Cradling his stomach, Derek can feel the slipperiness of something he doesn’t want to even think about, something that definitely shouldn’t be on the outside, now clutched in the curl of his fists as he tries to hold it in. He doesn’t need to look down to know his hands are slick with his own blood. His breath comes out in short, stabbing gasps, chest burning, water leaking from his eyes as he scrunches them tight shut, his whole body curled over to protect himself.
He can smell them on the wind. Cheap cologne, tobacco and liquor-- nitroglycerin and wolfsbane.
Fucking hunters. Fucking hollow point bullets.
His skin feels too tight, he wants to scream. Needs to howl. But he’s deep in the preserve, the pack are miles away and he’s all alone. He staggers forward on shaky legs as another bullet zings past him and takes a chunk out of a nearby tree. Derek throws himself to the ground arms still wrapped tight around his midsection and tries to hide in a nearby thicket, scrabbling back on his haunches until his back hits the rough bark of a tree.
There’s nothing he can do, he can feel the wolfsbane seeping into his system, fucking with his head, his co-ordination, his ability to heal. Any minute now he’s going to lose consciousness and then it’s game over.
Then the hunters win.
Wincing, he lets go of his stomach long enough to reach into the pocket of his jeans with one hand and ease his phone out. If this is it. If it’s all over for him now, there’s only one person he wants to reach out to.
Another bullet zips past him, and he hears the sound of heavy footsteps clomping towards him, treading down bracken and crunching through leaves and twigs.
One of the bastards starts to hum, it takes Derek a second to recognize the tune: who’s afraid of the big bad wolf.
Hand trembling violently he swipes through his contacts until he finds who he’s looking for and begins to type out a message. As the footsteps get closer still he inhales shakily, staring down at it, then hits send.
With nothing but the sound of his own shallow breathing and the blood rushing in his ears he looks up. Five hunters tower over him. Their leader, a heavy set man with dirty blond hair, grins nastily and raises his gun.
“Any last words?”
“Fuck you,” Derek hisses and closes his eyes.
Next moment there’s a crack, a sickening tear, a sound like the fabric of reality is literally being ripped in two, and the smell of sulfur rises on the air. Derek’s eyes fly open, in time to see the hunters turn as one to face the source of the noise, their guns raised.
He tries to lift his head, to get one last glimpse, but he can’t, the world is closing in and the last thing Derek hears as he tips over the edge into unconsciousness is a familiar voice snarling, “Surprise motherfuckers.”
There’s the sound of a loud explosion, gunfire, and after that, Derek doesn’t remember anything else.
Derek wakes up. That in itself is surprising, because he wasn’t expecting to wake up again, but what’s even stranger is that he’s awake in a place he recognizes: An old log cabin that belonged to his family years ago. He’d forgotten it even existed. Struggling to sit up he blinks, taking it in, the rough wooden walls, the stone fireplace, the ancient furniture that smells stale and slightly of mildew.
Derek’s on a bed, the only bed, an ancient queen size thing that’s pushed up against one wall, with a mattress that creaks as he sits up. He can feel springs digging into his ass. There’s bloody sheets in a tangled ball on the floor, a fire burns fitfully in the grate and slumped in ancient wooden rocking chair, his head thrown back revealing the pale line of his throat, is Stiles, fast asleep. He has an old patchwork comforter half hanging off him, and as shifts in his sleep, it slips farther down.
Memories start to come back piecemeal. Derek can remember hunters, they were downwind of him, he hadn’t realized they were there until the first shot fired, and by then it was too late, just searing pain and a ragged great hole in his stomach. Agonizing pain. A chase.
Stiles had arrived though, he remembers that now, doesn’t remember much else, has a vague recollection of Stiles leaning over him at one point his face pale, eyes wide and anxious, saying, “Don’t you dare. Don’t you fucking dare. Did Scott even? Or anyone? Fuck. My phone. Idiots, I’m surrounded by idiots. Oh god. Don’t die, Derek. Ok. I’m gonna-- what the fuck am I gonna--”
Derek had faded out again around then.
He has no recollection of how Stiles got him here, or what happened to the hunters.
They’ve been dealt with, though, that much is clear.
Derek’s stomach still hurts, but it’s the familiar dull ache that comes with healing and not the frantic pulse of pain that warns of impending death.
He’s healing. Stiles has reached him. Stiles has--
“Oh fuck,” he mutters to himself, eyes widening as he remembers another significant fact. Trying his best not to make the bed creak too loudly he eases his legs off the mattress and swings them over the edge, wincing as the movement pulls at the barely healed skin of his stomach.
