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You'll be the Poison, I'll be the Cure

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That’s it?

Stiles blinked a few times, eyes still not fully adjusted to the dark as he looked down at the spot where they had just banished their most recent monster of the week. A witch. A very nasty and aggressive and albeit totally hot, when she didn’t have the look of pure murder in her eyes, witch. Usually when their missions had gone, mostly, according to plan there would be a whoop of accomplishment from Stiles, but this time he was all, but rendered completely silent. Which was never a good sign. While he could hear the rest of the pack relaxing and releasing a sigh of relief, besides Derek of course because, honestly, when did Derek ever relax, Stiles still had the tension in his shoulders, his gut twisting uncomfortably. Something nagged in the back of his mind, telling him it had been too easy and that this wasn’t really over yet. Their plan had worked perfectly, without a hitch. That never happened.

Stiles felt a strong hand clasp his shoulder, the other patting him on the back, nearly startling him out of his transfixed gaze. Scott apparently hadn’t noticed as he continued to wrap his arms around his best friend, letting his weight sag just a little bit.

“Maybe we can catch a few hours of sleep before school.” Scott murmured sleepily.

School. Right.

Stiles groaned as he scrubbed his face, ignoring the pain in his wrist from where he had fallen to the ground to avoid the very large fireball that had been fully intended to end his life. So, maybe saying their plan had gone perfectly wasn’t exactly true. There were always battle wounds and scars. Stiles just had the misfortune of not healing as fast as the rest of them. Stupid werewolf powers. He threw Scott a small smile, always happy to see his best friend scrap out with minor injuries, despite knowing he could easily heal from them. Seeing anyone in the pack hurt was always the worst part of their job, so coming out of the evening with relatively little injuries was nice, but maybe, that’s what made Stiles very skeptical about the whole thing.

“Stiles,” another voice growled from behind him and Scott, causing both boys to turn, “what’s with the face?”

Stiles felt his face scrunch together as he looked at Derek. Of course the alpha had happened to lose his shirt during the fight and now his god like toro was gleaming with sweat in the moonlight, but Stiles was barely (yes, barely) paying attention to it as his eyes shifted back to the spot where they had banished the witch. Isaac and Boyd were circling around, picking up anything that shouldn’t be left behind

“You couldn’t even see my face!” Stiles finally said, despite his exhaustion he never failed to give Derek a dose of an exasperated tone.

“I didn’t need to,” Derek said as he took a step towards them, picking up his discarded shirt and throwing it back on, “to know you were making it.”

Stiles heaved a deep sigh, wishing he could just say that things were fine and his tired brain wasn’t already running a mile a minute as he swept over the scene looking for something, anything, that would prove that the feeling in his gut wasn’t wrong. But, Derek would know he was lying. Scott would know he was lying. Hell, most of the werewolves had been around him long enough to know Stiles’ own heartbeat better than he did most of the time.

“Did anyone else think that was too easy?” He asked aloud to the group as he gestured towards the banishing area.

Erica’s bark of a laugh filled the dark clearing first, followed by an annoyingly and over dramatic groan from Jackson. Erica placed a hand on her cocked hip as she looked at Stiles. “You’re joking, right? You think that was easy?”

Stiles frowned. Maybe easy wasn’t the right word, but something about the whole thing just felt off. “Not easy, I guess, it just worked well. Like really well.”

“Stiles, you and Lydia came up with a brilliant plan,” Allison offered sweetly as she wrapped her arm around Isaac’s waist, “don’t sell yourself short.”

“Yeah,” Isaac supplied as he rolled his shoulders, “and let’s not pretend that some of us didn’t get singed from those fireballs.”

“Stiles,” Scott said softly, “let’s just call this a win and head to bed while we still can.”

Stiles felt the corner of his lips turn up slightly. Scott, always the optimist. Still, he couldn’t shake the feeling that the witch had just put on a show for them, giving them an ending they had all wanted to see so they could turn their backs on what was really going on behind the scenes. He wanted to argue, to investigate further, but he could see and feel how tired they all were and decided not to push his luck. So he forced a smile on his lips.

“Yeah, you’re right.” He finally said and he could hear everyone exhale in relief.

“I am going to need so much coffee tomorrow.” Erica murmured as they started the trudge back to where all of their cars were parked before their little hunt in the woods.

Stiles fell in step behind Scott, but a gentle caught on his wrist caused him to stop. He turned to see Derek holding on to him, Stiles’ pale skin held delicately between Derek’s rough fingers. He winced slightly as Derek applied some more pressure and saw the alpha’s eyebrows shoot up in that all knowing way that was so Derek. He suddenly felt the pain slowly leeching from what was surely a bruised wrist and he sighed in contentment.

“I saw you nursing it.” Derek offered as a way of an explanation.

“Thanks.” Stiles said, giving him a smile.

Derek held on for a moment longer before releasing him. Stiles still felt the warmth lingering on his skin and tried not to mourn the loss of touch from those calloused fingers.

“Get some sleep, Stiles.” Derek said before he turned and disappeared into the trees, leaving Stiles alone and a little bit yearning.

 

-

 

The morning sunlight falling through the half open blinds was a complete and utter curse as Stiles blinked open his eyes, wishing, more than anything that his alarm clock did not read seven o’two in the morning. He turned, facing away from it and the terrible sun, nestling deeper into the werewolf body heat that was Scott Mccall, who was still completely passed out, very much undisturbed by things as trivial as sunlight through a window.

“Boys,” Came Sheriff Stilinski’s voice from the doorway of Stiles’ room, “school.”

“Sleep.” Stiles grunted in return as if would be enough to convince his father that it was clearly more important than his education.

“Not my fault you two were out galavanting through the woods banishing witches and warlocks at two in the morning.” The Sheriff responded gruffly not feeling the least bit sorry for his son or his best friend. If they were going to hunt down the supernatural and protect their town then they were also going to graduate high school with a decent GPA. That was the deal after all.

Stiles groaned as he pulled his pillow over his head. He knew there was not enough coffee in the world to get him through the day, but if his dad didn’t drag him from his bed he knew Derek would because, for some reason, the alpha was very interested in them finishing high school in one piece.

“Don’t seniors get special privileges?” Stiles’ muffled voice came through the pillow, wondering how hard he would have to press it over his face to suffocate himself and avoid going to school.

His dad only snorted in response before his footsteps faded out the hall and down the stairs. He contemplated going back to sleep, but his phone buzzed annoyingly loud on his nightstand and he had to quickly snatch his hand out to end the horrendous noise. On the plus side, at least Scott had now been ripped from his peaceful sleep as well. Stiles ignored his best friend’s groan as he looked at his phone and most recent text message.

D: Better not be skipping out on school today

Stiles rolled his eyes, quickly typing back his message.

S: Thanks mom

Stiles barely had time to think about how Derek could possibly be awake at this hour considering they had all probably gone to bed around three in the morning before he realized Derek would probably be going right back to sleep. He had only texted Stiles to rub it in his face that he could sleep in until the late afternoon while Stiles would have to struggle to keep his eyes open for the next six to eight hours at the very least.

S: You know, I can text you all day. Wouldn’t want you to miss out on all the exciting and intricate details of my morning

He made sure to break the text up into six different messages, smirking at the fact that Derek’s phone would be buzzing like crazy, reminding the alpha that if Stiles had to suffer so would he. He only had to wait a few seconds for Derek to reply.

D: If you send one more goddamn text any earlier than noon I will personally come to the school and rip out your throat

Stiles hastily sent his reply before he, regrettably, pulled himself out of bed to shower.

S: Your threats aren’t as intimidating if I can’t see the famous Derek Hale eyebrows of disapproval and scowl of anger along with them

Derek had only sent the middle finger emoji in response and Stiles nearly regretted showing him how to use them because that was the one Derek sent him most frequently, but he just smiled and shook his head. He moved to get ready, knowing that dragging Scott out of bed was going to be a twenty minute ordeal. If Derek wasn’t going to suffer with Stiles he was going to damn well make sure that Scott was.

 

-

 

Lunch came as a blissful break from the very, very long morning that had never seemed to end. Stiles gripped the coffee cup that Lydia had brought them during her free period tightly, like it was his lifeline. Everyone looked just as tired as he felt, Lydia being the only exception, because, honestly, when didn’t she look amazing?

“Lydia, you are the best.” Stiles said as he took a long sip, just stopping himself from releasing a moan of pleasure. She simply beamed in return as she took her seat at the table, checking to see that everyone was pleased with their order. Stiles remembered once upon a time he was heedlessly infatuated with the strawberry blonde sitting next to him. He was glad their friendship had grown strong and true over the years and that his little crush on her had faded over time. He considered her as one of his closest friends.

“There should be a we-totally-defended-the-town-and-deserve-to-sleep-in day.” Scott said with a sigh as his head lolled onto Kira’s shoulder causing the girl to giggle.

As everyone fell into quiet chatter Stiles thought for a moment on Scott’s words. That icky feeling of something being wrong suddenly returned and it nearly overwhelmed his exhausted body. He looked over at his friends, but decided to keep the thought to himself. The last thing they wanted to do was be out late another few nights when they were already running on fumes. He resigned himself to the fact that he would probably be visiting that spot where they banished the witch later today to take a second look before he buried himself in a supernatural book to confirm that what they had done, did indeed work. He pulled out his phone, a small smile coming to his lips when he watched the clock switch to one minute past noon.

S: Hey Sourwolf, you said communication past noon was a go! I figured I could fill you in on my chemistry quiz and the importance of the Judicial branch in the government

Stiles didn’t have to wait long for his phone to buzz in response.

D: I’m blocking you

Stiles grinned as he typed back.

S: Rude. How will you get to hear about the rest of my afternoon then?

This time Derek responded with the eye roll emoji, which, funny enough, was his second favorite emoji to send Stiles because for some reason they hadn’t come out with a scowling face wolf yet.

 

-

 

The rest of the afternoon passed just as slow as the morning and Stiles wanted nothing more than to crawl back into his bed and sleep for the next fifteen hours, but if he didn’t go to clearing as soon as school had let out then he probably wouldn’t go at all. He tried to convince Scott to come with him, but Scott outright refused, making a beeline to his house where he would inevitably pass out for the rest of the evening. Stiles knew his puppy dog eyes were even less effective on the rest of the pack. He had really only ever convinced Erica with them a few times, but that’s because the plan usually meant they were going to get into some kind of mischief. Everyone else was just too dead from the previous night to even bother wanting to do anything besides taking a nap. So, Stiles stopped by the local coffee shop, ordering a double espresso, ignoring the spike in his heart rate as he drove out to the preserve. He told himself he wouldn’t be there that long. He just needed to look around, make sure there was nothing they missed, no clues that would spell out that their long nights were just beginning.

The smell of the pines was refreshing as he moved through the forest, hands shoved into his pockets, mind numbly going over everything they had done last night. They had used the ash and the fire like Deaton had instructed. They had even made it to a prime opening in the forest, the near full moonlight a tool in aiding them. It was funny how she had stopped right where they needed her to be to make her finale stand. As he walked he could see a scorch mark on the ground from where one of Allison’s exploding arrows had drove the witch back to the place where Stiles had marked the ground with ruins hours before. He made it back to the clearing and paused as his eyes wandered down to the ring of mountain ash that was still on the ground. If anyone had been walking by they might have thought it was weird that it was spread out in a perfect circle, but Beacon Hills had been, for a lack of a better word a beacon, for weird shit. What was one more cult like circle of ash compared to everything else?

He circled around, checked the ruins, making sure they all matched the pictures Deaton had given him. He spent at least twenty minutes scouring the area for something, anything, that would lead him to believe it had not gone according to plan. He sighed as he sat down on a log, rubbing his eyes tiredly. He could feel the espresso starting to wear off, if it had even worked in the first place. He was beginning to regret wasting so much time out here when he could have been perfectly asleep in bed. Maybe the others were right and he was just being paranoid because he wasn’t used to things working out as easily as they did. God, was he turning in Derek? That was a terrifying thought. Take the win, Scott had said. So that’s what he was going to do. Take the win.

Except, he wasn’t going to do that at all.

The nagging feeling in the back of his mind, dragging all the way down into his gut just wouldn’t go away. He didn’t have werewolf senses or banshee foresight, but he trusted himself and if his body was telling him something was wrong then something was wrong. A loud snap of a branch made him whirl around, his already rapidly beating heart nearly bursting out of his chest. He gripped his hoodie tightly, his breath being ripped from him when he spotted Derek standing just a few feet away, eyebrows raised and smirk plastered on his handsome face.

