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Howl A Little Louder For Me

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Derek and Laura scale The Wall seven minutes before dusk. 

His drop point is a mile north of Laura’s despite his desire to enact her plan together, but he had lost that particular argument; Not that he put up much of a real fight anyway. Logically, he knows this is the safest way.

Yet still, so much could go wrong. 

Derek pushes the doubts from his mind and rehones his focus to the task at hand. The timing for this has to be perfect: Before the first round of guards arrive for the night shift, and after the sun has set low enough to provide a certain level of discretion. 

When he finally latches onto the lip and pulls himself up and over, he has no way of knowing if Laura has made it up too. His only option is to push forward. He strips his clothes and drops them with the climbing gear back over the edge, counting one, two, three seconds before they hit the ground. Then he stands, turns, and uses the few steps of space to gain momentum and launches himself out over the side. 

He falls fast over the other side of The Wall, fast into Beacon Hills, and manages to transform into his wolf form at the last second before hitting the ground. 

But he lands wrong. 

He hears it - the awkward crunching beneath him as his body folds to the earth under impact. It’s all he can do to remain breathing. 

Derek’s eyes lift up, up, up The Wall from his position on the ground. His body is howling. The last hints of sunlight highlight a blazing trail along The Wall’s towering edge, but lying in its shadow as he is, Derek can almost pretend it’s nighttime. 

His eyes grow heavy from the thick, syrupy sensation of his body working overtime to heal him.

He and Laura were so stupid. And desperate. Stupidly desperate.  Or desperately stupid, because they had to be in order to even attempt crossing The Wall. 

Yet they’d done it. 

And Derek knows, long before his eyes give in to the beckoning of sleep and finally slip shut, that there’s no turning back now. 

 

-

 

Derek wakes amid a wild patch of violently violet verbenia’s.

His heart slams up into his throat at the shock of purple and he’s shoving himself up and away before his nose has the chance to filter out his initial shock from the truth. Which becomes blatantly clear once he’s tumbled back on his furry ass and has a full view of the flowerbed he had crushed in his sleep.

Not wolfsbane , he repeats to himself, trying to shake the fear off his skin. It turns to stone-cold panic when a pair of footsteps snap a twig some hundred feet behind him. 

In an instant he’s back at attention and dropping to his stomach in the tall, dense grass. He slinks across the floor to one of the thicker tree trunks in the area and peeks around to watch the direction the footsteps had come. 

He watches as two men stroll through the forest like they’d been born to the place. Maybe they had been. They’re coming from the direction of The Wall, heading towards the town and not away from it. Given the sun had just risen, they had either camped out here all night, or come from a more permanent residence somewhere in the area. 

And there is something else about the pair. One of them smells… Magical.

When they pass Derek without so much as a sideways glance it gives him the confidence to follow at a safe distance, keeping right at the edge of hearing range.

One of the men is shorter than the other, the skin of his cheeks rosy from the slight autumn chill. He’s ribbing the other - who perfectly embodies the tall, dark, and handsome cliche - about his nice clothes. 

“Who are you trying to impress in those expensive cityboy jeans? Erica? And - wait, you washed your wrangler? I never thought I’d see the day.”

The other man smiles at him, unbothered. “Just because I dress for farm life doesn’t mean I can’t have style. What’s your excuse?”

The rosy-cheeked man sniffs defensively. “Dignity, mostly.” 

Tall Dark and Handsome looks him up and down, taking in the outfit that could only be described as a fashion kerfuffle. 

“Clearly,” he grunts. 

“You wound me, Boyd.”

They’re approaching an impossibly dense thicket of trees but to Derek’s surprise, instead of being deterred, the unnamed man picks up his speed into a jog away from Boyd, veering slightly to the left towards a sloping, barren ghost pine - the tallest tree in the area - and launches himself up to scale its trunk. His hands reach blindly for branches once his momentum crests, hoisting himself to maintain his scaling speed, like he’s done it a million times. As he ascends to the top his climbing strategy morphs into a fluid duck and weave between the branches until he reaches the top and lifts himself out into the blazing brilliance of the rising sun. 

Derek flattens himself as low as he can in the tall grass. The man’s hand comes up to shield his eyes, the sun glinting off his shoulder and casting him as a silhouette to Derek. He’s scoping out the forest on the other side of the thicket. When his hand comes down, he’s smiling.

“All clear!” He calls, and then he drops like dead weight to the forest floor. Before Derek can choke on a gasp, though, he’s landing delicately on his feet, completely unscathed.

Something thrilling, something hopeful, whizzes under Derek’s skin at the sight. 

He watches as the man plants his feet solidly beneath him, fingertips coming up to waggle underneath a dusting of his breath - magic scented sweet - and reaches sharply to the right to get a handful of pine. Then he’s pulling the thicket of trees into folds, like a curtain, creasing them out of their three dimensions to pave a path for him and Boyd to cross through.  

And that’s when Derek knows, he’s done it.

He’s found a witch.

 

-


Derek tails the witch the rest of the way out of the forest into the town, keeping to the shadows, never close enough to be noticed or far enough to lose sight of him. 

The witch parts ways with Boyd early on inside an herbal delights shop owned by a brass haired, brash mannered woman named Erica. She completely melts when Boyd walks through her door, and Derek is inclined to agree with the witch; He doesn’t think her greeting has anything to do with his fancy clothes. 

Next he visits an old apothecary - the entire town square is old, every building made of either red or brown stone with dark wooden trimming on the windows and roofs - and comes out carrying a delicate paper bag with the store’s emblem stamped onto it swinging on his wrist. He whistles on his way to a tiny hardware store, sandwiched between a bakery and deli. He slips into the bakery after, returning with a steaming bag smelling of bear claws and cheese danishes and cinnamon buns. 

And so it goes until the witch’s errands brings them right into the vicinity of two on duty Hunters. 

In a moment Derek is diving low behind a pair of trash cans, contemplating transforming back right then and there just to be sure they won’t be able to get their hands on his wolf form; but the cool shadow cast over him helps him to chill, helps him to think. Turning human would be the least productive thing he could do right now. 

Although he’s crouched from view in the shadows, he can hear the hunters all the same. The insufferable arrogance with which they talk. 

“Well, well, well, old billy-goat Benny. You got those licenses for me, yet?” 

Derek peeks around the bins to see the two hunters stopped in front of an elderly Satyr’s corner shop. It’s a temporary thing, more booth than business, with square edges and a top that slopes to a point where long, skinny, orange-and-black pennant flags whip wildly in the wind. 

The witch’s conversation with a nearby merchant tapered off at the hunter’s arrival, his attention drawn across the street to their growing spectacle. When the witch spots the hunters he doesn’t look wary of them, but annoyed. 

The old Satyr’s voice, when it comes, is wobbly and low. “I haven’t had enough time - ” 

The other hunter, who hadn’t spoken and looks a decade younger, snatches up one of the hand-blown green-glass bottles being sold at the booth and unceremoniously pops the cork. The bittersweet scent of wine coupled with the underlying zing of Satyr magic explodes into the air as he puts his mouth to the lip and throws his head back to take a swig.

If Derek knows anything about Satyr wine, he knows that man has maybe thirty minutes until the hallucinogens kick in. 

The hunter finishes his sampling of the wine and belches rudely, scrubbing off his face with his sleeve and smacking his tongue around his mouth, as if testing the palette.

“Yep,” he says to the first hunter, handing him the bottle, “Definitely spiked.” 

The first hunter tsk’s. “You see, Benny,” he says, recorking and storing the bottle in his belt, “I told you what would happen if we caught you selling magic-laced wine without going through the right channels. I’ve been fair,” his arms spread out in a benign display, though Derek knows from the wafting stench coming off him that his intentions are anything but. 

Then his arms cross over his chest, nose lifting insufferably high. “I’ll need more to let this slide.” He tells Benny, “Fifteen hundred, by tonight.” 

Before Benny can even begin to splutter out a response the witch is crossing the street to them, and Derek has to double take because suddenly, his clothes from moments before have miraculously morphed into a police uniform.

He steps up to the booth and fake or not, commands the authority like any real officer Derek’s seen. 

The hunters turn from Benny to address him, and Derek catches the small twinkle of magic that waggles from his fingers as a pile of papers suddenly materializes in his hands. 

