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Never Let Go

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--PART ONE--
 

Derek shifted his weight from side to side, trying not to growl at the people in front of him. Getting off the plane and out of the terminal was taking way too long for his liking and his impatience at seeing Stiles was making him grumpy.  It had been four months since he had last visited and Derek was itching to hold Stiles close, listen to his heartbeat and breathe in his scent. Finally, the crowd in front of him parted enough for Derek to worm his way through, and he headed for the meeting spot they had chosen, his footsteps quickening in his excitement.

It didn’t take long for Derek to spot Stiles, in which Stiles took off running towards him with a grin. Stiles leapt onto him, arms wrapping around him and lips crushing against his. 

Derek’s arms went around Stiles’ waist, practically lifting him off the floor in his enthusiasm.  He kissed back as hard as he could, enjoying the noises coming out of Stiles’ mouth. He finally pulled his mouth away and buried his face in Stiles’ neck, inhaling deeply and letting his scent wash over him.  Even though he was across the country from his pack, for the first time in months, he felt home.

“I missed you,” Stiles breathed, hand buried in Derek’s hair as he held him against his neck. “Can't believe you’re finally here.” Stiles clung to Derek, burying his own face against Derek’s shoulder.

“God, I missed you too,” Derek said into Stiles’ throat.  “Every time we’re apart I think it can’t be worse, but somehow it is.”  Derek tightened his hold even more, like he could fuse the two of them together.  “I don’t know how I’ll handle it the next time.”

“Well, you can always stay,” Stiles suggested, turning his face into Derek’s neck to place a kiss there. “Offer’s still open for you to move in with me. I think Scott can live without you for a couple of years until I move back.”

“The pack has only just settled in the past few years,” Derek murmured. “I don’t know if I could leave them without their Alpha.”  He stroked his hands down Stiles’ back.  “But right now, with you in my arms, I’m having a hard time giving a damn about anything besides staying with you.”

“You have all winter break to decide,” Stiles said softly, hugging Derek tighter to him. “At least we have a couple of months together.” He sighed and nuzzled in again before giving Derek’s neck a gentle squeeze. “Should get going. I have dinner at the apartment. I made some pot roast, but I made sure to steam the carrots separately like you prefer.”

Derek felt his mouth watering.  “You know me too well,” he said wryly.  He squeezed Stiles one more time, before letting go and grabbing his hand, lacing their fingers together.  He slung his carry on over his shoulder and rubbed his thumb over the back of Stiles’ hand.  “Let’s go and eat.” He leaned in to whisper in Stiles’ ear.  “And then I’m taking you to bed and showing you what happens after being away from you for four months.”

Stiles laughed softly, stealing a kiss before starting towards the exit. “Yeah, well, I’m planning to spend all week in bed with you unless I have to get out. Or, you know, all winter break. That works for me.” Stiles led Derek out to the Jeep and watched Derek toss his bag into the back. “Good thing you didn't bring too many clothes. You’re not going to need them.”

Derek snorted as he climbed into the passenger side.  “Why am I not surprised that that just came out of your mouth?” He shut the door and turned in his seat to face Stiles, reaching out his hand to run his fingers down Stiles’ cheek, brushing his thumb over his lower lip.  “I know I said it once already, but… I missed you.”

Stiles was smiling brightly. “I missed you too,” he echoed, leaning over to give Derek a tender kiss. After a few moments he pulled away and start up the Jeep. “Still think you should stay for the next forever. I’m completely regretting going to school across the country when it keeps me away from you.”

“College doesn’t last forever, Stiles,” Derek reminded him. “And after you graduate, we’ll have the rest of our lives to spend together.”  Derek’s stomach swooped thinking of the surprise he had been working on for the past year. He couldn’t wait for Stiles to see it when he came home for good. He smiled to himself and settled back in his seat.

“So does that mean you’re going to ask me to marry you in the official human world?” Stiles teased as he drove, glancing over at Derek. “Or are you going to make me do the proposing? Cause the rest of our lives… that’s perfect for me.”

“Now there’s an idea,” Derek said, smirking.  “I like the thought of you proposing to me.”  He cocked an eyebrow.  “After all, I was the one who asked you to be my mate. Seems fair.” 

Stiles tried to give Derek an irritated look, but he couldn't stop himself from smiling. “Just wait. It’ll happen when you least expect it. I’ll swoon you. You won't know what to do with yourself.”

Derek threw his head back and laughed.  “I’ll remember that.” 

"You better." Stiles chuckled and turned his attention back to the road. When they pulled up to Stiles’ complex Stiles parked and killed the engine. "We're here. Ready to eat?"

"Yeah, I'm famished." Derek leaned over and bit Stiles lightly on the neck, laughing as he sputtered.  He grabbed his bag and slid out his door, waiting for Stiles.  Maybe it was silly, but Derek wanted close proximity as much as possible.  He assumed it was part of being separated from his mate for such a long period of time.

