Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Beautiful, snow covered mountains for this time of year. Clean, fresh air. And, jackalopes… two opposing families of them squabbling over territory rights. Stiles enjoyed his fair share of arguments, could give a good tongue lashing with the best of them, but jackalopes? Something in their high pitch squeaks just made him want to take the fastest plane out of there and never return. His latest assignment was one big headache, and he didn’t pack any Tylenol. It served him right as he had ditched his partner, who was planning her wedding, and taken the case solo.
Stiles packed a simple carry-on, double checking to make sure he had everything. As an FBI agent, this meant all the proper documentation for his weapon too. He’d also ordered a taxi to the airport several hours earlier than necessary. It was probably for the best as the snowfall was starting to pick up.
Stiles enjoyed working publicly, it was actually a really good way to blend in when going undercover. What business man wasn’t on a phone with their boss working after hours these days? So, after checking in for his thirty-minute flight to Salt Lake, where he would transfer to a larger plane for the remainder of his journey, he grabbed a coffee from a chain restaurant and snagged one of the last good seats near the windows, admiring the view.
The mountains were so much prettier when you didn’t have little horned rabbits running around your feet threatening to punch each other. He allowed himself a full minute of solitude, before making the call to his boss. Stiles was thankful for the warmth in his cup as the snow outside swirled with the wind and settled on his window obstructing the scenery.
Stiles placed a hand on the cold pane, glanced around to see if anyone was watching him, and then used his spark to warm the glass. The snow melted and seemed to continue doing so even after he let go to make his call. A little girl with pigtails in a stroller nearby giggled and pointed at the window causing her mother to look up. She confirmed that those were indeed mountains, and went back to her conversation with her husband. Stiles winked at the little girl as she continued to stare at him opened mouthed. He turned away and scrolled through his phone book, looking for the number he would need.
It turned out his boss had one more assignment for him before his two-week vacation. In his gut, Stiles knew he should say no. Scott didn’t want him coming out to Wyoming so close to the wedding, and now he would have another case to crack before the big day. As best man, he did have a heavy role to play.
It was tough to deny the case, though; a possible movement among the local werewolf packs, and they were to meet in Sacramento. The wedding was in San Francisco in ten days, and all he had to do was change his flight destination and take a taxi after gathering the intel. He wasn’t expecting to make an arrest or anything at this time. The agency was tipped off that an alpha may be trying to form a pack of only other alphas. The bureau was uncertain of the reasoning behind the need for such a pack, but they were more concerned in the method. What would happen to all the betas?
Stiles wasn’t properly equipped for wolves, however, so they promised him a new partner for this task: Jackson. The guy was a brute, all muscle and little brains. He was also a kanima, and relied too heavily on his abilities, in Stiles’ opinion. But he was attending Kira’s wedding, would be on the other coast by then and was bringing the wolfsbane bullets. Stiles really couldn’t complain - this time.
He sat there thinking about calling his best friend to tell him the disappointing news. Should he worry Scott with this? They had been friends long before their parents married and made them brothers. He didn’t keep anything from the man. Scott would never purposely hide something like this from him, so he gulped before he made the call. Besides, they had dealt with Scott becoming a werewolf back in high school and Stiles discovering his spark abilities not long after. This was just an additional work assignment, Scott would understand in the end, even if it was cutting into the bachelor party weekend festivities they had planned (an all-night video game-a-thon for old time sake). They were true dorks at heart.
Scott was… upset. But he told Stiles to have a safe flight regardless, as the weather looked dodgy, and assured him that Kira wouldn’t find out. The kitsune was more likely to go bridezilla over missing work than anything actually related to her wedding. She was probably the most upbeat person Stiles ever had the pleasure of working with, and between her amazing skills with her katana and Stiles’ quick wit, the pair were quite a formidable team when it came to fighting supernatural crime.
But her mother was, well, old. Nine hundred years at least, and that meant that her daughter’s wedding was a huge affair. Everyone who was anyone in the ‘know’ was going to be there. It didn’t hurt that Scott was a true alpha, either. The end result meant that Kira had been off playing dutiful bride for the last thirty days, while Stiles has been… lying to her about his paper pushing desk duties. He tried to stay in DC, he really did, but the job took him all over, such as the iced-capped peaks that looked over him from where he sat.
Derek couldn’t believe his luck. His flight was being rerouted, as the pilot had just announced, to Jackson Hole! Jackson Hole, Wyoming! He had never even heard of the place. But, he supposed, if all the flights in and out of Denver were being canceled as they had told him, that that was the next best option. Apparently, United Airlines had a connector flight that would get the passengers from there to their final destinations, in his case, Sacramento.
Derek grumbled - he was annoyed, but that was nothing when compared to his fellow JFK flight passengers. New Yorkers like to be on time. Even the yapping dog from the first-class cabin seemed upset at the proclamation. At least he would get away from the commotion and complaining once they landed.
He called Peter immediately, when he was in the terminal. His uncle wasn’t pleased. He had wanted his nephew to attend some meeting with other werewolves. A meeting which Derek thought sounded ridiculous. But Peter said it would be good for him, as he was a beta, always would be a beta, and had no chance of amounting to anything more. However, Derek liked his pack status.
His older sister, Laura, was their alpha in training, which meant that he got to spend more time away from his hectic family. It was really a win-win. She was going to be a good leader one day, and Derek, he liked the quiet and… writing. It was hard to focus with so many wolves’ around, they were naturally loud and rough. He was simply more suited to his one bedroom loft lifestyle. But, Peter, his uncle, who had watched his own older sister (Derek’s mom) be groomed for alpha-ness, had always wanted more for Derek.
The thing was, this werewolf summit wasn’t even going to take place until Friday. He still had a few days to get there, even with the delay. Peter had warned Derek that the Colorado blizzard was moving west and that it would be overtaking Utah soon. His Uncle checked the weather pattern, which annoyed Derek as it didn’t seem to matter two days ago when he booked the last-minute flight! He assured the older werewolf that he would secure a seat on the next flight out and make it there that evening, before the weather had an opportunity to delay him further.
Derek huffed annoyed and then went to find the ticket counter. It was easy to spot as it seemed that his flight wasn’t the only one that was rerouted. The line was a mile long. What else could he do? Derek took his spot in the queue just behind a red head with the yapping dog. It barked endlessly at him. He was so tempted to flash his wolf eyes at it, but the airport was too crowded to do so without potentially scaring someone.
Over two hours later and Derek finally clutched a ticket for a flight to Salt Lake where he would be able to take a connecting flight to California. The hard part was over, now he just needed to find a seat as this tiny airport wasn’t built for this many passengers.
Every table was full, but Derek’s eyes were naturally drawn to an empty chair that sat opposite of a gentleman who seemed captivated with the view. He could understand why. The window in front of him was crystal clear while all the others had fogged up with the outside air’s condensation and the view behind it was gorgeous. Snow fluttered lightly, swirling as if the wind were playing games with it, and the mountains behind rose from the ground seemed majestic in the day’s sunlight. Feeling bolder than he usually would, Derek approached the table and cleared his throat.
“Erm, is this seat taken?” He asked, his voice was rougher than he intended, but he hadn’t used it much since his conversation with his uncle.
The man jumped and snapped his head around, clearly startled. Humans were like that. But Derek noticed his honey colored eyes crinkled around the edges indicating a slight smile.
“Not at all.” The stranger said with a wave at the spot next to himself from his long-fingered hands. “By all means. But uh, could you scoot it just a little this way?”
Derek found that request odd at first, but the man pointed to a little girl who was clearly captivated by the snow that continued to flit in the wind. The pigtailed girl giggled and clapped as Derek moved his chair slightly closer to the stranger than he would usually be comfortable with. He couldn’t help but smile at the child’s obvious joy. At least someone was enjoying the weather.
“So,” Derek’s new table mate began, “where’re you heading? What brings you all the way out to middle of nowhere, Wyoming? Or, are you from here? Ahh, beautiful place if you are!” The man blushed at his forwardness, coloring his pale cheeks deeply.
Derek stilled. This guy was going to be one of those people, the kind that looked you in your eyes and started conversations. Well, he clearly wasn’t a New Yorker from his other flight.
He supposed he took too long to respond, as the man took a sip of his coffee and looked back out the window. “No.” Derek fumbled with his hands, nervously, forcing them into a ball in his leather jacket pockets. “I mean, no, I’m not from here. Northern California, originally, but New York now.” Derek finished.
The other man visibly relaxed. He definitely thought he had insulted Derek’s home town. “Oh! New York! The city? I love it there! I’m from the DC area myself.” Derek hadn’t asked. The other man didn’t seem to notice as he continued. “Heading to San Fran, for the big wedding. Nervous as hell, I mean, I’ve known Scott forever, really I have nothing to worry about, but…”
Derek couldn’t help the smile that crept onto his face. This guy was getting married and was certainly so in love. Derek saw it on the way his face lit up as he talked about his partner, Scott. He listened to the stranger, let him prattle on for over a half an hour. He clearly needed someone to talk to, he had so much to say, and he didn’t seem to expect more from Derek than an occasional nod of agreement.
“But, enough about me, where’re you heading to?” The enthralled fiancé asked as the conversation lulled.
“Sacramento, for a family thing,” Derek mumbled.
“Oh?” The man’s smile grew, if possible, even wider. “I’m flying there too! You on the five o’clock flight to Salt Lake City?” He asked as he slid his ticket across the table.
Derek was, but they weren’t anywhere close to one another by seating numbers. This guy must have had one of the first choices for seating as he was so close to the front, while Derek would probably be the last to disembark as he was sitting across from the bathrooms in the back. It was a seat he cringed at excepting, but he had promised Peter a Wednesday evening arrival.
A little belated, the werewolf reached into the front pocket of his carryon and showed off his ticket. He didn’t miss the glance of sympathy his table mate sent his way when he saw his location on the plane.
“Well, we have a little less than an hour until we board.” The man said cheerfully. “I’m going to get some dinner.”
The guy stood; he was taller than Derek thought, probably even an inch or two taller than he was himself.
The guy paused before leaving and turned around. “Do you mind saving the table for me? And, uh, would you like…?”
“No, no.” Derek caught on; he was awkwardly offering to buy him, a stranger, dinner. It was nice, but not necessary. “Thanks though, and don’t worry about loosing your seat!” Derek patted the object with too much force, causing a couple nearby to jump at the unexpected loudness. He winced.
His airport acquaintance winked at him before heading off to the food court.
It struck Derek that he must have been at the airport for awhile to have such a nice seat. He whirled around and realized the family of the little girl who was enjoying the view had left sometime during their conversation. He didn’t bother moving his chair back over.
Stiles heard the announcement as he waited in line to pay for his baked potato. It was that or sushi, and somehow, he didn’t feel the airport in the middle of the United States would have sushi all that fresh, but all of the other lines were outrageous. Just to run insult to injury, he heard it again as he sat back down with the beautiful-eyed dreamboat that had decided to share his table with him earlier. All remaining flights for the evening were canceled. Really. Just great. After he had sat here almost all day, going over his best man speech in his head.
The man that was scheduled to share his flight with him looked more than a little flustered with the news. He took a few deep breaths to steady himself and Stiles suspected that he might have had a temper at one time but had learned to deal with disappointment.
He gave the stranger a minute to regain control before he sat back down and looked out the window at the snow that no longer was as captivating as it had just ruined his plans of arriving in California that evening. And, worse, what would he tell Scott? Scott expected him in town for the wedding planning no later than Friday night’s bachelor party.
He’d still make it on time the next day (although he might be a little late for his meeting with Jackson), but they could still infiltrate the werewolves’ and make it to San Francisco. It was no problem if the weather cleared over night. As if to counter that thought, the sun seemed to darken and the snow picked up its intensity. Stiles was good, gifted even, when it came to weather control but he doubted that even he’d have the ability to make an entire storm disappear. At least not long enough to ensure the flights would be reinstated.
“That’s a bummer, dude,” He said at last, to break the silence.
The dark haired man shifted in his seat to indicate that he had heard him, but didn’t respond. He seemed reluctant to open his mouth. Stiles was used to his silent treatment by now. He clearly wasn’t accustomed to Stiles Stilinski level of chatter, and that was okay.
“I-um, excuse me, I’m going to call my uncle,” The guy said at last.
Stiles was shamelessly staring at his eyes. He couldn’t decide if they were blue or green. He liked them, either way, and he blinked suddenly when they disappeared as he got up to make the call.
Stiles assumed it would be a good time to give Scott a call as well. He gulped, trying to prepare himself.
Peter told Derek that he knew a guy who knew a guy that might be able to help and to just give him a few minutes to sort it out. As much as he wanted to deny his uncle’s uncertain source, he knew it would just offend the werewolf to do so, so he hung up feeling like a child waiting to do as he was told, rather than the man of twenty-eight that he was.
Derek didn’t mean to (but he did have supernatural hearing after all), and he easily picked up on the voice of the young man he had heard chatting all day. He’d apparently made a disappointing call home too.
“Hey buddy. Yeah, … I know, I’m not on the plane, no. About that… I know you told me so. Okay. Don’t worry! I’m not going to miss the wedding!” Derek felt his face heat up, he had forgotten, momentarily, how unavailable the guy was. “Or the rehearsal… or the bachelor party… when’s the tux fitting? Tomorrow!? Yeah, I might miss that one, but I’ll reschedule… it will be okay, man. Yeah… love ya too!”
The last line was said with an eye roll, Derek didn’t even have to be there to see it. “I’ll let you know when I know, okay, see you soon. I promise!”
Derek’s phone beeped just as the other man’s call had ended. Peter had given him a number to call. It was for a man that owned a plane and enjoyed taking it on extended trips and happened to be in the area. His uncle didn’t leave any room for debate. Derek was going to get there that evening, one way or another.
The pilot’s name was Deaton, Alan Deaton. A man who sounded entirely too excited over the phone by the prospect of getting to fly a friend of Peter’s. Derek almost denied the man, but thinking of his uncle’s insistence that this was all for him, he made arrangements to meet on the tarmac of the private airport in an hour.
Derek raked his eyes over the crowded terminal not really knowing what his mind was thinking just then when they landed on the guy across the room. He was fumbling with his phone in one hand while raking the other through his already disheveled hair. The guy was obviously frustrated with the situation too. It was his wedding weekend after all.
With out knowing what he was going to say Derek doubled back to their table. This time he didn’t startle the younger man.
Derek opened his mouth to say that he was heading out, but what came out was different. “My uncle arranged a private flight, I’m uh, going to meet with the pilot, did you want to join me?”
The man’s eyes were large, all round and hopeful. He nodded.
Stiles blinked at the guy who he had shared his afternoon with - who had just offered him a private flight! How rich was his uncle?
“I’m Stiles, by the way.” He said in response. “And yeah, if you really think there is room for me, I’d love to get out of here!”
The man raised his eyebrows in surprise. Stiles started to think that maybe it was just his way of being polite, and he didn’t actually expect Stiles to tag along. Stiles swallowed hard. Was it rude of him to except the guy’s offer?
“I’m Derek.” He said at last. “What kind of name is Stiles?”
Stiles smirked. He usually got a decent response with introductions. “It’s short for Stilinski. My first name is kind of a mouthful, I think my parents were hoping it would give me character, or maybe they hoped it was just special enough for me to feel unique, but all it really resulted in was no one addressing my name in grade school, even the teachers avoided it. Now a days, everyone just calls me Stiles.”
As he spoke they made there way to the taxi pickup to hail a cab for the private airport across town.
Deaton was… interesting. He met them outside in the snow and talked a little bit about his travels, admitting that he had chased the rumors about possibly seeing a jackalope to the great state of Wyoming. As he said this, his eyes landed on Stiles, causing the thinner man to shiver.
Derek might have noticed because he took that opportunity to suggest they go inside to talk logistics. Stiles was thankful as the pilot’s eyes made him feel as if he was being examined. Inside the hanger, they met Deaton’s sister. She seemed much more practical, and at least had the weather channel on as she scoured over maps of the Uinta Mountains.
Her name is Marin Morrell and Stiles can definitely see the family relation in the brother and sister pair. They shared the same eyes. Too wide and knowing. He was definitely going to use his FBI database to research them later. But in the mean time, Deaton had some disappointing news to share.
“So, we can certainly still make it, as you can see the weather is moving in this direction.” He gestured to the old fashion CRT TV in the corner. The technology seemed to mimic his plane. “If we leave now, I think we can beat the storm, plus I have a feeling, it will be a clearer day than anticipated.” He continued with another pointed look at Stiles. How could he possibly know? “I can get you to Salt Lake in about forty-five minutes or so and you’ll-”
“Wait,” Derek interrupted. “You’re not flying to Sacramento?”
“‘fraid I can’t. Not enough time to prepare that flight. I would need more fuel for starters.” The older man admitted.
“The lovely lady can fit four passengers comfortably. Marin will be coming and you two and your luggage, I suppose. Hope you didn’t pack too much.” Stiles shared a look of concern with Derek before Deaton continued. “So, my price is eight hundred, non-negotiable.”
“That’s the family friend discount, mind you.” The pilot added, pointedly.
Derek took out his wallet and started counting twenties. Stiles attempted to pay his share which he didn’t have on him in cash, but thankfully, Derek denied him. He jokingly added that he wasn’t sure they would be making it out of this one alive for him to return the favor one day anyways. Deaton assured them that his lady was always reliable, and that they had nothing to fear.
Stiles wasn’t so convinced and before they took off he insisted on calling Scott one more time. He checked his watch and told his best friend that he would be calling in exactly two hours telling him he landed, and that if he failed to do so, he was absolutely allowed to panic. This was the wrong thing to say, as the groom was already nervous enough.
As he got off the phone he noticed the strange look Derek was giving him. “Your Scott is really worried! I could hear it in his tone from over here.” He admitted, reluctantly. Stiles was impressed, he didn’t realize his volume was up that loud.
“Ah, he’s just a big puppy dog, always watching out for me.” Stiles said with a shrug.
Derek nodded, understanding, as he thought about his mother and sister, both of whom probably wouldn’t approve of this method of transportation, either.
“What about you?” Stiles questioned. “Any last calls you want to make before we take off in that…” Stiles looked at the tiny excuse of a plane. “Lovely lady.” He settled on Deaton’s name for the aerial machine.
Derek chuckled. “Maybe I will send Laura a quick text - she worries.”
Before they knew it, they were buckled up, sitting opposite of Marin in the back of the vehicle.
“Don’t worry.” The pilot’s sister assured them. “I know it seems scary, but the view is actually quite nice.”
Despite the sibling’s reassurance, Stiles felt the magic flow from within him. It warmed him slightly as it did so and the snow around them slowed once more to a gentle flurry. The sun was still out, and the mountains in the distance gleamed welcoming. They took off.
Stiles spent the first thirty minutes excitedly looking out the window. The ground was a huge blanket of white, speckled with the occasional green tree poking through. The peaks were almost blinding as they grew closer. It was an image he wouldn’t soon forget, and for a fleeting moment he was incredibly grateful for this experience.
After that, he spent the next twenty minutes wondering how the plane could have that much turbulence as he was controlling the winds so thoroughly now that the snowfall had stopped altogether. Marin seemed to be growing more and more nervous, herself.
“Everything okay up there?” She called to her brother.
