There was a banging at the door and Stiles threw his popcorn at the TV in irritation; what the fuck was the point of having a secret lair if people just kept showing the fuck up? The girl scouts that morning, the damn door salesman that afternoon, how the fuck where people finding this place!
If Stiles had to bet, he would put all his money on Scott and his big mouth, and, if he was feeling very honest, he would also admit that the idea of just keeping Scott tied up somewhere in the house and being done with his particular brand of dumbassery was a secret fantasy of his, and he would also admit that the only reason he hadn’t was that the idiot had been his best friend for longer than Stiles could remember.
And there was no way that his friend’s mom would approve. Stiles’s life was much easier when Scott’s mother approved.
But still, if one more person knocked on his door tonight, Scott was going to be dead and Stiles would very kindly send his mother flowers as an apology.
The banging on the door was slowing down, starting to sound more like a sporadic taping and Stiles held his breath in hope that it would just stop all together, then he could get back to his Three Stooges marathon and continue pretending the world did not exist.
There was one more loud bang and Stiles frowned, that one sounded less like someone’s fist and more like someone had just slammed their body into his damn door, what the fuck?
Now, Stiles had not become the very best, most awesome, most feared, most smartest super villain by being stupid, and that’s exactly why he didn’t for a second bother looking at the entire wall of TV’s to his left that where showing a real time security feed, and instead chose to angry power walk his way over to the lair’s front door and pull it open with a huff and an angry yell ready on his lips.
A yell that died out the second he got a good look at his ‘visitor’.
Because there, right in front of him, swaying with the nonexistent breeze was his number one nemesis, the prince of the people, the most loved superhero since time began, the one, the only, Derek Hale.
And while Stiles could feel his fingers itch for the gun jammed crookedly into the back of his waistband, he didn’t really have the time to even think about grabbing it because right at that moment, the oh so great Derek Hale looked up at him through pupil blown, glazed hazel eyes, managed to softly mutter out a broken whisper of “Didn’t know where else to go…” before collapsing forward into Stiles chest as his body finally gave into the war with gravity that he had been so valiantly fighting, just as he did most things.
And what was Stiles supposed to do, with his greatest enemy currently using him as a support beam slash pillow?
The thought of just killing him flashed through Stiles’s head, there would never be a more perfect time, but then again, as he took in the scrapes, cuts, the blood slowly seeping down the back of Derek’s neck from what was probably a nasty head wound, feeling the way the body in his arms seemed to tremble, he came to the conclusion that there would be no fun to be had if he did it like this, so Stiles sighed, moved his arms around as much as he could trying to get a better purchase on the man in front of him, and then dragged his stupidly muscled arch enemy into his secret, super villain lair.
Stiles last thought as he slammed the front door shut with his foot was, no one else better even think of knocking tonight.
Fuck it was going to be a long night.
There was far too much light shining in Derek’s face, and his head pounded as he brought a hand up to cover his eyes, why the hell hadn’t he closed the curtains when he’d gone to bed last night? Actually, when had he gone to bed last night?
Derek shot up, face squeezing as his building migraine informed him of just how much it did not appreciate that move, and heart jumping in panic as he took in the unfamiliar surroundings that he now found himself in.
There was a rustling to the right and Derek turned his head so fast that somewhere in the back of his mind he wondered if it was possible to give yourself whiplash. The woman who has made the sound smiled at him, the expression so kind and honest that it put Derek at ease despite himself.
“You gave us all a scare last night Mr. Hale, turning up like you did. I don’t suppose you know what you were drugged with? Your labs should tell us, but it would be a lot easier if you knew.”
Derek opened his mouth, his tongue feeling big and clumsy and his throat burning as he tried to make a sound, the woman’s face flashed in sympathy and she held up a hand, motioning for him to wait a second as she brought over a cup of water.
The smoothness of the liquid felt like reaching nirvana and Derek was slightly loath to part with the cup, even as he placed it back in her outstretched hand. He cleared his throat and tried again, this time the words coming out without feeling like his vocal cords where being rubbed against sandpaper; thank goodness for small mercies.
“Thank you,” Derek gestured at the cup, feeling lighter as he got that smile once more, “I don’t know,” he looked around again, taking in the bareness of the room, the big window that was only covered by a thin gauzy drape, the box store art on the walls and the TV sitting on a low stand across from him. “I don’t know anything,” Derek felt his eyebrows start to pinch and he looked back at the woman, “where am I?”
The woman, to her credit, continued to smile at him, reaching out to pat his shoulder, “Don’t worry about it, we’ll figure it all out, and you’re in the spare room, no one ever really uses this one so don’t worry about putting anyone out.”
She stuck her hand out and Derek grasped it, shaking it gently, “I’m Melissa, by the way, and you, Derek Hale, your reputation precedes you.”
There was a flush that rose on Derek’s cheeks at her comment and he ducked his head, shy. No matter that he’d been an out and proud superhero for years now, he couldn’t help reverting to the little introverted middle child that he had been for most of his life.
The little bonding session was brought to a swift halt by the sharp shriek of outrage that sounded from out the door and down the hall and Derek jumped, his body tensing as strictly honed flight or fight instincts roared to life, but Melissa just laughed and rolled her eyes.
She turned from him, still holding the cup that he had drank out of and headed over to the door, an indulgent look on her face. “Don’t worry about that, it’s just my boys being, well, themselves.”
With the door open Derek could hear someone talking, whining in protest really, while another voice just kept laughing. Derek could feel his forehead crinkle as his eyebrows drew taut, he knew that voice, didn’t he? No, Derek was almost sure that he did.
But then again, at the moment, he didn’t even know where he was so better to take things one at a time, mystery voices could wait for later.
There was the sound of footsteps and then hushed voices as Melissa conversed with someone just out of his line of sight, then the woman turned back to him, face drawn a bit tighter but look no less kind, “I’ll see you soon Derek, make sure to stay in bed and rest.”
Then she was gone and, in her place, stood a man; tall and lanky but with far more muscle and body strength hidden under the stupid flannel that he insisted on wearing than one would think. And Derek knew that for a fact because the man that owned that body had put him in the hospital more times than he could count.
What. The. Fuck.
Stiles watched, bemused and entertained by the shouting and flailing going on in front of him. Man was he happy that he had chosen to not cold blood murder Derek Hale last night, his morning would have been so dull without this current display and there was only so many times he could trick Scott into walking into a saran wrapped doorway, the dumbass would catch on eventually, probably.
Stile snickered as Derek threw his pillow at him, not even bothering to catch it and instead just looking his arch enemy in the eye, a delighted smile taking over his face. Derek scowled as an answer and Stiles rolled his eyes. The dude was going to prematurely wrinkle if he kept doing that shit with his face.
“How the fuck did you get me and why the hell am I stuck in bed? What did you give me?!”
Stiles just looked at his fingers, inspecting his nails and making a mental note that it might be time to visit the salon again, gun work played havoc on one’s cuticle bed and his were as dry as the desert. There was another shout from across the room, this one even louder and more cursey and Stiles pursed his lips. Weren’t superheroes supposed to be all pure and shit? Where did they even learn words like that all locked up in their ivory towers being better than all other people.
Stiles pushed himself off the wall that he had taken to leaning against, this was the thanks he got for being a good Samaritan. I don’t think so.
“I didn’t get you asshole, you showed up on my front door, stained my welcome mat with your blood and passed out in my arms like the damsels you were always meant to be.” Stiles looked up then, eyes boring directly into Derek’s and wow, he’d never noticed that the stupid hero’s eyes were so stupidly beautiful. Stiles' lip curled, stupid superheroes.
“I like my welcome mat, my dad gave it to me, and I fully expect you to pay for me to get it cleaned.”
There were many things that Derek could say to that, there were many things that Derek wanted to say and many things that he wanted to do but what came out of his mouth was, “You have a dad?” And great. He was just kidnapped by the scourge of today but at least he was able to make his enemy laugh, that was what life was about wasn’t it? Laughter?
Derek wasn’t sure what he had been drugged with, if it was lethal or not but at the moment, he hoped with the beat of every mind-numbing pound in his head, that it killed him nice and quick.
The metal spoon clanked as it hit the edge of the bowl and Derek winced as some of the hot soup inside splashed out and onto his wrist, he looked dubiously at the food that had been dropped off by a man earlier that had proudly proclaimed himself to be Stile’s number one henchman Scott, and Derek had filed that information away for later; right now he had to decide if he was hungry enough to risk possibly getting poisoned.
The nurse lady from that morning had seemed to genuinely want to help him but then again, she worked for is arch nemeses, she could be pretending. Hell, who knew if she was actually a nurse.
Derek groaned, placing the bowl on the little table next to his bed and dropping his head into his hands. How had this happened to him? The only thing he could remember from the night before was getting the phone call that he was needed at an altercation across town, he knew he must have gotten into his battle suit at some point because it was hanging, torn and blood stained, across from him on a hook in the room.
What he couldn’t figure out though, is what had happened between leaving his apartment and waking up here, in this bed.
Stiles' ‘secret’ lair was anything but secret, what with the sheer number of antennas and shady looking people walking in and out of it at all times, and the intelligence department had been monitoring it for a half a year now.
The place was heavily protected, covered in booby traps and sensors and Derek had been working closely with his team that was comprised of agents from all different branches of government to figure out a way in. No matter what they did, all tentatively drawn up plans where eventually tossed in the trash.
The hideout might not be very well hidden but if Derek had to bet, he would put his money on that simply being part of Stiles design. The man was brilliant, he had been a thorn in Derek’s side since he graduated from the academy and had officially been given his territory to protect, and the fact that he had still not been able to apprehend Stiles was a constant black cloud over Derek’s head.
He had come close so many times only for the villain to laugh and turn it all back on him, and that there was another thing. Stiles had no issue killing, there was a trail of mutilated bodies stacked so high on his resume that the FBI had had Stiles’s name as their number one most wanted for four years now and it had only taken the man one year after hitting the scene to get there.
Derek was pretty sure that Stiles wore that as a badge of honor.
