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Stiles finds him at the edge of the woods. He smells a little dirty, sour from crouching in the exposed root system of a fallen tree, but his eyes are bright and he's smiling.

"Did you get him?" he asks.

Derek nods. "Yeah." He has blood on his jeans from the black dog, where he wiped his claws off, but he didn't get hurt either.

Stiles doesn't even look down. He only looks at Derek's face, totally happy, before reaching out to squeeze Derek's fingers.

His fingers are cool, the edge of his thumbnail ragged on the top of Derek's palm until he pulls away.

Derek frowns, his hand hanging limply. Stiles keeps smiling at him anyway, scratching his neck now.

"Good," he says, "good job."

*

Derek doesn't tell anyone. Stiles is a people person, good at relating even if he talks too much. He touches the others, not all the time, but often enough. When he wants them to listen or when they've accomplished something or they're sad. And Derek did keep him safe, so maybe that's enough to warrant the touch.

He tries not to think about it. Humans touch almost as much as wolves do. It's natural, a way to bond.

For a week he watches Stiles move through the pack, brushing their shoulders and hips. He even play-fights, struggling until he's lost and then going so soft it sets Derek on edge.

The things Derek's feeling, they're natural too, but much more dangerous.

*

They go to the movies, the pack and Scott and Stiles and Lydia. It's noisy and expensive and embarrassing, but Derek can feel the way it helps, going out together, stitching them all tighter together, even the humans. So he suffers through the surround sound and the stink of stale sugar and dust.

After, Isaac and Scott take the girls home, Boyd goes to see his brother and Jackson heads to a party so he can pretend to not know them. Stiles stays quiet, half in the shadows, clearly waiting for everyone to forget about him.

Derek thinks about leaving in the hustle, but doesn't. He knows he looks casual, leaning on the side of his car, but he's thankful Stiles is a human.

When the headlights on Jackson's car slide off his thighs and away, Stiles steps out of the shadows, watching Derek closely.

"Are you mad?" he asks. He has his hands in his pockets, but he’s not fidgeting.

Derek bites his tongue, then says, "Why would I be mad?"

Stiles shrugs. "I touched you? Your hand?"

He phrases them as questions, but he's not really asking. Still, Derek knows he could say no, could make it into something else.

His jaw twitches. He suddenly is mad. At himself, for being foolish, for caring so much.

"No," he says. "I'm not mad."

"Okay, good," Stiles says, still so even. He takes a step toward Derek, passing through the light at the edge of the parking lot. His eyes are dark in the shadows, his face shadowed, but Derek can see his determination like it’s noon.

Derek takes a deep breath when Stiles' hand touches his again, still cool, his fingertips surfing over Derek's palm. Derek's hand twitches reflexively, opening flat. In the space between breaths, Derek's claws ache to come out, but the urge lessens as Stiles inches closer, giving Derek's next breath the amber smell of arousal.

He doesn't move his hand to touch Stiles back like that, but he lets Stiles' fingers stay on his palm, lets Stiles’ other hand cupping his cheek. He tips his face when Stiles exerts some pressure and he doesn't startle when Stiles kisses him.

It's soft, sweet from the Coke Stiles drank during the movie. Even though he smells keyed up and Derek can feel the tension humming in him, Stiles doesn't push. He just keeps pecking Derek's mouth, lips barely open, hardly even holding on.

His bottom lip slides between Derek's, catches on Derek's reciprocating kiss, and he sighs, leaning on Derek's side so Derek can feel the erection he’s getting. His middle finger scratches Derek's palm and his mouth opens tentatively against Derek's.

When their tongues touch, he makes another noise, a bare needy sound, his throat clicking. Compared to two hours of explosions and screaming it's nothing, but it still gets Derek to shake his hands out of his pockets, getting them on Stiles' waist and the back of his neck to tilt his head up for better, deeper kisses.

*

Derek still doesn’t tell anyone. He and Stiles didn’t stay long at the theater and he went home alone. The taste of Coke under his tongue didn’t even last the night.

He tries to act normal, for whatever that’s worth in his life. During the day he works on the house and at night he and the betas eat and work on a mixture of ongoing issues with the Alpha pack and schoolwork.

He focuses on not thinking about it, which has never worked for him, but he keeps trying.

*

He’s in the middle of cutting boards to patch the hole in the wall of his old room when his phone buzzes, almost sliding out into the backyard. He puts down the saw and saves his phone.

The text is from Stiles. come over tonight.

Derek looks at it for a while. His armpits feel hot, his palms too. He puts his phone away without responding, picks up the saw again.

He splits a board by accident, but keeps working until dark, focusing hard.

*

The Sheriff is gone for the night by the time Derek gets there. The house smells like fatty, salty food and cologne.

Stiles is upstairs, eating a milkshake with a spoon. He smells damp, soapy behind the ears. He’s watching the door and smiles when Derek nudges it open.

He sets his cup down. “You came.”

Derek gets out half a nod before Stiles can blush and say, “Uh, I mean…”

He squirms in his chair, smelling warmly embarrassed and darkly sweet. He looks up at Derek, shy, like Derek will leave because of one bad innuendo.

Derek takes a step into the room. “It’s fine,” he says.

*

"Yeah," Stiles moans, riding Derek's thigh. "Yeah, yeah, yeah."

His mouth gapes against Derek's neck, teeth catching on Derek's shirt. His skin, especially the small of his back, is hot, almost wolf-hot.

Derek holds him, not still, but close. He lets Stiles shift and hump but keeps contact, feeling the way his muscles tighten and strain.

Stiles' nails bite into his arms. "Yeah," he pants, wild, bearing down on Derek's thigh. He's even hotter between his thighs and Derek can smell him there.

He wants to fuck Stiles so badly, but Stiles is already shaking, hips jerking. He opens his mouth wide against Derek's shoulder again, but doesn't bite. When he comes against Derek's bare thigh he pants noisily.

The smell of his come is intense. It makes Derek’s stomach go hot and drop. Stiles slumps against him, sweaty-backed, hips still circling.

He raises his face a little, nose touching Derek's chin until Derek moves to give Stiles his mouth.

"Can I?" Derek asks against Stiles’ chin, already arching into him. He inches Stiles’ jeans and boxers down as far as they can go, so he’s bare to the knee instead of the thigh.

"Yeah," Stiles sighs.

Derek turns them so Stiles is against the wall. Stiles lolls drunkenly, but holds onto Derek loosely, his breath sweet against Derek's mouth. He doesn't complain when Derek is rough, pressing hard against the cut of his thigh.

Derek tries to speak, tell Stiles he wants to fuck him, but his mouth doesn't work, has too many teeth in it. So he just grunts, nosing Stiles, until Stiles is come-slick between his thighs, bruised from Derek holding his hip.