“Ahhh.” Deaton responded.
“What do you mean, ‘ahh’?” Stiles shot back, unable to keep the panic from his tone.
He glanced at Derek and realized the man’s eyes were closed and he was breathing deeply again. Maybe Stiles should try that too.
He never had the opportunity, as he failed to hear Deaton’s response when the world around him went black.
The first thing Derek noticed when he woke was that it was dark and cold - very, very cold. He could smell fuel, pine needles, and… blood. The unique combination struck him as odd for just a moment when the events leading up to this predicament came crashing over him.
He was in a plane, a small plane, the Lovely Lady… with Stiles, the man he met at the airport. The sky was a bright azure blue, dotted with the occasional snowflake. The weather seemed better up in the sky than it did back on the ground, and for some reason the plane had started to shake. He had heard it and knew the humans had not. The engine malfunctioned, apparently redundancy wasn’t a requirement on private flights.
Derek had looked up in time to see the moment of dawning realization overtake Marin’s face. She called out to her brother who didn’t have a satisfactory response. That was when the other passenger, Stiles, was clued into the trouble they had gotten themselves into. The trouble Derek had caused for them both as he was the one who had invited the stranger to join along.
Derek had looked out of the window one last time and was startled by how close the mountain was to them. A jagged rock suddenly clipped their back wing as he unbuckled himself to try and cover the two humans he could reach and brace them for the inevitable impact. He felt the plane touch ground briefly before being one with the sky again, although this time it was much more like falling than flying. A metal crunching sound caused Derek to snap his head around, and he was shocked to find himself staring out the back of the plane at a frozen wasteland, the haul bounced along the ground once more. This time it stayed in contact with the earth but the momentum kept them sliding along the ice. Now the tail of the plane was completely gone.
They sped down the side of the mountain in their aluminum tube, as if it were some sort of twisted bobsled ride. At one point Derek realized the screaming had ceased, but he wasn’t sure who it had been making the noise to begin with. It might have even been himself. There was a brief pause in the ride and for a moment, he thought it was finally over. Then the metal buckling noise was back and his world was flipped upside down. Derek landed on something cold and closed his eyes.
Derek wasn’t sure how long ago that was but at least he now understood why he was on the wet, snow covered ground. Using his werewolf eyes, he glanced around and noticed the tree tops above him covered his view of the stars and moon beyond. To his left and right laid various pieces of the plane and towering rock formations. Taking a deep breath, he allowed himself to look down, knowing the sight wouldn’t be pretty. His abdomen had a chunk of metal piercing it.
It was as if seeing the gruesome injury made it all the more real as the pain rushed over him. He wanted to scream out in agony but refrained from doing so as he wasn’t entirely sure of his surroundings just yet. Rather, Derek took another lung full of air and pulled the offending object from his side. He couldn’t help but gasp a little with the extraction as his eyes welled up. But the removal allowed himself to begin the healing process, and with that his pain started to recede.
Still breathing deeply, the werewolf rolled over to take in his surroundings. The hull of the plane laid feet away from him, partially buried in snow. Derek could only assume the debris that scattered the valley around him was what remained of its wings and backside and that he most likely expelled during the landing. Serves him right for taking off his seat belt… If he wasn’t equipped with werewolf healing powers, he would have surely died.
Derek wasn’t sure if he was alone. The fuel tank was cracked and dripping, the snow beneath it was probably highly flammable. Everything else was fairly quiet for it being the middle of the woods but, he supposed the balmy January air was a major factor for the lack of wildlife.
The silence initially scared him. Was he the only one who made it? A new twinge of guilt overtook him as he thought of the smiling fiancé who would never make it home to the party. But then he heard it, three faint beats coming from the interior of the wreckage. One seemed rather irregular, like it was stuttering. Immediately forgetting his own tribulations, Derek raced into the hull. Marin was still strapped in to her seat, hanging upside down, with a steady stream of blood dripping from her shoulder. To her side was Stiles. His pale skin was marbled with small nicks, but none larger than the deep cut on his forehead, which looked like it might’ve been caused by crashing into the floor head first on their final impact.
Both of their heart beats were steady enough, so he got Marin in an upright position and went to check on Deaton, their wonderful pilot. Derek couldn’t help his annoyance with the man who had gotten them into this situation. Deaton was crunched up in an impossibly tight space in the cockpit. It took a little of his werewolf strength, but Derek was eventually able to pull him free, and he saw the cause of the man’s heart palpitations. One of the pilot’s femur bones was visible and obviously broken. The amount of blood loss was probably putting a strain on his heart.
Derek immediately leaned in and started to take some of the pain while he placed pressure on the wound with his other hand. The pressure seemed to do the trick. So once Deaton’s pulse was steady, Derek left him just long enough to retrieve the plane’s understocked first-aid kit. Humans were so breakable, why wouldn’t they carry more bandages? It took over an hour before Derek was sure that the older man’s heart wasn’t going to give out on him, before he left him to attend his sister. She had a broken clavicle, probably from the seatbelt and several scratches on her chest and upper arms that would probably require stitches, something he doubted he would be able to do. Derek did his best to put her in a more comfortable position before moving on.
He tended to Stiles last and was shocked to feel how cold the young man felt to the touch. The temperature had dropped dramatically since he had awoken, and Stiles was laying on the plane’s exterior wall the entire time. He immediately reached over for the man’s luggage and didn’t think twice about the inappropriateness of going through it.
He noticed a book, but not just any book, it was one that Derek wrote under his pseudonym, Tyler Lee. His first book, that detailed some of his struggles as a werewolf in high school. It was appropriately named Teen Wolf, and was more of an autobiography than anything, but naturally it became a top-seller in the young adult fiction genre. He also saw a gun case. It would have been difficult not to as Derek had actually removed every single piece of clothing, but he couldn’t help but wonder what the stranger was doing with a weapon in an airport? How did he get it past security?
Feeling a little less sure of the man he invited on this death-trap of a trip, Derek dressed Stiles in everything he owned before he started to scrounge the wreckage site for a source of heat. They would all freeze to death, werewolf or not, if he couldn’t get a fire going soon.
In the end, Derek settled on bending some metal into a bowl shape and gathering some of the dripping fluid from the fuel tank. Once lit, it did the trick. He also secured the hole in the hull with scraps and a heatstroke blanket he found in the first aid kit to help keep the warmth from bleeding out. Then he sat down next to the pilot and continued to take the man’s pain. Oh, how he regretted not having dinner with Stiles back at the airport. His stomach growled loud and echoed in their makeshift home.
Stiles heard birds chirping but was slow to open his eyes. He couldn’t remember where he was but he was certain that it wasn’t his bed, or even a bed, as the surface beneath him was hard and cold. He took several breaths and immediately noticed the air was thinner than it should’ve been. Where was he?
Opening his eyes was more difficult of a task than Stiles thought it should have been, but that was nothing when compared to trying to sit up – which he couldn’t do. He was stiff, sure, but something else was hindering him. A glance at his body revealed the truth behind his struggle. He was wearing a ridiculous amount of clothing. Knowing now that he was only being held down by fabric, Stiles rocked his hips, in an attempt to get to a sitting position. With a little more effort, he succeeded.
The world around him both shrank and grew as soon as he sat up. He was in a tiny space, probably just large enough for his head to hit the ceiling if he stood, but outside the giant hole in the wall, was a vast expanse of nothing except snow. It went on for as far as he could see. Just snow and trees and rock, no people, no buildings, no… civilization. Nothing.
Suddenly, Stiles remembered. The plane! He was in a plane and it was going to crash. He remembered thinking that and forgetting to breathe and coming to just in time to see Derek go flying out their open hull…
He spun around as fast as he could and was relieved to see a smiling Marin looking back at him. She sat next to her unconscious brother, holding his hand.
“He’s okay.” She whispered. Marin’s voice sounded hoarse, as if she hadn’t properly used it in some time.
Stiles wasn’t sure if she was referring to Deaton or not, as the man looked anything except okay. The pilot had an exposed leg wound, one that appeared to be already on the verge of infection from the red skin that surrounded it. Stiles wasn’t particularly skilled in the medical field, but being an agent did come with some degree of difficulty and he did have emergency training. Plus, his step-mom was a nurse, his brother, a werewolf and his father, a sheriff. He’d spent some time in and out of hospitals as a result. He’d do what he could to help the man, starting with properly cleaning his leg.
But first, he had to figure out how to move. And, how he got to be so bundled.
As if to answer the question, Derek popped his head through the hole in the wall. He was carrying a large shard of metal piled high with snow and looked a little flushed, like he was in a hurry. He also looked immaculate when compared to Deaton and Marin. Did that guy go through the same plane crash? Didn’t he fly through the hole?
“He’s up!” Derek called as he practically jumped into the cramped space.
Stupidly, without thinking that Derek’s concern was for himself, Stiles responded. “No. No, and for his sake, I hope he doesn’t wake until we get him some proper morphine.”
Derek didn’t bother correcting Stiles assumption as he passed Marin the snow bowl and knelt down in front of the overly bundled adult. Stiles found himself looking into those eyes once again and decided that, yes, they are indeed green. He also decided that Derek was the kind of man that could grow a beard in a day, or maybe he had been out longer than that?
Judging from the concern marring the other’s face, Stiles might just have been.
“You’re up!” Derek told him. “How do you feel? Are you cold?”
“I-I can’t move,” Stiles admitted.
“Oh?” Derek obviously wasn’t expecting that and immediately apologized for the amount of clothing and started to help Stiles out of his jackets.
It was a relief for Stiles to be able to bend his arms properly again and he helped himself out of his multiple pairs of pants. It struck him just then that of all the clothes he was wearing, the ones he started in weren’t present. He felt his cheeks heat up at the realization.
This guy, practically a complete stranger, had seen him in the buff. Derek must have been thinking along the same lines as Stiles because he skirted his eyes away and pointed to the suitcase in the corner.
“I’m sorry,” Derek muttered. “You were cold and a little cut up. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t injured any further.”
He didn’t need to defend himself; Stiles understood, despite his embarrassment.
“If it makes you feel any better Dr. Derek here gave me the once over too,” Marin muttered.
This time Stiles noticed her wince and saw an odd protrusion formed just under the skin near her collar. She shouldn’t be moving that arm. He told her so, to which she rolled her eyes.
“I’ll be fine,” she insisted with a worried glance down at her brother.
Derek was already moving to melt the snow he had brought in with a small makeshift fire they must have made. Stiffly, Stiles made his way next to the pilot, wishing he knew more sufficient healing spells. The best he could do is properly align and clean the injury for now, and maybe boost the healing process a bit. With Marin’s permission, he untied the filthy rag that bundled the man’s upper thigh. It was worse than he thought.
Stiles didn’t have to even ask as Derek passed him a swatch of fabric dipped in the warm water he had created. He set to work carefully washing away the dried and fresh blood before he reached for one of his own over shirts that he had so recently been wearing.
“I’m going to try and set it first.” He announced to the other two. “It might help with the infection and healing.” Stiles tried to keep the doubt from his tone.
“Set it?” Marin asked, hopeful. “Are you a doctor?”
“No,” Stiles admitted. “No…I’m a detective, PI.”
It wasn’t really the truth, but he went undercover so often that he was used to denying he was a fed. Only a trained ear would have picked up on his hesitancy.
“Do you know how to set bones?” The pilot’s sister barreled on.
“No. But I know anatomy, I know that isn’t right, and I know that he’s more likely to die of infection than anything else. Even in this awful weather.” Stiles argued back and felt his spark flare at the thought of warming the hull. “And I have seen my fair share of breaks, I can tell you what a baseball bat does to a kneecap.”
Marin chuckled, but Derek furrowed his brows with concern. Maybe the guy didn’t like police? Although anyone could hire a private investigator. Or maybe it was the baseball bat comment? He was actually being truthful about that one, however. Although, Stiles was the one swinging the bat in that particular case.
“Okay.” Stiles told them. “Squeeze his hand, I know he’s out, but on some level, I’m sure he’ll feel this pain.”
“Wait.” Marin threw her good arm across her brother’s body to still Stiles and waved Derek over. “Take his other hand,” she insisted. “He’s a vet, you know, might be better to get his opinion first.”
“A vet? So what was he doing flying the plane?” Stiles asked. He purposely ignored her suggestion.
Derek came up besides Stiles and actually removed his gloved hands to hold the veterinarian’s. It was rather personal and a little endearing.
Stiles gave him what he hoped was an encouraging smile. He wasn’t good at healing spells but he had every intention of trying his best.
“He likes to travel.” Marin said fondly. “We both do. See the world and all it has to offer” As she said this, she gave a sharp look to Derek who sat across from her.
“Well, I suggest you stick to an RV, in the future.” Stiles said sarcastically as he clasped a hand on either side of her brother’s leg.
Even despite Derek’s assistance with the pain, Dr. Deaton jumped and screamed as Stiles set the bone. The werewolf allowed the vet to squeeze as tightly as he wanted and when the man was finally able to, he muttered several ‘thank yous’ to the group at large but it was Derek who he made eye contact with. It wasn’t the first time the werewolf thought the older man might be more aware than he let on. He was recommended to him by his uncle, after all.
Stiles was busy mumbling to himself as he tied a much neater bandage around the pilot’s thigh and seemed unaware of the understanding that passed between the other three. It was probably for the best, Derek thought, as he was more than a little wary of Stiles. He carried a gun and lied about his occupation.
“Thank you, Stiles, I’m assuming infection was starting to set in?” Deaton said a little louder to get the younger man’s attention. “I’ll take it from here.”
Stiles let the vet push him off his leg, gently. That’s when Derek noticed how incredibly tired and slow the mysterious passenger suddenly was. Derek knew what he needed: water. He brought snow in to melt so they could all have a much-needed drink. There were a couple of plastic bottles that Derek quickly set to fill and passed one to Marin who helped her brother drink from it, as well as one to Stiles.
The younger man accepted gratefully. And downed the water faster than someone should who had spent half a day completely out of it.
“So,” Stiles said once he had finished the water. “What’s the plan? Have you been able to call for a rescue?” He asked Derek specifically as it was apparent that Marin’s movement was limited.
“No signal. And uh, your phone is smashed completely. Sorry.” Derek told them all.
Stiles sucked in a deep breath. “Okay then, the plane’s radio? Or black box?”
“Cockpit is definitely not functional and the tail is missing.” Derek said with dread.
Stiles glanced at his watch. “It’s only been a day. But I know Scott, and that’s plenty of time for him to panic. He probably already has my dad involved. A search and rescue shouldn’t be too hard to organize, if we stayed on the flight path, they should find us.”
“A’hem.” Deaton interrupted. “And if we took a more scenic root? I may have flown a little east, to show off Kings Peak.”
Derek is pretty sure they got their fair share of the mountain as it was probably the one that clipped their tail.
“East?” Marin asked. “Into the storm?”
“The weather was looking much better than predicted!” Deaton attempted to defend himself.
Stiles swore under his breath, but it was loud and clear enough for Derek to hear.
“Well, it will probably take them longer to find us.” Stiles said at last, while messing up his hair further with his unoccupied hand.
It was a nervous tick that Derek was starting to pick up on. Stiles winced when he felt the jagged cut on his forehead. Derek hoped that one wouldn’t scar. It was dead center and unfortunately wasn’t shaped like a bolt of lightning.
“How’s our food supply?” Marin asked. The question set in the grim reality for them all.
Derek pointed out a locked cupboard that was hanging upside down as the plane did not land upright. Deaton had stocked the plane with some perishables prior to taking off. It wouldn’t be enough, not for the four of them, if they had to survive out here for days. Someone would have to go for help. As a werewolf, he was the obvious choice.
“I uh, also have some peanuts, from my flight,” Derek added, weakly. It seemed so long ago now, that his flight was re-routed to Jackson Hole. Hard to believe it had barely been twenty-four hours.
“That won’t last us.” Stiles announced as he got up, shakily. “I’m going to go for help, my watch has GPS, so I have your coordinates, I’ll send a rescue. In the meantime, we have to secure the hull. Make it safe and habitable.” As he said this his eyes glanced to the open flame.
The fire was both their only source of heat and a potential hazard. But that proclamation wasn’t the most shocking statement he had made. This skinny, defenseless, human was suggesting that he trek his way through the mountains to fend for a rescue? By himself? It would take him at least a week and Derek could make it to the closest town in a day’s time easily.
“You’re hurt, too.” Derek pointed out the obvious, “I should be the one to go.”
“I’m, ah, good at this kind of thing,” Stiles protested.
“Are you an avid mountain climber?” Derek asked with a perfectly raised brow of doubt.
“Yes,” Stiles lied. Derek heard the skip in his heartbeat, but the other man had said it so easily, it was rather disturbing.
“Really?” Derek continued. He was determined now to get some truths from the stranger and refused to back down.
“Yes. Really. And I research when I’m bored. I happen to know where Kings Peak is on a map. Plus, I have a compass!” He held up his arm to show off what looked like an old school watch from the nineties.
Derek had to give the man credit. He was stubbornly refusing to back down. “You were hurt, knocked unconscious. It would be better if you stayed here and help them.” He gestured to the siblings.
Stiles opened his mouth to argue back, but was interrupted by Marin’s sharp tone.
“How about,” she started, “We worry about our food issue for the evening. Do what you have to, to make this place cozy, and then we argue about who will lead the rescue mission.” She spoke with such finality, it would have been difficult for either man to refuse her suggestion.
Deaton told his sister that he would sew up the worst of her cuts if she was able to find the needle in the first aid kit and Stiles made a better sling for her arm from yet another of his plaid shirts. It didn’t go unnoticed how he was still wearing a few shirts himself and his thickest winter coat. Derek, meanwhile, busied himself by getting more fuel for their fire.
Afterwards, the two of them laid out all of their supplies: matches, food, and viable scraps of metal that they would be able to use to reinforce the hull. Derek sealed it up for the night with the blanket again and Stiles rearranged the luggage so that there was more room for them to lay down properly that evening.
Then they finally acknowledged the glaring issue - their lack of food. They had a decent sized bag of trail mix, a box of granola bars, some citrus oranges, and Derek’s half eaten peanuts. Derek could devour it all on his own he was so hungry. Instead, Stiles started to ration everything into fourths and then each pile further in to fifths. It was depressing watching the portions get smaller and smaller.
“That should last us five days each, calorie wise we’re looking at roughly five hundred a day, and if I go to get help as soon as the sun rises tomorrow, that should be enough.”
“I thought it was decided that I would go.” Derek cut him off.
“I’ll be faster, plus, have you ever looked at a map of these mountains?” Stiles countered. “Based on the thin air, I’d say this valley is still pretty high up, we’re probably close to the tree line. This isn’t going to be some straight hike. You’ll have to find a water source and follow it, because where the water cuts the mountain, there will be less climbing involved. I know I’m smaller than you, but I also know what I’m doing in a forest!”
Derek huffed and started laughing before Stiles could even finish his reasoning.
Stiles face twisted into something deadlier as he took the laughter as an insult to his capabilities. The fact was, however, that Derek was a werewolf. Granted, the other man didn’t know that, but he could easily full shift and transverse these mountains as a wolf, even without seeing a map. His senses would tell him where to go.
