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I've Wasted my Lies

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Stiles is not a coward. Everything he’s done this last year, ever since Scott got turned, can testify to that. Yeah, he’s not a werewolf, but he’s helped, he’s put his life on the line – more than once – and he’s done it all for Derek’s pack. He doesn’t run away from danger – no, for some stupid reason he actually runstowards it, because there’s always someone that needs his help. Someone that he just happens to care about. Or just because he finds it impossible not to. 

So no, Stiles is not a coward. Yet the mere thought of telling Derek how he feels makes his stomach churn in fear. So Stiles tries to reason his way out of it. There’s absolutely zero chance of Derek actually returning Stiles’ feelings, so absolutely zero reason for him to ever tell Derek. It’s as simple as that. Why ruin a perfectly good I-occasionally-tolerate-you relationship by telling someone who could literally rip your heart out that you have a crush on them, right? 

So Stiles keeps his mouth shut and just listens to Derek talk about a possible ghoul approaching Beacon Hills – really, a ghoul? – and try to stare Scott to death when he asks why Peter is even present at this meeting. 

“Because he actually has information that could be useful to our survival,” Derek says, jaw clenched tightly, and Stiles doesn’t actually know if it’s a response to Scott’s questioning of his leadership, or to Peter’s presence. 

“So we get to live another day in order for Peter to inevitably kill us himself?” Stiles mutters, even though he knows full well that everyone can hear him. 

Peter just smirks, but Derek glares at him until Stiles breaks his gaze and stares at his own hands. 

“Stiles is right,” Scott pipes up, but Derek immediately shuts him down. 

“If you want to talk about people who shouldn’t even be here tonight, Peter isn’t the one,” Derek snaps. 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Scott asks, but Stiles can already see Isaac’s eyes flicking to him, and there’s a lump growing in his throat. 

“Him,” Derek says, eyes fixed on Scott as he points at Stiles. “Why is he even here?” 

“He’s here with me!” Scott calls out, indignant. 

“He’s a human,” Derek counters, and he’s still not even giving Stiles so much as a glance when he continues, “He’s nothing but a liability, and he’s only tolerated here because of you.” 

Stiles feels a little bit of bile rising up, and he doesn’t miss the pitying look Erica gives him. Stiles can see Scott’s claws grow long, but he doesn’t actually do anything but growl slightly at Derek, as Derek drives the stake right through Stiles’ heart. 

“He’s not pack,” Derek says with a fierce determination that just about slides the ground out from underneath Stiles’ feet. 

Peter is still smirking, but Stiles couldn’t care less because his entire attention is focused on Derek. Derek, who still isn’t bothering to look at him, whose mouth is pressed in a thin line and whose fists are clenched in a way that would make you think it was them that just broke Stiles’ heart, and not his words. 

Stiles rises slowly from where he was sitting, shoves his hands deep in his pockets. 

“Well…” he says, ducking his head. “I guess that says it all.”

He backs away slowly, sniffing his nose as he fights to keep the tears at bay. 

“Stiles…” Scott says, putting his hands on Stiles’ shoulders. “I… I’ll come with.” 

Stiles shakes his head. “No, it’s fine. You should hear what they have to say.” 

“But…” Scott starts, his voice down to a whisper. 

“Stay,” Stiles says, “This thing… this ghoul. You should probably know what you’re up against.” 

Scott sighs, and nods. Stiles nods back, tries giving Scott a weak smile before turning on his heels and walking out of the old Hale house without a look back. 

He makes it into his jeep and about halfway out of the woods before he pulls over and cries. 

***

“So Derek’s a jerk,” Scott says by way of introduction as Stiles answers the phone. 

“What else is new?” Stiles huffs, but it comes out sounding more hurt than hurtful. 

“You are totally pack,” Scott says, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. And Stiles realizes that for Scott, it probably is. 

“I appreciate the support, buddy,” Stiles says, “But Derek is right. I’m not…” 

“Derek’s an asshole!” Scott says vehemently, “You’re like my brother, man. He’s talking crap!” 

“We’re family, Scott, that’s a given,” Stiles says, digging his head a little closer into his pillow. “But Derek doesn’t care about that.” 

“He should only be so lucky as to have someone like you in his pack,” Scott says, and Stiles doesn’t have to see Scott’s face to know that he’s pouting. 

“Exactly, right?” Stiles says, and he tries to smile a little bit, “Why would I even want to be in his stupid pack in the first place?” 

“Yeah,” Scott says, and then there’s a silence for a few seconds as Stiles rolls over on his back and stares up at the ceiling, phone pressed against his ear. 

“I’m sorry, man…” Scott says finally, quietly. 

“Hey, come on,” Stiles tries to compose himself, “I don’t need him.” 

“Yeah, but…” Scott hesitates for a beat, and Stiles already knows before Scott says the words. “I know how you feel about him.” 

“I…” Stiles stammers, and he wants to deny, but there’s really no point, and since when would he lie to Scott anyway? 

“How did you know?” Stiles asks. 

“You’re like my brother, remember?” Scott says softly, and every now and then Stiles forgets that Scott really isn’t as dumb as he likes to let it shine out sometimes, “I just… You deserve better.” 

“I’m not so sure about that,” Stiles sighs, squinting his eyes closed. 

“No man, if he doesn’t realize that you’re pack, then you definitely deserve better,” Scott says determined, “Just… screw him, Stiles. He’s an a…” 

“Asshole,” Stiles finishes at the same time as Scott, “Yeah, I get it.” 

***

The next day at school, Stiles bumps into Isaac in the hallway, who promptly turns on his heels and walks away. 

“Ho, hey!” Stiles calls out, grabbing his arm, “You’re avoiding me now?” 

“Why would I avoid you?” Isaac asks, cocking his head. 

“Because your Alpha’s a dick and you take that to mean you have to be one too?” Stiles snaps, letting the leather jacket slip from between his fingers.

“My Alpha,” Isaac repeats, and the corner of his lips are tugged, like he’s trying to repress a smirk, “Not yours, remember?”

Stiles swallows hard, presses his lips in a thin line as he pushes his head up, trying to stand up to Isaac. 

“You need to stay out of our business, Stiles,” Isaac says, already turning away from him, “None of it concerns you.” 

“Funny how I always seem to get dragged into it though,” Stiles calls out after him, but Isaac doesn’t even spare him a look anymore, just walks away from him. 

And it’s not like Stiles needs Isaac’s approval. If Isaac wants to be a jerk, he can be one all he wants. But Stiles is sure that Derek has put him up to this, has delegated specific “Ignore Stiles” instructions, and Stiles wishes he could say he didn’t care. He really does. 

***

Stiles is fumbling with the handle on Scott’s bike as he waits for him, but the smile disappears from his face as he sees Scott approach with an apologetic look on his face and Isaac trailing right behind him. 

