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         Stiles loves New York. No really, he does.

         It’s just…

         Sometimes New York really fucking blows.

         “Come on, all you gotta do is hand it over. Think about it. This could be a lot worse.” The guy’s smirk widens, his hot breath fanning over Stiles face.

         “How about I give you a mint instead? Oh, and by the way, fuck off.” Stiles bites out, his fists clenched. The guy just shoves Stiles harder into the wall, his hands searching the younger man’s pockets.

         “Where’s your wallet, kiddo? Just give it to me right now and I’ll let you go. Otherwise, this just might get ugly.” Stiles feels cool metal bite into his stomach. Great. This asshole brought a knife.

"Listen, douchebag-"

"Let the kid go and I might not blow your brains out." Stiles hears a click he recognizes all too well from spending days with his dad in the station.

The cock of a gun.

Yeah, New York really fucking blows sometimes. Things just go from bad to worse.

The mugger backs off of him instantly, the knife dropping from his fingertips as he raises his hands in surrender.

"It wasn't even like that, Hale. I swear. I know how you feel about that shit. No one’s stupid enough to pull anything like that around here."

"I’ve gotten really tired of your voice. Leave before you give me another reason to put a hole right in between your eyes." The stranger never wavers, his hazel-green eyes hard.

“Look, it wasn’t even like that!” Stiles’ attacker trembles.

“He looks like a pretty serious dude. If I were you, I would probably start running.” Stiles stage whispers, his eyes never leaving his rescuer’s (rescuer?). The crook takes his advice and bolts leaving Stiles alone with a guy waving a gun. Even better.

The guy, Hale, Stiles thinks, tucks the gun back into the holster at his waist and pulls his dark jacket loosely around it.

"A pretty thing like you shouldn't be out alone this late at night. Muggers aren't the only nasty people out here." He says. He wipes Stiles' wet bangs out of his face. "You look like a wet kitten." Stiles has no idea how to respond to that.

         “Um, thanks I guess. You know, for the whole saving my ass thing.” He replies warily. After all, the dude still has a gun on him.

         “You must be new to the city. No one wanders around this area in the dark. Locals know better.” The guy tucks his hands into his pockets. “You need a ride?”

“What? No. My apartment’s just up the way. I wouldn’t be out here otherwise. Um...thanks again for the save I guess." He gives a loose wave before hightailing it out of there. The guy could be a psycho.

-----

The strange thing is that after the first time he sees Hale, he starts seeing him all over the place. At the Laundromat, the subway, and most recently, the coffee shop on 3rd. Finally, he can’t take it anymore.

              He taps the guy on the shoulder the next time he sees him at the coffee shop. “Excuse me. Your name’s Hale, right?”

              “Hale’s my last name actually. I’m Derek.” Derek shakes his hand and smiles and wow, he has a nice smile.

              ‘Gun waving lunatic.’ His mind screams. Gun waving lunatic with fucking bunny teeth and really big hands and wow, Stiles really needs to quit while he’s ahead.

              “Um, I don’t know if you remember me-”

              “You’re not exactly the type of person I tend to forget, Kitten.” Derek chuckles and wow, his eyes are beautiful. Are they green? Or is that grey- fuck, Stiles wants to punch himself in the face. ‘Gun.’ He keeps telling himself. ‘Don’t around fuck with people who carry guns.’

              “Kitten?” He says offhandedly and he can feel his eyebrows rising.

              “Believe me. It fits. You haven’t been walking through anymore dark alleys have you? Learned your lesson?” He seems even more amused.

              “No. I’m afraid I’ve been avoiding those. Who knows? You might not be there to save me next time.” Stiles replies and he really needs to get away from the conversation before his mouth gets him into something he can’t get out of.

              As if sensing his sudden urge to flee Derek says, “maybe not. Best we don’t find out, right? Why don’t we sit down for a while? They just put out fresh pastries.” He points to one of the tables near the window. “You can tell me all about how you’re liking New York.”

              Stiles weighs his options. Somewhere, there’s a small part of his brain waving a giant red flag and telling him to run away (and stay away) but he stuffs it down and nods. “I think I’d like that, Derek. I’d like that a lot.”

OTTR

It’s strange how things progress from there. Whenever he sees Derek around the neighborhood, he stops. They talk. They even flirt from time to time but Stiles tries his best not to push too hard. He’s not a complete fool. He knows there’s something…not quite right about Derek Hale and while he may not know what that is, he’s not all that sure he actually wants to find out.

Then again, Derek’s always really nice to him. If they ever stop to eat (something it seems Derek loves to do), Derek pays, always waves away Stiles’ cash before slapping down a glossy black credit card. Stiles doesn’t have to guess to know that Derek isn’t exactly hurting for money.

It’s around that time that things start shifting around him in the neighborhood. There’s a little corner store that he’s frequented every week to stock up on groceries and fairly priced produce since he first came to the city and the store’s owner has always been cordial with him. It’s all of the sudden that he stops looking Stiles in the eye, keeps his head facing the counter whenever he comes in and the one day Derek decides to come with him, the shop owner leaves the register completely. Derek tosses a wad of cash onto the counter, much more than a block of cheddar cheese, an onion, and some macaroni pasta are probably worth but he doesn’t explain.

Stiles doesn’t think he wants him to.

There are times when Stiles wants to ask. Man, does he really want to ask (he’s naturally curious) but with nothing but sheer force of will, he holds it in. He knows he might not like the answer.

Other than what happened that night in the alley, Derek’s never given him any actual reason to be afraid. He’s not gonna go looking for trouble.

Besides, how bad can it be?

OTTR

         Truth is, Stiles absolutely hates the rain. It had always rained in Beacon Hills. Always. He pulls his hood up and sighs, resigning himself to the inevitability of a long, wet walk back to his apartment.                                  

“Hey, Kitten!” He hears a familiar voice call. Stiles turns and laughs warily.

“If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were following me!” He shouts back with a wave. The shiny black car pulls up next to him and the tinted, passenger-side window rolls down. Derek looks at him over the rim of his black sunglasses.

“Get in.”

         “Well you know, my dad always warned me not to get into expensive cars with strange men.” Stiles pulls the passenger door open and slides inside, reveling in the heat. God.

“You’re gonna catch a fucking cold if you keep on like that. Would it kill you to buy a damn coat? An actual coat. It’s not going to get any warmer any time soon.” Derek admonishes him, a smirk pulling at his lips.

“This is what I got. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not exactly swimming in cash.” Stiles shrugs and leans back into the heated seat. Leave it to Derek to spare no expense when it comes to buying a car. Maybe being a criminal has its advantages after all. The bad guys always have the nicest cars. “When I get some extra cash, maybe then I’ll buy myself a coat. Hell, maybe I’ll get lucky and I’ll have enough to spring for a fucking umbrella. Until then, I’ll just have to be a big boy and bear the rain. I hope that’s okay with you, Hale.”

Derek’s smirk doesn’t drop. “Whatever you want, Kitten.” He says. “Whatever you want.”

“I know I’ve told you not to call me that.” Stiles says but there’s no real fire in it. He’s starting to grudgingly accept the epithet.

“What’s wrong? You don’t like it? It fits.” Derek chuckles.

“So you’ve said.” Stiles sighs. “Whatever. As long as you keep the heat cranked up, you can do whatever.”

Derek quirks an eyebrow. “Whatever?” He says. “Well, that’s a hell of a thing to think about.”

Stiles eyes him cautiously and, not for the first time, curses his motor mouth.

OTTR

He drops Stiles off in front of his apartment complex and Stiles wonders for only a moment how Derek got his address. ‘Criminal,’ he reminds himself. He’s pretty sure Derek knows a lot of things he’s probably not supposed to know. He seems like the kind of guy who has little tidbits of information on everybody.

The fucking elevator is broken again so Stiles just takes a deep breath. It’s been one of those days. He pulls the strap of his satchel tight over his shoulder and begins the trek up the five flights of stairs to his apartment. Allison and Scott are staying at Allison’s dad for the weekend so he has the place to himself for the first time in months. It doesn’t feel as good as it normally does.

It’s a long night.

OTTR

Stiles locks the door to his apartment the next morning and heads back down the stairs. There’s a guy he’s never seen around before leaning up against the rail checking his watch. He looks up when he sees Stiles.

"You Stilinski?" The guy calls. He's tall with dark skin and a closely shaved head. He pulls his sunglasses off and makes a show of looking Stiles up and down, clearly unimpressed.

"That's me." Stiles bites out, his chin jutting out defiantly. It’s too early for this shit.

"There's someone who wants to speak to you immediately." The guy hands him a card. "Be at that address at noon and not a second late. She hates that and she’s not the type of person you want to make angry."

Stiles warily takes the card and looks it over.

Cora Hale – Bar Pleiades @ 20 E. 76 th Street

Hale? As in Derek Hale? He looks up to ask what this is all supposed to mean but the guy is already walking away from him. Stiles tucks the card into the front pocket of his hood and checks his watch. The bar is on the Upper East Side, an area that Stiles has never been to before and it looks like he only has an hour to get there. He wonders if he can hail a cab.

An hour and ten minutes later he arrives at the entrance to a hotel that makes him want to crawl back to Beacon Hills. The opulence is astounding. He’s waved in by a man in a black suit and lead into the bar. It’s decorated in black and white, soft jazz music drifting through the air. The people around him refuse to meet his eyes as if they know who he’s here to see and have already decided his fate. The man pushes open a door in the back of the bar to a posh sitting room. The woman, who he assumes is Cora Hale, is talking on the phone in soft tones. She looks up when he arrives and Stiles can immediately see the resemblance. She has Derek’s eyes.