“Why don’t you both go?” Deaton suggested. He had refused his share of the food that Marin was trying to give him. It was obvious he felt terrible for the mess they were in. “Honestly, we would just hinder you, and be a burden. But we’ll be okay here. The cold is already more tolerable. And you two might just find that you need each other more than you would think.”
Derek looked up at Stiles and was startled to find his eyes were already on him. The two opposing forces of will turned the contemplation into more of a staring contest. Derek refused to blink and secretly cheered inside when the other finally looked down at the meager hand full of food.
“I’m going for a walk.” Stiles announced at last.
Derek snapped his head up in concern. It was dark out. What was this human thinking?
His worry must have been readable to Stiles, as the paler man’s face softened a bit and he admitted that he was going to take a leak, and wouldn’t be gone long. Still, Derek considered protesting or insisting that he accompany him regardless.
Stiles really did have to pee. But he also wanted a chance to freely tap into his spark and warm the hull properly and as he had just eaten his tiny portion of food, this would be the best time to do it. Once outside from the confines that were already making him go insane, he stretched properly and flailed his arms around simply because he could and he thought deeply about their predicament.
What was that Derek guy thinking? He was from the city, what did he know about nature? Probably nothing. It was sort of sweet, though, that he felt Stiles needed the protection. He smiled to himself at the thought. That was the kind of man Stiles needed to date and maybe Scott would approve for once. His best friend was so over protective, literally no one was good enough!
Stiles casually leaned against the outside of the plane and willed it to heat up. Some of the snow melted, and it gave him an idea. He quickly reformed the ice structure so it appeared to be just normal snow, but in reality, it was now acting more as an insulator to the heat inside. Essentially, he was creating an igloo for them to temporally live in.
Feeling as if he had spent too much time outside, and was probably causing the others to panic, he quickly made his way over to a patch of trees to relieve himself. That was when he saw it, even in the dark, the crimson patch in the snow was visible. That was blood, and the thing in the center must have been the cause. Upon a closer inspection, Stiles realized that it was a dark shirt bundled together with a jagged piece of metal.
Quickly sliding into his investigation mode, Stiles attempted to look for clues in the moonlight. Snow had fallen, but the large human shaped foot prints were still visible. And only one person besides himself was mobile enough to make it out this far - Derek. Which was weird because the guy claimed he wasn’t injured, but this clearly contradicted that statement. Why would he lie about something like this? Deaton was a vet, and could probably stitch him up as he did his sister.
As if the man in question sensed Stiles’ growing concern, Derek appeared suddenly behind him, causing Stiles to jump.
“What’s wrong? What happened?” Derek asked, a little wildly.
Stiles cocked his head to the side. “I don’t know, you tell me. Are you hurt and trying to keep it from us?” He asked with folded arms.
“What?” Derek clearly wasn’t expecting a confrontation.
Stiles pointed to the dark shirt on the ground. One that he was now sure the other man was wearing with his leather jacket the day before. Derek’s features shifted from concern to panic to resolve.
“I uh, it was from Deaton, when I pulled him free.” Derek said it firmly, but Stiles still had his doubts.
“That’s a lot of blood.” He tried to keep his accusation minimal. “If you are hurt, it’s okay. You uh - you did a lot helping us yesterday, we can…”
“I’m not.” Derek interrupted. “Hurt, I mean. I’m not injured, that’s all from Deaton, I needed a minute to… recover after…”
Something in Stiles’ gut told him that there was more to the story than what he was being told. But the wind that picked up caused him to shiver.
“Help me bury it then.” Stiles said at long last. “It will attract wildlife.”
Derek nodded in agreement and quietly kicked some snow around with his boots to make a hole deep enough for the blood soaked objects. Stiles had noticed earlier in the day how quiet the older man could be. He didn’t want to press the issue, but he also knew from experience that he could annoy people with his endless chatter, and he thought this guy probably fit into that category. It was difficult but he kept his mouth shut.
That evening, in the hull, Stiles attempted to read by firelight. When he produced his book, however, it caused Derek to snigger. The spark scowled. This already scruffy looking man from New York probably assumed YA novels were fads for teens, but they were so much more.
This story that he was currently reading had a lot of adventure, sure. But it was also telling the tragic tale of two high schoolers in love. And poor Paige didn’t even know her boyfriend was a werewolf yet. This had the markings of Romeo and Juliet all over it, but more so, the werewolves were incredibly accurate.
He was trying to get Scott to read it, but his brother kept telling him ‘after the wedding’. Stiles was sure the writer was connected to the supernatural world in one fashion or another, but when he looked up his name in the directory nothing significant came up.
Feeling that arguing over the book was pointless, Stiles knew reading was really their only option for him to stay quiet and before he knew it, he was tapping a beat on the, thankfully, much warmer outer wall while losing himself in the tale. It was late when he looked up and noticed that Deaton and Marin were already asleep and that Derek to was reading, although his book was bigger, plainer, and probably much more boring. A glance at the title told Stiles it was War and Peace. So Derek liked the classics. Huh.
It took Stiles forever to finally put his book away and go to sleep. As soon as he did, however, Derek felt ten times lonelier, as the rhythm his fingers made as they drummed had ceased. But he needed the argumentative man to go to bed so he could do what he was planning. Derek sat there, no longer actually reading his own book, and waited for Stiles’ breaths to even out.
Once he was sure he was the only one up, Derek headed back out into the chilly wind. It had started to snow again. It was so much warmer, now, in their little plane’s hull, that he had momentarily forgotten the frigid temperature outside. His little gas lit flame was doing its job!
He walked in his human form for over a mile, Stiles was simply too observant for his own good, before he undressed and shifted. It felt amazing to stretch his legs in his wolf form and he immediately noticed how much easier it was for him to move across the snow with his paws.
Derek took off at a gallop. He had to move quickly if he was to return before the others woke.
It wasn’t easy, sleeping on the hard floor in pants that threatened to wake everyone with their swishing noise, but Stiles tried his best. The lack of food combined with lack of sleep could potentially make this already life-threatening situation worse. He laid there and thought about how his dad was probably equal parts furious with him and scared to death that he may have lost his son. Stiles thought about how Scott was going to ignore his duties as groom to head the search and rescue team for his best friend, and assumed Kira would be right there with him, along with many other concerned agents.
He thought about Jackson, how the arrogant blond probably assumed Stiles was going for a dramatic late entrance yesterday when he failed to show up for their appointed meeting and now would possibly have to infiltrate the alpha wolf’s summit alone today. He thought about the pizza he had preordered for Scott’s bachelor party that was supposed to start that evening and go on all weekend.
Stiles froze and stilled his breath. Something had jumped on top of the plane, just above him. His eyes were wide open as he waited for the creature to move again. He glanced to his left and right, and noticed both Deaton and Marin looking back at him with wide, uncertain eyes.
This time, it was followed by a scraping sound that definitely made Stiles think the creature was clawed. All three sets of eyes jumped to the source of the sound and traced its unsteady progress as the thing slowly moved its way closer to their unsecured door. The heatstroke blanket flapped tauntingly in the wind. Stiles swore internally.
Thinking their best bet was to remain as still and quiet as possible, Stiles signaled to the others to do just that, as he crept his way towards his suitcase. If there was ever a time for him to not trip or stumble, this was it. He didn’t dare breathe.
A clawed, tawny colored paw swiped at the loose flap of the blanket. Stiles’ heartbeat sped up. If the big cat just wanted to play with the cloth, then so be it. He wouldn’t risk opening the zipper on his case just yet.
The paw was joined by another and the two appendages playfully swung at the fabric. Where was Derek? Did he go outside? Or had the beautiful eyed man fallen victim to this mountain lion? If so, the animal would pay, as it had done the world a disservice. It was rare, meeting such kind strangers these days, especially ones that looked so stunning when they accidentally smiled. Plus, Stiles was a spark and a federal agent, he was responsible for protecting these people, even if they didn’t know it.
That thought strengthened his resolve. But, just as suddenly as the cat appeared, it vanished. A soft thud told the plane’s occupants that it had jumped down from their roof. The creature was so quiet on the snow-covered ground, that it was impossible to tell if it was walking away or just silently stalking their haven.
Hesitantly, Stiles opened his suitcase and without looking, he assembled his Glock 17. The FBI standard handgun was easily familiar enough to the agent that this feat was possible. Stiles didn’t dare look away from the opening to see what the siblings thought of his sidearm, which he now held trained on the doorway.
The cat growled and hissed and appeared head first inside the hole in the plane so suddenly, Stiles had to blink to make sure he was seeing correctly. The creature tilted its head in question, he was king of the mountains and these people were intruders. It was mostly a light tan color with a few darker lines around its muzzle. The poor cougar appeared thin and had probably had a difficult winter so far. Stiles could sympathize.
He clicked the safety off on his weapon and silently prayed that the beast would turn and walk away. It didn’t. The cat languidly placed one paw in front of the other and eyed Deaton appreciatively. It hissed again and for some reason Stiles hissed right back. If the animal moved any further inside, he would have to take it out; a task he was sure he could and would do, but something he’d rather not have to. Hunting for the sake of the kill never quite appealed to him so much so as hunting for the bad guys.
The mountain lion seemed intrigued by the exchange but didn’t halt in its silent walk towards the injured siblings. Stiles held his weapon firm.
He fired once, a warning shot and then - BANG.
About an hour into his trek in wolf form, Derek no longer praised his fur coat. The wind whipped at his face and threw his balance off as he made his way up, along the jagged rocks. Derek’s pawed feet felt numbed by the ice below them. The mountain he was climbing was becoming steeper and colder with every step.
Derek continued, however, because he knew that retrieving the ELT could potentially lead to an earlier rescue. Electronic locating transmitters were generally kept near a plane’s black box in the tail and might just be able to send a signal for help where their cell reception was failing them. The moon graciously lit his path as the wolf followed the debris from the wreckage, one piece at a time. At this altitude, the trees couldn’t grow and no longer obscured his vision, but that also meant he had nothing to negate the wind either. Derek was cold and miserable and found himself longing for the warmth of the hull and the humans he had left in it.
And then he saw the largest chunk of the crash yet. The tail of the plane and in it, clearly visible against the shadows cast by the moonlight, was a bright orange box. Did the device have a working homing signal? That would have to be determined by their pilot, as Derek was not an expert in such matters, but he was sure Deaton would know regardless of the man’s abysmal flying skills.
It was larger than Derek had expected and too difficult to remove from the tail of the plane with his paws and snout. So, he was forced to shift back into a man, a naked man on a mountain top in the middle of the night in January. To say that Derek was shivering would be an understatement. His fingers were just as numb as his paws, and it hindered his ability to remove the box. In his frustration, Derek swiped at the metal surrounding it with his claws and as soon as it was free he transformed back into a wolf and found a whole new appreciation for the shaggy, black coat of fur that covered him.
The black box (which wasn’t even black) was not too heavy for the werewolf, but it was awkwardly large for his jaws, which meant the return trip took longer than Derek would have liked.
Finally, he was standing next to his pile of discarded clothing. The sun was already starting to peak through the clouds, mocking him as it’s warm rays were surely not going to extend this far. Derek shifted and dressed himself, shaking all the while, and he set off on his mile long walk back to the plane’s hull.
All he wanted to do was curl up in his patch of the floor and sleep.
But his eyes narrowed in on a startling trail in the snow. Paw tracks, smaller than his own, and they were heading straight for their makeshift camp. Derek took off at a run with energy he wasn’t aware he had left and clutched desperately to the device in his hand.
Upon breaking into the clearing, Derek saw their hull, just as he had left it, with one glaring difference; a straw colored tail poked out of the flap they were using as a doorway. Without thinking about the consequences, he crossed the distance with his claws and fangs out. The orange box dropped to the ground. Derek had every intention of fighting the big cat, to the death if need be, and he’d simply have to explain to the others that he was a werewolf afterward. He already suspected that Deaton and possibly even his sister may know of his secret. Stiles would be surprised and probably terrified.
The thought sadden Derek more than he expected it to. But, he didn’t have time to dwell on it, as a gunshot cracked and broke the morning’s silence. He saw the missed shot fling past the creature, most likely just between its’ legs. Derek stilled. Perhaps the animal would be scared by the sound and turn to flee.
Of course, things didn’t seem to want to go his way, and the cougar’s tail disappeared completely as the creature must have pounced at the threat before him.
Another resounding gunshot, followed by a pitiful yelp of surprise from the mountain lion, and then… silence.
Derek resumed his human state as he pulled back the heatstroke blanket, revealing an alarming scene. Stiles was standing in a slightly crouched position because of the ceiling’s height with his weapon trained on the dead lion on the floor in front of him. With Derek’s entrance, he briefly swung the gun up to point at the werewolf instead, but then he quickly flicked the safety back on and lowered his weapon once more.
The cat was dead. Blood dribbled slowly from a bullet hole just between its’ eyes. It was a perfect shot. Behind Stiles, Marin and Deaton both stared at the animal, clearly still processing the events.
“I’m sorry.” Stiles said at last to break the awkward silence. “Those shots were loud in here, and we didn’t have earplugs. Are you two okay?” He asked as he turned his head around to address the still speechless brother and sister behind him.
“We’re fine.” Marin responded, eventually. “I’m actually very familiar with the Glock series myself. That was a really good shot.” As she spoke her eyes never left the poor animal who had met its end.
“Thank you.” Deaton added. “Unfortunately, I don’t think it was going to back down.”
“Where were you?” Stiles asked Derek after that. “Are you okay?”
“Oh.” Derek found himself saying. “I went looking for the black box, in case the ELT was functional. Hold on.”
Derek went to retrieve the orange contraption.
“You found it!” Stiles exclaimed. “What? How? When?”
“Never mind that, do you know how the signal works on this thing?” Derek looked to Deaton.
Derek had returned with the electronic location transmitter from the plane’s missing tail, a cougar had attacked them and Stiles was forced to use his sidearm to defend himself and the others from the beast. All that and it wasn’t even mid-day yet.
Stiles helped Derek move the animal outside. He was unfamiliar with the act of spit-roasting wildlife but Derek had suggested that he might be able to do it, if they had a larger fire.
So, Stiles spent the rest of that morning looking for sticks and twigs dry enough to actually burn. The task was proving to be difficult. Just about everything was soaked from the snowfall. Luckily, Stiles’ spark could help with the drying process a little. He didn’t want to over use his magic, however, as he could easily exhaust himself since he hadn’t had a proper meal the day before.
Stiles also chose to keep his gun holstered on his hip after that morning’s events. No one had said anything, but he had a feeling the three of them wanted to discuss the fact that he owned a gun and hadn’t told them. That was why he quickly denied Derek who volunteered to join him on his outing for firewood.
The man had spent half the night walking in the woods looking for the plane’s missing tail already. That feat was remarkable, truly, and he had earned his right to rest. Plus, Derek seemed rather apologetic that he wasn’t there to help defend them from the big cat, which Stiles thought was preposterous. What had he planned on doing, fighting the thing off with his bare hands?
Granted, had Derek not wondered off by himself, the flapping blanket covering the hull might not have attracted the mountain lion to begin with. Or maybe the scent of Deaton’s healing leg would have carried, even if the hull was more secured. Stiles wasn’t one to split hairs or point fingers. What had happened, had happened. And in the end, everyone was alright and they might’ve possibly be closer to being rescued than he would have thought.
Eventually, once the pile of firewood was large enough to last them several days, Stiles dared to step back inside the hull.
Derek was asleep. His face seemed softer, despite the scruff, with his eyes closed. Stiles didn’t miss how his eyebrows scrunched occasionally as he dreamt, either. He couldn’t help but to smile at the audacity of them as they switched from peaceful to furrowed with worry and back to calmness in a manner of seconds.
“A’hem.” Deaton cleared his throat.
Stiles jumped. He had momentarily forgot there were other people in the plane with him. People who had just watched him be a total creep while he admired Derek’s sleeping face. Stiles felt his cheeks heat up.
“I um, I don’t think the device was functioning properly.” Deaton continued. “There is no way for me to know for sure, but the flight recorder doesn’t seem to have actually recorded anything and the tape on the CRV hasn’t moved.” Stiles gave the man his undivided attention, as this was really out of his wheelhouse. “Now for the ELT, this switch here manually activates it, but it doesn’t appear to have done so.” Stiles watched as the light remained off. “It also should be connected to an antenna which seems to be missing.”
Stiles thought about this. Perhaps, if they had the rest of the tail, they could reconnect the antenna and…
“I can see what you’re thinking, but even if Derek,” Deaton started to say but he corrected himself when Stiles face screwed up with determination, “or yourself went looking for the tail a second time, it would be useless if the device isn’t working properly. The battery powers the entire device, and I’m afraid that might be where our problem lies.”
That was disheartening to say the least. And to think that Derek had sacrificed his sleep to find the thing for all of them. He would be devastated, when he found out upon waking.
Stiles had a decent size fire roaring once Derek had woken up. It was well past the afternoon and the fire, which was propped up on some of the gathered debris from the crash, had melted the snow around it. Marin and Stiles sat on either side, keeping themselves warm and also enjoying the fresh air. The hull was undoubtedly becoming too much as it filled with all of their unwashed scents. Derek helped Deaton to join them, secretly draining the man’s pain as he practically carried him outside.
They sadly told Derek that the ELT wasn’t functioning. He thought back to his strenuous mountain climb the night before and couldn’t believe his luck. But the other three seemed fairly cheerful regardless of the bad news. Perhaps it was the prospect of a hot meal.
As Derek prepared the mountain lion, who wouldn’t die in vain, Stiles talked. He told them about the bachelor party he had planned for that evening. Derek thought it was strange that as a groom he was organizing the affair, but also that it seemed Scott was attending. Perhaps that was their plan, to throw a bachelor party for each other? He also thought about the werewolf meeting he was supposed to attend with his uncle, it probably was starting soon.
As Marin turned on their one remaining phone to check the signal again, she was vocally disappointed when there wasn’t one still. She asked Stiles about his watch which seemed to work just fine, even all the way up here in the mountains. His face lit up, probably at the prospect of getting to talk more, as he seemed to be holding himself back at times.
“Ah,” Stiles said with a grin. “This one I actually have my mother to thank, even though the watch was once my dad’s.”
Marin signaled for him to go on.
“My mom passed away, when I was eight.” Stiles informed them and Derek almost dropped the spear he was holding as he fumbled with making wild-cat-kabobs. “She um, she was sick. But anyways, she used to drive a Jeep. It was light blue, manual, old even for her standards, so it was practically ancient when my dad gave it to me seven years later when I had gotten my learners permit. That was my first car, Roscoe, and boy did I love it. Got me in and out of trouble quite a few times!” He smirked, clearly lost in a memory.
“Well, anyway,” Stiles continued. “My dad used to have this Cassio watch. It was from like ’99 or something, seriously, before smart phones. And it gave you your current coordinates and had a compass built in too. It even told you the date!” He laughed. “My mom gave it to him for Christmas, her last Christmas before she changed.” Stiles paused and his face darkened. “My dad lost it! Couldn’t find the watch anywhere, he’s a sheriff and just assumed that it went missing while out on a case.”
“Wow.” Marin interrupted. “I’m sorry, that must have been hard for him, and you.”
