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It's a Cruel World, but It's Cool

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Running along the stream in his gym shorts and sneakers, Scott comes to a gradual stop when he spots Stiles.

Whether Stiles feels his stare or not, he can’t decide. Even post-possession, Stiles has this air of knowing. It’s eerie and it makes Scott feel wrong-footed through every interaction he has with Stiles. 

Maybe Stiles hasn’t noticed him yet, but Scott knows what the curvature of Stiles’ back means. He’s faced away from Scott, situated on a small hill above the camping site. He’s watching the sunrise. His spine says there is salt in his wounds.

Starting up the incline to meet him, Scott wonders what it might be like inside Stiles’ head; he wishes he could brave that place alongside Stiles. He doesn’t know if he’d be of much use, of any help at all, but he still wishes he could stand beside Stiles in that dark place. 

Scott doesn’t know how to fix this and he’s really petrified that he can’t, so he never says anything about it at all.

Stiles turns his head slowly, eyes eventually catching Scott approaching from over his shoulder.

"Hey," Stiles greets without turning to face him.

Scott sits down next to him, “Hey.”

They both move their eyes to watch the sunrise and Stiles asks,

"So, you think this Pack Scouts trip is really gonna work?"

Scott smiles, “I’m really hoping so, yeah.”

"You got any goals set?"

"Mm," Scott sighs, leaning back on his palms in the grass, "A few. You?"

"My only real goal is to get Derek to eat a roasted marshmallow."

Scott cocks a brow at Stiles, who shrugs, smirking and says in way of explanation,

"I need to see him take in a transfat. At least once."

Scott chuckles and shakes his head fondly. 

"Dream big," Scott jokes.

Stiles smiles and they sit in companionable silence until Isaac is calling them from the site, demanding food.



Isaac grimaces at the water in concentration, only ever glancing up to watch Derek catch the fish with his bare hands. He tries every few minutes, but ends up growling in aggravation when they slip from his hold or manage to evade his grip altogether. Meanwhile, Derek has accumulated half a bucket full.

Scott is standing between Stiles and Kira, having caught one and still riding that high while Kira almost caught one (but was so freaked out by the texture of the fish in between her hands that she let go). Stiles goes after every one that comes within four feet of him and hasn’t even come close to capturing one.

His hair is dripping wet, his tongue sticking out in concentration is goofy and rather than just getting into his swim trunks, he’s rolled his pants up to an absurd extent. His thighs are pale and his legs are lanky, his fingers wiggle while he waits to pounce on the next fish.

Lydia watches from the side of the stream, looking intensely unhappy.

“Do you know how much fish poop you’re standing in?”

Scott looks to Stiles, as if for an estimate.

Stiles splashes him in the face.

Lydia rolls her eyes as Scott and Stiles and Kira dissolve into splashing and chuckling.

Isaac catches one fish while they’re play-fighting, which wiggles out of his hands and into the air. He catches it again, then again and again, arms climbing frantically higher before it jumps out at his face, smacking him on the nose before flopping back into the water.

Scott laughs so hard, he falls back into the stream.

Stiles is out of breath, looking flushed and wet when he looks at Derek, holding another fish.

“How do you even do that?”

Derek shrugs, tossing his twelfth fish into the bucket by the stream,

“You don’t aim for where they are, you aim for where they’re about to be. That’s the catch about moving targets; they’re moving.”

“The catch!” Stiles exclaims with a laugh, “Ha! I get it! Fish puns!”

Derek gives him a dry look, “I didn’t mean to make a fish pun.”

“Sure you didn’t, Der-bear,” Stiles winks.

The ire in Derek’s glare throws Stiles off for a second.

His smirk vanishes and he clears his throat nervously.

He turns to look at Lydia and crack some joke about Derek’s emotional constipation, but he only looks in time to see her retreating back.

Scott and Kira share a glance and Scott announces, “I’ll go get her.”

He follows after Lydia into her tent and Stiles keeps his eyes down, watching the fish swim by his legs.

“Here,” he hears Derek say.

He looks up and sees Derek crouched beside Isaac. He’s showing Isaac how to position his arms and Isaac looks so earnest, his expression open and attentive. Stiles knows that as much of a member of McCall Pack Isaac considers himself, he still craves Derek's approval. There is something innate about their interaction.

“You keep your hands and arms still and visible. They’ll approach out of curiosity. Whenever you feel like you can get both hands around one, come up from underneath the belly.”

Isaac nods and they wait a few minutes, Stiles and Kira watching closely.

When he catches one, he looks to Derek. Derek gives him this kind-of half smile and Isaac grins. He tosses the fish into the bucket and crouches in the water again.

When the second fish gets away from him, he sighs in aggravation. Derek runs his fingers up the spine of a fish passing him and he says quietly and with heaviness in his heart,

“You win some, you lose some.”

Isaac tilts his mouth in understanding and Derek rubs his back comfortingly. Then he stands up straight, shields his eyes from the bright sun beating down on them and he says,

“I’m going to go make sure Scott and Lydia are alright.”




“Where’s Big Red and Big Bad?” Stiles jokes.

