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“ALL UNITS - 415 REPORTED - POSSIBLE 211 IN PROGRESS AT BEACON NATIONAL BANK. I REPEAT ALL AVAILABLE UNITS - POSSIBLE 211 IN PROGRESS - BEACON NATIONAL BANK - DOWNTOWN LOCATION.”

Lieutenant Derek Hale crumples his burrito wrapper and shoves it into the small bin wedged inside the console between him and his de facto partner Sergeant Stiles Stilinski. Seemingly endless stakeouts and overly dramatic calls like these were definitely not the parts of his patrol that he missed before he got promoted.

Stiles grabs his radio and starts the car in a practiced and familiar move.

“Copy, dispatch. Unit 9 en route, over.” He turns on his siren and peels out of the familiar parking space in the Dollar Taco lot.

Derek motions for the radio as Tara’s voice confirms, “Copy that, Unit 9. Looks like we got a 2-1-1-Sierra with an anonymous bystander reporting two men on the scene. Over.

“Any weapons, Tara?” Derek asks casually. Stiles smirks, imagining the grimace most definitely gracing newly minted Corporal Tara Graeme’s face. She’d been a deputy for years and it was a big deal that she got promoted. When she could get away with it, she refused to answer to anything except Corporal Graeme. During calls she didn’t have the luxury of being so picky and she hated it.

No weapons reported on the scene, detective.

Stiles can’t help the snort as Derek’s face scrunches up. He’d made the impossible leap from Detective to Lieutenant in under a year and even though everyone on the force was proud of Derek, they loved to give him shit about it. He supposed he deserves it, but he can’t help but grimace at Tara’s little taunt.

“Uhh, thank you, Corporal Graeme. Approaching the location now, we’ll report in when there’s more information. Over.”

10-4, officers, stay safe. This feels like a weird one. Over.

Normally they wouldn’t be so chatty over dispatch, but as they got closer to the location, the guys could feel it too. In fact, Stiles has felt off all week.

He’d chalked it up to having Derek tag along on his rides. His normal stakeout partner was Chief Deputy Scott McCall, but Scott was in training to run their K-9 unit. They’d been best friends for years and Scott went straight into the academy while Stiles went to school so he could become an officer right away. He was still fairly new to the squad and while he mostly got on with everyone, he couldn’t deny things were a little awkward.

It wasn’t overt. He never felt like Derek resented him for coming in outranking the detective who’d already put years in on the force. In fact, Derek was always kind and they worked damned well together. Even though the squad gave him shit about it, Stiles knew Derek deserved the promotion and he was happy Derek didn’t treat him any differently now that he outranked him.

Stiles respected the hell out of Derek, and it wasn’t hard since he was such a stand-up guy. Scott’s been out on training because his pregnant wife has been sick for a while. Derek tries to help out by filling in whenever he can, despite the fact that he’s never been a fan of patrols and was looking forward to more focused stakeouts and sting operations.

If Stiles really tried to pin down the issue - not that there really was one - it was that despite evidently growing up in the same town, and being only a few years apart at that, Stiles just didn’t know Derek. He had no clue who he was before meeting him on the police force. Stiles wasn’t naive enough to think he should know everyone in Beacon Hills, but his dad was the former Sheriff. He’s been to all the events, and rubbed elbows with the city’s most influential people. Hell, he was even there when Mayor Peter Hale was put down and thrown into Eichen House.

Stiles couldn’t even connect Derek to those Hales because there didn’t seem to be any real connection and Hale was a pretty common name around those parts. Stiles knew lots of Hales, but for Derek it seemed to be just him and his sister, Cora. Cora was the Beacon County Sheriff’s Department Office Manager and married to Lydia Martin-Hale who acted as a consultant to the squad. She used to officially be their medium, but underwent a rebranding ever since magic was outlawed in the county. Stiles remembered she’d convinced everyone that the only powers she possessed were those of observation and she definitely wasn’t a banshee and a psychic. Though the way everyone she told would repeat it over and over made Stiles wonder.