Stiles shrugged. “It was, but my mom wasn’t really my mom anymore, not at the end. But anyway, my dad lost the watch she gave him. And I found it all of those years later; in the glove box of her old Jeep! So, that year for Christmas, I was a broke fifteen-year-old mind you, I wrapped up my dad’s old watch and gave it back to him! He actually cried, but two years later, I kind of got myself in some trouble and he was worried about me. I was always running around the town late at night, so he gave me his watch, it’s been pretty useful. Like right now, for instance. But unfortunately, it’s not internet savvy.” He glanced at the watch appreciatively.
Derek had finished preparing their meat and passed them all skewers to roast.
“Just like marshmallows, huh?” Stiles joked.
He kept talking until well past sunset that evening.
Saturday morning brought with it a renewed blizzard. The group of four were cooped up inside as Stiles’ spark kept the sanctuary warmer than what should have been possible. Luckily, they had had a decent meal the night before, but as he sat there trying to quietly read, he thought about how their best bet for a timely rescue was if one of them, namely himself, went to find the rescue team.
Their situation hadn’t improved since that idea was originally pitched. Deaton and Marin both needed real medical attention and Stiles couldn’t afford to wait any longer. He tentatively put down his book to broach the subject.
“When this blizzard clears, I’m going to go for help.” He announced. Stiles left no room for argument. “Marin, you said you were familiar with my gun, I-I’d like to leave it with you, just in case any more animals welcome themselves in. I’m also going to leave the matches and most of my food share as I’ll only need it until I get to the town. You guys will need it until the rescue team can make it here.”
“Stop.” Derek cut him off mid-sentence. “Just, stop. I’ve already proven myself, I should be the one to go, and what would you do without matches once night has fallen?” His face no longer held any amusement.
“I’ll be fine.” Stiles assured. He didn’t need matches to light a fire, but he certainly couldn’t’ve explained that to people who weren’t aware.
Derek shook his head. “No.”
“What do you mean, ‘no’?” Stiles felt his own anger flaring up at the blatant refusal.
Derek closed his eyes and took a deep breath rather than choosing to respond which only infuriated Stiles further. Who did this guy think he was? Stiles was an adult and FBI agent and a spark! He didn’t take his orders from sexy bearded men in the woods! Or maybe he could? And just as quickly as his anger came he felt himself laughing at his own thoughts. Oh, he was going to go fetch a rescue, Stiles would just have to plan it with Marin and Deaton and leave camp when Derek’s back was turned.
He opened his eyes to see Derek looking at him with concern.
“What’s so funny?” Derek asked with skeptical brows.
And wasn’t that hysterical too? Stiles flashed a cheeky smile. “Just, nothing.” He replied as he resumed reading his book. Derek’s straightforwardness actually reminded him a bit of one of the main characters in Teen Wolf. The idea made more laughter bubble up.
Derek glanced at Marin who only shrugged and Deaton who was frowning with concern while also sending Stiles a look of understanding.
It was silent for at least twenty minutes as everyone resumed their previous tasks and the wind howled outside.
“Tomorrow.” Derek said causing everyone, Stiles including, to look up. “We’ll both go, if the storm has past, in the morning.”
Stiles recognized the olive branch for what it was, and nodded in agreement.
The group of plane crash survivors all found themselves up earlier than usual on Sunday morning, Derek included. The snow had stopped for the time being, and as the sun was visible again, it brought with it a sense of optimism.
Marin and Stiles discussed food rations and Derek watched them and agreed that they would need less for their journey than the two they were leaving behind. The remains of the mountain lion had held up fairly well as it was packed with snow, so the siblings had that as well. Marin was confident that she could continue to make water for herself and Deaton. She also proved capable of keeping their gas lit fire going on her own.
The hull was now reinforced with enough of the scraps from the wreckage that the heatstroke blanket door was no longer necessary. Stiles in particular had spent a good amount of time the day before battling the blizzard to check the outer edge of the plane for any holes or leaks where heat could escape. As a result, that last night in there was their warmest yet.
Derek filled their water bottles and packed a bag as the others discussed routes. Marin was in agreement with Stiles on the direction they should take, as the two tried to talk about what she remembered seeing on the maps she had looked at prior to their journey.
And then that was it. Time to say goodbye.
It surprised Derek just how much he had grown attached to Deaton and Marin in a few short days. He even found himself silently bidding their campsite adieu. Stiles on the other hand, was more quiet than usual, and Derek was sure the other man was wondering if this was the last time they would see their less than effective pilot and his sister, too. Were they doing the right thing? Did Deaton and Marin believe him when Derek promised they would be returning with help?
All they could do now was hope. Hope that the walk through the woods wouldn’t be too hindered by his human companion. Hope that the snow would lay off of them during their journey and hope that the brother and sister would survive on their own in the meantime.
Stiles had insisted that they head south, through the trees. As they walked, the forest grew thicker, casting long shadows on the snow-covered ground. It would be easy to get lost among them, but Stiles’ compass kept them moving in one direction, and Derek kept an ear out for, well, anything else that could possibly affect them.
The first couple of hours went by relatively quickly and the distance they traversed was impressive. Although the pine covered trees around them did all look the same, so it could be misleading. Eventually, though, Derek noticed that Stiles was sinking further with each step. He was too, himself. The snow was less compacted and started to impede their progress. As a werewolf, his body rarely ached thanks to its self-healing capabilities. But he suspected that Stiles’ calves might be feeling the burn.
Stiles couldn’t help but think of how much faster the trek would’ve been if he could’ve used his spark freely. Perhaps he’d harden the snow and slide along it, all the while clinging to a bubble of heat. That thought warmed him. And then he was immediately chilled as he sank down to his kneecaps on his next step and reality set in. This was going to be a long, cold, and strenuous journey.
Derek was by his side in a heartbeat, pulling him back up, and sinking himself in the process. As Stiles lent an arm to help Derek, he sank once more. The two burst out laughing as the back and forth continued. At this rate, it would take them a month to get to civilization!
It was so freezing, Stiles’ spark seemed like a distant memory as his warmest winter clothing was getting wetter and wetter every time he sank into the deceiving white fluff. What could he do besides grit his teeth and bare it? As bad as it was, it could always be worse. At least he didn’t have berserkers chasing him. That had been a difficult case. Or worse, those yapping jackalopes! Just to be sure, Stiles spun his head around. The truth was, those little guys were built for these winter wonderlands, and probably would get help faster than he could. But luck wasn’t on his side and there was no one around for miles.
“We should keep going this way,” Stiles suggested.
Derek, who was no longer laughing, simply nodded. Stiles understood; he was frustrated with their progress too. At least Derek seemed to be as in shape as he appeared and he wasn’t complaining.
Stiles would have to do his best to keep their morale up, for both of their sakes.
Eventually, they made their way to harder ground, although the soft snow had taken up the majority of their day when the sun was high in the sky. The forest was just as thick here, but it was also broken up with the occasional rocky formation, which gave them some added stability to walk on. As they walked, Stiles talked.
He talked about his dad, his mom, his Jeep, and Scott. He talked about Scott a lot. From what Derek could gather, the two were best friends since their elementary school days. They went through some ‘tough times’ during high school (he assumed that meant that one or both of them came out) and well, now Stiles was going to miss the wedding. Derek didn’t need to hear all the steamy details that had led the couple from their high school days to marriage, and he was thankful that Stiles was at least not one to kiss and tell.
Derek wasn’t sure why hearing about Scott bothered him so much, but on some level, it did. The fact was, he was a good-looking man in his late twenties with a successful, if not secret career, and he knew it. He could have a boyfriend or a girlfriend if he so wanted one, but that was the problem. He convinced himself years ago that he didn’t want such a thing. There was ‘Paige’ as was her titled character name in his book, who had tragically died in his arms. It was an ending some described as cruel and unnecessary but the fact was, it was reality. Many people had banded together asking for a sequel, wanting to see the main character rise from the hardship in his teen years, but Derek had yet to find the inspiration to write that tale.
After high school, he had met Kate. She was evil with alternative motives and he was thankful to see her taken away by the proper authorities in the end. Then there was a string of men and women, none of which stuck, until Jennifer. She was troublesome in her own way, had used Derek and after her, he decided no more. Never again. At least Jennifer had left him with enough of a story for his current work in progress. He was twisting her character into something truly evil, a two-faced witch who seemed like an innocent teacher. He had a feeling his publisher would really like this rendering.
The entire time Derek was lost in his thoughts, Stiles was talking about Scott’s proposal. He was glad to have tuned that part out. Derek glanced at the man that was making him think that he had quit the dating scene too early and couldn’t help but wonder how Stiles looked so… normal.
Derek didn’t need a mirror to know that his beard was coming in uneven and scraggly. His hair felt dirty and was probably greasy after missing out on a proper shower the past four days. But Stiles’ face was as clean shaven as ever, his hair, while messed up, kind of suited him, and his eyes glowed brightly with eagerness. He was just a human, and wanted to do this dangerous trek through the woods. Personally, Derek was dreading it.
“Let’s turn this way and keep as close to Southwest as possible. There’s a road that cuts through here in that direction, eventually,” Stiles said in a cheerful tone. “If we’re lucky, the river there will be frozen solid at this time of year and we’ll be able to cross and make camp before nightfall on the other side. That damn snow slowed us down but we must’ve made up for it in the last hour or two.”
Derek wasn’t going to disagree unless his werewolf senses told him otherwise. But less than an hour later his ears did just that. He could hear running water; the river wasn’t frozen. It actually sounded quite alive and he wouldn’t be surprised if they were about to encounter rapids. And the worst part was, Stiles had no clue as he talked about making a tent from jackets and starting a fire on the other side of the water as the land should be smoother there to do so. Derek hesitantly started to suggest alternate plans. Maybe they could find a cave as they were on a rocky cliff. He started to scour the mountain side to do just that.
The sun seemed to be picking up speed as it threatened to set on them too, and the river still wasn’t in sight.
“Hey,” Derek called out. Stiles jumped and the werewolf felt a little guilty as it was the first time he had spoken out loud in hours. “I was thinking maybe we should just camp in that cave tonight? Get dry and worry about the river in the morning.”
“If we can cross it today, though, that would be one less thing to do tomorrow. We’re probably going to have to do a little rock descending to get down there, get that out of the way and we can rest up tonight!” Stiles replied.
His voice was dripping with optimism which made Derek cringe internally as he knew how impossible of a feat that would be. Derek had found a decent sized cave that was sure to deflect the wind, and it was right there. He’d hate for them to have to back track later.
He tried to argue that point, but to no avail. Derek was sure that Stiles probably headed his school’s debate team in his day, as he was so talented in the art of arguing. Knowing he was right didn’t leave Derek with his usual sense of pride either. This was going to be devastating for his companion who had tried all day to remain positive.
The water had been getting louder. Stiles’ human ears had to have heard it, right? They rounded a particularly jagged corner and came face to face with a waterfall. The river must have been right on the verge of freezing as giant patches of ice slid quickly into each other and bounded further down the stream causing even more ice to crack and break. They would have to walk along the shore for miles until they found an area thick enough to cross safely.
It was almost funny but at the same time wasn’t. The fall was picturesque and could easily be the centerpiece of a landscape painting, but just then it was also the most disappointing view in the world. Stiles’ shoulders slumped in defeat. Derek didn’t know what to say, so he remained silent and let Stiles come to his own conclusion on where they should spend the night.
Stiles couldn’t believe it. As he stood there on the cliff’s edge peering down, he felt personally betrayed by the river. But worse was the fact that he could freeze it, easily. Elemental magic came naturally to him. But Derek was here and he wasn’t aware of the secondary supernatural world that surrounded them all. How could he explain the river suddenly hardening right before their eyes?
He thought about just telling Derek. It wouldn’t be the first time an outsider was brought into the know because of extenuating circumstances. He wouldn’t even be breaking the law, not really. But they were in the icy woodlands of the Uinta Mountains. What would Derek’s reaction be? Would he trust Stiles after? Flee and get lost?
It was a painful decision, but eventually Stiles conceded. “We’ll have to… have to go back to that cave, get a fire started, soon.” He knew he sounded broken admitting that and was thankful that Derek didn’t say ‘told you so.’
Derek’s cave was perfect. It faced in an opposite direction of the wind, so they both felt warmer entering it, even before they got a fire going. It took them just moments to set their packs down and start making the place more comfortable. Derek took the once dried firewood he had brought and attempted to light them with a match. They only had four matches. They left two with Marin and strict orders to keep her fire going. If this trip took longer than four days, they would have to come up with an alternative source of heat and food.
Stiles unpacked their dinner; a couple of nuts each and two squished granola bars. It was all the nourishment they would get for the day. The thought depressed him greatly.
Derek cursed. He was struggling with lighting the fire and one glance told Stiles that the wood wouldn’t be burning anytime soon. Just like themselves, everything they had packed was damp from the thick snow they had fallen in time and time again.
“Hey, let me try.” He suggested, holding out a hand for the abused looking match.
Derek grumbled as he passed it over and took a large bite of his multi-grain bar. Stiles gave a few false attempts at lighting the fire for the sake of keeping up his façade, and then lit it with his spark. It was actually more difficult than he expected it to be, the magic in him simply felt as drained and tired as the rest of him. But the flame instantly started to warm and dry him, and he noticed that Derek instinctively pulled himself closer to it, too.
“I’m sorry,” Stiles said at last. “About the river. We should have just stayed here when you found it, could have gotten another hour of rest.”
“It was worth a try.” Derek said with a little encouraging bump from his knee.
He didn’t quite sound like he believed the words, but Stiles appreciated his attempt all the same.
“I’m so hungry and cold,” Stiles announced once his measly meal was consumed. “We should have taken a few of the oranges too.”
Derek huffed a laugh. “Regret being so noble now?”
“Ugh. I do.” Stiles admitted, pulling his knees in close.
Derek busied himself in his backpack for a minute before pulling out his toiletry kit. Of course the man was going to brush his teeth before bed, even in the middle of nowhere. He did have a captivating smile, even if he didn’t use it often.
“Here.” Derek said, passing a small object over to Stiles. “It’s the only one.”
Stiles looked at the object in his hand for a full minute. It was a red and white striped mint, wrapped in clear cellophane.
“You were holding out on us!” Stiles playfully accused before passing it back over.
It was an incredibly touching gesture, but how could he accept if it was the last one? He told Derek as much, and the two argued lightly about the candy before Derek announced that he was going to go to bed. Stiles placed the treat in his pocket, knowing full well that he had yet to have his final word on the matter.
Stiles couldn’t sleep. He had really tried, but while the cave protected them from the temperature caused by the winds, it did little against the sound and the edge of the rock formation produced a piercing howling noise. How was he supposed to tune that out? He tossed and turned until finally Derek huffed.
“Just come here,” Derek demanded.
“What?” Stiles croaked out. He was using his spare jacket as a blanket even though it started as his mattress.
Derek huffed again. “You’re cold and you can’t sleep. Come on.”
Hesitantly, Stiles obliged. Derek left him little room and he wasn’t sure if it was luck he should’ve been thanking or cursing as he felt the larger man’s bicep just under his head. Immediately he felt warmer for having Derek pressed against him. But also, this was a straight man, or at least a man with someone named Laura worried about him back at home, and this might end with Stiles feeling and looking more than a little aroused in the morning. Unfortunately, he didn’t have much time to dwell on this new problem because he found himself matching Derek’s breaths while contemplating how much warmer the larger man was and Stiles fell asleep before he knew it.
What was Derek thinking? He now had Stiles, the guy he might have slowly been developing a crush on, sleeping right up against his front! Panic flooded through him at the thought. Stiles was engaged to be married! To his childhood sweetheart! Nothing about this crush was appropriate and he needed to squash it before it got out of hand; visibly out of hand in the form of his morning wood. He was done for.
Derek had one plan: wake before Stiles. This would assure that Stiles would never know how tightly woven together they may have become during the night. And if it was really early, Derek might be able to sprint off in his wolf form to scope the land ahead of them. He failed on all accounts.
Instead, he had found himself being gently woken by a smiling Stiles and sunlight flooding their cavern.
“Rise and shine, sleepyhead!” Stiles greeted him, overly cheerful.
“Uhh, what’s for breakfast?” Derek grumbled and rolled over. Except he was laying on the ground and rolling over meant his body was pressed up against a wall of jagged rocks, so he quickly sat up and ruffled his hair while taking in the mountainous fresh air instead.
Stiles must’ve been a morning person. He was already dressed for the day, and from the look of things he’d managed to fill their water bottles without melting the plastic.
“Hmm.” Stiles faked contemplation. “Do you prefer your snow over easy with a sprinkle of frost on top?” While he was joking, he did actually have a ball of ice he was munching on. It was probably left over from filling their bottles.
Derek held out his hand and to his surprise Stiles handed it over. The flavorless snow cone minus the cone and syrup wasn’t half bad. Something to fill his stomach.
They got off to an early start again, and were down the side of the mountain quicker than the werewolf thought they would be, given one of them was breakable. Stiles really was fairly competent in nature for a human.
The waterfall was still roaring, but at least this time they both expected it and they made their way along the shore. The snow was thinner there and easier to walk through. Derek honestly wouldn’t have minded taking the river all the way to its end, but Stiles had pointed out on his watch that they were heading too far south for the road. Occasionally, he would even test the water but the ice was still too thin.
Stiles filled the silence with his endless babble and Derek listened. Until…
“What about you? What’s it like living in the Big Apple?” Stiles was obviously trying to hint that it was Derek’s turn to talk.
“I don’t know.” Derek shrugged and instantly felt insecure by his unsatisfactory response, so he tried again, “I mean, I guess I’m obviously pretty quiet and believe it or not, it’s really easy to be a loner in a large metropolis. It suits me.”
Stiles nodded from in front of him waiting for Derek to go on.
“Ah, that’s it honestly,” Derek admitted.
“Really? Tell me a story! You pretty much know all of my high school career now. What were you like in school? What do you do for a living? Who-who’s Laura? The girl you sent a text to before we left?”
Derek found himself laughing. Stiles spun around, confused. It was just, Stiles was literally reading his story bit by bit every night and he just didn’t know it. And well that also was what he did for a living, so that was covered, too. But, Laura, he could talk about her.
“Laura, she’s uh, incredibly pushy but means well. Only wants what’s best for me. Always had my back growing up, our Mom—“
“Wait!” Stiles interrupted. “She’s your sister?”
“Yeah, I didn’t tell you that? She’s the oldest, I have a younger sister too.” Derek answered honestly. “Anyways, she’s kind of perfect. Sets the bar high, so I guess I just found a place I could blend in. We have a pretty big family and everyone has their own opinion, as you can see, my uncle was willing to do anything to get me home for the— family thing. Laura wouldn’t have gotten in that plane with Deaton. She would have told Uncle Peter he’d have to wait. But she’s also probably heading the investigation looking for us right now. Probably searching the mountain as we speak!”
It was the most Derek had talked in a long while but it felt good to be honest with himself and Stiles about his family dynamics. Peter was always pushing him to be more involved with the werewolf side of things, but honestly? He was fine with how things were. And he knew his Mom missed him when he moved to New York, but after Kate, he just had to get away from all of it. Stiles was respectfully letting him think and remained quiet for a bit. Derek noticed a renewed pep to the man’s step and couldn’t help but think that sharing, even that little amount, might have been the cause.
