so packed that Derek was pressed right up against his back, body heat seeping through Stiles’ shirt.
“What’s going on?” Stiles whispered to one of the closest people.
“Someone was found murdered on campus,” the girl whispered back.
“What?!” Stiles demanded loudly, which earned him a few hushes from various people around him. He winced, and craned his neck, trying to see the television. It wasn’t loud enough for him to hear, and he couldn’t see the screen.
“They’re saying it was a sacrifice,” Derek murmured, almost right in Stiles’ ear. He wished he wouldn’t, it was doing uncomfortable things in his pants, and he really couldn’t pop a tent while in a room full of people watching the news where they were talking about a murder.
“Sacrifice?” Stiles asked quietly, knowing Derek would hear him.
“Apparently she’s the second one this year. The first one was kept under wraps because faculty found them. This second one was found by a student, so it spread. They’re saying experts are calling it a ritual, and that at least one more person is going to die in the next little while.”
The voice on the screen changed, and when Derek spoke again, it was evident this was a new speaker.
“President of the university says campus security’s going to be increased. They’re still trying to figure out what’s going on and who’s behind it, but everyone is safe for now.”
Stiles snorted, not sure he believed that, but he just stood and listened to Derek’s cliffnotes along with everyone else. When the news moved on to other things, someone muted the television and the two dorm RAs started talking about safety and ensuring everyone took extra care to not go anywhere secluded as much as they could help it. Unfortunately some classes required cutting through wooded areas, so that wasn’t good, but at the very least if they moved in groups of people, there was less of a chance of getting hurt.
“Come on.” Derek gently closed his hand around Stiles’ arm and tugged. Stiles gave the RA speaking one last look, then followed Derek out and down the hall to their room. When they entered, Derek ran both hands down his face and then pulled out his cell phone.
Stiles just went to sit on his bed, scratching at his cheek, and debating talking to his dad. He didn’t want to worry him though, but he knew he’d be pissed if he found out without being told. Maybe he could tell Lydia and Allison, at least so someone knew.
“Did you hear?”
Stiles looked up when Derek spoke, watching him pace back and forth with a scowl on his face. He didn’t know who he’d called, but it was probably Boyd or Isaac. No one else would’ve really seen unless they knew to pay attention. Stiles supposed that was possible if someone knew where Derek and the others went to school. They had to have an Alpha, after all, they kept saying they were in a Pack.
“No, I haven’t called her yet. This is going to be a problem. What?” Derek stopped pacing. “They didn’t mention that in the news. How do you know?” The person on the other end replied and Derek cursed. “Well, who in this day and age still is? Isaac’s fine, at least. You and I are, too. What about your roommate?” Derek’s eyes shifted to Stiles then and he suddenly felt very exposed. It looked like Derek was trying to bore into his soul with his eyes.
“I’ll have to ask,” he finally said, turning away. “Can you call Isaac? Ask about Scott, too. I want to speak to Laura and check on Cora after.” A pause. “I’m sure Erica’s fine, but it doesn’t hurt to check. Yeah. Okay. Thanks Boyd.” He hung up.
“Everything okay?” Stiles asked slowly, not missing the way Derek’s entire body had gone tense at something he’d been told.
“Are you a virgin?”
“Am I what now?” Stiles asked incredulously, positive he hadn’t heard what he thought he’d heard.
Derek rounded on him. “Are you a virgin?”
Stiles laughed a little too loudly, making sounds of disbelief. “What? No, of course not. Me? A virgin? Pfft. You’re hilarious.”
“Yeah, okay, fine!” Stiles flailed his arms in the air. “Yes, okay! Never got past second base! I’m all weird limbs and annoying personality and most people get tired of me after the first date. I’m surprised you haven’t killed me yet, to be honest.” He paused, narrowing his eyes. “Why are you asking me that? What does it matt—oh my God they’re killing virgins!” Stiles leapt to his feet, heart pounding double time in his chest. “Holy shit they’re killing virgins! Those people who died are virgins and they already said the ritual needs a third one, and I’m a virgin, holy shit! I need to have sex! Someone needs to have sex with me right now! Derek, take off your clothes!”
Stiles struggled to get his shirt over his head but Derek was at his side in an instant, pulling it back down.
“Keep your clothes on,” he snapped, but Stiles didn’t miss the way his eyes were looking anywhere but at him, and a faint flush was creeping along his throat. “You’re gonna be fine, don’t worry.”
“Don’t worry?!” Stiles demanded, Derek still holding his shirt down, their chests almost touching. “Someone is out there killing virgins and I’m not supposed to worry right now?! Do you know how many people there are on this campus who are virgins?! I’m betting on not a whole hell of a lot! We are a dying breed! Most people lose it in high school! Hell, some lose it in middle school! I cannot die a virgin, sacrifice or otherwise!”
“Calm down!” Derek grabbed his shoulders and gave him a shake. “You’re not going to die that way!”
They both froze at those words, Derek looking horrified and Stiles more than a little concerned. What the hell was that supposed to mean? Why would Derek say something like that?
Derek could probably smell the fear wafting off him because he cursed and let Stiles go, raking one hand through his hair and turning his back on him. He cursed quietly to himself before facing Stiles again and letting out a slow breath.
“Okay. We need to talk.”
“Fuck yeah we need to talk!” Stiles insisted, voice higher than usual. “You better start talking now, or I’m calling my dad, and he will arrest your ass so fast you’ll wish you’d never met me.”
Derek had the audacity to roll his eyes, as if Stiles were being ridiculous.
“Look, something weird happened two years ago, and with what’s going on right now, I’m starting to wonder if it was related. My sister thinks I’m crazy, but...” He eyed Stiles for a few seconds, made a face, then continued. “Two years ago, I got a phonecall from someone while I was studying for an exam. They kept screaming that something was happening and that I had to help them. They were being chased by someone and kept insisting that they had a gun and were trying to kill them. The person knew my name, and my number, but I didn’t recognize their voice and when the cops took my phone, they couldn’t find anything. It was like the person who’d called me didn’t exist.”
Stiles stared at him, mouth slightly open. He wished he could be shocked about how many words Derek had just said in one go, but instead he was more focussed on the words themselves. He thought back to Derek’s reaction when they’d first met, and how angry he’d been about the call Stiles had made.
“You think it was me,” Stiles said quietly. “You think that person who called you two years ago was me.”
Derek nodded curtly once, shoving his hands into his pockets and scowling. “If we’re looking at rituals, that means magic users like Witches, Warlocks and Druids.”
“Wait,” Stiles insisted, rubbing at his eyes. “Wait, you’re saying you think that something is going to happen to me in the future, and I’m going to call you—in the past?”
“I’m saying I believe you when you tell me you didn’t call me, but I also know that it was your voice I heard screaming for help.” Derek’s scowl deepened, if that was even possible.
“So... what you’re telling me, is that you know I’m not going to die in this ritual, because instead I’m going to get murdered by bullets. Cheery!” Stiles stood. “Awesome! Great news! I feel better now!”
He began to pace back and forth, raking both hands through his hair, brain going a mile a minute. This sounded insane, that he and Derek had already spoken once before. His future self calling Derek’s past self, begging for help. Did that mean that his future self was going to die? If he called the wrong timeline’s Derek, then that meant he definitely wasn’t going to get rescued and he was going to fucking die!
“Hey.” Derek was in front of him when he turned around next, hands on his shoulders and forcing him to stop. “Stiles, nothing is going to happen to you.”
“Pretty sure you can’t possibly know that if you heard me die!” Stiles insisted, feeling a panic attack coming on. This was a lot of information to take. This was way more than he could handle right now!
He bent over so his hands were on his knees and struggled to breathe, forcing air in and out of his lungs. Derek’s hand was rubbing his back, and even though he wasn’t saying anything and probably had a scowl on his face, at least he was there.
Stiles ended up sitting down on the floor and Derek joined him, leaning back against the bed and rubbing soothingly at Stiles’ back until he got himself back under control. When he was sure he wasn’t going to have a fullblown panic attack, he cleared his throat and straightened, looking over at Derek.
“So what now?”
“What now what?” Derek asked, frowning. His hand was still on his back, but he was no longer moving it.
“What do we do with all this information we have? I mean, what did I say? Do you remember? Did I give you any hints? Maybe I found something out about these rituals.”
“Or maybe it was completely unrelated,” Derek insisted.
Stiles gave him a look. “Humour me. Think. What did I say?”
Derek stared at him for a few minutes, and then stood to head for his computer. He booted it up and then returned to Stiles’ side, sitting down beside him and angling it slightly on his lap so they could both see.
Stiles watched him go through his saved documents until he opened one labelled “It’s Happening.”
“I wrote down what I remembered when it happened,” he explained while the file opened. “I typed it up the next day, just in case I lost the sheet. I stopped thinking about this for a year, so it’s weird to realize I still even have it at all.”
Stiles looked over his shoulder to see what it said.
Derek it’s happening
You have to
Please you have to help me
She’s going to kill me
She has a gun
It was strange reading the words and knowing they were going to come from his mouth but hadn’t yet.
“So what now?” Stiles asked quietly, reading the words over and over. “What am I supposed to do with this information?”
“Be careful,” Derek responded. Stiles turned to give him a look and Derek raised his eyebrows. “You obviously do something you shouldn’t if you end up being chased by a gun-toting maniac, so whatever your instincts tell you to do, do the opposite.”
“Oh yeah?” Stiles asked dryly. “And what if in actuality my instincts were right and it’s actually your bad advice to go against them that gets me into that situation? With the screaming, and the shooting, and the dying.”
Stiles could tell by the look on Derek’s face that he hadn’t thought of that, and now he looked constipated. Stiles tried not to find it endearing and failed.
Sighing and looking back at the screen, he eyed the words for a few seconds.
He’d said “she,” which meant it was a woman he was running from. So whatever happened, all he had to remember was that a woman was his demise.
“Just be careful,” Derek repeated, but based on his expression, Stiles was pretty sure Derek would be careful for the both of them.
Derek was ready to claw his own eyes out if it would save him from this ridiculous lecture. He didn’t usually mind this class, but the professor was out on a family emergency and his TA was teaching the course today.
Derek was only a third year and he could’ve taught the course better. The guy was a bonafide idiot and when the hour was officially up, he practically heard a choir of angels singing when he stood and pulled his bag over his shoulder.
Exiting the building with all the other students, he checked the time and tried to determine where Stiles would be. His last class of the day had ended an hour ago, so he was either in their room doing homework, or with Scott doing God knew what. Hopefully he wouldn’t have wandered off somewhere on his own.
Derek hoped he was either in the room or with Scott. He hadn’t said as much, but he was worried about him. Sure, he hadn’t necessarily liked Stiles when he’d first met him, but after their nightmares and having hung out together, Derek had realized the night of the murder—the televised one, anyway—that he actually cared about him. He’d had a stab of fear race through him at the thought of losing Stiles, and considering he’d barely known him two months, that was strange.
Laura had teased him during their last call about having a new boyfriend and Derek had hung up on her, wondering again how it was possible for her to be the Alpha when she could act like such a child sometimes.
Derek was in the process of texting Boyd to ask about dinner plans when people around him suddenly got exceptionally loud. It took him a few seconds to filter through the noise and he glanced up, seeing most people had stopped and were staring at their phones, talking loudly to one another.
That was when he heard the reason for the commotion.
“They found a third body!” Someone on his left exclaimed loudly to their friend.
Derek kept walking, listening in on the various snip-its of conversation but he froze at a particular comment, his blood running cold.
“—didn’t catch the name, but it’s some small town sheriff’s kid—”
Derek whipped around, grabbed the individual walking by him by the shirt, and lifted him clean off the ground.
“What did you say?!” he bellowed in his face.
The kid stared at him, eyes wide, mouth open, and smelling like he may have just wet himself.
Derek didn’t wait for a response. He dropped them, not caring if he hurt them, and turned to race back for the dorms.
He shifted into his Beta form while he ran, trying to go faster, faster, faster.
The words kept echoing in his head. Small town sheriff’s kid.
Stiles was from a small town.
Stiles was a sheriff’s kid.
Stiles was also a fucking virgin!
Holy shit. Holy shit!
Derek was still a good five minutes from the dorm, but he couldn’t wait that long. He pulled his phone out, then cursed not having asked Stiles for his number. How could they possibly have been roommates for two months and Derek hadn’t thought to get his number?!
Changing thoughts mid-way, he dialled Isaac instead.
“Is your roommate there?” Derek interrupted, jumping clear over a group of girls twittering excitedly on a bench by the road.
“Your roommate!” Derek shouted. “Where is he?!”
“I think he’s in class right now. Derek, what’s—”
Derek cursed and hung up, feeling panic rising in his chest. It wasn’t him. It couldn’t be him! He was sure there were other virgin small town sheriff kids at this school, so it was ridiculous to think that it was Stiles!
The five minutes back to the dorm might as well have been five years, for all the good it did for Derek’s panic. He practically bowled the front door over when he raced through it and sprinted down the corridor. When he slammed into the dorm room door, he’d expected—prayed—for it to be unlocked, so when it wasn’t, he inadvertently broke the lock and tumbled into the room.
Glancing up, he felt his heart stutter in his chest.
The room was empty.
“No,” Derek breathed. Stumbling to Stiles’ desk, dropping his bag randomly while moving forward, he began digging through the papers laid out across the wooden surface. “No, no, no,” he insisted, trying to find a schedule. Stiles had to be in class. Maybe Derek had forgotten his schedule and he wasn’t meant to be back yet. Maybe he was still walking across campus.
His phone rang in his pocket, but he ignored it. Stiles didn’t have his number, so it wasn’t him, and Derek couldn’t talk to anyone right now.
He couldn’t deal with this right now!
Finally locating a schedule, he pulled it out, hands gripping the edges tightly, claws still out. His eyes found the applicable day of the week and his stomach bottomed out.
Stiles should’ve been back. His class had ended an hour ago.
This couldn’t be happening. This could not be happening!
He turned when he heard a tentative knock at the door and found their RA, Kira, pushing it open cautiously.
“Hey. Derek, right? Is everything okay?”
Derek stared at her just long enough to remember something, then practically leapt at her. She let out a startled shout and raised both hands but all Derek did was grab her shoulders and give her a hard shake.
“You have phone numbers! I need my roommate’s cell!”
“Wha—what?” she asked, and Derek wondered if he’d shaken her brain out of her.
“My roommate! Stiles! I need his number, now!”
“I-I can’t give it to you. That’s a privacy vio—”
Derek didn’t let her finish. He slammed his fist into the wall beside her head and roared in her face.
Before he could demand anything from her, a large, toned body pushed Kira aside and slammed into Derek hard enough to knock the wind out of him. He stumbled backwards in the room, hitting Stiles’ desk, and looked over at who’d been stupid enough to do that.
Someone who’d been stupid enough to do it for years, apparently, since it was Boyd. He was standing between Derek and Kira, one hand out behind himself to warn Kira back, and golden eyes locked on Derek.
“Isaac called,” he said, as if Derek hadn’t already figured that out for himself. “And Laura, when you didn’t answer your phone.”
“I need to talk to Stiles,” Derek insisted around a mouth full of fangs. “They found another body!”
“Someone mentioned the sheriff’s son!”
“They did, he found it.”
All of the fear and anger drained out of Derek in that moment and he stared at Boyd, watching him as he stared back at him. They said nothing for a few moments, then Derek sagged against the desk and rubbed at his face. His hands were shaking, and whether it was from relief or adrenaline, he didn’t know.
Stiles was okay. He was okay!
Well, he’d found a dead body so he probably wasn’t okay, but he was okay!
Derek heard Boyd say something to Kira, but he didn’t understand what. He couldn’t pay attention to the words with the relief flowing through him.
He’d thought... Fuck, he’d thought...
Derek hadn’t realized until that moment how much Stiles had gotten under his skin. How much he’d forced himself past Derek’s defences until he meant something to him. He couldn’t think of anyone outside of his Pack who he’d have reacted this badly over, and yet—Stiles.
He heard the door shut and looked up, still in his Beta form, struggling to calm down enough to shift back. Boyd moved to sit on the edge of Stiles’ bed, watching him. He didn’t say anything, but Derek understood his look well enough.
They sat in silence for a few minutes while Derek got himself back under control. Once he was human again, he dragged both hands down his face, letting out a breath, and turned to Boyd.
“Where is he?”
“Last I heard, the police station.”
Derek had to stamp down the anger threatening to rise again. He knew Boyd could smell it, but he did his best to keep it out of his tone.
“Why is he there?”
“He found a body, Derek,” Boyd insisted, sounding almost exasperated.
“They can’t haul him in alone, they have to talk to a parent!”
“Stiles is nineteen, he’s not a minor anymore.”
Derek scowled, crossing his arms angrily. “Is he under arrest?”
“Not that I know of.”
“He’d better not be,” Derek snapped, turning his attention to the floor while he thought about Stiles. He was God knew how many miles from home, had just found a dead body, and was now sitting alone in a police station giving a statement. He was probably scared out of his mind, traumatized, and more than likely reliving horrible events from his past. Derek didn’t know the extent of his nightmares, but he distinctly remembered Stiles saying he’d been possessed and people had died. Seeing a dead body and being interrogated was probably not giving him the warm fuzzies.
Pushing away from the desk, he held out his hand to Boyd. “I need your car.”
Boyd just stared at him, arms crossed and expression blank.
“Did you hear me?”
They were both silent for a few seconds, then Boyd stood and uncrossed his arms, heading for the door. “I’ll drive.”
“I can drive myself,” Derek snapped.
“Proud of you, but I don’t want you totalling my car.”
Growling low in his throat, he flashed his eyes blue at Boyd when the other turned to give him a look. Boyd just flashed his own gold ones back and exited the room. Derek was surprised to see Kira in the corridor, looking uncomfortable but worried.
“He’ll pay for the damages,” Boyd informed her. “Can we get the door fixed?”
“I’ve already got someone on the way,” Kira confirmed. “I’ll wait until they arrive.” She turned her attention to Derek. “Just come by my room when you’re back for the new key, room 212.”
Derek nodded and started past her, but Boyd stopped and forced him to do so, as well. He gave Derek a pointed look, and if he could kill with scowls alone, Boyd would be dead.
Gritting his teeth, he turned to Kira. “Sorry.”
She offered him a tentative smile, but said nothing, so Derek looked back at Boyd pointedly and motioned for him to hurry up and lead the way out.
Stiles spun the empty bottle around in a circle on the table, his face resting against his fist and the other hand hovering over the spinning bottle. As soon as it began to slow in its rotation, Stiles reached out and spun it again, watching it go ‘round and ‘round.
He didn’t know how long he’d been in the interrogation room, but he was starting to get a little annoyed. He had homework due the following day, and he’d kind of been banking on doing it tonight before heading to bed. He was supposed to have an entire afternoon to do it, but no. He just had to cut through the forest between the old, unused science building and the main road.
It’ll be faster, he’d told himself. You’ll shave off ten minutes, he’d convinced himself.
Lo and behold, he was only halfway through the area when he’d followed a path a rabbit was making a little way to his left and had caught sight of a body tied to a tree. Thankfully, years of being his father’s son meant he didn’t vomit on sight, but it hadn’t been a pretty picture.
He’d called the cops, and then had promptly been carted down to the station after they’d gotten his full name. Of course he was in the system. Not only was his father the sheriff of Beacon Hills, but there had been a lot of paperwork involved with the whole Nogitsune fiasco.
That had been an uncomfortable first hour of fucking questions.
Was he sure it wasn’t him? Yes, he was sure.
Was he sure he wasn’t possessed again? Yes, he was sure.
Did he remember meeting the girl who’d died? No, he hadn’t.
What had happened the last time he’d been possessed? He’d killed people, thanks for the reminder.
How had the Nogitsune been exorcised? With the help of the town Druid.
He knew he’d been fairly rude at the beginning, but he’d been frustrated that they were asking questions about him as opposed to about what he’d found. He was starting to forget details, and as a cop’s son, that was unacceptable.
Also, he’d been cleared years ago, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to pursue a career in law enforcement! He’d done psych evaluations, multiple tests, gone to different classes and support groups, the works. Everything was in his file, and it showed he’d been cleared and was not a threat to society.
Possessions happened! They happened to anyone and everyone! It hadn’t been his fault, and he just wanted to move on with his stupid life.
When they’d finally gotten around to asking about the body, he’d almost forgotten why he’d cut through the forest in the first place because he’d gotten so worked up and angry about the unacceptable questions he’d already endured. Thankfully he recalled his last class being on the other side of campus, and that cutting through the grounds of the old science building near “The Terrace” and then the surrounding wooded area would get him back to the main road faster than going around.
Technically speaking, people weren’t supposed to go near the Terrace because it was condemned and falling apart, but Stiles figured if anyone was going to get crushed by a falling building, it wouldn’t be him. He was going to die by gunshot, apparently.
Then he remembered Derek was going to hear about him having been walking alone through the woods, and he’d probably hear an earful. Derek was turning into his father, except younger and way sexier.
One time when he’d been coming home around midnight, Scott hadn’t walked him all the way back to the dorm, and Derek had called Isaac so he could scream at Scott for being irresponsible. Nevermind that Stiles wasn’t helpless, thank you very much Derek Hale, but he didn’t say anything. He figured Derek wasn’t used to having a fragile human around all the time and it was making him extra cranky.
Probably not as cranky as Stiles was feeling right then, though, after four fucking hours in the same God damn room! If they didn’t let him out soon, he was going to rain hell down on this place. He’d been cooperative, hadn’t asked for a lawyer—because he didn’t need one—and had endured all of their inane and idiotic questions. He’d told them everything he knew, and he really, really needed to do his stupid homework.
He’d just sent his bottle on another rotation when the door finally opened after what felt like an eternity and he sat up, accidentally knocking the empty bottle off the table. The officer gave him an unimpressed look but he didn’t react to it.
Stiles almost gave him a look for using his full name, but instead chose to give him a, “seriously, dude?” face considering, yes, he was Mieczyslaw Stilinski and doucheface knew that because he was the one keeping him here!
The officer scowled, likely not liking his attitude, but Stiles was a cop’s kid. He’d grown up around cops. One of his dad’s deputies used to help him do his homework, so this guy was nothing.
“You’re free to go.”
Stiles drummed his hands briefly on the table and stood, grabbing his phone, wallet and keys from the guy as he passed him. Once he was out of the room and walking backwards down the corridor, he saluted him.
“Well, it’s been real swell. I hate to leave you, but I know you’re super busy questioning innocent civilians and harassing sheriff’s kids. We should do this again soon.” He pointed his finger at the officer, keys held in that same hand. “Lunch? Dinner? Are you a lunch or dinner kinda guy? Doesn’t matter, we’ll do both. I’m thinkin’ Italian, or Mexican.”
The cop looked ready to arrest him but before he could get a word out, Stiles heard someone call his name and he turned, startled.
Derek was standing in the waiting area just beyond the main desk, looking ready to vault over the counter. Boyd was sitting in one of the wooden chairs on his phone. It looked like he was texting, but he could’ve also been playing a game.
“Derek,” Stiles said, trying to keep the surprise out of his voice. “What are you doing here?”
He shoved his items back into his pockets, passing the main desk and pushing through the swinging separator. Derek moved right into his personal space, nostrils flaring and eyes tinged blue around the edges.
“Are you okay?”
Stiles grinned. “Aw, were you worried about me, big guy? That’s sweet.” He slapped Derek lightly in the arm and nodded to Boyd when the other joined them. “They just had some questions for me about what I found. Took longer than a normal statement because of the whole possession and murder thing.”
He tried for light and adorable, but the way Derek’s lips turned downward and his eyes became more blue made him feel like he’d missed the mark a little. Derek’s eyes rose and glared at something behind Stiles, and the way Boyd shifted made him feel like they should probably head out before Derek murdered someone.
“All right,” Stiles said, forcibly turning Derek and shoving him towards the door with both hands on his back and wow, was his back ever toned, holy shit. “Let’s go. I have a paper due tomorrow that I haven’t finished and I just lost a majority of my evening.”