Regardless, it was just weird to Stiles that he didn’t know Derek. Cora was homeschooled during high school so he remembers her mostly from middle school, but never remembers her family really. A mom, an older sister maybe? Nothing about a brother ever came to mind. He’d even thought Cora and her family moved away before he saw Cora on his first day in the office. She smiled at him… while flipping him off… and the two have been great friends ever since. Well, as friendly as Cora was with anyone.

And even that wasn’t it. Stiles and Derek got along great. They had some converging interests so they could hold down a conversation late night stuck in a 24hr taco shop parking lot, waiting for something to happen. Things were easy and they were easy together. Hell, Stiles could even have a crush on the guy if he ever thought it were remotely an option. There simply wasn’t a solid reason that Derek would be contributing to the feeling of strangeness that’d been plaguing Stiles all week, but it was the only lead he had, so he went with it. He hadn’t considered that the weirdness could be something outside of the situation, and Tara bringing it up made him realize it wasn’t just him.

“You alright, Sergeant? You’re eerily quiet; it’s a bit out of character and frankly a little bit terrifying.” Derek nudges Stiles who is clearly focusing on something else. “Thinking about your vacation?”

Stiles doesn’t startle, he just shrugs and shakes his head.

“Sorry, sir, it’s just… I just can’t shake this feeling of weirdness. Even Tara said something. The closer we get to this place the more off I feel. Like it’s warded, you know?”

“No Stiles, I don’t know and neither do you.” Derek says rotely. Stiles looks at him quickly as he continues to recite something that was no doubt lectured to him in the same manner. “Wards do not exist. Wards are created by magic and magic no longer exists within the Beacon County lines and all forms, variations and allusions to magic were discarded or destroyed or remain locked up in the Eichen House correctional facility along with master arbiter of the supernatural and former Mayor Peter Hale. So no, Stiles, I don’t know what you mean when you say it feels warded. I don’t know what wards are.”

Stiles’ knuckles tighten on the steering wheel. He guesses he can’t begrudge Derek’s mysteriousness, especially since he has so many secrets of his own.

“I just… I just meant metaphorically- I didn’t mean that-”

Metaphorically-” Derek says, cutting off Stiles though not impolitely, “-yeah, something feels weird.” The lieutenant chances a small glance at Stiles as they pull up about a half block from the bank. They can see clearly inside of it and it appears to be business as usual except... for the two men holding open large bags as patrons of the bank put money inside.

“What the fuck?” Stiles asks absently as he and Derek exit the car and start to make their way towards the bank.

Stiles habitually lays a protective hand on his piece as they get closer and Derek sidles up behind him. They find a hidden corner where they can remain unseen but still have a good vantage point of the inside of the bank. And it’s… weird.

“I just saw Mrs. Wilking last week, I helped her bake a pie…” Derek remembers as they watch the elderly woman wave a gun menacingly in a teller’s face. Mrs. Wilking yells at the lady and in an uncharacteristic move, she slaps the teller across the face. Derek winces.

“She has arthritis in that hand. That’s why I was helping her bake; she had problems mixing the fruit and rolling out the crust.” He says absently, watching her almost sadly. Were the situation different, Stiles might tease Derek for spending every other Saturday teaching a baking class at the senior center, but really Stiles found it very sweet. Plus, Derek brings left-overs for Stiles’ Sunday night shift and Stiles knows better than to mess up a good thing. The strawberry rhubarb was especially good. It tasted like magic.

“I’m telling you, Lieu, something weird is going on. Wait… is that…?” Stiles squints and shit, it is. Derek sees him at the same time.

“Mr. Gajos?” Derek says as the two watch the previously senile senior citizen move quickly in the lobby. Stiles nods. He’s called to the apartment complex Mr. Gajos lives in frequently and each time he’s pulled into a long discussion where Mr. Gajos swears Stiles is his grandson because, ‘some disappearing men told him so’. Stiles found it a little sad, knowing the man was childless, but he was never creeped out, not until this night at least when he saw the same man competently counting money and organizing piles on a desk. He was spry where the old Mr. Gajos was frail with cloudy, wet eyes. His eyes were still cloudy, but they seemed keen, almost like he was both seeing and not seeing at the same time. Mr. Gajos moved at a snail’s pace, but this man - this imposter - moved with ease as he packed several duffle bags full of money.

