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Adjusting the bag on his shoulders with stiff, frozen fingers, Stiles pushes forward through the knee high snow. Each step is heavy, a forced effort that pulls grunts from his throat. He’s both sweating buckets and frozen numb, an annoying phenomenon he had no idea could even happen. The wind howls through the lonely trees, the blizzard almost blinding enough that he can’t see in front of him.

‘’I can’t believe ,’’ he shouts to Scott that’s huffing and puffing behind him, ‘’That that asshole would deliberately move to the most isolated, hardest-to-reach places on earth. With no phone , no computer and no fucking modern way to reach him at all .’’

He doesn’t hear his friend’s reply, but that doesn’t bother him. He hasn’t been able to talk to Scott the whole trek up the snow capped mountain, the yowling of the snow storm too noisy, but he knows the werewolf is hot on his heels.

‘’And if it turns out that he doesn’t actually live here,’’ he pants to himself, trusting his magic to guide his step, ‘’I’m gonna kill Danny, and then I’m gonna find where Derek is really crashing his miserable furry ass in, and then kill him too.’’

The only saving grace about the blizzard is that they haven’t crossed paths with a single big ass predator that would have loved to have a taste of Stilinski flesh, because no animal is crazy enough to wander out in an impossible weather like this.

God, his cheeks are freezing with the ice crystals pricking at his sensitive skin where they form. He stops to take a quick breath, turning his whole body to see how far along his friend is behind him. He’s surprised that Scott hasn’t shifted to his beta form, the wolf able to stand the cold much better that way. There isn’t much distance between them, but even Stiles can see that Scott has an easier time of things, since Stiles is literally paving the way for him. He growls in annoyance.

Suddenly, the electrical blue ball of light above him flickers, indicating that a supernatural being is somewhere near proximity. Or within walking distance anyway. Hope and dread both fill him up instantly, and he quickly turns back to the thick snow forest in front of him, ready to see what awaits them at the end of their trek.

It takes them an hour of silent ploughing through the thick snow before Stiles sees a twinkle of light between the trees. He’s beyond exhausted, barely able to stand up, let alone push himself another ¼ miles. The only thing that forces his muscles to move is the adrenaline that’s coursing through his system at the hope of finally getting somewhere safe.

He huffs and puffs, each inhale a stab of ice cold air which fills his lungs painfully. He moves slowly, crossing the line between the end of the forest and the start of the circled clearing. There’s a lit cabin in the middle, windows alight with warmth and smoke rising from a chimney before the traces of the trail of black soot disappear into the violently beating wind.

The door to the cabin opens, a blurry figure slowly walking to the front porch.

He hears the figure shout a faint, if a little incredulous, ‘’Stiles?’’ and it almost makes him weep in relief.

‘’Oh my god,’’ he mumbles through clattering teeth. ‘’Oh my fucking god.’’

When Derek emerges close enough so Stiles can see him through the blinding snow, he sees that the man is only wearing a soft looking henley and sweatpants, completely unperturbed of the cold. The werewolf is clearly surprised at his sudden night-time visitors, but Stiles has a hard time feeling any sort of glee or smugness about it when it feels like his entire body is one giant frostbite.

‘’What the hell are you doing here?’’ Derek shouts, scowling, immediately grabbing Stiles into a bridal carry. As he does so, the flickering light above him disappears, his goal reached, so his magic shudders back into his core. The wolf’s eyes widen when he sees Scott clambering up the hill as well.

Stiles tries his best to answer the question, but his relief at getting somewhere warm has drained him from the initial energy to push forward, and his teeth are clattering together with such force that he cannot utter a single solitary word to save his life.

‘’Fuck,’’ Derek seethes. He spins around suddenly and stomps his feet forcefully against the path, kicking the snow and ice to the sides, tamping it, widening the space for easier access for Scott to follow.

The cabin, when they enter it, feels like a small sanctuary to Stiles. It’s warm and small and cozy, with assortments of plush rugs and couches. Everything else is made out of carved wood that looks almost like the Viking-themed furniture he’d made an essay of back in high school, the levels dark and thick with different types of species of tree. There are two different sources of warmth. There’s a fireplace on the other side of the cabin, in the middle what looks to be a living room of sorts. It’s crackling with hot fire, the glass painted red with heat. There’s a huge box of logs next to it, ready to be pushed in.