“Is there a problem?” he asks. But before they can begin to construct a retort he’s plundering forward and not letting them. “If I’m not mistaken, and I know I am not, hunters are strictly prohibited from entering merchant square while on duty, yes?” The last word comes out like a bark and it actually startles the hunter who drank the wine into responding, obediently. 

“We - we were on our way to our shifts, sir.” 

Now that Derek is looking, he sees that the younger hunter can’t be older than eighteen. Definitely not twenty one. And the stink of alcohol is strong on him, which means he had to know at any moment this could turn suddenly, and resolutely, into a police matter. (The witch obviously isn’t a real cop, but the hunters don’t know that. They can’t smell the magic on him, like Derek can.)

“Put the guns away, boy,” says the older hunter, “We hold jurisdiction over magical law. Selling magical products without first acquiring a license from Hunter Corp. is prohibited, which makes this a hunter matter.” 

“I hold jurisdiction over the entire town,” the witch serves right back, “Which makes every matter mine.” He lifts the papers up then and hands them to Benny. “Your licenses, Benny. Beatrice dropped them by the station just this morning. Sorry to make you wait.” 

Benny’s mouth forms a small ‘o’ as he accepts the papers, but quickly recovers to a guise of playing along. “Thank you, officer. It’s already forgiven.” 

Smiling, the witch turns from Benny to the hunters, and his face falls to a frown. 

“Anything else, then?” 

The older hunter grits his teeth - Derek can hear the grinding from here, sending a shiver down his spine - before forcibly swallowing his pride. Though instead of responding he clasps the younger hunter on the neck and pulls him away, muttering angrily. 

“Thank you,” Benny is saying, coming around his booth table to shake the witch’s hand. “Oh, thank you!” 

The witch laughs humbly. “It’s no problem, Benny. Just don’t tell my dad - ”

“Mieczyslaw Stilinski!”

Mieczyslaw’s shoulders flinch up into a hunch as he slowly, obediently turns to address the booming voice. “Oh, dad,” he’s wincing, “Not the full name.” 

“Yes, the full name,” Mieczyslaw’s dad says, something about him… Off and when Derek looks again he realizes why. He’s wearing the exact same outfit his son had been wearing that morning. “What the hell did you do?”

Mieczyslaw has noticed the clothes now as well, and is wincing sheepishly. “Well, to be fair, this,” he gestures to his dad, “Wasn’t supposed to happen.” If possible, the look on his dad’s face becomes less placated. Mieczyslaw throws his hands up, “What! I’ve never done a borrowing spell before, I didn’t know it would swap our clothes instead!” 

His dad pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs deeply. “Just. Un-Stiles me. Please.” 

Derek isn’t sure what ‘stiles’ means, but the witch obliges in reverting their outfits back to their original wearer, all with a waggle of his fingers. 

His dad shifts to look down at his uniform, and that’s when Derek notices it - the sun gleaming off of it where it’s pinned to his chest. 

A sheriff badge. 

 

-

 

Derek has got to be out of his mind. 

Sure, he’s desperate - but stealing is one thing, stealing from a sheriff’s son feels like a whole other level of reckless. 

But does he have a choice? 

He only has till Halloween before he has to go meet Laura at their rendezvous point, and he’d already wasted a day tailing Mieczyslaw all over town. If he shows up empty handed - he’d have better luck if he doesn’t show up at all. Not to mention the fact that he found a witch at all is unfathomable. Could he find another one in time? He seriously doubtes it. 

He has to see this through. 

He follows Mieczyslaw back to the woods where he’d first seen him that morning, back through the magic doorway he carves out of the trees to where a sprawling farm estate is tucked deep within the forest. 

Derek finds himself a position along the treeline to wait, and to watch. 

For hours, the entire estate bustles with workers getting prepared for Halloween. Their excited chatter fills Derek in on everything he needs to know about this place: A secret, family owned, magically run pumpkin patch that only opens one day of the year. Halloween night. Apparently, the novelty of the experience has reached such heights that they receive visitors from all over the world, traveling to see the haunted hay bale rides and dancing pumpkin patches and corn mazes where animated scarecrows lurk around every corner, waiting to either trick, or treat. 

As he waits for the household to wind down and go to sleep, Derek passes the time by scoping out the forest in the area. It isn’t long until another thicket of trees cuts into his path, rerouting him back towards the wall. So he heads along it in the other direction and, to his astonishment, finds that the thicket remains a constant, impassable barrier all the way back around to the spot Mieczyslaw had opened a doorway that morning. Almost like the thicket isn’t a naturally occurring phenomenon at all. Curious now, he spends hours walking the entire length of the thicket in order to map it out in his mind’s eye. What he ends up with is an obtuse, triangular barrier entirely enclosing the Stilinski property. A property that sits directly up against The Wall. Which explains how he managed to end up inside the property line this morning.

He had fallen inside by accident. 

 

-

 

When Derek makes it back to the farm house, it’s deep in a restful slumber. 

He slinks across the yard towards the back porch, keeping low to the ground. He’d noticed while watching the house that they hadn’t locked the front door - the occupants of the house no doubt lulled by the complacency a magical barrier line must bring - and hopes he’ll have similar luck when he reaches with his wolf snout to latch onto the back door with his teeth.

A rush of relief washes through him when it relents, and cracks open under his pull.

Inside, Derek turns to close the door behind him, leaving it cracked a hair in case he needs an easy exit. The entire house is silent save for the hum of a dryer somewhere out of view, and the irregular snores and heavy breathing that comes from having a house full of sleeping people. Derek should know. It sounds the same back home, and he’s gotten good at blocking it out. 

Now, though, he focuses everything into broadening his hearing, listening for the slightest rustle or rousal. The house remains harmlessly dormant.  

Derek moves slowly through the narrow mudroom, up a step into the main level of the home. The only light is the moonlight streaming in through the living room window in slick slits, cutting over Derek’s creeping form. 

His claws clack rhythmically against the hardwood floor with each step he takes. He doesn’t even make it ten feet before he’s stopping short. Dammit. His claws are too loud. At this rate he’ll wake someone for sure. His eyes slip shut as he turns his focus now to his sense of smell, and tracks the vanilla-nutmeg scent of Mieczyslaw to his location in the house. 

There. The far left bedroom. 

Maybe, if the upstairs is carpeted - Derek takes another step in order to see the landing of the stairs and - nope. All wood. No way Derek is crossing an entire house of hardwood floor on four paws without getting caught. 

Gritting his teeth, Derek let’s out a deep sigh, and relents to his circumstances.

He shifts back into his skin. 

And doesn’t waste time. Entirely naked, Derek steps slowly along the floor and up the stairs, across the landing, down the hall, to pause at the closed door behind which Mieczyslaw’s heart beats in a deep slumber. 

Derek holds his breath when he enters the room, not daring to let it out until the door is closed back behind him. He moves through the shadows to the window and ever so slowly slides it open, securing another easy exit. 

And then he sees it. 

Tacked to the headboard above Mieczyslaw like a dream catcher is a virescent, aventurine crystal, hanging from a thin leather strap and glowing compulsively. 

Derek’s heart is in his throat because there’s only one reason a conduit should be active - but when his eyes leap to the mounds of blankets and pillows on the bed, he finds Mieczyslaw where he left him. Fast asleep.

His eyes return to the conduit. It pulses with luminosity, calling to him. 

Derek crosses the distance to it without feeling the time pass. He’s only a step away now and within grabbing distance. The air is wet with syrupy magic and Derek feels drunk on it. Or that might just be the jubilation swelling him to bursting. All he has to do is reach out and take it , and everything he and Laura have done would be worth it. 

He lifts his hand out - and Mieczyslaw’s eyes snap open. 

Their eyes meet.

He gasps. 

And Derek moves. 

He rips the conduit from the headboard and brings it up to latch between his teeth as he bolts across the room and launches himself through the window, shifting mid way to land on all fours on the lawn. 

Then he pistons off towards The Wall.

But it isn’t long before he hears thunderous footsteps following after him. He initially imagines the worst - a whole farm estate roused with torches and pitchforks - but in reality, there is only one pair of footsteps behind him. 

And they’re steadily catching up. 

Shit, he thinks, fuck. What kind of maniac is fast enough to keep up with him fully shifted? 

He shoves power into his legs and hurls himself through the forest in order to put distance between himself and his pursuer. Only then does he chance looking back, and stutters out of rhythm because - 

It’s Mieczyslaw, encased in a shimmering glow of magic, flying through the air like speed is a non factor. And with magic as a turbo boost, it is. 

