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The first time Derek knocks Stiles out, it’s to help him. Stiles’ quick thinking and, well, let’s say slightly unusual plans are beginning to benefit the pack more and more. He thinks differently than the rest of them, he's more tactical, more like the son of a sheriff who’s been listening in on his dad’s conversations with colleagues for years. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t have wolf in his blood; the lack of instincts screaming at him might be what keeps his head clear in situations that demand something else than the influence of animal reason. He is, however, quite a bit on the unfortunate side when it comes to his total lack of self-preservation skills. Stiles throws himself into things Derek is pretty sure no human should want to meddle with; it’s not in human nature to take such risks, or to take risks at all unless the situation desperately demands it. People are selfish, and people lie, and everyone wants power. That’s the ultimate goal. There is no such thing as a good deed; everything always comes back to people wanting to do better for themselves, and in all honesty, Derek can’t blame them.

But it’s not like that for Stiles. Stiles is loyalty and rapidity and an odd kind of honest courage wrapped in brittle bone and breakable skin. He takes chances because he knows that while what he does is stupid, and even though he’s scared, it’s going to benefit someone else, and that’s probably why it’s worth doing. Stiles trusts. Derek respects that more than he’d like to admit.

Stiles goes out like a light and keels forward, and Derek catches him to break the fall. He lowers Stiles to the charred floor, careful so his claws won’t rip clothes. He can hear the rest of the pack, running, fast, speeding among trees, away from the house. He needs to go before he loses their trail; he’s already way behind, because he had to argue with a snappy teenager about whether or not going out into a dark forest close to a full moon with their hair full of supernatural creatures was actually a shit decision. He checks that Stiles is breathing first, though; a red bruise is already blossoming on his jaw, and that is definitely going to hurt like hell when he comes to, but he’ll thank Derek later. Well, he probably won’t, actually, Derek thinks, but that’s just Stiles. All things considered, blossoming bruise and all, Derek doesn’t think he’ll lose sleep over it. If Stiles comes this time, Derek has a feeling he won’t come back. He isn’t sure why, it’s just… a feeling. Something lingering in the air, something that makes perfect sense to the Wolf, less so to his human side, a clash he still struggles with on a rare occasion. Derek quickly checks the protective wards around the house, the ones Stiles are beginning to install and fiddle about with, before following the scent of his betas and the scaly fairies and bolting off into the woods.

 

---

 

The first time Stiles cries in front of Derek, the werewolf is at a total loss of what to do. It’s not like Stiles is bawling, just breathing very heavily and very quickly, shoulders quivering, jaw incredibly tense; Derek smells the salt of the sweat dotting his temples and the tears stubbornly caught by his lashes as Stiles tries to keep calm. He chokes on a startled sob when Deaton gingerly tries to dislocate his trembling, tight fingers from his bloody thigh. Deaton shushes him, and Stiles curls up further against the wall because they never got him further than into the clinic, where he promptly lost his ability to stand upright anymore and tipped to the floor.

“I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m fine, just let me—if you’ll just let me, just a moment—” Stiles hisses frantically, drawing away from the hands and pressing his face into his own shoulder, trying to breathe deeply. His face is a sickening white, save for a few droplets of drying blood on his cheek and smudges of dirt under his eyes.

The bullet is still lodged between muscle and bone; Derek can hear the new addition to Stiles’ biology grinding intrusively against tissue when Stiles moves – which he tries not to, except for the quiet, involuntary surges of pain constantly wrecking his body. He’s curled so tightly in on himself that Deaton needs Boyd’s help to unfold him and get him on the slab normally occupied by pets or the occasional werewolf. It isn’t until Boyd, with a pained look on his face, has to pry Stiles’ hands away and pin him down, that Stiles finally loses it and starts sobbing for real. With the pressure off his thigh, the bleeding immediately intensifies, but Deaton is quick to get it under control. Derek watches, silently, from the back of the room, back pressed to the wall. The worry rolls off of Scott in waves from where he’s bouncing nervously on the balls of his feet, as close as he dares to his friend, and Derek crosses his arms over his chest and hunches his shoulders as he listens to Stiles hiccupping uncontrollably, his breath short and stuttering and catching on half-words, half pleads, as he push-pulls at Boyd’s arms.

“I’m okay I’m okay I’m fine you don’t have to do that just let me go please please please—“

He’d taken the bullet for Derek. Derek isn’t sure why; he just knows that whatever reason Stiles had to do something that absolutely idiotic, it might have just saved them all. He’d tried to be stoic all the way to the animal hospital, Derek behind the wheel of his jeep, but wolfsbane isn’t at all good for humans either, and he had quickly begun slipping in and out of delirium as his limbs got heavier. Despite the pain as they pulled him out of the car, he still had the vigour to grin lopsidedly at Derek and, before throwing up, palely announce that if Derek ever got him shot again, he was taking the Camaro as reimbursement.

Stiles passes out when Deaton carefully starts extracting the bullet from his thigh. Derek is grateful for that, for Stiles’ sake. He’s starting to consider if maybe he should just give Stiles his car already.

 

---

 

The first time Derek meets Stiles in the supermarket, he’s about ready to just roll over and die on the spot. He’s had a crappy day, he’s cranky, and on top of that, the full moon is in a few days, which means that “cranky” tonight is just a nice word for “pissed off”. Muzak is playing dully from the speakers above and there are very few shoppers, thank god. And then there’s Stiles. Stiles, standing frozen with his hand on a packet of macaroni and a slowly budding, already very wide, grin on his face. Derek already feels like punching him for grinning like an idiot at him when he’s feeling miserable. He just scowls, hiking up his basket and then turning on his heel to walk down another section. He hears Stiles splutter with indignation behind him.

Rude, man,” he calls as he catches up to Derek, who already has his hand on a roll of garbage bags. Derek ignores him.

“You’re actually shopping. You. Shopping.” Stiles says, the mirth evident in his voice. Derek drops the bags into his basket and ignores him.

“I sort of always figured you had your betas do your shopping for you, you know, as your butlers or housekeepers or something. I can totally imagine Isaac in a suit with a dish towel on his arm.” Stiles drawls.

“I thought you were too cool to go to the supermarket. Or do the dishes. Do you do the dishes? No wait, you barely have cutlery in the house, never mind, I’d rather you tell me if you go shopping for underwear with that broody look on your face, oh my god, that would be priceless—“

“You’re not funny, and I’m not in the mood, Stiles.” Derek snaps at him, effectively cutting of Stiles’ word stream. There’s a moment of silence. He can almost hear Stiles’ frown, even as he resolutely doesn’t look at him.

“Are you okay?” Stiles finally asks tentatively with half an awkward laugh to his voice. Derek snorts and straightens up, dumping a film-wrapped pack with four dishcloths into his basket.