Then there’s a small kitchen attached to a room what Stiles assumes to be only a lowered pit of a bed, and in the cooking nook, he sees another antique stove to be in use, the fairly smaller firepit popping with each flame-consumed piece of wood turning to ashes.

Stiles finds himself lowered carefully on one of the plush carpets, unable to move a finger in protest. He’s laid down on his back, his backpack digging into the curve of his spine. He hopes nothing inside it gets crushed too badly. That would suck a lot.  

‘’Get your clothes off,’’ Derek demands, pushing Scott to sit down next to Stiles’ sprawled form. Stiles opens his mouth to incredulously ask, How? Before he realizes the man is speaking to Scott. Not that he would have gotten a word out with the way all the muscles in his body tremble in order to keep him warm. Goddamn human response to freezing temperatures. The older werewolf goes to pull the door closed, and then locks it for good measure.

‘’What are you doing ?’’ Derek duns Scott when he sees the werewolf just sitting there. ‘’I said , get your fucking clothes off before you freeze to death .’’

Scott nods slowly, or so Stiles thinks, and the wolf points his arm forward to slip the sleeve of his jacket and shirts off. Right now his view is limited to the ceiling. Then he sees in his peripheral vision as Derek comes to him, and mutters, ‘’I’m gonna take your clothes off now, okay, Stiles?’’ and starts tugging his boots off without hearing a reply, revealing the soaked socks underneath. Derek’s frown intensifies, but he continues to gently pry each wet garment off Stiles’ body, taking care to not jostle his limbs too much as the warmth of the cabin sets all of him to pins and needles. And fuck, does it hurt .

‘’Why the fuck are you climbing up a mountain in the worst snow storm that has hit the forest in decades? And in normal winter gear? Do you have a death wish?’’ Derek grits, throwing the wet clothes into a haphazard pile. ‘’What kind of idiots just completely ignore every single warning sign that’s been buzzed about for over a week now? Jesus.’’

Stiles lays there on the carpet, in his wet boxers, shivering in cold, unable to answer. Scott mumbles something, but Derek just purses his lips and shakes his head.

‘’Go put all of your soiled clothes into the mudroom. There’s a bin that’s half full clothes. Put them there. It’s through the right door from the kitchen. I’ll get some dry clothes and blankets for the both of you and then you can explain everything.’’ He looks down to Stiles and lifts an angry eyebrow. ‘’And I mean everything .’’

Stiles nods, as much as he’s able, and Derek pulls down a thick quilt from a nearby couch, manipulating Stiles’ limp torso to his bidding, wrapping him in it entirely. He tucks another, lighter quilt around his feet and legs, and plops him in front of the fireplace, far enough to not burn him but close enough to let him soak up the warmth.

When Scott comes back, his limbs seem just as stiff as Stiles’, but he’s clearly doing better as his enhanced healing allows his blood to start flowing more rapidly, and then Derek wraps him in a thick quilt as well, forcing him to sit down next to Stiles.

Derek goes into the kitchen, banging the cabinets and pots angrily as he works, and Stiles wilts just a little. He knows Derek isn’t mad about him, and in extension, Scott, for dropping unannounced. More likely than not, he’s just furious with himself for staying at a cabin that’s hard to reach for humans, and in doing so, has put Stiles and Scott into a position that forced them to endanger their lives just to see Derek. Because Derek is exceptional at internalizing guilt that isn’t his to shoulder.

Fifteen minutes of agonizing silence, the only sounds being teeth clattering together and something boiling in a pot, Derek comes back and hands both half-naked men cups of hot chocolate. Even Stiles has his muscles functioning a little bit better under his command, the ice that worked deep into his bones finally melting, and he accepts the huge mug with trembling hands.

‘’Thank you,’’ he murmurs, or at least tries to. Scott takes one offering as well, his hands a lot steadier.

‘’I put the water boiler on, so we can heat up baths for both of you,’’ Derek says, sitting down on the floor with them, putting himself just in the line of Stiles’ sight. ‘’I don’t have electricity at the moment, so I can’t get you guys much light in there, but it should warm you up enough so you won’t actually get a frostbite.’’