Scott sighs exhaustedly, collapsing on the towel next to Stiles.

Kira is napping in the sun on Stiles’ other side and Isaac is sitting in the stream, catching and releasing fish. The summer heat is much lighter in the wake of the water, the air isn’t as stiff and humid as it is back in town.

“She really doesn’t want to be here,” Scott says sadly, “I can’t tell if it’s because she wants to be at home with all her comforts or if she’s mad at us. Or me. I don’t know.”

“So, is Derek taking her home?” Stiles asks.

Scott shakes his head and responds, “No, Derek came in and just told her to get her boots on because they were going to get fire wood.”

“Weird,” Stiles states, unsure of what else to say.

Scott shrugs and shuts his eyes.

“I don’t know,” he starts, “Maybe I’m just…really not good at this.”

Stiles isn’t sure what ‘this’ is and he doesn’t really want to ask when he knows their conversation isn’t private. He moves his eyes over the tiny black ants marching on the smooth, stream-beaten rocks and watches Isaac.

Isaac shows no signs of having been listening, only focusing on capturing and releasing.

Capturing and releasing, capturing and releasing. 



Lydia doesn’t sit with them longer than it takes to eat her dinner, and then she’s in her tent with the battery run lamp on and the zip up. Derek doesn’t do them any favors, grunting here and there in response to attempts at conversation; Scott is only able to engage Kira and Isaac over their summer assignments.

Stiles is a little too busy eating as much as humanly possible.

“Why are you so hungry?” Scott laughs.

“I want these fish’s ancestors to feel my wrath,” Stiles exclaims, punching his fist in the air, “I may not have been able to capture them myself, but I am the victor with opposable thumbs!”

Scott shakes his head and Kira giggles, “That’s the spirit!”

Eventually the moon rises high into the night sky and everyone heads off to their tents except for Isaac and Stiles.

The air isn’t tense, but it feels like it once was, or like it is supposed to be but neither have the energy to create it.

“I’m sorry,” Isaac breaks the silence.

“For what?” Stiles asks, sounding defensive.

“I’m not sure,” Isaac tells him honestly, watching the fire die, “I just am.”

Stiles watches the light flicker across Isaac’s face in silence.

Instead of replying to that, Stiles lets his jaw work, scratches at his neck that isn’t itchy and keeps his eyes focused on the fire.

Enough time passes that Stiles lets out a long exhale, flops down on his towel and rubs his belly, announcing,

“I am uncomfortably full.”

“You’re a lot of uncomfortable things,” Isaac insults him.

Stiles smirks and shuts his eyes.

“Shut up.” 




“No, my mother is Japanese and my father is Korean,” Kira corrects Stiles.

“Have you ever been to Japan?” Lydia interviews, distractedly clipping her cuticles.

“Yeah,” Kira answers, looking down at her own hands, “I was pretty young, but I do remember it. I was there for hanami.”

“What’s that?” Scott asks stretching his legs out on the picnic bench.

“Well, it means flower viewing, but people really only use it in regard to the cherry blossoms.” 

“Oh, seriously?” Stiles starts, smiling broadly, “Like, the ‘Cherry Blossom Festival’ that makes an appearance in every manga ever?”

Kira laughs and says, “Yes, that’d be the one.”

“I didn’t think it was a real thing,” Stiles admits, “I thought it was just an excuse to draw people in dramatic scenery.”

Lydia drinks from her water bottle and says blandly, “You would read manga.”

Stiles looks at her from across the rickety picnic table, half paying attention to the old, red painting he’s helping age peel away. He makes an affronted noise and tells her,

“I do read manga and I don’t get why that’s an insult. Manga is super cool.”

Lydia rolls her eyes and argues, “It’s not super cool to be a seventeen year old American boy who reads manga.”

“I didn’t realize there were gender and age restrictions on fun, sorry,” Stiles sasses.

He can see on Lydia’s face that she is struggling to understand why she is being combative. He sighs and tells them he’s going to go for a nap, letting Lydia off the hook for whatever mood she’s in.

As he’s passing their tents and headed to his own, he catches a glimpse of tan skin in the stream. He’s a few yards away from it, but the current is still loud and the babble is calming. He squints his eyes in the sun until he resolves to cover his eyes with the shade of his hand. When his eyes are able to focus again, he watches Derek emerge from the water, dripping and shimmering in the sun.

He’s at least naked to the waist, the slope of his shoulders is private, like something Stiles isn’t supposed to see. And he probably isn’t supposed to see this.

He watches anyway; he watches the lines of Derek’s back muscles move as his arms come up so he can run his hands through his hair and push it back. The tattoo warps a little with every movement and it’s a little hypnotizing.

When that back turns, Derek’s eyes find him instantly and his heart thumps.

He quickly turns into his tent, rubbing his hands together to try to erase the tingling he’s feeling all over. 




Scott goes on a walk with Kira after dinner, Lydia hides in her tent and Isaac falls asleep on his towel almost directly after overeating. The sky is dark purple, pink and orange. The sun is low and behind the line of trees, the only significant source of light coming from their campfire.