He sits down carefully, his fingers curling under his leather-cushioned seat. He looks anywhere but at the woman in front of him. After a few more minutes she hangs up the phone and sets it down on the table between them. “You’re late.” She says with a sharp lilt in her voice. “So you’re Stilinski? You’re scrawnier than I thought you’d be.” Cora gestures for the waiter to come over and asks for something called a Charlemagne. Once he leaves, she narrows her eyes at Stiles again. “Then again,” she says, “my brother’s always had questionable tastes. You certainly wouldn’t be the oddest thing he’s shown an interest in.” She leans back in her seat, her long pale legs crossing as she stares him down. “What about you? What do you think about Derek?”

“Derek? Shiny black car driving Derek?” Stiles gulps anxiously. “Is that what this is about? I mean, I barely know him. He’s given me a ride back to my apartment like twice and sometimes we have coffee together but we’re not seeing each other. I know what people around the neighborhood have been saying but we’re not, like, dating or anything.” He shrugs. The waiter comes back and sets her cocktail down without giving Stiles a second glance. So much for service.

“But you want to be right? Don’t give me that look. I’ve seen the way you stare at him. Everyone in fucking New York has seen that look in your eye and now I can’t get people to stop talking about the two of you. Now, I’m even hearing rumors that the police might want to bring you in for questioning on their investigation into my family.” She takes a sip. “You have to understand why I’m concerned.”

“Police…” Stiles’ voice trails off. The police want to talk to him? Why? It’s not like he knows anything of substance about whatever the hell it is Derek does to break the law. Sure, he talks to Derek a lot in the coffee shop and from a distance maybe (emphasis on maybe) they look like a little bit more than friends.

“I can see your wheels turning. You’re putting this whole tawdry picture together and let me guess, you don’t like what you see.” She flicks a lock of dark hair behind her ear and leans forward; rests her elbows on the tabletop and looks Stiles right in the eye. “Tell me Stiles, am I going to have to kill you?”

Stiles startles violently, accidentally knocking over the pepper shaker. He rushes to pick it back up. “Why would you have to do that? I haven’t done anything wrong.” He stutters out.

“Because if you start talking to the cops, well…” She smirks and is it just a trick of the light or do her teeth look razor sharp? “That would make me very unhappy, Stiles.”

“Even if I was going to talk, and I’m not saying that I would, I don’t have anything to tell them. I don’t know anything. I didn’t even know Derek had a sister until that guy showed up at my apartment and told me to come here. Hell, I didn’t even know he was,” he glances around the small room, “who he is. I thought he was just, you know, a guy using his right to bear arms rather loosely. I wasn’t complaining. He saved me from a mugger.”

“You were the one Greenburg targeted?” She quirks a perfectly arched eyebrow and her smirk grows. “So that’s why Derek broke all his fingers. My brother’s never been a subtle man.” She takes another sip.

“Broke all his fingers? The guy who tried to mug me? No, Derek wouldn’t do that. He’s-he’s a good person. He’d never hurt anyone.” Stiles protests.

“You were telling the truth.” She says and he thinks it may be a trick of the light but she almost looks disappointed. “You really don’t know him at all do you? Go ahead and order something, sweetheart. We’ve got nothing else to talk about.” She dismisses him with a wave of her hand and they don’t speak for the rest of the meal.

OTTR

Stiles honestly isn’t surprised to see Derek waiting for him in his apartment when he arrives. He tugs his hoodie off and tosses it onto the couch but his eyes never left Derek’s face. This is real for him now. Everything he knows has been turned upside down. He just got threatened by a woman half his size and the police want to talk to him and for the first time in a long time, he’s actually afraid.

“I thought I told you to buy yourself a decent coat. You look even paler than usual and for you, that’s saying something.” Derek steps around the couch and shoves his hands into his pockets. Stiles crosses his arms as he comes closer. “You should really turn the heat up. Wouldn’t want you to catch a cold.” Derek says quietly.

“What are you doing here, Derek?” Stiles finally asks, his breath catching. He’d been close to Derek before. Several times in fact but now... well, now everything’s changed hasn’t it?

“Heard from some friends that you had midday drinks with my baby sister. Wanted to see how it went. I know how much she can be to handle when you’re not used to her.” Derek eyes him carefully, like he’s waiting for Stiles to bolt.

Stiles doesn't have time to entertain small talk. Not if what Cora told him is even remotely true. "That day in the alley, the day we met, did you break that guy's fingers beca-because he tried to mug me?" Derek quirks an eyebrow (he and his sister could actually patent that look). He rubs the back of his head and tries not to smile.

"No. I broke his fingers because he doesn't know how to listen too well. This wouldn’t be the first time he’s had to learn the hard way not to disobey me. It’s simple. When you first came here, I gave specific instructions that you were to be left alone. He chose not to follow my instructions so...I punished him. What was I supposed to do? Let him walk away with that kind of behavior? And risk having people think I’ve gone soft. Sorry. Not worth it. There are people out there who would love to tear down everything my family has built. I can’t let that happen." He shrugs like it’s nothing and that alone sends chills racing up Stiles spine.

"You broke someone's fingers?! Derek, what?! Why would you do that!? Have you lost your fucking mind? You hurt someone!" Stiles flails his arms around all nervous energy and sudden panic. Derek just stares at him like he's the one who’s gone crazy.

"Stiles," he laughs, "I could've done much worse and believe me, I wanted to but hey, I need someone working the streets to keep an eye on things. It’s not like I broke both hands." Derek reaches out to touch his cheek but Stiles flinches away.

"You need a-Derek!" Stiles cries exasperatedly. "Derek you’re a criminal! I mean, I knew that but you hurt someone and for what? For me? This is insane! You don’t have to be this! You’re so smart. You could do so much more. Cora-”

Derek barks a laugh. "So that's what this is about? That what Cora told you? Fine. Sure. Let's say I chose to be someone else. Chose not to run my family’s business and went out for myself in the world. Do you honestly think I’d be where I am now? You seem confused, Stiles because I am a businessman. I just happen to be in a much more profitable business. I make sure to take care of what's mine, Kitten. If you want, I can take care of you too."

And Stiles stops dead, his mind twirling that little bit of information around. That’s what this has always been about hasn’t it? Derek told people to leave him alone and punished someone for breaking the rule (hell, he made it a fucking rule in the first place) and now he wants to take care of him?

"Wait, have you claimed me as yours or something? Is that why you told everyone else to back off?" He asks slowly.

Derek looks a little sheepish, a small smile tugging at his lips. "Yeah, I mean, I'd like to. If you let me. I could make things a lot easier on you. Take care of those student loans…"

Stiles wants to punch him in his stupidly good looking face. "Get-get the fuck out of here. I don’t need anyone to take care of me and I don't ever want to see you again. Stay away from me!" He tells him, angry. "I don't belong to anyone especially not a thug like you. Get the fuck out, Derek."

Derek nods, his face falling just a bit, "I understand. I'll leave you alone for as long as you want me to. I know this is a lot to take in."

“No, you don’t understand. I fucking mean it. I never want to see your face again.” Stiles feels his nails biting into the flesh of his clenched palms. “Just leave me the fuck alone. I don’t want your protection. I don’t want you to ‘take care of me.’ I just want you gone.” He keeps his eyes on the floor and when he finally hears Derek leave the apartment, only then does he begin to breathe again.

OTTR

Stiles doesn’t see Derek for quite some time. There are moments when he’ll see the Camaro parked around the neighborhood but its driver is never present. He still gets the strange glances from passersby as he walks to and from the subway in the morning and the afternoon and the convenience store owner still refuses to look him in the eye but other than that, things seem to slowly work their way back to some sort of normal.

As the days pass by, the temperature really starts to drop. He starts to agree with Derek on one thing: he needs a better coat if he’s going to make it. His old lacrosse hoodie isn’t nearly warm enough to fight off the bitter winter of New York City. He tugs the red fabric tight around himself and picks up his pace.

His fingers are numb and prickly by the time his makes back to his apartment and it’s a struggle to pull his keys from his front pocket. In his haste to get inside, he stumbles and almost falls over a package sitting in front of his door. He snatches it up and steps inside thinking that perhaps Allison has ordered something.

He sees his name written in neat script on the top of the box and excitedly tears it open. He doesn’t often get gifts from home but maybe his father has sent him something.

Inside, there’s thick, black, leather coat. It’s smooth, baby soft, and lined with a luxurious, beige colored wool. There’s even a matching pair of gloves. Stiles tries them on and nearly swoons. They’re so warm.

A piece of paper flutters out from inside the folds of the jacket and Stiles snatches it up.

-Keep Warm, Kitten

Stiles feels the heat rising in his cheeks. Derek? He looks down at the coat in his hands and sighs. Something like this has to be expensive and as much as he needs it, there’s no way he can accept it. He shoves the coat and the gloves (they’re such nice gloves!) back into the box and tapes it back up.

“Damn.”

OTTR

“Hey um, do you know where I can find Derek? Derek Hale, I mean. Tall guy. Dark. Broody. Might have been waving a gun?” Stiles asks the convenience store owner the next day. “I know he comes in here sometimes.”

“Nope. I have no idea where he is.” The guy says quickly, keeping his eyes on the counter. He busies himself organizing his already pristine drawer and waits for Stiles to leave.

“Look, I’m not trying to get you into trouble with the boss or anything. I just need to get this box to him. It’s his actually and I’d like to return it as soon as possible.” Stiles tried. “Please?”

“I really don’t know where he is. I don’t know anything.” The guy presses.

“Well what about Cora? His sister? Do you know where she is?” He pleads.

"No! Go away!"

"Any particular reason you're looking for Derek Hale?" Stiles almost jumps out of his skin at the sudden presence behind him.

He whipped around to see a young curly hair blonde boy looking him up and down. "You don't seem his type. And you’re not well dressed enough to be his choice of hooker. Are you? I don't think so." He says.

"Um no. I'm not a prostitute um, I'm actually trying to give this to him. Back to him that is." He holds out the box.

