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The Last Goodbye

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“Are you going to tell him?” Scott asked, and Stiles laughed dryly.

“Are you kidding me right now?” Stiles could feel the weight of the spell in his heart. “Of course I’m not telling him.”

“Stiles,” Scott started, but Stiles shook his head, holding up a hand to silence his best friend.

“Isn’t it bad enough that he has had plenty of people playing games with his heart already? I mean, come on. First there’s Kate.”

“Kate?” Scott choked on the name and Stiles leaned back against the tree with an exasperated sigh.

“Yes Scott, didn’t you figure it out? Kate seduced him when he was in high school, after he lost Paige, and then used the information he gave her to kill his family. Not the most pleasant way of finding out your girlfriend is insane, but the guy never gets any breaks. Then there’s his life in New York, trying to learn to live with all his family dead, I don’t think he had a single positive relationship while he was there.”

“Okay. I didn’t know about Kate, I didn’t think… well, okay. So… what about now?” Scott seemed to be trying to figure out why Stiles wouldn’t just tell Derek, but Stiles… he wasn’t manipulative in that way.

“Have you not seen how he’s all over Miss Blake? Like, he seriously has fallen for her. I can’t… I don’t even know if he likes guys. This is three for three in the straight category, and if he bats for the other team he hasn’t shown any inkling for it yet. I don’t… I can’t. Don’t you understand that?” Stiles bit his lip and tried not to lose himself to fear.

“But Stiles, you’re *dying*!” Scott protested. “I can’t imagine he wouldn’t want to help you.”

If only anything in his life was that simple. Stiles refused to cry. Not yet. Not yet. “Don’t you dare tell him. Don’t you dare. I will *kill* you if you tell him Scott.” He held Scott’s gaze. Held it firmly and fast and refused to look away. “I mean it. We will not be friends anymore because I’m going to kill you and you’ll be dead and I’ll follow you in a few months or whatever. Do you understand? Are you perfectly in the know here?”

Scott looked like he wanted to argue but Stiles held his gaze and glare until he finally nodded his head. “Fine. I don’t… I don’t know that I won’t tell him if things get bad though Stiles. I can’t promise that.”

“Let’s just see if I can somehow get through this stupid Alpha Pack bull shit, okay?” Stiles sighed.

*

Stiles hadn’t expected to wake up tied down to some sort of altar, not when he’d fallen asleep exhausted on his couch. His arms were tied outstretched, pulled so tight he could barely move and his legs were together and tied down. Looking around the best he could, all he could see were some dark roots, a few candles. The air was musty, and he took deep lungfuls of it in through his nose, because his mouth was gagged shut. His chest was bare, shirt and hoodie gone, but his pants and shoes were still on his feet. Struggling did no good, and he couldn’t scream, couldn’t hardly make a noise.

Just his luck.

“I know what you hide Stiles,” a voice said to his side, and he gurgled around the gag in his mouth at the sight swimming into his vision. Scar tissue, a distorted face, pale skin. What the actual fuck? He almost didn’t register the words through his panic. “I’m going to need that. That pure, innocent, unrequited love.”

Stiles had no idea what the creature was talking about and tears fell down his cheeks as a searing pain went through his head and heart. Derek’s face swam in his vision and the fear he’d kept inside made him frantic to get away. This thing was going to hurt Derek, it was going to hurt him. He struggled against the bonds holding him but he could hardly move and his arms began to scream in pain.

‘What do you want!?’ he thought at the face that replaced Derek’s, and a gentle hand touched his head.

“I’m sorry,” it said. “I know you don’t want to die, but I need your strength. I need your love, your incredibly bright, glowing love for Derek. It will sustain me, help me, make me stronger. No one else can do this for me, because no one loves him as unconditionally as you do Stiles. And it has to be for *him*. I didn’t think I would get so lucky.” The person, Stiles couldn’t even see if it was female or male, cut open it’s hand and splashed blood across his body.

Searing heat went through him again and he sobbed around his gag, the scent of burned flesh lifting to his nose. The pain focused on his chest, right above his heart. It became so intense, he passed out.

He heard the sound of birds chirping and he woke with a start, sitting up in his bed, body drenched in sweat. He was wearing all his clothes, but when he ripped off his shirt, he saw a thick bandage on his chest. Underneath was some sort of celtic knot symbol burned into his flesh, covered carefully in a thick ointment.

Well crap, shit had been real then.

*

Deaton hadn’t been much help. Maybe if they find and destroy the Darach then the spell would wear off, he didn’t know. Maybe if the love was returned then it would cancel out. There were a lot of maybe’s, nothing solid, but one thing was certain.

Deaton couldn’t help. He was going to die.

*

The first time he saw Derek after that waves of excitement and happiness washed over him. It was so bad he nearly doubled over and his head felt fuzzy and floaty. Just being near Derek made the air thrum and he thought that everything was going to work out just fine. A massive weight lifted off him and he almost threw himself into Derek’s arms.

Clamping down on his instinct to rush over to Derek he channeled that into rage and anger. He needed that to get through this, and he knew he couldn’t allow himself to get close to Derek. Derek couldn’t know about this, couldn’t be told because Stiles knew Derek didn’t love him and he refused to be another manipulative force in Derek’s life. He wasn’t an asshole like that. Plus, he didn’t want Derek to try to help him if Derek didn’t love him. That wasn’t fair to either of them, no matter what Scott said.

Instead he continued on. They fought the alpha pack, they nearly died, and when Stiles found out that Jennifer was the Darach he nearly fell over himself laughing at the irony. It made perfect sense in a sick sort of way, that she would use his love for Derek to make Derek fall in love with her. He still wasn’t going to tell Derek, that would be… that would be just as bad, maybe worse.

‘Hey Derek, I need you to fall in love with me because the last woman you fell in love with put a spell on me to make you love her, and now I’m dying and it’s because I love you. Crazy our lives, right? Yeah, can you get on that because I’m starting to feel like I don’t have feet anymore.’

No. Stiles wasn’t going to do that. He refused. So what if it was unrequited, so what if it might save him? He loved Derek too much to allow him to be stuck with someone he didn’t care about.

*

Stiles was in the elevator of the hospital, sitting on Derek’s hips and smacking him across the face as he tried to wake Derek up. All he wanted to do was curl into Derek, kiss him, lick into his mouth and groan against Derek’s body. It took all his will to not thrust his hips into Derek’s, rubbing friction so good between them they rode the waves of pleasure to orgasm. Every part where he was connected to Derek was tingling with magic, his body felt solid again even though parts had seemed to be fading away, and he felt his fingers curl into a fist.