And yet, Derek was still alive. Stiles had had him dead to rights, had him caught in an underground water proof basement that was slowly flooding and had left him with an oxygen tank; he had once had one of his goons tie Derek to some train tracks and then, seconds before the train came barreling down and around the tracks, he had tossed Derek a knife, and it drove Derek crazy.
There was no question that he was only alive because Stiles wanted it, and here he was now, laid up in bed in the home of his enemy in pajamas he was pretty sure belonged to Stiles, with no idea how he had shown up at his front door, no idea what had prompted him to go there in the first place and a massive lump on the back of his head that was starting to throb again.
Derek looked down at the soup, reaching a hand out to pick up the bowl and letting himself relax back on the pillow behind him. Derek looked at the bowl, a long-suffering sigh leaving his lips, well, either way he was fucked, there was no reason for him to meet his death hungry.
At least the soup was still warm.
There was a shout followed by the echo of a gun going off that startled Derek from his admittedly nice deep sleep. The floor was cold under his feet, but the increasing and unmistakable sound of fighting prompted him to get his ass in gear and go find the origin point of whatever the hell was up.
The only clothes in the room, other than his torn and messed up suit, where the pajamas already on his body, and Derek highly doubted that he had been left any of his weapons. Fine. He was a good fighter with or without help, he would be fine.
Did he look intimidating dressed in soft cotton PJs with little moons all over them, no. Did it fucking matter, not really, not unless one was talking about his pride but, whatever. He had grown up in a house full of women, they had made sure that he had no pride to speak of.
The sounds were still echoing down the hall and into his room and Derek tiptoed his way to the door, giving it a soft push and holding his breath as it let out a little squeak. Supervillains apparently didn’t care about the state of rust on their door hinges.
Another strike against them.
The hall outside of his room was dark, the overhead lights out, and the shadows seemed to grow larger the more time Derek spent sneaking his way down them. There was a crash that made him jump, and fuck anyone if they ever spoke about the soft yelp that left his mouth.
And then he heard it, Stiles’s voice.
Yes sure, the fact that he was currently in the heart of his enemy’s home had been something that Derek had been aware of for a while now, but there was something that struck it home for him as the cold tone filtered its way to his ears.
There was just enough time for Derek to peak his head around the corner before the deafening sound of a revolver woke the slumbering ache in his brain, starting it back onto its old rhythm of ouch and agony.
The body that the bullet had landed in dropped to the floor and Derek winced as Stiles started shouting again, fucking hell. Did this guy have an off button? Or like, a volume one at least. Derek pushed himself fully into the room, taking in the comfy looking couch that had definitely seen better days, and the blood splatter all over the wall of TV’s. Security cameras, so many security cameras.
There where so many bodies on the floor, that Derek felt he was justified in his lack of acknowledgment or care when he inevitably stumbled over one in his attempt to cross the room. He felt like he should feel bad, but also, he was tired, his head hurt, and the only way to not knock into one was to fly.
Flying was not part of his job description. He was The Wolfman, not fucking Superman.
Stiles looked up, his much-needed rant interrupted buy his resident pain in the ass, and what the hell.
How where his minions supposed to know how fucking dumb they were if he didn’t tell them?! Their yearly reviews where coming up, they needed all the feedback they could get if they wanted to keep, well, their lives.
The stupid wrinkle between Derek’s frankly ridiculous eyebrows where back, and Stiles’s was half tempted to poke it, but before he could give in to his baser instincts, his goody-goody enemy opened his mouth, said, “I’m trying to fucking sleep.”, and passed out. Again. The fuck.
There was a snicker off to the side of the room, and Stiles made note of it as he lunged forward, arms just catching Derek before the dumbass cracked his skull open on the coffee table. Why the hell was this guy so high maintenance? Weren’t Superheroes supposed to be, oh, I don’t know, fucking super?
Stiles looked down at the guy currently happily weighing down his body, and very possibly permanently pulling his spine out of alignment with his stupid big muscles and sighed. He had a superhero to put back in bed, a living room to clean up, a minion to murder and a new enemy to figure out.
It was going to be a long night.
The first thing Derek did the next morning, was scream into his pillow; the fact that the damn thing was the softest pillow that he had ever had the misfortune to sleep on did not help matters.
The second thing Derek did was glare at the nice, clean, perfectly in his size clothes that lay next to his bed on a chair.
The third thing he did was scoff at the note sat atop the little pile that read, ‘I got your favorite brands, why are you such a label queen? Do you know how much these jeans cost? Whatever, get dressed and come find me, we need to talk.’
Derek crumpled the note and tossed it into the corner of the room. Was there a trash can there? No. Is it rude to just throw trash around in someone else’s home? Yes.
His current company must be rubbing off on him.
The stupid jeans and even stupider V-neck fit perfectly, and that only made Derek angrier. And why was he not provided shoes? Socks? The floor was cold damn it.
His stupid host was so thoughtless.
And no one had to know that he scooped up his litter as he went past it out of the room. He had a reputation to protect.
There was something to be said about sleep. Actually, there was a lot of something’s to be said about sleep and the thing that Stiles most wanted to say about it was that he wanted some. Now.
But sleep was for the weak, or the wicked or, or, something… There was a saying for that right? Stiles was sure there was but fuck him to the sun if he could remember what.
The point however was, that Stiles wanted to sleep.
It had been such a long time since he had last laid down anywhere, and the still blood-stained floor of his living room was looking mighty tempting. Unhygienic and definitely something that would leave him open to a possible blood borne pathogen sure, but like, it was flat.
Stiles’s hand shook slightly as his lifted his cup of tea back to his lips, the little tremors making the liquid inside ripple and that thought sent his mind spinning back to some long-buried memory of being at a lake with someone and skipping rocks.
The tea burned as it went down and Stiles rolled his eyes, both at the sappy memory and at the absolutely disgusting bland leaf water.
Why did Melissa have to ban coffee from the house? He was not abusing it. Hands are supposed to shake, bodies are supposed to vibrate, people are supposed to stay up for three days straight. This is common knowledge, everyone and their mother knows this.
Heaving another sigh, Stiles brought the cup back up; nothing for it, he would have to suffer unless he felt like doing his own shopping.
Someone walked into the living room and made a sound of disgust and Stiles could not fight the grin that stole over his face.
The Wolfman was an annoying superhero but Derek Hale? Derek Hale was a fucking entertaining house guest and Stiles liked being entertained.
Derek scrunched his nose as the wet soggy mess that was currently passing for the living room carpet. Why the fuck was his archenemy just fucking chilling in this room?! Did he not have, oh, I don’t know, an entire rest of a house to hang out in? Was he so attached to this one room that there was nowhere else he could stand to be?
“I was waiting for you to get up, sleeping beauty. Didn’t want you to have to wonder the whole house yourself.”
Stiles winked at him, then continued, voice laced with more amusement then Derek was comfortable with, “There are all kinds of unsavory types here, wouldn’t want you to pass out from the shock. What if you hurt yourself?”
The mocking was clear in Stiles’s voice and Derek wanted to protest, wanted to tell him to go fuck himself but, well… There was a clear flash of memory at the forefront of his mind, one that showed him his world tilting off to the side and then Stiles coming in from nowhere, arms holding him up and a warmth that came over his body that spoke of safety.
Teeth grinding together, Derek forced his mouth open to growl out a, “Thanks for… you know.”
To which Stiles responded, teeth flashing in a shit eating grin, “Do I? You might need to expand on that.”
And fuck, there was an itch in Derek’s palm, a twisting tightness to his fingers that spoke of his current overwhelming desire to choke the living hell out of the fuckwad standing in front of him. Molars squeaking in protest as Derek did his level best to grind them out of existence, he took a deep breath in through his nose; he, Derek Hale, was a superhero, a good guy. He did not go around just offing people, no matter how much they were asking for it.
Temper back under control for the time being, Derek looked around, the smell coming from the cup in Stiles’s hand smelled amazing, was that herbal? He would sell his left kidney for some fucking tea, but first, “What did you need to speak about.”
“Eh?” Stiles jerked his head up, wobbling a little as his body jolted back to wakefulness from the tiny power nap he had just succeeded in taking. Hah, take that every single person that has ever told him that he doesn’t have a work / life balance, he was fine! More than!
“Oh, right,” Stiles’s tipped his head in the direction of the doorway, “let’s get out of here first, this room is starting to smell like a slaughterhouse.”
Derek wrinkled his nose; he had very much so been trying to ignore that fact thanks.
The room next to the living room was a kitchen and Derek wanted to pretend that he wasn’t surprised by how homey… it was. All cherry woods and open window; it was unfair that a damn supervillain had a nicer kitchen then him; a kitchen that looked like someone put a lot of love and time into it, a kitchen that was filled with top of the line appliances and beautiful leather finished quartz countertops.
This whole room bore obvious signs of being a well-used and well-loved place and Derek very studiously ignored the jealousy bubbling in his stomach; who even used this stupid kitchen anyhow? He stole a look at Stiles; it couldn’t be him, right? It was hard to think of his nemesis standing over a pot, sweating away while making, I dunno, fucking soup or whatever people stood over hot pots for.
Derek was a master of many arts, cooking, however, was not one of them. And trying to change that had nearly cost him loss of limb on more than one occasion.
There was an exploding cake. Baking soda and baking powder should not have such similar names if they aren’t interchangeable.
Stiles settled his cup on the counter and pointed at the still steaming kettle on the stove, “Help yourself, there are more mugs in the cupboard and the teas on the counter. Your shit out of luck for coffee,” he pulled a sour face, “it’s been banned from the premises.”
Sensing something there, Derek weighed how much he really wanted to know this story with how much he really wanted to not get to know his enemy, and chose that a life of mystery was underrated, tea was what he wanted anyhow, a nice, good cup of something hot and strong would do him wonders.
Both men kept silent as Derek moved around the kitchen; he could feel Stiles’s eyes on him though, sharp and pointed and it took nearly all of his training to pretend that the weight of them wasn’t making his skin crawl.
By the time the water was poured, steam curling out of the cup in pretty little wisps and swirls, Derek’s heart felt a beat away from jumping out of his chest. It wasn’t every day you sat down with your arch nemesis for a morning chat over drinks.