“It’s fine,” Stiles sighs before Scott can even open his mouth. 

“I’m sorry,” Scott says, an honest to God puppy look on his face, and how can Stiles ever resist that? “There’s…” he trails off, looks over his shoulder at Isaac, who’s waiting with his arms crossed in front of his chest. 

“Some kind of emergency?” Stiles asks. 

“The ghoul,” Scott clarifies, “Derek wants to see us immediately. There have been tombs turned over at the cemetery, and there’s been… well, a homeless guy that’s been sleeping there has been eaten.” 

“Eaten?” Stiles asks, scrunching up his face. 

“Not entirely,” Isaac pipes in, “Just… snacked on.” 

“Gross,” Stiles squints. 

“Yeah,” Scott says. 

“I thought they ate off dead flesh?” Stiles asks, because he’s maybe been Googling a bit ever since he heard the word ‘ghoul’ pop up. 

“When they’re hungry, and you’re in their path… they’re not really that picky,” Isaac clarifies, then shrugs. “Don’t worry about it, Derek’s got a plan.” 

And just like that, Stiles is dismissed, again

Erica and Boyd come stepping out the school, and they don’t even bother to say hi to Stiles as Erica grabs Isaac by the arm and leads him away, “Come on. Derek’s waiting.” 

Scott shoots him another apologetic look over his shoulder as he leads his bike away and follows the others. 

***

Stiles is resolutely planning on going home, playing video games, and sulking for the rest of the evening. He really is. Until he finds himself in front of Deaton’s practice, and somehow not even surprised. 

“Stiles?” Deaton asks, ushering him in. 

“Fire,” Stiles says, coming straight to the point. “How do I control it?” 

“Excuse me?” Deaton asks, tilting his head. 

“There’s a ghoul, and I’ve done research,” Stiles says determined, “It can be defeated by fire. Only, it can detect fire from a mile away, so I can’t exactly approach it with a flamethrower or something. I need to be able to get close enough to it, then be able to conjure up fire starting from scratch.” 

“You’re talking magic,” Deaton says, calmly. 

“I’ve been practicing,” Stiles admits. “I… There’s something in me. You said it yourself. I know I can do this.” 

“It’ll take some time, some practice,” Deaton says, rummaging through his cupboards as he takes out some jars. 

“I don’t have time,” Stiles says, jaw clenched, “I need to defeat it tonight.” 

“I?” Deaton asks, his hand stilling on one of the jars, “Stiles, surely you’re not going after this thing alone?” 

“No, of course not,” Stiles lies quickly, “The others, they’re tracking it. Making sure we don’t lose sight. They sent me to get the ammo, so to speak.” 

“Okay,” Deaton says, and Stiles feels somewhat bad at the ease with which he lies to Deaton, but he needs this. He needs to prove to Derek that he can defeat this ghoul on his own, that he can be useful for the pack. That he canbe pack. 

“Rub your fingers in this,” Deaton says as he opens one of the jars, revealing a fine powder. 

Stiles does as he says, and Deaton begins to explain. 

***

It’s damp and cold as he reaches the outskirts of the cemetery. He’s concentrating on the powder – still slightly caking his fingers – on the words Deaton taught him. The gate to the cemetery creaks as he opens it, and Stiles thinks, ‘Really?’ 

He swallows as he passes the rows of headstones, a few askew, soil turned over, and yellow police tape lining it. Stiles doesn’t want to take a closer look to see whose tombs they were. He knows his Mom is on the other side of the cemetery. He knows Derek’s family is only a few rows over, but unscathed. That’s all that matters right now. 

It’s eerily quiet as he makes his way past the headstones. He thinks maybe he should’ve brought another coat. He thinks maybe he should’ve stayed home. 

He’s not sure the first time he hears it, but he stops in his tracks and listens closely. A few seconds later, there’s another sound… a slight whining noise. 

Stiles can hear his heart beating in his chest, is sure that any kind of supernatural creature with a half-decent sense of hearing will too, but he sucks it up and follows the path towards the noise. He stops when he sees a dark shadow by one of the recently dug graves, hunched over and clawing at the soil, and there’s that whining noise again. 

Stiles braces himself, his fingers splayed, and he’s so hyper aware of the magical dust coating them that it feels like it’s burning through his skin. 

And then the creature looks up, and two piercing red eyes are staring straight at him and Stiles can finally see… 

It’s a hyena, and it throws Stiles off for a second because he was expecting a monster, a deformed creature, faintly resembling a man, but then he remembers some of the things he’s read. 

A ghoul is a shape shifting demon that can assume the guise of an animal…

Stiles swallows hard, concentrates as he brushes his fingers together, muttering Latin words under his breath as he focuses on the hyena, baring its teeth. There’s a spark igniting at the tips of his fingers, before it fades again. 

“C’mon,” Stiles breathes, squeezing his eyes shut before repeating the words Deaton taught him, his teeth biting around every syllable. And then there’s a tiny ball of fire forming in the palm of his hand, and it doesn’t burn him, it just hovers slightly over the skin, and the more Stiles concentrates, the bigger it becomes. Until it’s a decent enough size for Stiles to take a deep breath, to curve his hand as he raises it up and aims for the creature. 

There’s a horrifying wail as the fireball hits the ghoul, but the fire smothers just as quickly, leaving only a cloud of smoke rising and a pissed-off looking creature, snarling his teeth at him. 

“Oh shit…” Stiles mutters, rubbing his fingers together frantically, in hopes of igniting another fire, but coming up only with tiny sparks that fade out just as quickly. 

The ghoul, still shaped like a hyena, lets out a deafening growl then, and Stiles thinks he can hear it echo through the cemetery as the creature lunges at him. He’s frozen in place, rows of sharp teeth coming at him, and they pierce through the skin of his shoulder. He falls to the ground, the hyena’s paws on top of him, and he thinks he’s about to pass out when he realizes the echo wasn’t an echo at all, but rather the surround-sound growling of Derek’s pack approaching and then it all fades to black. 

***

When Stiles finally wakes up, there’s frantic voices all around him, and he’s pretty sure he’s pressed against the leather seat of his own Jeep. 

“Are you sure?” is the first thing Stiles can actually make out as non-gibberish, and it’s Scott’s worried voice. 

“Yes,” Derek snaps back, and his tone leads Stiles to believe he’s been trying to convince Scott for a while now. “Someone bitten by a ghoul does not become a ghoul himself. They aren’t like werewolves or vampires, they’re…” 

“Vampires are real?” Erica’s voice flitters through. 

Stiles tries to open his eyes, blinking. His shoulder hurts like hell, and it takes him a while to process that the pressure against it is in fact Derek’s hand. 

“Stiles? Stiles? Are you alright?” Scott asks, pushing past Derek to get a better look at him as he opens his eyes fully. 

“What happened?” Stiles asks, his voice sounding raspy. There’s a slight tang of blood in his mouth. 

