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The Sound As They Broke, It Was Fearsome

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Stiles is not intimidated by the gruesome past of the Hales, mainly because most Wizarding families can claim a gruesome past, these days. He is, however, not looking forward to dealing with Peter.

“My nephew is currently not accepting visitors,” Peter says pleasantly enough, although any niceties are kind of lost due to the burn scars covering half his face and the gaping throat wound. Stiles seriously hates ghosts.

“That’s great,” Stiles says, because at least he knows who the Hale house squatter is now – not so much a squatter, but still banned from living in a condemned building. Stiles doesn’t even want to think about why the Beacon Hills Cyclones’ star Beater is hanging around the burned out shell of his ancestral home. It can’t be the company.

Peter leans back against the door, half a translucent shoulder sunken into the charred wood. “Aren’t you going to ask why?”

Stiles ignores him as he writes out a notice, stating he has two days to vacate the premises before Stiles comes back with reinforcements. Which will basically just be Allison, but whatever, Allison is scary, and also disarmingly cute and not averse to using her adorable wiles to lull suspects into a false sense of security.

Peter arches a disfigured eyebrow at him as he sticks the scroll on a vaguely sturdy looking portion of the doorframe – he arches the other one when it bursts into flames.

Stiles presses his eyes closed with his fingers and says, “Seriously?”

“Oh, that wasn’t me,” Peter says. “I could care less whether Derek stays or goes. On the one hand, he’s family, on the other, there was that one time he ripped my throat out. Kate, though.” He grins. It’s not a nice grin, and Stiles has no idea whether it’s for him or Kate. He’s going to go with Kate, but only because he’s heard the stories, and not because he doesn’t think Peter is a creeper.

Apparently Kate Argent burned all of the Hales alive except for Derek, his sister Laura, and good old Uncle Peter. There’s some speculation on what happened next, who killed who in a werewolf battle to the death, but basically everyone but Derek ended up ripped apart – werewolf packs are werewolf packs, and if not for the fact that Kate wasn’t a werewolf, the Wizarding world probably never would have heard about it at all.

Stiles knocks on the door. He says, “Derek, I know you’re in there!” while Peter smirks at him and tilts his head for optimum throat wound viewing – there are little flaps of skin waving at him in the breeze, Stiles really fucking hates ghosts.

There’s no answer, and Stiles hesitates a few minutes before writing out another notice – it burns up just like the other one as soon as it touches the house. Crap.

“You should come back tomorrow,” Peter says. “I haven’t seen the bitch this angry in years.”

“Awesome,” Stiles says, because that is exactly what he wants to do. Right.

*

The next day Stiles brings Isaac, because even though Isaac is a fluffy puppy, he’s still a werewolf, and Stiles is slightly optimistic that that will matter.

“I’m not even an Auror,” Isaac says. He’s still in his St. Mungo's scrubs, Stiles dragged him off right after his shift – this is why Isaac is a fluffy puppy, even Scott would have physically balked at this, but Isaac? Wide-eyed complaints, hands shoved in pockets, not even phased, really, by unexpected tandem Apparating. He pouts a little, and it just gives Stiles the urge to ruffle his hair.

“Oh, I like this one,” Peter says, seeping up from under the floors of the porch.

Isaac makes a face and recoils a little. “What,” he says.

Stiles pats his shoulder. “Just ignore him,” he says, and knocks on the door.

“It smells really horrible here,” Isaac says.

“It used to smell like lilacs,” Peter says, and for a moment his face looks real and sad. “The entire left side of the house was covered in them. Patricia always just let them grow wild.”

“Um.” Isaac shifts awkwardly on his feet. The porch creaks ominously. “I’m getting a bad feeling.”

“Can you smell where Derek is?” Stiles says brightly.

Isaac just stares up at the house.

Peter says, “This is fascinating,” and he actually sounds like he means it.

Isaac says, “I don’t want to be here anymore,” and Stiles’ shoulders slump.

“Okay.” Stiles leaves another notice, and all three of them stare at it, waiting.