“Considering your usual characterization of me as a surly jackass I’d say that’s a weird thing to ask me,” he retorts and steers towards the dairy isle to pick up milk. Jackson had been the king of all pricks at tonight’s pack meeting, Erica and Isaac had been incredibly distracted and hadn’t really listened, and Scott had been fidgeting (something with Allison and him having a fight again, Derek later finds out). It had come to the point where even Boyd annoyed Derek because he was listening. Point: he’s not in the mood, at all, for jokes and jabs tonight. None, he is having none. Derek just wants to go home, eat, maybe let the Wolf out for a free-run, and then sleep like he’s dead for at least ten hours. He’s all up for that. He’s not prepared, however, for Stiles to suddenly place a hand on his upper arm, fingers digging into the flesh of Derek’s bicep through his jacket, mid-stride between frozen goods and microwave meals. The surprise alone is enough to stop him and make him look back.

“Dude, cut it out,” Stiles says lowly as a lady with a cart passes them.

“I’m serious, are you okay?” he asks again. Derek blinks at him, brows furrowing to match Stiles’. He slowly dislodges his arm from Stiles’ grip. There’s something very set about the look on his face, a stubborn focus that Derek is pretty sure Stiles doesn’t waste on just anything. It twinges in his chest. It reminds him of Laura, a little bit. The corner of Derek’s mouth twitches.

“Full moon is the day after tomorrow, Jackson is a jerkoff, that woman’s perfume hurts my nose and I’m sick of skim milk,” he suddenly blurts, in a flurry of fast words, like it’s the truth of the Universe itself, like he’s unable to keep it in because it’s just that damn important. Stiles stares at him, eyebrows suddenly very high on his forehead. Derek is gaping at himself internally; he’s still able to keep (more or less) cool on the outside. His default face expresson is easy to hold. Stiles slowly nods, and Derek has to lift an eyebrow.

“Well, I’ll have to agree with you on all of those, that does kind of suck.” Derek’s mouth falls open just barely, just a parting of lips.

“Drop the skim milk and kick Jackson’s ass the next time you see him.” Stiles advises, and then proceeds towards the milk isle, Derek sort of just following suspiciously in his steps because he’s not entirely sure what else to do. Stiles picks up a carton of semi skimmed milk and holds it out. When Derek just looks at it, Stiles rolls his eyes and dumps it into Derek’s basket himself.

“We’ll wean you off it slowly and work towards proper whole milk, you know, like with kittens.” Stiles grins. Derek is desperately trying to come up with a proper way to threaten Stiles for comparing him to a kitten, but he’s falling totally short of anything but blank, silent staring.

The first time he meets Stiles at the supermarket also happens to be the first time Derek feels a slight, very slight flutter in his stomach when Stiles grins at him.

 

---

 

The first time Derek sees Stiles’ scars, he breaks Jackson’s arm. The whole pack, gathered in the remains of the Hale living room, freezes instantly, except for Jackson who howls in pain and falls to his knees, completely caught off guard by Derek’s sudden outburst. A heavy scent of suppressed alarm settles in the room, and Derek bolts, back out into the rain and the dark.

Stiles had met them at the Hale house after he’d been forced to stay after school for detention and thus missing the pack meeting. That hadn’t be so bad, actually, because the rain had been pouring down all day and with winter closing in, it got dark earlier; Stiles would have had trouble keeping up in the muddy forest. While Derek preferred having Stiles there (well, having the pack as a whole with no one missing, really) cracking jokes and adding some normality to what could only be considered the oddest club meetings in the world, the few times when he was missing meant that they could spend more time outside, letting the wolves out, and less time inside actually talking. It meant doing the things they couldn’t do as much when Stiles was around, which, in all honesty, actually wasn’t much, because he fit surprisingly well into their different agendas. Naturally, it also always depended on current situations. It had been quiet for a while, which was good, because it gave Derek down-time to focus on bringing the pack closer together in his own way, which demanded time. The whole pack was settling in, getting more comfortable, and while Derek had doubts daily, he had a feeling that perhaps, things were starting to work the way they should (if not a little unconventionally, all things considered).

Everyone had been soaked by the time they returned to the house, dark creeping quickly in over Beacon Hills, aided by the storm clouds muffling the air with a wet, dull throb of rain. The jeep was parked close enough to the house that Stiles could have nearly jumped from the open car door onto the porch. Smart man.

“I thought I smelled wet dog.” Derek is met with Stiles’ smirk as the first thing when he gets inside and shakes off the worst of the water, hair already receding back into skin and eyes flashing from alpha to human with a blink. He does, however, bare his canines at Stiles in an irritated snarl before they too pull back. Stiles just grins; he’s lighting up the gloom of the dim, damp house in his bright red hoodie, perched on a chair with a book on his lap. The hood is pulled up and the cuffs of his plaid shirt are peeking out under the red sleeves, drawn over his hands.

“I’ve been freezing my ass off for twenty minutes, can we go soon?” Stiles asks, as the rest of the pack mill into the house, dripping water everywhere. The rain hadn’t gotten really bad until they were far into the woods, and then it didn’t matter how wet they got. Stiles pauses, makes a face.

“On second thought, did you guys bring changes of clothes? I’m not letting anyone into my house or my jeep that wet.”

With the sheriff on evening duty, Stiles tends to invite the pack over to his instead when he can; they’re already alternating between the Hale house, the subway station and Scott’s home, and as Stiles said, you can’t have too many hang-outs. At this time of year, Derek has to agree.

Everyone but Scott brought extra clothes, which Stiles complains loudly about for several minutes while Scott pouts at him and mutters that even his mom isn’t that bad. Derek finds a change of clothes for himself upstairs, while the rest of the pack changes in the living room, narrowly avoiding the holes in the ceiling where water is dripping down steadily. Through the floor, Derek can hear Jackson jabbing at Isaac about something from the day’s lacrosse practice, Isaac snapping back and Jackson dismissing the conversation with an annoyed huff. Derek pulls a (somewhat) clean Henley over his head, buttons his jeans and goes back downstairs.

He’s met with Stiles shrugging off his clothes, his back to Derek. That in itself shouldn’t be so noteworthy what with both Erica and Boyd in not much more than their underwear right beside him, and Isaac still not wearing pants, but it is; Derek feels his pulse elevate and internally curses every single werewolf in the room, including himself, all the way to the depths of hell, when Erica is the first to glance at him. And then at Stiles. A very, very slow smirk starts forming on her lips. Derek’s horror at discovering that apparently, Stiles taking off his clothes in his living room is turning his heart rate into a techno beat, falls abruptly short when Stiles gets his t-shirt off and hands it to Scott.

The biggest scar is about the length of Derek’s palm. It’s a thick line of pink tissue running parallel with Stiles’ spine, still in the healing process and slightly purple in the chill that is also making gooseflesh stand up on his bare arms; arms that, along with his back, are littered with at least eight smaller scars, curved and straight, crumbled skin where a grazing bullet burned him along the shoulder, distinct claw-marks on his side, and an array of fading bruises Derek knows sat deep when first inflicted. Derek inhales sharply and finds the rusty tang of week-old burst blood vessels still lingering in the air just under Stiles’ skin; he can, when he really tries, smell the crust from an old nosebleed caused by a well-aimed punch, one that wasn’t meant for him, can smell blood close to the surface where he was punched in the ribs. None of the marks are more than a few years old at the most.