Stiles feels a light grip on his elbow and notices he’s got his gun out and is in shooting stance. He shakes his head, nodding as he lowers his firearm.

“Thanks, Lieu, sorry about that.”

“It’s okay, Stilinski, this place… it’s off. Something is off. Let’s get closer and see if we can figure this out.”

They move slowly towards the entrance of the bank which is through the lobby of the Beacon Grand hotel, a landmark site that boasted a shopping mall alongside the hotel. It was put in as a tourist attraction after Peter Hale took office. Peter had a grimy, political side to him, but he did care about the town and its growth, almost like it was a birthright to him. Stiles doesn’t know why this thought came to him, or why he suddenly feels a sadness at the way things went down that day. There was a sense of dread in the discovery, perhaps a bit of residual guilt at the fact that Stiles’ own secret was left unearthed? Either way, he remembers feeling like a coward when he left town for school, and feeling like a betrayer when he returned three years later.

“What’s on your mind, Stilinski? Contemplative is a scary look on you, it can go either way at the drop of a dime.” Derek says, not unkindly, shaking Stiles from his reverie. Stiles sighs.

“It’s like they’re possessed.” He muses absently, though not casually enough for Derek’s liking.

“It’s just a robbery, Stiles.” Derek says with enough force to draw Stiles’ attention. Stiles stops when he can see the serious pleading in Derek’s green eyes. “It’s routine, don’t overthink it. We’re cops. Identify the hostages, secure them and stop the bad guys. We’ve done this before, we could do it in our sleep. Don’t forget that.”

Stiles nods sharply. They have done this before, so much so they’ve been commended twice by the city. Stiles had law enforcement in his blood, his dad served as county sheriff so long, the city people still called him Sheriff like it was his first name. He knew Stiles would follow in his footsteps and Stiles went the extra mile, going to school and graduating early so he could enter the force as an officer.

He knew how to assess a situation and guarantee the safety of all involved and he was proud of that. But this? This was something he knew that he wasn’t supposed to know. And he didn’t know how to handle it.

“Yes, sir. Let’s identify any possible exits and see about getting backup here to handle any possible negotiations?”

Derek nods, and lets out a meaningful and relieved sigh.

“Sounds good, Stilinski, I’ve already signaled for backup, I’ll go around and meet you on the west side. Be careful.”

Derek runs off as Stiles approaches the entrance as stealthily as possible. He’s low to the ground and can hear Mrs. Wilking giving out instructions.

Don’t fret, young ones. I come from a generation before yours that’s more versed in the ways of the community that you’re funding. Don’t think of this as emptying out your savings, but rather rebuilding and investing in a future where we’ll be unstoppable. We’ll protect you, but only if you cooperate.”

Stiles can’t help the shudder that runs through him. He reels back, careening out of position until his back is met by a cold marble wall. Here, he spots Derek to his left, appearing discombobulated and out of sorts. He’s about to go to him when he looks towards the bank entrance and sees Mrs. Wilking is staring at him openly smirking. Her eyes have the same cloudy clearness as Mr. Gajos. Stiles can’t move, and he can’t look away. Can’t look away from the sinister dry cracked lips, outlining the faded dentures improperly fitted in her mouth. The cold, hard grin that graces the old woman’s face. He can’t look away from the slight twitch in her hands, nor the minute movement of her lips as she recites God knows what. He knows he should move, but he can’t. He can’t.

He feels a tug on his shoulder and finally his gaze is torn away as Derek pulls him over and shoves him inside a supply closet along the wall. It’s small and Derek slams the door shut before turning on a small hanging lightbulb.

“What the fuck is going on!?” Stiles yells finally as his senses suddenly flood back over him. This isn’t right, he’s close to his heat so he knows his emotions are out of whack, no- wait, he’s close to his vacation. His vacation he takes for a week once a year. And the excitement overwhelms him and it’s not hormones at all. Shit, did he say that out loud? With the look Derek is giving him, he may have said it-

“It’s a robbery, Stilinski.” Derek says, trying to feign calm though the weight of the situation sits heavily in his throat. Stiles swears he can feel the sweat of Derek’s palm soak through the shoulders of his uniform. Stiles shakes his head.