The fire spits and sputters as he makes his way across the rough floor on bare feet, over to where Stiles is sprawled out, hands in his lap, with-- Derek makes a little hiss of frustration-- his fingers gripped tight round his cell phone.
That’s it, Derek is fucked. Derek is so-- he leans closer over Stiles to get a better look at it but the screen is blank and he’s worried if he tries to move it he’ll wake Stiles up.
He sucks in a breath. It’s possible Stiles didn’t get the message. It’s possible his arrival was just some kind of huge cosmic coincidence. It’s possible-- Derek reaches out with one hand, holding his breath as he tries to ease the phone out of Stiles’ grip.
A sudden uptick in the steady thump of Stiles’ heartbeat makes Derek pause. He glances down to see Stiles squinting up at him, one eye cracked open.
“So,” he says, “You love me.”
Derek’s shoulders drop, lifting his hand off Stiles’ phone, he takes a large step back, ready to deny, deny, deny, brain scrambling to think up any excuse beyond: I was sure I was going to die.
Slowly Stiles leans forward in the chair, the shift in weight rocking it forward a little and Derek doesn’t miss the way Stiles winces, a sharp burst of pain that Derek can almost taste on the air.
“You’re hurt,” he says, crouching down.
Stiles shrugs. “Twisted my ankle tripping over a root as I dragged you through the woods to this place. It’s no big.”
Derek shifts the old patchwork comforter off of Stiles and starts to tug at the laces of his chucks. “You need ice. This should be elevated. You should-- you need to put your feet up.” There was a time, five years ago maybe, when he knew barely anything about first aid because he didn’t need to. In recent years he’s made the effort to learn.
Scowling down at him, Stiles says, “Yeah, well, by the time I’d finished fixing you it was nearly midnight, I was too tired to worry about that shit. Besides, where the fuck am I gonna get ice from?”
“Well.” Derek says crossly, looking about himself. “You should have taken the bed.”
Stiles glares at him. “No,” he says. “You were definitely the one who needed the bed. This--” He gestures at his leg. “Is small potatoes.”
Derek cradles Stiles’ leg gently. There’s a nasty blueish-green bruise just visible in the firelight and the ankle is swollen. He hisses angrily. “I don’t need the bed. I heal!”
“Not from wolfsbane! Do you even know what you-- When I found you I could see-- Jesus! Besides. I heal. Just, not as quickly.”
“Anyway!” Stiles cuts him off. “Let’s go back to how you love me.”
Derek blanches, almost drops Stiles foot, but steadies himself just in time. “I--” The way Stiles is looking at him, furious, accusing. He swallows, he can’t find the words. There’s no way he can deny it now. It’s out there. Fuck.
“All these years and that’s how you decide to do it? By text.”
“I only did it-- I thought I was going to--”
“Die?” Stiles raises an eyebrow. “I love you and I’m sorry. That’s what you texted me. What the fuck was I supposed to do with that, asshole?”
Derek’s mouth works soundlessly. He doesn’t know what to say. “We can pretend I didn’t if--”
“Why would we do that?” Stiles leans himself back in his chair, wincing as the change in position jars his leg, and Derek automatically starts to leech the pain from it, then feels himself go woozy and light headed. Yeah. He isn’t quite healed enough himself to manage that. Across from him Stiles clicks his tongue impatiently. “Why, Derek?”
“Because,” Derek manages, “you seem really pissed about it.”
“I am pissed. I’m pissed about the way you did it. Not the fact of it, dumbass. I just tore open a hole in the fabric of reality to save your life so--” he shrugs, scowling. “Clearly, y’know, I love you too. Or whatever.”
Derek inhales sharply, eyes snapping up to meet Stiles’. “You. Love me too.”
“Yeah well,” he grumbles. “It’s either love or I’ve had really bad indigestion for the past five years. I don’t know. Take your pick.” He waves a hand airily, cheeks flushing pink.
The corner of Derek’s mouth tugs up in a smile. “Well you do eat like a pig. It could be indigestion.”
Stiles goes to kick him, and then sucks in a pained breath between his teeth. “Shit motherfucker, fuck, shit.”
That does it, rising to his feet, Derek scoops Stiles up in his arms in a bridal carry.
“Hey! Hey! What the hell are you-- Derek!”
Derek stumps across the room, ignoring Stiles’ protests, and lowers him carefully onto the bed. The whole process makes his head spin a little and his stomach ache. “You stay there,” he commands, pressing a stubbly kiss to Stiles’ forehead because, apparently, he’s allowed. He forces himself to stand, swaying slightly, eyes blinking. “I’m gonna call--”
“Oh if only I’d thought of that,” Stiles deadpans. “Both our phones are fried-- and none of the hunter’s phones worked either. When I made my big entrance the magic shorted out all the useful shit. Nothing works.”
