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Stiles fought to keep the various bags in his hands balanced. Between the meat-lover pizza for Scotty and Erica’s ice cream Derek’s spinach topped pizza bread was in serious danger of falling. For some reason no one greeted him at the front door and he had to struggle to get it open. Two steps into the hall and he heard the voices of the pack in what seemed to be a rather heated discussion. Well so much for Derek’s training sessions on how to not be sneaked up upon. It was almost too easy. He made a beeline for the door leading to the living room, ready to jump inside and scare them good. A foot inside he heard his name and instantly let out a sigh. Freaking werewolf-hearing spoiling all his fun. Raising the bags over his head he stepped inside but stopped immediately. They weren’t talking to him but about him. He still wasn’t sure why none of them registererd his presence but so be it. If they had an off-day somehow he might as well use it. No need to spoil his chance to get to know exactly what they thought of him, or for example why they were talking without him present. It didn’t count that he technically was since they didn’t seem to know that.
„I don’t see your point!“ well that was unmistakably Derek’s growl. „He’s my best friend!“ Scotty-boy, always to the rescue. „So he has to be here all the time? I get he’s pack because you are but having him around all the time…“ wow okay that was „You said yourself it’d be good for me to have him here. You know because of that anchor thing and…“ he was listenting closely now „Yes of course I said that. You I want in the pack. Him on the other hand…“ „So what? You just let him in ‘cause you figured I’d join if he were?“ frankly Stiles had thought this to be the reason for his presence too, that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt being right the one time he didn’t want to be. „Yes.“ A short pause „What? Did you think I keep him around because he’s such good company?“ „He’s good at research and you said yourself…“ „Yes he’s kind of good at research but if it weren’t for you I’d just ask Lydia. Because between the two of them? Stiles is kinda smart, I’ll give you that, but Lydia is the genius!“ he, yes he could see the point in that too.
Just as Scott wanted to answer, undoubtedly to say something in Stiles‘ defence, Jackson quipped in „Come on McCall! Don’t be such an idiot you know just as well if it weren’t for him you’d be just like me. If not for him you might have some real friends, or wouldn’t be such a nerd.“ Yeah that was expected, Jackson didn’t like Stiles on a good day, so it was not surprising that he would yearn for the chance to get rid of him. Derek started talking again and Stiles had half a mind to knock loudly into something just so they would stop but couldn’t really move. Maybe it would have been better though, seeing as the next few words didn’t do anything to lift his mood. „Scott I want you part of the pack. I just don’t see why he has to be here all the time. Doesn’t this kid have any social life?“ „What do you want me to tell him then? That he isn’t wanted? Come on you can’t mean that Derek. He’s not that bad. I get that he can be annoying sometimes but…“ before Stiles could be angry about Scott’s frankly unfair statement, it’s not like he always was a pleasure to be around either, he heard Derek’s answer after an unnecessarily long sigh: „Let me spell it out for you: I don’t want this hyperactive spazz around. You want to know why? Because he’s unable to shut up to save his life, he thinks he’s smart but can’t even formulate one coherent sentence without digressing. He can’t fight, can’t even run in a straight line, he can’t sit still for more than ten seconds. And you know what’s the worst? Apart from being completely useless? He is the most selfish and disloyal person I’ve ever met. I don’t trust him and if it weren’t for you I would have kicked him out a long time ago.“
He sucked in a breath abruptly. Okay that, that was awful. He stood there, the stupid plastic bags in his hands. With a pang of shame he felt tears prickling in his eyes. That… he hadn’t thought that… but it was good to know maybe he could, yeah he’d just leave the bags and go that’d be… but he couldn’t so much as turn around when he heard his name again, this time very softly and from neither Scott nor Derek but Isaac.
Perfect. He didn’t even get the luxury of breaking down in the relative privacy of his car. Smiling he turned around, looking at everything but Scott and Derek „I ah got your dinner. There weren’t many people, maybe ‘cause you know Thursday evening and all that, but they had this great pizza bread so I thought why not and there’s some spinach too and Erica I uh got your ice cream but it’s molten now I think so it’s no good and you’d probably don’t like it anyway, I just ah wanted to… yeah I wanted to drop by before going home, you know buisy week.“ He was rambling. With a swift motion he flung the bags at Erica and Isaac and went for the door just to be stopped by Derek’s voice „Stiles.“
He didn’t want to look at him. A burning sensation grew in his stomach. But he took a deep breath and turned once more. „I didn’t mean to bother you. I just, you said to hurry ‘cause you were all hungry I didn’t…“ „Stiles.“ He said again and it was not fair how steady he sounded. Well after all, it wasn’t his heart breaking, was it? Just as the thought went through his head he felt his heart do a weird stumble. Derek’s gaze wandered to his chest. Brilliant. All of them could hear it beating like a jack rabbit on speed. Whatever. „I ahm Scotty I’m a bit in a hurry, maybe you can drive home with Jackson or someone?“ despite it obviously being a lie Scott nodded, looking shell shocked. „I’ll just, I’m gonna, yeah head out. Bye.“ He stuttered as the tears threatened to spill. „Stiles I…“ this time Stiles looked at him, knowing all of them could see the hurt clear in his eyes „No Derek, it’s fine I uh get it, I do. It’s, I know I’m not…“ he waved his hands in the air, trying to show instead of telling „like you guys. I’m not you know… I ah I’m sorry I bother you so much… I-I don’t do it on purpose I promise.“ He forced a smile on his lips. It didn’t feel right with tears streaming down his face. „It’s okay. I’ll just…“ he gestured to the door. „Have a nice evening. Bye Scotty!“ he nearly flew through the front door, banging it shut behind him. In his car he felt himself shakily turning the engine on, it roared to life and he drove off.


 

Stiles didn’t go to school this Friday. His father might be the Sheriff but his eyes were red, his voice gruff and skin pale enough to fool even him. Scott and Isaac called about ten times each but he didn’t feel the need to answer. Instead he lay in bed and stared at the roof. Saturday went in about the same manner. On Monday he somehow managed to avoid the whole pack, even at lunch he kept to himself, having made a promise not to bother them anymore. He had his pride too and he woulnd’t force his company on people who had told him point blank they didn’t want him around. His resolutions were shattered though by next Wednesday.

He was doing his homework, back to the window so he didn’t see the wolflike figure climbing inside. Just when Derek was directly behind him and saying „Stiles“ in that annoyed tone only he could manage Stiles registered his presence. „What are you?? I told you to stop doing that! Derek seriously I have a front door you are free to use!“ then something else registered. The memories of last week made themselves known quite loudly in his brain. „What do you want?“ he tried to sound casual and failed by a mile. Derek raised one of those eyebrows as if to say „Idiot“ and dropped a folder on his desk, the label read something in a language Stiles wasn’t familiar with. „I need it translated by tomorrow.“

And without another word he flung himself out of the window. Stiles stared after him, not comprehending why on earth that had just happened. He had half a mind to just say no, to let Derek do his god damn research by himself for once. But Scott and Isaac, they were his friends, at least he thought they were. He couldn’t just let them run into danger head first without knowing what exactly it was they were running into. So he sat down, grumbling about freaking werewolves and began typing.

