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Petrichor

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Stiles sits on the edge of the Nemeton and scratches at the bark with his fingernails, making deep grooves in the ancient tree. He stares at the ground.

A twig breaks and Stiles’ head snaps up. “I thought you wolves were supposed to be silent and deadly.”

Derek stands between two trees on the edge of the clearing. “We can’t always be hunters.” He walks towards Stiles and sits down on the Nemeton next to him. A silence follows in which only the birds chirping, and the men’s breathing can be heard.

“Where’s Scott?” Derek asks.

“With Issac.”

“Lydia?”

“Gone to London to see Jackson.”

“Paired up and pissed off huh?”

“After…everything, I guess they just needed to find someone who’d understand.” Replies Stiles.

“And who do you have?”

“Not many people can relate to being possessed and becoming a psychopathic serial killer. I might as well start hanging out with Peter.” Stiles gives a hollow laugh. After a while he asks, “How’ve you been anyway?”

“You mean aside from the crazy druids, Japanese demons and psychotic ex-girlfriends coming back from the dead? Just fine.”

Stiles scoffs. “You’re right. What’s there to complain about in a life full of beasts and demons?”

Derek begins laughing, a deep gruff sound.

“I guess I should be more selective when dating huh? I’ll be running from those memories for a while…What are you running from Stiles?”

Stiles just hums, not paying attention.

“Stiles!” Derek almost yells.

“Sorry what?” His eyes are glassy and focus slowly.

“What are you running from?”

Stiles takes a while to reply, “I don’t know. This place, it feels warm. And recently all I've felt is cold.” He shivers, “I can put on layers and layers but I’m still sub-zero. It’s like a feeling in the pit of my stomach that’s frozen. And won’t thaw.” He looks into the distance, as if he’s trying to see something in the trees.

Derek stares at Stiles for a long time. “It won’t go away you know. Never.”

Stiles feels heat on his shoulder, the grip of a broad hand, and turns to look at Derek, but he is out of reach and his hands are in his lap. “How do you know?”

“Because once you've taken even one life Stiles, there’s no going back. You’ll never warm up again.” After he finishes talking, Derek’s eyes turn glacier blue.

And then he’s gone. The faint smell of Armani and a flurry of wind are all that remain.

***

A few hours later, when the sun is an orange slit waiting to disappear, and the fireflies have begun to swarm, Stiles decides it is time to leave.

His feet crunch across the fallen leaves. With each step he takes, the heavy feeling in the depths of himself grows colder and colder.

He slams the door to his Jeep closed and wonders where his day has gone. As he turns the ignition and pulls away from the trees, his thoughts turn to Derek, and their conversation. But mostly the touch he isn't sure he felt.

The idea that he’d imagined it pulls downward at his lips. He thinks he might have hallucinated the whole conversation.

He checks the number of fingers he has, just to make sure.

One…Two…Three…Four…Five.

He relaxes.

Chapter Text

It has been two days since he saw Derek at the Nemeton.  Stiles has been trying to busy himself with anything and everything in order to forget about the meeting. He’s even cleaned his room.

The front door bangs and Stiles perks up from the chair he’s been glued to all morning and afternoon. He’d been staring at his laptop, and the picture that filled the screen. The picture that made him feel queasy and gave him a fluttering feeling in his chest.

“Stiles?” the Sheriff calls out.

“In here,” he hollers back.

The Sheriff walks through Stiles’ open doorway, his beige jacket undone. Hat in one hand, and a bag of takeout food in the other.

“You been at that desk all day?” the Sheriff asks.

“Yeah, just homework.” Stiles replies absentmindedly as he pushes the laptop lid down, concealing the screen.

The Sheriff throws the bag of fast-food at Stiles and he snaps out of his thoughts.

“What?”

“Stiles, you’ve had over a month off. And even if you had been at school. Homework? Really? Look if it was…you know, videos or whatever, that’s fine, just shut the door, or put a tie on the handle.” The Sheriff rubs the back of his neck as his cheeks colour themselves brightly.

