The wolf hears them first, a large group of men yelling out obscenities and laughing raucously. He stalks closer, curious as to what had them so loud this late. As he nears, he hears whimpering under the noise of the others. Then he smells it, blood. Lots of it.
The scent is familiar to the wolf, which worries him. He closes in on the camp, and sees them, ten bodies, highwaymen, surrounding a fire, horses hobbled along the edge on the other side of the small clearing. In the center, by the fire, one man stands over someone lying prone on the ground. The man is clearly the leader, and holds a knife in one hand that still has bits of flesh sticking to it and is dripping blood. He throws something from his other hand into the flames, and the group laughs again as the fire briefly sparks up, before the smell of cooking meat fills the air. The leader begins taunting the person, who the wolf now sees is a young man. His clothes are torn, ripped nearly to shreds, and he is covered in cuts all over his body. There is a large pool of blood flowing from between his legs, one of which is severely broken. The wolf whines, knowing there is nothing he can do yet, not with so many men, not with so much damage.
The leader finally begins to tire of his game, and crouches down beside the young man. He asks a question, and the young man responds with a whisper, blood splattering his lips as he speaks. The leader takes his knife, and plunges it into the chest of the man in front of him. He stands, wipes his knife off with a cloth, then gestures to two of his men. They pick up the body, and carry it to the edge of the clearing, near where the wolf waits, belly down. They leave him there, and return to the others, who are bedding down.
An hour passes, and all but the one man on watch are asleep. The wolf pads quietly to the body, and sniffs at the throat. It is who he thought it was, and it nearly breaks the wolf's heart. He quickly shifts, and picks up the broken body, cradling him to his chest. He leaves the clearing, and heads to the nearby lake. The moon is high above the forest, and the wolf is thankful the moon is full tonight. He carefully places the young man in the shallows of the water, gently washing the blood from his skin. He removes the ruined clothing, tossing the rags away. He steps back and shifts again, sitting back on his haunches as he watches the moonlit water ripple over the body. He looks up, muzzle pointed to the moon, and howls. And waits.
There is only darkness, then a wolf's howl tears through, ripping it apart until all he knows is the soft glow of the moon. Stiles opens his eyes, and sees it through the flowing water. The moon is sitting bright overhead, and he gasps. He sits up quickly, spluttering and coughing up lake water. 'That could have gone better' he thinks as he takes stock of his surroundings. He is naked, sitting in the water on the edge of a lake. He stands up and turns around to look behind him. Sitting on the bank is a very large black wolf, just watching him. Stiles startles, and stumbles backwards, falling back into the water. He looks up, and sees the wolf padding closer, before it sits back down. The wolf bows his head, and Stiles watches as the wolf's form starts to change. In just a few moments, there is no longer a wolf, but a man. Stiles stares, mouth open. "I didn't know werewolves were real."
The man snorts, and looks at Stiles with a small smile. "How are you feeling?"
"Good, I guess? Tired, though. And I'm wet. And hungry. Why? And why am I naked? What the hell happened?" Stiles was confused. Why was this man (werewolf) staring at him like that?
"What do you remember about this last night?" The man cocks his head to the side in question.
"Uh, I was riding through the woods on my way back to town. It was getting dark, so I was trying to hurry and get home before my dad got back from work. Then these men, I guess they were bandits?, came out of the trees and surrounded me. One man told me to get off my horse, but I refused. Next thing I knew, I was being dragged off my horse, and the man who spoke had a knife to my throat." Stiles looks up as he hears a low growl come from the man across from him. "I... Um, anyway, the guy said something about not liking being told no. I said he sounded like a toddler throwing a tantrum, and he hit me over the head, and I passed out."
As Stiles talks, he remembers more and more of what happened. He starts breathing harshly as he tries to continue. "When I..." He tries to breathe deeper and coughs. "When I woke up, I was lying on the ground by a fire, with the bandits all around. The one guy, their leader, I guess, started to... to cut me, and they were all yelling and then he, he... cut off..." Stiles trails off as he looks down, breath hitching. He sighs in relief at finding himself whole, then looks up at the man again, about to finish. The man interrupts, growling out the words. "I saw what happened then, but I didn't hear. What did he say to you?"
"He asked me if I had any last words. I said 'Please'. And then, he stabbed me. He killed me, I know he did! Why aren't I dead?" The man continues to stare, before speaking. "What do you know about werewolves?" Stiles sighs in exasperation. "You're wolves who turn into men. Will you answer my question?"
The man shakes his head. "No. We are men who have become wolves, because of an unjust death under the light of the moon. It's a ritual, performed by another wolf to save another."
Stiles gapes in shock. "Are you saying what I think you're saying? Did you turn me into a wolf? To save my life?" The man nods. "What's your name?"
"What do you mean, you know? How do you know who I am? Have you been stalking me?"
Derek leans forward. "Stiles. Calm down. I'm from Beacon Hills too. I've seen you around before, and recognized your scent in the clearing."
"That doesn't explain how you know my name."
Derek blushes, and ducks his head. "I may have asked around to find out who you were. I was curious."
Stiles grins at Derek's reaction. "You're adorable." The other man scowls back in reply. "Soooo... are we going home anytime soon?" Derek stands up, and holds out a hand. Stiles grasps it, and allows himself to be hauled to his feet. "Are we going to walk back like this? I don't know about you, but my feet aren't prepared for walking through the woods."
