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A True Hero Isn’t Measured By the Size of His Strength (But By the Strength of His Heart)

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--

Derek’s driving towards the woods, the fog a heavy blanket covering the trees in the early California morning, and all seems right with the world.  The air is still crisp, untainted by the lingering smell of gasoline, rubber, and the occasional still burning cigarette that comes with the work traffic.  He hasn’t bothered turning the heat on; his body runs hot enough on its own that the ten minute drive from Stiles’ house to his own isn’t long enough to make him feel chilled.

It hasn’t been long since he climbed out of Stiles’ window, a detour at the store putting him at an hour tops, and the relaxed vibe he usually feels after a night spent watching movies with Stiles has yet to wear off.  It’s unusual in that he normally goes to Stiles to forget his problems and is overwhelmed by them the second he leaves, as though the Stilinski house acts as a barrier to the outside world, but the morning is clear, quiet, and everyone is safe. It’s gag-worthy levels of cliché, but Derek doesn’t care.  It’s the best he’s felt in years.

Of course, that’s the moment everything goes wrong.

He’s about a mile from his house when he smells it, the faint tang of copper settling in the back of his throat, combined with a scent so familiar it makes his stomach turn. He stops the car, slamming the breaks and jerking the wheel to the right, kicking up gravel and dirt in his haste to stop.  It’s muscle memory that has him pulling the key from the ignition, opening and closing the door with a slam as he stands in the middle of the road.  He closes his eyes, tries to calm his racing heart, trying his best to focus on the sounds and smells around him.  After no more than a minute, he finds it again and follows it up the road and to his left.  There’s a disturbance in the brush on the side of the road, definitely human made, though it’s a very solid attempt at making it look natural.  Any other day he’d take the time to tear said construction apart, but another layer of the initial scent he’d been following presents itself, and it has him moving like his life depends on it.

The smell is Stiles.

Stiles, who should be in school, suffering through his last day before Christmas break. Derek leaps over the pile of fallen branches and wet leaves, snarling, eyes glowing red as he fights off the instinctual need to shift, to search out Stiles and kill whoever dared to hurt him. He makes it about a hundred yards before the sight of Stiles’ jeep stops him cold.  The shift recedes, claws and red eyes disappearing as he slowly approaches the vehicle.  The driver’s side door is still open, keys in the ignition, and Derek sees Stiles’ bookbag in the footwell of the passenger side, zipper broken, papers hanging out of the top.  Derek leans over to grab it – anyone who knows Stiles knows he always puts his bag in the back – gripping the steering wheel for leverage.  His hand comes away bloody, and Derek can’t hold the shift back.

He howls, angry and lost, before he can stop it.

He has to close his eyes and breathe, remind himself that he’ll be of no use to Stiles if he gets caught at the scene of a crime he hasn’t even bothered to report yet. His wolf aches to find Stiles, feels unsteady not knowing where he is, where its family is, and Derek nearly gives in to the urge to hunt when his phone rings with a text from Scott.

What happened?

Derek types out a quick response.

Someone has Stiles.  In woods near my house.  Come ASAP. Bring everyone.

The response is quick, a simple be there in 20, and Derek relaxes slightly.  He’s still panicky, breathing through the urge to protect hot under his skin, but the pack is coming. He has to wait.

People trying to kidnap Stiles is run of the mill – after the only success, by Gerard, Derek and the pack started a rotation of who would be with Stiles and when.  Derek usually took nights watching the Stilinski house; it had seemed to be the best option, as he’d spent his days with Peter planning how to run the alpha pack out of town, and it’s not like Derek had anything else to do with his nights. (He still gets suspicious looks from some of Stiles’ neighbors, especially the nosy old man across the street, but he ignores them like he ignores everybody else.)  When the betas had questioned his involvement in protecting Stiles, he’d simply told them (and by “told,” he means “growled” – Derek was still perpetually annoyed back then) that Stiles was pack and that pack took care of its own, and it had been enough.  He hadn’t been lying, but what remained unspoken was that he’d do just about anything to never have to see Stiles beaten and bloodied like that again. The crooked fingers on Stiles’ right hand still made his gut clench.  But six months after they’d taken down the alpha pack, Derek told the betas to ease up on Stiles Watch.