"Ohhh. You're the one that's had his panties in a twist these last few weeks. Poor dude, you're breaking his little heart." He doesn't look upset about it at all, quite gleeful actually. "I can take you to Derek.  He's not fond of strangers but I'm pretty sure he'll make an exception for you. I’m Isaac by the way. I work for him."   

Stiles flushes and tries not to think about what that entails. “Thanks Isaac. I’d appreciate that. Really.”

Isaac winks at him and leads him to another black car. Is that a requirement for being a criminal? You have to drive a black car?

OTTR         

Isaac drives him to a hotel on the Upper East Side. It’s like nothing Stiles has ever seen, with pristine marble floors and gold molding on the ceilings. They head up to 16th floor and down the hallway to a dark blue door. Stiles tries not to shiver when Isaac knocks. Derek doesn't look surprised to see them. He opens the door and lets Stiles pass. Isaac doesn't come in behind them, just gives Derek a wave and leaves.

         “You want something to drink? I was just about to open a bottle of wine. Good year. You’d like it.” He says conversationally as he takes a box of cigarettes out of his coat pocket.

         “No, thank you though. I actually came by to return this to you.” Stiles holds out the box, a flush rising in his cheeks. He wished Isaac would have stayed with them. He couldn't even look at Derek without freaking out. How could he be so calm?

“You didn’t like the coat? They have it in navy and I think I remember brown if you’d prefer that. Maybe I should’ve asked what you liked better first. I'll remember that next time.” Derek sticks the cigarette in between lips, lights it, takes a slow drag, and meets Stiles’ eyes.

"It wasn’t the color that bothered me, Derek. I know you know why I can't accept this." Stiles tosses the box onto the couch and crosses his arms.

"I'm not sure that I do." Derek laughs. "But I just know you'll enlighten me." He leans back on the arm of the couch, a slow smirk pulling at his lips. “Well? Go on.”

"Are you fucking kidding me right now? I know how smart you are so don’t even try to play dumb.” Stiles snapped. “I don't need your gifts, Derek. That coat is ridiculously expensive and frankly, I don't want to be in a position where I owe you anything."

Derek laughs again. “You'll never owe me anything, Kitten. It’s a gift. You don’t even have to say thank you. I just don’t want you to freeze out there. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.” He blows a smoke ring and sighs. “And besides, don’t you think you’ve earned something nice for all your hard work?”

“Derek! Stop it!” Stiles shouts angrily. “If this is a game, I’m not a playing so stop toying with me! You’re pissing me off!”

“Do I seem like the kind of guy who plays games, Stiles?" Derek stands up to his full height, and huffs a plume of smoke. "I see something I want? I go after it."

"And that's what I am right? A thing? Something for you to chase? Something to tell all your gangster buddies about how you fucked with my head? Sorry, not interested." Stiles can feel himself getting angry.

"Don’t do that. Don't hurt your own feelings, Stiles." Derek grabs his wrist and tugs him close. "I saw you getting coffee at Lee's a few months ago. I was just passing by and there you were.” He whispers.  “You were biting your lip, just like that,” He caresses Stiles’ cheek, his thumb rubbing his lower lip. “I couldn’t help but walk in. I liked your eyes. The barista said your name so from then on, I made it a point to learn a bit more about you. Vernon’s good at that shit, finding people I mean.” Derek pulls away. “I found out you were a student. Straight A’s. That’s impressive. You work an extra job and send the money back home to your dad in the hospital. You care about your family. I like that. I knew I wanted you so I went after you. Simple as that.”

Stiles pulls away, shock racking his brain. What the hell is going on and how in the world did he not notice? “So you basically stalked me for a month and then hung out with me with the sole intention of getting into my pants. You’re admitting to that right now, that you had me followed and creepily learned my habits. Do you understand how insane that is? How insane you sound right now?”

Derek just shrugs and heads to the kitchen. Stiles follows him and gratefully accepts the offered glass of wine. Sue him. No one should have to put up with this sober. “What can I say? I’m not too good with people. You make me shy.” He takes a sip from his wine glass.  “All that I’m saying is, it's not just your ass, Stiles." He makes a show of thoroughly checking out Stiles' behind. "Though I will admit, that would be an amazing bonus if you ever feel like sharing.”

Stiles feels his ears start to burn and hurrdily takes another sip to keep from doing something me might regret. “Derek...I’m...I don’t know how to feel about this. You’re...you’re not a good person.”

“Hey, at least I’m honest about it. There are lots of men out there pretending that they’re good people when at their core, they’re just like me.” He steps away from Stiles and picks up the forgotten box. “Take the coat, Stiles. I’m insisting. If you’re going to walk, you need something that’s gonna keep you warm.”

Stiles looks at the box again. It is a nice coat and he does need something heavier. But…Derek.

“Keep it. You never have to speak to me again but you need that coat.” Derek reaches out and strokes his cheek again, caresses him like he’s something precious-

“No. Derek no. We can’t do this. I can’t do this. Even if I trusted you, and I’m not saying that I do, I’m not ready for something like this. For what being with you would entail.” The last part comes out like a whisper.

“That’s okay, Stiles. I’m not going to push you. I care for you.” Derek says. “Here, let me take you home. Keep the coat okay, just in case.” Stiles nods solemnly and Derek gets to his feet. “C’mon, Kitten. Let’s get you home.”

OTTR

Stiles never really wanted to live with Scott and Allison. Sure, it was one thing to move in with your best friend. It was an entirely different thing to move in with your best friend and his girlfriend. Allison tried her best to be accommodating but Stiles could feel her mounting contempt.

He’s still trying to find the right place, honest. New York’s just a hard place to live.

‘If it gets to be too much, you can always come back home,’ he remembers his father saying but Stiles has come too far. He can’t just turn back now.

He already has his keys out when he finally makes it to the front door but Allison is already there yanking it open.

“Get your ass in here!” She hisses, her nails digging into his forearm.

“Whoa! What’s up-”

“Dude! What were you doing with Derek Hale?!” Scott’s waiting for him in the living room, a look of worry on his face. “Don’t you know who he is?”

“Um, he gave me a ride? He does that sometimes.” Stiles shrugs her off and tosses his bag and the box onto the couch. He’ll put the coat up later. “What’s wrong?”

“Derek Hale is a criminal, Stiles. A mobster!” Allison grabs his shoulder again and gives him a rough shake. “He’s killed people! A lot of people. Do you know how many murders he’s been allegedly connected to in the last five years? Over 100.”

Stiles feels the blood leave his cheeks. Yeah, he knows Derek’s a bad guy (today has only served to make that more apparent). Is it horrible that he hates being reminded of that fact? Just when he’s reminded that Derek isn’t one of the good guys, he remembers that the guy dips his French Fries in his milkshakes for Christ's sake.

“My dad says his family is one of the worst ones out there. They literally run the underground, Stiles. Drugs, prostitution, murder.” Allison presses. “I mean, does any of that register with you? You have to stay away from him or you’ll wind up dead.”

“Look, it’s not that big of a deal. We hung out a few times. There were no drugs or prostitutes, or murder involved.” Stiles just wants to go to bed. He’s had a hard enough day.

“You can’t bring that stuff in here, Stiles. I won’t let you. My father would kill me if he knew I was letting you live here if you have any involvement with the Hale family.” Stiles believes her too. Detective Chris Argent is the head of the NYPD’s organized crime division. No doubt he would be pissed. “If you get mixed up in something, I’m not gonna cover for you, I’m gonna tell my dad.”

“Whoa now,” Scott cuts in, “we’re not just gonna throw Stiles out. He doesn’t have anywhere to go.”

“No, it’s okay. It’s about time I leave anyway. I’ve been crowding you guys for too long.” Stiles sighs. He’s been working up to this for a while. Now’s just the right time, he guesses. “I think I should just go my own way. I’ll have my stuff moved out soon, okay.”

“Stiles…”

Allison doesn’t waver, not even once. “If that’s what you want to do, you go ahead. We can help you find a place.”

“No, I’ll do it. If it doesn’t matter, I’m gonna go ahead and get some sleep. It’s been a long day for me.” Stiles says quietly and he’s not lying.

It’s been one hell of a day.

OTTR

Days pass like nothing’s changed. Stiles takes the stairs up to a hotel room instead of to an apartment. He’s looking through the listings but everything is either too expensive or in too much of a shitty neighborhood.

Derek is waiting for him at his hotel door one day. He’s impeccably dressed as always, sporting a black wool pea coat and his shoes are so shiny, Stiles thinks he can actually see his reflection in them. “I heard what happened with you and your friends. Been out of town for a while so it took me a few days to come and check on you. Hope that’s okay.” Stiles slides his key card and opens the hotel room door. He tosses his bag down on the bed and turns to face his guest. “They kicked you out because of me? That doesn’t seem fair. I thought you were their friend.”

“It says something that I’m not surprised you know I left and on that note, they didn’t kick me out. Not everything’s about you. I left on my own. I still have to get the rest of my stuff and maybe I should get a storage locker or something while I look for an apartment…” Stiles runs a nervous hand through his hair. It’s been a trying couple days.

Derek tries not to openly scoff at him. “Get your own apartment? With what money? Did you magically acquire a high paying job since the last time I saw you like, ten ago?”

Stiles wants to punch him in the face. Derek has no right to judge him. “Will you shut the fuck up!? I really don’t need that right now, okay!? I’m stressed enough and if you wanna be an asshole, you can fucking leave.”

Derek holds up his hands in a placating gesture. He didn’t come here for a fight. “Easy, Kitten. Easy. You know I don’t mean you any harm. I get it, you’re in a bind. Now, are you gonna let me help you or not?”

Stiles almost laughs in his face. This entire situation is hilarious. Derek the criminal wants to help him out? “And how the hell are you going to help me, Derek? Can you look into your magic crystal ball of illegal activity and find me a cheap place to live? No? I didn’t think so!”

“Or you could just stay with me. It would only be until you get on your feet. I’ve got more than enough room.” Derek shrugs like it’s nothing.