“Jesus fuck, Derek.” Stiles said as he closed his eyes, trying to regain the oxygen he had just lost at his near heart attack.

“Why is your heart rate so elevated?” Derek asked, the smallest amount of concern laced in his usual deadpan tone.

“Gee,” Stiles seethed out, sarcasm dripping heavily from his words, “it couldn’t be from the near heart attack you just gave me, could it?”

Derek’s lips only twitched up in a smirk again as he uncrossed his arms from his chest and moved to where Stiles was leaning against the log he had been occupying only moments ago. “I could hear it beating erratically before I scared you.”

Stiles offered a sheepish grin. “It could be from the amount of caffeine I’ve pumped into my body today.”

He watched Derek’s smirk fade into a frown. “How much?”

Stiles waved his hand, turning away from Derek so as to not look him in the eye when he answered. “Maybe around five or six shots of espresso in total, I can’t really remember.”

Stiles.”

Stiles swallowed the lump in his throat, wishing Derek didn’t say his name like that. Like he cared, really cared about Stiles’ well being. It was easier to ignore his stupid crush on the alpha wolf when he was being a dick or his normal scowling self, but when Derek did things like that, said his name like that, well how could Stiles dismiss the flutter in his stomach? At least werewolves couldn’t sense that.

“Don’t worry,” Stiles said after taking a moment to gather himself before facing Derek again, “it’s not going to stop me from passing out as soon as I get home.”

“Why are you here?” Derek asked, stupidly beautiful eyebrows raised.

“Why are you here?” Stiles responded in kind. Maybe he hadn’t been the only one that thought something was a little off. While the others were quick to dismiss things, Derek might have been the only other person paranoid enough to double check that things had worked the way they were supposed to.

Derek’s eyes narrowed as they looked at each other, but Stiles was stubborn and persistent and he had nearly become immune to the alpha’s intimidating gaze. Nearly. Derek finally sighed as he rolled his eyes. “I had a feeling you would be showing back up here.”

Stiles was quiet for a moment, wondering if his thoughts would just annoy Derek like they had everyone else earlier at school. He swept his gaze back out over their battlefield, knowing he hadn’t really found anything to support the feeling that was overwhelming him, but when he looked back up at Derek he could see the usually hard face was softer and open, as if he was willing to listen to whatever Stiles had to say.

Stiles cleared his throat as he started, “I just feel like something is off, but I don’t really know what. I mean, we all saw the witch get banished and I’ve been double checking that all the ruins I drew were correct, but what if we didn’t do it right? I get that it clearly wasn’t easy getting her back here, case and point,” he raised his wrist that was still sore from falling yesterday, “but I kind of expected a bigger fight? It was like she was giving us just enough, but why wouldn’t you give your all if you know you were about to be destroyed? What are we missing? What am I missing? Why am I fee-”

“Stiles!” Derek said as he held up his hand, stopping Stiles’ rambling. “It’s okay.”

He hadn’t realized how fast the words had been coming out of his mouth or that he had been holding in that many thoughts about the whole thing. He also wasn’t aware that he had begun to quickly pace back and forth, like a rabid animal caught in a cage. He tried to force a smile on his face, but it came out as more of a grimace. He could feel the crash from the caffeine starting to descend upon him and he hoped that he would be able to make it home in time before he just passed out in the middle of the forest.

“You believe me, though, right?” Stiles asked a little more quietly as he looked at Derek. He was used to his friends brushing off some of his ramblings, but Stiles could be right about a lot of things and it was a little more than annoying when he wasn’t taken seriously. His research, ideas, and input was his biggest contribution to the pack. He couldn’t fight like the others, even though he was pretty handy with a baseball bat, but he could use his brain and he could figure things out. He held his breath, keeping his gaze steady with Derek.

“Of course I do.” Derek finally answered and Stiles felt his whole body sigh in relief, relaxing just a bit. It was one of those rare moments that Derek let slip how much he trusted his pack, trusted Stiles.

“So, what do we do?” Stiles asked.

“You’re going to go home and get some sleep.” Derek said pointedly, the softness and vulnerability that had been on his face melting away behind his controlled facade.

“But-” Stiles began.

“Stiles, I trust that you feel something is wrong,” Derek said as he placed a hand on Stiles’ shoulder, “but as far as we know it worked and unless we can find proof that the banishment failed there’s not really much that can be done about it.”

Stiles felt his frown deepen. He knew Derek was right, but he couldn’t stop the smallest hint of betrayal swelling in his chest. Even though Derek believed him he was still brushing it off and Stiles just wished someone would really take him seriously. As if sensing something was wrong Derek placed his other hand on Stiles’ shoulder, catching the younger boy’s gaze.

“I’ll take a look around and if I find anything even remotely suspicious I’ll let you know.” He said evenly, but with a note of finality in his voice.

“Fine.” Stiles managed to say, some of the betrayal easing up slightly. Derek hadn’t completely dismissed him and he really did need to go home and sleep a few hours before he stood a chance of getting any of his homework done for the evening. “Only because I would hate for you to have to carry me all the way back home due to an inevitable caffeine crash that may or may not be happening right now.” He said as he stifled a particularly large yawn for dramatic effect.

“God, you are going to be the death of me.” Derek growled as he rolled his eyes hard enough that Stiles was surprised they didn’t get stuck.

Stiles offered him a real smile before he turned and started back for his jeep. He paused in his step, throwing his head over his shoulder to catch a final glimpse of Derek. The light from the setting sun was slanted beautifully through the pines, falling into the clearing, onto Derek, casting him in a soft glow that made Stiles’ heart swell in his chest. Derek must have felt his stare or maybe he could still feel Stiles’ rampant heart rate as he turned, dark, green eyes meeting bright, amber ones. Seconds, hours, days, years could have passed between them, but their eyes held each other’s gaze steady and unwavering. Stiles finally released a small, huff of air, turning away, ignoring the burning in his cheeks and the dull ache in his chest.

 

-

 

When he got home he barely made it to his bedroom before he collapsed on his bed, kicking his shoes off and laying face down on his pillow. He hadn’t fully grasped how exhausted he was until this moment and he realized, with a sinking feeling, that he probably wouldn’t be doing any homework tonight. He would just have to try and get up a little earlier and finish it before class. He fished his phone out of his pocket, noticing he had a message from Scott.

Scott: Please tell me we can work on homework before class tomorrow? I just woke up from a three hour nap and I only have the energy to eat and go immediately back to sleep

Stiles snorted before he replied to his best friend.

S: I’ll bring the coffee

He rolled onto his back, his eyes moving out towards the window. The sun was nearly gone and the stars were beginning to sparkle in the darkening sky. His gaze moved towards the very large pile of supernatural books and notes scattered on, around, and under his desk. He knew there was a big stack with information on witches in there. A small twinge in his gut told him there was no time like the present and that he should set to work on figuring out what was bothering him. As if someone had been reading his mind his phone suddenly began to buzz in his hand. He half expected it to be Scott, but was surprised to see Derek’s name.

D: No supernatural research. Sleep.

Fuck.

Derek could be scary sometimes. He made a mental note to ask Scott if alphas had secret werewolf psychic abilities that the rest of the pack hadn’t been aware of yet.

S: Yes, dear

He responded, sending the kissing face emoji with his message for good measure. A few moments later Derek responded with the eye rolling emoji, which, rude, he had already used that one earlier today. Didn’t Derek realize he had a vast array of disgruntled emojis to choose from? Stiles barely managed to pull his flannel off before he was passing out beneath the sheets of his bed.

 

-

 

Clever boy.

Stiles shifted in his sleep, surprised to feel a weight pressed against his hips. He tried to blink his eyes open against the darkness, but he felt groggy and still very out of it.

You can be used to my advantage.

Stiles tried to open his eyes again, because he had definitely heard something and he could still feel the weird, warm pressure against him, like someone was holding him down. His vision was blurry, but he felt his heart rate jump immensely. He tried to squirm his way free, blinking rapidly as a face leered down in his direction. Piercing bright and glowing violet eyes stared him down and this time he felt his body jolt, but a strong hand grabbed his jaw, shoving him back into the bed.

Sleep, clever boy.

Stiles felt his mouth being forced open, a cold liquid pouring in, burning down his throat. He choked as he felt his teeth smash together. He sucked in a deep breath, shooting up in bed, fingers gripping the sheets, his body thrashing around for a moment before he realized it was morning.

“What the hell?” He asked aloud as he looked around the room.

He could have sworn it had been dark just seconds ago and someone was forcing him to drink something. He scanned the room again, but there was nothing save for the birds chirping excitedly out of his open window in the early morning sunlight. He collapsed backwards, scrubbing his face. Just when he felt he had overcome some of his worst nightmares, there was always a supernatural presence waiting to give out a few more. He could feel his head pounding dully, wondering if he was still coming down from his caffeine crash. He reached for his phone, groaning loudly when he saw a missed call from Scott followed by three different text messages.

Scott: You better be awake in the next five minutes or I’m going to come drag you out of bed so we can get this homework done

Stiles quickly sent a reply, hopefully catching Scott from bashing his door in and dragging him by the skin of his teeth out of bed to do homework. Going back to sleep seemed out of the question even though Stiles felt like he could just skip out on the rest of the day and stay in bed. He rubbed his temples, wondering if his headache would only worsen as the day went on. When he closed his eyes a flash of bright, violet orbs nearly startled him off his bed. He quickly stood up, looking wildly around the room again. He remembered where he saw those eyes and suddenly, that terrible gut feeling had returned.

 

-

 

“Scott,” Stiles said as he looked up from his English homework, trying to catch his best friend’s eye, “it’s like she was there in my room. It felt real.”

Scott finally looked up from his work, a small frown forming on his lips. “You don’t think it was just a nightmare?”

Stiles released a long, breathy sigh. If he was being honest with himself he had no idea whether it had just been a nightmare or not. He barely had time to register what was happening, let alone count his fingers or look for other telltale signs of being stuck in a dream. “It just felt so real.” He said again, not knowing what else to say about it.

Scott sat his pencil down, gripping Stiles’ arm, offering his friend a soft smile. “Believe me, I know just how real these nightmares feel. I can’t even really remember the last time I had a peaceful sleep.”

Stiles tried to return the smile, but his head was pounding a little harder than it was a few hours ago, despite the amount of caffeine and ibuprofen he had pumped into his body. He rubbed his temples wondering if he would ever get to experience being a normal young adult again. “I went back to the forest after school yesterday.”

Scott snorted. “Yes, I remember you trying to drag me along.” His eyes darted up to Stiles for a moment, his voice holding a casual amount of humor as he asked his next question. “Did you find anything?”

“No.” Stiles replied dully. “Derek was there, too, though.” He added a little too casually.

This time the look on Scott’s face was all too knowing for Stiles’ liking. His lips were curved up in the corners, eyes crinkled, and eyebrows raised ever so slightly that Stiles was forced to shove his best friend from his seat just to wipe the look off of his face.

“Don’t.” Stiles warned as Scott just laughed from the ground before he held out a hand to help Scott up.

“Did Derek say anything?” Scott asked as he tried to school his face so he wouldn’t be shoved by Stiles again.

“He just said the same thing as everyone else,” Stiles replied as he doodled on the side of his homework, chin resting in his palm thoughtfully, “that it appeared to work and nothing was wrong.”

“See.” Scott said as if that was the end of that.

“Except he did say he believed me when I told him something felt off.” Stiles plowed over Scott, laying it on thick, to make Scott squirm just a bit in his seat.

Scott looked up at his best friend, a small hint of guilt in his expression. “It’s not that I don’t believe you…” he said softly.

Stiles immediately dropped his guilt trip and reached out for Scott, squeezing his arm, giving him a smile. “I’m just teasing, Scotty.”

Scott huffed in response, but returned the smile. “It’s just hard to protect the town, keep up with grades, play first line on the lacrosse team, and worry about getting into a good college without plaguing myself with doubt about yet, another, supernatural bad guy.”

Stiles snorted in response. “Don’t I know it.”

The boys shared a laugh before returning to their homework, finishing with just a few minutes to spare before the sound of the first bell of the morning. College was something Stiles had actually been thinking about a lot, when they weren’t taking down the monster of the week of course. Would he go far away or stay close? It was a terrifying thought, being separated from his friends, from his pack. He had grown so used to seeing them all the time whether they were at school, taking down the bad guy, or just getting together for pack bonding nights. He may not have been a werewolf, but he felt like he understood the aching feeling of being away from people you were bonded to. Of course, even if they all did go their separate ways they were pack and the pack would always fall back into each other. They had been through so much together. He had also never really been apart from Scott since they were born and that, Stiles knew, was going to be hard to come to terms with if they went to completely different schools.