Stiles tucked himself against Derek and led them to his apartment. "If you wanna put your stuff away I'll get the food," Stiles offered with a kiss.

"Sounds good," Derek replied. He toed off his shoes and walked through Stiles' apartment to the bedroom to drop his bag.  His nostrils flared at the concentrated scent of Stiles and told himself he had enough self-control to not rub his face all over the bed sheets.

“Food’s ready!”

Derek left the bedroom and followed the fantastic smell of Stiles' cooking to find a plate heaped with food. Derek slid his hand around the nape of his neck and drew him in for a kiss.  "This smells great." He sat down and dug in quickly, knowing the sooner he finished, the sooner he could take Stiles to bed.

“Yeah, well, it tastes even better,” Stiles chuckled and took his seat across from Derek. “You’re gonna choke on it if you don't slow down.” Stiles ate some pot roast and moaned softly. “I don't cook this often enough. I only cook it for you, you know.”

Derek looked up, surprised. He chewed the massive mouthful he had and swallowed. "Really?" He felt a little silly the way his heart swelled at the admission.  Derek wasn't sure he'd ever get used to people doing things for him, just to make him happy.

“Yeah,” Stiles said and smiled at Derek. “How am I going to eat all this by myself? It takes like three hours to get the meat just right. If I cooked this regularly I’d starve to death,” he teased. “Plus, I like doing this for you.”

Derek couldn't help it. At the earnest sincerity in Stiles' voice, he reached out and clasped Stiles' face in his hands, kissing him soundly. 

Stiles leaned into the kiss. “I love you, you know that?” he said softly. “I just want to make you happy. To be a good mate to you.”

"You do that just by being you," Derek said softly.  "I love you so much."  He leaned in and kissed Stiles again. "Now, can we finish eating your delicious food, so I can take you to bed and keep you wrapped up in my arms?"

“Yeah, we can,” Stiles said, a flush on his cheeks. “Plus, I slaved away on all this delicious food so you better enjoy it and not just scarf it down.”

Derek smiled sheepishly, properly chastened.  He started taking slower bites, savoring the tenderness of the meat and enjoying the contentment that always came when he was around Stiles for an extended period. He intended to enjoy every moment of their time together.

When they were done, Stiles gathered the plates and put them in the sink for tomorrow’s dishes and dragged Derek off to the bedroom. He pulled him in close, kissing him deeply, hands working at Derek’s clothes to strip him down. “There should be a no clothes rule for your visit. Clothes are bad, bad things. I want you naked all the time. Just for me.”

"As long as it goes both ways," Derek said, smirking. "It's been too long since I've been able to look my fill." He pulled Stiles' shirt off and dragged his nails down the length of leanly muscled chest before dropping his hand to the front of Stiles' pants and squeezing gently.

“No clothes for either of us,” Stiles agreed, groaning against Derek’s lips as he kissed him. When Stiles reached the bed, he kicked out of his jeans before stripping Derek. “Totally not ashamed to say I bought a huge bottle of lube yesterday.” Stiles laughed, crawling into bed and pulling Derek in with him. “C’mere.”

Derek laughed into Stiles' neck. "Hey, preparedness is sexy." He started rubbing his face against Stiles' neck, enjoying the way his skin pinked up so beautifully.  Already, he could feel their scents mingling, and he rumbled with happiness. Starting to feel a little frantic, he rolled his hips with purpose, rubbing the hard lengths of their dicks together.

Stiles groaned, trying to rock his hips against Derek's. "I'm always sexy then," Stiles mumbled, turning his chin up to bare his neck to Derek. "Need you to mark me up. Been too long. Need you to breed me tonight."

Derek growled, his hands tightening convulsively around Stiles' biceps. Without preamble, he sunk his teeth into the pale expanse of skin Stiles was offering and worried at it, moaning with delight.  He pulled his mouth off with a wet pop and hummed in satisfaction before slithering down Stiles' body and licking a long, wet stripe up his cock.

“Ohhh, fuck,” Stiles moaned, raising his hips. “You’re such a fucking tease,” he panted, moving a hand into Derek’s hair, rocking up against his face.

"Am I?" Derek hummed, before nuzzling at Stiles' balls and sucking one into his mouth.  He held Stiles' shifting hips down with his hands and moved on to running his tongue over Stiles' sac and perineum, enjoying the noises tumbling from his mate’s lips.

Stiles whined in the back of his throat, trying to shift his hips to get more, but only ended up writhing on the bed, hands clutching at Derek’s hair and hands, clawing at him desperately. “God, please Derek. Need you to lick me open.”