Stiles had been wrong about Derek and Laura! He was dying to straight up ask him if he was single, but refrained from doing so as this really wasn’t the time or place for what could be a serious conversation.
He checked the ice and finally, finally, it was thick enough to cross. Stiles looked over at the land on the other side. Gone was the large rock formations, all replaced with sparse trees and plenty of that fluffy snow. The land appeared to be on a gentle slope downward, too. No way were they going to spend another day falling meters into the wet flakes again today. Stiles place an un-gloved hand on the ice to check its durability and took that moment to harden all the snow on the other side. He glanced back at Derek who seemed none the wiser. It was funny what people were willing to ignore, to keep their world upright.
The journey on the now compacted snowfall went ten times faster than it did the day before and soon the sun was threatening to set on them again.
They wouldn’t find a cave that evening, but Derek quickly orchestrated a structure from tree logs that would serve to block the wind. It was impressive how easily he could swing them around. Stiles made the fire and rolled some smaller logs that were nearby to keep them elevated from the ice below. Dinner was less than satisfactory, as expected.
Stiles reached into his pocket and slyly offered Derek his mint again. But Derek refused. He placed it on the log between them.
Despite their current situation, both men laughed a lot that evening. And, when it came time for bed they pooled all of their spare clothing together to create a barrier between themselves and the frozen ground. It was quite small and this time there was no question or hesitation as they bundled together. Stiles found himself tucked close to Derek’s side gazing at the stars above.
It was truly amazing how many you could see when you were so far away from the city.
A glance at his watch told Stiles that it was a little past seven in the morning on Tuesday. He had officially been living in the Uinta Mountains for six days, almost a week. However, that last night without having proper shelter, was by far the worst. His back was stiff and he found it difficult to sit up. Every muscle was properly aching now. But worst, their small fire had burnt out sometime during the night. As it was lit with his magic, that wasn’t a good sign.
Stiles had done his best to ensure the hull of the plane would stay warm for Deaton and Marin until they could be rescued. That had put him under a little strain, but he was still more than capable of using his spark. He had hardened the snow for their walk just the day before! But maybe that was the issue? Stiles was probably overexerting himself, and with very little food to help him stay balanced…
He pushed aside the concern for his spark, and instead focused on the task at hand; finding Derek. The campsite was empty aside from their packs. Stiles noticed that the peppermint candy was no longer on the log where he had left it. Good. Hopefully Derek finally eaten the thing so it would stop teasing him.
It didn’t take Stiles long to solve the case of the missing Derek as the bearded man came out from behind a tree just a second later. One glance told him that his companion had recently woken up too. His hair was a mess and his clothing sleep rumpled. For a fleeting moment, he wondered if this was what Derek would look like the morning after an eventful night in the sheets. Stiles had to guiltily look away as he blushed at the thought.
“What no breakfast?” Stiles tried to joke, but it sounded flat, even to his own ears. “Do I have to do all the cooking around here?”
Derek smiled and went to retrieve his backpack. He did so with far less wincing than Stiles knew he himself would be capable of.
“I’m just not sure how you like your snow? Flat or ball shaped?” Derek teased back.
Unfortunately, that exchange was one of only a few that morning. Stiles found it harder to keep up the conversation as he was focused on keeping himself going. Derek must have picked up on his difficulty as he had suggested they munch on some of their trail mix around noon. His stomach had growled at the suggestion. One meal a day was really taking its toll on them both.
Stiles didn’t have it in him to protest. But looking at what was left of the rations, brought him back to the direness of the situation. It was Tuesday and they hadn’t even passed Moon Lake yet! The road was at least a day’s hike on the other side of that body of water too. Looking at their two remaining granola bars and meager bag of trail mix, brought with it the realization that they were going to run out of food before they made it into the local town. Traveling through the snow was simply slowing them down.
While they quietly ate, they pushed past several thick evergreen trees and found themselves looking over a wide expanse of open space. It was pure white for as far as their eyes could see. No animals or small bushes or any other type of shrubbery to break up the bleakness. Just white. It was almost blinding in the sunlight. Stiles found the enormous clearing reminiscent of a desert, and he felt a wave of dread wash over him. It was endless! At least the soft snow was thinner here at only a foot and a half deep. It took everything in himself to pick up his feet and keep moving forward.
Derek could sense Stiles’ despair when they came across the expanse of, well, nothing. It had to have gone on for miles, because a glance with his wolf eyes couldn’t even see the end of it. As they walked, he tried to start a conversation but failed every time. He wasn’t sure what to talk about and Stiles had shared so much already, he wasn’t sure what was left to ask of the once stranger. Instead, he found himself listening. Stiles’ heartbeat was slightly elevated. The man needed to rest. He had done a remarkable job on their journey so far, but there was only so much a human could do and this one was finally reaching his limits.
Then Derek saw it – trees! And even better, there was a fallen one that had formed a perfect sitting log. They still had several hours of daylight and travel left in the day, but Derek insisted that Stiles rest. He practically had to force the man to sit. Promising that he was just going to relieve himself and take a quick look at the path ahead of them, Derek took off in between the shadows of the evergreens. Maybe they could set up an early camp if he found some decent shelter?
As soon as he was sure he could do it without being seen, Derek shifted into his wolf form. It was a much faster way for him to scope out the land and allowed him to keep an ear out for Stiles at the same time. It sounded like the human was actually doing as he was told and resting. The trees grew taller and thicker incredibly quickly. So far, the local wildlife had stayed away from them, but that very well could change as they were about to enter a fully-fledged forest. Derek felt more in his element here and was thankful to be done with the miles of nothingness.
He was just about to turn back towards Stiles when he noticed stacked logs, forming a cabin. It looked far from pristine, with a cracked window and broken railing running along the steps. But the porch had a swinging bench that looked homemade and inviting. And it was a house! A building with a roof and possibly a fireplace and maybe even food!
Derek was still a wolf, and in fear of potentially scaring any homeowners, he backed away quickly. He didn’t hear any heartbeats aside from his own, but that didn’t mean the person who had built the cabin wouldn’t be returning, hopefully in a pickup that came equipped with a radio. He was getting ahead of himself though. First, he had to go get Stiles.
Derek was almost to his abandoned clothing when he heard it, a cracking sound. It was an odd noise and one he couldn’t quite place even though it was familiar, and then he heard Stiles mutter a curse and noticed the human’s heartbeat sky rocket. Derek left his clothes behind and broke out from between the trees as an overgrown, shaggy black wolf. Stiles glanced up just in time with a questionable look on his face upon seeing the beast. It started in pure fear but for some reason morphed into one of joy. Then, he disappeared.
Stiles plummeted through the ice that neither one of them realized he was standing on. It suddenly made so much sense to Derek why there had been nothing for miles. They were probably walking on the lake that Stiles had insisted was a sign that they were close to civilization. But none of that mattered anymore. Derek needed to rescue Stiles from the icy water, that was his only priority now.
He bounded across the shore to the ice and tried his best to keep his weight evenly distributed to avoid taking a cold bath himself. It was a task that was made easier because he was still a quadruped. Upon reaching Stiles, Derek snapped his jaw firmly on the man’s hoodie and pulled.
It all happen so quickly that looking back on it now, Derek still couldn’t register what actions he had taken. But within minutes a very naked and wet Derek had an equally naked and wet Stiles under a blanket on the only bed the cabin offered. He shifted back into his wolf form and covered the human further, trying to lend as much warmth as he could to the unconscious man.
Stiles’ lips were blue from the initial chill and ice had already formed in his hair from the short journey from the lake to the cabin. Frost covered Stiles’ lashes too. Derek stared at them, they were exceptionally long for a man, but it suited his face. This close, Derek noticed how many moles marbled his pale skin, as well. He found them charming, and couldn’t help but eye patterns between them as if he was staring at the stars and making constellations.
Derek continued to lay there in his wolf form with his ear pressed up against Stiles’ chest until he was sure the frozen human’s heart wasn’t going to give out from the experience. It was over an hour later when Derek finally went to go retrieve his clothes and backpack. Once he was human again, Derek attempted to make the place more habitable. It was apparent that the cabin was long since abandoned and that it must have belonged to a hunter.
Not just any hunter, but one of the werewolf killing variety. The kitchen was almost completely abandoned. There were two cans of soup and a window box that was overgrown with wolfsbane. It was a chilling sight and scent.
A long time ago, men called themselves hunters and protectors, and would go after shifters as if they were lesser beings. It was never an issue for Derek, well, besides Kate (but she was crazy). His mother and uncle had told him stories of how it used to be, before the government stepped in and created their own secretive branch of law enforcement that handled supernatural cases. Before that, they were hunted freely. It was an alarming concept, and one that he didn’t think about often, but being faced with the plant as evidence was hard to ignore. It was a poison, one that would stop him from heeling and could even kill him if he was exposed to it long enough.
But Derek had more pressing issues to contend with. Stiles was still out cold. They had only a few hours until sunset and they would undoubtedly be staying at the cabin that evening. He needed to start a fire. The fireplace was just as abandoned as the rest of the cabin, not a log in sight. Fortunately, Derek’s pack still had one ‘dried’ log. It was at least drier than anything he would find outside. The problem was, Stiles’ backpack had the matches, and everything in that bag was soaked, if not frozen.
Derek laid all of Stiles’ belongings out to dry and then set to work attempting to use the matches. He only had two left and he couldn’t afford to waste them. It took over twenty failed tries and a broken matchstick later, but he was finally able to produce a flame. The log even took to the tiny fire willingly. He did it! They now had a fire in the fireplace. Hopefully the small piece of wood would be enough to warm the cabin, quickly.
It was quite aside from the crackle of the flames, that was until a rustling noise alerted Derek to the fact that Stiles was starting to wake.
“Scott!” Stiles mumbled. “It was a wolf, Scott, I saw him!”
Derek froze in his steps to cross the room. What did he remember?
“It was black— did you send him? To save us?” Stiles groggily asked and rolled over while clutching the blanket tightly.
Well, that was a good sign at least, in Stiles’ dream he wasn’t afraid of the wolf. Derek would just have to convince him that it was just that, a dream, and nothing more. Stiles continued to mutter in his sleep, but it was less coherent and Derek found himself tuning out the sound. Instead he busied himself by checking for a pot to heat the soup with. The cabin proved helpful a second time as it was fully stocked with dusty utensils and cookware.
The problem was, his single-log fire was tiny, it certainly wasn’t going to heat the soup evenly and was already threatening to die out. How come the fire always looked bigger when Stiles lit it? What was he doing wrong? Desperately, Derek looked around for something he could use as fuel to keep it going. His eyes landed on Stiles’ book. He didn’t bring War and Peace with him for this journey, otherwise he would have destroyed that one, but as it were, Derek tentatively ripped the first page of the book, crumpled it up and tossed it into the fire. About twenty or so pages in and the fire looked ready to cook with.
He felt incredibly guilty and refused to acknowledge the partially destroyed book. He was so worried about it, however, that it took Derek a full minute to register the change in his surroundings. Stiles had stopped talking. He spun around to see if the man was alright. He found Stiles in a sitting position with a blanket pulled all around him, covering his chest. He looked terrified.
“What happened?” Stiles asked at last.
Stiles remembered. Or at least he thought he remembered. He had gotten off the log he was resting on and was about to follow after Derek when he had seen… something? Someone? It was a wolf, but not just any wolf, this one was larger than it should be. It was a werewolf. He had spent enough time chasing after Scott to recognize the difference. But this one wasn’t Scott. It was lacking in his reddish-brown, scratchy fur. Rather, this werewolf had a black coat, almost solid black and it was longer and warmer looking. The creature was beautiful.
And then he was plunged into a tub of ice. It was so shocking and unexpected, he didn’t have time to prepare himself. Upon touching the freezing water, he immediately felt his spark heat up around him, protecting him as it did when he found himself in these life-threatening situations. But it was so cold that even his spark froze over. He had thought he was going to die. He should have died. But he didn’t. Was the werewolf part of some mad illusion in his mind? Or did it rescue him?
Derek filled him in on what happened. It was surprising that the guy was able to get him out of the water and both of them to a cabin (?) for the time being. Where had this place come from? It was moldy and dusty and rather bland. All the furniture appeared to be homemade from local lumber and even the olive green blanket matched the woodsy decor.
Stiles was relieved in the end to be alive, to be dry and warm, and even more so to find out that he was only out for a few hours. It was still Tuesday, even if the stars were now strewn across the sky outside.
Derek seemed modest about his rescue. It was truly a brave feat and when this whole nightmare was over, Stiles was going to properly thank him. Of that he was sure. Derek offered Stiles some of his clothes, because everything Stiles owned was still wet. So, ten minutes later, Stiles was dressed in sweatpants that threatened to fall off his hips with every step and a dark, long-sleeved Henley which was two sizes too big. He felt properly ready for a slumber party and placed himself as close as he could to the pitiful fire as possible.
Several things caught his attention and Stiles found it difficult to choose which to focus on first. Derek was cooking soup. Where did that come from? Why didn’t it smell more appetizing? Also, his book laid on the hearth of the fireplace. Its cover and most of its pages were missing. That was just rude, but he was sure there was a reason. And lastly, Derek was avoiding eye contact with him.
“Hey,” Stiles tentatively started to say. “Thank you—”
“I think you should stay here,” Derek blurted out. “That was the big lake you were talking about, right? So, the road should be close.”
“I’m sure it is and we can go together. I’m fine Derek, thanks to you, and—”
“Stiles!” Derek snapped, finally looking up to meet Stiles’ honey-colored eyes with his own, full of concern.
Stiles knew at that point, it wasn’t worth arguing. Derek meant well. So he backtracked and changed the subject. “What? What did you do to my book? And you call that dinner? It smells awful!”
Derek smirked. “It’s beef stew and it’s only been expired for two years, which is nothing when compared to tomorrow’s feast of chicken noodle soup that kicked the bucket about five years ago.”
Stiles face was a clear indication of how disgusted he was at the thought of both of their pending dinners. He glanced around the room and noticed the two remaining granola bars sitting out with his other belongings. That was all they had left of their original rations. It was a depressing sight. He hoped that Deaton and Marin were faring better with theirs.
“Okay. So, uh, why did you murder my book?” Stiles asked playfully.
Derek smiled at the accusation. “I couldn’t keep the fire going with just the log. It was too small and it’s the last one.”
Stiles glanced around the room. Almost everything was made from wood; burnable, accessible, sustainable wood. His book would be nothing except ashes in less than an hour. Stiles crossed the room and flipped a chair over. It was nothing elaborate, just simply made out of roughly shaven 2x4’s. It took little effort to pry one leg loose.
Derek balked back in protest. “You can’t do that! What if the owners return?”
“This place has been abandoned for at least five years, according to that soup can!” Stiles argued as he placed the block into the very center of the flames. Immediately the fire clung to it and almost doubled in size. Stiles wasn’t ready to use his spark to assist just yet, so he was thankful that the chair would provide them with light and warmth throughout the night.
Derek still looked a little worried.
“If they show up, I’ll promise to replace the chair, heck I’ll take them to Ikea and outfit this entire place if they can get us back to town safely!” Stiles insisted. “Besides, you should be more concerned about the fact that you burned my book like one of those crazy religious fiction haters!”
Derek huffed out a laugh. “Tell you what, once I’m back home, I’ll send you a signed copy.”
“What?” Stiles’ jaw dropped open with the word. “How? The author is so secretive! He doesn’t do book signings. I would have attended if he did, I have so many questions for him!”
“Oh, I have my ways,” Derek insisted.
Stiles continued to gape at him until he felt there was enough room in the fire for another log and this time he broke the chair without protest from his companion. Derek even instinctually moved closer to the warmth.
They talked more that evening than they had the entire trip. The difference was Derek was a willing participant now. He wasn’t sure what changed in him but suddenly the conversations went both ways as they contemplated over what the guy who owned the cabin was like. Stiles came up with an alter ego for the man; he was a lumberjack by day and sinister murderer during the night. He even called him Dexter! Derek couldn’t help but agree as he thought about the wolfsbane he had found in the kitchen.
Dinner was awful, but they both licked their bowls clean as food was food and it wasn’t going to go to waste. Derek noticed Stiles eyeing the granola bars after every bite, however. Once their meal had finished, Derek reached into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out the mint he had first offered him two nights ago. Stiles refused again. What was it going to take for him to eat the piece of candy?
Even though there was a small, squishy-looking couch in the corner of the main room, both men made their way over to the bed simultaneously. Derek didn’t mind sharing his space anymore. He actually found himself looking forward to it and was rather relieved when he felt Stiles’ head on his arm in his familiar spot. They had plenty of room to spread out, but it appeared as if they wouldn’t be. Stiles rolled over to face him and opened his mouth to say something, but froze in the action instead.
The two men stared at one another with little more than an inch separating them. Stiles was so close, Derek could practically taste him. His wolf internally howled at the thought, and it took everything in himself to not lean forward and close the gap. Stiles’ lips were full, his cheeks flushed, probably for the same reasons Derek felt his own heat up, and their eyes were locked on each other’s. Then the unthinkable was about to happen as Stiles boldly moved in.
Derek quickly rolled around. Stiles was engaged and Derek didn’t date. How would Stiles feel about this in the morning? What would Scott think when he found out? What would Laura say when he told her he was becoming a home wrecker? Derek almost whimpered out loud as he battled his internal struggle between doing what he wanted versus doing what was right. The choice was taken from him when he suddenly felt the cold emptiness where Stiles was once pressed against him.
Derek rolled back over to find the other man laying right on the edge of the bed. From his chemo signals, Derek could sense that Stiles was embarrassed and a little hurt. Surely, in the morning, he would be thankful that he hadn’t given in to temptation.
Neither one said anything after that. What could Derek possibly say? He was still kicking himself for denying the kiss to begin with. He wanted desperately to reach out and hold the man’s hand for his own reassurance, too. Instead, he huffed and stared at the wood beamed ceiling wondering what that kiss would have been like. Was Stiles aggressive or sweet and passionate? Sloppy and fun? Derek would never know and that thought irked him more than anything.
Stiles couldn’t help it, he pressed himself into the warm being that shared his bed, seeking comfort. He had had the worst nightmare; first there was a plane crash and then a mountain lion attack, followed by a plunge into a frozen water. And all the while there was a black wolf following him. Helping him. A black wolf whose eyes were sometimes green and sometimes blue.
Stiles yawned and clung on tighter to the arm that surrounded him. Wait!? Whose arm was that? It was too muscular to be Scott’s and he certainly didn’t have a boyfriend. He sat up and opened his eyes in a panic. Derek’s hand fell on the bed between them and the man rolled over taking with him most of the hideous green blanket. It was probably for the best as the horrifying moment where he had almost kissed the guy the night before, came rushing back. That rejection was worse than his nightmare.
The comfort of having an actual bed to sleep in must have momentarily made Stiles forget about, well, everything. Having reality set back in was difficult. But he wasn’t sure what was worse; remembering that he was stuck in the mountains trying to find his way home after a plane crash, or remembering that he was stuck with Derek. Derek, who definitely didn’t like him, unlike Stiles had thought he might have. A part of him wanted to just sneak off and never return to face his humiliation.
