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Moonburnt Kiss

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Just another day turned to shit, Stiles typed out his annoyance. He angrily hit the post button, knowing that his followers would show some support in his hour of crisis. He looked up at his dad, a sour expression pulled at his lips when he thought about their earlier conversation. He didn’t blame his dad, but he sure as hell wasn't going to thank him for sending him away.

“Again, that’s very kind of you, Talia,” John concluded. He faintly smiled at whatever the woman had to say. “You too. Bye.” He hung up the phone, turning an eye to Stiles. “Don’t be that way,” he sighed when he caught the unhappy look Stiles was giving him.

“You’re not giving me a choice,” Stiles replied. “This is stupid, dad,” he complained. “I wanted to finish out my senior year here —in peace.”

“Stiles,” John tiredly uttered. “You can finish your online program fine in New York,” he knowingly stated. “That’s the whole reason I paid for that tuition.”

Stiles sighed, wishing his dad would have forgotten that little fact. It was hard to, when the whole reason John invested in the program was because it allowed Stiles to travel with him on prolonged cases, without jeopardizing his schoolwork.

“Besides, it’s only a few months until summer, and you’ve always wanted to go to New York,” John countered.

“On vacation, or for college, not as a charity case,” Stiles sharply stated. “We have the house—you have the money that I can stay at home fine.”

John was silent for a moment. His gaze lowered, looking at Stiles’ wrists, knowing the burns and scars that hid under the long sleeves. “I don’t want you by yourself,” he finally admitted. “What happened last time—”

“It wasn’t a big deal,” Stiles rushed to argue his logic. He subconsciously pulled the long sleeves down, curling the baggy material in the palm of his hands.

“What happened last time,” John calmly repeated. “Scared me.”

Stiles stared at the ground, unable to look at his father.

“I don’t want to leave you alone again,” John softly explained. “I don’t want to lose you.”

Stiles twisted the material in his hands. “It wasn’t what you thought.”

“I don’t think you meant to almost kill yourself,” John answered. “I think you were hurting, and it made you feel better.”

Stiles wanted to cry. His father was only half right about Stiles’ reasoning, but completely wrong about what he thought really happened. But he couldn’t tell his father the truth—not about his magic. And that was what hurt the most, having to lie to his father and let him believe that he pressed a hot lighter into his skin for the endorphin rush. That he caused a house fire because he couldn’t handle it.

“I’m not going to hurt myself,” Stiles weakly argued.

“I don’t want you being lonely either, Stiles,” John answered. “Please. This will ease my conscience.”

Stiles sighed, sinking into his chair. He knew his dad won with that line. “Okay,” he croaked, staring up at the ceiling as he tried not to cry.

~*~

The Hales weren’t just wealthy. No, that would make Stiles’ life a little too easy.

The Hales were werewolf royalty, as far as the world was concerned. They were one of the oldest packs in North America, with pack bonds tying them to even Europe’s strongest and most powerful.

Talia Hale was an activist for werewolf rights, garnering support among politicians and raising awareness about the difficulties werewolves faced every day. She worked hard to ensure that werewolves were guaranteed the same basic rights humans had, though not everyone agreed with her.

Broderick Hale was a doctor, with awards and accolades from every corner of the medical world. And to make things even more of a scandal, he was human.

And just like anything that was put in the public eye, every aspect of the Hale’s lives landed on the front page of tabloids. Invasive and downright rude questions had become a norm for them to suffer whenever cornered by a scandal crazed reporter.

So it all made sense that Talia was the most skeptical of outsiders, especially in relation to her children. She trusted very few people, and Kate Argent was not someone she was going to allow ample wiggle room. She would be the first to admit that she babied Derek out of her three children, but in the end she was justified in her weariness.

Derek had been the most trusting of the Hales, that was until Kate Argent tried to burn his whole world down into nothing but ash. He had trusted Kate—he may have even loved her.

And to make it worse, it was her bigoted, baseless hatred for werewolves that spurred her actions.

When Derek started sneaking out to meet with Kate, Talia contacted John.

It didn’t take John long to discover the radicalized community the Argents had developed over years of indoctrination. He gave Talia all the information she needed to realize that Kate had ulterior motives for dating Derek—that her father’s ‘Human First’ sentiment had tainted his family to the core.

Derek had been heartbroken when his mother told him—he even had the typical irrational teenager’s response to not believe it. It wasn’t until Kate tried to light Derek’s motorcycle on fire that it was painfully clear.

As a result, the Argents were labeled as a radical hate group, and Kate, along with Gerard, was sentenced for attempted murder, and the conspiracy to commit a mass murder.

Talia felt indebted to John for his work, fearing that her family could have suffered much worse had he not intervened the way he had.

That all lead to Stiles’ current predicament. Thanks to his dad’s work, he was now being housed through the summer by Talia Hale, Alpha of the Hale pack, and all around terrifying woman.

Stiles counted himself lucky, realizing that the Hales were all leading lives of their own—too busy to notice the additional person in their home.

At least, that was the lie he told himself. A lie that was shattered by Derek Hale’s perfect everything.

~*~

Stiles loudly dropped the book he was holding, wincing at the loud echo it emitted. He mumbled an apology to the book as he picked it up.

“Do you mind?” Derek snapped at Stiles, having honed in on the younger boy the moment he entered the library.

Derek remembered his mother saying something about John Stilinski’s son coming to stay with them while the man recovered in the hospital. He agreed to be civil, though he hadn’t agreed to endure the torture of having his solitude being destroyed by the teenager. He had been taking in Stiles’ appearance once the boy had come into sight. He could hear the heightened beating of Stiles’ heart, and smell the offputting anxiety coming from him. He could smell the spark of smoke, choosing to ignore it as just another useless chemosignal belonging to Stiles—one that made his eyes flash and his wolf heckle.

“What are you doing here?” Derek demanded, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

“Um, Talia said I could be in here,” Stiles stated. As if that statement explained his presence in the Hale home altogether.

“I doubt she said you could loudly disrupt everything,” Derek countered.

Stiles looked down at the book in his hands, recalling how kind Talia had been at his request for books. “I need some books on magic,” he stated, looking back at Derek. “Talia said I could look in the library.”