The only other thing that kept him hinged on whether he wanted to move far away or stay close was his feelings for Derek. On the one hand he was, stupidly, falling hard for the alpha, considering how much closer they had gotten over the years. The thought of losing that closeness, of losing Derek was downright painful, and Stiles sometimes felt like he was drowning with no one to save him. On the other hand, maybe getting as far away from Derek as possible was exactly what he needed. Derek obviously did not like Stiles in that way. Sure, they were friends, good friends, almost best friends, but that’s where those feelings ended. Stiles couldn’t pine after Derek forever (well, he could, but honestly, how healthy would that be?). The only thing worse than not seeing Derek at all would be watching him fall in love with someone else.

Stiles let the day pass by him in a blur, trapped in his head and buried in his own feelings. His headache had only seemed to have gotten worse and every now and then he swore he caught a pair of glowing, violet eyes watching him from the shadows. He had been so lost in himself that he had barely noticed he had an unread text from Derek, not really seeing it until he was at home, sitting at his desk fulling intending to get his homework done.

D: I figured I would let you know I didn’t find anything before you bombard me with questions

Stiles was somewhere between a smile and a frown as he looked down at the words on his screen. Derek knew Stiles well enough to text him his findings without blowing the boy off, but Stiles could never truly tell if Derek was put out by his excessive need to be in the know or not. He started typing several replies, but quickly deleted all of them.

S: Thanks for checking anyway, Sourwolf

He had finally settled on, too tired to come up with anything better. He usually enjoyed their texting banter, but Stiles’ earlier thoughts were making him keep his distance from Derek. He figured he should just drop the whole thing and pretend like his human instincts were just acting up because he had just become that paranoid over the years. He placed his phone down and turned to his calculus book. He felt like his head was going to explode from the pain. He tried to focus for about thirty more seconds before he pushed back from his desk with a heavy sigh. He moved to the bathroom, opening the medicine cabinet and grabbing the pain reliever, shoving three more into his mouth, using the sink water to wash it down. He should really stop relying on caffeine to get him through the day. He walked back into his room and looked mournfully between his bed and his desk, wishing he could just collapse there for the rest of the evening. The buzz of his phone startled him and he accidentally bumped his knee into his desk and stumbled to the ground, hissing in pain. He reached up and grabbed his phone, eyebrows shooting up when he read the message.

Lydia: Pack bonding party at the lake house this weekend!

Stiles smiled as he eased down into a sitting position on the floor as the rapid replies of cheers and excitement filled the group text. He just shook his head, the pain in his knee lessening as he realized Derek gave a begrudgingly reply that said he would be there. So much for Stiles keeping his distance. He set the phone down and started to get up to finish his homework, when one of the stacks of supernatural notes caught his eye. It was some of the notes he had been going over right before they had come up with their plan to banish the witch. Stiles reached out and grabbed the stack, pulling it closer, all thoughts of finishing his homework gone.

He spent the next few hours pouring over the information, learning about different spells and magic that witches possessed. He learned about the types of witches, how some were harmless and even helped humans, and others wanted nothing more than to watch the world burn. Stiles snorted at that. That was definitely their witch. She had wanted Beacon Hills to burn, literally, with her fireballs. He had read and read and read until his eyes were heavy with sleep and his brain had shut down from his pounding headache. He passed out on top of his covers, the research scattered around him.

 

-

 

Clever boy, much stronger than I thought

Stiles nearly startled at the voice, knowing he had heard it somewhere before, but couldn’t quite place it. He barely had time to open his eyes when he felt ice cold hands with pointed nails digging into his skin, forcing his jaw out and his mouth to open. The cool liquid burned down his throat and he was left coughing and spluttering as he turned into the bed, gripping the sheets tightly.

Soon

Stiles felt himself fall out of the bed, but when he landed on the floor, eyes opening wide and panicked, the sun was already pouring in through his half opened blinds. He looked around, the pounding in his head seemingly worse than yesterday. There hadn’t been glowing eyes, but he had felt someone holding on to him. How could it be just a dream? He picked up his phone from the nightstand, his fingers rapidly moving against the keyboard as he prepared a very long paragraph to send to Derek about how things were definitely not over, but stopped just about half way through. What proof did he have? Some scattered research notes that, while fascinating, told him absolutely nothing? His weird life like dreams? His fucking pounding headache that wouldn’t go away no matter what he did?

He threw his phone down on the bed, grinding his teeth in frustration. If only he could think clearly, but his head wasn’t the only thing hurting. He felt more tired than usual, which was honestly saying something considering their past few nights, and he felt both starved and sick to his stomach at the same time. No. Fuck this. He was staying home. School be damned, his education would survive one day without it.

 

-

 

Apparently, the rest of the world had disagreed with his desire to stay home (and by the rest of the world he meant his father and Derek) saying if he was well enough to play video games he was well enough to go to school. To be fair, he hadn’t actually planned on playing video games right off the bat. It was something he figured he could do later after his god awful migraine had dissipated. He knew he had set the bar too high for himself when he had returned to school far too soon after some of their more disastrous run-ins with the supernatural.

The rest of the morning passed about the same as the one before. The only difference was there was more upbeat chatter between everyone at lunch as they talked about the upcoming party at Lydia’s lake house.

“How did you convince Derek to come?” Erica asked as she waggled an eyebrow at Lydia. “He hates parties.”

“No one says no to Lydia Martin,” Lydia replied haughtily before her face softened, “besides, he secretly likes hanging out with everyone even when it’s not set in the dark woods, chasing a dangerous creature hell bent on destroying the town.”

Everyone laughed and Stiles tried not to let the sharp sound resonate through his skull as he felt his barely eaten lunch lurch in his stomach uncomfortably. The following silence actually made him look up and he almost fell out of his seat as he realized everyone was looking at him.

“What?” He asked as he quickly looked over his shoulder, terrified a monster or something was standing just behind him.

“You’ve been weirdly quiet today.” Allison pointed out with a small frown on her face.

“Not that we’ve minded.” Boyd teased, earning him a playful elbow jab from Erica.

Stiles forced a smile to his face. “I’m fine.” He responded despite knowing he was surrounded by five werewolves that could totally tell he was lying. This was evident as all five of them raised a concerned eyebrow in his direction, Scott looking the most worried. “Still just thinking about the other night is all.” He said quickly, which, okay, wasn’t a complete lie, but wasn’t the full truth either.

They all groaned at that and he knew it was enough for them to stop asking him questions because they really didn’t want to know. For once, Stiles didn’t mind. He didn’t really want to talk about it anyway, not with his brain threatening to burst from his skull and his body feeling more sluggish than usual. It wasn’t just how he felt physically affecting him, but his thoughts still lingered on his ridiculously stupid feelings for Derek. He sensed he was approaching a crossroads and soon he would either have to tell Derek how he felt and hope for the best or push it so far away that it practically never existed. Both options seemed terribly miserable, given that Derek was more than likely to reject him.

The bell rang and he was forced to finish off the rest of his afternoon in misery. He had almost made it through the day, but halfway through the last class he suddenly started to feel very hot. He could feel the walls slowly closing in on him, sweat dripping from his forehead. He didn’t know his head could hurt this much. He stumbled out of his seat, muttering something about using the bathroom. He was blind with pain, white and dark spots dancing in front of his eyes and somehow, miraculously, he made it to the locker room, finding the first trashcan within reach and unceremoniously puking in it. His head exploded and he couldn’t tell if he was feeling better or worse after heaving up the contents of his stomach.

Worse. Definitely worse.

He vomited two more times before slowly sinking down to the floor, wondering if he would just be better off if he slept on the cool tile the rest of the school day. He closed his eyes, mulling on whether it was overly dramatic to wish for the sweet release of death in that moment, when a gentle touch pressed against the back of his neck. He felt the pain beginning to leech away, a coolness washing over him, making him feel lighter than he had felt in days. He half opened his eyes, meeting the very concerned face of Scott looking down at him.

“Stiles,” Scott whined as he finished, the black outline of his veins fading as he pulled his hand back, “why didn’t you tell me you were feeling sick. I could have helped a lot earlier.”

“Just a headache.” Stiles mumbled. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Scott eye the trashcan in disgust, not really believing Stiles’ words for a minute. “I haven’t been sleeping or eating well for that matter.” Stiles supplied after a moment. “Plus the stress of everything going on outside of school is getting to me.”

Scott carefully sat down next to Stiles, their shoulders bumping. They sat in silence for a few moments, Stiles just happy to have the company.

“You know that no matter where we end up next year you’ll still be my best friend, right?” Scott asked after a moment.

Stiles turned to look at him, offering his best friend a small smile. “You really think you could get rid of me after all these years?” He asked in a teasing voice. “I’d like to see your future college buddy be as cool with you turning into a furry little creature as I am.”

Scott just rolled his eyes. Stiles cleared his throat, his tone going softer as he spoke again.

“You’ll always be my brother, Scott.”

Scott returned the smile before pulling Stiles into a tight hug. After a few moments they broke apart and Scott got to his feet, extending his hand to help Stiles up.

“You should tell him, you know.” Scott said as they started back towards the classroom.

Stiles stumbled over his feet, looking at Scott with a mixed expression of complete shock and a little bit of embarrassment. “What?”

Scott only snorted in response. “Dude, I watched you pine over Lydia for years, don’t think I can’t tell when it shifted to someone else.”

Stiles only scowled in return. Scott could be weirdly perceptive sometimes, especially on things he had absolutely no right to be perceptive about. Which, apparently, included Stiles’ love life, or lack thereof.

“I take it all back.” Stiles said as he ran to catch up with Scott. “I hate you.”

“No, you don’t.” Scott said with a smirk, walking back into class before Stiles could properly argue that he had completely no idea who Scott was referring to and that there was absolutely nothing to tell.

 

-

 

By the time he had gotten home some of the pain in his head had returned, but he was thankful it wasn’t nearly as bad. He was happy the weekend was coming up and was starting to look forward to the party, trying to ignore Scott’s very unhelp advice about talking to Derek. It was easy for Scott to say things like that. He was already dating Kira. Stiles tried not to huff too hard as he warmed up cold pizza for dinner, knowing his dad was working late. He loved his pack, he really did, but sometimes it was hard being around all of them when they had already paired off into couples. There was Scott and Kira, Isaac and Allison, Lydia and Jackson, and hell, even Boyd and Erica had finally gotten together which just left Derek and Stiles. Stiles knew Derek seemed okay with being on his own, but sometimes the loneliness really crept in when they were all together. Sure, Stiles had dated Malia a few years ago, and even though they were still friends, it kind of sucked knowing he was going home alone for the evening.

He ate his pizza in silence, trying not to feel too sorry for himself before he pulled his homework around and got to work finishing it. He was not going to try and scramble to get it done in the morning before class, he wanted the extra sleep. After he was done he moved upstairs to take a shower. He was a little more than shocked when he caught his reflection in the steaming mirror. He was paler than usual, dark circles under his eyes that almost reminded him of the time he had been possessed by the Nogitsune. He quickly reached behind his left ear for the small marking etched in his skin that meant “self” and sighed with relief knowing it was still there. He turned, wondering if he just had a twenty-four hour bug when he caught something strange in the mirror. He hurried back, slowly turning and throwing his head over his shoulder to look at his back.

“What the hell?” He asked aloud as he reached his slender fingers around his waist, running them over a weird mark on his back.

It was like a network of green veins spreading out over his skin, starting in the lower left corner of his hip, working its way up. It almost would have been cool if it hadn’t been so terrifying. He remembered he fell off his bed early that morning, but he had never seen a bruise like this. He scrubbed his hands over his face, wishing he could just have one, normal, quiet evening, when he opened his eyes and noticed it was gone. He blinked a few times, running his hands over his skin, but there was nothing.

“Okay, Stiles,” he said as he faced his reflection in the mirror, “no more caffeine because you’re officially losing it.”

He tossed one more look into the mirror before he turned and hopped in the shower. Normal eighteen year olds just had to worry about what college they wanted to go to, who they were going to take to their senior proms, if they were going to pass their exams, and spending as much time with their friends as possible before they all parted ways. Stiles had to worry about all of that stuff on top of worrying about whether the next supernatural creature was going to eat them or not. At least the prom one he could easily shove out of his mind. There was only one person he wanted to take. And that was not going to happen, no matter how much he wanted it.

“Stiles.”