Stiles coughed, pointed and fake, getting the attention he had set out for and nodded his head at the table and sat down. It took Derek a moment to follow, but at the little smirk starting to lift at the corner of Stiles’s lip, he hurried over.
Never let a predator know you’re afraid.
The string hanging out of his cup proved a good outlet for the nervous energy buzzing in his system and Derek found himself playing with it, winding and unwinding it around his fingers as Stiles started to speak, the tea bag merrily bobbing away.
“We figured out what you were drugged with,” Stiles started, “and I would advise taking more of a precaution when you go out drinking, but I think we both know that you don’t have a life.”
Derek rolled his eyes at the jab and waited for the grin on Stiles face to fade and for him to continue.
“Somehow, someone slipped Rohypnol into your system, the stuff starts working pretty fast so it must have been in something you ate that night. Did you order in?”
Derek thought back, what had he been doing the night that this had all started? The day itself had been normal; wake up, work out, go to the office. Patrol was normal, no one all that bad out on the streets, and nothing had stood out to him as off when he had gotten home.
The only break from the ordinary was what he had had for dinner and no… It couldn’t have been. The one fucking time he let himself live a little.
Derek’s voice, when it came, was soft and so quiet that Stiles had to lean over the table to hear it. He looked up at Derek, taking in the hunch of his shoulders and the way that he had wrapped both of his hands around his mug, and now seemed to be trying to crush it with how hard he was holding it.
Stiles very strongly resisted the impulse to roll his eyes, and instead put the most patient look in his arsenal on his face. He had been told by a very large number of people a very large number of times that his patient look did not come off as all that patient, but you work with what you’ve got.
Derek clenched his teeth, ignored the blush of heat on his face, and repeated himself, a little louder this time. “I said, I had pizza that night.”
“I don’t, I don’t eat that kinda stuff.” He looked down through the loop of his arms at his stomach, “We’re not supposed to eat that stuff, gotta stay fit. For-” he wiggled his fingers, “-yah know, fighting.”
Jesus, Stile raised an eyebrow, no fucking wonder all the superheroes where such annoying-ass sticks in the mud; they lived like they were already dead.
“Ok, so let me get this straight. You bought pizza and you think the drug was in the pizza?”
“I ordered pizza, to my apartment,” Derek corrected him, “from some new place in my neighborhood that had stuck a flyer to my door.” He removed a hand from around his cup and used it to slap himself on the forehead. “I’m such an idiot.”
“I’m not gonna like, disagree with you.”
Derek acknowledged this with a sad sound of self-deprecation that seemed to come from somewhere in the back of his throat. Stiles thought it fair to liken it to what he imagined a down on his luck bullfrog might sound like.
“But, and it pains me to say this, you are not actually at fault here. Someone went to a lot of trouble to mess you up, and the part that I keep circling back to, is why? You’re not a particularly fantastic superhero, oh stop glaring at me, and fact remains that there are far easier ways to catch you. So,” Stiles steepled his fingers, “I have to conclude that it wasn’t actually you that they were after. It was something you could give them.”
Derek snorted, “Like what?”
“Well,” Stiles brought his pointer fingers together and started to count down, ticking each finger as he went “one, while you may not be the world’s best superhero, you are still a superhero and as such privy to much the government keeps from the common man. Two, someone could have done this to make a point, but I highly doubt that, too much trouble; three, they could have just been after your body, but again, I doubt it. There are far easier ways to get your rocks off, which leads me back to one. You know something and someone wanted to know it too, and also,” Stiles squinted at him, “you should think a little higher of yourself, seriously.”
Choosing to ignore the last bit, Derek thought about the points that Stiles had made; yes, he did know secrets, but Stiles was also right in saying that he wasn’t exactly the world’s best superhero. There was a limit to what was shared with him, anyone going after something big would have been better off kidnapping a more revered superhero, like The Huntress; the people and the government loved The Huntress and no, he was not bitter.
After giving him a moment to think, Stiles continued, “All of the happenings of the last few days plus a little research that I pulled last night has led me to what I think might be the beginnings of an evil plot unravel. There’s something that you know that someone needed to know, and there is something that I have that someone needed to get. I don’t think you were actually supposed to get out of your kidnapping alive so bully for you, but the fact that you were taken and then my home was broken into the very next night seems like too much of a coincidence for me.”
“Maybe someone just felt like fucking with you?”
“Um, no.” Stiles said, head tipping up in the most arrogant angle he could manage, “No one is stupid enough to break into my home on a whim; you might be a par for the course superhero, but I am a fantastic villain. People who fuck with me just to fuck with me end up dead, quickly.”
And… that was true. Derek knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that was true.
The world was filled with superheroes and villains, and while the process to become a superhero was rigorous and took years; all of them filled with testing and screening and hell, the process to become a villain was as simple as deciding that you had a shitty day and the world was going to pay for it.
There where tons of subpar villains around, but only the truly evil, truly great and truly smart ever lasted long enough to become an actual threat, an actual supervillain, and Stiles was one of the worst, or best, depending on your point of view. And Derek knew that.
Which brought up another question.
“Why are you helping me? Why are you being nice?”
Stiles took a deep breath and seemed to weigh his options, back straightening as he came to a decision. “Honestly? I like you. You’re not full of yourself like most other superheroes, you seem to actually, truly want to help people, and you don’t good guy monologue at the villains you capture.”
And that was… insane, but also kind of… sweet? Or something?
Derek cursed his overactive, and obviously confused, capillary response as he felt his cheeks heat up again, stammering out a choppy, “Um, yah… thanks, I guess?” and then quickly looked down into the cup holding his rapidly cooling tea. What the fuck was wrong with him?
Stiles didn’t bother to hide the amusement in his voice, “Anyhow, until me and my people figure out exactly what is going on and who is making it happen, you’re welcome to stay with me. You can have free rein of anywhere in this house that the door opens for you, and you can keep staying in the guest room. If you do decide to go home, I’ll have Scott give you a ride, and don’t worry,” Stiles winked at him, “we know the address.”
Derek knew, he knew he should leave. Go home, take this unexpected chance at freedom, and, while he would like to pretend the reigning force behind his desire to stay was this unprecedented and unexpected look behind enemy lines, his mother had not raised a liar.
It was just, there was something about Stiles, about the way that he carried himself, the way that he expressed himself to the world and Derek knew it was stupid, knew it was beyond dangerous and that if any of his sisters where here right now they would slap him over the head and tell him to get over his little crush.
Derek was a superhero. Stiles was a supervillain. They were mortal enemies.
These where facts.
In the last week, Stiles had been the person that yelled at shitty movies and threw popcorn at the screen, he was the person that ate an entire tub of ice cream in one sitting because Scott had told him he couldn’t.
Stiles was climbing out to the top of the satellite riddled roof at the crack of dawn because “We’re up anyways, we might as well see the sunrise.”
Stiles was dumb jokes and snappy remarks; he was Derek waking up in the morning with a cup of tea already sitting and waiting for him on the counter.
Stiles was so, so much more than Derek had thought him to be; more than the little caricature that he had drawn up for him in his brain, and while he knew that the Stiles from before was still Stiles, that the violent sociopath was just another facet of the goofball that sucked at Mario Kart, it was so fucking hard to remember.
When Derek had told Stiles that he would stay, he hadn’t expected the grin that rose at his words, nor had he expected to have his arm grabbed and his body dragged to a computer, with Stiles excitedly jabbering away about how they needed to get him new clothes.
The week had been, well, if Derek was being honest, amazing. He was comfortable here, with these people. More comfortable than he was comfortable with, and that was a thought that he had taken to pushing to the back of his mind until it was time for bed, only to lay awake with his mind pinging faster and louder than a pinball machine.
There was something so freeing about just, existing. No patrols, no family constantly looking over his shoulder, telling him who to be and how to live. For the first time he was just, Derek.
“Do you not like chocolate?”
The question sounded almost like an accusation, and Derek rolled his eyes at the tone, fixing an unimpressed look at Scott as he thought out his answer. “Ok, first off, again, it’s not that I don’t like chocolate, it’s just that I don’t care about it. I have no positive or negative feelings for chocolate, if it’s there I’ll eat it, if not, I won’t. Period. Second,” he squinted his eyes, “why the fuck do you care so much?”
Scott threw his head back, the sound of it missing the back of the couch and hitting the wall a dull thud. Wincing and rubbing the bruised spot, Scott answered him, his feelings on how unjust the situation was clear in his voice. “I don’t really, but I’m bored and you’re the only thing I have to distract myself with. There’s a raid tonight, the A team is going to check something out, I have no idea what, Stiles wouldn’t tell me. But I was informed that while my presence in the field was undesired, I could make myself useful by babysitting you.”
The ‘you’ was a pointed jab and Derek resisted the urge kick his leg out and plant the ball of his foot as hard as he could on Scott’s knee. Either his contempt for the idiot was starting to take over his common sense, or his time spent with ruthless killers was starting to shift his moral compass over to the left.
If he had to choose, Derek would go with his growing dislike of Scott as the kicker. How Melissa had managed to birth such an annoying creature was behind Derek’s understanding. The woman was amazing; Scott must have been created from the very dregs of her genetics.
Derek flexed his foot, his leg bouncing where it sat crossed over his knee, “And why did he not want you on the field?”
Scott had, at the very least, the good grace to look ashamed.
“You remember the break in we had last week?”
Derek snorted. Who the fuck could forget that kinda blood bath? Looking round the room, he couldn’t help but be impressed with whomever Stiles had had clean it.
Scott continued his voice a little petulant and his body turning in a bit, “I was on watch that night, but I got distracted. I was texting with Allison and I can’t help the fact that she is way more interesting than a bunch of boring screens.”
Allison, how Scott had managed to convince her to give him the time of day was another mystery to Derek.
“Anyhow, Stiles is ‘disappointed in me’”- Scott raised his hands to accentuate the little finger quotes, -“and he told me that I have to earn back his trust, so, this is me,”- he waved his arm lazily in the air, -“earning it back.