He presses Stiles against the wall when he crumples. Stiles makes a content noise and tucks into Derek's shoulder, his nose against the wet spot on Derek’s shirt.

"Nothing to say?" Derek asks, still catching his breath. He palms Stiles' thigh lightly, come on his fingertips.

Stiles shakes his head.

*

"You stink," Erica says accusingly when Derek comes in. She’s sitting on the couch next to Boyd, her knee over his.

Derek takes off his jacket. "Yeah, okay, Mom."

"Shut up," Erica says. She points. "Go to bed."

Derek looks at her carefully. She holds his gaze for a full ten seconds before she starts laughing.

He cracks a grin. Boyd laughs too.

"But really," Erica says, when she’s done, "who was it?"

Derek shrugs. "Doesn't matter." He’d awkwardly washed in the creek in the woods, the muddy water obscuring the smell of Stiles, but not what they’d done.

Erica twists some hair around her finger. She slumps further into Boyd, who settles an easy arm around her. "Tell me."

"No," Derek says.

"I hate you."

"Yeah, I know," Derek says. He points. "Go to bed."

She lips him off the whole time Boyd is tugging her up, but she’s not really trying, just needling him because it makes Boyd laugh and she can. Still, Derek doesn’t really relax until they’re bedded down in their rooms and breathing evenly.

*

Derek wants the pack to be happy, but when Isaac whines about wanting to go see Surf Demon 4 the day after it comes out, Derek says no.

Isaac makes a face at Derek, wounded at being denied a shitty movie, so Derek says, “Here’s five bucks. Go rent a movie.”

Isaac looks blankly at the bill in his hands. Behind him, Scott and Stiles start laughing.

“Dude, who even rents movies anymore?” Scott says.

“People,” Derek replies defensively. “I do. Did.”

“Yeah, when,” Stiles says, grinning, “nineteen-dickety? And five bucks is not getting us anywhere.”

“Then give me my five dollars back,” Derek says to Isaac, whose hands are mysteriously empty.

Isaac shrugs. Derek rolls his eyes.

Scott and Stiles start counting their change in Scott’s cupped palms. Isaac looks on happily.

Counting Derek’s five dollars, they come up with twenty-one dollars.

“Snacks,” Scott says.

“Yeah, for like, you and one-quarter of Isaac. Maybe,” Stiles says.

Scott huffs noisily, pushing Stiles’ shoulder. Stiles stumbles, but elbows Scott right back.

They look like they’re on the edge of a wrestling match, Isaac eying them both eagerly, so Derek interrupts with, “So, how are we getting a movie?”

Scott snorts, but just loops a tight arm around Isaac’s neck, pulling him into a tussle. It starts getting rowdy quickly.

Stiles backs up carefully, until he bumps against Derek.

“My God,” he says, exasperated, “what am I gonna do with you?” But he’s smiling, reaching out to touch Derek’s hip with his soft, metallic-smelling fingers.

*
When everyone assembles, they bring a ragtag assortment of food and blankets. Stiles brings his laptop and a ziplock bag of cords.

“Isaac cried,” Stiles says, on his knees in front of Derek’s pawn shop TV, plugging cords into it and his laptop, “so I downloaded the other Surf Demons.”

There’s a chorus of booing and Erica throws a pebble at Stiles.

“Hey!” Stiles yelps, whacking at the air. “Working with electronics here! And, as I was going to say, those movies suck so I got some gems. But now maybe I want to watch three terrible movies about how the Devil secretly yearns to open a board shop on a beach in Oahu.”

He has to duck when Erica throws a candy bar at him.

“I’m keeping that!” he yells.

*

The microwave only works about a third of the time, and even when it is working, it’s not uncommon to get a shock strong enough to do some damage, so Derek jabs at the buttons while Stiles watches.

“This is very good of you,” Stiles says, arms crossed, “putting your heart on the line like this.”

His voice is warm, and his clean shirt is brushing Derek’s elbow. A week ago today they got off together in Stiles’ bedroom.

“Nothing happened,” Derek says, eyes on the expanding bag in the microwave. He hopes it doesn’t burn.

Stiles doesn’t say anything else, but he doesn’t leave either, or even move away from Derek, who watches the popcorn doggedly.

Just before the smell of the popcorn turns from fatty-rich to scratchy-burnt, Stiles pops open the microwave, picking out the bag with two fingers delicately. He drops it on the counter, rubbing his hot fingers on his jeans.

“Thanks,” he murmurs, leaning in to kiss Derek once quickly.

Derek blinks at him, shocked, then at Lydia over by the fridge. Lydia looks back at him, soda in her hand. She has a puzzled look on her face. She can’t smell them, the scent-echo of come on bellies, their mixed breath. Stiles must not have told her.

Derek flushes, which Stiles notices. His eyes track around slowly until he’s looking over his shoulder at Lydia. He smiles at her, his left cheek dimpling, and lifts one shoulder in a shrug, what can you do?, and walks out into the living room with the popcorn.

Lydia squints at the space where Stiles just was. Derek slinks out from under the look, uncomfortable to have been chosen.

*

Later, after two-and-a-half Surf Demon movies and some of some fantasy thing Scott and Stiles knew all the words to, Derek kisses Stiles goodnight. Stiles asked Derek to come for a ride even though there’s no reason for him to be at the Stilinski house, drove them here, and Derek can’t come in because the Sheriff is here.

He’ll have to walk home after this, but he doesn’t care because Stiles keeps sighing into his mouth, making soft noises that mean he likes this, likes everything Derek’s doing to him.

Derek tries to pull away twice but Stiles just follows him both times, tilting his head and opening his mouth until Derek gives in for a little longer.

A light on the second-floor snapping off startles him into finally pulling away, although he can’t go far because Stiles is cupping his face, middle finger hooked behind Derek’s ear.

Derek says, “I have to go,” at the same time Stiles says, “I like you.”

Derek pulls back, out of Stiles’ gentle hold. He’s thankful Stiles can’t smell him, can’t hear his heartbeat.

At the look on his face Stiles says, “I’m not lying,” his face calmly serious but his scent burning with anxiety.

“I know that,” Derek gets out.

Stiles waits for Derek to say something else, but Derek can’t, his tongue feeling dead in his mouth. Then Stiles sighs again, something raincloud-wistful washing away the smell of his anxiety. He puts his hand back on Derek’s face, guiding him close again, and Derek lets him.

It’s another long kiss. Stiles’ tongue coaxes Derek’s into play, until Derek sighs, hand finding Stiles’ shoulder.

Stiles pulls away when he feels like it. He says, “I like you,” into Derek’s mouth, still holding on.

“Okay,” Derek says to him, because he’s stupid and afraid of the right thing to say.