Stiles drops the bag he’s holding, his jaw working in frustration. “Shit! What-No! I can’t move in with you Derek. I barely know you.”

“I own an apartment complex not too far from the campus. You can stay there until to you find a better place. If you want to pay me back later, you can.” Derek reaches out and squeezes his arm lightly. “It’s a pretty nice place.”

“No! I don’t want to rely on you, Derek. I need to do this on my own.” Stiles shouts in frustration.

“And how exactly are you going to do that if you’re broke and homeless, Stiles? Stow your pride for a minute and look at the situation for what it is. Think. You don’t have that many options.” Derek pinches the bridge of his nose and huffs.

“I haven’t sunk that low yet. I’ll get another job and work to get a place of my own.”

“If you work too much, your grades will slip.” Derek sighs again. “You don’t want that to happen.”

“Don’t tell me what I want and don’t want.” Stiles snaps.

“Sorry. I’m not trying to tell you what you want, I just want to look out for you. I know school’s a big deal to you.” Derek looks around the room again like he’s personally offended by Stiles’ living quarters. “At least promise me you’re think about it. It’s a decent place and you won’t have to worry. Stiles, you shouldn’t have to worry.”

“Can you please just...not right now okay? I don’t have it in me to deal with this.” Stiles just wants him to go away, wants this entire problem to go away.

-----

“You can come home at any time, Stiles. Any time. You always have a place here. There are plenty of great local colleges.” His dad says quietly and Stiles chokes back a sob. He can’t let his father hear him so weak.

“Dad, no. I’m here and I’m staying here. I’m looking for a place of my own.” He breathes, steadily willing his voice not to crack.

“Do you need some money? I can send you some-”

“No, Dad. I’m okay. I think I might have found a place that’s relatively cheap.” Stiles knows all about his father’s medical bills and how strapped they are for cash. They still haven’t fully paid off the debt from his mother’s medical expenses and Stiles refuses to add onto the burden. He tries to keep his own financial misery to himself as much and possible.

“Stiles, I’m your father. I’m supposed to take care of you. Please don’t shut me out. You don’t have to do this on your own.”

“Who? Me? Never, Dad.” Stiles laughs uneasily and it sounds fake even to him.

He hears his father’s distressed sigh but doesn’t comment on it. He knows what he has to do.

Sometimes, if you wanna survive, you have to make a deal with the devil.

OTTR

         “So here are the keys to the place.” The woman, who he learns is named Erica, drops a set of keys into his open palm. “I live right upstairs if you ever need anything. Feel free to come by any time. Go on, it’s yours. Go and have a good look around.”

         Stiles already wants to change his mind. “No way, this is too much. Derek-”

         “Owns the building and he takes care of his tenants. Believe me, when Derek gives a gift, it’s best to just take it. He doesn’t give them often.” She says sagely. Stiles wonders what she did to earn her gift. Erica is what he would call a knockout, all voluptuous curves, voluminous blonde curls, and sinfully red lips. She could eat him alive.

         “Really?” He asks. “Because that’s all he seems to do with me."

Erica actually has the gall to laugh at him. "Of course he does. That’s what Derek does when he's  got a crush who won’t give him the time of day. He’s a woo-er. He woos. If you tell him to stop, he will. That is, if you actually want him to stop." She pats him on the shoulder and leaves, her leopard print heels clicking all the way down the hall.

The word apartment is kind of a misnomer in this case. The place is way too large to actually be an apartment. It's a beautiful space with pristine hardwood floors and designer furnishings and a beautiful view of the New York skyline. The more Stiles looks around, the more out of place he feels.

"Do you like it? You can always change the decor around or splash a few new colors of paint on the walls, just ask Erica. She has all the catalogues and she can have things moved while you’re in classes so you don’t have to worry." Derek says on the phone.

"It's beautiful, Derek. Like, really beautiful. I didn’t know apartments could have multiple floors. I um, how in the world am I supposed to pay you back?" Stiles murmurs softly. He’s debating taking a bubble bath. The bathroom is stunning, modern and everything Stiles has ever wanted in a place.

Derek lets out a put upon sigh.

“How many times do I have to say that you’ll never owe me anything? You deserve to be happy and comfortable. That’s all the payback I’ll ever need.”

Stiles is actually starting to believe him.

-----

         The surprises keep on coming. When he goes to hang up his clothes in the walk-in closet that’s large enough to be a third bedroom, it’s not empty like he expects.

         “You bought me clothes.” He growls into the phone. They’re not just regular clothes. They’re designer clothes and shoes. Things Stiles has only ever touched in his dreams and now suddenly, they’re his. Lydia would have a fucking conniption.

         “You had like, two shirts, a hoodie, and a ratty pair of jeans. You needed new clothes, badly.” Derek says like it’s the simplest thing in the world to understand. “How’d your medieval folklore exam go?”

         “Don’t try to change the subject, Derek. You bought me a fur. No matter how soft and luxurious it is, I have absolutely nowhere to wear a fur.” And it’ so nice and soft. “PETA’s gonna be on my ass about this, and I’m sending them after you.” He grumbles as he rubs his face against the soft coat.

         “Well, I thought you might wear it out to dinner with me.” Derek says quietly and it almost sounds like the ferocious Derek Hale is actually shy. “It’s cold out.”

         “You’re asking me out? After everything you’ve done for me?” Stiles scoffs loudly. Derek is ridiculous!

         “I like to think I’ve been very upfront about my feelings for you. About my intentions.” Derek says softly. “Will you go to dinner with me?”

              Stiles takes a deep breath. “Yes, Derek. I would like to go dinner with you.”

-----          

         “You look amazing.” Derek looks him up and down, smile never dropping from his lips. He’s not wrong. Clearly he’d talked to Erica before coming. Derek recognizes her handiwork. It’s a mahogany colored mink fur coat that stops at Stiles’ upper thigh. He’s wearing tailored black pants and a charcoal knit sweater underneath. She’s done his hair too. It’s not as messy, but the loose waves have been gelled down and tamed. If he thought Stiles was handsome before, he looks positively radiant now. Derek tells him so.

         Stiles blushes at the praise. “Thanks. It’s not as heavy as I thought it would be. Warm though. I barely felt the wind coming up here.” He laughs gently and takes Derek’s extended arm.

         “Good, that’s what I wanted. I already made reservations so we can head on in. You’ll like it here, I promise.” Derek leads him into the restaurant and Stiles has to hold in his gasp. It’s a beautiful place, candlelit with warm colored walls.

         “Mr. Hale! Good to see you! Booth for two, already got you all set up. That is a lovely coat, sir.” The Maitre’d greets them warmly, and leads them back into the restaurant. “I’ll take you to your normal table.”

              “Thanks, Caesar.” They’re seated in a booth near the back of the restaurant. It’s secluded, private. There’s a window and Stiles can see the entire skyline laid out in front of him.

“Wow.” He says. “It’s beautiful.”

“I knew you’d like it. Come on. Pick anything off the menu. Whatever you want to have, it’s yours."

"Anything? Wow Derek, you might be opening up a can of worms right there." Stiles laughs gently. He settles down in the seat across from Derek and glances quickly over the menu. It's not as scary as he thought it would be. He expected fancy titles and words he wouldn't understand but he's pleasantly surprised. Panna Cotta, he can make sense of.

Overall, it's a more than satisfying night and Stiles leaves the restaurant utterly content. Suddenly, Derek doesn't seem so intimidating anymore. He's courteous and kind and does his best not to push beyond Stiles' boundaries.

"Are you going to walk me up?" Stiles asks when they finally get back to his building.

"Do you want me to?" Derek asks and there's no sarcasm in his voice. He honestly wants to know what Stiles wants.

"I think I'd like that." Stiles replies in an almost shy manner.  He wants to kick himself.  When the hell did he get so fucking coy?

"Well alright then." Derek takes Stiles hand in his own as they ride the elevator up the 14 floors to Stiles' apartment.

"You had a good time right?" He asks.

I had a great time. Really.” Stiles assures him. “Really, this was great. I haven’t had that much fun in a really long time.” It sucks that that’s true.

“Then maybe we can do it again. I want another chance to impress you.”

“Believe me, Derek you don’t have to impress me. Really. You’ve done enough.” He presses a kiss to Derek’s cheek and opens his apartment door.

“Goodnight.” He says.

“Goodnight, Stiles.”

OTTR

When Stiles awakens, his hands are tied above his head, wire cutting into the flesh of his wrists. He tugs against them and immediately regrets it, can feel blood trickling down his arms.

            “Good to see you’re finally awake. Couldn’t get the party started without you.” The man’s holding a knife, leaning against the concrete wall. Stiles looks around at his surroundings. It’s dark and damp and he thinks he’s in a warehouse of some kind.

              “Who-who are you? What the fuck is going on?” He asks. His voice throat is sore and his head feels like it’s on fire. He can slightly remember being hit over the head. He'd left his apartment to pick up something from the lobby.  He couldn't even remember what it was.

"Shh shh, no need to curse.” The guy cups his cheek and squeezes. “You and I are going to have to have a nice little talk about Derek Hale.”

“The fuck?” He’s been out on like two dates and already he’s the one getting his ass handed to him. It’s time to seriously rethink this relationship. “Derek and I only just started dating! I don’t know anything!” Stiles pleads. His arms are on fire!

“He’s put you up in a nice place, dressed you up like his own little doll. Don’t pretend like you don’t know him.” The guy doesn’t look put out, looks completely at ease with what he’s about to do. Stiles is terrified. “So I figured for every honest answer you give me, I won’t cut something off? How’s that sound?”

              “It sounds pretty fucking terrible and I’d really appreciate it if we could both just kinda let this go? How’s that sound? You let me go and I never tell anyone what happened here ever. I think that’s a pretty good deal.”