"Mmm, yeah," Derek replied and effortlessly flipped Stiles onto his stomach, pulling him up by the hips so his ass was in the air.  He spread open his cheeks and drew his tongue from Stiles' balls to up and across his hole.

Stiles groaned softly, pressing his ass back against Derek. “Fuck. Been so long,” he whimpered, twisting his hands into the bed sheets. “Missed feeling you like this.”

Derek pressed a kiss at the base of Stiles' spine.  "I'm here, I've got you." He ran his hand up the length of Stiles' back, hungry for the feeling of his skin.  He pressed his face back against Stiles, nuzzling and licking, feeling him start to open up for his tongue.  He couldn't wait to bury himself in that tight heat after so long without it.

Soft sounds left Stiles’ mouth with each lick over his hole, each suck against sensitive flesh and he whined softly as he tried to rock back onto Derek’s face. “Derek,” he breathed, arching his back and burying his face against the bed. “God, please. I need you. I need -” As Derek’s tongue flicked over Stiles’ hole again, follow by Derek’s lips closing on his hole and sucking, Stiles let out another desperate whine and shuddered.

Derek could have stayed with his face buried against Stiles' ass forever, but his own cock was now nearly a torturous throb between his legs, leaking and dripping onto the bedspread.  He set his teeth against the swell of one butt cheek and bit down gently. "So, where's this giant bottle of lube you spoke of?" As he said it, he traced one dry finger against the sloppy wetness of Stiles' hole, gently pushing in the tip and tugging at the rim.

“Nightstand drawer,” Stiles groaned, rocking back against Derek’s finger. “I think I can reach it.”

Derek kept up the movements of his finger as Stiles flailed in the direction of the nightstand, pulling a massive bottle out of it.  He laughed against Stiles' skin.  "Wow, you weren't kidding, were you?" He took the bottle and drew his finger out slowly, before popping open the cap and drizzling the lube on it.

“Hey, we’re gonna need it,” Stiles said with a laugh, looking over his shoulder. “Plus, I’m going to be taking your knot all winter. We’ll probably need another bottle,” he teased, licking his lips and pressing back against the slick fingers that rubbed over his hole. Stiles dropped his head against the bed with the first press of Derek’s finger into his hole, giving a sound of approval. “Gimme another finger. Wanna feel full while you open me up.”

Derek greedily took in the sight of his fingers being swallowed up by the tight clutch of Stiles’ body.  It was only a few minutes before he had three fingers steadily pumping in and out, nudging against Stiles’ prostate, determined to wring noises out of his mate. All of his senses felt sharpened and he wanted to surround himself with Stiles, his scent, his voice, his taste. Derek fisted his cock, spreading lube on it as asked Stiles, “Think you can take all of me now?” He pulled his fingers free and nudged the head of his cock against Stiles’ hole, barely pushing forward.

“Yeah, god, yeah. Please.” Stiles wiggled back against Derek’s dick, presenting his ass perfectly for his mate. “Get the fuck in me and knot me,” Stiles whined.

Derek slid his hips forward, the slow glide into Stiles making him groan. He bottomed out and rested for a moment, his hips pressed flush against Stiles’ ass. Finally being back where he belonged was overwhelming and he curled his body over Stiles, resting his forehead against Stiles’ back and pressing kisses to the knobs of his spine. When Stiles started wriggling his hips, Derek pulled out and thrust back into him in one smooth motion.

“God, Derek,” Stiles breathed, reaching a hand back to grip Derek’s thigh as if he could pull him tighter against his body.

“Fuck, you feel so good,” Derek groaned, digging his fingers into Stiles’ hips as he found his rhythm.  The sound of their skin slapping together and the moans and praise spilling from Stiles’ lips only spurred him on, trying to bury himself as deep inside as he could.

Stiles was only able to groan and clutch to Derek, digging blunt nails into Derek’s skin. He was a panting, whining mess as Derek shoved in and ground against him, Stiles’ fingers twisting into the bed sheets. “God, yeah. Fuck. Wanna come on your knot Derek.”

Derek growled and leaned forward, sliding his arms under Stiles’ chest and hauling him upright, letting his weight bring him even further down on Derek’s cock. “Can’t wait until I’m locked inside you,” Derek huffed into Stiles’ neck.  “It’s going to feel so perfect.”  He snapped his hips sharply upwards, hooking his chin over Stiles’ shoulder and watching his cock bouncing, slapping against his stomach. Derek slid one of his hands down and started jerking Stiles’ off and sunk his teeth into the side of his neck.

Stiles moaned loudly. “Oh, god, ohhh, fuckfuck. I’m gonna -” Stiles came hard over Derek’s fist. “DerekDerek, ohhfuck! Don't stop,” he panted, grinding back hard against Derek’s hips.