“Because we’re not mundane, we automatically have books on magic?” Derek scoffed.

Stiles rolled his eyes. “No. Because Talia is a prominent Alpha with an emissary, you automatically have books on magic,” he condescendingly replied.

Derek’s glare refused to lessen. “Some of us have important work to do in here, so try to keep quiet,” was all Derek said before turning back to his tabletop of scattered books.

Stiles stuck his tongue out at Derek.

“Mature,” Derek commented without turning his head to even look at Stiles.

“Hobo,” Stiles countered.

Derek turned his head to look at Stiles. “Really?” He dryly questioned.

“Well, do you not own a mirror?” Stiles questioned.

Derek narrowed his eyes at Stiles.

“Just a simple question,” Stiles replied.

Derek stood, hearing the uptick in Stiles’ heartbeat responding to the action. “Don’t touch my books,” he almost growled out as he turned and left.

Stiles was still clutching his own book to his chest as he watched Derek leave. Part of him wondered how much longer he’d be stuck here if he managed to piss off all the Hales.

~*~

The Beast won’t let me in the library, (or the west wing). What to do, what to do.

Stiles smirked at some of the responses he’d been seeing to his lack of posts lately. But he also knew that he couldn’t be posting daily like usually. He was afraid so many people would find out where he was, or who he was staying with. He elected towards offering only small snippets—he gave Derek the nickname of ‘the Beast’ when someone compared Stiles himself to Belle. It brought a smile to Stiles’ face to be able to talk about it, while keeping anonymity.

But he also refused to ruin the Hales’ hospitality and trust by giving any more.

Stiles’ smile vanished when he read some of his recent private messages. He saw the people sending him asks, wondering if he was safe in New York with the protesting happening. Others were asking him for advice on what to do—how to handle themselves—if they too had magic.

Stiles had only ever mentioned it once, in passing, that he had experienced magic in his life. Some assumed he had a loved one that was a mage, while others assumed he had magic. He never specified.

One ask deeply scared him. He felt like he couldn’t breathe when he read the words asking about the Hales, and if he thought they were part of the problem with all the unrest happening.

Stiles didn’t answer any of the questions, merely shutting his phone off and pretending that he didn’t feel like someone knew his secret.

~*~

There was another protest. Magic users taking a stand for equal rights.

It was met with derision and mockery by the news, most commenters recounting their own fears and biases. He heard about how the peaceful protest had been met with violence towards the end, the police not doing anything to stop those counterprotesting.

A couple of the mages were injured when words grew heated before turning to physical retaliation. The mages held back, knowing that they would be painted the criminals should they defend themselves in the slightest.

It was sickening to watch.

Stiles was glad he was alone when he saw it. He turned the tv off, curling in on himself as he tried to block out the harsh words. He could feel his magic heating up his skin, with the tears burning his eyes were just the start. He tried to focus on his breathing, terrified that he was going to cause another fire. He remembered his mother’s face, recreating every feature he could, until her visage solidified in his thoughts. He thought of his father, remembering the sound of his dad’s voice from their phone call this morning.

Stiles hated magic—and he hated himself for having it.

~*~

Derek was the least likable Hale, Stiles decided.

Cora, the youngest Hale sibling, was fun to hang around—she had a ‘no excuses’ attitude, one that often resulted in heated arguments with the most dickish of people. She was finishing out high school, like Stiles, and was eager to leave behind the nightmare that was private school. She was popular, for the same reasons she was terrifying—people flocked under her umbrella to avoid the bullies, but to rub elbows with a Hale.

Laura was the eldest Hale sibling, giving off the air of sophistication—but she was down right devilish in a private setting. She had the aura of an mature professional, but the sense of humor belonging to a fourteen year old. She was remarkably funny for possessing the sophisticated persona she publicly projected as a lawyer.

Derek, the middle Hale child—and it showed in Stiles’ opinion—was a scholar . He had been a lecturer at many universities, offering up his knowledge in the topic of things supernatural and otherworldly, despite his young age. He was in the last year of working towards his doctorate, and his moodiness was a telling sign. Though Derek went absolutely docile the moment his mother entered the room. Stiles assumed it was to make up for the fact that Derek was completely unreasonable the moment other people were present.

Except for Lydia.

Stiles wasn’t even sure how Derek and Lydia knew each other. He found himself staring whenever Lydia would cozy up to Derek the way one did with an adorable pet begging for attention. His brow would crease when he watched Derek actually crack a faint smile, or huff out a soft snort of laughter, all in relation to Lydia.

Stiles felt his stomach twist.

“Quit looking like the green monster of jealousy,” Cora commented as she sat down next to Stiles.

“I’m not,” Stiles huffed, taking the soda Cora was offering him.

“Right,” Cora chuckled as she reclined on the pool chair.

“Why did you even invite your brother?” Stiles asked, failing to turn his attention back to his book.

“Because he’s over 21, and we’re not,” Cora replied as she closed her eyes, lifting her sunglasses into her hair as she let the sun soak in. “They don’t let you in places like this otherwise,” she explained when Stiles didn’t answer.

“Stupid,” Stiles muttered. He sipped at his soda through the straw.

“You’re that jealous, huh?” Cora asked.

“I’m not jealous,” Stiles heatedly answered. “Least of all jealous of your brother.”

Cora hummed in response.

Stiles looked at Cora, catching sight of Derek and Lydia sitting side by side on a long lounge chair a few rows down.

Derek had been walking with Cora and Stiles when they entered the resort, but he had stopped when Lydia called his name. He faintly smiled when Lydia hugged him in greeting. He ended up lingering as Cora pulled Stiles with her, both Derek and Lydia moving towards the drink stand as they continued to talk.

Lydia touched her hand on Derek’s shoulder, a calming gesture in response to whatever had Derek’s features twisted. She reached a hand forward, brushing her fingertips through Derek’s hair.

Stiles could read her lips, knowing she was telling Derek he needed a haircut. He wanted to tell Lydia to watch it—that Mr. Perfect didn’t like it when people spoke about his grooming habits.