He heard Boyd make a muttered comment, but didn’t catch what he said. From the scathing look Derek sent him, he’d probably been complaining about his wasted night, too. Stiles didn’t blame him. He had no idea why they’d come by, but he appreciated it. He wouldn’t have to take the bus home, and it was nice not walking out of the station on his own.
When they were all in the car, Boyd offered to stop at a drive-thru for some dinner, and Stiles eagerly agreed. He was starving. They had not been very good hosts at the station, he was disappointed with their lack of understanding for poor, starving students who needed sustenance to stay sane.
As soon as they’d decided on a place to eat, Boyd started driving and Stiles pulled out his phone. He had a few texts from his dad, the first few calm and understanding, and the last few bordering on outraged and incensed. He’d been allowed to call him when they’d brought him in, but had taken away his belongings when they’d put him in the room after having pulled up his file. Of course, his dad had asked him to call as soon as he was done, and given the length of time it had taken, he’d correctly assumed that they’d been giving Stiles a hard time.
He didn’t want to call his dad with a car of Werewolves, but he also didn’t want him to worry, so he sighed and pulled up his father’s contact, then pressed the phone to his ear.
It only rang once.
“It’s about damn time!” his dad snapped, though Stiles knew the anger wasn’t directed at him. “What happened? Are you okay? Why did it take so long?”
“I gave my statement, I’m fine, and you know why,” Stiles responded. He glanced up and saw Derek watching him out of the corner of his eye, but Stiles just turned away to stare out the window, trying to pretend this was actually a private conversation.
“Those sons of bitches, I’ll—”
“It’s fine, dad,” Stiles sighed, resting his forehead against the cool glass window, watching the street lights pass by. “I was expecting it when they hauled me in, it’s not a big deal.”
“You were a victim!” his father insisted angrily. “You were a victim, who stumbled upon a dead body, and they had the nerve to—”
“Dad, calm down. Don’t get worked up over nothing.” He already wasn’t there to watch his dad’s diet, the last thing he needed was having to go home because he’d worked himself up enough to have a heart attack. “They were just doing their jobs. They asked me a bunch of questions, and then they let me go, it’s fine.”
He could hear his father trying to calm himself down on the other end. After a few seconds, he spoke again, his voice softer. Calmer.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, dad.”
“You know that’s not what I mean.”
He knew that wasn’t what he meant. He was asking if Stiles had been lost in his head for a while, reliving every horrible thing the Nogitsune had done while he’d been watching helplessly. Yes, the body had been a shock. He’d reacted badly at the sight of it. But, he also knew the field he was going into was going to put him face to face with a lot more gruesome dead bodies. If he was going to have a breakdown every time he saw one, he may as well switch majors now.
“I know what you meant, dad. I’m fine.”
His dad didn’t sound convinced if the silence was anything to go by, but he didn’t push.
“How are you getting home?”
“Derek came to pick me up with Boyd.”
“Derek? Roommate Derek? The guy you have a crush on?”
Stiles was positive his day had been bad enough, what could he possibly have done to deserve this?
“The Werewolf roommate? Yeah, that one. With the enhanced hearing and everything.”
Derek had the audacity to laugh right then, and even Boyd let out a small chuckle. Stiles slid lower in his seat, wishing the floor would open up beneath him and swallow him whole. Then again, it might take the car and laughing Werewolves with it, so maybe it was best it not swallow him right then.
“It’s rude to eavesdrop, he shouldn’t be listening.”
“Well, he is,” Stiles insisted, feeling the back of his neck growing warm and really hoping he didn’t smell as embarrassed as he felt. “Anyway, we’re heading back now. We’re gonna grab a bite on the way and be back at the dorm soon.”
“Okay. Be safe out there, you hear me? Don’t go looking for trouble. These murders aren’t going to stop if it’s a ritual, and I don’t need you getting caught in the middle of anything dangerous.”
Stiles glanced at Derek, and saw him full-on staring right at him, likely thinking the same thing as Stiles. Namely, that he was eventually going to be running for his life with a gunman after him.
“I won’t, dad. Promise.”
“Forgive me if I don’t believe you. You promise a lot of things, Stiles. I mean it this time. Stay out of it.”
“I will. Promise,” he repeated.
“Good.” His dad let out a sigh. “Well, I’ll talk to you tomorrow, then.”
“Yup. Night, dad.”
“Good night, Stiles. And kiddo?”
“What’s up, Pops?”
“I love you.”
Stiles smiled, looking out the window at the passing scenery. “Love you too, dad. Bye.”
When he hung up the phone, he felt tension coming from the front seat and wasn’t entirely sure why. He wondered if maybe they found it weird that he wasn’t embarrassed to tell his dad he loved him—which, why? His dad was great.
No one spoke while they drove to a fast food joint. Boyd gave their order to the machine, and when Stiles tried to pay for his share, both Werewolves acted like they couldn’t hear him. He huffed in the back seat the entire rest of the way to the dorm.
They didn’t go back to their room, though. They headed to Scott and Isaac’s and Stiles suddenly understood why they had enough food to feed an army. Werewolves were like mini-armies, so it made sense.
Scott was upset about the treatment Stiles had gotten at the police station, but they eventually moved past the topic and hung out watching a laughably terrible horror movie while eating dinner. Once the movie was over, they headed back to their respective dorms, wherein Stiles had to grab Derek’s shirt when he went to climb the stairs.
“Our room is this way,” he said, motioning down the corridor.
“They had to replace our lock.”
Stiles frowned. “Why?”
Derek shrugged and turned away, but Stiles didn’t miss the way he was quick to avert his gaze. It was obvious something had happened, but he wasn’t going to push, so he just followed Derek up the stairs to the second floor.
Kira was happy to see Stiles when she opened her door, and mentioned how she’d heard about what had happened. She tried to be a good advisor and ask all the right questions, but Derek had started making loud huffing noises, and Stiles noticed him inching closer and closer, as if silently telling Kira that Stiles had support and to butt out.
He appreciated both gestures all the same, and thanked Kira when she gave them their new keys. After they were back in their room, Stiles remembered his homework and fell heavily into his chair to work on it, Derek shuffling around on his side of the room.
“You should sleep, you had a rough day,” Derek muttered after a few minutes.
“Nah, I gotta get this done for tomorrow.” He turned to Derek and shrugged. “Shouldn’t take me long, and I really need to get a good grade in this class if I want to move on to the next level next semester.”
It looked like Derek wanted to say something, but he eventually just scowled and went to sit on his bed with his laptop. Stiles didn’t know what he was doing, but Derek didn’t go to bed until Stiles finally turned off his computer and went to take a shower.
Derek was pretending to sleep by the time Stiles got under the covers, and he couldn’t help but smile at the fact that he had his own protective guard dog.
Derek knew he was more tired than usual, because that was the only explanation for why he was jolted awake by a scream of terror. He instantly wolfed out, eyes shooting to the door, then the window in an attempt to locate the threat.
When he found nothing, he turned to Stiles, who looked like he’d just jerked awake in bed, and was screaming like he was trying to destroy his vocal chords.
Throwing the covers off himself, Derek crossed the room in two quick steps and fell down behind Stiles, folding him in his arms and pressing his lips to his temple.
“Stiles, you’re okay,” he insisted, Stiles continuing to scream and, now that he was restricted, beginning to kick out his legs. “Stiles, you’re okay. You’re okay. I’ve got you. You’re awake, it’s okay. I’ve got you.”
The screaming paused for half a second, Stiles inhaling loudly, the sound guttural and almost painful sounding. He was covered in sweat, and all Derek could smell was fear and pain. He scowled, tightening his hold on Stiles, and ran his nose lightly along his temple, lips barely brushing his skin.
“You’re awake. It’s okay.”
Stiles was shaking, and every exhale trembled through his lips. Derek heard him quietly counting, and when he glanced down, he saw that Stiles had his hands up as far as he could get them with the position Derek was holding him in.
He counted his fingers, over and over, and Derek sat behind him, holding him, and waiting for him to finish.
No one came to the door this time. They had both had enough nightmares that people tended to leave them alone now. Derek liked this better, his last RA used to come by every single time and Boyd had to tell him every single time that everything was fine and Derek just wanted to be left alone.
First year had been worse, because his roommate had gotten annoyed with the nightmares. As if they were Derek’s fault.
Thankfully for him, they usually only happened once every few months. Stiles’ seemed to be more frequent, and Derek hated it when he wasn’t fast enough to wake him up before he woke himself up screaming. It had only happened twice since they’d been rooming together, but it was two times too many, in Derek’s opinion.
When Stiles had calmed down a little bit, Derek loosened his hold on him, but didn’t let go completely. He didn’t like seeing Stiles like this. He wanted to find a way to help him, but he didn’t know how to do that. He wasn’t exactly the kind of person to sit down and talk about his feelings, and he didn’t even know if this would be something Stiles wanted to share. He’d only briefly mentioned the nightmares a few times after the lights were out, and he rarely gave details.
Derek hated not knowing how to help. He wished Laura were there, she would know exactly what to say.
Since he didn’t, he started with the obvious.
“Are you okay?”
“I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“You think I care?” Derek asked with a scoff, tightening his hold slightly before loosening it again. “Do you need to talk about it?”
“No,” Stiles said quietly. He shifted his arms a bit, so Derek started to let him go, but Stiles grabbed at his forearms with both hands. “Can you just stay with me for a bit longer?”
Derek let Stiles get comfortable before wrapping his arms securely around him once more. Stiles leaned back into him, hands resting on his forearms. One of them was scratching idly up and down Derek’s arm, and it was making goosebumps erupt across his skin.
They sat in silence for a long while, Derek closing his eyes and listening to Stiles breathe, listening to his heartbeat. He was starting to calm down, but he could practically hear the gears in his head turning, and he knew Stiles likely wouldn’t sleep again tonight. He tended not to after bad nightmares.
“Hey Derek?” he asked quietly in the darkness almost twenty minutes later.
Derek grunted in response.
“What happened to our wall?”
His eyes shot towards the door, falling on the hastily patched hole someone had tried to cover up while they’d been gone. It wasn’t a horrible job, but it had definitely been done in a hurry, as if whoever had fixed it recognized an angry Werewolf had done it and didn’t want to still be there when said angry Werewolf returned.
“I punched it.”
“You punched our wall?”
“What did the wall ever do to you?” Stiles turned slightly in his arms, eyebrows raised. “Our wall has been good to us, you know. Why would you be so mean to it?”
Derek resisted the urge to roll his eyes, but Stiles was smiling, so at least something good had come out of this. He couldn’t help but notice how close Stiles was, turned towards him like this, and he was glad the room was so dark because he might’ve been caught when his gaze lowered to his lips. As it was, Stiles couldn’t see enough of his face to notice, but Derek definitely stared for a little too long.
“Why did you punch the wall?”
That wasn’t a conversation he wanted to have, so he just buried his face in the back of Stiles’ neck and exhaled. When he inhaled again, he got a full whiff of Stiles, and coupled with his own scent lingering on Stiles’ skin where he was breathing on him...
It was weird, but it smelled right. It smelled like home, and family and just... right. He felt like he could sit there for hours, just inhaling Stiles’ scent. It was crazy when he thought about how much he’d wanted to avoid him at the beginning of the year. Now, he was punching walls and yelling at RAs to get his number.
Which reminded him.
“I don’t have your number.”
“What?” Stiles asked intelligently.
“Your number. I wanted to call you before, but I don’t have it.”
Stiles squawked and almost fell over when Derek got up in one swift move, wandering across the room to his bed so he could grab his phone off the nightstand. He unplugged it from the charger and sat down on the edge of his bed, opening a new contact and typing in Stiles’ name.
“What’s your number?” he asked, looking up at Stiles.
It took him a few seconds to respond, he seemed to be a little out of it, but he eventually rattled off his number, and Derek sent him a text message so that Stiles could have his. He set his phone down while Stiles programmed Derek’s number into his own.
When he was done and had put his phone away, Derek wandered back over to his side of the room and pulled up the covers.
“Are you still asleep? I said move over.” Derek used one foot to shove at Stiles. He made sounds of annoyed complaint and whined that Derek’s foot was cold, but he scooted closer to the wall so that Derek could slide into bed with him.
“What are you doing?”
“It’s a wolf thing,” Derek informed him, turning onto his side and shifting closer to Stiles. “We find comfort in shared space. It helps keep us calm. My Pack usually spends the night together when we’re all in the same place as often as we can. It helps with stuff.”
Stiles was tense beside him, the line of his body rigid against Derek’s front. It was hard to remember sometimes that Stiles wasn’t a Werewolf, because he didn’t have a concept of personal space. Derek had assumed this would help, but now he wasn’t so sure if Stiles was going to be rigid and tense all night.
It took him a minute, but he eventually started to relax and he turned slightly so he was almost on his side, facing Derek.
“Thank you,” he said quietly into the darkness.
“You’re welcome. Go back to sleep.”
He wasn’t sure that Stiles would, even with Derek so close to him, but after half an hour, his breathing finally evened out and his face softened. Derek watched him while he slept, wondering how someone so loud and annoying could’ve possibly wormed their way into his life, but he found he really didn’t care how it had happened.
He liked Stiles. A lot. And definitely more than just as a friend.
That was a bridge to cross in the future, not on the night he’d found a dead body and been interrogated for four hours. Derek could lock the feelings away to be dealt with later; he was good at that.
But, as he watched Stiles sleep, his face calm and relaxed, he couldn’t help reaching out and pulling Stiles closer, holding him against his chest and resting his cheek on top of his head.
He didn’t know what would happen in the future. He didn’t know why he’d gotten that phone call two years ago for an event that hadn’t yet happened.
All he knew was that he cared about Stiles, and he was not going to let anything happen to him.
Stiles stared across the cafeteria, his mind wandering while he watched people walk through the till like zombies, clearly unprepared for the early hour of the day. Not that he was prepared for it, but he felt he looked at least semi-human compared to some of the gems walking through the concession right now.
“I think I want to fuck Derek.”
Scott choked on the milk he was drinking, some of it dribbling down his chin. He grabbed for a napkin and began wiping at his mouth and front of his shirt, giving Stiles a confused look.
“Why not? He’s nice, caring, considerate, and he seems to genuinely like me, which is weird for me to think about because Derek doesn’t look like he likes anyone.”
It looked like Scott wanted to say something—probably rude about Isaac—but he was too good of a person and kept his mouth shut, rubbing at a wet spot on his sweater with a frown. Stiles would’ve felt guilty about it, except it was milk. It would wash out.
“I don’t know that Derek would be someone to get involved with,” Scott finally decided on, having obviously been chewing over what to say for a little while.
Before Stiles could ask him what he meant by that, another thought occurred to him and he jumped tracks before he lost his train of thought.
“Hey, so you’re a Werewolf,” Stiles said stupidly, ignoring the look he got from Scott. “I know you guys are like, really bad with the whole personal space thing—”
“You’re not one to talk,” Scott cut in with a small smile, but Stiles ignored him and bulled on.
“But I’m just wondering for like... okay, is it normal to sleep with someone else? In a platonic sense, I mean? Like, if you and I were hanging out and we ended up watching a show together on the same bed, would you cuddle with me?”
Scott looked extremely uncomfortable with the question, and at first Stiles thought it was because of the content, but when Scott answered, it became clearer what, exactly, he was uncomfortable about.
“Um, I’m a, I’m bitten. I mean, I was bitten. I’m not a born wolf, and there weren’t really any other Werewolves in my hometown so to be honest, my knowledge is fairly limited. I’ve actually been taking a lot of my cues from Isaac lately.”
Stiles began to deflate, but almost as if summoned, Isaac fell down into the seat beside Scott’s and grinned at the way Stiles jumped.
“Taking cues from me for what? What are we talking about?” Isaac opened his carton of chocolate milk and drank out of the opening, licking his lips to catch any stray droplets.
“Are you a born wolf?” Stiles asked, eying him.
Stiles sighed and grabbed his coffee, taking a sip and wondering how many Werewolves were born wolves. All the ones he’d known growing up had been bitten, as well. Born wolves didn’t seem very common.
“Derek’s a born wolf, though,” Isaac informed him.
“Doesn’t help.” Stiles waved one hand at Isaac. “I had a question about something he does, but it’s not like I can ask him.”
“Oh, is that all? I might be bitten, but I’ve been in the Hale Pack for years. I can answer your questions, what’ve you got?” Isaac almost stuffed half a bagel in his mouth and Stiles envied Werewolves and their metabolisms.
“Is it normal to like, cuddle? I mean, if we were watching a movie together, would you want to cuddle platonically?”
“Sure, we do it all the time,” Isaac licked some cream cheese off his fingers. “It’s a wolf thing. Comfort and closeness. Derek’s pickier than most about who he cuddles with, but he does it sometimes. Hell, even Boyd does it when he needs the security of Pack, or if he’s feeling lonely. Why?”
Stiles didn’t know how to answer that question. That seemed like a loaded question and the last thing he needed was to tell Isaac about Derek cuddling with him while they slept the last four nights.
The first night had been all right, he’d just had a nightmare and had asked him to stay. That had been fine. But the past three? Stiles had just climbed into bed, ready for sleep, and suddenly Derek was there, climbing in beside him and pulling Stiles’ back against his chest.
“Wait,” Isaac said when the silence stretched for too long. “Wait, is Derek cuddling with you?”
Stiles saw both wolves share a look and he cursed the stupid jump in his heartrate that had probably given him away. He was sure he didn’t smell any different, Scott had already mentioned a while ago that Stiles and Derek smelled like one another, but it was the consequence of living in close quarters all the time. Scott and Isaac smelled like one another, as well, and even Boyd and his roommate did. It meant that Derek’s recent cuddling couldn’t be discerned from scent alone, because Stiles already smelled like him.
“This is kind of a big deal,” Isaac insisted, eying Stiles with interest for the first time since they’d met. “What is it about you that’s got him so worked up? He broke your dorm room door and punched a hole in the wall when you were at the police station. Derek never loses his cool like that.”
Stiles felt his heart jam itself into his throat. Derek had punched the wall because he’d been at the station? That explained the hasty patch job. And if he’d messed with the door, it also explained the new keys.
Something was happening between the two of them, and Stiles wasn’t hopeful enough to think it was attraction, but whatever it was... well, it was something.
Stiles stuck his pen between his teeth, grabbing at some papers and shuffling them across the table, trying to find the one he wanted. Locating it, he yanked it out of the pile it was in and set it down in front of him, grabbing a photo and putting it beside it.
He scowled at what he found, then flipped a few pages in the old book he had sitting near his left elbow. Once he reached the appropriate page, he ran one finger along the words and huffed.
Well this wasn’t good. This wasn’t good at all. Provided he was right, anyway.
Pulling out another page from the mound on the table, he flipped through the clippings and had just found the one he wanted when a hand smacked him so hard across the back of the head that he almost slammed his forehead into the table.
“Jesus!” Stiles turned, rubbing at the back of his head with a scowl. “Werewolf strength, Derek! Fragile human! Can you not concuss me?”
“What is the point of giving me your cell if you’re going to ignore me when I call you?” Derek demanded, not looking the least bit pleased.
Stiles blinked at him, then pulled his phone from his pocket. He had a text from Scott, a few from Lydia, a missed call from both his dad and Allison, and eighteen texts and four missed calls from Derek. He winced, texting Scott back just so he’d know he was alive and looked back at Derek.
“Sorry. I was distracted.”
“I see that,” Derek said, eying all the papers and books littering the large table. “What are you doing? And why didn’t you just come back to the dorm?”
“Can’t take reference books out of the library.” Stiles patted the tome by his left elbow. “It was stay here or spend money photocopying it. I figured I could stick around.”
Derek moved to the other side of the table, sitting down in the empty seat and cocking an eyebrow at all the documentation Stiles had in front of him.
“Do I want to ask again what you’re doing?”
“I’m figuring out the ritual,” he informed Derek, having shoved his phone back into his pocket and returning to his hunt of a specific document.
“Stiles!” Derek sounded angry, so Stiles looked up at him and saw him scowling.
“You know you look constipated when you scowl like that, right?”
Derek pulled what Stiles had in his hands away from him, ignoring the squawk of indignation that escaped him at the action.
“We know you’re going to get shot at at some point, and you’re actively looking into something that is probably the cause.” Derek’s scowl deepened. “Are you stupid?”
“Probably.” Stiles had to rise off his seat slightly to reach across it to reach the papers Derek held, but didn’t manage it because he leaned back and away from him. “Look, I’m just investigating! I’m not gonna do anything dangerous! If I find out who the bad guy is, I promise to tell the police.”
Derek was still scowling, and he didn’t hand the papers back. Stiles sighed, wondering if this was going to be a problem and if he’d have to start hiding.
“They found another body,” Stiles said quietly.
“Why do you think you have missed calls?” Derek asked back, voice tight. Stiles realized he’d really worried him, even if Derek didn’t say so.
“I think I know what the person is doing.”
Stiles turned the book so that it was sideways, moving it closer to the middle of the table and tapping at a section on the page it was open to.
“There’s a ritual that magic users can do to gain power. It can make them almost unstoppable, but the power comes at a price. Namely, their humanity. It’s more commonly known as something Druids do, but the darkness in them turns them into something else. Something bad. They stop being Druids and become something known as a Darach.” He tapped the word in the text, Derek frowning.
“A dark Druid?”
Stiles shrugged. “I guess. They don’t say that the Druid isn’t a Druid anymore, so Darach is probably just a term used for a Druid who’s become evil. Like a Jedi becoming a Sith. They’re still technically Jedi, just evil.”
He was glad the comparison wasn’t lost on Derek. Stiles still remembered the almost heart attack he’d had when Scott had told him he’d never seen Star Wars.
“Why do you think that’s what’s happening?” Derek asked, shoving the book back Stiles’ way and crossing his arms. He was still holding a majority of the papers he’d stolen from Stiles in one hand. Some had fallen to the ground.
“Well, the new body they found belonged to a guy named Kyle. I did some digging on him and found out that he’s an Air Force Junior ROTC Cadet.”
“So?” Derek asked.
Stiles just tapped at the second part of the ritual. “Warrior. It qualifies. The ritual happens in a five-stage sequence of three sacrifices per stage. We had the three virgins already, Heather, Emily and Josh.” Stiles shuffled the papers near him and pushed the three news articles closer to Derek. Heather’s, the first one, had the least information as it was the one the school had tried to keep under wraps. “Warriors is the next stage, and Kyle is the first victim. So it means there will be two more in that category.” He eyed Derek briefly. “You’re not like, a military brat or anything, are you?”
Derek gave him a look and Stiles shrugged helplessly.
“I’m just checking. The terms seem to be fairly loose. And the book is centuries old, so, you know. What’s a Warrior in this day and age?” Stiles shrugged and pulled the tome back over, reading the section and scratching at the back of his head.
“I think it’s a bit too early in the ritual to assume you’ve got this down,” Derek said, which was kind of insulting, but Stiles forgave him. Derek didn’t know how good he was at this kind of thing.
“Why are you here, anyway?” he asked, looking up at Derek and standing so he could reach across the table to get his papers back. Derek didn’t even move, arms still crossed, and hand closed tightly around the papers Stiles was trying to pull free. He almost ripped them when Derek refused to let go and threw his hands into the air in defeat, falling back into his seat.
“I was checking up on you. You disappear a lot.”
“You were worried,” Stiles insisted with a grin.
Derek said nothing, eyes focussed on something other than Stiles and head turned away. Stiles noticed his arms tensed, still crossed over his chest, and couldn’t help finding it fucking adorable that Derek was embarrassed right then. Was it so bad to admit he’d been worried? Probably, Derek didn’t seem to know how to deal with feelings.
Stiles’ stomach chose that moment to growl loudly, Derek’s gaze returning to him. Laughing awkwardly, Stiles rubbed the back of his head. “I might have forgotten to eat lunch. And go to my afternoon classes.”
Derek stood then and began gathering up all of Stiles’ papers. Sputtering, Stiles tried to stop him, but Derek just gave him a look and slammed the book shut, shoving it into Stiles’ chest much harder than was necessary.