“Huh? Oh. Dad. No. I wasn’t – watching – DAD IT WASN’T PORN.” Stiles’ face becomes almost as red as his father’s as he stammers the words out. The light that hangs from the ceiling above them blinks.

“Alright. Alright. There’s nothing unnatural-“

“No Dad. Seriously. Can we just eat?”

“Sure.” The Sheriff is visibly relieved.

Stiles’ chair creaks as he gets out of it and makes his way to the lounge.

As they settle into the sofas and begin eating, the Sheriff speaks. “Haven’t seen Scott recently. Or anyone for that matter.”

“I can survive without him, without them,” the snap makes Stiles feel instantly guilty.

The Sheriff looks uneasy. “I know Stiles, I just worry, you don’t get out much anymore, or talk. I’m afraid I’m losing my son again.”

I’m afraid I’m losing myself. “It’s fine. I’m fine. I’ll call Scott later and we’ll hang out tomorrow.”

“Alright.” They continue to eat in silence until the Sheriff’s phone starts vibrating on the glass table. With an exasperated exhale he pushes himself up off the couch and holds the phone to his ear.

“Ah crap. I’m on my way.” He sighs and hangs up, stuffing the phone back into his muddy pocket. “I’m glad I don’t bother taking this damn uniform off. I’ll be back later. See what’s up with the power would ya’? The house has been damn cold these last weeks, and the lights are on the fritz.” The Sheriff gets up and walks out of the lounge.

“Stay safe,” Stiles calls after him; he picks up the remote and begins flicking through the channels.

The Sheriff shouts from the doorway, “Remember it’s a full moon coming up, I don’t want you out after dark. Especially not with a Hale back causing me trouble.”

Stiles tenses on the name Hale.

“Peter...Or Derek?” he asks, his voice brakes slightly as he speaks Derek’s name and he coughs to cover it up.

“I don’t know which one it is; they’re all a pain in the ass just the same.” The Sheriff waves over his back and leaves.

Stiles twitches on the couch. There was a time when he’d have got on his police scanner and followed his dad. But not anymore. Nothing good ever came of following the Sheriff. And nothing good ever came of being with a Hale.

Infomercials of the Magic Bullet were on the T.V, so he makes to change the channel. The remains of the crushed remote are in his hand. He stares at it for a long time.

Eventually he delicately pulls out his phone and dials the only man who might know what’s up with him, and possibly help him. It rings twice before someone picks up.

“Deaton? Yeah, something’s wrong.”

Chapter Text

The cool metal of the bench presses against Stiles’ sweaty back as he waits in Deaton’s surgery room. Deaton had said he’d meet him at the clinic as soon as possible. That had been an hour ago. Now, the once bright room was bathed in the glow of a dying sun.

Since then, Stiles’ thoughts have only been on two things, firstly, how he had managed to break a remote in half with nothing but his hand. And secondly, the itching smell of disinfectant that had crawled its way up his nose to stab at his brain.

The door to the clinic creaks open, the bell rings, and the door thumps shut. He hears rustling but the fogged door renders him blind to all that lies beyond.

Stiles tenses. He thinks he sees a white shape in the corner of his eye and spins, but the operating room is empty. He supposes it must be an escaped pet from the back, or something. He looks back to the door.A shadow fills the pane. The under-greased handle squeaks as it turns and Stiles jumps up from the bench.

“Dea-“ Stiles begins.

“Just me, Stiles.” Deaton walks through the door and turns on the florescent lights. He puts down his leather briefcase on one of the tables and sighs, from within the suitcase he takes some swab samples and throws two blood splattered latex gloves into the trash can.

“What happened?” Stiles asks.

“Never mind that for now. Let’s talk about you. Tell me what’s wrong.” Deaton’s liquid voice makes Stiles feel at ease. It was an effect Deaton had on people, that unswerving calm that poured off him, even in the most intense situations.

“I broke the remote to my T.V.” Stiles drops the remains of the remote onto the table, a misshapen lump of plastic and bright wires.