Stiles periodically lets his bare feet get close to the fire to warm his toes and then he draws them away when he overheats them. He glances up at Derek, sitting across the fire from him. Every curvature of Derek's face is painted with shadows and dancing lights. When Stiles stares too long, it steals his breath. He looks down at his knees and asks,

“What did you and Lydia talk about on your wood gathering trip to make her stay?”

Derek pokes the fire with a thick, ashy branch. A chunk of wood shifts and the fire climbs higher, grows brighter.

Derek’s eyelashes cast long shadows on his face, his eyes look preternaturally beautiful.

“That’s between me and her.”

Stiles chuckles, teasing lightheartedly, “It’s not like you tossed her into any hard surfaces and intimidated her into hanging, right? Not like I could picture you doing anything like that – that’d be so out of character.”

Derek sighs deeply and flashes his eyes up at Stiles.

Stiles’ expression wavers, his smile loosening until it falls away.

“How long are you going to keep this up?” Derek asks.

Stiles’ brows curve in.

“Keep what up?”

“This act.”

“What act?”

Derek glares at him and answers, “This act that you’re not drowning in suicidal hate.”

Stiles scowls and counters, “Don’t pretend like you know what I’m doing or what my head is like, Derek.”

“You’re right; I wouldn’t know anything about people using me as a weapon,” Derek sneers back readily, “No one’s ever forced me to Bite someone, no one’s ever forced my claws into a Beta – you’re right. I have no point of comparison.”

“Oh, shut up,” Stiles spits, sitting up straighter, heart thundering, “You have no idea what I – you don’t know me. Okay? Stop acting like you get me.”

“I don’t get you,” Derek says, “What I get is misery. I get hatred. I get wanting to die. I get punishment.”

Stiles watches the fire crackle in Derek’s eyes, watches the shadows bounce around his handsome face. He feels raw and frayed and transparent under Derek's steady gaze.

“I’m going to bed.”

He leaves Derek out there and stays up through the entire night in his tent.

He only sees the fire go out when the sun starts rising. 




“Poisonous,” Lydia deems.

Stiles sighs in frustration, tossing the berries over his shoulder and onto the ground.

“Those are also poisonous, Scott,” She warns.

Scott looks into his palm at the tiny pile of berries and then quickly brushes his hands together to get them off. He wipes his hands on his jeans and asks,

“Are there any around us that aren’t poisonous?”

She thinks about it briefly, examining all the surrounding bushes before telling him,

“No. But we do still have fruit in the cooler that’s good.”

Scott admits defeat with slumped shoulders and Kira pats his back sympathetically. He shuffles to follow Lydia back to camp, Kira walking close by his side.

Stiles is walking with distance between the front of the group (Lydia, Scott and Kira) and Isaac and Derek who walk a few yards behind him. He doesn’t mean to overhear it, but he hears Isaac ask,

“What was it like? Giving up the Alpha power?”

Derek makes some noncommittal noise, which Stiles wants to snort at, but he doesn’t want to give away that he’s eavesdropping. 

“Why did you let her leave?”

There’s a long pause and then Derek answers softly,

“She has her own Pack. I couldn’t insert myself.”

“Did you feel a tie to her?”

“No,” Derek replies sadly, “Not like that.”

“Hmm,” Isaac hums, “Will you see her again?”


That’s all there is to say, it seems, so Stiles goes back to minding his own business. A long few minutes pass and then Isaac asks, 

“Would you have gone with her if she’d asked?”

Stiles stares at his converse in the dirt and leaves, trying to keep his heartbeat tame, not really understanding why it wants to act up anyway.

Derek replies, “No. That’s not my family, not my Pack, not my home.”

There’s another pause and then Isaac must give Derek some kind of look or ask a question with his eyebrows that Stiles can’t see because Derek adds,

“I’ll find it someday.”

Guilt sinks like a heavy stone in Stiles’ stomach.

Because they aren’t Derek’s family or Pack or home and he knows he’s played his own part in making that reality. 




Stiles wanders out of his tent at around 3am, groggy and needing to pee. He’s headed toward the outhouse when he catches sight of someone on the top of the hill that overlooks the camp. He sees a small fire going and two profiles.

Red hair on one, broad shoulders on the other.

He really does try to smite the wave of jealousy that comes over him, but it swallows him up faster than he can control himself. He grumbles unpleasantly the entire walk to the outhouse and when he’s headed back to his tent, he stops to look at them again.

He sets his shoulders and jaw and starts up the hill towards them when his misplaced possessiveness is too much to sleep through.

As he’s approaching, he hears Derek say,

“No, Lyra is over there.”

“Oh,” Lydia starts curiously, “Where is Hercules then?”

Derek points up and describes, “There – those four bright stars that make that square shape? That’s Hercules.”

She nods and then Derek looks over his shoulder at Stiles. Lydia follows Derek’s motion and, for the first time in two weeks, she seems amiable. Stiles’ head is still ticking with envy, still sort of unsure of who he is jealous of in this situation.

The weight of all this unpleasant emotion cracks like ruptured cement in his chest when Derek pats the blanket and suggests,

“Come sit.”

