Derek hadn't necessarily given up, but he had stopped trying. He figured that if something were to happen, if someone were to come along who didn't try to murder him or, you know, murder anyone in general, then he'd be open to it. But he stopped hoping for it. There was no point it hoping for something like that, because he could be dead tomorrow. And that's the thing, isn't it? He had always had more important things to worry about, and yet he let himself get distracted by pretty faces and sweet words – like anyone would genuinely spare a few of those for him at the time.
Life became easier when he stopped expecting things to get better, and started focusing solely on staying alive to see another day.
And then Stiles started to look at him differently. The kid's eyes had always lingered, since the very first day they met, but something changed when the kid was around twenty-one years old and graduated. He had just started up a 'supernatural detective agency' and asked Derek to be his 'consultant'. All it really meant was that Derek went along with him sometimes when Stiles went looking for trouble, to make sure that Stiles didn't get eaten alive by one gremlin or another. But Derek was happy to help, because human life was boring and he simply couldn't adapt to it. And he didn't want to. He didn't want to live the slow life that Scott seemed to be building up for himself. He didn't want to wait for the next tragedy to strike. Instead, just like Stiles, he'd much rather play an active role in trying to stop death and destruction before it occurs.
But Stiles started to look at him differently and that was unexpected. The ever present curiosity was still there, but the general sense of distrust was gone and instead it was replaced by a fondness, even hopefulness - that made Derek's stomach turn. It should have felt good, knowing someone had feelings for him. It might have felt good if Derek didn't immediately see the potential. He could be with Stiles. He was attracted to Stiles, was probably protective of him more so than he would be of just a friend. From that point onwards there really was no going back. Stiles looking at him with big, hopeful eyes became a good thing after it stopped being a bad thing, and when Stiles finally told him about his feelings – like it was some big secret that he was now confessing to – Derek told him about his own.
That was three years ago, and a fter three years of being together, of being a couple, a team, Derek still feels like he's seeing something he shouldn't be seeing and hearing something he shouldn't be hearing, whenever Stiles has one of his loud, vivid sex dreams early in the morning. It happens often and Derek usually gets startled awake by an arm shoved in his face or Stiles trying to climb on top of him in his sleep. Usually, he gets out of bed, starts on breakfast and asks Stiles what the dream was all about. This to the younger man's great annoyance, since he's usually still hard when he wakes up and not having Derek in bed to share it with is a wasted opportunity. Stiles tells him that it is ridiculous for Derek to feel out of place in moments like this – but sometimes he'd just rather let Stiles be alone with his fantasies, whatever they are. Stiles doesn't agree. The few times Derek woke up from a wet dream, he didn't want to talk about it. Not because he'd been dreaming about something weird, or embarrassing; he jut didn't want to talk about it. After that, Stiles held a speech about trust, intimacy and sexual unity, that resulted in one of Stiles' many games. It's more like a rule; if you wake up from a sex dream and you want your boner taken care of, you have to share what your dream was about. It is supposed to bring them closer together – because Derek is cold and distant, despite Stiles not saying it in those words the message is received.
The dream Stiles is having this morning is accompanied by rather loud moans, rutting into the mattress, and nails digging into the inside of Derek's thigh under the covers, dangerously close to his groin. This morning, Derek is fine with letting Stiles finish his wet dream in peace - he's usually in a great mood afterwards anyway - but when Stiles' hand runs up higher in a not so gentle manner, Derek has to grabs his wrist and hold him still. Stiles startles awake. Derek relaxes his hand and watches as Stiles blinks his eyes open until he finally finds his bearings. He snakes his arms around Derek's waist and doesn't even try to be subtle: he rubs his morning wood against Derek's hip.
"You know the rule," Derek says. While he might not have bothered with it any other morning, this dream did seem to be particularly interesting. The way Stiles' eyes widen and his cheeks redden as he remembers it does not help quench Derek's curiosity about it.
"I don't remember," Stiles then mutters hoarsely, tugging on the strings of Derek's shorts under the covers. "It might come back to me later, but first-"
Derek catches Stiles' wrist from reaching for his groin for a second time that morning.
"Must have been a really good one if you have to lie about it," Derek says. He shakes Stiles off and sits up. "Spill."
Stiles looks up at him and then at the ceiling before he lets out a dramatically loud sigh. "Fine," he finally says and rolls out of bed. "Cold shower it is."
