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John

It’s been over three months since John found out that werewolves are real when Stiles goes to the grocery store one night and doesn’t come back.

It takes John, engrossed in the TV, an hour and forty-five minutes to realize that something must’ve happened. Stiles never takes this long at the store. Of course, he could have stopped somewhere else on his way home—but after everything that’s happened in the past year, Stiles has been good about telling John his plans, and he said he was just going to swing by the store.

He tries Stiles’ cell. No answer. He calls Scott. Scott picks up on the third ring. He hasn’t heard from Stiles either. They’ve learned from past mistakes that in the long run, it’s safer to assume the worst, so they arrange to meet at the grocery store.

John pulls into the parking lot and his headlights pick up the gleam of werewolf eyes. Scott’s already there, along with Derek and Isaac. And they’re standing next to Stiles’ Jeep. For an instant, John feels hope—maybe Stiles just got distracted in the cereal aisle again?—but then he notices that the driver’s side door is hanging open, and his stomach plummets.

He wants to call it in to the station, get the guys out looking for Stiles, but Derek and Scott talk him out of it. They tell him that the area surrounding the Jeep smells weird. Inhuman.

“Werewolves?” he asks, and they shake their heads.

“I’ve never smelled anything like it before,” Derek says, apologetic.

John knows it wouldn’t be right to send uninformed cops after a supernatural creature, but he’s honestly finding it hard to care. But he’s too numb with shock to protest when Scott takes his phone out of his hand and slips it into his pocket.

“If we need to, we can call Chris Argent,” Scott says. “But not the police.”

Isaac finds the keys to the Jeep discarded on the pavement, half-hidden under a clump of weeds. They hang around the parking lot for a while, but no more clues present themselves, and eventually Isaac and Derek take the Jeep back to John’s house, while Scott rides back with John.

“We’ll find him,” Scott promises.

*

They spread maps of the city all over the kitchen table. John’s got to assume that Stiles is still in Beacon Hills, for the sake of his sanity. If he was being held somewhere, there were only so many places he could be. They split Beacon Hills up into sectors, focusing on the areas with high concentrations of abandoned buildings.

John knows Scott hasn’t always gotten along with Derek—and even Stiles still calls him an asshole, although John gets the impression he means it fondly—but whatever Derek did during his month and a half long absence from Beacon Hills, it’s helped. He’s not the same sullen young man that John handcuffed and locked in the back of his squad car that one time. John’s learned from Stiles that although Cora chose to stay with distant relatives of the Hale pack, Isaac’s still living with Derek. Stiles and Scott go over there pretty frequently to hang out. Anyway, Scott and Derek seem to have gotten over any problems they once had.

They search for hours, that night, and don’t find Stiles. Eventually Derek sends everyone home to get a couple hours’ rest. John goes grudgingly, but falls into an uneasy sleep on the couch within ten minutes of sitting down.

 

Derek

Derek hasn’t slept in over twenty-four hours, and he’s been in so many disgusting rotting buildings that’s he’s starting to have trouble picking out individual smells. He snaps at Isaac twice in the span of half an hour. Scott pulls him aside after the second time and glares at him.

“What the hell are you doing yelling at Isaac?”

He looks at Derek more closely. “Have you slept at all since Stiles went missing?”

Derek shakes his head.

Scott sighs. “Of course you haven’t. Okay, this is what we’re gonna do. Isaac and I will keep looking, and you’re going home. For at least five hours.”

“Scott—”

Scott bowls over him. “Stiles needs us to be the best we can be and if you’re sleep deprived you might get careless. You might miss something important.”

Derek’s head feels like someone stuffed it full of cotton balls. He hates to admit it, but Scott’s right.

“Fine. Call me if you find anything. And tell Isaac—”

“I will,” Scott says gently. “Go.”

*
Derek goes home, paces, drinks tea, paces some more. He yanks his jeans off angrily and gets in bed. Sleep doesn’t come easily. He dreams about awful, horrible things: watching Stiles die, finding Stiles’ broken body, Stiles alone and terrified, calling his name. He wakes up sick to his stomach after nearly two hours of nightmares.

The sun set while he was asleep, and the moon’s coming up. It looks like it’s going to be another chilly night. He’s drinking a glass of water when he spots his running shoes half-hidden under the kitchen table. There’s no way he’s going back to sleep, but a run in the Preserve will help clear his head before he meets back up with Scott and Isaac.