Stiles doesn’t reply, a little too nervous about what he might say.

He walks around them and sits on the front of the blanket, his naked feet chilly.

Derek spreads his legs, slides his arms under Stiles’ and wraps them around Stiles’ front, tugging him back so that he’s not sitting on the edge of the blanket. He mutters in Stiles’ ear,

“This okay?”

Heart pounding in his chest, Stiles is very suddenly and clearly aware of who he was jealous of.

“Yeah,” he mumbles.

Derek picks up Stiles’ right arm and poses Stiles’ hand in his. He tells Stiles to point his finger and he uses Stiles’ hand like a compass, guiding it to point at a certain cluster of stars. He outlines a shape with their index fingers.

“That rhombus shaped thing?”

“Mm?” Stiles asks.

“That’s Aquila. Aquila was the eagle Zeus kept as a servant.”

“A cosmic eagle servant?” Stiles asks, “Kinda lame job for such a cool creature.”

Lydia huffs a laugh and Derek offers,

“He ate Prometheus’ liver for giving humans fire.”

Stiles smiles shyly, amazed by how soft Derek’s chest feels against his back; how it has made gentle the sharp thorns of his distrust.

He sort of expected Derek to be made of hard edges, rigid muscle — rocky almost. His flesh has give, though, his skin is satin against Stiles’, his hands are warm and his body is like a welcome fever. His breathing chest, rising and falling against Stiles’ shoulder blades makes Derek so human. That realization verges on unnerving for Stiles but falls short and lands somewhere between intimate and endearing.

“Okay, that’s pretty boss,” Stiles commends.

“Not more boss than Hercules,” Lydia inserts.

“Pfft!” Stiles brushes off, “Hercules-Shmercules, what’s he but a slab of muscle? We’re talking about a cosmic eagle deity here.”

“Pardon me, you uncultured swine,” Lydia starts haughtily, “But inside Hercules is M-thirteen which is a globular cluster of three hundred thousand stars, making it… let’s see… approximately three hundred thousand times cooler than Aquila.”

“That’s so unfair,” Stiles complains, gesturing at the entire sky, “I don’t know what’s up there! I didn’t realize we were going to be tested on star quantity!”

Derek snorts and says to both of them, “Just enjoy it.”

Stiles unconsciously leans back into Derek’s heat after a few minutes of calm and quiet stargazing. He turns his head, sleepily drawn to the warmth and sweet, masculine scent coming from the angle of Derek’s neck. He breathes in deeply, fatigued and eyes heavy-lidded. He must make some soft noise because Derek turns his head a little, stubble brushing Stiles’ face.

Stiles jumps when he realizes their faces are so close, wired and ready to get away, but then he feels Derek’s arms snaked around him again, finally realizing they never released him. He glances down at Derek’s arms enclosed in front of him, holding him up and close. He meets Derek’s eyes again and he’s never been within this proximity of them before.

They’re beautiful, Stiles thinks to himself.

They’re green and blue and grey, speckled with gold and they’ve such a nice shape and his brow gives them such character and his lashes are so long, so thick –

“I’m sorry for being an asshole, Stiles.”

He breaks his stare with Derek and looks to Lydia. She’s looking up at the sky, seems oblivious of them.

“I’ve… not been well. And I took it out on you the other day. I’m sorry.”

Stiles nods and then tells her,

“It’s okay. Thanks.”

She bobs her head once and then she stands up, brushes her pajama pants off and says,

“I’m going to bed now.”

She leans over them, kisses Stiles’ forehead and then kisses Derek’s cheek and says,

“Goodnight, boys.”

“Goodnight,” they answer in unison.

There’s definitely room enough now for Stiles to sit away from Derek, but Derek’s arms don’t move. He doesn’t feel like moving much either.

“Shooting star,” Derek whispers.

His breath is so close to Stiles’ ear, pleasurable chills run up his spine. He looks up at the sky and catches it as it disappears along the horizon. A few minutes pass and they see another.

Eventually Stiles’ eyes grow heavy, futile wishes spent and he falls asleep to the lullaby of Derek’s easy breath. 



“This is the worst,” Stiles whines, huffing.

Scott looks back at him and encourages, “Come on, Stiles! We’re almost to the top!”

“Hiking is devil worship, Scott.”

Scott snorts and turns back to hiking uphill. Isaac passes him and joins Kira and Lydia and Scott in front of him. He looks over his shoulder to make some joke about Derek going slow for him, but Derek’s eyes are too open for him to say anything insensitive. He ends up just quirking a brow at Derek and asking,

“You staying behind for me?”

“You always did for me,” Derek answers readily.

The hospital lights flicker inside Stiles’ head, the smell of chlorine tickling the inside of his nose. His heart skips and then he gracefully trips over a root.

Derek steadies him by the arm and asks,

“You okay?”

“Yeah,” Stiles answers, a little short of breath, “Yeah, I’m okay. I’m fine.”

Scott is delayed, but turns around and asks, “Stiles? Did you fall? Are you alright?”

Stiles waves a hand at him and calls back, “Yeah, no, I’m fine – I’m good, it’s all good.”