“You tried to fight a ghoul,” Derek barks, “Alone.” 

“Yeah, well, it’s not like I have a pack I can count on or anything,” Stiles bites back, and he knows that maybe he should show a bit of gratitude, because he’s pretty sure that if Derek and the rest of them hadn’t shown up when they did, he’d be eaten alive by now. 

“What were you thinking, Stiles?” Scott asks, his voice about a hundred times softer than Derek’s. 

“How did you find me?” Stiles ignores Scott’s question. 

“We went to Deaton for advice,” Scott says, “He told us you’d been there. He thought you were with us.” 

“Yeah, I know…” Stiles says, closing his eyes for a second. He knows Deaton will probably never trust him again. 

“He wouldn’t have let you go if he knew you were off alone,” Scott continues. 

“I know,” Stiles shrugs, biting back the sting it causes in his shoulder, Derek’s hand still firmly pressed against it. “That’s why I lied.” 

“Stupid,” Derek grits through his teeth, inhaling sharply through his nose. 

“I know…” Stiles repeats, head sagged against the seat. 

“I’ll take him home,” Derek tells Scott, and when Scott opens his mouth to protest, Derek says sharply, “You need to track the ghoul with Isaac. Erica and Boyd need to clean up the mess by the grave.” 

His tone leaves no place for discussion, and Scott nods curtly before turning to Stiles. 

“I’ll come by as soon as I can,” Scott tells Stiles, squeezing his hand for good measure before disappearing out of Stiles’ sight. 

Derek pushes Stiles unceremoniously up into the passenger seat of the Jeep, and slams the door shut before climbing in the other side. 

“It’s not that deep,” Derek says as he starts up the Jeep and speeds out of there. “Do you have a first aid kit at home?” 

Stiles nods, bloodied fingers trailing over the bite-mark in his flesh. 

“Good,” Derek says, “Then you won’t need a hospital. Your Dad home?” 

Stiles shakes his head. 

“Good,” Derek says again, and the rest of the drive home is in silence. 

***

“Medicine cabinet’s in the bathroom,” Stiles says as they reach the top of the stairs. 

Derek nods and heads for the bathroom as Stiles enters his bedroom, dropping down on the bed with a sigh. He tries to shrug off his torn jacket, winces until the material gives and it drops off his shoulder. His shirt is ripped to pieces too, and caked with blood. 

When Derek enters, he places the first aid kit next to Stiles on the bed and unceremoniously rips off what remains of Stiles’ shirt. Stiles would feel self-conscious, sitting there shirtless in front of Derek, if he didn’t feel like such a failure. 

Derek was right, the bite-mark isn’t that deep. It just stings, and needs to be cleaned so it doesn’t get infected. Stiles drops his head down as Derek begins to wipe over the wound with cotton balls drenched in antiseptic, and it’s more gentle than Stiles would’ve thought it’d be. 

“You were right,” Stiles whispers after a few minutes, and Derek makes a noise that sounds remarkably like a snort. 

“I’m useless,” Stiles goes on when Derek doesn’t say anything, “I’m only a nuisance to you guys. I thought I could prove myself… I thought I could…” 

Stiles trails off, shrugs against Derek’s hand that’s still carefully cleaning up the wound on his shoulder. 

“It doesn’t matter,” Stiles says, defeated, “You were right.” 

“Is that why you went out there alone?” Derek asks, his eyes fixed on Stiles’ skin, his jaw clenched. “To prove your worth?” 

Stiles nods, and he feels like such an incredible loser. 

“You were stupid,” Derek finally says, and Stiles can hear the edge to his voice. “You never should’ve gone out there alone. It was dangerous and you could’ve been killed. You almost were.” 

“I know,” Stiles concedes, squeezing his eyes shut. 

“But you’re not useless,” Derek says, and for a second Stiles isn’t sure he actually heard right. 

“What?” Stiles asks, mouth falling open as he stares at Derek in disbelief. 

“You heard me,” Derek mutters, throwing the bloody cotton balls on the floor as he picks up a bandage out of the kit. 

“I’m only a liability,” Stiles says as Derek wraps up the wound, “That’s what you said. You told me to stay away exactly because of this…” 

“That wasn’t the reason,” Derek says, like it pains him to admit it. 

He flattens down the edges of the bandages against Stiles’ skin with his thumb, before getting up and closing the first aid kit.

“Call Deaton if it gets infected,” Derek simply says and before Stiles can ask what’s going on, he can hear Derek walk down the stairs. 

***

It’s four in the morning when Scott comes crawling through his bedroom window. 

“Are you okay?” Scott asks, crouching by the side of the bed. 

“Fine,” Stiles says, chasing the sleep out of his brain. “Doesn’t hurt that much.”

“That’s good,” Scott says, smiling weakly. 

“Look, I know I screwed up, alright?” Stiles sighs, “You don’t have to walk on eggshells around me, okay? I’m an idiot. I screwed up.”

“Why would you go after that thing on your own?” Scott asks, his voice hushed in the dark of the room. 

“Because I thought I could kill it. I had it all worked out,” Stiles admits, straightening himself up a bit and leaning against the wall behind his bed. “I could do this thing, I could create fire with my hands, and…” 

“Magic?” Scott asks, frowning. 

“I’ve been practicing,” Stiles says, “I thought if I could use magic to destroy this ghoul… I thought Derek would see…” 

“Oh man,” Scott says, ducking his head. 

“No, no!” Stiles hisses furiously, “Don’t give me that pitying look! I made a fireball with the power of my mind! I did that!” 

“You did?” Scott says, and he actually looks impressed. 

“Obviously it wasn’t big enough, but if I’d started practicing earlier…” Stiles says. 

“Derek would’ve been so impressed he’d have fallen into your arms?” Scott asks, tilting his head to the side, and there’s that pitying look again…

“Shut up,” Stiles says, put upon. “At least he would’ve seen I wasn’t a complete waste of space.” 

“You should’ve seen the look on his face, Stiles, when we were at Deaton’s,” Scott says, “When we found out you were off on your own…” 

“Like he could’ve ripped my head off?” Stiles sighs, pummeling his hand in the sheets like a petulant child. 

“No…” Scott shakes his head, “He looked panicked.”

“What?” Stiles frowns. 

“I think maybe he feels responsible for you after all,” Scott says. 

***

Stiles spends the next day trying to hide his injury from his father, which isn’t too hard because his dad is sleeping in after his late shift, and by noon, Scott comes by to kidnap Stiles to work on his magic. 

“That is ridiculously awesome,” Scott says as they sit behind the jeep, by a clearing in the forest and he watches Stiles create small fireballs in the palm of his hand. 

“It would be if I could make it bigger,” Stiles mutters frustrated. Even though he’s kind of proud that he doesn’t need the powder anymore.

