One moment stretched into several, into whole minutes. Derek knelt in cold water, Boyd's blood dripping from his fingers. Cora sobbed, cradling Boyd's head in her lap, and it wrenched at Stiles' heart.
Lydia took charge, calling Scott first (Deaton was okay), then interrogating Isaac about the water and how they could get rid of it (there was a water pump in the basement and they could divert the water into the downpipe from the roof), and finally she turned to Stiles, who had been standing with Derek all this time, waiting for him to stop shaking, to stop staring at his hands, to come back to life and be okay.
He really wasn't okay.
"Allison will be here soon to take her home," Lydia said.
"Who?" Stiles blinked at her.
"Ms Blake. Strangely enough, the alpha pack didn't organise a cab for her. And-" Lydia lowered her voice. "-there's things we need to talk about that she can't hear. Things we need to do."
Ms Blake. Ms Blake who had been used as leverage because, for some reason, Derek cared about her. And Kali knew he cared about her. Stiles hadn't even begun to untangle that little parcel of information.
"I can't talk to her," Derek whispered. "I can't. Tell her?"
Stiles patted his shoulder. "You heard the man," he told Lydia. "He's in shock. Tell her he'll call her when he's less in shock, okay?"
"Okay," said Lydia, reluctantly. She gave Derek a long, appraising look. "I think he actually is in shock. You should keep him warm and quiet. I'll take Ms Blake down to wait for Allison. Scott's on his way. I'll be back in a few minutes."
Stiles watched Lydia paddle her way back to the door, shoes held in one hand, phone in the other. She spoke softly to Ms Blake, who gave one last longing look in Derek's direction before she meekly followed Lydia out of the loft.
Stiles was surprised that she went. Not only because clearly there was something between her and Derek - and Stiles was really looking forward to finding out more about that when Derek was back in the land of the communicating - but because, despite witnessing a bare-claw werewolf fight, she seemed perfectly okay with leaving a bunch of teenagers, many of them her students, in charge of a dead body and a murder scene. He wondered why she hadn't suggested they call the police. Perhaps she was too shocked, too frightened. Perhaps she assumed someone else had. Or perhaps there was another reason altogether.
"Stiles," Derek whispered. "Get them all out of here."
Stiles helped him slowly to his feet. "I can't, Derek. Not yet. There's things that have to be done."
"But I can't. I can't."
Stiles had never seen him look so helpless, so lost.
"Okay," said Stiles. "We need to get you warm. Hey, Cora, are there some blankets somewhere?"
"I don't know," said Cora, who had carried Boyd's body to the raised platform near the stairs and was arranging him there, zipping up his jacket over the blood and the gore. "They moved everything."
"Take him to the bathroom," said Isaac. "There's a heater in there. Try not to fall over the sandbags on the other side of the door."
"Great, thanks. Right. Come on, big guy. Let's get you out of here."
Derek got unsteadily to his feet and let Stiles steer him to the bathroom, water sloshing in their wake.
Derek's bathroom was, like the rest of the loft, basic and functional with the occasional mark of surprising luxury. There was no tub, but the shower was the big, rainfall kind. The sink and toilet were old-fashioned white ceramic, with unpolished brass fixings. Two toothbrushes, one blue, one pink, one tube of toothpaste, floss, a big soap dispenser, two wet razors, one blue, one pink, and a laundry basket made of steel mesh.
Derek stood in the middle of the room as if he had no idea what to do, shivering helplessly.
"Okay, Derek. We need to get you out out of those clothes and into the shower. Can you do that?"
Derek looked from Stiles to the shower and back again, and then slowly and methodically set about undressing himself. Stiles had seen Derek naked before, but now he looked away, feigning fascination with the shower controls. The last time Derek had stripped for him there had been flirting and blow jobs and rolling around on Derek's bed, and a hickey on Stiles' shoulder that hadn't faded for a week. The time before that had been the first time - the very first time, for everything, for Stiles - and it had been so exciting, in so many interesting, satisfying, mildly embarrassing and strangely platonic ways.