He looks up at Derek as the rest of the Pack gets further ahead. Once Stiles deems them a good distance away, he asks,

“I always did for you, huh?”

Derek nods and Stiles asks playfully,

“You willing to carry me back to camp after this?”

“I’d carry you anywhere.”

Stiles’ face heats up and he knows he’s probably red, he’s sweating and he can feel the heat traveling below his shirt collar.

“Jesus, Derek,” he says, starting towards Scott’s back, a few yards away.

Derek doesn’t say anything else for the rest of the hike, but after lunch, when they head back down toward camp, Stiles feels Derek watching him closely. Like he’s waiting to let Stiles know he’ll really carry him down. 




In the late afternoon, Isaac is laughing and accidentally calls Kira ‘Allison.’

Everything spirals downward. Rapidly.

Awkward silence permeates every space, Isaac says that he’s sorry to Kira, who tells him it’s alright, but it’s tense and strange. Stiles feels like he’s being blamed, like everyone’s eyes are on him even though no one is looking in his direction except for Derek.

And, strangely enough, Stiles doesn’t feel like Derek blames him.

They all hide until hunger demands their gathering around the fire.

Isaac keeps his head down and Kira tries meeting his eyes, but it’s a lost cause. Scott tries to maintain eye contact with everyone at some point, but it’s too heavy and he’s not sure what to say. Lydia is quiet, not looking disinterested, but rather dissociated.

Stiles meets Derek’s eyes over the fire and his brow is furrowed. He gazes into Stiles’ eyes for a long few beats and then speaks up.

“Alright, no one’s going to say anything?”

Isaac twitches and Scott looks up at Derek, lines under his eyes making him appear older than he really is.

Derek looks at him dangerously.

“Scott. This is your Pack. It’s time to talk about it.”

Scott makes a helpless sighing noise and mutters, “They don’t want to.”

“No, they wouldn’t,” Derek tells him impatiently, like that’s obvious, “That doesn’t mean they don’t have to.”

He gestures at Isaac and starts, “One Beta is in mourning and you haven’t addressed him about it. When you allow a Beta to believe their Alpha doesn’t care about what’s going on with them, they feel it and they keep feeling it until you prove to them otherwise.”

Then he gestures at Kira, “You haven’t given any boundaries to Kira, no one in your Pack knows where on the totem pole of power she stands.”

His hand moves to Lydia, “Lydia has lost her best friend," then he points to Scott, "and you’ve lost your first love.”

Then his arm sweeps toward Stiles, making Stiles’ heart thump loudly.

“And your best friend is teetering on the edge of reality, getting somewhere between five and ten hours of sleep a week and blaming himself for her death, while you stand around with your dick in your hand, not knowing what to do about it because ‘they don’t want to talk about it.’ Does that sound about right?”

Scott’s eyes flash when he looks at Derek,

“It’s not your job or your place to be telling me how to run my Pack.”

“That’d be true, if you were running your Pack at all,” Derek points out.

Scott stands, making Isaac glance up worriedly while Lydia stares into the fire and Stiles shoots up onto his feet. He scrambles and panics to say,

“He’s right, Scott.”

Scott looks to Stiles with betrayal written all over his face.

“I…” Stiles starts guiltily, “Allison would hate this.”

It’s like bricks dropping on Scott’s head, making him look heavy and hurt. Stiles swallows loudly and outstretches his arm toward everyone around the fire,

“She wouldn’t want us to sit here and not talk about the elephant in the room. She’d never let you get away with it.”

Scott looks down at his feet and to regain his attention, Stiles gestures at Derek and tells Scott,

“Derek doesn’t even know he’s Pack.”

Scott’s head twists up and Derek looks taken aback. Derek is busy staring wide-eyed at Stiles while Scott looks to him.

“Really, Derek?”

“Oh, Derek,” is the first thing Lydia has managed to say all day.

She stands up and walks between them all, wrapping her small arms around Derek’s waist. She’s crying and no one is sure when that started.

Derek’s hand comes to cradle the back of her head against his chest. He looks perplexed and Stiles’ heart wrenches.

“I really am bad at this, aren’t I?” Scott asks defeatedly.

Derek’s free hand comes to Scott’s shoulder and when Scott meets his eyes, Derek says,

“Your Betas are alive and well. Your Pack is ready to listen to you. They need direction. You need to take the wheel.”

Scott sits back down, prompting Stiles to sit down again and then Derek maneuvers himself and Lydia onto his blanket. Lydia sits up against him, eyes watery and frequently closed while she listens.

Scott sighs heavily and Kira places a gentle hand on his back.

“Alright,” Scott starts, looking into the fire, “Let’s talk about Allison.” 



The next few days are like learning to walk again.

Lydia cries into everyone’s shoulder at some point and she doesn’t have much to say other than, “I miss her,” and “I wasn’t ready.”

Scott has a lot of private one-on-one’s with Isaac, both never looking exactly comfortable afterward, but at least a little less sad, a little less torn at the corners.