The idea that Scott could keep him safer than he could keep himself was laughable, but Derek had the feeling that that was not why Scott was really here. There was a limit to the amount that Stiles trusted him, alone, in his base, and he couldn’t exactly be offended.
But still. Scott? Of all people.
There was a shuffling sound that drew his attention back, and Derek looked up as Scott rearranged himself on the couch.
“You want to watch a movie or something? They might be hours and like, we don’t really have all that much to talk about.”
And sure, why not.
Movie night it is.
He would figure out what Stiles was up to later.
The slam of a door bouncing off its frame jolted Derek out of what was a very nice, if not very comfortable, sleep and he groaned at the tightness in his neck.
Why the fuck was he sleeping on the couch?
Derek looked around, his face pulling into an expression of disgust at the bits of buttery popcorn smashed against his arm and other extremities. Pursing his lips, he absentmindedly peeled some off his jeans and looked around the room, trying to pinpoint just what had woken him.
What time was it even? There were no visible clocks in sight and Derek hadn’t had access to a cellphone since his arrival, something that left him feeling a little naked but also, to his surprise, so incredibly free. It was kind of nice being unreachable. Although, if and when he rejoined the world, his family was going to kill him, and Derek privately thought that that alone was possibly enough motivation to not ever go back.
Derek could, and has many times over, freely admitted that his family were a weird bunch; smart, aggressive, and painfully overprotective. But also, so incredibly full of love that staying mad at them was a near impossible task, no that he hadn’t tried.
Growing up with the pressure to achieve like he had, what with his mother’s position as the Executive Assistant Director in charge of the Superhero Branch and Taskforce, a branch that she had built from the ground up, there was never really time for Derek to just be a mediocre kid, to spend time playing around, making mistakes and figuring himself out.
And Derek didn’t mind, really. Well, most of the time he didn’t mind, some nights though, he would stay up, tossing in bed as his mind played different fantasies that all revolved around who he could have been if he had been allowed to figure that out himself, but usually, Derek was fine with how he had turned out, with who he had become.
And that was another thing that made his stay in Château de Stiles so confusing for him, here, there was no pressure to be anyone but himself; no one was counting on him to know what to do at all times, or looking to his to save the day, here, he was just Derek, and he was finding out, much to his surprise, that just Derek was someone a little different than who he had thought he was.
There was a shuffling coming from the room over and Derek popped his head over the couch, just catching sight of the back of Stiles’s head before it rounded the edge of the doorway. Derek strained his ears, Stile’s low voice hard to hear, and if he focused very hard, he was just able to make out what was being said.
Whomever Stiles was talking to, he must be close to them because Derek had never heard that tone from him before, sure Stiles was kind to Melissa, always speaking to her with more respect in his voice that he used for anyone else, and as much as he complained about Scott, there was an undeniable affection present for all their interactions; but Derek had never heard this kind of softness before, and it would be absolutely futile for him to pretend that he wasn’t intrigued.
Derek chanced leaning his head forward over the back of the couch a little more, and then focused on keeping his breathing soft and even; getting caught eavesdropping was not the way he wanted his evening to end, and then did his best to analyze the half of the conversation that he could hear.
“No,” there was more shuffling from the kitchen, “I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again, deep fried anything is bad for you. Stop pretending you don’t know this; I know you’re just doing this to get back at me for the stress I cause you.”
There was a soft laugh, and then the sound of a chair being pulled out from the table, “Dad, I promise I’m being careful, you know I am, and your little spy would tell you if I do anything to crazy.”
Derek stifled a gasp at the word dad, his heart picking up it’s pace. Of course Stiles had a father, it’s not like he had just popped into existence fully grown, but no one had ever been able to track down where he had come from before debuting himself to the world. For all that they could figure out, Stiles had shown up as a full-fledged villain, and that was that.
But here was proof that not only did Stiles have roots, he kept in touch with them too, much, much more than anyone had ever even ventured to guess, and what was Derek supposed to do with that information? He was being handed all the tools it would take to bring Stiles down, all he really had to do was stay a little longer, get Stiles to trust him a little more, but…
Was that what he really wanted to do?
He hadn’t shown up here that night to plant himself as a spy; in truth, Derek still had no concrete reason as to why he had shown up at Stiles' ‘secret’ lair in the first place other than the deep, deep feeling in his bones that he would be safe there. Most of that night was still a mystery, little flashes of memory the most that he had gotten back; but he remember the ache in his body, and the pull to go to the one place he was sure would help make it better.
Which was weird, Derek was aware; but going around in circles wasn’t helpful, nor was it making anything clearer, so Derek had, a little while ago, come to the conclusion that he wasn’t going to think about it anymore. And he had been doing so good too.
Stiles was still talking on the phone, so Derek pushed his swirling thoughts to the back of his mind and focused his attention back to the conversation, he heard another light laugh and then, “Please, don’t pretend like it was her idea to come stay with me, we both know you put her up to it. And Dad, I love Scott, don’t tell him, but he is a massive liability, please, please take him back. You can get him to want to go back to vet school, having him here is like trying to take a toddler on a heist, it doesn’t work.”
Derek held in a laugh.
“Look, I’m always to the bottom of whatever’s been going on, I think I have the mastermind behind all this figured out, I’m just waiting on an answer from one of my guys, Dad, I think it’s her.”
Stiles' voice had gotten softer, sadder, and Derek felt his heart hurt a little at the pain laced into it, he kept listening, his body starting to hurt from how stiff he was holding himself.
“I just wanted to let you know that I got back ok, I know you worry, go to bed Dad, you can’t be a good Sheriff if your falling asleep at your desk. And please, for the love of all that’s holy, eat a vegetable.”
There was some more talking, a couple more goodbye and good nights, but Derek wasn’t listening anymore, his brain was too busy exploding.
Stiles had said sheriff, right? He hadn’t imagined that, right?
There where so many thoughts, so many questions circling in his head and Derek kind of thought he was going to burst.
Stiles’ father was a sheriff.
What the fuck?
Trying to pretend that he hadn’t overhead Stiles on the phone was starting to become a far more difficult thing than Derek had anticipated, and as a result, he found himself starting to avoid Stiles, something he had never really thought would be an issue.
But the last few weeks had turned Derek’s life on its head, and he actually found that he was missing Stiles, missing the easy conversation and the way that Stiles could make him laugh at the drop of a hat, it was startling; this realization, that out of everyone he had ever met, the one person on this planet that just seemed to get him was the person that he had spent majority of the last several years trying to catch and imprison.
The sun would soon be making its way up in the sky, there was already a dusting of pink on the horizon, and the view from the roof of Stiles' lair was stunning. Up on this mountain, Derek felt like the world was a painting made just for him, and there was this tightness in his chest that always seemed to loosen at the sight of the thousands of lights spread before him, down in the city.
The air was cool, the breeze a little more on the uncomfortably chilly side, a heralding reminder that winter would be upon them soon, but at this moment, wrapped up layers of blankets, smiling a thanks as Stiles handed him a mug of coco, Derek felt warm, safe and so incredibly content.
He actively worked at quieting the little voice in his head that told him his feeling where wrong.
Stiles huffed at his side, and Derek turned to look at him; Stiles’ eyes where red rimmed, the skin under them dark and baggy and Derek wondered when the last time Stiles had slept through the night was. Stiles looked up and quirked a smile at Derek, one eyebrow going up in question and Derek smiled back at him, his ability to stave off a blush now something of a talent.
“You’ve been acting off lately.”
Derek snorted in response and took a sip of his drink; it was fucking perfect, not to heavy but still warm and chocolaty, and then looked back at Stiles. “I would say that you’ve been acting off, but I think at this point, we’re both aware that that’s the only way you act.”
Stiles’ eye roll was enough answer to that.
“You’ve been gone a lot lately, any closer to getting to the bottom of our situation?”
There was a long moment of silence, and Derek took that as a chance to study Stiles’ expression; there was something in his eyes, a darkness that had nothing to do with evil and everything to do with pain, and Derek hoped beyond hope maybe, just maybe Stiles would share, would finally let Derek in, just a little.
The mug in Stiles’ hand clinked as he put it down on the concrete roof, and he sighed as he pulled his own blanket tighter over his shoulders, looking over at Derek and catching his studying gaze. “There is this Supervillain,” Stiles started, “she goes by the name The Queen,” he paused and held up his fingers to make little quote marks, “because she is the Queen of the jungle.”
There was another eyeroll, “She’s been around for a while but she’s incredible at staying off the radar, almost never directly gets her hands dirty. But,” Stiles looked at him, “I’ve got enough intel at this point to say that she is the most likely culprit to the bullshit that’s been going on.”
Okay, Derek nodded, eyebrows furrowed, seemed pretty standard so far, why was Stiles making this out to be a big deal?
Derek gestured to show he was listening, and Stiles took a sip of his drink before continuing, “So, this woman, she’s brilliant and insane. I do bad things for good reasons, or well,” he corrected himself at the look on Derek’s face, “not so bad reasons, she does horrible things for fun. Because she likes the look on people’s faces when she tears their worlds apart, and sometimes, because she’s bored.”
There was something else there, Derek could feel it, lying in the tone just under the words that Stiles was saying, but he also knew that pushing would get him absolutely nowhere, so he waited with false patience.
Derek studied Stiles, the way he was sitting, a little hunched over himself, the way that his fingers where subconsciously fiddling with the edge of the blanket. There was a vulnerability to his actions that Derek wasn’t used to seeing, and he felt a warmth bloom up in the very pit of his stomach.
Derek pushed the feeling away, doing his absolute best to ignore it; if it wasn’t acknowledged he wouldn’t have to face himself, and, as a byproduct, his incredibly unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Derek heard Stiles take in a breath, long and loud, using it to ground himself, before he started talking again and the honesty in his voice was startling. Stiles was always so sure of himself, there was never a moment that Derek had ever witnessed where his confidence had wavered, always standing tall, a witty quip or a sarcastic grin the hallmark of his being.
But now, ask he spoke, his voice wavered and the words themselves seemed to be heavy and hard, like Stiles was forcing them out, dragging them from someplace deep inside of himself where they had been hidden and shackled for far too long.