Derek growled in satisfaction as Stiles came, his ass clenching around Derek’s cock. He shoved in as deeply as he could, feeling the base of his dick swelling rapidly.  He circled his hips and continued stroking Stiles, not slowing the pace of his hand.  He took his mouth off Stiles’ neck and gasped, “Fuck, Stiles, I’m coming.” His knot had swelled to its full size and the pressure of Stiles’ squeezing him was too much. Derek’s cock spasmed and he emptied himself inside Stiles, moaning loudly in relief.

Stiles echoed Derek, squeezing tighter around his knot and clutching at the back of Derek’s neck. “Fuck, I love you,” Stiles muttered, twisting to give Derek a sloppy kiss. “I love you so much.” Stiles ground back against Derek’s hips to milk his knot for more come.

Derek moaned into Stiles’ mouth, swiping his tongue across Stiles’ lips. “God, I love you too,” he whimpered as spasm after spasm of pleasure swept through him. “Never leave me,” he murmured, rubbing his cheek against Stiles’ neck. As Stiles came down, Derek slowly laid them down on the bed on their sides, his hips still jerking as he intermittently pulsed come into Stiles’ body. He shuddered with each aftershock, the pleasure seeming to go on forever.

“I’ll never leave you,” Stiles promised, pulling Derek’s arm tighter around him. “No matter what. You’re my mate.”

“I’m holding you to that,” Derek murmured sleepily into Stiles’ hair. He tightened his hold when Stiles’ pulled his arm.  “Never going to let you go.”  Every muscle in Derek’s body felt relaxed and at peace.  He breathed in Stiles’ scent and let himself start to drift towards sleep, still locked snugly in his mate’s body.

“Better not,” Stiles mumbled, holding Derek’s arms around him as they drifted off to sleep.

***

Easton, Pennsylvania, near I-78

Muffled sounds caused Stiles to stir and he shifted, pulling his blanket more over him until he heard a low growl. Stiles jerked awake, sitting up quickly and reaching out for Derek, only to find the space next to him empty. “Derek?” he whispered loudly, trying to be quiet in the darkness. “What is it?”

Derek whispered around his fangs,  “Quiet. Listen.”

Stiles was unable to concentrate as sighed and ran a hand over his face, cringing at the roughness of the dirt caked onto his skin. He really needed a shower. His brain was still foggy from the memory of his dream around the edge of his consciousness. It made his chest ache, thinking about how things used to be and how he felt like he’d taken those precious moments for granted while they’d had them. While things had been peaceful and the only hectic part of his life was the research paper he couldn't finish because the only thing he wanted to do was climb into bed with Derek and ride his knot until he couldn't move anymore. He looked up and strained his hearing when a sound startled him again in the distance. He jumped at the sound of gunshots and the not too distant screams that followed. “That’s close.”

Derek climbed out the windshield of the destroyed car that they’d taken shelter in that night.  It wasn’t the most comfortable, but it had threatened to rain earlier, and with how miserable their lives were, they hadn’t wanted to add to it by getting drenched as they tried to sleep.  He crouched on the hood and tilted his head to the side, focusing on the racket. “A half mile away,” he said quietly.  “Maybe less.” Derek growled lowly again as his vision bled red. Every muscle was tense as he continuously scanned their surroundings.

“Maybe we should leave,” Stiles said quietly as he followed Derek outside. “Maybe we should get further away. If they’re that close then they could be here at any moment. We should go. With that much blood in the area if those people didn't survive…” Stiles shook his head and grabbed his blanket and bag from the car, shoving the blanket inside before he grabbed his katana. “You can see in the darkness. I can follow you. It’s not like there’s light here anyway near the car.”

Derek reached his hand out and grabbed Stiles’ wrist.  “Stiles, wait,” he said firmly.  “I can see in the dark, yes, but you still can’t. It won’t do us any good to have you running around blind.”  He swung his head around in all directions, looking for any movement. He tugged Stiles’ wrist until he was crouched next to him on the hood.  “It sounds like they’re moving off.”  The gunshots and screaming had stopped. Stiles opened his mouth and Derek rested his fingers against his lips and shushed him. “I think we should stay here until daylight.”

Stiles looked at Derek, even though he couldn't see him that well in the dark despite their close proximity. “You think it’s safe enough?” he asked quietly, looking out into the blackness around them. Stiles couldn't see anything. He could barely see his hand in front of his face. Everything was so different now with how quickly the world had changed around them. “Maybe we should find a tree.” Even if he wouldn't be able to see well enough to climb it without hurting himself.

"A tree's a good idea, in theory," Derek said. "But you're exhausted. What happens if you fall out and break your leg?" He put his hands on Stiles' shoulders. "I can heal a broken bone... you can't." He leaned his forehead against Stiles'. “I won't let anything happen to you," Derek promised, kissing him gently.