Kira makes dinner for everyone and talks about how she’d like to stay, how she’d like to be part of the McCall Pack and, without being a Beta, she is somewhere within the ranks of Lydia. Something different, something powerful, part of the family.

Stiles smiles and hides his shaking hands whenever someone’s eyes land on him.

No one mentions the possession.

Around 2am one night, Stiles leaves his tent for fresh air. He sees Derek down the stream, his own fire made.

Stiles grabs the bag of jumbo marshmallows from the trunk of Scott’s car and two of the s’more spears. He runs off to meet Derek and smiles as he plops down onto the blanket next to the fire.

“Evening, Mr. Hale,” Stiles grins.

The moonlight is breaking between the motions of the stream, the babbling is particularly quiet and Derek’s eyes are humanly incandescent in the night. They are pale green this night, his eyelashes are clumped together wetly and his hair is pushed back. He’s crouching so that he’s shoulder-deep in the water.

His arm stretches out to Stiles and he requests, “Come here.”


“I need to ask you something.”

Stiles hesitates, but eventually disrobes down to his boxer-briefs and walks slowly into the water. He seethes as he gets in, because as warm as it is outside, the water is still very cold.

Once he gets his hair wet, his body acclimates, but it takes a few minutes of companionable silence. He meets Derek in the water and Derek grabs his hands, pulling Stiles toward him.

They crouch in the water together, facing each other and the fire crackles, the stars burn bright all across the sky above them. The contours of Derek’s face are unsettlingly beautiful, the water sluicing down his neck and glistening in his hair.

Derek’s eyes gaze into Stiles’, flickering back and forth a few times until he finally asks,

“Are you going to be okay?”

That’s all it takes for the floodgates to open.

Stiles’ eyes well up before he can stop them, a hot lump in his throat rises up and he has no ability to halt it. Before he can even try to answer, Derek’s arms come around him and pull him in tightly.

He shakes and cries into the hallow of Derek’s neck, trembling hands moving up Derek’s back to hold on.

“I – I’m sorry,” Stiles gasps against Derek’s collarbone, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Derek answers knowingly, “No one blames you.”

Stiles shakes his head and scrunches his eyes closed, “I do. I blame me. I – it should’ve been me – it was supposed to be me.”

“It wasn’t supposed to be any of you,” Derek corrects, “Something terrible happened. It wasn’t supposed to be anyone.”

Stiles' mask is shattering and he isn’t sure he can reassemble it. Every horrible thought he’s had for the last few months bubbles up to the surface and his mouth won’t stop moving.

“I have these dreams and – I – these memories – oh my God, Derek.”

Derek’s arms hold him more tightly, reminding him that he’s real, that he’s solid, that his feet are on the ground and he’s safe.

“Tell me.”

And Stiles does.

For an hour, he cries into Derek’s neck and shudders with fear and shame. He describes the graphic detail of his dreams and Derek nods through it; he talks about the sensory memories he has of the blood on his hands, of twisting the sword into Scott. Derek looks Stiles in the eye when Stiles will meet his stare and there’s no pity, no sympathy, no disturbance – just undiluted understanding.

He’s so present, it makes Stiles ache.

Once Stiles has exhausted himself, he leans his weight on Derek’s front and Derek holds him up, letting him relax, muscles comfortably weak.

“Come on,” Derek encourages, pointing with his chin toward the fire and blanket, “Let’s get dry.”

They end up lying on the blanket, on their stomachs that they stuff with burnt marshmallows. Derek waits til his marshmallows catch fire and he lets them burn for a while before blowing them out. When Stiles gives him a strange look for it, he explains that he likes the flavor of burnt sugar.

Stiles is taking secret pleasure in watching Derek eat junk food when he asks,


“Tastes like you smell,” Derek answers.

Stiles’ eyes are round and white when he looks at Derek.

Derek doesn’t look back at him at first; only takes his marshmallow in one bite.

Derek’s eyes eventually slide to him, eyelashes still a little clumped, hair drying and occasionally dripping onto his nose.

He looks perfect.

Like a sunrise.

Naturally, unknowably, beautifully unattainable.

“I smell like burnt sugar?”

Derek nods, holding another marshmallow in the fire.

“It’s a good scent.”

Stiles smiles down at his hands for a beat and then he’s overcome with a sense of loneliness. He feels Derek’s eyes move onto him and he knows he must be giving off vibes or smells. He doesn't really feel inclined to lie anymore either.


“You,” Derek says when Stiles trails off.

Stiles looks into the fire and confesses,

“I’m terrified I’ll be alone.”

Derek doesn’t reply, the want for further explanation plain in the air, so Stiles adds,

“I mean… who would choose this? Who would choose me? I’m all… fucked up, I’m all damaged and maybe – maybe someone would have some kind of aneurism and choose me, but love isn’t like a one-time deal, you know? When you decide to spend your life with someone, you choose that someone every day of your life, over and over and who would do that? Choose me forever? Choose me once, twice – hell, fifty times, a hundred times maybe… but no one would choose me everyday. Not the way I am, not like this fucked up, miserable – “

“I would.”