But how is he casting? Derek’s mind rattles as his heartbeat pounds in his ears. He shouldn’t be able to cast without his conduit. Derek doesn’t have long to dwell on the mystery before a vice like ice is tangling around him and yanking him down

He hits the forest floor messily, skirting a good few feet before coming to a pitiful stop. Then the vice around him squeezes even tighter, and Derek feels the slick chill of magic coarse into him as it forces him out of his wolf form and back into his skin. 

The conduit falls from his mouth on a gasp.

The vice relents only enough to let him breathe. He does so, heavily. With his back against the cold forest floor he turns to watch his captor slowly approach. There’s a wariness to his steps, as if unsure about approaching Derek even though he’d overpowered him. Derek can work with that.

He maneuvers with what little wiggle space he has to bring his hands over and snatch up the fallen conduit. He encloses it tight in his hand and pulls himself to sitting using ab strength alone. 

Then he says, “Mieczyslaw.” And the witch comes to a dead stop. “I possess your conduit and your name. We both know it’s in your best interests to let me go,” Derek enunciates the last three words through gritted teeth. 

A moment stretches between them. And then Mieczyslaw begins to laugh. 

Derek’s grave features shatter into confusion while Mieczyslaw continues walking towards him, now completely devoid of any wariness he had had before. 

“Ok, first of all,” he says, “It’s ‘Stiles.’ No one calls me Mieczyslaw except my dad when I’m in trouble, or my babcia,” he rolls into an accent over the last word in a way bilinguals tend to when crossing languages in speech. It wouldn’t surprise Derek if Stiles were fluent in Polish, and all that thought serves in doing is unsettling him more. More languages means more spells means more power. “Although I am impressed by your correct pronunciation,” Stiles continues, “Most people give up after ‘Meecha’ or slur right to the ‘Swaff.’ Ya know. Easier for their anglo tongues.”

Derek grits his teeth in frustration. “How were you able to cast when I have your conduit?” 

“Oh, that’s the other thing. You don’t.” Stiles lifts his hand up to tug down the collar of his shirt, revealing a dermal piercing in the center of his sternum, shimmering brilliantly with power. His finger slips from his collar and the dermal conduit disappears back behind his T-shirt. “The one you stole belonged to my mom. It won’t be of any use to you,” his tone had flatlined to monotone, “She’s dead.” 

Derek’s eyes slide shut in resignation. It’s like that statement sucks the fight right out of him, because he’s right. A dead witch’s conduit might as well be a paper weight, for all the use it’ll do for him.

A moment passes before Stiles starts forward again. He bends and plucks his mother’s conduit from Derek’s enclosed hand, but draws up short when he sees that it’s glowing.

“What- ” his eyebrows crease. “What did you do to it?” 

“Nothing,” Derek defends, mouth pulling into a frown, “It was doing that when I took it.” 

Stiles just looks at him. Studying him. Eyes slowly narrowing like he thinks he’s lying. The hand holding his mother’s conduit drops to slide inside his pocket. And then he just stares down at Derek. Addressing him. 

“Why are you here, wolf? This close to The Wall, this close to Samhain? You must have a death wish.” 

“Just,” Derek’s eyes slip shut and he exhales heavily through his nostrils, “Just take me to the hunters.” 

A beat.

“Even I’m not that big of an asshole.” 

Derek’s eyes open. Stiles is looking at him differently now, sympathetically. He repeats, more calmly this time, “Why are you here?” 

Derek lets out a huff of bitter laughter. He can’t believe he’s been caught the first day into their mission. If Laura we’re here, she’d smack him. 

His head shakes absently, tone drenched in derision as he says, “Just searching for a miracle.” 

Stiles’ tone is mildly amused. “Those are in short supply these days.” 

Derek locks their gazes. “Then you already understand why I’m here.” 

It isn’t a secret what had happened to the werewolves, even if it didn’t make national news. People just stopped looking. Stopped caring. It’s hard to keep fighting when it’s for the losing side. And having a new hunter-elect president, the first in history, meant California was well within their rights to divide werewolf country from the rest of the state. And so they had. Pressing and bottling the werewolf population up along the southern coast all throughout construction before nailing the door closed the instant The Wall was complete. 

Stiles pulls on the thread of this insinuation and arrives at the correct answer. “You came from the other side of The Wall?” 

Derek’s jaw clenches. “Yes.” 

He contemplates telling him he hadn’t come alone, either. But that revelation could go one of two ways and both hinge on the one thing Derek can’t be sure of: Whether Stiles can be trusted. 

Stiles’ features flicker through a series of complicated emotions before hardening to stone. 

He tells Derek, “I’ll help you.” 

 

-

 

Stiles leads him to the far southern corner of the Stilinski property, where a tiny cabin sits on the edge of an empty clearing. It’s early, early morning, the sun only just beginning to sprinkle dusted light on the slumbering sky.

And Derek is still naked. 

In front of him, Stiles is unlocking the cabin door and shoving inside. 

Derek is here only because Stiles had made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Work on his family’s pumpkin patch through Halloween, and Stiles would lend Derek any magical aid he required. 

Apparently, that deal came with the expectation to stay in his family’s cattle cabin. 

“The cows aren’t in the pastures anymore,” Stiles tells him in explanation, though Derek doesn’t really feel it needs explaining, “We’ve already brought them home for Samhain. You’ll have the whole hillside to yourself.” 

Derek can’t find it in him to explain that he doesn’t need a cabin, he just needs to be able to turn back into his nice, warm, winter fur coat. But something in him, nestled deep, doesn’t wanted to come off as ungrateful. Besides, he has a niggling suspicion Stiles would want to see his transformation and that would feel more exposing to him than being naked. 

Stiles crosses the distance to a compact wood stove and kneels, opening the latch and throwing a couple blocks of wood inside from the pile stacked up beside it. He pulls a lighter from his hoodie pocket and lights the fire efficiently. 

Warm, burning light swells inside the tiny space. From Derek’s position by the door only the profile of Stiles’ face is visible, the brightest and closest point to the flame. He smiles, a small thing, as blazing as the light dancing across his face. 

Then he’s pushing himself up and turning to lock eyes with Derek. 

“The wood supply hasn’t been restocked much out here so you’ll only have a few hours of firelight,” he tells him, and begins moving forward, “And I won’t lie, I don’t know when the last time those blankets on the bed were washed. But it’s warm and insulated, so it’ll do until I can bring you some clothes in time for breakfast.”

Derek raises a single eyebrow. “Breakfast?”

“Oh, yeah,” a shit-eating grin spreads on Stiles’ face, “If my dad is gonna believe I found another worker last minute, he’ll need to meet you. And breakfast isn’t negotiable when you work for the Stilinski’s.” 

Derek’s eyebrows go from half raised to tightly scrunched. “Hell, no.” 

Stiles steps forward, so that only a foot of space separates them. “ Nonnegotiable,” he repeats with added emphasis. 

Derek’s smile is all teeth. “I’m not programmed for domesticity. I can’t promise I’ll behave.” 

The corner of Stiles’ mouth twitches. “I’ll keep you on a short leash, then.” He reaches around Derek, brushing against him as he opens the door and steps past him outside. He turns back to say over his shoulder, “I’ll be back at seven,” before shutting the door behind him.

 

-

 

Stiles is back and knocking on the cabin door at seven am on the dot. 

Derek groans from underneath the furs and blankets piled on top of him. He had just managed to fall asleep. He rolls himself out of bed, despite his tired body’s screaming objections on the matter, and over to yank the door open. 

Stiles is standing on the other side, heart giving off a trilling flutter - at the abruptness of Derek’s greeting, perhaps, but he also catches the tell-tale scent of smothered attraction - and reflexively holds out a pile of clothes, a spare pair of shoes balanced on top. 

He says, “Happy Halloween Eve!”

Their fingers brush when Derek reaches forward to accept the offering of clothes. His eyes feel hot and puffy from his lack of sleep. 

“That’s not a real thing,” Derek says, voice early-morning gruff. 

“It is in my world,” Stiles replies, “Which you’re about to be fully immersed into so how’s about you just let me be the captain? Hmm? Now get dressed, we’re late for breakfast.”

Derek grumbles and shuts the door. When he returns, he’s fully dressed, sporting the yellow tims, light jeans and henley, and the heavy corduroy wrangler, all smelling brand new from the store. He steps down from the cabin and shuts it behind him, tugging on the clothes somewhat self consciously.