Stiles snorted a laugh against Derek’s lips. “Your breath stinks,” he teased, knowing his smelled just as bad. He kissed Derek back anyway, knowing there was no way to escape how dirty either of them were with the life on the road they’d been leading. Stiles pulled away and grabbed his bag, digging around inside of it. He pulled out a shiny wrapper with a grin. “Last piece.” Stiles tore it in half and handed half the gum to Derek before shoving his own into his mouth and leaned against Derek with a sigh. “Not like we’re getting any sleep tonight.”

Derek took the offered gum with a smile and popped it in his mouth then settled down further on the hood and huffed.  He looked up at the moon, which was barely a sliver of light.  "It's only a few hours until sunrise," said, wrapping his arm around Stiles' shoulder.  "And then we can hit the road again."

“Maybe we’ll find a car in the next town we go through,” Stiles said hopefully, trying not to think about how he’d lost the Jeep. “Don't think we’re going to be able to walk all the way across country.” He chewed his gum quietly, sighing and closing his eyes even though he knew he’d never be able to fall back asleep. Having Derek’s arm around him made Stiles feel safer, though. Even if they both knew they weren't, especially out in the open near the road on a car.

"Yeah, I doubt it," Derek said, voice dry.  He scooted closer to Stiles and tightened his arm around him. "We'll figure it out." There came a shuffling noise nearby and Derek whipped his head around. He felt Stiles inhale sharply. After a moment Derek said, "It's just an animal."

Stiles sighed and relaxed against Derek again, heart pounding. He looked over in the direction of where the noise had come from. “Is it still there? Go get it so we can eat it,” he said, poking Derek’s side. “Unless you think you’ll crunch around too loudly that the Infected will hear us.” As if on cue, Stiles’ stomach growled. “I wasn't talking to you,” he said as he looked down at his stomach. “No one asked for your opinion, stomach.”

"It's gone," Derek said. "And I'm not leaving you here to chase after it." He reached through the windshield and grabbed his backpack. He lifted the flap and rummaged inside, pulling out a power bar and pressing it into Stiles' hand. "Best we can do right now." Derek leaned his forehead against Stiles' temple and sighed.

"We should save it," Stiles said quietly and gave it back to Derek before closing his eyes and nuzzling against him. "Can eat it in the morning." Stiles turned onto his side before tucking himself against Derek's chest. "And maybe tomorrow we can catch something."

Derek dropped the power bar back into his bag and put his arms around Stiles. “Try to sleep,” he murmured, “I’ll wake you when it’s light and we’ll try to find something.”

“Okay,” Stiles mumbled, wrapping his arm around Derek to hold him tight. “Love you,” he said softly, trying to let Derek’s scent lull him back to sleep, despite how filthy they both were.

Derek pressed a kiss to Stiles’ matted hair.  “Love you too,” he whispered.  “So much.” 

It was going to be another long few hours until dawn.

***

Stiles groaned as he woke and buried his face against Derek’s chest. “How long was I out?” he asked, turning his face up after a few moments to nuzzle against Derek’s cheek.

Derek shifted a little, the car’s hood creaking as he stroked Stiles’ back. “About three hours,” he said.  “Dawn will be here in less than an hour.” 

“You should try to sleep,” Stiles said, tightening his arm around Derek. “I’ll stay up. Don't need you dead on your feet all day today.”

Derek scrubbed a hand over his face, his beard rough on his palm.  “I’ll try,” he muttered.  “As long as you get in the car with me.”

“I’ll get in the car with you,” Stiles assured him, moving to sit up and stretch. “Come on wolf man. I’ll follow you in.” Stiles tossed his bag through the windshield and waited for Derek to crawl in before handing him his katana and followed in after him.

Derek climbed over the front seat and dropped into the larger back, flecks of dried blood and dirt dropping off his clothes.  He laid his head back and held his arm out for Stiles, trying to relax enough to sleep.

Stiles moved into the seat next to him, Derek wrapping his arms around him. “I’ll protect you,” Stiles said with a small smile, pulling his katana into the backseat with them and propping it up next to him in the open space. “Get some sleep.” He gave Derek a gentle kiss and rubbed Derek’s thigh. “I’ll wake you in a little bit.”

“One hour,” Derek mumbled, his eyelids already falling shut.  “We’ve got a lot of ground to cover today, if we want to make it out of the city.”  He turned his head so his face was pointed at Stiles’ neck and he could breathe him in. Under the dirt and grime, there was still the comforting natural scent of him there to help lull Derek into sleep.

~

Sometime later Derek grumbled as a hand shook his shoulder gently. His eyes slowly opened and he saw Stiles’ dirt smeared face peering down at him. He smiled, despite everything, even as his ears picked up a faint shuffling near by.  “Are you ready for a long day?” Derek asked, his voice rough from sleep.