This was different. This was pain and loss and not coping, and Derek was so far away from the real world that Stiles didn't know how to bring him back. All he could do, for now, was to try to keep him warm.
Stiles turned the shower on and fiddled with the dials until it ran good and hot. Derek stepped under the spray, leaned back against the tiles and slid all the way down, until he was sitting on the floor. His forehead crashed down to his knees, and he began to sob.
"Shit," murmured Stiles, because there was something unbelievably wrong about Derek crying, and he didn't know what to do about it. If it had been Scott, he would have thought it a good sign, the emotions working through, cleansing, healing - but in Derek, it just sounded as though he was breaking apart.
Unsure of how else to reach him, Stiles sat next to Derek in the big, expensive shower, and waited. He kept close, his body touching Derek's from shoulder to hip, his skinny leg falling naturally against Derek's muscly one. Slowly, he reached out and took Derek's hand, the last of Boyd's blood pressed between their palms.
After what felt like a long, long time, Derek raised his head.
"Stiles?" he croaked.
Stiles squeezed Derek's hand. "Yeah?"
"Your clothes are all wet."
Stiles looked down at his jeans, and sure enough, he was soaked. It hadn't even occurred to him to pause to undress. "You've got a dryer, right? Otherwise it's going to be a very naked walk of shame for Stiles."
Derek managed a weak smile, and nodded. "I have a dryer."
"Well, that's a relief. Also, excellent shower. If we'd been at my house it would have run cold by now."
"Heats its own water," said Derek.
"Ingenious." Stiles watched Derek carefully for a few moments. He wasn't shaking anymore, and the tears had stopped. He looked hopelessly sad and very, very tired. "You okay there, big guy?"
"Well, I guess that's to be expected. Can you stand?"
Derek got to his feet, his hand slipping from Stiles' as he turned and braced himself against the tiles. In a wildly inappropriate moment Stiles couldn't help but register how beautiful Derek was, the water running in streams over his gorgeous muscles and golden skin, glistening in his hair.
Stiles forced himself to look away and stripped off his wet clothes, which was so unpleasant it thankfully rid him of any outward sign of arousal. The last thing he wanted right now was for Derek to think he was coming on to him in his hour of need.
Stiles reached for the shower gel and squeezed a generous blurt of it into his hand. Then he began to soap Derek down. He expected Derek to put up a fight about that but he didn't; he stood there and let Stiles wash his back, his legs, his arms, his chest without a single word of protest. Finally Stiles pulled Derek's hands away from the wall, and smothered them with gel, scrubbing each fingertip, his thumbs massaging into Derek's palms. And while he did it he talked, telling Derek about Deaton, how for the first time they had actually saved someone from being sacrificed, about the tulleric currents, the science of the magic under Beacon Hills, and talking of magic, he'd been thinking a lot about energy and mountain ash and did everyone have a spark of something or was it special?
"You're special," said Derek, and took his hands away, balling them into fists.
Stiles' stomach fluttered. "Really?"
Derek didn't answer, staring at his now scrubbed-clean hands, resting them back on the tiles.
"Maybe you should lie down for a while," Stiles said. "Get some rest."
"I can't go out there. I don't want to see anyone," he said. "I can't."
Derek shook his head.
"That's okay," Stiles said, gently. "I'll fix it. Leave it with me. Will you be okay here for a little while?"
Derek didn't answer. He just stood there, letting the water pound on the back of his neck. Stiles squeezed his arm, and stepped out of the shower. He found a couple of towels, dried off his hair with one and wrapped the other around his waist. His feet slapped wetly on the concrete floor as he returned to the main room, and he shivered at the cold air after the warmth of the shower. But the room looked dry, and the bed was back, although the rest of the furniture was piled up on the platform by the door. There was a dehumidifier rumbling under the window. Cora was the only person there.