Derek isn't caught off guard by him very often, but he can honestly say that he did not see this one coming. He watches Stiles get out of bed, cock straining in his pajama bottoms, and make his way out of the bedroom and down the hall to the bathroom. Stiles has never been anything but eager to extensively discuss all of their sex dreams and fantasies in great detail. He even drew pictures for a few.
Derek is just done fixing breakfast when Stiles comes back from his shower, dressed and ready to start the day, but with a vague cloud of anxiousness hanging around him like a shield.
Derek knows that breakfast is going to run cold if this becomes a whole thing and considers dropping it. If Stiles doesn't want to talk about, he doesn't have to. But then Stiles sits down at the kitchen table, looks at Derek and looks away the second Derek looks back at him.
“What the hell,” Derek says.
"It was nothing," Stiles replies immediately – too fast, really. “It wasn't even that good of a dream -"
Derek can't help it - he snorts. Stiles glares at him angrily and picks up a fork to point at him with.
"Well, when you're all out of lies I'm happy to listen," Derek says. "Eat your food."
Derek isn't all that hungry and when he glances at Stiles again he sees that he's not really eating either. That's been happening a lot more often these days; not Stiles' lack of appetite, but Stiles' feelings being projected onto Derek until it becomes hard to distinguish which are his own and which aren't. Whether it's this morning's anxiousness or last week's anger. It stays with him, like a brick in his stomach that he can't get rid of until Stiles starts feeling differently. It only happens when the feelings are exceptionally strong, but considering their day to day life, it happens a lot. Basically Derek has been walking around with two sets of feelings for the last six months. He figured it has something to do with the fact that they've been spending so much time together. Living together, working together, being together. It must have strengthened Derek's senses in Stiles' direction. And obviously Derek is in love with him; it might mean that he's trying to form a bond, but that's not something he's keen on focusing on.
Derek forgoes breakfast and goes for a shower instead. When he's showered and dressed he joins Stiles in the kitchen, and he's is a bit surprised that the air around him hasn't lightened. Derek leans against the counter. "Okay, so what was it? Something weird? Someone from the pack? A relative?" he inquires.
Stiles manages not to avoid eye contact as he pushes his half empty plate away.
"It's not weird and it wasn't anyone from the pack," he sighs. "And not a relative, Jesus Christ."
"Then what was it?"
"Just... Trust me when I say it's best for everyone if we forget about this. It's not something I'd ever be interested in doing in real life-"
"You're usually a better liar then this."
"Okay, this isn't fair. How about this, is this a lie? I don't want to discuss it because I'm a hundred and fifty percent sure you'll be upset about it."
"Why? Because I wasn't it it? I can handle you dream fucking someone else, Stiles."
"You were in it," Stiles concedes after a moment.
"Then what? What did you do to me in your dream that was so bad that you think I'd be mad at you for it in real life?"
"It's not what I did to you. It's - okay, you know what? I was trying to save us from a dramatic argument about nothing , but clearly this day was doomed from the start."
"Way to tone down the drama," Derek says, but takes a seat across from Stiles at the table anyway.
"Shut up. Just promise me you'll hear the whole thing out, you'll be rational about it, and we'll move on quickly."
"Sure, promised," Derek says easily, because he really can't think of anything that Stiles could dream of that involves sex and Derek, to be angry about.
"Shut up. Listen. When we were out at the bar last night someone came up to me-"
Two sentences in and Derek starts to think maybe this is heading somewhere dark after all. It takes a lot for him not to interrupt.
"It was after you left to pick up Kira and before you came back. This guy, a friend of Danny's, he started asking questions about us. How serious we are, how long we've been together and stuff like that. And when I told him we've been together for three years, he asked if we were in an open relationship. Because apparently someone like you would you'd never agree to be a hundred percent monogamous for someone like me, right? He didn't say that, but I could see in his eyes that that's what he meant. Anyway, I told him you and I are pretty solid, and that we absolutely do not have an open relationship. And then he said, and this is a direct quote: "But I bet you guys have some pretty hot threesomes. That's the only way relationships like yours can last." What the hell, right? Like he knows anything about us at all. I'd known him for like ten minutes and he's trying to analyze my relationship. So I told him to take a hike, of course, but then like ten minutes later he comes back and asks if we're 'open for business or not'. I had no idea what he was talking about so I just told him to fuck off again. And then Danny tells me this guy just solicited me and you for a threesome. Can you believe that? I didn't tell you last night because the guy was still there and I didn't want it to be a whole thing. I was going to tell you today, because it's a funny story for the morning after. Except then - the thoughts and the dream and - it's not like I'd never thought about it, but who hasn't, right? But it wasn't a thing . Just an...afterthought thing. And usually with two girls, but - Stop me when you've heard enough."