Stiles, on the other hand, is beaming. “Everything fits! I totally guesstimated your size but I suppose I’m just that good.”

“You didn’t have to spend your money,” Derek says, a little lowly. 

Stiles makes a soft, amused noise, “Oh, I didn’t,” he says, and turns to lead them away from the cabin, “I used a borrowing spell.” 

 

-

 

The second Stiles opens the doors of his ranch style home he shoves Derek inside and bellows into the house, “New guy’s here!” 

It only takes seconds after that. 

Derek is swarmed by the full force of the Stilinski household. It takes everything in him not to force the entrapping crowd back with a throaty growl, instead succumbing to being carted across the house by going limp. His vision is filled with over a dozen faces, many of them with voices he recognizes from yesterday, greeting him and offering him biscuits and thanking him for helping on such short notice; and above it all, Stiles’ face in the background, smiling like a little shit. 

Derek somehow ends up in a seat at a grand table, where more food than his family sees in a year fills the table to bursting. Stiles slides into the seat across from him, looking like he’s enjoying this entirely too much. 

Derek’s eyes return back to the biscuits and gravy, the grits and bacon, the raspberry syrup and French toast, freshly squeezed orange juice, boysenberries dark as wine. If the sight of it all isn’t enough to ravage his stomach, the smell most definitely is. 

He doesn’t even realize a lull has fallen over the conversation until he feels Stiles nudge his boot with his from underneath the table. 

He looks up to see everyone staring at him. “Sorry,” he says after another expectant moment passes, “What did you say?” 

It’s the sheriff that speaks, from his seat at the head of the table. He’s giving him a look like his momentary paralysis over the food hadn’t gone unnoticed by him. “We just asked your name, son.” 

His name. Derek almost laughs. That’s the one advantage a person can have over any magic wielder - concealing their name. 

His head bows slightly. “Derek,” he says, and with it seals his fate to the Stilinski’s, “Derek Hale.” 

 

-

 

The sheriff grabs Derek’s shoulder to hold him back before he can step out onto the porch with the other workers. Derek watches them go, Stiles glancing subtly back at them. 

He turns to the sheriff, “Sir?” 

The sheriff has a funny look on his face, a little uncomfortable, as if feeling awkward about what he’s going to say. 

“Stiles told me where you came from,” he says, and indignation instantly ignites under Derek’s skin. He what ? But before he works himself into too much of a huff, the sheriff is continuing: “Now calm down. There’s no secrets under my roof, a rule you’ll soon come to learn if you intend to stay.” 

Derek’s eyes slip away, over to where the group of workers have reached the huge pumpkin patch. He can hear the trill of Stiles’ laughter from here. His head is tipped back to reveal the long, smooth expanse of his neck. 

He says, “I can’t stay.” 

The sheriff hums. “Maybe not, but whatever happens, do right by my family, and we’ll do right by you.” 

The truth of that declaration thrums in his heartbeat. 

 

-

 

They work on the pumpkin patch until the sky begins to darken. Derek, Stiles, Boyd, Isaac, Scott, and Jackson pull together and somehow muster up the energy to push through to the end.

Now, they stand at the front of the patch to admire their hard work, Derek stacking his hands atop the end of his propped up shovel. 

Every pumpkin stem clipped, all the clutter of nature like leaves and twigs tidied away to prepare the area for the guests arriving tomorrow night. They had set up tiers of hay for optimal picture taking and pumpkin displays, and staked a handful of scarecrows with jack o'lantern heads in random places 

The group of men breath heavily, chests heaving heartily. From a few men over, Derek tracks when Stiles lifts his shirt to wipe at the sweat on his forehead, eyes zeroing in on the defined v-cut leading down into his jeans. 

“I never want to see another pumpkin again,” says Scott, and Derek shakes his gaze away from Stiles, clearing his throat and standing straighter. 

Isaac claps Scott on the shoulder, “You do realize you’re scheduled to work the kiddie-patch tomorrow, right?” 

Scott groans while the others bubble into laughter and despite himself, Derek feels the corners of his mouth twitch as Isaac and Scott melt into a weak sort of play-wrestling, too tired for anything more rambunctious than that.

He feels a thrill at the back of his spine then, the itch of eyes on him, and when he follows it, his gaze locks with Stiles. 

The resulting pulse of arousal surprises Derek not because he couldn’t have guessed that Stiles was attracted to him, but because an echo of the same desire resounds deep and low in Derek’s abdomen. 

Oh, fuck. 

Derek is saved from Stiles’ arresting amber eyes when the back door of the house bursts open.

It draws all of their attention as Kira pops out and yells, “If you’re all done now, I could use some help with the pies!” 

Scott, Isaac, Boyd and Jackson are already up and moving towards the door before she finishes her sentence. That leaves Stiles and Derek, separated only by the space the four absent bodies left. 

Derek hasn’t felt this nervous around someone he’s found attractive since school. And even then, none of those kids had half the power Stiles does. It is like wanting to kiss a flickering flame. 

“If you don’t go” - there’s an almost demure element to the way Stiles avoids meeting Derek's gaze head on, slanting his eyes sideways instead - “She’ll just come out and fetch you herself.”

Derek says, “She’d have to catch me, first.”

Stiles’ eyes dance with delight. “You know she’s part kitsune? And grew up in these woods.” His eyebrows are raised, lips pulled into an easy smirk.  

Derek says, “I like those odds.” 

“Which ones?”

“The impossible kind.” 

The smile that draws out of Stiles feels like the best reward in the world, and Derek wants to earn it again, and again. 

 

-

 

Derek doesn’t go back to the cabin like he knows he should. Doesn’t distance himself from this benevolent, motley gang of people like he told himself he would. 

No. Instead he lets Stiles lead him across the yard through the back door up into the massive ranch-style kitchen. He lets Stiles pull him over to the large, square island that everyone is standing around - performing varying acts of pie making - and shoulder open a spot for them. Derek slides into the bar stool when directed, and Stiles makes a place for himself at his side, resting his forearms on the counter. 

Warm, easy chatter spills around the table between them all, the air spiced and sweet. 

Scott and Kira appear to be in charge of dough territory, the couple acting as the bright epicenter of the entire pie making operation: Scott expertly kneading the dough while Kira’s nimble hands cut stripes for the apple pies. Isaac is on Scott’s other side, hand mashing cherries, and Jackson’s behind him cutting and plopping apple slices into a pot Lydia is stirring over the stove. The scent wafting up from her brew brings that of cooked butter and vanilla, syrupy and cinnamon-tinged. Boyd is sitting besides Erica, the pair pressed close over their job of shelling nuts. The sheriff has the job of pressing the crusts into the pie pans, and does it with the help of a beautiful, middle-aged woman with kind eyes and a mother’s tone. Her black corkscrew hair bounces with her raucous laughter after the sheriff leans over to whisper something in her ear. 

Stiles leans over Derek’s chair in much the same manner, then, voice pitched into a private tone as his warm breath fans out over Derek’s ear, “What do you like?”

His hand is on the back of Derek’s chair, the warmth of his fingers there like a brand through Derek’s shirt. 

Heat surges into Derek from the point of contact and the unexpected question - but before Derek can splutter and say something unsalvageably stupid like ‘my teeth near your throat’ (which they are, with how close Stiles is leaning towards him) the true meaning of his question clicks into understanding. 

He forces his eyes away from the beauty marks scattered over Stiles’ jugular.

“Pumpkin,” he says, swallowing roughly. “Pumpkin is my favorite.” 

“Ha, ha!” Stiles throws a finger across the table. ”Hear that, Boyd? Looks like you’ll be calling me the Pumpkin King again tonight.” 

Boys huffs, clearly unintimidated.

“Wait, what is going on?” asks Derek.

Kira rolls her eyes. “They’re talking about the Genie Race, it’s something they put together a couple years ago after a… particularly memorable pie night.” Her snicker is joined by a few others, alluding to an inside joke Derek is missing.

Scott supplies, “No one likes making the pumpkin pies because they’re a pain in the ass.”

Kira hums, “So, they made a rule that whoever makes the pumpkin pies gets a head start during the race.”

Derek looks between Kira and Stiles, “Ok, but what is a Genie Race?”

“An imaginary competition Dumb and Dumber came up with to get out of a years worth of chores,” says Lydia, still stirring the pot on the stove, “The winner gets to ask the other for anything they want.” 

Stiles looks from Lydia back over to Boyd. He tells him, “If I’m Dumb, you’re Dumber.” 