‘Come on Derek, please, I don’t want to punch you. I just want to kiss you, and I want you to kiss me back. Wake up, please Derek, please, please.’ He thought it as he gathered the strength to punch the face he cared so much for.

When Derek’s eyes opened and the hand grabbed him before he connected with flesh, Stiles wanted to cry in relief. Instead he sagged against Derek. Thank god. Thank god he didn’t have to hit him. Thank god. Derek’s eyes searched his face, looking for something. Stiles didn’t have time to think about it, everything was going wrong and bad and he had to get Derek out of there.

Before Derek left, he looked at Stiles again, that same searching look in his eyes. “Did you call me?” he asked finally. Stiles felt his heart speed up but he shook his head. “Are you sure? I thought… I thought I heard you.”

“Nope,” Stiles shook his head again. If Derek noticed the lie, he didn’t say anything, but he finally left and Stiles sagged against the wall. No, his life could not possibly get more complicated.

*

He had been wrong.

“You stupid idiot!” Stiles screamed at the wall in his bedroom as he kicked it. The wall didn’t move, it just stayed right there, staring at him. Unmoving. Unyielding.

There was a knock on the window and Stiles nearly fell over at the noise. Derek was sitting on the other side of the glass and he gave a confused look to the wall before returning his gaze to Siles, raising his eyebrows. Stiles shrugged and went over to the window, opening it and motioning for Derek to come in.

“What?” he asked but Derek didn’t say anything about the wall.

“I… Look, I wanted to say I’m sorry. About Scott. About him leaving you like that.” He lifted a hand and reached for Stiles but Stiles turned away from him and stared at his computer. He couldn’t get attached to Derek, that would be epically bad. So terribly, horribly bad. Well, he couldn’t get more attached to him anyway.

“Yeah, it sucks. It’s stupid and I just…” but he didn’t get to say anything more because Derek’s arms were wrapping around him and holding him close. Stiles choked on a sob as the warmth of the other man seeped into his skin.

“I’m sorry,” Derek said softly. Stiles didn’t even think, he just turned and wrapped his arms around Derek’s solid warmth, clinging to him with every ounce of strength he had, trembling so badly he thought he’d fall apart.

“It’s okay,” he said, but he could hear the lie himself. “I just… he’s left, my father’s gone, Scott’s mother is gone, everyone important has left me and I just… what the fuck am I supposed to be doing right now? I don’t even, I don’t even…” I don’t even know where we are right now and I want to be kissing you. He doesn’t dare say the words out loud, he can hardly believe he’s thinking them.

One hand reached up and lightly stroked down his back. Stiles hated crying, it always clogged up his sinuses and made his eyes red, but sometimes he can’t help it. With Derek’s arms holding him tightly he knew he didn’t have an option this time. He felt frustrated and irritated, no panic for the moment but a heavy sense of dread. Things just didn’t look good right now. He’d cope, he always coped.

With no sense of how long he cried, or when he fell asleep, or even how he ended up tucked into bed, he woke the next morning to a lighter feeling in his chest. Derek was gone, but that was okay, he knew Derek had been there, and now he had focus where he hadn’t the night before. It was fantastic.

Wiping his eyes, he noticed a note on the nightstand which he grabbed and read.

“Stiles,

I can’t make things better, but I can promise I’m going to do what I can to make things right. Please don’t give up on yourself. You’re stronger than you realize.

Be careful.

DH”

Crinkling the note as he clenched his fist, he felt a strange welling of strength rush through him. Maybe it was because Derek had been there the night before, maybe because he knew things were about to get much worse. Whatever the reason, he knew he’d make it through.

He refused to do anything else. After all, Derek had been there for him.

*

“So you’re leaving?” They were sitting on his roof, leaning against the house. The Darach was gone, they’d all lived, things seemed settled for the moment.

“Yeah. We all are. Me, Peter, Cora. We have things to talk about, decisions to make, as a family.”

Nodding, even though he couldn’t really understand, Stiles gave Derek a smile. “Well, don’t be a stranger, okay? Text, call, you know.” His heart is breaking just at the thought of Derek not being in Beacon Hills but he’ll smile and watch Derek go, not trying to stop him. There was nothing else he could do.

“I will. If there’s service. I might be… taking Cora back to South America, where she’d been before.” He sounded hesitant, voice uneven and his eyes shifted away from Stiles.

“You really lost it? All that Alpha power?” Stiles asked, unable to resist reaching over and touching Derek’s face.

He almost flinched away, but finally leaned into Stiles’ hand. “Yeah. I… I couldn’t lose her again Stiles. Nothing, absolutely nothing was worth that. I’d do it again, in a heartbeat.”

Stiles understood. He understood so well that kind of love. “Yeah. I get that.” Letting go of Derek’s face, he looked up at the scattered stars above them. “Well, at night, you can just… look up there, and know I’m looking too and it’ll be like you never left.”

Derek looked up himself. “There’ll be different constellations Stiles,” he said softly.

Snorting, Stiles shrugged. “Of course. But… it’s still the sky, isn’t it?”

“I feel like…” Derek started, but he trailed off.

‘Don’t go. Please, don’t go Derek. I need you so fucking badly.’

“You’ll never get gone if you’re talking with me all night?” Stiles asked lightheartedly.

When he glanced over at Derek he realized that there was something much more serious going on behind Derek’s eyes. “Yeah,” Derek said though. “Maybe.”

They stared at each other for a long time and Stiles thought maybe Derek was going to kiss him, considered leaning forward and kissing Derek himself, but then Derek gave Stiles a small smile and moved away.

“I’ll see you later then,” Derek said and Stiles nodded.

“Yeah. Take care, drive safe, don’t get dead.” ‘Don’t die, please be okay, be safe, don’t do anything stupid, I love you and I need you to be okay.’

There was another exchange of smiles and then Derek was gone. Stiles might never see him again. This might be the last time ever, and all Stiles wanted to do was call out, cry for Derek to stay, but even when Derek glanced back at him with a confused frown, Stiles just grinned and waved.

He’d take his broken heart and cuddle it and that would be that. It didn’t matter that there was a shadow over his heart, because he wasn’t going to have one much longer.

Chapter Text

‘What’s the weather like?’ Stiles texted. It didn’t take long to get a reply.

‘Cloudy.’

‘With a chance of meatballs?’ Stiles joked but he didn’t get an answer to that. Instead he got a frown emoticon.

‘ :( No. The lights are flickering strangely through the clouds. I think it’s smog actually.’

‘Stinky. I’m surprised you’re staying there.’

‘We have to sleep Stiles, we aren’t actually capable of staying awake for a week.’