“Put that back. We’re going to dinner.”
Obeying, if only to save himself more bodily harm—seriously, Werewolf, fragile human, Derek needed to think of these things—Stiles stood and went to the stacks on the bottom level, putting the book back where he’d found it. He smiled to a woman heading down the stairs while he was going back up them. She smiled back at him before disappearing in the same direction Stiles had come from.
When he’d reached the third floor again, he found Derek zipping his bag shut. He severely hoped he’d put all his things back in there because Stiles didn’t want to have to kill more trees to reprint everything.
“I don’t want gross cafeteria food,” Stiles whined when Derek slung the bag over his shoulder. He would argue that he could carry his own things, but he was also lazy and more than okay with Derek carrying his things, so he said nothing and they both headed down the stairs so they could exit the building on the first floor.
“I can borrow Boyd’s car,” Derek said while they slowly made their way back towards the dorm. The night was cool and Stiles wished he had a warmer sweater. “Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know.” Stiles thought about it, the two of them walking in a comfortable silence. “Pasta,” he finally decided. “I want pasta.”
“I know a good Italian place just off campus.” Derek pulled his phone out of his pocket and started texting. Stiles assumed he was texting Boyd to ask about the car. They were almost back at the dorm, Stiles regaling Derek with stories of his youth involving pasta—because now that he was thinking about pasta, he couldn’t stop—when Boyd finally texted back that Derek could have the car as long as Derek hid him from Isaac.
They waited for Boyd in their room, and when he showed up, Derek told him he could hang out in their dorm while he and Stiles went to dinner. He didn’t invite Boyd, which the other seemed to also catch, and he and Stiles shared a look. Stiles just flailed a shrug, trying to act innocent when Derek turned to look at him.
They drove to the restaurant, and after Stiles choked about the prices, Derek insisted that he would pay.
Two hours later, Stiles still wasn’t sure what the hell had just happened.
Derek’s eyes slowly opened, his brain foggy and his eyes dry. He yawned and rubbed the sleep from them, turning to check the time on his phone and seeing it was just past two in the morning.
For a second, he wasn’t sure why he’d woken up, but when he heard a trembling exhale, he sat up and inhaled deeply. Stiles was having another nightmare. He didn’t hesitate to climb out of bed and cross the room.
Lifting the covers, Derek slid into Stiles’ bed and wrapped his arms around him, holding him against his chest and rubbing his face against Stiles’ cheek lightly. He knew he had to be careful, because he sometimes woke Stiles when he rubbed his stubble against his skin, but when he tightened his hold, Stiles seemed to relax.
He still stank of fear, but at least his body wasn’t as tense, and Derek ran his nose lightly along Stiles’ temple.
He liked the way Stiles smelled.
Not now, still enveloped in the fear of his nightmare, but normally. After a long day of classes when he was sweaty and brain-dead and just fell onto his bed. Derek sometimes sat at Stiles’ desk to talk just so he could inhale that scent.
It was a little odd, because he’d never really been that interested in scents before. Being a Werewolf, most of them were overwhelming, but in Stiles’ case, everything just seemed... pleasant.
Stiles smelled good. His laugh was contagious. He was smart, and inquisitive, and bad at following orders like try to stay out of trouble. He was attractive, too. So very attractive. And for some reason, he liked Derek.
Derek wasn’t used to people liking him. He knew he had a prickly personality, and most people thought he was an asshole. Boyd and Isaac were Pack, they didn’t count. He’d grown up with them, and knew that it wasn’t so much about them liking him as just being used to him.
But Stiles had only known him for just over two months, now. Not only had he not given up on fixing whatever problem Derek had with him, but he’d also managed to weasel his way under Derek’s walls. Now, it was hard for him to imagine what life was like before Stiles.
Sure, he made Derek worry like crazy because he kept disappearing while people were dying on campus, but that seemed to be the norm for him. Derek didn’t know much about what Stiles was like before he came to school, but he seemed to know a lot about things, and the fact that he’d likely discovered the ritual being performed after only four murders was actually impressive.
If Derek didn’t know where he was most of the time, he’d probably have assumed Stiles was behind them, given how knowledgeable he was.
Contemplating what Stiles’ life must’ve been like back home for him to be like this, he lost his train of thought when Stiles began to tense in his arms. His hand was clenched tightly around the pillow he was hugging and his breathing quickened. Derek waited to see if he would work himself through it, but when Stiles’ heartbeat began to steadily quicken in pace, he knew he had to wake him.
“Stiles,” he said quietly, lips at his ear and arms tightening around his waist. “Stiles, wake up. It’s okay, wake up.”
Stiles jerked awake, immediately trying to pull away from Derek, but he held him tightly, pressing Stiles’ back against his own chest.
“I’ve got you, you’re okay,” he promised.
He could hear Stiles’ laboured breathing, and when he brought his hands up, he knew Stiles was counting his fingers. He let him do as he needed, holding onto him tightly, and waited for Stiles’ heartrate to return to a reasonable pace. His breathing slowed first, and then his heart, and he finally dropped his hands after a few minutes of staring at them.
“Did I wake you? Sorry,” Stiles said quietly.
“I don’t mind.” Derek rubbed his cheek against Stiles’ for a few seconds before settling against him more comfortably, able to shift into a better position now that Stiles was awake. “You have an early class tomorrow, go back to sleep.”
Stiles didn’t say anything, but Derek was used to that now. Stiles tended not to talk much after being woken from a nightmare, and he didn’t blame him. Derek himself just wanted to be left alone, though he wouldn’t lie and say he didn’t enjoy Stiles’ company. He’d only had one really bad nightmare since they’d been rooming together, the other two being less so. One time he’d had one and Stiles hadn’t woken up right away. Derek had woken him when he’d come back from the bathroom after having splashed water on his face, and Stiles had stayed up with him watching a movie until Derek felt like he could attempt sleep again.
They had an interesting relationship, even Derek could see that. He liked Stiles, liked spending time with him. He was sure there were some deeper feelings there, but it wasn’t anything he wanted to explore yet.
He wasn’t even sure Stiles knew he was gay. He’d mentioned having a Hunter girlfriend in high school, but that was back when he hadn’t realized the reason he wasn’t attracted to girls was because he wasn’t, well, attracted to girls. It had taken him three girlfriends—the last of which was Kate—to figure out that was why he was always miserable in his relationships.
Because he didn’t like girls.
He’d been with a few guys over the years, but Stiles felt different. Stiles was someone he wanted to be sure about, because he didn’t want to ruin what they had by being wrong. He would rather have Stiles as a friend than not at all, and he wasn’t willing to risk anything else yet.
Derek didn’t realize Stiles had fallen back asleep until he let out a particularly loud snore and then mumbled something about pudding cups being unhealthy. He couldn’t help the small chuckle that escaped him, but loosened his grip when Stiles shifted.
He assumed Stiles was going to pull away and roll onto his stomach, but instead he twisted in his sleep until he was facing Derek on his side and buried his face against Derek’s bare chest. His hands had come up to rest lightly against his skin, and his fingers scratched at Derek’s chest hair.
For a good few seconds, Derek didn’t know what to do. When he slept with Stiles to help keep the nightmares at bay, Stiles was always facing away from him. It made it easier to just hold him without letting his mind wander to dangerous places.
Now, Stiles was facing him, playing with his chest hair in his sleep and nuzzling against him. When Stiles’ breath ghosted along his throat, Derek felt a shiver race down his spine. He had to glance down to make sure Stiles was actually asleep.
Carefully readjusting himself, he rubbed one hand up along Stiles’ back, the other burying into his hair and pulling him even closer. Resting his cheek on Stiles’ head, he closed his eyes and tried to ignore how content the wolf inside him felt.
This was nothing. Stiles was just important to him, this didn’t mean anything.
Everything was fine.
“You’re supposed to tell me when you start dating your hot roommate, Stiles. If I’m obligated to keep you up to date on my relationship with Jackson, you need to keep me up to date on your love life,” Lydia informed him, her tone a little snootier than usual. Stanford was doing things to her.
“Okay, first off, I only ask about that douchecanoe to find out when you’ve come to your senses and dropped him for a smart lawyer who deserves you. Or, you know, someone in law enforcement.” He grinned at her scoff and could practically hear her rolling her eyes on the other end.
“Keep dreaming, Stilinski.”
“Cold, Lydia. Cold.” He almost walked into someone and apologized profusely while they glared at him on their way by. “Also, second, I’m not dating my hot roommate. If I was, dad would hear me screaming it from the rooftops from here.”
“Uh huh,” Lydia said disbelievingly. “The picture I got from Allison suggests otherwise.”
“What?” Stiles demanded, horrified. “How did Allison get the picture?!”
“Isaac texted it to Scott who texted it to Allison who texted it to me.”
“I knew introducing them was a bad idea,” Stiles muttered, annoyed.
Scott had walked in while Stiles had been Skyping with Allison a few weeks back, and since then, he felt like Scott and Allison spoke more frequently than she and Stiles did. And now Scott had betrayed him! He felt betrayed!
Stiles still didn’t know how Isaac hadn’t woken Derek up when he’d entered the room, but apparently he’d been tired or something because neither of them had woken up when he’d started snapping pictures. Stiles hadn’t even known about it until he’d seen Scott in Biology an hour ago and been shown the picture. Stiles had almost spat out his coffee when he’d seen it, because when he’d woken up, Derek had already been awake and obviously shifted them into a less compromising position.
Stiles had been half on top of Derek in the picture, and Derek’s arms had been wrapped around him, face turned into Stiles’ hair. He looked peaceful when he slept, it was an expression Stiles wasn’t used to seeing. He rarely saw Derek asleep.
“So, spill. What stage are you at? Has there been kissing? Frotting? I need details. I give you details.”
“And I wish you wouldn’t. I don’t need to know what you think of Jackson’t dick,” Stiles muttered. “And we’re not—it’s not like that. I had a nightmare, so he stayed with me. He does that every now and then. It’s nice.”
“Very. He obviously likes you.”
Stiles sighed, not wanting Lydia to get his hopes up. “Lyds, don’t. It’s not like that. It’s a wolf thing. Comfort and all that. He doesn’t like me.”
“I beg to differ, but I don’t have time to deal with your obliviousness.” He heard speaking in the background and Lydia confirmed she would be down in a second. “I have to go. My people need me.”
“Of course, my queen,” Stiles teased. “Have a good night. I miss you.”
“Miss you too, peasant. Bye.”
“Bye.” Stiles hung up, staring down at his phone and feeling an ache in his chest.
He’d known it would be hard being away from Allison and Lydia, but he’d hoped that calling and Skyping frequently would make it easier to handle the distance. It didn’t, he still missed them more than he could handle. Having a friend in Scott and spending time with Derek helped, but nobody could replace his two pillars of strength. He wished they were there, and hoped he had a chance to see them at Christmas, but that was only provided his dad could afford to fly him back out. It was more than likely he’d spend Christmas at the dorm. Alone.
Sighing and entering the building, he headed down the corridor to his room and unlocked the door, knowing Derek was still in class. It was sad he knew Derek’s schedule, but he was kind of crushing badly on him, so it was to be expected.
Pushing open the door, he dropped his bag on his side of the room right beside it, and had started to close it when he looked up and froze.
There was a girl lying on Derek’s bed with his laptop open and fingers typing away. She didn’t even spare Stiles a glance when he walked in, and he looked around outside the door to see if anyone would be closeby if he screamed for help.
Not that he’d scream for help, but he liked having options.
“Uh, hello?” he asked uncertainly.
“Quiet,” she said gruffly, and somehow it was so Derek that for a second he wondered if it was Derek and he’d magically turned into a girl.
He stood awkwardly by the door, one hand still on the knob and the other hanging awkwardly at his side while he watched her type away. When she was finished, she shut the laptop and then glanced over at Stiles with dark brown eyes so unlike Derek’s that he realized this definitely wasn’t him in female form.
A feral grin formed on her features and for a few seconds, Stiles feared for his life. She threw the laptop aside on the bed, the appliance bouncing once before settling, and got to her feet in one smooth motion.
“Well. You’re adorable,” she informed him, coming right up into his personal space. He thought she would stop there, but she didn’t. She wrapped her arms around him in a hug and lifted him off the ground, popping every vertebrae with the tightness of her hug.
“Wow, you smell like Derek. A lot.” She dropped him back to his feet and he stumbled, reaching out for the edge of the door to keep himself standing. The girl learned into his space again and inhaled deeply, grinning wolfishly.
“Whoa, whoa!” Stiles pushed at her shoulders slightly to get some distance between them. He knew she was a Werewolf, and it probably wouldn’t do much, but she allowed him to push her back a step. “What is going on? Who are you? You can’t just barge in here, use my roommate’s computer and sniff me. Rude. Very rude.” Stiles motioned himself. “This is a sniff-free zone. No sniffing of the human allowed.”
The girl laughed, the sound light and airy. “Oh, he said you talked a lot.” She grinned at him again. “Don’t worry, Stiles. Your roommate just doesn’t talk as much as you.” She held out her hand, ignoring the confused look Stiles gave her at the fact that she knew his name. “Laura Hale. Derek’s sister, and Alpha.”
Stiles stared down at her hand for a few seconds before taking it, glancing back up at her. She was still smiling brightly and let her eyes bleed red before tugging him in with the hand still clenched around his and hugging him tightly again.
“You are seriously adorable! Look at those cheeks!” She pulled away, but only so she could pinch his cheeks between her fingers.
“Ow, ow! Werewolf! Werewolf strength! Fragile human!” He batted her away and she released him. Stiles scowled, rubbing at his stinging cheeks. “You guys don’t spend much time around humans, do you?”
She shrugged. “We kept to ourselves back home. It’s been interesting hanging out with humans the past few years.” She grinned and moved back into the room, falling heavily into Derek’s desk chair. “So, Stiles. Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What are you majoring in? How are you surviving rooming with my brother?”
Stiles was a little disoriented meeting Laura, because she was very much not like her brother. He was quiet and dark and broody. She was loud and excitable and mischievous. She could give Stiles a run for his money, and he figured if they ever spent an entire day together, they could probably burn a city to the ground.
He answered her questions while sitting on his bed, and asked a few of his own, interested in knowing about Werewolves. He and Derek tended not to talk about that topic very much, though Stiles didn’t know why. He figured Derek didn’t like feeling like a science project and he could respect that.
Laura didn’t have that problem. She was more than happy to answer his questions, and they ended up sitting on Stiles’ bed watching bad horror movies featuring Werewolves so they could laugh at how stupid they were.
One of the transformations in the movie was so bad Laura started crying she was laughing so hard.
And that was how Derek found them three hours later when he stormed into the room and loomed over them on Stiles’ bed, looking murderous while staring at his sister.
“Laura. What are you doing here?” he asked between grit teeth.
“Watching Teen Wolf with Stiles, obviously.” She rolled her eyes. “Michael J Fox was really hot in his younger years.”
Derek looked like he was trying to murder her with his eyes, but Laura either didn’t get the hint or she was too used to it, because she just giggled at something on the screen and nudged Stiles.
Stiles was human, with higher preservation skills, so he just looked awkwardly between the two siblings until Derek wrenched the laptop away from them and tossed it onto Stiles’ desk.
“Hey, hey! I need that!” Stiles leapt off the bed to check on his computer and heard a low growl from behind him. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw Laura smirking, her eyes bleeding red while Derek continued to growl, eyes fully blue.
“Uh, should I go? I don’t want to be witness to a murder.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Laura said, sliding to the edge of the bed and standing, wrapping one arm around Derek’s shoulders. He was quite a bit taller than her, so it looked awkward, but she just smiled. “I’m gonna take my baby brother to dinner. You don’t mind, do you?”
“Sure.” Stiles shrugged. At the look from Derek, he amended, “I mean, if he’s okay with that?”
“Of course he is.”
“No I’m not,” Derek grunted.
“We’re going to dinner, don’t be a grouch.” She kissed his cheek. “Come on. I’m buying.”
Derek hesitated when she headed for the door, then muttered for Stiles to be careful on his way to dinner before leaving. Stiles rolled his eyes, wondering when he’d inherited a second father, then fell back onto his bed with his laptop, opening Netflix back up and continuing the movie.
He ended up finishing it before heading to dinner with Scott and Isaac. Boyd joined them while they were halfway through their meal, silent and imposing, but he chuckled every now and then and Stiles found him less scary than he used to.
He went back to Scott and Isaac’s room after dinner and did some homework with Scott for Chemistry. After that they watched a movie and Stiles only left when Isaac insisted he was being ignored and proceeded to drape himself all over Scott’s back and whine. That was the end of the night for Stiles.
When he reached the dorm, he finished up one of his English assignments and headed for a shower. Derek was back when he returned to the room, looking grumpy and scowling at everything in sight.
“Everything okay?” Stiles asked uncertainly.
“Laura doesn’t want to drive back in the dark, so she’s staying the night,” he said, annoyed while pulling on some sweatpants. “She snores.”
“Oh.” Stiles instantly felt anxious. What if he had a nightmare with her in the room? She’d probably think he was a loser for still having them. Then again, Derek had them so she probably wouldn’t judge, but it still made him feel uncomfortable.
He started when Derek’s hands landed on his shoulders and glanced up at him. The Werewolf watched him with concern, scowling.
“Nothing,” Stiles lied, knowing Derek heard the uptick in his heartrate if the look on his face was any indication, but he didn’t push it.
Stiles put his things away and climbed into bed just as Laura returned wearing a bathrobe, her hair damp. She and Derek spoke about someone named Cora while she changed, having dropped the bathrobe and having absolutely no shame since Stiles was right there.
He looked away like a gentleman, but was sure both wolves could smell his embarrassment and arousal very clearly.
Rolling over so his back was to the room, they lowered their voices while speaking and eventually the light turned off. He heard movement in the bed across the room and closed his eyes, ready to sleep, but then felt the blanket lift and a body slid in beside him.
His eyes snapped back open, heart pounding double-time when Derek’s arms wrapped around his middle and pulled him back against his chest. He rubbed his cheek against Stiles, the stubble stinging, but in a good way.
“Stop scenting him,” Laura said from across the room.
Derek growled low in his throat, and Laura growled back, but Stiles could tell hers was in good fun. Derek’s sounded murderous.
Stiles struggled to get his heartrate down, feeling like an idiot and knowing they could hear it. But Derek was in bed with him instead of his sister. He didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad one. Either he liked Stiles, or he saw Stiles as a brother who had nightmares and needed protecting.
He really hoped it wasn’t the latter.
“Good night,” Derek murmured against his ear.
“Night,” Stiles managed to get out, forcing himself to close his eyes.
It took him an extremely long time to fall asleep.
Stiles sat staring at the papers in front of him, re-reading the words over and over again. He didn’t know how to stop himself, so he didn’t even try. The words still stung as much now as they had the previous week when he’d gotten the assignment back and read them for the first time.
It was stupid to let words upset him like this, but he felt like maybe he was in shock. Maybe if he read them enough he would be able to forget.
His phone vibrated insistently against his leg. He didn’t want to move, but he knew he had to answer it. If he didn’t, he would probably get yelled at.
Debating the pros and cons made him miss the call, but the phone was still for only a minute before it began to vibrate once more.
Still staring at the words, he decided to answer this time to avoid a lecture and pulled the phone from his pocket.
Derek’s name flashed on the screen and he swiped the bottom before bringing it to his ear.
“Stiles. Where are you?”
“Library,” he said quietly.
Derek hung up so Stiles did as well, holding his phone in his hand and dropping it to his thigh, returning his gaze to his paper.
It didn’t take long for Derek to find him, soft footfalls preceding him around the corner of the shelving unit he was sitting against. Derek took a seat beside him, leaning back against the shelves and looking at Stiles.
It was kind of weird, but Stiles noticed Derek relax exponentially as soon as he was beside him. It was almost like he’d been wound tight without Stiles in his line of sight, but now that he knew he was safe, he could relax a little.
“You heard,” Derek said, not a question.
“Yeah,” Stiles whispered, still looking at the paper. “Warrior two and three in one go. The Darach can move on to Healers now.”
He could feel Derek watching him. He knew what he was thinking, because it was all Stiles could think about ever since he’d heard what happened.
“What if it’s my fault?” Stiles finally said.
“I wished he would die,” Stiles insisted, raising his voice near the end when it looked like Derek was about to interrupt. “He failed my paper, and I wished he would die.”
Stiles felt sick even thinking about it. He remembered it as if it had just happened moments ago. He’d gotten his paper back and had immediately looked at his grade. He’d gotten 47%, and had completely flipped. He’d tried arguing the grade, but had been told he didn’t understand the book, the assignment or the purpose of the class. Then he had been promptly dismissed.
Stiles had fumed the whole way back to the empty dorm, and when Derek had arrived an hour later, Stiles had still been furious and ranted at Derek, very clearly remembering his final words.
“Fuck, I wish Harris would just fucking die!”
Had he known then what he knew now, that Professor Harris had been in the army for a few years, Stiles wouldn’t have dared even think the words.
Because Harris was dead. He’d been the final sacrifice in the Warriors section. An older woman named Megan had been in the Air Force when she’d been younger, and had been the second sacrifice. She’d been missing for almost a week but hadn’t been found until just after Harris had.
Stiles felt sick thinking about it. A woman out there, dead and unfound, the elements and animals destroying what was left of her.
Her family wouldn’t be able to have an open casket funeral.
Stiles tensed when Derek shifted closer, their shoulders and sides touching. He didn’t say anything, but Stiles took comfort in his presence and relaxed after a few minutes.
He knew this wouldn’t have hit him as hard if he hadn’t made that comment about Harris the previous week. It was just awful to realize he’d wished death on someone and they’d died.
He was definitely having nightmares tonight.
“Come on. Let’s go,” Derek said quietly.
“Where?” Stiles whispered.
“Anywhere. Away. We can go stay in a hotel for the night.”
Stiles was silent for a moment, then said, “Can we order room service?”
Derek let out a small puff of air that could have been a laugh. “Sure. We can order room service.”
Stiles didn’t move for a while longer but Derek didn’t rush him, and he appreciated that.
They went back to the dorm in silence, and when they arrived they packed overnight bags. Stiles called his dad while they headed for the bus to tell him about what had happened. He already knew, and Stiles hated how worried he sounded. Like he thought he was going to lose his son. Stiles felt sick when he thought of the future call he would make to past Derek. How long did he have before that call? A year? Two? Or maybe not even that. Five months? Three? A week? What if that call happened tomorrow? What if this was the last time he ever spoke to his dad?
Stiles could feel a panic attack coming, but before it could take hold of him and destroy him, Derek wrapped an arm around his shoulders and pulled him into his side. Stiles glanced up at his face but Derek was resolutely not looking at him.
He leaned more heavily against him, trying to take comfort in his presence, and the panic was kept at bay, but just barely.
They were on the bus by the time he hung up with his dad and he rested his head on Derek’s shoulder. He knew he shouldn’t, and that Derek also needed support despite only having had a few nightmares since they’d met, but Stiles knew he was damaged in his own way. Maybe that was why he liked him so much. They were both damaged, but trying to make the most of their lives. They hadn’t given up, no matter how hard it was sometimes.
Stiles wasn’t sure where they were headed, but Derek pulled the cord for the next stop a few minutes later and they climbed off the bus. Stiles stared at the ritzy hotel in shock and started feeling uncomfortable with the entire idea. His dad was strapped for cash as it was, Stiles really shouldn’t have been spending money unnecessarily when he could survive in the dorm.
“Don’t worry, I’ll pay,” Derek said, clearly picking up on Stiles’ discomfort.
“What?” Stiles asked, then shook his head. “No, I can chip in. I just—”
“It’s fine. We have a lot of money because of our parents.” Derek started across the street when the light changed. “I chose the hotel, so don’t worry.”
Stiles had never really heard Derek talk about his family before. Truthfully, he hadn’t even known Derek had sisters until Laura had shown up and they’d started talking about their other sister, Cora.
It occurred to him that, as much as they knew about each other, there was a lot they didn’t know about each other. Stiles felt he’d like to fix that, and maybe this would be the best opportunity to try.