*

He never tells anyone, but they know anyway.

*

Things with the pack are always changing. One week Isaac, Boyd and Scott will be inseparable, and the next week they won’t speak, forging other connections.

Usually it’s fine, builds stronger bonds across the board, but there have been some skirmishes. They’re teenagers, so Derek tries not to interfere. Getting caught in the crossfire is never worth it.

This week Derek has seen more of Lydia Martin than ever before. Erica seems delighted by the attention, although she scowls if Derek comes too close. Lydia does too, which is much more off-putting.

They’re out behind the house now. Each time Derek puts a board over the hole he can see them, folded into the long grass. Lydia’s hands are doing something intricate to Erica’s hair, crafting a braid Erica will never be able to recreate on her own.

They’re talking in soft enough voices that even Derek can’t really hear them over the sound of nails going into wood. Every once in a while though, he’ll catch Erica looking up at him, shoulders ducked forward until Lydia pulls on her hair.

“It’s weird,” Lydia says once. “I didn’t think Stiles liked him very much.”

Erica ducks awkwardly again when Derek looks out at her, but he makes his face stay flat. They’re teenagers gossiping, just trying to be friends.

Derek picks up another board and some nails.

“He can be okay,” Erica says, very quietly. “Sometimes.”

Lydia laughs, and Erica does too, after Derek pretends not to hear it.

Let them talk.

*

Derek’s in his bed late one night when something out in the woods howls. The sound makes his ears prick, his teeth go long, but Isaac is in his room down the hall, and it’s not one of the others.

He gets up slowly, inching toward the hole in the wall, careful to avoid the moonlight. He presses up against the side of the hole and listens for anything approaching before he looks out.

At first it all just looks dark. The moon is new, a silver sliver in the sky, hardly lighting the backyard, let alone anything beyond that.

Derek inhales hard, mouth open. It’s all old smells except for Isaac, half-asleep, unsure if he heard anything. He scents again, smelling the house, the forest, and then nothing. There’s a void, like someone erased a space in the world.

His eyes sharpen as his claws come out, and there in the distance, he can see the red eyes of a black dog watching him. It’s deep enough in the forest that Derek can’t see its size, but the glow of its eyes give it away.

It doesn’t make a move toward the house, although Derek knows he’s been seen. It just stays. Derek watches it the whole night, skin prickling, but unwilling to leave Isaac here alone, the house open to attack.

The black dog disappears just as its getting light enough outside that Derek could consider giving chase. One moment, Derek is looking into red eyes, and the next Derek is looking at pink-gold light on leaves, summer mist rolling over the grass.

The world fills up with smells again and Derek can’t shake the feeling that the dog was standing guard over him.

*

"I want to try something," Stiles says, days later, closing his math textbook. He rubs his ear between two ink-stained fingers, nervous. His cheeks are a little pink, same as his ear.

"Hmm," Derek says. He's sitting on Stiles' bed, his shirt off. Stiles tried a protective ward on him and it didn't work, so he's waiting for the magic to wear off. He feels jittery, like he got electrocuted, but it's fading. He rubs his breastbone, where Stiles drew the arrow. "What?"

Stiles' heart beats a little faster. "It's. Well." He rubs his ear more. It blushes further, turning an irritated red. He smiles, trying to be brave.

Derek waits, uneasy now on top of the magic.

Stiles moves on his chair, thighs parting, smell deepening. He lets go of his ear.

"Can I show you?"

Derek nods shortly. He leans back, aiming for casual. The wolf likes that Stiles is aroused, but is leery of Stiles' tense body language, the knee he slings over Derek's hips.

He sits on Derek, lightly at first, and then heavily when Derek stays still.

His pulse throbs in his throat, but when he leans down to kiss Derek, there’s no hesitation and his mouth is sure. Derek sucks on his lip, palms his back. Stiles keeps control of the kiss, holding Derek's face, thumbing his cheeks slowly.

They don't stop kissing until Stiles pulls back. His mouth is red, swollen. He's looking at Derek's mouth intently. Derek licks his teeth and Stiles' hips jack, awkwardly grinding on Derek's dick. He's hard already, just from thinking about what he wants.

Derek reaches out to thumb the button on his jeans. Stiles grinds down, hands on his own thighs. He bites his lip, looks Derek in the eye. He lifts up, presses down again.

"Do I—do you understand?"

He moves again and this time he gets the movement right, rolling his ass down onto Derek's cock.

"Yes," Derek says, fingers curling tight around his waistband, "Yes."

*

At first it's hard. Stiles is an awkward weight on his pelvis, trying to brace on the bed and then his thighs, searching for leverage. Derek has to resist the urge to flip them over, fix the rhythm.

He said yes though, so he palms Stiles' knees, waiting for it to get better.

"Sorry," Stiles says, finally putting his sweaty hands on Derek's chest. He hunches over, humping in tight little movements.

"Don’t be," Derek says, rubbing up Stiles' thighs, finding his half-hard cock, jerking him until he's erect all the way, gasping as his body works hard.

When Stiles figures out the rhythm by following Derek’s hand, it’s amazing. He’s so turned on his eyes are mostly black and his face is blushed, but he doesn’t look away from Derek’s face. Derek struggles to watch him back – he feels too good. Stiles is hot and heavy and he smells ripe with sex. He’s slick inside and he has red ring bitemarks on his thighs, stretching as he moves.

Derek jerks Stiles a little harder, wanting his come, and Stiles squirms, shivering.

“I can’t—“ he pants.

“Don’t hold on,” Derek urges him and squeezes.

Stiles’ eyes drop closed finally and he jerks hard in Derek’s hand, on his thighs, coming everywhere. He whimpers.

He stutters to a stop, scratching over Derek’s sides. His cock is still jerking in Derek’s hand weakly, drops of come welling up slowly. He opens his eyes finally, barely able to focus. Derek shifts and Stiles’ puffy mouth drops open.

Derek swallows. “Too sensitive?”

He can wait, if Stiles needs him to. He just doesn’t want to.

Stiles shakes his head. “No,” he says faintly, picking his hips up again.

He bends over Derek, still panting. He rides Derek and takes it when Derek rolls up into him, takes it when Derek growls and comes in him.

Derek stays for a while after, half-dressed again on Stiles’ bed. He watches Stiles flip through his math textbook. His chest is bare under the sheet. He tells Derek about the last week of school, what he’s finishing studying this year, but Derek is too busy looking at Stiles’ long hands on the book to care about math he never got a chance to learn.

*

Finally it’s summer, and things are good, so when the betas want a ride to some party Lydia’s having, Derek takes them.

When they start unpacking six packs of beer and a large bottle of vodka, Derek says, “You can’t drink.”

“You’re not our dad,” Erica says, bored of this routine.