Around four in the morning he had what he’d call a moment of rare clarity. With renewed enthusiasm he called Derek just to have him not answer his phone. Well it was early, he was ready to admit, so he went to bed himself feeling nearly ready to drop dead by cause of exaustion. He had school in a few hours anyway. Derek didn’t call or text throughout the whole day. Stiles was getting angrier by the minute. Couldn’t have been of such importance if the guy couldn’t even grab his phone and answer a damn call, now could it? But hey if the sourwolf wanted to ignore him, far it be it from Stiles to question a day free of research duty. Well unfortunately he didn’t get his free afternoon after all.

When he came home Derek was leaning against his desk, giving him more than a little scare, and you can say what you want, he definetly didn’t scream like a girl, he let out a very manly screech, thank you very much. Derek however didn’t seem to be fazed by any of Stiles‘ behaviour lately. He just cocked his head to the right and watched Stiles scramble for something to grab onto before nearly tumbling down in a mess of his own limbs with an amused quirk of his lips. After some preamble Stiles was able to explain what exactly they were chasing. And all would have been well if Derek hadn’t tried to leave without so much as a thank you.

Since Stiles brain to mouth filter was off at his best of days he couldn’t stop the words blurting out: „Listen Sourwolf I get it. I annoy the freaking hell out of you but even you can’t be that socially inept as to not be familiar with the use of the words thank you now and then!“ slapping both hands in front of his mouth he cursed inwardly. Okay his dad would have to scrape his intestines off the bedroom floor because Derek looked about ready to pounce and follow through with his threats about ripping his throat out „with his teeth“. Just as he prepared for the inevitable shove against the nearest surface, and yes that was a terribly innuendo for the situation at hand, but hey he was seventeen and Derek wasn’t that bad looking. Speaking of looking, Derek did something complicated with his eyerows at the moment. Huh, maybe he missed something? When he didn’t say anything Stiles mind wandered back to the words he had heard a few days ago. Derek must have registered the change in heartbeat because he seemed suddenly interested in Stiles chest in a way that would make him decidedly uncomfortable if it weren’t for the fact that he could feel his heart hammering loudly. „Why are you so nervous? You weren’t before.“ Somehow he even phrased the question as a statement. „ I was just you know thinking a bit… about uh stuff.“ Even though it had been a half truth Derek didn’t buy it if the look he was receiving was any indication. „Don’t lie to me.“ „I didn’t. I just…“ Now there was that infamous eye roll. That must be a new negative record. Annoying Derek Hale in three sentences, maybe he could get a prize or something.

„Okay you wanna know why I’m so nervous. Well for one, a scary Alpha wolf is currently occupying my window still and looking at me like I’m something to eat. And apart from that I have to put up with a bunch of wolves who wake me up in the middle of the god damn night to research some shit or another about the monster of the week to save their sorry asses without so much as a thanks Stiles, you did well Stiles. But that would be okay, all of that you know because hey that’s how I roll. But then I had to hear some stuff that I shouldn’t have heard in the first place and frankly didn’t want to hear anyway and I find out that hey, not only am I a useless bastard without any skills whatsoever no I find out that my so called friends not only lied to me but that they aren’t even my friends. And to top it off I knew all of that from the beginning and I would have even gone so far as to count Scotty in on it but you? You man, you were a kick in the fucking balls because stupid me thought for whatever dumb reason that holding a guy up for two freaking hours in a dark swimming pool while being eye to eye with a slimy lizard ready to bite your head off would install at least some kind of trust. Obviously I was wrong, silly me!“ He snapped, breathing heavily.

Derek was rendered speechless. He had a strange expression on his face. „Stiles I didn’t,“ but he stopped himself and seemed to regroup his thoughts. „I didn’t mean…“ but you didn’t have to be a werewolf with a built in lie detector to sense the lie in his statement in fact you’d have to blind as well as deaf to not get it. Stiles huffed out a breath of annoyance and stared at the Alpha. „Oh please do you really think I’m that stupid? Of course you meant it,“ he croaked, taking a breath he forced himself to continue: „I heard you say it to Scott. I heard you say what you think of me and that, man…“ he had to pause for a second, trying to ignore the sting in his chest: „that fucking hurt. I just I guess I thought we had somehow worked some shit out, like a truce or something. And to hear that that’s not the case was …. I just didn’t expect it to be you, you know?“ there was so much hurt obvious in his voice and he hated himself for being so pathetic. So much for his plan to show Derek he wasn’t the weak little human. Useless.

„I don’t know what to tell you.“ Well, I am sorry would be an option Stiles thought but didn’t say. „I don’t know Derek just help me out here. I don’t see what I did wrong.“ His gaze swept to the floor, unable to look at the man anymore. „I don’t see why you hate me so much…“ he said softly because that’s what this was about. „I don’t… Stiles don’t be ridiculous that’s not…“ Somehow his trying to spare his feelings made it even worse. „Please.“ He needed to know. Just so that he could fix whatever it was that…

„Gerard.“ That. Word. That one fucking word had Stiles falling for a loop. Gerard? He thought hard. He had prayed to never hear that name again. Memories of a dark basement flashed through his mind, unbidden images of a bloodied wall, the echo of a frantic desperate cry for help. Him being unable to do a thing. Useless. „What about him?“ he really had no clue, still busy trying desperatly to not let his mind be overflooded with the voice, the smell. „Why did you tell him?“ a few moments nobody said anything. It took Stiles an embarrassingly long time to comprehend what Derek had just asked, that he indeed had just asked him a question. „What did I tell, I didn’t tell Gerard anything I…“ Derek huffed. All of a sudden he looked not only annoyed but angry, furious even. „Come on. I would have understood if you wanted to save yourself or if he had your dad or something but come on. He didn’t even have to do anything, you just came to him and told him everything he wanted to know.“ His voice was filled with venom, spitting the words in Stiles‘ face. They didn’t register at first but when they did he jerked back as if Derek had slapped him across the face. He felt his stomach dropping. „Didn’t have to do anything?“ Stiles mumbled as if in trance, could it be that Derek didn’t…

„Hold the phone for a minute. You think I told him about you guys, about the pack?“ but there was no doubt that Derek thought just that. He looked as if it took all his willpower, all that carefully built control not to rip Stiles to shreds. „Don’t.“ he nearly growled, eyes flashing alpha red. Stiles curled in on himself, trying to make himself appear smaller, less offensive. „We all know. We could smell him on you.“ But Stiles didn’t listen any longer instead he resorted to babbling: „How can you, I didn’t, stupid, I was so stupid, of course that’s it that’s what happened, should have known…“ the rest of his speech ended in a giggle. „I don’t see what’s so funny.“ One foot out of the window, ready to leave, Derek turned around, staring Stiles down as if he lost his mind. „Nothing’s funny. It’s just, you‘re right. Of course you are. That’s exactly what I did, all of it, it’s absolutely what happened…“ He was so out of it his heart didn’t even jump once. Good. Derek thought him guilty anyhow. „Don’t bother coming to any pack meetings from now on.“ It was the last thing Derek said. Disgust obvious in each of his words while Stiles broke down on the floor still hysterical giggling.

To say last night hadn’t been easy would be the understatement of the fucking century. At least he looked bad enough for everyone to keep their distance, presumably as not to catch whatever virus they suspected he had. Briefly he wondered if heartbreak was infectious. Thankfully his mind seemed not to function today, probably because he had just taken his Aderall to quiet things down a bit. He just couldn’t deal with the voices otherwise, they had gotten particularly loud after Derek had left. Sometime inbetween classes Scott managed to catch him off guard and asked him how he was feeling and if he should come over after school for video games and curly fries. It was surprisingly easy to tell him he didn’t have time today. Which hadn’t been true entirely but he couldn’t very well tell Scott he was about to curl up in his bed for the better part of the afternoon.