"Yeah." Stiles smiled and have him a quick peck on the lips. "But I have to kill this Infected before we start walking." Stiles sighed and glanced out the window. An Infected was shuffling around the car, drawn to the sound of their voices. "Get our bags," Stiles said as he grabbed his katana and crawled out of the car.

Any residual tiredness evaporated instantly.  "Stiles, wait," Derek said, but he was already out of the car.

Stiles pulled his katana out of its sheath as the Infected shuffled up to him. It didn't take Stiles long to lob it's head off before it got too close. "At least it was only one," Stiles said, wiping the blood off on his jeans.

Derek paused, hanging halfway out of the car.  He wasn't sure he'd ever get used to seeing Stiles wielding that sword so gracefully and self-assured.  He hefted himself out of the windshield and cursed as a piece of glass sliced his palm.  He held his hand still as the skin knitted back together and then wiped his hand on his thigh. "Starting the day with matching fresh bloodstains," Derek groused.  "I'm sure that's a great sign."

"Well at least you can't get an infection," Stiles pointed out, taking his bag from Derek when it was handed to him. "You know if you want to sleep a little longer we can find a place in town. Maybe a bed. Might be a motel around here."

Derek shook his head.  All of his instincts were on high alert now, thanks to the Infected Stiles had killed. "No way am I going to be able to fall back asleep." He dug in his bag and pulled out a map of the town. "We need to get started on this list of supplies, see what we can find." Derek looked up at Stiles, raising his eyebrows. "If we're going to make it on foot even a small way, that is."

"Yeah, okay. We can probably find most of the stuff in town, but there will probably be a lot of Infected around." Stiles sighed. "And I want to make sure we hit any pharmacies to check for supplies."

Derek consulted the map and pulled out a small notebook to scribble down some notes. "It looks like the nearest Walgreens is about one mile north of us." He ran his finger along the route.  "We could start there."

"Mile isn't too far." Stiles sheathed his katana and slung the strap over his head before shouldering his bag. "Whenever we head out of town I'll set some traps. Maybe we can have some meat for dinner."

Derek was desperate for fresh meat, his stomach rumbling just at the thought of it. "Here's hoping," he said, slinging his own bag over his shoulder.  He caught Stiles' hand and laced their fingers together before starting off down the road, the buildings around them silent and imposing. After ten minutes of walking, they were still undisturbed but Derek felt as tightly coiled as a spring. He was casting his eyes about when he spotted a sign that peaked his interest.  He tugged Stiles' arm and pointed.

Stiles wasn't sure what he was looking for as he searched the area Derek was pointing and then spotted the battered sporting goods store sign. "Nice. Think I might get me some fresh clothes," Stiles said excitedly. "And maybe we can find a tent if it's not too picked over."

"It's definitely worth a look," Derek agreed.  They hurried to the front of the store and peered through the windows. Even though some of the shelves and racks were toppled, it looked like they were still pretty full.  Derek put a finger to his lips and carefully pulled open the door. He sniffed but couldn't smell either unwashed humans or the distinctive odor of the Infected. He beckoned Stiles after him and entered the store. 

Once they were inside, Stiles followed Derek, surveying the store and left over supplies. Stiles stopped at the first rack of men's clothes and looked through the shirts until he found one that looked like it might fit Derek. "This might fit you," he said, tossing it to Derek then finding one for himself.

Wasting no time, Derek stripped the grimy shirt off and pulled the new one on. It didn’t feel the greatest on his dirty body, but was infinitely better than the one he’d had. He looked around and spotted an aisle for backpacks and camping bags.  “I’m going to check those out,” he told Stiles, pointing.

"Yeah, okay," Stiles nodded, gathering a few more pieces of clothes and shoved them into his bag. Stiles grabbed socks and ponchos and random things on his way to the aisle Derek had disappeared into. "Find anything?" he asked, already looking over the backpacks.

Derek lifted up one of the largest packs that the store had. “I think I can fit a good amount in this.” He inspected it more. “Looks like most of their bags have a place to strap a sleeping bag, and if we can find a collapsible tent, we might be a little more comfortable once we’re out in the country.” Derek continued scanning, but couldn’t find another bag any bigger. “It should have room for a decent amount of food and medical supplies as well. Outside the city, we’ll start hunting, but I still want a store of canned goods for backup.”

"Good thing you have supernatural strength to carry that bag if you're filling it up with cans. My human back gives a protest," Stiles said with a chuckle and grabbed a bag that was larger than his, had a frame on it and support straps that would close both over his chest and hips to help him carry it. "Looks like I can put a sleeping bag on this one." He squatted down and opened it up, starting to quickly and efficiently transfer his stuff over. "Have anything you want me to carry for you?"