Stiles slipped as quietly as he could out of the bed with the intention of checking on his clothing. Some of the thicker jackets and pants were still slightly wet from his dip in the lake. The fire was also dwindling. Without thinking, he willed the flames to grow and they did. Stiles was well rested, warm, and fed. Even if the thought of the stew they had eaten was enough to turn his stomach. He was ready to continue, he just had to prove that to Derek, who once again wanted to leave him behind.
Stiles disassembled some more of the broken chair and laid the pieces near their backpacks for the journey. He also cleaned and prepared the pot to replenish their water bottles with more melted snow. Finding clean snow in the shade of the towering trees was a little more difficult than he had originally thought it would be, but eventually he prevailed. It just took a little walk in the cabin’s back yard.
Eventually, Stiles was startled by a movement behind him and as he turned around he came face to face with a small heard of elk. The bull stood larger than the three females and stared right back at him. The cows were all picking at the bark from the trees and Stiles suspected that at least one of them was carrying a calf by the size of her swollen stomach. The sight brought a smile to his lips.
The other side of the bed across from Derek felt cold and empty. Where was Stiles? The human had fallen in a frozen lake just the day before and he needed the rest - he needed to stay indoors. He should have still been in bed! But a quick check with his hearing told Derek that no one else was in the cabin with him. So where had Stiles gone?
Without thought for the cold air, Derek darted around the tiny cabin just to make sure his senses weren’t deceiving him, before yanking open the door with too much strength for its old hinges. He didn’t have to look for long, the man in question was making his way back to their temporary shelter with an over flowing pot of snow.
Relief flooded through Derek at the sight, followed quickly by a draft of wind on his bare arms which caused the werewolf to fight off a shiver. He never felt that cold! It was these mountains, this place - Stiles. It was all getting to him. The different emotions that human could stir in him was frightening.
Stiles followed a broken down wooden fence back to the cabin and was surprised to see Derek running out the front door without his jacket on. Panic was evident on Derek’s face and he seemed to breathe again once his eyes locked onto Stiles. There was an awkward silence between them. Just last night things had been so much easier. Stiles felt like he took one step forward in the befriending Derek department and three steps back. And it was all his fault.
Once back in the warmth of the building, Stiles checked his watch which laid among his other dried belongings, and was relieved to see that the water hadn’t destroyed it. It was supposed to be waterproof, but it was also almost sixteen years old. He was shocked, however, to find out that it was almost noon. They had lost half a day by sleeping in!
Derek reminded him that they did have a late night, and that he thought that they needed the rest. It wasn’t lost on Stiles how he seemed to gesture more toward himself with that statement, but it was Derek that had slept the longest, so who really needed the rest, huh?
Derek suggested that they spend one more night at the cabin and get an early morning start the next day. It was a difficult decision. On one hand Deaton and Marin were counting on them, on the other, Derek was no longer foolishly suggesting he go alone and the cabin was awfully warm. Stiles was a little torn, but yet another snowfall had started and this one was so thick, that when he glanced out the cracked window, it was hard to see the trees beyond it.
Staying that extra day allowed them to thoroughly search the place for anything else that might be helpful. There wasn’t much, just a fishing rod without any bait, a rusty knife which Derek loudly asked Stiles not to touch (as if he was going to cut himself and get tetanus, seriously. Derek was becoming overly cautious) and a set of binoculars. Those could be very helpful.
Stiles was so anxious to get moving again. Staying put so they could rest, while Deaton and Marin were still held up in the hull of the plane, just didn’t seem fair. His spark was ready to continue, but it wasn’t just himself he had to think about. Derek wasn’t as equipped to handle this journey and the guy was doing a remarkable job, regardless. He deserved a break and a day away from the cold snow. The road they were looking for had to be close, maybe tomorrow would be the day. But what if the road was empty? No cars for miles? They’d have to walk it all the way back into town, anyway. The thought was depressing.
Time seemed to slow down for Derek as he sat on the couch watching Stiles repack his belongings. They had wasted a day by staying here, but it was nice, and probably necessary for his companion, to rest their muscles. The snow had stopped but it still looked gloomy out, which only reassured Derek that they had done the right thing. Even with his werewolf eyes, visibility would have been difficult. Plus, Stiles. Stiles needed this rest.
The human was avoiding retrieving his book, obviously wondering if it was worth taking. Derek felt a pang of guilt again.
“Where were you in the story?” Derek tentatively asked.
“About halfway, I guess. Paige was going to meet the werewolf family, but didn’t know what they were yet.” Stiles answered.
Derek sighed. He really was done with it all, that was what had persuaded him to write about his teenage years in the first place: the idea of closure. All he had to do was put pen to paper and he could put his fifteen-year-old life behind him and move forward. It had worked, too. He forgave himself, in the end, for having blue beta eyes.
“I could— I could tell you what happens next.” He offered to Stiles with a grimace.
“You, uh, don’t really look like you want to, but thanks.” Stiles replied. “I’m surprised you read it, if like, teen fiction isn’t your thing.”
Derek huffed a laugh. He didn’t even know why he hadn’t admitted to being the author, but by this point it seemed like it would just be weird to do so. Why didn’t he just tell the truth five days ago? Stiles must be used to Derek’s non-verbal responses, as he didn’t even question the laugh this time.
Derek would tell him. One day, when this was all over and they met up to talk about their trauma. Maybe Derek would ask Stiles for an interview, because surely there would be a plane crash in his fiction writing future. And then Derek could come over to Stiles’ house and… meet his husband... Or, maybe he wouldn’t bother interviewing Stiles at all. Deaton or Marin could probably share a different perspective, anyways as they were left at the crash site.
Stiles suggested they eat early, sleep early, and wake early. Derek didn’t disagree, so he went into the kitchen to get the can opener for their questionable feast. Except, he couldn’t find one. He searched in every cabinet and drawer, too. How had Derek opened yesterday’s can?
Eventually Derek came in to see what all the commotion was about and when Stiles told him he was looking for a can opener Derek admitted that he had already started heating their soup. Stiles wanted to ask how, but Derek distracted him by offering to tell him how the book ended.
Stiles wasn’t sure what was worse; the old stew or the old soup. But the soup was at least accompanied by a story. Derek made well on his promise and ended up telling Stiles what happened all the way through to the end of the book. Derek certainly underplayed the dramatics, but Stiles’ damaged book supplied him with all the details in that final scene where Paige takes her last breath. It was heart wrenching.
“Man, I wish there was a sequel.” Stiles announced after he had finished reading. “That was so good, I can’t believe you don’t like this book.”
“I never said I didn’t,” Derek admitted.
“But you don’t, do you?” Stiles questioned.
Derek merely shrugged in response.
Stiles stomach grumbled embarrassingly at just that moment. Derek reacted quickly, pulling the peppermint from his pocket before Stiles had a second to register the movement.
“There, you have to eat it now!” Derek insisted. “Besides we’re getting rescued tomorrow, right?”
Stiles smiled and took the offered candy although he simply pocketed it again. “I’d say we kind of rescued ourselves at this point. Can’t wait to tell Scott he did a horrible job of finding me. Although I might still make the wedding if we do actually find help tomorrow!” Stiles forced as much positivity into the statement as he could.
Tomorrow, it could all be over. Derek didn’t respond and chose instead to get ready to sleep.
Once again the couch was forgotten as the two men shared the bed. Derek didn’t question Stiles as he crawled under the covers on his side and Stiles didn’t dare roll over to see what Derek thought of him entering. Maybe it was one step forward and only two steps back. Either way, it was easier to fall asleep than he had thought it would be as he listened to the rhythm of Derek’s snores.
Derek woke to a steady beeping sound. It was loud and grated on his ears and he had half a mind to take a clawed hand to whatever it was that threatened to interrupt his slumber.
It was a good thing he opened his eyes first because the sound was coming from that outdated watch on Stiles’ wrist. How the honey-eyed man was able to sleep through all the beeping was astounding.
“Hey!” Derek shoved Stiles lightly. “Wake up!”
Stiles rolled over into Derek’s space and pressed his face into his chest. The werewolf couldn’t help it, he encircled Stiles in an embrace resembling a hug and took a deep breath. He wanted to remember everything about this man. The way he laughed and talked and smelled. This could very well be the last time he saw him, if all went according to plan. But first he had to wake him.
Stiles was ready to go within minutes but they both were more than a little reluctant to exchange the warmth of the cabin for the morning’s brisk air. On some level, Derek had really enjoyed his time there with Stiles. The two hit a new closeness in their friendship, even if they had almost made a mistake that first evening.
He liked the cabin and could see himself getting a place like that of his own to share with someone he cared about one day. Unfortunately, he could only imagine sharing that single bed with Stiles, but surely that part of his vision could change with time. He just had to open himself up to the possibility.
The morning’s walk was cold. Stiles seemed positive that the road would be around every turn for the first hour and reluctantly stopped suggesting it in the next. The wooden fence that surrounded the cabin’s property went on for miles and served as a sort of directional landmark for them to follow. That was until Derek saw the first sign of human life outside of the plane’s occupants since the crash. In the distance was a cloud of black smoke, indicating a fire. He could even make out the top of a very tall smokestack. There was a building! And someone had to be burning something there! Tentatively, he glanced at Stiles to see if the human could see what he could. He didn’t.
Derek would look at him every half an hour or so just to check, but Stiles still didn’t say anything about the smoke. Derek could even smell it now. It wasn’t a pleasant scent. Whatever that placed burned was earthy but mixed with chemicals.
“Hey.” Derek nudged Stiles causing him to turn around. Stiles’ cheeks were rosy from the harsh wind and the sight momentarily made Derek lose his train of thought. “Let me see those binoculars, I think— I think I see something.”
Stiles craned his head in the direction Derek was squinting as he passed the heavy object over.
“Yep!” Derek said matter-of-factly, while secretly hoping that the human would be able to use the device better than he could as it was severely out of focus.
“What?! What do you see?” Stiles asked excitedly, while simultaneously making grabby hands for the binoculars.
“Smoke. Might be a factory.” Derek suggested as he passed the seeing device over.
“What?” Stiles asked as he looked through them. He was making several adjustments with the nobs, before, “Oh my, it is! Okay let’s go!”
Without waiting for confirmation, Stiles jumped over the fence with about all the grace of a newborn calf. He tripped and fell and stumbled all at the same time and landed sprawled out in an X shape on the snow-covered earth, as if he was trying to make snow angels.
Even though Stiles was already laughing at his clumsiness, Derek leapt over the fence with inhuman accuracy to help him, and managed to land on a hidden bear trap.
The howl of agony he let loose afterwards echoed in the woods around them. Derek’s ankle was definitely broken, which wasn’t usually an issue because he could heal. It would be a shock for Stiles, but he’d deal with that later. The problem was, he wasn’t healing. Instead the places where the old metal prongs bore into him were already red and puffy looking and it burned. It burned so intensely, like nothing Derek had ever felt before. What was this metal made out of?
That’s when Derek calmed down enough to use the rest of his senses and he smelled it; wolfsbane. He couldn’t even touch the device to pry his ankle out.
Stiles laughter at his own bout of gracelessness was cut short by Derek’s scream. He instantly sat up and saw the cause. His companion’s foot was stuck in a rusty bear trap. The device looked like it belonged in an old eighties cartoon. What was it doing out here where anyone could just step on it?
“Okay, okay, I’m going to hit the release.” Stiles tried to sound confident. “I know it hurts, but just hold still. Listen to me. Look at me, don’t look at your ankle.” He ordered as he knelt down for a closer inspection. “Oh shit! That looks bad!”
“Doesn’t feel too great, either!” Derek muttered through gritted teeth. His eyes were closed and he was trying to stay calm with his slow breathing technique, the one Stiles had witnessed him do a few times now.
Stiles grimaced. “Sorry, sorry. Let me just figure this thing out. It will be okay.” The last bit was said under his breath, more to himself than to Derek.
The fabric around Derek’s ankle was already blood soaked. The jagged spikes must have been long and were firmly embedded in his flesh. Stiles took a deep breath and tried to look at the trap as a simple mechanism. There were the hinges that led to a spring, so if he just pushed down on this release lever here, the trap should open and Derek would be free.
The rusty metal piece broke off with a clang.
“Oh! Oh shit, sorry!” Stiles swore some more before sighing. “Um...”
“’Um’ what?” Derek asked. He still hadn’t open his eyes.
“Uh, well— here.” Stiles tried to give Derek the rust covered lever but he dropped it instantly as if it had burned him. “I don’t think I can fix it. I’m going to try and pry it open. Maybe—maybe if we pull together?”
The fact was Derek’s biceps were twice the size of Stiles’. Derek also couldn’t even look at his foot, he was in so much pain. But, Stiles was a spark! He wasn’t sure how to use his magic to his advantage in this situation, but had found in the past that sometimes when he needed it, he was capable of achieving tasks that would’ve required an unprecedented amount of strength. He never questioned it, until now, when he wanted to tap into that power and wasn’t sure how.
“No!” Derek shouted so quickly it made Stiles jump. “No, it’s just— run, just run to the building and get help.”
“Come on, if we try together, we might be able to.” As Stiles spoke he moved to place his hand in the thin gap to help alleviate the strain of the clamp.
“No! Don’t touch it!” Derek yelled as he jerked his whole leg away. A motion that made it hurt worse.
“Derek!” Stiles said his name loudly to get his attention and to stop him from moving the trapped appendage further.
Reluctantly, Derek opened one eye still taking deep, calming breaths the entire time. He seemed unable to form words and shook his head, stiffly.
“We can do this!” Stiles pleaded.
Derek’s emotions were all over the place. As the poison seeped into his skin, he was on the verge of wolfing out, it burned so badly. It was all he could smell now. He feared Stiles would touch the metal and then touch him unbeknownst to the danger in doing so. He was afraid of accidentally touching it himself, even. All he wanted to do was rip the clamp off and release the pressure, but he wasn’t sure what it would do to his hands, even with the gloves on as he had never been attacked with this stuff before.
And Stiles had tried to help and wanted to help more and Derek was losing control.
“No. Just go— please.” Derek could tell he was speaking with a mouth full of fangs and tried to duck his head so Stiles wouldn’t see.
“Derek?” Stiles said again, but this time it was evident that he felt rejected, hurt seeping in to his tone.
“Please.” Derek managed to open both eyes and hoped they weren’t an unnatural ice blue color. He stared at Stiles and tried his best to convey his needs with the plea.
“You sure?” Stiles questioned one more time as he got back on his feet.
“Yes. Yeah. Go quickly!” Derek bit out each word while clamping his eyes shut tight again. He heard a thump and could only imagine that Stiles must have dropped his pack so he could move faster.
“Here,” Stiles said as he grabbed Derek’s hands to place something in it. For a fleeting moment Derek panicked, thinking that Stiles was trying to give him the wolfsbane laced lever again, and he almost dropped it. But the object was smaller, lighter, and round.
Taking a deep breath Derek opened his eyes and was surprised to see that Stiles was already gone. He must be moving quickly, because Derek didn’t even hear his footsteps in the distance. He looked down at the thing in his gloved palm. It was the peppermint candy.
Stiles might not have been aware of how to increase his strength with his spark, but one thing he was a master at, was controlling the elements. He was moving so quickly now, that he was practically using the wind to carry himself through the forest.
A grey owl squawked in protest as he flung by it, ducking under its branch and continuing to zigzag his way around the trees. The smoke was getting closer and all he had to do was keep going straight. It was right there. From this distance, he could see that it was a deforestation plant surrounded by its own mountains of lumber. Stiles thought of the thousands of trees taken from the forest…. And while he didn’t see any workers, surely someone would be inside. All he had to do was –
A truck blared its horn as it slammed on its breaks to avoid hitting Stiles, who had run across the street in his mad dash to get to the factory. The red pickup still made contact with him causing Stiles to fall to the ground. The impact was probably enough to kill an average person, but as Stiles’ spark was already swirling around himself as he fell, the worse it would do was bruise him.
“Oh my god!” A young man in his twenties yelled as he threw open the passenger side of the vehicle. “Are you okay? Where did you come from? Man, you’re so lucky to be alive! Holy…”
The driver was visibly shaking and had yet to catch up with his friend. Stiles took a moment to take in what he was seeing. People! People who weren’t Derek. From the looks of it, it was a couple of dudes who were planning on going snowmobiling.
“I’m— my name is Stiles and I’m a survivor of a plane crash and…” Stiles found the words to explain but was interrupted when the passenger swore loudly.
“I’ve heard of you! Well, I mean it’s on the radio. There’s a huge search party looking for you guys, but, uh not here, not even close to here. The search is on the north side of Bear River! How did—Wait you need like, medical attention, shit, call 911!” He told the driver who was still death gripping the steering wheel.
“Listen, yeah, call them, that’s great but I have a friend who needs help, his leg is caught in a bear trap! Oh, and I have coordinates for the others, they are way up there! And…” Stiles tried to tell them, but his head was starting to swirl. Maybe he had over done it with his spark, or maybe he was hit harder than he knew by the truck.
“Hey! Hey!” He heard someone yell, but Stiles couldn’t manage to open his eyes. “Stay with me buddy! Stay with me! What are those coordinates? Where’s your friend? Just keep saying it, yeah, like that! Keep it up! Helps on the way!”
He heard it in the distance; the sound of sirens. They were on their way and getting closer by the second and then… silence.
“I can’t believe you! You’re a werewolf, I mean, how do you accidentally step in a bear trap? And why did it take you a week to get down the mountain, anyways?” Laura asked, again. “You are so lucky I kept this from mom!” She added with a flip of her long chestnut colored hair.
She had pretty much berated Derek from the moment she met him in the emergency room. Derek had since then been transferred to a private room, which was both a good and bad thing. His ankle had already fully healed now that the wolfsbane was washed out when the medics cleaned it, a fact that would have been far more obvious if he was on the ground floor with regular checks from the nursing staff. However, he was now sitting on the fifth floor with his irritated sister who insisted that they needed to escape before anyone noticed he is in perfect health. While that was a pressing issue, Derek had other things to worry about, like what had happened to Stiles? Or Marin? Or Deaton?
“You’re just going to ignore me?” Laura asked, annoyed. “You know, I spent the last week looking for you while simultaneously keeping Mom out of the loop, mind you, and I’ve had that other alpha wolf to deal with!”
Derek did know, because Laura had complained nonstop from the moment she confirmed her brother was okay. Apparently, this wolf and his family, none of which were also werewolves, were all also looking for the plane’s victims and he kept trying to go off by himself to search the wilderness every night. Laura saved him from making rookie mistakes several times and the bitten wolf didn’t even show her the proper respect she was due as a born alpha in training. Derek was told all about it; Laura and her hardships.
The fact was, Laura was worried about him. She’d thought the worst must have happened to her brother. She had almost caved and told their mom, several times, but their uncle insisted that they give Derek more time. Peter, who technically was the cause for all of this mess. Peter, who also chose just that moment to walk into Derek’s hospital room in designer jeans and a smug smile on his face. He clapped his hands together dramatically, causing both Laura and Derek to look his way.
“Well, now that this little ordeal is over, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve talked with Deucalion. He is willing to reschedule and he’s going to meet with us—”
“Excuse me!” Laura interrupted. “Who is this Deucalion guy? Why does Derek have to meet him so badly that you had him fly out in a blizzard? Why don’t you want me to tell Mom, huh?”