“Stiles, you’re holding a fireball in your hand without burning it,” Scott says, as if Stiles isn’t quite sure of what he’s doing here. “You’re making it appear out of nowhere.” 

“But when it hit the ghoul, the flame went out,” Stiles explains, “It wasn’t big enough. It didn’t have enough force.” 

“Maybe Derek could…” Scott starts, but Stiles cuts him off. 

“No!” he yells, and the flame in his hand grows bigger in a flash. 

“Whoa…” Scott says, eying the flame as it shrinks down again. 

Stiles stares at his hand, forgets all protest in getting Derek involved. 

“Do that again,” Scott urges, his face breaking open in a huge grin. 

“I don’t…” Stiles shakes his head, “I don’t know how I did it.” 

“You got all worked up,” Scott says, “’cause of Derek…” 

“Derek does not get me all worked up,” Stiles mutters, pressing his lips together. 

“Whatever you say, dude,” Scott says, all but rolling his eyes. “I’m just saying… Heightened emotions and all that?” 

Stiles sighs, then nods and closes his eyes. He puffs out a breath of air, tries to focus on his emotions. He thinks of Derek, of the rejection he felt when he told Stiles he wasn’t pack, of the feeling of failure when he couldn’t defeat the ghoul to prove himself, tried to prove his worth. He thinks of the bitter determination he feels in trying to create magic, in being that spark. 

“Whoa…” Scott whispers, and when Stiles opens his eyes, he can see the fireball in his palm has tripled in size, is sizzling bright, and is growing still. 

“Fuck…” Stiles whispers, eyes growing wide, and when he bounces his hand up and down a bit, the ball of fire jumps up and down, sparks sizzling up from it. 

“We need to tell Derek,” Scott says, and Stiles tries to ignore how the fireball whooshes bright at the mention of Derek’s name. 

“Scott…” Stiles says, sighing. 

“No, seriously, Stiles,” Scott says, “That ghoul is still out there, and it’s a danger to everyone in this town. We were five, Stiles. Five werewolves, and we didn’t manage to defeat him. But if we work together, if we can corner him and you can set him on fire…” 

“I tried,” Stiles says, closing his fingers in his palms and the fire fades out. “It’s why I went out there last night…” 

“But you went alone,” Scott says, “If we all work together, we’ll have a better chance.”

“You realize that it’s not me you have to convince, right?” Stiles asks, leaning back against the tire of the jeep. “There’s a grumpy Alpha that hates my guts and doesn’t want me anywhere near his precious pack.” 

“You’re wrong,” Scott says, “He’s being a jerk, yes. But there’s no way he doesn’t see you could be an asset to this pack.” 

***

Derek grunts and squints his eyes at Stiles when he opens the door, and Stiles immediately regrets letting Scott drag him out here. 

“He can create a fireball,” Scott says by way of introduction, and Stiles wonders if maybe Scott actually thinks Derek might slam the door shut in their faces if they don’t make a case for themselves quickly. 

“He can create a fire-pebble,” Derek says dryly, and Stiles would grin at Derek showing a sense of humor if it wasn’t at his own expense. 

“That was yesterday,” Scott says, “It’s big-ass now, man.” 

“And tomorrow he can let a volcano erupt?” Derek quirks an eyebrow, and there’s a fire building up inside of Stiles because Derek is mocking him, Derek thinks he’s useless, and it stings but it makes Stiles furious inside, and he holds up his hand and the fire whooshes up so quickly and brightly that it actually takes Derek by surprise and makes him take a step back. 

And maybe Stiles should feel guilty, because he knows Derek’s relationship with fire, but Derek’s being a dick, and even though Stiles thinks that maybe he loves him, he’s still an incredible asshole that mocks Stiles and thinks Stiles isn’t worth a damn bit, and seeing him flinch back at the huge-ass fireball that Stiles is holding up in his hand feels good

“That’s…” Derek mutters. 

“A way to kill the ghoul,” Scott says, and it sounds more like a snap. 

Derek looks from Scott to Stiles, watches as Stiles closes his hand and the fire dies out, leaving no trace, but Stiles is still standing with his head held high. 

“Alright,” Derek finally says, and it takes all Stiles has not to pump his fist in the air and shout, ‘Yes!’

“Alright,” he says again as he steps out on the front porch. 

Derek picks up an old wooden chair that’s been left on the porch and takes it out in front of the house, clear from Stiles’ jeep and the house. He walks back and grabs Stiles by the arm and leads him about fifty foot away from the chair. He lets go of Stiles and nods towards the chair. 

“Set it on fire,” Derek says. 

Stiles nods, takes in the chair, the distance. He clears his throat and mutters the same Latin words. He focuses on how much he needs this, on the humiliation if he were to fail, if Derek were to send him away, again. The fire’s spreading in his palm, burning big and bright, until he deems it big enough and launches it at the chair with one fell swoop. The chair bursts in flames, burning brightly and doesn’t die out until there’s nothing left but ashes. 

Stiles feels like he’s run a marathon, but the impressed look on Derek’s face is enough to do this over and over again. Scott is laughing, bouncing up and down as he says, “See, I told you! He’s magic!” 

Derek’s mouth twitches as he looks between Stiles and Scott. “Be back here at eight. I’ll get the rest of the pack. We’re going ghoul hunting.” 

And then he walks back to the house, slamming the door shut behind him. 

Stiles grins as Scott pats him on the shoulder. 

“Magic, dude!” 

***

“Do we have a Plan B?” Boyd asks, and he at least has the decency to look apologetic at Stiles after he says it. 

“Do we ever?” Erica asks, so breezily that Stiles wonders how on earth this has become his life. 

“We don’t need a Plan B,” Scott says determinedly as he shoots Stiles a reassuring look. 

“Plan B is we wing it,” Derek grunts, leading the ragtag group towards the cemetery. 

“Told you,” Erica grins, elbowing Isaac in the ribs and Isaac grins back. 

“How are we all even still alive?” Stiles can hear Boyd mutter, and it’s not like he can really argue. 

“Can everyone please shut up,” Derek says, and it doesn’t come out like a question at all. The group is silent in an instant, and Stiles bites on his tongue not to whisper, ‘Asshole’ at Derek. 

When they reach the cemetery, they split up, per Derek’s instructions. 

“I’m staying with Stiles,” Scott argues, standing shoulder to shoulder with his friend. 

“And I told you to go with Isaac,” Derek says, looking Scott straight in the eyes. 

“Come on, man,” Isaac says quietly as he tugs on Scott’s arm, but doesn’t budge much. 

“And what if he fails?” Scott asks, and Stiles tries not to be too hurt about it. He knows Scott means well. 

“I thought you were so confident in him?” Derek cocks his head, challenging. 

“Worst case scenario, right?” Scott counters, “If things go wrong, I don’t want him to be defenseless.” 