At home he found himself unable to sleep, even though he was as tired as one could get after the events of last night. In the silence of his room the voices were louder than before. He couldn’t help it. He always had had a tendency to overanalyse things and today was no exception. How did that get so mixed up. Why on earth did Derek seem to think he had told Gerard anything? It simply didn’t make any sense to him. If Gerard had had any information on the pack whatsoever, any at all he certainly would have used it by now. Unless… unless he was waiting for something to happen first… something or someone? There was something he had missed. He tried not to think about what had happened in the basement but this called for drastic measures and even though Derek seemed to be adamant by pinning it all on him, he couldn’t just stop caring. It still hurt though. That Derek really thought he would do this, was capable tot his to them after everything they’d been through together. That he thought so little Stiles, that he thought him to be that weak. And he hadn’t even the first clue as to what had happened all those hours down there. How much damage the old man had done to him. How he had gotten so mad at Stiles when he had kept quiet that he had pulled out the heavy stuff. That Stiles chest and upper thighs, his belly, were scarred all over. And that nothing had mattered in the end because Derek didn’t even know, hadn‘t even given him the chance to explain. Stiles realised he was shaking. His breathing was laboured. Tears blurred his sight and he curled up on his bed, clutching the sheets tightly in his fists. Breathe, he had to remind himself over and over. Breathe. But it was so difficult. He gasped for air.

Something wet on his face made him sit up abruptly. „Dad, what… I wasn’t, what’s going on?“ The Sheriff held a wash cloth in one and a bottle of water in the other hand and looked pale. „I found you passed out about ten minutes ago and you ask me what is going on?“ he scoffed but Stiles didn’t miss the relieved sigh that followed „Sorry dad I think I’m just exhausted, Harris was being a dick today and…“ he grinned sheepishly „Probably just need some sleep. I’m dead tired.“ His dad didn’t seem to buy it but let it slide. „Take care son. One of these days you’re gonna give me a damn heart attack.“ He ruffled his hair and helped him stand up on slightly shaky legs.


 

That night Stiles lay awake again. But this time he tried not to be consumed by his thoughts of a certain sourwolf. Instead his mind wandered to Gerard. He couldn’t shake off the feeling of having missed a crucial point. Somewhere between Erica and Boyd being captured and Stiles himself someone must have told Gerard what he needed to know about the pack. Since it wasn’t either of them, which Stiles could vouch for personally, it had to be someone else close to them. The attacks on Derek had been too precisely planned, too coordinated for it to be a shot in the dark and even catching Erica and Boyd couldn’t have been easy. Apart from the insane timing and the trap of mountain ash they had known about Derek’s handicaped shoulder and Isaac’s favoritism for a right hook. It simply couldn’t have been coincidence. And yet Stiles couldn’t point the finger at anyone.

He lay awake for two hours until it occured to him that for all Derek’s logic and arguing he had indeed missed a rather huge point. Stiles couldn’t have told Gerard the specifics of Derek’s patrol plan because he had been late for the meeting. He remembered how livid Derek had been when Stiles had come in an hour late. That thought lit a spark. Suddenly the exhaustion and hurt were replaced by pure adrenaline.

At once he was out of bed and at his desk, looking very closely at the translated document. He hadn’t asked Derek where he had got it from but now he wasn’t sure he even needed to. Someone must have planted the clues directly under Derek’s nose so that he would at least increase the patrols. The threat wasn’t dangerous enough for them to be in pairs which resulted in the wolves patrolling alone, meaning they’d be one hell of a target. The only question remaining was if the whole pack was in danger or if it was Derek or someone else that was the main target. Stiles narrowed it down to it being either Derek or Scott because of their respective close relation to the Argents. Maybe Derek was more likely with him being the Alpha and what not. But if that was true Stiles had to warn them.

He grabbed his phone from the nightstand and typed away furiously. Barely a second later his screen read: „Your number has been blocked“. A pang exploded in his chest. Did Derek seriously block his number? Wow. That was awful. And left him with no other choice but to climb out of his window and search for him. It didn’t occur to him in his panic that he could’ve just texted Scott.

Two hours later saw him still driving Rosco through town when he finally caught a shadow that looked somewhat familiar. Without thinking twice he parked the Jeep and jumped out. It had just turned a corner and couldn’t be far away. He followed it another two streets down until it walked right into a dead end. Funny, he thought, shouldn’t Derek know about that? His steps slowed down and he reconsidered. He realised his mistake the moment something hit him on the head.


 

Stiles was woken up rather harshly by someone punching him in the face. His vision didn’t focus at first. Before he could make out his surroundings another punch came flying. This time his lip broke and blood dripped onto his shirt. „Wha’ss happening?“ he mumbled.

His head was turned by a large hand. „Haven’t figured it out yet?“ instantly he stopped breathing, stopped all movement. That couldn’t happen. Not again. This wasn’t real. Gerard. „You walked right into it.“ He laughed in an ungly manner. The sound of his voice was enough to make every hair on Stiles‘ body stand up. This didn’t look good for him. And even though he knew that, he tried to keep his calm. „Well what can I say? It’s a gift.“ He anticipated the next punch.

„Well what do we have here?“ a female voice came into focus. Stiles knew instantly who it belonged to and he desperatly wished to be wrong. „Such a pretty face.“ Her hand touched his bruised cheek. He felt the urge to throw up violently but fought it down. „So what now? It can’t have been me you were after.“

They looked at him with similar smiles that made him sick. „But of course silly. We need you here you know. So your mutt pack comes to the rescue.“ For a second his heart attempted to jump out of his chest at the thought of his friends falling right into their trap but then he relaxed slightly. „Well you see that’s going to be a problem.“ he caught the short moment of hesitation on the huntress‘ face but she consealed it quickly. „Oh I don’t think so honey. Your big bad Alpha will be out of his mind when he figures out his precious toy boy went missing.“ He couldn’t help himself. Full on laughter emitted his belly and if it weren’t for the straps holding him up in the chair he would have toppeled over by the sheer ridiculousness of her statement.

„He’s off his rocker that boy!“ Gerard snarled to his left while kicking his shins until he stopped laughing. „No no you two just have the worst timing ever.“ Now they really looked confused „They won’t come here.“ When they started grinning he saw for the very first time how closely related those two were. „You see, I’ll be nice to you. You wanna know where you went wrong? Let me tell ya‘: I’m not part of the pack anymore. Thanks to you old man they kicked me out. So I don’t have any value for you two. They won’t come.“

The longer he talked the more unsure of himself he felt. One thing his dad had always told him was to never show your hand. And that’s what he had done just now, shown his hand. If they believed him and it seemed that they would, then nothing would stop them from killing him. And what’s worse was that he knew for a fact that the pack wouldn’t come this time. They didn’t even know he was missing. That’s when he felt real panic creeping up. „Shouldn’t have told us that.“ Gerard said and suddenly everything went black again.

He didn’t even feel the knife cutting into his stomach. Stiles didn’t know for how long he’d been out but when he came to his senses he felt pain shoot through his entire body. Everything hurt. „Ah you’re awake again. Dad said to get him but I think I’d rather have some playtime for myself too huh what do you think?“ He couldn’t decide who would be worse. She leant in closely, a wild gleam in her eyes. Without looking down she trailed her nails over the fresh cuts covering his chest. With a sudden move she bore her fingers right into one of the larger scratches.