Derek cringes. “No. I mean, it doesn’t do anything for you.”

Boyd rolls his eyes. “We know. The time with the tequila taught us that.”

Derek opens his mouth to say something because he’s definitely never heard about the time with the tequila but Isaac pipes up, saying, “Let us be normal, Derek.”

“Yeah,” Erica adds. “We let you be normal. As normal is you can be, dating Stiles friggin’ Stilinski.”

“I am not,” Derek says, and then stops.

Cradling the bottle of vodka like a baby, Erica says, “He’s here. Come in with us.”

“I’m too old,” Derek protests, but follows them around the side of Lydia’s house anyway. He even holds the gate open for them, since their arms are full.

*

It’s crowded, loud, and the firepit makes a small part of Derek nervous, but everything smells yeasty-sweet and happy and there’s a beer sweating in his palm, so he stays longer than he intends to.

Stiles is nearby, attention split between Scott and Lydia, not drunk, but Derek knows he’s had enough that his skin will taste sweet and sour later, if Derek drives him home.

No one talks to Derek, although a few people talk about him. It’s nothing true or new so he ignores it.

So he just stands there, looking at the three-quarter moon, until Stiles pulls the beer out of his hand.

“Can I have this?” Stiles asks, mouth already on the bottle.

Derek shrugs. Stiles drinks most of it and then keeps it. His hairline is sweaty and his cheeks are pinkish. He smells happy too, and it’s richer and better than the rest of the party.

“Fun, huh?” he asks.

“The last house party I went to,” Derek says, “I had to drive Allison home because Scott wolfed out.”

Stiles makes a face.

“So, this is much more fun,” Derek finishes drily.

He can see when Stiles decides to take that at face value.

“Cool,” he replies, just as drily. “Baby steps. Maybe next time you can dance or get thrown into a pool.”

He does a weird little backwards wiggle to demonstrate dancing and bumps into a girl.

“Sorry,” he says to her sneer. He finishes Derek’s beer, holds it up. “I’m gonna go get another drink, but then I’ll come hang out.”

“You don’t have to,” Derek tells him.

Stiles raises his eyebrows. “I’m gonna,” he says firmly.

With Stiles gone and his beer gone, Derek just stands there, hands in his pockets, waiting until Lydia steps in front of him, looking like she just peeled herself off the front of a magazine.

“Having fun?” she asks.

“Sure.”

“Good,” she says, eyes big and bright. “I wasn’t expecting to see you here tonight. I mean, I didn’t invite you.”

“Oh,” Derek says, a little taken aback. “I came with—“

“Stiles, I know.”

Derek winces. Lydia’s voice is Queen Bee-even, but her heartbeat is fluttering like a bird’s under her party dress.

“It’s,” she says, “good. Actually, no, it’s super weird. Even for Stiles.”

“You know what makes him weird?” Derek asks. In his pocket, his phone vibrates, rubbing on his knuckles.

Yes,” Lydia says. “It’s Stiles. They can see his weird from space. I’m blinded by his weirdness five days a week. And this is weird. “ She holds one finger over Derek, candy pink nail pinning him.

Derek knows that, thinks about it when he hasn’t seen Stiles for a few days, suddenly forgets it when Stiles touches his hand or his shoulder or his face.

He shrugs, makes himself say, “Things change, I guess.” The defensive tone comes naturally.

She looks at him closely, like his face will give her some great clue as to why this is happening. Derek stares back at her, feeling trapped.

Finally she stops studying him. She steps back to let someone pass between them.

“Have fun,” she says brightly, but her face is oddly resolved when she turns away from Derek.

She’s seventeen, he thinks, taking his phone out. Stiles is the one who texted him: take me home okay.

Lydia passes Stiles in the doorway to the kitchen, going in as he’s coming out. He has a beer in one hand and a red cup in the other. She squeezes the inside of his elbow as she passes. She’s seventeen. Maybe she’s finally started loving Stiles back, just in time for Derek to be in the way.

*

On the next full moon, Stiles stays the night. He brings a frozen pizza, his PSP, and the comforter off his bed.

They have half-cold, half-burnt pizza for dinner and then Stiles stands at the back door, watching everyone stretch in the backyard, shedding the clothes they’d like to keep.

“You don’t want to run with us?” Erica asks, unbuttoning her skirt.

Stiles shakes his head, holding up his PSP. “Better things to do.”

Erica’s skirt hits the grass. “And yet, you’re here.”

Stiles’ eyes flick to Derek and he tries not to smile, but does.

Erica snorts, just in her panties, but Stiles is the one who blushes.

*

Derek doesn’t run late. By now the betas can be trusted to run on their own, only a danger to the local rabbit population. He does chase them through the forest for a while though, listening to their barking laughter, before leading them to a stream and leaving them there to lap up water.

He’s human by the time he crosses back onto his property. He picks his shirt up off the back porch and shakes it out, but doesn’t bother putting it on.

The house is dark and quiet, smelling like paint and sawdust. Stiles is in his room, tucked under his comforter on Derek’s bed. He’s not asleep but he’s close, PSP light shining on his sleepy face.

Derek puts his shirt away and slides out of his muddy jeans. Stiles keeps clicking away, but when Derek approaches the mattress he bumps his pelvis over an inch.

Derek pushes him over, one hand on his thigh, one on his shoulder, but carefully. Stiles sighs, put-upon, when Derek slips into his warm spot, pulls the blanket up.

He turns his game off. “Good night?”

“Sure,” Derek murmurs. He stretches out, face sinking into the pillow. The bed smells like Stiles, his blanket and his body.

Stiles puts his PSP down and squirms down next to Derek, reaching out to put a hand on his hip.

“Tired?” he asks, voice low even though the other are miles away.

Derek shakes his head. “No,” he says, just so Stiles will smile and squeeze him.

Stiles does, sliding closer, putting his happy mouth on Derek’s.

*

Derek sleeps soundly, but snaps awake when Stiles says his name, low and urgent. He's pushed close to Derek, his nose jammed against Derek's cheek, his mouth rubbing on Derek's jaw, catching on his stubble.

His body is rigid in Derek's arms, thrumming with fear. Derek tenses too, breathing in Stiles' anguish.

"What?" he whispers, ready to roll out of bed and fight. He can't sense anything wrong in the air around them, but he's been surprised before.

Stiles shivers hard, mouth open, fumbling over silent words. His breath is ragged and sour-egg-smelling. He tries to speak again, digging his fingernails into Derek's back. It hurts, but just as Derek is about to get up to face the darkness, Stiles shudders and the fight goes out of him.

He swallows, arms easing on Derek.

"Sorry," he says finally, eyes closed. "I panicked. Forgot this wasn't my room."