Nothing happens, and Isaac says, “Is something supposed to happen?” and Stiles shushes him and Peter looks delighted and the seconds tick over one after the other until Stiles backs up and nods.

“Okay,” he says again, and then the notice eats itself up in a mess of sparks and flames. “Goddamn it.”

Peter giggles.

Isaac frowns and says, “I’m leaving now, Stiles,” and Disapparates before Stiles can say anything else.

“And I was so hoping that would work,” Peter says.

Stiles flips him off.

*

The third day, it’s raining. There’s a dark canopy of trees overhanging the house. It’s three in the afternoon, but it looks like it’s the middle of the night; Peter isn’t even lurking on the porch when Stiles steps up to knock.

It’s gone past eviction – the head of Stiles’ Auror division is worried about a possibly deranged werewolf on the loose. The full moon is in four days. Nobody knows if Derek has his wolfsbane potion. Stiles doesn’t think there’s much damage Derek can do either way, the Hale house is in the middle of an abandoned woods, miles outside of Beacon Hills proper, and all Wizards have wards, anyhow.

But here he is.

This time, when Stiles knocks, there’s laughter. Husky, feminine laughter that makes Stiles shiver, even in his warmed and water-proofed robes.

This time, the door is open.

Stiles pushes it warily with the flat of his hand, says, “Hello?” with more confidence than he’s really feeling.

There’s water leaking everywhere – the room is just as much of a charred ruin as the outside suggests, despite the fact that Derek is a Wizard; it’s not like a little clean up would be all that hard. Not enough to make it livable again, but at least there’d be fewer puddles.

There’s a guy standing at the bottom of a staircase, arms crossed over his chest.

Stiles almost thinks he’s a ghost, except he’s solid and, like, substantial. And hot. Stiles knew Derek Hale was hot, he’s a high profile professional Quidditch player, but he’s never seen all that up close before.

Huh.

“Hello,” Stiles says again, and Derek just glares at him. Stiles thinks he probably spends entirely too long staring back. “Right, okay,” Stiles clears his throat, he has a reason for being there and it’s not to have a silent test of wills with mister sour wolf here. “We need you not to be living here. For obvious reasons.” He waves a hand to take in the crumbling banister, the way the floor isn’t all there in places.

Derek says, “I’m fine,” and, “But you shouldn’t be here.”

“Glad to hear you’re okay, dude.” He doesn’t look it. He looks worn thin. “You still can’t live here.”

Derek scowls. “I’m not.”

“Okay?” Stiles doesn’t know how Derek defines living, because, okay, he could have a point – it’s hard to live in a place that doesn’t seem to have a roof or a kitchen, tents have more luxuries than this house – but either way—“Maybe I should rephrase that. You can’t stay here. In this house. I have doubts as to whether this floor can withstand both our weights, so maybe we should take this chat outside?”

Derek scowls harder, and more of that deeply horrifying laughter starts, like—it almost wraps itself around Stiles, stifling. It makes the back of his throat burn.

And then Peter pops out of nowhere, looking a little frantic and wild around the eyes. There’s concern there, when previously there’s just been crazy. “Out,” he says. “Out, shoo.” He makes wavy hand motions at him, and Stiles just stands there, staring.

“Uh.”

Out,” Peter says, and his voice echoes like a boom, concussive, and Stiles’ legs shake as he stumbles back down the porch steps and into the pouring rain.

*

The fourth time Stiles finds himself on the front porch of the Hale house he has a bottle of wolfsbane potion, courtesy of Isaac, in his pocket. He doesn’t even make it to the front door before Peter’s standing in his way. He could knock through him, but that’s both gross and rude.

“It’s a bad time,” Peter says. He smirks as he says it, but he’s still acting more serious than he has before. It sets Stiles’ teeth on edge.

He says, “What’s going on?”

“It’s bad,” Peter says, which is not an answer, but he also doesn’t get the feeling that Peter is telling him so he’ll leave. More like he’s stating a worry. Peter taps his fingers together, dips his head like he can peer straight down into the pocket of Stiles’ robes. “Wolfsbane potion? Hmmmm. You know that won’t do anything for him now.”