“It’s not a fucking robbery and you know it, Derek!”

“Stilinski!”

“Derek, no, fuck this shit. It’s magic! We’re hiding in a fucking closet, and the bank is getting robbed by at least two senior citizens who look like they have a terrible case of glaucoma and this is all fucking happening because of fucking magic!”

“Dammit, Stiles!” Derek yells, breaking form and slapping his palm on the shelf behind Stiles. He ducks his head and breathes slowly before looking into Stiles’ pleading eyes.

“Don’t gaslight me here, Derek. Fuck the bureaucratic bullshit, this isn’t Sergeant Stilinski reporting to Lieutenant Hale, it’s me, fucking Stiles talking to you, fucking Derek and saying that out there is some magical bullshit.” Stiles points at the door and can see that Derek feels it too. The offness that’s permeated the air, that keeps them from fully being able to enter the bank, to stop whatever chaos this is.

“It’s… it’s big, Stiles. Those are huge words and you know it.” Derek says softly, and Stiles does know. Magic and all things supernatural had been banned from Beacon county for decades. The supernaturals who weren’t killed or thrown out, simply lived in hiding. Many didn’t even know some still existed, but Stiles knew. He and his dad were among them.

In a way it always kind of pissed Stiles off. He knew his dad was a “human alpha”, but outside of some heightened senses, he never fully grasped what that meant and why it was so different that his dad was forced to hide a part of himself, and even worse, forced by himself into early retirement after the Peter Hale debacle. Stiles was a human omega, like his mom, which made it all the more confusing. Outside of a ridiculous week of prolonged and intense sexual urges, Stiles couldn’t see the point of being an omega. And because magic and the supernatural were banned in the county and frowned upon just about everywhere else, finding information on the subject was next to impossible. He could only rely on really shady word of mouth or ancient text books that were salvaged from the burnings. He couldn’t discern between things like what an emissary or a spark were, or if something like a werecoyote was just a ridiculous invention or a real threat. Stiles tried, but the more he stayed silent, the more it seemed the supernatural would blow up in his face. It hadn’t been this overt since the Peter Hale incident.

Things were almost good. Even though the Supernatural and magic were still taboo, people were beginning to turn a blind eye and were maybe even on the road to being tolerant of magic practitioners and supernaturals in the area. The Mayor Hale incident changed all of that, forcing another purge of alleged supernaturals -self inflicted and otherwise- and a clamping down on the laws. Stiles missed the brunt of it, thankfully being halfway across the country at school. But even that wasn’t paradise. New York was pretty liberal, but still tight lipped all things considered.

When he came back, the shift in mood was instantly noticeable. Stiles credited the change to the installation of the Argents at nearly every head of city and county government (even Scott’s wife Allison was an ombudsman). The family was large and powerful, but openly shady, if there was such a thing. Everyone was wary of them, but few were willing to give a reason why. Even Allison and her dad, Christophe were persons of interest and they generally were nice people who kept to themselves. Peter Hale was one of the few that stood up to the family bravely, and he was rewarded with the position of city Mayor. He was beloved and ran his position well. Well… until he went berserk, outed himself as a shifter and killed all those people that is.

“Derek, please.” Stiles nearly begs, placing his hand on Derek’s heart, “I know it’s a lot, but we’re in way over our heads here and if we don’t admit what this is, it means we just called a whole bunch of people here just to put them in danger, not to mention the poor people inside that bank.”

Derek considers the hand and then sighs, defeated, “Okay, okay, fine, you’re right,” he says, raising his hands in surrender before landing them on his hips in the small space. “It’s magic, it’s definitely magic. But why now? Why this? To rob a bank? None of this makes sense, Stiles.”

“I know, Lieu, but if we’re going to get through this, I need to know you have my back. And know that I have yours.”