Four months later, here they are.

Even more troublesome is that Stiles knows how to defend himself.  He’s trained with the pack, gotten better with every obstacle they’ve faced, so what really worries Derek is how someone managed to get the jump on him. After a cursory examination of the jeep, he’s determined that he doesn’t smell the presence of another wolf, or anything else with supernatural tendencies, but he does get a trace of something sweet, followed by the sting of antiseptic, and Derek’s body tenses as it registers. Only hunters would need to drug a teenager.

The thought makes him groan; he really doesn’t want to add to the stress of the situation by calling Argent, but if anyone knows if a hunter has come through the area, be they rogue or not, it’s Chris.  And Chris, while a total dick in Derek’s eyes, wouldn’t let the Sheriff’s son die on his watch, if only because it would mean more of a police presence than usual.

He also owes Derek a favor. Derek had planned to lord it over him for the rest of time – having an advantage over the person who is always trying to kill you is a definite plus – but he’ll cash it in for pack.

Resigned, Derek reaches into his pocket and dials Chris.  It rings twice before it’s answered.

“What do you want, Hale?”

“Stiles is missing.” If Chris wanted to cut to the chase, Derek could deal with that.

Derek can hear the creak of the phone as Chris’ grip tightens.  “Where are you?”

“Main road, about a mile from my house.  There’s a path off the side of the road heading east.  I found the jeep about 100 yards in.”

“I’m on my way.” There’s a deadly intent behind Chris’s words, and Derek would feel bad for the person who took Stiles if he weren’t planning on getting his hands on them first.

He checks his phone. 9:43. The pack will be here soon.

He leans against a nearby tree and waits.

--

It’s 10:15 and they’ve tried everything they can to maintain and track the scent of Stiles’ kidnapper, but to no avail.  Isaac is the most frustrated of all – he’s the best tracker in the pack, has been since he was first turned, but after about half a mile he loses the scent completely.

“Isaac –”

“No,” he grunts. His eyes burn a golden brown, hands clenching in frustration.  “We’ve never found a scent I can’t track, Derek.  I’m not going to let it start now.”

“Yes, you will,” Derek orders.  He lifts a hand to stifle Isaac’s growl before it can leave his throat.  “You’re no help if you let your frustration cloud everything else.”

Isaac nods, trying to pull in deep, even breaths as he rests his hands on his hips. “Is that why you’re so calm?”

Derek snorts. “On the outside, yes.”

“And on the inside?”

He looks Isaac dead in the eye, flashing red.  “I’m ready to do whatever it takes to bring Stiles home alive.”

Isaac nods.

--

After another thirty minutes of nothing, Derek orders everyone to go to the Hale house. They’re lucky a cop hasn’t come across all the cars parked on the side of the road.  Scott and Allison pile into her car, Erica, Boyd, and Isaac all run, Jackson and Lydia get in the Porsche, and Chris pulls away in his SUV. Derek drives alone. He needs to think.

It’s a short drive to his house, less than five minutes from where Stiles’ jeep was abandoned, but he’s not paying attention.  Not for the first time that day Derek finds his mind wandering, his body operating on autopilot as he drives up the lane to the house.  As the house comes into view, Derek is flooded with memories of the last six months.

The pack worked tirelessly through the late summer and early fall to fix the outside of the house enough to make it moderately inhabitable.  There’s a new roof – which Derek paid to have fixed because it was too structurally unsound to put inexperienced teenagers wielding hammers on it, even if they could heal themselves – and the new paneling is a soft pale yellow, something Stiles thought might make the size of such a house in the woods seem a little less ominous.  Derek’s not so sure about Stiles’ reasoning – it’s a big house in the woods that people died in, it’s always going to be ominous – but he has to admit that the house looks good in contrast with the coloring of the forest.  They still have to fix the window frames and the porch still needs work, but they’ll have time for that.  It feels normal, comfortable, like they can make a new life here.  It feels like home.