              “I think if I didn’t need answers, the first thing I’d cut off would be that tongue of yours.” He presses the tip of the blade ever so softly to the hollow of Stiles’ throat, cruel smirk on his lips. “But I’m sure I can find something else to do with that mouth.”

              “Or, you can drop the knife so I don’t cave your face in, Ennis.” The man turns his face paling at the sight of Derek.

              Come to think of it, Stiles has never really seen Derek angry before. Frustrated? Annoyed. He knows what those look like but the man before him? He’s not the man Stiles just had dinner with a few days ago, the one that offered him a home. He barely looks human. His fist are bloody and bruised, his teeth bared.

              “Stiles, close your eyes.” He commands.

              Stiles doesn’t want to do that, has to see this. He barely resists the urge to cry out when Derek’s fist slams against Ennis’s jaw and the man drops to the ground.

              “Why’d he send you, Ennis? What’s he want?”

“I’m not telling you anything, Hale.” Ennis laughs loudly. Blood drips from his mouth and splatters onto the concrete floor.

              “Funny, it’s almost like you think you have a choice.” Derek slams the butt of the gun into his face, the sickening sound of cracking bone resonating through the room. Stiles wants to scream. “You think you can come to my city and hurt what’s mine? Deucalion thinks it’s a fucking joke to come into my territory and hurt my people?” He stands up tall and cocks the gun. “Give me a reason. Give me a damn good reason why I shouldn’t blow your head clean off your shoulders.”

         “Derek no.” Stiles croaks from his place in the corner. “Please don’t kill him. You’re not a killer.”

         Derek barely glances at him, his voice hard when he says, “he was going to kill you Stiles and not quickly. No, he would’ve raped you first. Tortured you. He wanted to hurt you like he’s hurt others before.”

         “Derek, this isn’t you. You’re not this, not a monster.” Stiles wishes he was free, wishes he could pull them both away from this madness.

         Derek chuckles darkly, a wistful look on his face. He looks Stiles dead in the eye and says, “you’re wrong.”

         In such a small space, the gunshot’s like thunder, rips through the air and rings in Stiles’ ears. He’s suddenly covered in warm, sticky blood. The back of the guy’s head is blown to bits.

         Derek holsters his gun, cuts Stiles down, and heaves him up with one hand while dialing his cell phone with the other. “Yeah, Boyd? Got a body in the warehouse district…”

         Stiles loses track of the conversation as Derek loads him into his car and buckles him in. He knows he has to look a mess, blood spattered all across his face and neck.

         “Stiles?” Derek’s voice sounds far away. “I’m taking you to my place, okay. You can spend the night there, get your wits back.” Stiles feels as if his mouth is glued shut. Can shock do that to you? He’s an accessory to murder for Christ’s sake! What would his dad say?! ‘Nothing. He’s not going to say anything because I am never going to tell anyone about this ever.’ He chants it over and over in his head. Is it too late to catch a flight back to the west coast?

         After what seems like hours, he feels the car slow to a stop. They're in a nice area, not too far from Stiles’ apartment. “We’re here. Can you walk?” Derek’s voice is quiet, just above a whisper. “Or do I need to carry you?”

         Stiles shakes his head. He can move.

         He climbs out of the car, his legs shaking like a baby deer’s.

         “Here,” Derek extends his arm, let’s Stiles hold onto him. “You’ll spend the night here. I want to make sure nothing happens.” Stiles nods suddenly exhausted and barely bats an eyelash when Derek scoops him up. “Go on and sleep, Stiles. Everything’s going to be okay. Close your eyes.”

              Stiles doesn’t have the power to resist him.

OTTR

         When Stiles comes back to consciousness, he’s in what’s possibly the comfiest bed he’s ever been in. The night before comes back to him in pieces, the familiar sense of dread roaring over him.

         “Der-”He calls before checking himself. Jesus Christ what is he thinking?

         “I’d ask you not to move. You don’t want to pop your stitches.” Stiles doesn’t recognize the man stitching him up but his hands are warm and Stiles feels like he’s floating. Weird, he doesn’t even remember being hurt.

         “Where’s Derek? Is he here?” He coughs.

         “I believe he ran out to get you breakfast. He said something about crepes? You’ll have to talk to him when he gets back.” The man chuckles and clips the thread. “Though he might be thinking more about himself in that respect.”

         “Who are you?” Stiles asks. His vision is clearing.

         “My name is Alan Deaton.” He says gently. “I’ve been the Hale’s family doctor since Derek’s mother ran the business.”

         Stiles stops short at that. Other than his sister, he’s never even considered Derek having an actual family but that would make sense wouldn’t it? It takes more than one person to make an operation like the one Derek runs work. “His mother? Derek’s mother ran the family?”

         “Ah yes. I’m afraid Talia was actually grooming Derek’s sister to take the mantle for herself but, then there was the accident so Derek was forced to take her place. It was a rocky start for him at first but he’s finally solidified himself as a leader.” Deaton pulls off his gloves and puts his instruments away. “I was afraid for a while that he’d never let himself be truly happy but then you appeared and we’re all better for it right?” Deaton offers him a small smile before he gets to his feet. “There now. I want you to stay in bed. No strenuous activity. I mean it.”

              Stiles opens his mouth to ask something else when he hears a door open.

              “Alan!” He hears Derek call. “You still here?”

              “I’m on my way out. He’s awake and asking for you.” Deaton pats him gently on the shoulder before leaving the bedroom. Stiles can hear them talking in soft tones and the opening and closing of the door tells him that Deaton is already gone.

              “Hey, I’m glad you’re awake.” And Stiles suddenly feels a hell of a lot better which is strange because Derek’s the dangerous one here, isn’t he? “Are you feeling any better?”

              Stiles answers him with a little nod and looks around the room.                

              “This place doesn’t look like I thought it would.” Stiles says and he’s not lying. Derek’s penthouse is warm with cream colored walls and varnished wooden accents.

              “My uncle designed it. You should see Cora’s place. It’s an Art Deco mess.” Derek shrugs and knees his way onto the bed, a tray held in his hands. “Come on, eat some breakfast. I’ll feel so much better once you actually eat something.”

              “Alan said you brought crepes.” Stiles eagerly takes the tray into his lap and fights the urge to just inhale the pastries.

              “Alan? Looks like you two got on pretty fast, then. That could be bad for me.” Derek chuckles.

              “Well he did say no strenuous activity for the time being.” Stiles offers as he cuts into a ridiculously large strawberry. They’re the best damn crepes he’s ever had (probably because a professional made them instead of Stiles butchering them in his own kitchen) and he wonders if Derek eats this way all the time.

              He doesn’t look like a murderer right now at all. Derek looks like a working bachelor enjoying a lazy Saturday morning. His hair is a slight mess and he’s wearing a plain rusty red tee-shirt and blue and white striped pajama bottoms. He actually looks harmless.

              “Something’s wrong. You’re staring.” Derek’s voice snaps Stiles out of his reverie.

              “Oh, um. You just…you keep surprising me.” He admits. He takes another bite.

              “You’re thinking about last night.” Derek sighs and sets his fork down. “I had to kill him. He would’ve gone back to Deucalion and then Deucalion would have come for you. I couldn’t let that happen. I couldn’t.” Derek raises his hand to Stiles’ cheek; he does it slow so as not to scare him but the man surprises him yet again, actually leans into his touch. “I’m not going to let anyone hurt you ever again.”

              Stiles opens his eyes. “I know.” He says. Derek smiles again and it’s a look Stiles never wants to see leave his face.

              “If you like the crepes, there’s a bakery just down the way. I could take you there one day when you’re feeling better.”

              “I think I’d like that.” They eat in a companionable silence, their shoulders bumping every so often. It’s a good morning considering.

       OTTR

              Stiles doesn’t drink that often but when Erica shows up at his door talking about martinis, he can’t exactly refuse. Three drinks in and he’s an absolute wreck.

         “I think I’m a kept boy.” Stiles groans and covers his face with his hands. The revelation is devastating. How had he let this happen?

         Erica just laughs at him. “Is that a bad thing?” She asks. “I find it’s a lot easier being kept than keeping up. New York’s a tough place to live. I’ll take a leg up any day.” She takes a sip of her martini and crosses her legs.

         “I don’t – oh god.” Stiles squeezes his eyes shut. “Erica are you - ?”

         “I’m not a prostitute, Stiles. Well, not anymore. I used to be when Deucalion tried to run the neighborhood. The guy he had working as our pimp was one hell of an S.O.B.” She sighs. “He used to beat the girls when they didn’t come back with enough cash. Did worse to the boys.”

         “Erica...” and Stiles wants to hug her. He can’t even begin to imagine what she’s been through.

         “Talia always made sure to take care of us. If a guy got too rough, she handled it.”

         “But Deucalion isn’t running things anymore.” Stiles offers softly.

         “And thank god for that. Derek and Cora put things right. They even let Boyd beat the shit out of our old pimp.” She pop’s her lips on the p’s. “And then they put me in charge. We’re all appointment based now and the girls get to pick who they want to see. Anyone violent gets a black mark and a visit from Vernon.” She sets her glass down on the wooden coffee table and leans back against the gray cushions. “It works.”

         “Wow.” Stiles pinches of a small piece of his dinner roll and pops it into his mouth. He takes that time to consider all of the information he’s been able to gather about Derek. None of it seems to fit together. On one hand, people are terrified of him (and rightly so if the body currently floating in the harbor has anything to say about it) but on the other, he’s only shown Stiles kindness and Erica actually seems rather fond of him.

         “Do you know what he expects of me? What he wants in return for all of this?” He whispers. The alcohol has made him maudlin.

         “Five years ago Derek Hale found me lying in the street, almost broken and instead of leaving me there, he brought me here. To this day, he still says I’ll never owe him anything. He’s not trying to blackmail you or make you feel guilty. It’s how his mother showed him she cared and how he shows others he cares. He takes good care of what he views as his. Derek’s a possessive man.” She plucks the olive from her martini glass and eats it. “For you, I think he’d do anything.

