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There's a howling that stays beneath my skin

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He finds Cora in Santa Cruz. She’s booked a hotel for two weeks in Puerto Ayora and once he checks into the room next to hers- dumping his duffel bag on the bed without sparing a glance at the room- he stalks out to locate her.

He goes straight to the pool, because Cora’s his little sister and he knows her. Finding her is always easy. She’s sunning herself on a deck chair by the water in a black bikini with a large floppy black hat covering her eyes, golden eyes- probably flaring at the presence of a new wolf.

“Found you,” he mutters, catching her ankle and tugging her halfway down the chair with a sharp yank.

Cora kicks out at him with her other foot but the effort is lazy, sluggish. She’s probably been sitting in the sun for too long.

“Of course you did, idiot. I texted you the name of the hotel when you said you were leaving Beacon Hills and told you to come here.”

Derek ignores the jibe in favour of snagging the chair next to her. He’s not dressed for the pool, still in his leather jacket and jeans, but the heat’s not bothering him too much yet.

“How’ve you been?” he asks, observing her critically through the lens of his sunglasses.

She looks good and healthy, like she's been taking care of herself. There’s not a scratch on her. And why would there be? The pack she’s returned to in Ecuador have always treated her well and Cora doesn’t smell at all distressed. Just relaxed, really relaxed.

Derek wonders what that feels like.

She looks good, better than he’d expected. Sometimes he forgets werewolves don’t have it so bad, at least outside of Beacon Hills they don’t. That damn tree really ruined any chances he’d had at trying to adjust to a life of quiet survival. There’s nothing quiet about Beacon Hills these days. The thought is laughable.

“I’m fine. Would you relax, Derek?” she huffs. “Nothing is trying to kill us and you’re harshing my mood.”

Cora inclines her head pointedly and he realises he’s half perched on the deck chair, ready to leap up and fight at a moment's notice. Or run. He shrugs out of his dad’s jacket, folding it over the edge of the chair and then crosses his arms.

He’s relaxed, okay? He took the jacket off. He’s plenty relaxed.

“Right,” he snarks back eventually. “Because you’re always in such a great mood.”

“You know I am,” she says sweetly before she throws her drink in his face.

It’s a cocktail and the alcohol burns his nostrils as he splutters with furious surprise. Cora’s already laughing, arms bunched up around her stomach as if to hold her ribs together and he dives for her just as she tries to leap away.

She’s not quick enough. He pulls her thrashing limbs into his arms and rises to his feet, walking directly toward the pool with a solemn and suggestible finality. Her eyes widen once she realises what he’s about to do. Derek grins, wide and predator like, relishing the stretch of his mouth, the hint of his jaws.

He barely reaches the edge before she twists out of his hold and into the air, claws anchored suddenly in his shirt and using werewolf strength to tug him into the pool after her.

Derek goes down hard, water rushing about his ears as his shoes hit the ceramic tiles at the bottom. He stands up quickly, flicking his hair out of his face as he glowers at her. His sunglasses wink at him sunnily from the bottom of the pool. Cora’s already on her back, floating languidly and remorselessly past him. Werewolf siblings are the worst.

“Relaxed yet?”

“Dammit, Cora,” he snaps, reaching down to fish the glasses out, but it comes out more fond than he intends. He’s losing his edge these days, turning human and misplacing the sharpness of burning, animal rage will do that to you.

He doesn’t immediately get out of the water, though. The temperature’s nice and it is hot after all as the sun prickles warningly on the back of his exposed neck.

“Where’s Braeden these days?” she wonders, hair billowing out behind her eerily on the water as she bobs gently across the surface.

Derek spots her soaked hat floating past and helpfully shoves it onto her face, satisfied with the spluttering sounds it evokes.

“Hunting the desert wolf,” he offers haltingly. “We’re not- together anymore.”

He still isn’t sure if they ever were together; they never really talked about it. So it’s arguable that they didn’t exactly break up, just parted ways. There were no bad feelings though. Surprisingly, it’s the first separation that hasn’t ended in murder, torture or ex psychotic girlfriends returning from the dead to kill him. For once, he intends to enjoy the amicable split for what it is. A split. It's all so normal that Derek doesn't know how he's supposed to react.

Cora struggles with the hat for a second before she recovers. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine,” he insists, though it probably isn’t. They all know Derek hasn’t been fine for a while. He’s good at surviving and it seems as if that’s about all he’s good at. Fine is not a state he is familiar with.

They’re quiet for a minute, Cora’s steady heartbeat comforting as the water laps gently at his soaked shirt.

“So how’s Beacon Hills?” she wonders slyly, and she says it in a way that’s too specific for him to ignore. She says ‘Beacon Hills’ like she’d said ‘Braeden’. Derek is all for ignoring the meaning behind that.

“Cora,” he warns, but doesn’t acknowledge it. It’s easier not to. “How should I know?”

“Don’t bullshit,” she argues. “I know you’re more than capable of texting and that they text you constantly for advice.”

“It’s not constant,” he protests hotly. “We just have an advantage they don’t, growing up as werewolves. Why shouldn’t we help?”

“I think you mean ‘you’,” Cora clarifies. “Beacon Hills doesn’t text me.”

Derek splashes her. “Scott, texts sometimes for advice and to keep me updated.”

There’s the slightest uptick that suggests that’s not entirely true. Derek will vehemently deny its existence, but Cora zeros in on it like a homing device.

“Right, Scott, of course,” she agrees, voice laced with sarcasm as she splashes back more violently. “And not the kid who came to talk to me for hours about you and your teenage years.”

Derek’s head snaps up. “What? When did you talk to Stiles about me?”

Cora grins, catching him out and he scowls at her open triumph. “Before I left. He wanted to know about you, seemed to know a lot already, though.”

Derek frowns at her words, wondering why in the hell Stiles can’t just leave things alone. He’s always gotta keep pressing until everything unravels and all hell breaks lose. Always tugging the damn thread.

“Why did you-?”

Cora sighs and tips her head back like she’s trying to drown herself, only Derek’s hand snakes out underneath the base of her neck to support her underwater. His fingers tangle in her hair and she only rolls her eyes at him a little at the overly protective display.

“I don’t know, because you were different than I remembered and he asked. He’s annoying. I couldn’t say no, otherwise he would’ve kept bugging me.”

Derek sighs, because she’s right. Stiles would’ve pressed until Cora tried to rip his throat out, which she would’ve done without a second thought if pushed far enough. She’s almost more violent than he is now. He’s not the only one who has changed.

A woman slinks past the pool, eyes pointedly admiring him as she raises an eyebrow at his drenched clothes. Derek sighs and turns his back on her.

“I’m going to get changed,” he says shortly.

“Fine,” Cora snaps back.

He and Cora never used to fight. They used to gang up on Laura together along with Erik whenever she got too bossy. His youngest brother, Aaron had been five at the time, too small to roughhouse with them then.

He’s not sure he knows this Cora. She’s made it clear she doesn’t know this version of him, either. They definitely don’t know much of each other at all anymore.

They’re off to a great start.

The wet fabric spews water everywhere as he climbs out and he removes his shoes, socks and shirt, carrying them in his fist in favour of not messing up the hallways when he heads back toward his room. He gingerly picks up his dad’s jacket, trying not to get it wet with his fingers as he digs into the right pocket for his room key.

The room has a little balcony outside with a glass table and wooden chairs and he darts across the carpet to the bathroom, rinsing his wet clothes quickly under the tap before he goes outside to hang them up on the chairs. The heat should dry them quickly enough.

His jeans are dripping a trail in the carpet so he heads back to the bathroom, unbuttoning them and grumbling when the fabric clings relentlessly to his wet skin. Once he’s struggled out of them, he ditches his underwear and steps underneath the shower head.

Derek barely adjusts the knobs to the temperature sweet spot he likes before his cell phone buzzes through the closed door in the other room. He tries to ignore it. Whatever problem it is, there’s nothing he can physically do to help them here. And he might have oversold Scott’s texting earlier; there’s not much advice Derek can give that Deaton wouldn’t already know. They don’t really need him.

He tries to relax, letting his hand trail down his belly absentmindedly following his happy trail as he passes the ridges of muscle and brushes against his cock. It’s soft between his thighs, uninterested, but he slides his hand along, gently tugs it anyway. This is how people relax, right?

His dick twitches a little when he reaches the sensitive head, but after a several more unimaginative strokes, he sighs heavily and gives up. Derek’s not really in the mood for it, anyway.

The text awaiting him in the other room niggles at the back of his mind too much for him to enjoy the hot water so he steps out, leaving it running as he opens the bathroom door and stomps over toward the bed.

His cell is sitting atop of the duffle bag where he left it and he awkwardly thumbs his water-sluiced fingers over the screen to unlock it, seeing Stiles’ name flash up on the screen. When that does nothing, he curses and wipes the screen and his wet hands on the edge of the bed’s comforter and tries again.

His cell unlocks and opens to Stiles’ message.

Found ur name at Snr Scribe, DH it says.

For a moment, he’s transported straight back to the exact moment, scribbling his initials onto the shelf, only because Laura had made him. There were a lot of things she’d made him do then, after the fire. Graduating had been one of them.

He doesn’t know what he’s meant to say.

Mine and every other student that went to Beacon Hills High, he types, but then reads it again and realises it sounds almost flirtatious. His thumb quickly deletes the evidence and tries again.


Now he just sounds interested. More interested than he should be. Why does he care that Stiles found his initials and felt the need to tell him about it? It’s not like he went out of his way to look for them. Or did he?

Derek swears, deletes again and furiously types out an answer and clicks send, done with overthinking this. He glances down at his reply.


The words swim accusingly up at him, angry and red. He tosses the cell onto the bed and stomps back toward the shower.

Only once he’s clean and dressed in dry shorts and a singlet, does he bother to check his cell phone again. Although he knows his hearing hasn’t picked something up in the last ten minutes.

Stiles hasn’t replied.

Derek is still frowning when he walks over to Cora’s room. He doesn’t even have to knock, she just mutters for him to come in already from the balcony and the door is unlocked, the do-not-disturb sign swinging welcomingly as he turns the handle.

He glances at her unmade bed and the various clothes strewn across the room as he strides outside to meet her. She’s perched on the balcony’s edge and he nearly reminds her of how much Mom used to hate watching her whenever she did that, but reels the urge in and doesn’t mention it. The defiant look in her eyes tells him she was thinking the same thing, even if it is a small drop to the ground.

He doesn’t speak as he joins her, but straddles the railing next to her. The view looks straight out to the water, to the deluge of colour announcing the sun is setting beyond the horizon.

It’s nice, actually. Nicer than he’d anticipated. The breeze ruffles his hair a little, like a soft caress he’s rarely familiar with and some of the tension slips out of his shoulders. Most of it still lingers. It's hard to let go of something he's been carrying around nearly half of his life.

“We should go snorkelling tomorrow,” Cora suggests quietly, which tells him she’s just as affected as he is by the sight.

He lets it all wash over him for a moment, the calmness of the place and the quiet stillness. It’s a stark contrast to the warzone they’ve grown up in. Derek’s not too confident he can adjust as quickly as she has, but he’s willing to try. He's always ready to try.

“Okay,” he agrees, because he can’t even remember a time when swimming was recreational for him. High school, maybe. Just before he’d met Kate.

He sighs, the weight of a thousand mistakes pressing down onto his shoulders.

“You’ve changed again,” Cora notices. “You’re not as angry as before.”

Derek frowns at her, feels her words like a branded accusation. “Why shouldn’t I be angry? Why shouldn’t you?”

Cora sighs as if that’s not what she meant, but it raises his hackles anyway. There’s a difference between accepting something and allowing it. Derek won’t allow himself to be a victim anymore.

“Because it’s not your anchor any longer and you know it. I’m angry, Derek, but not enough to die for it. We have to move on.”

His claws are out before he realises, a ghost instinct. “I’m trying. Don’t you think I’m trying?”

Cora smiles at him and shuffles closer, tugging an arm around his neck to forcefully pull him into a side hug.

“I know you are,” she promises. “I know.”

Sometime in the night his phone buzzes and he rolls over, eyes open and alert since he hadn’t been sleeping that great, anyway. The sheets might have been changed but the leftover remnants of the last occupant still linger. It’s gonna take a few days before Derek only smells his scent in the room. Until then, he’ll just have to deal with the itching edge of discomfort.

It’s not entirely disappointing when the name above the text message reads Scott. He unlocks it quickly, hoping it’s not another life or death situation to deal with. It’s not. He doesn't want to feel guilty thinking he might've been able to help if he'd stayed in Beacon Hills after all.

Hey man. Hope ur havin fun w Cora. Everything fine so far… thats what im worried abt.

Derek thinks about it. He won’t deny the lack of danger here has him worried too, but there’s got to be a point when he lets it go and stops waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the heel to come down and crush him. There has to be, for all of them.

Don’t worry. Just be smart, he eventually replies, abandoning the cell phone on his bedside table and rolling over again.

He closes his eyes to sleep, trying to take his own advice. Easier said than done.

He goes for a run the next morning, early, so no one notices a wolf bounding along the beach. He hasn’t fully transformed since it first happened in Mexico and the new change is exhilarating when it stretches over his skin, twisting into matted fur.

The full transformation is powerful and heady. He can feel the strength in the pads of his paws, the sharpness of teeth and claws. It’s not really the right terrain for a wolf. It’s more rocks than sand, but he ends up hurdling through a forest of Opuntia cacti instead and the scents are strange and new to his snout, retaining his interest anyway. He can even smell the sharp tang of water swelling inside them, panting a little at the heat.

He comes across a Galapagos giant tortoise feeding on a nearby cactus deeper into the forest and further away from the threat of civilisation. They consider one another, the tortoise still chewing contemplatively as it watches him. In its lifespan that can stretch well over 100 years, he doubts it’s ever come across a wolf before. It keeps chewing. Unimpressed.

Wisely, he leaves it alone and doubles back, sensing he’s been out too long and there’s a bigger chance of being exposed when the sun gets higher. He slinks through the hotel grounds, staying low and passing through whatever limited cover of plants they have. He barely makes it underneath Cora’s balcony, edging towards his own next door when the sound of a familiar heartbeat makes him pause.

“Derek,” Cora breathes, amazed. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

He shifts just as she tosses a towel down, covering her eyes. He catches it quickly and wraps it around his naked torso, slick with sweat from the earlier run.

“I didn’t get the chance,” he admits. “Sorry.”

Even though they’d been texting regularly after she’d left, this was definitely something he’d wanted to tell her in person. Derek can smell her excitement, the sudden rush of overwhelming pride and ducks his head.

“Mom would be so happy,” she whispers.

They’re swept up in picturing how the announcement would’ve gone down in the Hale household for a moment. His grandparents would’ve been ecstatic, Laura jealous, and his mother and father, never to play favourites, would’ve been immensely proud and trying not to show it too much. Erik would’ve begged to go running through the woods with him. Aaron would've asked him to transform every single time they saw each other.

And Derek would've loved every minute of it.

“Laura would’ve been jealous of another full wolf form,” he finally manages.

Cora laughs. “And Aaron would’ve asked you to shift every five minutes, just to see it,” she agrees.

Derek’s not quite used to having someone to reminisce with again. Not since Laura was murdered. It’s something he’s forgotten to enjoy, but wants to relearn. He's been alone too long.

“C’mon, get dressed, I can smell breakfast from here and I’m starving.”

He climbs up and over the railing, conscious of his near nakedness but Cora pointedly doesn’t look at him just in case the towel doesn’t stay where it should be. Once he’s closer, she wrinkles her nose and pushes him towards the door.

“And take a shower,” she mutters. “You stink.”

Derek grins and swipes his hand through her hair, artfully messing it up.

He’s gone before her claws pop out.

Breakfast is good. The hotel they’re staying at has a buffet every morning and he heaps a bit of everything on his plate and finds Cora at a corner table, already digging in as he puts the plate down. He makes no comment on the fact that hers is piled higher than his, in favour of finding the coffee machine.

He gets two mugs and adds sugar since Cora has a sweet tooth before he goes back to sit down. Cora grins when he sets the mug with sugar down in front of her and takes a gulp of his own, thoughtfully scratching at his stubble. He’d gone to shave it before the shower earlier, but had decided against it. Why not grow it out a little?

There’s only one couple in the dining room and it must be their honeymoon from the amount of arousal lingering in the air around them. Derek politely ignores it, but Cora wrinkles her nose and rolls her eyes at the women when they lean over the table for an early morning kiss.

Honeymooners, she mouths, rolling her eyes harder. Derek pokes her exposed hand with his fork so they won’t notice the spectacle she’s making of them. A man in his mid thirties enters the dining room, prolonged ogling of Derek’s back, too appreciative to be subtle. Derek hunches his shoulders down, actively closing off his senses after that. A young family soon follows, children crowing delightedly in Spanish to their parents, but the man still hasn’t looked away yet.

Cora snorts loudly into her coffee and everyone in the room, but Derek, turns to look at her.

Cora’s not the one to make apologies without good reason and says nothing as he watches her grin become shark-like. The man stops leering after that.

He returns to his room to change into his swim shorts and grab a towel and as he does, he checks his phone.

Stiles’ name winks promisingly up at him. He unlocks it with only some minor trepidation.

So I know ur secret, he's replied.

Derek rolls his eyes, but his mouth might be slightly lifted as he responds.

You figured it out Stiles. I graduated.

He hopes the sarcasm will transcend text speak and hurries out to meet Cora.

Snorkelling is not exactly what he’d remembered. The weather’s good so they decide to walk to La Playa de la Estación since it’s near the Galapagos National Park- not too far from their hotel. The beach isn’t that populated, either and Cora slathers sunscreen on herself before tossing the bottle at him.

Since the beach is surrounded by a perimeter of rocks, Derek slips and cuts himself, twice, ignoring Cora’s reverberating laughter at his expense. Mostly because it's such a normal, non-threatening injury that it's strange for them to experience.

She’d already rented some snorkelling gear for them both and once they figure out the mechanics of getting flippers on underwater, they explore for a few hours.

There’s a variety of different fish Derek’s never seen before and doesn’t exactly know the names of, but Cora somehow finds a turtle immediately and swims with it instead. The sun is hot and bears down on his neck in a distractingly agreeable way as he swims, letting his mind wander.

By the time he drags himself to the shore, cutting himself accidentally again and feeling nearly as clumsy as Stiles, two baby sea lions have playfully approached Cora, twitching with interest.

As he lies down on the towel, foot already healed and letting the sun dry him, he idly wonders if they can sense what she is. To his knowledge, wolves don’t really interact with that kind of marine life. Though the same probably applies to giant tortoises.

This is a very different experience. He shuts his eyes, trailing his fingers across his chest, noticing the hair has started growing back again and deciding to let it. One less thing to worry about, after all.

The sun on his skin feels good, really good. It lulls him into a half sleep, until Cora gets bored and wants to head back to the hotel.

They stop at a place before they get there for a quick bite to eat and when they finally make it back to Cora’s room, it’s late afternoon. They lounge in the chairs on her balcony and watch the day pass.

Eventually, the smell of salt gets irritating and Derek disappears back to his room to shower, leaving Cora to do the same. When he comes back they end up on the balcony again, watching the sunset.

Derek’s not used to things being this simple.

Naturally, it doesn’t last long.

“So has ‘Beacon Hills’ texted you yet?” Cora asks, interrupting the peaceful silence.

Derek groans and folds him arms, hiding most of his expression behind his sunglasses.

Cora pokes him hard and gets up, abruptly disappearing into her room and returning with a bottle of something distinctly alcoholic looking. She winks at his expression and promptly swishes the liquid around, fast enough that he notices the little flecks of purple flowers swirling amongst it.