Derek looks up then at Stiles, almost wounded at the prospect that Stiles would ever think it was any other way. Stiles can’t help the small flutter in his chest, or the ever so slight (and wholly inappropriate for the situation) smirk that quirks on the edge of his lips. Derek notices anyway, and nods solemnly.

“Me and you, Stiles. I have your back and you have mine, through any and everything.”

The night of Peter’s takedown, Stiles was there. He was pushed out of the main hall once the attacks began, but by the end of the night he saw the six dead, laid out as body bags were acquired. He didn’t know any of them intimately he didn’t think, though he knew who they were. One was his old high-school gym teacher, Kate. She’d just started as Stiles was graduating and she was just as typically cold, and icy as any of the Argents were. Stiles doesn’t know if anyone deserves the kind of death that Peter doled, out, but he can’t say he didn’t wonder too hardly where Kate was concerned. Calling her unpleasant was more than an understatement. Stiles likes to infer that it was the combination of guilt felt by not being sorry about her passing along with the natural intimidation of their family is what allowed Victoria to be voted next into office, and Chris made city council member. The elections acted as sort of a… mea culpa from the city.

The other five victims seemed to live on the same fringed edge as Kate. Skirting the law, one way or the other, involved conspicuously in some illegal business, but not enough to actually be implicated. One was a scientist who used to work at the local chemical lab until he was accused of manufacturing and selling recreational blends on the company dime. All records were closed, and the scientist never fought the charges, but he did resign. Stiles recognized two more as thugs who had a list of petty misdemeanors a mile long, and another as a car thief who used to live just on the outskirts of town.

It was the last victim that was most notable, former Mayor Tamora Monroe. A shrewd, vicious woman who hated Peter and his family. At the time, Stiles could never understand the vitriol she had against them, but upon Peter being outed, it all made sense. Years before Tamora was trapped on a bus that was later said to have been attacked by bears. When Stiles asked his father about it later, the sheriff told him it was probably a supernatural beast. Whatever it was left Tamora scarred for life, inside and out, and she only doubled her efforts to upend anything supernatural in the city. Peter’s campaign was a breath of fresh air from Tamora’s strict “Supernatural checks” and ridiculous propaganda. Again, magic wasn’t something that was tolerated just yet, but many were starting to not be so scared of it anymore, and it was Tamora’s blind ambition to reset the public opinion.

They were so close to being able to come out, and Stiles remembers how he let the fear of the evening overtake him. He remembers seeing Peter struggling wildly against his restraints, as they stuffed him, mad and raving into the back of a van. He remembers how suddenly lonely he felt, how much like a coward. If he’d been thinking clearly maybe he would have see it more as the assassination of Peter Hale and investigated it like a true crime. Maybe he wouldn’t have fled back across the country while his dad was ousted and Gerard took control, sweeping the case under the rug. Stiles had so many regrets, and when he came back, as he took his vows to protect and serve, he promised never to betray himself, or anyone else again.

“Thanks, Derek. I knew it, but I really needed to hear it.” Stiles says as he squeezes Derek’s bicep. Derek nods knowingly and gestures towards the door.

“So what are we going to do? If this is magic, we can’t defeat it. Neither of us are magic.”

Stiles shrugs, “I don’t know, even if I did know what to do with-”

Suddenly there’s a bang at the door and the young men can hear a frantic voice on the other side.

“Hello! Please, is somebody in there?! They’ve got guns, we need help!” Stiles reaches for the handle, but Derek stops him.

“Wait, what were you going to say? Stiles! What-”

“Derek, there’s no fucking time, we have to help!”

“Help! Officers, help!” the banging on the door gets louder and more urgent but Derek holds Stiles back.

“Stiles, she said officers, what if it’s a trap? I need to know what you-”

“Dammit, Derek, just let me open the door, we’ll figure out the rest lat-” Stiles finally gets his hand on the door and turns the knob shoving it open, as soon as he and Derek fly out, they’re immediately hit in the face with a purple, sparkly powder.