Stiles released a high pitched yelp as he jumped back against his door frame, hands gripping the wood tightly before he realized it was just Derek standing in the back corner of his room, arms crossed over his chest, eyebrows raised in an unimpressed stare.

“Oh my god, Derek,” Stiles barked as he dropped his dirty clothes into his hamper, dressed in only sweatpants, moving to grab a clean shirt from his dresser, “you have to stop scaring me like that.”

“Where’s the fun in that?” Derek asked with a slight shrug in his shoulders.

“Why are you here?” Stiles asked as he moved to sit cross legged on his bed while Derek took his desk chair. He didn’t mind that Derek was there, in fact, it was a pleasant surprise, one that made his heart race a little more. He just hopped Derek would mistake it for his most recent scare.

Derek frowned slightly, leaning forward, pressing his arms onto his knees as he looked at Stiles. “Scott texted me. He said he was worried about you.”

Stiles just barely stopped the growl from leaving his throat. Scott. The traitor. While it was very sweet to hear about his friend’s concern, he felt like Scott laid it on thick if it was enough to get Derek to come out and visit him. Derek was still looking expectantly at him and Stiles tried not to squirm under the alpha’s intensive gaze.

“I’m fine.” Stiles said, hoping his fluttering heart didn’t betray him. “I had a bad headache and it’s mostly gone now.”

“Mostly?” Derek asked, skeptical. “Are you sure you’re fine?”

He wanted to repeat that he was fine, but that was a lie. Stiles had thought food and a shower would help, but whatever pain Scott had taken away earlier was now coming back tenfold. He was just glad he had been able to get his homework done beforehand. He had hoped to go over the supernatural notes one more time, but the idea of reading something made his head spin.

“No.” Stiles finally whispered weakly.

Derek’s hard expression melted into something softer. He watched the wolf get to his feet, closing the distance between the chair and the bed. Stiles froze as Derek carefully reached out his hands, placing them on either side of Stiles’ temple. The relief was instant and Stiles couldn’t stop himself from mumbling “God, I love you” in his moment of weakness. If Derek had heard him, which he definitely had, he didn’t flinch back or roll his eyes. If anything, Stiles swore his expression actually grew fonder.

“Better?” Derek asked after a moment, pulling back, his gaze falling to Stiles’ amber eyes.

“Much.” Stiles breathed. “Thanks.”

Derek nodded his head and retook his seat across from the boy. Stiles licked his lips, already missing the warm fingers pressed against his skin. What he would give to have those fingers traces down his jaw, pulling him into a k-

“So, you’re going to Lydia’s pack bonding party tomorrow?” Stiles blurted out, bringing his train of thought to an abrupt halt.

“You sound surprised.” Derek responded gruffly.

“Erica said you don’t do parties.” Stiles pointed out fairly.

Derek didn’t disagree as he leaned back in the desk chair, sighing softly. “No, but there aren’t going to be many opportunities for pack gatherings if everyone goes their own ways after you all graduate.”

Stiles could hear the sadness laced in Derek’s usually uncaring tone. He had known the alpha long enough to decipher the subtleties in his voice, which usually allowed him to understand how he was feeling without the weird pack bonding powers Derek shared with the other wolves. Sometimes, he was the first person to understand when Derek was upset about something, which, if it had bothered the alpha he hadn’t let on to it yet.

“Not everyone has to go far away.” Stiles supplied carefully. “There are great options only an hour or two from here.”

“Where are you looking?” Derek asked casually.

Stiles swallowed the lump in his throat. Why would Derek care where he went to college, unless…

“Uh, not sure yet.” He supplied honestly. “Sometimes I don’t want to move away at all. Other times I think about going to school on the east coast” Derek’s face was unreadable, damn him. He really did make things difficult.

“You should go wherever makes you most happy.” Derek finally answered, his eyes looking at something over Stiles’ shoulder.

Happy.

Right.

That was exactly his problem. He had no idea what would make him happy in the end. It seemed to be more of a choice of which one would make him less miserable.

“If only I knew where that was.” Stiles said before he could stop himself. This caused Derek’s gaze to fix on him immediately. Stiles sucked in a deep breath of air, Scott’s words running through his mind as he looked into Derek’s dark, green eyes.

You should tell him, you know

Fuck it. Maybe Scott was right. It was now or never. The worst that could happen was Derek rejected him and their relationship could go back to the way it was when they first met. Cold and distant. His decision about where to go to college would be completely made up and they would only really have to split their time with the pack for the rest of their lives. Yup. That sounded completely fine.

He hadn’t realized he had been shifting uncomfortably in his bed until Derek reached out a steady hand, placing it over Stiles’ own, which was shaking.

“Stiles, it’s okay.” Derek said. “You can tell me whatever it is you clearly want to tell me.”

Stiles opened his mouth, but no words came out. He wanted to tell Derek a lot of things. He wanted to tell him that he’d been having nightmares about the witch they had supposedly banished. He wanted to rattle off all of the research he had done about witches, because, clearly, he was the only one that cared about whether they had actually saved the day or not. He wanted to confess his feelings and break whatever weird tensions had been building between them the last four years. He wanted to tell Derek that he was tired of being the only one in the pack without someone to love in a romantic way. He wanted to tell Derek to go away and make it easier for him by keeping his distance.

But most of all he wanted to tell Derek to just kiss him already.

Of course, none of those things came out of his mouth because he was a coward and somehow stumbled over his feelings just as badly as he did when he was a freshman in high school. No. He could do this. He’d done terrifying things before and survived.

“Derek, I wanted to say-”

He was abruptly cut off as Derek quickly stood, his body tensing, red eyes glowing towards Stiles’ open window. Stiles followed his gaze, but all he saw was darkness and the moon poking out through the clouds in the distance.

“Derek, what’s wrong?” Stiles asked as he slowly got to his feet, his own fear and anxiety spiking. Derek wolfing out was never a good sign and he braced himself for something terrible to come crashing through his window at any moment.

When nothing did Derek finally spoke, but it was in a low growl, eyes still trained outside. “I caught the scent of something on the wind. I thought I had smelled small traces of it on your bed, but I know it’s not your scent.”

Stiles had half a mind to ask Derek what he smelled like, but refrained considering the seriousness of his tone. Something foreign had been in his room and Derek didn’t like it. Stiles immediately thought of his nightmare about the witch. Maybe she was real. Maybe he hadn’t dreamt it at all. Before he could relay his thoughts to Derek the alpha was out the window in one quick motion. Stiles wondered if he should follow Derek, but by the time he had reached the window he could see Derek disappearing into the woods and knew it would be pointless.

“Perfect timing.” Stiles mumbled as he turned away from the window.

The supernatural really wanted to make sure Stiles couldn’t be happy. He sat down at his desk, figuring he could get some research done since his headache had been dulled thanks to magical werewolf healing powers. He sifted through the notes he had haphazardly thrown on his desk earlier this morning, his lips turning down into a frown. He really needed to have Lydia help him organize everything better. He pulled a few pages here and there, trying to remember where he had left off. One page caught his eye in particular. Scrawled over the copied paper in the margin was his own handwriting in blue ink.

Tell Derek

He stared dumbly down at his own handwriting, blinking several times, hoping with each blink the words would slowly disappear, ink seeping into paper, like it had never existed.

What the fuck did that mean?

He knew that had not been there last night. He pulled the paper closer, scanning over the contents. It was the page that had given them directions on how to do the banishment. He stared down at his own handwriting, waiting to see if some magical understanding would pass over him if he just concentrated hard enough. But, the words just sat there, unyielding. Unchanging.

Tell Derek

Tell Derek what exactly? In his weakened state had he written Scott’s advice on the page without remembering? Why would he write it there of all places? It was so random. There were several pieces of paper, less important than his research notes, to choose from and yet it happened to be the one that concerned the witch that was still giving him very bad feelings.

Unless, it wasn’t random at all.

Stiles’ eyes immediately went down to the page number in the bottom right corner. He quickly began sifting through the rest of the notes, trying to find the pages that were numbered before and after this one. What if this note from himself wasn’t referring to his feelings about Derek, but something else, something more sinister. He gathered twenty pages total, ten before and ten after the banishment page and quickly began reading them. Most of them were just spells, stuff he had read last night, the words still familiar in his mind, but he forced himself to focus. There had to be something there, something he had missed.

 

-

 

Silly werewolves, think they’re so smart and indestructible

Stiles felt himself spinning slowly, his head dropping off his desk, starling him awake as he shot back in his chair. He’s vision was slightly blurred, head throbbing painfully, as he gripped the armrest of the chair. He felt like he was going to be sick again.

But they’re not like you, my clever boy

He forced his eyes open, but before he could focus his gaze there was a hand at his throat, shoving him back into the faux leather of the chair. The sharp nails moved to his jaw, once again forcing his mouth open.

“St-stop!” He managed to choke out, his voice rough and low.

Humans continue to surprise me

The liquid was practically burning down his throat and he nearly gagged as his mouth was clamped shut, preventing him from spitting it back up. The hand at his jaw move carefully to his cheek, resting there for a moment

I’ve almost grown fond of you

He felt ice cold lips against his cheek before he jerked away, stumbling out of his chair. The morning sun greeted him warmly, but he felt like he was freezing. He hadn’t remembered falling asleep at his desk chair, but as he looked over at his bed he realized it was still completely made. The only good thing was that his headache seemed to be completely gone, although his brain felt a little muddled, foggy even.

“What was I doing?” He asked aloud as he drew closer to his desk, noticing his research notes were stacked in a neat pile next to his computer.

He closed his eyes trying to picture his night before falling asleep. Derek had been there and Stiles had almost confessed his feelings (uh, yikes) before Derek had abruptly left to trace a weird scent. He obviously hadn’t come back, unsurprisingly. Stiles remembered going through his research notes. His mind ran over the banishment spell. He must have read that page recently. He reached out for the stack when he heard his phone buzzing from his nightstand loudly. He quickly crossed the room, picking it up to see a message from Scott.

Scott: Dude, where are you? Class starts in five minutes!

Stiles’ eyes flew to the clock on his desk, panic setting in as he realized what time it was. Any thoughts about checking the notes were gone as he ran to his dresser, ripping out a set of clean clothes. He stumbled into the hallway, still trying to pull his jeans up, as he moved towards the bathroom to brush his teeth. He did a once over in the mirror, slightly pleased he looked a little bit better than he had the past few days, before returning to his room. He grabbed his bag, stuffing his phone into his pocket and turned to leave, hoping he wouldn’t receive detention for being late. He didn’t even look back at the neat pile still stacked on his desk.

 

-

 

“You’re lucky Coach was in a good mood this morning.” Scott said as they sat down at lunch.

Stiles had made it halfway through the class, stumbled through an excuse about how he had to stop at the station to bring his dad some important file, not realizing the time, before the Coach had just waved him off, telling him to take a seat before he changed his mind about giving Stiles detention.

“Yeah,” Erica said as she sat down next to Boyd, “detention on a Friday night would have been the worst, especially since we’re all supposed to help Lydia set up for the party tonight.”

Stiles had nearly forgotten about the party. His mind had been so frazzled thinking about why he had woken up at his desk, virtually not being able to remember anything past the point where Derek had bolted out the window. Despite the apparent amount of sleep he had received, waking up nearly an hour later than normal, he felt like he had only shut his eyes for ten minutes.

“You look better today, though.” Allison said with a smile.

Stiles returned it. At least someone was being nice to him this morning.

“Why were you late this morning?” Kira asked curiously, peering around Scott to catch a better glimpse at him.

Stiles frowned down at his lunch. If he was being quite honest he wasn’t exactly sure. He knew he must have been doing some sort of research last night, and yeah, he had fallen asleep at his desk before, but this was different. The papers had been stacked neatly, like he had taken the time to organize them before completely passing out. Why would he put in all that effort, but then not get up and sleep in his own bed? The whole thing was just strange. Of course he had no time to dwell on it since he had rushed out of the house in record time. He knew he wouldn’t have much to spare after school either as they were all heading to the lake house relatively early. He thought about mentioning all of this to the pack, but they had clearly moved on from the whole witch thing, annoyed whenever Stiles brought it up.

“I must have forgotten to set my alarm.” He settled on with a small shrug of his shoulders. It could have been true as far as Stiles knew.

His friends seemed to accept that answer and turned their attention to the details of the party, which made Stiles chuckle because Lydia would obviously already have every small detail planned out. He didn’t mind though as he pulled out his phone. He hadn’t heard from Derek all day, which normally wouldn’t bother him, but after last night, well…

S: Hey, Sourwolf, hope you’re okay after you bolted from my room last night

He knew Derek wasn’t running away from their conversation, but it kind of stung a little that he hadn’t returned or even let Stiles know that he was okay after his informal goodbye. He, thankfully, didn’t have to wait long for a response.