Derek’s eyes narrow with suspicion when he scents the first crackle of wolfsbane.

“Where’d you get that?” he demands, full of disapproval.

“Relax, Derek. I’m eighteen.”

“Not for two more months,” he growls.

“It counts,” she says, unscrewing the cap and taking a swig.

The wolfsbane smells stronger now that it’s exposed and Derek’s nose wrinkles a little at the scent the alcohol can’t quite mask. She passes it toward him and Derek accepts the bottle, but doesn’t drink it.

And doesn’t hand it back, either.

Cora scowls. “Stiles eighteen yet?” she snaps unkindly.

Derek pushes the open bottle to his lips and swallows greedily to avoid the question and what she’s really hinting at. The alcohol and wolfsbane burn on the way down and he relinquishes the bottle with a sharp exhale.

No, Stiles is probably not eighteen, though it’s not like the topic ever came up between them. They’d only exchanged numbers through necessity, not because they hang out outside of the next inevitable Beacon Hills disaster like Cora seems to think. Stiles drunk dialled him once a few months ago right after Jennifer had died, but Derek missed the call and deleted the message when Stiles only slurred nonsense at him. He’d probably meant to call Scott, anyway.

Scott and Stiles are friends. He and Derek well-

They’re something.

He’s also in a relationship last Derek observed, an unhealthy one at that and that’s something Stiles has to figure out on his own. The last thing he needs is for Derek to be within three feet of him, trying to offer advice. He’s fucked up enough things already.

“Who gave you this?” Derek hassles, changing the subject. “The pack in Ecuador?”

“Vito did.”

“Which one is Vito?”

“Their oldest kid. They’re preparing him to be the new alpha when Rosa gets too old for it.”

“You like him or something?”

Cora laughs, long and exuberantly. “Please. He likes me.”

Derek frowns when she takes another gulp. “Enough to give you wolfsbane laced drinks.”

Cora shrugs and passes it back over. “I’m a simple girl with simple needs.”

Derek laughs at that and accepts the bottle without protest. It doesn’t burn as much the second time, but it settles pleasantly in his gut and his head starts to buzz with the strength of it. He’s not sure he wants to know where Vito got this.

“You know,” Cora says slyly. “I’ve never gotten drunk with you before.”

He’s barely opening his mouth before she cuts him off. “The one sip at Christmas thing doesn’t count and you know it.”

She’s right. The expectant way her eyebrow rises suggests it’s a right of passage he can no longer avoid. There are worse things to be doing. He is meant to be relaxing. Booze will definitely help with that.

“Fine,” he mutters. “Pass the poison.”

Cora grins disarmingly and does just that.

His phone buzzes a couple hours later when the bottle is nearly half drunk and Derek’s sprawled comfortably across the chair, Cora’s feet dumped in his lap.

He blinks blearily at the brightness of the screen, needing a few tries to get the right passcode down.

It’s a message from Stiles.

Miss me yet?

Derek huffs, and smashes his fingers against the screen to type a reply. It’s a bad idea. He probably shouldn’t even be allowing this and he might just be imagining the playful edge to Stiles’ words. If he were sober, he probably wouldn’t even reply. Or maybe he would. Maybe he’d tell Stiles to leave him alone.

But he’s not sober and if Stiles wants to push at someone, Derek can always be relied on to push back.

He doesn’t read the words properly before he replies, though. That's a mistake.

fucj ofd syiles

He briefly curses his big thumbs as Cora passes the bottle again. Stiles replies almost immediately.


Derek concentrates this time. Stiles does not need this kind of information on him, especially when he’s not above blackmail. Stiles' moral code is spotty at best. The last thing Derek needs to do is make an ass of himself.


He hardly takes another swig before his phone buzzes again. Cora’s attention perks up a little as she finally notices.

LIAR, Stiles responds.

Derek stops texting after that. It’s safer. Particularly after Cora struggles to lean toward him, reaching for his cell phone as if she's going to snatch it from his hand. Not that her motor skills are up for the task at the moment.

“Is that ‘Beacon Hills’?” she crows, cackling.

Derek doesn’t reply, tucks his phone away in his pocket for safekeeping and passes the bottle again.

It’s a couple days before Stiles texts Derek once more. By then, he and Cora have really done a lot of exploring of Puerto Ayora. They’ve taken a tour of the ships moored at Academy Bay, visited the Charles Darwin Research Centre, been shopping downtown and lazed around the pool a lot.

It’s been good. Really good. Derek is still waiting for it to all go to hell, but unpredictably, it doesn’t.

He’s even started to look pretty relaxed now; his stubble has grown thicker and he’ll have a beard by then end of the two weeks for sure. Werewolf hair grows fast. Not to mention his chest has stopped looking so bare.

The only problem with trying to appear relaxed, is that to the various admirers they come across, it makes him seem approachable. One of the many things he definitely is not.

Cora makes up for his indifference with her own personal charm that can either be astonishingly sweet or positively animalistic, depending on how they interact with him. It’s not all Derek, though. Some of the admirers are drawn to Cora, too.

She’s a bit harsher with those ones. Derek suspects she might like Vito more than she wants to admit.

He’s been running regularly along the coastline, as wolf or human, depending on the time of day and the hard exercise helps keeps his emotions in check. Plus, he has a lot of energy to burn now that he’s not fighting for his life every single day.

His phone buzzes when he steps out of the bathroom on the fourth day, towel draped over his head and dressed in nothing but shorts as he half-heartedly dries his hair.

Wiping his wet hands on the towel, he scoops his cell phone off of the bed and unlocks it to read the message. It’s Stiles again. Derek tries not to think too deeply about that as he reads.

New wrwolf on block. Grew up here. Trust or dnt?

Derek frowns and not for the first time, wonders what’s going on in Beacon Hills. If it was anything serious, Scott would’ve texted him but that doesn’t mean the thought of this new werewolf isn’t worrying. He doesn’t even think about it.

Don’t trust, he sends without a flicker of guilt.

Better to be safe than sorry. In his experience, he always ends up being sorry. His phone buzzes less than a minute later.

EXACTLY, Stiles replies.

The exasperation behind it probably means Scott’s decided to trust them for now, against Stiles’ vehemently expressed wishes. Derek doesn’t need to be present to know that’s a mistake, but he also knows Stiles won’t be able to let it go until he’s pushed for the truth in all the right places. He knows exactly how to unravel a lie; this werewolf won’t stand a chance.

Don’t be stupid, he wants to type or Be careful. Instead he goes with:

Be smart about it

Cora’s knocking on his door and waltzing in once he mutters it’s unlocked. They’re about to go into town for dinner, but his cell phone buzzes again before he’s able to greet her.

Have u met me?

He tries not to roll his eyes, because yes, he has met Stiles and knows exactly what the little shit is capable of. His expression must reveal whom he’s talking to as Cora tries to snatch the phone out of his hand again.

When he backs away, quickly pocketing it, Cora refers to him by a particularly unflattering name, but doesn’t try anything else.

“Scott McCall again, is it?”

Cora knows exactly who’s been sending him messages. He knows that she knows, but is electing to ignore it for now. Denial is always easier in the beginning.

“Scott,” he agrees, lying through clenched teeth.

Cora tries to smack the back of his head as she darts for the door, but his arm curls around her head, tugging her back towards his armpit. He’s just showered, but Cora still appreciates the gross factor and swears viciously.

It’s strange being an older brother again. Remembering how is like trying to double back through footprints in sand which have already been washed away by the sea but he’s getting there somehow. He still knows how to annoy Cora best.

There are always worse things to remember.

“You need to stop dating psychopaths,” Cora says apropos of nothing one evening when they’re sitting by the edge of the pool, feet immersed in the water.

Derek doesn’t answer for a second; thinking about what she’s trying to say without actually saying.

“You know about Kate,” he guesses, not able to look at her.

“And Jennifer, and Braeden,” she continues and each of their names feel like a physical blow. “Face it, Derek. You have a habit of not seeing people for who they truly are.”

“Braeden wasn’t too bad,” he insists, stubbornly, trying to prove at least somehow he hasn’t always fucked up this badly. It's not for lack of trying.

Paige had been a good person too, until she’d met Derek. There’s probably a lot of people who were good before they met him, if he thinks deeply enough.

“Braeden is a mercenary who hunts people down for money and possibly kills them,” Cora argues. “And is currently hunting the Desert Wolf. Definitely a psychopath.”

“She wouldn’t have hurt us.”

Cora sighs heavily as if Derek is missing the point. “You can’t know that, Derek. That’s the problem. These aren’t just a few random coincidences or bad luck. This is a pattern you keep falling into.”

She’s right. He knows she’s right about this. Kate was right too, he is just history repeating.

“I know, I’ve got a lot of blood on my hands and I’ll take responsibility for that,” he eventually manages to say. “I never tried to be a monster.”

Cora’s on him before he can even think about pulling away, wrapping her arms around his bicep and tugging him close. Her scent is warm and comforting as she wraps around him and it’s almost enough to remind him of home. Almost.

“Don’t be stupid. You aren’t a monster and none of what happened with Kate or Jennifer is your fault. You’ve gone through a change, and you’ve sacrificed so much to get where you are now. I’m just saying maybe you should consider what traits these people took advantage of to manipulate you so easily.”

He pats at her awkwardly, not too clear on how to properly return the hug. It’s been years since he’s been a hugger. He’s not too sure he’s doing it right.

“I wanted to protect them,” he admits. “I was trying to do the right thing, be the good guy.”

“People can protect themselves. They played on your instincts to make you see them as helpless or desirable. And the good guy doesn’t exist, okay? Nobody’s entirely all good or all bad. We’re living in the grey areas, here. Might as well accept it.”

“Scott’s good.”

Cora rolls her eyes. “And he got you arrested for Laura’s murder.”

“Because he thought I’d done it,” Derek insists.

“Not everything is black and white.”

“Some things are.”

Cora sighs in frustration. “Just think about it. A little introspection won’t kill you.”

She’s probably right. There are worse things trying to kill him.

“Now c’mon. Let’s get some food.”

They end up at the hotel bar two nights later, lingering at the counter since they have to keep going back for more booze. The wolfsbane laced alcohol is still sitting on Cora’s nightstand and neither of them can be bothered to go and retrieve it in order to get a real buzz going.

Derek hears her before he sees her, the steady thud of her heartbeat calm, but gradually increasing as she approaches them.

He and Cora are in the middle of a round of shots, neither of them remotely tipsy and he ignores her in the hopes that she’s really just approaching for a drink.

She’s not.

“You both handle your drink well,” she says in English at the left of his shoulder.

Derek turns to look at her, catching a soft face and long curling hair. He lingers on her eyes the longest, the whiskey golden haze drawing him in. She’s Spanish and though her English is perfect, she seems uncomfortable with it anyway, as if it embarrasses her.

Cora’s mouth opens to send her off for him like she normally does, but Derek beats her to it.

“We’re not proud of it,” he replies in Spanish. “Would you like to join us?”

Her smile is warm, but he’s too distracted by her eyes to appreciate it as she accepts the offer, taking the seat beside him.

“Thank you. But both of you would drink me under the table.”

“I’m Cora,” Cora announces, reaching across the open space to shake her hand. “This is my brother, Derek.”

The woman accepts it with a smile. “I’m Sofia. You both speak excellent Spanish,” she says. “Do you live here?”

“We used to vacation in South America a lot when we were younger,” Cora replies, not mentioning the pack relatives that used to live there. “I’m living in Ecuador at the moment and my brother is from California. This is our first time to Galapagos.”

“And you are enjoying it?”

“It’s different,” Derek admits, taking another drink just to have something to do with his hands. She’s watching him closely when he sets the empty glass back down.

Sofia sits with them for another hour, talking about some of the good local spots to visit, where not to go. It’s nicer than he would’ve guessed, but he can feel Cora analysing him out of the corner of his eye, trying to gauge his interest.

Derek’s not even sure if he is interested, but then Cora makes the decision for him, getting up with an extended yawn.

“Well, I’m tired. Guess I’ll head back to my room,’ she announces. “Nice to meet you, Sofia. Goodnight.”

They say goodbye and Cora struts out of the bar after giving Derek a pointed look that he wishes couldn’t be so easily deciphered.

Have fun,” she says quietly as she disappears, so only he can hear. “Remember not every person we meet is trying to kill us.

He frowns at what she’s implying, but, Sofia’s hand comes down onto his wrist and he tries not to startle at the foreign touch.

“Are you alright?” she asks softly.

Derek forces a smile and tries to loosen his fists a little.

“I’m fine,” he lies, thankful she can’t hear his heartbeat.

He takes her back to his room. Not because he expressly wants to, but he can smell her interest and it’s a distraction he could use at the moment. He doesn’t exactly trust her, because she’s given no reason for him to, but the instinct to protect isn’t messing with his judgement either so the idea of being intimate doesn’t seem so threatening.

There’s definitely no strings attached, whatever happens between them, as she’s subtly hinted. No strings attached sex will definitely help him relax, if it even comes to that. Derek isn’t overly invested either way.

They sit out on his balcony for a while, nothing but idle talk. Sofia is from Los Rios province of Ecuador and lives only an hours drive from its capital. She tells him that she works in tourism after graduating college, conducting tours for the foreigners that pass through her town.

Sofia enjoys her job from the sound of it and Derek is happy to sit there quietly and listen, speaking only when she senses he hasn’t spoken for a while and pauses.

“You are a very handsome man,” she says when the conversation eventually lulls for too long. “But also good, I think.”

Derek feels profoundly tired. “You don’t even know me.”

Sofia shrugs, rising to her feet and moving towards him, stepping slowly across his legs as if to allow him the chance to stop her if he wants before settling into his lap. His hands automatically steady her at the waist.

“I don’t need to know you,” she whispers, arms settling across his shoulders as she leans down to kiss him.

Her lips are tender beneath his own and distractedly he listens to Cora grumbling next door about how they’d better be quiet as she moves toward her suitcase and starts riffling through it for headphones.

Derek remembers to kiss back and the slow heat stirs in his belly, welcoming the contact of her perched above him. It’s pleasant, and absorbing but not exactly passionate. Derek is surprised to realise it doesn’t bother him as he deepens the kiss, pulling her a little closer.

Sofia’s hands slide through his hair and the feel of them, long, thin and elegant pianist fingers pressing against his scalp kick-starts the steady coil of heat into a burning blaze with a hard jolt.

Derek’s hand’s travel up her back, one burying in her hair as she pulls back to breathe. Her eyes are wide, pupils blown as his leans forward frantically to mouth at her throat. His eyes fall shut and suddenly it’s not Sofia’s eyes looking at him, or her long fingers running through his hair. It’s-

“Stiles,” he gasps into her skin and Cora’s sharp exhale makes his brain catch up.

He freezes as Cora recovers her own shock and starts cackling uproariously from her own room. His face heats furiously as Sofia frowns at him.

“What? I’m sorry, I do not know this English word.”

“I can’t do this,” he says, lifting her off of him and setting her on her feet as he stands, whatever pleasant feelings he had long since gone. “I’m sorry, I think you should go.”

Sofia looks embarrassed, but doesn’t protest all that much, scooping up her purse and hurrying for the door without another word. The door shuts with a sharp snap that feels like finality or acceptance.

When he moves back out to the balcony, Cora is already there, having climbed across from her own, wearing only pyjamas.

“Happy now?” he demands, angry with himself and lashing out at her for no particular reason.

Cora doesn’t take a word of it.

“Don’t get shitty with me when you were the one thinking of him while you were with someone else.”

He has no reply for that, because it’s true. He's an asshole.

“Can we not talk about this?”

“I’m not the one trying to bury my repressed feelings here,” Cora declares, leaning back into the chair. “In case you’re wondering, he reeked of interest every time you were in the same room together so-“

“So what?” Derek mutters. “It’s not happening, Cora.”

“Because he’s young? Or you’re too afraid to fuck it up?”

But he is. He is too young, so very fucking young. Stiles' probably only just lost his fucking virginity and grown out of his fantasy crush on the popular girl at school, since Lydia never looked his way. What does it matter if he smells like that whenever he’s around Derek? Or that his eyes linger a little too long and not long enough?

He’s a teenager and he’s young, smart and challenging as all hell and Derek- can’t do this.

“I’m going to bed,” he grumbles, too tired to argue, already knowing she’s going to hold this over his head for the rest of his life.

Derek doesn’t go to bed. He steps under the heat of a running shower and jerks off, the patter of water masking his groan as he comes.

He does not picture Stiles as he does it.

He’s still mad the next morning, but by now it’s long since been internalised. Cora has no hard feelings about how he’d snapped at her. Only after he apologises, though.

They’re feeling too lazy to do anything, so it’s another pool day again and Derek brings the paperback he bought at the airport with him so he has something to read.

Cora alternates between swimming, sunning herself and frequently annoying Derek by mislabelling things like the sunscreen, her sunglasses, various towels and the deck chairs as ‘Stiles’ instead of their proper names. Eventually, he stops acknowledging her. It’s teasing he brought on himself, anyway. He still 'accidentally' pushes her into the pool when she drifts too close though. It’s absolutely worth it.

The book is interesting enough and the day drifts by easily. They walk into town for lunch and decide they’ll stick to the hotel for dinner since spending all day poolside has somehow made them lazier.

Derek’s in the middle of towelling his hair dry when his phone starts buzzing in the other room. He walks back into the bedroom, increasing his pace when overlapping messages interrupt the tone and the buzzing restarts again, indicating he’s receiving multiple texts at once. That doesn’t bode well.

He pauses at the sight of Scott and Sheriff Stilinski’s names and the significant lack of messages from Stiles and gets a serious foreboding.

His fingers fumble with hurriedly typing the code as he wonders what’s happened with a rapidly blooming sense of unease. His fingers fly across the screen and his cell phone can’t unlock fast enough.

He reads John Stilinski’s text first, because they’ve helped each other out in the past and he actually likes the man and wants his respect. Derek even forgives him for arresting him. It's all water under the bridge.

Derek have you seen or heard from my son?

He frowns at that, opening Scott’s message as his gums itch with the urge to sprout teeth. His spine ripples with the desire to change and his instincts are screaming for it, to do something.

U tlkd 2 Stiles? Been acting weird nbdy seen him since this morn

Derek’s in the middle of typing a reply for the both of them, that no, he hasn’t seen or heard from Stiles in a while, and if he’s missing they should start with that new werewolf who wanted to join their pack that Stiles didn’t trust. Maybe Stiles pulled too hard on that particular string and the werewolf did something about it. Hurt him.

He barely gets two words down before someone knocks on the door. When Derek doesn’t answer right away, the already fast heartbeat increases and they knock again, harder as if they’re trying to push their way through the wood. It must be their first shift; the rest of the staff are nowhere near as nervous and agitated.

“Un momento,” he growls impatiently, trying to keep his own agitated sense of anxiousness under control. What the hell has happened to Stiles?

They knock again and this time he hears Cora across the room telling him to answer the damn door already. Angry now, he stomps over toward the handle, jerking it down and violently yanking it open, ready to unleash his worst glare on this staff member for interrupting his current emergency.

For a moment he’s not quite sure what he’s seeing.


He’s got nothing but a backpack slung across one shoulder and there’s this new, unsettled look in his eyes. He hasn’t showered for a least two days and his hair is unkempt and sticking up on one side like he’d fallen asleep on the plane and hadn’t noticed. His face kind of tightens up at the sight of Derek though, and he doesn’t get a chance to ask what the hell is going on before an explanation is tumbling out of his mouth.

“I killed someone,” Stiles bursts out, coughing up the words like a poison. “It was self-“

“Okay,” Derek says and steps aside to let him in.