"Hi," said Stiles, wishing he was wearing more than a towel. "Everyone gone?"
"Yes. Scott and Isaac have taken Boyd to the preserve. I need to go with them. How is he?"
"Kind of hard to say, but he's stopped shaking, pretty much. I'll take care of him."
"You'd better." She picked up her jacket and flicked it over her shoulder. "I don't know when I'll be back. I don't think he should be alone."
"I'll stay. I promise. Go, do what you need to do."
"I put the heating on. There's extra blankets on the bed. You probably ought to get dressed."
"That was the plan. My clothes are pretty wet, though, so." He gave her a little smile, but she didn't return it; she had a tired, distant look in her eyes that Stiles was painfully familiar with.
"I'm sorry, Cora," he said. "About Boyd."
"He was pack. He kept me sane in that vault for months. Months. It hurts like…." Her eyes flashed briefly gold. "It hurts like fuck. I have to go."
"Take as long as you need."
Once Cora was gone Stiles returned to the bathroom. He coaxed Derek gently out of the shower, wrapping the robe around him, and took him back to the other room. The underfloor heating was a huge comfort to Stiles' frozen feet, and warmed the loft quickly. There was an enduring smell of damp concrete, but if it offended Derek's sensitive nose he didn't show it. He let Stiles usher him to the bed and drape a blanket around his shoulders, and didn't argue when Stiles told him it was the best way to keep him warm, and that he should rest. Stiles took his own sopping clothes to the kitchen and put them in the drier while he raided Derek's cupboards, where he found a couple of tins of chicken soup and a loaf of bread.
A little while later, wearing dry jeans, t-shirt and button-down but leaving his feet bare, because he had decided that underfloor heating was awesome, he brought Derek a tray, laden with a bowl of steaming soup and a plate of warm bread. Derek was curled up on the bed, arms wrapped around himself, face buried in the pillow.
He didn't say anything, but Stiles managed to get him to eat, mostly by threatening to spoon feed him if he didn't feed himself. A couple of mouthfuls in, Derek's belly announced its approval with a hearty rumble, and he didn't argue any more after that. Stiles ate his own soup, fighting the urge to talk, not wanting to break Derek's concentration. He wasn't new to this. There had been times - too many times - for him and Scott, after Stiles' mom had died and when Scott's dad had left, when they were lost and alone, and found that there was a lot of comfort to be had from companionably shared soup, warm blankets and violent video games. He was pretty sure Derek didn't have a games console, but soup and blankets he could do.
When their bowls were empty and Derek had devoured the last piece of bread, Stiles put the tray on the floor and sat himself, cross-legged, on the bed.
"I should never have listened to them," Derek said, so quietly that Stiles had to lean in to hear him properly.
"Boyd and Isaac. I should have sent them away."
"You tried, Derek. You threw Isaac out into a thunderstorm and he still came back, remember?"
"He shouldn't have."
"He wanted to. They both wanted to. You're not the only one who cared about Erica, and you're their alpha, man. That's how it works, right? You're pack. You look out for each other."
"I'm supposed to protect them, and now two of them are dead. It's all my fault."
"The way I heard it, Erica and Boyd ran away."
Derek pulled back, folding his arms across his chest, scowling.
"I know it hurts," said Stiles. "But you can't take the blame for this. It's Kali and her little twin bitches who killed Boyd, not you."
Derek's eyes filled with tears. He blinked them away. "You can go."
"Nope," said Stiles. "Promised your sister I'd stay and look after your fuzzy little werewolf ass, and I don't know if you've noticed, but she can be quite violent."
"She told you to babysit me?"
Stiles shrugged. "I'd make a pretty crappy bodyguard, so yeah, I guess. Or maybe I'm just your friend, Derek. Ever think of that? Maybe I'm here because a terrible thing happened and I'm worried about you."
"Well, don't. Caring about me tends to get people killed, if you haven't noticed."
"Dude, I'm Scott McCall's best friend. If a little thing like that was gonna put me off, don't you think I'd have ditched him by now?"