‘’Th-thoughtf-ful of yo-you,’’ Stiles says, grasping at his mug with the strength of a newborn calf. Derek seems to notice this, and gets up with a sigh, returning with a thick blanket from his bed. He wraps it around Stiles’ still trembling frame, tucking it neatly underneath him, so it won’t fall off with his wiggling.

As Stiles wriggles his toes to get the blood back in them, he watches as Derek pushes a couple more logs into the fireplace, the wolf unflinching at the crackling and flying pieces of hot wood.

‘’So, either of you want to fill me in?’’

Stiles sighs.

‘’Well,’’ Scott says, his head cocked, ‘’I was doing a job in the village downtown, you know, hiding werewolves from hunters. I don’t know if you knew that. That I, uh, do that for a living. I’ve been staying in the area for awhile now, chasing after a rogue Alpha that’s been turning and killing people within the past month. Me and Chris, we’ve been doing this for years now. Chasing down hunters to save turned teenagers the way I was turned by your uncle. ’’

Stiles sees Derek nod in agreement. He had filled Derek in a long time ago about it. Stiles still cannot believe that Scott refuses to kill any of the hunters that have taken innocent lives by the dozen, murdering people just because they’ve been turned and have no idea how to control themselves yet. And that his brother is proud of that achievement, of not spilling any hunter blood on his hands, even if Stiles thinks it might be warranted. Like when he’d refused to kill Deucalion, even as Erica’s and Boyd’s deaths rested on the shoulders of the blind alpha. Sometimes he feels that Scott lives in an entire different reality than he and Derek do, seeing everything in strict blacks and whites, thinking everyone deserves a chance after chance, despite the numerous unforgivable sins they’ve committed.

‘’And Chris isn’t actually with me right now, he’s doing a gig in Denmark for an old friend, so I’ve been keeping a low profile since I’ve been alone. I didn’t even know you lived near here before I bumped into Stiles at the local supermarket by accident. He told me his plans about getting through the forest to a cabin where you lived, and I tagged along to make sure he didn’t end up dying of hypothermia.’’

‘’I-I’m a be-be-better navig-gator th-than you,’’ Stiles grumbles. ‘’I wo-would have f-f-found myself here j-just as f-f-fast as we did, ev-ven without y-y-you. And ! I did m-m-most of t-t-the work, pa-paving the road th-th-through the snow.’’

Derek rolls his eyes. ‘’Drink your damn hot chocolate,’’ he says, which prompts Stiles to take a sip to soothe his frozen tongue. ‘’I have no idea how you found me, or how you even got up here in the first place. Don’t tell me you hiked up the mountain all the way from the last town you saw?’’

Stiles shakes his head at Derek’s pained expression. ‘’G-got a r-r--rental car. It died in th-the last slope wh-when th-th-the snow g-g-got too th-thick.’’

Derek rubs his chin thoughtfully. ‘’Well, I have a snowmobile in the garage, so once things have calmed down tomorrow, we’ll go see if it survived the storm. Might need a spare battery for it though. Freezing temperatures tend to drain cars from electricity. Especially the newer models.’’

‘’Thanks,’’ Stiles says in gratitude. ‘’I pinned th-the car on my g-g-google maps. Y-you don’t ha-ha-happen to h-ha-ve an outlet in here f-for me to p-plug in my iphone?’’

Derek shakes his head. ‘’I do have the sockets for it, but the power’s down. I think the storm might have knocked down some of the utility poles. It’ll take a couple weeks before I get the powers back, since I live so deep in the forest. And even if they get everything back up faster, the weight of the snow on the nearby trees usually take the wires down again after a while.’’

Scott looks at Derek with wide eyes. ‘’So you mean I can’t make any phone calls from here?’’

‘’I do have some full portable batteries if you need to recharge your phone. Though you might not get reception, even if you have power.’’

‘’Aw, crap,’’ Stiles says. ‘’So I can’t check in with my dad either.’’

Derek shrugs. ‘’You can try calling from the porch in the morning if the blizzard has receded. Sometimes it works, sometimes  not.’’