His thoughts are interrupted by Boyd knocking on the window.  Derek startles; the only person who manages to ever get the jump on him is Boyd. The kid barely makes a peep during regular interactions, but when he’s on the hunt, he’s deadly. He’s quick and good in a tight spot; the pack respects him, and for all that feigned indifference, Boyd is a natural leader.  If they make it through the next few years – preferably with college degrees for those who plan on attending – Derek plans to tell Boyd that he wants Boyd to succeed him if something unexpected were to happen.  Boyd’s the obvious choice – not afraid to make the tough decisions and even less afraid of tough situations.  He’ll make a great alpha someday, if he ever chooses to take up the mantel.

He’s also picked up some of Derek’s habits, if the death glare and raised eyebrow are any indication.

Derek grabs his keys and gets out of the car, closing the door behind him.

“You ready?” Boyd asks.

Derek snorts. “If you really need to ask, I haven’t improved as much as Stiles says I have.”

“Nah, man,” Boyd waves him off.  “Just making sure our alpha is still with us.”

Derek frowns. “I’m here.”

“No, you’re not.” Boyd throws an arm over Derek’s shoulders and guides him towards the house. “You’re with Stiles. Someone should be. With everyone else out for blood, Stiles has to be someone’s focus.”

“Yeah,” Derek says softly. “I guess you’re right.”

As they cross the threshold, it occurs to Derek that he should be the one out for blood, not just the others. In the last six months he’s spent more time with Stiles than anyone else; logic would dictate that he be driven by anger, instinct to protect those he holds dear, but he’s not. He’s deeply worried, but remains calm, refusing to entertain what a life without Stiles would be like not just for the pack, but for him. He just wants to go back to that morning when Stiles mercilessly teased him for the state of his hair, then yelled at him for not turning off the laptop before passing out. Joking with Stiles as they both got ready for the day had become normal.  His day wasn’t quite the same without it. 

So maybe his feelings might run a little deeper than platonic.

He’s just as surprised as anyone else.

--

It takes Derek a minute to realize that there is one more person in the group than there was in the woods, but is pleasantly surprised to find Danny already set up in the living room, two laptops working overtime to try and lock down a location on Stiles while everyone else comes up with a rescue plan that’s malleable enough to adapt to any of the large buildings within the parameters Danny has already narrowed the location to.  He’s clearly been here for a while.  Maybe Scott forgot to include him in the plans to meet in the woods.

Danny looks up from his computers, fingers still flying across the keys, and nods at Derek. “Miguel.”

Derek sighs, fighting a small smile.  “Danny, how many times do I have to tell you not to call me that before you actually listen?”

“When you start calling me first for shit like this.”  Danny looks down at his computer when it beeps and grins.  “And since I’m still not even listed in your contacts, that’s a long way off.  Also, I found Stiles.”

Derek doesn’t even think before tossing his phone to Danny.  “Speed dial one.”  Danny grins, turning around, and quickly relaying Stiles’ coordinates to the group before unlocking Derek’s phone.  He takes one look at the screen before quickly looking up and staring at Derek in something close to a combination of fear and surprise.  Derek frowns, then realizes exactly what Danny’s reading. He’d been texting Stiles after he’d left that morning, asking him if he’d left his wallet on Stiles’ nightstand, and hadn’t closed the conversation.  After a few awkward moments in which they just keep staring, Danny quickly cuts to the main menu and opens Derek’s contacts, entering his number. He looks up and sees Derek looking at the floor, arms crossed.  Danny coughs and holds out Derek’s phone.  “Speed dial two.”

“Danny –”

Danny cuts him off. “Derek, I think you need to take a breather.  Go walk around for a bit.”  Derek nods, accepting the silent I won’t tell anyone about whatever it was I may or may not have seen, and turns away.  He gets to the tarp covering the hall to the east wing of the house and turns around.