D: Sorry. Scent trail took me clear across town. I figured you were asleep by the time it had gone cold.

Stiles felt his chest loosen just a bit. While he knew Derek was more than capable of taking care of himself there were a lot of strange things in Beacon Hills and Stiles was starting to wonder just how many lives they had left after all the shit they had been through.

S: You’re still coming to the party tonight, right?

He couldn’t help himself.

D: Yes

Stiles felt both relieved and slightly nervous at the thought of picking up where their conversation left off. Derek wasn’t one to let things go that easily and he would be sure to bring it up as soon as they saw each other.

S: You should totally wear that dark green Henley, really makes those brooding forest eyes of yours pop

He sent with a winky face. Derek swiftly replied with the unamused face emoji and Stiles was just impressed he had finally diversified his emoticon usage. After lunch Stiles found that Scott had fallen in step with him as they walked to class together, the rest of the pack splitting off to finish out their day.

“So...” Scott said as he looked at Stiles expectantly, drawing out the “o” in the word.

Stiles arched an eyebrow, “So what?”

“Did Derek stop by last night?” Scott asked innocently, like he didn’t already know the answer.

Stiles just glared as he stopped at his locker, quickly opening it and shoving a few books inside. “Gee, Scott, I don’t know, did he?”

Scott just shrugged his shoulders, thumbs jammed under the straps of his backpack, the look of pure innocence still on his face. “He may have asked me how you were yesterday and I may have told him you’ve had better days.”

“Yes, I’m sure you phrased it just like that.” Stiles said as he tried to look away from his best friend.

“So he did show up then?” Scott asked, not trying very hard to keep the smugness out of his voice.

“Yes.” Stiles conceded, much to his own dismay. He wondered if all the other wolves knew how he felt. Clearly they could smell things like desire and arousal, which Stiles figured had to be rolling off of him whenever he was around Derek. And if the werewolves knew that meant their significant others knew. Which meant the whole pack knew. Which meant Derek most definitely knew, right?

Fuck.

Stiles slammed his locker shut, wondering if Derek had made up the whole strange scent thing just to spare Stiles the embarrassment of talking about his unrequited romantic feelings. The thought made his face burn and his gut twist uncomfortably. He was suddenly not very excited to go to the party tonight. He had been so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he hadn’t realized Scott was still talking to him.

“Did you tell him?”

Stiles shook his head, blinking rapidly as he looked at Scott. “Huh?”

Scott all, but rolled his eyes. “Did you tell Derek?”

Stiles froze, the last two words of Scott’s sentence repeating themselves over again in his mind. “Scott, what did you just say?”

Scott frowned, wasn’t Stiles listening to him? “I said, did you tell Derek?”

Tell Derek.

Tell Derek

It was like a wave was suddenly engulfing him, cold and with the purpose of waking him for a deep sleep. He had been looking at the research notes and in the margins he had discovered he had left himself a note. Tell Derek. If he’d figured out what that meant last night it was lost on him now. He wished the day was over so he could go home and flip through his notes. He wondered if Lydia would be upset if he pulled her aside at the party and asked to help him sift through his research for something he was clearly trying to find. Or remember. He felt Scott’s eyes on him, narrowed and full of concern.

Stiles cleared his throat, “Well, I started to and then he just kind of ran from the room.” Saying the words out loud made a sharp pain rise in his chest.

“What?” Scott asked.

“He said he caught a foreign scent or something.” Stiles said, trying to keep the hurt out of his voice. “And you know Derek when he goes all wolf mode.” He added while making a clawing motion.

“Well,” Scott said unhelpfully as he patted Stiles’ shoulder, “you should have plenty of time at the party tonight.”

“Lucky me.” Stiles grumbled as he followed his best friend into their next class.

 

-

 

It turned out Coach wasn’t letting Stiles off the hook completely for being late to his class. Much to Stiles’ chagrin he had to clean and organize all of the lacrosse gear before he was allowed to leave for the day. This put him completely behind schedule and he only had just enough time to go home and pack a bag before Scott was picking him up to go up to Lydia’s lake house. He had debated not bringing his notes with him, but managed to stuff the stack into his bag at the last second before Scott had come into the house and dragged him out.

“Have fun.” His dad had waved from the front door. “And don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“That’s a long list, dad.” Stiles shot back before he piled into the backseat since Kira was in the shotgun.

He knew he should have spent the time thinking about the supernatural aspect of Tell Derek, but all he could do was focus on the romantic feeling portion of tell Derek. His nerves must have been driving Scott crazy, as he caught the alpha wolf throwing him worried glances in the rear view mirror every now and then. He was just glad Scott wasn’t giving him any advice. While his best friend had managed to date Allison and was now with Kira, Stiles chalked that up to dumb luck more than anything. Scott was a great guy, one of the best he had ever known, but he was not an expert in the “talking about your feelings” category.

So he just picked at his nails and wished that some creature would leap out from the forest and swallow him whole before they reached the lake house and he had to face Derek.

If Stiles thought he would have any time to pull Lydia aside and talk to her then he was gravely mistaken. As soon as they had stepped foot into the house it was less of a “hello” from the strawberry blonde and more of a bark of orders to help get the place ready for the party. The news about it had spread a bit like wildfire at school, so it was more than just the pack coming, which, obviously Lydia being the gracious host that she was, didn’t mind too much. It did mean people like Danny would be able to come. Stiles wasn’t surprised to see that Allison and Isaac were already there, helping prepare food in the kitchen. He was even less surprised to see Jackson pretending to hang decorations when he was actually just doing nothing. Erica and Boyd hadn’t arrived yet, which meant Derek probably wasn’t there either. Stiles found some comfort in that. Gave him more time to think of something to say or not say to Derek.

In just a few short hours the party was in full swing, house cleaned and decorated to perfection, food and drinks a plenty and music blasting louder than necessary. Erica and Boyd had arrived an hour after Stiles and crew had, but even after the party had been going on for half an hour Derek had not shown up. Stiles tried to ignore his absence as he talked with Malia, catching up on how father-daughter bonding time with his least favorite creepy wolf, Peter, was going. He moved through the crowd, pointedly turning away from an Isaac and Allison make out session in the kitchen. He avoided bumping into Jackson, knowing it would only end in insults, despite what dating Lydia and joining the pack had done to make him less of a dick. For some reason Jackson still had a special place in his cold little heart reserved just for Stiles.

As the night progressed and the alcohol flowed the dance floor filled up. Stiles felt a slight buzz from the couple of drinks he had, letting himself be pulled into a few dances, sandwiched between Erica and Isaac. He knew the wolves couldn’t get drunk, but it wasn’t stopping them from being carefree and wild. Even though the guest list had pretty much quadrupled in size the pack kept close and, for once, Stiles was happy to not obsess over his supernatural research. He was having fun. A lot of fun. He had played beer pong with Scott as his partner, absolutely dominating until they were defeated by Kira and Lydia, bowing down to the queens respectfully. He had even been able to talk with Danny for a while. The only thing that was missing was Derek. Despite having a great time Stiles couldn’t ignore that tiny ache in his chest at Derek’s absence. Hadn’t the alpha said he was going to be there? Had he changed his mind?

“Lydia,” Stiles asked as he finally managed to pull his friend to the side, “you haven’t seen Derek, have you?” He hoped his voice sounded more casual than desperate.

“Derek?” Lydia asked as she tucked stray hair behind her ear. “He’s been here the past few hours. I think he’s out by the firepit.”

Stiles felt like a ton of bricks had just been dropped in his stomach. He wondered if Lydia could read it on his face as she just gave his shoulder a small squeeze before turning to leave him alone in the hallway. Derek was here at the party. Derek had been here for the past few hours. Did anyone else know that? He couldn’t have been the only one to not have noticed. Lydia was the host, of course she knew every single person that was here. It made sense. Stiles steeled himself and went hunting for the rest of the pack, because he couldn’t have been the only one.

Could he?

It turned out he absolutely was the only person in the pack that didn’t know Derek was there and had been there most of the evening. The impact of that was more than Stiles could handle. He felt all of his warmth and happiness drain from his body as he realized Derek was actively avoiding him the entire night. How else had they not run into each other? Stiles had been hanging out with the whole pack most of the evening so the chances of them not seeing each other were slim. Unless, of course, you were a werewolf that could detect a human heartbeat or scent coming from a mile away. Stiles felt the walls closing in on him, the music too loud, the feel of bodies pressed against him icky and unwelcomed, and he quickly bolted from the house.

He took deep, gasping breaths as he sprinted towards the dock, the music slowly fading, but his heart only beat louder, more aggressive as if it too was ready to abandon Stiles at any moment. He felt hot tears filling his eyes, spilling over his cheeks as he took a seat on the edge of the wood. His chest felt tight and his head was spinning and he slowly laid back so he was now gazing up at the night sky, hoping he would find comfort in the twinkling stars. After several moments the ache in his chest didn’t go away, in fact, it actually felt worse, but he controlled his breathing and he had somehow managed to stop the tears. He wanted to go home, but didn’t want to take anyone else away from the party. Why should he ruin everyone else’s good time?

“What are you doing out here?”

The voice startled him into a sitting position, but surprise and shock quickly melted into a scowl as Derek stepped out into the moonlight.

“Oh, so you’re finally gracing me with your presence?” Stiles snapped. He saw Derek freeze in his place, a look of shame passing over the alpha for a moment.

“Stiles.” Derek finally whined, like he was the wounded one.

“What, Derek?” Stiles asked as he got to his feet, hating the way he felt when Derek said his name like that. “The entire pack knows you’re here, but for some reason you haven’t managed a single ‘hello’ to me?”

“I’m sorry.” He murmured

The misery in his voice made Stiles pause, his next angry statement dying on his lips. He took a step closer to the wolf, noticing that he was wearing a green Henley with a pair of dark jeans. Stiles would smirk if he hadn’t been so upset with the alpha. He felt some of his anger dissipate, only to be replaced by confusion. So Derek was willing to wear the shirt Stiles told him he would look good in, but wouldn’t even say hello?

“Derek, I think we need to talk.” Stiles finally said as he pinched the bridge of his nose. “Why have you been avoiding me tonight?”

Derek shifted on his feet. “I haven’t been avoiding you.”

Stiles wasn’t a werewolf, but even he knew that was a terrible lie. “So, you just happen to hang out with the rest of the pack when I’m conveniently not there? All night?”

Derek was looking anywhere, but at Stiles.

“Aren’t we friends?” Stiles asked weakly. Maybe he had been reading his and Derek’s relationship wrong this entire time. Maybe Derek hated him more than Jackson did, which was saying a lot.

“Of course we are.” Derek said immediately, his eyes snapping to Stiles.

“Did I do something wrong?” Stiles asked.

Derek looked away from him, shaking his head slightly. “No, it’s not that.”

“Then it’s something.” Stiles pointed out as he took a step closer to Derek. He wanted to reach out in the space between them, his heart aching for Derek to take him in his arms. He hadn’t fully realized how deep his feelings were until this moment, when the distance was so small, yet, somehow, it felt like they were miles apart.

“I just think you should go somewhere on the east coast,” Derek finally said, his voice rough and low, “for college that is. Somewhere you can get a fresh start.”

Stiles didn’t need any more of an explanation to know what Derek was really saying. All this time he knew. He knew exactly how Stiles felt about him and he just let Stiles walk around with blind hope that maybe Derek shared his feelings in return. The pain in his chest was unimaginable, but, somehow, he didn’t collapse from it. He could feel a single tear roll down his cheek, but he didn’t bother to wipe it away. He felt like he had stood there for hours, with Derek doing everything in his power to not look at him in that moment.

“Yeah,” Stiles said, barely keeping the hurt and betrayal out of his voice, “fresh start sounds nice.” He took a step forward, his shoulder barely brushing against Derek. “They’re probably missing us up there, better go before they send out a search party.”

He didn’t wait for Derek to respond. He just numbly headed back towards the house wanting nothing more than to burn that stupid peice of paper that still said Tell Derek.

 

-

 

The party was still going full force by the time he had returned to the house. He tried his best to avoid any of the wolves in the pack. He knew they would immediately be able to tell something was wrong, especially Scott, and he really didn’t want to talk about that right now. He just wanted to get drunk. Really drunk. Like really really drunk. He found some random person filling cups with beer and quickly held out his hand to take one.

“Cheers to going to school on the east coast.” Stiles mumbled as he raised his glass, downing it quickly before he demanded a refill.