“And I kind of used up all my juice getting here and taking them out so--” he gives it the ol’ spirit fingers. “I can’t apparate us back again, or whatever it is Deaton calls that thing. Not apparating. He doesn’t like it when I use Harry Potter terminology, gets all pissy about it.” He sighs. “Look, it’s the middle of the night. We’ll rest up here for a bit. Then when your wolfy strength has fully returned you can give me a piggyback or something-- Until then--” He reaches out with a hand, eyes locked with Derek’s. “There’s only one bed. It’s winter. We’re alone. We should snuggle... for warmth.”
After a beat Derek takes his hand, lets himself be pulled down onto the ancient bed, the terrible lumpy mattress. He eases himself on to his side, head propped up on his arm, and lets himself stare down at Stiles, who is lying flat on his back, gazing up at him with something that might be adoration or irritation. Derek’s finding it hard to tell.
“How the hell did you even find me?” Derek asks, letting his fingers trail over Stiles cheek, down his neck, the long line of his torso-- all that compact muscle tensing under the fabric of his t-shirt.
Stiles shivers, even as he rolls his eyes. “The GPS tracker that Lydia suggested we get for our phones? Remember?”
“Yeah. I was just getting in from work when I got your message,” he shakes his head. “I don’t know what it says about us-- but as soon as I saw that: I love you, and I’m sorry. I knew. I knew you were dying. I knew I had to get to you.”
Derek dips his head to kiss him, and Stiles makes a soft, broken noise in the back of his throat and kisses him back.
When they finally break apart he asks, voice breaking over the words, “Why didn’t you say something before, about--? Why wait until you thought you were dying?”
“I--I’m sorry.” Derek shrugs apologetically. “I didn’t know you felt the same way. I thought you cared about me as-- as a friend.”
“I mean, I do? But alongside the friend type feelings I have some pretty unfriendly feelings--” He scrunches his face up. “When I say unfriendly I mean not just as friends. As in romantic type feelings. Boner inducing feelings. Gross, sickening, sappy, love type feelings. I don’t mean that I don’t like you--although--”
“Sometimes we don’t like each other,” Derek admits. “You can be pretty annoying.”
“Oh, I can be annoying?” Stiles scowls at him. “You sent me a text to tell me you loved me and you were dying. Do you know how pissed I still am about that?”
“At least I made a move!”
“I made moves!” Stiles tries to sit up a little in the bed, cheeks flushed with indignation. “I texted you every day! And who is it who knows your ridiculous coffee order by heart and always brings you a cup on every stake out? On pack pizza night who always makes sure we order your gross pizza with anchovies? Who lets you share their curly fries, even when you insist on ordering a garden salad and grilled chicken? Who sat and watched all six sharknado movies back to back one Saturday because you wanted to even though they’re fucking lame--”
“They’re so bad they’re good!”
Stiles smirks at him then, just a little. “No. They’re just bad.” He ducks his head, fingers still working at the bedsheets anxiously. “The thing is, I was showing you that I-- I was trying to--I didn’t know how to say it, but-- they were my moves, man. I was trying to woo you.”
His scent is slightly sour with disappointment and frustration. Derek reaches out a hand cups Stiles’ cheek and tilts his face toward him. “Sorry,” he says, and means it. He kisses Stiles’ lips, the tip of his nose, the moles on his cheek. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Stiles starts to kiss him back, his fingers reaching out to curl in the fabric of Derek’s henley. The kiss deepens, in the quiet of the room everything narrows down to just the sound of their breathing, the pitpat of their heartbeats, the blossoming scent of arousal heavy in the air. Fingers fumbling as they touch each other, sliding reverently under t-shirts and over bare skin, hips shifting restlessly. The tiktiktik noise as Derek works first Stiles’ zipper down, and then his own, a hissed intake of breath when Derek finally gets a hand around them both
Then, for a long moment, there’s nothing but ragged breaths, and an abortive moan that Derek tries to swallow as he deepens the kiss, his arm working furiously. A log pops on the fire and Stiles starts to shake apart in Derek’s arms. Shuddering through it until he finally stills. It doesn’t take long for Derek to follow him.
“Okay,” Stiles mutters, a little while later, when he’s finally coherent again. Derek has his head on Stiles’ chest, and Stiles’ fingers are playing with the fine hairs at the nape of his neck. “Okay. That was a pretty good apology. But there can’t just be handjobs every time you fuck up, ok?”
Derek huffs out an amused sigh and rests his chin on Stiles’ chest, looking at him. “What about blow jobs?” he suggests.
Stiles meets his gaze steadily, and after a moment, he starts to laugh.