OTTR

         “Oh wow, Erica did a great job with this place. Exactly what I asked for. You’ve even added some things.” Derek looks around the living room, a bottle of wine tucked under his arm. “You cooked?”

         “Yeah! This place has an amazing kitchen. I’ve never seen something like that in an apartment before.” Stiles tugs on his collar and sits down on the couch. “Um, the lasagna’s still baking so we have some time to just, you know, talk.” He rubs the back of his neck. “We haven’t really talked since that night at your place.” The night he watched Derek shoot a man in the head for hurting him.

         “Well then I guess I can go ahead and give you this.” Derek sits down next to him and slides and small white gift box onto his lap.

         “You got me something else? Derek, you make this so fucking hard for me. You know I hate presents.” Stiles huffs out.

        Derek laughs awkwardly. “I actually think it’s more for my peace of mind than for yours.”

Stiles unties the ribbon and pulls the lid off the box. Inside, he finds a shiny black revolver. “Derek, this is a gun. You bought me a gun.”

         “I actually didn’t have to buy it, just grabbed something off the wall. No serials. If someone ever comes after you again, you can defend yourself. I don’t want you to be afraid.” Derek folds his hands over Stiles’.

         “You got me a gun.”

         “It’s a nice gun.” Derek says. “I can take you to the range and teach you how to shoot if you’d like.”

         Stiles lets out a semi-hysterical yelp of laughter.  “My dad was the sheriff of a small town. Believe me, if there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s shoot.” When he looks up, he’s surprised to see a small smile tugging at Derek’s lips and he wonders, exactly how far down the rabbit hole is he? Is it too late to turn back? Does he want to?

              “Look-” Stiles kisses him before he can say anything else, presses their lips together hard and shoves him back into the couch. It takes Derek a few moments to catch up but when he does, he means it. He grabs Stiles’ waist, pulls him into his lap and bites at Stiles’ bottom lip.

              “Der-” Stiles gasps and Derek takes the opportunity to twine their tongues together. He kisses Stiles like it’s the last thing he’ll ever do, drags his fingers through Stiles’ short hair and presses his lips to Stiles’ jaw.

              Stiles feels hot all over, like he’s suddenly on fire. He feels so fucking good in Derek’s hands, and god, why has he waited so long for this?

              “Stiles,” Derek says in between kisses. “We gotta stop right now. If we don’t stop now, I won’t be able to stop.” He buries his face in Stiles neck and takes a deep inhale.

              “You’re right,” Stiles moans, “you’re right.” He needs to get up, needs to get away from Derek but he can’t find the will to move.

OTTR

They come for him as he’s leaving a meeting with his advisor. Stiles has been around cops his entire life and he immediately recognizes the type.

“Stiles! You remember me, right? We met when you moved in.” Stiles could never forget the piercing blue-grey eyes and obviously fake smile of Chris Argent.  

“Detective Argent?” Stiles greets him. “I’m actually not living with Scott and Allison anymore.” Stiles tries to push past them but Chris grabs his arm.

“It’s actually Chief now. I got appointed head of the Organized Crime Division last year. This is my lead detective, Yukimura.” The woman waves and presents her badge.

“Nice to meet you.” She says.

“I know you’re not living with Allison anymore. She told me all about your new, ah, acquaintance. You know Stiles, you really moved up in the world, didn’t you? That’s a nice part of town you’re living in. I can’t afford that place on my salary? Can you, Yukimura?”

“No I can’t, sir. Makes me wonder how a 22 year old college kid can.” She eyes him carefully as if she’s watching for something.

Stiles takes a deep breath and tries to keep his calm. “Am I being charged with something because last time I checked, living in a nice apartment wasn’t a crime.” He says coolly. He can see the exact moment Chris’ eyes harden.

“Depends on what you did to get there.” He replies.

Stiles doesn’t flinch. “If you came all the way down here just for gross implications, you wasted a trip.” He pulls a business card out of his satchel. “It was nice getting to see you again, Detective-”

“Chief, and we’re not done here.” Chris snaps.

“Am I being charged?”

“No-”

“Then we’re done. You have any more questions, you can go through my lawyer.” He gives him the card Derek passed along a few weeks ago. ‘Just in case.’ He’d said. Now, Stiles was glad for it.

OTTR

              “I heard you had a little run in with the cops today.” Derek says as he kisses Stiles’ neck. “Everything alright?”

              “Do you like, have ears everywhere or something? They talked to me for literally five minutes. How could you know?” Stiles chides. He’s curled up on Derek’s lap holding a bowl of popcorn. They’re at Derek’s place and they’re supposed to be watching a movie for date night but that dissolved quickly into roaming hands and kiss-bruised lips.

              “Well, when you wanna run a city, it’s good to have a few upstanding cops in your pocket.” Derek chuckles. “It helps even more if you stick them in some very strategic places.”

              “Yukimura! I knew there something off about her!” Stiles cries. “Dude, you better hope Chris doesn't find out because he'll be pissed.” He takes another handful of popcorn and nestles into the blankets covering Derek’s lap.

              “Argent’s a thorn in my side, yes, but he’s barely a speck compared to my other problem.” Derek sighs. Stiles has heard this plenty of times before.

              “Deucalion, right? The guy who tried to have me kidnapped?”

              Derek grimaces at the memory. “Look, Stiles, I called you over here to talk to you about some things, okay. I need you to take me seriously.” He says finally, a grave look on his face.

              Stiles pauses the DVD and meets Derek’s eyes. “Whatever it is, we’ll be okay, Derek. You know that.” He tries to reassure the older man. He’s noticed that Derek has been just a little bit more high strung in recent days.

              “I talked to Kira about more than just you today. She and Vernon are good at gathering information both official and unofficial and they’ve both come to the same conclusion. Deucalion wants a war.” he huffs an exhausted breath. “He wants to take the city out from under me.”

              “What does that mean? Derek, what does that mean? That he’s going to kill you? That we’re in danger? Derek, talk to me.”

              “Look, I’m not all that worried okay. Cora and I have dealt with him before and we’ll do it again. I just need you to be a lot more on your guard, okay? I don’t want you getting hurt again. Also, I think it would be best if you stopped taking the subway.” Derek says uneasily.

              “That’s why brought the fancy wine out isn’t it? Derek, how the hell am I supposed to get around if I can’t take the subway? Everyone takes the subway.” Stiles understands the gravity of the situation. When he’d finally committed himself to Derek, when he’d accepted that gun, he knew something like this could happen.

              “Boyd or Isaac can drive you anywhere you need or want to go.” Derek suggest. “They’d do it if I asked.”

“What? No! I can’t have a chauffeur carting me to and from school.”

“Would you rather I bought you a car then?” Derek counters. “Or, you could always borrow one of mine. You’d look good in the Jag.”

“Hell no! I’m not going to be the one responsible for totaling your car, Derek.” Stiles can feel that he’s losing the battle.

“So you’ll let the boys drive you then?” Derek smirks and it’s definitely one of those times where Stiles kind of wants to punch him for being so fucking smug.

“Fuck you, Derek.” He throws a piece of popcorn at him instead.

That’s all the answer Derek needs.

OTTR

"Derek's been shot." Isaac's voice is rough, his breath heavy. He sounds like he’s been running and that’s never a good sign. "Stiles-"

“Where is he?" Stiles gasps, horror overtaking him. "Where is he, Isaac?"

"We got him out of there as fast as we could but it was close. Someone must have told the police because there were cops everywhere-"

"Where. Is. He." He’s already grabbing his overnight bag. “Where is he? I need to see him. I need to know that he’s okay.” He throws the bag over his shoulder and races out of the apartment. “Is he conscious? If he is, tell him I’m on my way.”

“No, Stiles no. Stay where you are. I’m going to come and get you, okay? Derek would kill me if he knew I let you go out on your own when there’s some lunatic out there taking shots at us. Please, just fucking wait for me, okay?” Stiles is already out the door and heading to the elevator. Screw waiting. He’ll grab a cab if he needs to.

By the time he makes it to the lobby, Isaac is already there waiting for him. “Come on, Stiles. Derek would kill me if I let you go out by yourself.”

Stiles nods hastily but doesn’t slow his stride. They have to get to the penthouse and they have to do it soon. If Derek is seriously hurt, if he’s dying-

Stiles doesn’t even want to think about that.

They drive in silence and like always, it’s not a long ride to Derek’s place. Stiles is out of the car and rushing inside to the elevator before Isaac even has a chance to stop the car.

              Apparently Isaac must have figured he wasn’t going to slow down for anything because Cora’s already there, waiting with the front door open. She doesn’t nearly look as put together as the first few times he’d seen her but she still puts of an air of power in sweatpants and a sports bra that anyone could detect.

              “He’s alright. No need to be so dramatic. Believe me, he’s gonna be fine.” Cora says. Stiles ignores her, pushes past and into the living room.

              Derek’s sitting on his couch, shirtless, bloody bandages pooled in his lap. Deaton is sitting next to him, forceps in hand.

              “You’re alright!” Stiles says, relief welling up inside him and drowning out the panic. He’s alright. He’s still in one piece.

              “What? Yeah. Hey, you were worried about me. That’s sweet.” Derek grimaces as Deaton digs another bullet out of his shoulder. It clatters into a glass dish on the coffee table.

              “I thought you were dying. Isaac made it sound like you were dying.” Stiles rubs his cheeks hoping Derek hasn’t seen the tear tracks.

              “I’m not leaving you anytime soon, Kitten. Don’t worry.”

              “Do you know who shot you?” He asks.

              “Yeah, one of Deucalion’s bastards. Don’t worry, Cora’s handling it.”

              “Does ‘handling it’ mean violence?”

              “Generally, yeah.” Derek tugs him closer and noses at his neck. “It’s good to see your face. Hear your voice. I was worried.”

              “Wait until I leave please.” Alan chides them as he begins stitching up Derek’s wound.