"No, please go on. 'Usually with two girls, but-?'"
"What? You don't want me to misunderstand and get angry, do you?"
"Please, like you've never wanted to be in the middle of a dainty girl sandwich-"
"Oh, so you did dream about a threesome with two girls? I thought you said I was in this - wait. Was I watching you bang two girls?"
"Relax, there were no girls involved and you weren't watching ."
"So three guys," Derek says, surprising himself with how casual he sounds, because he doesn't feel very at ease about this at all. Stiles looks at him, big eyed like he's expecting Derek to snap at him and like he deserves it .
"You weren't in the middle, if that worries you," Stiles then says. "I would never want to share you with anyone."
But I'm supposed to share you , he thinks and almost lets anger take over. But before that happens a wave of guilt washes over him, settling in next to the flicker of anger in his chest. Guilty, Stiles is already feeling guilty about this. He knew Derek wouldn't take this well and Derek pushed. Even now he wants to push, wants to know who the second guy was. Was it the guy that spoke to him the other night? Someone they know? Maybe that asshole who works at the gas station down the street and who's heartbeat always stutters when Stiles smiles at him.
"Doesn't matter," Derek finally says. "It was just a dream."
"Yeah, exactly. I mean-"
"Eat your breakfast. We have to be out the door in ten."
"I was thinking maybe next weekend we can go to the city, maybe see a ballgame? Maybe dad could go with us?"
"That's a lot maybes."
Stiles has been quiet since that morning and the guilt hasn't subsided. Fighting is easier. If Derek didn't know exactly how Stiles felt, he could just be angry and jealous and Stiles could call him out on being a dumbass, they could argue about it and get over it. Since this whole Derek-feeling-Stiles'-feelings-thing, it's become a lot easier for Derek to decide what battles are worth fighting and which aren't. This is definitely not one of them, but from the way Stiles still seems to be treading lightly with every word he says, he might not agree.
"Yeah, I mean if we have time and if dad has time... We'll figure it out," Stiles says, waving it off before raking a hand through his hair.
They're on their way to Deaton's for a quick look at some pictures of bite marks that might help point them into the right direction with a cold case they've unofficially reopened. Of course, Deaton could have just emailed them the damn pictures, but Stiles wants to talk to him, convinced the man has something worthwhile to say. He rarely ever does.
"I'm not mad, you know," Derek forces out.
"Well you're not not mad," Stiles replies. "But I appreciate that you're trying not to be mad."
"There's nothing to appreciate. It's just a stupid fantasy. I didn't care when you fantasized about the guy from that TV show, or when you drool all over that girl from the library. So why would I care now?" Why does he care? This is bugging him. Dammit.
Stiles absently taps his knuckles against the passenger's sides' widow and says: "For me, knowing you're attracted to someone else and that you might fantasize about them doesn't really bother me. Mostly I find it interesting to find out what kind of things you like. But in the threesome thing...I don't know, I really don't like the idea of anyone touching you right in front of me. With all the other fantasies I can still pretend you'd only be with them if I never existed or died, or something. In a threesome I'd be
and basically just not be enough for you. And I hate that idea. And just so we're very clear here, you are a hundred percent enough for me. It really has more to do with - well, you know the two things I like most in the world, right?- and I was just wondering what it would be like if I could have those two things...at the same time."
"Who was it?" Derek blurts.
"The other guy, who was it?"
"I'm giving a whole heartfelt speech here and you want to know who the other guy was?"
"You don't think that I'd be curious about who joined me in having sex with my boyfriend?"
"Fine, if it was someone we knew maybe, but I think it was one of those porn guys. I don't usually like watching threesome, but that was super hot- Hey, that might have even sparked the whole thing."
Derek considers this. It's a lie, one that is pretty well masked, but a lie nonetheless. Should he pretend he hasn't noticed the lie? He could let it end here. A guy from a porno is obviously a lot better than if it were anyone they know. So does Derek go with the lie? Why is Stiles lying anyway? There is clearly something he doesn't want Derek to know, and maybe Derek should respect that, right? If Stiles wants to tell him at some point, he still might. Nah.