"You should have. You'd be safe."
"No, see, it doesn't work that way. Heather wasn't safe. Harris wasn't safe. Lydia wasn't safe. There is no such thing as being safe in a place like Beacon Hills."
"Unless you're strong."
"Unless you're smart, Derek. And, to be totally honest, really fucking lucky."
Derek rolled his eyes, and flung himself back on the bed. He snatched the blanket up to his chin, and turned away with a deep sigh. "Do what you like, Stiles. I really don't care any more."
Stiles stayed stubbornly still when he knew Derek was hoping he'd flounce off, and kept watch. Derek was still shivering from time to time, little tremors that racked his shoulders, made his spine quiver. Stiles draped another blanket over him. When it became apparent that the shivering was getting worse, not better, Derek's teeth chattering and his whole body curled in on himself, Stiles squirmed under the blankets behind him, cuddled up to his back, and slid his arm around him. He flattened his hand over Derek's chest underneath his robe, skin to skin.
"Stiles," said Derek, a distinct growl in his voice.
Stiles ignored him, pressing in as close as he could, nuzzling Derek's shoulder. "Try and relax. You need to rest. D'you want more blankets?"
Derek hesitated, then gave a tiny shake of his head.
"Well, I do. Tell me if you get too hot, okay?"
Stiles fussed about for a moment, pulling yet another blanket from the bottom of the bed and arranging them over them both, tucking in around Derek's front and his own back, tangling them up snug with his feet. He fitted himself around the curve of Derek's back and listened to his heart, his breath, until both stilled to a low, steady pulse.
And then Stiles fell asleep.
He woke to a sound so desperate, so full of anguish and pain and misery, that it chilled him to his very core.
Derek was howling.
The noise didn't come from the loft; Stiles was alone in Derek's bed. He sat up, bones quaking, and realised Derek must be up on the roof. Pausing only to pull on his shoes, Stiles took the spiral stairs two at a time. Derek was on his hands and knees, naked apart from his boxers. Wolfed-out, head raised to the sky, his howl softer this time, plaintive, but no less painful for it.
Stiles heard distant howls of reply, and Derek hung his head. Stiles' phone beeped. A text from Scott, asking him if Derek was okay. Stiles tapped back quickly, 'Yes, I'm with him. Tell Cora.'
"Derek?" he said, soft, cautious.
Derek lifted his head and howled again.
Stiles sat by him, hugging his knees to his chest, and let Derek's death song rumble through him like a thunder storm.
Derek's transformation back to human was the slowest Stiles had ever seen. First his features softened, ridges less prominent, ears less pointy. His beard faded, little by little, to Derek's well-groomed stubble. The alpha muscle on his shoulders smoothed and shrank, and the next time Stiles glanced at Derek's face it was completely human apart from the fierce red glow of his eyes and the suggestion of a fang.
"Hey, big guy," said Stiles.
Derek blinked, and the red vanished, leaving soft brown-blue-green to reflect his pain.
"I don't know about you," said Stiles. "But I have a deep need for hot chocolate with marshmallows on. Do you have marshmallows?"
Derek looked Stiles as if he'd grown an extra head.
"No? Okay, well maybe we can improvise. Or I could manage coffee, or whatever wacky tea you werewolves like."
"Green tea," said Derek, and got to his feet. "The marshmallows are in the right hand cupboard."
Stiles stared at Derek as he stretched and started walking towards the stairs. "Seriously?"
Derek looked over his shoulder with the faintest smile. "Cora likes them," he said. "Come on, Stiles. You'll catch your death out here."
"Like you'd care." Stiles hurried after him.
"I care," said Derek, and caught Stiles' hand in a surprisingly gentle squeeze.