              Stiles laughs brightly and runs his fingers through Derek’s soft locks. “I’m so glad you’re okay.” He sighs. “I’m staying here tonight.”

              “I’d like that. Will you cook for me too?” Derek melts against him as Deaton finishes up.

              “I’ll give you his pain medication. Make sure he takes two every four to six hours. Derek likes to be a martyr.” Deaton hands Stiles and orange bottle with no label and Stiles has learned that it’s best not to ask any questions.

              “I’ll make sure he takes them.” Stiles kissed the top of Derek’s head and pulls away. “What do you want to eat?”

              “Can you make that macaroni and cheese again? That was really good. I think we’ve got everything you need in the kitchen.” Derek leans back into the couch and closes his eyes.

“I think you’re taking advantage.” Stiles says but there’s no heat in it. He goes to work in Derek’s ridiculously overstocked kitchen, the monotonous task keeping his mind off the fact that there was a fucking bullet in Derek’s shoulder.

OTTR

              “Stiles?” Stiles turns to see Scott staring at him.

              “Scott! What-how are you?” Stiles fumbles through his words as he grabs his groceries and searches for an exit. He hands the store owner Derek’s black card and taps his foot anxiously. Why does he even still shop here? He’s supposed to be picking up groceries for Derek and he can get what needs anywhere else in the city.

              “Good! How are you?! I haven’t heard from you in, like, forever. You practically vanished!” No, Scott’s giving him the puppy dog face, the face he knows will make Stiles do whatever he wants.

              “No, I moved out. You know, finding my own place. Making my way in the world. Yada yada yada.” He says quickly. “I should go. I’ve got an exam coming up that I really need to study for.”

              “Oh. Okay. Um.” Scott rubs the back of his head. “Chris is coming over for dinner tonight.” Stiles could have guessed that on his own. Scott has that ‘my girlfriend’s father is plotting to kill me’ look on his face.

              “I seem to remember that Allison’s not exactly fond of me at the moment. I doubt her dad is either.” Stiles replies.

              “Well I’m sure she understands better now.” Scott says dismissively, a grin on his face. “She thought you were fooling around with Hale.” There’s a noticeable shift in the air and suddenly, Stiles can feel the eyes of every in the small corner store focusing on him.

              “We’re not fooling around, Scott. We’re dating.” He says finally.

              The patrons go back to their business and suddenly it’s Scott who appears to be the frozen one.

              “Dating? Stiles, what the fuck? You know who he is, right? What he does.”

              “He collects late renaissance artwork but somehow I don’t think that’s what you’re getting at.” Stiles pinches the bridge of his nose. “Look, Scott, nothing you say is going to change how he and I feel about each other. We’re together and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. You’re my friend and I love you so please don’t rain on what's possibly the best relationship I’ve ever had.”

              “With a murderer.”

              “Alleged. He’s never been charged.”

              Scott’s shaking his head, disbelief written all over his face. “What the hell, Stiles? Do you hear yourself?”

              “Yeah. Generally that’s how the whole talking thing works. You say something and you hear it.” Stiles tries to duck around him but Scott grabs his shoulder.

              “Does your dad know?”

              “No. And you’re not going to tell him until I’m ready to. Are we clear?”

              “Or what? Your boyfriend will have me shot?” Strangely enough it’s not said in anger but in anguish. Stiles has never seen Scott look so hurt, has never been the one to put that expression on his best friend’s face. No that look has always been reserved or absentee fathers and uncaring teachers. It’s not a crowd Stiles likes being among.

              “Look, just please keep this between us. For me, Scott. I’m not ready to explain this yet so please don’t put me in a position where I have to.” Stiles says honestly. He hasn’t really thought about what he’s going to tell his father, about how he’s going to try to explain that Derek really is a good person even though it may not seem that way. Scott was still shaking his head, clearly upset.

              “Scott…,” Stiles tried, "I love him okay. And I trust him. Isn’t that enough?”

              “No. Stiles, it’s really not.” Scott says brokenly. “But it’s your life and I’m not gonna stand in your way. Just don’t expect me to stand by you and watch you get killed.”

              “Scott…” Stiles begins but Scott his already walking away, head down and shoulders slumped.

              Stiles doesn’t know what to say.

OTTR

              “Derek, where are you taking me?” Stiles laughs brightly. They’re in the parking garage of Derek’s building. It’s cold so Stiles stands closer to Derek, leans into his warmth as they walk towards the car.

              “I told you, it’s a surprise. You said you wanted something sweet and I live to make you happy. You’ll love this place. It’s where my mom used to take my sisters and me.” Derek gives his gloved hand a little squeeze and smiles.

              “Then I bet it’s awesome-” A crack like thunder sounds through the concrete structure and Derek immediately jerks Stiles to the ground.

              “What the hell-”

              “Stay with me, Stiles! Keep your head down!” Derek hisses as he let’s go of his hand and draw his gun.

              “Holy shit, we’re being shot at. We’re actually being shot at, What the fuck?” Stiles' hands shake when he pulls the revolver out of his interior coat pocket. “Derek…” he whispers. Derek doesn’t say anything back, is solely focused on tracking where the shot came from. The complex is quiet and aside from his own breathing, Stiles can’t detect anything. Who’s shooting at them?

              He picks up a quick dash of moment from the corner of his eye and it’s clear to him that he sees the shooter well before Derek does. He just reacts….

Front sight. Trigger press. Follow through.

Front sight. Trigger press. Follow through.

Front sight. Trigger press. Follow through.

It’s all so familiar, just like breathing, just like all those times his father took him to the range and set him in front of a target. All three shots hit the man square in the chest, the force knocking him to the ground with a sickening thud.

It’s only when Stiles lowers his weapon that the full weight of the last 30 seconds of his life come crashing down on him.

“He had a gun.” He whispers to himself. “He was going to kill us-I had to shoot him.”

“You can have a crisis of morality later, right now we need to run. He may not be the only one. Come on! Stiles look at me and tell me you understand. We can’t stay here.” Derek tugs him along and Stiles realizes that they’re going back to the apartment.

“The car-”

“Could be rigged with an explosive. I’m not chancing it. We need to get back inside and get a call out to everyone. Deucalion won’t try to kill just me but Cora and Peter too. He needs to wipe out the entire family.” Derek pulls a metal door that Stiles has never even noticed before open and guides him into a stairwell. He slides the door shut. “We’re taking the stairs. The elevator could be a risk. Stiles I need you to stay with me for now. Pay attention, this stairwell goes all the way up to the penthouse and all the way down into the sewer. It’s an escape route in case we ever need one. Stay with me. You can crash later but right now, I need you to stay alert. Can you reload?”

Stiles blinks dumbly at him. “Wha-yes. Yeah I can. I can do that.”

“Do it.” Stiles’ shake as he pulls the extra bullets from his pocket and reloads. They clink and clank together in his coat pocket. He wipes his nose and follows Derek up the staircase. It’s a slow and winding pace and Stiles has no idea how Derek knows how to get around the twisted tunnels but eventually, it spits them out behind the library of Derek’s penthouse. He pushes bookshelf inward and suddenly they’re bathed in light.

“C’mon. This way. No, don’t put that away. Keep it out until I clear the place. We need to be careful.” Stiles nods and keeps his weapon out.

What the hell has he gotten himself into?

-----

Later that night, they’re sitting on the couch, Stiles practically already in Derek’s lap. “Boyd’s got a whole army downstairs. We’re good for now. You want something to drink? You look like you could use a drink.” Derek sets a wine glass on the coffee table in front of him. “Stiles, please. Look at me.”

Stiles sucks in a deep breath. He’s been staving off a panic attack since they made it back upstairs and now that he’s warm and safe, he can feel the anxiety pouring over them. They got shot at.

“Hey hey, you’re okay. Just breathe. Breath with me, okay?” Derek pulls him close and presses Stiles’ head to his chest. “Breathe with me.” Stiles closes his eyes and takes a deep breathe.

“I killed him. I just…I just did it.” He gasps.

“You did what you had to do. He would’ve have killed us. Or worse, he would’ve taken us to Deucalion.” Derek assures him quietly. “You kept us safe.” He runs his fingers through Stiles’ short hair.

“Derek, I’m not upset because I shot someone. I’m upset that I’m not upset.” Stiles snaps. “I should feel something. Sadness or fear but all I feel is relief. And then I feel guilty for feeling relieved. I shot someone.”

“Feeling nothing isn’t the same as not knowing what you feel.” Derek assures him. “You know you had no choice, Stiles. I never wanted you to have to do that. I wanted to keep your hands clean.”

“I know there was no choice. It was him or us. I didn’t hesitate and that…that’s what scares me, Derek. I don’t want to become…this.

“I understand. Really. I didn’t want this either, especially not for you.” He presses his lips to Stiles’ forehead.

“Derek-” Stiles wraps his arms around Derek’s neck and pulls him down into a searing kiss. “Please, I want to forget. Make me forget. I know what I said before but I can do this with you now.” He whispers.

              Derek wipes away tears Stiles didn’t even know had fallen. “It’s okay, Kitten. Everything’s gonna be okay. C’mon, why don’t we go to bed?” He helps Stiles to his feet and leads him back to the bedroom. It reminds Stiles of his first night there only, well, everything’s changed now, hasn’t it?

              “I’m not doing this with you tonight. Stiles, you’re not in the best headspace right now and I’m not going to take advantage of you. Ever. So we’re going to go to sleep. Just sleep.” Derek lays him down with care, the plush blankets wrapped around him. “If you want to talk, we can talk.”

              “No. I think I just want to sleep.” Stiles yawns. “Stay with me?”

              Derek gives him a gentle smile. “Always. Now, close your eyes.”

-----

              There’s a moment, just a moment, when he feels that everything is right with the world. Derek’s face is lax and peaceful, his eyelashes glittering on his pink cheeks. The moment passes and Stiles is suddenly overtaken with dread.