The woman sitting beside the sheriff says to Stiles, “Since you’re making the pies with Derek this year, don’t you think he should get a head start, too?”

And that makes a mischievous smile spread across Boyd’s face. “Oh, this is gonna be interesting.” 

 

-

 

Hours later Derek is stepping up behind a line Scott had drawn in the dirt with his heel. Beside him, everyone but the sheriff and his lady friend are getting into position. The seriousness of their expressions emphasizes the seriousness of the first place prize.

Lydia had said the winner could ask for anything. 

A small, billowing thrill sweeps up Derek’s rib cage. 

Anything

Stiles is one person down, Scott separating them on Derek’s right and on his left, Boyd is pressing his foot into the dirt again and again to create a divot to find traction on.

“When you say the winner of the race can ask for anything, does that mean from anyone?” Derek asks Boyd, “How can you even be sure everyone will hold up their end of the bargain?” 

Boyd has gotten a good footing now, and crouches to place his fingertips to the ground. Derek follows suit, if only so that Boyd’s voice can remain low between them.

“This isn’t some IOU type of situation,” Boyd tells him, “When we say you can ask for anything, we mean: you can ask Stiles for anything.” His eyes slant to Derek, the implication left in the words unspoken. 

Derek fills them in for himself. “He uses his magic to grant the winner their wish?”

Boyd smiles. 

From the porch the Sheriff shouts, “Go!”  

Stiles and Derek take off down the lawn, the others not joining until five heartbeats later.

 

-

 

It’s only Stiles and Derek left now. 

They’ve long since surpassed the others but hadn’t stopped at the makeshift finish line they’d created, because up until that point, and even now, the two of them have held the other in a dead-lock tie.

The forest flies by around them. 

There’s no noise but the thunderous beat of their footsteps and heartbeats echoing off the trees. Derek doesn’t know where they’re going. Why they’re still running. What they’re trying to prove. But the farther Derek brings Stiles out from the farm, the more private and hidden their surroundings become, the more unhinged he begins to feel. 

The only plausible finish line they could be traveling towards now, is The Wall itself. Derek can smell the limestone before he sees it and when he does he’s able to finally, finally pull ahead. 

They burst from the trees into a clearing, The Wall shooting up to completely obliterate their view of anything else. Both of their hands reach out - 

Derek’s fingers make contact first. 

He collapses against the wall to recuperate while Stiles doubles over to rest his hands on his knees, breathing deep and fast, low-lidded eyes on Derek. 

Through his own heavy breathing, Derek’s smile is all wolf. 

He says, “I win.” 

 

-

 

“Just ask, then.” 

Stiles and Derek are mere feet apart. 

The forest is silent, and they’ve recovered their breathing, but the tension of the race still hangs heavy in the air. Derek’s entire body is thrumming from his victory, nothing, not even the vicious frustration radiating off of Stiles, could taint that. 

Derek swallows. “You don’t know what I want.” 

Stiles’ features sharpen and he takes three steps forward to force Derek’s back against The Wall, hand starred against Derek’s chest. Holding him there. His other hand tugs the collar of his shirt down to reveal his conduit, shimmering brilliantly like a tiny, entrapped star. 

“I knew what you wanted the moment you agreed to the race,” Stiles’ expression is all sharp, angry lines, “So just. Ask.” 

It would be so easy. Too easy. He could see it in his mind’s eye, exactly how it would go down. Derek would hold out his hand, palm up, and Stiles would place the conduit in the center, the long awaited reward. Derek would be able to find Laura. With a live conduit, they could move forward with their plan. 

And Derek would never see Stiles again. 

The thought shouldn’t tug on Derek’s chest in the way that it does yet here he is, unraveling underneath Stiles’ hand. He can ask for anything, but nothing he wants is his to take. 

Kiss me . The words burn on the back of his tongue.

“Cast for me,” he asks aloud. 

It is immediately clear that wasn’t the request Stiles had been expecting. Derek watches it crack open Stiles’ carefully cultivated facade, revealing a stunned expression underneath. He blinks a few times, mouth slightly parting. 

Derek wonders if he can feel his savage heartbeat under his palm. 

Then Stiles is straightening from where he’d unconsciously curved into Derek’s personal space, and retracting his touch entirely.

Derek tries not to fall out of his gravity. 

Their eye contact hasn’t broken since Derek declared his victory.

Stiles’ expression is twisting again, morphing back into something more recognizable; Impish and playful. His eyes, shadowed by the dark, spark in obedience to Derek’s request and swell with fire-bright magic.

 

 

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He says, voice soft as a whisper, “As you wish,” and magic pulses out from his center like a sonic wave. 

It knock’s a gasp out of Derek and his head tips back to watch the wave rip through the air. It ignites the dark and colors the air in a warm glow around them, splitting into wisp-like strands of copper set on fire. They twist in the air around Derek, skipping and chasing off the shadows and at the heart of the explosion, Stiles is a silhouette of molten lava. The radius of his blaze swells, enveloping him completely from sight, before finally reaching its culmination point and bursting like a popped bubble. The magic dissipates into the ground and the light quickly follows.

And sitting in the place Stiles had just been standing, is a red haired wolf with a glowing conduit on its chest. 

A noise of disbelief falls from Derek’s lips. The sight of Stiles this way electrifies the wolf in him to attention, completely, ravenously enthralled as Stiles rises and waltzes back and forth in a line, showing off his new form. 

He’s breathtakingly beautiful. 

Then he’s looking over his shoulder at Derek and tipping his head expectedly in his direction. The unspoken, I showed you mine, now you show me yours

Derek starts shirking out of his clothes before he can even think about it. Stiles turns fully towards him as he does, settling in to watch. A thrill of nerves race through Derek as he unzips his jeans. Stiles’ gaze feels like a physical thing wrapped around Derek, expectant and waiting. Derek knows it’s not his body Stiles is waiting to see, but his transformation. And it wouldn’t have mattered if it had been the other way around, nudity is a human taboo that most wolves don’t share. 

Transforming in front of another will always be the more intimate act. 

Derek removes the last article of his clothing and stands entirely naked before Stiles. It’s impossible to tell what Stiles is thinking behind that stoic wolf gaze. Derek shuts his eyes, and forces himself not to think. Transforming wasn’t something a werewolf commanded, but allowed to happen, giving domain over to the wolf in an act of mutual trust. 

As always, his transformation hits him like a punch to the gut. He curls over as his wolf thrums through his veins, hands coming to catch himself on the floor. Released from its restraints, Derek’s wolf unleashes into his body, latching on to every bone inside of him and laminating itself there to cook him into a different shape. 

His body contorts and compresses to comply with its will. 

When the transformation is complete, Stiles slowly rises to his feet and starts forward towards him. There’s an intensity in his wolf eyes as he regards Derek’s new form, encircling him so closely their furs brush. 

Then he comes around him and nips at his ear.

He springs away from Derek before he even has time to process what he’s done. If Derek didn’t have a snout, he’d be gawking at Stiles. Who is a handful of feet away, bending to lift and wag his tail in the air as a clear invitation to be chased. 

Desire floods Derek's system at the sight. 

This man will be the death of me , he thinks, and bounds after Stiles into the woods.

 

-

 

They run for miles.

When they approach the thicket of trees enclosed around the Stilinski property Stiles pulls ahead and a beam of light pulses from the conduit on his chest, peeling the trees back enough for them to leap through. 

The steady thump of their paws eventually sync up with one another and the cadence pounds through Derek like a drum. 

Everything is easier as a wolf. His thoughts fill only with simple desires and delights: The thrill of the chase; The smell of the grass beneath their feet; The joy of sharing this part of his world with Stiles.

They’ve been traveling north for a while - Derek wonders if they were to run through the night, if they could make it to Oregon by the morning - when they smack into a strong wall of sea-scented air. In front of him, Stiles veers sharply left to follow it. Derek had been enjoying himself so much he’d almost forgotten.

This is a chase. 

They break through the tree line and race right out onto the beach. Derek shoves forward with a reinvigorated eagerness and eats the distance between them with ease. Closer. Their feet pounding against the waterline. They’re so close now Derek could reach out and bite. 

And then Stiles’ heartbeat spikes into a rabbit-like pace, and Derek tips over the edge.