But the bastard smiled at her for it.

“God, you reek,” Cora groaned as she opened her eyes to look at Stiles. “Please stop crushing on my brother, your chemosignals stink.”

Stiles look revolted by the statement. “I’m not crushing on your brother,” he lowly hissed at Cora.

“What? Lydia?” Cora incredulously asked. “Please,” she scoffed. “As if Lydia would double look.”

Stiles narrowed his eyes at Cora. “You’re the jealous one.”

Cora sat up some. “That’s presumptuous,” she carefully started.

“Presumptuous, or serendipitous,” Stiles replied.

“That makes no sense,” Cora answered.

“It’s serendipitous that I’m here, and you’re discovering your crush on Lydia,” Stiles pressed.

“Shut up, Stilinski,” Cora snuffed in reply. “The Martins have been friends with our family for a long time. Derek beat up her old boyfriend when he tried to kill her.”

“I’m sorry, her ex did what now?” Stiles incredulously asked, looking at Cora.

Cora’s mouth twisted in disgust as she recalled the night Lydia showed up on their doorstep, beaten and bloodied, begging for their help. She remembered staying with Lydia while Derek went with Talia to track down the asshole. “Lydia’s … special, okay? Her ex was a ‘human first’ asshole who freaked when he found out his perfect girlfriend wasn’t just a human.”

Stiles looked at Lydia. He could honestly see Lydia being something otherworldly—like a nymph or siren, prepared to lure men to their deaths. “That’s really fucked up,” he vocally stated.

Derek turned his head, looking at Stiles.

Stiles flushed red, realizing that Derek could probably hear them.

“I just don’t like listening to someone else’s plans to harass Lydia,” Cora stated.

Stiles scoffed, jokingly uttering, “You want to do the harassing, I take it.”

Cora later would say that she didn’t mean to, but it wouldn’t change the fact that she had done it. She kicked her leg out, her foot colliding with Stiles’ chair. The force knocked Stiles’ chair over and drove a stumbling—and fully clothed—Stiles into the pool.

Normally, Stiles was a superb swimmer. He could hold himself afloat for hours without issue. But he wasn’t a good swimmer when he panicked, swallowing down water. His magic flared to life as the fire suddenly pulsed around him, alerted that he was in danger. He didn’t want to resurface—he couldn’t resurface and let people see him like this. Everyone would then know he had magic, and that would be worse than people assuming he was self-harming.

Stiles must have been under the water for too long, his head started to hurt as his vision blacken with each pulse of his heart. He thought he was going to die.

A strong arm wrapped around Stiles’ waist, holding him tightly against a broad chest as he was carried to the surface.

Stiles felt like a wet ragdoll, his clothes weighing him down. His chest hurt from holding his breath, trying to focus on something besides the pain. He sputtered and coughed up the water he had swallowed, but he was just relieved that his magic had extinguished.

Derek pulled them to the edge of the pool, tightening his hold on Stiles as lifted them both up onto the lip of the pool.

Strong bastard.

Stiles laid down on the cement surrounding the pool, coughing up what was left of the water in his lungs. He felt his pain dissipate with a hand rubbing calming circles into his back.

“What the hell, Cora?” Derek angrily yelled at her, his hand circling Stiles’ back to drain the pain away. “You could have killed him!”

“I didn’t mean to!” Cora yelled back, her tone wobbling with worry. “We were joking around—I didn’t think the chair was going to flip.”

“What do you think would have happened if he hit his head on the cement?” Derek snapped. “He’s human—”

“Derek,” Lydia loudly stated from beside Cora. “Right now isn’t the time or place,” she pragmatically added.

Cora knelt by Stiles, her expression worried. “Are you okay?”

Stiles was unable to suppress his coughs as he waved a nonchalant hand. “You owe me a new soda,” he answered between coughing bouts.

Cora faintly smiled at that.

Derek helped Stiles stand when his coughing fits subsided. “You’ll be more comfortable with your sweatshirt rung out,” he commented when he realized that Stiles wasn’t making a move to do anything.

“Yeah,” Stiles lightly coughed, shrugging out of his sweatshirt. He pulled at his shirt, keeping it down to hide his torso. He forgot about his arms.

Derek tried to be decent and not stare, but he hadn’t seen scars like Stiles’ before. Part of him wondered if it was an accident—or if someone did it to him. When Stiles immediately tried to hide them beneath the clumped up sweatshirt in his arms, he ultimately decided against commenting on it.

“Let’s get you back home so you can change,” Derek decided to avoid the subject.

“But we just got here,” Stiles started.

“You want to sit around, soaked?” Derek asked.

“But that’s not fair to Cora,” Stiles sheepishly decided to argue.

“I can give her a ride home,” Lydia simply answered. She shrugged when the others looked at her. “If you want,” she added as she looked at Cora.

“Uh, yeah, sure,” Cora answered, looking back at Stiles.

Stiles could see the hope in her eyes that he would let it go. He accepted Derek’s offer for a ride, still clinging to his sweatshirt in an attempt to hide his scars.

They were both waiting for the valet when Derek offered Stiles his leather jacket. Well, offered is a polite way to put it. Derek mutely shoved his jacket into Stiles’ space with no explanation.

“I don’t want to get it soaked,” Stiles started.

“It’ll be fine,” Derek huffed out. He looked relieved when Stiles finally took the leather jacket from him. “You’ll be more comfortable.”

Stiles knew the unspoken words lingering there.

I know you’re self-conscious .

Hide if you want.

“Thank you,” Stiles muffled into the jacket’s collar, folding his arms over his chest now that he had himself covered. He was surprised that the jacket fit as well as it did.

The jacket managed to fit the broad span of his shoulders. His arms weren’t too long for the sleeves, either. There was enough room in the torso that Stiles was certain it looked too big for him.

The ride back to the Hale’s penthouse was a long and silent one.

Stiles kept his gaze on the window, focused on everything outside of the car. He sighed, closing his eyes as they entered the parking garage. He waited until Derek parked before unbuckled his seatbelt, deflating into his seat. He forced himself to look at Derek when the car turned off, catching sight of the older man looking back at him.