Derek held himself still, keeping all the things he wanted to say in and forcing himself to just listen, it was harder than he thought it would be, keeping the urge to reach out pushed down, the want to offer comfort.
“My mom, she was an amazing woman, at least from what I remember, she always had a smile and an encouraging word for anyone that needed one, always did her best to show everyone in her life how much they meant to her.”
Stiles voice cracked a little, “Don’t get me wrong, she was badass, just as tough as she was kind, only a fool would ever get in her way. I still remember how excited she got when they announced the Superhero Bill,” he let out what sounded like a wet laugh and Derek felt his heart clench, “she died before it passed, but we used to sit together around the kitchen table and think of superhero names.”
There was a shrug under the blanket, hard to see with the layers over it, but Derek knew it was indicative of Stiles curling even tighter into a protective ball.
“She was at the hospital, not for anything crazy, just a really resilient stomach bug when The Queen attacked, she loaded poison into the air vents, by the time security closed it off everyone on the first two floor had already been affected. They were quarantined for two days, the poison was slow acting. No one affected survived.”
And yah, shit. Derek knew about this. He remembered this. He could still see his mom’s face when she had taken the call, could still feel the panic that had run through him when she had looked at him and told him that she had to leave, there had been a possible Supervillain attack, not to worry, dad would be home soon to look after them.
That attack had driven the Superhero Bill to be signed into Law the following day.
The country still had a day of remembrance for all those that had died in the Beacon Hills Memorial Hospital attack.
Despite the fact that there was no way he could have known, Derek still felt like he was lacking. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he kind of believed he should have just guessed, which was ridicules, but still.
Derek couldn’t stop the louder than normal inhale that he took, nor could he stop his arm from reaching out and rubbing what little of Stiles’s arm that was exposed from the blanket folds.
Stiles patted the hand still on his arm and shot Derek a wry smile. “I know what you’re thinking, your mom loved superheroes, you’re a supervillain, that’s messed up dude.”
And yah… Derek had a little been thinking that, but he wasn’t going to, yah know, voice it. He was a grumpy, socially awkward introvert, not a dick.
“After my mom died, I was angry. I was young and angry and the only thing I wanted was to get the person that had taken her from me. The fact that the media blew the whole thing up, and then the attack was used as a martyr to push the Supe Bill through only made me madder, and as a kid, I figured the best way to get back at everyone would be to beat them all.”
Derek watched, silent, as the words started pouring out of Stiles; like a dam with far too much pressure to keep from cracking, and Derek wondered if Stiles had ever spoken to anyone about all this before, if he had ever really shared everything that was going through his heart and his head.
Derek highly doubted it.
“I know that that kind of thinking is detrimental, that there are plenty of other ways that people get through tragedy and loss, but here’s the thing,” Stiles sat up, tall and straight, “I may have been a kid then, my idea may have been born from grief and loss, but I know what I’m about.
The system is broken, it’s always been broken and no ‘play by the rules’ agency is ever going to catch The Queen so,” Stiles looked Derek straight in the eye, “my game might be off center, but what I want is to make her pay. I want it to hurt, and I want her to know who’s doing it.”
Derek waited a moment for his thoughts to put themselves into some kind of coherent order before opening his mouth. “I… I understand, I think, where you’re coming from, I can’t really say that I agree, but I understand. What I don’t get is this, she hurt you, but you’re not exactly better are you? You’re a supervillain, and I know you know how many people you’ve killed. How many lives you’ve torn apart.”
It was dangerous, Derek knew, talking like this, no matter how nice Stiles had been, no matter how safe he had begun to feel, Stiles was still bad, and this talk, as revealing as it was, only served as a reminder.
But Stiles didn’t look upset at his words, if anything, Derek thought he looked… understanding, thoughtful, and he braced himself as Stiles made to speak again.
“I’m not sorry for the people I’ve killed, and I’ve never pretended to be a saint, but tell me, have I ever hurt someone that didn’t have it coming to them? There’s a massive gap between what the law says and what the people need, and I’m just fine being their scapegoat if it means that I can do what I need to do. And if I’m able to help some people who are getting left behind along the way, all the better.”
There had been times before in Derek’s life, times when he had been reading Stiles file and the niggling feeling that things weren’t adding up would lay there in his chest, heavy and annoying until Derek would beat it back, but, this was a lot to take at face value and just, “I can’t simply believe that you’re some kind of misunderstood Robin Hood just because you tell me you are.”
Stiles’s answering grin shouldn’t have made his heart beat so fast.
“I’m not asking you too, I’m just saying, think, really think, about all the things you know about me, about what you’ve been told and what you’ve seen. About every single time we have ever been up against each other. Take a look at the list of people I’ve killed and decide for yourself if the world would be better off with or without them.”
At this point Derek’s half-drunk cup of coco was cold in his hand, but he couldn’t really bring himself to care; Stiles was making motions to stand up, and the early morning spell was starting to wear off, the sun nearly completely over the horizon at his point, the sky more swirling blue and pink than the inky black it had been before, but there was still a layer of soothing calm that seemed to blanket the world.
Stiles’s own cup scraped against the concrete of the roof as he twisted it between both of his hands, he looked back at Derek and there was something in his eyes that Derek couldn’t completely read, but he didn’t think it was anything bad. It looked a little like hope, but still a little sad.
“I’m not a good guy Derek, but I’m not the monster you think I am either, I do bad things, usually for good reasons, but sometimes for selfish ones, and I won’t apologize for them. But The Queen, she is a plague that not even your worst nightmares could dream up, and for the first time in 20 years, I know what she wants. So, I’m asking you to help me.”
And that, there was only so much Derek could do when he was faced with that.
“What do you need?”
“Stop bouncing your knee idiot, you’re going to get us caught, and I’ll fuckin kill you if that happens.”
Derek did his damn best to keep in the sigh that was pounding to be let out in his chest. With how loud Stiles and Scott where, it was an honest fucking miracle that they hadn’t been caught ages ago. Waving his hand around in the universal sign for ‘shut the fuck up’, and then following that with the universal sign for ‘go fuck yourself’, Derek felt a little tightness loosen up as the soft sounds of scuffling eased back to complete silence.
There were waiting.
Just like they had been waiting for the last hour, and while Derek would have assumed that one of the world’s best Supervillains would be capable of fucking sitting still while waiting for their opening to break into a highly secure Government building, he would be wrong.
How the fuck Stiles had made it so many years without getting caught was beyond him, and Derek felt insides twist as another wave of anxiety rolled through his body.
A hand landed on his shoulder, and it was only his years of covert ops training that kept the squeak of surprise from leaving his mouth; the hand gave a little squeeze and then Stiles’ face was hovering over him.
“Calm down and have a little more faith in us. We’ve got another five minutes before we move and no ones going to be coming down this way for at least thirty seconds. Just relax, this isn’t going to be easy but we know what we’re doing.”
Derek swallowed down the protests that wanted to come up and nodded instead. Stiles was right, he himself might not know all that much about breaking and entering, but Stiles did. They were going to make it through this in one piece.
“All our people are in position, you’re sure yours will live up to their end?”
No. Derek was not sure, but he had to believe that when he’d picked up the phone and called his mom, had explained everything that had been going on, had told her where he had been, and with whom, and hopefully he had also successfully gotten her to shift her views, maybe just a little. Maybe just enough.
“Don’t worry,” Derek assured, his words far more confident than he felt, “they know what to do.”
The sound of marching boots over gravel rounded the corner, and Stiles jerked his head to the side, the hand on Derek’s shoulder tightening and pulling him back.
All there was to do now was wait for the guard to pass, the minutes to tick down, and the signal to be sent. And then they were going to catch The Queen.
“We’re a go!” Scott whisper yelled, and Derek felt his stomach turn over.
It was now or never.
There was a black mask being held up in front of his face, and Derek took it, looked at it for a second, and pulled it on. Fuck anything and everything in the world, he was going to do this, and he was going to do this so fucking well.
Derek flushed at the smile Stiles shot him before pulling on his own mask, and then they were running; full on, flat out running. There was a gate up ahead, and Derek knew that there was 10,000 volts of electricity coursing through that metal, and his hands were out, fingers bare and ready to grip, ready to pull his body up and over, and oh hell, they were going to die, oh fuck, no time to think, run, grab, pull, and they were on the other side, all three of them and Derek has never felt like this before.
The adrenaline, the freedom, the sheer elation consuming his entire body almost made him laugh, almost made him throw himself to the ground and writhe with joy, but he didn’t.
Instead he grabbed the hand that belonged to the person running next to him and felt the thrill of something new flash as Stiles’ let out a breathless little laugh.
And together, they ran.
It shouldn’t, Derek thought, have been this easy. Then again, if everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing, then yes, it actually should be.
That alone was an encouraging thought; if his mother held up her end of the deal, then there was a chance they might all live too tomorrow.
Fuck did Derek hope that, just this once, his mother would set aside her pride and just listen to him, they could go back to arguing over bullshit later. He was kind of looked forward to it honestly, and while missing his family was not what Derek thought would plague him in the middle of the night, there was something to be said for suppressing one’s emotions, and the fall out that accompanied it.
Once in the building, Scott had spied his and Stiles’ joined hands and had laughed, arm over his mouth to muffle the sound as it tried to rise in volume once he took in Derek’s flushed cheeks, bright pink from the run; the mask that he had just taken off, and the embarrassment.
Stiles, the dick, just looked incredibly smug.
“Ok, Scott, everything should already be set up, but double check. Me and Derek are going to go set up the bait.”
Scott nodded, stopping in front of Stiles and grabbing him into a hug before pulling his mask back down and heading off in the direction of the hallway.
Now it was just the two of them, and, any other time, this could have been nice. A trip out at night, like a date, or something. Not that Derek wanted this to be a date, this would be a shitty ass date. There should not be the very high possibility of death when going on a date.
The building was dark, the only light coming from the occasional overhead light that was left on for the guards, along with the red emergency exit signs and, despite having walked this very hallway more times than he could count, Derek felt disturbingly out of place, as if he really was a thief, broken in in the night.