Stiles is falling… down a rainbow? No… but yes, on a unicorn! A unicorn with thick, bushy eyebrows, and the unicorn is ice skating down the rainbow, which Stiles surmises must make sense since rainbows are light refracted off of water and in the air. Yes, it’s colder and possibly they are up very high, and it’s very cold, and thus makes plenty of sense why they can ice skate on a rainbow! So it would reason that the lower they got to earth, the warmer it would get which completely explains why they’re sinking through the rainbow now. Yes, it’s perfectly sensical to Stiles as he is submerged into red, through orange and then yellow. It suffices the logic centers in his mind as he descends through green, traverses the blue and swims in the cacophony of violet hues. The purple surrounds him, permeating his core and he can feel it everywhere, his eyes, his nose, his throat, his lungs-

“Stiles! C’mon on, buddy! Come back to me!” His unicorn is grimacing and presses his surprisingly soft unicorn lips to his, blowing air into his lungs, which confounds Stiles in a few ways. 1) Stiles went to college for three years, and was a pretty poppin’ senior if he says so himself, he knows this is not how kissing is done. 2) This not something that Stiles’ brain supplies him with as possible, but he also never thought it possible for his unicorn to yell at him, so he decides to table that for now so he can consider number three. 3) Since when does Stiles want to kiss his unicorn? He thinks about this as the unicorn anti-kisses him again and he dry heaves in response, which to him seems like an over-reaction, but seems to please Derek, he means… his unicorn. Wait, fucking what?

“That’s good, that’s good, Stiles, keep coughing.” Derek lifts Stiles slightly, turning him to the side as Stiles coughs up thick purple powder from his lungs. It’s like the time he and Scott did the cinnamon challenge except so much worse. Stiles hacks up more powder as Derek pats him gently on the back. He can see a little, he can tell Derek dusted the powder away from his eyes and he sees Derek with powder covering mostly his shirt, a little on his nose, and some around his mouth from where he’d held it against Stiles’. Stiles coughs again.

“Don’t try to talk yet. I want you to take a few sips of this, very slowly, okay?”

Stiles nods as Derek puts a water bottle up to his mouth and slowly feeds him small sips of water. As he begins to recover, he looks around him.

“Wha-... what happened?” Stiles asks. He finally notices it’s quiet around them, too quiet. He sees flashing lights outside indicating a squad car and the low, non-descript murmuring aside, the only other sound he can hear is the click of the Captain’s heels as she approaches Derek and Stiles. What was she doing here? He turns to ask Derek who is nodding towards the Captain respectfully while he speaks to Stiles lowly through gritted teeth.

“Stiles, this is going to sound weird, but I need you to go along with me. Follow my lead every step of the way, you got it? We’ll talk later.” Derek accepts Stiles’ quick nod and Stiles clears his throat upending more purple haze. He doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into, or what Derek is trying to hide, but he trusts him, even more fiercely than ever before.

“Lieutenant, I’m hoping you have an explanation for me?” Marin Morrell reaches the men but stays purple glitter distance away while eyeing them shrewdly. Stiles didn’t know much about Morrell outside of her yearly approving his vacation and constant denial of his armory requests, but there was something about her that he liked. Well, that he at least respected the hell out of. She was a hard worker and physically incapable of bullshit, giving or receiving. So Stiles knew that whatever game Derek was about to play, it was only going to be allowed because Morrell was the one allowing it. She had her reasons and God knows she has her secrets, but Stiles still feels so… reverential towards her. Like if Lydia’s mentor had a mentor. She’d be Marin Morrell.

“Yes, ma’m, Captain… m’am. Captain Morrell.” Derek stutters as Morrell’s gaze seems to pierce his very soul. Stiles understood completely and all he could think about was which acronym would apply to the very real stroke he assumed Derek was having now.

“Toast?” Stiles supplies, but before he can assign letters to helpful mnemonic tricks, he falls into another coughing fit.

Derek closes his eyes and Stiles can swear that he sees the lines around Morrell’s pursed mouth soften ever so slightly.

“Lieutenant, take a breath, and explain.”