They walked into the hotel and Stiles hung back while Derek talked to the front desk. Stiles looked like he was a minor despite being a month shy of twenty, so it was probably best that the adult-looking person get them a room.
It was slow-going, and Stiles was getting bored and playing Candy Crush on his phone by the time Derek returned with a keycard. They headed up to the room and Stiles grinned and ran to jump onto the bed once the door was open.
The room wasn’t crazy, just a regular hotel room with a bed, TV, mini fridge and a desk with a bathroom, but it was somewhere different and away from campus and horrible thoughts. Stiles lay down, bag at his side, and stared up at the ceiling. He didn’t consider why there was only one bed, because it was hard to focus much on that when Derek seemed content to cuddle with him on a nightly basis.
Not that Stiles was complaining, he very much enjoyed the cuddles.
They got settled and watched some TV for a few hours before ordering room service for dinner. They didn’t talk much outside of commenting on the shows they watched, but Stiles felt better by the time he went to shower before bed. He realized while Derek was taking his turn that they hadn’t talked the way he’d hoped they would. It wasn’t late, and they’d both essentially silently agreed that class wasn’t happening the following day, so he figured they could stay up and chat.
When Derek returned to the main room and got into bed, he shifted up behind Stiles without touching him and muttered, “Good night.”
Stiles wasn’t sure why he was suddenly uncomfortable cuddling, given Derek usually didn’t have any problems with it, but figured maybe it was different in a hotel room than it was in a dorm. Which, he supposed, it kind of was.
Rolling over to face Derek before he lost his nerve, he thought about how to voice his question before going for it.
“You mentioned you had a lot of money because of your parents. Are they rich?”
Derek’s eyes were closed, but he instantly tensed at the question and Stiles knew he’d said something wrong. He watched Derek’s eyes open, bright blue and beautiful, but he didn’t answer the question.
“Sorry,” Stiles finally said when the silence became too much. “I was just curious about your family. We don’t—really talk much.”
Derek was watching him cautiously, eyes raking over every inch of his face before the blue slowly bled back to his normal green colour.
“My parents died. It’s only Cora, Laura and I. We have money from their life insurance.”
Stiles felt like someone had kicked him in the chest, and it must’ve shown because Derek’s expression softened a fraction. He reached out one hand, as it to touch him, but stopped himself before he did and let it fall between them.
“You didn’t know.”
“How... what happened?” Stiles asked quietly. “You don’t need to tell me,” he hurried on quickly, but Derek spoke before he could finish.
“Fire. That girlfriend I told you about? She locked my family inside our home and set the place on fire.”
Stiles felt like this evening was taking a turn in the completely wrong direction.
“Laura was out working on a school project for her last year of high school. Cora was sleeping over at a friend’s house. I was in the crazy bitch’s basement, sleeping.” He spat the word as if it offended him. “We’d just...” He didn’t finish, but Stiles could tell where he was going.
“When I woke up,” Derek continued quietly, “I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t... I couldn’t feel the link to my family anymore. My link to the Alpha. It was there, but it was different. Faint, and unfamiliar. When I finally found my pants and pulled out my phone, I had dozens of missed calls from Laura, and voicemails of her sobbing and screaming at me, asking where I was. She thought I’d also been in the house.”
Stiles shifted a little closer, giving silent support and comfort, and reached out to put one hand on Derek’s still between them.
“You couldn’t have known,” Stiles whispered. “It’s not your fault.”
“It was,” Derek snapped, pulling his hand away and sitting up, raking a hand through his hair. “I brought her into our family. She only knew the layout of our house because I’d shown her around when I’d brought her home. It was stupid, and the dumbest part of all of this was that I don’t even like girls, I just didn’t know it at the time.”
Stiles said nothing to that, not knowing what to say. Derek seemed like he just needed to get it out, and he didn’t talk much on a regular day, so he let him speak.
“I knew it was her when the police told us what happened. I went back to her place to confront her, and her dad was there. They chained me up in the basement, and kept me down there for-for days. They were using me to see what they could do to Werewolves, how to break them, how to control them. Laura and the police found me before I was killed and Kate and her father were arrested.”
“You were tortured,” Stiles said softly, nausea creeping up his throat.
“I deserved it for what I did to my family,” Derek insisted quietly.
“That’s not true,” Stiles snapped. “What happened wasn’t your fault—no! I’m not done,” Stiles said, raising his voice when Derek opened his mouth to speak. “You liked a girl, you brought her home, she was a psychotic murderer. How is that your fault in any way? You had no idea and no way of possibly knowing who she was and what she was planning! The fact that you think this is your fault is ridiculous, and I can tell you with certainty that no one else thinks that! I’ve seen how Boyd and Isaac are around you, and Isaac talks a lot more than you do. He told Scott and I about how he and Boyd were bitten without being asked, how their families didn’t handle it well, how your mother took them in, treated them like they were her own. They love your family, and not once have they ever suggested they don’t love you just as much. And Laura? She adores you, you mean everything to her! They all know that what happened was awful and a tragedy, but none of them blame you for it. You shouldn’t, either.”
Derek was scowling at him, but he didn’t say anything. He just searched his face, looking for something, and then focussed his gaze back on the bedspread. They were silent for a long while, and Stiles was about to speak because the tension was killing him, but Derek beat him to it.
“That’s why they’re blue.”
“Your eyes?” Stiles asked, and Derek nodded. “I knew you weren’t a bad person,” he admitted. “I figured there was a reason for them being blue that didn’t involve you murdering an innocent person in cold blood.”
Derek let out a small scoff. “I thought you’d know what they meant.”
“I know a lot of things about the Supernatural.”
“You weren’t scared,” Derek said after another short silence. When Stiles looked at him, he found Derek watching him again, expression searching. “The first time you saw them, I was on top of you with claws at your throat. You weren’t scared, and you never said anything about them.”
“I knew you were a good person.” Stiles shrugged again. “Lydia’s boyfriend, Jackson—he went through a lot in high school. He’s a Werewolf, too, but his eyes are also blue. He killed people, but he was being controlled. It wasn’t his fault. He has to live with what he did while he wasn’t in control of himself, and I learned early on that just because someone’s eyes are blue doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. There are factors, and you don’t always know the whole story.” Stiles shrugged. “Same held true for you. You’d never done anything to make me think you were a bad person. An asshole, maybe,” Stiles grinned at him and Derek scoffed and rolled his eyes, “but not a bad person.”
Derek just nodded once, as if in thanks, and they lapsed into silence once more. He didn’t lie back down, so Stiles stayed seated beside him, turned slightly so he was angled more in his direction. They were silent for a long while, Stiles licking his lips and staring down at his fingers in his lap.
“My mother died when I was nine,” he said softly. He saw Derek shift in his peripheral, but didn’t look up. “Cancer. It’s just been my dad and me since then, so while I might not understand entirely, I do understand a little.” He winced when he pulled at the skin around his cuticles and yanked off a bit too much, blood welling along the edge of his thumb.
Stiles shrugged. “It’s not your fault, but thanks. It’s still hard sometimes, and I worry about my dad a lot. I know things were hard for him with the Nogitsune.”
“Stiles, you don’t have to—”
“It’s sharing hour, might as well,” he cut off, forcing himself to get the words out quickly. “We have a power source called the Nemeton in our town. It attracts things, both good and evil. We’re still not entirely sure why it latched onto me, but an evil fox spirit called a Nogitsune took over and kind of went on a killing spree. Our town Druid, Lydia, Allison, her dad and my dad had to figure out how to get it out of me. Eventually, Jackson was actually the one who came up with the idea that saved me. Seemed fitting somehow, since I’m the one who saved him when he was killing people himself. We never talked about it again, he and I, but I think it connected us. We both did things we didn’t want to do.” He dragged one hand down his face, trying to dispel the fear slowly snaking its way up his chest.
“I still worry about it. That it’s out there, hovering, waiting. I always worry it’s going to come back and take over, that more people are going to die. A part of me worries the deaths on campus are my doing.”
Derek shifted closer then, wrapping one arm around Stiles’ shoulders and pulling him closer. Stiles said nothing, but he closed his eyes and relaxed into Derek, finding comfort in his presence.
“It’s not you,” Derek promised. “Whatever happened to you in the past, it’s in the past. It won’t come back. You’re safe.”
Stiles wished he could believe him, but the phonecall Derek received two years ago hung heavily between them. Stiles wasn’t safe, and they both knew it, but at least for tonight, he could pretend that he believed him.
At least for tonight, he could just be normal.
Stiles tapped his pen against his notebook while he stared at the words in the large, fraying book open to his left. His eyes read over the words multiple times while he attempted to make sense of what he was turning over in his mind.
Someone on the campus was a Druid, and they wanted to gain power. They’d already killed six people, which meant they had nine people left. The next set of sacrifices were Healers, which seemed fairly evident, in his opinion.
Doctors, nurses, paramedics. Anyone in the medical field was a target. Considering they had a nursing faculty at this university, as well as two medical clinics, multiple pharmacies, and a university hospital, that put a lot of targets on people’s backs. Way too many to narrow down.
It didn’t seem as though the Darach was going after specific people, they just needed to meet the criteria of the sacrifice to qualify. Everyone who’d been killed so far had likely just been a kill of convenience. They’d mostly been in the woods, but there were a lot of woods on this campus. Some were large and stretched for miles, and others were shorter and could be walked through in a matter of minutes.
Stiles scowled down at the book, a part of his mind wandering into the realm of, “Why would someone do this?”
Druids were powerful, and well respected. Their magic was unique and while perhaps it wasn’t as quick to activate as a Witch’s or a Warlock’s, it was twice as strong and there were so many different layers to it.
His own town Druid, Alan Deaton, had been an amazing man. Strong, powerful, honest. He had been the one to exact Jackson’s plan to get the Nogitsune out of Stiles. He was the one who’d protected their borders from demons when it had been discovered the Nemeton was pulling evil their way. He was the one who’d taught Stiles most of what he knew about the Supernatural, the rest of which he’d found on the internet—which, realistically, wasn’t exactly a reliable source.
To read about a Darach, about what someone had to do to gain this much power... he didn’t understand. Druids were kind and gentle and already extremely powerful. Why would anyone want to give up a part of themselves to become more powerful? Why would anyone murder people to become more powerful?
Was that really the world they lived in now? It disgusted him.
Stiles snapped out of his thoughts, pen stilling against his notebook and looked up. A woman was standing across the table from him, smiling kindly down at him with a dimple in one cheek.
“Sorry, am I tapping too loud?” Stiles asked, dropping his pen entirely. “I don’t notice sometimes, sorry to bug you. I’ll try to keep my pen on the table.”
She laughed, the sound light and melodious, but shook her head at his apology.
“No, nothing like that. I only just got here, so whatever tapping you were doing wasn’t bothering me at all.” She smiled and then motioned the book he had. “Actually, I’m here to ask you if you’re done with that. I’m a grad student and I’m doing my thesis on different types of Druid magic. I’ve been using that book in conjunction with others in the reference section downstairs but I noticed this one’s been missing the last few times I’ve gone down there. I was worried someone had actually been stupid enough to leave with it, so I’m glad it’s just someone as interested in Druid magic as I am.”
“Oh,” Stiles said, startled. “Right, sure, duh. Sorry.” He closed the book and pushed it across the table closer to her. “I didn’t mean to hog it. It’s all yours, if you need it. I wasn’t really using it today, anyway. My mind was wandering.”
“Thanks.” She put her hand on it, tapping manicured fingernails against the cover while eying Stiles, then smiled again. “Can I join you? We can both use it that way.”
“Sure,” Stiles said, offering her his own smile. “That’d be great.”
She pulled out the chair across from him and dropped her bag to the floor, taking a seat. “Jennifer Blake.”
“Stiles Stilinski,” he replied, holding out his hand so she could shake it.
“That’s an unusual name,” she said with a laugh.
“Nothing compared to my real one, believe me.” Stiles pulled some of his papers closer to himself to give her more room. “So, thesis on Druid magic, huh? That’s exciting.”
“It is. Druids are fascinating, don’t you think?” She opened the book and began flipping through it, stopping on a random page and then bending down to pull a spiral-bound notebook from her bag along with a pen. “There are so many different facets of Druid magic, it was hard choosing just one for my thesis, so I decided on all of them.”
“That’s cool,” Stiles said, shifting some of his papers around so that what he was doing wasn’t obvious. Derek knowing was one thing, but he wasn’t eager to advertise to the school that he knew what was going on. Well, that he suspected he knew what was going on, but it seemed pretty likely now.
“What are you researching?”
“Me?” Stiles asked, pausing in what he was doing. “Oh, uh, just general stuff. You know, magic, teachings, becoming a Druid, that kind of thing. It’s one of the only types of magic-based Supernatural abilities that can be taught, so it’s interesting.”
Jennifer smiled, as if she thought Stiles was being cute, and then focussed on what she was reading, taking notes in her book. Stiles did his best to gather his things in neat piles that couldn’t be looked over, and it occurred to him that anyone other than Derek, Scott, Isaac or Boyd finding him looking at this stuff might assume he was the Darach. That realization made him think maybe he should invest in photocopying the book after all.
“You a Freshman?” Jennifer asked after they both worked in silence for a while. Stiles had been distracted again and staring off into space.
“Huh? Oh, yeah. First year.”
“I’m sorry you’re here during this time,” Jennifer said, looking genuinely upset. When Stiles gave her a confused look, she frowned. “The killings?”
“Oh. Yeah, it sucks,” he admitted, finding that to be one of the lamest descriptions of how he truly felt over the killings.
“I promise, this place is actually really nice. I’m sure the police will catch the serial killer soon and everything will go back to normal.”
“You think it’s a serial killer?” Stiles blurted out.
“You don’t?” she asked, surprised.
“Well, the news was talking about how the killings seemed ritualistic.”
“Oh, that.” She scoffed, tossing some brown hair over her shoulder. “Ever since the Supernatural world was outed fifty years ago, everyone thinks everything that happens is related to it. The killings don’t look ritualistic to me, they just look like some psycho serial killer trying to blame it on a Supernatural class as a means to get away with it.”
Stiles hadn’t really considered that, but he supposed he could see where Jennifer was coming from. It was true that a lot of things that happened in this day and age were very set and focussed on being Supernatural. His dad used to tell him about how he remembered his childhood where crazy things were explained away with science, and how things shifted dramatically when the Supernatural world finally exposed itself to the regular humans.
He supposed it could make sense, that this was a serial killer intent on killing and was trying to keep suspicion off themselves by making it look ritualistic, but Stiles didn’t think so. He’d done a lot of background research into each of the victims and hadn’t found a single connection between them. If it was a revenge killer, there would be a pattern linking all the victims together. He supposed it could be a convenience killer, but if that were the case, it was extremely coincidental that the first three just happened to be virgins and the next three just happened to be warriors. Stiles knew full well that two was a coincidence, but three was a pattern.
Stiles was sure someone like Jennifer, who was obviously interested in the practices of Druids, was hoping it wasn’t a Druid doing it, but he found it a bit naive of her, especially considering the book she was reading.
A part of him wanted to argue it with her, point out the Darach in her book, but he worried that would put him on the suspect list with the police. If she went to them talking about a crazy kid in the library reading about the Darach and insisting the murders were a ritual to gain power, he would be in a cell so fast he wouldn’t even be able to make his one phone call. The Nogitsune was always a dark mark on his record, and while he knew it wouldn’t affect his chances at working in law enforcement, he also knew that it would be twice as hard for him to get what others could achieve without even trying.
Knowing he couldn’t get any more work done with Jennifer there, he started packing away his things, bid her a good afternoon, and left the library. He knew he wasn’t wrong about the Darach, just like he hadn’t been wrong when he’d been possessed and no one had believed him for months when he insisted it was him.
For now, he was going to keep digging, but quietly. When he had something more solid to go to the police with, he would bus down to the station himself.
“This is a bad idea,” Derek insisted, staring at himself in the mirror and scowling.
“No, this is a great idea,” Laura insisted through speakerphone, Derek’s phone sitting on his desk across the room.
“He’s my roommate.” Derek’s scowl deepened and he straightened out his Henley before scowling again. “What if things go wrong?”
“Derek, you are crushing on him so hard, I want to start singing Derek and Stiles sitting in a tree,” she said dryly down the line. “And he obviously has feelings for you, too. I almost drowned in his arousal and desire when I was there two weeks ago and you climbed into bed with him. I don’t know why you didn’t suffocate. That, or just molest him right then and there.”
Derek turned his scowl on Laura, and his silence must have made that obvious, because she laughed and told him not to scowl at her.
He couldn’t help it. This was a big risk, and he didn’t know if he was ready for it. He knew he liked Stiles, of course he liked Stiles. He’d been scenting him and cuddling with him for weeks now, despite his best efforts not to. It was just hard, because he’d never really thought he’d feel this way about anyone.
Derek was a strong believer of one night stands. He didn’t like getting close to people, because the last time he’d let that happen, his family had been murdered. Even being as close to Stiles as he already was terrified him, but no matter how hard he tried to stay away, Stiles pulled at him. Like a magnet.
A really loud, annoying magnet.
Derek couldn’t keep his distance, and he’d known for a while it was a lost cause, anyway. The second he’d panicked over Stiles when the last virgin had been found, he’d already begun the downward spiral.
He just didn’t like it.
“Laura, what if he dies,” he said quietly, knowing she could still hear him and half-wishing she couldn’t. “What if that phone call comes true, and he dies on me? After mom and dad, I can’t...” He grit his teeth, not liking this feeling. Not wanting to be vulnerable, even with only his sister as witness.
“Derek,” Laura sighed, “You can’t think like that. The call happened two years ago, you can’t be positive it was him. And even if it is, you don’t know that he died. You just know that he was being chased. Stiles is a capable, resilient human. It might scare you that he isn’t as durable as we are, but he’s still survived this long as a human. You have to trust that he can take care of himself, and if he can’t, that he’ll ask you for help.”
Derek didn’t like that answer, but he knew it was all Laura could offer him. He turned to scowl at his reflection again and heard footsteps approaching from down the corridor. He’d recognize those steps anywhere, and that realization scared him.
“He’s coming, I have to go.”
“Have fun!” Laura said loudly while Derek raced across the room to hang up on her. “Be safe! Make sure no one gets pregnant!”
Derek didn’t bother responding to that ridiculous comment, and could imagine her cackling on the other end the moment he’d hung up.
Feeling like a ridiculous schoolgirl with a crush, he turned when Stiles wandered into their room, looking and smelling like exhaustion. He hadn’t been sleeping well lately, and even though Derek did what he could to help, he knew it would never be enough.
Stiles had demons, and he was the only one strong enough to fight them. Derek wished he could make Stiles understand just how strong he was. That he would defeat those demons one day, even if that day wasn’t today.
Stiles’ scent changed the moment he caught sight of Derek. He smiled and smelled faintly of arousal, but also something else. Something bitter and jealous.
“You look nice. Hot date?”
“I hope so,” Derek said cautiously while Stiles crossed the room to his bed. The jealousy became more prominent, but Stiles didn’t say anything. He just dropped his bag on the floor and fell face-first onto his bed, letting out a groan.
Derek wondered if maybe this was a bad idea. Stiles seemed tired, and he sounded like he wasn’t in a good mood. He didn’t want to mess things up with him, so he almost called the whole thing off before a thought occurred to him.
Stiles had said he looked nice, and made a comment about a hot date before getting jealous. Maybe he was only in a sour mood because he... wanted to be the hot date?
Derek couldn’t know this for certain, but he was hopeful. And it would definitely be laughable if he wanted to be the hot date, considering he was.
“About my hot date,” Derek said cautiously, moving to sit in Stiles’ desk chair so he was right beside his bed.
“Yeah, who’s the lucky guy? Someone from class? Or Isaac?” Stiles let out a bark of laughter. “No, not Isaac. Pretty sure he wants to bone Scott.” He turned his head to look at Derek, frowning. “Does he want to bone Scott? He acts like he does, but it’s hard to really know. You’d know better than I would.”
“What? I don’t know. Why are we talking about Isaac?” This conversation was not going the way Derek had been hoping it would.
Stiles shrugged and buried his face in his pillow again, scent changing so he smelled both jealous and sad, now.
“Have fun on your date.”
Derek sighed and wondered if it was possible for someone to be this stupid.
“Well, I would, if he’d stop moping on the bed and get dressed so we could go.”
Stiles tensed, and for a few long seconds, Derek wondered if he’d have to drive down to Laura and strangle her for insisting this was a good idea, because Stiles’ fight or flight instincts should not be kicking in right now!
Slowly, Stiles raised his head and turned to stare at Derek, eyes wide and lips parted in shock. Derek shifted his gaze away, feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable. He wished Stiles would just say something!
“Wait,” he said quietly. “When you say... does that... I’m your hot date?”
“Is that a problem?” Derek asked defensively.
Shaking his head vehemently, Stiles sat up. “No! No, that’s not—that’s great! That’s the complete opposite of a problem! That’s like, so far from being a problem it might as well be a solution!”
“Stiles,” Derek said, cutting him off before he went on forever. “Shut up and get dressed.”
“Right! Yes!” Stiles leapt off the bed and almost tripped over his own feet. He rushed to his closet, then cursed and insisted he needed to shower. Derek just watched him run around like an idiot before disappearing out the door with his toiletries and a towel.
Shaking his head and letting out a small chuckle, Derek twisted in the chair and began looking through Stiles’ papers to pass the time. Most of what he had on his desk related to the killings, and Derek really wished he would stop. The thought of him investigating murders with said murderer still out there made Derek extremely uncomfortable. He would literally do anything to stop from receiving that phonecall from Stiles.
The scarier thought was what would happen when Stiles made the call. What if he called Derek, and past-Derek answered and did nothing? Derek already knew that he did nothing, because Stiles wasn’t even in the same state yet when he got the call. But did that mean he, present-Derek, would sit and wait for Stiles to come back, only for him never to return? Would he know something was wrong? He couldn’t remember anything specific about the phone call related to a time, so he didn’t even know if he could estimate when it would happen. Could be this year, or next year, or ten years from now. Maybe it would happen tomorrow, or when they were both old and married and not even friends anymore.
He derailed that train of thought viciously, because he definitely didn’t like thinking of him and Stiles not being friends anymore. If things went well tonight, he was hoping to spend a lot more time with Stiles. He just wished this call wasn’t hovering over him like a dark cloud whenever he tried to think of a happy future with Stiles.
Stiles came back into the room then and was a whirlwind of activity while he threw things around and got dressed. Derek kept his back to him, because somehow it was weird watching him dress now that he’d admitted to him that he was interested in him.
“Is this okay?”
Derek turned then, eying Stiles with appreciation. He was wearing dark jeans that were just a little too tight, along with a plain tee and a grey sweater. He cleaned up nice, though Derek also acknowledged that he looked similar to usual only with a sweater instead of a hoodie or an overshirt.
Stiles just always looked good, in his opinion, but he was a little biassed.
Not trusting himself to answer, he just nodded and stood, leading the way out of the room. Stiles locked the door and followed him outside. He’d already brought the car over from Boyd’s dorm, so they headed straight for where it was parked and climbed in. Stiles was fidgeting the entire ride to the restaurant, trying to smooth out his shirt and pulling at the tips of his hair.
When they finally arrived and were seated, things were awkward. They kept glancing at each other and then quickly looking away. Derek even perused the menu long after he’d decided on what he wanted and a part of him was annoyed that this had happened.
He was ready to just storm out and insist this had been a stupid idea when Stiles finally spoke.
“It’s funny this is so awkward,” he blurted out with a small laugh. “I mean, you were crawling into my bed and holding me while I slept weeks ago, but somehow being in a restaurant together on a date is awkward.”
“I’ve never done this before,” Derek admitted, trying to keep the anger out of his tone. “Never really cared to since Kate, and she and I never went on dates.”
“Okay, new rule.” Stiles leaned forward, pushing his wine glass aside and fake-glaring at Derek. “No bringing up evil, murdering exes on our dates. She wasn’t a good person, and you need to understand that she used and abused you. That was not a real relationship, so we’re gonna focus on better, happier things. Like puppies.” He paused and eyed Derek. “You like puppies, right?”