Derek can suddenly barely breathe through the hot-white rage bubbling in the pit of his chest.

“Derek are you even listeni—“ Jackson says, coming up by Derek’s side and placing a hand on the alpha’s back, and Derek abruptly flings his arm around, grabs hold of Jackson’s wrist and twists. Jackson’s arm snaps like a twig.

 

“Derek!” Stiles calls after him. It’s loud, even over the rain. Against his better nature, Derek finds himself stopping, feet digging deep into the mud. There’s hardly any light left between the thick tree trunks, and he hears Stiles trip and curse under his breath as he draws closer. He’s soaked, wearing his clothes again, and he sounds angry.

“What the fuck was that?” Stiles asks and heaves for breath. His sneakers are completely covered in mud; he’s been running. Derek growls, deep in his chest.

“Oh, don’t pull that alpha crap on me now, what was that bullshit back at the house?” Stiles snarls back, still out of breath but gaining back his lung capacity. He’s getting good at keeping up, actually, Derek thinks. He’s also getting increasingly good at calling Derek out on his shit, which he isn’t so sure of how to feel about.

“Your scars,” Derek finally grits out when Stiles crosses his arms, juts his hip out and glares stubbornly at him. Rain is dripping from his nose. Stiles furrows his brows.

“My scars?” he asks, genuinely confused. Derek just nods and steps closer. Stiles doesn’t step back.

“They’re battle scars,” Derek says, and Stiles just looks at him like dude, you’ve gotta elaborate here.

“You’re getting hurt when you run with us. You get hurt when you fight with us. You get hurt when you’re with me. I can’t take that responsibility on me when you’re just, just,” Derek hesitates.

“Human?” Stiles suggests.

“Yeah. Human.”

“Then don’t. I’m not your responsibility.”

“You’re pack, the pack is my responsibility,” retorts Derek immediately. Stiles snorts.

“But we’re not helpless, and we’re not babies. Don’t take it upon you to be our nanny, if any of us gets hurt, it’s because we took a chance, not because you failed at being an alpha. You can’t keep watch over everyone all the time, that’s not your job, you martyr. I can take care of myself,” Stiles adds the last part a bit more softly than Derek thinks he intended to. Stiles casts his gaze down and rubs the back of his neck, water droplets jumping from his head when he draws his palm over the fuzz of his hair. When he looks up, his face is open and determined.

“I can fight just as well as you guys can. Just, differently. And if I get scars, they remind me what to look out for next time. So take your self-deprecating bullshit, shove it where the sun doesn’t shine, and let’s get back to the house, because I can’t feel my feet.”

 

---

 

The first time Derek gets jealous in years, it’s of Lydia Martin. That in itself is both ground-breaking and infuriating, and Derek doesn’t know what to do with long forgotten feelings like that.

“I want you to listen to me now, and if your big ears aren’t functioning right, which I’m starting to think is the case, read my fucking lips,” Derek hisses angrily, face dangerously close to the strained grimace on Stiles’.

“Get. Your head. In the game. Or I swear to god, Stiles, sore knuckles won’t be your only problem.” Derek looms over Stiles, who stares back, defiantly, brows knotted together in a scowl.

“Go fuck yourself,” Stiles spits, and Derek feels his blood reach its boiling point. He stomps off into the house. He can’t think of anything better, except that he can, but it would hurt Stiles, and despite his threats, that’s not what he wants. He leaves Stiles heaving for breath on the ground and Lydia on the porch. Stiles had sweated through his t-shirt, a dark splotch on the back, fifteen minutes into the training session. Derek had had trouble concentrating when he noticed. The energy Stiles was exerting into the exercise was impressive, but he was unfocused, and Derek had clipped him twice in as many seconds, and even then, Stiles couldn’t bounce back in any way to deserve even moderate points for execution like he really, really, should be able to by now. If he focused. And that was simply not good enough.

He’d never used that tone before, though. Derek takes it out on the wall and kicks it, because the wall doesn’t complain or cry out. Stiles gets angry with him, just like he gets angry with Stiles, but there’s never any actual, deliberately cruel words involved. At least not when Stiles is the one throwing the verbal punches.

The thing is, Derek wants Stiles to concentrate so he doesn’t get hurt.

That doesn’t sound so unreasonable, does it? And Derek is angry, yes, but it’s mostly because he keeps picturing Stiles when he’d been shot in the leg; he keeps seeing the kid (who’s not so much a kid at all, anymore) twisted in pain, whenever Stiles fails an exercise. At some point, maybe the bullet won’t get him in the leg, it’ll get him somewhere fatal, and he doesn’t heal, and Derek can’t – no matter what Stiles says about responsibility and independence – shoulder that responsibility. Thus, Stiles must learn. Just like Lydia has to learn; because they’re human.

Derek huffs in frustration and squats down in the kitchen, taking a few deep breaths, rolling his shoulders and popping his neck, when he hears Lydia crossing the porch in her trainers, going down the few steps and sauntering closer to Stiles.

“Are you okay?” he hears her ask, and eavesdropping isn’t nice, but well. Well. Derek hears Stiles grunt half-heartedly.

“Derek’s an asshole.”

“You usually don’t think that,” Lydia muses. Derek feels something tightening in his chest. Stiles sighs heavily.

“I’m just not up for this today.”

“Do you want to tell me what it is before I lose my patience and force it out of you?” Lydia’s voice is syrupy sweet, even when she makes threats. Stiles laughs a little; Derek knows his laugh, and that’s not a happy one. It almost (almost) bothers him that he can tell the difference.

“Just, I broke my mom’s vase this morning.” Stiles goes quiet for a moment. Derek will never admit that he moves a little closer to the wall separating kitchen and outside.

“And it’s stupid and all, but you know, it was my mom’s. And I just had to hurry out the door and I just brushed it and it fell on the floor, and it’s in too many pieces to fix.” Derek can almost hear the sad grimace in Stiles’ voice. There’s a rustle of leaves when Lydia sits down on the ground. Derek expects a half-hearted “but your mom is still with you” or “don’t be materialistic, she’s in your heart and that’s what really matters”, sentences he’s been subjected to too often; they never help. Because it is about the small things as well; it’s about the little things they leave behind that you’re lucky enough to have years later. But Lydia doesn’t say that. Instead, she hums thoughtfully.

“I don’t think Derek’s a jerk on purpose. I think he’s a jerk because he’s been a jerk for a long time, and even though he likes you, he can’t really help it.” Derek stiffens as Stiles snorts.

“That sounds like Jackson.” Lydia just laughs.

“I think Derek is Jackson’s spirit animal.”