“I’m not an electrician, nor do I stock remotes here in my surgery.” Deaton stares at Stiles the same way one might stare at a three-headed fish.

“I split it in half with my bare hand. I shouldn’t be that strong and I’m worried that…”

Deaton’s face snaps from confusion to look at Stiles intently. “You’re worried that you might not all be you.”

Stiles nods slowly. The bleak thought has been chasing itself out of breath around his mind ever since he noticed his strength. The fear that dwarfed all his fears, that he might one day lose control again.

“Well, I warned you that when you got back from your trip the Nemeton you would be different. That the darkness would be with you always. And it would change you, it seems it is changing you.”

Stiles remembers. He remembers how he felt the day before travelling to the Nemeton, it seems like a simpler time to him now. When rouge alpha’s and hunters seemed like the worst possible calamities that could possibly happen. He knows better now. He knows that Peter isn’t the foulest thing that walks the shadows, not by a long shot.

“So it’s nothing to do with…”

“The Nogitsune? I don’t think so. There’s a possibility that it triggered the process. But this was inevitable.”

“What process are you talking about? What’s next? Claws? Fangs? Wings? A Kanima?” Stiles slams his fist on the steel operating table and it leaves a dent. “What am I becoming?”

Deaton doesn’t flinch. He just keeps staring. “Stiles, you need to reign in your anger, if you don’t, it will consume you.”

Stiles takes some trembling breaths.

“This, actually, is going to be the least of your problems.”

“Huh?

“As it happens I was just with your father. A body was found deep within the Beacon Hills Reserve.  Mauled by…” Deaton pauses and gives Stiles a pointed look, “...an animal.”

After a moment Stiles says, “I heard there was a wolf back in town.”

“If I were you I would stay at home for the next few nights over the full-moon period. I doubt it will stop at just one. It’s not a wolf, you see. It’s the she-wolf. And it’s not looking good.”

They lapse into silence. So it wasn’t Derek. Or Peter. But then who was it? Kate? Impossible. She was dead. Long dead in fact. And good riddance, Stiles thinks with venom.

“So the darkness thing…” Stiles reminds Deaton, pulling him from his thoughts.

“Ah. Yes. I’ll do some research. I’m exactly not sure how much I’ll find, but I will try. In the meantime-“

Stiles finished for him, “In the meantime I’ll try not to turn into a flaming-rage-monster.”

Deaton rumbled a chuckle, but stopped abruptly when the doorbell jingled. Stiles spun towards the doorway.

“Deaton.” The voice was deep, and Stiles would have recognized it in any state of mind he was in.

“Derek?” Deaton calls.                                                                    

“I need to talk. Open the gate.” The wolf shouts back.

Stiles’ stomach quakes and he makes for the back door. Deaton gives him a questioning glance but nods, and Stiles runs out into the night, and away from Derek.

 ***

The almost-full moon lights the world well as Stiles climbs the framework of Scott’s house. It takes him little effort to pull himself up, which worries him. If he’d have tried this a year ago, he’d have been panting and sweating like a dog in heat. But there was no burn in his muscles, no sweat on his brow.

There is an orange glow coming from Scott’s window and Stile’s taps on it lightly.

There’s a scuffling, some hushed whispers, and Scott appears at the glass, pulling on a sweater over his naked torso.  “S-stiles? Hey man, come in.”

Stiles slips in through the window.

“I didn’t even hear you coming,” Scott sounds surprised.

Stiles notices that Scott’s cheeks are flushed and he’s out of breath.

“Wolf-hearing not what it used to be?” Stiles throws himself down in the desk chair. “Were you…were you with someone?”

Scott looks around the room wildly. “Huh? No. I was…er…studying.” He picks up a heavy textbook and waves it at Stiles who pretends not to notice that Scott no longer even studies advanced chem.

Stiles sniffs the air. “Do I smell strawberries?” When Scott remains silent Stiles continues, “Where’s Isaac? Isn’t he still staying with you?”

“No. What?”

Stiles raises an eyebrow as he watches Scott try and stealthily kick a tube of something under his bed.