His teeth sink into Stiles’ neck and he brings them down

They hit the sand and tumble to a stop with Derek propped over Stiles. Yes . This is how it should always be, Stiles soft and pliant beneath him. A noise of pleasure and triumph rumbles through him as he drapes himself over Stiles, immersing him in his scent, preening proudly over his successful catch. 

His human side is slowly fading to white noise but it's the persistent, unignorable word that keeps repeating inside his head that finally makes him lose control.

Mate.

His teeth break skin, and Stiles cries out sharply.

It breaks Derek’s daze and in an instant he’s throwing himself away from Stiles and out of his wolf form, falling back onto the beach on his bare ass. 

In front of him Stiles scampers up onto his feet and after a pulse of light from his conduit, changes back into a human. He reaches up in a rather stunned manner to cup a hand around the bite mark on his neck. His fingers flinch initially on contact, and he makes a slick hissing sound. 

“You bit me,” he says, sounding more incredulous than angry. 

Actually, he doesn't sound angry at all. His eyes are a little wide and stunned, but when Derek searches his underlying scent, all he finds is soft surprise and - to Derek’s astonishment - a glowing ember of arousal. 

Stiles had liked it. 

“I’m sorry,” Derek manages, a little strained. They’re both watching the other, intently. Hungrily. “I got carried away.”

Stiles swallows thickly. The lower region of Derek’s abdomen throbs

And then a shrill ringing is piercing the air and obliterating the moment. Stiles scrambles to find it - having kept his clothes by help of his magic - and fishes his phone out of his back pocket. 

He looks at the screen and groans before holding it up to his ear. 

“Hey, daddio! What’s crackalackin’?” He winces as his dad immediately shoots into chewing him out. “I know, I’m sorry. Derek won the race and wished to go to the beach,” his eyes flick up and over to him, “Guess we didn’t have good enough reception until now.” His dad begins to say something else and Stiles hums along compliantly. “Affirmative,” he says, gaze flitting out over the lulling water, “We’re on our way back now.” 

 

-

 

Sheriff Stilinski sends the both of them to their respective beds the moment they arrive back at the farm.

“Are you two out of your minds?” He had hissed at them from the porch doorway as they slunk sheepishly across the yard. “We’re opening our gates to customers in seven hours and you bone-heads are out taking a midnight stroll?!” They had both reflexively begun to apologize before being shut down with a particularly authoritative thumb jab over his shoulder. 

“Get your ass inside,” he told Stiles, before turning to jab a finger at Derek, next, “And you, if I see you so much as yawn once tomorrow, I’ll send you to work at the kiddie-patch with Scott. Got it?” 

 

So here Derek is now, lying on his back in a bed that isn’t his, trying to fall asleep with a mind and body set ablaze. 

Derek hadn’t been lying when he told Stiles he’d gotten carried away in biting him. Because it hadn’t been something as simple as a bite at all. No, Derek, being the shitstorm magnet that he is, had lost control of his wolf and accidentally Marked Stiles in the process, an act akin to a marriage proposal in the eyes of his wolf.

Now, he won't be able to go anywhere without his wolf longing for Stiles like a lovesick puppy. 

Laura is going to fucking kill him.  

And even though Derek’s trying not to let it freak him out, he’s most definitely, one hundred percent, freaking the fuck out. There is really no other way to look at this situation other than the enormous inconvenience to the plan that it is.

Except, that isn’t entirely true. 

Because there is one scenario wherein the plan can still stay on track and he wouldn't have to sever his wolf’s half-baked mating bond.

Stiles could come with them. 

The thought makes Derek's entire body yearn. And that isn't the only new thing that has resulted from tonight - Derek, if he really focuses, can hear Stiles’ heartbeat across the miles separating them when he couldn’t before. His hearing is less excellent out of his wolf form, but it’s almost as if bonding to Stiles had opened him up to a direct line. He listens again now, honing in across the forest and pumpkin patch and cornfields and walls to the steady sound of Stiles’ heartbeat. And it’s like, up until that moment, Derek’s internal frequency had been off by just one notch, and now the static has finally cleared. 

His entire body just deflates into the bed. A deep, resounding calm washes through him, and he lets Stiles’ heartbeat lull him to sleep.

 

-

 

When Derek gets woken up the next morning by three resounding thumps on the cabin door, his first thought is that it’s Halloween. His second is that this is the last day he has with Stiles before he has to go meet Laura at their rendezvous point.

He rolls himself out of bed with more enthusiasm than his 3 hours of sleep should supply and over to yank the door open. It all rushes right back out of him when he sees Lydia and Jackson on the other side instead of Stiles. 

“Try to control your excitement,” Lydia deadpans. 

“Get dressed, loser,” Jackson says next, and lifts a seran-wrapped pie tin into view, “We have pies to deliver.” 

 

It takes until late afternoon to deliver the pies they made all across Beacon Hills. They had taken Stiles’ jeep as opposed to Jackson’s Porsche because of the difference in trunk space, and Jackson hadn’t stopped complaining about it the entire time. Lydia drove, because they 'Have a schedule to maintain,' which left Derek as the runner. (He’s convinced the only reason they brought him was so that neither of them had to socialize with the townsfolk. Not that Derek is much better. For most of the deliveries, he had dropped it on the welcome mat, rung the doorbell, and sprinted back to the car before anyone could even answer the door.)

By the time they finish and are pulling back onto the road to the farm, there are cars parked all the way up to the main exit, all along each side of the road, all belonging to customers who have arrived for the pumpkin patch. The exit leads to a sharp fork in the road, the path to the left, if taken, will lead back to town, and on the right - made impassable by a wall of trees on any other day - a cobblestone path has magically appeared, an arch over the entrance reading Stilinski’s Frightful Pumpkin Patch

Driving under the arch is like entering a new world.

The Stilinski farm on Halloween night is a far cry from its usual presence.

Derek can feel Stiles’ magical touch everywhere he looks: Huge spotlights shining out from behind the house up onto the clouds, the projected image of dancing, technicolor skeletons too lively and animated to be anything other than magic. Orange and green strobe lights traveling across the corn mazes and pumpkin patches in whimsical flurries and a live band playing somewhere out of sight, the bass thumping to a minor tempo.

Hundreds of cars line the road all the way up to the Stilinski’s front lawn where Lydia cranks the Jeep into park and promptly climbs out. Jackson and Derek quickly follow suit and when they step out onto the property, it’s to join the hundreds of other bodies already milling about from one activity to the next. Various booths have been set up in the front, offering candle-wax dipping or apple bobbing or even face painting, all being manned by different members of the Stilinski farm crew. 

Lydia and Jackson both disappear into the chaos, but Derek doesn’t care enough to keep track of them. He’s too busy listening for and following the steady heartbeat that’s been calling him since they parted last night. 

He passes the live-band he’d heard when driving up and is momentarily arrested by the sight before him. On stage, five hay-filled scarecrows are operating as the members of the band, all touched by Stiles’ hand in order to make them come to life. They dance and sing for an adoring crowd, which is made up of mostly little kids and toddlers. 

Past the band is the pumpkin patch, keeping in theme with the kid friendly section no doubt, and Derek can see kids and pumpkins alike bouncing around all the way back into the farthest reaches of the patch. A particularly pesky pumpkin is scuttling hurriedly away from a determined little girl nearby who is dressed as a Tyrannosaurus. She ends up having to dive forward in order to capture it. When she does, the pumpkin immediately stops fleeing - a finer detail of the spell Stiles had cast on them - and she thrusts it up into the air and unleashes a battle cry of victory. Scott, who looks like the most long-suffering cowboy in existence, congratulates her with saccharine enthusiasm and gently herds her over to get her picture taken on one of the nearby pumpkin tiers. 

From there, the trail of Stiles’ heartbeat leads Derek to the entrance of the corn maze, and this close, Derek doesn’t even need to hear anymore. He can smell that Stiles is somewhere inside. 

He enters without so much as a glance back, and it’s like stepping from a raucous party into the muted privacy of the bathroom, the same sensation. There isn’t anyone else inside the maze. Derek can hear it - perfect silence but for one heartbeat. 

Derek wonders if he cast a spell to keep people away. 

Derek is able to avoid the animated scarecrows waiting to jump out at unsuspecting guests just by following Stiles’ scent, and it occurs to him the longer and deeper he treks into the corn maze, that that fact might be intentional. If Stiles wanted to be chased, it made sense that he would pave a clear path. 

And it becomes even more obvious that’s what this is - when Derek finally comes within range of Stiles and he darts away - a chase. 