The hot chocolate was warming and delicious, and Derek found Stiles' ability to shove a ridiculous number of marshmallows in his cheeks and still speak worthy of a derisory snort, which would have been great guffaws of laughter from a normal person. But his good mood didn't last. Exhaustion settled on him, dark shadows under red-rimmed eyes, and when Stiles suggested he should try and get some rest he dragged himself back to bed without protest. He stripped out of everything but sweatpants, crawled under the covers and lay still while Stiles dumped their mugs in sink and texted Cora and Scott again. Scott was at the hospital, visiting Deaton, and Cora was with Isaac in the preserve. Stiles didn't ask what she was doing, just told her he'd stolen most of her marshmallows in a good cause, and that Derek was resting.
"Stiles?" Derek's voice was thin, spare; Stiles wasn't even sure he was awake. He went to him without hesitation, ignoring the flutter of panic in his belly at how wrong Derek was like this and, on impulse, taking Derek's hand.
"I'm here, Derek. What d'you need?"
Derek grasped Stiles' offered hand and pulled him onto the bed. His eyes were closed, and Stiles wasn't even sure he was awake, until Stiles kissed him on the mouth and Derek kissed him back. Slow, hesitant, absolutely nothing like their previous encounters. They paused, and Derek rubbed his nose along Stiles', his hand cupping Stiles' jaw.
"Whatever you need, okay?" Stiles whispered, voice trembling in the intensity of the moment. "Whatever you need."
Derek's eyes opened, his gaze flickering uncertainly from Stile's mouth to his eyes and back again, his thumb smoothing over Stiles' lower lip.
"Anything," Stiles said, his tongue darting out to lick at Derek's thumb. "Okay?"
Derek nodded, and kissed him again, hungrily this time, pulling Stiles in under the covers with him. Stiles moved into Derek's space, relishing the warmth, the strength of Derek's arms as they wrapped around him, keeping him as close as he could possibly be. They kept kissing; every time one went to pull away the other would chase them, a teasing battle of wills. Stiles understood this: the comfort of closeness, quiet affection. He nuzzled and kissed and when Derek buried his nose in his neck and breathed in deeply, Stiles did the same. He couldn't imagine the depth or complexity of scents Derek experienced, but he shared the pleasure of it. Derek smelled of soft fur, salt and the forest. Sex and shower-gel and clean sheets.
"Pack," Derek said, voice cracked and broken. "You smell of pack. And chocolate. And…." But whatever else Stiles's scent bore was lost as Derek kissed him again, hungrily this time, fingers fisting in Stiles' shirt. Stiles wriggled, eager to help Derek get him out of his clothes, swearing in frustration when things got stuck and twisted, until Derek rolled on top of him, sitting on his thighs to still him. Then it was easy, Derek stripping Stiles in a few smooth movements. He arched over Stiles on his knees, one either side of Stiles' hips, hunching down to kiss him.
Stiles plucked at Derek's sweatpants, but Derek ignored him, kissing down his neck, mouthing at his collarbones, down his sternum, pausing over his heart. Derek rested his forehead there for a moment, his breath gusting over Stiles' ribs, and Stiles stroked Derek's hair, hoping earnestly that his heartbeat was good enough, giving Derek whatever it was he needed. Security or reassurance or a thump loud and strong enough to drown out everything else.
Derek looked up at him, cheeks flushed, and licked his lips.
"Whatever you need," Stiles repeated.
"Inside you," Derek said, in a tiny, muffled voice. "I'm sorry, I need… could I… please?"
"Shhh." Stiles kissed the top of Derek's head, touched his neck, the outline of his ear. "It's fine, big guy. We can do that. I'd like to do that."
Derek lifted his head. "Really?"
Stiles wondered what the hell was going through Derek's mind to make him think Stiles might not want him. "Really. God, yes. I'd love you to fuck me. C'mere. Feel." He took Derek's hand and put it on his dick, which was incredibly hard. "See?"
"We'll need some stuff."
Stiles twisted around to find the compartment at the side of the headboard. He was about to grab the bottle of lube that lay there, when he noticed something else. Condoms. He and Derek had never used them, one of the perks of werewolf healing and all. So why…?