“It was a house fire,” Stiles finally stated, knowing that it was hanging in the air between them. “When my dad was away on one of his cases. There was a fire, and I … I was in the middle of it.”

Derek quietly digested Stiles’ confession. “I’m sorry,” he offered. “And I’m sorry if you felt that you had to tell me.”

Stiles shrugged.

“You okay?” Derek suddenly asked.

Stiles looked down at the leather sleeves covering his arms. “I guess,” he answered.

“You smell off,” Derek replied.

“Does everyone keep tabs on my emotional status?” Stiles sharply asked.

“It’s pretty hard for me to miss,” Derek replied.

Stiles looked at Derek. “Meaning?”

Derek unhelpfully shrugged. “Being stuck in a car with you really makes it clear that you’re bothered by something.”

“And what would that be?”

“I wouldn’t have asked if I knew,” Derek answered. “You smell anxious, but also jealous.”

Stiles couldn’t stop the uptick in his heartbeat.

“Did you really not want to be stuck alone with me?” Derek asked, seeming to ignore Stiles’ heartbeat and instead address the elephant in the car with them.

“You’re a little scary,” Stiles stated, not thinking much of it.

Derek nodded, watching his hands run along the leather casing of the steering wheel. “Downright monster.”

Stiles’ brow furrowed. “I didn’t mean it like that,” he sheepishly countered.

“Doesn’t make it any less true,” Derek uttered.

Stiles thoughtlessly reached a hand out to touch Derek’s arm, surprising himself with the gesture. “I don’t think that,” he softly stated. “And I don’t think any of you deserve the negative press you get because of what she did.” He could feel the muscles in Derek’s forearm tense beneath his hand. “I’m sorting through my own shit at the moment, and that’s the main reason I’m … off.” He paused, reluctantly drawing his hand back from Derek. “Just … thanks—for saving me, today.”

“Yeah, well, my mom would be pissed if I let you die.”

Stiles softly laughed, a genuine warmth filling his chest. It was so unlike the burning his magic left in its wake. He wondered what it was—if he could bottle it up and keep it there next to his heart.

Then, part of him thought, maybe it was Derek. And that scared him just as much as it excited him.

~*~

Stiles was stuck in the library with Derek once again. He was trying to focus on the book in his hands, wondering if he’d ever find some history on magic that would open up his solutions. He knew it was hopeless, but he was still determined to do something about his situation. If he could focus for more than five minutes, without sneaking glances at Derek.

Derek was sitting on one of the plush armchairs, his body slouched as he read through the book in his hands. He pursed his lips when he came across a particularly helpful passage, knowing that he could add it to his dissertation for more support. He slowly reached a hand up to push his glasses up higher on his nose before gently running his finger along the edge of the page as he turned it.

Derek was a vision normally, but now it was just tormenting Stiles.

And Stiles couldn’t stop thinking about what Derek said in the car. How Derek called himself a monster, because if so many people believed it—believed Kate Argent—then it had to be true. It was enough to make Stiles’ insides squirm.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles abruptly uttered, shattering the silence between them.

Derek looked up at Stiles, a quizzical arch in his eyebrow. He had no idea what Stiles was apologizing for. “As refreshing as it is to hear you apologize,” he started, folding the book closed. “I’m not sure what it is for.”

“I referred to you as the Beast when I was talking with some people,” Stiles stated in embarrassment. “It was dickish, and a shitty negative thing to say, but I wasn’t thinking about it like that.”

Derek remained silent as he looked at Stiles. He placed his book down on the table next to his laptop. “Like I’m a werewolf so I’m an animal?”

“Okay, now it sounds so much worse,” Stiles stated as he groaned. “You kicked me out of the library the first time we spoke, it was a little Beauty and the Beast as someone pointed out.”

A large silence hung in the air as Stiles waited for Derek to flip out—as he rightly should.

“He kicks her out of the West Wing,” Derek countered.

Stiles stared at Derek. “That’s what you take away from this?”

“Well, I’m right,” Derek replied.

“I know, but … ” Stiles sighed. “Just, I’m sorry. Even if I didn’t mean it that way, it still ended up being a shitty thing to say.”

A small smile pulled at the corner of Derek’s mouth. “You’re a dork,” he fondly uttered.

Stiles looked at Derek. “You’re not mad?”

Derek relaxed in his chair as he looked at Stiles. “You didn’t mean it, Stiles,” he calmly stated. “Our first meeting wasn’t the best,” he added. “But you didn’t start vocalizing that I’m a monster to any public outlet you could.”

Stiles looked down at his hands. He played with the end of his sleeves, his fingertips grazing the scars on his arms underneath. “I just feel bad, after everything.”

Derek’s brow furrowed. “After?”

Stiles looked at Derek. “You’ve been nice about—” he sighed, holding his arms up to gesture at himself. “And I’ve been an asshole, to say the least, about the whole situation.”

“Well,” Derek started. “At least you’re admitting it.”

Stiles was smiling as he threw a pen at Derek.

~*~

“Do you ever feel different?” Cora suddenly asked.

Stiles leaned against the lip of the pool, his arms crossed as he leaned his head against it. He brushed a hand through his wet hair, looking at Cora.

Cora was laying next to the pool, her hand submerged in the water as she waved it back and forth. She was staring up at the ceiling’s glass roof, her sunglasses resting on her nose to avoid the glare of the sun.

“Different?” Stiles asked, trying to decipher what Cora was getting at.

“You know,” Cora answered, withdrawing her hand from the water as she turned on her side to face Stiles. “Like you’re on the outside looking in.”

“You’re a Hale,” Stiles deadpanned. He smiled when she flicked water at him.

“You know what I mean,” Cora sighed, settling onto her stomach as she looked at him. “Like everyone is staring, trying to figure you out. And then when you think they know—like, really know ...” Her nose scrunched at the thought of what happened with Derek and Kate. “Well, it turns out they don’t know—or worse, they do and don’t accept you anymore.”

“I guess, yeah, I do get that feeling at times,” Stiles honestly admitted. “It’s scary, to be under someone else’s lense—picked apart by outside perspectives.” He couldn’t help the small frown that pulled at his lips. “I can’t imagine what Lydia felt, going through all that—being hurt by someone you love just because you’re different.”