Stiles yelled so loudly his voice broke. He gasped for air, his entire body on fire. „Shshsh sweety we don’t want him to spoil the fun now.“ Excitement echoed in her voice. She grabbed the knife from a nearby table and added another cut onto his right arm. That didn’t hurt as much as her nails had. Still, Stiles thrashed in his bonds. Tears were streaming down his face adding a sting when they reached the broken skin of his cheeks. „We’ll be having so much fun you and I.“ he heard a ringin tone in his ears and then she rammed the knife into his stomach.


 

This time when he woke up he felt dizzy. There was no pain, no voices, only a beeping noise somewhere to his left which was rather annoying. Stiles tried to sit up but found he couldn’t move. His heartbeat rose and the beeping got faster simultaneously. „Calm down.“ The low grumble in the darkness made Stiles nearly jump out of his own skin. With shaking hands he fumbled around until he hit a lamp on a nightstand and knew immediately that he was in a hospital room. And that Derek Hale was currently sitting on a rather small stool which made him look like an oversized teddy. A grumpy one.

„What happened?“ his voice sounded hoarse even to his own ears. „What do you remember?“ well now that he thought about it he realised he really didn’t want to think about it but he had to say something so he went with: „I was stupid is what I remember.“ Derek made a sound that could have been mistaken for a laugh if Stiles didn’t know any better. „I ran into an alley following what I suppose was Kate or some kind of henchman and got caught like an absoulte idiot.“ He was so angry at himself, he had wanted to help and in the end it was like any other time because the pack had had to help him, otherwise he wouldn’t be here. „I was in that basement at Argents‘ but I don’t remember how I got out which I suppose I have you to thank for.“ He raised an eyebrow in an almost perfect imitation of Derek who just nodded.

„Well feel free to fill me in any time sourwolf.“ Stiles was getting slightly irritated by Derek’s silence. „Stiles I…“ he stopped and scratched his head as if he was nervous „I, we got to the basement and I ah went inside first and you were already…“ he gesticulated at Stiles’ chest „You were unconscious. I, we had to get you out of there.“ He leaned back and crossed his arms in front of him. „Yeah I figured but how did you know where I was?“ Stiles didn’t understand. Derek was the only one he had called but thanks to him blocking Stile’s number he hadn’t actually told anyone where he was going so he shouldn’t be here at all, he shouldn’t even be alive anymore. While his heart started racing again Derek remained utterly silent, he didn’t even look at Stiles. „Derek?“ something was wrong, there was something he wasn’t telling him.

„We saw the video!“ he nearly yelled and Stiles sat up so quickly that the pain shot through his body all at once. Derek made an aborted movement in his direction. „What video? I didn’t send a video,“ he was offically lost. Out of all the possibilties this sentence seemed so random that he didn’t know what to do with it. „The video.“ Somehow Derek managed to look annoyed and concerned at the same time which was actually impressive. „What freaking video. I don’t know anything about a video.“ Derek’s eyes were as wide as saucers now „The video Gerard made of you when he had you.“

That didn’t make any sense. If the old creep had made a video how could they had been there in time to save him? It’s not like Gerard would have sent it to them, he wasn’t that stupid. „When he had you the first time.“ Derek clarified so quietly Stiles wasn’t even sure he was supposed to have heard it. Then he thought about what Derek had just admitted to. No. NO! That wasn’t, he didn’t…

„Stiles calm down. Stiles please!“ suddenly there was a hand on his arm drawing pain, black veins appearing and disappearing. „You watched it? All of you?“ Derek nodded again while Stiles fought vehemently against the prickling in his eyes. He would not cry, damn it. „Where did you get it from? Who showed you… how did… I don’t…“ he was aware that he was shivering but he couldn’t stop.

Derek had his eyes on the floor when he answered: „Allison.“ There were about a thousand questions all at once which exploded in Stiles‘ head. „She brought it over when she realised what they were doing to you, that she was responsible for it. She found the tape somewhere in the house and brought it over…“ „Why?“ „Because you are human. And you don’t deserve to be dragged into this. She finally saw what her family was about and I guess she didn’t like it. She also told us that she had told them about the pack because she thought for some reason that would help Scott but when she found the tape and saw what they were doing she came right over.“

Now Stiles was the one to nod all the while processing that Allison, sweet and kind Allison, had let all of this happen without a second thought and only when he was this close to dying had she stepped in. Then he saw Derek staring and returned his attention back to the wolf. „Just uh one last thing I wanted to say… you can sleep afterwards I promise…“ he took a very deep breath, squared his shoulders and said quickly „I am sorry.“ Stiles was sure he had just blacked out. „What? You didn’t do anything.“ Did something else happen he didn’t know anything about?

As if reading his mind Derek hurried to chime in: „No Stiles I, about what I said… you know what you heard me say about uh you and the the pack…“ he trailed off, his face red. Oh. „I was wrong about you and I shouldn’t have assumed…“ he looked ready to bolt at any second. „It’s fine Derek I already told you.“ Stiles was so exhausted, that discussion seemed to have taken place years ago. „No it’s not. And I want you to know that I’m sorry. That we all are. It wasn’t your fault and uh if you wanted you could ahm you could come to the pack meetings.“ He was almost out of the door when he said that. Stiles considered him for a moment but shook his head „No I uh thank you I appreciate the offer I do, but I don’t think I should be there.“ Derek nodded sharply and left. Stiles couldn’t help but feel like he just had done something wrong again. But as he was thinking it his head hit his pillow and he fell asleep.


 

Two weeks later he was officially cured and ready to leave the hospital. Scott and Isaac had visited almost every day, even though Scott seemed shaken he told Stiles over and over again how sorry he was and that Allison regretted ever turning her back on them. Erica, Boyd and Lydia had come over too. Even Jackson said hello once. All in all Stiles was okay with how things seemed at the moment. He missed the pack occasionally but couldn’t really find it in him to join the meetings. In his mind he still doubted they would appreciate his company and he didn’t want to give Derek any reason to rethink this newfound acceptance.

It was all quite calm until one evening a thunderstorm forced Derek to seek shelter at the Stilinski-household again, explaining while walking into Stiles‘ room that something had chased him through the woods and this was the first place in his mind. Stiles meanwhile stood there clutching a t-shirt in his hands and tried desperatly to conceal his upper body from Derek without the wolf noticing. „Is something wrong? I came through the front door like you said.“ He sounded actually confused, which no was not adorable, shut up brain! „No, no Derek that’s okay you just surprised me.“ He huffed and sat down on Stiles‘ bed which let to Stiles thinking entirely different thoughts about his absent shirt.

But before he could even consider where that had come from Derek stood up with so much force that the bed springs creaked. With two steps he had crossed the room and, since Stiles had stepped back, had him against the wall. „What’s this?“ he asked and if Stiles didn’t know any better he sounded gentle. „What do you mean?“ he whispered. „This.“ Derek said and let his giant hand hover over the scars on Stiles‘ chest. Stiles flinched away from his hand and pressed himself further into the wall. Feeling self conscious he hastily pulled the shirt over his head and stepped out of Derek’s reach. „Stiles…“

Nope he would not go there. „Stiles!“ Derek grabbed his arm and held him in place. „I… do they still hurt?“ why did he care all of the sudden? It’s not like he hadn’t seen them before. „Leave it Derek. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t need your pity.“ Because that’s what this was about. He realised he was one step away from yelling which he would have been sorry for in other circumstances. He just didn’t want Derek to feel sorry for him. „Stiles let me…“ no there was no way. He had to put his foot down. „No. It’s none of your business. Just tell me what you need me to do.“ he was so proud of how angry and firm he sounded. Derek seemed somehow impressed and switched topics without another word.

