The trickster-fae-creature (Stiles and Lydia have yet to find a name for it) stands before the pack, feet floating a few feet above the ground, posture relaxed and confident, arrogant. He’s got a mischievous grin on his face, though more charming than that of the Nogitsune’s.
He has a deal, he says. He can determine the fate of Beacon Hills with a flick of his elegant hands, make everything turn to dust, everyone forgotten. He can…not. He just wants one little thing.
He wills Stiles forward, the pack instantly getting ready to pounce to protect their emissary and packmate. Derek strides forward ahead of everyone, only to be shoved back down with one wave of the creature’s hand.
“Heel, boy,” the creature mocks, still holding Stiles afloat, exactly where it wants him. “That’s not the sacrifice I meant. Your dearest here and I just need to have an honest conversation between two people gifted by magic and mischief.”
“We can do this the easy way, or the hard way. One where some of you might die,” it threatens. Then, the creature lays out the deal.
It’s simple really. Painless—all things considered. Newly mated Stiles just has to sacrifice his and Derek’s mate-bond to save Beacon Hills.
And Stiles, you know, he just got Werewolf Married. He’s just starting this new life with Derek, as two people bound to each other. So, of course he’s not happy about the stupid fucking deal. Of course he isn’t.
But, again, all things considered, it’s not a bad deal to make. Nobody dies, the town is saved, and none of his packmates, not even Lydia, would break a sweat fighting against something ancient and powerful. Something so powerful Stiles can feel the promise of destruction from the creature all the way to his bones. And in exchange of what? Stiles having to go without this one thing that he’s managed to go without until just two weeks ago?
Besides, even without the mate-bond, even without some moon magic thingamajig tying them together, Stiles has absolute faith that they’ll make it. They already have for a good number of years, and with just pure old human love. He knows him and Derek will make it a few decades more.
And so, Stiles decides.
This is a sacrifice he can make. This is a sacrifice he will make. This is a sacrifice Derek will understand.
After the sacrifice is given, the creature smiles. He leans close to Stiles and whispers, “Wanna know a secret?” The glee in his voice makes something deep inside Stiles shudder. “If we did this the hard way, none of you would have died.”
Then, the creature promptly vanishes without a trace.
Despite all of Stiles’ hopeful deduction, despite his absolute faith, the lack of a mate bond changes something between them.
It’s like, it’s like before they were two magnets, opposite but perfectly attracted to each other. But now, now their attraction is just that little bit off-kilter.
They’re still attracted to each other, but whenever they get together, there’s just something…not right. Like two defective magnets simultaneously attracted and repelled to one another. .
Derek’s the one who feels it the most. He tries to work through it, tries to give them a chance sans the “moon magic bond,” or so Stiles calls it. He tries to make his relationship work with “plain, old-fashioned human love.” Just like Stiles says, just like Stiles insists they could do.
But that’s just the thing. That’s exactly what Stiles doesn’t get. The mate bond, the attraction that Derek’s wolf felt for Stiles wasn’t separate or a different entity from him and his “human” emotions. They were one and the same, two sides of the same coin. With the other gone, the whole picture is missing, the feeling dulled.
It’s like having one eye half-blind, and the other seeing crystal clear. He still feels things, he still knows that he loves Stiles, but everything is just…off now, screwed up, out of whack, wrong.
When it comes to Stiles–the light of his world, the love of his life–Derek just always feels disoriented now.
Not to mention the wolf feels betrayed, abandoned. What Stiles offered wasn’t just his, it was theirs. It was a long-awaited, treasured show of trust and devotion from one person to another. And Stiles gave it away, just like that. On behalf of his wolf, on behalf of Derek.
Now the love they have, had feels tainted.
And the wolf just—it can’t.
The wolf can’t.
So, Derek has to walk away.
They’re standing on the porch of the house they were supposed to live in for the rest of their lives, Derek on one end and Stiles on the other.
They’re looking at each other, watching emotion flit through each other’s eyes. Derek’s filled with heartache and weariness, Stiles with guilt and regret.
Stiles tries to say something, start saying Derek’s name. “Der-”
Derek cuts him off by shaking his head. He looks straight ahead into the trees trying to get his thoughts together. Then, after a long moment, Derek looks back at Stiles and says in the gentlest tone and the heaviest of hearts,
“I don’t know how to keep loving you.”
He swallows around the lump in his throat, and makes himself continue. “But I don’t know how to stop. I don’t want to.”
He looks at the stuffed duffle bag at his feet, feels the cold bite of metal from the Camaro’s keys as he clenches his fist.
He takes a deep breathe, musters up the strength to look at Stiles again.
“I love you, Stiles. I always will.”
Tears build up in Stiles’ eyes. He’s nodding at everything Derek’s saying. Derek soldiers on.
“I really wish y–” Derek shakes his head. No use doing the blame game now. “I wish this didn’t happen, wish the universe didn’t make it hard for me to keep loving you.”
A sob breaks loose from Stiles. His hands fly up to cover his mouth, then he brings them down to say, “I know, I’m sorry.”
Derek keeps going, lets himself breathe everything out while he still can.
“I had plans for us, hopes for a future, our future.”
Stiles stops fighting the tears, just lets them roll down his face, refuses to look away from Derek even as his vision blurs, even as Derek’s expression turns more unbearable.
“I know. I’m so sorry, Der. I’m so sorry.”
“I really wanted you to be it, you know. I really wanted you to be my end all, be all. I wanted to have a life with you, everything. I wanted everything with you, Stiles.”
“I know, Derek.”
“But we can’t–we can’t anymore.”
Derek dares to come closer, he dares to pull Stiles in again. He dares to be greedy.
He wraps an arm around Stiles’ shoulder, secures him in his embrace one last time.
“I have to leave now,” he whispers. He presses a kiss on Stiles forehead, he comforts, he scents him for one last time.
Stiles buries his face in Derek’s shoulder, claws at Derek’s back, tries to hold him closer, make him stay.
“I’m sorry. I’m so, so, so sorry.”