Stiles smiled as he fell back on the bed and stared at his phone. He’d been texting with Derek for days now and it was… nice. Even though he felt himself fading away he knew that Derek was okay and that mattered more than anything else.

‘Well then cuddle up in your wolf pile and sleep the night away.’

‘We don’t… Stiles.’

The laugh was loud enough that Scott looked over from the laptop with raised eyebrows. They were in Stiles’ room doing homework after school. It was a ritual now. Stiles needed it so badly that he didn’t even complain.

“Derek says he doesn’t do puppy piles with his uncle and sister,” Stiles explained and Scott shook his head.

“I don’t.. that’s just a weird image Stiles,” he said, but there was a smile on his face and Stiles took it as a good sign.

‘Good night Derek.’ Stiles hit send and the reply was almost instantaneous.

‘Night Stiles.’

“Are you telling him?” Scott asked, not for the first time, and Stiles raised his eyebrows at his best friend.

“Are you kidding me? No way. He’s… doing life stuff.” The question kept coming up, but Stiles wasn’t going to tie Derek to him with guilt. If he thought he’d get a satisfactory answer he’d ask Scott why he kept pestering him.

“You should be doing life stuff too Stiles. Don’t think I haven’t noticed your lack of enthusiasm in Lacrosse, or the way you just kind of don’t care about tests anymore.”

“I care!” Stiles protested but not with conviction and Scott raised his eyebrows at Stiles. “Well, mostly I care,” he amended.

“Stiles…” Scott began to whine, but Stiles was up and over to him in a second, a big grin plastered on his face.

“Let’s get this study session on the road!” he said cheerfully. It only distracted Scott because Scott knew Stiles wanted the distraction, but neither of them admitted it.

*

(( Show don’t tell.))

Stiles was looking at his phone when he opened the door to his house. Only about a month had passed since Derek had left, but he wasn’t getting texts anymore. He knew that Derek was going places where there might not be reception, but that didn’t change the fact that he wanted to talk to him. Wanted to communicate in some way.

“Hey Stiles,” his father said from the dining room, and Stiles finally looked up from his phone.

Scott, Lydia, his father, Allison, Isaac and even Deaton were sitting around his dining room table. He blinked at them in confusion.

“What?” he asked as he blacked his phone screen and tucked it into his pocket. “What’s going on?”

“We wanted to talk to you,” Scott said. His voice was carefully neutral and Stiles frowned at him.

“It’s just, you’re fading,” Lydia said with a vague motion towards his legs.

Glancing down at his transparent feet and mostly see through legs he shuffled a little and shrugged. “So?” he asked, looking away from his body and up to his… friends? He wouldn’t usually put Isaac in the category of friend, but there he was, sitting at Stiles’ table, looking kind of concerned. Strange.

“So, do you mind telling me what the hell is going on?” his father asked, and Stiles sighed.

“Why didn’t Deaton?” he asked with a vague wave at the veterinarian. “I mean he knows as much as I do.”

“Because I didn’t feel this was my secret to tell,” Deaton said, voice as cryptic as ever. “This is something you have to come to terms with.”

“I have come to terms with it,” Stiles said. “I’m fading away. There’s nothing I can do about it.”

“Why don’t you start at the beginning?” his father suggested. “Have a seat kid, tell me what happened.”

He’d been avoiding this for a reason, but faced with everyone staring at him, he knew he couldn’t just brush this off. With a huge sigh, he came over and sat down.

“Fine. But it isn’t pretty, and I don’t want any of you to try to convince me to do anything that would manipulate people in order to save my life,” he said firmly. There were several confused stares, but most everyone nodded. Not his father though. “I mean it Dad,” he stressed. “You have to promise, or I’m not saying a word.”

They stared at each other for several moments before his father finally nodded. “Fine. But I won’t promise to not think about it.”

“Fair enough.” Then he took a deep breath, and told his tale.

*

“We should tell Derek,” Allison was the first one to speak after Stiles finished his tale. There had been several moments of silence before she spoke, and when she did, everyone, even Scott the little traitor, nodded their heads.

“No,” Stiles said with a quick shake. “Not an option.”

“Stiles, telling Derek is the only option,” Lydia said. “You know he cares about you, you know he -”

“What? Loves me? Not going to happen. Look, I’ve thought about this for a long time now, ever since the spell was cast. I have no interest in telling Derek that I’m dying. Maybe we could convince him to try to love me back, maybe he’d even, I don’t know, be willing to have sex with me or something just to see if that would work.”

“Stiles!” his father snapped, and Stiles looked over at him.

“I don’t know what would make it go away! Obviously,” Stiles said, waving his hands around. “But it doesn’t matter. If he came to care for me like that, it would just be another person manipulating him into a relationship he doesn’t really want. I won’t do that to him.”

“You don’t know how he feels about you,” Isaac said, speaking for the first time and looking down at the table as he said it.

“Do you think he’s madly, passionately in love with me?” Stiles asked.

Isaac looked up at him with wide eyes. “No.”

“Yeah, me neither. So there’s no reason to even ask.” Stiles sighed and closed his eyes. He loved his friends, he loved his family, and if one of them was fading like this, he’d do everything in his power to help them. That was the thing, the one thing he didn’t want to do to Derek. “I don’t want him to try because he feels obligated to save my life. He’s got enough blood on his hands.”

“You still don’t know how he feels though,” Lydia pointed out again. “He might love you.”

“Not like I love him,” Stiles said, looking up at Lydia. “You know how I fall Lydia. I was in love with you for years. All I thought about was making you smile and trying to get you to notice me. It’s not like that with him. With him…” he trailed off and shook his head. “I want him to be happy. I don’t want him to feel like another death was his fault. So no. No one tells him.”

“Stiles,” Scott began, but Stiles interrupted him with a look and narrowed his eyes.

“I’ll end this faster by just jumping off the school if you push me,” he said softly.

“Stiles!” his father snapped, standing up so quickly his chair clattered across the floor. “Don’t even joke.”

“I’m not joking.” He didn’t look away from Scott and they stared at each other for several minutes before someone spoke again.

“He isn’t,” Isaac said evenly. “His heart didn’t skip.”

Silence fell then, as Scott and Stiles faced off. When Scott finally looked away, Stiles felt the bright pleasure of victory that faded so quickly.

“Yeah,” he said. His father came over and pulled him out of his chair and into a hug.

“Okay,” his father whispered. “Okay Stiles, we get it. I don’t like it, and you can damn well better believe I’m going to try to find a way around this spell, but I get what you’re saying.”