"It's barely ten a.m and you've already gone through a whole week's worth of lies," Derek says. He's not surprised by the smack Stiles delivers to the back of his head, and it's kind of a relief even. It's lighthearted, a good sign.
"Whatever. This is one thing I do not want to share with the class," Stiles sighs. "Not for any reason that matters to anyone but myself, I can promise you that."
That at least sounds like the truth.
One morning and one afternoon. That's how long Derek makes it without saying anything about it again before he cracks.
"Is it embarrassing?" Derek asks. While the guilt has subsided, the air of stress hasn't left, but Stiles has been doing a great job at pretending nothing is wrong since that morning. They've visited Deaton and the police office, had lunch with the sheriff and affirmed that he is free this weekend. They went home after that to work on the case. That was two hours ago. Two hours that they could have spent in bed, naked and fucking, and instead spent in bed, covered in documents, files and take out menus.
"Huh?" Stiles mumbles from where he's sifting through said take out menu's at the end of the bed.
"The other guy. Maybe one of your old school teachers or something?"
Stiles huffs in annoyance, throwing a mess of take out folders into Derek's direction. They land in his lap before sliding to the floor and Derek lets them fall. "Come on," Stiles groans. "I thought we were done with this."
"I get that you don't want me to know, but I really, really want to know," Derek argues weakly. "And if it's embarrassing I can promise not to tell anyone."
Stiles looks at him skeptically. "That's not the point."
"Then what's the point of me not knowing?"
"Because it's personal. It's my thing. You don't have anything to do with it and I want to keep it that way."
"Huh," Derek says, because Stiles' words sound secure but his heartbeat isn't, and neither is his scent.
"What? What's with the dumb face?" Stiles asks, rolling onto his back before hauling himself upright.
"Nothing, never mind. If I start pointing out every lie you tell, it's all we'll ever talk about."
"Hey, that's not fair. You said you'd drop it and here you are, not dropping it. Why can't I just keep one damn thing to myself?"
"Not something that's going to keep bothering you. I tried to touch you an hour ago and you moved to the other side of the bed."
"Because we have work to do, Derek. Sorry I don't open up for you every second of the damn day."
"That's not what I mean and you know it."
"Actually, I don't know what you mean about ninety five percent of the time. I don't know if you even want to be here ninety five percent of the time."
"What? Where the hell is this coming from?"
Stiles suddenly looks like a deer caught in the headlights. His heart does something worrisome and a thick scent of frustration and underlying anger is coming off his skin.
"You've been pulling away for months now," Stiles finally says, averting his eyes before pushing himself off the bed completely. "We can't argue about anything anymore without you walking away from me."
"Maybe that wouldn't happen if every single thing I ever do doesn't set you off," Derek says bitingly. It's a bit much maybe, but Stiles' frustration is becoming suffocating.
"That's not even remotely true," Stiles objects loudly. "And lately I haven't even gotten the chance to be properly angry with you because you keep avoiding every argument."
"Are you kidding me right now?" Derek snaps and shoots up and off the bed. The way Stiles staggers back is only briefly satisfying. "Believe me when I say that your anger is being received whether I argue with you or not. Sorry for trying to spare you that fucking misery by getting out of your hair."
"Just because you don't argue with me doesn't mean I'm not fucking miserable, you jackass. In fact, you walking away like you could care less every time I'm upset just makes it worse. The only reason I don't murder you whenever you come back is because I'm so damn relieved you come back at all - Stop looking at the door! I swear to god, if you as much as try to leave right now, I will never forgive you."
Derek realizes he has been glancing at the door. He really doesn't want to leave, because this isn't just another bullshit argument; this seems kind of important even. But Stiles' anger is flaming hot now, and his frustration is clawing at Derek's chest. With every second it's getting harder and harder to act on his own feelings instead of accommodating the ones being projected at him. It even takes a moment to sharpen his vision.
"I'm not going anywhere," Derek says hoarsely. His head isn't clearing. "I'm not - what?"
Stiles is staring at him and it's like a switch has been turned. The anger is gone and replaced by something colder, more nauseating-
Stiles' hand comes up to Derek's face, swiping his thumb over Derek's lip. There is blood on his thumb when he pulls his hand back. They're both staring at it, trying to make sense of it, until Derek feels more blood trickle out of his nose. He turns around to wipe it away.