He cursed loudly before he could finish his second drink as he spotted Isaac, Boyd, and Erica eyeing him funnily from the other side of the living room. He gave them a wave and quickly disappeared into the crowd before they could come after him. He narrowly avoided Scott, and had never been more thankful in his life that his best friend was lip locking Kira in the corner. He stumbled into the kitchen, finding Allison leaning against the counter, arms crossed over her chest, red solo cup held loftily in her left hand, eyes looking at the fridge in concentration. Allison was human. She was safe to be around.

“Hey, Stiles.” Allison slurred slightly as she moved to make room for him against the counter.

Drunk Allison was definitely safe.

“What are you looking at?” He asked, hoping his voice didn’t betray how he felt.

Allison pointed to the fridge and Stiles could see a collection of magnets resting against the stainless steel. Had Allison never seen magnets before? Or maybe drunk Allison just found them extra fascinating, which, hey, who was Stiles to judge?

“Did you see that Little Mermaid one?” Allison asked as she plucked it off of the fridge turning it in her hand.

Stiles noticed that the mermaid’s tale turned into human legs when you moved it or looked at it a certain way. He remembered Lydia telling him that her grandmother had called her Ariel and would read her the story all the time. It was something special between them.

“It’s a cool illusion.” Allison said as she continued to turn it in her hand.

Stiles froze against the counter. “Allison, what did you just say?”

“I said it was a cool illusion.” She hummed as she showed him the magnet.

An illusion. It was all an illusion. The witch had made them think they had banished her, by showing them exactly what they wanted to see. It wasn’t real. She was never really there, she had just casted a spell to make it look and feel like everything had gone according to their plan. If they thought she was dead then she could continue her evil deeds in secret, without the pack bothering her.

“Allison, I could kiss you!” Stiles said as he gripped her shoulders, grinning. “But, that would be really weird so I won’t!” Instead he pulled her into a tight hug before turning and sprinting towards the room where his bag and stack of notes was sitting.

He was upstairs and in Lydia’s bedroom in an instant, finding his bag next to Scott’s, leaning against the wall. He flicked the lights on before dropping to his knees. He pulled the stack of papers out and began shuffling through them, looking for the page where he knew the illusion spell was. When he finally found the page he was looking for he nearly dropped the entire stack on the floor.

“What the hell?” He cried as he got to his feet.

Written all over the paper, scribbled on the sides, around the incantation was his own handwriting in different colored pen markings.

Tell Derek

Tell Scott

Don’t let her make you forget

Tell the pack before she stops you

Remember, Stiles, remember

She’s used an illusion spell

Derek has to know before it’s too late

REMEMBER STILES

He stared down at his messages in horror. He suddenly began flipping through the rest of the pages, all of them having similar notes in his own handwriting. He had figured it out days ago, but somehow his memory had been erased. His dreams, the violet glowing eyes, and the burning liquid down his throat had all been real. The witch wasn’t dead and she was making sure that Stiles, who had caught on, wasn’t able to tell the pack about it.

Oh.

Fuck.

He turned on his heels, preparing to run and tell the pack his findings when he was blocked by someone standing in front of the door. She looked just like she had in the banishing circle, but that had just been an illusion, and act, a spell. Tall, slender, devastatingly beautiful with long, dark hair and dressed in all black, the witch smiled at Stiles and he was half surprised she didn’t have pointed teeth.

“You humans,” she said as she took a small step towards him, “are really something. Here I thought you were the weaker species, but you were the only one to figure it out.”

Stiles stood frozen, not sure what to do. His eyes darted around Lydia’s room for any sort of weapon he could use, but he knew whatever he swung at her wouldn’t do a lot of damage. He needed to get to the pack. He thought about screaming, but for all he knew she could have cast a sound proof spell on the room. He was finally forced to look at her. Maybe he could talk his way out. Stiles was good at talking.

“You erased my memory.” He said, because he might as well get some answers.

The witch nodded her head, her violet eyes not leaving his face. “I really didn’t think you would be on to me so quickly, but from the moment it happened you were already having doubts.”

“Call it human intuition.” Stiles replied, earning a giggle from her. Could witches giggle? It would have been cute if she wasn’t so terrifying.

“What was even more impressive was that you somehow fought my potion.” She said, another step towards him. “You didn’t stop.”

“I’ve been told I’m pretty stubborn.” He said, his eyes calculating the distance between himself and the door.

Her fingers reached out, brushing over his shoulder, nails moving carefully across the back of his neck as she circled around him. Stiles forced himself not to shudder.

“I thought they kept you as a pet,” she purred as she paused on his right, fingers rustling through his hair, “but you are much more than that, aren’t you?”

“I’m pack.” Stiles snarled as he turned his head to look at her.

“Indeed.” She said as she patted his cheek. “I can smell him all over you! The alpha must really think you’re someone special.”

“Well, it helps when he’s your best friend.” Stiles said somewhat smugly.

The witch laughed. “Not McCall. Although, his stench is oozing out of you all the same. No, this is different. This comes from the Hale Alpha.”

Stiles stiffened. She could only be talking about one person, but she was wrong. Derek had made it perfectly clear where they stood. “I don’t mean anything to Derek.” He said softly, the ache in his chest returning fullforce.

The witch cocked her head to the side, eyebrows raised. “You sure? Because his scent all over you tells me something different.” She said somewhat seductively, leaning in as she sucked in a deep breath.

“What do you want?” Stiles snapped as he backed away from her. He couldn’t focus on her words about Derek. She had to be wrong. She had to be.

“I’m just here to have a little fun and if I get to kill a few werewolves in the process,” she shrugged her shoulders casually, “all the more better.”

“You won’t get the chance.” Stiles said as he moved towards her, but she was quicker and much stronger.

She had him pinned against the wall, hand at his throat, feet kicking off from the ground.

“I said I was growing fond of you,” the witch sneered, face pressed against his cheek, lips close to his ear, “and I meant that.” She turned and pressed her lips against Stiles’.

Stiles had no idea what to do as he tried to break free of her hold, but she was just pushing him harder into the wall, teeth biting down into his soft lips. She finally pulled away, grinning widely.

“Come and find me little red riding hood.” She said, her fingers wrapping around the strings of the red hoodie he was wearing. “Before the big bad wolf does.”

She dropped him and Stiles fell to his knees, his head feeling heavy, his vision blurring as he tried to crawl forward. He heard the witch giggle again before he collapsed to the ground completely, his world going black.

 

-

 

“Stiles! Stiles!”

Stiles could hear someone shouting his name, but it sounded distant and muffled, like all of his senses had been dulled. There was a warmth pressed on either side of his face and Stiles felt content, wanting nothing more than to go back to sleep.

“Stiles!”

He frowned as the call for his name grew louder, more desperate, full of fear. He forced his eyes to open, but everything seemed too bright. He blinked a few times before he realized he was looking into a pair of very concerned forest, green eyes.

“Derek?” He mumbled, fingers reaching out to grip the wolf’s shirt. The alpha wolf hadn’t been the only one calling his name. He could just make out the blurred outline that could only be Scott. Suddenly, his memories were thrust back into him and now he felt like he couldn’t breathe.

Tell Derek

Tell Scott

“She was here.” Stiles wheezed, his eyes snapping wide, his grip on Derek’s shirt becoming tighter. “An illusion spell, she used an illusion spell. She was in here, alone with me, Derek.”

He could see Derek’s nostril flare, red eyes glowing. He wondered if he could smell the witch on him. She had touched him, kissed him. Marked her territory to mock the wolves. Derek was on his feet and out the door before Stiles had half a mind to stop him. Stiles felt himself falling backwards, his grip on Derek being the only thing that had kept him upright, but Scott quickly caught him. He suddenly realized the whole pack had been squashed into the room. He noticed Boyd, Erica, and Jackson take off after Derek, while the others remained behind.

“You believe me, right Scott?” Stiles asked quickly as latched onto his best friend.

“Of course, Stiles.” Scott said reassuringly as he slowly pulled Stiles to his feet. “We all felt a shift in the air, smelled her in the house.” Scott’s voice was uncharacteristically dark. “That’s when we found you passed out in here.”

“With these.” Lydia said as she held up Stiles’ research notes with his frantic handwritten messages about remembering and telling the pack.

“She erased my memories.” He told the group, running a shaking hand through his hair. “That’s why I’ve been feeling like shit these past few days.”

“But she must know that it’s not a secret anymore.” Isaac said as he tilted his head, looking down at the notes in Lydia’s hand curiously.

“So either she has what she wants,” Lydia said, “or she’s about to play her winning hand.”

The group all exchanged worried glances, but said nothing more. The party was essentially over after that and Stiles just sat quietly in a chair as the rest of the pack cleared everyone out of the house. Derek and the others didn’t return for a few hours and by the time they had gotten back everyone else was sober and the house was clean.

“The trail went cold again.” Derek said bitterly as paced the area of the living room where the pack was gathered despite the lateness of the hour.

“So, what do we do?” Kira asked as she looked around at everyone else. “Try the banishing spell again?”

Stiles was still sitting in the armchair they had left him in, pointedly not looking at Derek. In his moment of fear and anxiety he had, once again, latched onto Derek like a lifeline. Now that time had passed and the danger was gone for the moment the feelings of hurt, betrayal, and embarrassment had come rushing back. If the rest of the wolves could feel it they didn’t say anything, which suited Stiles just fine. He didn’t want to talk about it. He just wanted them to get rid of the witch so he could carry on with his life as far away from Beacon Hills as possible.

“How do we know she won’t just cast another illusion spell?” Boyd asked, arms crossed over his chest.

It took Stiles a moment to realize all of the eyes were on him. He looked up from his fingers fidgeting nervously in his lap. “Why are you all looking at me?” He said a little more harshly than he had intended to. If they had just listened to him in the first place this wouldn’t have been a problem.

“You were the one who figured it out.” Allison said as she indicated to his notes sitting on the coffee table just in front of him.

Stiles released an annoyed huff of air, reaching out for the papers in front of him, voice heavy with sarcasm, “Would this be a terrible time to tell you all ‘I told you so’?”

A chorus of yeses filled the room and Stiles couldn’t be bothered to stop his dramatic eye roll. He pulled the page with the illusion spell to the front, ignoring his pleading scrolls on the side.

“There are ways to detect an illusion,” he said as his eyes scanned down the paper, “besides, she probably won’t try to pull it again since we already know about it.”

“So, what is her plan?” Erica asked. “Wasn’t like she was doing much except causing chaos and burning shit down.”

“Unclear.” Stiles answered with a shrug of his shoulders. If she had one she wasn’t very forthcoming to Stiles about it, not that he would expect her too. He had already figured out more than she could imagine.

“Come one, Stilinski,” Jackson said, unimpressed, “you were alone with her for several minutes, you didn’t get anything out of her?”

Stiles rounded on Jackson, his patience wearing thin for the evening. “God, Jackson, why don’t you go sniff her out and ask her, oh wait, that’s right, you lost her scent.” He turned to the room at large. “If it weren’t for me we wouldn’t even know she’s still around,” he ran more shaky hands through his hair, “so I apologize that the only thing I got from her was a vague threat and a forced kiss on the lips.”

There was a shift in the air and for some reason Stiles could feel the entire pack move into protective mode.

“She kissed you?” Derek growled, eyes glowing dangerously red.

Stiles only glanced at Derek for a moment, not wanting to take stock in the way his body had tensed or the look of pure rage on his face.

I can smell him all over you! The alpha must really think you’re someone special

Stiles forced the witch’s words away. She had been lying, of course. Why would she say it otherwise? Everyone was still looking at him, like they expected him to elaborate or carry on, but he suddenly didn’t want to talk about it anymore. What was the point? He just wanted it to be all over. Thankfully, Lydia seemed to pick up on his discomfort (without werewolf powers thank you very much) and stepped in for him.

“We’re obviously not going to catch her tonight.” She said in a voice that dared anyone to challenge her. “Let’s get some sleep and we can make a plan for tomorrow.”

Everyone mumbled their agreement, all shifting to grab their stuff and get ready for bed. Stiles couldn’t help himself as he tossed another look at Derek. The alpha had calmed down enough that his eyes weren’t glowing anymore, but Stiles could see that his body was still stiff, hands clenched into tight fists. He didn’t want to think about Derek, not now. Not when the pain was fresh and crashing over him in endless waves. When their eyes met Derek looked like he wanted to say something, face softening, eyes widening like he was in pain.

Stiles had never felt so far away from him.