It didn’t feel great, the halls that he had spent most of his childhood, and then his adulthood running and them marching up and down where now cold and foreboding, and is this how Stiles always felt? Like a stranger to the world that he had spent his entire life existing in.
Derek hoped not.
There was a tap on his shoulder, and he turned, Stiles’ ear-splitting grin greeting him and oh, right. Stiles loved this shit; he was the odd one out here.
“Everyone should be in place now wolf-boy, let’s go.”
The plan was pretty simple, and Derek was starting to truly understand why they had been having so much trouble catching Stiles all these years, there was none of the expected pomp or flash, just straight lines that left little to fuck up and it was brilliant in its simplicity.
Stiles’ plan went from point A to point B with a nice little detour at point Y to throw ‘em all of the scent, and it was beautiful.
It went like this.
Kate wanted something, something that Derek had the info too and Stiles had the ability to access.
Her one and only kidnapping of Derek, accidently left alive at the end or not, told them that whatever information she had been looking for, she got. Her break in at Stiles’ base reviled nothing material stolen, but there had been a hack on his computer, and it didn’t take much work to figure out what she had been after.
Next, Stiles had told him while they were both eating dinner; a low sodium, heart healthy concoction that Stiles was keen to force his dad to try and that Derek personally thought tasted like rubber, there was simply the matter of putting all the little breadcrumbs together.
What did Derek know then, what could be worth kidnapping a top Superhero and the son of an F.B.I. Executive Assistant Director? As it would turn out, the answer was far too much about a top-secret nuclear program that his mother was testing for the military.
What did Stiles have? A few very conventional placed satellites that where, according to him, “Completely harmless Derek, I just use it to get better cell reception.”
And what could they do with all this information?
Well, and Stiles had been very clear here, they could do anything.
The hollow click-clack of heels reverberated down and around the empty halls, and a lesser person might have found the sound to be the perfect trigger for their body to break out in chills and goosebumps, but it would take far, far more for Talia Hale to ever cower in fear.
This was, for all intents and purposes, just another night at the office, and, if she played her cards right, this night would be ending with more than one win.
Stiles’ earpiece buzzed with white noise before a click was heard, and then Scott’s hushed voice came through, nearly too low to be picked up by the speaker, and Stiles sighed in consternation; maybe he had been a bit too harsh on his best buddy, he’d apologize when they got home, if they got home.
“Stil- shit, I mean Bro-1, do you read me? Over.”
What was that he’d been thinking? Oh right, fuck that sorry bullshit, Scott deserved every bit of his dressing down.
Deep breath in, then out, calm, then, “Affirmative Bro-2, you’re a dumbass by the way. Over.”
Click, buzz, white noise, “That’s really hurtful Bro-1. Over.”
“I honestly don’t care right now Bro-2. Over.”
“Would you both shut up, you do know we are in the middle of a multi-agency operation and they can all hear you right? Over.”
Buzz. “Sorry Mr. Stili- oh fuck, I mean, Beta-1. Bro-1, I’m in position, cheese is set up, it all looks good. Over.”
“Copy that Bro-2, we’re also in position and good to go. What about you Beta-1? Over.”
“All set Bro-1, Alpha-1, sound off. Over.”
“Good to go Beta-1. Over.”
Breaking into Government buildings was kind of like a hobby to her at this point, and Kate just barely resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the nonsensical bullshit coming through the hijacked speaker in her ear; of course that little pain in the ass with his annoyingly cheesy vendetta was here, the idiot always insisted on showing up whenever it would prove least convenient for her.
She really had to remember to kill him one of these days.
Her earpiece crackled to life again, and Kate smiled at the back and forth. Looks like all the little chess pieces were in place, all they needed now was for another player to enter the board.
It was kind of insulting, honestly, that they thought that she didn’t know that this was a trap. It was rude and insulting and she would make sure to leave some kind of lasting impression on her way out because apparently her reputation was in desperate need of protection.
This was going to be so easy, they were practically walking the codes out to her, all she really needed to do was wait.
“Alpha-1, T-minus 1 minute to collision. Over.”
If Derek’s entire brain hadn’t currently been playing him a full picture, HD movie of all the grisly ways this night was going to go wrong, he would have probably laughed at the idea of his mother being spoken to as if she was a rocket.
He would also have laughed at the fact that it was the Number One most wanted on the F.B.I. list doing the talking, and that he was doing it in such a damn cheerful voice.
And then he would have laughed more when he pictured his mother’s face as she was forced to listen.
As it stood, however, he was currently occupied by the overwhelming feeling of doom that had moved in as the ecstasy of euphoric adrenaline had drained out and it was ridiculous, he thought, that he couldn’t get control over his shaking body.
He was a fucking veteran superhero with years of active combat under his belt, there was no reason for him to be acting like a fucking rookie.
But here he was, shaking, frozen, the sound of white noise rushing in his ears and the last bit of his fragile dignity rushing down the metaphorical drain.
In his defense, a little voice in the part of his mind that was still lucid and capable of rational thought chimed in, it had been a strange few weeks and it was normal that when reality crashed back in, it would do so with a vengeance.
This wasn’t the time for a break down, and Derek struggled to take in a slow breath, heart pounding at an accelerated rhythm, and fuck, he was going to pass out. No. Scratch that, he was going to die; the human body was not meant to have its blood shoved through it this fast, and his head hurt so bad and the arteries in his brain where going to explode and there was something in his ear, and fuck what the hell, that was annoying and-
Derek’s hand shot up to whack at whatever the hell was trying to get into his ear, hand swatting at something warm and soft before the sound of someone muttering, “What the fuck man, I’m trying to help you, don’t hit me,” broke through the panic induced cacophony of sound rushing all around him.
Gulping in a breath, his watering eyes took in the sight of Stiles at his side, one hand rubbing at his cheek that was sporting a rapidly growing red mark, and woops.
“I... I’m s-sorry,” another deep breath, “I didn’t mean to hit you.”
“I know dude,” Stiles’ voice was so soft, and Derek didn’t have the energy to pretend that the sound wasn’t soothing, so he closed his eyes and just nodded, placing his focus squarely on bringing himself back to the present.
“Remind me not to try whispered reassurance on you next time you have a panic attack, I can’t believe that in all the years we fought, this is the worst hit you ever laid on me.”
Derek shrugged, a choked laugh forcing its way out of his mouth; the ache in his chest was easing, and the world wasn’t spinning quite as fast anymore. The relief running through him was tinged at the corners with embarrassment, and he felt the heat on his face from his attack travel up to his ears, not helped at all by the little coo Stiles let out at the sight, nor by the finger that trailed the blush.
“Don’t worry about it Sourwolf, there’s nothing to be ashamed of, you’ve been on edge and this was the breaking point, no harm no foul. You alright now?”
Derek assessed his body, giving the question and his mind a good once over, “I think so, still a little shaky, but I’ll be alright. Thanks for...” He flapped a hand in the air, the rest of his sentence stuck in his throat.
Stiles smiled, a little more tooth and shine in the grin than planned, “What are mortal enemies for?”
And even though Derek laughed, even though he rolled his eyes and pushed at Stiles, just a bit, nowhere near strong enough to do anything except make Stiles snicker; they both knew that while they were certainly something to each other, the title of mortal enemy was definitely not it.
And Derek was kind of excited to see what it could be.
One, two, three, open the door, cursory look around, keep walking.
There was a certain kind of thrill that came with field work and field work only, and as much as Talia Hale loved her job, loved the power and the responsibility that came with her position, she also loved the feeling of fire and adrenaline crawling throughout her body setting each nerve on end.
She loved how all of her senses seemed heightened, felt as if her ears where now capable of picking up the sound of a bird beating its wings a block over; how she could smell each and every flower that lined the path up to the doors of the F.B.I. headquarters.
She had missed this feeling more than she had realized, and maybe when this whole mess was over; after she had received an award for her incredible service and dedication to the safety of the American people, she would make it a point to engage in more field work.
First however, there was the small matter of taking care of the here and know, and Talia braced herself, willed her head to keep looking forward even as she comprehended the nearly silent sound of a dart shooting its way to her thought the still night.
Talia Hale was many, many things. A proud and confident woman, a nationally recognized hero, a crafter of talent and an exceptional mother. And above all else, she was courageous.
A summer storm contained in the body of a woman.
And that is what she held onto as her knees turned to jelly and her body hit the ground.
“Bro-1, you’re a go. Over.”
They were a go.
There was an echoing vastness in Derek that shouted to him that his actions in the moments coming ahead would be the ones to shape his life, that each and every choice he made for the next short while would be the ones that his universe held and took to use as a mold.
Derek shook the shiver of that notion off and squared his shoulders, he spared a look to his left, eye catching on the excited grin that split Stiles’ face in half, and felt an answering thrill rise from his own bones.
For all that Derek had been doing this for years, had been sweeping in and saving the day, had been spending his nights out on the prowl, fists always ready to fight for what is right and good, this time felt… different.
There was a charge in the air, an edge that had never been there before and the hair on Derek’s arm stood at attention.
He could deny it all he wanted, could pretend that there was no such thing as fate and destiny, could hide his head under the sand and close his eyes to the kaleidoscope of realty shifting around him, it didn’t matter.
Tonight, would be either the beginning, or the end, of the rest of his life.
The drip, drip, drip of water leaking out of a rusty pipe made Talia Hale groan, the sound like a gunshot to her aching head. Her eyes twitched but she kept them shut, tried to keep her breathing low and even, every moment of false unconsciousness another chance for her to take in her surroundings unguarded.
Wherever she was, it was damp, the air felt dense and muggy, even with the light breeze that smoothed over her face and ruffled through her hair. There was a bitter taste in her mouth, something cloying and rotten and if she listened very hard, she could put a reason to the constant rumbling in her bones, the sound of something large and mechanical working away in the background.
What she couldn’t hear, however, was the sound of people in the room, and Talia allowed the thought that she might be alone to pass through her mind before she discarded it.
No one would go through the trouble of kidnapping someone of her standing just to leave her alone. No, if her son’s intel had been right, the source of which she would be having a stern talk with him about, then the person who had taken her was one of the most dangerous that she had ever been up against.