"Jesus, Derek, what's going on?" Stiles says, not even trying to mask the fear in his voice. "We need to call Deaton. Sit down." He feels Stiles' hand on his back and lets himself be edged down onto the bed. The dizziness doesn't ease up, and it says a lot that Derek doesn't immediately stop Stiles from dialing Deaton's number.
Derek barely hears the phone conversation, can't really focus on anything other than keeping his consciousness. He's sitting with his head between his legs when Stiles sits down next to him, the younger man's fear feeling like icicles piercing through his gut.
"Derek. Babe, if you know what's going on you have to tell me, okay? Deaton is coming over right now and he sounded pretty worried which does not make me feel good at all. Look at me, please."
His vision is blurry and his head is killing him, but Stiles is there with a Kleenex wiping down Derek's hands.
"Jesus, that's a lot of blood. Hey, hey, stay awake. Did someone poison you? Who did we meet today that could have poisoned you? Anyone you met without me?"
"It's not poison," Derek says weakly. He has been poisoned before, with several substances even, and this isn't what being poisoned feels like. It's close, but not it.
"Then why are you bleeding?"
A headache. That's something he hasn't felt in a while. And yet here it is, and increasing. "Derek, why are you bleeding from your brain?"
"I don't know, but you need to calm down."
"Maybe when you stop bleeding all over your shirt, I'll calm down. Hey, stop that. Keep your eyes open."
"I'm not dying, okay? But you need to...you need to relax because you are feeling way too many things right now and that's not helping me stay conscious."
"I'll calm down when you stop bleeding."
"I might stop bleeding if you calm down."
"What? Are you blaming me for this now? Derek?"
"I'm not blaming you. Listen, there is something we should probably talk about-"
"Shut up, you're not doing the deathbed thing. You're not dying, and you're not saying anything until this over."
"This is important-"
"Then be sure to save it for later. We'll talk about all the important stuff."
Derek feels his own blood seep through the Kleenex he's holding up to his nose - and holy shit, that's a lot of blood. He mindlessly tries to stand up and head for the bathroom. He falls back onto the bed immediately, and when he does, things turn dark around him.
He wakes up staring at the bedroom ceiling. The only other person in the room is Deaton. In fact, Derek can't smell Stiles in the apartment at all.
"Where did he go?" he asks, before sitting up. He is surprised to find his head clear as ever. Not even the usual headache that he's left with after coming out from under a spell, or getting slammed by an Alpha. Deaton is sitting in the armchair in the corner of the room. Derek really doesn't like how often this guy has watched him sleep by now.
"I sent him away," Deaton says. "It took some convincing, but he left for Scott's about five minutes ago. He is probably still on his way there. He made me promise to tell you to call him the second you wake up."
"What else did you tell him?"
"Well, he told me that you were having delusions, that you were blaming him for this, that you were more preoccupied with telling him to calm down than with figuring out why you were having an...episode."
"I didn't have an - whatever. So what did you tell him?"
"I told him what I know about these things."
"You know what, I'll just ask him. Thanks for... whatever you did."
He looks around the bed for his phone until he finds it on the bedside table under a pile of bloody tissues. He's about to reply to a text of Stiles reminding him to call the second he wakes up, when Deaton speaks up again. "How much do you know about this, Derek?"
"I'm not going over the werewolves and the bees with you," Derek says.
"But you know what the effects of a werewolf's bond not being reciprocates is?"
"I was there when I bled out all over my sheets and passed out, yeah."
"Violent, unanswered bonds are highly unusual, Derek. Stiles needs to know what is happening."
"So you didn't tell him," Derek says. "Well."
"Not everything. It's a rather personal issue."
"Thanks for considering everyone's privacy," Derek snaps, because Deaton is feeling sorry for him, and that's a new low.
As it turns out Stiles never went to Scott. Instead he had been waiting for Derek's call in the car, parked on Derek's sense-perimeter, which they measured when they just moved into the apartment.
"I did breathing exercises," Stiles says when he finally comes back and Deaton has finally left. "I'm a hundred percent relaxed and completely ready to have a calm, but serious conversation about whatever just happened." He's not relaxed, not even remotely, but Derek knows, would know it even if he didn't feel it, that Stiles is trying his hardest to focus on the situation. He's in his problem solving mode rather than his relationship mode. It's less emotional, and that helps.