Cora looked at Stiles, her gaze turning towards his arms. “How’d it happen?” She bluntly questioned.

Stiles looked at Cora, knowing she was talking about his burns. “I’m sorry, you haven’t unlocked that level of friendship yet,” he countered, pushing away from the pool’s ledge as he shut down their conversation.

“You didn’t have to answer—”

“And I didn’t,” Stiles replied. “Just like you didn’t have to ask.”

~*~

“Can we keep him?” Laura cooed as she hugged Stiles against her chest.

“He’s not a pet, Laura,” Broderick answered from his spot at the sink.

“How many drinks have you had?” Stiles partially laughed when Laura wobbled some.

“Only a couple,” Laura replied with a slight hiccup, lovingly pinching Stiles’ cheek.

Cora scoffed. “A couple dozen.”

“It’s New Years!” Laura stated.

“It’s April, dumbass,” Cora countered as she plopped down on the couch. She was busy texting someone on her phone—Stiles assumed it was Lydia.

“It’s turning over a new leaf!” Laura countered, sticking her tongue out in Cora’s direction. “My firm won our big case, I’ll have you know,” she stated. “And it’s going to turn over a new leaf for a lot of people in this country.”

Stiles quizzically looked after Laura as he watched her going into the living room. He turned his attention towards Broderick. “What does that mean?”

Broderick had a faint smile on his lips as he looked at Stiles. “She’s been working a large case for a few years now—magic users.”

Stiles felt the lump in his throat expanding. “Oh,” he weakly croaked.

“She’s been working hard, and it’s finally paying off,” Broderick added. “I’m hoping it will point the conversation in the right direction, and get magic put in a positive spotlight.”

Stiles dug his nails into his palms.

“It’s been an uphill battle for us,” Broderick explained. “Anything we can do to help magic users be taken seriously is a win for everyone.”

A wave of heat rushed over Stiles. “You don’t think they’re … addicted?”

Broderick completely stopped rinsing the dishes. He turned to look at Stiles, a somber expression on his face. “I don’t know who told you that, but it’s a lie,” he firmly stated. He didn’t sound angry, but it was obviously a subject he felt fiercely defensive of. “Magic users can’t help what happens to them—it’s the same thing as assuming a werewolf can’t control themselves. Any werewolf who isn’t taught control is going to go feral—that’s a given. Just like any mage not taught to harness their magic is in danger of losing control.”

Stiles silently nodded in agreement, relief falling over him with Broderick’s words.

Broderick’s brow furrowed a bit as he observed Stiles. “Is there something you want to talk about, Stiles?” He calmly asked, turning the water off as he dried his hands on the dish towel.

Stiles unfolded his arms, offering a faint shrug.

Broderick seemed puzzled by Stiles’ avoidance.

“I told you it was great, sweetheart,” Talia’s voice traveling through the opening door as she lightly laughed.

“It wasn’t that great, mom,” Derek answered, a soft shyness in his voice as he followed his mother.

“We’re home,” Talia sang out as she walked into the kitchen. She smiled as she pulled Broderick into a tender kiss, wrapping her arms around his waist. “Missed you,” she smiled into their kiss.

Stiles turned to look at Derek. Oh, the bastard looked good in a suit.

Derek was holding onto his suit coat draped over one arm, his shirt sleeves rolled up his forearms. Even worse, he had gotten a haircut, and trimmed his beard. He was put together, but looked absolutely at ease—it was refreshing to see Derek looking so calm and, frankly, happy. He was in his element again, finally accepting to give his first lecture since the lawsuit with the Argents resurfaced.

Talia pressed another kiss to Broderick’s lips before turning to survey the kitchen. “Oh, I missed the pasta,” she uttered with a small frown.

“Someone had to go watch Derek’s lecture,” Broderick replied. He looked at their son. “Did it go well?”

“For the most part,” Derek replied. “It was a little rocky at the start, I think.”

“No,” Talia countered as she pulled the refrigerator door open, digging out a container of leftovers. She looked at Derek around the door. “It was great. They could all eat their fancy diplomas.”

Derek softly chuckled at that, shaking his head.

“I didn’t know that was today,” Stiles softly stated, looking at Derek.

“It was just for the Board of Trustees tonight,” Derek explained, looking at Stiles. “I have to defend my dissertation next month—which they are hoping to turn into a public lecture soon.”

“That soon, huh?” Stiles asked.

Derek nodded. He pushed his hands into his pockets, fidgeting some. “You … you could come, if you want to. It’s about the portrayal of the supernatural in media.” He looked at Stiles. “I even talk some about magic.”

“That’s a great idea,” Talia stated as she closed the refrigerator door, her arms full of leftovers.

Stiles softly smiled at that. “I’d like that.”

~*~

“What’s wrong?” Derek finally asked, looking up at Stiles.

Stiles was standing by the closest wall of shelves next to Derek. He had a book open in his arms, though his eyes were stuck on Derek. He had been watching Derek on the laptop, his mind racing with uncertainty.

“You’ve been staring at me for twelve minutes, Stiles,” Derek explained, his lips twisting into a small smile.

“No,” Stiles argued, thinking it impossible for him to lose track of time for that long.

Derek leaned back in his chair, away from his laptop. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Something twisted in Stiles’ stomach. “No,” he uttered. “There’s nothing to talk about,” he added, quickly closing the book before turning to replace it on the shelf.

“Stiles,” Derek softly called his name when Stiles started to leave. “Hey, wait a minute,” he added, moving to stand. He gently grabbed Stiles’ arm, his grip soft but sure as he steadied them both. “Slow down for a second, okay?”

Stiles’ heartbeat was beating quickly, on the edge of jackhammering. “I— I shouldn’t be bothering you,” he stated. He looked down at Derek’s hold on him. He knew Derek’s hand was gripping just over one of his scars hidden beneath his shirt.

“You’re not bothering me,” Derek firmly stated.

“You’re busy polishing your paper,” Stiles argued.