Derek finally dares peeking out the window. Lydia is sitting beside Stiles, her head on his shoulder, and she’s giggling freely while he laughs into her hair. Derek feels a sudden surge of anger.

“You better be glad I keep you around for my own purposes, Stilinski, what would you do without me?” Lydia teases, and then Stiles grins and kisses the top of her head, and Derek feels his wolf sneer and snap possessively, and something clicks suddenly into place. Derek tears himself from the window and storms back out of the house. Stiles is on his feet immediately, and Derek isn’t sure if he sees nerves or anger or a bit of both.

“We’re done,” he growls, casting one long look at Lydia with her perfect quirked eyebrow and gorgeous, practical pony tail, before he crouches, shifts a little more than he usually allows himself, and takes off into the woods.

It’s just Stiles.

It’s just Stiles, Derek tells himself, and even then, the Wolf won’t stop howling in frustration.

 

---

 

The first time Stiles kisses him, Derek is wedged between two brick walls.

He can feel a couple of ribs pushing out through his chest, scraping against the wall on top of him, and he winces when they pinch him as they crawl back into his ribcage and the skin heals over. He’s staring up into the sky, cloudy with brick dust and whirled up sand, blinking the dry out of his eyes. He swallows. There’s even dirt in his mouth. He’s covered with fallen debris from the middle of his chest to his feet, and from what he can see through the lazily dissipating dust cloud around him, the weight resting across his abdomen, chest and left shoulder on top of the nearly intact fragment of wall that, presumably, was what broke his ribs in the first place, is a thick steel beam. Derek hears a coarse cough somewhere close. Jesus. He can barely see.

“Stiles?” he tries, tiny pebbles crunching between his molars. He spits. There’s a groan, and a huff, and he hears shifting bricks.

“Yeah, I’m here,” Stiles finally replies, right by his head, and Derek’s heart sings with relief.

“Are you okay?” There’s a moment where Stiles doesn’t say anything, and Derek hears more attempted shifting. He has to keep his eyes closed just a little while longer; too much dust in the air.

“I think I’m in one piece. Could just be my impeccable optimism and the slight numbness under the weight of all this shit, but I’ll take what I can get,” Stiles says sourly. Derek makes a confirming sound in the back of his throat. He can feel the weight on his chest even more if he breathes too deeply, and hell, he heals, but your chest caving in every few minutes isn’t exactly fun.

“Can you move?” Derek asks, finally blinking his eyes properly open when he smells the air clearing, and tries shifting his head enough to the side to look at Stiles. The kid's got a pretty large scrape along his jaw, a few minor cuts and lesions on his forehead and cheeks. His brows are knitted together as he lifts his head and effectively moves himself out of Derek’s field of vision.

“Ugh. No,” Stiles moans as he drops his head back next to Derek’s. They’re pretty much stretched out in extension of each other, nearly cheek to cheek and chin to forehead.

“I think my arms are completely stuck,” Stiles says, looking up where the roof used to be.

“I’m going to strangle that fucking omega,” he scoffs, apparently to the sky.

“Practically dropping a house on us, I mean what.”

“We should have stayed out,” Derek points out, and Stiles barks out half a laugh.

“Yeah, that’s really rich coming from you, mister I-got-this-under-control-it’s-just-a-teensy-omega.” Derek just rolls his eyes. Arguing isn’t going to get them anywhere, and in all honesty, they were both agreeable to the idea, that going into the old industrial building and drawing the squatter out for a better chance to round him up, would be the best. Sure, the house had looked about as ready for demolition as it could, bulldozers waiting for their men outside and everything, but come on – who could have seen the wrecking ball coming?

“I hope Scott bites his freakin’ head off,” Stiles spits as he jerks under his rock duvet in exasperation, and a rather large pebble rolls down from somewhere on his chest and hits him on the nose. Stiles squawks as it bounces away from his head. Derek snorts.

“Oh, fuck you,” Stiles retorts, wrinkling his nose.

“I’m going to try and lift this off,” Derek finally says. He’s been feeling around for an idea of just how heavy and actually intact the collapsed wall on his chest and lower body is, and about how much strength it will take to shove the beam off as well without getting impaled on it. He makes brief eye contact with Stiles, who nods the best he can while lying down. Derek manages to turn his palms upwards under the constrictions and press them up against the underside of the wall. He’s lying pretty flat spread out, which can be either really useful or a real pain in the ass, depending on where he’ll have to lift the most. Derek starts lifting carefully, feeling weight gradually coming off his chest with a relieved sigh, just when Stiles’ head jerks at the edge of his vision and he sputters.

“Wow, hey, stop, stop, STOP, JESUS—“

Derek freezes. He can hear Stiles’ heart hammering.

What?” he snaps, arms flexing where he’s still holding the wall enough to allow his lungs to expand a few more inches. It’s not exactly light. Stiles giggles tensely.

“That steel beam on you right there? Yeah, I think if you lift it juuust a bit more, that block of cracked concrete leaning on it is going to roll and land right on my face.” There’s a hysterical undertone to his words. Derek growls at no one in particular, as he regrettably lets the weight fall back onto his chest.

“God fucking damn it,” he snarls.

“You said it, big guy,” Stiles pipes back. Derek can’t twist his head back enough to see the block of concrete Stiles is talking about, but judging from the angle of the beam, it’s very likely that anything leaning on it further up can, and probably will, land on Stiles. Derek growls angrily, Stiles heaves a deep sigh.

“So I don’t know about you, but I hope the pack figures the plan didn’t go right when he doesn’t come running right into their warm open arms and, you know, that they’re smart enough to come looking for us.” He hesitates.

“Actually you know what, we’re probably pretty screwed.”

Derek glares at him.

“Just lie still. They’ll get here,” he says, rolling his shoulders just a tiny bit. Something on Stiles’ end of things makes a scraping, shifting sound, and Stiles goes totally still with what he’ll later describe as a ‘manly yelp’.

“Ohmygodpleasedon’tmove,” he rushes out in one single breath, and Derek freezes and stares at him.

“What was that?”

Stiles gulps, his face suddenly very white. “That would be the Concrete Block of Death slipping. Please lie still?”

“I barely moved!” Derek protests, and Stiles just smiles palely at him.

“Can we maybe discuss who’s right later when I’m not in danger of having my skull crushed?” His voice is paper-thin. Derek presses his lips together tightly and nods.

They lie still, completely quiet, for about ten minutes; Stiles’ breathing is shallow, but almost composed, and Derek is almost afraid to breathe at all, when the block, apropos of fucking nothing, slides again and Stiles flat-out whimpers with fear. Derek finds himself shushing him as comfortingly as he can. 

“You know,” Stiles breathes, voice a little thick.

“If Scott doesn’t bite the guy’s head off, I might come back to haunt him.”

“You’re not going to die,” Derek deadpans. Stiles takes a deep breath.

“If that thing slips a bit more, I think I am, actually.”

“Stiles?”

“Yeah?”

“Shut up.”