Stiles couldn’t breathe, the hug was so solid, so firm, and he clutched his father back, burying his face into his father’s shoulder. He didn’t want to cry, but it didn’t seem like he had a choice in the matter. Clinging tightly to his dad, he cried as silently as he could.

There was the sound of chairs moving, and then Scott was next to him, arms around him and his father, Allison was on the other side, Lydia lightly patted his back. Isaac and Deaton stayed sitting, but that was okay. It made sense for them to not be involved in this. Stiles needed it though, needed to have people he cared about close like this, to know they were with him through it all.

*

“Holy shit!” Stiles gasped as he sat straight up in his bed. Looking at his clock, he read 1:15. It was dark outside and raining. Glancing down at his arms, he didn’t see any marks, or bruises, his chest seemed fine, his legs were still tingling, but he couldn’t feel any wires attached to him.

Had it just been a horrible nightmare? No, he felt another string of electric current go through him. He curled up in a ball and gasped out. “Fuck, fuck,” he whispered. What was happening to him?

Suddenly he couldn’t breathe, his ribs ached and tears stung his cheeks. Shit, was it Derek? Had he somehow become attached to him in another way?

“It’s okay,” he said, closing his eyes and focusing on how much he cared about Derek. “It’s okay. I’m with you.” Care bled into love, and he tried to think that at Derek too. He wasn’t very strong physically, not like Derek, but he was strong emotionally, so he just kind of thought of wrapping his mind around Derek, of holding him strong and still. “I’m right here.” The words kept repeating as he sent his care to Derek.

The pain faded. He felt like Derek was there, in the room with him, like they were holding each other through this. The tears faded, his breathing evened out, and when the alarm woke him up in four more hours, he wasn’t sure if he’d dreamed the whole thing, or if it had been real.

*

“We need to talk Stiles,” Deaton said, and Stiles didn’t want to talk. He sat down anyway and motioned for Deaton to continue. “It’s about the bond you have with Derek.”

“Of course it is,” Stiles grinned. He’d been fading a little quicker lately, large chunks gone every time he woke up from nightmares. Every time he sent love and strength to Derek. Stiles didn’t care. “What is it Doc, did you find a way to reverse it?”

“In a manner of speaking.” Deaton began to pace, but finally paused and stared right at Stiles. “My research has led me to believe that yes, if he came to love you as well, the spell would be broken. We know that killing the Darach didn’t work, so we are left with that first option or one other.”

“Derek isn’t going to suddenly fall madly in love with me Deaton,” Stiles snapped. He didn’t mean to, but the words were out so quickly he didn’t get to think about them first.

Deaton raised his eyebrows but gave a slow nod. “I agree.”

“Don’t spare my feelings or anything,” Stiles mumbled as he looked down at his hands.

“I think though, that if you… took the memories out of your head, forgot, so to speak, the love you have for Derek, that it would break the bond.” Deaton was speaking slowly, carefully, and it took a moment for Stiles to realize what Deaton was saying.

“Are you joking?” Stiles asked, his heart pounding in his ears so loudly it was all he could hear for a few moments. “Just like that?”

“No,” Deaton shook his head. “It’s never just like that. You would have to lose everything that attaches you to him. Every memory that includes the love you feel. It would all have to be rearranged so you barely remembered why he mattered to you at all. This is not an easy thing to do, and it can’t be done half way. If you do this, you will never be able to love Derek again. If you fall again you would only be opening the spell once more and I cannot guarantee it would work a second time.” Deaton moved over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. “I would have to insert some kind of memory where you and he do not get along, something to keep you as enemies, or at least antagonizers, so you don’t fall in love again. I’d have to explain things to him so he didn’t get confused, or too close.”

Stiles didn’t know when he started shaking, but by the time Deaton was done speaking he thought he might shake to pieces. “No,” he whispered. “No. I can’t… I can’t go back to hating him Deaton. You don’t… you just don’t understand.”

“I do.”

“You *don’t*!” Stiles stressed, looking up into the sad face of Alan Deaton. “You can’t.”

“It isn’t an easy response to the situation, and I won’t do it without your permission, I don’t work that way. I’ll keep looking for another solution but I honestly don’t think there is one. It’s… it’s an option Stiles. Something you can come to me with at any time. Just think about it.”

“It’s not an option. That’s like… do you even realize how much I love him?” Stiles asked, closing his eyes on the tears he felt welling inside. The very idea of forgetting the way Derek smiled, of forgetting the way Derek would sometimes look right at Stiles almost like he knew Stiles’ soul and liked what he was looking at, of forgetting how his day got brighter when Derek was it in, and he wasn’t injured, was just… Stiles couldn’t lose that. It would destroy him.

“I know how much you feel you love him right now,” Deaton began, but Stiles shook his head.

“No. See, I thought I loved Lydia for… forever. Since forever. You don’t understand the difference between that and how I feel for Derek. What I feel for Derek is so much stronger. I think if this was gone, I’d just be an empty shell and that would be worse than dying because I love him. It would kill me.”

“It wouldn’t. You wouldn’t remember Stiles.”

“I don’t like it, I don’t want it.” Stiles stood up and wrenched himself away from Deaton, walking towards the door. “We’re done here, aren’t we?”

“Yes.” There was a note of resignation in Deaton’s voice. “We are. The option will always be available to you Stiles. I would be very sad to see you fade away into nothing.”

“Yeah. Everyone would.”

Stiles stomped out of the building, pausing outside for a moment to stare into the sky. Not everyone would miss him, and the only person he really would want to miss him, just wouldn’t.

*

When he woke up screaming he couldn’t even tell where he was. Was he strung up and burning, was he opening doors he shouldn’t be, was he awake and just thinking he was asleep? Strong arms held him tightly and he closed his eyes and clung to them, crying and screaming until he faded away into some restless thing that wasn’t really sleep but wasn’t awake either.

*

“Stiles, I’m going to talk to him,” Scott said finally as they sat and played on the Xbox.

“No you aren’t,” Stiles said. “He isn’t answering anyone’s texts, you’re not going to get him.” Derek was gone. He was never coming back. Stiles needed to believe it because he had to.

“You don’t know I won’t be able to get a hold of him. It’s possible I can. It is.” Scott put down the controller and stared right over at him. “You… you’re going to die. I won’t let you die.”

“Deaton has a way,” Stiles said, not looking over at Scott. “But it means I have to forget everything and possibly become enemies with Derek.”

“Do it! Stiles! Why aren’t you doing it?” Scott was asking so frantically his hands were scratching at Stiles’ arm.