“Stiles,” Derek firmly uttered. “I’m just sending some emails,” he explained. “What’s wrong?”

Stiles took a step towards Derek, moving into his space with ease. He reached a hand out to grab at the soft knit of Derek’s sweater, glad when Derek’s other hand moved to grab his shoulder. He wanted Derek to never stop touching him.

“Your heart is going crazy,” Derek commented, his eyes tracking Stiles’ features for a sign of discomfort at their intimacy.

“I feel like I’m going crazy,” Stiles answered. He looked up at Derek. “I’m sorry, I—” He closed his eyes, counting backwards as he tried to keep everything under control. He wasn’t supposed to like someone—liking someone made him dangerous. Unstable. Vulnerable .

He couldn’t like Derek.

Derek reached a hand up to touch Stiles’ cheek. “Are you worried about your dad?” He asked. He was starting to worry that he wasn’t going to help keep Stiles under control. He knew that keeping himself distracted with thoughts of family worked for his wolf—he hoped it worked for Stiles.

“A little,” Stiles leapt at the excuse. “I’m just,” he released a pitiful laugh, shaking his head as he kept his eyes shut tight. “It’s not that,” he confessed. “I’m so stupid.”

Derek’s features twisted some. “Stiles—”

“I like you,” Stiles roughly uttered. “I like you more than I should,” he elaborated.

Derek felt like he was reeling.

“I tried not to,” Stiles continued. “It was a stupid kid crush before, but you’re just too ridiculously perfect not to like. Even when you’re being a stubborn ass.”

“Stiles,” Derek softly stated his name. “Open your eyes.”

Stiles childishly shook his head. He was getting lightheaded again. It meant his eyes were going to be burning amber—like coals.

“Please?” Derek softly pleaded with him.

Stiles hesitated. He released a heavy breath, slowly opening his eyes to look at Derek. He could feel his magic making his eyes look reflective. He knew Derek would know something was wrong—something was different.

Derek didn’t look fazed, leaving Stiles to wonder if his magic was receding. “I like you, too.”

Stiles blankly stared at Derek, blinking a few times to see if it was all real. “You do?” He softly asked, as if he didn’t believe it was possible.

Derek slightly smiled. “Yeah, I do.”

Stiles leaned forward, pausing as they shared a breath between them, asking for permission.

Derek pressed a chaste kiss to Stiles’ lips. It was delicate, which was short lived. It was like a live wire was struck between, their shared kiss suddenly becoming charged as they pulled each other close.

Stiles clung to Derek’s shoulders, his nails scraping and biting down into the material of Derek’s sweater. His brain was in a cloud of ecstasy as he opened his mouth into their kiss.

Derek only pulled back to press kisses along Stiles’ jaw, brushing his beard along the curve diving low along Stiles’ neck. He deeply inhaled Stiles’ scent, his chest softly rumbling out a breath.

“I kissed Derek Hale,” Stiles almost moaned out.

Derek lightly chuckled, gently nipping at the curve of Stiles’ shoulder.

~*~

Stiles was in a whirlwind, just catching the end of the fight that broke out. He was more worried about the argument somehow ruining Derek’s dissertation and putting Derek’s chances of receiving his doctorate at risk. He thought it was stupid—protesters being allowed this close to an academic event.

There were signs arguing that Derek was a sympathizer with magic users because he was a werewolf. There were others yelling things about the Argents being wrongly accused.

Stiles admired Derek for not reacting—he also felt guilty when he realized that Derek must have gotten used to it by now. He moved beside Derek, pulling on his arm to get away from the people crowding them.

Derek was angry when they entered the building.

Stiles was close behind Derek, following after Derek’s quick and hurried steps. He touched Derek’s arm, moving in front of him to inspect his face. He had seen the “protester” throw the rock at Derek when Derek hadn’t reacted to the goading.

There was blood on Derek’s temple, though the wound had likely healed in seconds.

That didn’t make Stiles feel any better about it.

Stiles took a step to the side, grabbing a tissue from the tissue box settled on one of the waiting room tables. He wiped the blood from Derek’s skin, doing his best to keep it from just smudging. He wanted to make sure that Derek didn’t get any blood on his clothes.

Derek let Stiles wipe the blood away, his gaze looking elsewhere.

Stiles was oddly proud of Derek for not saying or doing anything, despite how much he wanted the protesters to justly fuck off. It saddened him, though, when he thought about how Derek was forced to be the pacifist, but still viewed at fault for the chaos others caused.

It was victim blaming, and Derek was unfortunately accustomed to it.

Derek reached a hand up, touching Stiles’ hand with ease. He held onto Stiles’ hand for a long moment, almost pressing his cheek into Stiles’ palm.

Stiles brushed his thumb along the sharp curve of Derek’s cheekbone. And in that moment, he couldn’t believe that he thought werewolves had it easier than mages—for even a second.

“I want those people removed,” Talia sharply snapped at the head of security when he finally arrived. “They attacked my son.”

“Mrs. Hale, we’re doing all we can to—”

“No, you’re not,” Talia angrily stated.

“We can’t arrest people for protesting,” the security officer replied. “That would be taking away their right to free speech—”

“They threw rocks at him, you moron,” Talia stated in anger. “ Rocks . That is assault and battery with a weapon.”

“Mom,” Derek called to her, catching Talia’s attention. “Let’s just go,” he stated, gesturing his head towards the lecture hall.

“Derek—”

“I’m going to be late,” Derek answered. “I’d like to get my degree, then you can press charges,” he tiredly stated.

Talia sighed, giving in to Derek’s request. She turned to the security guard, anger in her eyes. “This isn’t over—and I expect there to be a full report, and investigation into this.”

The security guard curtly nodded, knowing that there was no avoiding it.

~*~

Derek was quiet when they got back to the apartment. He didn’t look happy after getting such approval for his dissertation. He looked tired. He shrugged out of his jacket, making a straight track to his room. He closed the door behind him and refused to come out.

Stiles let him leave, knowing that company wasn’t something Derek wanted right now. He wished he had been able to protect Derek from it—though he knew that to be a foolish wish. There was no protecting people from the cruel prejudice of the world.