Oh. Ms Blake.
Stiles swallowed, grabbed the lube and shut the compartment. That conversation was going to have to wait for another day, but the whole idea bothered him a lot more than it should have.
Meanwhile, Derek had rendered himself naked. He knelt on the bed between Stiles' knees, ran his knuckles lightly up Stiles' thigh while Stiles watched. He paused at the top, pressing his thumbs into the soft, pale skin there, massaging little circles. "Stiles, if you-"
"Please," said Stiles, and passed him the bottle. He settled back and closed his eyes, let Derek take his time. He was rewarded by the warmth and stroke of Derek's hands sweeping over his skin. His thighs, his hips, his belly. Then fingertips, tracing patterns, spiralling down from his chest to his groin, flirting with his cock before going lower, lower, lower. Derek wetted him, slicked him, slipped a finger easily inside him because Stiles was so relaxed and ready for it; Derek's fingers explored and teased, spread the wet around so it made obscene noises. Stiles' hips began to rock, his stomach tightening in rhythm so that Derek had to still him, one hand pressing on his hip, so he could line himself up and push in. Just a little bit at first, "Breathe, Stiles, are you ok? Are you ready?" and then Derek pushed all the way inside. All the way. Stiles felt hot and full and wrapped his legs around Derek's back, and Derek arched over Stiles, hands planted flat either side of his head, and began to move. Long, slow thrusts that brought a million nerve endings to life; Stiles felt it deep inside and around the edges and tingling in his balls, at the tip of his prick. Derek's cheek brushed his as he moved to bury his nose in Stiles' neck; he nuzzled and licked and made a low, whining noise that was all wolf. It didn't surprise Stiles to see the red in Derek's eyes when he raised his head.
They kissed, Derek's fingers finding their way into Stiles' hair, and they fucked, Stiles' hips rising again and again to meet Derek's. Derek took his kisses to Stiles' throat, his collarbones, back to his neck. Thrusting harder now, faster, mumbling Stiles' name into his skin, fingers trembling against his skull. Stiles was close, really close, just from the steady, deep rub of Derek's cock inside him, wanted to come like this, could hardly wait, urged Derek on, told him, "Fill me, man, come on, get it in deep and fill me up, wanna feel you, want it in there, come on, come on, come on."
Derek pushed all the way inside, raised his head and howled as he came. And Stiles came with him, everything pulsing in time with Derek's orgasm, his ass, his cock, Derek's, everything, "Yes, yes, yes, oh God, oh God, oh my fucking…."
Derek licked tears from Stiles' cheeks, smiled indulgently when Stiles giggled. Kissed him. Soft, nibbly, gentle.
Derek pulled himself away and flopped at Stiles' side. It was Stiles, for the first time, who went and got the towel and the damp washcloth and cleaned them both up. Derek smiled as he did it, helping a bit but mostly leaving the job to Stiles. When it was done Derek pulled him back into bed, tugged the covers up. Stiles sprawled along Derek's side, half on top of him, as much skin-to-skin as he could manage, knowing how much Derek liked it. He ran his fingers through the hair on Derek's chest, scratching just a little. Derek seemed much better. Warm, relaxed. He wasn't shaking any more.
"Thank you for letting me take care of you," Stiles whispered.
Derek watched his own fingers as he gently stroked Stiles' arm. "In the wild wolves will always care for a grieving member of the pack. They groom it, make sure it eats. At night they'll sleep close to it, licking and biting at its muzzle with affection."
"Hey, any time you need your muzzle biting, dude, I'm your man."
Derek didn't laugh, but the corner of his mouth twitched, and he threaded his fingers through Stiles'.
Warm and suffused with a rare sense of calm and trust, Stiles nuzzled at Derek's chest. Derek kissed the top of his head. "Get some sleep, Stiles."
Unusually obedient, Stiles did.
When he woke up Derek was gone.
~ fin ~