He lowers his head to Derek's shoulder, baring his sweaty nape. His smell is confusing, still rotten and scared, but sweetly relieved too. Derek doesn't like it but he drops his head down anyway, lapping at the sweat on Stiles' nape until it's gone, until he tastes like Derek's mouth.

Stiles falls asleep before Derek does, going limp like he just fought some enormous monster. Derek stays awake, rubbing his shoulders, the long flat of his thigh, until he's sure Stiles will sleep well.

*

Derek’s at the library, looking at the DVDs. The Blockbuster was shut up when Derek had walked by, but the library has movies and Derek has a card two weeks from its expiry date.

He’s in the fantasy section, trying to extrapolate what could be good, based off of half an hour of quotes he heard six weeks ago, when a familiar, powdery-flower smell winds around him.

He turns around, holding a few beat-up DVDs. Lydia is standing not too far away, rubbing lotion on her hands, book tucked under her arm.

She looks at the DVDs before she looks at Derek’s face.

“Derek,” she says.

Derek puts the DVDs down on the shelf. “Hi.”

“Research?” she asks, tipping her head to the DVDs.

Derek looks at them, the cheesy 80s covers he hopes Stiles will like.

“Yes,” he says. He looks at the book under Lydia’s arm. It’s bound in red leather and smells old. Lydia’s sweater covers most of the front but Derek can see –ments and Processions.

He nods at it. “You too?”

Lydia shrugs. “I guess.” She looks at her nails. She’s not telling the truth, but she’s not quite lying either.

“Hmm.” Derek picks his movies back up. Lydia shifts too, turning the book so the front cover faces her.

She smiles tightly at Derek.

“Good luck,” she says.

“You too.”

*

Stiles laughs when Derek brings the movies to him. It’s an honest, joyous laugh that warms Derek, makes him feel good.

The movies are terrible, hardly even worth laughing at or the swipe of Derek’s library card. But Stiles keeps watching even after Derek gives up watching in favour of relaxing into the bed.

He falls asleep with Stiles’ hand in his hair and the sound of a wizard battling evil, poorly-animated spirits washing over him.

*

The first week of August, Derek finishes patching the hole in his wall, just in time for it to start pouring. He’s moving boxes around, capitalizing on the new space, when the front door opens and he hears Erica skid in, Lydia right behind her.

They curse the weather, muttering about boots and books and craft stuff getting wet while they move into the kitchen.

“It’s soft,” Lydia complains.

“It’ll dry.”

A bag rustles. “I wanted to do it today.”

“Lydia…I don’t know if we should do it at all,” Erica whispers.

“We’ll just try it,” Lydia says gently. “If it doesn’t work then that’s okay. Then it’s a real thing. All right?”

There’s a long pause and then Erica says, “Okay.”

It’s quiet then. Derek moves some boxes, scraping them along the new wall.

“Derek’s here,” Erica says urgently.

“We can wait,” Lydia assures her.

*

The next full moon, they track another black dog through the woods. Boyd takes point, his tracking skills only second to Derek’s, and they find it at the pond the creek feeds into.

They fan out, claws and teeth ready. Stiles stands in line with them, holding a crowbar.

The dog looks at them, one at a time, lingering on Derek, and then Stiles.

Stiles holds his crowbar higher, jiggles it. “Come on.”

When the black dog attacks, it goes straight for Stiles. He yells in surprise, swings his crowbar, managing to hit the dog on the shoulder before momentum carries it into his body.

There’s a loud thump when they collide, but before Stiles can even stagger, the black dog is on his other side.

“Shit!” Boyd yells. “Did it just go through Stiles?"

“That did not feel good,” Stiles hollers, whirling.

The dog looks back at Stiles. Stiles stares at it, frozen, eyes big and glossy-dark, mouth open stupidly.

That’s enough of an opening that Derek can get in there with Isaac, tackling the dog.

It goes wild. It howls and bites any body part it can reach. Its teeth are long, sinking right through Derek’s leather jacket and into his arm, Isaac’s hip.

It’s not any bigger than the one Derek took on before, but it’s much stronger, capable of shaking them off, snapping at Derek’s throat.

He rolls out of the way just in time to only get clawed across the knee.

“Don’t!” he yells to Erica, Scott and Boyd as they come. “It’s too strong!”

The dog doesn’t come for Derek again. It stands there, snarling, watching him. It has blood on its teeth, his blood and Isaac’s.

This time, the dog doesn’t disappear. It bounds away into the forest behind Stiles, who is still frozen, its heavy body breaking branches.

“Jesus,” Scott says. “What the fuck just happened?”

Derek shakes his head. The bite on his arm aches, so does his knee. Stiles helps him up.

*

His wounds haven’t healed by the time he goes to sleep, even though he cleaned them well. They itch and burn, and although he doesn’t feel hot, he still has trouble sleeping and the black dog comes to him in his dreams, watching him, a sign of bad to come.

*

Derek comes home from seeing Stiles one afternoon and knows something’s up when Erica’s hair is pin-straight, she reeks like nervousness, and has trouble looking at him.

“What?” he asks, drinking straight from the carton. The milk tastes like Isaac’s mouth. He frowns, puts the carton back in the fridge.

“Nothing,” Erica says, playing with the ends of her hair. Derek can smell the expensive hand lotion Lydia uses all over Erica’s hands, her hair.

He makes a show of inhaling, smelling the paint-dusty smell of a house under construction, Lydia’s cosmetics, Erica’s musky guilt.

Erica looks away, rolling a piece of hair between her fingers.

“You know,” Derek says, taking pity, “if you’re…experimenting with Lydia, I won’t stop you. I don’t give a shit, as long as you don’t get pregnant.”

Erica turns red, slides down in her chair. “I’m not,” she mutters, scent tangy with embarrassment.

Derek rubs his forehead. “Then what, Erica?”

“It’s…” She looks at him plaintively, clearly aching to tell him, but then she reconsiders, getting up, saying, “I don’t know!”

She puts a hand on Derek’s shoulder to push past him on her way out of the kitchen. The wolf doesn’t like that, but Derek doesn’t want to fight with her now. He’s trying to have a good day.

He listens to her boots on the stairs and the slam of not her door, but Boyd’s.

He sighs, catching sight of himself reflected in the kitchen window. He looks annoyed, and there’s a hand-shaped, lotion-smelling, chalky imprint on his t-shirt shoulder.

*

He hears Erica whisper-fighting with Lydia on her phone.

“I want to tell him,” she says, “please.”

“He won’t tell,” she says.

“I don’t want him to get hurt,” she says, on the verge of crying. “He has to know.”

She doesn’t say anything else. Derek thinks he knows already.

*

They stumble into the house, Stiles pushing Derek along and then holding him still to kiss him, hands under his shirt, down his thighs.

“Is anyone home?” he demands, biting Derek’s ear.