              He murdered someone. In cold blood. Tears prickle at the corners of his eyes and he tries to catch his breath. He can’t leave now, can’t run away. He’s been drawn in with blood and he may not be as soaked in it as Derek but he’s on his way there. He’d do it again, knows he’d do it again if it came down to it.  

              He presses his fingers to Derek’s cheek, caresses him, and presses a soft kiss to his lips.

              “Someone's feeling better, I see.” Derek chuckles sleepily.

              “Not really.” Stiles replies softly. “But I’ll get there.”

              “You will.”

OTTR

              “Should I get you your usual, Stiles?” The barista asks him the next day. He’s still a bit haggard from his less than ideal start but he’s working on it.

              “Yeah Carrie, and Derek’s order too. To go please. He’s looking forward to a morning in.” He flashes her a smile before glancing back to his phone.

              “Coming right...up.” It’s her tone that catches his attention, all the sunshine and friendliness gone. “Can I help you, Sir?” She snaps, her voice hard. Stiles looks over his shoulder to see who’s incurred the normally kind barista’s ire and stops dead.

              He’s seen enough photos and heard enough descriptions to recognize the man standing before him.

Deucalion.

He’s older than Stiles realized. More handsome too. He almost appears...normal.

“Is that any way to act towards a paying customer? My goodness Kali, you’d think she wanted us to take our business elsewhere. There is a Starbucks just down the way. I’m sure they’d appreciate the value of my dollar.” He drawls. His voice pours over Stiles like ice water, sends shivers racing down spine.

“Maybe you should try there if you think they’ll treat you better.” Someone chimes in. Out of the corner of his eye, Stiles can see two off-duty police officers sitting in the corner, there eyes locked on Deucalion and Kali. ‘Well, when you wanna run a city, it’s good to have a few upstanding cops in your pocket,’ Derek had said. Stiles couldn’t agree more.

“Oh, but I came all this way to meet Derek’s new houseboy.” Deucalion smirks darkly, and Stiles can’t see his eyes behind his dark sunglasses but he can feel the man looking him up and down. “And what a pretty thing you are. I finally understand why he’s gone to such great lengths to keep you a secret. How is Derek anyway? Did he finally manage to scrape himself up off the concrete after I knocked him down yesterday?”

Stiles puts his left hand in his pocket and wraps his fingers around the thick handle of his revolver. He doesn’t want to ruin such a nice coat but this asshole had put a bullet in Derek once and then tried to have them both killed. Maybe it’s time he got a little taste of his own medicine.

“I have a gun leveled at your crotch. Tell me, what’s to stop me from pulling the trigger?” He asks lowly. Deucalion’s eyebrows rocket almost to his hairline as he lets out a surprised laugh.          

“Well well, I see Hale’s found himself a little spitfire to spice up his life!” He chuckles. “You won’t pull that trigger because you know you won’t make it out of here if you do. You think Hale’s the only one with people in this part of town?”

“What do you want, Deucalion? To scare me? Is that what this is?” Stiles sneers. He’s had it up to here with this asshole’s shenanigans. He doesn’t appreciate being shot at.

“No really. I only just realized that I’d never actually seen your face before. I decided I wanted to get a good look at you before you died.” Deucalion shrugs like it’s nothing big to talk about murder ideation in a crowded coffee shop.

“Great. That’s not freaky at all.” Stiles can feel his eye twitching.

“Your coffee’s up, Stiles.” Carrie says from behind him.

“Thanks.” He lays a twenty down, grabs the two cups, and doesn’t wait for his change before skirting past Deucalion and out the door. That guy gives him the fucking creeps. Maybe he should take Derek’s offer for a driver.

-----

              He’s not out the door 2 seconds before his phone starts ringing. Stiles adjusts himself until he can finally see his phone screen.  It’s Cora. Weird, she never calls.

              “Stiles, where the fuck are you?! Where’s Derek?!” She screams so loud that Stiles has to hold the phone away from his face. He hears gunfire in the background. What the hell is going on?

              “Derek’s at home. He had some work to finish up this morning. I’m heading there now.” He says.

              “No! Stiles don’t. There was an explosion-” another gunshot rings out and Cora shrieks. “Son of a-

              “Cora! What is happening? What the fuck is going on?” Stiles demands.

              “Deucalion is staging a coup! He knows that if he wants to take the city back, he has to take all three of us out at once. I can’t get into contact with either Derek but these fuckers-Boyd, on your left!

              An explosion. There’s been an explosion.

              Stiles drops the phone and runs. How long has he been away? What the hell is happening? Is Derek even alive?

              Stiles debates catching a cab. It’d be quicker but suddenly everyone around him looks like an enemy.

              ‘Run.’ He tells himself. It’s not that far. He can make it.

-----

              The fire department is already there when he arrives. They won’t let him inside, hold him back when he tries to run. The windows on Derek’s floor are blown out, black smoke billowing out into the air and it’s easily one of the worst things Stiles has ever seen. Definitely up there with his mother’s open casket.

              If Derek made it out of the explosion alive, where could he go? The stairwell in the garage went further down, all the way underground into an escape route. He’s seen the map so maybe, maybe he could find his way around…

-----

              He’s right. The parking structure is almost free of firefighters and cops and they don’t give him much of a second glance as he slips through the rows of cars. The explosion wasn’t there after all. He makes his way to the back, the same place Derek had showed him before. He slides the metal door open and steps inside. “Derek?” He calls as he carefully pulls the door shut behind him and starts down the stairwell. Not surprisingly, it was much less intimidating when he wasn’t alone.

              “Derek?” He says again. He’s never been below the building before and all the maps he’s seen before were a flat view. He dropped his phone outside so he has no source of light.

              The walls are cold and slightly damp. Where does this place even lead? Stiles tamps down his fear and keeps moving forward. Panic won’t help anyone at this point. Stiles only draws his weapon when he hears soft voices echo through the tunnels. It’s not Derek but it is someone he recognizes. Deucalion.

              “How did you expect this to end, Derek? Honestly? You’re mother had an opportunity to bring this city to its knees and instead, she left it to fester and rot. Look at you. You’ve done no better. You and your mutt sister don’t deserve this much power. You deserve a punishment befitting your crime.” There’s a solid thud and Stiles can make out a grunt of pain. Thank God, Derek’s alive.

              “But that’s over now isn’t it? By now, Kali has wiped that annoying little girl off the face of the planet. Who knows, when I’m done here, maybe I’ll go visit your little sweetheart, hm? You know, he threatened me this morning. Wanted to shoot me.” Stiles creeps around the corner. There’s a dim light streaming through the hall and he can loosely make out a figure in the shadows.

              “What’d you expect? He’s practically a Hale already.” He hears Derek cough.

"That's your plan? Marry that little whelp and let this place fall to ruin? You're pathetic. An absolute disgrace."

“Then go on. Put me out of my misery and kill me. Cora isn’t dead, I know it and she will end you.” Derek coughs again and his lips glint red with blood.

Stiles takes a deep breath and steps into the light, weapon raised. It takes Deucalion less than a minute to notice him but he doesn’t look threatened. More amused than anything. He looks at Stiles as if he’s nothing, as if he’s not even really there. Stiles hates him.

              “Well well, are you going to shoot me, Little One? Going to sully your hands for your beau? He’s using you, you know. Molding you. Shaping you to be just as much of a monster as he is.” Deucalion’s voice drips with mirth. “And just like the Spider and the Fly, you walked right into his little trap, didn’t you-”

              There’s a perfectly round, dime-sized hole in the center of Deucalion’s forehead. He drops like a sack of rocks, stupid smirk still slathered on his face.

              Stiles eyes find Derek’s face, spattered with blood and brain matter, his eyes are wide and concerned. There’s a fresh bruise purpling on his face and his sleeve is ripped and bloody. He looks a mess.

              Stiles?

              Stiles can you hear me?

              Please!

              It’s like there’s a roaring in his ears, loud and rumbling.

“Stiles? I need you to come back to me. I need you to come back.”

“What did I do? What’s happening to me?” He mutters.

“You’re going into shock, Stiles. Please, I need you to look at me.” Derek hoists him up and drags him down the hall. “Look, I need you with me, okay? It’s been a trying couple days but I need you here.”

“It was like nothing…” Stiles mumbles blankly. “I just did it. Again.”

“Just hold on okay? I’m gonna make sure everything’s okay? You’ll never have to get your hands dirty ever again.” Stiles doesn’t want to trusts Derek’s promises, wants to fall into a hole and never pull himself out.

“You’re gonna be okay, Stiles. I promise. Close your eyes.”

OTTR

Things come back to him in bits and pieces. Isaac drives him out of the city and next thing he knows, he’s in some picture perfect New York suburb, picket fence and all. Someone’s bullied his professors into sending his schoolwork and he knows its Isaac that drops it off. Derek keeps his distance, only comes in at night and holds Stiles while he sleeps.

Stiles appreciates the space.

“I can’t be what you want me to be.” Derek tells him one day. Stiles is still sweaty and tired from before. Making love to Derek isn’t what he thought it would be, isn’t rough or frenzied but instead is quiet and gentle. Derek takes him apart piece by piece and then takes special care to put him back together. He strokes Stiles’ hair and continues, “I can’t stop being who I was meant to be. I can’t change.”

Stiles doesn’t want him to change. He can’t fix Derek, has never really wanted to fix him. He’s had so many chances to walk away but this is it, right? This is what he wanted.

 “You’re not a good man.” Stiles replies, his voice quiet in the night. He’s lying on Derek’s chest, warmth radiating from his core. It’s cool out and Derek pulls the comforter tighter around them.

“Never claimed to be.” He says easily. He runs his fingers along Stiles’ cheek and kisses his forehead. “I love you though. I’d do anything for you, Kitten.”

“And I’d do anything for you. I love you, too.”

Stiles closes his eyes.