Derek opened his mouth to answer what he could of his sister’s questions, but Peter waved off her concerns with his hands as he tried to explain.
“This meeting isn’t for you. It’s for betas. Betas who were passed over for alpha by their older siblings.”
“He just wants me to meet with this guy, and then I can leave. I was actually going to stop by the house and see everyone, surprise Mom, you know.” Derek admitted.
Laura flashed him a warm smile. The gesture caused Derek to beam back; it was impossible not to respond that way when his alpha (or future alpha) was proud of him.
Peter looked less amused.
“So,” He said loudly, forcing their attention back on him. “I have a rental, I figured you were sick of flying and if we leave now…”
“Now!?” Derek asked in a panic. He didn’t even know what had happened to the others yet.
“It’s for the best really, before the nurse checks on you.” Laura agreed because she was a traitor.
“But…” Derek tried to protest.
“But what?” Peter asked in a condescending tone. “What reason could you possibly have to stay— here?” He added with a sneer at the outdated wallpaper.
Laura seemed a little more understanding and embraced her brother in a hug. “How about we stop for dinner before we leave town? The hospital food couldn’t have been too great, and uh, it doesn’t sound like you had much to eat while you were camping.” She added with a playful shoulder punch on the last word.
Peter had already left the room to go and cause a distraction at the nurses’ station. Laura slipped an arm over her brother’s to help guide him towards the exit, as if she was worried he would get lost on the way out. It turned out she had a good reason to be concerned. Derek heard a familiar heart beat as he left his room.
Stiles was across the hall and from the sound of his room, there were a lot of people in there with him. A middle-aged woman with curly brown hair was blocking the doorway. Stiles’ laughter broke out above all the others and the brunette shifted just enough to the side that Derek had a view of his bed.
The scene warmed Derek’s heart more than the electric blankets he was given on his arrival. Stiles was surrounded by friends and family. A man, who was clearly Stiles’ father by their identical expression of pure joy, had a hand clamped tightly on his son’s shoulder; probably refusing to ever let him go again. Next to him was a young woman who was visibly relieved as she was laughing along, too. Behind her was a blond man sitting a little bit further from everyone in one of the uncomfortable chairs the hospital provided. And on Stiles’ other side, practically sharing the bed with him, was a guy who could only be Stiles’ partner, Scott. The man was probably shorter than Stiles and himself for that matter, and while his arms were definitely well toned, Derek was fairly sure he could take him…
What was he thinking? This was Stiles’ fiancé! He should be happy for them! Reunited after such a long ordeal.
Laura seemed to sense his hesitation and she glanced at the packed room with a knowing grimace.
“Hey now, bro, it doesn’t have to be the end you know, does he have your number?” She asked optimistically.
Derek shook his head.
“Let me give him a note, you have to sneak out while you can!” Laura offered with a warning and slight shove toward the stairwell.
“No, no note.” Derek huffed. “He’s taken, engaged, actually.” He reached into his jacket pocket. “Could you just give him this for me, or actually give it to a nurse to give to him when no one else is around.”
Laura took the object with a questionable expression marring her features. It was so unlike her brother to be this flustered and to be so demanding of her. She was ready to just push him in the other survivor’s room when she noticed what her brother gave her.
“A breath mint?!” She practically shouted at her younger sibling. “Just what exactly were you getting up to with someone who is engaged?”
“Shh!” Derek said as he spun his sister away from any prying eyes. Peter shot them both a death glare as they were certainly taking too long. “It’s just a peppermint, it was the only one. Just give it to him, for me, will you?” And with that last request he slipped through the door before Laura could refuse him.
Derek Listened to Laura’s heels walk in the direction of the nurses’ station before he made his descent down the stairs. He felt a growing longing with every click as she stepped away.
Stiles woke up in a private room full of people. He wasn’t sure how he got where he was, but more importantly he wasn’t sure what had happened to Derek, who he knew he had left in the middle of a frozen forest trapped in rusty steel. How could he have left Derek behind? Did they find him?
He must have voiced his concerns out loud because his father was by his side in an instant and reassured him that the rescuers had gotten to all of the survivors, because of him. Stiles had done it! Scott immediately reached over for a fist bump, before making himself comfortable on Stiles’ other side.
“When the team radioed us, saying they had the coordinates of the plane crash, we immediately joined the rescuers heading that way. They didn’t tell us who it was that was found first, so we thought you would be at the crash site.” Kira told him. Her large, dark eyes searched Stiles’, making sure he was listening to her. “You could imagine our surprise when we didn’t find you there, but furthermore, the plane’s hull was like a sauna! How much magic were you inflicting on that thing, huh? No wonder you passed out?” She accused. “This is why you need to wait for me and not take solo missions!” She added with a grin. “It’s good to see you!”
“Kira!” Stiles couldn’t keep a smile off his face either and then he immediately turned to Scott, “Did I miss the wedding?”
“No, buddy, it’s Thursday. Wedding is on Saturday, you’re fine. Well I mean, Noshiko is totally going to kill you because we’re all missing the rehearsal tomorrow. You’ll just have to dodge her foxfire.” Scott added as if it was an easy task.
“So, Derek’s okay? And you guys found the others, too?” Stiles asked, seeking a second confirmation.
“Yeah,” Melissa added from her spot in the doorway. “The pilot’s still in surgery, but they are all expected to be just fine, thanks to you. You’re a hero kiddo!” She managed to say with watery eyes.
“Oh!” Stiles blushed at the compliment. “It’s- I- it wasn’t anything, really, Derek…”
“You mentioned this Derek guy in your sleep!” Scott said with a hint of suspicious accusation in his voice. “You didn’t go falling in love while getting yourself stranded on a mountain in the middle of nowhere, did you?”
Stiles blushed deeper, causing his heart monitor to speed up. He scowled at the offensive beeping machine that was giving him away. He didn’t really know how he felt about Derek, but he did know that it wasn’t reciprocated. Stiles told the group as much. It would have been comical, watching each of their faces fall simultaneously, if the sadness wasn’t for his own personal lack of a love life.
“Well!” Jackson said over from his corner, choosing that moment to make his presence known. “Two things: firstly, don’t you ever - and I mean ever - go back to Jackson’s Hole. Do you know how many jokes I’ve had to endure back in Washington about you getting lost in…” He wasn’t able to say the rest of that sentence with a straight face. “Also, I have an insider contact and they’ve informed us that the alpha we were going to infiltrate has arranged a second meeting for tomorrow, still in California, on the way to the wedding actually.”
“We’ll do it!” Kira piped up with too much enthusiasm. “What’s the mission? You’re taking the lead?” She asked Jackson while simultaneously placing a hand on her ever-present katana belt.
Kira was truly a fabulous agent when it came to gaining a moment of surprise. Most people wrote her off too quickly for being nothing but a bubbly ball of personality, but the truth was she was also extremely fierce. Stiles smiled at her eagerness.
“No! No way— the wedding!” Scott protested.
“Come on!” Kira whined at her fiancé. “I haven’t seen any action in like a month, I miss it!”
Stiles couldn’t resist laughing at that statement. The look of hurt and acceptance that struggled for dominancy on Scott’s face was priceless. As Kira caught on to what she had insinuated, she burst out into laughter too.
Stiles’ father insisted that his son needed more rest and eventually won the battle of kicking everyone out of the room. Everyone except for Scott who openly admitted that he wasn’t going to let his brother go, ever again. Kira had already resigned herself to the fact that this meant her honeymoon would now have a permanent third wheel. At that moment, she didn’t really disagree.
Jackson took his dismissal as permission to move forward, and started to make arrangements for their invasion the next day.
Even though it was early in the evening, Stiles found himself sinking into a deeper sleep than he had imagined possible. The warmth of his hospital bed was simply too much comfort for his aching body to ignore.
Stiles woke on Friday morning to a passed-out Scott hanging partially off his bed. As much as the werewolf claimed to never want to let him go again, he was clinging desperately to the bed side railing and it was all too easy for Stiles to execrate himself from the blankets without waking his brother.
He had only one thought on his mind: Derek. Stiles had slept on it, and decided that he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t tell Derek just what he thought about him. It sounded crazy in his mind, and he knew the feelings weren’t reciprocated, but he had to say it. Stiles had fallen in love during their week-long survival in the frozen tundra.
It was Derek’s smile. Or maybe it was way his eyebrows would scrunch up when he was thinking. Stiles wasn’t sure what about the man that caught his attention, but something had, and now the green eyes and scruffy beard was all he could think about. Derek was still so mysterious and maybe they wouldn’t ever be more than friends, but he was determined to make sure they stayed in touch. Derek owed him an autographed book, after all.
That’s when Stiles’ eyes fell on something on his bedside table and he just knew what the mint represented. He didn’t need to be told how it was placed there, or even by whom. Stiles knew that it was from Derek and that it held a deeper meaning. It was as if he had just plunged through the ice into that freezing lake again. Stiles swayed unsteadily on his feet and found himself trying to breathe while failing to do so.
He was too late, he knew it deep in his gut. How could Derek just leave the hospital? Wasn’t he still injured? Didn’t he at least want to properly say goodbye? But, no, the man was extremely private and this small act was just the sort of thing he would do. The realization was overwhelming, and as Stiles found himself gasping for breath, he thought once again of Derek and his stupid calming breathing technique.
Stiles closed his eyes in spite of his anger at the other man, and purposely slowed his breaths until they were steady and calm. When he opened his eyes again, it was to a rather concerned looking Scott. It took several minutes for Stiles to convince his friend that he was okay. It took considerably more time for him to convince the nursing staff.
In the end, he was rushing out of the hospital in hopes of making his flight. (Jackson, the asshole that he was, thought the best way for Stiles to get over his plane crash ordeal was to get back on the horse, so to speak. Although the horse in this particular case was a commercial flight.)
Prior to leaving the secluded room, however, Scott grabbed the peppermint and without truly waiting for Stiles’ confirmation, popped the symbolic candy into his mouth. Stiles was about to stop him; he felt his spark reach out, but hesitantly chose not to. Perhaps this was the clean break he needed. Stiles was already making the situation into something more than it warranted.
Marin met Stiles outside of Deaton’s room. Both her and her brother were doing wonderfully, even if the latter was currently asleep. She thanked him profusely and miraculously didn’t even mention their missing plane crash member. She always did seem rather astute, right from the very beginning.
Peter gave Laura the slip as soon as they had entered Sacramento. The audacity of the action wasn’t the first thing that clued Derek into how strange and possibly dangerous this invitation from an outsider werewolf could be. It was one thing to keep it from Talia, who probably would have ordered Peter to not show up if she didn’t trust the meeting, but it was something else entirely to ditch Laura just to attend it. Derek wasn’t sure how he felt, but he was on the verge of doing something he had never done before; tell his uncle no. Instead he walked into the abandoned warehouse feeling both doubtful and optimistic. It was a strange combination.
Deucalion was not what Derek had expected. He was already an alpha in his own right, but he was also the first werewolf Derek had ever met that had suffered a permanent injury. The older man was blind. He was apparently blinded by a rogue bounty hunter and was now seeking revenge.
Kali, an eager woman with beta blue werewolf eyes, had accompanied the alpha to the meeting. She seemed more than willing to follow any order that was given to her, which Derek thought was an odd trait as Peter had insisted that this meeting was to talk about rising above beta status within an established pack. Deucalion had an idea about forming a pack of only alphas. Peter was interested, not just for himself, but for his nephew too.
A third werewolf was also present, although this one chose not to shift. He was a bald, quiet man and looked a lot how Derek felt; unsure of the situation. His name was Ennis and he seemed more interested in sizing up Derek and Peter than actually paying attention to what was being said.
“So,” Peter said at last. “Tell me, how does one become an alpha if not by birthright or sheer force of will, as is alluded in the True Alpha Legend?”
“Ah.” Deucalion said with a smile. “I would have thought you would have figured that out by now, Peter, you are a smart one after all.” He paused dramatically before continuing with his British accent, “You kill for it.”
He cut his sentence short as all five werewolves turned their heads towards the direction of the front doors. A car was approaching.
Immediately after they landed, Jackson led his team to a hotel where he had several items ready for them. Stiles studied the map of the business district where the afternoon meeting was to take place and loaded his recently returned handgun, with wolfsbane bullets. Kira stretched her stiff limbs from the flight and practiced a few moves with her blade until she was sure she was limber enough for the confrontation. Jackson, the egotistical guy that he was, merely flicked his eyes to their kanima yellow and held up a claw with his paraplegic poison.
“Remember,” Jackson said with a slight hiss, “the twins are our inside men. They tipped us off and although I ordered them not to show, if they are at the meeting, we have to protect them.
“Got it!” Stiles replied with confidence. He had studied the profiles on the way over and was sure he could pick out Deucalion, Ennis, or Kali from a line up easily.
The three gathered their official FBI documentation for the sting operation and made their way for the door when they were interrupted by the sound of someone clearing their voice.
“E’hem.” Scott said, over dramatically from his position in the corner of the room. The agents were so used to his presence that they had forgotten the civilian was still with them. “I don’t understand why you guys can’t just walk in there and try to reason with the man. Tell him that it’s simply illegal to kill beta wolves to force alpha-hood on someone. Surely he’d agree and my wife wouldn’t have to get her sword dirty.”
Kira giggled. It was just like Scott to suggest they talk it out. In all honesty, he had little to worry about. They were initially just going to gather intel, but as Jackson had a list of werewolves that were interested from the first meeting and now knew what Deucalion was proposing, the agents were merely going to infiltrate this second meeting, arrest the alpha on suspicion and hopefully scare off any of the betas that thought this would be an easy ticket to red eyes. It was highly unlikely they would have to use their weapons, as their badges should be enough to deter the werewolves.
Scott still looked concerned, but this time his worried-filled eyes were on Stiles as he pleaded that his best friend wasn’t ready for action yet. It was sweet, really, how concerned Scott was for his brother’s wellbeing, but Stiles was a spark and honestly, after the week he had, he was more than looking forward to something going his way for once.
“Stiles…” Scott tried to argue again. “There is something you should know, about— never mind, just be safe, I’m probably wrong, anyway.”
Stiles was confused and wanted to know what Scott was thinking about, as his best friend looked more than a little troubled. Jackson reminded them that they were on the verge of being late.
The three agents set their faces and hopped into the rental car, ready for what was about to happen. They missed Scott’s head shake as he reached into his pocket for his phone and frantically started to look for a contact.
“I see what you mean.” Deucalion told Peter appreciatively while placing an unwelcome hand on Derek’s shoulder. “He will make a fine addition, but I have to ask, why did you invite them?”
Everyone In the warehouse was already turned towards the steel doors in anticipation of seeing who was joining the meeting. They could hear that it was two people, but Derek wasn’t ready for the surprise of just who it would be. He should have recognized his sister’s scent, so it was a shock that he didn’t, but furthermore she was walking side by side with another werewolf. Another crimson-eyed wolf with dark hair and eyes and a crooked smile. It was— Scott, Stiles’ fiancé!
Stiles’ fiancé was a werewolf? He was here? With his sister? Did Stiles know? Derek had so many questions.
“Laura?” Peter’s question held more of an accusation than anything.
“Uncle.” Laura replied curtly. “What, might I ask, is going on exactly?” She didn’t have her usual smile and looked almost disappointed at what she had interrupted.
Derek found it difficult to focus on his sister’s emotions, however, because he was still flabbergasted at Scott’s arrival. So this was the ‘annoying’ true alpha Laura had complained about. It looked like they were fine with working with each other again. Bitten wolf or not, Laura must have squashed her differences with the guy to ask him for help going in after her younger brother.
Did this mean that Stiles was in Sacramento too?
“We know what you’re planning!” Scott announced. “And no one here is going to get hurt, we can just talk about this. Okay?”
They didn’t have much time to talk about it. Kali moved quickly to attack the newcomers. She didn’t get the opportunity as Derek stepped to the side to block her, and the werewolves faced each other with their claws and fangs out. Kali had the added bonus of being bare foot with lethal-length toenails. Ennis hesitated before he sidestepped the pair and went after Scott and Laura with a roar. As a beta against two alphas he didn’t stand much chance. Peter didn’t move to help his niece, a lack of action that Derek wouldn’t soon forgive, and Deucalion merely smiled wider.
“They’re so feisty. They’ll make decent alphas, don’t you agree?” He asked the room at large.
Peter looked unsure as he glanced at his nephew who was now circling Kali. Both looked ready for a fight.
“Well, like I was asking, how does one become an alpha when they are already part of a pack with an established alpha line?” Peter asked with more hesitancy.
A break in the glass behind them made every werewolf jump. An instant later three dark figures moved in among the already heated gathering. A girl with dark hair and a pink streak for added flare, did a round of impressive back flips before she held a thin silver sword at Kali’s back. Another figure, which Derek was sure had a tail, slunk his way across the warehouse, not bothering with dramatics as he placed a clawed hand on the back of Ennis’ neck. The large werewolf dropped to the ground instantly.
The third figure, which was easily recognizable by his pale skin, large eyes, and upturned nose, was Stiles. This was unlike any Stiles Derek had ever seen, not even the man who had appeared a little shaken after taking out the cougar was as calm or collected as the guy Derek watched now. Stiles moved with purpose across the floor with his gun trained on Deucalion.
“Place your hands in the air!” Stiles ordered.
Stupidly, Scott was the only one who complied.
“This is the last time I ask nicely,” Stiles repeated. “Place your hands in the air.”
Derek watched as Deucalion’s features shifted, revealing long, sharp fangs and bright red eyes. That’s when Derek realized that this werewolf was talking about killing to achieve the title of alpha. And he was already an alpha, which meant that Stiles was pointing a gun at a murdering werewolf! Derek held his breath but on instinct moved towards the two. He didn’t know what game Stiles was playing, but this was beyond dangerous, even for the reckless human.
Everyone froze. Deucalion had taken half a step towards the armed man and Stiles fired a shot directly into the werewolf’s thigh. The alpha cradled the wound on the floor while crying out that it burned -burned like wolfsbane.
Derek’s head flicked up to Stiles who only nodded in agreement. He had recently suffered a wolfsbane poisoning himself, and it was not pleasant, but furthermore, Derek didn’t smell anything. He hadn’t even heard the three assassins. How was that possible?
As if he knew what everyone was thinking, Stiles cleared his throat. “I’m a spark, I can mask our heartbeats and our scents, that’s why you didn’t see us coming. I’m also a FBI agent and you, Deucalion, are under arrest. What do you think guys? Do we need to arrest Kali and Ennis too?” He asked the others but gave a hard look at Peter and Derek. It was as if he was trying to tell them not to give him a reason for him to have to add their names to the list.
Derek himself, was still speechless.
Jackson had Ennis in handcuffs already, and moved to detain Deucalion next. Kali and Kira stared at each other for a full minute before the werewolf backed down and said she wasn’t really a part of Deucalion’s pack of alphas anyways. She excused herself before the agents could change their minds about letting her go.
Stiles was unusually quiet. Derek had so many questions but couldn’t form the words. Instead he found himself being yelled at by Laura.
“Could you imagine my surprise when Scott told me what he thought you two were doing!? He wasn’t sure, but as soon as I told him you guys gave me the slip, we knew— an alpha pack? Do you really hate being a beta this much?” She asked her brother with obvious tears forming in her eyes at the thought.