“He won’t be, I’m not leaving his side,” Derek then says, and Stiles thinks his heart might just have skipped a beat and boy, wouldn’t it be embarrassing if all the werewolves heard it? 

Scott seems satisfied with this answer though, and he reluctantly gives Stiles a pat on the arm before he lets himself get tugged away by Isaac. 

They all take their positions in different corners of the cemetery and wait. Derek crouches down behind a big tomb, dragging Stiles down with him until they’re sitting on the hard soil, leaning against the gravestone. 

There’s a whole lot of silence until Stiles can’t take it anymore. 

“So your family’s here somewhere too, huh?” he asks, even though he already knows the answer. 

Derek just glares at him for a second, before turning away to take in their surroundings again. 

“Right,” Stiles mutters, “You only talk to pack…” 

Stiles slumps deeper against the gravestone, fidgeting with his own fingers as he refuses to look at Derek, refuses to get hurt even more. 

“Stiles…” Derek says, and his voice is soft, and for a second Stiles thinks that maybe Derek’s about to say something nice, something comforting. But then it’s like he changes his mind because the second Stiles looks at him, he can see Derek’s face shut down again, and he’s shaking his head slightly. 

Stiles sighs and goes back to looking at his own fingers. 

***

In the end, it happens in a flash. Out of nowhere, Erica and Boyd come running up in full Beta-form, the ghoul not far behind. It’s not a hyena this time, it’s big and gray and hairy and it smells incredibly foul, and it has huge claws that try to slash open Boyd’s back. 

“Stiles!” Derek calls out, hauling him up off his ass from behind the gravestone and positioning him towards the ghoul, like he’s pointing a gun or something. Derek never actually leaves his side though, stays right there, his entire body only an inch away from Stiles as Stiles takes a deep breath and rubs his hands together. 

“Okay…” he says to himself, and when he hears Erica shriek, he closes his eyes while chanting the incantation, and opens them again to hands full of fire. He puts his open palms next to each other, focuses on the task at hand, focuses on how everyone is depending on him, on how he simply cannot fail because people are depending on him, his friends are depending on him – no matter what Derek may say about him not being pack – and the fireball grows until the ghoul lets out a growl, and diverts his attention from Erica and Boyd to Stiles. 

Boyd crawls out of the way, dragging Erica with him, and the ghoul snarls at Stiles again. 

“Now, Stiles,” Derek says, and he puts his hand on Stiles’ shoulder and the fireball roars and expands at the touch. 

Derek doesn’t flinch back this time, and Stiles launches the ball of fire at the ghoul with all his might. It hits him straight in the chest, engulfing the entire creature in the fire within seconds. There’s a deafening screech rising up from the cemetery as the ghoul crumbles to his knees. 

The fire seems to hold – unlike last time – but when Stiles tries to approach, Derek’s holding him back. 

“Wait,” Derek says, pushing Stiles behind him as he carefully takes a few steps towards the gigantic mass of fire, wailing on the ground. 

“He’s dying, right?” Stiles asks, because it can never hurt to be sure, especially in these cases. 

Nobody actually answers until all the wolves are carefully surrounding the scene, fire slightly dying out, leaving a burned out carcass of a creature behind. 

“Yeah,” Derek finally says, his shoulders relaxing just a bit. “He’s dead.” 

Stiles crumbles to his knees and buries his face in his hands as he lets out a shuddering sigh. There are tears prickling in his eyes, but he blames it on the fire, on the smoke. 

“You did it!” Scott calls out as he throws himself on Stiles, arms curling around Stiles’ shoulders. “You fucking did it!” 

Stiles lets out a genuine laugh, looking up at Scott as he says, “I’m the man.” 

“You are so the man,” Scott laughs, squeezing his arms just a little bit tighter around Stiles. 

It’s Isaac that’s holding out a hand to pull him up, and it’s as good a peace offering as any, so he gladly takes it. 

“Definitely the man,” Isaac smiles and all but winks at Stiles. 

Stiles smiles back, gratefully accepts the pats and well done’s from the other Betas before lifting his head up and collecting all his courage to look Derek straight in the eye. 

“See?” Stiles says, and he tries to keep his voice from trembling, “I don’t have to be pack to save your sorry ass.” 

The startled look on Derek’s face is almost worth the weak feeling in Stiles’ knees, and while he still has momentum, he walks past Derek, on his way out of the cemetery. 

He’s not surprised when Scott is the one that follows him. 

***

When he hears his window slide open early that morning, he doesn’t bother to turn around, just buries his face a little bit further into his pillow and mutters, “You know, Scott, I’m actually kind of exhausted. So can we not do the whole ‘I’m here to mend your broken heart thing’ right now?” 

There’s a silence for a second, and then a voice rumbles, “Are you alright?” and it’s most definitely not Scott. Stiles all but shrieks as he flails between his sheets, nearly falling off his bed as he turns towards the window. 

“Derek?” he calls out, surprised. 

“Deaton says magic takes a lot out of you,” Derek says, standing by the window like the giant lurker that he is, “Especially in the beginning, so… are you alright?” 

“Fine,” Stiles says as he gets over his initial shock, slowly untangling himself from his sheets. “Just… like I said, exhausted.” 

Derek nods, looks around the room like this is all new to him or something. 

“Can I help you?” Stiles asks pointedly when he sees that Derek is making no indication of leaving. 

“Why do you have a broken heart?” Derek asks matter-of-factly. 

“Are you kidding me?” Stiles asks, and he’s hoping his growing anger can cover up the nervousness and embarrassment he’s feeling at the moment. “I thought you were Scott. I am not having this conversation with you, of all people. We are not friends.” 

And Derek actually has the nerve to look hurt, to clench his jaw and look away like Stiles’ words actually mean something to him. And something inside of Stiles snaps, and he’s jumping out of his bed, not caring that he’s only dressed in boxers and an old shirt, and he all but yells, “Don’t give me that ridiculous sad face, alright? You were the one that shut me out. You were the one that told me I wasn’t pack. So don’t you stand here and pretend to be all broken up about the fact that I didn’t call you my friend. In fact, why are you even here? Why are you wasting your time checking up on me, or whatever the hell this is?”

“You’re impossible to talk to…” Derek mumbles, and turns to leave. 

I’m impossib…? Are you even kidding me right now?” Stiles yells as he picks up a stupid stuffed penguin that he once got from Scott when they were little and throws it at Derek, square between the shoulder blades. It bounces off, falls onto the floor, and Derek turns around slowly, looking at the object on the floor before his eyes land on Stiles again and Stiles thinks maybe Derek might actually murder him. 

Derek clenches his jaw shut again, takes a deep breath through his nose like he’s trying to stop himself from wolfing out. 

“Look…” Stiles says, holding his hands up in front of him as protection. “You’re the one sneaking into my bedroom, okay? And if that means I can’t even throw a stuffed penguin at you… well, then you probably shouldn’t have come here.” 