Derek jerks, hardly able to hear over the pounding of his own heart.

“No,” he says when he registers the house is still, tilting into Stiles, “no.”

Stiles bites him again. “Good. I want—“ he rubs on Derek’s belly, hard already.

“I know,” Derek interrupts, kissing his mouth, his throat. He hasn’t seen Stiles for a few days, has missed his smell, his voice.

“Good.” Stiles laughs, hugging Derek tight. “The door.”

He pushes Derek back, recoil from the force of it sending him back too. His mouth is wet from Derek’s mouth and his heart is racing.

Derek slams the door, locks it for good measure.

He kisses Stiles hard, as hard as he slammed the door, fumbling for his hand to pull him along.

He only makes it a few steps before Stiles jerks away from him. He turns, empty-handed to see that Stiles has stopped dead in the middle of the room, sneakers toeing the line of a floorboard. He sways a little forward and back, like he just ran into a wall. He rights himself, looking around.

Then his eyes flick up to the ceiling, the chalk markings up there.

Derek looks up at it, confused. It’s a star inside of a circle, with familiar symbols drawn all around. A Devil’s trap. Derek saw one in a book once; his dad showed him it, just in case.

“Hey, Derek,” Stiles says.

Derek looks away from the ceiling.

Stiles smiles at him. Right in front of Derek, his brown eyes turn an oily black. “hey, babe,“ he says, “you wanna let me out?”

*

Derek goes upstairs and stays there until the others come. The hole is boarded up so he looks out the window and listens to Stiles pacing the lines of the trap. His footsteps are soft, even. Sometimes he mutters about someone doing a good job.

“I bet it was Lydia. She did a good job. For a girl,” he says, walking the edge of the trap closest to the stairs. “A stupid little bitch of a girl.”

Derek looks out at the forest hard, concentrating on the blurry line of the trees, trying to hear Jackson’s car.

“When I get out,” Stiles says, “I’m going to make you suffer. There won’t be anything left of you or this meatbag you like to fuck when I’m done.”

Derek closes his eyes. He can just hear Jackson’s car now. They’ll be here in a few minutes.

“Derek,” the demon asks, “are you listening?”

*

“Welcome, welcome, everyone!” the demon calls jovially when the pack and Scott and Lydia come in the front door. Derek is on the staircase so all he can see is Stiles’ back and everyone’s horrified faces. Their revulsion is palpable.

Stiles’ body smells like sulfur, so thick it coats Derek’s throat. When the demon turns to look at Derek his eyes are still black and his mouth is open in a hanging puppet’s smile. Derek walks a wide path around the trap.

“How good of you to join us,” the demon purrs at Derek, and then to everyone else, mock-sadly, “He left me here, with only the little Stiles for company. Can you believe it? We were just about to get busy too.”

“Stop,” Scott growls. “Stop talking.” His shoulders are up, fists working at his sides.

“Oh, sorry,” the demon says, “do I scare you, puppy?” It cocks Stiles’ head. “Or are you mad that you couldn’t tell the difference between your best friend and a tool of the Devil? Too wrapped up in your personal drama to care about Stiles, who screamed and moaned every time we talked, hoping with all hope you’d see him. And you never noticed a thing. Stupid.”

“Shut. Up,” Scott growls again, with teeth this time.

“Your secrets were delicious,” the demon says.

Derek can see the split-second recoil of Scott’s muscles, the tightness of his snarl before he launches himself, but Lydia gets there first. She steps in front of Scott, one hand back to ward him off.

“Don’t,” she barks. “You’ll hurt Stiles.”

“Yeah,” the demon agrees. “Listen to the little witch. If you fuck with me, you hurt Stiles.”

It smiles then, an ugly look.

“Actually,” it says, holding up Stiles’ left hand. “If you fuck with me, I’ll hurt Stiles.” It grips the last two fingers on Stiles’ left hand with his right.

“Let. Me. Go,” it says.

Derek’s mouth is dry, but Lydia says No for him.

“Fine then,” the demon says, and effortlessly breaks Stiles’ fingers.

It grins its empty grin, letting go to show them Stiles’ crooked fingers. “Oh, he does not like that. Not a bit. Let me show you,” it says.

Its eyes swirl, black to murky-grey to brown and Stiles’ mouth falls open. Suddenly his face is gaunt, pale from the pain. He smells like terror, like he’s been buried alive.

He moans, rusty and low, cupping his broken fingers with his shaking right hand, trying to support them. He starts crying.

“Please,” he sobs at them. “Help me.” He sounds like a stranger, nothing like the Stiles Derek knows.

Erica and Isaac hunt forward, reacting to his smell and his voice, but then Stiles’ head drops and comes back up, black-eyed and fresh.

“Poor lamb,” it coos. “He’s so scared.”

It plays with Stiles’ middle finger, stroking the knuckle, watching them expectantly.

Lydia takes a step forward, almost close enough that the demon could take a swing at her if it wanted.

She leans toward it, looking more terrible and angry than Derek has ever seen her.

“You’re dead,” she tells the demon.

“Sure,” the demon chirps.

Lydia straightens up like a soldier and turns to the others. “There are things I’ll need. It won’t take long to get them, but someone has to stay to make sure it doesn’t hurt Stiles any more than it already has.”

The demon looks straight at Derek, making a talk talk talk motion with Stiles’ good hand.

“I’ll stay,” Derek says, even though it hurts.

*

There’s a chair in the trap. Either Lydia left it there on purpose or one of the betas set it there at some point. The demon sprawls in it, looking bored.

Derek doesn’t want to talk, but it’s the only human thing he has. Everything else in him is the wolf, wanting to rip the demon to shreds.

“When?” he asks.

“Oh,” the demon says, rubbing an eye, “I’ve been him the whole time. Well, long enough for you. Just two souls walking in the woods, looking for monsters. When you left him behind that tree, I found him.”

Derek tightens his jaw, remembering fingers on his. “Why him?”

The demon shrugs. “Of course I would have preferred the werewolf body, but when you’re seeping out of a crack in the Earth you don’t have a lot of choice.”

Derek sits on the sagging couch opposite the trap. He didn’t know.

“I figured I’d make the jump eventually,” the demon says. “Your body is far superior, but so much harder to take over. I had to find a way in. Stiles is a fun boy though. So sweet. Strong too. He has such a thing for you; you know that, right?”

Derek’s leg jerks. He doesn’t mean for it to, doesn’t want it to. The demon looks at it.

It grins at Derek, so happy. “It wasn’t all my idea, oh no, Derek, not at all. Everything I did, kissing you after the movies, the sex, being happy, those are his bright little fantasies.” The demon looks up to the left. “Well, were, I imagine. I mean, who would want a monster like you to touch them after everything he’s been through?”