"What did Deaton tell you exactly?"
"That, since we've been together for so long, your senses are extra focused on my feelings. And according to him, that somehow translates into you bleeding out onto our sheets. He said you'd explain the rest."
"Sit down," Derek says, looking for a way to start e xplaining the rest .
Stiles sits down, hesitates for a second before putting his hand on Derek's thigh. Derek covers his hand with his own.
"I've told you a few things about what it means for werewolves to bond, remember?"
"Of course I remember," Stiles says after a beat. "But that was a long time ago. Before we even got together, I think."
"There is really not a lot a werewolf can do to stop it. It's almost the same as falling in love. You can't stop it, but you can chose to walk away from it if it doesn't work out."
"But a bond is different than just being in love with someone, right? It's more like deciding you want to be with someone forever. At least... I think that's what you said last time."
"Something like that. Usually it's fine. Werewolves bonding with werewolves is easy. You both know it's happening, and it's clear whether the other person feels the same way. If the other person doesn't, you walk away. Be heart broken, whatever. As long as there is distance between you and that person for a while, there won't be any real physical reaction to it."
"Physical reaction? Like...nosebleeds? All that stuff that just happened to you?"
"Basically. It's different with humans. Humans don't bond that way, which is fine usually, as long as the feelings the human has for the werewolf are strong enough, the bond isn't rejected."
"So when the bond is rejected and you stay around the person who rejected it... But that doesn't make any sense. I would never reject you - wait, does it work both ways? If you reject me and decide to stick around for some reason? Your brain will start melting then, too?"
"Of course not. I can't reject you because you can't bond to begin with. And why would I even want to?"
"Then I don't understand what's going on here, Derek? I would never reject you."
"Maybe not consciously," Derek says, because he can't hear a lie in Stiles' words. Derek knows that Stiles likes him. Maybe even loves him. There is fondness, anyway, otherwise they would never have lasted for three years. Derek can't say that he's completely unsurprised that Stiles is rejecting the bond, but that must have just been wishful thinking on Derek's part.
"No, that's complete bullshit. Derek, I love you on every level of consciousness. There must be another reason why this happened. If it's my fault I'll do something about it, but it definitely isn't because I don't love you enough."
"We can look into it, see of there's another possible reason why it could backfire," Derek says, despite the fact that he's never heard of any other reason. He wants there to be, and apparently so does Stiles. For whatever reason.
"Okay, good, I'll get on that," Stiles says, squeezing Derek's thigh before getting off the bed and pulling the dresser open. "You need to take a shower, eat, sleep, in that order. By morning I'll have all of it figured out and before you known it, we'll be bonded. I mean, if that's still what you want.”
"No, no. You scared the living hell out of me today, so we're going to have a quick shower together, and I'm ordering pizza. Afterwards you're going to sleep for a few hours while I bother Deaton for a while. Take off your clothes."
Derek figures that to avoid another episode , he better oblige Stiles' will as much as possible.
It's not until after he's clean, dressed and fed that it actually registers.
He passed out because Stiles doesn't love him.
Stiles doesn't love him. There is really no other explanation, no matter how badly he wants there to be, no matter how or
Stiles thinks that he is in love with Derek.
Stiles is still trying to get Derek to go to bed when all Derek can do is stare at the wall in their living room and pretend that he can't feel Stiles' growing frustration.
That's when Derek thinks of something. "When is the last time we met a druid?"
Stiles looks up from his laptop. "Hmm, about three years ago, I think. Why?"
"What, Derek? What does an evil druid have to do with-" the realization hits Stiles so hard that Derek can feel it from the other side of the room.
"I'm not under a love spell," Stiles bites at him.
"How do you know that?"
"Because I've been in love with you for a lot longer than three years."
"Even if that's true, the druid could have triggered something."
"What do you mean even if that's true ? It's true, because I just said it."
"Because you're so big on telling the truth all of a sudden?"
"Because-" Stiles starts, louder and pushing his laptop away. He stops himself right before he can stand up from the dining table and launch himself into Derek's personal space for another fight.
"I should probably just go," Stiles then says, closing his laptop and grabbing his bag from near the table. "We both know that I'm not the calmest person to begin with, but you really aren't helping. I'm going to see Deaton and then I'm spending the night at Dad's."