“I was supposed to expect stuffed animals thrown at me?” Derek asks, and his voice sounds strange, but not angry anymore, per se. 

He’s suddenly very aware of Derek’s gaze on him, and his stupid boxer shorts that feel way too… undressed. 

“Hey, at least it wasn’t on fire.” Stiles shrugs. 

“I told you to stay away and you went after that ghoul on your own,” Derek says, suddenly serious. “I told you that you weren’t part of us, and you started doing fucking magic.” 

“To be fair, I started the magic before that,” Stiles interrupts, mumbling, “I just… didn’t tell you about it.” 

“Do you have any idea how dangerous this is?” Derek asks. 

“You think I’m stupid?” Stiles asks, “I see my best friend getting hurt on a daily basis. Do you honestly think I’m going to stay away just because you tell me to?” 

“But he can heal,” Derek counters, “You can’t, you’re…” 

“A liability, yeah, I get it,” Stiles huffs, suddenly wishing for his boxers to have pockets so he could shove his hands into them. 

“No, you don’t!” Derek snaps, “I’m trying to keep you safe but you’re making it impossible to!” 

“Whu…?” Stiles asks, mouth falling open as Derek rubs his hand over his face in frustration. 

“You never listen!” Derek says, put upon. 

“I’m listening pretty hard right now,” Stiles says, and his voice is almost a whisper. 

Derek is still standing by the window, staring at Stiles like he doesn’t know what to do with him. And Stiles thinks that maybe that’s exactly what’s going on here. 

“When you get hurt… you don’t heal,” Derek says, and Stiles nods even though this isn’t exactly brand new information to him. 

“I do, actually,” Stiles says, “Just… not as quickly.” 

“You know what I mean,” Derek says, shaking his head slightly. 

“Yeah,” Stiles says, wistfully, “I just don’t know why you’d care…”

And Stiles thinks that he said the completely wrong thing because Derek is quiet for a while, like he’s mulling things over in his head, and Stiles expects him to say that he doesn’t care any second now. 

Except, in the end, Derek says, “Because I lied. Because you are pack.” 

And Stiles thinks that maybe he forgets how to breathe. 

***

“And…?” Scott asks, looking at Stiles expectantly. 

“And then he left,” Stiles says, and he can still feel his heart pumping wildly in his chest. 

“You’re kidding me,” Scott says, fastening the lock on his bike. 

“I don’t even know what this means, man,” Stiles says, as they walk up to the school. “It’s like I can’t think clearly.” 

“You’re still in love with him?” Scott asks. 

“Scott!” Stiles hisses, looking around frantically to make sure Isaac, Erica, or Boyd aren’t lurking around somewhere. 

“Sorry,” Scott lowers his voice, giving Stiles an apologetic look, “But you are, right?” 

“God knows why,” Stiles sighs, “He might be the biggest asshole I’ve ever met.” 

“But if he did all that to protect you, to keep you away from danger…” Scott shrugs. 

“Are you seriously defending Derek?” Stiles asks, raising an eyebrow. “You, of all people?” 

“Hey, if he’s being an asshole to make sure you don’t get hurt…” Scott says, “Then I can’t really argue with that.” 

Stiles groans. “You’re both assholes.” 

“Yeah, but I’m not in love with you,” Scott says matter-of-factly. 

“Stop it,” Stiles grumbles. “Neither is Derek.” 

“At the very least he cares,” Scott says. 

“There’s a big difference between not wanting someone dead and being in love with them, Scott,” Stiles says. 

“Sure,” Scott says, ducking into the hallway towards his locker. “Whatever you say.” 

“There is,” Stiles says firmly, calling after him. 

Scott just looks over his shoulder and gives him a smirk. 

“There is, Scott!” Stiles shouts, but all it does is earn him a few looks from fellow-students. 

***

Stiles manages to avoid Derek for an entire week, because even just thinking about him gives Stiles a headache. And he certainly doesn’t expect Derek’s name to pop up on his phone when he’s sitting on the couch, next to his father, watching some cooking show on the television. 

Stiles snatches up the phone before his Dad can see the caller ID, shoots him a reassuring smile, and answers the phone. 

“Yeah?” Stiles asks as he walks – as casually as possible – into the kitchen. 

“Why aren’t you here?” Derek asks, his voice rough and firm. 

“Excuse me?” Stiles asks, keeping his voice down in case his father gets curious. 

“We’re all here,” Derek says curtly, “We’re discussing the hunters. Why aren’t you here?” 

‘We’ is the pack, Stiles knows, because Scott told him about Derek asking them all to come over. 

“I’m not a wolf,” Stiles simply shrugs, because he hasn’t forgotten how Derek kicked him out at the last ‘pack meeting’, or whatever it is they’re calling these things. 

“I told you…” Derek starts. 

“I didn’t think you’d want me there,” Stiles says, “I mean, after last time…” 

“But I told you…” Derek grumbles, and Stiles honestly doesn’t know why he feels pleased that Derek thought Stiles was going to be there tonight. 

“Yeah…” Stiles says, and he thinks back to a week ago in his bedroom, and it all seems very surreal right now. 

“I need you to come over,” Derek says. 

“Now? Isn’t the meeting over?” Stiles asks, confused. “I thought everyone would be on their way home?” 

“Come over as soon as you can. I’m waiting,” Derek says, and he hangs up before Stiles can utter an answer. 

He stares at his phone for a while before clearing his throat and stepping back into the living room. 

“So, Scott’s freaking out,” Stiles lies as his father looks up at him from the couch. “He forgot about this test we have tomorrow, and he forgot his text book in his locker at school, and he’s already flunking the class, so…” 

“You’re gonna go and help him out?” Stiles’ Dad asks, and he’s got his sympathetic face on that almost makes Stiles want to cringe for lying to him. 

“Yeah, if that’s okay with you,” Stiles shrugs, his fingers tightening around his phone. 

“Try not to make it too late,” his father says, turning his attention back to the television. “We don’t need you failing the test ‘cause you were trying to help Scott pass.” 

“I’m good, Dad,” Stiles smiles reassuring, “Going over it again with Scott will be a refresher for my mind.” 

“Home by midnight!” his father calls after him as he runs up the stairs in order to grab his backpack and the keys to the Jeep. 

***

“You need to lock your door,” Stiles says as he steps into the Hale house, dropping his backpack on the floor. 

“I knew you were coming,” Derek says as he steps into view. 

“Well, you summoned,” Stiles answers, trying for lighthearted. 

Derek doesn’t respond, just stands there looking at Stiles. Stiles shifts uncomfortably as he looks around. 

“Where is everyone?” 

“Home,” Derek says. 

“See, I told you,” Stiles says, rolling his head, “I knew the meeting would be over. Why did you even ask me…?” 

“There need to be rules,” Derek says, completely ignoring Stiles’ rant, as he starts to pace around the room. 