Stiles nods a few times, takes a deep breath through his nose, eyes towards the sky, and then turns his head to rest on his cheek the way Derek does, facing him. Derek arches an eyebrow. Stiles just looks at him, expression a mix between at least three different emotions, none of them very prominent in a face that’s usually the easiest of all to read. There’s a tiny pin-prick of a cut right between two of the moles on his cheek. The rubble feels rough under Derek’s face.

Stiles stretches his neck, nudges his head closer to Derek’s, and their lips brush lightly. Then he pulls back.

“Just, you know. In case my head gets crushed in a minute.”

Derek has about three seconds to ponder on the fact that Stiles just kissed him Spiderman style, when the sound of his betas bursting into the destroyed building gets Stiles’ attention.

“Here!” he shouts, moaning with relief. Derek manages to find Stiles’ gaze for a few seconds before the pack is on them, ripping away bricks and the offending lump of concrete, and smiles; just a little smile, like it’s a secret. Stiles smiles back.

 

---

 

The first time Stiles gets cursed by a witch, Derek is a measly ten feet away from him but doesn’t react quickly enough to stop it.

The spell hits Stiles square in the chest like a translucent paintball and knocks him backwards, seconds before Erica’s teeth tear through the neck of the man in the by now bloodied, ripped winter coat. Stiles is lying shock-still in the dark alley way for a long, heart-stopping moment before he starts convulsing, his back arching off the pavement with an ugly, sudden snap, and his mouth falling open in a soundless scream. Isaac is there first, hands hovering frantically over Stiles, trying to assess where to take hold, but Derek barges forward and shoves him aside hard enough to send him flying before he manages to do anything. Stiles’ eyes are wide open, rolling back in his skull, just two wet orbs of nearly all white keening towards the damp night sky.

Derek grabs his shoulders, and Stiles’ body writhes in his hold as he picks him up; that’s when Stiles gets his breath back. Derek registers the signs in the sharp, hoarse inhale just a little too late, and then Stiles starts screaming. It’s unlike anything Derek has heard in his life. Hands shoot up from where they had been flailing aimlessly around, and Stiles claws at his own face, the tendons in his neck pulled taut as his head pistons back in a sudden convulsion, and one of his blunt nails leaves behind a scratch as it’s ripped along his cheek. His body writhes violently in Derek’s hold like a fish on land, shuddering and spasming, while Derek frantically tries to hold on to him somewhere that won’t harm him more.

The high-pitched howling makes Derek’s ears ring right at its peak; Stiles goes completely rigid, and then he goes lax, and he’s out cold. Derek has a minute to thank the appropriate deity for that, before the pack is moving, a quick, synchronised flow of removing evidence, gathering ranks and hiking up the body to dispose of. The rainclouds above are making promises to wash the skip clean during the night. Derek sends another thanks, and then takes off with Stiles in a fireman’s carry, ordering the pack to camp out at Scott’s for the night.

The Hale house seems the safest; the subway station is too close to strategically inconvenient places in town, Stiles’ own home too risky; too many blind spots. He needs to be somewhere he knows. Most importantly because Derek doesn’t know what’s going to happen when Stiles regains consciousness. Or if he will regain consciousness. But he tries not to think about that. He gingerly places Stiles on his back on the flip out sofa the beta trio usually sleeps on, and checks his airways for any abnormalities, finding nothing but the slow, steady breathing of someone who could just as well be sleeping. He covers Stiles with a blanket and goes upstairs to find something to tear into pieces; he’ll hear if anything happens.

Derek ends up neatly shredding an old blanket into long, even slivers of cloth, the slow concentration calming him down, and he’s moving onto a slightly mouldy pillow when he hears a change of breath downstairs. Stiles’ heart rate picks up a little and a breath stutters in his chest; he’s awake. Cotton and threads still sticking to his quickly retracting claws, Derek exits his old bedroom, swings himself over the side of the railing on the upper floor and lands by the foot of the stairs just in time to hear Stiles slip off the couch with a bump.

“Stiles?” Derek crouches by the foot of the couch. Stiles is tangled in the blanket, disoriented, mouth slack and open, eyes blinking blearily at Derek and at nothing when Derek takes a firm hold on his shoulder.

“Stiles, look at me,” he demands, the tiniest hint of his alpha voice seeping through; it will never work on Stiles exactly as it does on the betas, but it adds volume, adds weight. Stiles looks at him, briefly in focus between one blink and the next, before he floppily tries to get to his feet, murmuring under his breath as Derek tries to hold him steady and make him sit back down. When his legs give in, Derek sets him on the edge of the rough cushions and takes Stiles’ face in his hands, staring him down in the hope that it will make Stiles focus as well.

“Hey, look at me. Are you listening? I’m going to get you water, okay? Okay?” He’s almost relieved when Stiles finally manages a tiny, boneless nod. His fingers clumsily wind into the edges of the blanket in front of his chest when Derek wraps it back around his shoulders, slowly going from drunken unbalance to something more still, his eyes no longer flitting around the room and instead blinking tightly a few, dazed times, as if trying to wake up from a deep sleep.

Derek eyes him wearily before going into the kitchen. His heart is pounding unevenly in his chest as he turns on the tab; Stiles seems okay. He seems okay. He’s delirious, sure, but Derek had suspected much worse. He’d expected open wounds, torn skin, bleeds or boils - something that could only be healed by Deaton’s special skills, anything. Derek takes a few very deep breaths to gather himself, and then fills a glass with water.

When he gets back into the living room, there’s torn skin. He should have smelled it.

The glass shatters on the floor, water getting everywhere. A moan lacing itself around a snarl, pure panic, catches in the back of Derek’s throat when he pries Stiles’ hands away from his lower arms; the long gauges from his nails are jagged and his fingers bloody, and yet he’s breathing evenly, not a hint of fright in his smell or to detect on his pulse. He’s hunched in on himself, face tilted towards his chest, feebly trying to get back to clawing at his arms under the blanket, mumbling things Derek doesn’t understand. His grip on Stiles’ wrists is too tight, but he’s too worried, suddenly too scared to let go. Stiles’ head lifts, and his eyes are glassy.

“Why would you do that?” he asks quietly. Derek blinks.

“Why would you do that?” Stiles asks again, his face soft, and Derek feels a surge of something acrid building in the back of his throat.

“Give me back my hands,” Stiles says. Derek just stares at him, at the upturned palms of Stiles’ hands in his grip, the little trickles of blood pooling onto his thighs under his elbows. Derek doesn’t understand. Stiles pulls lightly at his arms and then looks at Derek like he just realized something important. Derek holds his breath; the house is quiet, Stiles’ breathing is too calm. Something’s wrong. His eyes are almost all pupil, only a tiny, tiny sliver of golden brown left.

“Fucking let go,” Stiles snarls, face suddenly crumbling in on itself, his upper lip pulling back to expose his teeth, body abruptly jerking so violently that Derek lets go so he won’t risk breaking Stiles’ wrists. In retrospect, that might have been a risk he should have taken.