“They’re okay.” Derek shrugged.
Stiles made an affronted sound. “Okay? Okay?! You wound me, Derek! Puppies, and dogs in general, are like... so amazing! They’re so nice and cute and loyal and you just wanna hug them and never let them go, even when they squirm and whine.”
“Speaking from experience?” Derek asked with a small, teasing smile.
“Hey man, dogs love me, okay? Don’t even try and take that away from me!”
Derek laughed, and Stiles smiled, as if pleased he’d managed to diffuse the awkwardness. Derek was happy about it, too, and by the time their meal arrived, he didn’t know why he’d been feeling awkward and nervous to begin with. Stiles was just Stiles, regardless of where their relationship went.
He absolutely lost his shit on Derek—in a good way—when he found out Derek could turn into a wolf, and had then proceeded to spend the next ten minutes trying to convince him to shift right there in the restaurant. He only stopped when Derek promised he’d do it as soon as they got back to the dorm.
The longer they sat there, the more Derek realized he was falling harder and harder for Stiles.
Everything was just so easy with Stiles. Just like when he’d first turned in front of him, claws at his throat. Just like when he’d admitted that it was his fault his family had died. Just like when he’d had his first nightmare with him present.
Stiles understood that Derek was a Werewolf, and for the first time, Derek felt like he’d met a human who truly accepted every part of him. Man, and wolf. After Kate, he’d never thought he’d meet anyone like that, and it was almost surreal to realize it was happening now.
And terrifying, because it gave him so much more to lose. He didn’t want to lose Stiles, and he was worried he soon wouldn’t have a choice.
All the good things in his life died.
When they returned to the dorm hours after having left it, Derek dropped the car off at Boyd’s dorm, returning the keys to him before he and Stiles walked leisurely back across the green to their own dorm.
Stiles was the one who reached out and took Derek’s hand, and the smile that threatened to cross his features almost broke Derek’s face. He managed to keep the smile at a reasonable level and squeezed Stiles’ hand in his comfortably.
The dorm was relatively quiet when they entered it, given it was a Wednesday and almost midnight, so they made their way to their room in comfortable silence and disappeared into it. Once the door was closed, Derek turned to Stiles, who had a dopey smile on his face.
“That was really nice. Thanks.”
“I’m glad you had fun.” Derek smiled. “I even managed to convince you to come back to my place.”
Stiles laughed and punched him in the shoulder. When he opened his mouth to say something else, Derek just went for it. He leaned down and pressed his lips against Stiles’.
It was an awkward kiss. Stiles hadn’t been expecting it, and Derek had half-missed his mouth, but it was still the most amazing few seconds he’d experienced in a long time. When he pulled away and licked his lips, Stiles laughed a little and wrapped his arms around Derek’s neck.
“Can we try that again a little less impulsively?”
“Let’s,” Derek agreed, resting his hands on Stiles’ hips and pulling him closer.
The second kiss was a little more controlled. Derek trapped Stiles’ bottom lip between his own, and ran his tongue along it. When Stiles opened his mouth, Derek took that for the invitation it was and slid his tongue inside, circling it around Stiles’ and groaning at the taste of him.
He hadn’t known what he wanted in life until he’d met Stiles, and as terrifying as the thought was, it was also thrilling.
He allowed himself to explore Stiles’ mouth, wanting to memorize every inch of it, and pulling back so that Stiles could do the same to him. They broke apart every now and then, breathing hard and placing soft kisses along each other’s cheeks, jaws and necks. Derek liked the sounds that escaped Stiles when he kissed and sucked at a particular spot on Stiles’ collarbone, and he couldn’t wait to explore more of him to find out what other spots and sounds existed.
“Are you trying to distract me?” Stiles asked after a good few minutes of making out against the bedroom door.
“From what?” Derek asked, dragging his teeth along Stiles’ neck and up his jaw so he could nip at his chin.
“You promised me a wolf,” Stiles reminded him.
Chuckling at the pout he could hear in his voice, Derek groaned, face buried in Stiles’ neck, then pulled away from him. He would never admit it aloud, but it felt amazing having Stiles want to see his wolf form. Most people freaked out when they found out Derek could do that, but Stiles was just excited and fascinated.
He would literally never cease to amaze him.
“Let’s get ready for bed first.” Derek kissed Stiles’ lips lightly. “Then I’ll shift.”
“Sweet.” Stiles grinned. “Wolf pillow. I dig it.”
Rolling his eyes, Derek kissed him one last time, then turned so he could grab his toothbrush. The two of them headed to the bathroom together, brushing their teeth and relieving themselves before heading back to the room. Stiles changed into his sweats and T-shirt before climbing under the covers.
Derek waited for him to be settled before undressing. He smiled privately to himself at the appreciative look he got when he was naked, but it was nothing compared to the look of absolute delight when he forced the change and slowly lowered to all fours, muscles and bones shifting uncomfortably but not painfully. Once he was a wolf, the combined scent of him and Stiles in the room was almost overwhelming. It was more potent in this form, and the rightness of it was almost enough to knock him over.
Not to mention the way Stiles was staring at him. In awe and excitement. If Derek had ever had any doubts as to whether or not Stiles liked him for his looks as opposed to his personality, this squashed them all because nobody who didn’t like Derek could look at him with this much adoration while he was standing there as a wolf.
“You are so fucking awesome,” Stiles breathed.
Derek straightened proudly, walking over to Stiles’ bed and jumping onto it, moving to get beneath the covers beside him. Stiles shifted over to give him more room, and then reached out to run his hand down the length of Derek’s back. It made the wolf shudder, and he turned to lick at Stiles’ hand, which caused him to laugh.
“Gross, dude. I don’t want wolf slobber all over me.”
That only earned him Derek trying to get at his face, Stiles laughing and shouting at him not to abuse him. They only quieted down when their neighbour banged on the wall, and Stiles snorted he started laughing so hard.
When they’d both calmed down enough to settle into bed, Stiles wrapped his arms around Derek’s form and rested his cheek against him, doing as he’d threatened and using him as a pillow.
“Thanks for taking me out,” he said quietly, Derek’s ear twitching. “I had a lot of fun. And being with you... It’s nice. I hope you had fun, too.”
Derek turned to lick at whatever part of Stiles he could reach, and felt him smile against his fur.
“Good night, Derek.”
Settling more comfortably on Stiles’ bed, Derek closed his eyes and listened to Stiles’ breathing slowly even out over the course of half an hour.
He was still terrified of losing him, but another part of him was glad he’d taken this risk. He wanted to try this with Stiles. He wanted the chance to be with him.
He would do whatever he had to do to keep him safe. That phonecall was not going to happen.
“Are you guys sure this is okay?” Scott asked nervously, following the Hale Pack further into the woods. “I mean, what if we get in trouble?”
“Scott, it’s fine,” Isaac insisted, throwing an arm around the freshman’s shoulders and pulling him tightly against his chest. “It’s allowed. All the wolves on campus do it, and we’ve been doing it for two years. When Stiles told me you had never gone running on a full moon, I had to fix that. Almost four months, we’ve been together, and it never occurred to you that you could ask to join us? Tragic.”
Derek and Boyd shared a look at Isaac’s obviousness. If he wasn’t careful, he was liable to trip over his own dick, he was so fucking hard for Scott. It would be kind of cute, if it weren’t annoying most of the time.
Boyd stopped in a clearing, looking around and inhaling before nodding. “Here’s good. Should leave us enough space between the other wolves.”
Derek nodded and started undressing, ignoring the sputtering from Scott behind him. Once he was naked, he shifted into a wolf and trotted slowly around the clearing they were in. Scott was staring at him in shock, and he heard him whisper to Isaac that he’d thought Stiles was lying when he’d told him. Isaac’s laughter grated on Derek’s sensitive ears.
Boyd gathered Derek’s clothes and stuffed them into a bag, which he hoisted over his shoulder, ready to return the clothes once Derek was human again.
Derek, for his part, turned to the other three, waiting expectantly, and when they shifted into their Beta forms, he took off running through the trees. The three of them followed him, and when Derek let out a howl, Isaac laughed and followed suit. Boyd never howled, but Scott seemed like he was into it and let his own out.
A few other wolves in the woods were howling along with them, the different Packs answering each other, and Derek felt content. It was always comforting to go running on the full moon, and while he missed the rest of his Pack, he was lucky enough to have two of them with him.
Scott had never had a Pack, and that made Derek sad. He couldn’t believe he’d managed to get through a change on his own, become a True Alpha, and survive all the way until meeting them. He’d had no one to mentor him, to help him. He’d never gone out running during a full moon before, for crying out loud. Derek didn’t know how he hadn’t just broken down.
Scott was strong, which was something Derek admired about him, even if he didn’t tell him so.
He heard a scuffle behind him, then a laugh, and realized Isaac and Scott were messing around, tackling one another and chasing each other through the bushes. Boyd caught up to Derek and rolled his eyes at him. Derek just let out another howl, leaping over fallen branches and stumps, and continuing deeper into the woods.
They’d been out running for almost three hours, looping back around so they could come out of the woods closer to their dorms. It was while they passed a particular portion of the woods that Derek skid to a halt, Isaac almost tripping over him before managing to leap past him. Boyd stopped beside him, staring down at him in confusion while Scott caught up.
He knew they couldn’t smell it. Even in this form, he could hardly catch it, but it was there. It wasn’t close, but he knew it was there.
“Derek?” Boyd asked.
He turned and took off through the trees without explanation, the other three calling his name before following after him. The smell was getting stronger the closer he got, and he knew when the others finally smelled it in their Beta forms, because they began to growl low in their throats and it was clear they were unhappy.
When they made it past another few clusters of trees, Derek stopped at the base of a large cedar tree, staring up at another sacrifice. It was a doctor, still wearing his white lab coat, which was stained with red and still bearing a nametag.
Isaac cursed behind him and Derek heard him pull out his phone, but he didn’t stick around. For some reason, seeing the new body made panic for Stiles run rampant through his system, and he turned and bolted back towards the dorm. He ignored the other three calling after him, but knew they would stay until the police arrived.
He would return, but not until he knew Stiles was safe. He realized, belatedly, that he could’ve shifted back and called him, but somehow it felt less real if he didn’t see him with his own eyes. So, he ran.
He made it back to the dorm within ten minutes and it was only once he reached the entrance that he realized he didn’t have his keycard. Growling and snapping angrily at nothing, he turned and raced around the side of the dorm, shifting back into his human form as he went and stopping at their bedroom window. The curtains were drawn, as they had been since their arrival at the dorms, but he banged on the glass insistently.
Stiles let out a curse on the other side, and hearing that made Derek relax, waiting for Stiles to open the curtains. When he finally did, all the anxiety Derek had been carrying melted away, and his roommate gave him a weird look before pulling the window open. It didn’t go very far, something about security for the lower floors, and to avoid suicides on the upper floors—a fun thought, that—but it gave him enough space to inhale and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Stiles was safe.
“Derek? What are you doing? You’re going to get arrested for public indecency, where are your clothes?”
“We found another body,” he told him.
Stiles’ entire expression shifted and he turned to grab his keys. “Where?”
“You’re not coming.”
“The hell I’m not!” Stiles snapped.
“Stiles,” Derek growled in warning, but Stiles had already left the room. Derek cursed and turned back into a wolf, running around to the front of the building to meet Stiles at the door. They made their way into the woods and Derek led him back towards the body.
When they arrived, it was already cordoned off, and police were speaking to Scott, Isaac and Boyd. When they saw Derek, the police immediately ordered him to shift back and started asking questions about why he’d run and what the hell Stiles was doing there, since the cop had been the same one who’d brought him to the station.
Derek tried to be civil while he answered their questions, dressing into his clothes when Boyd handed him the bag, but it was difficult when he remembered how rude they’d been to Stiles while he’d been at the station.
He kept casting glances at Stiles on the other side of the police tape, but he looked fine. In fact, he wasn’t even looking at Derek, but at the body, face pale and a million expressions crossing his features.
When the two of them finally glanced at one another at the same time, Derek knew exactly what Stiles was thinking, and turned back to the body hanging from the tree.
This was a doctor. The next sequence in the rituals was Healers.
They’d moved into stage three of the Darach ritual, and Derek had no fucking idea what to do.
Stiles kept his head down and walked quickly from the classroom towards the building’s exit, feeling a weight slowly pressing down on his chest. He’d thought he’d feel better after finishing his last exam of the semester, but instead he just felt nervous and paranoid.
He kept glancing around at all the students milling about, some walking leisurely out of the building while others rushed around, in a hurry to get to their next exam. A few were even sitting around outside, the air cool but not intolerable at this time of year. The only advantage of going to school where the worst winter had to offer was a few days of rain.
Stiles wanted to go back to the dorm, but he knew Derek was in his own exam and wouldn’t be out for another hour, at least. He thought about going to the library, but didn’t think that would be a good idea.
He’d started feeling watched lately. Ever since the last body had been found, he’d decided to photocopy the book and continue his research on the murders in his room, where no one could see what he was doing and Derek was around to keep him company.
Despite not going to the library anymore, he started feeling as though someone was watching him. Every time he went anywhere without Scott or Derek—who were pretty much the only two he hung out with—he felt like someone was following him. Keeping an eye on him.
He knew he was probably being paranoid and stupid, but considering what he’d discovered on his own, he couldn’t help but feel like he was on the right track and getting closer to an answer someone definitely didn’t want him to.
He’d even started going through all the Druids on campus and trying to determine alibis. Most of them so far had checked out, but the list was exceptionally long, and even then, he had no guarantee that all the Druids were listed. It wasn’t a requirement to register as Supernatural, so it was entirely possible the Druid wasn’t listed.
Actually, a smart Druid going around killing people definitely wouldn’t be registered.
Deciding he really couldn’t be alone right now, he went to Isaac and Scott’s room to see if they were there, but when he knocked on their door, no one answered.
Feeling ready to lose his shit, Stiles went to the only person he had left: Boyd.
Stiles didn’t know what room Boyd was in, so someone was kind enough to go find the RA so they would notify Boyd that someone was waiting for him. It was weird standing in the front hall, waiting for Boyd to fetch him, but when the older man appeared at the bottom of the stairs, he just motioned Stiles over without a word. Stiles followed him gratefully up to the third floor and looked around his room when they entered. Boyd’s roommate was obviously as quiet and collected as he was, because their room looked pristine and everything felt calm. Stiles instantly felt better when he walked in and he sat down heavily on the floor beside Boyd’s desk.
Boyd sat down on his bed, where a number of books and notebooks were spread out, and Stiles felt bad that he’d obviously interrupted him while he was studying.
“Exam?” he asked.
“Tonight at four.”
“For what?” Boyd asked, looking up at him.
“I don’t mean to bother you.”
“I know you wouldn’t be here for nothing,” the other said easily, and focussed back on his work.
Stiles watched him for a few moments, and then pulled his phone out of his pocket.
He texted with Lydia and Allison for a little while, both of them sad he wasn’t coming home for the holidays. His dad couldn’t afford it, and while it hurt to realize this would be the first Christmas ever that he didn’t spend with his dad, he promised himself he would Skype with him all day, if he had to. He just wanted to make sure this didn’t feel any different than usual.
Thankfully, Derek, Isaac and Boyd weren’t going home, either. Scott was, but Stiles couldn’t be greedy, at least he had some people sticking around.
They were sitting in silence for a long while before Boyd’s phone went off. Stiles ignored it and continued playing Candy Crush, waiting to fail before replying to Lydia’s last text. He heard Boyd texting someone back and then he went back to shuffling papers.
Twenty minutes later, his phone went off again and he stood, telling Stiles he’d be right back. Stiles grunted a response, still struggling through the same level, and listened to Boyd shut the door. He was silent when he walked away, and Stiles realized he actually really liked Boyd. He and Derek were both quiet, but in different ways. In his panic, Boyd had really helped him just now by pretending that nothing was wrong and just being a pillar of calm up on the bed. Stiles appreciated it, especially since he and Boyd hadn’t really hung out alone together the way Stiles had with Isaac. At least he and Isaac were friends, Boyd was just a friend by association. He could’ve kicked him out, but he hadn’t.
When the door opened again, Stiles glanced up and saw Boyd head back for the bed. Derek entered the room behind him, shutting the door and moving to sit down beside Stiles on the floor. He didn’t say anything, he just watched Stiles play until he finally lost the level a few minutes later.
“What happened?” he finally asked quietly.
“Nothing happened, I just didn’t want to be alone in the dorm,” Stiles insisted, turning his screen off and shoving his phone back into his pocket. “Boyd was kind enough to lend me his floor.”
“I’m surprised he got any studying done with all your talking,” Derek teased.
“He actually didn’t talk the entire time he was here,” Boyd grunted from the bed, eyes on his notes. “You’re talking more than he has in the hours he’s been here.”
Derek didn’t seem happy with that response, but he didn’t press it and the three of them sat in silence for a long while. When Boyd stood and started gathering his things, Stiles wished him luck on his exam before he and Derek left the room. They walked back to their own dorm together, Derek casting him worried glances the entire way.
Stiles said nothing until they were back in their room. Once they’d both set their things down and Stiles lay down on his bed, Derek came over and lay down behind him, folding himself against Stiles and holding him tightly.
“You’d know if someone was watching me, right?”
Derek tensed and his grip on him turned almost painful. He had to punch at Derek’s leg to get him to loosen his hold before he broke a few bones. It seemed to take a tremendous effort, but he managed to stop trying to crush him.
“You think someone is watching you?”
“I don’t know,” Stiles said quietly. “I feel like I found something big, and that whoever is doing this knows that I did. I think they’re trying to make sure I don’t stick my nose where it doesn’t belong.”
“I wish you wouldn’t, either,” Derek replied, just as quietly. “But I know you won’t listen, so I guess I’ll have to make sure you’re safe.”
Stiles didn’t know how to respond to that so he just shifted until Derek loosened his grip. When he had free movement once more, he turned so he was facing Derek and buried his face in his chest, enjoying the feel of the Werewolf’s hands rubbing up and down his back in a slow, relaxing fashion.
“You’re amazing,” he admitted. “I don’t think I’d have made it through this semester without you.”
“I think you’re just feeling stressed and scared,” Derek countered. “It’ll be okay, you know. I’m right here, and I’m not going anywhere.”
Stiles believed him, but Derek couldn’t control everything, no matter how much he knew he wished he could.
Winter break came and went without incident. Stiles had started to feel more like himself during the small break, and had gotten closer to Isaac and Boyd. Stiles really liked Boyd, because he knew when to just let people sit quietly and reflect, whereas Isaac liked to try and drag mopey people out of their rooms.
Derek tended to get the brunt of that, but it amused Stiles so he couldn’t be too mad about it. And it was fun and interesting spending time with wolves who were in a Pack. All the wolves he’d grown up with were Packless so it was a different and interesting dynamic.
He spent most of the holidays with them, and occasionally he and Derek went out on dates. Stiles even got to pay for some of them, which was nice, though his wallet wasn’t happy about it. But he didn’t want everything to always be Derek, and it was fun discovering things the other liked.
The only downside of the holidays was the breakdown he’d had at Christmas, because his dad was alone, and his mother was gone. Derek had been just as upset, talking about how Christmas used to be a big deal in his family until the fire, and they spent a majority of the day in bed together, finding comfort in each other’s warmth.
The moment classes started again, the murders did, too. A nurse was found dead in the woods, not far from where the doctor had been located, marking the second Healer in the group of three. Derek had growled that it meant whoever had done this had gone home for the holidays, but Stiles wasn’t convinced. He thought it would be easier for someone to make others believe that if they held off on the ritual until everyone was back. It made sense, because more people than not had left for the holidays, so it would be a much smaller pool for people who had stuck around.
Stiles knew Derek wanted him to let everything go, but he couldn’t. As a sheriff’s son, and someone who wanted to get into this field, he wanted to figure this out and try and save more people’s lives. They got into loud arguments about it the first week of the semester, and Derek had even reminded him of the phonecall, something that had been hanging silently between them for a long time. They both thought of it often, but neither of them spoke about it. Derek had apparently decided it was worth bringing up.
And Stiles understood. He did, of course he did, he was the one getting shot at. But he had to figure this out. He had to try and stop the murders, and when it became clear to Derek that he couldn’t stop him, he’d thrown his hands up in defeat and joined him instead. Wherever Stiles went, Derek followed, and if he even tried to go on a hunt or research binge without telling Derek, he heard about it. Loudly, and at length.
And that was why when Stiles stumbled on something while sitting in Chemistry class with Scott, he immediately texted Derek to meet him at the cafeteria after his class. He and Scott went to have lunch, and stayed together in the large open space until Derek showed up with his meal. Scott left then with a wave, and Stiles bounced impatiently in his seat while Derek ate his food.
“What are you vibrating about?” Derek grunted, shoving another bite of pasta into his mouth.
“I had a thought,” Stiles said, twisting to pull some sheets out of his bag. He looked around before placing them on the table, lowering his voice and pointing at an image on one of them. “See how in the book it talks about the positioning of the bodies? Well, they all have to be in a specific location, which has to correlate with the centre of a circle. They can be anywhere in the general vicinity, but they all have to be around this main hub.” He tapped at the centre of the circle. “I’ve been doing some digging on where all the bodies were found, and while we’ve only got eight so far, I’m fairly certain I know the general area the Darach is using as their centre.”
“Stiles, if you’re right, this is something we need to bring to the police,” Derek said, glancing up at him from where he’d been looking down at the page on the table. “They might be able to find whoever is behind all this.”
“I’m worried about going to them too soon. I don’t want to be the boy who cried wolf.” He paused and frowned. “So to speak. You know what I mean.”
Derek rolled his eyes and took another bite of his pasta.
“Look, I just want to go out there, see what we find, and then decide whether or not to go to the cops. Okay?”
Derek didn’t look happy about it, but he finally agreed. He texted Boyd and Isaac to let them know where he was headed in case something happened, and the two of them went off into the woods. They passed the old science buildings, Stiles commenting on how it was a waste not to be using them, and then moved through the other side of the forest.
Stiles led them around for a few hours, trying to find something that would prove his theory, but when he started getting thirsty and cranky from hunger, he finally agreed to let Derek call it a day and they started back towards the road so they could cut past the science building again.
It was while they were retracing their steps that Derek stopped, head turned and face lifted. Stiles had to resist the urge to say, “What is it, boy?” He liked his teeth and the ability to chew.
“You smell something?” he asked instead.
“Yeah,” Derek grunted, and then moved off the path they’d been following back to the road. Stiles stayed close behind him, the two of them making their way across the rocky terrain. After a few minutes of silence, Derek entered a small wooded area that had a makeshift shack present. It was made out of branches and leaves, and was barely even visible between all the foliage.
Stiles felt his heartrate pick up at the sight of it, because it meant he was right. It meant he was one-hundred percent right.
“Is there anyone there?” he asked quietly.
“No,” Derek said with a scowl. “I don’t think we should approach it. We should leave.”
“And if the Darach knows we found this place, we’ll have no proof,” Stiles countered and moved past Derek. He shrugged out of his overshirt when the Werewolf grabbed at it to wrench him back and quickly ducked into the small makeshift shack.
The inside was so small he barely fit, but he supposed it was only for the end of the ritual, so it didn’t have to be big enough to live in. He pulled out his phone, turning on the flashlight, and began to look around. The inside had some papers stuck to the branches, and he started when he realized they were all pictures from the newspaper clippings. Derek hissed at him from the entrance, looking around, but Stiles ignored him and started snapping photos. When he turned to see the other side of the shack, he found that instead of photos of dead bodies, there were photocopies of pages of a book. He snapped pictures quickly, Derek becoming angrier at the entrance, and then finally crawled back out.
Derek’s hand closed around his upper arm tightly and he began dragging Stiles away, head swivelling and eyes darting around urgently. He was stressed, and Stiles didn’t need to be a Werewolf to know that. He just allowed himself to be pulled along, stumbling every now and then but the grip on his arm kept him upright.