They had talked until midnight. Derek still needed a lot of research done and had asked Stiles if he was okay with Derek doing it at his house. The Alpha pack was still the main focus of their attention and Derek’s knowledge combined with Stiles‘ brain helped things move along quickly. After having accomplished some ground structure and having made a plan on how to continue their work something happened Stiles would never have thought possible. Derek fell asleep on Stiles‘ desk at four in the morning. Stiles decided to just let him sleep, the guy could use some rest from time to time. When Stiles woke up the next day Derek was gone but he hadn’t expected him to stick around anyway.

The following week Derek came over twice. Meanwhile Stiles had to learn for his midterm exams and had to focus more on school than research. Derek took it as his cue to just come and go whenever he wanted since Stiles seemed to be awake anytime of the day and the research was as important as it was extensive. Somewhere in between the lines they made up some kind of routine consisting of Derek making breakfast and Stiles cooking dinner.

It started when Stiles came home at ten in the evening and found Derek in his kitchen, a blue apron around his hips and just about to put some spaghetti on two seperate plates. To say Stiles was surprised would be putting it lightly. Stiles was shocked. And possibly giggling. Come on: Derek in an apron, who would have thought. Derek turned red and mumbled something about being hungry and how he did not have all day to wait for annoying teenagers. Then he grabbed the plates and shoved one of them at Stiles.

The following dinner wasn‘t as akward as one might expect. After cleaning and putting away the plates Derek sat on the sofa and waved for Stiles to join him. „I uh have to do homework so uhm research will have to wait tonight…“ he admitted sheepishly but to his surprise Derek just nodded and gestured for him to sit there regardless. „I have my book with me. Just tell me when you’re finished.“ And with that he opened said book and began to read.

An hour and five minutes later Stiles declared his homework done and moved up the stairs and into his bedroom, not at all concered that Derek’s presence there felt soothing instead of the threat it used to be. He worked for another two hours and switched between the desk and the bed while Derek remained standing for most of the time, sometimes breathing down Stile’s neck claiming he needed a closer look. Stiles suspected Derek wasn’t even aware he was doing it.

After that Stiles had wanted to repay the favor and had cooked dinner the next time Derek was over. Which resulted in Derek buying Stiles bagels for breakfast and waking him up with a cup of hot chocolate. Well, things moved from there… It was one of their late night research sessions, if you want to call it that, and they had hit a dead end. It was around two in the morning and they had been at it for quite some time. Both of them felt the exhaustion but neither was ready to call it a night. While Derek walked up and down Stiles collapsed face first on the bed. He rambled on about some thing or another but his voice got quieter and his words more slurred.

About ten minutes later Derek realised Stiles had fallen asleep, so he sat at his desk instead and tried to figure out how a pack of Alphas was supposed to work. Stiles thrashed around in his sleep, mumbling once or twice. Derek tried to ignore it but when Stiles cried out his name he snapped around to see Stiles curled into a ball and crying silently.

„Stiles. Wake up.“ He grabbed the boy’s shoulders and shook him. The effect was near immediate. Stiles flinched back and stopped breathing entirely. „Stiles! It’s me. Stiles!“ Derek yelled. Stiles sat up, his eyes searched through the room frantically until he focused on Derek and relaxed a bit. „You had a nightmare.“ He explained softly. Stiles nodded and clutched his shirt tightly against his chest. Derek could hear his heart hammering loudly.

„Sorry.“ The boy breathed, looking shook and still not entirely awake. „It’s fine. We all get them.“ That caught his interest „You too?“ he sounded so scared and yet hopeful that maybe he wasn’t alone in this. „Yes.“ Somehow he felt like sharing this information about himself. „Go back to sleep.“ Stiles fell backwards and began snoring nearly immediately. Shaking his head he scoffed an affectionate laugh at the human and turned back to the desk. There was a rush of warmth in his belly when he looked over his shoulder and saw Stiles drooling onto his favorite pillow while clutching it tightly and mumbling something about food.

The fond moment didn’t last long when unbidden images of Stiles‘ slumped body came to his mind. He thought back to the day they had started „hanging out“ as Stiles would phrase it. He remembered quite clearly how shocked he had been to see Stiles‘ torso covered in scars and slashes. Even though they had all seen the video he hadn’t realised how badly Stiles had been affected. Sometimes he had to remind himself that Stiles was just human, that any damage would be permanently etched onto the boy’s skin.

Remembering the picture Stiles had made bound to the chair, covered in blood and barely breathing made him sick to his stomach. And what made things worse was how he had treated him. How Stiles hadn’t even considered telling him what had happened, fearing, and being right that he wouldn’t believe him. That he had come to sparr with the pack two days. Two. Days. After Gerard had let him go. How Derek had been extra hard on him that day because he had thought Stiles hadn’t payed attention. How the others had laughed at how quickly the human had gone down. How he hadn’t said a word about his state to anyone.

And then he thought back to the day it had all went to hell. To the discussion with Scott and how he had said that Stiles was useless, that he couldn’t be trusted. To all the accusations he had thrown at Stiles about how Gerard hadn’t even had to do anything. God how wrong he had been. And now Stiles, who clearly would be a valuable asset, would never want to be in the pack again. Now Stiles flinched away from him more times than he had even in the beginning when Derek had always threatened to rip his throat out. He hated that flinch and what he hated even more was that he couldn’t explain why he had been so quick to pin it on Stiles. He didn’t like that Stiles was afraid of him and that it was entirely his fault. He was supposed to protect him and it wasn’t that he had failed once but twice. Guilt swept in, so much that he couldn’t see straight. He dealt with it the way he always had. He jumped out of the window, shifted and ran, the air of the night cooling his temper.


 

Stiles woke up the next day and felt as if he hadn’t slept an entire week. The nightmare was still prominent in his mind. It had felt so real that for one minute he was sure that he was still in the basement, that Kate was still ramming that knife into his stomach. Derek was nowhere in sight. That was all in all not unusual but somewhere in his mind he seemed to remember Derek waking him up and telling him he had nightmares too. Well maybe he had places to be. He waddled down into the kitchen and was disappointed to find nothing but clean plates and no breakfast. It was fine that Derek had to run errands or whatever but he had always left something for Stiles to eat in the morning. He shrugged and poured some cereal into a bowl.

That night Derek didn’t come back to the Stilinski-house and Stiles began to worry in earnest. What if he was in danger? He called, since Derek had unblocked his number sometime in the course of the last weeks, but Derek didn’t answer. After confirming that nobody in the pack knew where their Alpha was and with none of them feeling anything worrysome through the pack bond Stiles sat on his bed and stared at his wall unable to do anything.