“If you don’t tell me what’s going on, I can’t help,” Stiles says.

Peter’s eyes snap to his. “Could you, though?”

“I—”

“Try again tomorrow.” He leans forward and sniffs, even though Stiles is absolutely sure ghosts have no sense of smell. He says, “Don’t bring that other wolf again.”

*

Two days before the full moon, the Cyclones finally seem to be missing their Beater.

Stiles gets chewed out by his boss for failing to deliver, but it’s not like anyone else is volunteering for this gig.

He’s not totally above telling everyone that Derek’s most likely being held captive by a house possessed by a dead Kate Argent, and what do they expect him to do about that? but he’s not ready to admit defeat. He’s committed.

He should probably bring Allison with him, but he doesn’t. It’s not because Kate was her aunt – Allison is mostly at peace with the crazy side of her family. He just figures he’s got this rapport going on with Peter. He feels like if he just tries harder

There is no Peter when he gets to the house, though. The door isn’t open, but Stiles tries the knob anyway and lets himself in.

There is no Derek there to greet him either. Instead, there’s a woman. Pretty, if there wasn’t such a smarmy grin on her face.

“Come on in,” she says, and Stiles moves further into the room – he doesn’t really want to, something about her is off. Her grin grows teeth as he gets closer. Stiles can see what’s left of the staircase through her body, she has less color than even Peter, the corners of her lips are strained, like holding this form is a challenge.

“Stop.”

Derek’s voice isn’t a surprise, really, but Derek’s not looking at him.

Kate says, “Why?” and cocks her hip.

It’s that more than anything that shakes Stiles out of it, makes him take a stumbling step backwards. He rubs a hand over his throat and thinks about how easy it might be for this house to swallow him up whole.

Derek has circles under his eyes. He looks sallow, gaunter than he did two days ago, Stiles wonders if he’s been eating, if there’s anything to even eat there, if he lets himself curl up and sleep at all – he wonders what the hell Derek is doing there.

“Kate,” Derek says, voice dry and rough.

Kate pouts and says, “Aw, but baby, I really want to,” and Derek growls low in his chest.

She throws back her head and laughs, her figure flickering and fading until it’s just an echo, leaving Stiles’ ears ringing.

Derek slumps down on the floor, head in his hands. “Get out,” he says.

Stiles steps toward him. “Why don’t we get out together?” Getting out is a good plan, a fantastic plan, he’s just really sure, right now, that he shouldn’t leave Derek here either.

“She,” Derek’s voice is muffled, “—I don’t know where Peter is.”

“Okay.” Stiles moves slow, hands out. “Okay, why don’t we just—”

Derek’s head whips up, eyes flashing red; those are fangs, Stiles is sure of it. “I can’t,” he says.

Stiles stands his ground and says, “You totally can, dude. I mean, you really should, I don’t think this is healthy.”

Derek whines, hurt.

He’s close enough so the tips of Stiles fingers touch Derek’s hair, and Derek leans almost imperceptibly into it. “Derek,” Stiles says softly. He doesn’t know what’s going on here, but Peter was right: it’s bad.

“Please leave,” Derek says to his knees.

Stiles could get him out by force, but he has a feeling that wouldn’t help very much. He sighs and says, “I’ll be back.”

*

The next day, the house is empty.

Stiles wanders all the way through to the back and out into the yard. There is no Peter, no Derek, and whatever Kate is doing, she isn’t doing it now.

He stands at the edge of the tree line, hands on his hips.

It’s eerily silent: no birds, no chattering of squirrels. The world is holding its breath.

There’s a predator in the woods.

*

He should take Allison with him on the full moon, but he doesn’t. It’s daylight still, but that only matters in fairytales. The pull gets worse with the days, the hours, Stiles knows this from both Isaac and Scott.

The girl he meets on the porch steps isn’t Kate.

She looks like she’s five, for one; her eyes are also kind, and while Stiles knows everyone else here but Laura burned in the fire, her gray, translucent skin is blemish free. Her smile is sad, and Stiles remembers Peter had a daughter. Rose. They found her asphyxiated in a cupboard.