And one of the smartest.
It would be unwise to underestimate her enemy.
A slow clap started off to the left of her, and Talia resisted the urge to turn her head to it; whomever was behind the sound let out a delighted laugh.
“I knew you were smart, but truly, watching you work for the last moment has raised my respect for you. It’s not every person that can keep calm and assess after getting hit with a tranquilizer.”
The condescension that seeped from the words made Talia’s blood boil, the urge to lift her head and snarl at the speaker disturbingly loud, but she kept it in.
She was a grown damn woman, she was a decorated F.B.I. agent, she did not make animal noises at big headed supervillains. No matter how much they deserved it.
Talia lifted her head, her neck creaking in protest as it was moved out of the awkward angle it had been stuck in for- “How long have I been here?” The rough dryness in throat made the words come out as a croak, and Talia winced as the burn spread out and down.
“Why do you care? This lovely place is your new home, and it’s the last place that you’ll ever have the privilege of seeing. My advice would be to enjoy it, and the rest of the time you spend here, as much as possible.”
Talia let out cough, her chest burning. “Pretty stupid, don’t you think, kidnapping an F.B.I. agent?”
The other person in the room snorted, “Oh please, did you really think I would fall for your dumbass bait. Like I wouldn’t realize that the trees where crawling with snipers?”
An empty can was kicked across the room, the sound of it rattling ricocheting of the walls.
A big space then, open.
“You called in every agency with an initial but at no point did you stop to think that that would only make you more visible.”
The voice came closer, and then suddenly someone yanked on the back of Talia’s head and her eyes snapped open as the burn in her scalp registered.
The face that greeted her could have been beautiful once, she thought, perhaps before it had been permanently twisted by hate, the lines around the mouth speaking to a lifetime of sneering and vitriol. It was a pity, Talia thought, a waste.
“What are you staring at?”
The words where punctuated by another yank at the fistful of hair that the woman held in her hand and Talia fought to keep down a wince. Don’t ever let your weakness show.
“Did you drug and kidnap me just to bond, you do know that there are easier ways to arrange a little girl time, right?”
The woman smiled, the edge of it lined with an emotion that looked very far off of humor, “I like you; I see where your son gets his wit from. He was funny to.”
Talia felt eyes rake over her.
“I see where he get his looks from too, pity he got away before I had chance to have some fun with him.”
Talia felt it coming, but the reaction flowed from her before her common sense had time to kick in. The fire that flared up and blasted through her entire being was an unstoppable force regardless, and the growl deep in her chest surprised even herself.
The crystal-clear implication behind the words tossed at her was a wrecking ball for her self-control and Talia knew, distantly, that this was a round that she was going to lose. She could feel a piece of her wall of pride crumple as the truth set in. There was a difference between telling one’s self to not underestimate your enemy and still believing, in your heart of hearts, that you were always the smartest one in the room.
And up until know, that had been something that Talia had, despite herself, wholeheartedly believed.
The woman laughed, the sound deep, and her body shook with mirth. “If I had realized how fun your family was, I would have made it my mission to get to know more of you. Tell me,” the tone dropped to a silky one, “when I’m done with you, do you think I should spend some one on one time with your daughters? I hear the young one is still getting her feet wet and it might be nice to talk with her. I could be her mentor.”
There was something painful in her chest, something that felt like tearing, like someone had stuck their hand deep into her heart and was slowly, and carefully, ripping her insides out. “Stay the fuck away from my family.”
The woman blinked, then opened her eyes wide and tilted her head, “Now, now, don’t be like that.” The false innocence in the tone only served to further convey the level of danger underneath, she flashed Talia another grin. “I just want to help. And I think,” another tug at the handful of hair, “that it would be great if we became friends, because friends help each other, and I know that you’re about to be very, very helpful.”
“Stiles, how much fucking longer do we have to stay on this roof?”
Stiles rolled his eyes as a response to the question, and took in a breath, praying the air would come laced with patience. “You have asked me that seven fucking times, everything is going according to plan, you need to calm down and stop snapping at me.”
There was a moment of silence before Stiles heard Derek shift, “Yah, I know. Just… it’s my mom, yah know? We might not always get along but she’s still my mom.”
Stiles took a second to look over, lowering the scope in his hand down and taking in the way Derek was curling into himself, his shoulders pushed up so much his head was starting to disappear between them. “I know, but I promise, everything is going to plan. Your mom is a professional, she’ll be fine, and we’re all nearly set up.”
Derek bit his lip and refocused his eyes on the tablet in his hands, little dots moving around as everyone got into position. The bubbles in his stomach had calmed down but now he was stuck contending with the itch at the base of his spine that shouted at him to ‘fucking do something, anything.’
Everything really was going according to plan, better than actually, but honestly, no matter how detailed and perfect something might be on paper, there was no real way of predicting how that might change once real life and people became involved, and the longer they waited, the more insistent the itch.
A hand on his back snapped Derek from the spiral of his thoughts, and he furrowed his eyebrows at the almost gentle look that Stiles shot him; at least the thrill of happily confused tingles that shot from the touch served as a relatively beneficial distraction.
“We’re just waiting on one more team, and then we go in.”
Derek nodded. They were going to do this, and they were going to do this well. The time for amateur behavior was over, he was a Superhero, Stiles was a… goodish bad guy that was also one of the most well-known Supervillains of all time. This was the collaboration of the century and Derek was not going to blow it because of some butterflies, nerves, and what was absolutely not even something that could have possibly, even in another weird-ass dimension, been misconstrued as a crush.
The time to be who he had been training his whole life to be was here, and, Derek clenched his fist, he was fucking ready.
Talia groaned as her stomach clenched, the muscles spasming painfully in response to the cattle prod that had just been happily buzzing away, sending jolts of liquid, ice laced fire through her nervous system.
She took it back; she took it all back. Field work sucked and she was never doing it again.
“Still nothing? C’mon, I don’t want to keep hurting you, why are you making me do this? I’d so much rather we just got along.”
A hand grabbed at her chin, forcing her face up and Talia did her best to convey the depth of the disgusted repulsion she felt for the person in front of her through her eyes, gleaning a little bit of satisfaction as she saw a cheek twitch in answer.
The woman in front of her ground her teeth together.
“You could-,” Talia paused, the blood in her mouth pooling, a little trickle making its way from the corner of a bruised lip to run a line of shiny crimson red down her chin, ending in a soft splat as it dripped down to her collar bone. Her tongue darted out and was greeted with the taste of copper, and Talia wrenched her head back and out of the bruising hold it was caught in to spit the rest out and onto the concrete floor.
“You could,” she continued, “just let me go. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m not really the sharing type.”
The other woman smiled. She reached forward with one hand and Talia sneered at the mocking caress, the way that the soft touch to her face ended with a slap across the cheek.
“Oh honey, we’re just getting started.”
“Bro-1, you’re a go. Over.”
Derek pulled his mask to sit fully over his face again; this, he decided, while clipping the hook to his harness, was the dumbest thing he had ever done.
His body jerked as Stiles reached over to pull tightly at the straps, double checking Derek’s and then his own. Derek nodded at the thumbs up tossed his way, and then the two of them backed up.
They backed all the way up until they where nearly at the opposite end of the roof, and then Derek took in a deep, fortifying breath, sent out a prayer that he hoped would be heard, tried to remember if he had cleared his search history, and started to pump his legs.
The cold air rushing past his face made his eyes water, and distantly Derek realized he had left his eyewear up on the roof. Oh well.
The glinting of the sun starting to rise over the horizon flashed against the large window he was hurtling toward, and Derek suddenly knew, deeply and truthfully, in a way that settled onto his soul and etched itself into his very creation, that he hated heights, and if anyone ever asked him to fucking zipline off of a mother fucking building to bodily crash into the window of another fucking building several stories lower, he was going to say no. Just watch him.
Time seemed to speed up and freeze simultaneously, and just when Derek thought that this nightmare ride was going to be the only thing left to him in this world, he registered Stiles at his side, saw him turn his body sideways, tuck his head down, and prepare to use himself as a battering ram, rapidly gesturing for Derek to do the same, and then.
Then there was a wall, a pane of shiny glass and a crash and Derek was swinging in the open air in front of a smashed up window as Stiles ducked and rolled his way in, his harness off and hanging in the breeze, abandoned by its owner who Derek was now 99% sure was actually fucking certifiably insane.
There was some shouting from inside, and Derek scrambled with his feet to find some purchase on the ledge, his body waving in the breeze and fuck, he felt like a planter, all alone and suspended over someone’s window.
He heard the unmistakable sound of a chair getting knocked over, a heavy thud along with it indicative of a body hitting the ground, and he cursed as his fingers slipped over the release toggle again; there were people he loved, and people he kind of sort of, against his best wishes and intentions, possibly maybe liked and could possibly like a lot more, fighting for their lives in there. He didn’t have time to be fucking hanging around like a Christmas tree ornament.
Finally, finally his numbed, shaking fingers managed to gain purchase and Derek unclipped himself, both legs now inside the building, and dropped down as the tightness across his chest gave way and allowed gravity to do his job.
The feeling of actual ground under his feet sent waves of relief rippling thought him, and if he wasn’t in the middle of a rescue mission, and if the floor hadn’t been littered with shards of sparkling glass, he very well might have kissed it.
Another shout caught his attention, and he felt his head shoot up, eyes taking in the scene before him. There was a chair, knocked over onto its side, and tied up in it was the very bruised, very angry form of his mother. A few feet from her was a woman, one that Derek vaguely recognized and he felt hot shame burn through him when he realized that it was the same woman that had hit on him a few weeks back when he had been getting a cup of coffee at the little shop down the street from his apartment.
He had kicked himself when she had left, upset that he hadn’t had the balls to ask her for her number.
And there was Stiles.
Derek had spent enough time with him now to know that the way that Stiles was holding himself at the moment meant that he was all business. This was the Stiles that Derek had know before, the dangerous Stiles with eyes like sharp flint and a smile that spoke of unknown reaches of wickedness.