“Rules?” Stiles asks, confused. 

“You can’t go off on your own again,” Derek continues, “When we’re up against something, you tell us what it is you’re planning. You tell me. We go together, as a pack. You cannot run off and fight God knows what creatures on your own, not even if you think you can handle them, not even if you’ve got magic to back you up. You need us to back you up, do you understand that?” 

Stiles stares at him for a bit, then nods slowly. “Yeah. I mean… is that, like… the rule if I want to be in the pack?” 

“You’re already in the pack,” Derek says, and he averts his eyes from Stiles like he’s embarrassed to admit it again. “But that means you include us. Do you get that?” 

“Yeah,” Stiles says, a little dumbstruck. “I just… Why are you…? I mean…” 

“You can’t die,” Derek says, firmly. 

Stiles thinks back to his conversation with Scott and he holds in a snort. 

“Yeah, I know,” Stiles says, like he’s running off a list, “You’re responsible for me, ‘cause I’m pack. And Scott would probably leave if anything happened to me during ‘official pack-business’…” 

Stiles does the air quotes and everything. 

There’s a low grumbling sound in the back of Derek’s throat as he grabs a handful of Stiles’ hoodie, and Stiles’ breath hitches as he freezes up, sure that he’s about to be slammed against the wall. 

“You don’t listen,” Derek gripes, and his face is close to Stiles’, his hand still clutching the fabric, leaving him no way out. 

“I… I thought we went over this already,” Stiles stammers, his heart pounding in his chest. 

“Maybe you’ll understand this…” Derek mumbles, and he crushes his lips against Stiles’ and Stiles makes an embarrassingly startled noise and forgets how to breathe or move altogether, because holy shit, Derek is actually kissing him. 

Derek, who’s still got a death grip on his sweatshirt, but it doesn’t matter because Stiles doesn’t want to pull away anyway. So Stiles reaches up and grabs Derek by the shoulders, and opens up his mouth underneath Derek’s and there’s stubble rasping against his chin as Derek nips at his lips and then his tongue is sliding inside Stiles’ mouth and it’s warm and wet and completely fantasy-worthy.

He faintly realizes that he’s getting hard already, and Derek’s leg is pressed up between his and Derek will be able to feel. Somehow he thinks he should be embarrassed about it, but Derek is groaning into the kiss, pulling Stiles closer, and Stiles has this distinct feeling that Derek might be okay with it. 

Derek’s lips drag over Stiles’ as he noses against Stiles’ cheek, all the way to Stiles’ neck and Stiles twitches underneath Derek’s touch, still clutching at his shoulders because he’s not quite sure what to do, what he’s allowed to do. 

“Der…” Stiles tries, but the word gets stuck somewhere halfway in his throat. 

Derek’s mouth is still firmly at Stiles’ neck, now sucking against the skin, as one hand is firmly splayed over Stiles’ back and Stiles is sure it’s the only thing keeping him upright at the moment. 

“I’m listening now,” Stiles says as if his mouth has a mind of its own ‘cause he’s pretty sure that Derek’s mouth has fried his brain. 

Derek’s body shudders against his then, and Stiles realizes that he’s chuckled. 

He pulls his head away so he can look Stiles in the eye, and his hand comes up to frame Stiles’ face. 

“Are you okay with what I’m saying?” Derek says, so uncharacteristically soft that Stiles thinks he’s going to melt into Derek’s body. 

Stiles is pretty sure he’s blushing when he says, “Are you okay with the fact that I’ve been crushing on you since forever?” 

Derek looks him in the eye, and Stiles would think he’d be used to one of Derek’s intense stares by now, but his face is close and his lips are shiny with what is probably Stiles’ saliva, and Stiles just feels exposed. 

“I just wanted to keep you safe,” Derek says, letting his hands fall to rest on Stiles’ hips.

Stiles nods minutely, because he thinks he finally gets it. 

“But you just go and do what you want anyway, so that didn’t exactly work out,” Derek continues. 

Stiles wants to rub away Derek’s frown, until he realizes that he actually can and he rubs his thumbs over Derek’s forehead, smoothing away the wrinkled frown between Derek’s eyebrows. 

“I think maybe we’d be best if we just… try to keep each other safe?” Stiles says, letting his fingers trace down the side of Derek’s face. 

“That sounds like a plan,” Derek says, nodding slightly. 

“See,” Stiles smiles, rubbing his thumb over Derek’s stubble, “I’m already keeping you in the loop of my plans.” 

Derek’s face breaks open in a genuine smile then, and he tightens his arms around Stiles’ waist to pull him even closer. 

“My next plan is to continue kissing you,” Stiles smirks, feeling ridiculously brave right now. 

Derek grins, and says, “As your Alpha, I approve of this plan” and Stiles always knew Derek had a sense of humor. 

“Power-drunk,” Stiles smiles, and dips back in for another kiss. 

***

“I need to be home by midnight,” Stiles mumbles as he’s splayed out on the old – but surprisingly clean – couch in the half fixed-up living room. 

Derek is sprawled out on top of him, grinding his hips down in a way that’s driving Stiles insane. 

“Or you’ll turn into a pumpkin?” Derek mutters against Stiles’ neck, and Derek has definitely found a favorite spot there. 

“Or I’ll turn into a grounded sixteen year old,” Stiles says, and he cringes as the words leave his mouth, hands stilling on Derek’s back. 

“Shit, that was the wrong thing to say, right?” Stiles says hesitantly. 

Derek pulls his face back to look at Stiles and says, “I know how old you are, Stiles.” 

“I know,” Stiles says hastily, and he’s cursing his own brain for ever bringing it up, because Derek is right on top of him, and he can feel him hard against his thigh, and just a minute ago Stiles was basically humping Derek’s leg here and can they please just go back to that now? 

“Do you not want to…?” Derek trails off, and only his ragged breathing betrays that he truly wants this too. 

“No, I do!” Stiles practically shrieks, clinging a little tighter to Derek’s back. “I just have a stupid mouth that works without my permission, ‘cause I really, desperately, do. I just… really need to be home by midnight.” 

“Desperately?” Derek quirks an eyebrow, and Stiles is so relieved he could cry when Derek grinds his hips down again, creating some much needed friction. 

“I want you, okay?” Stiles huffs, rutting his hips up against Derek’s. “You don’t have to be smug about it.” 

“I’ll get you home by midnight,” Derek smirks, dipping down to capture Stiles’ lips in a searing kiss, his hand sneaking between their bodies. He presses his palm right over the bulge in Stiles’ pants, and Stiles shudders underneath him. 

The leg that isn’t pressed up between Derek and the back of the couch falls open easily as Derek starts rubbing over Stiles’ crotch, and Stiles knows that he should probably get in there as well, should get his hand on Derek’s dick, now that he can, but the sensation of Derek’s hand, simply rubbing over Stiles’ jeans-covered erection, is almost too much to take. And then Derek flips open the button of his pants with his thumb, and he slides his hand right in, right under the edge of Stiles’ underwear, where Stiles is leaking with pre-come, but Derek doesn’t seem to care as he tightens his fingers around Stiles’ rock-hard cock. 

