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First, it's the kanima.

Stiles and Derek end up in a pool together. For two hours. Which is pneumonia-inducing and also annoying, because Stiles actually enjoys conversation and Derek's thorny silence doesn't exactly make for the best entertainment for two hours. So Stiles talks about anything and everything until they're out, including his long-standing crush on Lydia, which just makes Derek's silence thornier, because Derek is a heartless bastard incapable of comprehending Lydia's beauty. Even if she can be cold-blooded, sometimes. Cold-blooded and beautiful. Like an ice princess.

And then Scott hauls them out and Derek goes back to pretending that Stiles is a bug unworthy of being squashed beneath his shoe, and Stiles goes back to reminding him at regular intervals that this bug saved his life, hello?

Which is normal. Fine. They move on.

Jackson turns out to be the kanima and can't seem to remember why he was so determined to keep Stiles and Derek trapped in a swimming pool, but whatever. Stiles no longer even gets hard-ons when he thinks of chlorine and wet skin and dark shirts clinging pornographically to obscenely perfect abs.

No, really. He doesn't.

Then, it's the golem.

There's a new witch in Beacon Hills that enchants Coach Finstock with magic mud, so that he turns into a sort of terra-cotta zombie. A golem. Out to kill people. By the witch's command.

Naturally, Scott's too busy romancing Allison to pay much attention to the giant clay-monster wreaking its way across town, and naturally, Erica and Isaac are completely useless and end up down for the count within the first two minutes, so Derek and Stiles are left holding up the fort, except that the fort is a broom closet that the witch magically locks them in.

For three hours.

Three. Freaking. Hours.

Why the witch doesn't just kill them, Stiles can't understand. Not that he isn't grateful for the not-killing - he still has a history paper to submit on Friday and he'd rather be alive enough to finish it, thanks - but he isn't sure dying wouldn't be a better option than enduring another minute of Derek's thorny-but-eloquent silences.

"Can't we just - "


"But if only we could - "


"Why are you so opposed to talking? What, is it going to break your neanderthal brain to put more than two multisyllabic words together? Talking is what people do, okay? Talking is - "

" - what you do. Shut up."

Stiles shuts up.

It's not like he wants to talk to leather-wearing jerks with washboard abs, anyway.

Eventually, Boyd gets them out - clearly, Boyd is the only member of Derek's pack with an actual brain - and they get the mud off Coach Finstock by throwing him into a river while Stiles dials 911 to get an ambulance there in time to resuscitate the coach once they've pulled him out of said river.

Oh, and Stiles saves Derek's life, again, when the witch tries to cast an asphyxiating hex on him and Stiles accidentally takes it in the chest, instead.

It's not like he was leaping in front of Derek, or anything. That would be ridiculous. And suicidal. And stupid. And Stiles is not stupid.

He ends up being the one carried away in the ambulance, though, which is… pretty stupid.

So Stiles winds up wheezing through an artificial respirator while staring up blearily at his panicked dad, and this is embarrassing, he isn't even going out in a blaze of glory, and then Scott turns up and Allison turns up and Lydia turns up, and hey, maybe this not-with-a-bang-but-with-a-whimper thing has some advantages, if he gets to see Lydia before he dies. Dewy-eyed Lydia. In a summer dress. With cleavage. Mmm. He isn't even dead, yet, but he's already in heaven. How cool is that?

But then, because Derek hates Stiles and lives to ruin Stiles's every moment of happiness, Derek saves his life right back. While everyone else is circling Stiles's hospital bed and nodding tearfully and saying awesome and complimentary things, Derek doesn't even bother showing his face. Which is nice, it's not like Stiles wants to see his stubbly mug, but several days later, Derek shows up with a charm to counter the asphyxiation hex, a charm that he's apparently been hunting for day and night, and just like that, Stiles is off the respirator and back to perfect health.

And Lydia's back to acting like he doesn't exist. Great.