“If you had to forget everything about Allison, everything about falling in love with her, and the up and downs, the make out sessions, the strength you gain from her, everything, in order to live, would you?” he returned. He watched his best friend’s face go from frantic and excited to sad and dejected. Stiles didn’t say another word until Scott looked down at his lap. “Exactly. That’s what I thought.”

“You’d want me to though,” he mumbled.

“Without a doubt,” Stiles said immediately with a grin. “And I wouldn’t understand why you couldn’t just see how much better it would be to love because love comes more than once, but you’d be stubborn. You’d tell me it wasn’t just love, it was your first love, and you would never want to forget that.”

“But it isn’t even like Derek *is* your first love, Lydia is.”

“Yeah, maybe. But the thing is, I think that was more like worship than love. This feeling I have for Derek? It’s not the same as what I had for Lydia. It’s deeper, it’s…” He finally looked over at Scott. “All encompassing. It’s like just thinking about him makes me smile. I feel warm all over, and I just want to see him. I want to know what’s going on in his life, and I want to hold his hand and kiss him and make out, but I also just want to lie out on the roof and look at the stars. I want to clean his loft, and I want to cook him dinner and I want him to come over for dinner with Dad because I think they might be able to get along these days, but I’ll never have that. And I don’t *care*. I don’t even care if it never happens because I have this feeling inside and it’s so warm and wonderful and I don’t want to lose it. Not ever.”

He’d started crying and Scott was holding him. “I’m sorry Stiles,” he whispered. “I’m sorry this sucks so bad.”

“See, that’s the thing. It doesn’t really suck. I mean, the dying thing does, but… the love? Scott, that part doesn’t really suck.”

They clung to each other for a while, and then went back to the war zone and didn’t talk about the conversation ever again.

*

The days went too fast. Derek was back, Stiles’ nightmares hadn’t disappeared, new creatures and new students were popping up and Stiles was freaking out in school. Life goes on in Beacon Hills, but there was only so much he could take, and being ignored by Derek during all this was something he wasn’t prepared to deal with.

Nail in the coffin, in Stiles’ case, literally.

Chapter Text

It was nearly impossible to sleep anymore. He kept having visions of doors opening and closing, then there was the screams. Finally giving up, he got out of bed and opened his window so he could slip out onto the roof.

The fading hadn’t stopped, and his chest was gone, hands outlined but not solid. It didn’t seem like it would take a whole lot longer, a few days maybe, a week.

When he’d first seen Derek he thought he might strengthen, but Derek hadn’t really looked at him. Stiles was hiding a little, but he wasn’t difficult to find. Somehow though, they hadn’t really spoken. He had no more strength. Probably it didn’t matter.

“Well hello there Stiles,” a familiar, albeit creepy, voice said from the ground under his roof, interrupting his thoughts. Stiles almost fell off when he flailed.

“Creepy Uncle Peter,” Stiles squeaked. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“I was just wondering about something. How are you feeling?” Peter was looking up at him with the familiar smirk.

Stiles narrowed his eyes. “I’m fine, thank you.”

“Really? You seem… a little transparent right now, and I’m reading your heart on your sleeve.”

“No,” Stiles shook his head. Just the thought that Peter might know what was going on with him was unnerving. “I’m fine. Peachy, with a side of keen. Go away.”

There was a moment of silence while Peter looked at him, but he finally nodded and turned to leave. “I’m on your side Stiles,” he said. “You’re really quite unique and I would hate for anything to happen to you.”

“Yeah. Okay.” Like Stiles was a thing, instead of a person. He shivered as he watched Peter walk away.

The moment he was gone, Stiles went back to his room and closed the window firmly. It didn’t make any sense for Peter to be able to see him fading. He’d noticed that it was only people who cared about him that could tell, and Peter only cared about himself.

*

“There’s my favorite nephew,” Peter said as he walked into the loft. Derek was sitting down on the ground, looking around the room and the mess that had been made of it. Sauntering in as though he owned the place, because Peter was nothing if not flashy, he looked around and smirked. “I’m surprised you haven’t cleaned this up. It’s been a whole day already.”

“What do you want?” Derek asked, voice weary. His eyes found Peter’s and he looked for all the world like he didn’t want to deal with anything Peter might say.

“I wanted to know if you knew what was wrong with Stiles,” Peter asked as he watched Derek closely, but all he saw was confusion as Derek’s brows furrowed and his eyes narrowed.

“There’s nothing wrong with Stiles,” Derek said and Peter snorted.

“Please,” he waved a hand elegantly in the air. “Haven’t you noticed the way the boy is fading away?”

“He isn’t fading away. If anything his body is healthier than I’ve ever seen him.” Derek stood up and crossed his arms.

“That isn’t what I’m talking about, and you know it.” Peter took a deep breath and allowed his eyes to travel the room even as he paid very close attention to Derek. Sometimes pretending to not have any real stock in a conversation loosened his nephew’s tongue.

“No, I don’t. Please, Uncle,” and Derek sneered the word so well that Peter felt a small sense of pride at being able to pull that from his nephew. “Tell me what you mean.”

“I mean the literal fading the boy is doing. I’m guessing he’s going to be gone by the time his head is translucent. I wonder…” Peter tapped a finger on his lips and finally turned back to Derek. “Will he fade from our memory or will he just die?”

“I don’t have time for your games right now,” Derek said. He started walking away and Peter’s eyes widened. Could Derek actually *not* see what was going on with Stiles?

Peter reached out and grabbed Derek’s arm before he could pass him by. “You honestly don’t know?” he asked in surprise. “You, Derek, don’t know what’s happening to your favorite human?”

“He’s *not* my favorite human!” Derek snapped.

“No?” Peter let Derek go and smirked. “Well then, maybe that explains it. Perhaps only people who care about Stiles can see.”

“See *what*!?” Derek’s eyes flashed blue and Peter laughed.

“Oh, that doesn’t work on me, you know that. Especially now that you’re a beta yourself.” Peter decided that, for now, he wasn’t going to tell Derek anything. “Figure it out on your own.”

With an abrupt turn, Peter walked back to the loft doors and out, hearing his nephew grumbling behind him. He had thought that Derek was close with the little brat, certainly closer than Peter was, but maybe he was wrong on that assumption.

*

“Derek? Can I… can I have a word?” Scott asked as his heart pounded hard and fast in his chest. He wasn’t going to betray Stiles, he promised he wouldn’t, but he had to know something. Something personal and it had to be now. If he waited it could be too late.

Derek frowned but waved his hand lightly and nodded. “Shoot.”

“How… um…” Scott swallowed because he had to be so careful to not say anything that might give away what was going on, but he still needed to know.

Even knowing he had to say something, Scott couldn’t figure out how to phrase it. He took so long that Derek frowned and said, “Spit it out Scott.”