This Stiles was worlds apart from movie nights and popcorn fights, this Stiles had never gotten up in the middle of the night to heat up water to make Derek chamomile tea that he would drink while the two of them sat on the couch in the low lamp light, and Derek spoke of anything other than his nightmare that had woken the both of them up.
This Stiles was hard, and harsh and scary. This Stiles was a killer.
And even while Derek rushed forward in a rapid, near silent crawl; knife out at his side already ready to cut his mother free from her bonds and keep her safe till this was all over, he wondered what it said about him that he had never felt safer.
If it was possible to infuse a name with a curse, then Stiles would have been the one to patent it, the name of his arch nemesis dripping from his tongue like poison.
Kate pursed her lips, “Is there a reason that you dropped in, or did you just miss me?”
Stiles cocked an eyebrow; there had been a time, a very long time ago, back when he had been a fresh faced wanna be villain, still more prone to setting off alarms by accidently tripping then he was to successfully complete a heist; when this type of back and forth would have done nothing but stir up a raging need within him to fight, to argue, to prove himself to anyone and everyone that could possibly doubt him.
Now though, the only thing he felt was calm. Calm and cold and collected. Because, he was here, he had the advantage, and while she tried to hide it, Stiles could see the flicker of unease on the face in front of him.
Tonight, he was going to kill The Queen.
There was some shouting, some typical bad guy posturing, and Stiles wanted to laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of the big bad Queen throwing a tantrum and kicking over a chair, as if that proved some kind of point.
He drew her attention up and away from the beaten up woman on the floor, letting her shout and snark and insult his entire family tree, keeping his jaw up and his teeth firmly ground together as Kate poked and prodded at any spot she thought she could find a crack in.
It was when he saw the movement from the corner of his eye that told him that Derek was safe, that he had his mother and that the two of them where huddled in a corner while Derek did his best to administer some on the spot first aide, that Stiles bothered to interrupt her.
He held up one hand and brought a finger to his lips, felt the corner of his mouth curl up at her startled confusion, said, “You talk too much, has anyone ever told you that? Just because you’re an evil villain doesn’t mean you have to actually monologue,” pulled the trigger ready gun out from behind his back, aimed it, and shot.
The shock on her face as her body dropped to the ground, as her eyes took in the spill of red from the one, two three holes in her stomach was a memory that Stiles knew he was going to cherish.
Nearly as much as he would cherish the way those same eyes crossed as he aimed the gun one final time, right between a set of perfectly shaped eyebrows, before sending one last bullet out to rip its way through her skull and out the back of her head.
It was a while later, after Stiles had been cuffed to a pipe; after he had had to listen to the shouting, (“Me getting beaten to a pulp was not part of the plan!”, “I’m sorry Mom, I didn’t know she was going to do that!”). After the place was fully overrun by law enforcement of every shape and size; after he had caught his dad’s eye from across the room and had received the obligatory eyeroll and mouthed, ‘You’re a pain in my ass, I love you,’ and after the hustle of paramedics left, heaving Kate’s body out the door in a bag, that Derek came to stand beside him.
“I didn’t know you where going to shoot her.”
Stiles smiled, “Of course I was going to shoot her.”
“Yah,” Derek sighed, “I know.”
They were silent for a moment, a little pocket of piece in the chaos all around them.
“I would like to take you out on a date.”
Derek startled, his heart jumping, “No, I, you’re the bad guy.”
“And? I could be your bad guy.”
Fuck, Derek willed his blush away, “You’re going to prison.”
“I won’t be there long.”
Derek huffed and caught Stiles’ eye then, face sad and expression serious, “You’re a murderer, yes you will be.”
Stiles brought his one free hand up to clutch at his heart, “I’m offended, I am so much more than a murderer.”
And yes, that was true, but that wasn’t the point. “We wouldn’t be good together.”
“Of course we would be, have you not been paying attention? We would be like a supernova, so bright that we’d light up the galaxy.”
“Stiles,” Derek paused, looked at his face, at the earnestness in his eyes; the same eyes that had stared a woman dead on, and had then shot her in cold blood, “Supernova’s are dying stars.”
“I know,” Stiles said, his words so, so soft, “but they can be seen through space and time, so really, they live forever.”
And this, this was too much, this was more than Derek knew what to do with. This, this was… This was everything he wanted, this was the thing that kept him up at night now, the voice that whispered in his ear, the thing he spent most of his time lying to himself about. This was something that he could not ever allow himself to have.
“We would be terrible together.” The words felt like a lie on his tongue.
“Maybe, maybe not,” said Stiles. “Or maybe it doesn’t matter. Because you and I where always going to be tangled up in each other; as friends, as enemies. As something, always. At least this way you get to decide.”
“It doesn’t feel like you’re giving me much of a choice.”
Stiles just looked at him, “Have I ever not let you choose?”
Derek stuck his chin out.
“That’s what I thought.” There was the sound of booted feet marching their way across the floor, and Stiles looked up, past the man standing by his side, to see a pair of officers making their way to him, faces both grim and dark and set.
He looked back at Derek, took in the slopes of his face and the curve of his cheek, and reached his hand out to grab hold of a shaking fist that Derek had clenched up at his side, “They’re coming for me now, I’ve enjoyed our adventure and I’m glad I got to share it with you.” He brought the fist up, finger smoothing over and untangling pressed white fingers.
“Figure out what you really want, I advise starting by figuring out who you really are, don’t worry, you’re more than halfway there.” He pulled the hand that he held in his the last little bit closer, and pressed a soft, sweet kiss on the now open and overturned palm, before gently lowering it back down and releasing it. “And don’t worry, I’ll see you soon.”
Wisps of steam curled out of his cup, and Derek stared at it, mesmerized by the delicately intricate dance that it displayed as it spun and wove its way through the air.
“Derek. Derek. Derek!”
“What?!” His head snapped up, moment lost, and he winced at the look of exasperation that his mother shot his way. “I’m sorry Mom, I was just…” he gestured to the cup sat on the table between them, “lost in thought.”
He saw her wince, saw the way that her expression softened, and braced himself for whatever well-meaning words where about to come hurtling his way.
“Sweetheart, have you given any thought to maybe trying to date someone?”
What the fuck. Derek held in a groan as he felt a flush start to burn its way up his neck and over his cheeks, dropping his head to bury his face into his arms as heard his mother take in a breath to continue.
There was no way to physically or emotionally brace oneself for this.
“You’re not getting any younger and I worry about you, I don’t want you sitting around alone all the time. You should be going out with friends, not… whatever you’ve been doing.”
And the day had been going so well.
Things between him and his mother had been getting better, they weren’t perfect, Derek didn’t really think that there was a perfect when it came to any type of relationship, just hard work, but it had been good. They had both been trying, trying to understand each other, trying to listen when the other spoke, and it was difficult, absolutely, to bite down on the instinct to argue and disagree. But they had been working on it and they were getting somewhere.
And that was the only reason he didn’t spit a “Why can’t you mind you own business,” at her, or a, “What I do when I’m off the clock has nothing to do with you Ma’am,” out.
She didn’t deserve that.
Instead, he lifted his head from the nice, dark hole that was the middle of his arms, and looked at her. Tried to smile a little, but from the quizzical look on her face he determined that perhaps that was taking it to far, and said, “I don’t want you to worry, I’m ok, I promise. In fact,” to late to go back now, “I have a date tonight.”
And her answering look of relief, one that was telegraphed throughout her entire body, from the loosening of her shoulders to the spoon that she gently placed back down onto the table, releasing it from the strangled grip it had been caught in; one nearly tight enough to bend the decorated metal.
This was nice, Derek decided, this was really nice. The sky outside the window was a light gray, the air cool and the feel of it crisp; the world outside painted in grayscale and Derek knew that there would be snow tonight; but the cafe they were in was warm and alive, bustling with people.
There was something soft inside him now, something happy and excited; he picked his mug back up and brought it to his lips, it was nice, this journey. This discovery that he was on, to finding out who he was without all the things that people had told him to be.
He was learning a lot about himself, about what he wanted and how he wanted to get it. He had learned that he really did love his mother, his family, he just didn’t love they way they tried to make his choices for him. Regardless of how well intentioned those choices may have been.
He learned that he still liked tea more than coffee, but he also learned that hot cocoa beat them both out.
He learned that maybe it wasn’t heights that he was scared of, maybe it was jumping off of very tall ones that did him in, but he also learned that he kind of liked the rush that came with doing it.
Most important off all though, was the moment he learned that he believed that he deserved to be happy.
Derek wrapped his other hand around the cup, now cradling it between both palms, and bit down a laugh.
He had a date tonight.
Word came later that day in the form of an intern bursting their way through the door just as Derek was about to finish stuffing his patrol suit back onto its shelf.
He looked up at the crash, mouth open and eyebrows drawn as the poor woman struggled to take in a breath, her body doubled over with one hand on the wall for support and shit- who the hell was doing the damn field training nowadays? Because they were very obviously slacking.
He waited for the intern to get herself back up and running, and looked at the clock; damn it, he was running late, now he only had fifteen minutes to get home before his date was at his door.
Finally, the intern straightened up, taking in one last gulping breath the woman cleared her throat, “I am… so sorry about that.”
Derek waived his hand impatiently, whatever, just hurry up.
“Your mo-, I mean the Executive Assistant Director wanted me to warn you, she told me to run till I found you. There was a breakout earlier, she said that one of the villains that got out is obsessed with you and that she would feel more comfortable if you agreed to have some people stand watch outside your apartment.”
Derek waived her off again, his face much more sympathetic now, his mother was a hard person to disappoint. Poor intern. She was probably scared witless.
“Hey,” he closed his locker door, “I appreciate you telling me, but please assure my mother that I’ll be fine, and tell her that I’ll even call her in the morning to prove it.”
He picked up his duffle.
“Now, I’m really sorry but I have to go.”
Derek pushed past the intern, her face an entertaining show of horror as she, presumably, he figured, tried to decide how to tell his mother that someone was disagreeing with her, and made his way out the door.
He would be fine; the intern would be fine. Everything would be fine as long as he got home in time to change his clothes.
Because, after all, he had a date.
And if one was going to spend the evening with an escaped convict, one should dress appropriately for the event.