„Hey Stiles I…“ said a voice behind him but it didn’t even get the sentence out when Stiles shot up and pushed Derek against the window with so much force, that if it weren’t for his werewolf-reflexes he would have fallen right out again. „Where were you?“ he yelled, his eyes narrowed and an accusing finger stabbing into the wolf’s chest. Stiles was furious. „I needed to run for a bit.“ „Yeah well you could have damn well said something to anyone. You can’t just disappear on us when a freaking Alpha pack is out to get you damn it Derek.“ Stiles collapsed onto a nearby chair and burried his face in his hands. „Sorry I…“ Derek was at a loss for words and stared sheepishly at the opposite wall. „Well next time let someone know please.“ He felt himself blush and stood to walk to the bathroom „I’m going to shower then we can continue with the research“. Derek just nodded and looked at him like he was a puzzle he couldn’t figure out. When Stiles hit the shower Derek allowed himself to relax a bit. He hadn’t really thought to call anyone since he didn’t think they’d worry. That Stiles had been concerned about him made him feel funny, like he had somehow done something right.


 

The weeks to come went by rather fast. Derek and Stiles kept up the resarch and started talking more. Still from time to time Derek would stay over at night, simply because he was too tired to drive or run. It seemed to work brilliantly until one evening when Derek asked Stiles if the pack meeting could be held at the Stilinski-house. Stiles froze solid and looked like a deer caught in headlights which caused Derek to have a minor freak out. „W-we don’t have to. I, it was a stupid idea anyway…“ his face had turned an impressing shade of red while he spoke and he kept staring at the floor.

Meanwhile Stiles didn’t know what to do. He would love to have the meeting here and participate. After all it was him who had done the research on the Alpha pack’s location and what not. But just as he was about to say yes his heart did a weird stumble and he took a moment tot hink it over. Even though his relationship with Derek had definitely changed to the better, the pack wouldn’t necessarily feel the same. Stiles opened his mouth to decline the offer but was stopped by the way Derek’s shoulders had crawled up so high that his neck wasn’t visible anymore. „Yes. No, I okay we can have the meeting here.“

Derek’s head snapped up and he looked at Stiles with something he couldn’t quite place. Then Derek’s face did something so closely resembling a smile that Stiles heart jumped for a whole different reason. „Well good I’ll tell the pack then…“ Stiles nodded and Derek turned around to head into the hallway. „I’ll uh just call them…“ he nearly ran into the door standing slightly ajar. With a huff and another rush of colour to his cheeks he stepped outside to make the call. Stiles sat on his bed and contemplated the last minutes feeling somehow out of his comfort zone but pleased nontheless. Well at least Derek seemed happy. And, wait a second, when had that become a priority?


 

To say the meeting was weird was putting it mildly. Firs of all Stiles hadn’t considered how much a pack consisting of mostly teenagers and a twenty something Alpha would eat. Well let’s just say he was applying the term „eat“ very loosely, shoveling would be better. Second of, things got akward when Derek and Stiles had both made a move to sit on the sofa, seeing as they were so used to watching a movie or Derek reading after dinner that they had just acted without thinking and had found the pack staring rather shocked at them when they realised how closely they chose to sat. „Well uh I…“ Stiles mumbled and created some space between them.

Derek on his part kept to his own side and resorted to scowling at everyone. After discussing the facts they had gathered the pack decided to watch a movie. Stiles had to admit that he had no idea what it had been about since he ended up being pressed against Derek when Isaac had let himself flop down on the sofa too. His right side burned the whole way through whatever it was they were watching and he didn’t dare to move an inch.

Somewhere in between staring at the screen and not registering a thing and Derek’s ridiculous body heat, seriously he had to ask him if this was a wolf thing or simply a Derek thing, but never mind. In between those things he somehow managed to fall asleep and was woken up by a slightly grumpy looking wolf. Stiles stood up so fast he would have knocked Derek, who had been looming over him, right in the face but once again Derek’s reflexes were faster than Stile’s flying limbs and he was manouvered back onto the sofa.

„Where’s everybody?“ Stiles slurred. „Home. Just thought you should go to sleep in a bed.“ Derek sounded vaguely amused and helped Stiles to his feet once again, grabbed him by the arm and carried him up the stairs. „How late’s it?“ he was so tired. „About two I think…“ with a soft shove Derek deposited him on the bed and turned to go. „No! No don‘ leave. Issss late. Come. Ssstay.“ And he patted the empty space to his left.

Derek chuckled, rolled his eyes fondly and said: „Stiles I have to go home sometimes too. You know shower, shave…“ he grinned. Meanwhile Stiles did not pout. He did not. Screw you Scott! „Okaaay move over you big baby…“ Stiles was barely awake enough to see Derek put his leather jacket over the chair and flopping down face first on Stiles‘ left. It was comfy, Derek being the space heater that he is, and providing so much heat that Stiles didn’t even need a blanket.

But maybe that would be owed to the vice like grip Derek had on Stiles‘ arm to which he woke up to two hours later because he couldn’t move. Derek mumbled something unintelligable and held on tighter, pressing Stiles against his whole body. And Stiles was one hundred percent awake in the span of a milisecond. Who would have thought that Derek would feel that good? To top it off the wolf nuzzled Stile’s neck and breathed in deeply. Wow okaay that was new. They had slept in the same bed before, screw him but never ever had Derek crossed the personal space line. Not until now at least.

As thrilling as that new developement was it freaked Stiles the hell out. He hadn’t been prepared for this to happen like at all. And now he had a huge, apparently cuddly wolf plastered to his back, pressing against him in the best of ways. And it felt good. Damn him it felt really good. He tried desperatly to keep his breathing regular and his heartbeat steady, knowing Derek well enough that he was first of a light sleeper and second of so tuned in, for whatever reason, with Stiles‘ heart that the moment something changed about it he would wake up. Which was about the last thing on Stiles‘ list if he had anything to say about it. Being still and controlling your breath intake worked as a wonderful sleep draught and before Stiles could do anything at all he fell asleep again.

When he woke up the next time it was morning and Derek was gone, without making breakfast once again. Sometimes Stiles wanted to kick this idiot in the balls. He could almost see Derek discovering their sleeping position and panicking instantly, even though there was no need for a panic of any kind. At least that’s what Stiles tried to tell himself. It was just a normal reaction to a warm body besides you when you’re not used to it. It didn’t mean anything. You know he once read an article about sharing body heat in a wolf pack and it being the perfectly fine thing to do to cuddle a packmate, even if said packmate was a teenager and had somehow developed a minor crush on his Alpha. That’s, yeah that was the perfectly fine thing to do. Well that’s what he wanted to convince himself of anyways until an unbidden image of Derek snuggling closer to Isaac crossed his brain and he found he wouldn’t take too kindly to that. Derek didn’t show this evening and not the evening after that. Stiles was disappointed to say the least. It’s not like he was codependent on the Alpha but he had revelled in the company. And yeah that crush thing too. Kinda. He contemplated calling but didn’t want to bother Derek, remembering all too well what had happened the last time he had been overbearing.

When Derek didn’t show up for six whole days though, Stiles did the unthinkable and consulted Isaac. He feared for a moment that Isaac would spill the beans to Scott, seeing as the curly wolf was currently situated with his best friend but it just so happened that Scotty boy was out with Allison, the two having made up after that Argent debacle, and Isaac therefore alone and bored.