The witch is revealed as their soon-to-be-retired drama teacher, who's always seemed kind of evil, now that Stiles thinks about it, with the whole Disney villainess look she has going on, with the purple mascara and the full-length black dresses and the creepy fingernails. So that's another mystery solved.

Except that she can't explain why Stiles and Derek had to be locked up together for three hours, either.

Oh, well.

Then, it's the mermaid.

Not the type of mermaid singing crustaceans encourage you to kiss, but a carnivorous mermaid with massive teeth. Shark-teeth. A man-eating mermaid. It's seriously scary.

It also seems to think that it's a good idea to wrap Derek and Stiles up in mutant super-strength inflatable seaweed and throw them into the local lake. To eat. Later.

Much later. Which means that they spend four hours bobbing like a two-headed Siamese cork in the freezing water, pressed chest-to-chest, trying awkwardly not to breathe into each others' faces. Stiles is starting to get a crick in his neck, keeping his face angled away from Derek's. If they look at each other, right now, they'll end up - their mouths will end up - no.

So Stiles just lets his head fall forward onto Derek's shoulder.

"Hey," he says, sleepily, because the cold is seeping into his bones and numbing his very soul. "D'you think the universe is trying to tell us something?"

Derek doesn't answer, of course. Because Derek's a one-man Fortress of Solitude. Superman could totally turn Derek into a celestial ice-palace and live in him. Derek would make an excellent Arctic headquarters. Silent as a tomb. A sentient tomb.

"I mean," Stiles continues, because Derek hasn't told him to shut up, yet, "we always end up tied together or locked in together or… floating in random bodies of water together, and I'm starting to wonder if - I don't know - it's a thing? Some sort of thing. A pattern. A bizarre pattern. Of bizarreness."

Derek just breathes against his ear.

"At first, I thought the universe just wanted you to be shirtless - which makes sense, 'cause if I were god, I'd definitely build your shirtlessness into the space-time continuum and every ticky-tocky bit of quantum mechanics."

Derek snorts.

"Heh. Maybe Danny's god. But no, it's not just the shirtlessness. The universe also wants to throw me in with you. All the time. Every time. You know why that is?"

"No," Derek says, quietly, and Stiles is so startled to hear his voice that he shuts up, anyhow.

Plus, he's getting tired. And warm. That's probably a bad sign, feeling warm in a chilly lake that doubles as a man-eating mermaid's refrigerator and/or meat locker, particularly when Stiles and Derek are her midnight snacks, but he just… can't, anymore.

"Stiles," says Derek, somewhere above him.


"Keep talking."


Then, it's the pixies.

No kidding. Pixies.

It's hardly been two weeks since the mermaid incident, when Derek had finally managed to claw the mermaid to death after she'd unwrapped them for her meal, and Stiles had never felt more like a human-shaped burrito. Going with the burrito theme, Derek had bundled Stiles up in a blood-stained blanket that he'd pulled from the trunk of his Camaro (Stiles doesn't want to know about those blood stains, honestly), and had rubbed Stiles's back and slapped him in the face repeatedly and told him to wake the fuck up, except that Stiles was up, just… not entirely with the program, yet. Derek had only stopped reenacting his very own melodramatic episode of Baywatch when Stiles batted away his hands, weakly, and croaked: "I'm all right."

And Stiles was all right. More than all right. Because Derek had asked him to keep talking. Sure, it was just to keep Stiles conscious and therefore nominally alive, but Derek. Derek. Had asked Stiles. Stiles. To keep talking.

Stiles had whistled all the way home. His dad had wanted to know why Stiles was soaking wet with chattering teeth and a mysterious chauffeur in a Camaro that looked suspiciously like Derek Hale, but Stiles had cheerfully deflected him with something about adventure sports and white-water rafting. In fact, he'd been so cheerful that his dad had only shaken his head and gone back to sleep, but, come on, why wouldn't Stiles be cheerful? Derek. Had asked Stiles. To keep talking.