A slant of sunlight spills through the trees, lights her face like a star.

Stiles says, “She’s killing him,” because he knows that’s what’s happening here.

She shakes her head, curls bouncing. “He’s killing himself.”

The trees sway in the wind, leaves flutter, shifting shadows, and the sun breaks out again over an empty step. Peter leans over the railing, says, “She never lets me see her,” wistful, and Stiles thinks Peter must have done something terrible, once, for that to be true.

“Where’s Derek?” Stiles says, and pretends he isn’t just a little relieved to see him.

Peter says, “You know, you really should get him out of here,” like Stiles hasn’t been trying for days.

Now you’re on board with that plan?”

Peter shrugs. If it were possible for a ghost to look tense, to look like all his non-existent muscles are protesting movement - he says, “She wants to collect the whole set.”

It’s one thing to suspect something like that, and a whole other thing to hear it confirmed: Stiles is in way over his head.

“He won’t leave,” Stiles says.

“He doesn’t want to,” Peter says, like there’s a difference.

Stiles groans and pinches the bridge of his nose, sits down on the last step.

Peter says, “Give him something else he wants more.”

The Hale house was set on fire nearly fifteen years ago. Nine years ago, Laura, Kate and Peter died there too.

Seven years ago, Derek tried out and placed on the Beacon Hills Quidditch team – weird, for someone already six years out of school, but not unheard of.

So Derek’s a professional athlete, has a nice place in town, there’s picture after picture of him with his team, smiling at least part of the time. Scott says Derek’s quiet, but not completely anti-social. He doesn’t date, at least not publicly. Stiles’ file on Derek is depressing slim.

He has no idea what Derek wants.

“Why do you care?” Stiles says, but Peter doesn’t answer, and when Stiles twists around to look, he’s already disappeared.

With a sigh, Stiles gets to his feet and walks up onto the porch – the front door is locked, this time, but Stiles doesn’t let that stop him, slips his wand out of his sleeve and bullies his way inside.

The foyer is dank, smells of mold and ash. He says, “Derek?” and his voice doesn’t carry; it falls flat, like he’s standing in a bubble. He breathes out noisily, says, “Derek?” again, and hears the skittering clicks of claws on wood as an enormous wolf turns the corner at the top of the stairs and starts bounding down toward him.

It’s not Derek, and that’s the only thing that keeps him from running – the wolf isn’t real, and it isn’t paying any attention to Stiles, and it stops on the third step from the bottom, tips back its head and howls, thin and reedy. Desperate, like it knows no one is there to listen, but it has to try anyway.

Peter appears beside it and says, “Patricia,” soft and low, placing a hand on the wolf’s back, and Stiles is sure he shouldn’t be seeing this; shouldn’t see the way the wolf flinches from Peter, slinks off, tail between her legs.

A rough voice next to him says, “You need to get out,” and Stiles jerks, startled.

Derek has a scruffy beard now; he’s colorless and pale, Stiles suspects he hasn’t slept in days. His shirt is sweat-stained, torn at the collar, there’s dried blood on one forearm, and a rip in the knee of his jeans. His eyes are glowing.

Stiles holds out a hand that Derek ignores and says, “So I figured I should probably introduce myself. I’m Stiles.”

Derek says, “Stiles. You need to get out.”

“Okay,” Stiles says. “Let’s go.”

Derek looks momentarily confused, flustered. “I can’t leave.”

“Well then, I’ll just keep you company.” Stiles has no idea what he’s doing.

“You—I can’t—” Derek’s face crumbles a little; he shakes his head, a palm to his temple. “I can’t control—”

“Then let’s get out of here,” Stiles says, and his heart is pounding hard and fast, because Derek’s voice is more of a growl than anything; he doesn’t sound human anymore.

The sound that comes out of Derek’s throat isn’t exactly threatening, but it definitely isn’t friendly, either.

Stiles licks dry lips and says, “Fine, be stubborn,” and tries to find a wall he can lean against that won’t buckle under his weight. His hands are shaking, and he hides them in the folds of his robes.