“Hey Danny?” Danny quirks an eyebrow, not looking away from his screen.  “Is there a way to figure out if there are other people there?”

Danny shrugs. “Triangulating cell signals is about the best I can do, but hacking cell towers takes some time, and it only works if the phones near those towers have their GPS enabled. Luckily, Stiles is in a remote enough area that getting an idea of how many people are there shouldn’t be too hard.”

“Seems illegal.”

“Incredibly.”

Derek nods. “Thanks.”

He lifts the tarp and keeps walking.

--

While the rest of the pack works in the living room, crowding around Danny’s laptop, scraping together a plan of attack, Derek walks out of the room.  He’s not paying attention as he walks down a long hallway off the foyer, stepping through the second door on the left, and shutting the door behind him.  He closes his eyes and leans against the door, shoulders sagging on an exhale as he relishes the first moment of silence he’s had since he left Stiles that morning. He takes a few moments to compose himself, taking careful breaths as he fights for control for what seems like the hundredth time that day.  It takes a few minutes, but once he feels slightly more relaxed, he opens his eyes and realizes where he is. 

It was the first room they’d restored when Stiles and the rest of the pack (but mostly Stiles) had convinced him it would be a good idea to fix the house and make it a home again. It hadn’t even been a bedroom, before the fire; it was the old library, once full of books that told the stories of his kind, of his history, complete family trees dating back centuries. His most vivid memories took place in this room, memories of his father reading picture books to them when they were kids, of his mother quietly reading in the corner when she needed a few minutes to herself.  This is where he’d gone when he needed to separate himself from his life and just simply exist.

If he concentrates hard enough, sometimes he can still smell the pages of the old books, hear the spines cracking from lack of use, see the dust glinting in the sunlight shining through the picture window in the far wall. As it stands, he’s only put new shelving on the north and south walls, new carpet, and a few comfortable chairs around the room.  The shelves remain empty, void of all the information he’d once had at his disposal.

Not for the first time in recent weeks, he misses his family with a ferocity he hadn’t felt since he was 16 and just learning to get by without them.  He wants, more than anything, to have his father’s guidance right now, a strong hand at his shoulder and a deep, calm voice telling him what to do. How had his parents dealt with the knowledge that at any moment, the other could be lost forever? Derek doesn’t really know what he and Stiles are anymore, if they’re friends or something deeper that he’s not ready to think about yet, but he can barely tolerate the thought of never seeing him again.  Stiles, the little son of a bitch, weaseled his way under Derek’s skin, and no matter how many times Derek tries, he’ll never be able to claw him out.

“We have a plan.”

He turns around fast enough to nearly trip over himself, sees Scott standing in the doorway.

“What?”

Scott blinks. “We have a plan.”

“Oh,” Derek sighs. “Right, okay.  Everybody ready?”

“Yeah,” Scott replies, frowning at Derek.  “Are you alright, man?”

Derek waves him off. “Yeah, everything’s fine. Let’s go.”

Scott seems unsure, but leads the way back to the pack anyway.  Derek is slow to follow, taking his time leaving the room. As he reaches the threshold he turns around, stares at his surroundings, and comes to the conclusion that he’d like to see books on the shelves again.

He closes the door and thinks he’d like for Stiles to be the one to do it.

--

Armed with a plan, the pack piles into as few cars as possible (which winds up being the Porsche, the SUV, and Derek and Danny in the Camaro) and start the two hour drive to the abandoned factory where Danny had found Stiles and at least 10 other people.

For the first hour, the car is silent, occasionally broken by the sound of Danny’s phone going off signaling text after text from the rest of the group, updating them on ideas for contingency plans.  Danny occasionally relays them to Derek, at least ones that don’t sound like a catalyst for a suicide mission.  Occasionally Derek will veto the idea, sometimes add to it, but for the most part he stays silent, eyes focused on the road, hands gripping the steering wheel as he fights the urge to speed, to get there faster.  Danny apparently notices, because he breaks his silence with less than an hour to go.