Scott shrugs and says in a hurried voice, “I don’t know, he probably went out, I don’t keep tabs on him all the time, what do I look like, his keeper? Man get off my back already would you?” He calms down and says, “What’s up anyway? I haven’t seen you in forever.”

“The usual, no psychopaths after me, yet. But I hear someone’s dead.”

Scott runs a hand through his hair. “You heard about that? He was one of Gerard’s hunters. Gerard won’t tell me what he was doing in town. And we don’t know why he was killed.”

We?” Stiles asks trying not to sound irritated.

“Yeah, just me, Issac, Ethan, Kira, you know…my pack.” Scott can’t meet Stiles’ eyes.

“Do I still fit in there?” Stiles has his hands gripped tightly on the arms of the chair.

“Of course, Stiles. I just wanted to give you time you know, to get over everything.”

“You mean to make sure I wasn’t still a serial killing madman?”

“No. Stiles. Look I really wanted to call you, but I spoke to Derek and he said-“

“You spoke to Derek about me?” Stiles interrupts. A flurry of heat explodes in his chest. A cocktail of emotions. Betrayal that Scott wouldn’t go straight to him. Anger that Derek thought he had a right to an opinion. And something else, something far more curious, a thin vein of excitement. Derek had talked about him, which meant he’d thought about him.

“He just said I should give you time and that I wouldn’t be able to understand. He said he’d speak to you.” Scott says looking sheepish.

“Well he-”Stiles stops as his phone begins to vibrate. He fishes it out of his pocket and puts it to his ear.

Without Stiles’ hands covering the arms of the chair, Scott sees the wooden arms have been sculpted by Stiles’ grip. He raises an eyebrow. “What-?” he begins, but stops short when Stiles starts talking.

“Dad?” Stiles immediately slips into a panic.

The Sheriff’s voice echo’s loudly throughout the room, as though he is in the corner shouting, “Please tell me you’re at home Stiles. . .  If not, get your ass there right now, another one’s been killed, a teacher from the school. I’ll be home soon. Lock the house down and stay there. I mean it Stiles, don’t go messing in this.”

“Dad, what-where?” Stiles struggles to process the information that has been dumped on him. Scott had become alert and his eyes only contain the smallest glint of red.

“I can’t talk Stiles, I have to go, we’re tracking him now. Get home,” The Sherriff’s voice is replaced by a monotonous beep.

Stiles eventually pulls the dead phone away from his ear. He and Scott speak at the same time, “HIM?”

“Then it’s not the She-Wolf.” Stiles summarizes.

“Wait, how do you even know about her?” Before Stiles can answer Scott cuts him off. “Stiles, I have to tell you something.” Scott’s voice has another layer to it, a deeper layer.

Scott is stopped from continuing as a large figure rolls through the open window and lands on the floor with a thump. The surprise sends Stiles tumbling out of the desk chair.

Slowly, Derek stands up and looks at the two of them. His hands, which are claws, are covered in blood, as are his clothes.

In the distance they hear sirens. There is a charged silence before Derek speaks. “I can explain.”

 

Chapter Text

There is a long, awkward, pause in which Derek just stares at Stiles.

“Derek?” Stiles’ voice breaks.

“What’re you doing here, Stiles?”

“Me? What’re you doing here, covered in blood, and is that- oh god, is that a fingernail in your hair?” Stiles quavers, he leans over and pulls the fingernail gently from Derek’s blood-matted hair.

“Don’t worry it’s not mine,” Derek’s warm breath plays across Stiles’ face.

“I wasn’t worried. At all.” Stiles coughs and steps away from the taller man. Rubbing the back of his neck and looking down.

“Can I ask what the hell you’re doing in my house, looking like you’ve just killed someone?” Scott had watched their exchange with interest, but turns his curious eyes from the discomforted Stiles, to Derek. “Have you? Killed someone, I mean.”

Derek avoids the question all together. “The cops were chasing me,” he says it as if it’s no more than a general comment on the day’s weather.