Both Scott and Stiles look a little defeated at that, so Derek sighs, changing the subject. ‘’I’ll go check on the water boiler and get you guys some towels. Who wants to go first?’’

Stiles shoots his hand up with lot more speed than he thought possible. Derek just nods, leaving without another word.

They sit silently together for a moment before Scott turns to him, his expression confused. ‘’You never did tell me why you wanted to come up here to see Derek. I thought you guys hadn’t been in touch since we last saw each other in our senior year?’’

Stiles shrugs. ‘’We exch-ch-changed occasional t-t-texts for years, be-before he went MIA tw-tw-twelve or so m-months ago.’’

Scott nods slowly. ‘’I had no idea. I mean, I understand wanting to be in contact with someone like Malia, or even Lydia since she’s so good at research, but, um, Derek ? I thought you hated him?’’

Giving Scott a look, Stiles purses his lips in annoyance. His cheeks flush a little in indigation, though he thinks they might be ruby red to begin with, so it doesn’t change things much. His speech comes a little more clear though, since he’s got to set Scott right, and by extension, Derek, since he knows the werewolf must be eavesdropping. ‘’I haven’t hated Derek, n-n-not even from d-da-day one when he intimidated us on his property. Was I a-a-afraid of him th-the first week? Yes. Did I try to avoid him be-before the Kanima incident? Yes. Did I ever hate him? No .’’ He shuffles a little backwards so he can lean on the couch, finding a better position. ‘’Me and Derek, man, we sa-sa-saved each other’s lives a million times in th-the pa-pa-past. That summer when E-Erica and Boyd we-went missing and you wavered around between Isaac and A-Allison, me and Derek spent numerous weeks just researching together. I value our friendship, and I di-di-didn’t want to lose it for mere distance between us.’’

‘’Huh,’’ Scott says. ‘’I didn’t know that.’’

Stiles snorts. ‘’I’m su-su-surprised you didn’t smell it. Even P-Peter commented how the loft started to stink of Eau de Stilinski.’’

Wrinkling his nose, Scott huffs. ‘’Peter was so creepy.’’

‘’Tell me about it,’’ Stiles huffs. '’Anyway, since Derek di-disappeared from the face of earth, I decided to track him do-do-down, to see if he’s alright and how he’s doing.’’ He doesn’t tell his brother that that’s only half the truth. He’s got to discuss everything with Derek first, before he can even entertain of revealing his grand plans to a blabbermouth like Scott.

Scott opens his mouth to continue, but clacks it shut right away. Stiles looks up to see Derek entering, his expression just a little bit softer than it was just a moment ago. He offers the man a small, crooked smile. ‘’My bath ready?’’

Nodding, Derek comes to stand in front of him, hand extended. Stiles grabs it, letting the older man pull him up like he weighs nothing, his legs shaky but balanced.

‘’C’mon,’’ Derek says, keeping him upright. ‘’I’ll show you the washing room.’’

Stiles drops all the quilts and the blanket on the couch, gently placing the empty mug to the coffee table residing nearby, and follows the older wolf only clad in his damp boxers.

The washing room is a little different. There’s a huge bathtub at one corner, but no shower. Attached to the room is a glass door, and when he peeks inside, he sees yet another firepit, though this one has rocks on top of it, and the room is very small. The walls are wooden, and there are equally as wooden benches placed in four different levels, the highest so close to the ceiling that a tall enough person would have to sit there with their back hunched. He blinks in confusion.

Derek points to the huge tank in the corner. ‘’That’s where the hot water is. You can scoop it up with this ladle if your bathwater is too cold for your liking, but don’t burn yourself on the iron lid. It’s over two hundred degrees.’’

‘’There’s no shower?’’ Stiles asks, curling his toes against the cold tile floor. Derek shakes his head.

‘’When you want to wash your hair, use one of the basins over there and mix the cold and hot water again for your liking and then just pour it over your head. There’s soap, and that’s shampoo. You can throw your boxers into the dirty bin with the other clothes, I’ll wash them after both of you are done. Towels are in the rack over there, and I’ll bring you a change of clothes for you to sleep in.’’

Stiles nods. He quirks a brow into the direction of the odd little room behind the glass door. Derek follows his gaze and looks a little surprised.