The second he walked into Stiles' bedroom he sniffed once and walked right back out again. „Isaac? Isaac hey where‘ you going buddy?“ that wasn’t normal behaviour now was it? Stiles was sure the sheets didn’t smell too badly, Derek had never complained about them. „Can we move this to the living room please? I feel like overstepping some serious boundaries man.“ He did seem rather uncomfortable but… wait a minute: „Isaac you’ve been in my room more times than I can count, you even slept over that time when Scott painted your room that horrible shade of green and had to redo it overnight so what’s wrong now?“ Isaac froze solid on the stairs and turned to Stiles with an expression that said he would rather cut out his own tongue than explain what was the matter. „Come on man. Throw me a bone here.“

Nodding in resignation Isaac waved for Stiles to join him in the living room. „Out with it.“ Stiles said and shoved Isaac with his elbow. „It’s just your room smells all...“ he made a weird hand gesture, then he blanched, face going pale and asked in a high voice „What have you two been doing? I thought it was supposed to be research?“ It took a minute or two for Stiles to piece it all together and when he did his whole face flushed red. „No Isaac no, we weren’t… NO! Absoultely not, how do you even…?“

Isaac wasn’t much better off than Stiles and hid his burning face in his hands „Listen your room smells as if Derek rolled around on your bed and then rubbed himself over every piece of furniture there. And please, please don’t make me say that sentence ever again.“ The wolf seemed ready to puke while Stiles fought against images of Derek doing rubbing of any kind. „So uh why’d you want to talk to me?“ ah yes there had been a reason. „Derek uh I haven’t, I don’t know where… You haven’t heard of him have you?“ Isaac raised a suspiscious eyebrow but shook his head.

„Why did he miss date night?“ the second the words left his mouth he wanted to shoot himself „Not that you’d… Oh my god feel free to shut me up at any time. And don’t, just don’t tell Derek I said anything he’ll have my head.“ „No that’s not… He was supposed to be here yesterday…“ and the day before that and so on but he didn’t feel like admitting to that „And he didn’t cancel he just didn’t show so I was wondering you know if something happened or anything?“ he wasn’t sure which answer he would like more: that yes there was a justified reason which always suggested danger in some way or that Derek had just decided to ditch him. „I did see him yesterday actually…“ Isaac said and this time his voice had something gentle about it. „He uh he got some pizza and then went in the direction of the apartement.“ He added and looked at Stiles as if he was a ticking time bomb. „Why didn’t you uh call him?“ „I didn’t want to you know bother him…“ he said quietly keeping his gaze trained onto the table in front of them. „Maybe he just forgot to cancel…?“

„Six times in a row?!?“ Stiles spit out before he could stop himself. Isaac didn’t answer right away. Then he put his hand on Stiles’ shoulder. „I’m sorry Stiles.“ That, that right there was the reason he’d called Isaac and not Scott. Sometimes you needed someone not to be an overexcited puppy and just listen to him bitch. „I can uh ask him if you want? There’s a pack meeting tomorrow anyway. So if you wanted…“ but he didn’t get to finish. Stiles felt his heart drop in his belly. He sucked in a sharp breath. „Stiles? Stiles what’s…“ „He didn’t invite me. To the meeting. I didn’t even know there was one planned…“ and for the second time Derek Hale had ripped Stiles‘ heart into pieces. Isaac reacted at once when he saw the tears streaming down Stiles‘ cheeks. He flung his arms over the shivering boy and pulled him close.


 

Stiles didn’t go to the meeting. He figured he wasn’t wanted there after all. Derek had made that quite clear by not inviting him. Isaac, true to his character, kept Stiles updated over the course of the evening. Apparently it wasn’t the Alpha pack that had made it’s move but rather a rogue witch. Stiles didn’t like just having to hear the information second hand but figured he’d not be targeted anyway since he obviously had been kicked out of the pack once again. They were patrolling again, this time in pairs and Derek had made it clear that any strange activities were to be brought to his attention.

One week without a call or text or any sound form Derek. A week where Stiles refused to talk to anyone who wasn’t Scott or Isaac. One week was all it took for Stiles to fall back into bad habits like staying up too late, eating too litte, not sleeping more than a handful of hours at a time. He did however gather every bit of information he could get on witches and dived right into research.

It had been exactly sixteen days since the last time he had seen Derek. Scott had been sitting on his kitchen table and talking his ear off about Allison this and Allison that when the call came in. Derek. He spoke fast and ordered Scott to come at once. Scott, being the clueless puppy he is told Stiles right away why and where he needed to go and had ordered Stiles in his best Mama McCall impression to stay in his house with the doors locked. Stiles however just nodded along, heartbeat so elevated that the lie didn’t stand out and followed Scott out into the woods.

It didn’t take long for them to reach the destination. Just when Scott stepped out into the clearing where the rest of the pack was assembled the witch attacked. She was cursing left and right, keeping them busy so that no one even saw Stiles coming closer. He just hoped it would work. In the book he had read yesterday there were instructions on any kind of witch. Stiles had never questioned why he was able to break and reset a mountain ash barrier but Deaton had reffered to it as it being a spark in him. Well whatever it was, he certainly planned on using it. While he went over the exact wording in his head three things happened simultaneously.

Erica had somehow dogded the witch’s spells and had bit her, the witch had gotten a hold of Erica’s arm and had twisted it while at the same time creating a redish glowing ring around both of them. Boyd howled so loudly the trees seemed to shake. Jackson, always being short tempered ran forward. The second he touched the barrier he flew backwards against a rock with a sickening crack. He stayed down.

„Stay back!“ Derek yelled, voice all the Alpha he truly was, teeth bared and claws out. He stepped closer carefully. „Let her go!“ he demanded, the order ringing in Stiles‘ ears. The witch didn’t seem impressed, in fact she just yelled at him to step back otherwise she would slit Erica’s throat with the wicked looking knife she had just pulled out of literal thin air. Erica put on a brave face and struggled against the witch’s hold. To no effect.

Stiles breathed in once. Then he stepped into the clearing, head high. Immediately the one‘s in the pack who were still turned to him, Scott screaming his name, Derek yelling at him to get back at once, threatening to rip his throat out for real this time. But Stiles didn’t listen. He marched right into the middle of the field, faster so that they had no chance to grab him before he entered the circle. The red flared up for a moment.

The witch cackled: „Stupid boy you just signed your own death sentence.“ Stiles listened carefully, still trying to figure out what the line was made of. „Oh don’t look so surprised. And don’t even think of trying to save wolf girl. If one of us steps out of the circle we’re all screwed.“ She seemed to be proud of her finesse. But Stiles was smart and he had thought this through. The circle could be undone by a spell otherwise the witch would have no choice to leave it herself, when her intention had been to get away all along. This had been her exit strategy. Erica guaranteed her to leave unharmed by the pack but that only worked as long as she and Erica were alone in the cirle.

Having Stiles in here too was a variable which hadn’t been calculated and was now probably endangering not only her escape but her life since it was widely known that every barrier can be broken when the castor is dead. The witch still seemed determined to use Erica to assure her safety so he said: „I’m not here to break the circle. I’m here to make a deal.“ Oh she tried to not sound interested but having the Sheriff as your father did wonders to your abilty to detect lies and if he wasn’t completely mistaken she would love to get some control back. „You let her go and keep me in here.“ Erica’s eyes were wide „No Stiles! NO!“ he couldn’t make out who the voice belonged to.

„A simple switch. You’ll have your exit and the pack gets Erica back.“ The witch smirked at him: „You’ve got some nerve. Why woulnd’t I just push you outside?“ he scoffed „Because your warding can keep her out but not so I’d just walk back in and we’d be at the stalemate again.“ The grin fell from her face. „Deal.“ She spit out and shoved at Erica, who stumbled out of the circle. The witch had spoken quietly but not quietly enough for Stiles to have overheard the counter to the spell she’d used to create the line.

