The impact jarred Stiles’ entire body. His teeth clanged together when his head hit the ground. For a second the whole world went black. When his vision cleared he quickly assessed the damage. There were some cuts and there would definitely be some bruises tomorrow. He didn’t appear to have any broken bones, though. He rolled onto his back and screamed. The space between his shoulder blades burned. Quickly rolling back onto his stomach, he reached a hand backwards. His back was sticky and his hand came back dark with blood.
He took a deep breath, determined not to cry. He slowly pushed himself up onto his hands and knees, his shirt clinging to his back, stuck on the spot where his wings had been. The wings that had been ripped out, right before they threw him down to earth. Remembering the searing pain, he threw up.
He wanted nothing more than to curl into in a little ball and cry, but he couldn’t. He had to get to Derek.
When he’d finally managed to push himself up, he looked around. It was dark, but it looked like he’d landed in the preserve, probably not too far from where the old Hale-house was. That was good. He could find his way from here.
It had taken him longer than expected. It wasn’t just that he had to walk. It was also that he couldn’t take the risk of anyone seeing him. If anyone but a pack-member saw him, they’d want to take him to the hospital. Stiles didn’t need a hospital.
The blood loss and the pain hadn’t helped either. The forest ground had been painful on his bare feet, but the pavement with its tiny stones and uneven tiles, was even worse.
Staying close to the sides of buildings and out the light of streetlamps he’d made his way to the industrial district.
He was so close, but he wasn’t sure if he could make it. The world had started spinning a few blocks back and he’d thrown up again. He’d gotten scrapes from the bricks he slid his hands along. At the street corner across from Derek’s building he stopped. He had to take a few breaths. He had to take a break.
He leaned back against the warehouse and looked up. He couldn’t see the stars from here. There was too much light pollution. Stiles hadn’t always looked at the stars. He’d only started when Derek began tracing constellations on his skin.
Derek. He had to get to Derek. If he could make across the street, he’d be fine.
Pushing himself away from the wall, he took a few staggering steps. Get to Derek, get to Derek, get to Derek was all that was going through his mind.
With a grunt he pushed open the door to the stairwell. He looked up. No stars, but something, someone better was up there.
He gripped the banister tightly and pulled himself up. On each landing he had to stop to give his legs a break. Three stories up, he couldn’t get them back under him. There was only one more set of stairs. He could see the door to the loft.
He closed his eyes. He hoped Derek wouldn’t be the one to find him.
He heard the screeching of metal against metal.
He opened his eyes. Derek was standing in the doorway, searching for him. When their eyes locked, Derek’s went wide from shock.
‘Stiles!’ Derek jumped down the stairs, skipping all the steps. Show off.
The werewolf cradled Stiles’ head in his hands.
‘Stiles, stay with me. What happened? Why are you bleeding?’ Derek’s questions were a little frantic. Stiles wanted to answer him. He wanted to tell him so much.
‘I’m sorry,’ was all that came out.
It was still dark when Stiles came to. Or perhaps it was dark again. He was lying on his stomach in Derek’s bed. He was no longer wearing the long grey shirt he had during his trial. It had been changed for a clean white shirt and a pair of boxers. He tried to move his arm back towards the spot between his shoulder blades.
Gods that hurt.
In the pale light he could see bruises blossoming on his arms. His scrapes and cuts had been cleaned. In fact, it appeared that his entire body had been washed of the dirt and grime from the fall. He saw that some of the larger cuts had been bandaged. That probably meant that the same would count for the two wounds on his back.
Licking his lips, he realized he was parched. It was an odd sensation. Stiles had drank before, but he’d never really needed it.
Slowly, he pushed himself up. His body protested every second of it, but finally he was sitting on the edge of the mattress. He carefully tested if his legs would hold him. With a relieved sigh, he found out that they did and shuffled to the bathroom.
Keeping the lights off, he grabbed for the glass he knew was standing next to the faucet. He really didn’t want to look at his reflection right now, if it resembled anything like what he’d seen on his arms and legs.
After drinking two full glasses of water he shuffled back to the bed. The ten foot trip had left him exhausted. He sat back down, fully intending to go back to sleep, when there was a knock on the door.
‘Stiles? It’s me,’ Derek’s voice sounded from the other side of the door.
Derek quickly stepped inside the room and closed the door behind him.
‘How are feeling?’
‘Like crap. Everything hurts and I’m exhausted.’
‘You really scared me.’
‘I know. I’m sorry.’
Derek shook his head. ‘It’s not your fault.’
Stiles sighed. Derek had no idea. He knew he’d have to tell him the entire story eventually. Not now, though.
‘I don’t know what happened,’ Derek continued. ‘But I know it’s not your fault.’ He grabbed the first-aid kit that had been lying on the dresser. ‘Can you take off your shirt and lie back down? I need to check your wounds.’