He turned, just needing to get away from all of the werewolves who were probably drowning in his sorrow and self pity. Twenty minutes later he was surprised to find Scott lay down next to him in one of the guest rooms. It was just the two of them and Stiles wondered why he wasn’t taking this opportunity to cuddle up next to Kira. Everyone else was surely spooning their significant other.

“Isn’t Kira going to miss you?” Stiles asked as he stared up at the ceiling. He didn’t want to look at Scott and he definitely didn’t want Scott to see him.

“I think she’ll be okay without me for one night,” Scott whispered, “besides, you need me more.”

Stiles couldn’t stop the hot tears from streaming down his face, finally letting it fully sink in that he would never get to be with Derek the way his heart desperately desired. The weight of it all crushed him and he felt like he couldn’t breathe. He had survived so many terrible things, but this, this? How could he ever survive this? He felt a strong arm drape over him, Scott’s warmth like an anchor, and Stiles grabbed onto it like a lifeline.

 

-

 

The next day passed in a blur and Stiles barely paid attention as he was shuffled home before they all agreed to meet at Derek’s loft for their next plan of attack. He wished, more than anything, that he could just bow out from going, but Stiles would never leave his friends behind. If they were going into danger, then so would he. He just made note that he would have drastically distance himself from Derek after this was all over.

“East coast?” His dad asked as he picked up one of Stiles’ college information packets sitting on his desk. “You want to go to school on the east coast? That’s so far away.”

That was kind of the point, Stiles thought, but he didn’t want his dad to think he was running away from him. He quickly snatched the packet out of his dad’s hand, shoving it under one of his text books.

“Just keeping my options open.” He tried to say casually, but his usual level of enthusiasm and energy had been drained. “Don’t wait up for me.” He said quickly, noticing his dad was now giving him a concerned look.

“At least it’s not a school night.” The sheriff replied as he pinched the bridge of his nose.

Stiles snorted at that. Yes, the witch was being very considerate by revealing herself on a Friday night, essentially ruining his entire weekend. So much for pack bonding and relaxing.

“Be careful.” His dad said when Stiles didn’t offer anything else, but he noticed the smile didn’t fully reach his dad’s eyes. He knew the toll all this supernatural stuff took on his father, considering he was always coming home with a new injury.

“Always, dad.” He said as he pulled the old man into a tight hug.

He offered his dad a small smile before he was off into the night. He picked up Kira and Scott before heading to the loft where the rest of the pack would be gathering. Scott silently offered his support by squeezing his shoulder as the lift took them to the sliding door’s of the loft. Stiles gave him a small nod in return, thankful that Scott had stayed with him last night. Scott wasn’t always perfect, his stubborn moral compass and trusting nature, while heroic, could be a hindrance sometimes, but Stiles loved him all the same. He now wondered if Scott would be willing to look into colleges across the country with him.

Thankfully, they were the last to arrive, so there wouldn’t be any awkward waiting around for everyone. They could get right down to business. Stiles just trained his eyes on the papers and maps laid out on the coffee table before them. He felt like if he looked at Derek for too long then he would just fall apart all over again. He had plenty of time to do that later. Although, he did notice Derek was having a very hard time looking at Stiles as well. While their planning sessions were often filled with banter and teasing looks, everyone could feel the tension between them, which Stiles promptly ignored. It wasn’t anyone’s goddamn business anyway. They were here to get rid of that stupid witch. Nothing more.

“She must still be in the preserve.” Allison said as she crossed her arms over her chest.

“We could split off into groups and look for her.” Jackson supplied.

“No,” Scott said with a shake of his head, “that’s just what she wants, for us to split up.”

Jackson huffed in annoyance, but didn’t disagree with Scott, knowing the alpha was probably right.

“Well,” Isaac said after a few moments of silence, that was usually filled with Stiles’ own babbling, “she must be hiding somewhere.”

Stiles closed his eyes thinking of the conversation he had had with the witch. Maybe she had left him a clue. If he really thought about it, it seemed like she wanted Stiles to find her, which was terrifying. It meant that she was in control or knew something the rest of them didn’t.

Come and find me little red riding hood. Before the big bad wolf does.

His eyes popped open in sudden realization. “The Hale house ruins.” Stiles said as he finally looked up and at everyone.

A chorus of “what”s and “why would she be there” rang throughout the space, but Stiles just ignored them as he locked eyes with Derek.

“Derek, she’s at the Hale house.” Stiles said again, beyond thankful that his voice didn’t quiver when he had said Derek’s name. He watched the alpha’s face, his eyebrows shooting up in thought rather than their trademark scowl look. Stiles had to swallow the lump in his throat, hating his heart for skipping a beat at the simplest things the wolf did. It was unfair that Derek could make him come undone like no one else could.

Jesus, fuck, why did Derek fucking Hale have to be the one to break his stupid heart?

“Okay,” Derek said with a nod of his head, his tone clearly leaving no room for argument, “if Stiles says she’s at the ruins of my old family home, then that’s where she is.”

 

-

 

Stiles cursed as he shoved his hoodie sleeve over his hand, quickly extinguishing the small fire on Lydia’s skirt hem before it could burn her. Lydia gave him a smile of appreciation, squeezing his arm before they continued after the others. He had been right about the witch hiding out in the Hale house, but this time she was throwing everything she had at them. While this was the fight Stiles was expecting the first time around it seemed less like she was trying to kill them and more like she was trying to distract them so she should escape.

Which, weird, didn’t she have plenty of opportunities to leave Beacon Hills? Especially when they, excluding himself, thought she was dead. He tried not to put any stock into it as a blast of debris nearly took himself and Lydia out.

“I hate witches.” Stiles said through gritted teeth as Isaac and Kira helped them to their feet.

Just ahead he could see the rest of the wolves fighting off some shadow creatures the witch had summoned, while Allison was shooting her arrows at the witch, who was blocking them with ease.

“Just get those symbols drawn!” He heard Derek bark from somewhere in the chaos.

“If you’d like to trade positions I am more than happy to use my super human strength to fight off the shadow freaks!” Stiles growled back.

Getting the symbols down was easier said than done when he and Lydia were trying their best to not get impaled or blown off the property. They had decided the area in front of the giant staircase was the best place to create the circle. Stiles knew they had to be drawn correctly or else it wouldn’t work. He thanked god for Lydia’s steady hand and quick work. In the time it had taken him to do one she had already finished with three.

Stiles!

Stiles almost let himself smile, finding comfort in their banter even in the middle of danger. It was something he was going to miss terribly after this was over. He couldn’t very well keep flirting with Derek, no matter how much he wanted to. He was surprised he had even argued back, considering he was trying very hard not to look at or speak to Derek. It was just natural. And he tried to ignore the throbbing ache in his chest as he moved opposite of Lydia.

“Darling, after all of the fun we had together you still want to get rid of me?” The witch said from somewhere in the room.

Stiles hadn’t been prepared for her to appear in front of him. He felt frozen as she reached out, running her long fingers against his jawline. He barely had time to let out a terrified breath before the witch was pinned against the staircase, Derek’s teeth practically at her throat.

“Don’t you dare touch him.” Derek snarled, holding the witch down, but Stiles could see that she was smiling.

“Getting a little territorial, aren’t we Derek?” She purred.

“Stiles, come on!” Lydia hissed as she motioned to the symbols on the ground. They were almost done and Stiles had to tear himself away from looking at Derek, his heart doing a little flip in his chest at the sight of the alpha being protective.

They worked quickly and when it was done Derek practically threw the witch in the circle before Allison tossed down the mountain ash to keep her contained. As soon as she was inside her shadowy creatures fell away and the rest of the pack gathered around to help with the banishment. Stiles pulled the instruction page from his pocket, but he felt a chill run down his spine, which echoed through the rest of the pack, as the witch just cackled loudly, shattering the silence that had fallen over them. They all looked up as the witch slowly got to her feet, her smile a little too knowing.

“I wouldn’t be doing that if I were you.” She said as she looked down at the page in Stiles hand before her eyes flicked over to Derek and Scott.

“Why not?” Erica growled, eyes glowing gold.

“Because,” she said in a bored, looking down at her long nails, “if you get rid of me you won’t be able to save one of your own.”

The pack all exchanged glances and Stiles could feel his heart thumping a little harder in his chest. What had she done? Who was she trying to take out? It was clear she had interest in both Scott and Derek, considering they were the alphas. Stiles was beginning to think about her motive. Erica had been right, so far she had only been causing chaos and was hell bent on burning down half the town for fun. While that was a perfectly logical reason for someone evil, she was smart, she had made plans. She’d gone to great lengths to make sure she had stayed under the radar and that the pack wasn’t bothering her. Someone who wanted to do things just for the pure chaos of it all would have caused way more destruction and pitted them against each other. He would know, he had been possessed by chaos a few years ago.

No, there was something they had been missing. She wanted something. But what?

“What the hell does that mean?” Isaac growled, moving protectively in front of Allison, even though she was more than capable of protecting herself.

“It means,” she said, a snarl coming to her lips, “let me go.”

“Fat chance.” Jackson snorted, arms crossed over his chest. “Can we hurry up and get this banishment over with?”

Stiles looked over at Jackson, the wolf giving him a small nod of his head to get on with it. He noticed the witch’s eyes had snapped to him and he had half a mind to take several steps back despite knowing she was trapped behind the mountain ash. Before Stiles could open his mouth to initiate the ritual, the witch had cut in, her voice soft and sickeningly sweet.

“I’m so sorry, Stiles, I really do like you.”

Stiles fumbled over the first few words, his eyes shooting back up at the witch. What the fuck did that mean? Before he or anyone else had a chance to respond Stiles suddenly felt a hot, searing pain consume his entire body. The last thing he knew was he was falling to the floor, the spell slipping out of his hands.

 

-

 

“Stiles!”

Derek watched as Stiles’ eyes rolled into the back of his head before collapsing to the floor, convulsing in painful spasms. Scott and Derek were by his side in an instant as Lydia and Boyd cleared the area around them to make sure Stiles didn’t hurt himself on any fallen debris.

“Derek!” Scott said in a panic, his shaking hands hovering over his best friend. “What’s happening to him?”

The rest of the wolves were snarling and growling as the witch cackled again. Derek could feel his heart in his throat, a mix of anger and fear bursting from his chest. He felt panicked and tried to force oxygen into his lungs as he placed a hand on Stiles’ arm, needing to anchor himself. His fear was overtaken by blinding rage as he rounded on the witch, who was still laughing from behind her prison.

“What did you do to him?” He yelled, feeling more wolf than man.

The witch placed her hand against her chin thoughtfully. “Well, I believe when I kissed him, I may have given him a very powerful and deadly poison.”

Stiles’ seizure had finally subsided and now he was gasping painfully from the floor, eyes closed tight, tears streaming down his face, lips turning blue. Scott was clutching the boy to his chest, trying to get Stiles to breathe with him.

“Deaton!” Allison said in a terrified voice, breaking the spell of horror that had befallen the pack at seeing Stiles suffering. “We need to get him to Deaton!”

Isaac moved to help pick Stiles up, ignore the over protective snarl Scott gave him.

“Mmm,” the witch hummed, “the emissary can’t help him.”

“You’re lying.” Erica shrieked and Boyd had to pull her back before she crashed into the protective barrier of the mountain ash.

“Poison, poison everywhere,” she sang, “but which one did I give?”

Derek wanted nothing more than to reach through the mountain ash and snap her neck. Stiles’ gasping breaths were ripping his heart to shreds. He finally turned away from the witch, knowing they needed to get Stiles out of there fast. He kneeled down, placing his hands on either side of Stiles’ face.

“Hang on Stiles,” Derek whispered, “we’re going to get you out of here. Stay with me.”

Derek looked at Scott and the young alpha allowed Derek to scoop Stiles up into his arms. He pulled Stiles close, the boy's fingers grasping at Derek’s shirt as blood started to drip from his nose. They didn’t have much time and Derek knew that even running at his fastest pace it would take a least ten minutes to get to the vet clinic. He was about to take off, when the witch’s voice stopped him.

“Sometimes the wrong antidote can be just as deadly as the poison.” Her voice was haughty and when Derek turned to look at her, she was giving him a cocky smile. “Seizures, bloody nose, blue lips? That could mean one thing.” She said with a click of her tongue. “Green marks running across his body and gasping breaths could mean another.”

Derek looked down, fear constricting his throat when he noticed the green marks, like intricate spider webs, spreading up Stiles’ arms, his neck, moving through his finger tips. Stiles was going to die. Stiles was going to die and Derek had pushed him so far away because he was afraid of letting Stiles in. Stiles was going to die thinking Derek didn’t love him in return, when he did, he really, truly, whole heartedly did.