It's been a little more than two weeks, since then, and the world is still a flawless place in which sourwolves want Stiles to converse with them. Or at them. At any rate, everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.

And then, the pixies happen.

Or rather, they happen to Lydia, or Lydia happens to them, because they seem to think she's their queen and carry her away into the forest and put her on a throne from which she can never, ever get up, not that she seems to mind, since they have her high on jungle-juice that makes her spout gibberish in ancient pixie-speak. Also, the pixies have dressed her in a kind of bathing suit made of flowers, a - a daffodil bikini, which - they've got good taste, is all.

Very good taste. Because, when Stiles tries to free her, they try to eat him. Hoards of tiny pixies swarming all over him. Piranha-style. With microscopic but nonetheless very sharp fangs.

And they nearly succeed in eating him, too, except that Scott shows up with Allison and Allison shoots several pixies down with arrows that graze way too close to Stiles's skin, after which Boyd and Isaac and Erica burst upon the scene like the three musketeers, which is weird, because why would Derek send them to deal with stuff that doesn't have anything to do with the pack?

Anyway, the rescue attempt goes horribly wrong and Derek joins the fray and one thing leads to another, and - once again - Stiles ends up locked up in a flower-prison with Derek. A flower-prison in which the bars are basically vines of highly poisonous flowers that are toxic enough to kill at a single touch, and Stiles knows this because he's read several encyclopedias of herbs backward and forward in order to find antidotes for wolfsbane, and, shit.

They're done for.

They can't touch the bars, but the cell's scarcely big enough for one person (pixies don't seem to have any concept of human size), so Stiles and Derek have to find some way to occupy the same space at the same time, like boson particles sharing quantum states. Stiles ignores it when Derek tells him to shut up about the physics, already, because hey, Derek asked him to keep talking, once, and Stiles has taken it as a blank check to talk all the time. For life.

Turns out, the only way to share quantum states is to press so close to each other that there isn't a single micron between them. Stiles's face is full of leather jacket and his forehead is getting stubble-burn. From Derek's chin.

"So," says Stiles, lips barely able to move against Derek's shoulder. "This is a thing, huh? I don't think we can deny that it's a thing. A conspiracy. All supernatural beings want us to be trapped in enclosed spaces."

Derek grunts. In assent or in general displeasure, Stiles doesn't know. Derek's hand drifts idly down Stiles's back, like it's almost forgotten that its job is to be clinging onto Stiles for dear life instead of, of doing whatever it's doing right now, and Stiles -

Stiles realizes something. "Hey, wait a sec," Stiles says, breathlessly, because Derek's palm has just moved up to cup his head, "you're a supernatural being, too."

"Yes," growls Derek, and then he's tilting Stiles's chin up and kissing him, mouth a slick-slow bloom of heat, and Stiles clutches at him and gasps, and the flowers on their bars quiver dangerously, and -

- and it isn't just Stiles's forehead that has stubble-burn, by the time they get out.

Then, it's the vampire.

By now, Stiles isn't even surprised when they end up locked in a large, velvet-lined coffin.

But it's going to be at least another hour before Lydia - now savvy to the supernatural thanks to her stint as a pixie queen - manages to translate the Latin inscription on the coffin and find a counter-spell to unlock it, so. They've got time. To themselves. And Stiles has Derek to himself, on himself, lying on top of him. All six feet of warm, heavy, deliciously compact muscle.

"Denim and leather and boner, oh my," Stiles whispers, and gets bitten for his trouble. Okay, not all-out bitten so much as aggressively hickeyed - Derek likes leaving hickeys - but that's just fine, because Stiles likes getting hickeys. Especially on his throat. Or his thighs. Or his… ahem.

These periods of captivity are a lot easier to endure, now that Stiles knows what they're for. What Stiles wants them to be for. What Derek wants them to be for. What the entire universe wants them to be for.

He sneaks his hands under Derek's shirt, and grins when Derek rumbles.