A slow smile spreads on Derek’s face, and then he’s launching after Stiles. 

Just like the other night, they race one another towards an undecided destination, not running to arrive at an end but for the simple, illicit thrill of chasing and being caught. Unlike the other night, Derek eats up the distance between them in seconds. And then he’s spotting Stiles, just a flash of him as he turns sharply around the next corner out of sight again. It happens this way with the next dozen corners, Stiles always remaining just out of sight, just out of reach. So the next corner they round on, Derek plows right through to knock directly into Stiles instead. 

They fall to the ground and Derek maneuvers so that he hits first and breaks Stiles’ fall. Stiles makes a soft noise against his chest on impact, and then presses himself up onto his forearms. 

“You absolute himbo,” he sounds delighted, and he has orange and red glitter on his cheeks, “You broke the most important rule of the chase.” 

Derek raises an eyebrow. “Which is?” 

“Never cut corners.” 

Derek chuckles warmly, holding him tighter against him with an arm draped over his lower back. He feels a soberness wash over him then, and says, “I seem to be breaking all of my rules for you, lately.” 

Stiles’ eyelashes flutter over low-lidded eyes, their faces growing infinitesimally closer as his gaze slides to Derek’s lips. 

“What you did to me at the beach,” Stiles starts, sounding like he’s working himself up to the words, “That wasn’t just -“

“No,” Derek’s voice comes out sandpaper rough, and he swallows, “That was - something else…”

Stiles’ eyebrows crease. He pushes up and away to sit beside Derek instead of on top of him. “And that something else is?” 

But Derek doesn’t know how to explain it in human terms without sounding like some over-possessive psychopath. He pushes himself up to sit as well, and opens his mouth, but no words come out. Derek is no stranger to rejection, but even just the thought of telling Stiles how he feels - what the mark actually, truly means - and not having those feelings reciprocated makes everything inside of him want to shrivel and die.

“Derek,” Stiles says, “You have to tell me. This mark…” he trails off as his hand comes up to cup over the spot Derek had bitten him, and just the sight of his fingers brushing it - to know that Stiles has touched it and felt the throb of it - makes Derek ache . “Ever since you gave it to me, I’ve felt…” Stiles’ hand comes back down and there’s a new intensity to him as he urges him, “Derek, I’m serious, you have to tell me because if I wake up as a werewolf one morning I swear to god I’ll kill you.”

And then Derek understands where Stiles’ thoughts have been, and he can’t help it. He laughs.

Stiles gives him a traitorous look and shoves at his chest. “It’s not funny! I spent the better half of this morning coming to terms with the prospect of growing a tail.” 

Derek composes himself, with effort. “Only an Alpha can turn a human into a werewolf. And do you see my pack anywhere around here?” 

“Well, duh,” Stiles rolls his eyes, “But then how else do you explain what’s been happening to me ever since?”

Derek’s brows crumple together. “What do you mean? What things?” It’s hard to tell in the dark, but it looks like Stiles is blushing. “Stiles, I can’t help you if you don’t tell me — “

“I can hear your heartbeat.” 

Derek’s words dry up in the back of his throat.

And Stiles keeps going, “After we got back last night, the entire time you walked back to the cabin, I could hear it. I could hear you. And it isn’t just that, it’s today while you were gone delivering pies - I thought I was going to go insane, Derek,” and he’s inching unconsciously closer to Derek, as if pulled by an invisible thread, “It was like I couldn’t breathe . Not until you were close enough for me to hear you again, and I - “ his eyes are wide and burning and it isn’t until that moment that Derek realizes Stiles is actually frightened. 

And why wouldn’t he be? Having grown up human, he of course wouldn’t have been taught about the physiological symptoms and reactions that come from a successfully reciprocated bond bite. 

But Derek had. 

He reaches out for Stiles, hand slipping underneath the collar of his shirt to spread his palm out over the mark. At once Stiles melts against him like honey, and just as sweet. They fold into one another and it settles every turbulent, messy feeling inside of Derek, as if just holding Stiles has fine-tuned his internal compass back to facing true north. 

Derek’s voice, when it comes, is no louder than a whisper. 

“I’m sorry,” the words burn as they pass Derek’s lips. “When I’m in my wolf skin it’s like I’m governed by an entirely different set of rules and sometimes I can’t always keep those instincts at bay. If I had known, I would have” - he trails off before he can finish that sentence. 

He would have, what? Not bitten Stiles? But Derek knew that wasn’t true. His wolf might have a mind of its own but it's still very much a part of him - the only reason he would accidentally mark anyone is if his wolf sensed something in Stiles that Derek wouldn’t have acted on. 

When he doesn’t resume talking Stiles lifts himself away enough to meet Derek’s eye. He says, “Tell me, please.”

Derek swallows thickly, and brushes his thumb over the slightly raised ridges of the bite-mark under his palm. “Where I come from,” he says lowly, “This is called a bond bite.”

He can feel the shiver rack down Stiles’ frame as he presses compulsively closer into the contact. “But what does it mean?”

Derek’s insides burn as he looks between Stiles’ eyes. “It means that my wolf chose you.”

That isn’t the answer Stiles had been expecting. Derek can feel the shock pulse from out of him, orange-rind scented. The sun has completely set now, leaving them with only the moonlight for visibility but Derek can see the understanding warping behind Stiles’ widening amber eyes, culminating into crystal-clear clarity.

And that’s when Derek hears it. From miles away, traveling a distance so far the sound arrives muffled: Laura’s beckoning howl. 

 

-

 

“Leave?” Stiles repeats, standing an arms length away from Derek, a distance measured in heartbeats. 

Derek can feel the dread winding around his insides like string. “I told you when we met I only had till Halloween.”

And it’s like mentioning their first meeting suddenly brings to attention the big, magical elephant standing between them now. 

“Right,” Stiles says eventually, too belated to not be strained, “Our deal.”

A miserable silence falls. They just stand there, staring at one another. Derek wants to ask Stiles what he’s thinking. Wants to ask him to come with him and to kiss him and to be his - but at this point Derek isn’t sure if that’s him, or his wolf talking. Isn’t sure there even is a difference, when it comes to Stiles. Derek has always been good at hiding his emotions, even sometimes from himself, but hidden in this moment of seclusion as they are, it becomes the easiest thing in the world for Derek to simply just let himself feel. 

“Come with me,” Derek urges, and Stiles’ eyes go wide. 

His voice is breathless, “What?”

Derek steps forward, feeling earnestly desperate. He takes Stiles’ hands in his and holds them to his chest. 

“I want you to come with me,” he says, reveling in the surprised noise Stiles makes, in the feel of his skin against Derek’s. “ I want you .”

Stiles’ breathing has heightened and he’s looking from Derek’s eyes to his mouth like he can’t decide where to focus, “Derek - “ and Derek can feel it - the billowing hope beneath his breast bone. Say yes , he thinks, say yes , and he’s moving impossibly closer and pressing in to taste that wicked mouth - “I can’t.” 

The words fan out over Derek’s lips.

Reality rushes back into Derek like an explosion in reverse, everything that had spilled out sucked back in and bottled up with a resounding and resolute POP

He drops Stiles’ hands like they’re burning him and hastily steps back out of Stiles’ space.

Stiles watches him go with a helpless look on his face. “I just -“ he starts, but Derek shakes his head to stop him. 

“You don’t need to explain,” Derek says, “I understand.” He forces himself to stay put, forces himself to look into Stiles’ eyes even though everything inside of him is screaming to shift and to turn and to run . One after another Derek can feel those places inside him closing back up. “Will you still honor our deal?” 

Stiles’ eyes swim with words unspoken, but the only one that leaves his mouth is, “Yes.”

Derek nods in concession and starts to turn. “Give me ten minutes, and I’ll come back for what I’m owed.”

 

-

Derek is inside the cabin and taking his wrangler and Tim’s off to leave on the bed when Stiles comes crashing in through the door. And by the look on his face, he’s furious. 

On top of that, Derek hadn’t heard his approach - he’d used magic to get here faster. 