Derek prowls back and forth from the front door to the staircase, shoulders hunched. Finally, he stalks up to Stiles and says, “Why are you doing this?”

Stiles tightens his grip on his wand. He doesn’t know how to answer that – why is he doing this? It’s pretty dumb, when he thinks about it. There is no way his boss would have approved this; if he’d known, he would have insisted on forcible removal days ago, and Stiles doesn’t think that would help anyone, in the long run. Aurors, well. They don’t have the same morality as Muggle cops, maybe, or it could just be the influence of his dad. “Serve and protect,” he says, voice not nearly as steady as he’d like.

“What,” Derek says flatly.

“I’m not leaving you, dude.” They’ll face whatever is coming together, even if he doesn’t make it out the other side, come morning.

Derek says, “I don’t want to kill you,” and everything in Stiles’ body tenses up.

“The idea doesn’t exactly tickle me either,” Stiles says, forcing a smile, but Derek only growls and says, “Is this funny to you?”

“Uh, no.” No way is any of this funny.

The sun is going down, the house is growing darker, and tonight Derek is going to rip them both apart.

*

Derek has long since curled up in a corner, and Stiles inches toward him, movements slow and deliberate. He watches the labored up and down of his breathing, head bowed, hands clenched around his calves. They’re halfway to claws now, a heavy dusting of hair coating the backs of his arms.

By the time Stiles reaches him, Derek’s panting.

Through the frame of a nearby pane-less window, Stiles see the moon, high and round – it makes the charred wood seem even blacker.

“Derek,” Stiles says, and places a tentative hand on the back of his neck.

Derek stills.

Stiles squeezes, ignoring the way his blood throbs painfully in his fingers.

There is a deep, continuous grumble, a prelude to a snarl, and Stiles’ heart nearly stops.

Peter melts out of the shadows, eyes crazed, and hisses, “Run.”

*

He can’t outrun him. He knows enough not to try, normally, but Derek will kill him whether he acts like prey or not - the woods are possibly just as poisonous as the house, Stiles doesn’t know, but it’s blind instinct that drives him.

At least I’m getting him out of the house, Stiles thinks hysterically, tripping over exposed roots as he hits the tree line. He dropped his wand in his mad scramble out the door, and Derek’s howl is so entrenched in rage, Stiles is almost bowled over by the pain of it.

This, all of this, the entire week, has been the worst idea Stiles has ever had.

But it’s not exactly regret Stiles feels when Derek snaps at his ankle, slashes into his side and takes Stiles down like a deer. He feels—bad. He feels terrified and sad and hopeless, and he wishes he could have done more, something different, to avoid the way Derek has him pinned, fangs dripping a mixture of saliva and blood in his face. Because Stiles will be dead, and Derek won’t be able to live with himself, and that bitch will win.

“I think I’ve been playing this wrong,” Stiles says, staring up into Derek’s red glowing eyes.

Derek’s hind claws are digging into his thighs, Stiles can feel the wet warmth of blood more distinctly than he can the pain. One bite to his throat and all the bones in Stiles neck will be crushed. Stiles can’t feel his right arm anymore.

Still—Derek hesitates. Stiles can see the flicker in his eyes.

Stiles brings up his left hand, grips the tangled ruff of fur around Derek’s neck. He says, “You aren’t Kate’s dog,” and his words make Derek flinch like he’s hit him.

And then Derek comes back meaner, and Stiles screams when a claw rips into his chest, curling over the soft flesh underneath his arm. Stiles doesn’t want to die.

He pants through the pain, blackness swimming at the edges of his vision. “Derek,” he says. “You don’t—” he fades and comes back, “—want to kill me.” Remember, he thinks. He keeps as firm a grip on the wolf as he can, slides down and pushes at his snout, says, “Stop.”

Derek doesn’t want Kate to win. He can’t, even if it’s just to spite his dead uncle, he can’t want that.

“I need a hospital,” Stiles says, and finally passes out.

*

Stiles doesn’t actually expect to wake up.