“I don’t!” Derek quickly denied. “Peter just wanted me to hear them out, honestly, I had no idea.”
It wasn’t lost on him that Stiles was listening in on their conversation. He scrutinized Derek thoroughly before deciding that he was indeed innocent of any wrong doing. Deucalion was a different matter.
“It’s not my fault, he has to be stopped!” The older werewolf protested from his spot on the floor in wolfsbane laced handcuffs.
The action was cruel and as soon as Jackson could get the man transferred to a secure holding, he would. Ennis was still unable to move and therefore suffered less.
“It’s Argent!” Deucalion tried again. “He’s the man you want to arrest. He took my eyes!”
This statement seemed to still everyone.
“Kate?” Laura asked at the same time Scott said Chris’ name.
“No, Gerard!” Deucalion said, mouth full of fangs.
“Kate’s father?” Derek questioned.
It was very unlike his sister to even mention his crazy ex, as she had actually threatened to kill his whole family. Kate was a mistake that Derek was glad was behind him, but maybe it wasn’t as buried as he had thought.
“Chris Argent is head of the bounty hunters, he’s pretty influential back in Washington.” Scott told them all.
“Gerard is their father and he is a purist. He wants to take out all shifters, regardless of their innocents.” Deucalion added.
“Okay.” Jackson said with understanding. As a kanima, he was rather rare and knew first-hand what it felt like to be singled out because of his species. “I’ll take your statement. Gerard won’t get away with his discrimination!”
“Sounds like we have our next case, partner!” Kira added with a fist bump to Stiles.
“I think I want in on this one!” Jackson added with a crack of his knuckles.
“Not until after the honeymoon!” Scott protested loudly as he crossed the warehouse.
Derek was so sure that Scott was going to embrace Stiles. He would have placed money on it, that was why he looked away as quickly as he did, because it was something he just wasn’t ready to see. So when his sister nudged him and he turned to see Scott holding a giggling Kira in a steamy embrace, he was surprised to see Stiles standing off to the side looking a little saddened while staring right back at Derek.
Wasn’t Stiles engaged to marry Scott? Didn’t he say so multiple times? Derek racked his brain for every hint that Stiles was thoroughly taken. Stiles had said his partner… his partner’s wedding. Kira was his partner and Scott was his life-long friend! Stiles was supposed to throw the bachelor party because he was the best man. It all made so much sense now.
Derek didn’t know what to do but a second shove from his sister alerted him to the fact that they and Peter were the only two left in the warehouse. Stiles was going to get away, and he didn’t even know how Derek felt!
He jogged towards the exit and shouted out Stiles’ name.
Stiles should have felt accomplished. He should’ve been proud of himself and his team, if not a little annoyed with his friend for interrupting. They had done it, they stopped the bad guys, found out about a possible lead in another case, all before dinner time. If they booked it, they might just make the wedding rehearsal after all. A feat that would surely please Mrs. Yukimura, who was undoubtedly in a panic right now.
But all Stiles felt was numb. It was chilling and unexpected when he came face to face with Derek in the warehouse. That must have been what Scott was going to warn him about. That oversight from his best friend was something he would have to talk to him about later. Stiles all but admitted his feelings for his fellow plane crash survivor. If Scott even had an inkling of suspicion that one of them was a werewolf, a werewolf caught up in a possible crime, he should have told him.
But! Would Stiles had faltered in his ambush had he known? Maybe.
The fact was Derek was here. It was only half a day after Stiles had resigned himself to the fact that he would never see the man again. He chalked Derek up to being unobtainable, one of those things that he would think about occasionally and wonder what if… Having to face that glaring question so soon was alarming and something Stiles simply wasn’t prepared for.
He heard his name and almost thought it might have been in his head. It was Scott who halted him mid-stride with a questionable look on his face.
“You going to go to him, man?” Scott asked. “Your wolf in shining…fur?”
Kira grimaced at the poor joke but squeezed her fiancé’s hand regardless. “We’ve got this, go!” She ordered.
Stiles couldn’t believe it; they had heard his name too!
“Go get him!” Scott added with a wink before Stiles finally turned around.
Derek was standing on the sidewalk with the most hopeful expression on his face. Stiles appreciated the fact that he must have trimmed his beard in the hospital as the shorter scruff framed his features nicely. His green eyes sparkled in the sunlight and he held himself openly, whether it be for an embrace or rejection was solely on Stiles now.
Stiles went for the dramatics as he sprinted back down the sidewalk. Knowing what he knew now, meant that Derek would be more than capable of catching his weight, as werewolves were extremely strong. Thinking back to their time in the forest, certain things dawned on Stiles. How easily it was for Derek to move logs or all the suspicious bowl-shaped pieces of scrap metal. Those thoughts were pushed from his mind as he jumped into the air.
Derek had never felt as vulnerable as he did when he ran out of the warehouse calling out for Stiles. It seemed like time slowed down as Stiles decided whether or not to turn around. And turn around he did, running at him, followed by - jumping. Jumping way too soon for Derek to possibly catch him! Derek dove towards the ground, landing underneath the mangled mess of limbs that was Stiles.
The two could have laughed at the ungracefulness of it and they could have been angry over the poor timing and miss catch. But they were unable to do either as they found themselves face to face, not even an inch of a space separating them. Derek closed the distance with vengeance. He hadn’t forgotten the pain on Stiles’ features when he had rolled away back at the cabin. This was his chance to make up for it. And boy did Stiles let him.
Derek pressed hungrily up at the man above him and Stiles went lax, following his lead. It was obvious they were both smiling into the kiss and Derek took that as his cue to take it a little further by licking along Stiles’ bottom lip, asking for permission. Stiles not only opened up willingly, but his quick-witted tongue darted out and surprised Derek in greeting, causing them both to laugh. Stiles leaned in for one more peck on the corner of Derek’s mouth, as if he needed that little sentiment to hold him over as he stood up and reached a hand down to assist Derek in standing, too.
“Derek!” A sharp voice cut into his blissful thoughts. “Who might I ask is this?” Talia Hale added with a raised eyebrow.
“Ah, that would be my son.” The man that Derek had suspected was Stiles’ father the day before said with a little shake of his head. Next to them was the curly haired woman and a youthful looking lady with pin-straight black hair and eyes that looked remarkably like the female FBI agent’s.
All four adults had their arms crossed.
“Kira Yukimura!” The straight-haired lady snapped out her daughter’s name. “This is what you skipped out on your wedding duties for? I thought you were on a rescue mission? They don’t appear to need rescuing.”
“Yes. My nephew seems to have mastered the mouth to mouth.” Peter added with a smirk. It faltered when Talia sent a scrutinizing look his way.
“Mom!” Kira said exasperatedly. “We were on a mission.”
“Yes, so we’ve been informed.” Talia nodded. “Sounds like my brother and son were causing some trouble for everyone. I’m sorry about the plane crash, Deaton is rather sure of himself, even if he ought not to be— there is a reason I keep our emissary at a distance.” She added that last bit with a disappointed look at Peter.
“And this warehouse?” Stiles father asked.
“It was the mission. Jackson had us infiltrate.” Stiles tried to explain.
“And you three are here because…?” Talia asked Laura.
“That was my doing and I’ll explain, but Derek didn’t know the details and Laura was trying to stop him.” Peter admitted, shocking everyone, even himself from the confused expression on his face.
Talia nodded slowly. “Well, I know you want the wedding to go on without a hitch, so I’ll take my lot with me, good luck tomorrow. I’m sure it will be a joyous affair. Congratulations, True Alpha Scott McCall and Miss Yukimura.”
It was obvious that Scott wasn’t used to the formal title and no one dared to disagree with Derek’s mom as she stepped purposefully between Stiles and her son. Before he really knew what was happening, Derek found himself in the backseat of Peter’s rental car next to Laura. No one spoke a word until Talia failed to make the turn off towards Beacon Hills an hour later.
“Mom?” Laura questioned. “Where are we going?”
“San Francisco, for the wedding!” Talia informed them before her daughter was able to finish the question. “The Yukimuras are a well know family amongst our kind and it wouldn’t appear well for us to snub the wedding of the century so soon after being associated with her daughter or the true alpha for that matter— Did you know that boyfriend of yours is a spark? They’re not a very traditional pack, but certainly one to be respected. All rather influential too; Scott’s father started the supernatural division at the bureau.”
Boyfriend!? Derek hadn’t had the chance to so much as exchange a phone number! Something he was kicking himself for the entire time since they had parted.
The wedding day was an early start for both Stiles and Scott. Stiles still needed his suit, he had no clue where the rings were being kept, and he was in charge of arranging the transportation from the hotel to the banquet hall. Apparently, everything he did was to be captured by the photographers too, so he had a constant shadow as he ran around the place playing catch up. He was personally planning on giving Kira a wedding present collage of all the times he flicked the camera off.
Around midday the boys were greeted by their parents. Melissa was incapable of forming complete sentences without tearing up and Stiles’ dad took Scott aside for a one on one manly talk. The results meant that Stiles was the only one with dried eyes in those series of shots.
The ceremony was a huge success, thankfully. Stiles was fairly sure he would never hear the end of it from Kira’s mother had it gone south in any fashion. Scott looked almost regal, Kira was truly a perfect princess, everyone remembered their lines, and the kiss at the end was not too over the top. Plus, Stiles was sure at least one photographer had captured the thumbs up he had sent them both as they broke apart, and that was actually a photo he was looking forward to keeping. Perhaps he’d frame it for his desk that he so rarely had the opportunity to visit.
After the ceremony was another hour of photography. But eventually, the wedding party made their way to the reception and that was when Stiles saw him. All dressed up in a navy-blue suit and tie, was Derek. The color suited him well. Stiles made his way across the crowded room whilst brushing off small conversations from people who wanted to congratulate him on surviving the plane crash only to be halted by Derek’s sister.
She looked him up and down. “I, uh - I haven’t seen him this excited about anything in a long time, don’t screw this up.” Laura warned with a flash of her red eyes. “And thank you, for taking care of him out there.” She gestured with her hands, but Stiles understood. He wouldn’t have survived that ordeal without her brother, either.
Derek pushed Laura aside and gestured to an empty table in a more secluded section of the hall.
“No mom interference today?” Stiles blurted out without thinking. He could kick himself, he didn’t even mean it to sound offensive, he was genuinely asking where his mother and uncle went.
“No.” Derek smiled. “They left after the ceremony. Truth be told, I don’t think my mom wants Peter to enjoy himself.” He chuckled and looked away.
Stiles loved that about Derek, how he made a smile or a laugh seem accidental. He was going to open his mouth to say so when Derek reached into his coat pocket. “I have something for you.”
“It’s not my wedding!” Stiles blushed. “Gifts are for the bride and groom.” He added, forcefully. Why was it suddenly so much more difficult for him to talk to Derek now?
“This one’s for you.” Derek insisted and he placed a book on the table.
It was a copy of Teen Wolf and it was signed. It was signed in a neat script and clearly said: Derek S. Hale.
“What? What’s this?” Stiles questioned.
Why would Derek sign the book himself? Was it a joke; like he hadn’t specified who would sign the book, so anyone could do it? Unless… unless Derek was the mysterious author? Stiles glanced at him and was surprised to see how anxious Derek was, waiting to see what Stiles thought of the author now that he knew the truth.
“Really!?” Stiles broke out into a wide smile. “I have so many questions! And I knew it - I knew this book was written by someone who at least knew that werewolves existed! I can’t wait to tell Scott!”
Stiles continued to ask question after question about the story. He was surprised and heartbroken to find out it was based on true events. Although the little bit with his uncle’s negative influence made more sense now that he had met the man in the flesh.
Derek had arrived at the wedding feeling extremely nervous. That was until his thoughts were interrupted by a familiar yapping sound. The same dog that had barked continuously on his flight from New York to Jackson’s Hole was in the row in front of him. Derek recognized the red-haired girl and also the blond FBI agent that she sat next to. Who brought their dog to a wedding? Honestly, he couldn’t do worse than that. That thought didn’t prevent him from clutching the book in his pocket nervously, however.
He needn’t’ve worried though. Stiles had loved the book and opened up immensely after being presented with it. The two talked uninterrupted for quite a while before Stiles’ dad told his son it was time he made a speech. It was clear that Stiles went off script, but he had a lot of memories involving Scott and Kira to share amongst their friends and family.
After that, Laura and Kira had some evil plan to get Stiles and Derek on the dance floor together. It worked. The entire party would be disappointed, however, if they expected the two to fail. Sure, Stiles was generally a bit spastic, but he was also apparently a talented spark and with that came the ability to move with the wind, as he later told Derek.
Scott and Stiles’ parents took center stage after they exited the dance floor to an impressive amount of applause. And wasn’t that something. Not only was Stiles definitely not dating Scott, but their parents had married back in high school. Derek was afraid to admit it to himself that had he paid better attention to all of the little details involving Scott that this might have been something he would have learned while they were trekking through the snow.
The pair found themselves slightly sweaty and exhausted as the day ran into the evening and they took their place amongst the back wall again. Derek couldn’t believe his luck as he stared at the man across from him. He had spent a little over a week almost exclusively with just this stranger. He had argued with him, laughed with him, and he watched him overcome hardships. And he couldn’t help it, Derek burst out into laughter.
“What!?” Stiles asked, he sounded a little offended, but mostly just amused himself.
“I was just thinking,” Derek began thoughtfully. “We are ridiculous! I mean, if we had just told each other, if I had just told you I was a werewolf, you would have definitely let me go for help that first night, huh?”
Stiles smirked. “You know as a spark I was helping more than you knew, I still think I should have been the one to go for help.”
“I can full shift and run!” Derek argued.
“I control the wind!” Stiles insisted and along with his words a breeze fluttered through the hall causing the candles to flicker seductively.
“Some help that was when our engines gave out.” Derek teased.
“I had already stopped the snowstorm!” Stiles raised his voice. “Wait - the engines failed?”
“I heard it,” Derek admitted. “But what could we do at that point?”
“I could have at least landed us safely,” Stiles contemplated.
“You were passed out!” Derek pointed out.
“Touché.” Stiles conceded.
“So if you’re so good with elements, why were we freezing our butts off the entire trip?” Derek questioned playfully.
Stiles smiled. “Didn’t you enjoy our cuddle sessions?” He challenged with a wink.
It was too much. Derek burst into another bout of laughter which Stiles soon joined in.
“So, I’m a little late, never had time to make proper arrangements, Scott and Kira are definitely not going to want me crashing in their room tonight, and I was thinking - are you staying in town?” Stiles boldly asked as their laughter died down.
Derek thought of Laura who must have been listening in to their conversation because she chose that moment to announce that she was heading back to Beacon Hills without him. Then he thought of the cabin, of the simple furniture and how much it differed from the over-the-top suite his mother had gotten for them. He somehow couldn’t imagine Stiles in the latter, this could be fun, not having to rough it.
“You okay?” Stiles asked, suddenly serious because Derek had taken too long to answer.
“Yeah.” Derek admitted. “I was just wondering if they will serve us our snow over easy for breakfast in bed in the morning.” He added cheekily.
Stiles huffed a laugh and held out his hand.
“Only one way to find out!” The two slipped off as quietly as they could manage, hand in hand.
Looking back, Derek had no idea that he would be here now, but boy was he glad his flight was rerouted and then subsequently canceled. He was even thankful that Deaton was able to offer an alternative route home. And even though the journey from King’s Peak back to civilization was full of its ups and downs, he wouldn’t change a thing about it. That was something he would only ever admit to Stiles, but it didn’t make it any less true.
Well, maybe he would admit it to the rest of the world while hiding behind his pseudonym; his fans wanted to know what came next for his main character after all. They demanded that the ‘teen wolf’ got his second chance at love. This was his chance, he just had to overcome The Mountain Between Them.
Chapter 8: Epilogue
Again, a big thank you to fairyfey for being so supportive!
@Bombaesanora if you have an Ao3 name you’d like me to use to gift this fic to you, let me know in the comments! Thanks for a great prompt!
Thank you to the Sterek Glompfest for hosting this event... singlehanded, by the sounds of things!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
~Three Years and Four Months Later~
“What does the card say, again?” Stiles asked Derek for the fifth time.
“Nothing! Nothing else, it’s just coordinates and a time.” Derek insisted.
The pair were currently on the second day of their honeymoon. The Hawaii island’s tropical mugginess could not be any more different from the brisk, thin air they had experienced during that first week after meeting. The sun warmed their skin and thanks to Stiles, a cool breeze kept their temperature at a tolerable level, even for the werewolf. They were also following the cryptic letter given to them by Derek’s uncle on their wedding day.
It vaguely told them to be at a place on a date at the correct time to receive their wedding gift. Stiles had half a mind to ignore the request completely and write it off as the worst present, but in the end, curiosity got the better of him. Luckily, he still had his father’s watch and together the two used it and found their way to a private airport. That was the first sign that they should just turn around and leave.
“It’s an airport!” Stiles pointed out to his husband.
Derek scanned the area before agreeing. “Yes, yes, it is. Was that your astute FBI deduction skills?” He jokingly asked.
“Peter sent us to an airport.” Stiles repeated.
“Yes, and there are two heartbeats coming from that hanger.” Derek pointed ahead of them. “Is that the coordinates?”
“Hello newlyweds!” Deaton said as he peaked his head out from around the corner. “Congratulations! We’ve been expecting you!” The man looked almost the same, this time dressed in khaki shorts and a polo.
“We? As in you and a proper pilot?” Stiles asked hopefully.
“No, Stiles!” Marin said from her spot next to the tiny excuse of an aircraft. “He means me! It’s been so long, look at you two! How have you been?” Her hair was now longer and she used oversized sunglasses to hold it back.
“We are not actually flying anywhere, are we?” Stiles asked in lieu of responding.
Derek, being the more mature of the couple, leaned in for a proper greeting, hug and all. “We’ve been wonderful. Thank you.”
“I suddenly think I’m developing a fear of heights or, a fear of small planes.” Stiles jokingly added as it seemed his concerns were going ignored.
“My brother’s a much better pilot, these days.” Marin assured with a grin.
“I’ll take your word for it.” Stiles told her.
“So, what exactly does Peter have planned?” Derek asked, thoughtfully.
“He wants me to give you an arial view of the islands.” Deaton informed them. “All of them, including an active volcano.”
Stiles was vigorously shaking his head at his husband from behind the other’s backs.
“Stiles! You would love to see volcanos!” Derek admitted. “And, what would I tell Peter if we refused?”
“Perhaps you can tell him that we like our feet to stay on the ground. Need I remind you that our last adventure with these two led to your best selling novel to date?” Stiles playfully reminded Derek.
“Yes, I read all about it.” Deaton added with a mischievous grin. “The pilot came off a bit too inexperienced, I think.”
“Really?” Stiles asked mockingly. “I thought he was spot on.” He deadpanned.
Deaton chuckled out a laugh. “Well you two, what do you say? Care to continue the adventure of the young teen wolf? I mean what could possibly go wrong this time?”
Derek glanced at Stiles with a raised eyebrow.
Stiles couldn’t find it in his heart to deny the man. He sighed deeply, “Are there life rafts on board?”.
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