And Stiles’ face, just kind of crumples as if it’s what he’d expected, but didn’t think he deserved and Derek worries he’s said the wrong thing when Stiles starts to laugh, drawn out and breathlessly stilted.

“Of course,” he gasps. “Of course you would say that.”

When he continues to laugh, great wheezing panicked sounds, Derek pushes him towards the bed and forces him to sit down.

Stiles fights him, because the little shit is always fighting him one way or another before his legs collapse out under him and he goes down in a mess of limbs.

Cora darts through his open doorway then, having overheard all the commotion and Derek uses the distraction as she moves over to Stiles to quickly text Scott and Stilinski back.

Stiles is here. He’s fine

He sends the same text to both of them and worries about the fallout of his lie later, because Stiles is definitely not fine. Not fine at all.

His phone immediately buzzes with multiple replies, but Derek will answer them later. He’s not quite sure if Stiles is in the middle of a panic attack or if he’s about to be, but the overwhelming scent of anxiety is enough to make him forget about his cell phone entirely.

Cora’s got a hand clamped on his shoulder when Derek returns to his side and Stiles’ breaths are getting closer together, shallower and shorter. His fingers are trembling and Derek can smell his sweat, the sharp unpleasant tang of primal fear.

“Cora,” he says, keeping his voice calm and even. “I think you should take your hand off of him.”

Cora glances between him and Stiles, nostrils flaring as she senses the rapidly growing panic and slowly draws her hand away.

Derek approaches slowly, crouching down to Stiles’ level, but actively not touching him as he maintains eye contact. He’s read that if people suffering a panic attack haven’t explicitly requested another persons’ touch that it can make it worse. He really doesn’t want to make things worse.

“Stiles, you’re having a panic attack. Tell me what you need.”

Understanding brightens Stiles’ eyes a little as he rides it out, trying to employ whatever personal technique works for him. Everyone’s panic is different. Derek knows not to make assumptions about what he needs, what works for him.

“Just-“ Stiles gasps out, seizing Derek’s wrist and tugging his hand into his line of sight as he struggles to breathe.

Derek recognises pretty quickly what he’s doing. “Okay, Stiles,” he says, voice even and confident. “You’re gonna count my fingers in between breaths, okay? One, breathe-“

Stiles inhales and counts with him. It’s a long gruelling process, made worse by the fear that Stiles isn’t going to pull out of it, isn’t going to recover. But he’s done this before and Derek needs to have faith in that. Eventually, he settles and his chest stops expanding rapidly and violently like its trying to compress his lungs. Cora’s hand comes down onto his shoulder again, hesitantly and careful this time.

Derek tries not to stare at it too much, focusing on Stiles’ face instead. He’s so damn pale, skin shiny with sweat and seemingly emotionally drained by last 24 hours.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m,” but then Stiles releases a dry, chuckle. “I killed someone.”

“You what?” Cora demands and Derek waves a hand at her to signal this is not the time for those kinds of questions. Not until Stiles is certain he’s ready to answer them. She seems to understand and backs off.

“Do you- want to talk about it?” Derek asks slowly, unsure what to expect.

“It all happened so fast,” Stiles garbles out. “He was after me, gonna try and use me to hurt my dad and I just… and nobody even noticed. I had to get away.”

Derek doesn't know what to say. Stiles has never run from anything in his life, not even for his own survival so it’s a lot to take in at once. Derek’s not sure how to help him. Or what he’s doing here of all places. This can’t have been his first choice.

“Your father and Scott are worried,” he finally manages to say; wincing at how unfeeling he sounds. “You should call them… when you’re ready.”

Cora gives Derek this pointed look and suddenly it’s written all over her face. Another psychopath. Another murderer. He sure does have a problem, doesn’t he?

But she’s wrong. Stiles isn’t like that.

The salt of his tears assaults their senses and no, he might do anything to protect his friends, his family, but Stiles isn’t like that at all. He reeks of guilt it’s- he’s kind of a mess, actually.

Stiles snickers, sniffling as he brushes distractedly at his eyes. The sound is hollow and full of that sharp edge of cynicism and self-deprecation that’s purely, unabashedly Stiles. Derek’s chest starts to ache.

“Tell me what happened,” he demands, unable to withstand feeling so helpless. If he knows the story maybe he can-

Who’s he kidding? What exactly can Derek do to make this better? Give him the murderer pep talk? Initiate him into the club?

Cora shoots him a disapproving look, like he’s the one causing problems now so he lamely adds,

“-If you want.”

Somehow it’s that, that makes Stiles snort, mouth quirking up into that goddamn cocky little smirk of his and suddenly Derek wishes they were near the hotel pool so he can push him into it. It’s his new method for tackling problems and seems to be working fine so far.

“He was gonna kill me. When I pulled that metal pin it was just to escape. I knew it would hurt him and I meant to. I just- well I didn’t mean for it to kill him.”

“It’s okay,” Cora tries. “You don’t have to feel sorry-“

“I’m not sorry,” Stiles says sharply. “He was gonna kill my dad. After- I just felt relieved.”

Derek thinks he might get what Stiles is hinting at. What’s truly worrying him.

“That’s normal,” Derek tells him. “Relief is normal. And so is guilt. He was going to kill you, Stiles. And hurt your dad. You don’t have to apologise for that.”

Stiles levels him with a deliberating stare and for a brief flash of a second the memory of Sofia drifts into his mind just looking into Stiles’ eyes. There’s no comparison at all. Nothing to the real thing. Derek doesn’t even know how he'd convinced himself of the similarity.

“I knew you’d get it,” Stiles breathes quietly and that’s all it takes. Suddenly the room narrows down to just the two of them and the air crawls out of Derek’s lungs, twisting out of his throat and laying him bare.

It’s more than Derek anticipated, than he’s ready for and the intensity of it startles and unnerves him, leaving him breathless. This is not what they should be- what he should be doing. Stiles has too many things going on right now to be looking at him like that.

As if to offset the tension, Stiles’ cell phone starts buzzing and as he fumbles to retrieve it, Derek rises to his feet and steps back, grateful for the interruption.

Stiles wipes tiredly at his face before he puts his cell to his ear and answers. Derek almost gestures for Cora and him to give Stiles privacy but it’s a fruitless effort. They can’t exactly turn off their ears, but they can at least pretend they’re not listening to every word.

“Stiles? Stiles are you alright?”

“Heyyyy Dad,” he draws out his reply and it's somewhat sheepish all of sudden, wary at the prospect of disapproval. And Derek’s reminded of how disconnected they are- Jesus, he’s so young.

Way too young for Derek to even be thinking about him like that, to see his eyes in someone else, to gasp his name when-

“Goddammit Stiles. Where the hell are you? Derek said-“

“Oh my God, Dad,” he moans, eyes flickering up to Derek like he knows he and Cora are listening to his father right now and God, he can’t even look at him. “You texted Derek?”

“I contacted everyone I know because you’d disappeared for the entire day without speaking to anyone. You didn’t even talk to Scott. He’s right here with me at the station.”

Stiles winces and the smell of guilt kicks up a notch. Cora wrinkles her nose bemusedly at it like the entire situation is entertaining her. If Derek considers the slow, relaxing days they’ve had lately, that’s entirely understandable. This is a far cry from their previously uneventful days in Puerto Ayora, that’s for sure.

“I’m sorry, Dad. Something- came up and I needed to get away for a while.”

“All the way out of the country? Now you listen here, kid. You tell me what’s going on right now. ‘Something’ is not enough for you to be taking off like that. Did you bring any money? Buy a return ticket? Book a hotel room? Did you think about this at all?”

Cora shifts restlessly, just as uncomfortable as Derek feels at the parenting display even if its not directed at them, hasn’t been directed at them in years. Stiles might be the one getting the lecture, but it’s powerful enough to jump the phone line and the potent wave of remorse Stiles sets loose is nothing to blink at.

“It was important, okay? I wouldn’t have left if it didn’t matter but I- can’t talk about it right now. Yes, I brought money. The only cheap return ticket was a week from now and as for a hotel room well…”

Stiles doesn’t even tilt his chin up to look at them as if he doesn’t even expect them to help him out. There’s something very beaten down about that. Derek’s surprised by how much he can relate to it.

“You can stay with us,” Cora offers. “We’ve got the room.”

“Cora and Derek are letting me stay with them.”

“I thought we were done hiding stuff from each other,” the Sheriff mutters and it’s physically painful to listen to Stiles lying to his father.

Derek actually takes a step forward to intervene, to do something before he realises. Stiles blinks up at him, eyes wide and attentive, like he’s peeling him apart layer by layer and suddenly Derek’s angry.

Angry that he’s somehow the bad guy again when he’s tried so goddamn hard not to be. Angry that Stiles lied to his father, that he has a father to lie to. Angry that he takes it for granted and that Cora is pushing this when she knows, she knows how Derek feels about it.

“This isn’t for you to know,” Stiles eventually replies, but his eyes are glassy with emotion. “Trust me, Dad. I’ll be okay, I promise. I’ll be back on Sunday.”

The Sheriff pauses, waiting it out as he thinks and Derek can actually parse the livid sounds of his mannered breaths.

“I want to talk to Derek.”

Stiles’ jaw actually drops, as if it’s the last thing he expected out of his father’s mouth. He wavers deliberately for a moment but passes the cell phone towards Derek who looks at it like it’s a dangerous weapon. It is. Or it could be. He really doesn’t want to be a fugitive on the run from the police again.

“Stilinksi,” Derek greets and wants to cringe when Stiles looks nothing short of horrified at the way he’s addressed Stiles’ father. Should he have called him Sheriff?

“Derek, is he okay? Really okay? Could you use your uh, senses to tell?”

It’s a struggle not to pinch the bridge of his nose in frustration, but he manages. Cora just grins at him, long and appreciatively like she’s savouring every second of this conversation. Stiles glances between the two of them, keenly analysing their body language like it will offer answers his human hearing can’t give.

“It’s fine,” Derek says, deliberately phrasing his words so Stiles can’t figure out what they’re discussing. From the way he scowls, Derek knows he’s aware and it’s a failed effort. “I’d buy the ticket for the next available flight myself if it wasn’t.”

“Good,” Stilinski says gruffly. “That’s, uh- that’s good. Call me if something happens. I‘m serious. If anything happens, you call me Derek.”

“I will,” he promises and means it.

He hands the cell phone back to Stiles and they say their goodbyes. When Stiles hangs up an expectant silence settles over them as if no one's quite sure who should speak first.

“Do you need anything?” Derek ventures. “Food? Water?”

Cora snorts at that and he tries to ignore the way it sounds, as if he’s babysitting or providing for a younger pack member. The unspoken implication is not at all flattering, if by the way Stiles frowns.

“I could do with some water,” he admits and Derek nearly runs into Cora he’s moving so fast to get away, but Cora, dammit, beats him to the door.

“They sell bottled water at the bar,” she gleefully announces. “I’ll be back.”

Then she’s darting outside and leaving them alone, the door slamming shut with a sharp snap. Derek’s shoulders tense up and goddammit, he and Cora are going to talk about this later. Preferably when Stiles isn’t in earshot. This is not at all helpful sibling involvement.

“So, that’s a beard you’ve got there,” Stiles points out helpfully, derailing Derek’s thoughts.

His fingers drift towards his face and he tries not to feel self-conscious all of a sudden. Derek’s allowed to grow a beard, just because werewolves are always associated with being hairy doesn’t mean he can’t. It’s not- it’s not a thing. He’s not going to let Stiles make it into a thing.

“Wow. You really are the Sheriff’s son,” he deadpans and politely doesn’t stare when Stiles rolls his eyes, before wiping at the tears he’s shed.

“What? I can’t mention the facial hair? Is it a big wolfy secret?”

Derek feels his face heat up a little and resists the urge to bare his teeth. “It’s just hair, Stiles.”

Stiles smirks at him, but rubs his hand across his mouth and Derek thinks he hears, “It’s unfair. That’s what it is,” but that doesn’t make much sense to him.

He’s probably just misheard. It’s not impossible.

A second later Stiles gets up and wanders into the bathroom to wash his face. His movements are slow and uncoordinated, more so than usual and Derek hadn’t been imagining how drained he is. The smell of fatigue is cloying and a lot more worrying than he’s capable of admitting.

The tap starts running and Derek paces the room, restless at the sudden change in atmosphere now that Stiles is here with them. Will be with them for the rest of the week until the end of Derek’s trip, when he has to figure out what to do and where he’s going.

He could go back with Cora to her pack. Or he could visit New York again; he hasn’t been since he left with Laura. There are people there who might still remember him. Beacon Hills is always waiting for him, too. No matter how much distance he puts between it. Derek has no idea what he plans to do.

Sighing, he moves to sit down on the bed, but Stiles was just there and now it smells as if he’s rolled in the sheets so he sticks with pacing across the carpet instead. It’s safer anyway.

When Stiles emerges, his eyes look sunken in and Derek just wants to smash his face into a pillow so he’ll get some sleep and rest already. They both know he’s too stubborn to do it. Not until he’s asked every question under the sun about what he and Cora have been up to.

“You reek of exhaustion,” Derek says bluntly. “And you look like shit.”

Stiles actually laughs, grin spreading wide across his open mouth and Derek can’t deal with this right now. This is too much. Stiles is too much. Especially when he’s looking at Derek.

“Missed you too, buddy.”

Derek’s saved from answering when Cora returns, barging into the room quickly as if she’s hoping to interrupt something and he frowns at her. It doesn’t take long for her to realise there’s nothing to intrude upon and she scowls at him as if he’s somehow to blame for that. Derek very pointedly doesn’t acknowledge it.

She hands the bottle of water to Stiles who accepts it gratefully, uncaps it and lifts it to his lips. Derek stops watching after that; he’s not trying to punish himself.

“I spoke to reception and paid a little extra for you to share with Derek.”

Stiles actually chokes on his water and it starts a fierce coughing fit that’s painful to watch. Since Cora’s closest, she smacks him on the back, hard, much harder than she should have. Surrounded by werewolves for a few months and she’s forgotten to hold back again. Derek winces at Stiles’ expression and knows that’s going to bruise. Stiles always bruises way too easily.

God, he’s so human, a bottle of water could kill him. It nearly did.

And Cora’s out of her mind if she thinks Stiles is sharing with Derek, them sleeping together in the same bed. That is not happening. If Cora thinks she’s getting away with this, she’s got another thing coming.

“You and I will share, Cora,” he says and doesn’t leave room for argument.

Cora’s eyes narrow and Derek knows that means trouble.

“I am not sharing a bed with you.”

Stiles looks too tired to participate in the conversation, but that’s definitely not going to stop him. “It’s fine. I’ll share with you. I promise not to kick you in my sleep.”

Cora levels him with a glare that actually raises Stiles heartbeat by a small margin.

“I have a boyfriend,” she says.

Oh and it’s boyfriend, now is it? Does Vito even know about their new relationship status? Derek is openly glaring at her now because she is not going to get her way. This is not happening. He is not letting Cora believe there’s anything she needs to involve herself in.

“Cora,” he mutters and the edge of a growl has crawled into his throat. “Let’s talk. In private.”

Cora glares right back at him, crossing her arms and yeah, this is definitely not the relaxing vacation he wanted at all. Stiles doesn’t seem to protest too much until they both start walking toward the door.

“Wait. Where are you going?”

His panic spikes again, and Derek feels stupid for thinking Stiles would want to be alone after what’s just happened. Of course, that’s not okay. He turns on his heel and points towards the balcony where they’ll still be in full sight, but Stiles won’t be able to hear them. Cora storms outside first.

“We’ll be out there,” Derek mutters, without looking at him since Stiles has started drinking again in the interim.

“Alright, yeah that’s- and I’ll just sleep, I think.”

His words sound confused and Derek doesn’t understand how Stiles is even functioning right now, but at least he’s decided to take a break. One less thing to be concerned about.

Cora is still glowering when he closes the glass door between them. He can still hear Stiles moving around on the bed, taking off his shoes and getting comfortable. It’s more distracting than he anticipated.

“What the hell are you doing?” he demands, angry that Cora’s thought to do this. It’s a line he hadn’t expected her to cross and there’s a twisting kind of betrayal to it that's upsetting.

He thought Cora had his back and that maybe they’d finally started to bond like they used to. Wrong again.

“I’m helping you,” she snaps. “I thought I was pretty obvious.”

Derek rubs at his temple and tries to think back to when he gave her this kind of impression. He should never have admitted to anything in the first place. Plausible deniability.

“There’s nothing to help with. Look, I know I might have confused you the other night but-“

“I think you’re the one who’s confused if you’re trying to deny it now. What happened proves you’re not entirely truthful about your feelings when it comes to Stiles.”

Derek looks at her, anger rapidly deflating. She’s right. There’s no point trying to lie about it now. Not when he’s openly revealed it himself.

“There aren’t…”

He trails off as her eyes flare a livid gold. “Shouldn’t be,” he rectifies. “Feelings.”

“Maybe some quality time will help you get over it,” Cora suggests, unsympathetically.

Derek can’t think of anything to say to that so they sit there for a little while as the sun sets. Eventually they both get hungry and the discussion of food comes up. They’re just arguing about who should go and get some and bring it back to the hotel when Stiles’ cell phone starts ringing again.

Derek’s jaw ticks out of annoyance when Stiles jerks into consciousness, tumbling out of the sheets to blearily retrieve it. He’s probably only been asleep for about fifteen minutes. It’s not enough. Whoever’s calling knows he’s okay, couldn’t they have waited for a better time?

He keeps his comments to himself, especially when Stiles’ heartbeat becomes more erratic.

“Hey, Malia,” he says and Cora turns her head sharply before she can stop herself.

Derek smacks her leg to keep still and pretend they’re not listening to this conversation. It definitely doesn’t help with the guilt when they’re both clearly listening anyway.

“What happened? Why are you in South America? Because you killed Donovan?”

So that’s his name. Derek wonders what kind of grudge he held against the Sheriff to try and hurt him in the worst way imaginable.

Stiles inhales harshly and goes still, eyebrows knitting together to show he’s thinking quickly. It seems like what happened didn’t go as unnoticed as Stiles had thought.

“You knew?” he asks, and his voice is hollow.

“I guessed. When you didn’t meet me last night and he escaped from his cell, I came over. You were sleeping. I smelt the blood and I looked under your shirt.”

It’s very rare that Stiles is speechless, but it does the trick. He’s looking down at his hands again, mouth open and that doesn’t seem like a good sign at all. Derek’s cringing internally at her words, wishing it was his business so he can say something about it and from the way Cora glances at him uneasily, she seems to pick up on how questionable it sounds too.

Derek doesn’t think the conversation can be any worse to listen to. As always, he’s painfully mistaken.

“It doesn’t matter. That’s why I didn’t bring it up.”

Cora groans uncomfortably while Derek purses his lips to keep quiet. They don’t turn back to see what he’s doing, but Derek hears Stiles climb out of the bed and start pacing the room like Derek’s been doing so often lately. He tries not to think about that.

It’s an awful feeling, listening and knowing just how much it bothers Stiles, who’s already feeling like he’s failed in some way. Derek knows how hard it can be to measure up to Scott’s idea of the right thing. His own efforts in that respect have been nothing short of disastrous.

He remembers what Cora was saying about grey areas and knows that’s where Stiles lives, protecting the people that matter to him and thinking too bad for the people that don’t. But this isn’t just another grey area for him. This is different.

“It matters to me,” Stiles says quietly. “Look I-“

“You could’ve told me what happened. Why did you go to South America? For Derek?”

Cora smirks as Stiles half drops his cell phone and has to fumble to catch it. When he shoots a panicked glance at them outside, he and Cora are facing the front and Derek’s trying to not to overthink what that could possibly mean. Why would Stiles come here for Derek?