Once they were out of the forest and near the old science buildings, Derek rounded on him.
“Why can’t you ever just listen to me?” Derek snapped. “What if the Druid was still there?! I have fangs and claws, but they have magic, Stiles! I don’t want anything to happen to you!”
“We needed evidence,” Stiles insisted, waving his phone. “If the Darach saw us, we need to be able to prove what we saw.” He shoved the phone back into his pocket and took his overshirt back from Derek, pulling it on while watching him expectantly. “Well? Are you gonna call the cops, or not?”
Derek should’ve known that it would be a problem. Nothing ever seemed to go his way when it involved Stiles and the police, so he really should’ve expected this.
After calling the police, Derek had led them back to where the makeshift shack was, only to find it caved in on itself and all the pictures gone. Stiles had insisted they’d seen it and shown the police the photos, which had led to them being hauled down to the station for questioning. They weren’t the same officers Stiles had previously been dealing with for the trip down, so when they’d been put into different rooms, they didn’t know Derek was a Werewolf and he had neglected to tell them he was. Apparently these cops were too stupid to notice because he hadn’t been put into a soundproof room, which meant he heard every word of Stiles’ questioning.
It was very different from his own, and that infuriated him. It had started out fairly tame, and the officer who’d been giving Stiles a hard time the first time he’d been there was actually interrogating Derek—he also seemed to forget Derek was a Werewolf, or maybe he was so focussed on Stiles that he hadn’t remembered he’d barked at Derek to shift back when he’d been in the woods for the body he’d found.
When the pictures from Stiles’ phone had produced a book though, the officers in the room with Stiles had started having an interesting conversation.
“Apparently this book has been most recently used by you. Many times, in fact. We have video evidence of you photocopying it.”
“I told you,” Stiles said, voice higher than normal and betraying his anger and exasperation, “I figured out this was a Darach after the first Warrior was killed! That book is the only one that references this ritual, so I’ve been using it for guidance!”
“Convenient that you knew so early in the game. And that you’ve been found at two of the murders, along with the supposed centre of the ritual.”
“Are you serious right now?!” Stiles demanded, voice rising dangerously. “If this was me, why would I be stupid enough to have called the cops when I found the first body?!”
“To remove suspicion. Why would you call indeed? If you admit to finding a body, then you’re just a victim who stumbled upon something, and are immediately off the suspect list.”
“You’re joking, right? When I was first hauled in here, I was held for hours because of my background with the Nogitsune! I wasn’t removed from any suspect list, I was at the fucking top of it!”
“Watch your tone,” the officer snapped.
Derek growled and clenched his hands into fists, but had to focus back on his own officer when he asked Derek another question. It was hard keeping his anger in check while he listened to the other conversation. Stiles kept insisting that he’d only been researching the murders because he wanted to help stop them.
He repeated, over and over, that he was a sheriff’s son and wanted to be in law enforcement. He explained how he’d come across the book, asked again why he would have bothered to call the police if he was behind everything, and just generally became more and more anxious as time passed to the point where Derek could smell it from across the hall.
He cut off his own officer mid-sentence because he was tired of this shit, and crossed his arms angrily.
“Listen,” he snapped, the man looking startled. “Stiles has been looking into this for months, and has wanted to say something since the beginning but knew he wouldn’t be believed after his treatment the first time he was here. He found one body, and tried to do the right thing, and got shit on for it. I found another body, and you all spent more time focussing on the fact that he was present than actually paying attention to the clues around you. We call you when we think we found the centre of the ritual, and you haul us in here for questioning and accuse Stiles of being behind it all.”
“No one is accusing your friend of—” The officer cut off when Derek’s eyes glowed and he slowly shifted into his Beta form. The man looked shocked, and then pissed off, because that meant he knew that Derek was extremely aware of what was happening in the other room. He also glanced down at the file in front of him and began flipping through it, jaw clenching.
“You were the wolf,” he said, looking back up. “The one from the woods.”
“Stiles did not do this,” Derek said through his fangs, getting angrier by the second the shriller Stiles’ voice became. “He is trying to help. He gave you all the pieces you need to solve this case, and you now know it’s a Darach. So you’re going to thank us for our help and let us go.”
“Not until we have some answ—”
The door opened then, an officer leaning in and motioning for the other to come out of the room. He turned to glare at Derek before standing and moving outside, shutting the door. Either he’d already forgotten Derek was a Werewolf, or he didn’t have time to think about it, because the other officer spoke.
“They just found a body. Pharmacist this time. Coroner’s on scene, says it can’t be more than an hour old.”
“Complete opposite end of the campus from where these two were. They’ve been with us too long for it to be either of them.”
“That one’s a wolf,” the one who’d been with him said. “It couldn’t be him, anyway.”
They moved out of hearing range then, and Derek honed back in on the conversation with Stiles. Everything was silent in the other room save for Stiles’ angry breathing and his elevated heartrate. The cop with him kept asking him questions, but he seemed to be done with answering them because he didn’t speak.
A few minutes later, the officer left the room and they were both alone. He wished Stiles could hear him if he spoke, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to so he didn’t bother saying anything. He would break out and go across the hall if he didn’t know that would only cause them more problems.
They sat for a few minutes longer before the door was opened and the same cop as before told him he could go. Derek stood and walked out of the room, then turned to look expectantly at Stiles’ door. The officer gave him an unimpressed look, but he opened that one as well and barked that Stiles could leave.
“Finally,” he snapped, but Derek heard the uptick in his heart denoting he’d actually been worried he wouldn’t be able to.
He caught Derek’s eye in the corridor, but didn’t say anything, and the two of them made their way towards the front of the precinct.
“So are you going to follow up on anything?” Stiles asked, seemingly unable to keep his mouth shut.
“Your theory is far-fetched, at best. The ritual is thousands of years old, and hasn’t been successfully used in over two centuries.”
“Oh, so when I’m the suspect, it’s plausible, but the second it’s not me, it’s far-fetched?” Stiles demanded angrily.
Derek put his hand on his shoulder and squeezed hard. He understood Stiles’ anger, but he wanted them to get out of the station. Stiles still didn’t know a third body had been found, and it wasn’t a discussion he could have with him in the middle of the precinct.
“Get out of here before I decide to hold you overnight,” the man barked.
Stiles opened his mouth, probably to say something stupid, but Derek pushed him forward roughly and forced him to keep walking until they reached the front. Their belongings were returned and they headed outside while Derek called Boyd to ask him to pick them up. He said he’d be there in a few minutes so Derek hung up.
“These cops are unbelievable,” Stiles shouted angrily once they were on the sidewalk and a bit further from the police station. “When you call someone in for a statement, you don’t act like they’re under arrest! I’ve been so patient with these assholes, and they still act like this is all my fault! I’m trying to help them do their jobs! And now they don’t even believe me! They probably still think it’s me, and—”
“They don’t,” Derek said, turning to him. “They found another body while we were locked up.”
Stiles’ mouth snapped shut and his face paled at those words. He sat down heavily on the edge of the sidewalk and rubbed at his face with both hands. Derek would know he was miserable even without being able to smell it. Stiles was a good person who just wanted to help, and the police were acting like he was an idiot who didn’t know what he was doing.
Yes, it was insane that Stiles had figured out the ritual after only four deaths, but he seemed to just be extremely good at this kind of thing. Even Derek had been skeptical at first, but ever since hearing about the ritual, everything that had happened made sense. It all fit.
And Derek knew it wasn’t Stiles, because he kept an almost obsessively close eye on him. The only times he didn’t was when he was in class, and Stiles was so paranoid lately that he was usually always with Boyd, Isaac or Scott when he wasn’t with Derek.
He knew it wasn’t Stiles, possessed or otherwise. And Stiles was getting closer to who it actually was and that terrified Derek.
Because one day soon, Stiles was going to go too deep, and Derek wouldn’t be there to save him.
Stiles tapped his foot anxiously against the floor while staring at the wall in front of him, the end of a pen between his teeth and eyes unfocussed. Every time he heard a noise behind him, he whipped around to make sure his door was still locked, and then felt stupid for worrying.
He knew he was just antsy because it was the full moon and he was alone, but there was no reason for him to be acting like a jumpy schoolgirl. He just couldn’t help feeling watched, even now, alone in his room. He didn’t know all the kinds of Druid magic, so maybe there was one that allowed them to spy without anyone knowing they were doing it.
For all he knew, the Druid was watching him at this very moment, and even thinking about it was making his skin crawl.
Giving himself a shake and knowing Derek would be back soon, Stiles stood and went to his bed, pulling his covers back and then climbing in fully dressed, throwing the blankets back over himself and covering his head. This entire year had been a shitshow, and it was depressing to realize he still had three more to go. The only upside so far was that he had a super awesome Werewolf boyfriend.
Stiles couldn’t help the grin that forced its way onto his face when he thought about Derek and how he was his boyfriend. It seemed ridiculous, when he really thought about it, to be giddy about a title, but it was nice. Knowing Derek was there for him, and being there for Derek in return.
They had fun, and they supported each other, and he hoped Derek realized what an amazing person he truly was and that his ex-girlfriend was literally a psychotic, murdering bitch. Stiles wanted Derek to stop blaming himself for someone else’s actions, and he thought that, little bit little, he was succeeding in making Derek understand that he was phenomenal.
Stiles didn’t know how long he lay in bed, but after a while, he fell asleep. It was hard to wake up, and he found himself coughing and struggling to come back to consciousness. He felt tired, and sluggish, and it was hard to breathe. He forced himself to focus, come back to consciousness, and heard a faint ringing in his ears. He realized, after a good few sluggish seconds, that it was the fire alarm.
He forced his eyes open and sat up, coughing roughly and immediately being hit in the face with smoke. When he looked around, he could barely see anything, the smoke was so thick, and he stumbled off the bed, falling to his knees on the floor.
He coughed hard, crawling towards the window, the sounds of the fire alarm so faint he wasn’t sure it was still ringing. Black played at the edges of his vision, and he knew if he blacked out, he was going to die. He already felt like he wanted to just lie down and sleep, but he forced his body forward.
Once he reached the desk, he used it to help him stand, and grabbed the edge of the window. He tried to pull it up, but it wouldn’t budge. At first he thought maybe he was too weak from smoke inhalation to get it open, but then he noticed someone had wedged a piece of wood against the frame outside so that he couldn’t open it.
Someone had actually forced his window shut.
Panic really began to set in then, and he knew that was bad, because it meant he would be inhaling even more smoke.
He tried to find his phone, his vision blackening further, and fell off the desk. Coughing, he crawled back to the bed, struggling to get himself onto it and searching for his phone. When he found it, his vision swam and he honestly wasn’t sure which number he dialled.
“Hey Stiles, what’s up?”
He tried to say something, but he was so fucking tired. The smoke seemed to be getting worse, and he knew that even if Scott clued in that something was wrong, they were all out running and too far away to help.
Stiles closed his eyes, his grip on his phone loosening, and struggled to keep himself awake. Maybe he could... no... that wouldn’t work... it would never work...
Stiles knew he was going to die of smoke inhalation—the lamest way to go, if he was perfectly honest—and felt his consciousness slipping when there was a loud crash behind him. Someone shouted his name, and he felt himself being lifted off the bed.
He wasn’t sure what happened afterwards, because too much was happening at once for a little while. When he was finally starting to focus on his surroundings once more, he was sitting in the back of an ambulance with a blanket over his shoulders and an oxygen mask over his face.
He coughed roughly and tried to pull the mask off, but a paramedic stopped his attempt and held the mask more firmly against his face. He kept coughing, eyes looking around at the people milling about outside the dorm, then finally focussed on the dorm itself.
It actually seemed like it was completely fine, and he wasn’t sure what had happened. His eyes glanced to the side and he saw Derek and the others hovering worriedly by the ambulance. None of them were looking at him, they were just talking quietly to each other in voices that sounded more wolf than human, with lots of growling.
Derek was wearing jeans, but no shirt and he was barefoot. He looked like he had a little soot on his skin, and that set Stiles off on a panic attack, which the paramedic was not happy about.
He wished he could stop it, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t, because Derek had told him his family had died in a fire, and he’d probably been terrified, but he’d jumped into their room and saved Stiles anyway. He’d probably been a panicked mess, but he’d saved him.
It took him way too long to calm down from the attack, and by the time he was in a decent state again, Derek was in front of him, crouched down with one hand gripping the back of his neck tightly. He looked terrified and relieved at the same time, and Stiles wanted to have a breakdown.
He wanted to ask what happened, but his throat hurt every time he tried to speak, and he just ended up coughing again.
“Relax,” Derek said, watching him closely. “You’re okay.”
Stiles wasn’t okay. He wasn’t anywhere close to being okay. Someone had tried to kill him. He didn’t need anyone to tell him so, he knew. Someone had wedged the window shut, and Stiles’ room was conveniently filled with smoke.
Someone had literally tried to kill him.
Derek’s hands were still shaking, and no matter what he did, he couldn’t get them to stop. He stared down at them resting on his lap, and then clenched them into fists. Boyd pressed closer into his side, offering his support, and Isaac paced in front of him, keeping close to both him and Scott, who was sitting across from them in the waiting room.
Stiles was fine. He knew he was. He’d seen him with his own eyes. But that didn’t stop the fear trying to overtake him. He couldn’t stop thinking about what would’ve happened if they hadn’t been almost back at the dorm. If they’d still been out in the forest, running, they wouldn’t have made it in time.
They’d heard the fire alarm from where they were, but none of them had thought anything about it. People burned toast or popcorn all the time, so they weren’t worried and had slowly been walking back to the dorm.
It wasn’t until Scott’s phone rang with Stiles’ number, and they could hear the alarm through the phone, but nothing from Stiles, that Derek lost it. He wolfed out immediately, ripping his clothing to shreds, and had bolted for the dorm.
There were firefighters outside, and probably more inside the building, but he hadn’t even stopped to see what they were doing. He’d raced around the dorm to their room, and had shifted back in time to see the piece of wood holding the window shut. He’d torn the entire frame off the wall and immediately been hit with a wall of smoke.
Terror, sharp and unwelcome, had torn its way up his throat. All he could think about was his family dying. All of them stuck inside their house, screaming and clawing for a way out. It had been almost too much for him, and he couldn’t lose Stiles the same way. He refused to lose Stiles the same way.
Jumping into the smoke-filled room had been both the easiest and hardest thing he’d ever done in his life. A part of him was holding back because of the fear of what his family went through, but another part was urging him forward because of the fear of losing Stiles. He was so thankful the fear for Stiles was what won, because he was positive a few seconds longer and he would’ve died.
By the time he’d gotten him out and to the front where the paramedics and firefighters were, Derek had almost had a panic attack but managed to hold out long enough to pass him over and for Boyd and Isaac to find him.
Isaac had given him his sweater to wrap around his waist, until the small fire that had broken out was under control. Then Boyd had gone to get Derek some real pants from his room. It was while he was there that Boyd found out what had happened, and when he relayed it to the others, Derek was ready to be sick again.
Someone had rigged Stiles and Derek’s door shut, and then started a fire right outside the door. Most people were out partying on a Friday night, so nobody had seen anything, but that coupled with the window being wedged shut made it extremely clear someone was out to get Stiles.
Which Derek had told the police when they’d shown up, but they had dismissed it until Derek had made a scene and a firefighter had come over to see what the commotion was about.
The firefighter was on Derek’s side, and agreed that it was fairly clear whoever had set the fire had been specifically going after Stiles—or Derek, since it was a shared room. The police had begrudgingly said they’d look into it, but Derek wasn’t going to hold his breath.
This had to do with the Darach, and Derek knew it. He’d tried to convince the police of that, but they’d brushed it off and, again, insisted it was too far-fetched. Why would a Druid be performing a ritual that hadn’t been used in centuries? And if Stiles was right, why would the Druid risk exposure going after him?
Derek really worried about the people of the city with police officers this inept. By the time they left, he was happy to see them go because he was liable to kill them all. He and the others had instead followed Stiles to the hospital.
Derek had only spoken to Stiles’ dad a few times, and that was only during Skype calls Stiles happened to answer or be on when Derek was around. He knew that they were dating, of course, but the last thing Derek wanted to do was have to call Stiles’ father to tell him his son was in the hospital because someone had tried to kill him.
It was not a fun conversation, and he’d had to convince the sheriff not to drive down there, which was easier said than done. By the time they hung up, he still wasn’t sure he’d succeeded in convincing him, and was proven to be right when the man came storming into the hospital fourteen hours later, looking like death and smelling of anxiety.
Derek wished he’d succeeded in keeping him away, but when he saw how tightly he and Stiles hugged one another in the hospital room, he felt an ache in his chest and decided it was a good thing he’d shown up. Derek had just gone to wait in the waiting room with the others again, hoping Stiles would be released soon.
Laura called while they were there, and he had to explain what happened since the school was trying to bill him for ripping the window out of the side of the building. Laura wasn’t happy about it, but promised she’d do what she could and if they ended up having to pay for it, then they’d pay for it.
It turned out they didn’t have to pay for it, and by the time Isaac and Boyd left, they texted to tell him the dorm room had been fixed and there was a new window in place. He honestly didn’t care much about that, he just wanted Stiles to be okay.
“He told me, you know,” Scott said after hours of sitting in silence. Derek shifted his gaze to look at him. “Stiles. He told me. About the phone call.”
Derek knew what he was talking about and grit his teeth, clenching his hands into fists and ignoring the ache of hunger in his stomach. He hadn’t had the appetite to eat since this had all happened, but knew he would have to eventually.
“We have to stop him,” Scott continued. “He’s going to get himself killed.”
“I’ve tried,” Derek snapped, pissed that Scott thought it was that easy. “He won’t listen.”
“Then we have to make him listen,” Scott insisted. “Derek, he almost died. And you know full well that if he keeps going down this path, he’s going to end up running from bullets, and I don’t want that to happen to him. He’s my friend.”
“He’s more than that to me!” Derek bit out angrily. Scott growled and flashed his eyes, Derek instinctively lowering his gaze. He was mad he’d done so, because he wasn’t going to listen to some child trying to tell him something he already knew.
“You don’t think I want to stop him?” Derek bit out. “I can’t lose him. But I don’t know how to save him. If that call comes...”
He didn’t know. He didn’t know what he’d do. If he got that call, he would probably break down. If he got that call, he would lose himself.
Even worse, he might not get the call. Past him would, and wouldn’t do a thing to help Stiles in the present. And every time he thought of that, it killed him.
“What are we going to do about this?” Scott asked quietly.
Derek didn’t answer, because he honestly didn’t know.
All he knew, was he had to keep Stiles safe, no matter the cost.
Stiles was jumpy for the next few weeks, and he felt like the Darach was fucking with him. It was waiting for him to let his guard down so it could come after him again, and he fucking hated it. He knew that was who had come after him, no matter what the police said. He hadn’t done anything else to warrant being targeted like that.
He also hated the police in this city, and had made it very clear to everyone involved not to tell his father, because he didn’t need any more stress in his life. He preferred leaving his dad thinking they were just assholes but did their jobs, as opposed to assholes who didn’t do their jobs.
His dad didn’t do well with incompetent cops.
He stuck around for almost a week after Stiles was released, which he loved, but also hated, because he knew it was eating into their funds and that his dad was likely going to put in overtime at work to make up for it. Stiles didn’t like the thought of his dad overworking himself, so he decided it would be a good idea to get a job.
He knew his dad wouldn’t like it, because the reason he hadn’t gotten one to begin with was that he wanted Stiles to focus on his studies. It was hard to focus with murders happening all over the place, and he felt like most of the school was being lenient about grades because of it. Everyone was traumatized, and Stiles had found one of the bodies himself and almost died, so really, he was due some fucking leniency.
He’d managed to snag a job at the library doing checkouts, which was actually perfect because the hours were flexible to accommodate students, and Derek could hang out at his workplace without being told to stop loitering.
And Derek definitely hung out at his workplace, almost obsessively. If Stiles weren’t so appreciative of his protectiveness right now, he’d find it creepy. But he knew why Derek was doing it, and every time he thought back to him coming into the smoke-filled room, he almost panicked. He couldn’t imagine what it must’ve been like for him, and the first day they’d been back in the dorm, Derek had been holding him so tightly all night that it had been hard to sleep.
Stiles had also realized he was shaking, and he wished he knew how to help him, but all he could do was whisper that everything was okay, and they were both fine until Derek could fall asleep.
They didn’t stay asleep long. Derek had nightmares, but so did Stiles, so they evened out. Derek’s were less violent than his first nightmare had been, but Stiles still tended to flail upright screaming, Derek hugging him tightly from behind while he counted his fingers over and over again. Back when he’d always thought about university life, this hadn’t exactly been how he’d expected it to go.
Stiles was at work the day he heard about a teacher in a nearby school going missing. Derek hadn’t reacted to the news, but Stiles had broken out in a cold sweat at the thought. When another professor from their university had gone missing, Stiles had had a panic attack.
He’d called the police, insisting that the missing people were dead in the woods around the school somewhere, but they hadn’t taken him seriously.
They should have, because a group of Freshman had found the bodies less than a week later, and Stiles had gotten hauled in for questioning, which had not sat well with Derek, if his reaction had been anything to go by.
He’d given them everything they’d asked for, but he knew the one cop was still adamant that it was him. It pissed him off because Stiles had literally almost died, yet they all still thought he was throwing them off his trail. Because Stiles was talented enough to barricade himself into his room from the outside and light a fire outside his door.
Of course, silly him.
When a third teacher had gone missing, Stiles sat obsessively trying to find the new centre. When he and Derek had found the makeshift hut, the bodies surrounding it hadn’t been complete enough to concretely set that location as its centre. Now, there were more bodies, and it would be harder to shift the centre somewhere else without either starting over, or finding a way to shift the magic of the ritual. Both were risky, and the latter was extremely difficult.
It didn’t mean impossible, though, and Stiles felt bile rising in his throat at the thought of this starting all over again.
“The Darach is escalating,” Derek said quietly a few nights later. “The first set of sacrifices happened over a number of months, but this set happened in the space of two weeks, if that. And now a third teacher is missing, which means the Philosopher’s set will be complete soon, if it isn’t already.”
Stiles said nothing, sitting on his bed with his notes open but his mind elsewhere. He figured Derek had caught how distracted he was, otherwise he wouldn’t have said anything.
“It’s getting desperate,” Stiles whispered. “It knows it’s going to get caught soon, and is lucky it’s gotten away this long. The police not believing me is helping, but it likely wants to just get it over with quickly.”
He didn’t think this meant attempts on his life were over, but he didn’t tell Derek that. The last thing he needed was Derek to get on his case about all of this again.
Stiles had mostly stopped, but not entirely. He just wanted to try and make the target on his back a little smaller, but it was impossible to make it disappear entirely. He’d figured everything out at the beginning, so frankly, it was a miracle he’d lasted this long before the murder attempts started.
He just wished he had an idea of who it could be. He’d long since finished going through all of the Druids on campus, but that was only the ones who’d made themselves known. There could be dozens more he wasn’t aware of, and he had never wished so badly for a Supernatural registry to be mandatory in his life.
He knew that was a horrible thing to want, given it would mean Derek and Scott and the others would always and forever have to advise people upon meeting them that they were Werewolves, but it would just make his life so much easier if he could determine who he was missing.
Derek’s phone buzzed while Stiles stared off into space, the silence stretching for so long that he knew something was wrong. When he glanced at Derek, the Werewolf was watching him before sighing.
“They found the third body.”
“Where?” Stiles asked, pushing his books aside and climbing off the bed. He grabbed a red sharpie from his desk and walked to his closet, pulling it open and staring at the campus map he had taped to the inside. He’d marked off all the bodies on the map, trying to find a new plausible centre, but everything in the middle was buildings and open spaces, so he was finding it more difficult to pin down.
Derek appeared behind him, chest pressed against his back and pointed to the map. Stiles reached up with the sharpie and drew another ‘X.’
When he lowered the pen, Derek’s hand fell and he wrapped his arms around Stiles’ middle, inhaling deeply with his nose brushing up the column of Stiles’ throat.