It’s not far from his new apartment to the Preserve. He takes a trail he hasn’t run in months, one that goes off the edge of his property and into the woods beyond. The dirt feels good under his feet, and he’s covering ground quickly, so by the time he processes the smell he’s already a good twenty meters past it. He whips around so fast he almost falls over and jogs back to the spot. It’s—it’s the same smell that was near Stiles’ Jeep. There’s no doubt.

This can’t be a coincidence.

He can’t see anything strange from where he’s standing on the trail—trees, trees, some rocks, little ferny plants, more trees—but now that he’s not moving it’s weirdly quiet. Even if Derek scared off the larger wildlife, he should still be able to hear late-night birds chirping, small insects, frogs, that kind of thing. There’s nothing. Just a dead, eerie silence that makes the hair on Derek’s arms stand up.

Derek carefully notes the exact spot on the trail where the smell is strongest and retreats until the woods start to sound alive around him again. Then he flips open his phone and calls Scott.

Scott, predictably, is annoyed.

“You’re supposed to be asleep,” he says.

“I found something,” Derek tells him. “In the woods. That smell we found by the Jeep, it’s here.”

*
Scott says that he and Isaac will get there as soon as possible, and he makes Derek promise not to do anything stupid without them. Derek is anxious, waiting for them, pacing back and forth. He’d been starting to think that maybe he’d made the wrong decision when he convinced John not to involve the police. A full day of searching, and they’d turned up nothing. If Stiles gets hurt, or killed, it’ll be all Derek’s fault.

And Derek can’t think about Stiles dying. Just. No. He’d been a constant pain in Derek’s side at first, with his sarcasm and his smart-ass sense of humor and his brazen attitude. He argued and complained and drove Derek up the fucking wall. But…he’s kind of gotten used to having Stiles around. For all that he can be an asshole, he’s also unflinching loyal, smart, and resourceful. He texts Derek stupid questions at 3am and whenever he and Scott come over to see Isaac, he always bullies Derek into joining their plans.

He hears Isaac and Scott coming long before he sees them and he straightens up from the tree he was leaning against.

“Did you call Stiles’ dad?” Scott asks.

Derek shakes his head. “I think we should wait to call him. Just because it’s the same smell doesn’t mean it’s going to lead us to Stiles.”

Thankfully, Scott doesn’t argue with him.

“What were you doing out here?” Isaac asks. He’s got a long scarf wrapped around his neck. It looks kind of ridiculous, but it suits him.

“I was having trouble sleeping. I thought a run might help.”

Isaac nods. “Fair enough.”

“So where’s the smell?” Scott asks, looking around like he’s going to be able to spot it.

Derek jerks his thumb over his shoulder. “About a half-mile that way. I want you two to keep pretty quiet when we get closer. Something’s scared all the animals away and we don’t want to let it know we’re here.”

He leads them further into the woods and watches the way their eyes widen when the smell hits them.

“It’s definitely the same,” Scott says quietly. “But I don’t smell Stiles anywhere.”

“Me neither,” Isaac agrees. “So what do we do?”

“We look around, see if we can pick up any kind of scent trail. I want you and Scott to stick together. You find something, you text me. If it’s an emergency, howl.”

“Got it.”

They split up, and half an hour later finds Derek standing in front of a fucking hole in the ground. Not just a little rabbit hole or fox den. This is something big enough for a person to fit into. In fact, he has a bad feeling that he’s just stumbled across the entrance to a cave. He spots something glinting in the dirt at his feet, and bends to pick it up. It’s a dime. A shiny, fresh dime.

Jesus. He really, really hopes Stiles isn’t down there.

*

Isaac stares down into the darkness.

“We have to go down there?” he asks. His face is pale.

“Scott and I have to go down there,” Derek amends. “You’re staying up here.”

“What? Why?”

“Last time you felt trapped, you nearly hurt Allison. And that was in a fucking storage closet. There’s no way I’m sending you into a cave.”

Isaac doesn’t look convinced.

“We need someone to stay up here anyway,” Derek adds. “To keep watch and to get help if something happens to me or Scott.”

“Fine,” Isaac says. “But I don’t like it.”