“HowdoyoufeelaboutStiles?” he asked all in one quick breath. Scott felt more confident as an Alpha, felt stronger and more certain. It was just, when it came to emotional stuff he was still confused a lot of the time, still making mistakes and learning from them. Well, he *was* only seventeen.

Brows furrowing, Derek managed to choke out, “What?”

Clearing his throat, Scott took a deep breath and tried to steady himself. “How… do you feel… about Stiles?” he finally got out. Saying it slowly made the words easier to understand. For some reason it was easier to say them too, maybe because he’d already said them one. Even if that once had been a rush.

“He’s… um… fine?” Derek asked.

“Oh.” Scott nodded, feeling his heart squeeze painfully. “Right. Um, yeah, sorry for bothering you.” Why would he even think that Derek might have feelings for Stiles anyway? He wanted to just… blurt out all the problems, everything that was going wrong, scaring him, but he couldn’t. And his best friend was going to die because of it. “I’ll go,” he mumbled and turned away from Derek. He wasn’t going to cry, not now, in front of Derek, who could possibly save Stiles but who wouldn’t ever know.

A warm hand settled on his shoulder. “Wait. What’s going on?” Derek asked, and Scott closed his eyes tightly.

“Nothing,” he whispered and he knew Derek wouldn’t believe him. Derek could probably *smell* the sadness wafting off of him.

“Peter said something about Stiles the other day. Something about him… fading away? What did he mean? If anyone knows, you do.”

“Oh, um,” Scott cleared his throat again and swallowed the tears. He stood up straight, adopting confidence he didn’t feel. “I have no idea.”

“You haven’t forgotten I can hear lies, right?”

“Yeah, well, I can’t tell you,” Scott snapped. “Sorry, I made a promise.” He took a step away and felt Derek’s hand fall off of his shoulder. “Thanks for your time anyway.” He had to get out of here before he made a fool of himself.

“Yeah. Well… I didn’t do anything.”

“You answered my question,” Scott said. His heart stuttered and he gasped in a breath. “That’s all I needed.”

Then he bolted, ran out of the room, passed by Peter as he came into the loft and didn’t even stop to apologize for bumping into the older man. He just ran, shifted, ran some more. Tears fell as he pounded through the woods, and he wanted to tip his head back and howl, but if he did that someone might find him, so he just ran, and ran and ran.

He was going to lose Stiles because of Derek Hale. Somehow that felt incredibly unfair.

*

Walking into his bedroom was like walking into a cage. His father was going to have him watched now that he was sleepwalking and sleep calling people. Whatever was going on with him, it hurt him to his core. In light of this recent freak out, maybe it would be better if he quickened the trip.

Falling onto the bed, that never made him feel rested anymore, he lay back and stared at the ceiling. Maybe he was going insane. Surely it would be better to end things before this went on any further. He could take a bunch of pills? No, that wasn’t likely to work. Cutting himself would be painful, he didn’t think that was a better way and his father had all the guns locked up tightly. Even Stiles didn’t have a key. Oh, but he could probably pick the lock these days.

Determined, he was about to stand when there was a loud knock on his window. Screaming and falling off the bed, he flailed himself up to look out into the darkness, eyes wide and heart hammering in his chest.

“I didn’t mean to scare you,” Derek’s voice came from the window, which was now open, and Stiles clutched at his night shirt, heart trying to fly out of his throat. His brow was furrowed as he looked Stiles over.

“Holy fuck! What the hell dude? I thought… I think… Christ!” His brain wasn’t capable of higher function and each huge breath in tasted kind of cinnamony.

“Sorry.” Derek frowned and then motioned to the room. “Can I come in?”

“Yeah,” Stiles nodded. As he tried to stand up without falling, he wondered briefly if he was too young to die of a heart attack. “Sure, whatever. What’s up?” The words should have been nonchalant, but given that he was still swallowing his pounding heart they sounded more like a squeak.

Derek stepped into the room and then closed the window behind him. “I wanted to see how you were doing. I thought… no one wanted to let you go, but I guess…” he trailed off and Stiles shook his head.

“Naw, I… I don’t like be watched over. You know? It’s kind of creepy.” Which was why seeing Derek around the high school all the time had been bizarre and weird. Now of course, he wanted to see Derek all the time.

“You just had a really traumatic night,” Derek said. “You… don’t you want to be close to someone right now?”

‘Yes!’ Stiles thought and his face flushed. Looking away from Derek he shrugged. “No, it’s fine.” He could *feel* his heart stutter on the lie. “I mean I’ll be okay.” It hiccuped again and when could Stiles figure out when he was lying? That was weird.

“Stiles,” Derek said, and he took a step closer to Stiles. “I… it’s just that… Look, I know this was hard for you, but you have friends, you can lean on them.”

“You know what, I’m going to pretend that everything is fine and you’re going to go away.” He looked up at Derek and held that green gaze. There was no way he was going to get what he wanted, which was Derek holding him close and helping him through this. He was *certain* Derek wasn’t interested in being that kind of friend. Only Derek was suddenly right in front of him, pulling him close, putting a hand on Stiles’ head.

“You’re so stupid, you know that?” Derek whispered, his other arm wrapping around Stiles’ waist. A small whimper left Stiles as he brought his own arms up and clutched at Derek, fists grabbing the back of Derek’s jacket and holding on for dear life.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Stiles whispered into Derek’s chest, and he closed his eyes, trying not to cry. God he didn’t want to cry anymore.

“I’m talking about running around and scaring the shit out of all of us and then trying to relax in your room when even I can tell you don’t want to be alone.” Derek’s fingers began to lightly thread through Stiles’ hair and Stiles choked on a sob. All thoughts of killing himself left him as he borrowed Derek’s strength.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles whispered, but he wasn’t even sure what he was apologizing for. The cinnamony scent was coming from Derek and as Stiles breathed it in, it washed over him, grounded him.

“Don’t do it again.”

“I can’t promise that.” He really couldn’t. Everything was out of his hands, and he wasn’t sure how he was going to make it through. No, scratch that, he knew he wouldn’t.

“I know. I wish you could.”

Time passed, Stiles couldn’t even tell how much, but when Derek finally began to move away, Stiles made another whimper and clutched tightly to Derek. “No, please… can you… would you…” Derek wouldn’t stay. Stiles knew that, but he wanted him to. Wanted him to so badly that he thought he’d give almost anything for it to happen.

“Okay.” Derek stopped pulling away but bent down and pulled Stiles into his arms, carrying him to the bed. He stretched out on the mattress and pulled Stiles against him, holding Stiles close and running one hand down his back. “It’s okay. I’m here Stiles, you’re going to be fine.”