“This is getting more dangerous,” he insisted quietly, arms tightening. “You need to stop. You’re only human.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Stiles asked, without any real heat in his voice. He was too tired to fight with Derek.
“I don’t want to lose you. I don’t want to get that call.”
“I’ll do my best to avoid making it,” he promised.
Derek said nothing, but Stiles knew that wasn’t what he meant.
They stood in front of the closet door for a long while, Derek holding him tightly and Stiles worried that he wasn’t going to escape this year alive.
Stiles scanned books back into the system without really paying attention to what he was doing. His mind was wandering, as it often did, and he couldn’t help but wonder if he was missing something important. He’d been trying not to obsess lately, but Scott had said something to him in class the day before and while he hadn’t shared it with Derek, it had shaken him more than he cared to admit.
“So if the next group is Guardians,” Scott had said, “would you technically qualify since you’re trying to protect people?”
He was sure Scott hadn’t meant it in the way Stiles had taken it, and the second it had clicked in his head, he’d looked horrified.
But he wasn’t wrong. That was what Stiles hated. Scott wasn’t wrong. Did Stiles qualify as a Guardian? Or were Guardians going to be parents? Or people in a parent-like role? Did Stiles qualify because he was trying to protect people, or would he be safe because he wasn’t a parent? He honestly didn’t know, and having the Darach already gunning for him was making him extremely concerned.
He jumped and jerked away from the hand gripping his shoulder, focussing on the party who’d grabbed him. Derek’s expression was neutral, but Stiles could tell he was worried. He’d probably been trying to get his attention for a while.
“Sorry, distracted. What’s up?”
“I have to get going to class, but Isaac isn’t here yet.” He scowled towards the door, as if forgetting his friends were taking time out of their day to watch his boyfriend as a favour to him. “I can’t miss this class though, we’re having a quiz first thing.”
“I’m in a crowded library in the middle of the day, Derek,” Stiles insisted with a small forced laugh. “It’s fine. I’ll see you for dinner, okay?” He leaned across the counter to kiss him lightly then grinned and waggled his eyebrows. “Maybe I’ll even have room for dessert.”
Derek rolled his eyes, but he leaned forward to kiss Stiles again before turning to leave the library. He glanced back a few times nervously, but eventually walked out the door. Stiles dropped his smile and rubbed at his face, feeling exhausted.
“This isn’t how my first year of university was supposed to go,” he muttered to himself. He was surprised he was managing to pass his courses, though he was fairly sure everyone’s grades were being curved upwards due to stress from all the murders.
“Hey!” a woman’s voice said from right in front of him. Stiles started and looked up, greeted by a bright smile and a dimpled cheek. “Stiles, right? We met once before.”
“Right,” he said, trying to place her. “Right. You’re, uh... Jennifer, right?”
“That’s me.” She leaned forward on the counter, still smiling. “Haven’t seen you in a while. Guess this is where you disappeared to. Working at the counter instead of at a table.”
“Figured it was time I paid the library back for how often I come by,” he joked, forcing a smile.
She laughed, tucking some hair behind her ear, and Stiles actually almost thought she might be flirting with him before realizing that was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever thought. She probably just wanted something from him, and he definitely wasn’t going to give it to her.
“How are you holding up?” she asked, which made him frown. She frowned back. “You know, the fire? I heard it happened in your dorm and that you almost died.”
“Oh.” Stiles hadn’t realized it had spread that far. A few people in neighbouring dorms had heard about it, but he didn’t recognize Jennifer from campus, so he hadn’t realized she would’ve heard about it. “Yeah, I’m fine. It was, uh, you know, it sucked and was scary and all, but I got out.”
“Obviously,” she said with a laugh. “I heard it was a Werewolf who saved you.”
“Yeah, my boyfriend.” He didn’t know why, but he was starting to feel uncomfortable. “I have work to do, so...” he trailed off, motioning behind himself.
“You can chat and work, I’m sure. I won’t tell,” she whispered with a wink.
Stiles really didn’t want to continue this conversation with her, but he didn’t know how to get out of it. Something about this conversation was bugging him, and he wished he could figure out what it was.
“I have to go into the back and do some re-shelving and stuff,” Stiles insisted, motioning behind him once more. “It’s not—I can’t really talk right now. Sorry.”
“That’s okay,” she said with a shrug and straightened. “Just wanted to check in, see how you were doing. I know things have been a little scary with all the murders, but I’m sure everything will be over soon.” She tapped the counter and smiled. “I’ll see you around, Stiles.”
“Yeah, see you.”
He watched her walk towards the doors and out of the library, and only when she was out of sight did he feel like he could breathe again. Something about that entire exchange had made him uncomfortable, and he couldn’t figure out what it was. He also suddenly felt like Isaac was taking his time, and really wished he’d hurry up.
When Stiles’ replacement came for the counter so he could go do some re-shelving, he started in the stacks in the basement, and had just started putting books away when he froze.
The first time he’d met Jennifer was because he’d had the book she’d wanted. She’d said it was for her thesis, but what if it hadn’t been? She’d noticed he hadn’t been around for a while, and Stiles knew he hadn’t been because he’d specifically photocopied the book so he wouldn’t be in the library alone anymore where anyone could see what he was working on.
She’d also brought up the fire, as well as Derek being a Werewolf. The fire was common knowledge, though not that wide-spread, but Derek hadn’t been mentioned at all in the article about it. It had just said there was a fire, one student had almost died, but had been sent to the hospital due to smoke inhalation. Stiles hadn’t been able to talk for days after being released, and even when his throat had healed enough, talking made him cough hard enough that he didn’t want to talk.
He hadn’t had the opportunity to tell anyone that Derek had saved him, and the only people who knew were the people who were there.
Jennifer was a Grad student, which meant she didn’t have residence on campus, so why would she have been near the dorms to know about Derek?
“Holy shit.” Stiles dropped the books he held. “Holy shit, Jennifer is the Darach!”
It made sense. Who else had been looking at the book aside from him? He was sure there were other people reading it for classes, but Jennifer had specifically sought him out, as if wanting to see who was taking the book and why. And the fact that she remembered his name so easily, when Stiles had had to dig deep to recall hers after one meeting, meant she hadn’t remembered it, she just knew it.
Holy fucking shit, he knew who the Darach was!
Grabbing his phone from his pocket, Stiles raced up to the first floor to get cell reception, and then bolted out of the library, dialling the police station. He’d been calling it so often lately that he knew it by heart.
When the receptionist answered, he asked to speak to the asshole cop, only he asked for him by name instead of referring to him as “the asshole cop.”
The other’s gruff voice rang down the line, and Stiles blurted out, “I know who the Darach is!”
“The what? Kid, is this you again? I swear to God, I’m going to arrest you for interfering with an open investigation.”
“I’m not interfering, I’m fucking solving it,” he snapped, irritated. “I know who the Darach is! I should’ve thought of it before with the book, but I only met her once and—”
“Look, I get that your old man is a sheriff, and you want to be in law enforcement, but this is a real problem affecting real people. We’re looking at twelve bodies and no suspects—”
“But—” Stiles tried to say, but the officer cut him off.
“—and having some kid who was possessed by an evil fox spirit in his teens isn’t helping. If you call us again, get ready for a night in jail, because I’ll send a squad car down to pick you up. Understand?”
The line went dead.
Stiles wanted to cry, he was so frustrated. He had never encountered police this colossally stupid in his life, and he’d grown up in a small town of idiots, so that was saying something.
Three more people were going to die because the police were idiots. Jennifer was going to become some all-powerful dark Druid, and her first target was going to be Stiles because he already knew it was her. She couldn’t have him alive once she came to full power.
“Shit!” Stiles quickly called Derek, but the line rang through to voicemail. He’d probably turned the ringer off because he was in class, but he should still have heard it vibrating. Fear struck Stiles so suddenly that he almost retched.
What if Derek was a Guardian? He protected Stiles all the time, and he’d started following him around. Stiles couldn’t think of a time where Derek would ever turn off the vibration on his phone. Even if it didn’t ring, it always vibrated.
Panic started to take over and Stiles had to bend over and take deep breaths to stop from having a full-blown panic attack. Derek was a Werewolf, he would be fine. It wasn’t like Jennifer could subdue a fully grown male Werewolf, Derek could take care of himself.
Cursing, Stiles raced back towards the dorm room, shoving roughly past people who didn’t get out of his way fast enough. When he reached the dorm, it took him three tries to get the keycard in and he hurried to his room.
Pulling open the closet door, he stared in at the map, looking at all the marks he’d been putting on it and wondering if he could really estimate where the next one would be. Something about Jennifer’s comments today made him feel like she was about to kill again, and while his brain screamed for him not to panic about Derek, it was all he could think about.
He grabbed a pen off his desk and a ruler off Derek’s and went back to the map. He started measuring spaces between all the marks, and cursed when nothing seemed to make sense. And the centre still didn’t make sense because it was all buildings and roads and everything was well travelled in that area except for the old science building, which—
“Holy shit!” Stiles yelled, and promptly turned to run out of the room. He was so stupid! How could he have walked past the stupid building so many times in the few months he’d been there and not noticed that it was the perfect place to be creepy and power-hungry?! The buildings were restricted and falling apart so people weren’t allowed near them. Students could walk past them to get to classes, but they had to stay outside the fenced in area, and nobody was stupid enough to go into the buildings because a few students had died six years ago by being reckless and apparently people were smart enough to take that lesson and stick with it.
He felt like an idiot for not having thought of it sooner, and he raced through the crowds of people heading for dinner on his way to the buildings. It was already getting dark, February doing nothing for daylight savings, and he hated that he was rushing head-first into the forest in the near darkness. He didn’t care though, he just had to get to the building and see what he could find. If he could just figure out what the plan was, he could call the cops. The man had said he’d arrest Stiles the next time he called, so he just needed to find something and then stay put until they arrived. Easy peasy, rice and cheesy.
Stiles had just made it past the main road and into another stretch of trees, almost reaching the buildings, when he heard a loud squelching noise and froze. His front foot was on its tip-toes with how abruptly he halted and he felt his lungs close up with fear.
The squelching came again and he slowly turned towards the noise. Being sure to not step on any tree branches or twigs that would snap under his weight, he slowly and quietly made his way towards the sound. His gorge rose when he thought about what it might be, and he struggled to keep calm when he saw movement through the trees. It was hard to see in the dim light, but he slowly approached and hid behind a tree, looking around it and squinting his eyes.
He almost lost his lunch at the sight that greeted him, but managed not to vomit.
Jennifer’s hands were covered in blood, and it looked like she’d been doing something to the body tied to the tree. When Stiles had found the body himself, he’d noticed a lot of blood in the chest area, but seeing Jennifer with blood up to her elbows made him wonder if she’d been digging around in all the victims’ chest cavities.
He was going to be sick, and he knew it, but he couldn’t turn away. He just watched her finish tying the body to the tree and then sigh, stepping back and admiring her work. For a moment, she didn’t move, standing there looking at what she’d done. Then, she sighed loudly again and turned her head slightly to the right.
“Beautiful, isn’t she?” she asked the darkness. “The first of the last set. A shame she had to die, but she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like you.”
Shit, is someone else here? Stiles thought wildly, looking around as best he could for someone else she’d kidnapped. If he could save even one life, it would be worth it.
“Then again,” Jennifer continued with a smile, turning fully and wiping at her bloody hands on a rag she pulled out of her pocket, “you tend to make it your business to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Don’t you, Stiles?”
Stiles felt all the blood drain from his face when she looked up and stared right at him. It shouldn’t have been possible for her to see him in the darkness, but he didn’t know how Druid magic worked this close to being a Darach. For all he knew, she was like a bat and could see using sonar.
I am so fucked, he decided, then turned around and ran for his stupid life.
Derek could feel the urge to murder rising the longer he was stuck behind the fucking idiotic meandering group of people ahead of him going down the stairs. He had places to be and people to protect, he didn’t have time to wander aimlessly down the stairs.
He huffed and puffed angrily behind them, but they were too busy twittering moronically to realize that he was ready to blow them down the fucking stairs. Nevermind that wasn’t possible, but he would sure fucking try if it got them out of his way faster.
When they finally reached the bottom, he very rudely shoved past them and exited the building. It was already dark out, despite only being just after five, and he pulled his phone out so he could figure out if Stiles was done work so they could go to dinner.
Looking down at the screen, he saw one missed call from him and smiled, about to call back when his screen lit up with Isaac’s name. Debating rejecting the call, he decided he could tolerate Isaac for a little while, considering he’d been watching Stiles, and answered.
“Hey Derek,” Isaac said, stretching the two words out.
Derek frowned instantly at the tone. Isaac only ever spoke like that when he did something bad. It was the same tone he used when he was drunk and in jail, the habit somehow transcending between his sober and drunk states seamlessly.
“Isaac, what happened?” he demanded.
He heard Isaac inhale deeply on the other end before exhaling slowly. “Okay, Derek?” he said slowly, still stretching the words out. “Don’t get mad, but I uh, I kind of... lost Stiles.”
“You what?!” Derek demanded, coming to a halt in the middle of the sidewalk and gripping his phone so tightly he heard it cracking.
“I said don’t get mad!” Isaac insisted frantically. “I’m looking for him, okay? I’m looking! Scott and I are looking for him, and I texted Boyd. He said he’d help as soon as he was out of class.”
“Isaac, you had one job!” Derek shouted angrily, turning and storming back towards the library, heart in his throat. “Where are you? Did you check the dorm? He’s not at the library?”
“We’re near the common block, yes I checked the dorm, and no he’s not at the library. The chick at the desk said he ran out of there like he saw a ghost and hasn’t come back since.”
“Dammit!” Derek roared. A few people scurried out of his way at the sound of it, but he ignored them and stopped again, not knowing where to go. If he wasn’t at the library and he wasn’t in the dorm, the only other logical place was the common block, where Isaac and Scott were already heading.
“Derek, we’ll find him,” Isaac insisted. “We tried his cell but he didn’t answer. Have you tried calling him?”
Derek thought of his missed call and felt his mouth run dry. What if he had a voicemail, and it was Stiles screaming for help? What if Stiles was running right now, being shot at, and Derek was just standing on the sidewalk doing nothing?!
“Did you try and follow his scent?” Derek asked, even though he knew it was no good. If Isaac had been at the library, it would’ve been the first thing he tried before calling Derek. He would’ve hoped he could find him long before having to call Derek to admit he’d lost him.
“I couldn’t pick it up after a certain point,” Isaac admitted quietly. “Derek, we’ll find him.”
“Call me when you do,” Derek snapped, knowing it wasn’t fair to take out his anger on Isaac, but he was starting to panic. The phone call from two years ago started playing through his mind.
She’s going to kill me!
She has a gun!
Please, help me!
“Shit!” Derek bellowed angrily, then turned to race towards the library.
If Stiles died on him, Derek was going to fucking kill him!
Stiles was a fucking idiot, and he knew it. He knew it, Lydia knew it, his dad knew it, fuck even Derek probably knew it. He was an idiot who couldn’t leave well enough alone, and now he was going to pay for it.
Horribly. Bloodily. Painfully.
He was going to die because he was too fucking good at what he did. No wonder he wanted to work in stupid law enforcement, obviously he would be an amazing cop if he wasn’t about to die!
His hands were shaking while he struggled to get his phone out. He felt so stupid for being this scared. He’d faced worse in his short life, including possession by a demon, watching his best friend get torn apart by a Werewolf and then magically come back to life as a Banshee, almost being eaten by a Wendigo.
Somehow, a crazy Druid with a gun was a lot more terrifying than any of those other things. It shouldn’t have made sense, but such was his life. And brain. This was how he felt.
Getting his phone to cooperate, he finally started to dial for the police when he realized the police wouldn’t do anything. He’d tried that already, and this was an emergency, he couldn’t count on the police to save him this time.
And the last time this had happened—the first time this had happened?—he had called Derek. He had called him, because he was the only person Stiles trusted to save him from the gun toting maniac.
Should he call him again? Would that even make sense? He would be calling past Derek, and he already knew past Derek heard him die. But what if this time was different? What if because the Derek of today knew about the conversation that was about to happen, he could somehow come and save him?
“Come out, come out, wherever you are,” a voice sing-songed from the door. Stiles cursed, hand tightening around the phone he held and pressing his back harder against the wall. He chanced a peek around it, and then pulled back quickly, clenching his eyes shut and letting out a slow breath.
She had her gun out. Jesus Christ, he was about to fucking die.
“Stiles,” she called melodically. “Come on out, Stiles. You have nowhere to go. I’ve locked all the doors, and it’s just you and me in here.”
He could hear her heels clicking as she moved closer and he slowly fell to his knees, crawling away towards the back part of the large room. He was thankful for all of the outdated equipment to hide behind, but he also worried that if lights turned on she could just follow the trail through the dust to where he was located.
Bending down behind a desk, breathing laboured, he felt sweat trailing down the side of his face and stared out into the darkness, squinting. He could see her silhouette, walking slowly in his direction, gun held loosely in one hand.
“Couldn’t leave well enough alone, could you, Stiles? Had to go and ruin everything!” She kicked a chair and it clattered across the floor. Stiles winced, still gripping his phone tightly in one hand and inching a little towards the left.
Just because she said the doors were all locked didn’t mean he couldn’t try and get through one somehow. He could shoulder his way out, if he had to, he was sure.
“I only needed two more, Stiles. Two. More. Then I would be so powerful even God himself wouldn’t be able to stop me.”
Stiles almost said something at that, because anyone who thought they could be more powerful than God was clearly a lunatic. But, he didn’t want to die, so he kept his mouth shut and looked around for an opening.
Jennifer was still slowly making her way towards him and he cursed mentally before bending down further and looking at his phone. Silently begging his hands to just fucking cooperate and stop shaking, he opened his contacts, found Derek’s name, and hit the call button.
The ringing he heard in his ear seemed to be as loud as gunshots, but it was nothing compared to when Derek practically screamed, “Stiles!”
Jennifer whipped around in his direction and threw her hand out. Stiles dove to the side, a blast of energy just barely missing him, the electrical outer shell of it crackling painfully against his hand, followed by a bullet grazing his arm.
“Shit! Derek!” Stiles scrambled to his feet and raced for the closest door. He heard a burst of static in his ear but didn’t pull the phone away. Derek’s voice was mixed in with it, shouting his name.
“Derek, it’s happening!” He flew through a set of double doors and almost right off the edge of an unfinished floor before catching himself at the last second and turning to race down the corridor instead.
“Hello?” Derek’s voice said again, but it sounded distorted and weird. And on top of it, there was another Derek screaming.
“Stiles! Stiles, I can’t hear you! Are you there?”
“It’s happening!” Stiles repeated, wincing when he ran into something, metal jabbing at his side. He realized it was a railing for stairs and grabbed it to twist fast enough so he could run up them to the next level. He’d have gone down, but there was a huge black hole in that direction and Jennifer’s footsteps were catching up behind him.
“Derek, it’s fucking happening! I—” He cried out and ducked when a bullet ricocheted off the railing right beside his head. “Shit!”
“Who is this?” Derek asked, overlaid by, “Stiles, where are you?!”
There were two Dereks on the line right now. Stiles could hear two of them.
One from the past, and one from the present.
“What’s happening?” past-Derek demanded. He sounded completely freaked out, but that was nothing to the blind panic he could hear in present-Derek’s voice.
Stiles cursed and had to pull the phone away from his ear so he could pump his arm while he raced up the stairs. He leapt over a hole in the floor at the landing, and stumbled, almost losing his balance, when the area he was standing on almost fell out from under him.
“Stiles!” Jennifer screamed from behind him. “This can be over quickly, or I can make you feel every second of it!”
Panic exploded up Stiles’ throat and he turned to race down another corridor, phone back at his ear. “She’s coming! Derek, please! You have to help me!” he shouted, hearing another burst of static.
He could still hear present-Derek, his Derek, screaming down the line at him, but not past-Derek.
“Stiles, where are you?! I’m coming! Just hang on! Tell me where you are!”
“I’m at the old science labs near the Terrace!” The static abruptly cut off for a second. “Please, you have to help me!” And the static was back. Whatever Jennifer had tried to hit him with was fucking with his stupid phone.
As long as Derek can hear me, he thought in a panic, finding another large room and throwing open the double doors. He’s coming. He’s coming!
He screamed again and ducked his head when more bullets started hitting the desks around him, old computer screens shattering in an explosion of glass and plastic coverings flying outward.
“Derek, she’s going to kill me!” Stiles screamed, even though he knew that Derek was well aware of this. “She has a gun! Help me! Please, help me! I—”
I don’t want to die, he finished helplessly as the phone in his hand exploded. He cried out, pieces of glass shooting outward, hitting him in the face and practically destroying his hand. He didn’t know if Jennifer had used magic or if it was a bullet, but he didn’t care. All he knew was that he’d told Derek where he was.
He clenched his right eye shut to avoid damaging it from the glass that had hit it and cradled his injured hand to his chest, using his other hand to grab the edge of a desk and get himself around it, flying through another set of doors.
This time, he wasn’t fast enough to stop himself from falling, and when he flew through the doors, he fell immediately to the floor below, landing hard on his feet, left leg first.
He screamed, feeling something snap, and fell to his knees, reaching back with his good hand to clutch at his calf, positive he’d just broken his ankle.
Not like this. He wasn’t going out like this.
Rolling quickly so that he wasn’t immediately beneath the opening, he heard the doors open above him before Jennifer cursed and started running in another direction, likely trying to find another way down.
Gritting his teeth and trying not to make any noise, Stiles used the wall to struggle his way back to his feet, avoiding putting any weight on his broken one. His hand was screaming in pain, but at least he didn’t need to use that to run. His ankle, on the other hand, was a huge problem.
Breathing through his teeth, Stiles struggled to make his way down the corridor, using the wall to help him keep his weight off his injured foot. His vision kept going white, the pain blinding, and he had to keep telling himself not to pass out, don’t pass out, stay awake!
He could hardly breathe through the agony, and his brain was still overwhelmed with terror. How was it possible that he’d survived so many Supernatural things in his life only to be bested by a bullet to the brain because of a broken ankle? It was fucking ridiculous!
By the time he reached another room, he was sweating and gasping for air. He grunted while making his way through the darkness, keeping as much weight off his bad foot as he could now that he didn’t have a wall for support. He reached the back corner of the room and used the wall to slide to the floor. It was difficult to move, and every inhale made him feel ready to throw up.
He tried to straighten out his leg and had to bite back a scream. His entire body was shaking, he could barely breathe without wanting to puke, and his hand and ankle were both pulsing in time with his elevated heartbeat.
He was going to die here. He was going to be sitting here when Jennifer finally walked through the doors. No way to run. Nowhere to hide. He would just watch death approach him, like she was the grim reaper coming for his soul.
Stiles realized he should’ve said something. When he’d called Derek, he should’ve told him who it was. How were they going to stop her now that the only person who’d identified her was going to be dead?
Could he do something maybe? There had to be something he could do!
Looking around, all he saw was dust and old computers. Nothing that would help him with a message. If he wrote it in the dust, it might get missed when people pulled him out, or get stepped on. Jennifer might even see it and erase it.
He was still clutching his injured hand to his chest when a thought occurred to him. He pulled it away, staring at it. He couldn’t tell how badly it was damaged in the dark, but he had at least a few broken fingers and there was a lot of blood. He didn’t seem to be missing any, though, which was good.
Why that was good when he was about to die, he had no idea, but at least he’d die with all ten fingers!
Grunting and whimpering while he forced himself to lean forward, trying to ignore the spots in front of his eyes at the pain it was causing his foot, he lifted his shirt as high as he could and dragged his bloody index finger against the skin on his side.
He was breathing so hard he was amazed Jennifer hadn’t found him already, but he forced himself to write an abbreviated version of her name just to be sure he could get it all out.
He’s barely gotten his shirt back down when the door across the room opened and he whipped his head in its direction. He couldn’t see anything from where he was seated on the floor, but Jennifer’s shoes tapped across the floor slowly. So slowly.