“Oh Jesus,” Stiles breaks the kiss to gasp for air, bucking his hips up as Derek starts stroking in earnest. 

His hands find their way up into Derek’s hair. 

“At this rate, I’ll be home by eleven,” Stiles says, breathless. 

Derek hums somewhat approvingly, teeth scraping against that same spot on Stiles’ neck as he presses his thumb into the slit of Stiles’ cock, causing Stiles to whine out in pleasure. 

It takes everything he has to untangle one hand from Derek’s hair, and he slides it over the smooth skin of Derek’s back before squeezing it between their bodies, trying to find his way into Derek’s pants. 

“Want you to come with me,” Stiles breathes heavily, and Derek lifts his hips somewhat, allowing room for Stiles’ hand. He keeps stroking Stiles, grunting as he slides back down Stiles’ cock, squeezing slowly. 

Stiles fumbles with Derek’s pants, coherency out the window a long time ago, and he’s about to protest when Derek’s warm hand leaves Stiles’ cock, but then he realizes Derek’s popping over the buttons of his pants himself, quickly pushing down the material to hang low on his hips, facilitating the access for Stiles. 

“Fuck yeah…” Stiles mutters as he wraps his hand around Derek’s cock, sliding up and down experimentally. 

Derek presses his lips against Stiles’ mouth, and Stiles opens up eagerly underneath him again, reveling in the feel of Derek’s tongue against him, Derek’s hand back on his cock. 

He hooks his leg around Derek’s thigh, and there’s a somewhat clumsy fumbling with both their hands stroking between their bodies, but it feels good. It feels amazing, and Stiles knows he isn’t far from coming. 

“Fuck,” Derek mumbles against Stiles’ lips, and his cock is twitching in Stiles’ hand as he’s speeding up the pace, and that’s all it takes for Stiles. He releases a long moan as he comes all over their stomachs. 

Derek keeps jerking Stiles off until the very last drop, and it isn’t until he feels him pushing his hips down again that Stiles realizes he stopped stroking Derek’s cock. 

“Sorry,” he mumbles almost inaudibly as his hand speeds up again. 

Derek is smooth and silky between his fingers, and it doesn’t take him long to thrust into Stiles’ fist one last time as he reaches his climax, and then collapse on top of Stiles. He’s heavy, but Stiles doesn’t care as he wraps his arms around Derek’s frame, letting him nuzzle his face against his throat. 

“That was fucking amazing,” Stiles slurs as he gradually catches his breath again, pressing his nose in Derek’s hair with a content sigh. 

“You can’t fall asleep,” Derek mumbles, stubble scratching against Stiles’ skin. 

“Just admit that this was amazing,” Stiles smiles goofily, his fingers carding through the hairs curling at the nape of Derek’s neck. 

“You’re amazing,” Derek says, and Stiles can feel the smile pressed up against his skin. 

“I’m magic,” Stiles smiles, and he doesn’t even mind when Derek pinches his side. 

***

Stiles almost trips twice on the way up to the front porch, and he bursts through the front door, shouting, “It’s not midnight yet!” 

His father looks up at him from where he’s still sitting on the couch, now with a book in his hand. He glances at his watch, and says, “Eleven forty-seven.” 

Not midnight!” Stiles says triumphant and he really needs to control his glee right now because there’s no way his father is ever going to believe he’s this excited about being home before curfew. 

“Scott gonna ace the test?” his Dad asks. 

“Huh?” Stiles says, a dumbstruck look on his face before he realizes what his cover story was and nods way too enthusiastically. “Oh yeah. Definitely. There’s not an algebra problem he can’t solve right now!”

“Uh-huh,” his father nods casually, turning his attention back to his book. 

Stiles grins, shrugging off his jacket and dropping it over the back of a chair. He heads for the stairs when his father says, “Oh, Stiles?” 

“Yeah, Dad?” Stiles asks, trying to wipe the stupid grin off his face but failing miserably. 

“Did you get that hickey from studying at Scott’s?” he asks, looking up from over his reading glasses. 

Stiles’ hand slaps over his neck instinctively, to the spot where Derek had been nosing and sucking as they… 

“Oh God…” Stiles mutters, horrified. 

Suddenly he’s very aware of the come sticking on his stomach, on his clothes – despite the fact that he cleaned up as well as possible at Derek’s. 

“Dad, I…” he starts, rubbing his fingers over the same spot on his neck, and why is he drawing even more attention to it? 

And what is his father even thinking? Does he think he really was at Scott’s? Does he think Scott is the one who… 

“Goodnight, Stiles,” his father says, and Stiles could swear he saw a tiny smirk there. 

“Dad, it’s not Scott!” Stiles blurts out, even though he doesn’t know why he feels the need to make this clear. It’s not as if he’s very eager to spill the beans to his father about who it, in fact, is. 

“No, I figured as much,” Stiles’ Dad says, looking back up at him. 

Stiles nods, leaning from foot to foot like he’s not quite sure what to do next. 

His father gives him a reassuring smile. “Whenever you wanna tell me, I’m here. And just… be careful.” 

“Yeah, Dad,” Stiles says, somewhat stupefied by how easy this all seems to be going. 

“Be safe,” his father then adds, to make sure his meaning is clear. 

Stiles groans as he buries his face in his hands and whines, “Dad…” 

“Okay, okay,” his father says, like he’s getting that he’s horribly embarrassing Stiles by even bringing up such a thing. He goes back to staring at his book and repeats, “Goodnight, Stiles.” 

“Night, Dad,” Stiles says, somewhat relieved. He waits a beat before he adds a quiet, “Thanks” and heads up the stairs. 

He leans back against his closed bedroom door, drops his backpack to the floor, and lets out a long sigh before he starts when he sees the figure sitting on the edge of his bed. 

“Jesus Christ!” he calls out, hissing in an attempt to stay quiet. 

But Derek just smirks as he looks up at Stiles. Stiles flips the lock on his door, before turning back to Derek. 

“How did you even…?” he starts, shaking his head. “How is this possible?” 

Because Stiles has no idea how Derek managed to beat him to the house, not that he is in any way complaining about his presence. 

Derek kisses Stiles as he sits down next to him on the bed, wrapping his arms around him. 

“Magic,” Derek smiles against Stiles’ lips, then scoots up the bed, head hitting the pillow as he opens his arms for Stiles. 

And Stiles feels no need to elaborate on the subject as he toes off his shoes and crawls close to Derek. 

“Night, Derek,” he says as he rests his head on Derek’s chest. 

“Night, Stiles,” Derek answers, and closes his arms around Stiles.