“And Cora,” Stiles adds meaningfully. “They get it. They’ve-“

Killed people before. Of course. Of course that’s why Stiles is here. Who’s more equipped to understand him then a family of murderers?

And Derek can’t listen to this anymore.

He’s up all of sudden and pulling away when Cora tries to reach out for him in concern.

“I’m going for a run,” he manages and then he’s leaping across the balcony, shifting mid air to the strained tearing of fabric and his paws are hitting the ground.

He takes off fast and purposeful, with the intent to get as far away from this as he can. Derek runs for a least an hour, until darkness settles more permanently around him. By then, he's calmed down enough that his empty stomach draws him back.

Stiles is sitting on the balcony’s rail with Cora and Derek realises the sudden conundrum. He’s not shifting in front of Stiles, doesn’t want to think of what kind of reaction his nudity could bring so he hesitates, cocking his head to the side at Cora helplessly.

She’s too busy looking at Stiles, whose face lights up at the sight of him, interest drawing him to jump down. It’s easy for a werewolf but jarring for a human and Derek growls when Stiles stumbles disjointedly with the landing, but amazingly stays on his feet.

“Holy shit. I mean I heard you pulled off a full shift, but holy shit, man.”

He’s inspecting Derek closely, looking into his eyes for some kind of recognition that will prove that’s who he’s staring at. The scrutiny is disconcerting and Derek wishes Stiles wasn’t close enough to smell. It’s more powerful as a wolf, heady and impossible to ignore. Stiles is always impossible to ignore.

“Can I?” Stiles asks, reaching a hand out to slide across Derek’s fur.

He’s growling before he can think properly, because he knows how much he’ll enjoy the touch. It’s harder to resist when Stiles’ heartbeat doesn’t even uptick at it.

“Shut up,” he says pleasantly. “Let me touch your wolfy fur, you dick.”

Derek huffs, but his protests are denied when Stiles fingers touch the base of his skull and rubs. It’s a- pretty damn good feeling actually and Derek doesn’t even notice he’s making a content rumbling sound when Stiles starts scratching behind his ears.

Cora laughs and the sound tugs at his higher senses, bringing awareness into what he’s doing and what he’s allowing Stiles to do. Gruffly, he pushes the hand away with his snout, discomfited and pads closer to Cora.

He growls again and Cora smirks like she’s going not going to help him but then she throws a towel across his back. When he shifts, he’s able to wrap it around his waist and preserve as much of his dignity as possible. His back is turned to Stiles but the rapid increase in his heart beat is enough to make Derek turn around, double checking he didn’t accidentally expose himself.

That’s not the problem. The problem is that Stiles is staring openly at the parts of his body that are exposed, namely his chest and the pink splotches now donning Stiles’ face are entirely concerning.

“So, I-uh see you’ve given up on the manscaping as well,” Stiles points out and Derek frowns, glancing down at his chest in confusion.

“Do you have a problem with that as well, Stiles?” he demands, frustrated that this is some kind of issue.

Stiles gaps at him as Cora explodes into uncontrollable laughter, nearly toppling off the balcony in the process. Derek scowls and forgoes climbing onto his veranda when Stiles is watching him so closely and walks around the long way to his room.

It’s a little uncomfortable since he’s all but naked and covered by a towel that’s probably not long enough for prudence sake, so he’s quick about it. He only passes an older man in the hallway and hopes his eyesight is terrible enough for him not to understand what he’s looking at.

Derek heads into his room, still sweaty and ducks into the bathroom for a brief shower since his stomach is really starting to protest its emptiness now. He throws on something comfortable and tries not to think what Stiles might say about it.

He follows his nose to Cora’s room, where they’re perched around a pile of open containers. The food is still warm so Derek generously helps himself and since there are only two chairs, he reaches over and steals one from his own balcony one handed. His shirt rises up a little, but the breeze out isn’t too chilly so the exposure is refreshing.

When he turns back to sit down in the newly acquired seat, Stiles is staring blankly at him like he’s zoned out. Derek frowns a little and takes the first bite because by now he’s ravenous.

Stiles wakes up a that, blinking rapidly and starts shovelling food into his mouth. Derek’s not sure if that’s an after effect of having a panic attack, but he’ll keep a close eye just to be sure nothing's wrong.

Cora snorts delicately into her container, but when Derek glances at her with a raised eyebrow she’s the picture of innocence. That’s enough to tell him he’s missing something.

“Look, I don’t know how much you heard of that conversation earlier-“ Stiles begins.


Stiles expression sharpens, but he talks through it. “I didn’t come here because you’ve killed before,” he admits. “I came here because you understand and I trust you.”

Derek exchanges a look with Cora, and her teeth are marginally widening, getting too sharp for polite company.

“Trust you both,” Stiles hastily adds, colouring a little.

“Okay,” Derek agrees and resumes eating.

Stiles rolls his eyes and points his fork in a threatening manner. “Dude, I just bared my soul here. The least you could do is use more than two syllables.”

“Fine,” he says and when Stiles opens his mouth to protest he continues. “Things are never going to be the same for you.”

“Derek,” Cora snaps. “Don’t-“

“I know,” Stiles agrees. “I know it changes everything.”

“Blood can stain your hands,” Derek says. “But the way you feel about it doesn’t have to be permanent. Not if you let it be. You had to do what you had to do and the first thing is to accept that.”

“You’ve got to forgive yourself,” Cora offers gently. “No one’s perfect. Not everything is in your control.”

“But Scott-”

“Is not perfect,” Derek finishes, surprising himself. “You can’t always do the right thing. No matter how much you want to. But you did what was right for you and protected your father. That’s all that matters.”

“I don’t know if I can- if Scott can get past this,” he admits quietly.

“You can,” Cora promises. “You’ve gotta learn to live with it and Scott will just have to deal.”

“It takes time, Stiles. Acceptance isn’t always easy.”

Stiles nods, but he’s already wrapped up in his own inner turmoil. They’ve done what they can to help. Now it’s up to him. Derek knows he’ll be okay, Stiles is more resilient than people give him credit for. He’ll take a beating, but it never keeps him down for long.

There’s something foolishly admirable about that.

Derek takes another mouthful and chews to give himself something to focus on and not the sombre expression on Stiles’ face. It’s cruel that he has to deal with this so young, or ever really, and he’s not going to cope with it at all. Derek knows that from experience, though his hands were bloodier than Stiles’ are as a teenager.

He’s human. His safety in the world should be guaranteed, protected from all of the supernatural things that come looking for those who aren’t. Derek wishes he wasn’t seeing this part of his own history repeating again. He’d thought for sure this would be Scott’s future, not Stiles’.

“What do you say, Stiles. Wanna get drunk?”

Derek shoots Cora a look, but she’s already pulling out a bottle of some non-descript alcohol he’s never seen before. The fact that the label looks like it’s been stuck on in someone’s back shed does not seem promising.

“Is it part of my initiation ceremony into the murder club?” Stiles snarks, but he’s already reaching for the bottle and oh, no that’s not happening. Not when Stiles is already upset and trying to work through a traumatising event.

Derek reaches between them and snatches it from Cora before Stiles get his hands on it.

“Eighteen only,” he mutters, because that’s the drinking limit here even if they don’t really enforce it and he keeps the bottle out of reach as Stiles’ face creases with indignation.

“I turned eighteen months ago, buzzkill,” he argues. “Pass that back.”

Derek fumbles a little with the bottle. “You’re eighteen?” he repeats, doubtfully.

Stiles is openly aggravated now. “Yeah, you asshole. A couple months back. So pass that over here. I need it for my initiation.”

Derek’s scowling now. “There is no-“

“Jesus, Derek. You really are a buzz kill,” Cora says and he gives up trying to be responsible, handing the bottle back as Cora procures their own wolfsbane bottle. How much alcohol does she have stashed around the place?

“If you get sick-“ he warns as Stiles gets the cap off and lifts it to his mouth.

Stiles stops and smirks at him. “I’ll be sure to throw up on you,” he promises and takes a generous mouthful.

Cora’s snickering beside him and Derek feels like he’s being ganged up on all of a sudden.

When she passes the bottle of wolfsbane to him, he’s only too happy to accept it. He’s not going to be able to deal with these assholes together without some form of backup.

Cora and Stiles grin at him and Derek doesn’t return the smile out of inflexible stubbornness. It’s the principal of the thing. Stiles might have joked about Derek being drunk before but seeing it is something different altogether and he looks immeasurably astounded by his sudden participation. Derek knows it’s because they all think he can’t relax. He can, but he doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone.

Stiles gets drunk first, naturally and his limbs get looser and more wildly erratic. Cora catches up pretty quickly in solidarity and Derek stops once he gets a good buzz going and he’s smiling before he can really overthink it.

He notices Stiles’ gaze a few seconds later than he would have sober.

“So that’s what it looks like,” Stiles says. “Didn’t think you knew how to smile without the pants dropping objective.”

Derek’s too relaxed to be properly offended. “I’m a werewolf. Not an Incubus.”

“So where did you see this pants dropping smile, Stiles?” Cora wonders, gleefully. “When it was directed at you?”

Derek flicks the bottle cap at Cora’s face, but she dodges it with a laugh as Stiles splutters to answer. Derek’s feeling nice enough to spare Stiles from floundering to reply.

“I had to distract the woman on shift at the Sheriff’s station. What else was I supposed to do? Stiles wanted me to punch her in the face.”

He’s not being truthful, but it’s funny to see Stiles’ absolute horror at the words coming out of his mouth when Cora slowly turns to glare at him. At least this way they’re not messing with Derek anymore.

“He’s lying, your wolfy senses should tell you that,” Stiles protests. “But let's get back to that incubus reference. Are you implying they exist?

Derek shrugs, because he might have heard things here and there, but he’s never come across one. So far. Presently, he really, really doesn’t want to.

“Yeah, they exist,” Cora agrees to Derek’s disbelief. “I met one in Ecuador a year ago.”

Stiles looks so fascinated that he’s about to fall out of his chair from leaning so far towards her. “What happened?”

Cora only offers a long, leering smirk. “What do you think happened, Stiles?”

Her heartbeat doesn’t shift much, but she could just as easily be lying. Derek’s not entirely sure either way. It’s worth it when Stiles flushes hotly and quickly drops the subject, falling back and averting his eyes as he takes another swig.

It’s all at once startling and uncommon. Derek didn’t think Stiles knew when to quell the inappropriate line of questioning. It certainly never stopped him before.

When Cora laughs at Stiles’ sudden silence, Derek settles more comfortably into the chair and lets his eyes wander out toward the waves. He can hear them crashing, louder now that he’s no longer blocking the sound out and there’s something soothing in the inevitable rhythm of it.

He’s always liked that about it. Nature. There’s no stopping it once it’s in motion, no unnatural influence that can really prevent it from achieving what it’s designed to do. It’s a lot like being a werewolf in that way.

Stiles is fiddling with something between his fingers and it’s making a clicking sound against his nails that suggest it might be metallic or something similar. A few seconds later and its rolling across the tiles, Stiles scrambling out of his chair to grab it.

When he’s bent over Cora frantically waves her hands at Derek to grab his attention. He raises an eyebrow, hoping his expression is enough to show curiosity in whatever the hell she’s trying to be subtle about.

Cora barely mouths, he and Malia broke up, before Stiles is sitting up again, bottle cap in hand and a sheepish grin twisting his mouth. Derek feels it jerk hard at something in his chest when the sharpened thoughts of availability and single flash through his mind. He shoots an astonished look at Cora, wondering if this is some kind of test. Or joke.

But Cora’s only nodding enthusiastically, a little too enthusiastically from the way it's almost a leer and Stiles shifts suspiciously between them once he gathers another conversation is going on without him.

“What’d I miss?” Stiles wonders.

Derek frowns at Cora and finds he can’t look at Stiles all of a sudden. Instead he scratches idly at his neck and tries not to show any emotion as he reaches for the bottle again.


Stiles only snorts at that, not believing him for a second. Derek doesn’t know how in the hell that’s endearing but it is. Dammit.

Cora obliges with the bottle, but she’s too far to pass it to him properly and suddenly Stiles is intervening, accepting the bottle from Cora and pressing it into Derek’s outstretched hand. Only he does it quickly and without much coordination so that their fingers touch and Derek fumbles with the handle at the surprise of it.

Cora’s rolling her eyes behind Stiles’ back so Derek mutters out a 'thank you' and takes an excessive chug of the bottle, tipping his head back in the hopes the alcohol might hit him quicker.

There’s the sudden sharp tang of something vibrant and sweet and Derek barely inhales to get a better sense of what the scent is when Cora bursts out laughing. Stiles gives her a stony look but his eyes shift subtly back to Derek, lingering on his neck for a telling moment. Derek knows he’s missed something again, just like Stiles earlier but his mind is in too much of a fog to figure it out.

When he is brave enough to stare at Cora, her expression is both amused and fond and it sets him at ease immediately. He’s insanely glad that he decided to come and meet her. Its probably the only decision he’s made that he hasn’t doubted.

They don’t stay outside for much longer. Cora probably drinks the most, but Stiles is the drunkest so when she bids them adieu and purposely shuts her door, locking any potential bedfellows out of her room, Derek can only scowl at her and help tug Stiles across the balcony into his room.

Since Stiles is drunk it’s not an easy process, but Derek doesn’t resort to the fireman carry and Stiles is more amused by the whole thing rather than irritated when Derek moves him like a human sack of dead weight. It’s a testament to how far they’ve come that Stiles is laughing at being manhandled by Derek instead of fearful of it with a heartbeat rabbiting in his chest. Though it does increase a little when Derek’s arm comes around Stiles’ waist to support him over the railing.

Once Derek gets him upright, he lets go and Stiles wavers before wrapping a fist into the fabric of his shirt to stop himself falling.

“I might have drunk more than drinking,” Stiles admits, as if that makes sense and Derek rolls his eyes, takes two steps and basically dumps him onto the bed.

Stiles groans, but doesn’t move much after that.

“You throw up, you die,” Derek promises, though there’s a lot less heat to it than planned when Stiles rolls over, shirt getting tucked up under his arm pits and exposing his stomach. He hears Cora’s distinct snicker in the room next door and it only makes the situation worse.

Derek tries not to zero in on Stiles’ exposed stomach, but it’s impossible to ignore and the sight of it derails his threat entirely. Stiles doesn’t really notice, tipping forward to yank off his shoes and nearly tumbling forward off of the bed as he does it.

Derek presses his index finger to Stiles’ shoulder and he stops falling. It’s amazing how different the strength ratio is. Derek could hurt him so easily.

“I’m not that drunk,” Stiles murmurs and there’s a certain edge to it that suggests Stiles will never be that drunk, because he’s seen it before and been traumatised by it.

Derek barely exerts himself, using his finger to push and suddenly Stiles is sprawling onto his back with a grunt of frustration, one foot bare and the other shoe barely untied.

He’s about to smirk or laugh or do something but then Stiles is struggling to sit up again, limbs contorting in the familiar way only Stiles moves and Derek’s smiling despite himself, looking down at the effort. Until he realises he’s basically watching him undress and Stiles is-

writhing on the sheets, sheets that reek of Derek.

His smile disappears and abruptly he’s grabbing Stiles’ shifting ankle, trapping it between his thighs as he hurriedly undoes the shoelaces, helping Stiles only to make him stop moving like that. Stiles mutters something appreciative as he wriggles out of his shirt and Derek’s dropping the shoe and leaving the sock on as he stalks out of the room and back out onto the balcony.

There’s one chair left across the divide on Cora’s balcony so Derek quietly shuts the door just enough that a breeze can still blow through and tries to ignore the sounds of Stiles rolling about in the bed to get himself comfortable, spreading his scent everywhere.

The steady sounds from next door tell him that Cora is asleep and Derek knows with a unbelievable resolution that he is not going back into his room. There is no way in hell he’s sleeping in that bed not when Stiles is-

Well, Stiles. And in his bed. Derek’s partially comfortable- only recently smelling like himself and not the couple before him- hotel bed. He just, he can’t do it.

And that settles it for him. Thankfully, its not too cold out and Derek’s running warm enough to get him through the night anyway. It won’t be any problem to fall asleep out here.

Derek stretches his legs out and closes his eyes, letting the sounds of the crashing waves and the slowing heartbeat muffled through the glass separating them lull him to sleep.

Stiles wakes up a some stage during the night, wrenched out of a nightmare on a sharp exhale and the acrid taste of fear stirs Derek into consciousness. His eyes open as he lies there underneath the stars and listens for any signs that Stiles might be having a panic attack. There's nothing but the steady rhythm of his heartbeats as they slowly quieten down and even out again. He uses its progress to conclude the debate of whether going inside to ask if Stiles is alright is something he should do.

Derek doesn't want to see Stiles' sleep mussed hair and flushed face. He subtly scents the air and even through the slight gap in the open door he can parse Stiles' emotional state. Frustrated. Anxious. Sad. Angry. There's too many emotions at once for Derek to sift through, but Stiles rolls over to get comfortable again so things could be worse.

Stiles sighs quietly to himself but it's a lot more weathered and forlorn than any sigh coming from a person his age should sound. Derek thinks he might not be the only one in need of relaxing.

He falls asleep with little trouble soon after and Derek wonders what kind of nightmares keep Stiles up at night. Memories of the nogitsune? His dead mother? Donovan?

Derek stays up for a while afterwards, unable to drift fully until he's sure Stiles is properly settled and not in the throes of another nightmare. There's a lot to think about in the interim and he lets his mind wander. It's an hour before it wanders into unconsciousness again.

Derek wakes up to the warmth of early sunlight, a crick in his neck and Stiles hovering over him with a disapproving frown.

He doesn’t startle, though it’s a near thing, but Stiles jerks back like he had and runs his fingers through his wet hair. He’s freshly showered and smelling less of booze and more like Derek’s body wash and it actually feels more like a punishment than throwing up in the bed could ever be.

“You slept out here?” Stiles demands. “Man, I do not smell that bad.”

“You did actually,” Derek snarks back, since its as good an excuse as any. “You reeked of liquor.”

“It was not that bad,” Stiles protests. “Didn't know you'd freak out so much at sharing a bed with a dude, though. Me and Scott do it all the time.”

Derek glares at him because he is not that afraid of his sexuality and gets up to stalk toward the bathroom and brush his teeth, Stiles wandering in behind him. He seems a little hungover but he’s not in as bad a shape as Derek anticipated.

When Derek passes the bed it’s not without a subtle glance toward it and even after Stiles put the effort into re-making the sheets he still inhales nothing but Stiles and him, their scents mixed together.

It’s a little agonising how incredible it smells. To a werewolf, combined scents that smell good together always reek of compatibility. Derek’s not ready to think more on that right now.

“Wait- is it? Are you a cuddler?” Stiles wonders gleefully and Derek shuts the bathroom door in his face in response, trying and failing not to imagine what Stiles is suggesting.

He brushes his teeth with a lot more furious energy than required and what he’s gotten used to not having lately. That tension is back in his shoulders again, in the sudden rigidity of his spine and it has nothing to do with his life being in danger and all to do with the person snickering at him outside the door.

When he emerges after changing into fresh clothes, his breathing is a little harsher than usual and it's just in time to watch Stiles outside climbing across the balcony. Derek sighs and moves out to meet them while Stiles greets Cora and stumbles into her shoulder.

“Morning,” she replies, pushing him back and immediately honing in on Derek like she can sense his unease at having Stiles with them. “What’s wrong with your face?”

“Nothing. What’s wrong with yours?” he retorts and tries to ignore the way Stiles is grinning at him.