“Stiles,” she called, a grin in her voice. “I know you’re in here, little boy. You left quite the trail behind you. Break something, did you?”
He grit his teeth and clenched his uninjured hand into a fist. If nothing else, at least the coroner should see the message. Someone would figure it out. He wouldn’t have died for nothing.
He would be the last to die by her hand.
Stiles listened to her move closer and closer until finally she was in the same row as him and she saw him from two desks down. The grin on her face was vicious and revolting. She looked every bit the monster he knew her to be in that one moment.
“Oh, Stiles. Look at you. Poor, pathetic little child.” She dragged the end of the gun along the desk loudly, moving closer to him. When she reached the end of it, she shifted the gun to the next desk, leaving deep marks in the wooden surface.
“You won’t get away with this,” Stiles said, voice coming out small and pathetic. He knew it was from pain, but he wished his final moments could’ve been of him on his feet facing down the enemy, not sweating and panting on the floor with a broken ankle and a busted hand.
“Oh, honey.” She crouched beside him, smiling. “I already have. By the time anyone finds you, you’ll be nothing more than a rotting corpse. I can do that, you know. Age you enough so that all they find are bones.”
Dread pooled in the pit of Stiles’ stomach at those words. If she made him nothing but bones, the message he’d left on his skin would disappear!
“Whoever you called will find you, but they won’t even know it’s you. They’ll just assume it’s another random body that was left to rot. Another poor student, too stressed and anxious to continue on with life.”
He heard the barrel cock and glanced down at her hand. She raised the gun, moving it forward so it was pressed right against his forehead, and smiled.
“Such a shame. You had promising talent, you know. In your next life, maybe keep your nose out of people’s business, okay?”
She reached out one hand, caressing his cheek almost tenderly, and Stiles clenched his eyes shut.
This was it. He was about to die. He could feel his heartbeat in every inch of his body. The pain was almost enough to overwhelm him and he thought he might pass out before she even pulled the trigger.
He didn’t want to die like this. He didn’t want to leave his dad alone. Couldn’t bear the thought of Lydia finding out he was gone. He had no idea how this would affect Allison, less than a year after her mother’s death.
Derek, who’d known this was coming. Derek, who had heard him die two years ago, when he was a nobody, just a voice on the other end of the line.
Derek, who was on his way, but wouldn’t arrive in time.
It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair!
He felt the pressure increase against his forehead, and waited for the inevitable.
What he got instead was a door flying off its hinges and a roar loud enough to make the whole building shake.
He’s not dead, Derek repeated to himself, racing through the trees and around the odd couple hanging out in the woods. He’s not dead. He’s not.
A group of girls screamed when he leapt clear over them, not slowing for even a second, and wishing there was a more direct route. He couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen if he didn’t make it.
Stiles would be dead. Stiles would die. Stiles couldn’t die! Not now! Not when he meant something! Not when he was more than just a voice on the other end of the line.
Not when Derek fucking loved him!
He snarled and snapped his jaws as he ran, urging himself to go faster. Faster. Faster!
Derek had no idea where the others were, but he hoped they were close. After Stiles’ phone had died, Derek already in his Beta form and sprinting across the campus, he’d called Isaac. All he’d gotten out once Isaac had answered was that Stiles was being shot at and to meet him at the Terrace. Once he’d hung up, he’d immediately stripped out of his clothes while still running full tilt, and had shifted into a wolf.
Even now, going twice as fast as he had on two legs, he didn’t think he was going to make it. But he had to, he had to! Stiles couldn’t die! He couldn’t! Derek wouldn’t let him! He would drag him kicking and screaming back from the abyss if he had to!
When he burst through the trees on the other side, a car honked loudly and swerved to avoid hitting him. He didn’t care, he just leapt around the oncoming traffic until he reached the other side of the road, tore a hole straight through the wire fence, and bolted towards the old science buildings.
Why Stiles had ended up there, he had no idea, but the closer he got, the stronger the scent became. Stiles had run into the building in a panic from the other direction, opposite the road, the scent sour and pungent against the back of his throat. Derek could only assume there was a reason he hadn’t gone for the road. Maybe the Darach hadn’t let him.
When he circled the building, he couldn’t find the entrance Stiles had gone through, because according to his nose, he’d gone straight through a wall. Something was hiding the door, and Derek did not have time for this! He raced around the building in a wide circle, but all the doors were gone. The only option he had to enter was the second story windows.
The few precious seconds it took Derek to transform back into a human were almost too much for him to handle, but he needed hands with opposable thumbs for what he was planning next. Once he was human again, he backed up as far as he could go before hitting the fence, and then raced forward, launching himself at one of the second story windows. If this were a normal building, he’d have reached it without any problems, but because it was a science building on a university campus, the floors were much further apart. He just barely managed to grab the edge with the fingertips of his left hand and he dug the claws of his right hand into the brick to avoid falling.
Grunting, he pulled himself up onto the ledge and fell through the broken window, wincing at the sharp edges of glass biting into his skin. Even as he stood and began inhaling deeply to find Stiles, the wounds were already healing and closing.
The stench of fear and agony hit him like a slap to the face. Stiles was injured, and based on what he was smelling, he’d been injured closeby. Hurrying out of the room and following his nose, Derek picked up a second scent, growling low in his throat when he could tell it was following injured Stiles’ path.
He tilted his head to hear better, feet falling silently as he ran, and picked up two voices in a room at the other end of the building. There were large parts of floor missing between himself and where the voices were, and he realized that Stiles had been injured just on the other side of it. His scent seemed to come from above, which meant he’d fallen, and probably barely avoided falling down another level.
“Oh, Stiles,” a voice Derek didn’t recognize said, almost mockingly. “Look at you. Poor, pathetic little child.”
Derek shifted backwards a few steps, then ran and jumped over the chasm in the floor, landing silently on the other side and beginning to run again, inhaling deeply.
“You won’t get away with this.” Stiles’ voice sounded wrong. Full of pain and desperately clinging to sanity, trying to avoid spiralling into a panicked frenzy.
“Oh, honey. I already have. By the time anyone finds you, you’ll be nothing more than a rotting corpse. I can do that, you know. Age you enough so that all they find are bones.”
Derek heard the stutter in Stiles’ heartbeat and his fangs pushed at his gums. It felt like the corridor was miles long, like he’d been running for hours, but was no closer to the end as he had been moments before. How had Stiles closed this distance injured?! Or maybe it was magic. Maybe the same magic hiding the door was making Derek run on the spot, unable to get closer to the door he so desperately needed to reach.
“Whoever you called will find you, but they won’t even know it’s you. They’ll just assume it’s another random body that was left to rot. Another poor student, too stressed and anxious to continue on with life. Such a shame. You had promising talent, you know. In your next life, maybe keep your nose out of people’s business, okay?”
No, no, no, no! The word kept repeating in Derek’s mind and he put on a burst of speed, the doors looming in front of him. Just a bit further. Just a few more seconds.
Do not die on me, Stilinski!
Derek slammed into the doors so hard he blew them clear off their hinges. Whipping his head around towards where he knew Stiles was, he roared and leapt onto the closest table, closing the distance in seconds.
The woman crouched in front of Stiles jerked to her feet and aimed the gun at Derek. He got close enough to swipe it from her hands, but he wasn’t quite fast enough to avoid the spell that hit him from her other hand. He flew backwards, slamming into a desk so hard that it broke under his weight.
He scrambled back to his feet, feeling disoriented from the blast, and found the woman aiming the gun right at his head before something tackled her from the side. The gun went off, missing Derek’s ear by a millimetre, burning on its way by.
Isaac was on the ground with her, wrestling with her for a few seconds before letting out a loud shout of pain followed by getting kicked off of her. There was a knife in his side, and given Isaac’s reaction and the screaming that followed, it was laced with wolfsbane.
Derek turned to growl at the woman as she got to her feet and she quickly reached into one pocket and threw something into the air around her. A large circle appeared right at Derek’s feet, trapping the woman inside. When he glanced over at Isaac, he saw Scott kneeling beside him, helping him pull the knife out. They were outside the circle, same as him.
“Nice try, wolf, but I always come prepared,” the woman sneered. He focussed back on her with a growl, pressing his hands against the invisible barrier and wishing he could push through the mountain ash and rip out her throat. “You made it here in record time, I’ll give you that, but nobody is walking out of here alive.” She moved closer to the edge of the circle where Isaac and Scott were.
Scott was still trying to help Isaac get the knife out, but it looked like even the hilt was laced with wolfsbane so it was hurting both of them trying to get it out. He looked up at her from his position on the ground, eyes glowing red and fangs bared.
“So cute. Puppy love? Adorable.” She turned back to Derek, who was pushing harder against the barrier. He just needed to get through. He needed to fucking destroy her!
“This works out well for me. A human and three Werewolves. Maybe you chased the poor boy in here. Maybe he was a rogue Hunter who thought the world would be better off without you.” She clicked her tongue. “Oh Stiles, why did you have to involve other people?” she asked, but didn’t take her eyes off Derek. She gave him a very deliberate once-over that had his skin crawling and his claws digging harder into the barrier he couldn’t breach.
“Maybe I can keep you. Alter your memory a little bit. Or is that too mean? Hard to say really, considering Stiles will be dead and it won’t matter soon.
Derek roared, pulled one fist back, and slammed it against the barrier.
Except the barrier wasn’t there and he stumbled forward a step, catching his balance and standing inside the circle. The woman froze, staring at him in shock, and when Derek glanced behind her, he found Stiles at the edge of the circle closest to him, one hand having swept the mountain ash out of place, breaking the circle.
“Surprise, bitch,” he spat.
Derek didn’t wait, he didn’t hesitate. He just leapt forward, clamped his fangs down into her neck, and tugged.
He tasted blood in his mouth, and felt the gurgle of her scream more than he heard it, and then pulled his face away entirely, watching her lifeless body fall to the ground.
Isaac was still grunting in pain in the corner, and Scott was using his shirt to pull the blade out, so Derek’s eyes shifted to Stiles. When Stiles looked over at him in turn, Derek raced to his side and fell down beside him. Stiles smelled like pain and fear, but relief was slowly beginning to seep into his scent.
“Where are you hurt?”
“I think my ankle’s broken,” Stiles said, voice strained. “And my hand is fucked up.”
Derek carefully pushed his hand under Stiles’ pantleg, hearing him inhale sharply, but he focussed on the pain and grimaced when he started to pull it from Stiles. Black lines snaked their way up his arm, and he did his best to ignore how much it hurt, knowing it had to be worse for Stiles, and that this was only temporary.
“Oh,” Stiles said, surprised. “That’s nice.”
“It’s the best I can do until help comes,” Derek said quietly, pulling his phone out. Isaac and Scott had been together, which is why they’d shown up together, but there was still no sign of Boyd so either he was further away, or Isaac hadn’t called him because he had Scott.
Hitting his number in his contacts, Boyd answered after two rings and said he was almost there. Derek told him to just get the cops instead, and that they needed at least one ambulance. Boyd confirmed he’d get it done and hung up.
Derek put his phone away, one hand still on Stiles’ leg, and glanced at his hand. It looked like it was in really bad shape, and he hoped Stiles would still have mobility in it.
“I heard you, you know.”
Derek looked up at him, confused. “What do you mean?”
“When I called. She almost hit me with something, and there was weird static. I could hear you, but I could also hear, you know, other you.” Stiles winced and Derek pulled more of his pain until the pinch between his eyebrows disappeared. “I think the call you heard two years ago was because of her spell, like you thought. But this you heard it, too. You came. I didn’t die.”
Derek shifted his free hand up, cupping Stiles’ face and running his thumb lightly beneath his eye.
“For you, always.”
Stiles half-smiled, then looked behind Derek. He knew Stiles was probably looking at the body, and while he wanted to feel ashamed, he didn't. Stiles had almost died, the woman had tried to poison Isaac. She’d deserved it, and if the cops asked, Derek would say as much.
“Thank you,” Stiles whispered.
Derek leaned forward, pressing his lips lightly against Stiles’ and smiled when he pulled away.
“You will get back into bed this instant!” the outraged nurse snapped, trying to shove Stiles back onto the bed. He pushed back against her, hands gripping his crutches tightly and struggling not to scream from how much his right hand hurt.
“Listen lady! You’re going to let me go right now, or we’re going to have a problem!”
“You are injured and concussed,” the woman shouted, shoving extra hard so that he fell back onto the bed. “You are not leaving this room, young man, and so help me, if you try, I will break your other ankle!”
Stiles sputtered indignantly, struggling to find words when the door flew open and he shrank back at who he found in the doorway.
“Good, are you his keeper? Make sure he stays in bed!” the woman snapped and then stormed out of the room, muttering all the way about ungrateful millenials and wishing she’d taken the mortician job.
Stiles tried to make himself as small as possible, looking up worriedly at the presence looming in the doorway. One hand came up to drag down a tired face, and then his father stepped further into the room and sat beside him on the bed, reaching out one arm and pulling him tightly against his chest, pressing his lips to the top of Stiles’ head.
For a few seconds, Stiles didn’t move. Then, he released his crutches and hugged his dad back tightly, eyes clenched shut as tears threatened to spill over.
“Oh Stiles,” his dad said sadly. “What do you always get yourself into?”
“People were dying,” he insisted quietly. “I couldn’t do nothing.”
His dad didn’t respond, but just held him more tightly. They stayed like that for a long while, Stiles burying his face in his father’s chest and trying to calm himself down. He still wanted to leave the hospital, but having his dad there was making him less panicked and scared than he had been moments before.
“They arrested Derek,” Stiles whispered.
“I heard,” his dad said quietly. “Your friend Scott filled me in on what happened. He’s been out in the waiting room since yesterday evening.”
“Good old Scotty,” Stiles said with a laugh.
“He also told Allison. Who told Lydia. They’re both flying down here as soon as they can get flights booked.”
Stiles groaned. “Et tu, Scott?” he amended. Both girls were going to murder him for almost getting himself killed.
They were silent for a few moments, then Stiles started to laugh. “Derek was naked when they arrested him. He turned into a wolf, so he didn’t have any clothes. They had to arrest him with his dick hanging out.”
His dad let out a soft chuckle, kissing Stiles’ temple. “I’m sure they gave him some pants when he reached the precinct.”
“I don’t know, if I had a naked Derek, I wouldn’t give him any pants,” Stiles teased. His dad groaned and Stiles let out another laugh, but it quickly died down. Mostly because it hurt his head, but also because it was only funny when he made it.
Nothing about this situation was actually funny.
“They shouldn’t have arrested him,” he insisted.
“Stiles, he killed someone.”
“He was protecting me from a murderer. Jennifer killed thirteen people. Derek killed only her, and it was in self-defence. Or my defence. I don’t know, but he did it to protect us all.”
“Then the evidence will prove that and he’ll be released.”
Stiles didn’t like that answer, because he didn’t trust the cops here, and he muttered as much to his father. When he got told off for not trusting the police to do their jobs, Stiles exploded on his father without meaning to and told him about everything that had happened, including knowing who the Darach was before he’d even been shot at and how the person in charge of the investigation had basically told him to fuck off.
He could tell his dad wanted to explode at someone, but he stayed with Stiles and fumed silently, holding him tightly. Every time someone came in to check on him, he asked if he could go, and his father threatened to never let him leave if he didn’t stop asking.
Stiles hated lying there like a lump while Derek was in jail for protecting him. He didn’t even know if Isaac was okay, but if Scott was hanging out outside, then Isaac was probably fine. Still, he’d have liked to know.
He was forced to stay overnight again, and was really starting to get antsy. His dad knew him well enough to know that just over one and a half days in the hospital was already more than he could’ve asked for, and he went to find out when Stiles could be released.
When he hobbled out of the room on crutches two hours later, his hand aching every time he used it on the crutches, he saw Scott and Isaac in the waiting room. They both hugged him and talked a mile a minute to explain what had happened, but he told them both to stop talking when he couldn’t follow them.
Derek was still at the precinct, but Laura and Boyd were with him, and Isaac and Scott had already given their statements.
“It’s bullshit,” Stiles snapped while manoeuvring his way towards the elevator, the crutches awkward with one bandaged hand. “Derek didn’t do anything wrong.”
“They’re just doing their jobs, son,” his dad said automatically, but Stiles could see the tightness in his expression.
Scott and Isaac climbed into the back of the sheriff’s rental car and came along for the ride to the station. Both of them smelled from lack of showering, but Stiles appreciated that they had stayed all that time to make sure he was okay. Especially Isaac, since Derek was one of his closest friends, but Scott admitted to him once they were heading up the stairs to the station that Isaac felt guilty for having been late getting to the library, so he felt like he owed it to Derek to keep Stiles safe while he was in the hospital.
When they entered the precinct, Laura and Boyd were sitting in a small waiting area, looking tired and grumpy. Laura gave him a brief hug when he arrived, but everyone’s attention turned to his father when he loudly demanded to speak to whoever was in charge. They took him into the back, likely to avoid a scene, but with the way Laura was smiling and occasionally cackling in her seat, he could only imagine she could hear every word.
“Your dad is pretty vicious,” Boyd commented. “I feel for Derek if he ever hurts you.”
“How’s he doing, anyway?” Stiles asked, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. “Is he okay?”
“He’s in a soundproof room,” Laura said, the smile falling from her face. “We haven’t been able to listen in. I’m sure he’s okay, but probably worried about you.”
“I’m not the one in jail.”
“But you are the one who got shot, not to mention your hand and ankle.” She gave him a pointed look and he shrugged.
“Humans are resilient, okay? I’ll be fine.”
She said nothing and they all lapsed into silence. The sheriff returned a few minutes later, red-faced and puffing angrily. He took a seat beside Isaac and crossed his arms without saying a word. Stiles was positive the officer he’d been yelling at was crying in his office. His dad had that affect on people when they were idiots.
An hour after they’d settled in for the wait, a severe-looking Japanese woman entered the precinct and Laura stood instantly, greeting her warmly and moving to the front reception with her.
“Satomi,” Isaac said to Stiles from around Scott. “She’s our Pack lawyer. She and Laura’s mum used to be really close, so when she died, Satomi helped us out whenever she could.”
Stiles just nodded and watched the woman get lead into the back. Laura returned to her seat to wait.
The sheriff’s phone went off and when he checked it, he grunted to Stiles that Lydia had just boarded and would be arriving the following morning. No word on Allison yet, which meant she was probably still trying to get a flight.
Stiles didn’t know how long they sat there, but eventually a man came out to speak to his father and the sheriff disappeared into the back again. Laura said the cop who’d ignored Stiles was getting the rails and the sheriff was lodging a formal complaint against the precinct. The man who’d come out to speak to him was the precinct’s Captain, and it was evident he wanted to keep this quiet. If news got out that Stiles had identified the ritual, and later the culprit, and the police had told him to piss off, there would be a lot of lawsuits.
They all expected the sheriff to come back first, but it was Derek who walked out of the back the next time they saw a familiar face. He was wearing clothing that looked like it belonged to him, so Stiles assumed someone had gotten him clothes from the dorm.
Derek’s expression seemed to melt into one of relief the moment he laid eyes on Stiles, and when he was let back into the front area, he strode up to him and wrapped his arms around him tightly, Stiles clinging to him to stay standing, Scott having grabbed his crutches before they fell.
“Are you okay?” Stiles asked him.
“I should be asking you that.” Derek pulled away and cupped Stiles’ face. “You scared the shit out of me. Don’t ever do that again.”
“I make no promises.” Stiles laughed. “Are you free to go?”
“Out on bail, thanks to Satomi and your dad.” Derek cocked his head. “He’s really raising hell in there.”
“Hell yeah he is,” Stiles said with a grin. “That’s my dad.”
Satomi and Laura went outside to discuss the specifics of Derek’s bail, but Derek didn’t follow. He just helped Stiles take a seat and then sat beside him. He didn’t seem worried, and he told Stiles that he was fairly sure his trial would be an open-close case. The police were more interested in saving their own skin on their blunder in this case, and he had pretty solid alibis for most of the murders, not to mention all of the crazy shit they’d apparently found in Jennifer’s apartment.
Derek wasn’t worried, so Stiles tried not to be, either.
Laura came back in alone and punched Derek in the shoulder in way of greeting, then they waited for the sheriff to return.
He took almost an hour, but he looked better when he walked out, and he stepped right up to Derek and gave him the biggest hug Stiles had ever seen him give anyone outside of their family.
“Thank you for saving my moronic son,” he said.
“Anytime, sir,” Derek responded.
The sheriff pulled back and patted him on the shoulder, then told them all they were invited to his hotel room for pizza. Laura agreed to it but only if she was buying, and Stiles and Derek got to listen to them bicker the entire drive to the hotel. Stiles didn’t know if it was a good or a bad thing that they seemed to be getting along.
They ate a late lunch and chatted for a majority of the afternoon, joking and laughing and trying to keep everyone’s minds off what had just happened. Derek’s hand landed on Stiles’ knee a lot, and he could feel his pain leaving him every time it happened. He appreciated it, but didn’t like Derek being in pain, so every now and then he slapped his hand away as if he were trying to be indecent in front of his dad.
By five-thirty, Stiles was exhausted and just wanted to go back to the dorm and sleep, not to mention he had a ton of classes to catch up on and Lydia to contend with in the morning. The sheriff warned him he’d be dropping by in the morning as well, and Laura insisted they all go out for brunch. Stiles was worried that she and the sheriff were going to become fast friends, and make both Derek and him suffer horribly.
Boyd drove them back to the dorm in his car, dropping Scott and Isaac off first before heading to Stiles and Derek’s dorm. Derek helped Stiles out of the car, and when they walked into the dorm, they were met with applause and loud cheering, as if news of what they had done had already reached the entire campus.
More people than he’d like patted Stiles on the back and only Derek’s strong grip on him kept him from falling over. People knew he was injured, right? Like, they weren’t blind and missing the crutches and the cast and the bandages, right?
When they finally made it to the room, Stiles hobbled his way to his bed and fell onto it carefully, dropping the crutches to the floor and curling up onto his side, closing his eyes. He heard the door lock, and then Derek lay down beside him, wrapping his arms around him.
Burrowing further into Derek’s chest, Stiles let out a content sigh and settled in for a nap.
“Thank you,” Derek said a few minutes later, when Stiles was almost asleep.
“Huh?” he asked eloquently.
“Thank you,” Derek repeated. “For not dying.”
Stiles opened his eyes and smiled dopily at Derek. “Thank you for saving me.” He kissed him, realizing he hadn’t kissed him in over forty-eight hours and that just wouldn’t do.
“Wouldn’t have had to save you if you didn’t run off to be a hero,” Derek mumbled against his lips.
“You love my heroism.”
“I love you better breathing.”
“Still breathing,” Stiles promised, kissing his chin and then burying his face into Derek’s chest again. “Still hate that stupid kid who called you two years ago?” he asked lightly.
“Only when he’s being an idiot,” Derek replied with an exasperated sigh. “You couldn’t have waited before running off into the woods? You realize I’m going to have to take care of you now, right? You can’t shower on your own with your foot like that.”
Stiles peeked open one eye to look up at Derek’s face and found him smirking.
“Yeah,” he said dryly, “you seem real bent out of shape about that.”
Derek laughed, the sound deep and pleasant, and kissed Stiles’ forehead.
“If past-me knew then what present-me knows now, he definitely wouldn’t have yelled at his new roommate when he walked into the room and heard him speak for the first time.”
“Maybe not,” Stiles agreed. “But at least present-Derek knows what past-Derek doesn’t.”
“And what’s that?”
“That present-Derek is a hero and saved the phone kid’s life.” He grinned up at Derek. “Also, sex. Eventually. When my foot works again. Lots of sex.”
“Not while your dad and my sister are in town.”
“Fair enough.” Stiles kissed him again. “Now shut up, I’m injured and trying to sleep.”
Derek laughed again and wrapped his arms more securely around Stiles, pressing his cheek against the top of his head.
Stiles fell asleep with a smile on his face, not at all upset that the spell had propelled his voice back in time, because he felt like things would’ve turned out very differently if it hadn’t.
And Stiles was more than happy with how things had turned out.