They’ve gone to the store since Derek discovered the cave, and loaded up on flashlights, rope, and water. They even have headlamps, thanks to the hardware store. They also have a candle and some matches, thanks to Scott, who claimed he saw a movie once where someone lit a candle to check for dangerous gases in a cave. Between the three of them they have zero caving experience, so Derek figured better safe than sorry and bought the damn candle.

Isaac holds one of the flashlights steady while Derek climbs down into the opening. He had originally suggested just jumping down, but Scott and Isaac overruled him. The rocks are damp and hard to get a grip on. He slips, once, and cuts his hand open on a sharp rock trying to stop his fall. It heals quickly, but he tries to be more careful after that.

At about twenty-five feet, he reaches the bottom, where the hole levels out and becomes a passage. Derek estimates that it’s only slightly wider than his shoulders. As for height, well—they’re going to have to crawl. His jeans are never going to be the same.

He aims his headlight up and flashes it to let Scott know he made it down okay.

Scott joins him reasonably quickly, and they set off down the tunnel, Derek leading. It turns into a gradual decline after a while, and the ground becomes damper the farther down they go. It’s colder down here too, and Derek’s thankful for his abnormally high werewolf temperature.

Eventually, Derek rounds a corner and comes to a halt when the tunnel abruptly opens up at the bank of some kind of underground lake. It’s hard to tell for sure, but it’s at least half the length of a football field. It’s not deep, though. They might be able to get across without having to swim.

“Why’d you stop?” Scott whispers behind him.

Derek silently shuffles forward out of the narrow tunnel opening to let Scott come up next to him. The ceiling’s much higher here, reaching up and up, and it’s a relief to be able to stand up and stretch his cramped limbs.

“Woah,” Scott says.

Derek unbuttons his jeans and starts to yank them off, and Scott goggles at him.

“What—what are you doing?”

“If we tie our clothes in a bundle, we can keep them dry while we’re crossing.”

“Oh. That’s, um, that’s actually pretty smart.” Scott sounds amazed, and Derek has to actively resist rolling his eyes and sighing.

He manages it, just barely, and keeps stripping. He takes off everything but his shoes, and uses the legs of his jeans to bundle it all up.

Scott lets out an indignant squeak when Derek turns to look at him, and hastily covers his dick with his hands.

“Don’t look,” he says.

“Too late,” Derek says, just because he can. “C’mon, let’s go.”

The water is freezing. It reaches mid-chest on Derek, and it’s slow going, wading through it. At one point he thinks he feels something brush against his leg, but it doesn’t come again and he keeps going. It feels like it takes forever to get to the other side. His clothes cling unappealingly to his damp body when he puts them back on. Scott’s having similar troubles pulling on his jeans.

The tunnel on this side of the lake starts out tall enough to walk upright in, if slightly hunched over. Something catches Derek’s attention and he pauses, trying to focus his senses.

Thump. Thuuuuuuuump. Thump.

“Derek?”

“Quiet,” Derek says. “Do you hear that?”

It takes Scott longer to pick it up. His senses are less developed, having had them for a much shorter time.

“I hear something,” he says slowing. “What is it?”

“It’s—Stiles. He’s here. He’s definitely here. That’s his heartbeat.”

The sound is faint but unmistakable. When the fuck did he learn to recognize the pattern of Stiles’ heart? It’s not the steady beat he’s used to, but an irregular patter. It worries him.

They move much quicker after that, and when the tunnel branches and splits Derek concentrates his hearing and follows the sound of Stiles’ heartbeat. It grows steadily louder, and Derek’s just estimated that they must be pretty close when Stiles’ heartbeat stutters and spikes. Derek freezes.

When Stiles screams, it echoes throughout the cave.

*
Derek forgets to be cautious and charges ahead. The tunnel opens up into a room. The light from his headlamp catches Stiles at the far end of it, tied to a chair. There’s a figure crouching over him. Derek can smell blood.

“Get away from him,” he says.

The figure turns. It looks like an old woman, but something’s…off. It’s blurry, around the edges, and when it moves it makes a rustling sound that’s definitely not human.

“And if I don’t?” it hisses.

“I’ll kill you,” Derek says. He’s going to kill it anyway, but it’d be better if he could get it away from Stiles first.

“The boy is mine,” it says, and trails gnarled fingers down Stiles’ cheek and throat. Stiles whimpers and strains away from the thing’s touch.

Derek inches closer, feeling Scott ready at his back. “You can’t have him.”