Stiles snaps his head to Derek and Derek is gazing seriously at him, his thumb between his lips where he’s scraping off some melted marshmallow with his teeth.

Stiles doesn’t say anything, too shocked to make a noise and Derek repeats,

“I would choose you everyday.”

All Stiles can hear over the drumming of his heart in his ears is the crackling of the fire. Derek moves in gently, kissing him gingerly, like he doesn’t want to spook Stiles.

Stiles melts against Derek’s lips, no way to combat how right it feels.

He brings his hand up to Derek’s cheek and gives more pressure to his kiss, and Stiles is struck with reality.

Derek is kissing him.

Derek is kissing him.

His fingers curl a little, a ticklish feeling in his palm where there had been certainty. Derek’s hand comes over his and holds him there, as if he could read Stiles’ mind.

When the kiss breaks, Stiles looks into Derek’s eyes, searching for something that will make sense of it all.

There’s only an insurmountable tide of affection there.

“Derek,” Stiles manages to utter.

Derek moves on top of him, naked besides his sweatpants, looking focused on Stiles. The weight of Derek’s admiration is heavy, it makes Stiles feel special and that’s not something he was prepared for.

Derek kisses him again and Stiles kisses him back more ardently, his hands coming up to comb through his semi-wet hair. He arches his back to get closer to Derek, wanting to be held again, but unable to say so with Derek’s tongue preoccupying his own.

When Derek pulls away to give them a moment to breathe, he asks in a gruff voice,

“What do you want?”

Stiles’ breath is shaky, the experience is surreal, but Derek is so solid, so hot against him, so true that his anxiety can’t live long enough to ruin the moment. He looks and feels helpless for a few seconds, until he somehow gets the words out,

“I – just make me feel real.”

Derek nods and then he drops his weight against Stiles, their hips lining up. Stiles makes a small gasp, unprepared for how good Derek’s body would feel on him. He meets Derek’s gaze again and it’s so loving, it twists Stiles up inside.

It makes him wonder if he won’t be alone at the end of this.

“You can touch me,” Derek replies to the question Stiles can’t seem to ask.

Stiles’ long fingers trail up Derek’s arms, touch at his chest and shoulders, try to grow familiar with the territory as Derek dips back in to kiss him again.

As it turns out, Stiles loves the prickle of stubble. It adds this bite to what might be too dreamlike for him to feel comfortable with otherwise. It gets his blood flowing south.

When the outline of Derek’s hardening cock rubs against his, all of his blood flows down his body, leaving his head feathery light.

“Hooo – God,” Stiles moans on an exhale, biting his bottom lip.

Derek’s full lips smile against his, bedroom eyes flickering between Stiles’ own.

“Let me undress you.”

Stiles only has the ability to nod vehemently, any higher brain functions decimated in the wake of how gravelly Derek’s voice sounds.

Stiles is far too distracted with Derek’s mouth to pay attention to how he winds up naked beneath Derek. Once he is, though, Derek kisses down his jaw, biting and pulling on his earlobe.

He sucks marks into Stiles’ neck while he runs his hands up and down Stiles’ sides, thumbs brushing over his nipples and making him arch. Without saying anything cohesive, Stiles makes a lot of noise against Derek’s lips.

“Derek,” Stiles gasps while Derek is making a particularly dark mark on just the right spot of his neck.

“Mm,” Derek vibrates against his skin.

“I want you to be naked.”

Derek doesn’t hesitate pulling down his sweats, quickly returning to Stiles’ skin.

He kisses the round of Stiles’ shoulders, down his arms, along his wrists and palms and each finger. He kisses constellations on Stiles’ chest, licking and sucking on his nipples to make him writhe and thrust up.

He kisses Stiles’ ribs, rubs his hands up and down Stiles’ torso, settling on his thighs as he runs his nose through the hair below Stiles’ belly button. 

Stiles looks down at himself, sees all the shine of saliva and pink marks lasting where Derek nibbled or sucked on his skin. His cock throbs, heavy and full against his abdomen. 

Derek nears it, his lips parted and moist, but he avoids it and kisses the incline of Stiles’ hips, bites into his inner thighs gently, breathes in deeply at the wiry hair around his cock.

Derek,” Stiles whines.

Derek growls against him and Stiles feels it travel up his entire body.

Derek’s hands slip under him, grabbing at his ass and dragging him forward. While his hands continue to pet all over Stiles’ sides and back, Derek runs his nose along the underside of his cock, breathing in his scent.

When he opens his eyes, Stiles sees how dilated they are and it thrills him.

"Derek," he mutters shakily.

Derek answers by licking at the bead of precum that has gathered at the head of his cock. His cocks twitches and he gasps, every nerve sensitive and eager. Derek smirks and licks a wide stripe up Stiles’ cock with the flat of his tongue, leaving warm slaver in its wake. 

Stiles throws his head back and shuts his eyes, because if he watches Derek do this to him, he’ll bust within thirty seconds.

"Stiles," he mumbles, lips kiss-swollen against the side of Stiles’ length.

He swallows, back arched and already dripping more precum. Derek takes him into his mouth and Stiles’ breath hitches. His hands grip at Derek’s hair, fingers massaging at his scalp and scrambling whenever Derek’s tongue twists around the head of his cock.