“He’s gonna be fine, Derek.”

Derek grunts. “That’s what everyone said last time this happened.”  Danny flinches. Nobody talks about the last time Stiles was kidnapped.  Nobody.

“Sorry.”

“No, I am,” Derek sighs. “I shouldn’t have snapped. Without you it would have taken forever to find him.”

“You would have, though. Eventually.”

“Danny –”

“Derek. I’m not gonna say anything. It’s not my place. What you do and who you do it with is your business.”

“Stiles and I are friends. We hang out sometimes. There’s nothing to tell.”

Danny snorts. “I don’t have to be a werewolf to know that’s a lie.”  When Derek goes silent Danny turns to his left and laughs.  “Stop glaring like you’re trying to kill me.”

“I don’t need to glare to do that.”

“You wouldn’t anyway,” Danny waves, crossing his arms behind his head and leaning back in his seat. “You guys need me too much.”

Derek doesn’t respond. They both know it’s true.

For the next half hour they ride in a comfortable silence.  Danny’s relaxed pose grows more and more tense the closer they get to their destination; Derek can smell how anxious he is to get to his friend, and for a moment he’s glad that Stiles has people who care about him this much. He’s not sure that Stiles is aware of exactly how much the pack appreciates him, but he plans to fix that once they’re all safe.

Once they arrive, Derek kills the engine and undoes his seatbelt, but Danny grabs his arm as he reaches for the door.

“It’s not gonna be like last time.  Want to know why?”

“Danny,” he groans.

“He knows you’re coming for him.”

If Derek takes just a second after Danny leaves to collect himself, no one needs to know but him.

--

It’s pretty anticlimactic, the way it all goes down.

Because they were dealing with hunters, it seemed like their best choice, if they wanted to end this peacefully, was to send Chris and Allison in first. The pack covered any and all exits, Danny and Lydia never far from a wolf should they run into trouble. With everyone in position, Chris and Allison walked through the main door. 

As they walk in, those inside begin to cheer, happy that a member of the great Argent family had found them and decided to join in the fun.  Chris and Allison both go with it, looking for any extra evidence they need to justify what the pack wants to do if these hunters don’t agree to their rules. But these weren’t hunters who followed the Code.  In the end it doesn’t take more than ten minutes for Chris to learn everything he needs: They’d hoped that once the pack realized their precious human was gone, all of them would show up sooner or later, bloodthirsty and ready for revenge, to find Stiles in poor condition.  They wanted the pack to attack, wanted a reason to kill them off.  Stiles would have been the last to go, and they’d have spread rumors that the Hale pack had attacked, unprovoked, and were now gone for good.

“So why the kid?” Chris asks.

“Easiest to catch, mostly,” replied one of the men.  “Kid goes missing in a town that has a pack?  Hunters would take notice.  Wouldn’t look good for them.”

“You were right about one thing,” Chris replies.  “The pack did come looking for him.”  He raises his gun, pulling back on the hammer as Allison raises her bow.  “Unfortunately for you, so did we.”

There’s a lot of shouting, a few scuffles, and the sound of someone definitely getting punched in the face before anyone thinks to hear out the one who currently has his gun trained on them.

“You’re working with them?” One of them sneers.

Chris shrugs. “They live by the Code.  Your missing person is proof of that.  He’s still human.”

“They’re monsters, Argent,” yells another.

“You kill innocents. They just protect their territory. My territory.  And you think they’re the monsters?”

Derek can only assume that the slow footsteps getting closer means one of them has stepped forward to challenge Chris.  “They’ll turn your girl, Argent.  Kill you the first chance they get.  You willing to risk that?”

“You don’t know shit,” snarls Allison.

“Allison.”