Hours passed without a word from Derek.

Stiles was on the couch, pretending that he was reading the book in his hands. He had wished he could actually focus, though he knew it was all useless. He wasn’t retaining a single thing he read—he couldn’t even remember how many pages he had flipped. He perked up on the couch when he heard the sound of Derek’s door opening.

Stiles made the decision to follow after Derek’s retreating steps this time. He found himself ending up in the library with Derek.

Derek was sitting on the corner windowsill’s seat, tucked away from the main space. The tall lamp near the entrance was on—a courtesy for Stiles more than for himself. “Can’t sleep?” He asked.

Stiles walked into the room the rest of the way, allowing the door to shut behind him. He crossed his arms over his chest as he approached Derek. “I could, but I was worried about you.”

Derek nodded his head, as if he accepted that reasoning.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Stiles asked, trying not to push Derek into a corner.

Derek was still staring out the window. “What is there to say? They see us as monsters, and that’s all they’re ever going to see.”

Stiles frowned at that. “They’re idiots then,” he finally uttered.

Derek finally turned his head to look at Stiles. His eyes were burning their reflective, Beta blue. His brow was shifted, built up and as prominent as the tips of his fangs peeking out from beneath his lips.

Stiles loved Derek’s eyes, both shifted and non-shifted. He found them to be beautiful, no matter the suspected implication the blue held. He didn’t move, part of him suspecting that Derek wanted him to flinch at the sight.

“Why are you here?” Derek pressed, moving to stand from the windowsill.

“I’m concerned about you,” Stiles replied.

“Bullshit,” Derek partially cursed, taking a step towards Stiles. “You pity us. I could smell it on you the second that asshole threw the rock.”

Stiles glared at Derek. “Don’t try and tell me what I feel,” he snapped. “I was angry and upset that those guards did nothing to protect you. I was mad that people are allowed to act like that. And I was scared ,” he finished, feeling his chest constrict—almost like he was out of breath. “I was scared about what would happen if you had been alone,” he explained. “What would have happened if those asshole outnumbered you, and there was no one there to see.”

Derek’s features softened some, his shift fading a little, though his eyes remained their steely blue.

“I’m sorting through a lot of shit, Derek,” Stiles explained. “And having feelings for someone else tends to make you terrified when something happens to them.”

Derek reached a hand out, touching Stiles’ hand gently, as if he was waiting for Stiles’ acceptance of the gesture.

Stiles reciprocated, taking hold of Derek’s hand. He took a step into Derek’s personal space, cozying up into Derek’s embrace completely as he wrapped his arms around Derek’s neck.

Derek hid his face in the curve of Stiles’ neck, breathing in his scent. He rubbed his beard against Stiles’ skin, knowing it would blossom a pretty shade of pink.

“Would it be out of line,” Stiles started, his voice husky as he buried his hand in Derek’s hair, an encouragement for Derek to never stop. “If I asked to make out with you?”

Derek huffed out a laugh against Stiles’ skin, pulling back to look at him. “Could do a lot more than that,” he softly stated, as if it was a promise he pressed to Stiles’ lips.

“More sounds good,” Stiles partially moaned.

~*~

Stiles never thought he would see the inside of Derek’s room. He knew that it was off limits to everyone who didn’t want to suffer an impending doom. He realized that it was preferable than staying in the library and being walked in on by an unsuspecting Hale. He really didn’t care about the short break they took to make it to Derek’s bedroom—at least, once they were in Derek’s bedroom kissing again, he mind the wait.

They barely managed to get their clothes mostly off, both tumbling into the bed with a shared soft laughter.

Derek held Stiles’ face in the palms of his hands, deepening their kiss as Stiles straddled Derek’s hips.

As much as Derek had been a constant reoccurring fantasy in Stiles’ sex dreams, Stiles was still afraid of rushing things. He felt foolish for feeling that way, especially when they were both naked, grinding against each other as the room filled with their shared moans. He was also scared that his magic would lose itself if they did anymore. His magic had never set a fire before while masturbating, but he would rather not have his first sexual experience with another to end in flames.

Derek pressed kisses to Stiles’ face when he asked if this was okay—if they just kept doing this. “Anything— Everything you want,” was all Derek could get out before Stiles was wrapping a hand around both their cocks, providing the steady friction they both needed.

Stiles felt his eyes burning, likely reflecting the magic brewing inside his chest. He buried his hand in Derek’s hair, panting heavily as he clung tightly to Derek. He pressed his forehead against Derek’s temple, losing himself in the way they moved together.

Derek’s breath was heavy, panting in a steady rhythm as he moved with Stiles. He knew his features were shifted, his wolf clawing at the surface for more. More of the sharply intelligent man who pushed Derek to the edge. More of the frightened soul that burned brighter than any star. More of Stiles. Derek’s wolf wanted it to claim every little piece of Stiles that he could.

They both chased their orgasms, seeming to be unable to get enough.

Stiles was mumbling a litany of curses and encouragements under his breath, spurring Derek to keep going. He nipped at Derek’s ear, smirking to himself when Derek’s hips stuttered.

Derek used his strength to his advantage, encircling an arm around Stiles’ waist, encouraging Stiles to lean his back into an arch.

Stiles kept one hand grasped tightly on Derek’s neck, his other working both their cocks in what Stiles believed was probably the worst—but most enthusiastic—hand job Derek ever recieved. He moaned as the angle, with Derek’s support, made the flex of his hips’ thrusts easier. He partially yelped when his orgasm crested just as Derek’s fangs grazed over his nipple. He felt boneless when Derek easily turned them, his body limp and starfished on the bed when Derek finally came in a series of quick spurts against the sharp line of Stiles’ hip.

Derek stretched out on the bed beside Stiles, pressing a kiss to Stiles’ lips as they both caught their breath. He turned onto his back, an arm moving to prop his head up as his breathing returned to him. His chest slowed some, his stamina not quite spent.

Stiles softly moaned as he moved to rest his head against Derek’s shoulder, his eyelids heavy with sleep. “You broke me a little,” he sleepily mumbled.