"Oh, God - Derek - I’m not gonna last long," Stiles warns.

Derek hums agreeably, like he’s excited for it and Stiles moans, brows inclined like he’s in pain.

There’s stubble burn all down his chest and stomach, dark hickeys on his neck and collarbone, he’s sweating by the light of the fire and he must look debauched. He feels debauched. 

Derek’s hands are so grounding and he understands now what it means to have an anchor.

"Ah, Derek, God, Derek," Stiles warns, a familiar sensation building at the base of his spine, "Derek, I’m close."

Derek slides his mouth off Stiles, leaving it glistening and coated. It throbs when Stiles sees it.

"Can I eat you?"

Stiles’ brain is so offline that he thinks for a split second that Derek is asking to kill him — and if he were honest, he’d admit that he would let Derek kill him for asking him with a fucked out voice like that.

He’s pretty sure he nods or says yes, he’s not sure, his whole body is tingling excitedly and he’s right on the edge of a magnificent orgasm that’s fuzzing up all the clarity he once had.

Whatever he does, Derek gets the point and then he’s flipped over with his ass in the air, hands above his head, gripping the blanket. Derek kisses his shoulders, all down his back, bites playfully into his cheeks and then spreads them with his palms. 

If Stiles thought he liked Derek’s stubble burn on his face and neck, he had no idea what he was talking about.

Derek’s stubble burn has given him a shiny new obsession.

The flat of his tongue runs over Stiles’ hole, rushing sensation up Stiles' entire body, making his toes curl, his legs shake. Derek’s hand comes up from beneath him, gripping Stiles’ length. Stiles’ cock is still so slick with drool, Derek’s hand slides up and down easily. 

Stiles gasps and moans loudly, moving his body back towards Derek’s mouth and then thrusting into Derek’s fist. He makes a string of rough vowel sounds until he’s muttering frantically,

"Oh, God, Derek — Derek, Derek — gonna come — gonna come — "

And then he’s spilling over Derek’s hand, shaking and tensing and arching. 

His vision whites out around the corners, his pulse is hard and loud in his head as he comes down from it and his ears are ringing loudly. He falls against the blanket when Derek pushes down on his lower back.

He’s about to ask what Derek will let him do for his pleasure and then he feels the dull and heavy head of Derek’s cock against his ass. He gasps, a dangerous and excited thrill running through him. Derek thrusts there a few times, leaning over him, biting into the side of his neck with human teeth.

The head of his cock catches bluntly on Stiles’ slippery skin, making them both moan. Stiles can hear how broken his own voice sounds when he says,

"God, can’t wait for you to fuck me."

Then Derek makes this spectacularly beautiful groan, comes between Stiles’ cheeks and bites possessively into his skin.

When Derek lies down against him, Stiles becomes aware of the aching that’s coming from all over. There are bruises developing where Derek’s fingers had pressed into him, hickeys where Derek had sucked into his skin, soreness where Derek nibbled and bit and pushed and thrust over. 

Stiles wants to feel like this every day of his life.

"Derek," Stiles sighs.

"Mm," Derek answers, voice rumbling from his chest against Stiles’ naked back.

"You didn’t… I mean, that wasn’t… you didn’t do that just to fuck my pain away, right?"

"I did that because I’m in love with you."

Stiles tenses and Derek noses along his hairline.

"I don’t need you to say it back."

Stiles’ heart hammers and something pleasant is ignited inside him.

Something like hope.

He turns over and wraps his arms around Derek’s neck. He kisses the corners of Derek’s mouth that’s swollen and slack. He kisses Derek’s nose and above his eyebrow. He kisses the corner of Derek’s eyes and both his cheeks and then lowers his head back down onto the blanket.

"Hey, Derek?"


"The universe is a massive collision of random events that I have no control over and it gives me an existential crisis at least twice a week."

Derek quirks a brow at Stiles and then Stiles smiles with a weightlessness he hasn’t felt since before Scott was Turned.

"I’m… I don’t know, I just… I’m really glad you’re in it and that you collided into me."

Derek smiles and touches their foreheads together.

"Me too."




"Alright, we all have everything?" Scott asks, looking around at where the tents have just been taken down.

Derek’s car trunk is open with suitcases and coolers stuffed in and Scott’s is in a similar way. 

Kira stands beside Scott and Isaac and Lydia gravitates toward where Derek and Stiles are standing together. Scott smirks knowingly and asks,

"You riding with Derek for the drive home?"

Stiles feels his face get hot and he answers, “Uhm, yeah.”

Scott grins and nods, because Stiles has color in his face again and slept for nine hours straight. Lydia climbs into the car and announces that she will be in charge of the music because Derek and Stiles both have inadequate taste. They shrug to each other and after Lydia falls asleep two hours into the drive home, Derek reaches over the gear shift and twines his fingers with Stiles’.

Stiles moves his gaze from the passing freeway to look at Derek’s profile. He smiles, because despite everything broken and wrong in the world, he has this.

He has Derek and that’s enough.