Derek shakes his head. "No. We're going to shift."
Stiles looks at him sheepishly. "Oh. Right. Werewolves. Um, how do I do that exactly?"
"Close your eyes. Now find your wolf in your mind, and just let it take over."
"Sounds easy enough." Stiles shuts his eyes, and tries to focus on the wolf. 'Oh. It feels so warm.' He tries to hold on to that feeling, and opens his eyes. He looks around and sees Derek, already shifted, watching him. He looks down, then jumps back in surprise. "It worked!" Stiles shouts. It comes out as a loud bark, startling himself. Derek rolls his head, then cocks his head and takes off. Stiles scrambles to follow, tripping over his long legs, before finding a rhythm and loping after Derek. They race through the woods, Derek always a bit in the lead. A few times, Stiles gets sidetracked by an interesting scent or strange sound, but Derek helps to keep him on track. After a couple hours of travel, the pair arrives at a cabin near the edge of the woods, on the outskirts of town. Derek shifts back and coaches Stiles to do the same. Derek opens the door of the house and walks in. Stiles follows after. "I'm assuming this is your place, and we didn't just break into someone's house." Derek looks up from where he's pulling clothes out of a n intricately carved chest. He tosses a set at Stiles, and proceeds to put on his own pants. "Yes, this is my home." Stiles quickly puts on the offered clothes, before looking around the large room. The table and chairs, bed frame, and the clothes chest are all very well-made, with beautiful designs worked in. Stiles recognizes the world, from some pieces in his own home. "No way. You're Derek Hale?" The other man startles, ladle clacking against the side of the pot he is stirring over the banked fire. "Yes? How...?"
"You're the woodcutter! My dad has some of your work. You do beautiful stuff." Derek sets two bowls on the table and sits to eat. Stiles follows suit, and begins shoveling the stew in his mouth. "This is really good." Derek nods in acknowledgement, but continues to eat. Stiles tries again. "You know, I still have more questions. And I need to go home at some point. My dad's gotta be worried." Derek pauses, and looks at Stiles. "We'll finish eating, sleep for a few hours, then we can talk."
Derek sighs. "Yes, I promise. Now cleanup, and we'll sleep." Stiles looks around the room. "Do you have another bed hiding somewhere? Cause I'm not sleeping on the floor."
"Idiot. We'll share."
"Oh." Stiles ducks his head and finishes wiping out the bowls, before joining Derek, who has already climbed into the bed. He crawls under the blankets, turns on his side, and is out nearly instantly.
Derek wakes around midday, with a very warm weight on his chest. He looks down to see Stiles' head on his sternum, his arms wrapped around his chest, and a leg thrown over his hips. Derek smiles softly at the sight, picks up his hand, and runs his fingers through the younger man's hair. Stiles nuzzles into Derek's chest, inhales deeply, and opens his eyes. He tries to scramble upright, but Derek holds him fast. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean..."
"It's alright. I like it." Derek interrupts. Stiles mumbles "Okay" and settles back down. "Will you answer some questions now?"
"You said that someone becomes a wolf by dying. How did you die?" Derek looks at Stiles thoughtfully. Stiles rushes to continue. "Of course, you don't have to answer that, that was probably rude, I'm sorry." Derek holds up his hand to stop the flow of words. "It's alright. It happened ten years ago, I've made my peace with it. Do you remember the big fire that killed a whole family around then?" Stiles nods slowly in answer. "That was my family." Stiles gasps in shock. "Derek, I'm so sorry. Were you... were you in the fire?" Derek shakes his head. "No. I was... There was a woman, who I was seeing. I thought I was in love, but I realized she didn't feel that way, and I didn't really love her either. I broke it off, and she seemed alright with it, but that night..." Derek scrubs his hand down his face. "She sent me a message to meet her to talk. But when I got there, she was gone. So I went home. When I arrived, my house was already engulfed in flames. And she was there, laughing. I confronted her, and she just... She said we could be together, now that my family was gone. I refused, and she got very angry. She pulled out a knife. We fought and... well, I died." Stiles squeezes him tighter, and Derek returns the favor. "It was a full moon that night, and there was a roving wolf padding through. She saw what happened, saved me, and stayed long enough for me to get the hang of my new life." Derek looks down at Stiles again, who has tears in his eyes. He brushes his thumb under his eyes, and pecks a kiss on his forehead. Stiles blushes, and asks "How old were you?"
"15." He pets Stiles' hair for another minute. "Come on, let's get up and eat something. I've got some bread and jam." Derek gets out of the bed and walks to the pantry. As he stands there, he feels arms slip around his waist, and Stiles presses up against his back. "Am I going to have to stay here? Am I allowed to go home?" Derek freezes. "What? Of course you can go home, I wouldn't force you to stay here." He feels Stiles smile against his neck. "Do you want me to stay here? With you?" Derek relaxes back into his hold. "Yes."
"Excellent!" Stiles lets go and dances over to the table to sit. "Let's eat!" Derek puts the food on the taxable, leans over, and places a chaste kiss on Stiles' mouth. He smiles as he sits. "Yes, let's."