“They saved my life,” she growls, bow and arrow poised for attack.  “Now shut up and listen or you’ll be the first one with an arrow between their eyes, and it’s common knowledge by now that I don’t miss.”

There’s a tense moment where Derek thinks the hunters might actually try to fight their way out, but once Derek hears the hunter step back, things go as smooth as they can when a group of grown men realize they’ve been outsmarted by a group of high school students.

They all listen, grudgingly, as Chris lays down the ground rules: either these men leave peacefully with the promise to never return to Beacon Hills, or they will be dealt with by members of the Hale pack, who were well within their rights to retaliate. No one would leave until they understood that all members of the Beacon Hills pack were to be left alone, and that included all humans who were knowingly or unknowingly affiliated with them.

The first half hour passes with a handful of hunters trickling through the door and driving away, none too pleased to be leaving as the defeated party.  After an hour of standing outside the factory, all but three of the hunters had left. 

“Are you sure?” Chris asks them.  None of them respond. “Your turn, Hale.”

On the other side of the wall, Derek nods.  “Go on in, guys.”

Doors fly open as the werewolves descend on the remaining hunters, snarls and the sounds of clothes being torn breaking the silence.  Chris turns to him and nods; though he still seems unhappy about the loss of even more hunters, the plan had been designed to result in the lowest death count possible. Chris’ distaste for needless killing is fine by Derek anyway.  It had taken a lot of training, a number of full moons before any of the betas had been able to resist the instinct to attack, but the work had been worth it when, a few months ago, they’d all woken up after a full moon with all of their clothes still in tact.  Once they could all display a solid amount of control, Derek made it a rule that the pack never killed unless absolutely necessary.  It’s served them well so far, though he’s sure it’ll become an issue when he tries to create alliances with neighboring packs, will undoubtedly make him seem like a weak Alpha, but he’ll deal.  He won’t ask a bunch of teenagers to kill simply because they can. But he leaves the dirty work to the pack this time.  They’ve been thinking about it all day, and Derek has somewhere he needs to be.

Someone’s waiting for him.

--

Derek follows Stiles’ scent to an office towards the back of the building.  Upon opening the door, the first thing Derek sees is Stiles tied to an old office chair, dirty rag tied as a gag, but still very much alive. All things considered, Stiles didn’t look too bad; his heartbeat was strong, his breathing level, no signs of anything being broken.  Derek supposes he could attribute that to the hunters thinking they’d have more time to work him over.  They probably would have, had the pack not had Danny. 

He rushes over, ignoring the low growling and pained grunts coming from the other side of the building in favor of giving Stiles a thorough once over before moving him. His lip is split and his cheek is starting to turn purple, and Derek can smell the bruising around his ribs, and the source of the blood on the steering wheel running down his forearm, a cut that he seems to have acquired in self-defense.  It’s going to scar, turn into another lie Stiles has to tell his dad, but they’ll think about that later.  For now, Derek has to hear Stiles say he’s okay, so he unties the gag and holds his face in his hands.

Stiles smiles at him, white teeth standing out in contrast to the blood stain where some has spilled from the corner of his mouth.  “Thought you decided you were finally sick of me,” he huffs.  Derek gently rubs his thumb over the bruise forming on Stiles’ cheek and leans forward until their foreheads are pressed together, breathing him in.  Stiles’ eyes flutter shut and a weary sigh escapes him at the contact.  They stay like that for a moment, Derek kneeling in front of Stiles, pressed as close as possible while Derek relaxes under the steady beat of his friend’s pulse.  Once his wolf is satisfied that Stiles is okay, Derek leans to his left, mouth hovering over Stiles’ ear.

“Ohana,” he whispers, “means ‘family.’  Family means no one gets left behind.”

Stiles laughs, even if it is much weaker than normal, and relaxes as he leans into the warmth of Derek’s body.  It’s comfortable in a way that could only be a product of constant contact, a relaxation that screams that this sort of proximity is not unusual, but after a few minutes, Stiles starts to squirm in his seat. Derek sighs to himself; Stiles is the only person he knows who could be kidnapped and still itching to do nothing but move.