“Honestly, I think we should split most of the stuff up in our bags, so if we lost one somehow, we’re not without food or medical supplies or whatever,” Derek said, dropping the meager things he had in his backpack into the pockets of his larger bag. “We each carry our own sleeping bag, I’ll carry the tent, and we divide up food, clothes and medical supplies.”  He finished and tossed his empty backpack onto the floor. “We can just load mine up more.”

"Okay. Well I got some clothes and stuff back there. I can put some in your bag," Stiles said, taking some back out of his pack and put into Derek's. "I was going to check to see if they had any fire starters and weather proof matches. Maybe a little camping pot that we can use for water. Collapsible water bottles. Basic stuff. You want me to look for anything else while you're getting the tent?"

“Equipment for fishing might not be a bad idea,” Derek said after a moment. “Nothing too elaborate, but it’s a good idea to keep our diet as varied as possible. We should make sure to pick up any vitamins we can find too, to help with nutrient deficiencies.” He stood up and shouldered his new pack. “I’ll try to find a tent. Don’t get too far away. Let’s try to stay in each other’s line of sight.”

Stiles nodded. "I'll try to be quick." He gave Derek a brief kiss and hurried off to find the fishing supplies.

On his way to find a tent, Derek passed a row with hiking boots.  His own shoes were getting pretty worn, so he walked down the aisle.  He grabbed a pair in his and Stiles’ sizes and shoved them in the bag so they could try them on later.  He came to the tents, most of which hadn’t been picked over.  Derek pulled a few down, picking a small two-person tent. Not that nylon would be much defense against an Infected, but he could count on his senses to alert him to something coming close long before they touched it.  And at least they’d stay dry.  He turned and saw Stiles’ still stuffing items into his bag, and headed his way.

Stiles jumped at the movement to his right, hand on his katana before he sighed and relaxed when he saw it was Derek. "Sorry," he muttered. "Stomp your feet when you're coming up to me or something." Stiles let his katana slide back into its place and turned back to the shelf. "I got us a hand full of fire starters and lots of weatherproof matches and -" He picked up a tube and showed it to Derek. "Apparently it's supposed to help start fire." He shrugged and tossed it into his bag then grabbed a stainless steel camping pot. “I also got fishing supplies.”

“Sorry,” Derek said, blushing. “I grabbed some hiking boots for you.” He pulled them out and showed them to Stiles.  “Is there anything else we need before we go on?"

Stiles looked at the boots appreciatively and took them, then handed Derek collapsible fishing poles. He shoved the boots into his bag. "I don't know," he sighed. "I feel like there’s always something we could be missing. Maybe we should just do one more walk through?"

“Sounds good to me,” Derek agreed.  “Just see if anything catches our eye.”  They made a quick pass through the store, but nothing jumped out beyond what they already had.  Derek opened the door and squinted against the sunlight.  The town itself was still quiet, but the silence just kept making him uneasy. He gestured down the road, “Just a few more blocks to the nearest Walgreens.  Hopefully we’ll find food there, along with the medicine.”

Stiles nodded, following Derek the few blocks to the drug store. "Ready when you are," Stiles said with a jerk of his chin to the Walgreens door.

Derek opened the door and his heart sank.  The inside was a complete disaster; the floor was almost completely covered with products, shelves were tipped over and broken lights were hanging from the ceiling.  He looked at Stiles and sighed, “This is going to be fun.”

"Isn't it always," Stiles said, echoing Derek's sigh as he pulled out his katana. There was no way there wasn't at least one Infected in there with how wrecked the place was. "Let's go straight for the medicine. If we have to we can get food somewhere else."

Derek started picking his way through the mess, wincing as glass bottles broke under his feet. The noise sounded deafening to his ears. The pharmacy was tucked away in the back corner.  As they passed the food aisles, Derek was pleased to see quite a few canned goods in the mess on the floor. He nudged Stiles and raised his eyebrows.  “On our way out,” he whispered.  Once they reached the pharmacy counter, Derek easily vaulted it and landed on spilled bottles and pills. “What a mess,” he grumbled.

"Welcome to the apocalypse." Stiles climbed over the counter less gracefully than Derek had jumped it, frowning at the crunch under his feet. "We should see if they have any antibiotics. Hopefully they have some Adderall," Stiles said and started looking through the bottles on the shelf.

“Pain medication too,” Derek added, picking up bottles and tossing them back down again. Every few minutes, they’d find something usable and drop in their bags.  Suddenly, Derek’s ears twitched when he heard the sound of heartbeats. He tapped Stiles on the shoulder and put his fingers to his lips.

Stiles froze, then tried to crouch down and winced when junk under his foot moved.

Derek stood and moved towards the sounds, every muscle tensed. The closest heartbeat was only a few feet away now. Derek paused and swung himself around one of the shelves, grabbing a man by the neck and throwing him against the wall. “What do you want?” he growled, holding the stranger by the throat. The man dropped the bow he’d been holding and grabbed for Derek’s hands, trying to pull them off.