Stiles didn’t want to sleep. Everything was perfect right now, Derek’s heart beating in his ear, arms around him and no judgement from Derek the whole time. The problem was, he was exhausted, and finally he simply couldn’t stay awake.

In the morning he was alone, but the bed was still warm and Derek had left a note on the bed for him.

‘Stiles,

I know something is wrong, but I don’t know what, and no one will tell me. Please… I’d really like to help. If you’d let me.

DH’

Stiles curled up around the note and let the pain and anguish inside come out. Derek was worried about him, but Stiles couldn’t tell him what was going on. This friendship they’d been growing was wonderful, and maybe in time it would have become something more. He didn’t have time though. That was his curse.

*

“I’m going to do it,” Stiles said to Deaton. His face was still sore from crying, but he was fairly certain now that he was doing the right thing. He had only been thinking about himself this whole time, he hadn’t thought of Derek at all. Now he was consumed with wondering what Derek would do if he died, how he would fee, if he would mourn. Sure, they weren’t together romantically, but they were friends, at least somewhat, and Stiles didn’t want Derek to have any more pain weighing him down. All of the people who loved Stiles would be angry with Derek for not doing something, even though Stiles had told them not to be. He would hate to hate Derek, to take what they were building together and lose it all, but wouldn’t that be better than dying and leaving Derek in even more agony?

“Are you sure? Once you get started, you can’t take this decision back.” Deaton crossed his arms and looked closely at Stiles.

“I’m sure.” He had spent all day thinking about it. “But… please, would you give this letter to Derek?” Stiles asked, passing a thick envelope to Deaton. It had taken him hours to get the letter right, to say everything he wanted to say, to explain what he was doing, and why, hoping that Derek would understand in the long run. Deaton took it and nodded.

“Of course Stiles. Is there anyone else you’ve written a letter to?” Deaton’s voice was gentle, kind, and instead of it soothing Stiles, like he figured it was supposed to do, it annoyed him. This wasn’t a kind or gentle decision. It was hard and painful.

“Naw, he’s the only one… who would… you know, who’s going to see a real change in me. Scott can explain the rest to the others. It’ll be fine.” That wasn’t true. If only he had more time, but he didn’t, and maybe this wasn’t the right thing to do. It wasn’t like he could see the future and make an informed decision. And this decision was terrifying, altering a part of himself so he could live.

Wondering how he was going to behave once he forgot his love for Derek, he began to wish he could see both sides of this decision at the same time. It would make choosing the right path easier. But life didn’t work that way, and Stiles knew that more than anyone else did. It was hard, brutal and unforgiving. He had to make his decisions, stick with them, and move forward.

“We’ll have to start this tonight, you know that right? Sooner the better. Especially since you’ve almost faded away.” Deaton put the letter on the table and turned away from Stiles to begin preparing something.

“Yeah. I know. Moonrise, right?” Stiles asked.

“That’s right. Be here on time.” Deaton glanced once more at Stiles. “You have to be here on time Stiles. Or this won’t work.”

“I’ll be early.”

*

“What the hell is wrong with Stiles?” Derek snapped as soon as Scott opened his door.

Scott’s brows furrowed and he stepped back so Derek could enter the house. “Derek,” Scott said with a calm voice that Derek could hear was just barely in control. “Please, come in.”

Stepping across the threshold, he turned instantly to Scott. “I mean it Scott. What the hell is going on with him?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Scott said. He closed the door and crossed his arms. Whatever was going on behind those warm brown eyes Derek had no idea, because even though Scott’s heart was hammering in his chest, his face was unreadable.

“Yes you do. He was fine when I came back, but now he’s… he’s nearly invisible! What’s going on?” Derek had noticed it in the morning when he’d woken up and saw that his hand was floating in mid air, the solid form of Stiles’ hips and waist simply gone. He almost couldn’t feel the other boy, even though he knew he was there. The whole thing was disturbing.

Scott’s eyes narrowed. “You can see that now? Interesting. Well the rest of us have been watching him fade away for months. It’s none of your concern though, Stiles has strictly forbidden me to say anything to you about it.”

“Why?” Derek asked, feeling the need to scramble around. He was desperate to fix things, to make Stiles come back and be real again. When a person faded it never meant good things, and he was just starting to get a feel for how Stiles worked. How *they* worked together.

Shaking his head, Scott pursed his lips and waved at the door. “I think you should leave. I… I want to tell you, but Stiles will kill me if I do.”

“Then why don’t you tell me?” a smooth voice said from behind Scott and Derek glanced over to see Uncle Peter in the hallway.

Scott whipped around and stared at Peter. “How did you get in my house?” he asked.

“Peter!” Derek snapped. “Are you following me?” He’d felt someone behind him most of the walk to Scott’s house, but it didn’t make sense.

“If you promised Stiles not to tell Derek, did you promise not to tell me?” Peter asked, walking down the hallway with a smirk on his face.

“No. Why would I promise that?” Scott asked.

“Then why don’t you tell me what’s going on? I promise I won’t tell,” Peter said.

Scott looked back at Derek, then at Peter, then finally nodded. “Stiles was cursed by Jennifer to fade away so she could suck his love for someone and use it to fuel her plans. If he forgets his love entirely or if the love is returned or something, we’re not sure, then he’ll be saved, but he doesn’t want to forget what he feels and the other person doesn’t feel the same way for him.”

Derek felt his stomach drop. “Who does he love?” he asked quickly. Why wouldn’t they tell him this?

Both his Uncle Peter and Scott turned to look at him. The twin raised eyebrows was unnerving, and Derek wanted to shake them to make them answer him.

Only then the other shoe dropped. He remembered the way Stiles clung to him, the way they’d been texting for a long time, how Stiles seemed to seek him out to annoy specifically. It had been there all the time, the answer to the longing in his own heart, if only he hadn’t been so blind to see it. “Shit,” he whispered. “Shit, it’s me, isn’t it? Why didn’t he just *tell* me?”

“He didn’t want to force you into a relationship you didn’t want,” Scott said.

“He wouldn’t want to hurt you,” Peter murmured. “Stupid boy has had it bad for you for over a year now Derek, couldn’t you tell?”

“I…” Derek looked away and at the ground. His heart was pounding loudly in his ears and his stomach was clenching painfully. In all this time, he hadn’t wanted to admit the feelings he was beginning to have for Stiles. It wasn’t right, he was an adult, Stiles was still a minor, it all seemed so much like time repeating itself. “It’s not like… I mean I knew about… but that was just… it wasn’t…” He knew about the lust, sexual desire was something he could smell a mile away, but he didn’t realize it faded into something more.