They head out to the dining room and Cora wastes no time in monopolising the buffet table once they arrive. Since it’s still pretty early, the room is empty bar the staff adding plates to the table and an old couple sitting hand in hand before one of the windows facing the ocean so no one’s offended by Cora’s territorial claim as she heaps food onto her plate.

Derek forgoes food in search of the coffee machine- it’s safer to stay out of the way until Cora’s done- and is a little startled that Stiles is already there. He’s in the midst of stirring his mug with a spoon and gives Derek a pointed stare that’s just begging him to try and tell Stiles no. From the little he knows about ADHD, coffee in the morning is fine it’s just later on in the evening when it might be a problem.

The way Stiles’ eyebrow is raised in challenge looks like he’s just waiting for Derek to say something about it so he can contradict him. And since Derek does not want to have any conversation where Stiles is vehemently asserting he’s an adult who can make his own decisions, he keeps his mouth shut.

“What?” Stiles demands anyway, because he has to tug that damn string, no matter how much he shouldn’t.

“Nothing. Hurry up.”

Stiles rolls his eyes before he leans in and blows softly onto the rim of his cup and Derek loses his train of thought at the sight. When Stiles steps aside with an extravagant flourish, Derek scowls and sets out two mugs and avoids staring at Stiles’ mouth again.

“Such a sourwolf,” he murmurs softly to himself as he moves away, even though he knows Derek will hear it and know how fond it sounds.

Derek’s so distracted, he scalds the tips of his fingers.

Breakfast is better since everyone’s too busy eating to talk much and as long as Derek doesn’t look at Stiles for too long he can almost pretend nothing much has changed. Cora’s not willing to let that slide for long, though.

“So Stiles,” she wonders somehow making his name sound dangerous. “What did you want to do today? Stay by the pool? Walk to the beach?”

Stiles is in the middle of taking a generous gulp of coffee and has to swallow first.

“I didn’t really pack anything to swim-“

“No problem. We’ll take you into town to shop for some and anything else you've forgotten.”

Derek does not want to be anywhere near the type of clothing that shows off Stiles’ narrow hips, let alone suffer through the torture of him trying on multiple items.

“Okay. That works,” Stiles agrees. “You don’t mind wasting your morning?”

“We don’t mind. We’re happy to help. Right Derek?”

“I can’t,” he lies immediately. “I have some calls to make.”

Cora narrows her eyes as if she’s not going to let him get out of it that easily, but then Stiles is nodding understandingly and saying,


Derek stiffens and exchanges a stiff glance with Cora who’s just as surprised.

“No,” he corrects quickly. “We’re not- uh…”

Stiles straightens a little in his seat. “Oh dude, I’m sorry,” he says and then tries to brighten up the sudden misplaced tension. “Hey, guess we’re all single and ready to mingle. Except for you, Cora.”

Derek smirks at that, because if she’s gonna lie the least she could do is suffer for it. Cora glares at him, but makes no effort to change her story. It seems like she’s sticking to it. Poor Vito.

They part ways after breakfast, Cora and Stiles heading off into town and Derek heads back to the room to do nothing but avoid being around Stiles sans clothes. He doesn’t even want to consider how he plans to cope when they all go swimming together.

He’s tired, more tired than he realised and the bed is right there and no one can fault him for wanting to sleep.

If Derek wastes a few minutes inhaling the scents saturating the sheets, no one has to know about it. It’s too warm to get under the covers so Derek lounges on top of them and marvels at how strongly the smell affects him. The fact that he falls asleep almost instantly and sleeps well has nothing to do with it.

Approaching footsteps wake him and Derek’s sitting up and fixing his hair before he considers why and regrets it. Cora and Stiles barge in seemingly pleased with themselves and Derek does not want to know what they've been up to. They quickly decide on lazing around the pool since Stiles is still hungover and Cora and Derek are in a similar state if to a lesser degree.

Stiles’ phone is buzzing when he moves into the bathroom to get changed and Derek only glances down at the caller ID out of instinct.

He knows Stiles can hear it from the way his heartbeat stutters in its rhythm and when he doesn’t emerge to answer it, Derek realises he’s ignoring the call, whoever they might be.

He chooses to respect that, but not without acknowledging it first.

“It’s Scott.”

Stiles comes out in green patterned board shorts and a blue t-shirt, frazzled and hand expectantly outstretched like he’s about to prevent Derek from doing something. Answering his cell phone, probably. He stops short once he notices Derek is nowhere near its resting place on the bedside table and frowns.

“Oh,” he exhales, mind firing up quickly to reassess the situation.

“You’re going to have to tell him eventually,” Derek points out unnecessarily. Lies breed dissension in packs and it’s a dangerous road Stiles is walking down, avoiding such an important conversation with his best friend.

Shutting people out is never going to fix anything. Derek knows that from experience.

“I will,” Stiles mutters. “Just- not today.”

And when Derek gets dressed and Cora meets them at the door, Stiles tries to pretend he’s forgotten to take his cell phone with him as he follows them outside. The scent of his lingering distress is not so easy to leave behind.

Derek doesn’t comment but hopes Scott doesn’t text him either, asking for his help in getting Stiles to talk to him. This is something he really doesn’t want to get involved in.

The pool has filled up somewhat with people, some of them Derek recognises and has seen around the hotel and it’s hard to ignore their sudden interest in Stiles as a new addition to their group. He knows the staff have been whispering about the hot brother and sister staying in their hotel whenever they think they’re out of earshot (which, they never are).

He really doesn’t want to hear people speculating who Stiles might be to them or any particular comments about how ridiculous Stiles looks, always looks with his soft pink mouth, his caramel, whiskey golden eyes and those goddamn moles that pepper his face and probably every inch of his skin.

No, Derek doesn’t want to think about that, he’s trying to overlook it as best he can already.

Cora quickly snags three of the last available deck chairs and stretches herself out. There’s only that one family hanging around the shallow end with the same children they've seen in the dining room these past couple of days. So far, it’s the only family they’ve seen in the hotel. There’s not very many things for children to do here, young children at least.

It’s usually couples, backpackers, seasoned travellers and locals who stay on Santa Cruz. If there are children, they're usually much older.

“So do werewolves actually swim?” Stiles turns to ask him like the smartass he is. “I mean, the wolfy drowned rat I’ve saved in the past doesn’t inspire much confidence.”

Stiles’ mistake is being a little shit anywhere near the edge of the pool and within reach of Derek’s hands.

“We swim,” Derek promises and places his palm against the warmth of Stiles’ chest and softly pushes him backward.

Stiles goes straight into the water with an oof of shocked disbelief and Derek feels extremely gratified all of one second until Cora’s sighing at him and saying,

“Pigtail pulling? Really Derek? Are you like eight years old or what?”

“Shut up, Cora,” he growls, amusement drying up just as Stiles breaches the surface and re-emerges, spluttering and cursing.

The kids at the other end of the pool are giggling at him and the staff member sitting in the lifeguard chair is glaring at Derek, the obvious culprit. He’s earning a bad reputation at the pool, really.

“You are such a dick,” Stiles gasps and snags one of his flip-flops rapidly floating away with a scowl as he wades back towards the edge to pull himself out.

It’s back to being amusing again and Derek’s smirking when Stiles’ hauls himself out, spewing water everywhere as the muscles in his arms tense with effort. Then he’s standing there grabbing the fabric of his shirt to squeeze out some of the water, a shirt that’s clinging to every inch of him now, revealing the peaks of his nipples and the dark line of his happy trail disappearing suggestively beneath his board shorts.

Derek inhales sharply and quickly realises what a terrible mistake he’s made, especially when Stiles shakes out his wet hair and tugs the soaked shirt off.

His groan is too quiet for human ears but Cora is snickering quietly beside him, even though her eyes are closed and she’s the picture of innocent sunbathing.

Stiles balls up his wet shirt and flings it at Derek’s face in revenge. It’s too quick for him to catch or he’s just so startled that he doesn’t and even wet it still smells like Stiles. Derek hastily pulls it away before he does something embarrassing like scent it. He throws it onto Cora’s stomach because she’s enjoying this way too much and her shriek at the sudden cold, wet thing smacking onto her skin is highly satisfying.

She bares her teeth, human teeth thankfully and drops Stiles’ shirt onto the ground, flicking any excess water in Derek’s direction. He grins and takes the chair next to her, studiously not looking at Stiles as he collapses into the chair on Derek's other side.

Derek’s has no more paperbacks to distract him from the steady thrum of awareness that is Stiles lying comfortably right next to him so he lets his eyes fall shut and hopes for the best.

The sudden snick of the sunscreen cap opening to his right is enough to enact a serious sense of foreboding. When Cora’s finished slathering herself and pats his bicep with the bottle, Derek accepts it and perfunctorily lathers his skin before tossing it into Stiles’ lap.

Stiles grunts a little since Derek threw it harder than he meant to, but starts covering himself in sunscreen anyway. Since Stiles’ skin is so pale and he probably burns easily, he puts considerably more effort into layering his skin.

“Hey could someone help me out here?” Stiles asks and he’s half turning, gesturing towards the mottled skin of his back as Derek stares at it blankly.

When he waves the sunscreen in his hand, Derek finally catches up. Oh God, Stiles wants someone to rub sunscreen onto his back and Derek’s brain nearly shorts out at the thought of putting his hands on his bare skin.

He can’t do it. No. There’s no way. Derek is speechless for a moment. He glances helplessly at Cora just as Stiles starts turning, sensing the hesitation and she takes pity on him for once.

“Pass the bottle, pasty,” Cora says.

“Hey, uncalled for,” Stiles grumbles. “I am a delicate flower, okay.”

Derek snorts at that because he might be joking but Stiles doesn’t realise how accurate it is. Stiles takes back the sunscreen from Cora and tosses it in the general vicinity of Derek’s head. He misses, of course, but Derek catches the bottle anyway.

Cora finishes up with a final friendly slap to Stiles’ back which he yelps at, grousing about violent werewolves and then she’s traipsing back to her chair and the crisis is averted.

Derek shoots her a grateful look that she rolls her eyes at and settles back into her chair, stretching out languorously.

The day passes soon enough and try as he might, it’s impossible to pretend that nothing has changed now that Stiles is here with them.

At one point, Cora gets thirsty and heads up to the bar to buy herself a cocktail and Stiles ducks out to get a bottle of water, leaving Derek alone.

He smells her before she approaches, the sharp drenching perfume assaulting his nostrils in such a cloying way that it’s unpleasant and Derek’s leaning away automatically in reaction, nose wrinkling.

The woman doesn’t walk past like he’s expecting and he flinches at the sudden hand on his bicep.

“You look much drier today,” she says sweetly, and suddenly he remembers her walking past on that first day when Cora pulled him into the pool. He wishes she hadn't decided to talk to him.

“Thanks,” he answers shortly, moving out of her grasp.

“I’m Clara. Did you want to grab a drink sometime?”

“I’m with someone,” he lies, wishing it would be enough to get rid of her without hurting her feelings. Derek’s done hurting people. Or at least he’s trying not to. His tone, has her drawing away but it’s not enough to deter her properly. Cora’s gotten much better at this than he has.

“She doesn’t have to know.”

Derek doesn’t understand how people can talk like this. Or that people go along with it. He gives her a sharp look to convey that he’s not interested but she still hasn’t moved and Derek’s rapidly tensing up at the present situation. Even more so at the familiar footsteps drawing nearer.

“Here you go, babe,” Stiles announces, passing Derek a bottle of water as if he'd bought it for him. Derek’s accepts it without protest, surprised and a little startled when Stiles’ fingers drop to the nape of his neck and rest there possessively while he hovers at his back.

Stiles doesn’t even need to say anything, he just turns his attention to the woman and raises an eyebrow. She smiles wanly but slinks away soon after without another word. Derek doesn’t even watch her go. Every single part of his senses is focused on the warm hand anchored against his neck and the feeling in his chest when Stiles pulls away.

“Sorry if I overstepped, dude,” he murmurs. “But the tension in your shoulders could be seen from space.”

Derek doesn’t quite say thank you, but he does look at Stiles longer than he should and he knows Stiles understands. They sit there for a comfortable second.

“You sure you’re not-“

“I’m not an incubus, Stiles,” Derek insists, rolling his eyes.

Stiles smirks.

The day is simple enough that Derek doesn’t think about the bed conundrum until they’re back from the pool, showered and having brought dinner back to eat on the balcony again.

Cora’s perched on the railing’s edge digging into her food and Derek’s stretched out in the chair, Stiles sitting in the one closest to Derek when his cell phone rings.

It’s a toss up between Scott and his father but from the expression on Stiles’ face, it’s definitely Scott. He hesitates only a moment before resolve settles into his bones and he steps inside Cora’s room to answer it.

Stiles closes the sliding door behind him and with the sound muffled it’s a lot easier to block out the entire conversation. Derek already paid for that mistake once. From Stiles’ body language he can at least gather that it doesn’t go terribly.

A few minutes later, Stiles comes out again and he’s not exactly smiling but he’s not frowning or distressed either.

“So what happened?” Cora demands.

“I ah, told him,” Stiles admits, shaking his hands out distractedly. “It didn’t go as soul crushingly terrible as I thought so that’s one less thing to worry about. They’re still having trouble but. Since Donovan’s- body is gone.”

“It’s gone?” Derek repeats as if he didn’t quite hear it right. “Where the hell did it go exactly?”

“To wherever bodies stolen from their final resting place go? I’m not the authority on chimeras here.”

Derek gives him a dry look but chimeras definitely don’t sound good. For a brief moment Derek’s inexplicably glad he’s nowhere near Beacon Hills at the moment.

“What the hell has been going on in Beacon Hills?” Cora wonders, but the expectant tone suggests Stiles can’t avoid an explanation any longer.

Stiles only offers a belligerent sigh and sits forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his thighs and Derek prepares to watch Stiles’ hands for an acceptable length of time as he talks.

“You’re probably going to wish you didn’t ask me that after, but okay.”

And then, Stiles tells them. Everything.

He’s not wrong, though Derek could argue Stiles is mostly never wrong. As soon as he describes the Dread Doctors’ experiments on teenagers, Derek really wishes Cora hadn’t asked at all.

Cora’s face is pale once he’s finished; shocked speechless at the abhorrent tests these less than humans have inflicted on the natural world. Deaton will have his work cut out for him. If he can even help Scott figure out how to stop them.

Derek doesn’t want to know how lethally this will upset the balance. Forcing the supernatural is not something that can end well. These are dangerous, shark-infested waters Beacon Hills is swimming in. And Stiles is right at the centre of it.

“I need booze,” Cora declares once she rediscovers her voice. “Or I’m never falling asleep again.”

The idea might not be so disagreeable if Derek wasn’t already sick to his stomach.

Cora goes to sleep first, a little tipsy and trying to pretend what she heard didn’t affect her, locking her doors like last time so Derek doesn’t get any ideas of avoiding Stiles. Although, she didn’t hesitate to tease the hell out of him for sleeping outside last night when Stiles left them alone to visit the bathroom earlier.

Surprisingly, between copious slugs of yet another wolfsbane bottle- Derek is really starting to dislike this Vito kid- Cora has the great idea of offering Stiles some sans the hallucination inducing wolfsbane.

Stiles actually refrains as if he learnt his lesson from the recent hangover, glancing surreptitiously at Derek as he does so and for a fleeting moment Derek convinces himself Stiles has declined on his behalf. Because he doesn’t want Derek sleeping out on the balcony again, to supposedly avoid the smell of it. The idea that he actually wants Derek to share his bed is ridiculous.

Derek blames the irrational thought on too much sun and not enough hydration.

It’s only once Derek’s using the bathroom to brush his teeth with the door open and Stiles camped out on the bed in the other room- the sight of which he’s diligently attempting to ignore- when Stiles reluctantly brings up his sleeping patterns.

“Look, uh full disclosure here. Sometimes I get nightmares so don’t freak out if I wake up during the night."

Derek quickly finishes up in the bathroom, rinsing his mouth out with water before he renters the bedroom. “It’s kind of hard to ignore,” he says, mostly to set Stiles’ mind at ease at not waking up alone and not to make him feel bad about it.

Considering what happened to him, it’s amazing Stiles scraped through with only nightmares.

His eyes narrow a little as he grasps Derek’s meaning, realising it hadn’t gone as unnoticed last night as he’d hoped as Derek had allowed him to hope by not acknowledging it. Well, he’s acknowledging it now.

“Just- don’t mistake me for prey and claw me to death in your sleep or whatever,” Stiles mutters, pulling back the covers to expose the sheets and climbing in.

He’s still in a shirt and a pair of loose fitting sleep pants, though it’s probably not as comfortable with the heat. Derek doesn’t feel right stripping off his clothes either, so he keeps his tank top on, sticks with sweatpants and hopes the breeze is good tonight.

The bed is big enough for them both to find comfortable positions without accidentally touching one another and it’s easier not to focus on who he’s sharing the space with, when Stiles is lying on his side with his back to him.

Derek’s tired and since he didn’t apply as much sunscreen as Stiles did, he’s more or less a little sunburnt. Or was. His skin feels a little sensitive and stretched too tight and that makes him drowsy in a way that getting sunburnt always does.

It doesn’t take very long to fall asleep.

Stiles only wakes him up once. He doesn’t move as much as he’d expected and it’s not because of a nightmare. He’s overheating and in the middle of removing his pants in his sleep when the movement wakes Derek up. His thoughts are jumbled, but it’s the jolting shock of Stiles’ thigh suddenly pressing against his own naked skin that slams him into alertness.

He eases himself away from the contact and Stiles doesn’t stir as Derek glances about the room and locates his own sweatpants a few metres away. He'd removed them in his sleep as well. It really is too hot to be wearing this much clothing to bed.

As quietly as he can, Derek withdraws and edges toward the sliding door, easing it further open to allow more air into the room. Stiles is moving again as if he subconsciously senses the empty space beside him and Derek silently drifts back before it wakes him up.

He considers putting his pants on, but he’ll probably just remove them again. It’s a losing battle anyway. It shouldn’t be much of a problem. Stiles is just in his underwear as well. It’s not at all the comforting thought he’s looking for.

Derek climbs in and faces the opposite direction, trying not to think about it. It’s a lot harder to do when Stiles isn’t in another country, out of reach but right beside him, close enough to count every breath. But he manages.

Cora comes barging in too early to be acceptable and when Stiles jerks into alertness at the sound next to him, Derek hunches his shoulders and tries to bury his face into the pillow.

“Go away, Cora,’ he growls, too early to keep his voice even remotely sub-human.

Stiles makes a keening, delighted sound beside him at it because he's always too fascinated by anything supernatural for his own good and Derek regrets ever allowing himself to vacation with these idiots. Noisy, loudmouthed, idiots.

“Wake up Derek,” Cora barks, abrasive and unrepentant about it. “It’s a beautiful day. Don’t you want to go for a run?”

There’s disappointment in her voice and Derek rolls over to inspect why, catching the way she’s staring at the very palpable, no-contact zone between him and Stiles in the bed. Derek smirks, realising that’s why she’s invaded their room so early in the hopes of witnessing something and he’s pleased that her matchmaking plan isn’t working in her favour at all. Did she really think they’d wrap around each other? Cuddle? He has better control than that.

Stiles grumbles something incoherent and tumbles out of bed onto the floor before wearily climbing to his feet. He slowly turns his head back towards Derek in the bed, gaze lingering for a heady moment before he’s groaning, screwing his eyes shut and tipping his face toward the ceiling. Cora snorts as he staggers into the bathroom, shutting the door with a snap and Derek wonders what that was all about.

“What are you doing?” Cora demands as soon as Stiles is out of earshot, gesturing furiously at the empty space next to him on bed.