Isaac is hovering over him, though, and his dad is holding his hand, and Scott looks like he wants to curl up on the infirmary bed with him, and Derek is nowhere in sight.

“What happened?” he says.

His dad says, “Easy, son,” when he tries and fails to sit up.

Isaac palms the back of his neck. He says, “Derek Hale brought you in. You were—I don’t think he thought you were going to make it.” His voice kind of implies he didn’t think so, either.

“But I’m fine.” Stiles takes slow stock of his body. He’s sore, and he still can’t really move his right arm, but he thinks he’s okay. Unless— “Oh geez, tell me I’m not a—”

“He didn’t bite you,” Isaac says. “And that was three days ago, Stiles.”

“Three—” Stiles panics a little, grips the sheets tightly, contemplating how much it would hurt if he just jumped out of bed right now. “Where’s Derek?” He totally didn’t go through all of that just to have that house eat Derek’s soul anyway.

Scott’s face scrunches up, like he can’t imagine why Stiles is asking. “He was at practice yesterday.”

Dizzy with relief, Stiles sinks back into the bedding. “Oh, thank god.”

Scott’s face gets even weirder. “Okay.”

Stiles doesn’t think he has the words to properly express how fucked up the past week has been – he’s not sure Derek would want him telling anyone, anyway. It’s strangely intimate—and horrifying and painful; for Derek just as much as Stiles.

Stiles just breathes out and squeezes his father’s hand.

*

Stiles doesn’t need an excuse to visit the Beacon Hills Quidditch locker rooms. It’s totally normal for him to meet Scott there, even if Boyd is giving him his blank stare of judging.

Stiles says, “Hey,” and Derek frowns at him and says, “How did you get in here?”

“Uh.” Stiles rocks back on his heels. He wasn’t exactly expecting a thanks, but he didn’t have to look so pissed off to see him, either.

Jackson smirks at him from across the room and says, “Should I call security, Hale?” because he’s a douchebag – he knows exactly who Stiles is, he and Scott had the misfortune of going all through school with him.

Derek says, “No, I—” like he’s seriously flustered, and Stiles says, “Relax, I’m not going to say anything,” and then realizes his hand is on Derek’s arm.

It’s not a big deal, Derek had much more than just Stiles’ arm all over him just four days ago, but the pinched look Derek gives him makes him take a giant step backward, fingers automatically flattening over the bandage Stiles still has wrapped around his right bicep.

“So this isn’t awkward at all,” Stiles says.

Derek opens and closes his mouth, but doesn’t say anything. He looks marginally better than when Stiles saw him last – his eyes are still sunken, but he’s gained a lot of his color back. He’s as clean shaven as Derek ever manages to be, a five o’clock shadow creeping up over his cheeks. He clenches his hand on his broom and his eyebrows get flatter the longer Stiles just stands there staring at him.

Stiles is this close to blurting out an inappropriate thanks for not completely eviscerating me on the full moon! when Scott grabs hold of his robes and tugs him back out of the room, saying, “Dude, dude.”

*

Stiles has nightmares. Who wouldn’t?

He dreams he’s a wolf. He dreams he’s dead. He dreams that both these things shred Derek’s insides, little-by-little, while Kate stands over him and laughs.

They’re not fun dreams, but they’re also not nearly as bad as the ones he had after his mom died - he can live through them. He can shake off the panic, the cold sweats, the echo of Kate’s voice in his head. Because he’s here and he’s whole and the only thing he’s truly lost is his ability to tolerate ghosts, and that had been admittedly shaky to begin with.

He still wants to see Derek again.

*

Two weeks after the full moon, Stiles is eating spaghetti straight out of the pot, reading case files at his kitchen table, when there’s a knock on his door.

He figures it’s Scott - even though Scott never knocks, he practically lives with Stiles, why does he forget this? - and he ends up staring at the hunched figure of Derek Hale, extremely conscious of the fact that he’s in boxers, and that there is most likely spaghetti sauce on his t-shirt.

Stiles says, “Okay,” and thinks that this is so much more awkward than anything that has ever transpired between them before.