“It’s real,” Scott snapped. “It’s so real I just want to strangle him sometimes. Why would loving someone hurt so badly? I mean, my best friend is literally going to die because he doesn’t even want to ask you how you feel and he doesn’t want to make you do something just to keep him alive.”

“That’s why you asked me… the other day,” Derek said as he connected a few dots in his mind. He looked back up at Scott, who was rolling his eyes.

“Duh.”

“You need to go to him,” Peter said. He took several steps towards Derek, eyes bright, boring into him. “You need to tell him how you feel.”

“How *you* feel?” Scott asked as he looked between Peter and Derek.

“Yes, you are aware that Derek loves Stiles too, aren’t you?” Peter asked. Derek couldn’t keep looking at Peter, he couldn’t stand to see those eyes, eyes that seemed to go right through him.

“I can’t,” Derek whispered. The very thought of making that mistake, of crossing that line and ruining everything was holding him still, rooted to the spot.

“If it’s about Kate,” Scott said. “Stiles knows, and that’s one of the reasons why he doesn’t want to do this to you.”

“It’s not…” Derek started, but he couldn’t finish. It was partly because of Kate. More that he never seemed to make the right choices and that could easily kill Stiles. Only he was killing Stiles right now wasn’t he?

“If it’s about Jennifer, it was technically his love you were falling for, so really you’ve been in love with him for a long time,” Peter said.

“Would you two stop interrupting me?” Derek snapped. “It’s not that!” It was that Derek broke everything he touched and he didn’t want to ruin Stiles.

“Then what is it?” Scott asked but there was a chirp and he reached for his phone. A second later, his heart started pounding violently and Derek could smell the distress. “Shit, no, Derek, you have to go to him. NOW!” He reached out and pushed Derek down the stairs. “He’s at Deaton’s, he’s going to do it now. You need to go right now. If you care about him at all, please, please don’t let him do this!”

“Do what?” Derek asked, stumbling down the stairs because of Scott’s frantic movements.

“He’s going to forget,” Scott said loudly. “You can’t let him do that!”

“I’ll make sure he get’s there,” Peter said as he linked arms with Derek and began dragging him away. Only Derek wasn’t sure that was what he wanted to do.

“What if that’s best?” Derek asked, and both of them paused, staring at him like he was crazy. “Look, being around me, being close, it’s… dangerous. If he forgets, maybe it’ll be better for him.”

“He’s always going to be around me,” Scott said slowly. He narrowed his eyes. “And if you let him forget his love because you’re too scared to deal with your own feelings then I’m going to either kill you, or I’m going to make your life a living hell by bringing him around you all the time, just so you can wallow in the realization that he’s lost to you forever.”

Derek’s eyes widened as he heard the threat in Scott’s voice. “You wouldn’t - “ he began, but Scott’s eyes flashed red.

“I *do*. Stiles is my best friend and I’ve watched him for months as he faded away because of his love for you. I swear, I’ll make your life miserable.”

“Don’t worry,” Peter said. “He’ll get there.” Then Derek, still stunned by Scott’s threat, was tossed into his car. The passenger’s seat, which was probably good because he wasn’t sure he could drive even if he needed to.

*

“Scott wants me to reconsider,” Stiles said with a small laugh. “Really?” Scott had been the biggest advocator *for* him forgetting for so long that the he almost thought the text was a joke.

“Why?” Deaton asked, mixing a few things in front of Stiles.

“I don’t know.” He tapped out a message. “I guess he thinks that maybe this is a bad idea.” Stiles was beginning to feel like his emotions were strung both ways pulling at him from the inside out. To go left or right was always the question but each time he made a decision Scott was on the other side.

“Do you think this is a bad idea?” Deaton asked as unhelpful as ever.

“No,” Stiles said, but he couldn’t tell if he was lying or not. He reached for the vial. “Is it time?”

Deaton looked at his watch and nodded. “You have five minutes. You have to drink it in that time.”

Picking up the swirling mass of dark purple trapped in glass, Stiles held it up to the moonlight streaming in the room. “To new memories,” he said.

“Don’t!” Derek’s voice called out as he dashed into the room.

Stiles turned and blinked at him in confusion, almost tipping the liquid down his throat. Derek was over in a second, wrenching the vial away from Stiles and pulling him into his arms. Stiles could hear it shattering on the ground.

“What?” Stiles asked, voice muffled in the leather jacket pressed against his cheek. “Dude, you spilled my drink!” It was hard to feel angry when Derek was right there, holding him tight.

“It’s a terrible idea, you can’t do it. God Stiles, why didn’t you say anything?” Derek asked. A hand reached under Stiles chin and tilted his head up so he could look into sad green eyes.

“What my nephew is trying to say is that he cares for you too,” Peter said from somewhere behind Stiles.

“What?” Stiles asked. It couldn’t be true, this couldn’t be happening to him.

“I… I don’t want you to forget what you feel. Especially not when I feel the same way.” The words weren’t even really registering, as Stiles watched Derek’s eyes go from pain to care to a strange kind of hopelessness. “I love you,” he finally whispered, and Stiles heard that.

Then there was stubble rasping against his cheeks and warm lips pressed against his and it felt so wonderful. Stiles melted into the arms, his own reaching up to wrap around the body pressed close, fingers clutching the jacket. He moaned into the mouth, closed his eyes and just, allowed the feelings to wash over him.

“Shall we go?” he heard Deaton say softly.

“I was thinking of waiting to make sure Stiles becomes solid,” Peter’s voice said in amusement.

“We’re going,” Deaton said more firmly, and when Derek’s hands slipped under his shirt, Stiles was very glad that Deaton could make Peter move.

*

“This wasn’t the most comfortable place to do this,” Derek said as he ran fingers down Stiles’ bare arm.

“No,” Stiles agreed, feeling so real and alive. It was amazing.

“Next time, a bed,” Derek suggested.

Kissing soft skin that was under his cheek, Stiles nodded. “A bed, then a counter, then maybe the couch. We should do this in the shower, and across the kitchen floor. Against a wall, another bed, possibly under a table at a restaurant. I want all the positions Derek, all the ways. Can you do that?” Stiles lifted his face to look at Derek, who’s eyes were glowing blue.

“Yes,” Derek hissed. “I want all the positions, all the ways. Forever.”

“There’s no such thing as forever,” Stiles said sadly. Now he knew that. “But.. I think for the rest of our lives is close enough.”

“Always,” Derek amended. Then he pulled Stiles down and kissed him again.

It was beautiful. It was perfect. It was living.