Stiles is off the couch before Derek even registers that he got his feet under him, and is stumbling towards the front door, fingers almost compulsively back to scratching at the back of his neck, and Derek can smell new blood, can hear skin tear over the sound of Stiles’ heart suddenly racing a mile an hour. It takes effort to keep from turning as Derek takes off after him. Stiles is two paces in front of him when he falls face-first down the steps of the porch, hands barely breaking the fall, and crumbles in the frosty mud. Derek freezes mid-step, afraid what’ll happen if he moves. Stiles smells of anger, which puzzles him (but not the most). Stiles has gone almost completely still, shaking softly on the ground, and while he’s no longer clawing at his neck, the gashes in his skin are stark red in the darkness.

“…orrible.” Derek only picks it up because he is listening for it. His brows furrow. Stiles slowly sits up, swaying slightly in place as he does, like earlier. Derek slowly steps closer as Stiles brings a hand up and presses it against the side of his closely shorn head.

“I’m horrible,” Stiles groans muddily, as he starts tapping at his skull, slowly at first, and then harder and harder, quicker and quicker, body slowly keeling forward until he’s doubled over, pounding both fists into his head, a shrill whimpering filtering out from where he’s biting his tongue. Derek decides enough is enough. The moment his hands find Stiles’ shoulders though, Stiles lashes out, and Derek has to let go of him and shoot backwards to not take a kick to the groin. Stiles’ hands are immediately at his freckled arms, a string of hysterical curses falling from his mouth, clawing and pulling at skin, fingers bending hard enough that Derek, face twisting with shock, hears one of them suddenly break; it only halts Stiles long enough for him to take in a sharp breath, and then he bites into his left wrist, hard, right over his pulse point, and Derek chokes on his own breath. He rushes forward, thankful that it was at least only blunt, human teeth, because he didn’t manage to break skin, and yanks Stiles’ head back by practically palming the front of his skull. Stiles screams, swears at Derek, punching himself, trying to twist his neck so hard Derek thinks he’s actually trying to break it, hands clenching and unclenching as he pulls at himself. Derek snarls at him, a sharp rumble in his chest that does nothing, as he manhandles Stiles back into the house, holding both of his wrists in one hand and his head steady in the other.

“Let me go!” Stiles yells between sneers as they both tumble onto the couch, Derek trying to hold the wildly struggling teenager in place and from harming himself (which is surprisingly hard; there’s a lot you can do to yourself with not much to work with, he’s quickly learning).

“You fucking asshole, let me go!”

Derek manages to trap Stiles’ thrashing legs between his own, and squeezes his thighs tightly around them.

“I’ll take your fucking eyes out, do you hear me, I’ll take your fucking eyes out if you look at me again!” Stiles screams, his face contorted grotesquely with fury, and Derek pins him to the couch.

“Worth shit, I’m worth shit, why would you even look at me, why would you do that, why make me think that, that’s sick, you’re sick, Hale, you’re fucking sick, you’re a disgusting freak you son of a bitch and I hate you for looking at me, don’t fucking look at me, I know you hate me, I hate me, everyone hates me, everyone fucking hates me, I can’t do this anymore, let me go, LET ME FUCKING GO—“

Derek fights to will his claws back and allows the red in his eyes to bleed through and ease the Wolf back just a bit. Horror and panic are mixing in the pit of his stomach and making his arms shake, but he deftly ignores both. He manages to tuck his face into the crook of Stiles’ neck, effectively keeping his head still, so he can use both hands to trap Stiles’ arms on either side of his head. Stiles bucks violently against him, pulls at his legs, his arms, the whole couch skidding on the floor with his efforts. His skin is feverish and damp, almost slipping under Derek’s fingers a few times when he presses Stiles harder into the cushions, pinning him down with his hips.

“I’m wrong, I’m fucking wrong in the world, I shouldn’t be here, I should just die and be gone, how can you let me live – y-you should kill me, you know, you should, won’t you? Derek, please, please do that for me, please do it for me, you have to, you have to, please Derek, please“ Derek breathes over the cuts on his neck soothingly when Stiles starts sobbing pitifully into the air. His thrashing becomes little jerks of half-hearted let-me-go’s. His blown eyes are extraordinarily red, like he hasn’t slept for days, or like he’s taken something.

“I can’t be here…” Stiles cries. Derek shushes him but doesn’t lessen his grip.

“I’m horrible, I’m the worst human being in the world, I want to die, I should die, I just want it to stop, please, Derek, please help me, please, it hurts, i-if you could see what’s really in me you’d understand, it’s pathetic, weak, weak, it’s wrong, oh god, Im repulsive,” and Derek just kisses the side of Stiles’ throat, stubble rasping against his clammy skin, and swallows the huge lump in his throat as he covers the trembling form underneath him with his whole body.

Derek holds him down for three straight hours before Stiles finally tires out, stops begging Derek to kill him, and slips into a heavy sleep. Derek remains next to him for the rest of the night, carefully pulling him out of his t-shirt, carefully cleaning rips and scratches and bandaging the broken finger; there’s a sore-looking, round, red mark in the centre of Stiles’ chest, like a fading burn, that Derek only swipes the flat of his tongue over because he feels he might finally snap if he doesn’t allow himself that. The cold, feverish feel to Stiles’ body is receding, but it still lingers in the air, on his skin. Derek meticulously rubs his hands into Stiles’ sides and noses at his throat, the dip of his stomach, anywhere without scratches, to make him smell normal; smell like home. Stiles sleeps through it all, soft dead-weight in Derek’s arms and against his chest where he ends up being held until he wakes up around 7 am with a wet, disoriented grunt. He smells of exhaustion and sweat and blood.

“You’re amazing,” Derek manages to grit out, before his voice breaks and he has to bury his face in Stiles’ shoulder to keep himself from shaking too badly.  

 

---

 

The first time Derek fucks Stiles is in the back of his Camaro. Or, well, the first time he attempts to fuck Stiles, that is. It’s a late Friday evening and Stiles has been lounging with Erica, Isaac and Boyd all afternoon, watching movies and eating enormous amounts of junk food, while Derek’s been lingering in the background, surly and annoyed because of reasons he doesn’t want to talk about. It’s getting closer and closer to 11 pm, and while Stiles’ curfew has been revoked on a trial period due to unnaturally good behaviour (and Derek is still trying to figure out how Stiles managed to hide the fact that he didn’t sleep home three times the past week) he’s starting to yawn.

Erica nudges him with her shoulder. “Wanna crash here? We have room.”

Stiles stifles another wide-jawed yawn and flaps his hand dismissively. “It’s okay, it’s cold as balls here, and while I don’t mind the werewolf furnaces, I still somehow magically tend to get snotty as hell when I’ve slept on a small mattress with four other people, in a place with no heating. It’s hard to imagine why.” He profusely ignores Derek’s offended snort from the back of the room, where he’s been beating half-heartedly at a reinforced punching bag for the past 20 minutes. Derek tabs the leather one last time, and the heavy cylinder sways away from him lazily, chain creaking, when he turns to pick up his shirt and join Stiles, padding barefoot towards the four people trying to disengage themselves from each other on the small couch.