Derek doesn’t want to think about how if he slides his open palm across the mattress the spot will still feel warm. If he can handle not touching Stiles in his sleep than he can definitely resist savouring the phantom touch of his body against the mattress. Somehow trying to relax shouldn’t involve torturing himself.


Cora’s scowl turns brazenly lecherous as the toilet flushes in the bathroom. “Having trouble with performance?”

Derek scowls and throws a pillow at her which she only catches with ease. It’s hardly an effective weapon but he feels gratified all the same. “Would you just back off Cora? I mean it. Stop pushing this.”

“Pushing what?” Stiles wonders, as he emerges, wiping blearily at his face and only half paying attention so he doesn’t see Derek’s face tense up.

Cora smirks but he knows that look and it’s better to cut her off at the pass before she even opens her mouth.

“What we’re going to do today,” Derek lies. “But we don’t have to do anything.”

“Isn’t that the point of a vacation?” Stiles frowns.

“Fine, you win,” Cora says and she’s not just talking about their plans for the day. Derek tries not to look too relieved. It’s a small victory after all. “We’ll do whatever.”

Stiles doesn’t seem that concerned. “Does whatever include breakfast? Because I’m starving, to death.”

Derek rolls his eyes but throws the covers back and gets up to get dressed. He dresses quickly because he’s still in his underwear but feels eyes on him anyway. He grits his teeth and tries to ignore the sudden tightness in his chest because it’s a safe bet it’s not Cora staring at him.

Despite his complaints, Stiles survives long enough to make it to the dining room for breakfast. Derek makes a beeline for the coffee machine but Stiles elbows him out of the way and beats him to it with a shit eating grin.

He knows Stiles is trying to taunt him into doing something, but for once Derek doesn’t push back. He’s not sure he can handle it right now, not without showing too much of himself. Stiles is too smart for that.

So he frowns as deeply as he can but stalks over to the table of food Cora’s currently emptying.

“You know I can smell him from here,” she says, but Derek ignores her and grabs a plate.

He feels a little fidgety without his morning run but it’s mostly because he’s aching to shift again. The exhilaration that always comes with it is as addictive as it is frightening.

He’s never been more wild. Or more human.

“Here,” Stiles is suddenly saying, appearing at Derek’s side as he hands him a cup of coffee. He still doesn’t seem fully awake yet. “Black like your soul.”

“That’s flattering.”

Derek accepts the mug anyway because he’s never too proud for coffee before he realises Stiles’ hand is pressed into his lower back. His skin feels warm and it’s startling he actually didn’t notice when Stiles placed it there to begin with but now it's all he can focus on.

Stiles seems to wake up a little, eyes widening into alertness before they narrow in that way that means his thinking or he’s just realised something. Derek wants to move away from those eyes, but he's trapped between Stiles’ hand curling into him like it belongs there and the dining table.

“And where’s mine?” Cora demands on his left, half leaning across Derek’s plate like she’s going to snatch it out of his opposite hand and the moment is broken.

Stiles only grins before his hand is sliding away and he’s taking a sip from his own mug.

“Roomie privileges,” he shrugs, winking mysteriously before he’s walking off to grab them a table.

Derek’s lost for a moment in the implications of roommate privileges to properly appreciate Cora’s reaction.

“What a little shit,” she grumbles. “You do realise he’s a little shit?”

Derek suddenly can’t stop smiling. It does not appease Cora in the slightest. “I’m aware.”

Stiles focus shifts to his smile immediately when Derek joins him, setting his plate and mug down, lighting up at the sight of it. Derek thinks he should be embarrassed about how it makes him feel and how hard he has to struggle not to smile wider.

“What’s so funny?” he wonders, always to interested for his own good.

Derek shrugs. “Nice to see someone not falling at Cora’s feet.”

Stiles glances over at her just as a staff member is hastily upending the contents of the tray onto her plate with a blindingly accommodating smile.

“I think that’s just the staff,” Stiles admits while another staff member hands Cora a steamed filled coffee cup.

“You’d be surprised,” Derek replies darkly before taking a bite of some scrambled eggs.

Stiles just smirks but gets up to go and grab some food of his own. Derek doesn’t watch him walk away but feels Stiles glance back to look at him. It should make him feel like he’s under a microscope as that kind of attention always does, like they’re only focused on the surface of him and nothing else.

It doesn’t.

It feels like Stiles is looking right through him, into him as if Derek is a person. Not just someone who lost his entire family and helped them burn, someone whose been lost and made terrible mistakes. He’s never felt more like a person than when someone looks at him like that. Not many people do. Laura did. Cora does sometimes, even now, Chris Argent and the Sheriff do and so does Scott when he trusts him to help.

Derek takes another sip of his coffee just as Cora sits down and gets started on her plate. She stops when she catches sight of his face and frowns.

“You okay?”

“Just thinking.”

Cora rolls her eyes. “Don’t hurt yourself.”

There aren’t many people in the dining room yet but Derek sees her when she glides towards them. He watches her deliberate for a moment on whether she should ignore them, but Derek knows she’s not that type of person. It's that reason why he feels like such an asshole for leading her on.

“Good morning,” Sofia announces softly. “How are you both?”

Cora’s head snaps up to look at her then towards Stiles who's still at the table loading food up onto his plate.

“We’re good,” Derek replies before Cora can say anything. He doesn't glance at Stiles. “How are you?”

“Very well, thank you. I’m leaving the island today and returning home.”

Sofia smiles at them politely but the embarrassment still lingers between them. He wishes he hadn’t ever thought to kiss her and hadn’t said Stiles’ name instead. Stiles returns before Derek can think of any reason to stop him.

“Oh hello,” he greets, seemingly surprised by Sofia but curious all the same. Derek can’t ignore the twinge at his quiet suspicion either. Derek really hasn’t had the best track record with meeting people that aren’t trying to kill him.

“This is our friend Sofia,” Cora says and very pointedly doesn’t mention Stiles’ name for which Derek is eternally grateful. Sofia isn’t stupid.

But then Stiles only smiles easily and reaches out his hand to shake, despite how narrow his eyes are as if he’s trying to scan her for evil and says, “Nice to meet you. I’m Stiles.”

To her credit, Sofia doesn’t react as obviously as he anticipated, but her smile does soften as she glances quickly at Derek and shakes Stiles’ hand. Stiles, who’s still watching her closely, follows her gaze and Derek can’t believe he ever thought their eyes were remotely similar.

He raises an eyebrow at Stiles before he grins and lets Sofia’s hand go. Sofia says her goodbyes quickly after that, but not before she wishes them well on their vacation and Derek feels a pang of loss for how easy it could have been between them. And how she wouldn’t end up being right for him in the end anyway.

Stiles watches her go, lingering on her in a way that only proves he’s thinking about what she could possibly mean to them. By the way he turns back to stare at Derek again, he thinks Stiles might’ve figured it out.

“Well,” he says after a moment. “She seems a lot less evil than your previous associations.”

Derek winces inwardly at the implication but doesn’t let his expression change.

“I thought I’d try something new,” he deadpans.

Cora sniggers and steals food off of Derek’s plate when she thinks he won’t notice. He notices and takes a massive bite out of her muffin in revenge. Stiles just grins at them both in amazement like he’s never seen them before, let alone considered they might actually be siblings.

Cora flings the remains of her muffin at his head, but in an unusual display of agility, Stiles evades it. While they’re still eating, Cora announces she wants to visit Tortuga Bay Beach which is only about a twenty-minute walk from the resort. Although at the main beach it's not permitted to swim, there’s a separate cove that Cora wants to explore since sightings of reef sharks and tiger sharks in the area are fairly common.

Stiles shrugs, none too concerned either way and Derek finishes off his coffee before they go to get dressed. It’s still feels strange to be sharing a bathroom with Stiles but they take turns to get changed into their swimwear.

“So,” Stiles wonders between the closed doors when Derek’s in the bathroom half naked. “Why did Sofia know my name?”

Derek loses his balance and elbows the corner of the basin cabinet, pain flaring up briefly before it fades and he yanks his shorts up to his hips quickly in order to end this conversation.

“Don’t try and pretend,” Stiles continues as Derek quickly tugs a shirt on. “I saw her react to it. Though that makes me wonder why-“

Derek pulls the door open so violently that Stiles stumbles through the threshold since he was leaning on it and he reaches out to catch him around his ribs. When Stiles regains his footing, his face is a little pink but he won't be deterred from his questions.

“I might have mentioned you,” Derek admits before he can think of something better to say. Stiles seems startled by the confession but Cora barges into the room before he can reply.

Derek’s never been happier to see her.

They walk out to Tortuga Bay Beach, signing in as visitors with the Galapagos Park Service before they make their way down to the beach. It’s much more beautiful than Derek could’ve guessed.

The sun is out and beating down on them but Derek enjoys the feel of it seeping into his skin like he’s absorbing all of the brightness in the world. From the peaceful expression on Stiles’ face Derek can gather he might be feeling the same. The thought only strengthens his slow burn of contentment. Stiles needs this. He came here to get away from the murder, the fear and the desperation Beacon Hills brings. He came here for this.

“You coming to this cove or what?” Cora asks when they do nothing but stand there in silence, the sand warm and light between their toes. The soft azure skies and clear coloured ocean are nothing short of breathtaking.

Derek’s about to tell her yes but Stiles is already talking.

“In a minute,” he promises, raising a questioning eyebrow at Derek.

Cora glances between the two before she rolls her eyes and heads off along the beach to find the cove without them. Derek stays just because he’s not sure what Stiles is trying to say and they stare at each other as he tries to figure it out.

Stiles sits down on the powdered white sand and Derek stands there for a little while longer until Stiles pokes his leg. He sits down heavily enough that sand ends up spraying across Stiles and he glares like Derek did it on purpose, which he did. He ignores it when Stiles retaliates by flicking sand back and tries not to notice how little distance there is between them. He really hopes Stiles isn’t planning on asking more questions about Sofia and why she knew his name.

“What do you want?” he asks bluntly.

Stiles scowls at him. “Wow, dude. You’re so easy to talk to.”

“It’s a gift.”

Stiles snorts and they end up watching the waves crash rhythmically for a moment.

“When she… I mean after- did you have nightmares?” he asks drawing an idle finger through the sand. He’s tracing patterns Derek can’t see but there’s something entirely hypnotising about it and he can’t look away.

Derek thinks he knows what Stiles means. “I still do.”

Stiles’ head snaps up suddenly to look at him, eyes keen and penetrating. “Do they ever stop?”

Derek doesn’t respond straight away. He knows Stiles is asking for himself. The fear that they might never go away is a rational one but Derek doesn’t think he has the right answer. The answer that Stiles truly wants.

“With time,” he admits bracingly. He doesn’t say that all it takes is one small thing to trigger them into recurring again. A flash of memory, the hint of burnt ash.

He can actually hear Stiles grinding his teeth together in frustration.

“Fucking time,” Stiles spits vehemently and Derek is a little dazed by the ferocity in it. He’d hated when Laura had used the ‘it takes time’ response when he’d bore the weight of his first devastating mistake, clothes still smelling of fresh smoke. It shouldn’t surprise him that Stiles feels the same.

“Fucking time,” he agrees.

“If you two aren’t already boning get off your assess and come see this,” he hears Cora mutter from the other end of the beach.

“What did Cora say?” Stiles wonders and Derek startles, not realising he was watching so closely. Did his expression show that or is Stiles just that observant?

“She said to get off our assess and meet her.”

“I hope those sharks are hungry,” Stiles mutters bitterly as Derek stands up.

“I heard that.”

“She heard that,” Derek helpfully repeats for him, if only to warn him of his impending doom.

Stiles at least has the decency to look afraid.

“Shit,” he says, but scrambles to his feet as well.

Derek leads them towards Cora, his toes sinking into the soft sand while Stiles walks close enough beside him that their shoulders continually brush.

All of a sudden he’s struck by how strange this is; he and Stiles strolling along the beach together. It’s not a thing he’d ever imagined he’d be doing, especially with Stiles. There’s something about that that makes it much more satisfying.

“This is so weird,” Stiles admits as if he’s reading Derek’s thoughts. “I keep waiting for something evil to attack us. Face it dude, we don’t do ‘relaxing’ or ‘vacations’ we do badly structured planning and barely scraping past horrific death.”

“Cora’s more than happy to help if you’re so eager.”

Cora snorts and it’s louder now that they’ve gotten closer to the cove. “Please, you’re so full of it. As if you’d let me harm a hair on his precious head. Especially not since you’re pining after him so hard.”

Derek grits his teeth, but doesn’t reply though he’s sure from Stiles’ expression that he’s cottoned onto Cora speaking to him again and that he doesn’t like what she’s saying.

“Yeah, fine. Harm the token defenceless human. Like that hasn’t been done before.”

Stiles is rolling his eyes, but there’s an edge to his voice that’s shows how seriously he means it. Derek considers it for a second, halts over the idea to be sure that he can handle the implications of what he’s thinking of offering.

“Do you- do you want to learn how to fight? Defend yourself?”

Stiles actually pauses, surprised by the suggestion as if he’s never thought of it before. Derek can see him weighing it out. He should’ve learnt some basic defence as soon as Scott had been bitten but there’s no point thinking of what the past should have been. Stiles can’t always rely on his best friend to watch his back.

“Can you teach a non-werewolf? Do you even know how to fight without claws?”

Derek gives him a look. “In case you’d forgotten, I was human for a few months back there as well and what things I didn’t already know, Braeden taught me.”

“Huh,” Stiles says, thoughtfully. “It’s not a bad idea. I did get my ass kicked by an old man a little while ago so I could use some pointers.”

Derek still can’t quite believe that one. That Stiles had been snatched from a crowded lacrosse field so easily. “You got your ass kicked by a seasoned, veteran hunter. It’s not the same.”

“Wow thanks for clearing it up, big guy,” Stiles snarks. “I feel so much better.”

“Do you want me to help you or not?” Derek snaps right back, irritation rising. He regrets making such a meaningful offer, especially if Stiles’ isn’t going to take it seriously.

“I don’t know,” Stiles snaps. “How long have you been waiting for an excuse to kick my ass?”

Derek tries valiantly not to think of Stiles’ ass in any scenario but he’s not exactly making it easy.

“Too long,” he deadpans, nudging Stiles hard with his shoulder so he stumbles to the side. It’s not the mature response but it’s definitely a rewarding one. What he should’ve expected is for Stiles to quickly regain his footing and swerve toward him, shouldering him right back.

Derek staggers a little, but he’s sturdier so he doesn’t move as much. Stiles is still grinning at him anyway, seemingly pretty pleased with himself.

“Alright. Teach me to fight. Be my Yoda.”

Derek snorts. “I know a few basic defence moves,” he says as they round the bend veering into the cove. “I’m not a Jedi master.”

Stiles mouth opens and he looks at him like Derek’s said the most outrageous thing on the planet. Before either of them can speak, Cora scowls at them from several metres away and says,

“You’re both idiots is what you are. Now come look at this.”

Derek walks over first, mostly because Stiles is too distracted staring at him to move. He doesn’t understand Stiles’ response, Derek’s not a complete hermit. He’s seen films before.

Cora barely needs to point before Derek’s finally taking in the view. The cove is as spectacular as the sight of fins gliding about the water’s surface in the distance. There aren’t many of them, but where they’re standing the sharks look impressive.

“Those better be dolphins,” Stiles says, squinting determinedly at them but they’re too far for his eyes to differentiate.

Derek smiles, wide and predacious. “Why don’t you go in and find out?”

“Why don’t you, asshole?”

Cora groans with irritation when no one moves to enter the water. Derek would but he’s having too much fun riling Stiles up to bother just yet.

“Losers,” she says and quickly tears off her dress, leaving her sandals and towel in a pile on the sand before wading confidently into the water.

Stiles gaps helplessly at her, astonished when she starts swimming out directly to them.

“Should she be doing that?” he demands. “How big are they?”

Derek can’t help but smirk. “She’ll be fine. Cora’s just as dangerous as they are. They’re fairly small anyway.”

“Well in that case,” Stiles says and he’s abruptly tugging his shirt off his back and tossing his towel into the pile as well. “I’m going in.”

Derek doesn’t reply or stare too much as he strips off his own shirt. Stiles is staring at him openly when he’s finished putting his things down and Derek meets his gaze unwaveringly. Stiles shakes his head a little like he’s waking himself up and turns back to face the water, edging forward slowly to test the temperature.

It must be good because he increases his pace after that. Derek’s eyes travel on their own past the sharpness of his shoulder blades, along the ridges of his spine, the slimness of his hips. He’s lost a bit of weight since Derek’s last saw him and he wishes he’d thought to bring food with them now. The instinct to provide is a strange, unfamiliar one to him but Derek can understand the significance of it.

Cora might have been teasing, but Stiles is precious in ways even Derek’s not sure he grasps yet. There’s an inimitable and terrible beauty to him, always has been.

He’s everything Derek wants and can’t have. It makes his throat dry as he follows Stiles into the water. Every instinct in him, coils with the maddening urge to reach out and touch him, place his hand against Stiles’ lower back like he’d done to Derek that morning- see if it fits there. He shouldn’t think it, but he knows like he shouldn’t know a lot of things, that his hand will.

“My God, Derek you are so lame. Just grab his butt or whatever.”

Derek flushes because clearly Cora can smell him; even from how far out she is already. He tears his eyes away from Stiles because it’s only going to get worse if he keeps looking and he resolutely gets himself under control.

When it gets deep enough he dives in, fully submerging himself and trying not to think about Stiles. It’s harder when he resurfaces because Stiles is standing right there.

“Huh. Guess Sourwolves can swim.”

Derek splashes him in the face with water.

It’s actually very relaxing swimming with sharks than he would’ve guessed. They seem to like Cora immensely if by the way they follow her around the cove reveals anything. They even swim in closer when she does, but Stiles tenses up too much for Derek to relax as he might have if it was just him and Cora. He’s too busy watching them in case they get curious about Stiles and he panics. Thankfully, they’re not that interested in him to begin with so when Cora moves away again once she’s noticed Stiles concern, they go with her.

Stiles starts an impromptu water fight after Derek’s first attack and things definitely escalate until Stiles actually climbs onto Derek’s back in his attempts to drown him. Derek only grins maniacally, grabs Stiles’ feet so he can’t escape and falls backwards into the water. Stiles concedes defeat after that but not before he kicks Derek in the stomach as he swims away.

His interest gets caught by the black rocks littering the edge of the cove and Stiles swims over to investigate, leaving Derek to float aimlessly on the water’s edge, feeling the sun warm his face pleasantly.

He’s only just considering the similarity of these rocks to the sharp ones at La Playa de la Estación before there’s a sudden hiss of pain and the scent of blood is filling his nostrils.

Derek jerks up to a standing position and starts wading towards Stiles who’s sheepishly inspecting his foot with a grimace.

“Stiles,” he says calmly. “Get out of the water.”

“What?” Stiles replies, not quite understanding. “It’s just a small cut. I’m fine.”

“You’re bleeding,” Derek stresses and pointedly turns his head towards Cora and her new friends. “Get out of the water.”

It dawns on Stiles then and his easy grin slides away. “Oh fuck,” he gasps.

He starts hobbling forward but he’s too slow, the cut must be deeper than he’d advertised because he can’t walk on it. Derek’s reached him by then and impatiently lifts Stiles out of the water, tossing him over his shoulder because there’s no way in hell he’s using the bridal carry on Stiles. The sharks probably wouldn't have attacked but Derek knows blood in the water gets them overly agitated and that's not a good combination with Stiles on a normal day. Better to be safe than sorry.

Stiles splutters a little before he gets his bearings and realises Derek’s carrying him out of the surf like a hunted animal.

“So romantic,” Stiles mutters, quietly as if to himself.