Stiles grabbed the bottom of the t-shirt, but couldn’t lift his arms past his shoulders. When, with Derek’s help, the shirt was finally off and he was back on his stomach, he immediately started to drift back to sleep. He could feel Derek changing the bandages. Soft touches as he inspected both wounds. When Derek was done, he pulled the sheets up to Stiles’ shoulder. He got up to leave, but stopped by the door.
‘The pack’s here. I tried to get them to go home, but they wouldn’t leave until they knew you we’re going to be okay. I’ll try again, but there is a chance that next time you wake up you’re going to be surrounded by puppies. Fair warning.’
Stiles fell asleep with a faint smile on his lips.
This time when he opened his eyes, he saw sunlight streaming through the crack between the curtains. He was already feeling better. He was still stiff, and he was pretty sure that his joints would creak when he walked, but at least he wasn’t as tired.
He was, however, in need of a bathroom. He carefully pushed himself up and walked to the bathroom to relieve himself. When he was done he looked in the mirror. It wasn’t as bad as he’d expected. There was a scrape near his temple were he’d hit the ground. There was a bruise on his cheek that was already turning green.
His stomach grumbled. Right, eating was a must now. He really hoped that Derek had managed to convince the pack to go home. He wasn’t sure he could keep it together if they were all there, looking at him with those big eyes.
He tried to put on his shirt again, but he still couldn’t move his arms high enough. So, he grabbed one of Derek’s button ups. It would have to do.
As he walked down the stairs, the only sounds he could hear came from the kitchen. There were no voices, just the clanging of plates and pans.
‘Wow,’ he said as he stepped into the kitchen. The entire counter was covered in breakfast foods. There were pancakes, bacon, four different types of cereal, different juices, fruit, toast, eggs, there were even sausages and baked beans.
‘Hey. I didn’t know what you would like, so I made you some of everything.’
‘I can see that.’
Stiles sat down carefully on one of the stools. He grabbed a glass of what he thought was orange juice. Derek looked at him expectantly as he sipped it. It was nice, a little bitter, but sweet at the same time. He went for the plate with pancakes next. After a few bites, he noticed that Derek was still staring at him.
‘You do realize I will never be able to finish this all by myself.’
Derek sat down across from him with a blush. They ate in silence. Stiles trying a little bit of everything and Derek making sure he left a little bit for Stiles if he hadn’t tasted something yet. Once in a while one of them would sneak a glance at the other. Stiles was really hoping to avoid talking as long as possible, but he also realized that it would only get harder the longer he waited.
He took a deep breath.
‘Stiles, you don’t have to talk if you’re not ready,’ Derek cut him off, before he even had a chance to start.
‘Yes, I do. You deserve to know why you’re saddled with me right now.’ He waved his hand to stop Derek from protesting. ‘I need to do this, or maybe I never will.
‘They found out. About you and me. In the beginning I told you that any relationship between angels and humans, or half-humans, is forbidden. I never told you the punishment.
We basically get a choice. We either choose to fall, to take a chance and be with our beloved, but we lose our powers. Our wings are ripped out of our bodies and we get thrown to earth. We’ll become, for all intends and purposes, human. Or, we can choose to stay. But to do that we- We have to kill our partner.’
Stiles watched as the colour drained from Derek’s face. He waited for the reality to sink in.
‘They made you choose between them or me.’
‘You chose me.’ The wonder in Derek’s voice was clear. But Stiles could see that Derek really didn’t get the point of the story. He looked at his fingers as the words stumbled out of his mouth.
‘Of course I did. I would never be able to kill you. But don’t you get it? I’m powerless, Derek. I’m useless. I’m nothing more than a burden to you and your pack, now that my wings are gone.’
The growl was low, but he could still hear it. He looked up to see the Alpha’s eyes flashing red.
‘Our pack. We’re not saddled with you, you’re not a burden, and the pack is just as much mine as it is yours.’
‘No,’ the wolf walked towards him. His face fierce, but his hands were gentle as he cradled Stiles’ face and lifted it to meet his eyes. ‘You’re my boyfriend. I chose you, and you chose me. I want you here, wings or no wings. You’re my mate and I love you. The pack loves you. We wouldn’t be halve as strong or as good without you. You’re one of us, always have been. Not because you had powers, but because you’re you.’
The tears started flowing from Stiles’ eyes. He’d been so scared that he would be alone, he hadn’t even dared to ask. Derek pulled him to his chest, careful of the wounds on Stiles’ back.
‘Just tell me what you need.’
‘This is good,’ Stiles mumbled into Derek’s neck. ‘And possibly more pancakes.’
Derek pulled back with a chuckle. ‘Hugs and pancakes. I can do that. Do you need more sleep?’
‘No. I think I’d like to see the others. Maybe watch a movie.’
‘Okay, I’ll call them. You pick out a movie.’
Derek let him go with a kiss on his forehead.
Later, when Stiles was curled into Derek’s side and surrounded by his pack, he knew that in the end, there was no choice to make.