Derek reached his arm down to encircle around Stiles. His fingertips traced shapes into Stiles’ hip. “Should clean up,” he reluctantly uttered.

Stiles protested but curling into Derek’s side more.

“We’re in an apartment full of werewolves,” Derek commented.

Stiles mumbled and groaned as he reluctantly moved to get up. He had never been so happy about a bathroom being attached to a bedroom.

After they cleaned up, Stiles was more than happy to crawl in bed with Derek. He cozied up to one of Derek’s pillow, hugging it as he rested his head on it. He wiggled his feet beneath the duvet, feeling warm and at peace. He softly smiled to himself when he felt Derek slip in behind him.

Derek wrapped his arms around Stiles, his body practically curved around Stiles. He kissed Stiles’ shoulder, nuzzling the back of his neck as he scented him. “Stiles,” he softly spoke.

“Hhmmm?” Stiles sleepily answered.

“This wasn’t a one time thing,” Derek stated, his thoughts racing. “Right?” He reluctantly asked, his voice shy and afraid of rejection.

Stiles turned his head, just seeing the some of Derek’s hair and a sad looking eyebrow. “You’re stuck with me,” he answered, pursing his lips as he made a kissing sound before turning back to fall asleep.

Derek held Stiles a little bit tighter after that, a smug happiness making his wolf preen.

~*~

Stiles’ stomach churned when he read the headlines of newspaper articles online. He scrolled through them, seeing images of himself and Derek in the lobby of the academic building. It wasn’t a clear photo, but their closeness was obvious.

There were questions as to who Stiles was and why he was with the Hales. He knew his anonymity was about to disappear in the coming hours. Though, he couldn’t really care.

Stiles turned his attention from the news to his blog. It was a bigger mistake than just looking at the news. He had messages asking if he heard about the protests. Asking about the Hales. People were guessing that he was the one in the photo with Derek that had been circulating.

Stiles started deleting the vulgar and cruel comments that people had put on his previous posts. He felt his blood boiling as he barely read each one before hitting the delete button. He wanted to pretend that he wasn’t found out. But there was really no avoiding that—even if you only put the lightest of trails, there are still footprints, just like his father always said.

Stiles felt the shakes coming on, prompting him to drop his phone as he rose from the couch. He tried to get his phone when he felt his magic suddenly flare.

He saw the flames flickering around his hands as he tried to control it. “Please, no,” he uttered to himself, closing his eyes as he got up to pace. “Not now, don’t do this,” he mumbled.

Fear gripped Stiles’ heart when he realized that he was about to lose control again. He tried thinking of the Hales, trying to keep their smiles in his thoughts as he worried about hurting them.

“Stiles,” Derek’s voice broke through Stiles’ thoughts.

Stiles turned to look at Derek, gawking at him. He knew he couldn’t hide it, not with the fire surrounding him like it was. “Please don’t come closer,” he abortively stated as he took a step away from Derek—his hands were already covered in flames, though the fire didn’t burn his skin this time.

“You need to calm down,” Derek stated, firmly standing his ground.

“Derek,” Stiles started.

“Take a breath and calm down, Stiles,” Derek stated once more, this time taking a step towards him. “Your magic is reacting to your emotions,” he explained.

“My magic,” he echoed. He shook his head. “You don’t— how could you know.”

“I could sense it, Stiles,” Derek replied. “I didn’t know if you were aware of it, but then I saw your scars and it made sense,” he elaborated as he continued to approach Stiles.

“I’m going to lose control—”

“No, you’re not,” Derek firmly countered. “You’re okay, Stiles. We’re okay.”

“I’m not,” Stiles cried out, a sharp sob cracking from his chest. “I’m so far from okay,” he uttered. “I’m scared— I’m alone.”

“Do you see me going somewhere?” Derek quickly asked, catching Stiles’ attention once more. “I’m not going anywhere, Stiles. I’m right here, and I know you’re going to get control of this,” he added. He was close enough to touch Stiles now.

“I’m not— what if I can’t?” Stiles nearly pleaded, feeling the flames coiling in his stomach.

“You can,” Derek replied, reaching a sure hand out to brush his fingertips through Stiles’ hair in a calming manner. “I learned to control my shift,” he softly explained. “And you can learn to control your magic—I’ll help you.”

Stiles watching Derek’s hands as they ran down his arms, moving closer and closer to the flames. He stared in shock as Derek’s hands moved through the flames to hold his own. The flames disappeared after a moment.

“There,” Derek calmly stated, ignoring the searing pain of the burns healing now that the flames were out.

Stiles wordlessly fell into Derek, closing his eyes as he trembled against Derek’s chest.

Derek released Stiles’ hands, wrapping his arms around Stiles as he held him close.

~*~

“How are you?” Stiles asked as he settled his tablet into his lap.

“I’m fine, kiddo,” John answered. “I’m going to be out of physical therapy soon.”

“That’s good,” Stiles replied.

John’ brow furrowed. “Are you okay, Stiles?”

Stiles looked away from the video chat. “Yeah,” he faintly uttered. “I’m just … ” He shrugged. “I’m just me, dad.”

“Are you having a good time with the Hales?” John asked, wishing he could decipher what was wrong with his son.

“They’re all really great,” Stiles answered. “It’s been eye opening, actually.”

“That sounds good,” John softly smiled.

Stiles nodded. “You made a good choice, dad,” he finally stated.

“I won’t let it go to my head,” John laughed.

“Dad, there’s actually something,” Stiles paused, running a hand through his hair as his thoughts raced with what to say. “There is something I wanted to talk with you about. About me.”

John took a few calm breaths. “Okay,” he softly stated.

“I’d rather talk in person about it—and it’s nothing bad,” Stiles stated. “Well, I at least like to think it’s not bad,” he corrected himself. He thought he knew how his dad would react, but there was always that doubt in his mind.

“Are you safe?” John decidedly asked. “Whatever this thing is, it’s not … dangerous, is it?”

Stiles hesitated. “I’m figuring it out, which makes it not dangerous.” He looked at his father. “I’d really like to discuss it in person though.”

There was a pregnant pause before John’s voice broke the silence.

“Okay, kiddo, you win.”