Now it was his turn to grin triumphantly. He spoke the words out loud and watched the line flare up. But it didn’t dissolve. In fact it didn’t move at all. Which meant he had been wrong somehow. It dawned on him and when it did he felt his stomach sink. The colour, it was the colour. Oh stupid, stupid him, the spell alone wouldn’t be enough. The barrier could only be lifted if payed by blood. One of them had to die for the other to walk free. „Did you really think a little spark like you could come in here and undo something that powerful? Or maybe you just didn’t look close enough…“ before he could even fully comprehend what had happened he felt the knife at his throat. A few drops of blood spilled over when it pressed a little bit too tightly against his skin. From outside the circle he heard an intake of breath. Other than that the whole pack seemed to watch silently.

His thoughts raced. He had no option here. Either he killed her or she killed him. As far as he saw it she would wait until the pack left the premisses and then kill him to step out of the circle. But it wouldn’t come to that if he had anything to say about it. He decided at once on a plan. Turning to Scott he smiled and said „Scotty boy don’t look so angry it’s all fine. I’m good.“ The witch grabbed a fistful of his hair and pulled his head back sharply. „No telling them any tricks!“ he tried to nod but couldn’t move his head far enough, instead he looked at every pack member indivdually. She had to believe that her plan worked, that he had given up.

„Isaac I never thanked you for being there for me all the time. You of all people who had the worst done to him are so kind and gentle and I’m glad to call you my friend. And hey curly wolf, look after Scotty here and tell him from time to time that the world doesn’t just consist of Allison.“ Isaac just shook his head and moved forward a step as if he wanted to take Stiles‘ place.

Lydia was next and stared at him with damp eyes and her mascara all over her face „Lyds, my queen, take care of yourself yeah? Don’t make it too easy for Jackson over there.“ He winked at her and she smiled back.

„Erica you’re the most badass wolf I ever met. Don’t forget that you’re beautiful without make up too.“ The blonde wolf kept her head up but her lip trembled dangerously.

„Boyd I trust you to always be there for her. And to be the voice of reason in this insane pack we have.“ Boyd stood his ground and nodded at Stiles, somehow making it look like a salute. „Tell Jackson that he’ll forever be my favorite douche and that he shouldn’t give so much about what others say.“

Stiles felt a lump in his throat. „Scotty I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you but hey life goes on. Just can you be there for my dad, he’ll need it…“ Stiles had to swallow around the tightness in his voice. „You’ll always be my best friend, don’t forget that yeah?“ it started to feel way too real.

Then he turned to Derek. It was a probably not even a fifty/fifty chance that his plan worked. So he looked straight at Derek. It was now or never and while gathering all his courage he said: „I’m sorry Der… for not being what you needed me to be, for making you leave… Take care of them for me okay? They love you so much and you’re a great Alpha. I…“ he breathed in wetly and felt tears in the corners of his eyes „I am sorry I wasn’t enough for you…“ he sniffed hoping desperatly that Derek understood and turned at the witch while Derek stepped forward as if he was determined to break the barrier by sheer power of will.

Then everything happened incredibly fast. The witch moved the knife higher up against Stiles‘ throat and Stiles used his angle and the tiny metal blade in his fist to stab the witch in her unguarded left side. He felt the knife cut through his skin, felt the blood drain. But it didn’t matter. What did however was the sudden flaring of the red line. The knife fell to the ground. The line broke. And Stiles smiled to himself. At least he hadn’t been useless this time.


 

Once again Stiles opened his eyes to the beeping of a heart monitor. He blinked once, twice. Then he saw his dad hovering over him protectivley and nearly collapsed in relief. „Dad…“ he croaked, tears finally falling. „Didn’t I tell you to never ever do that to me again? Never. Stiles…“ his dad was crying too. „I’m good dad. All’s good.“ His dad didn’t let go of him for another fifteen minutes.

After that and having explained that Stiles wasn’t allowed to talk at all, his father had left the room to let Derek in. The wolf fiddled with the hem of Stiles‘ blanket and didn’t look at him. „So sourwolf you wanna tell me what happened?“ he tried to sound cheerful but probably missed by a mile. Derek seemed to concentrate hard on something then he said: „She didn’t want to kill you there, she wanted to wait until we were gone because you were her only leverage. So when you stabbed her the knife slipped and cut your throat almost in half.“

Stiles smiled, pleased that it had worked so brilliantly. „Will you stop grinning like an idiot? Do you even know how close you were to dying again?“ wow furious sourwolf was scary. „What were you thinking? Stiles you can’t just march into something like that. You are not immortal or some shit.“ His eyes flashed red. „Don’t you dare do something like this again. Do you hear me? Don’t you dare scare me like that again!“ He stopped, breathing harshly and apparently close to tears „Do you even know how hard it was to stand there and just listen? I couldn’t do anything, I was so helpless and you just stood there and talked like it was no big deal…“ his hand reached out and gripped Stiles‘ tightly. „You can’t do that“ he said „Don’t do that. Don’t say shit like that…“

Stiles, who was still shocked by the sudden emotion in Derek’s face pressed his hand into Derek’s. „But I’m here. I’m okay. Everything worked.“ He smiled again, proud of himself „But what if it hadn’t?“ Derek looked near desperate „I need you to understand that I can’t have you do that again…“ and even though Stiles was sure he was pumped up by sedatives and morphine something in Derek’s words finally registered. „You care about me…“ he said, more to himself than to Derek.

„You absolute moron.“ Derek scoffed. More quietly he added „Of course I do…“ Stiles didn’t know what to say but Derek kept talking anyway. „I, when I left that morning it wasn’t because you did anything wrong.“ He paused for a moment „I woke up and we were cuddling.“ His face was red now and Stiles only thought was that it looked adorable „I realised that I liked it, that we had moved somewhere and I hadn’t even realised and that kind of freaked me out. A lot. Because you know, it’s you and me and we’re not supposed to…“ he gestured between them. „And I wanted to make things right with you so badly, wanted to tell you how I felt and all that but then the witch happened and I thought if you didn’t know, if you weren’t involved I wouldn’t be so vulnerable…“ he huffed out a laugh all the while squeezing Stiles‘ hand.

„But of course nothing’s ever easy with you.“ The laugh died on his face „When you stepped in that circle I thought I would lose it. That wasn’t supposed to happen, you weren’t even supposed to be there. And then you said all those things of not being enough and I wanted to tell you so badly that you were wrong, that you had no…“ His eyes found Stiles‘ „I didn’t see you stabbing her because I was so focused on your face. I was so desperate to find a way to break that damn circle that I didn’t see you killing her. And suddenly the barrier was gone and you were on the ground. The blood. There was so much blood… Stiles… and y-you weren’t breathing. I thought she had just killed you, that that’s why it broke. But then I heard it…“ he trailed off, staring somewhere Stiles couldn’t see. „I heard your heart beat. It was so weak but it was there. And I swear to you Stiles no sound in this whole freaking world will ever be more beautiful to me than your heart beating in that moment. Because it meant you were alive. I hadn’t lost you. You were going to be okay and I could tell you how much…“ but Stiles had leaned forward and had pressed his lips to Derek’s in a silencing kiss.