“I’ll follow you out.” While Stiles pulls on his shoes with slightly stiff fingers, Derek grabs his backpack for him.

“Seriously though,” Stiles starts when they’re out behind the building, walking around it and towards his jeep.

“You should consider somewhere warmer. It’s November, dude, it’ll be cold as hell by next month – and how are you not wearing shoes right now?” Derek just shrugs. Stiles bumps Derek with his hip.

“What’s up?” He tilts his head owlishly at Derek, who just hikes up Stiles’ bag and scowls at the road. He doesn’t want to talk. Stiles slinks in front of Derek, walking backwards, and purses his lips at the werewolf.

“Argent?” he asks, eyebrows drawing together in question. Derek finally nods solemnly. Stiles sighs as he returns to walking normally, falling into step beside Derek. They’ve had some heated discussions with Chris Argent after the whole kanima incident, and things are still… Derek wants to say complicated, but that probably doesn’t cover it. Regardless of wording, he’s about up to his neck in impatience on the subject, and with Chris being a patient man, Derek less so than him at least, it’s starting to get on his wig. Because of that, he doesn’t object when Stiles sneakily slides their palms close and laces their fingers together.

The jeep is parked next to Derek’s Camaro, standing an odd pair – which, well, isn’t really as odd as the unit lately known as Stiles and Derek themselves. Derek sets Stiles’ backpack down on the hood of the jeep and turns to pull Stiles into his arms until their chests bump and their noses are touching. Stiles hums in delight when Derek runs both his thumbs over the small of Stiles’ back, and pecks him on the lips once, twice, three times before pulling back. Stiles grins at him, which is becoming a common occurrence, and Derek bends his head just slightly to nose into the crook of Stiles’ neck, inhaling. It was a little weird to begin with; Derek never was very intimate around non-werewolves before, not on a regular basis, and if he was, they were pack. That also means that he’d thought he’d have to take the more human side of their interaction and make it count; make it the dominant way to do things. Surprisingly and yet still non-surprisingly, because that’s what it’s always like with Stiles, the Google-connoisseur fell almost easily into the physical intimacy aspects of a werewolf pack’s antics. Derek isn’t actually sure if he’s told Stiles how relieved that’s made him.

Stiles brings his hands up, curls one around the back of Derek’s neck, and the other into his hair, pawing at the product-less mess. Derek growls in the back of his throat, the sound vibrating against the skin on Stiles’ neck and earning him a tiny, perfect groan as the hand on his nape tightens just barely.

Stiles sometimes kisses the way he talks; he can be hurried, almost overly enthusiastic, a little too much, but still absolutely amazing. This isn’t one of those times. Stiles cups Derek’s face in both hands, slender fingers resting under Derek’s earlobes, and presses their lips together; it’s long and slow and Stiles, all present commitment and intense focus like nothing else around him exists. Derek’s fingers squeeze considerably harder into Stiles’ lower back, pulling them closer together, and Derek leans back against the jeep and rests his weight on it. Stiles makes a protesting sound in the back of his throat, and Derek snags his lower lip with his teeth.

“Don’t scratch him,” Stiles mutters between kisses, and Derek just huffs a laugh and bites at his mouth again when he feels Stiles’ knees buckle against him, effectively drawing him in closer between Derek’s spread legs.

“Or scratch him, whatever,” Stiles breathes, fingers threading into Derek’s hair. Derek can hear Stiles’ heart hammering against his ribcage, and he’s pretty positive even Stiles can hear his own pulse jumping, when a slim thigh presses against his groin. Derek groans, grips Stiles’ hips, and pulls them flush together from knees to chests, swallowing something Stiles had been about to say in a kiss that is about 80 percent tongue and teeth, and leaves them both completely out of breath. When Derek trails his mouth down Stiles’ neck, Stiles rolls his hips with a moan. Derek could, in theory, try to ignore the fact that Stiles is incredibly hard and rutting up against his thigh, but he doesn’t want to try and see if he has the willpower to do that, mainly because his own jeans are starting to fit a little too snugly for his liking. Capturing Stiles’ lips again and planting both hands firmly on his ass, Derek rocks Stiles’ hips against his own thigh for him, earning another breathless moan that Derek takes great pride in eating right from Stiles’ wide open mouth.

“Keys?” Derek inquires against Stiles’ lips, alternating between sucking at the teen’s puffy lower lip and licking into his mouth to trace the spaces on the back of his teeth. Stiles groans, an almost desperate sound, and starts patting at his pockets, before he groans again.

“Inside,” he moans unhappily, and wraps both arms around Derek’s neck because apparently, who cares. Derek cares. A bit. Or, well, enough. After a few seconds of blind fumbling, he’s dangling the keys to the Camaro in front of Stiles, still lip-locked with Derek, but his eyes are closed, and he doesn’t see them before they tap against his forehead. Derek pulls back for breath, and Stiles has this sound rolling off the tip of his tongue that makes every single hair on Derek’s body rise in a pleasant shudder.

“Off,” Derek manages to bark out, before he’s manhandling Stiles away from him, unlocking the Camaro less-than-gracefully, and shoving Stiles on his ass into the backseat.

There’s a very particular quality to having someone laid out for you that people without the wolf instinct will never understand. It’s not a prey-predator thing, but it’s close. It’s having Stiles spread out, so open, on his backseat in four layers of clothing and still being able to smell his arousal, the way his mouth is hanging open and his lips are so red, the rapid heaving of his chest, and the not-so-subtle erection he’s sporting between obscenely parted legs. Those pants shouldn’t be fucking legal. Derek crawls over him, incredibly slowly, with a self-control unlike anything he’s ever been able to pull off in his life. He manages to pull the door half-closed behind him with his bare foot, and Stiles is panting the second Derek is lowering himself onto him on the seats, arms winding tightly around Derek's back. Derek buries his nose in Stiles’ throat, his hands pulling at the undershirt, t-shirt, the god damn plaid and the hoodie as well, because it’s November and Stiles is sensible enough to actually wear clothes; right now, Derek wishes he didn’t, though. Derek hears Stiles’ breath hitch as he gets his hands beneath the undershirt, blunt nails dragging up Stiles’ chest, all the way to his throat, and practically pushing out the moan from where it starts in the pit of his stomach and claws its way out his mouth.

Things are going just fine until Stiles tries to wrap his legs around Derek. There’s a brief moment where his foot catches on the driver’s seat to his right and he starts giggling nervously, and Derek thinks that sure, that’s probably just that; until the tops of his own shoulders bump the car roof twice within very few seconds, and it dawns upon him, grimly, that maybe the car wasn’t built for activities like this. He curses under his breath and tries to adjust his position over Stiles, lifting up on his hands and looking down at the flushed face below. There’s no way Stiles can get his legs up without spraining something. Stiles cocks his head to the side and licks his lips, nostrils flaring.