Derek nearly trips on the flat surface of the sand, he’s so surprised. “Did you think I was trying to woo you?”

Stiles’ body actually grows warm against Derek’s fingers and he chokes out a reply to deny it. When Derek deposits him onto one of the towels Stiles’ face is red and he’s still bleeding. A startling amount since small cuts always tend to bleed the worst. He rifles through Cora’s purse in the hopes to find something. Surprisingly, she has band aids. He opens up one of the water bottles they’d brought hiking with them and tries to clean the cut as best he can. It is definitely deeper than Stiles admitted and he scowls at him before applying the band aids.

“Can you walk back?”

Stiles is biting his lip, considering the question but Derek already thinks no, he can’t. “Think so. I’ll be fine.”

Derek snorts and snags the towel next to him, lying out in the sun to dry off. He doesn’t want to go back into the water anyway.

“You’re so full of shit.”

Stiles grins at him. “So are you.”

Derek can’t really argue with that.

Cora comes out a little while later, complaining that something got the sharks too excited to play anymore and shoots Stiles a blaming look before she collapses onto the towel.

Derek flicks her ear because he’s next to her and he can and once she’s dried off, they decide to walk back to the hotel. Stiles is limping immediately so Derek slides an arm around his waist to help him walk and dismisses the heat beneath his fingertips as a result of the sun beating mercilessly down on them.

It’s slow going, even with Derek supporting Stiles and Cora gets fed up eventually with the pace.

“Jesus, just carry him already.”

He glances at Stiles who he knows is just going to make an inappropriate joke about it. In front of Cora, that’s a death sentence.

“Do not say a word,” he growls and bends so Stiles can climb onto his back. They walk faster after that, but Derek is so distracted by the heat of Stiles and the closeness of his mouth whenever he speaks against Derek’s ear that he’s basically useless until they reach the hotel again.

When Stiles goes to shower, he and Cora head into town to buy lunch to bring back and he’s stuck fending off all of her comments about he and Stiles’ canoodling at Tortuga.

“We were not canoodling,” Derek hisses, nearly dropping the bag of food in his anger.

Cora just laughs at him. “You had a playful water fight. You carried him out of the surf like you’d saved him from drowning, Derek. There was piggybacking.”

“He cut his foot. I carried him over my shoulder because I had to. He couldn’t walk.”

“You’re ridiculous,” she replies. “But you seem happy so I’m cool with it.”

Derek only frowns and doesn’t reply. When they get back to Derek’s room, Stiles has limped all the way out onto the balcony, sitting in one of the chairs and is in the middle of a phone call. As he and Cora get comfortable and start setting up the food around him, it’s pretty clear Stiles is talking to his father and that he’s checking up on him. Derek wonders if the Sheriff will want to talk to him again and he hopes if he does that he doesn’t have to lie again.

Stiles tells his father that he cut his foot on the rocks and the Sheriff must be so used to it that he doesn’t even sound concerned but fondly lectures him on not getting any infections instead. Derek tries really hard to ignore the twinge in his chest at that.

Stiles hangs up a little while later and they eat as much as they can. When Derek unexpectedly gives him a huge helping of food, Stiles only raises his eyebrow but accepts it anyway.

Derek does not look at Cora afterward. He can already picture the gleeful expression on her face.

Since Stiles can’t move around so well they stay on the balcony as the afternoon turns into evening and eat dinner in the hotel. No one feels much like drinking so after they’ve eaten they head back to their rooms. They end up on Derek’s balcony and he’s just starting to relax into the comfort of the chair, waves rolling in his ears when a cell phone starts ringing.

He’s expecting it to be Stiles', but suddenly Cora is scrambling up to snatch her cell off of the table, scanning the caller ID before her face heats up. Derek grins like he’s won the lottery and jumps up just as Cora leaps across their balconies to escape him, darting through her glass doors and slamming it shut as Derek attempts to follow.

“What the hell?” Stiles cries at the sudden commotion.

The lock clicking is unmistakeable but Derek still catches her expression as she finally answers the call. She definitely doesn’t just enjoy the wolfsbane alcohol Vito insists on giving her.

“Hey, Vito. What’s up?” she says casually while trying not to sound breathless.

Derek laughs at her. Cora scowls and flips him off before she moves into her bathroom for privacy. A few seconds later, Vito’s voice is drowned out by the sound of her shower running. Derek doesn’t mind. He plans to tease the hell out of her as soon as she re-emerges.

“What the hell was that?” Stiles demands, once Derek climbs across the balconies again and settles back into the chair he’d vacated.

“Her boyfriend,” Derek says, since that’s what Cora’s insisting on telling them both. She can dig herself out of that later.

“Is he a werewolf?” Stiles wonders.

Derek frowns at him. “Why does that matter?”

“It doesn’t,” Stiles hastens to clarify. “I just wanted to know.”

“He is. He’s from the pack in Ecuador she lives with.”

“That’s awesome,” Stiles breathes and Derek knows the idea of a foreign pack fascinates him. It’s not a good idea for him to meet them though, they’d know straight away what he means to Derek and they’re not exactly subtle.

They don’t sit there for much longer until Derek gets up to go for a run. His fur strangely smells of the salt from Tortuga Bay Beach but he ignores it in favour of the run, the shift, the light of the moon following him as he goes. When he returns, trotting up to the balcony he finds Stiles has left a towel for him and he shifts back before climbing into their room, the salt still clinging to his skin.

Stiles is asleep in their bed and by the time he showers and comes out of the bathroom, he hasn’t moved. The shower’s still running next door which means Cora’s still talking to Vito so Derek brushes his teeth and climbs into bed next to Stiles. He forgoes the singlet and sweatpants this time, it’s too hot to sleep in and from what he can see, Stiles is shirtless as well.

He falls asleep immediately.

When he wakes up abruptly in the middle of the night he’s disoriented and confused as to why before he realises Stiles is thrashing next to him, in the middle of a nightmare. He wakes up only seconds later screaming and the sound is pure agony, grinding Derek’s bones as he flinches away from it.

“Stiles, Stiles,” he gasps, touching him urgently. “You were dreaming. It was a nightmare.”

His heartbeat is wild and frantic as he gulps in great lungful’s of air and his fingers are pressing deeply into the meat of Derek’s shoulder like he’s anchoring himself.

When Stiles’ breathing slowly evens out and Derek knows he’s not needed, he faces the wall to give him some privacy to work through the nightmare. It always leaves behind a raw, exposed and unsettled feeling that Derek knows only too well.

“Thanks,” Stiles says eventually and Derek only nods, knowing he probably doesn’t want to talk about it.

“Can I?” he whispers and his voice shakes as his fingers press at Derek’s spine questioningly. “I really need to touch someone right now.”

“Fine,” Derek grunts, but his heart beats faster as Stiles crowds up against his back.

He’s careful about it, politely keeps his hands to himself until Derek loses patience and reaches back to pull Stiles’ arm around his waist. Stiles lets out a little noise of surprise but doesn’t move away, settling up against Derek, bare legs touching the back of Derek’s thighs and it’s too startling for words.

For a while Derek doesn’t think he can sleep like this, Stiles wrapped tightly around him, breaths rolling softly against the back of his throat. He’s too excited, his chest feels tight and he’s worried if Stiles’ hand falls lower he’ll notice how much Derek’s affected by this.

But Stiles drifts back off to sleep surprisingly quickly and even though Derek feels wound tight, his underwear meaningfully constricted by the close contact, he soon follows.

It’s nothing short of a miracle that they wake up before Cora the next morning. They’re in nearly the exact same position they’d fallen asleep in, though their legs are now tangled together and Stiles’ mouth is half open against Derek’s neck and it elicits a shiver of anticipation in him.

He comes to his senses at the sound of Cora’s feet thudding onto their balcony floor. Derek pulls away with a start, violently waking Stiles who rolls away with a groan of pain, which suggests he accidentally kicked something with his bad foot.

Thankfully, Cora’s head is bent low, reading a message on her cell phone so she doesn’t notice anything amiss. Derek’s skin still feels hot, though.

“Do you ever knock?” Stiles grumbles irritably and that’s what gets Cora lifting her head up, studying them carefully.

Derek tries not to react.

“Why? Am I interrupting something?” she wonders slyly, raising an eyebrow at Stiles who immediately gets flustered.

Derek winces and disappears into the bathroom to wash his face and also to hide from Cora and her comments. Much safer. When he comes back Cora is lying on his side of the bed and showing Stiles something on her cell phone.

“That is definitely a face you’d like to do things to,” Stiles agrees and Cora’s eyes glitter frighteningly.

“Breakfast?” he asks, just to change the subject and prevent Cora from replying. He doesn’t trust anything she has to say. But clearly Vito is worth her attention in every department if he's going off Stiles' comment about his picture.

“Coffee,” Stiles groans appreciatively.

Cora folds her arms, suspicion lingering but doesn’t say anything. Derek tries not to show his relief.

Since Stiles is nearly immobile, they spend the day by the pool again, which is no sacrifice for any of them because doing nothing strenuous all day is surprisingly relaxing.

Stiles slathers himself in sunscreen again but when he asks someone to get his back this time Cora is questionably absent. Derek manages to do it quickly and efficiently, but he’s not exactly gentle about it. Stiles’ skin is unsurprisingly sensitive.

When Cora returns, all innocence and obliviousness, carrying a large colourful cocktail, Derek vows to push her into the pool the first chance he gets.

“How’s Vito?” Derek wonders as soon as she sits down. Cora nearly spills her drink and glowers at him.

“How’s Stiles’ foot?” she demands, the very real threat is there in her voice and Derek has no intention of replying, not at all. She would tell Stiles exactly what she thinks about them and Derek’s feelings. Derek has no doubt she’ll do it.

“Stiles’ foot is fine,” Stiles responds, grinning. “How’s Vito?”

Cora tosses her drink in Stiles’ face but doesn’t get far before Stiles and Derek are tackling her into the pool.

It’s a great day.

Stiles doesn’t have any nightmares that night, but they still wake up wrapped around each other in the morning. Cora doesn’t catch them, but it’s not for lack of trying. Derek is out of the bed so fast he ends up on the floor.

Neither of them mentions it.

Stiles’ foot is much better the next day, enough that he can put most of his weight on it without wincing so they decide to take him to La Playa de la Estación as it’s not too far in walking distance.

Cora is on her phone most of the day, texting Vito and since the pool debacle the day before neither he or Stiles make any comments about it. They hire out snorkelling gear again and the water is great even if Stiles manages to kick Cora, Derek and himself in the head with his flippers at one point or another. Cora is the only one who kicks back.

She wants to go back to the hotel around midday but Derek’s too content to move from his spot on the beach and Stiles is still swimming in the water so she leaves without them.

Stiles joins him a little while later and they let the sun dry them off. Since Stiles is moving a little easier, Derek shows him a few basic defence moves: locks and holds to escape from, where best to punch and what body parts pack the most strength and force to an attack. Stiles is a very fast learner and soon enough they're sweaty and breathing fast under the sun. With a bit more practice, Stiles could be lethal. Derek calls for a break after a while and they head back out to the water to wash off.

They collapse on the towels soon after to dry off.

“Do you ever feel like you just click with someone out of everyone else in the world?” Stiles wonders apropos of nothing and Derek tenses at the question, limbs locking together as if he’s going to run. “Like they just fit into your life no matter what your relationship?”

“No,” he lies and keeps his eyes shut so he doesn’t have to look at him.

Stiles rumbles out a soft laugh, not in the least offended. He sees too easily through Derek to be offended. “You’re so full of shit.”

Derek’s smiling before he can stop himself.

“So are you.”

They find Cora sitting on her balcony when they return to the hotel and while Stiles takes a shower, Derek sits with Cora and they watch the waves break as the afternoon disappears.

He’s half asleep when Stiles finally emerges, skin red like he’s been under the hot water too long and Derek forces himself to get up and shower off the sharp smell of salt.

The scent hits him so hard when he enters the bathroom that Derek slips on the wet floor. He hits the corner of the basin and curses loudly as he scrambles to stay upright. Once he realises he’s no longer moving, Derek bracingly inhales a meagre amount and abruptly chokes on it.

Stiles’ arousal is everywhere. Derek hastily shuts the door and opens up the window but it’s pointless, the scent of it already has him achingly hard in his swim shorts. He should never have allowed Stiles to get close like this. Derek cups himself in surprise and bites his lip to keep quiet at the first jolt of pleasure it brings.

Goddammit, Stiles is such a little shit.

Derek brings himself off a few minutes later, furiously touching his cock and trying not to cry out Stiles’ name as he comes.

“Really, Stiles?” he demands when he finally emerges and joins them on the balcony again because he can’t not acknowledge it, especially when Stiles knows Derek would’ve smelt it.

Stiles isn’t even that embarrassed.

“I’m single, dude,” he protests. “And I want to have a good time and you keep cuddling me every night so…”

Derek slaps a hand over his mouth but it’s too late.

“What did you say?” Cora demands and her eyes are gleaming in triumph, mouth unfurling into an ecstatic grin.

“I didn’t,” he insists, because Stiles started it anyway, but Cora only ignores him.

He won’t be able to talk his way out of this. Derek glares at Stiles accusingly and pulls his hand back since the damage is already done. Stiles sheepishly closes his mouth and Derek groans.

Cora just starts cackling.

Derek goes for run to avoid Cora’s endless teasing and ends up deep in the forest of Opuntia cacti again. He doesn’t come across another Galapagos tortoise but he stays there for a long time. It’s late when he decides to double back, hunger drawing him to the hotel and since he’s sweaty from the run he has to take another shower.

He locks the sliding door this time, because enough is enough and Cora needs to stop barging in here like she’s going to catch them in the middle of something. He pulls the blinds across for good measure.

Stiles is asleep on the bed, too hot to climb under the covers and he’s shirtless, sprawled across the centre of it with his ass sticking up in the air. Derek feels a jolt at the sight of him and stalks past with a mixture of fondness and arousal.

The smell of them both still lingers in the bathroom, even though opening the window helped disperse most of it and when Derek showers the slickness of sweat from his skin, he doesn’t touch himself again.

Stiles wakes up a little when Derek comes out.

“s’ food if you’re hungry,” he mumbles, half pointing toward the table.

Derek is hungry so he eats whatever’s left of it before going to brush his teeth. When he gets to the bed, Stiles has moved over for him and Derek doesn’t bother trying to get under the covers.

Stiles immediately rolls towards him and presses every inch of himself against him because Derek certainly feels every inch of it.

“Who’s cuddling now?” he snaps, but Stiles shamelessly presses in closer until they’re chest to chest.

“Can’t help it,” he murmurs. “Feels good.”

Derek knows exactly how good it feels and can’t be bothered to argue. He’s tired anyway. The run really wore him out. So he sleeps instead.

He wakes up to Stiles hard against his thigh and it’s the worst kind of torture to press his hand into Stiles’ hip and roll him away. But he does.

He barely has a moment to himself before Cora’s banging on their door. He gets up and lets her in. Cora eyes him doubtfully as if she’s trying to determine if he and Stiles did anything last night but she can’t read him.

Stiles is already scrambling underneath the covers to hide his erection from her. It’s a lost cause since she can definitely smell it. Cora smirks at him and Derek feels gratified when Stiles shoots him a reproachful look.

Once they’re all dressed they head toward the dinning room and Stiles keeps glancing at Derek out of the corner of his eye like he wants to say something but he’s not sure how. Derek’s pretty aware that Stiles leaves tomorrow and it might have something to do with that so he tries his best to ignore it.

The coffee and food is great as always and when they’re deciding their plans for the day, Stiles suggests the pool.

They get changed once they’ve eaten and make their way to the pool area, grabbing their favourite deck chairs even though the place is basically empty. They’re there for less than ten minutes before Cora’s phone rings and she disappears far enough that Derek can’t overhear her conversation. Vito definitely.

“Tonight’s my last night here,” Stiles admits quietly and even though Derek knew that he feels like he’s been punched.

“What time is your flight tomorrow?” he manages.

“It’s at two in the afternoon. It takes 45 mins to get the bus from here to the Itabaca Channel and then another ten to catch the ferry over to Balta to get to the airport. I’ll probably leave at midday.”

Derek doesn’t know what to say. It’s going to be strange not having him here. A week isn’t enough.


Stiles bites his lip and glances off to where Cora disappeared as if he’s checking for her.

“Look I was waiting to say something because I know if I don’t I’m going to regret it and since Cora’s gone I-“

“Wait,” Derek says because he doesn’t think he can hear this.

“I’m into you. I’ve been into you for a long while now and I think you know that since you’ve been trying so hard to convince me out of it.”

“You just want me because you broke up with your girlfriend,” Derek says and it’s harsh, but Stiles needs harsh to get this.

“No I don’t. I want you now like I’ve wanted you ever since I met you and you know that because I’m pretty sure you feel the same.”

“You’re too young for me,” Derek blurts out and winces because he should’ve denied it. Stiles’ eyes are bright and challenging and Derek’s so screwed.

“I’m eighteen, and legal and it’s only a five year difference. My dad even trusts you. This isn’t you doing a bad thing. You’re not in a position of authority over me. You’re not my alpha. We don’t even have to do anything about it. I just had to say it so it’s out there.”

Derek can’t think all of a sudden. He has no idea what to say.

“You didn’t smell that strongly of alcohol the first night you were here. I was just afraid of being that close to you. I didn’t think I could handle it.”

Stiles only nods, unsurprised. “I knew Cora was doing it to force us together and that it was making you uncomfortable. I was trying so hard not to touch you that first night we shared the bed but then you let me touch you anyway. Why did you let me if you didn’t want to?”

“I did want to,” Derek says. “You know I wanted to.”

“I want you,” Stiles says, without preamble. “I want you so badly I drunk dialed you on my birthday a few months back."

"You called me on your birthday? Why?"

Stiles levels him with a look. "I'd just turned eighteen. What do you think?"

Derek can't believe that he thought it was a mistake and that he'd deleted the message without listening to it properly.

"I want you to fuck me," Stiles continues. "But if you’re so worried about taking advantage I can fuck you. I’d like that just as much.”

Derek hisses out a breath and goes rigid all over. “Your dad is counting on me to look after you,” he replies. “That is not a part of that description.”

Stiles only rolls his eyes. “He knows I can take care of myself and he knows how I feel about you. He asked if I brought condoms, man.”

Derek’s mouth falls open. “He asked what?”

“So do you want to or not? Because I can drop this and we can definitely pick it up in a year or two when I’m in college and still wanting you or you can let me kiss you now.”

Derek thinks he might be getting lightheaded. “I tried really hard not to think of you like that but you just- and I just…” Derek sighs heavily. “I called out your name while I was with Sofia, that’s how she knew you. Cora thought it was hilarious.”

Stiles eyes widen with astonishment but he tenses up a little. “Jesus, like right when you were-“

“No,” he says quickly. “It didn’t get that far. I only kissed her.”

Stiles relaxes again but he staring at Derek’s mouth intently. “I really want to kiss you. We don’t have to do anything if you don’t want but I really, really want that.”

Derek’s mouth feels dry. He knows exactly what Stiles is doing. He’s explained what he wants and he’s giving Derek the option to decide. No one’s really asked him like that before. He knows Stiles will respect his answer either way and won’t push him and he knows Stiles isn’t just asking for sex. No, he wants something much more than that. Derek does too.

He’s just not so sure he can give it. At least not right now.

But he's tired of trying to hate himself for not fighting enough against this and his feelings for Stiles. He knows the age difference between them is significant, but he admires and respects Stiles completely. He trusts him and Stiles trusts Derek. He doesn't want to control him or use him or hurt him in any way. Liking Stiles doesn't make him the bad guy. It's how he treats him that does.

“I- yeah,” he agrees. “Yes.”