Derek nods. “Yes, Captain. Sergeant Stilinski and I believe we spotted dual assailants running from the bank while investigating the call of the pulled alarm. We informed the suspects to stop, but they gave chase and we followed them. We almost had them apprehended, but before we could they launched what could only be described as a glitter bomb towards us, covering us with a powder of unknown origin. Both the sergeant and I appear to be okay though Sergeant Stilinski got the brunt of it and will be examined again when the paramedics arrive.”

“What? No- I’m fi-” Stiles tries to finish the sentence, but is felled again by the purple crush. He stands up as if proving a point and breathes deeply before coughing again pumping out purple clouds into the air. It’s nearly lovely.

Morrell is not impressed. She’s about to say as much, but Derek -rolling his eyes- beats her to the punch.

“Shut up, Stiles. You’re going.” he says resolutely and Stiles nods, agreeing and surprising himself.

Morrell looks between the two and silently signals for Derek to continue.

“The assailants continued on foot while I sorted out the sergeant, but as you can see I was able to apprehend and subdue them, restraining them until backup arrived.”

Stiles crinkles his brow, he can see more detail around the squad lights he saw as he was coming to and does see the backseats of two of them are occupied; one by Mrs. Wilking, the other by Mr. Gajos. Derek was able to catch them after Stiles went out? Were they the ones at the door? The voice sounded so much younger and there was only one of them!

“You see why I’m a little bit skeptical to your claims, don’t you, Lieutenant?” Morrell presses, but Derek is the picture of calm as he shrugs innocently.

“I don’t know what you mean.” He says, challenging her right back.

She remains unperturbed, but wary. She looks towards Stiles who is still gawking at the two suspects. They’re sitting still in the car, looking sad, confused and defeated. Mr. Gajos is crying. Stiles wants to comfort him for some reason.

“Sergeant.” Morrell says, snapping Stiles from his sudden charity.

“Yes, Ma’am?”

“Stiles, what do you remember about this evening?”

“Umm, not much.” Stiles says roughly, rubbing the back of his neck. He’s been taking sips of water whenever Derek proffers the bottle. He won’t let Stiles actually hold it because he knows Stiles will drink it too fast, but it’s gotta look weird now that Stiles is actually standing. However, Stiles can’t help but feel something like pride and that confuses him. “It was just like the Lieu said, we were running and then I got blasted by Prince’s ashes.”

Morrell gives him a look so curt it makes Stiles blush.

“What? Too soon?”

“Sergeant Stilinski, this is a serious matter.”

“I don’t know what you want me to say, Cap.”

“I want you to tell me the truth.” She says, stepping forward and poking Stiles in the chest. He tries everything not to cough in her face. He wants to turn his head, but he can’t break their gaze. “If not out of civic duty to this city or as an effect of the oath you took, then at the very least out of the respect you have for me. Because what you’re asking me to believe is preposterous.”

“And just what is that, ma’m? What’s so crazy about arresting two suspects?” Stiles asks, careful not to eye Derek too much.

“You want me to believe that you two were involved in a high speed, on foot chase involving a pair of elderly citizens who then incapacitated two of Beacon County’s finest with purple party poppers?” She seethes, popping the ‘p’ as deliberately as possible. Stiles tries to think of something to say, but all he can see is poor Mrs. Wilking, fallen asleep with her face pressed up against the window.

“That’s right, Ma’am. That’s exactly what we’re asking.” Derek says. Stiles and Morrell both look at him quizzically as he fixes Morrell with a hard, pleading look. “Marin, please.” Stiles’ eyes widen. Marin? What was Derek doing?

“I have proven time and time again that I’m a damn good protective and my… instinct was to protect my… my partner at any and every cost. I wouldn’t leap into something I couldn't handle, you know that. So yes, Captain, I’m asking you to believe me. To believe this. Until.” Until what? Is all Stiles could wonder though Derek’s statement seemed to be complete and Morrell seemed to take it as such.

“Captain, can we please debrief back at the station? The paramedic is parking and I want to make sure the sergeant is ready when they are.”

Morrell sighs, but nods.

“We’ll definitely have a conversation back at the station, Lieutenant. And I’ll make sure Alan Deaton sits in to mediate.”