‘’That’s a sauna. I didn’t heat it up since I didn’t think either of you knew how to use one without killing yourselves.’’

‘’A sauna?’’ Stiles asks, curious. ‘’I didn’t think it looked like that. I mean, I’d heard of the basic idea of a one, but it doesn’t seem to match anything I had in mind.’’

‘’Go have your bath before you freeze, Stiles,’’ Derek says patiently, walking towards the door. ‘’You can drain the bath once you’re done and we’ll make a new one for Scott. There’s spaghetti once you’re ready to come out.’’

‘’Oh man, you’re a fucking life saver, dude,’’ Stiles says with heartfelt gratitude. ‘’I’ll see you in half an hour.’’

‘’Take your time,’’ Derek says and departs, leaving Stiles alone with five lanterns that barely lit up the room enough for him to see. It adds a layer of serenity though, a little safe place within the howling blizzard raging outside. He shucks his boxers off, walks over to the bath and tests the water, finding it just an inch to the too hot side, but he realizes that he can still sit down into the water easily, his frozen body welcoming the heat now that he’s not at the brink of turning into a meat icicle.

With a contented sigh, he lets his worries be swept away and closes his eyes.



---




Derek settles a bowl of spaghetti bolognese in front of Stiles, guiding a fork and a glass of water beside it, and sits opposite of him. His phone is resting on the table next to his arm, charging from one of the portable power sources the older man had dug out from somewhere when nobody was looking.

Stiles tucks in with gusto, his limbs loose and warm, his cheeks red. He’s lax and contented, something he hasn’t had in what seems like forever. It feels good to sit there with Derek’s unassuming company, the silence an odd comfort that he’s missed since his high school days, and the summer they spent together.

He hates that he has to break the serene atmosphere, but he does need some answers, and now that Scott’s momentarily out of the picture, he strikes at the chance.

‘’So, uh,’’ he starts hesitantly, ‘’Lovely little cabin you got here. I like it. Very cozy and out of reach from unwanted social interactions. Fits your misanthropist ideals.’’

Derek lifts his gaze from the book he’s reading, his facial expression dark in the barely lit kitchen. ‘’Thank you,’’ the man offers warily.

Stiles nods. ‘’How long have you stayed here?’’

Rubbing the side of the book, Derek’s gaze drops to it and he answers, ‘’Some, eleven or so months.’’

‘’So, about the time you stopped answering all my calls and texts?’’

Derek looks up at him guiltily. ‘’Yes.’’

Stiles hesitates. ‘’Were you. . . I don’t know, hunted or something? I’m not, um, mad at you for disappearing or anything. If you needed space for yourself, that’s cool. I wish you’d have, dunno, just told me or something. I would’ve limited my contact with you or --’’

‘’No, that’s not --’’ Derek sighs. ‘’I didn’t mind talking to you. That’s not it. I was -- I got into a very bad place in Iowa. Some local guy recognized my face from somewhere, and the next thing I know, I’ve got an entire family of werewolf specialized hunters on my tail. I had to go down under for a while, to recuperate. Hide and heal. They had cloned my phone in a diner I visited, I think, and I needed to delete all my contacts with anyone I knew, lest they come after you. It’s why you couldn’t get your calls through with me after that, since I canceled my subscription and destroyed my phone.’’

Stiles frowns. ‘’But if they cloned your phone, that means that they already had our text history. It wouldn’t have worked if you suddenly just deleted everything in your device.’’

Shaking his head, Derek picks at the book. ‘’Everything I received from you, or sent to you, or anyone I knew, I deleted right after I had read and answered. I only kept snippets of our conversations in my email, which I never logged into from my phone. I couldn’t put any of you in that kind of danger, after everything we’ve been through. You, none of you deserve to be hunted for just being in contact with me.’’

Stiles gapes at the wolf. ‘’Oh my god,’’ he groans, hiding his face in his hands. ‘’ Of course you would do something like that,’’ he mutters. ‘’ I don’t even know what to say to that. Obviously a thank you would be a good place to start, but jesus, dude, why didn’t you just come back to Beacon Hills, get safety from the pack, or my dad? Or come to me to New York, you know nobody in the big apple would be able to get a hold of you. I could’ve easily even warded my apartment, as well as yours, to keep you safe.’’