“Alright listen here, douchebag, you absolute fucking asshole, I still have something I’d like to say to you.” Derek blinks dumbly at him from over his shoulder, still not even having time to turn fully around before Stiles is continuing. “Because you have some real nerve, alright? Some reeeeal fuckin’ cajones coming here and tangling yourself in my life and my magic and making it impossible for me to think about anything other than you and your stupid face” - now that they’re out of the dark and by the fire, Derek can see the light layer of mascara coating the tops of Stiles’ eyelashes, the orange glitter blush across his nose and cheeks, the lingering scent of aftershave and the proof of it in his smooth, creamy alabaster skin. There are beauty marks splattered along his jaw that lead down over his throat and into his shirt and Derek wants to follow it with his tongue, and Stiles is still chewing him out - “I mean, how could you do this to me?” His voice cracks on emotion and just that noise alone has Derek’s full attention swinging back to him.

He hadn't realized it, but he’s been moving closer to Stiles, infinitesimally so as the emotion in his voice builds, some deeply ingrained part of him wanting, needing to soothe. 

“Derek,” Stiles’ voice is agony, “You asked me to come with you but the truth is, I don’t have a choice. I can feel it - In my heart, I can feel it and just the thought of you leaving makes me want to die ” - 

Stiles’ voice breaks off as it crests into a bitten-off sob, teeth pressing hard lines into his bottom lip to hold the noise back, and Derek is there, swooping into Stiles' space and enveloping him in his embrace.

“I’m sorry,” he whispers urgently, pressing their foreheads together to try and leech his misery out through the contact, “Stiles, I’m so sorry.”

“Kiss me,” Stiles gasps, hands coming up to wrap around Derek’s wrists, “Derek, just kiss me.”

They collide like a nuclear detonation. 

Elation rips through Derek, spurring his wolf into an absolute frenzy at Stiles’ touch, Stiles’ smell, Stiles’ taste. Just Stiles , enveloping him whole. He makes the sweetest noise Derek has ever heard against his mouth and then there’s the hot, thrilling swipe of Stiles’ tongue against his. Derek falls against him, needing more, needing to press closer , and they hit the wall by the door, hard. 

A gasp hiccups out of Stiles’ mouth upon contact before he’s yanking Derek back in to recapture his mouth. Stiles’ magic spikes the air - the tell-tale scent of singed sage - and then Derek is the one with his back to the wall, Stiles an arm span away, holding him there like he had after the Genie Race.

He watches Derek with heavy, heady eyes. He looks intoxicated. He looks predatory. He tells Derek, as his eyes begin to glow with swelling magic, “You make me feel like I’m on fire .”

Derek’s head thumps back against the wall at those words, looking down his nose at Stiles. It feels like he’s too grand a sight, too bright to look at straight on. It feels too wonderful to believe - that Stiles might feel that way for him. The bond bite isn’t a compulsion, after all, Derek leaving one on Stiles wouldn’t have made him feel anything that wasn’t already there; it just makes whatever feelings it finds unignorable. 

“It’s the bond bite,” Derek swallows, “It won’t stop unless you either reject my mark, or reciprocate it.” 

Werewolves are often touted as the ‘least’ magical creature out there, due to their inability to cast, but the truth was that their magic simply presented itself in unusual ways. For witches or nymphs or faeries, magic is used as a tool to create or make up for what lacks. Werewolf magic comes from showing you what has always been there: The lie in a heartbeat; The sound of a sneaking footstep; The blistering hunger of two souls destined for one another. 

Stiles’ hand tightens where it’s clenched in the material of Derek’s shirt, his eyes shuttering closed as a shiver racks down his spine. His mouth drops open, just enough to let out a soft gasp, and then he’s forcing his eyes open through the daze. 

His voice is blended gravel. “Tell me how.”

Derek’s hand shakes as he reaches up to pull the collar of his shirt away from his neck, and then he angles it towards Stiles with an acquiescent tilt of his head. 

He doesn’t need to say the words. He sees the understanding in Stiles’ eyes, that clever, beautiful boy. 

Stiles draws his mouth to his neck like he’s just crawled out of the Sahara desert and Derek’s skin is his oasis. Sharp teeth pinch Derek’s skin and it unlocks every ridged bone in his body. He  goes limp under Stiles’ hands; Stiles pressing him to the wall. His teeth pierce Derek’s skin like biting into a ripe grape. 

The burst of euphoria comes like a white-hot crack of a whip. 

Derek’s gasp is mirrored by Stiles’ against his skin and without even thinking he’s pushing Stiles’ shirt off his shoulder to slot his teeth into the raw mark there.

They moan in mutual ecstasy. 

It escalates rapidly after that and between a moan and a breath Derek and Stiles are naked and coming together like North and South Pole magnets. 

Derek presses Stiles down onto the bed, firelight dancing over his skin as everything in Derek’s focus narrows down to the pliant body beneath him. His hand comes to rest over the junction of Stiles’ shoulder and neck, pulling his palm down, over the knobs of his collarbone and solid swell of his chest to the throbbing light of his conduit. It flutters when Derek brushes his thumb over it. 

“It’s like you have more of an effect on it than I do,” Stiles breathes. They’ve done little more than kiss and yet he looks utterly ravished. “I still can’t figure out how you got my mom’s crystal to light up again,” Derek’s wandering thumb comes up to brush over Stiles’ bottom lip, “It’s like she was trying to give me a sign about you.” 

Derek’s hand slides back down, fingers inching lower. “Or a warning.” 

Stiles’ skin goosebumps lightly under Derek’s hand and he hums absently at his soft sigh. “You’re not nearly as scary as you seem to think you are.” 

Derek lowers himself to press along Stiles, their noses almost touching, “You know practically nothing about me.” 

“I know that this,” he gives a little tilt of his head in gesture to Derek’s mark, “Makes us mates now, right?” 

Derek unconsciously grinds forward at the declaration, how easily Stiles is able to make it, but it’s nothing compared to the effect Stiles’ next words have on him: 

“And I know, have known from the first moment I saw you standing over my bed, that I want you to fuck me and make me yours.”

Derek crashes against him, kissing him with bruising intensity as he gets a hand around his knees and tips him back, spreading his legs and making a place for himself between Stiles’ thighs. 

“Yes,” Stiles is saying, reaching to wrap his warm, nimble fingers around Derek’s cock, leading him forward towards the place he’s hottest. 

“Stiles,” Derek gasps, “We need - ” and he starts to pull back because as much as he wants to give into his animalistic desire to slide inside Stiles without stopping or slowing, the reality of their anatomy betrays their unbridled desperation. They need time. They need lube

“We don’t.” Stiles is gasping beneath him and when Derek turns back his eyes are wicked and flickering like the fire. He winds a hand around Derek’s neck and pulls him down so their lips are touching when he breathes the word, a devastating enunciation, into his mouth: “Magic.”

And Stiles guides Derek into the overwhelming, slick heat of his body.

Derek thrusts impulsively forward, mouth dropping open obscenely wide, chasing Stiles’ intoxicating heat until his hip bones meet thigh and he’s entirely inside. The noise he makes is dangerous and throaty and guttural. Stiles’ wanton noises act as testament to his pleasure as he loops his legs around Derek’s ass and lower back and pulls him closer. 

“Fuck,” Stiles chokes out, “That feels so good - how do you feel so good?”

Derek becomes untamed after that. 

He shoves his face into Stiles’ neck and fucks forward with wild abandon, drawing filthy noises from Stiles and he savors each one before lifting his head to taste them. He captures Stiles pliant mouth in a wet, dragging kiss. Stiles throws his arms around his back and holds him closer - even though they’re already pressed together at every point of contact possible -  it’s not enough. Derek could share the same skin with Stiles, and it wouldn’t be close enough. 

“I’m gonna come,” Stiles whines, and Derek can feel his heels dig deeper into his back, “Oh, fuck, Derek - don’t stop, please don’t stop - “

Derek is holding on to his self control by the skin of his fingertips and Stiles’ moaning pleas completely obliterate that hold.

“Yes,” Derek rumbles, pleasure seeping through his lower abdomen like an oil spill set on fire. “ Stiles .”

And then Stiles is flipping them and bearing down to ride him with unrestrained intensity, and every thrust strikes sparks inside Derek, igniting him to bursting. 

“I’m coming,” Derek groans and Stiles’ hips stutter, mouth dropping and eyes rolling back as he joins Derek in the delicious fire of their twined pleasure, and they burn together in ecstasy. 

 

-

 

Later, when Stiles is lying peacefully against Derek’s chest, he brushes his thumb slowly against his collarbone and asks, “What does this mean for us, now?”

Derek thinks about Laura’s plan and their impending rendezvous and the battle heading for the citizens behind The Wall.

He tightens his hold on Stiles and presses his nose to his hair. “It means we fight. Together.” 

 

 - F I N -