A gun clicked behind Derek and a guy said, "Let him go and give us your stuff and you won't get a back full of lead."

Derek felt his eyes bleeding red.  The guy he had by the throat looked horrified. Derek threw him to the side and spun around, jerking as the gun fired and he took a round to the shoulder. He roared, fangs lengthening. The gunman cursed and backpedaled, falling on his ass on the floor. “What are you?” he gasped.

“Someone you don’t want to try to mess with again,” Derek said flatly, kicking the gun towards Stiles. “Get out of here before I rip your throat out.”

Stiles picked up the gun as both men scramble off, sprinting out of the store. "Dammit," he said, hurrying over to Derek to look at his shoulder. "At least it wasn't to the face," Stiles grumbled. "We need to clean this before it heals too much and get the damn buckshot out."

Derek pulled his shirt off. “This lasted all of thirty minutes,” he muttered, dropping it on the floor. He flicked his claws out and started slicing open the skin that was already healed, plucking out bits of buckshot with the tips. He worked steadily, teeth gritted against the pain, rivulets of blood running down his hand and arm.

"Never mind, I'll go look for supplies while you dig it out," Stiles said with frustration in his tone and took the gun, going back to grab his bag from the pharmacy.

“Stiles, wait,” Derek said, reaching his clean hand out to grab his sleeve. “Who knows how many men they have around here.  We need to get this done fast and get the fuck out.”  He looked down at his shoulder and rotated it.  He could still feel bits of shot grinding in it, but the pain didn’t inhibit his movement.  “I’ve got enough for now, you can cut the rest out of me when we’re away from here.”  He picked up his bag.  “I say we grab enough food for a few days and not press our luck.” 

"Just take the rest out. It'll be harder when it heals up all the way. If I see any of their buddies I'll make sure to shoot them." Stiles headed down an aisle. "You get the food and I'll get things humans need. Like bandages and disinfectants."

Derek knew better than to argue with Stiles when he had set his mind on something. He sighed and said, “Fine.” He resumed digging in his shoulder, moving as quickly as he could, listening for any new sounds. With the final pieces out, he picked up his ruined shirt and wiped as much blood off his chest as he could, before jumping the counter with his bag and heading for Stiles.

Stiles was throwing what little first aid supplies he found in his bag along with a single discarded bar of soap and other personal products that were laying around as Derek walked down the aisle towards him. "Did you get food?" Stiles asked.

“Food’s that way,” Derek said, not breaking stride as he moved past Stiles. “I have a feeling it’s going to be mostly off-brand beef stew, but beggars can’t be choosers.” He started kicking through the mess in the food aisle, avoiding the freezer section where there was melted ice cream all over the floor.  He found a decent number of canned foods and was pleased to find quite a bit of fruit.  He loaded his bag with as much as he could lift and made a pile for Stiles to put in his. Afterwards, he found a rack of plain t-shirts and found one his size, pulling it on.  

Stiles didn't say anything as he put the designated pile of food in his bag and strapped it on his back. He pulled the strap of his katana over his shoulder, shoving the gun at Derek as he walked by him.

Derek caught the gun, bewildered.

Stiles snagged the discarded bow from the floor on their way out. "So where are you taking us now? Any more stops?"

“I’m not sure.” Derek strode faster to keep up with Stiles, who was practically power walking.  “What’s your deal?”

"What's my deal?" Stiles asked with a brief glare in Derek's direction. "You know what, I don't even want to talk about it. I just want to get the hell out of here."

Derek threw up his hands and grabbed Stiles’ shirt. “Dammit, Stiles, stop,” he said. “Be pissed at me for whatever it is, but we’re not putting our lives in danger.” He looked at Stiles seriously. “I refuse to lose you. And if I recall correctly, you once told me I never would.”

"News flash! It's not safe anywhere anymore Derek. And yes, I'm pissed at you. But unless you want me to yell at you in the middle of the street and attract all kinds of attention to us, we're leaving. Somewhere out of town, unless we need to get anything else."

“I agree, yelling at each other in town is probably not the best idea,” Derek said. “But at least leaving town in the right direction is. You’re heading north. We need to go west.” He pointed down one of the side streets. “Once we’re out of town, will you at least tell me what I did wrong?”

Stiles glared down the street Derek was pointing him in and started off west. "I don't want to talk right now."

Derek shook his head, following after Stiles, adjusting the straps on his bag and pulling his map out of the pocket of his jeans.  He looked at the area and saw they could make a good distance out of town if they kept up a decent pace. By heading directly west, they’d avoid most towns and keep mostly to woods and fields, at least for the next fifty miles or so. And it looked like there were a good number of lakes and rivers in the vicinity to replenish their water supplies. Derek pocketed the map and kept walking, keeping a respectful distance from Stiles.