"Sounds like a plan," Derek says. He gets up and shrugs on his jacket.
"Where are you going?" Stiles asks.
"I thought I just said you need to rest."
"You say a lot of things."
"Are you trying to make me angry on purpose?"
Is he? "Am I?" Yeah, apparently he is.
"Just go. I'm trying to help here because I for one was relieved to find out you actually have feelings for me, even if it had to happen this way. Yesterday I was still thinking you were planning on leaving me, and today I find out that we could be bonded if not for our damn bad luck. Because that's all it is, Derek. Bad luck. That's our life. We have to work hard for everything. You're the one who's always reminding everyone that when something comes easy we should expect it to try to kill us."
"That's the thing, Stiles. This is one thing that is not supposed to be hard work. If it's right, it's just suppose to happen."
"So what are you saying? That we're not right?" The anger is mostly an undertone now, but the most prominent feeling that takes over is thick sadness. “Derek, I love you. More than anything. I am in love with you. I am so deeply in love with you that it's embarrassing, okay? I would marry you tomorrow morning, without hesitation. I would adopt five kids with you, no problem. That is something no damn druid has anything to do with, I can promise you that. If you even love me half as much as I love you, then you can't say that we're not right. "Do you believe me?"
"I believe that you believe this, okay? But until I know there can be another reason why this isn't working..."
“And I'll find out what it is, okay? Just trust me on this one,” Stiles presses and drops his bag back onto the floor. “Can I stay here?”
“What? Of course, what are you-”
“I don't know, maybe you're going to black out on me again. If that's a possibility then I'd rather not risk it right now.”
“Stay,” Derek says. “And if anything happens, I'll leave.”
Stiles nods and moves over to him, takes his jacket and throws it onto the couch before pulling Derek in close for a hug. Derek wraps his arms around him, closes his eyes and feels the thick fog of insecurity thinning around them.
“I love you,” Derek feels the need to say, and when he does Stiles nods against his shoulder.
“Just do one thing for me and try to get some sleep,” Stiles then says, brushing both his hands against Derek's cheeks. “You scared the hell out of me.”
“We'll be faster if I help-”
“I don't care. Go lie down.”
So that's what Derek does. There are still some bloody tissues strewn around their bedroom, along with a bunch of case files they were looking through earlier that evening. Derek cleans them up before trying to lie down. He's not going to fall asleep, he knows that much, but he can at least try to clear his head. He briefly considers calling Chris about this, and then decides against it. If it were just a supernatural problem, he would have called. But this is personal, too personal for Derek to want to discus it with anyone other than the people involved. He can at least trust Deaton to be discreet, but anyone else in the pack would turn it into a pack problem as opposed to what it actual is; his problem. His and Stiles' problem.
He is startled awake when Stiles climbs into bed with him. More startled by the fact that he actually managed to fall asleep than anything else.
“Hey, big guy,” Stiles whispers softly as he slides into his place against Derek's side. “I think you're cursed.”
“Again?” Derek mutters and pushes his face into the crook of Stiles' neck.
“You were onto something with yout druid theory, but I'm not the one under it. Love spell,” Stiles hums. “Or reverse love spell? Like a non-ability to love. I'm thinking maybe it's left over from when Jennifer Blake died before she could undo the spell she put on you.”
“Non-ability to love doesn't sound right,” Derek sighs and inhales the scent of this boy – man – that he definitely loves with all his heart.
“Non-ability to love fully, then,” Stiles says. “We'll find out tomorrow morning. I'm relieved, at least.”
Stiles falls asleep soon after that, and all Derek can do until the morning light breaks through their curtains is listen to the steady beat of his heart and steady rhythm of his breathing.
"It was you," Stiles blurts right when they're about to get into the car and head towards the vet's clinic. It's barely past seven in the morning, still cold out, cold enough for Derek to see Stiles' breath in the air as he speaks. "In my dream, it was you.”
“What?” Derek asks, before he remembers the whole reason they were fighting the day before. It might as well have been a year ago, because Derek can barely get himself to care about who the other guy was anymore. Until he realizes that Stiles isn't making any sense. “Yeah, you said it was me,” Derek says. “And?”