There’s a moment of silence, and then Stiles peeks up from the slouch of his arms. Derek looks like he’s hunching in on himself without meaning to, his face pinched.

‘’I did think of getting to you,’’ the wolf starts. ‘’It was the first thing that crossed my mind. But then if something had happened to you, because I was being chased. . . ‘’ He sighs. ‘’I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t put any of you into such obvious danger like that, forcing a target on your backs.’’

A little frustrated, Stiles leans back in his chair. ‘’But that’s what you always preached about, dude. That pack supports each other, has each other’s backs in good times and bad. You would have been granted unconditional safety and protection, much like you protected us when we needed it. Fuck, you still keep protecting us, pulling stunts like these. Why don’t you take a note from your own book and let the pack take care of you for once?’’

Derek frowns in confusion. ‘’I’m not part of the Beacon Hills pack. Or any pack for that matter. You know that.’’

‘’Yes, I do know that, but everyone would’ve counted you as pack by proxy. We’ve shared blood and guts and a bed and food , dude. I don’t even know why you left in the first place. Things had been so quiet and peaceful for the month you stayed after the last showdown. My dad was getting all giddy and happy at the thought of recruiting you into the force, getting an inside man onto all the supernatural shenanigans. Why pack your things and go?’’

‘’I -- What? Why would your dad --’’ The wolf huffs. ‘’Of course I left. I wasn’t given a choice to do otherwise.’’

Now it’s Stiles’ turn to frown. ‘’What? Who didn’t give you the choice to stay?’’

Derek lays his hands on the table, fingers visible, as if he’s readying himself to count them, like he’s thinking that he’s having some bizarre, elaborate dream. He recounts slowly, ‘’When I went to visit Deaton about the journals that my mother had entrusted him with, wanting to re-acquaint myself with the knowledge in them, Deaton made it very clear that after he had given me the books, I should take them, and leave Beacon Hills. Since the Hale land didn’t have a Hale alpha, but only a measly omega, the balance between the natural magic and the Nemeton would be disrupted, since Scott was the only alpha in the area. And since I wasn’t in the true alpha’s pack, my living in the town would have eventually shaken the carefully crafted order of powers and created a new beacon for evil supernatural, much like the Nemeton had when it was corrupted. Deaton had appointed himself namely as the Emissary of the McCall pack, and in doing so, he had the authority to ask me to move along, like every other omega that crosses the town.’’

‘’What ? Why the fuck would he -- Deaton is such a shady ass motherfucker . And where the hell was I in all this? No, scratch that, where was Scott in all this? What the fuck did he have to say about that?’’

‘’Uh,’’ Derek flounders a little, quickly checking that Scott isn’t anywhere near them and says, ‘’When I went to ask him about it, he just said that he got everything under control and didn’t need me for anything at that moment, that there was no need for me to stay. He promised he would take care of the land and the pack which I had failed to do. Like in the legend, ‘ A true alpha will rise to power by sheer force of will, gathering together the splintered pack of the defeated leader’ .’’ He pauses. ‘’Or something like that. I don’t really remember properly. It was a long time ago anyway.’’

‘’I -- I don’t understand. Like, I’m not gonna even touch the Scott thing, I have no idea what he thinks half of the time anymore. The whole shitshow of our high school years really changed him fundamentally, though not necessarily to the better. But, Dr. Deaton. Jesus. Why would Deaton -- I mean, wasn’t he supposed to be your ally? I know that he was your mom’s emissary, and should’ve been yours when you were an alpha, but even if he favored Scott over you, frankly, shitting all over you in the process, he still shouldn’t have chased the last Hale out of Beacon Hills. The land, man, it’s yours . It’s been tied to you by generations of Hale blood having spilled into its soil. It calls to you. Deaton, as a druid, should have been more than aware of this. In fact, he should’ve felt it with every fibre of his being.’’

Derek looks down. ‘’I don’t know,’’ he says quietly. ‘’I haven’t felt the pull towards the land since I last forced my wolf to tear itself free of it. There’s just this. . . This void in my chest where the feel of the territory used to be. Where the pack bonds used to be. I don’t think I’d even fit into the role of a protector, or even live in a town that has a pack I’m not a part of.’’