Stiles shivers. He never quite knew what the mediator slash animal consultant slash K9 trainer’s actual position was, but he knew whenever Alan was around, something vague and unsettling was just ten paces behind.

Morrell walks away, her heels clicking authoritatively on the marble. Derek watches after her and Stiles… watches Derek.

“Sooo… Stiles starts, giving a feint attempt at coyness, “Marin?”

Derek huffs before turning to Stiles, “It was nothing, are you okay?” Stiles is about to protest but finds himself holding still and reverent as Derek fusses over him, brushing some of the stray powder away and directing Stiles to drink more. He’s standing close, probably closer than what’s appropriate. Stiles can smell his cologne… and… and something else.

“Derek, I’m sorry.”

Derek’s eyes flit from Stiles’ mouth to his eyes.

“Sorry? For what? Stiles, I was supposed to protect you!” And that wasn’t true at all. Sure, they were supposed to look out for each other, but their job was to protect the city, though despite knowing this, Stiles couldn’t bring himself to disagree.

“For going for the door. It was like… an instinct? I had to help that lady, that voice, it hit me and it got in the way of my training, my fucking common sense... everything!”

Derek stills Stiles, placing both hands on his shoulders and squeezes gently. It’s much like their position in the closet though this time they had even more personal space to ignore.

“I get it, Stiles. It’s okay.” Derek breathes in hard and then catches his breath, closing his eyes quickly. Stiles swears he saw... something, a flash maybe? He tries to focus, but he’s met with an overwhelming need to comfort the man, to hold him, to console him.

“No, dude. That was a big deal, you trusted me, and not only did I let you down, but you got sex pollen all over your uniform!” Derek laughs and Stiles coughs lightly, though it seems the last of the purple dust is gone. He shrugs, grinning, “I’m just saying, I know the Holi paint war is a good look for you, but I’m sorry just the same.”

“Stiles…” Derek says softly. He’s close, so close now, “There’s no such thing as sex pollen. And you’re an idiot.” Then he leans forward and before Stiles can react with some quip, Derek’s lips are on his lips and it’s not like the unicorn at all. Fuck that unicorn, especially if it could have kissed him like this the whole time. It’s not an overly remarkable kiss, just a slight pout to pout, with enough purse in the middle to cause a wet smack. It’s slow and smooth and wildly inappropriate given their setting and Stiles never wants it to end. And even when it does, he’s still satiated by the tingle that stays on his lips. Derek pulls back as Stiles tries to control the smile on his face.

“What was that for?” He asks, nearly in a whisper.

“For being okay.” Derek explains, like his words explain anything.

“And not because of the sex pollen?” Stiles brattily asks, just because he can and he knows it. Derek gives his patented eyeroll and shakes his head, the smirk refusing to leave his face.

“There’s no such thing, Sergeant. That’s magic and magic doesn’t exist. Besides, that wasn’t sex. We just kissed and it wasn’t because of pollen it was because of-”

“Because of what?” Stiles asks. He’s placed his hands on top of Derek’s on his shoulders and he can’t help but look at the swirls of gold embedded in his hazel eyes. “Why’d you really kiss me?”

Derek answers with a look that speaks to some part of Stiles, settling it, but not a part he’s familiar with. He wants to find out.

“Wanna do it again?” He moves minutely forward, and cocks his head slightly in invitation.

“Stiles…” Derek hisses out, like he’d like to do that and so much more.

“Sergeant, Liuetenant, this way please!” The two men look towards the voice and see the paramedics have arrived. Boyd isn’t looking at them, instead he’s filling out paperwork on an iPad and motioning blindly to them to follow him. Both men breathe out a sigh of relief. Stiles rubs the back of his head and looks back at Derek.

“To be continued?”

Derek looks him up and down quickly and starts to head towards the door. “Yeah… to be continued.”

As Derek walks away, Stiles follows slowly behind as a realization and confirmation come to mind. He understands now what it was that stood between him and Derek and why Stiles couldn’t even allow himself to get closer to the man.

 

Stiles Stilinski was in fucking love.