“It was you, twice. There were two of you. I didn't want to tell you because I thought you'd freak out. I thought you were already pulling away, and this - me being so damn clingy - that it would just push you away even further. But I know you're still not a hundred percent convinced that this isn't happening because I don't love you, so now you know. I can't even imagine anyone else fucking me, that's how obsessed I am with you. Thought you might like to know that.” In case they find out that there is no curse, no spell that needs to be broken, he doesn't say.
Derek tries to think of something to say and ends up laughing. “There were two of me?”
Stiles gapes at him and then throws his empty paper cup of coffee over the roof of the car in Derek's direction. “Don't you fucking laugh!” Stiles
“Like twins?” Derek asks. “Clones? Doppelgänger?”
“No, just- I don't want to talk about it. Let's never ever talk about it.” Stiles angrily yanks open the door to the passenger's seat and gets in the car.
“Was one of them at least me, transformed?” Derek asks as he turns the keys in the ignition.
“No,” Stiles says. “Shut up.”
“For the record-”
“For the record, I'd have a threesome with two of you,” he finishes pointedly. “Why were you so worried about telling me this?”
“Because, I just told you, for the last couple of months things have been different. You've been walking away from all our fights and I just... I don't know, it's not exactly reassuring when your boyfriend keeps abandoning you the second things get difficult.”
“That's not what I was doing.”
“I get that now, but I didn't know what was going on, Derek. You could have said something when it started. Why didn't you?”
“Because...because I was scared. That it meant that you weren't in love with me, and that if I said something about it you'd realize it too.”
“Dumb,” Stiles shrugs. “You're dumb.”
When they get to the clinic it takes Deaton another hour to mix a potion for Derek to drink that is supposed to cleanse him from any and all curses that he might be under. “If you are in fact still under the Darach's curse, the cleanse won't be easy. You might get sick. A coma is a common side-effect as well. Death is not so common, but not unheard of either,” Deaton tells them. “But I don't think it will kill you.”
“For once I'd appreciate it if death wasn't a damn side-effect,” Stiles says with is eyes on the ceiling.
“If this kills me, you should probably go out and find a pair of twins,” Derek says. “Don't let my death stand in the way of you fulfilling your sexual fantasies.”
“Keep up the jokes and I'll be doing that whether this kills you or not,” Stiles warns, but then pulls Derek with him to sit down in Deaton's waiting area.
“So this bond,” Stiles then starts. “Do you think I'm going to feel anything of it if it works?”
Derek shakes his head. “No, humans don't bond.”
“Maybe not magically,” Stiles mumbles.
When Deaton is finally done, and Derek chugs down the nastiest thing he's ever tasted, he blacks out immediately.
“He was not joking about the coma,” is the first thing Stiles says when Derek comes to, two days later. He's still in the clinic's back room, Stiles sitting in the corner with his legs up on the edge of Derek's bed, book in his lap. “And in case you're wondering, I did try to wake you up with true love's kiss a few times.”
“I'm going back to sleep,” Derek grumbles, throat scratchy and head thumping. “Fuck.”
“At home,” Stiles says, retracting his legs and shooting up out of the chair. “We're going home, okay?”
Derek just nods and lets himself be readied and ushered out of the clinic, into the car and back to their apartment. His head clears in the fresh air, and when he gets some food in him he's almost back to normal.
“So, are you feeling good? Feeling bonded? Love is a thing again?” Stiles asks him a few hours later, when Derek has gotten a chance to rest some more. It's four in the afternoon when Stiles crawls into bed with him, the warmth coming off of him more than just his body temperature. “Love was always a thing,” Derek shrugs.
“But better now, right?”
“I think so.”
“Good, because I've just thinking that it would be kind of unfair if you get bonded to me and I don't reciprocate with anything-”
“You should have thought of that before I drank Satan's piss, Stiles.”
“Oh my god, you're already ruining it. In the retelling of this story, we're cutting that line out, okay?”
“What are you-” Derek wants to ask what are you talking about but then he sees it, see the small black box Stiles is holding in one hand while pushing himself into a sitting position with the other.
“Humans might not bond the way werewolves do, but we still bond. I'm not going to explain the whole concept of marriage to you, but I would like it if I could bond with you that way.”
He opens the box to show two silver band lying in the middle of it. “I measured your finger while you were out cold. One of the weirdest things I've ever done, but- okay, it would be great to get an answer right about now, big guy.”
“An answer?” Derek snorts. Like there was ever a chance he would have said no.