He fucking loved Stiles.

“How do we save him?” Derek finally asked, his voice breaking.

The witch smiled. “Let me go and I’ll save him for you.”

“If you think we’re letting you get away with this-” Erica began.

The witch cut her off, snarling, “I’ve got everything I needed. You’re going to let me go and I’ll save the beautifully clever human.” Her voice softened as she looked at Derek. “Then I’ll leave Beacon Hills, witch’s honor.” She finished as she placed her hands over her heart, winking at the alpha.

“How can we trust you?” Scott asked, his voice dangerous and low as he hovered on the edge of the mountain ash. Derek wouldn’t have been surprised if the alpha broke through the circle at any moment. There were few people Scott was willing to kill for, but when it came to Stiles, Derek knew that Scott would rip out the witch’s throat with his own teeth.

“You can’t,” the witch said, her bored voice returning as she looked at Scott, “but what choice do you have?”

Stiles’ gasp were becoming more painful, the green veins crawling up his cheeks, his grip on Derek’s shirt loosening, like he was succumbing to the poison quickly.

“Sounds like he doesn’t have a lot of time left.” The witch said as her eyes fell onto Stiles, a look of faux concern spreading across her brow.

Derek closed his eyes, the body in his arms becoming cold and still, the fingers falling away, the breaths barely filling his chest. Derek could still hear his heartbeat, faint, but still fighting.

“Fine.” Derek said as he turned nodding his head towards Allison to brush away the mountain ash.

As Allison stepped forward the witch held up her hand. “Not so fast.” She said, causing Allison’s hands to hover over the ash. “I want all of you to leave as soon as the ash is cleared away.”

There was an uproar at that, but the witch did not back down.

“Either you all leave Stiles with me or I let him die.” The witch said, arms crossed over her chest.

“No way!” Scott snapped.

“Ticktock, Derek,” the witch said as she ignored the younger alpha, “he only has minutes at best.”

“We’re not leaving him alone with you.” Derek snarled, pulling Stiles closer to his chest. He could still feel the heartbeat. Stiles was still alive. They still had time.

“Your minutes are draining into seconds.” The witch smirked.

Stiles suddenly felt like a weight in his arms, the heartbeat growing fainter and fainter. He looked up at his pack, fear and sorrow reflected in all of their faces. They could all feel Stiles quickly slipping away.

“Run.” Derek finally said.

The wolves only hesitated for a moment before they all bolted from the room, with the expectation of Scott, who looked like he was about to cry as he gazed down at his best friend. Derek slowly lowered Stiles to the ground as Lydia moved to wipe away the mountain ash. He knew it took everything in Scott’s power not to lash out at the witch, because it was taking everything in Derek to stay rooted to his spot. Kira grabbed Scott, trying to get him to move. Lydia took Scott’s other hand, pulling him out of the house.

“Run, little alpha,” the witch said as she took a step out of the circle towards Stiles, “run as fast as you can.”

Derek closed his eyes, breathing in. Under the pain and the overwhelming smell of death he could still smell hints of pine and sunshine. Stiles. He could still smell Stiles. He turned and ran from the house, even as every part of him screamed to go back. He didn’t dare turn around, his legs burning as he sprinted through the darkness. He could hear the others not too far ahead, but he focused his hearing on the faint heartbeat that was behind him. It was all he could do until Lydia’s scream shattered his very soul.

 

-

 

“I’ve done what you asked.” A purring voice said in the darkness. “I found their weak point.”

“Good,” another voice responded, deeper and more dangerous than the first, “I think it’s time we rid Beacon Hills of the Hale-McCall pack once and for all.”

 

-

 

Is this what dying felt like?

He had thought, by now, he would understand the feeling well enough considering how close he had come to death on numerous occasions. Sometimes it was filled with unimaginable pain, sinking him like a rock in a deep ocean, other times it felt like he was weightless, floating in a sea of soft clouds. God, why couldn’t he just be a normal teenager doing stupid normal things? He would take being rejected by his number one prom date over this stupid shit anyday.

Or would he?

Yeah, he had been through hell and back several times, but he had friends and people he loved more than anything else. He had his pack. So fuck this dying bullshit. He was definitely not going to die today, tomorrow, or, hopefully, a very long time after that.

And he especially wasn’t going to die after hearing Derek’s pleading voice saying stay with me.

So, despite the god fucking awful pain that was radiating through his body he opened his eyes. The room was much brighter than the dark, forlorn remains of the Hale house. Was it daytime? Had Stiles passed out long enough that their nighttime mission had bled into the early morning? It took him a few, rough moments to realize that he was not, in fact, in the Hale house, but lying in a bed. In the hospital.

“Oh, fuck.”

“Language, son.”

Stiles was startled to see his father sitting next to him, looking exhausted, but relieved as Stiles blinked over at him. He barely had time to ask any questions before his father was wrapping him up in a tight embrace.

“I swear it wasn’t my fault this time.” Stiles managed to say as he returned the hug. To be honest, he wasn’t quite sure what had happened. One moment he was trying to read the banishing spell, the next all he could feel was terrible pain. That, and what could only be the warmth and safety of a werewolf’s arms. But mostly the pain. It was pretty bad. Like, top five of worst pain he had ever experienced.

“Somehow, I don’t believe that,” his father teased, causing Stiles to just roll his eyes in return. He looked around the room, but was slightly disappointed that his father was the only one there. Sensing his son’s distress his father placed a hand on his shoulder. “Believe me when I say that the entire pack was squashed in here for several hours before Melissa and I managed to shoo them out to get some sleep. Even then Scott and Derek refused to leave.”

“Scott and Derek are here?” Stiles asked, his heart fluttering at the mention of Derek.

Sheriff Stilinski nodded his head. “Melissa finally convinced Scott to take a nap in one of the open rooms, Derek refused to leave the chair right outside.” He said as he pointed to the window. Stiles could see the tips of black hair smashed against the glass, which meant the alpha was probably fast asleep.

“I’m sure as soon as I send out the ‘all good’ text this room will be stuffed with everyone waiting to see you.” The sheriff grumbled as he scrubbed his face, clearly tired, but there was a hint of a smile there. Stiles knew he was happy so many people cared about his son’s well being. “I am going to grab some coffee and vacate the room before there are several supernatural creatures in here.”

Stiles waved his father a goodbye and shifted in the bed so he was in a comfortable sitting position. He heard his father mumbling something out in the hallway and saw the dark head of hair jerk awake. Moments later Derek was standing on the threshold looking completely and utterly exhausted, but relieved. Stiles could feel every single feeling he had ever had for Derek wash over him in that moment. He could feel all his love and all his heartbreak as the alpha took careful steps toward him.

“Did you catch her?” Stiles asked as Derek settled into the seat next to Stiles’ bed. “What happened? How long have I been out? Is everyone else okay?”

He saw Derek chuckle slightly, even a near death experience couldn’t stop Stiles from talking a mile a minute, constantly asking questions, desiring answers.

“What do you remember?” Derek asked carefully, his elbows resting on the edge of the bed, hands laced together, eyes glued to Stiles’ face, like he was afraid if he looked away Stiles would disappear.

“Um,” Stiles said, rubbing the back of his neck, trying to think, “lots of pain.” Actually, he was still in a decent amount of pain. His body felt completely drained and his head was pounding, but he was alive, so really he couldn’t complain too much.

“When the witch kissed you she had poisoned you.” Derek explained. “It wasn’t triggered until she was caught in the circle of mountain ash. The only way to save you was to let her go.”

“So she’s still out there?” Stiles asked, his voice filling with panic.

“No,” Derek said, shaking his head, “she’s gone. She said she got everything she wanted and took off.”

Stiles closed his eyes, he could vaguely recall ice cold lips against his own.

Don’t worry, little red, I’ll be back for you.

“I have a strong feeling she’ll be back.” Stiles said after a moment. He really wished these supernatural creatures would stop picking him as the punching bag. There was only so much more he could take. At least now he could add “poisoned” to his top ten list of ways he didn’t want to die.

“And we’ll be ready for her when she does.” Derek responded with a small nod of his head.

Stiles could see the wolf was now clenching his hands in tight fist, he hesitantly reached out, his fingers hovering over Derek’s before he dropped it in the space between them.

“Are you okay?” Stiles asked, but when he looked up Derek was pointedly looking away.

Derek shifted away from Stiles, leaning back in his chair and Stiles tried not to feel hurt by the action, but he couldn’t stop the sharp pain in his chest. Despite everything, he couldn’t stop thinking about their conversation by the lake, which suddenly felt like years ago instead of just days. He wanted Derek to both leave and stay.

“Stiles,” Derek finally murmured, “we- I almost lost you.”

“I’m right here.” Stiles responded, trying to break the tension, but the words came out soft and reassuring more than anything.

“I wanted so badly to push you away.” Derek said, finding the courage to look up in his favorite pair of amber eyes. “It’s so much easier to hold everyone at a distance, that way if they leave or betray you it won’t hurt as much.”

“Derek,” Stiles whispered, reaching out again, “it’s okay to let people in. Especially people who care about you. Who love you.”

There, it was out there. For real this time. No more dancing around whatever was going on between them. No more thinly veiled conversations hinting at what they wanted. Stiles was tired of hiding. If Derek really didn’t feel the same way then he would pack up and leave Beacon Hills behind for good. No looking back.

Stiles could feel his heart hammering in his chest, his hand still held in the space between them. Derek was taking far too long and Stiles gave him a small nod of his head, pulling away, but suddenly warm fingers were threading in his own.

“Don’t go to school on the east coast.” Derek said selfishly. “Unless, you really want to,” he added quickly, watching Stiles’ eyebrows shoot up, “then I could fly out as often as I can, it’s really not a big deal, whatever makes you happy.”

Stiles felt a smile break over his face as Derek continued to blab on about his college prospects and how he would definitely make it work even if Stiles wanted to go halfway across the world and study in Europe or something. Stiles grabbed a fistful of Derek’s shirt, using whatever strength he had left to pull the wolf into a kiss. Derek only hesitated for a moment before he melted into it, his hands moving to cup Stiles’ face while the latter only pulled Derek closer, tongue swiping across his bottom lip. Stiles tasted like sunshine and Derek knew he would never get tired of kissing him.

“I think I might love you.” Derek said quietly, foreheads pressed against each other.

“I definitely love you.” Stiles grinned before pulling him into another kiss.

Their make out session was promptly interrupted by Scott, who had come sprinting into the room, jumping into the bed, nearly displacing Stiles, and pulling him into a tight hug. Stiles only laughed as he returned the embrace and soon the whole pack had squashed themselves into the tiny room that was probably filled way beyond capacity.

“Stiles,” Erica said as she placed a wet kiss on his cheek, “we were so worried.”

“Yeah,” Isaac said with a grin, jerking his thumb behind him, “even Jackson’s heart rate was stuttering out of control.”

“Lies.” Jackson said, but Stiles could have sworn he saw the smallest hint of a smile on the wolf’s face as their eyes met.

“How inappropriate would it be to do a pack bonding movie night right here?” Erica asked with an impish grin.

“Very.” Derek said dryly. “I think we can set one up as soon as Stiles is out of here.”

While there were cries of protest, they all agreed it was better to wait until they were all in a bigger and more comfortable space.

“Well, now that we know you’re not dying I can finally get some real sleep.” Jackson said loudly, like it had been an inconvenience for him to come, although Stiles could tell it wasn’t at all. It didn’t stop Lydia from smacking him on his arm though.

Scott was still sitting in the bed with him, arm thrown around his shoulder, casually leaning against each other. Scott looked as tired as Stiles felt.

“I can stay, if you want.” Scott said as he looked at his best friend.

“Scott, go sleep in your bed and maybe take a shower.” Stiles teased as he poked the alpha in the side playfully, causing Scott to laugh.

“Fine.” Scott said before giving Stiles another hug and following the rest of the pack out of the room. “Text me!”

Stiles waved them all goodbye, happy to have them in his life. He was surprised Derek was still standing by his side. “Don’t you want to sleep in your bed?”

“I think there’s somewhere else I’d rather be.” Derek said with a small smile.

Stiles didn’t hesitate as he moved over. Derek kicked off his shoes and carefully climbed in next to Stiles, wrapping his arms around him protectively.

“Now that we’re dating you’re really going to have to diversify your emoticon usage with me.” Stiles said, giving Derek an impish grin. “I expect some heart eyes and kissy faces in my future.”

Derek snorted. “Not likely.”

“Jerk.” Stiles said before he pulled him into another kiss.