Derek’s stomach drops, churns into a rock-shape. The wolf rages, confused and hurt, but this is Derek’s fault, so he digs his claws into the couch.

The demon slouches in the chair to stretch and then sits up straight. “It wasn’t all bad, Derek. I mean, he screamed all day every day, yeah, but you couldn’t hear that. You were happy, right? That’s important.

“Of course, you were usually too busy rutting into his sweet little ass to really give a shit why he suddenly wanted in your pants.”

Derek feels sick, looks up at the trap.

The demon snorts, mutters, “You’re even worse than Scott, honestly. Dogs, Stiles. You make such bad choices.”

Stiles’ mouth quivers, but his eyes are still tar-black when he looks at Derek.

“He almost got out once,” the demon says, shifting around on the chair, settling in.

Derek narrows his eyes. The demon smells too strongly of rotten eggs to tell if it’s a lie and he can’t hear Stiles’ heart over the rush of his blood.

“It’s true,” the demon insists, proud. “Do you remember when we slept over? You and I snuggled all night. It was very sweet.”

Derek’s mouth tastes like blood, and then bitterness.

“He waited, so patiently, until I was as close to sleep as I can get. All cozy from the sex. Then the little fucker made a jump for it, shoved me right out of the way and tried to tell you all about it.” The demon smiles, sweet dimple in his left cheek. “Do you remember?”

Derek’s body runs ice-cold. A mouth on his chin and Stiles saying, Derek, desperate for his attention.

Derek’s arms around him, keeping him still. Until the demon got him back.

The dimple on Stiles’ right cheek pops up too. “Yeah, you remember. Poor Stiles, he was inconsolable after that. You were supposed to save him, Derek. Instead you helped me put him back in the cage. Thanks, buddy.”

Derek roars and he’s in the trap, fist in Stiles’ shirt, shaking like that will dislodge the demon.

It smirks, says, “Don’t hurt me, Derek!” in a babyish voice. It looks back at the chair, where Derek means to throw it.

Seeing his claws ripping the shirt Stiles has worn every week for as long as Derek has known him startles Derek into dropping the demon. It rocks back on its heels.

“Don’t hurt me, I mean it.” It smoothes the torn shirt back into place. “Really, you have no idea what shape he’s in. For all you know, I helped you get your rocks off and then took Stiles for a tumble out that charming second-story hole in your wall when you were sleeping. He might die without me holding his bones together. ”

“I would know if he got hurt,” Derek growls, which he wants not to be a lie. He sleeps well when he’s happy though.

The demon shrugs. “Maybe. But can you risk it?”

So angry he’s shivering, Derek steps back out of the trap.

“Let him go,” he commands, letting his eyes glow.

“And what?” the demon scoffs, “disappear into the ether? No. Let me tell you, Derek Hale, there are much worse monsters in this world than you and I, and they’re coming. I’m not leaving my life to chance.”

“Then take me,” Derek says.

The demon’s eyes light up, still black, but bright bottomless pits now. “Now you’re talking. I have been waiting and waiting for this. It’s so much easier when you agree.” It smiles Stiles’ big happy smile. “But you know you won’t live for very long once I have you, right? No takebacks here, boyfriend.”

“I don’t care.” Derek isn’t stupid; he knows he won’t live forever. His life might as well be worth something. He looks at the demon, at Stiles. “What do I have—“

“Get rid of this fucking trap!” the demon hisses. Now it moves around with jerky, birdlike motions, abandoning the façade of Stiles altogether.

Derek looks at the trap. If he gets up on the chair he can smudge one of Lydia’s careful lines easily.

“Only if Stiles will be safe,” he says slowly, listening to the steps, the door.

The demon is panting, breath coming out hotter than a human’s.

“He’s fine,” it says impatiently. “His fingers will heal.”

The demon comes to the edge of the trap where it first got caught, pressing against the barrier it can’t cross.

Derek looks beyond the demon’s shoulder, where the chair is and beyond that, where Lydia is waiting. He reaches out to cup the back of Stiles’ neck, his palm on Stiles’ clammy nape.

“Stiles,” he says gently, nodding. “Hold on.”

The demon screams when Lydia douses it from behind in holy water.

*

The exorcism is fast and horrifying. Isaac lights candles and there’s some herbs that smell like blood even though they’re dry and Lydia reads from her red leather book in a loud, shaking voice, lipstick smeared on her chin.

The demon doesn’t stop screaming at them the whole time. It rips around its cage, eyes wild as it looks for a way out. When the exorcism starts to take hold it gets even more frantic, crashing into thin air, flailing. At one point it slams into the chair and a bone in Stiles’ right arm snaps but it just keeps moving, keening and twisting.

Lydia has to scream over it to finish the incantation.

Smoke pours out of Stiles: his eyes, his mouth, his ears. Even his skin steams black where it’s uncovered. His body rolls around on the scorched floor until it’s done. And then he’s still, arm twisted awkwardly, his nose bleeding.

The trap can’t keep wolves or humans out and it doesn’t.

“Oh, God,” Lydia says, breaking through the crush to touch Stiles’ lolling head, “Oh, God.”

*

Scott takes him to the hospital. Says he hit a tree while riding his bike. Dumb kid stuff.

He’ll live, Scott says, smelling like antiseptic. Stiles will be fine. His voice hiccups. He clearly cried the whole drive here.

He’s not pack but the betas sit with him on the couch anyway, hands on him in comfort.

Derek leaves. He takes Stiles’ bike from beside the Stilinski garage and hides it in the woods, covering it in wet leaves and palmfuls of dirt.

*

Stiles gets a splint on his fingers and a cast on his arm. Scott visits him every day, bringing him his summer reading and sitting for hours.

Derek can hear them talking a little through the closed window. Scott is sorry, so sorry. He didn’t know.

Stiles doesn’t say much, but he smells hurt, more hurt than painkillers can fix.

The others come too, in ones and twos. Lydia and Erica visit Stiles once.

“Are you mad?” Erica asks him, her voice small.

“Yes,” Stiles says, and it’s not a lie.

Derek can’t make himself visit at all. He deserves Stiles’ anger, all of it, but he doesn’t think he can bear the weight of it.

Instead, he talks to Deaton, who looks worried, and together they find the crack in the forest, a strange pulsing warmth under the fallen tree.

It will have to be sealed, Deaton says. But he wants Stiles to help, once he’s better. So he knows how. Derek protests, even though he knows Stiles will help, will want to know how to do it because he’s good, still so good.

*

Lydia’s window isn’t locked.

“Hello,” she says dully when Derek climbs in. She’s sitting on her bed, surrounded by books. None of them have red leather covers.

“Lydia,” he says. “How did you figure it out?” There’s no point bothering with small talk.