“Um, Derek?”

“Yeah?”

“You think you could untie me?”

Derek moves away, blushing slightly.  “Oh. Right.”

He stands, stepping around the chair until he’s behind Stiles.  He kneels next to the chair, extending his claws and makes quick work of the bindings around Stiles’ wrists. The skin is red and raw, and Derek carefully curls his fingers around each one before drawing as much pain as he can in order to get Stiles home with minimal discomfort.

“Hey Derek?” Derek hums his response. “Thanks.”

Derek smiles. “Sure thing, Stiles.”

--

A few hours, one shower, and six pizzas later, the Hale house is nearly empty save for Scott, Danny, Isaac, and Stiles.  Derek and Stiles are on the couch, Stiles leaning on Derek’s shoulder where he’d passed out after they’d all watched some shoot ‘em up movie Derek hadn’t paid attention to. Danny keeps shooting Derek these glances that make him actually want to punch the kid, Isaac just looks happy that everyone’s okay, and Scott, who also can’t seem to stop staring at the scene on the couch, looks pensive.  That look is Derek’s cue to kick them out, because when Scott starts noticing things, it’s because they’re fairly obvious.

Derek looks at the clock on the living room wall and sees that it’s after ten.  While the teenagers don’t have school tomorrow, they definitely still have curfew.  He gently shifts Stiles off his shoulder as he stands, leaning him against the back of the couch, and Derek turns to the group.

“Alright. Out.”  There are the usual grumblings but no real protests as the three of them start picking up the living room.  They’re all tired after the day they’ve had, but Derek expected more of a fight.  Once they’re done, Scott reaches down to wake up Stiles, but Derek stops him.

“He can stay here, Scott.” Scott opens his mouth to argue, but Danny interrupts him.

“You really want to try pulling a comatose Stiles through your window, Scott?  Or his?”  Scott tries to argue, mouth opening and closing multiple times before he slumps in defeat. “He’s fine here. Let’s go.”  With one last look at the couch, Scott turns around and leads everyone out.  Danny nods at Derek and shuts the door behind them.

Derek decides that Danny might be his new favorite.

“They gone?”

Derek turns to see Stiles sitting up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.  He winces when Stiles accidentally hits the bruise that’s now fully bloomed.

“Yeah,” Derek whispers.

“Bed time.” Stiles hums his approval, leaning back as if to lay flat on the couch.  “Getting kidnapped always makes me sleepy.”

“Oh, no you don’t,” Derek argues, moving to pull Stiles up by his shoulders.  “You’re sleeping in a bed.”

“Mmm… ‘kay,” he groans, and Derek realizes he’s actually going to have to carry him if he wants Stiles to go anywhere. So, because Stiles feels like making this difficult, Derek throws him over his shoulder and starts walking to the spare bedroom.

“M’gonna be sick.”

“No you’re not.”

“S’true. Just gonna… blech all over you.”

Derek snorts as he turns the corner at the top of the stairs and walks into the guest room. “Do that and you’ll walk home.”

“No fair.”

“Plenty fair,” he says, dropping Stiles onto the bed.  He wiggles his way under the covers, lanky arms and legs gracefully uncoordinated as he shifts until he’s comfortable. 

“Night, Stiles,” Derek whispers.

Stiles groans. “Stay.”

Derek’s heart stops for a second.  He refuses to consider the implications of such a thing.  “You sure?”

Stiles nods into his pillow. “Cold.”

Well at least Stiles has his priorities straight.

“Scoot over.”

After a little more rearranging, Stiles determines Derek’s shoulder to be the most comfortable spot, and is quickly beginning to doze.  Warm puffs of air brush Derek’s chest, the arm slung across his torso providing heat he doesn’t need, and Derek is content to stay here for a very long time. And then Stiles starts snoring.

Okay, maybe just tonight.

He’ll think about it once he’s awake.  They have tomorrow, anyway.