Derek says, “Can I come in?” and his lack of expression is more encouraging than not, so Stiles steps aside and waves him past.

He wishes he had pants on, but whatever. He holds up his pot and says, “Spaghetti?”

“I’m—no, thank you.” Derek sticks his hands in his pockets. He’s sans robes, which is just fine – Stiles doesn’t really get the need for robes outside of a uniform, but that could just be his Muggle showing. After a painful, long moment, Derek takes something out of his pocket and shoves it at Stiles. “Here.”

Stiles nearly drops the pot, but manages to set it on the coffee table before palming the—it’s a key. Long and thin, with a stylized wolf head on the end. “What?”

“I just wanted to—” Derek breaks off, shrugs. “I’m not going to go back.”

“Oh,” Stiles says. He turns the key over and over in his hand, fingers rubbing the warm metal. It’s not like it matters – a key isn’t going to keep anyone in or out of that house – but Stiles appreciates the symbolism. The sentiment. There is sentiment here, Stiles can feel it. Nice.

“In case you were worried,” Derek says.

Stiles nods slowly. “I was.” It would have been pretty stupid of Derek to go back, but Stiles really can’t vouch for the state of Derek’s brain, right now. He fidgets when Derek nods, too, makes an abortive move toward the door; Stiles doesn’t want him to leave. “We should—dinner!”

Derek narrows his eyes on his pot.

“No, dude, I mean. We should have dinner. Sometime. Or now.” Stiles is awesome at this, wow. “Like, because we saved each other’s lives, we should be bros now.”

One eyebrow goes up; he reminds Stiles eerily of Peter, right then. “I almost killed you.”

“But you didn’t,” Stiles says. That’s important, because Stiles doesn’t blame Derek for anything. Stiles had been doing his job, kind of, and Derek had needed his help. He’d stopped when he had to; Stiles is glad—he’s a little stunned that he was able to bring him back, honestly. “I could put on pants and everything.”

Derek’s mouth twitches, Stiles totally sees that. “You don’t have to.”

Stiles frowns, looks down at himself, then back over at Derek. “I could just throw some robes on, but it gets drafty, I never understood—”

“Stiles.” He sounds amused, Stiles is enjoying the way he’s almost smiling at him.

Stiles says, “What?” He rubs his palms on his shorts and watches as Derek follows the movement with his gaze and—“Oh. Oh.” Pants would be awesome right now, Stiles totally doesn’t put out on the first date. “So not bros then?”

Derek just rolls his eyes and says, “Get dressed.”

*

The hard edges of the key dig into Stiles palm, his grip tightens around it as he walks the last few steps to the Hale house porch. He feels phantom throbs in his arm, all along his side, his thighs—he doesn’t really want to be here.

He hovers on the last step—whatever demons this house has, it still has them. It creeps Stiles out, and he has to force himself to cross the warped and rotted wood floor.

“I wouldn’t, if I were you.”

Stiles glances over at Peter. Nothing has changed, same as the house. He’s still scarred, there’s still something not quite right in his pale eyes.

Peter grins at him, but it’s not as nasty as he clearly wants it to be. He leans toward him, stage-whispers, “She’s so mad, I don’t think you’d ever get out.”

“I’m not going in,” Stiles says. He holds up the key, and Peter looks momentarily impressed.

Then his grin turns into a smirk and he says, “It’s a nice sentiment,” like he’s a fool, not like it’s genuine, how Stiles knows Derek meant it to be—but Stiles nods, acknowledging that it’s more of a gesture than anything.

It’s a sort of closure, when Stiles slips the key into the lock and turns it, hears the click of the bolt sliding into place. Stiles will keep this house locked for Derek—always, no matter what.

He slips the key into the pocket of his robes.

Peter cocks his head, watching him. He says, “He ripped out my throat, you know,” a friendly reminder, and Stiles’ eyes dip to the gashes in question—still gross. “Of course,” Peter goes on, “that was after I’d tore his sister in half.” He gives Stiles a what-can-you-do shrug.

Seriously, ghosts are the worst.

Stiles turns to walk away, and doesn’t look back.