She picks at one of her nails, flaking some polish off. Then she looks Derek in the eye.

“I’ve known Stiles for a long time,” she says as if it’s that simple.

Derek bites his tongue, tries not to look as angry as he feels.

She sighs. “It was weird, Derek. Not because…there’s anything wrong with you. But Stiles, he holds onto things for a long time. He’s. It was sudden, you.”

She curls her fingers up so she won’t pick anymore. “And the black dogs? I didn’t figure it out right away. Or ever. It just wasn’t right. I guessed.”

It wasn’t right.

Derek nods, turning toward the windowsill. When Lydia says his name he stops.

“I think it’s okay,” Lydia says gently to his back, “that you’ve haven’t known him very long.”

Derek climbs out into the windy night. She’s not lying to him but he doesn’t believe her.

*

will you come? Stiles finally texts him, like they’ve been in the middle of a conversation this whole time.

The window is open when he gets there, just an inch or so, probably all Stiles could manage with his injuries.

It’s late, closer to dawn than dusk, but the little bedside lamp is on. Stiles is in bed, a book balanced on his bent knees. He clumsily turns a page. It’s cold in the room. Stiles’ arms are covered in goosebumps and his nipples are hard under his t-shirt.

Derek shuts the window after himself.

Stiles closes the book and drops it on the floor. He looks tired.

“Where were you?” he asks, another conversation middle.

“Out,” Derek says, gruffer than he means to, out of his element.

Stiles’ mouth twists unhappily, so Derek says, “I was out. Keeping watch.”

“Okay,” Stiles says, slouching down in the bed, pulling the covers up. With the cast and the odd shadows he looks small, vulnerable.

“How are you?” Derek asks, shifting from foot to foot. The wolf is antsy, still thinking it knows Stiles, happy to see him and wanting to lick all his wounds to soothe him.

“Okay,” Stiles says again quietly. In his sheets is the smell of old sweat heavy with sedatives, but on him now are only regular teenage boy-smells: food, soap, faint-faint arousal, loneliness. No dark sweetness, no sulfur.

Derek looks at his cast sweeping over the covers, all baby blue except for where someone wrote We love you.

Stiles stops moving it, says, “It doesn’t hurt.”

“I know,” Derek replies, because he does.

Things hang there, heavy, until Stiles asks, “How are you?”

Derek rolls that over in his mind. Stiles waits while he takes his time, wading through all the awful feelings he has, trying to find the best thing to say.

“It doesn’t matter,” he finally says.

Stiles’ eyes snap to him. “It does matter,” he insists.

Helpless, Derek paces two steps toward the bed. The rage inside of him, at the world, at the dead demon that did this, at himself, suddenly it feels too big for him.

“Why?” he demands. “Why does it matter? You almost died. I—I’m fine.”

Stiles stays still under the covers but swallows noisily. “It matters,” he says in a quiet voice. “Because I still. I still like you.”

“No, you don’t,” Derek tells him.

Stiles bristles, face going hard, eyes dark with anger. “You don’t—I had a monster inside of me, using me like a puppet. No one gets to tell me how I feel.”

Shame erupts in Derek, burning his stomach. He looks away, stupid, stupid.

Maybe Stiles cares about his regret, or maybe he’s just tired, because he wilts back into the pillows.

“It wasn’t lying,” he admits. “I did…All of those things were my ideas. The demon wanted you—your body—and it found those…things, and used them to get to you.”

Picking at the covers with his unbroken fingers, he says, “When it started I thought it was so dumb. I mean, we’re not even friends, really. I laughed at the fucking demon in my head. Like you would go for it.” He stops, chewing on his lip. “Like, outside of a movie theater? That was just a stupid thing I wanted. Totally, royally stupid.” He blushes then, clearly remembering. He smells of moist shame, salty want.

Derek loses the battle against his own monster for a moment, cupping Stiles’ nape, squeezing it gently. Stiles’ head drops, almost automatically.

Derek lets him go after a beat, puts his warm hand in his pocket. “It wasn’t stupid.”

He’s not lying. Stiles is seventeen. Kissing someone you like outside of a theater after everyone else has left, praying to be kissed back, is a normal thing to want when you’re seventeen. Derek was seventeen once. He can remember wanting those normal things. He still wants them.

“I’m sorry,” he tells Stiles, because this heartbreakingly normal thing Stiles wanted is ruined.

Stiles shrugs carefully. “You didn’t know.”

Derek sits heavily in the kitchen chair someone put next to Stiles’ bed. The urge to punch a hole in something is so strong. As strong as the urge to climb into bed with Stiles and touch him all over until he smells happy.

He does neither. He sits there, hands on his knees, until he can speak.

“What do you want to do?”

Being presented with a choice stops Stiles. He looks up at the ceiling for a while before he looks at Derek.

“Is it,” he asks, “okay if I don’t know?”

Derek swallows hard. “Jesus, Stiles. Yes. Of course it is.”

“Okay,” Stiles says slowly, “I don’t know then.” He smiles tentatively at Derek, dimple denting his left cheek, a little tendril of happiness coming into his smell, curling around the nervousness already there.

It hurts more than a wolfsbane bullet, seeing Stiles smile at him. But it hurts less than staying to watch a demon, and it’s new and true, so Derek takes the hurt, holds onto it, puts his fingers on the bedspread.

“It’s late,” he says, voice fading in places. “You should sleep.”

He doesn’t offer to leave. Stiles doesn’t ask him to.

Stiles takes a long time to get comfortable. He clearly wants to lay on his right side, but his arm is in the way. He finally finds a way to curl up, half on his back, cast extended out. His sweat is starting to smell like pain. He glances back at Derek.

“Will you turn the light off?” he asks, voice reluctantly drowsy.

Derek finds the little click-wheel on the lamp, turns it until the room goes dark. Stiles sighs, moving under the sheets. His mouth opens, but he doesn’t say anything. He’s tired but his heart is beating too quickly for him to go to sleep anytime soon.

When Derek’s fingers touch his back, Stiles startles, but he relaxes by force of will, nosing the pillow.

Slowly, Derek skims his fingers up Stiles’ back, to his bicep. He rubs his thumb over the warm bare skin under Stiles’ sleeve because Stiles’ hand is tucked down by his own belly, too far away to hold.

“Go to sleep, Stiles,” Derek says softly, still rubbing. “It’s okay.”

Stiles nods into the pillow, his cheek swishing on it. He’s worn out from healing, so it doesn’t take long for his breathing to go even, his far fingers twitching on the comforter.

When Stiles shifts a little, curling into himself more, Derek finally lets his fingers fall away. But he still doesn’t leave. Instead, he settles in for the long haul, sitting on the hard chair next to Stiles’ bed to wait for whatever monster comes next after him.