“Sooo,” he drawls, and Derek lets out a heavy exhale.

“How do we do this?” His chest is still heaving, his shirts bunched up enough to expose his nipples, and Derek has to lean down and get his mouth on one, knocking a startled grunt out of Stiles and causing his back to arch. Derek thinks while he slowly traces his tongue along three moles on Stiles’ torso, nipping at skin and revelling in the sounds and the twitches he causes. Trailing all the way up to Stiles’ neck, which is fucking heaven if there ever was one, his left hand finds the button on Stiles’ jeans, and Stiles goes completely still. Derek can hear the breath suddenly trapped in his windpipe, as he nimbly undoes the button and pulls the zipper down, delving his hand inside and feeling Stiles’ whole body shake when his breath explodes from him in a rough, drawn-out groan. Derek fists him, and Stiles thrusts his hips up with a breathy; holy shit, Derek!

It’s all Stiles hissing and gasping, his hands tight on Derek’s shoulders, rolling hips and the rocking Camaro for the next few minutes, and Derek estimates that he will give his betas exactly 30 seconds to exit the subway station, when he drags Stiles back there to properly do something about what they’ve been dancing around for weeks. And then Stiles comes with a shout, fisting his hands in Derek’s hair, his head thrown back and his neck a long line of pure fucking rapture, and Derek decides that 10 seconds will have to be more than enough for people to evacuate the building if their want their spines intact.

 

---

 

The first time Derek showers with Stiles, the lanky teenager is so exhausted he almost passes out on the bathroom tiles. The Sheriff is at work, and Stiles has shamelessly deposited himself spread eagle on his back in the bathroom, feet sticking out the door into the hallway.

“Let me die,” he groans. Derek snorts as he pulls his shirt off, tossing it into the empty sink.

“Get up, Stiles.” Stiles, to his credit, does get up, albeit a bit slowly, wincing dramatically as he pushes off the floor. Derek grows impatient within seconds and gets a handful of his shirt collar, getting him to stand up straight. Stiles is dead beat, but Derek is tired too; he’s got no time for this.

Derek ends up practically pulling Stiles out of his clothes, with no protests, surprisingly, just Stiles’ head coming to brief rests against Derek’s shoulder whenever he’s in the same place too long, working on Stiles’ belt or untangling his hoodie from the flannel shirt underneath. When Derek’s got him out of his wet clothes, he gets why he‘s the one doing all the work. Stiles is pale from the cold, lips tinged blue, his knees and chest are slightly bruised, and his whole body reeks of exhaustion now that it isn’t cloaked by the scents of mud and dead leaves smeared into his clothes. Derek feels his impatience and irritation falter just a bit. Just a bit. Stiles is leaning against him again, like he just needs a moment, like he would be perfectly comfortable with Derek doing whatever, as long as he could just press up against him. The werewolf brushes a hand over Stiles’ cheekbone, and Stiles lifts his head and looks at Derek with blearily content eyes.

“You good?” Derek mutters and presses their foreheads together.

“’m good. Bit sore,” Stiles replies, brushing his nose against Derek’s and kissing the corner of his mouth.

“Just need a shower and sleep. God, I’m tired.”

Stiles steps in first, turning on the shower, while Derek gets the rest of his clothes off.

The pack has been outside tonight, probably for a bit too long, running for the sake of running, antsy after an unresolved run-in with a rogue hunter the week before. Stiles had come; Stiles always came, he wouldn’t have it any other way, and he had been falling into puddles in the dark, trying to keep up with the edgy werewolves. In all fairness, someone should have probably asked him to go back home; sometimes (only sometimes) there are certain things he just can’t keep up with, extraordinarily stressed werewolves included. No one had had the heart to tell him to stay home though; he’d been the one to confront the hunter, talk to the Argents, be the middle man, and for all intents and purposes, the pack needed him on the run too. It confirmed bonds. That they’d ended up letting loose and going too fast was something Derek knew Stiles wouldn’t blame them for.

The first frost had begun setting in, and the puddles littering the forest bed weren’t entirely frozen solid yet; Stiles had stumbled over what he had personally described as “a particularly ambush-y root”, falling face first into an icy puddle and soaking the front of his jeans and shirts.

“You coming?” Stiles calls over the running water, audibly stifling a yawn. Derek steps in behind him and immediately moulds himself to Stiles’ back, who melts back against him and lets his head roll back on Derek’s shoulder with a content huff. Derek runs his palms along Stiles’ front; the water is scorching but he’s still got goose bumps. Derek starts rubbing some warmth back into Stiles’ twitching muscles, while Stiles peels his head off Derek’s shoulder in order to get the mud off his hands and forearms with soap.

By the time he’s clean, skin scrubbed pink and nails almost completely dirt-free, the goose bumps are gone. Derek puts his forehead heavily on Stiles’ shoulder while still keeping him up. He can feel the sleep in Stiles in the way his legs are almost like jelly against his own; Stiles is so close to just dropping where he stands. Derek presses an open-mouthed kiss to the ball of Stiles’ shoulder, stubble rasping wetly against skin.

They haven’t showered together before. Derek’s considered it, of course, more out of a practical idea to save water and time, than out of the need to actually shower with someone, however that makes sense. In theory, the idea is very sweet and very couple-y, which can still get weird for Derek, but in real life there’s not much space to speak of, and getting himself clean will take some manoeuvring. Then there’s the nudity. Derek isn’t sure if he’d expected it to be awkward, because nudity among the werewolves is normal. Maybe awkward for Stiles, but then again not, because while Stiles isn’t renowned for his deep-rooted self-confidence when it comes to his looks, he seems to have deemed Derek as ‘safe’, and that, apparently, entitles that kind of unclothed trust, no doubts or questions asked. He doesn’t cover up when Derek undresses him, he doesn’t even try; unabashed bareness suits him. It also happens to be an incredible turn-on for Derek; maybe that’s it, actually. Maybe he’d expected sexual intent to be non-optional, because really, most of the time when he’s naked near Stiles, sex is the point. He doesn’t mind that. Not one bit. But, and that’s all just observation, Derek now finds himself pressed up against Stiles, both of them as naked as the day they were born, and he’s content with just standing. Just standing.

“I can actually hear the gears in your head grinding. Stop.”

Derek lifts his head and meets a slightly accusing glare over Stiles’ shoulder. There’s a slight smile there, though. Derek hums softly in the back of his throat, drops his head back and blindly steals the soap from Stiles’ hands to start rubbing it into the short fuzz of his hair.

He’s still pondering on this new, strangely neutral aspect of ‘being together’ when they finish up, towel off and promptly collapse on Stiles’ bed, Stiles draping himself over Derek and pulling the covers up.

“I swear, if I get a cold, you’re helping me shower for at least a week.”

Derek can’t find basis for a complaint.