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It’s a little after ten, the sky a dark shade of blue but not completely overtaken by night yet. Derek waits on the edge of Stiles’ bed for the teen to return. Footsteps pound up the stairs and Stiles’ voice echoes out, calling out a good night to his father. Then the door creaks open, and his reaction is just as Derek expects it to be; a messy tangle of flailing limbs, backpack crashing to the ground.


“Jesus Christ, dude!” Stiles exclaims when he calms a little, peeking his head out into the hall to ensure his father doesn’t come running before pushing the door closed. “What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be dead! Did anyone see you?”


And he races over to the window now and looks down onto the street as if he expects to see a gang of hunters out there with pitchforks and torches alight. Derek already knows there’s no one there. He was careful, he was quiet, and he certainly wasn’t followed.


“Seriously? If you get caught...” But the words still in Stiles’ mouth and he finally turns away from the window to look at Derek, to catch his gaze and hold it. He opens his mouth, closes it, and then he wets his lips and tries again. “If they catch you, they’ll kill you for sure this time.”


“I just came to say thank you,” Derek answers, voice solemn, words heavy in his mouth. He’s never been good at thanking people. He’s even worse at goodbyes.


Stiles narrows his eyes on him, but after barely a moment, a look of understanding dawns on his features. “You’re leaving?”


Somehow, it doesn’t sound like a question. If anything, it sounds more like a pained accusation.


“First thing in the morning,” Derek answers. “I’ve got to clean up a few messes first.”


That had always been the plan. At least, that had been Derek’s plan. The only way to get the hunters to leave them alone was if they thought Derek was dead. It hadn’t been as difficult as he’d imagined. A few pretty fireworks, a body stolen from the hospital morgue... it had turned out perfectly. The only problem now was that in order to truly convince the hunters that he was no longer a threat, he had to disappear. Lying low wouldn’t cut it. Lying low wouldn’t keep everyone else safe... wouldn’t keep Stiles safe.


‘Come with me,’ Derek wants to say. But he doesn’t. It isn’t fair on Stiles to ask. Stiles is too loyal, too in tune with the needs of others. If he asked, he knows it would break Stiles’ heart and tear him in two, forcing him to choose between his father and Derek. Derek refuses to do that to him. So he stays quiet and hangs his head.


He hears Stiles swallow, hard and thick, his heart rate picking up speed. The teen shuffles from foot to foot, uncertain, and when he opens his mouth, the words are almost as silent as a breath. “Don’t go.”


It’s not quite a question or request, but it’s not a demand either. It’s something else altogether, something that makes Derek’s chest tighten, his eyes flickering back and forth across the carpeting of Stiles’ room, contemplating the words... the plea.


“Stiles,” he says, but he doesn’t get any further.


Stiles drops down onto the bed beside him, his hand reaching out briefly as if to grab Derek’s before retreating and forming a fist that Stiles pounds against his bouncing knee instead. “I mean it, Derek. Don’t... go.”


There are unsaid words there, the way Stiles’ heart speeds up and slows down and speeds back up again... it tells Derek that he was wrong to have come. It would have been better to just leave without a word to anyone.


Derek says nothing, does nothing.


“You have a home here,” Stiles continues, and that almost breaks Derek.


He hasn’t had a home for the longest time, not since Kate and the fire.


“A home?” he questions, his fingers twisting into his jeans. “Is that what you call it? Moving from place to place? Constantly hiding from the hunters? That’s what you call home?”


This time Stiles does grab his hand, and it seems to take them both by surprise. Derek finds himself looking into Stiles’ eyes, and he’s only part aware as Stiles brings both of their hands up to his chest and places Derek’s there, palm flat against his shirt. There’s a steady thrum and Derek looks down to see his fingers splayed out, desperately wanting to curl up, to cling to the grey shirt like a lifeline.


This is home,” Stiles says.


Derek doesn’t fight the grip Stiles has on his hand, even when it slackens. He just feels the rise and fall of the teen’s chest and the strength of his heart within it.


“I can’t,” Derek says, but he doesn’t move away. He doesn’t pull back.  “They’ll keep on coming, and it won’t just be me they come after.”


Stiles closes his eyes and drops his head. When his hand falls away, Derek feels a sense of loss at the lack of contact. “They’ll come anyway... whether you’re here or not.”


“Not if I’m gone, not if they can’t find me.”


“And what happens if they do?”


‘Then you’ll be safe,’ he very nearly says, but the words trip up on his tongue before he can because he knows it’s the wrong thing to say. So he just opens his mouth instead, attempting to work out something else to say instead. It shouldn’t have been a problem. It should never have been a problem. Yet, somehow, coming back to Beacon Hills, everything changed.


He finally pulls his hand away and pushes up from the bed, pausing only for a moment before moving to the window and readying himself for departure. “Goodbye, Stiles.”


He doesn’t make it out the open window. A firm hand wraps around the collar of his leather jacket and pulls him back into the room. If he’s honest with himself, he knows he heard it coming. He knows he heard Stiles’ heart skitter at the decision he made and knows he heard the bedsprings creak when Stiles shot up. Worst of all, he knows he could have fought against it and could have been halfway down the street by now.


But his heart is weak, his resolve even weaker.


There is anger in Stiles’ eyes and Derek opens his mouth, ready to argue with whatever Stiles has to say. But Stiles says nothing. For once the teen is silent, and his actions drive Derek into silence too, because Stiles’ lips are moving against his and Derek can’t argue with that.


The kiss is unnurtured, a little sloppy but fierce and confident all the same, and Derek knows immediately that it’s something Stiles hasn’t done often, if at all. He also knows he should break away, but just as Stiles begins to pull back, Derek’s hand catches him and holds him in place. To deepen the kiss would be wrong but his mind is blank and he can’t think of the reasons why, so he does it anyway.


He can feel the heat from Stiles rolling over him, mixing with the heat that spreads throughout him also. The world seems so far away, everything else lost to the dizzying sensation that lightens his head. It’s only when the need for oxygen becomes too great that they finally break apart and his senses slowly begin to return.


Stiles swallows and meets his gaze, his eyes so vulnerable in a way that Derek knows too well. “Stay,” he breathes out, voice wavering only ever so slightly.


Derek closes his eyes, his fingers twisting into the fabric of Stiles’ shirt, and he feels his resolve disappear altogether. It was never supposed to be like this. The walls he had built up were supposed to protect his heart. They were supposed to keep everyone out, and yet here he is, desperately clinging onto the one thing he swore he would never have again.


He breathes out and rests his forehead against Stiles’. His hand moves up of its own accord, to rest against the younger man’s chest, just above his heart. It still thumps, strong and steady, even though Derek can sense the fear in Stiles.


And why can’t he say no? Why can’t he turn away before he falls too deep? Why can he only cling tighter, listening as his own heartbeat matches Stiles’?


“Home?” he questions, unsure of the word and himself.


Stiles nods in agreement, just enough for Derek to feel it. “Home.”