And before he can even consider the complications of that, Stiles is leaning over and kissing him on the mouth, knocking the breath out of him and Derek lights up. Stiles’ lips are soft and shockingly skilful and Derek opens up his mouth to taste him deeper, groaning when Stiles is suddenly clambering into his lap.

He can’t breathe properly, Stiles is nothing like he expected but it’s everything he’s ever wanted and his hand digs softly into Stiles’ hair while he uses the other to slide along Stiles’ spine, supporting his back.

He can already feel how much Stiles is enjoying this and knows he’s in a similar state when gravity tilts Stiles forward and they rock together. Derek pulls back to check for spectators but there’s only a girl lying on at deck chair at the opposite end of the pool with her eyes shut and headphones in.

“Fuck,” Stiles murmurs, completely distracting him.

His fingers are already scraping across Derek’s jaw and okay; he’s really into Derek’s beard that’s why he kept talking about it and when Derek surges up to kiss him again, he’s grinning.

He’s barely gotten another taste before the sound of Cora’s approaching footsteps ring in his ears. He pushes Stiles back and frantically lifts him up off of his lap, noting the tent in his swimming shorts as he does and the way Stiles’ eyes hone in on it immediately.

“Cora’s coming,” he gasps unevenly and deposits Stiles on his feet again.

Stiles darts in for a final kiss and it’s messy and hot and Derek’s not at all prepared for the need it draws out of him. He pulls away before Derek can keep him there and Cora is rounding the corner just as Stiles is sitting back down and placing his hands in his lap to cover himself.

Cora’s only half paying attention. Her cheeks are a little warm herself and Derek has no doubt that she likes Vito immensely and has been trying to hide it this entire time. They’re definitely related.

“What did I miss?” she wonders.

It’s a shock she doesn’t see it. Stiles’ lips are swollen and red, his skin pink with stubble burn and Derek wants more than anything to kiss him again. He thinks he might look the same, if a little stunned as well. The arousal lingers, exposing them.

“Nothing much,” Stiles shrugs offhandedly.

Cora is still looking at her phone, not paying attention and doesn’t even hear Stiles’ frantic heartbeat as she sits down. A moment later, she’s taking off her dress and diving into the pool.

Derek leans over immediately to kiss him again and Stiles has already moved forward to meet him in the same instance, thinking the same thing. Stiles grins as they come together and Derek’s heart is beating too fast in his chest as their mouths meet. It’s chaste and quick and they’re pulling away as Cora resurfaces and Derek’s stripping off his shirt, watching as Stiles does the same.

Cora doesn’t say anything when they move to join her. She doesn’t even seem to notice Stiles reach out and touch Derek’s fingers, squeezing them gently but Derek does.

He feels it all the way down to his toes.

Derek thinks it might be one of the greatest feelings in the world.

Cora doesn’t leave them alone for the rest of the day. Derek’s never been so aware of her presence before and he’s never wished so badly for Vito to call again and distract her.

Stiles is not much help either. If he was subtle before, he’s utterly brazen now and Derek wanders through the day on edge and distractingly aroused.

When it gets late, he and Stiles volunteer to walk into town to go and buy food to bring back and eat on their balcony for dinner and it’s ten minutes before they actually leave the hotel because Derek kisses Stiles as soon as they step outside.

They’re both flushed and grinning when they eventually pull apart.

“We are really good at that,” Stiles admits a little breathlessly.

“Yeah,” Derek agrees, staring at his mouth again.

When they actually start walking, Stiles starts smacking his hand repetitively into Derek’s with an expectant look until he’s scowling.


“Just let me hold your stupid hand,” Stiles gripes and reaches out to take it.

Derek doesn’t protest in the slightest and tangles their fingers together easily, heat burning through his chest at the contact.

They’re walking back to their hotel with take-out in hand when Stiles tips his throat up thoughtfully towards the sky and frowns.

“It’s going to rain,” he announces.

Derek looks up at the sky, at the dark clouds forming above them. It had been really hot earlier that day and it’s not unusual for storms to follow warm weather. He sniffs the air, scenting the tell-tale smell of approaching rain.

“Yeah, it is,” he says and glances at Stiles who’s grinning madly at him.

“Did you literally just sniff the sky right now?”

“No.” He says, trying to escape but he can’t since Stiles is still holding onto his hand.

“Oh my God,” he laughs. “You did. I am gonna tell everyone, buddy. Just you wait.”

Derek glares at him but Stiles is already laughing. When the sky rumbles ominously and literally opens up above them, rain pouring down in a deluge, it shuts him up pretty quickly.

But Derek takes one look at Stiles’ matted hair and his glowering expression and grins.

When they reach their room Derek gets a good look at Stiles’ rain soaked clothes and open mouth and he can’t help it, he’s leaning in to kiss him again. Stiles surges forward to meet him just as enthusiastically and they’re stumbling through the open doorway, Derek barely setting the food down on the nearby table before Stiles is tugging at his shirt.

Derek lets him pull it over his head before he’s bunching his hands up around the edges of Stiles’ shirt and tugging it over his shoulders. They’re mouths are barely meeting again before there’s footsteps and Cora’s saying,

“You better not have forgotten the-“

She trails off at the sight of them, eyes widening in shock as they jerk apart. Derek’s face is carefully blank as she recovers herself.

“Guess I’m wearing headphones tonight,” she observes, smiling at them delightedly.

Derek’s still speechless at being caught kissing Stiles like he’s lost all impulse control and can’t respond. Stiles works it out all on his own and picks up the take away Derek discarded on the table and passes the bag to Cora. The plastic protected the food and it’s nowhere near as drenched as they are.

“Yep,” Stiles agrees, rolling his p’s as he hands her the food. Thunder rumbles outside and the rain seems to pelt down harder in reply.

Cora doesn’t ask any more questions after that and heads out through the sliding door. Stiles locks it immediately after her and Derek goes and locks the front door for good measure.

They stare at each other from across the room, shirtless and suddenly wary.

“We don’t have to,” Stiles says easily. “That wasn’t me forcing the issue or anything.”

Derek reaches down to get out of his wet pants. It’s harder since the fabric clings to him and Stiles is smirking at him when he’s finally finished.

“Let’s take it slow,” Derek says. “Do you want to do that?”

“God, yes,” Stiles agrees already pulling off his own pants just as ungracefully.

Derek walks towards the bed and collapses onto it, heart beating fast. He can feel how important this moment is as if he’s a compass pointing toward Stiles no matter which direction he goes. Stiles joins him on the bed in next to no time and he watches Derek carefully to ensure he’s okay with what he’s doing before he lowers himself on top of him, knees bracketing Derek’s hips.

In only their slightly dampened underwear, it feels like there’s nothing but heat between them and Derek swallows heavily as he lets his fingers trail slowly up Stiles’ thighs.

Stiles is just as preoccupied, hands tracing patterns into the skin of Derek’s chest, stopping at a nipple that hardens under his touch. Derek’s hisses a little but arches up into it and suddenly there’s white hot friction between their bodies and Stiles is biting his lip as a groan falls out.

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” he admits. “I've never- with a guy before. But I’ve seen a ton of porn.”

Derek’s too busy kissing along any available part of Stiles’ skin within mouth’s reach to reply. Stiles hums out an expectant sound.

“I’ll show you,” Derek promises. “If you want.”

“Yeah,” Stiles agrees and he’s working his hips in small circles against Derek and the friction is entirely consuming. “That’s- yeah. Let’s do that. Oh my God.”

Derek leans up to mouth at Stiles’ throat, fingers trailing across his spine as he tugs him lower. Stiles goes almost boneless against him, still moving his hips as Derek reaches the waistband of his underwear.

“Do you have anything?” Derek murmurs, kissing up his throat, heat trailing softly across Stiles’ jaw until he reaches his mouth. They get so lost in that that for a few minutes and neither of them replies.

Stiles traces along Derek’s stomach, edging toward his briefs as he pulls back with a gasp.

“Just- just condoms.”

“Are you sure you want-?”

“Yeah,” Stiles says, hissing as he presses harder against Derek. “I really do.”

“Okay,” he agrees. “I’ve got lube.”

It’s another ten minutes before either of them get up to retrieve the necessary items.

When they make it back to the bed, Derek gets Stiles into his arms and pulls him close, pressing their mouths together. Stiles climbs atop of him again and Derek wonders if that’s his thing.

“Which way do you want it?” Derek murmurs, mouth against Stiles’ chest, tongue sliding out to taste his skin.

Stiles is too busy leaning down to capture Derek’s mouth to respond. His fingers are soft in Derek’s hair and he feels a sharp tug in his gut when Stiles’ fingers tighten.

“Which… way…?” he gasps, words drawn out and stilted.

“Mmm,” Derek murmurs. “Me or you.”

Stiles finally seems to catch on. “You mean you want-?”

“Yeah. I'm good either way.”

Stiles actually fumbles with the condom he’s got clenched in his fist and drops it.

“Shit. I- we are definitely doing that. Both of that,” he pants. “But, fuck. Me, me first.”

“Okay,” Derek agrees, muscles tightening at the thought. “You want my fingers or yours?”

Stiles actually groans and buries his face into Derek’s throat. He can feel the outline of him against his stomach and Derek’s surprised at how hard he feels. From the flush of his skin and the heat in his eyes, it’s a small wonder Stiles hasn’t come yet.

“You’re killing me,” he groans. “Fuck, I didn’t think you’d talk this much.”

Derek frowns a little. “I can-“

“No,” Stiles moans. “Keep talking, God. Keep talking.

Derek grins and when Stiles noses along his collarbone, moving slowly and reverently up his neck, Derek offers up his throat. Stiles exhales a little in a great tremor because he knows the meaning of it, knows how important it is before he recovers and seals his mouth over it like the whisper of a kiss.

He moves his hands back to pull at his remaining clothing and suddenly Stiles is naked in front of Derek for the first time and on top of him and he can’t think straight for a moment.

Every inch of him is perfect. Derek’s not sure where to look first, but Stiles catches his hand and encourages it down to Derek’s briefs and he thinks he knows. It’s a bit of strategy to get his clothes off but they manage it and then they’re pressing together with nothing in between their bodies.

Stiles’ mouth falls open at the first bit of contact, pushing his hips down determinedly and thrusting against him. Derek’s fingers latch onto his hips to encourage him, eyelids fluttering shut as he rides the waves of pleasure lighting him up inside.

He feels rather than sees Stiles’ mouth at his neck again, working up toward his ear.

“Yours,” Stiles whispers eagerly. “I want yours. Your fingers inside me.”

Derek turns to catch his mouth with a groan and there’s a flurry of movement as Stiles presses the bottle of lube into his hands. They don’t do anything about it for a while, distracted again with the touches and tastes of each other until Derek’s hand reaches Stiles’ ass, trailing faintly across his skin.

Stiles presses down harder, building the friction and Derek uncaps the bottle, drizzling lube onto his fingers. He waits until Stiles is looking at him before he manoeuvres a hand behind Stiles and exposes his cheeks, settling against his entrance. Stiles hums with interest and it’s clear he’s no novice to this when Derek rubs against it.

Derek presses in slowly, carefully and Stiles arches into it, hunkering down and circling his hips tighter with the movement as Derek grits his teeth against the numbing pleasure of it.

He’s meticulous and patient and by the time he gets three fingers pressed up inside, moving against Stiles’ prostate, his cock jerks against his stomach and he comes with a groan all over Derek’s chest.

The smell has him dizzy for a second before he regains his senses enough to slowly pull his fingers out. Stiles moans softly and Derek wipes his fingers across the sheets, using his clean hand to stroke his spine.

He kisses Stiles’ shoulder contentedly but doesn’t do anything apart from that. Stiles catches on pretty quick.

“Why’d you stop?” he wonders with a pleased noise. “Keep going.”

“You want to do it like this? On top?”

“Yeah,” Stiles groans, sitting up with a strained effort and a wicked gleam in his eyes. “Think you can handle it?”

Derek idly dips his fingers into Stiles’ cooling semen on his belly and lifts it to his mouth to taste while Stiles watches him wide eyed. The sky cracks with thunder outside, lightning illuminating their faces more brightly for a moment.

“Can you?”

Stiles smacks his chest and Derek laughs, reaching for the condom Stiles abandoned next to them but Stiles beats him to it.

“Can I do it?” he asks, and his cock is already hardening again as if it’s that thought alone that sets him off.

Derek shrugs and lies back, heart pumping fast as he watches Stiles move down a little so he can wrap his fingers around him. Derek twitches up into it, feeling as if he’s sitting right on the edge of losing it but Stiles determinedly gets the condom on and slicks him up with more lube.

Biting his lip in concentration Stiles lines himself up and Derek slowly helps him lower himself down onto his cock, At first it’s nothing but constricting, unbearable heat and Derek’s trying so hard to keep still and not thrust up that he goes taut all over.

Stiles groans a little at the feel of it, working his hips slowly down until he’s reaching Derek’s hips, fully seated.

“Holy shit,” Stiles breathes, eyes wide and mouth open.

“Are you okay?” he asks.

Stiles gives him a wild look. “Are you feeling this right now? I am fucking spectacular.

And then he’s slowly lifting himself up and dropping back down. Derek hisses, stilling Stiles’ hips while he thrusts up, moving with him and Stiles uses his hands to anchor himself on Derek’s chest. His eyes are screwed shut and he seems just as lost in the feel of it as Derek is. This is definitely not going to last.

Derek angles his hips, hoping to hit Stiles’ prostate and he knows the exact moment he does as Stiles makes a strangled sound and immediately reaches for his dick to stroke himself off.

“You’re such a little shit,” Derek murmurs, but he’s groaning and urging their hips tighter together, strengthening his thrusts.

“You’re an asshole,” Stiles grins and pinches Derek’s nipple.

“You know what you said,” Derek gasps in-between pivoting his hips. “About clicking with someone- fitting together?”

“Yeah,” Stiles hums, jerking himself faster. “Yeah, and you said no.”

“Yeah,” he agrees, before reaching out and wrapping his hand around Stiles’ cock as well, pushing his hips up, pressing in deep.

“I lied.”

Stiles releases a choked sound and comes again. Derek stays inside as Stiles’ body ripples around him, clenching down hard and he follows soon after. A few seconds later Stiles collapses on top of his chest with a satisfied noise that makes his toes curl. He doesn’t even seem that bothered that he’s lying in his own come and Derek trails his fingers gently across his back, listening to his heartbeat steady.

“Jesus,” Stiles says eventually when he finds his voice. “That was-“

“Yeah,” Derek agrees a little astounded himself. Normally some part of him retreats after, physically or emotionally, but for once he’s still here and has no intention of leaving.

Stiles on the other hand-

“Oh man. Why did you let me lie in this?” he groans, gingerly peeling himself off of Derek. It’s much more amusing than it should be.

“You’re the one who made the mess,” he points out unhelpfully as Stiles rolls over and off of the bed, finding his feet in one fluid movement.

“And you helped make the mess,” Stiles accuses. “It’s not my fault you’re so good with your hands.”

Derek snorts but allows Stiles to drag him to his feet.

“Where are we going?”

“To the shower to clean this shit up. We are not sleeping in this tonight.”

Derek protests only half-heartedly until Stiles wiggles his eyebrows and goes, “Think of all the things we could do in there, Derek.”

His arguments dry up after that.

When they finally emerge a few hours later, Cora is still sitting in her room with her headphones on and leers at them as soon as they walk in, making a point of pinching her nostrils together like they stink. If anything, Derek thinks the combined scent of them both smells really, really good.

She doesn’t rub it in as much as Derek anticipated, but she does smile widely and proudly announces that she ate all of the food. They’re too relaxed to care very much.

They head to the dining room instead and Cora joins them because, amazingly, she’s still hungry.

They order something quick and easy and the staff rush around to make them feel welcome, especially when they realise that Cora is with them. Derek doesn’t know what she did to make herself so popular and he really doesn’t want to know.

He definitely likes that Stiles sits closer than before, touches him a lot more casually and with an ease that twists pleasantly through his stomach. Cora watches every movement like she’s savouring it and Derek is so relaxed that he doesn’t even let that ruin his mood.

Once they’re full they all head back to their balcony to watch Stiles’ final night pass. They’re protected from the rain but there’s something soothing about watching it fall, like inevitability.

They sit there for a long time, until the rain quietens down and eases off and by then Cora is getting up to go to bed and leaving them alone.

“Do you think you’ll ever come back to Beacon Hills?” Stiles wonders and his back tenses like he’s preparing for the worst possible answer.

The fact that it’s a life without Derek in it that registers as something bad for Stiles makes his chest hurt a little with the value of it, that he could fit and matter so much. He doesn't think it's a good idea to admit how deep his feelings might be, that will only complicate things too much for them at the moment. But maybe when he comes back...

“I don’t know,” he answers honestly. “Maybe not yet. I might revisit Cora’s pack in Ecuador for a while. But there are some things worth coming back for.”

“Alright,” Stiles says. “But full disclosure. When you do come back these ‘things’ will probably want to have sex with you.”

“Noted,” Derek responds grimly but, Stiles is already smirking and launching out of his chair to kiss the hell out of him.

It’s not so bad. Derek’s prepared to make some sacrifices.

They lock both of their doors and brush their teeth before they climb into bed together, because Cora is still nosy as hell and Derek would rather she not barge in and see something she shouldn’t; now that there actually is something to see.

They talk for a while. A little of it is what Stiles plans to do once he gets back to Beacon Hills. He’s got a plan for this Theo kid and Derek knows from experience that Stiles’ ideas can be deadly. The Dread Doctors are a lot more dangerous than a suspicious werewolf and Derek tries not to let the thought worry him. Stiles can handle himself.

They curl around each other and it seems strange to Derek that things can still feel like they haven’t changed but to also know they will never be the same. Stiles pulls him close, smelling so much of contentment that Derek can almost taste it.

He’s never slept better.

They make the most of the next morning. Stiles fucks Derek, on his back so they can look at each other and he takes it torturously slow, drawing it out like he wants to bottle the feeling for later to taste. Derek’s a satisfied mess by the end of it.

Stiles is unexpectedly patient when he wants to be. With all of the attention to Derek’s body, he definitely doesn’t last long. Neither does Stiles for that matter but when they eventually join Cora for breakfast they’re both smirking with unconcealed gratification.

Midday comes too quickly. Packing is easy, since Stiles only brought that backpack and he and Cora walk him down to the bus stop together.

Cora hugs him first and she’s actually disappointed he’s leaving which seems to surprise Stiles as much as Derek. Not so annoying to her after all.

Derek moves before he can overthink it, enveloping Stiles in his arms and holding him tight, savouring the smell of them together. He might not be seeing him for a while so he’ll retain the memory of this instead. It’s probably not going to be enough.

Stiles kisses him, hard and lingering.

“You should text me,” he mutters as he draws back. “So I don’t think you’re dead.”

“Sure. As long as you don’t die either.”

Stiles smiles and his expression is fond. “That seems fair. But really, text me big guy. I love our witty banter. Plus, you know we can always sext.”


Stiles only snorts in amusement and climbs onto the bus with a parting wave. Derek tries very hard not to watch him go. He still does though, he can’t help it. When the bus pulls away from the curb, he sighs and tries not to think too much about the growing distance between them.

“Cheer up, Derek,” Cora says. “At least you guys actually got horizontal with each other. You couldn’t ask for a better vacation.”

Derek’s not sure he agrees, but then his phone is buzzing and it’s Stiles. Of course, it’s Stiles. It’s always Stiles. He won't expect anything different. At least not now.

He unlocks his phone with a private anticipation reserved only for Stiles and the way he makes him feel.

Miss me yet?

“Yeah,” Derek agrees. And allows himself to smile.