Stiles kicks him under the table. ‘’Of course you’re more than qualified to move back and start rekindling your connection to your ancestors. It’s your bloodright , your birthright as the only living Hale. I think -- ‘’

He doesn’t finish the sentence as a loud thump of a door colliding with a wall echoes through the small cabin and Scott emerges from the washroom, his torso dripping water all over the hardwood floor.

“Hey,” Scott says cheerfully, entering the kitchen. “What did I miss?”

The young wolf turns to the sink to have a drink of water, entirely ignorant of the tension in the room. Stiles shares a pointed look with Derek, his patented ‘ This conversation isn’t over yet’ glare hopefully coming across clear as day. With the way Derek deflates, he thinks he got the message across.

“Nothing much,” Stiles answers to Scott’s question a beat later. “Just catching up with things.” Which is entirely true.

Scott nods, downing a glass of water. “I get that. It’s been a long time since all three of us saw each other. I don’t think we’ve been in the same room since our senior year of high school.”

“Possible,” Stiles nods, and yawns exaggeratedly. “Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m exhausted. Is there like, a spare mattress we could crash in?”

Derek stands up, pushing his chair neatly under the table. “Both of you can share my bed. I changed the sheets in it, so if you don’t mind sleeping together, you can crash that.”

“Where’re you gonna sleep?”

The wolf nods towards the biggest couch. “Over there. I need to keep the fire going for as long as possible, so I’ll be moving around a lot for the next couple of hours still. You guys can sleep.”

Stiles blinks. ‘’Oh. Okay. If you’re cool with letting us have your bed, I’m not gonna argue. But the couches look comfy enough to snuggle into, if you change your mind.’’

Shaking his head, Derek clears the table, leaving the dirty dishes in a basin filled with water and blows out the lanterns. ‘’I’m not. You guys can go ahead and go get some sleep.’’

Rubbing his eyes, Stiles nods. ‘’Yeah, okay. Scotty boy, I’ll take the side closer to the fireplace. You can cram yourself against the wall, ‘kay?’’

‘’Like old times,’’ Scott grins. ‘’Though the bed used to be a twin, instead of this pit of blankets and pillows. What is this, a california king?’’

‘’Yeah,’’ Derek confirms.

‘’Cool, dude. I don’t think sleep will be a problem in a bed like this.’’

‘’I’d assume not,’’ Derek says, sounding a little bemused. ‘’Especially if you’re used to hotels and motels.’’

‘’Yeah, man, this is a real treat of luxury. Thanks for having us, by the way. I don’t think Stiles gave you any warnings ahead of time,’’ Scott says, following Stiles’ trail to the bed.

‘’A little hard to give any heads up when I’ve got nothing he could’ve contacted me with. It’s fine, Scott.’’

Scott nods, face sympathetic. ‘’Well, good night.’’

‘’Stop dragging your feet, Scott. Get into the bed so I can finally catch some z’s. Chop chop.’’

‘’Jeez, I’m coming,’’ Scott grumbles, shooting the human a wilted puppy-dog look. It makes Stiles roll his eyes.

Derek leaves the two to their quiet bickering and goes to tend the fire. With the way the wind howls and the cabin creaks, he thinks he might stay awake just a little bit longer than usual, so that the warmth won’t disappear entirely once morning descends. Stiles’ human body might not be able to withstand the freezing chill that creeps in more rapidly during strong storms like this.

He pokes and prods at the burning logs, listening to the quiet murmurs of the men in the corner, and revels in the warmth that soothes his torso where he stands close enough to the heated tile. It doesn’t take long before the furious whispering lulls and stops, both men’s heartbeats slowing down to the easy rhythm of slumber.

Derek lets his ears rest in the sound, and vows to keep them safe throughout the night. He has no idea what will happen come morning light, but he trusts Stiles to have a reason for being here, for endangering his life recklessly by climbing the mountain in a huge blizzard like this.

It’s going to be lonely again when they leave, but it is no less than he deserves, he thinks, because by choosing to stay here in complete isolation and solitude, he isn’t bringing danger to anyone’s doorstep but his own.

He’ll be fine.