At the sound of more sirens, closer this time, he walks further into the room, and away from the open window. The curtain blows out in the wind and the hair of all the men in the room is tousled.

“WHY were they chasing you, Derek? And why did you lead them to MY house?” Scott’s voice rises with each word spoken.

Derek opens his mouth, but nothing comes out. He attempts a few more times, issuing only little croaks.

Quietly, from the corner of the room, Stiles speaks, “What have you done Derek?”

“Nothing-I-it wasn’t-I didn’t do anything. It was her.”

“Who?” Scott’s tone had gone from angry to worried.

“Kate. Kate Argent.”

***

“Kate Argent?” Stiles is dumbfounded. “But…she died in some dusty hole in Mexico. Right?”

The other two men in the room avoid his eyes.

“Right?” he says again with more force.

Scott looks sheepish as he says, “Well, technically…”

“Jesus. Just can’t catch a break in this town. And you know she’s gonna be seriously messed up after dying. It’s unnatural to come back from the dead.”

“You mean like we did?” Scott asks.

“That, that was different. We didn't have our whole throats thrown on the floor did we?” Stiles mimed his own throat being torn out and thrown on the cream carpet.

“You died?” Derek is stunned.

Stiles rolls his eyes at Derek and speaks at full speed, “Only quickly. Well…actually about half a day. But that’s not the point. The point is that crazy she-bitch is back.” Stiles drops onto the bed. He shouldn’t have been surprised. He’d thought nothing could shock him anymore, not after everything he’d seen, and endured. He’d trusted Chris to put an end to Kate. But really, he should have guessed what the hunter would do. If he put himself in that position he wasn’t sure what he’d have done. To kill a loved one. Not that Stiles can understand how Kate could be loved by anyone.

Then he remembers that Derek loved her once, that they’re probably kissed, most definitely, he thinks. But what else did she get her claws into? Stiles wonders, sending his body into a flush of desire. He shakes himself both mentally and physically.

“That’s what I was about to tell you.” Scott sits down in the desk chair and inspects the arms, bent and warped.

“Not something you wanted to mention at the start of the conversation? Or maybe even text me? You do still have my number right?” Stiles clenches and unclenches his fists.

“Stiles, I was…busy.” Scott has a guilty look about him.

Stiles takes a deep, shuddering, breath, sighs. “It’s cool. I get it.”

“Stiles did you do this?” Scott motions to the chair’s arms.

“Yeah I- well, I’ve been meaning to speak to you too. I’m strong now.” Stiles flexes his muscles.

“Still look like the skinny bean pole I saw hiding from Oni.” Derek pipes up from near the window with a smirk.

In a few steps Stiles strides over to him and lifts him up by the collar. “Still weak?” He grins.

Derek doesn’t grin back; there is something wrong about Stiles’ smile. It unsettled Derek’s stomach and his brain screams out to run.

Stiles puts Derek down. Since when had he wanted to wrangle people’s necks? Since when had he been able to? While Stiles ponders his new found temper the other two men in the room stare at him silently.

“I can’t help this…feeling. The cold.” Stiles puts his head in his hands and sighs. “What the hell is happening to me?” Desperation fills his voice and it breaks slightly.

He feels a hand on his shoulder, a burst of adrenalin, excitement, and heat flows from the connection. He turns to speak to who he thinks is Scott.

Instead he’s an inch away from Derek’s face. His blue eyes searching Stiles’ frantically. Trying to drink in every freckle of Stiles’ complexion. Their breath meets in the air between them and flurries up. Their breathing becomes laboured, and Derek has begun panting once more.

Stiles’ eyes shake and take on a hunger, a need. He quivers from head to toe.

Scott clears his throat loudly. The intensity in the room breaks. Both Stiles and Derek take a step backwards.

“Fuck,” Stiles breathes, and then more loudly, “I gotta go.” Instead of using the door Stiles launches through the window and lands lithely with a roll on the lush front lawn.

Derek watches from the window as Stiles runs down the orange-lit road into the blindness of distance. He keeps staring for a while, until Scott says, “Dude, what just happened? And whose freaking blood is that?”