The thing turns to laugh at him with a mouth full of sharp pointy teeth, and Derek shifts in one fluid motion and leaps, knocking it to the ground. It snarls in anger and rakes its talons across Derek’s face. Derek recoils and it uses his shift in balance to throw him off. It’s surprisingly strong for its size, and he hits the cave wall hard, momentarily knocked out of breath.

The fall also broke the bulb on his headlamp, which is probably for the best. He doesn’t know how good the thing’s eyesight is, but there’s no need for Derek to wear what is essentially a target sign on his forehead. Scott’s lamp is lying on the floor, its light directed on the cave ceiling.

Scott’s already after it and he manages to claw it in the side, only just darting out of the way of its talons. It shrieks in a high, piercing tone that hurts Derek’s ears. Scott darts in again and this time isn’t so lucky; Derek hears the crunch of bone breaking. But Derek’s circled around behind it while it was busy with Scott and he shoves his claws straight into its neck and yanks.

It falls to the ground in a spray of hot, stinging blood, still writhing. He doesn’t think there’s any chance it could survive that, but he breaks its neck for good measure, and it falls still.

*
Stiles watches them approach with a worried look in his eyes and cringes when Scott gets too close. He’s wearing the same Studmuffin shirt he’d had on on Friday, only now it’s dirty and stained and clings to his skin in dark wet patches. He smells bad too, and not just of blood. He smells like he’s pissed himself.

“Stiles, it’s me,” Scott says. “Scott.”

Stiles’ heartbeat doesn’t slow. If anything, it picks up again. Scott takes another step towards him and Stiles makes a panicked noise and pulls hard against the ropes around his wrists.

“Stop it; you’re going to hurt yourself!” Scott implores. He turns to Derek with a pleading look. “What’s wrong with him?”

“Try to untie him,” Derek says, reluctant to come nearer, reluctant to see Stiles’ fear directed at him. “We need to get him out of here, take him to the hospital.”

“Hey, bro, you gonna let me get those ropes off you?” Scott asks. He reaches for Stiles, who twists desperately from side to side, trying to get away. The chair rocks and nearly falls over, and Scott backs off.

“He’s freaking out,” Scott says, looking well on the way to freaking out himself. “I can hear his heart. Derek—”

“I know. Okay, go make sure that thing’s really dead. See if you can find anything that might tell us what it is and I’ll try to talk to Stiles.”

Derek can hear his own heart pounding as he moves into Stiles’ range of vision, and he hopes Scott is too occupied to notice.

He abruptly realizes that while he can see Stiles just fine, he’s not sure how well Stiles can see him. Werewolf eyes only need a small amount of light to be able to see. Stiles, on the other hand, has presumably been trapped down here in the dark and the cold for a day and a half.

Derek fetches Scott’s headlamp, but Stiles closes his eyes and moans when the light gets close. Shit, his eyes must be too sensitive for it. Derek tries leaving it close enough for it to still illuminate him, and crouches down in front of Stiles.

Stiles looks down at him muzzily, like he’s trying to focus on Derek’s face but can’t quite manage it.

“It’s just me,” Derek says softly. “Come on, Stiles. You know me. I’m not going to hurt you, but I need to untie you, and I can’t do that if you won’t let me get close. Okay?

“Stiles, I need you to answer me,” he adds, when Stiles doesn’t respond. “Will you let me untie you?”

Stiles squints at him, then jerks his head in a nod. He shuts his eyes and his breath comes in harsh, quick pants, but he holds still when Derek reaches out, save for the fine, uncontrollable tremors that run through his body. Derek’s hands are shaking as he picks at the knots, and it slows him down. He could easily cut through them with his claws, but if Stiles makes any more sudden movements, Derek might accidentally cut him instead of the rope.

His fingers brush against Stiles’ skin as he works, and finds it worryingly cold. The temperature in these caves is unpleasant even to Derek. To Stiles, it’s dangerous.

As each knot is undone, Stiles’ skin is revealed, rubbed red and raw where the rope had been. And when Derek gets to his ankles, he realizes for the first time that Stiles is barefoot, and somehow this hurts Derek most of all, Stiles’ dirty, bare feet and the fragile arch of his pale skin.

Once Stiles is free, he stiffly pulls his knees up to his chest and wraps his arms around them.

“We have to go now,” Derek says, still on his knees in front of Stiles. “Do you think you can stand up?”

Stiles shakes his head and sticks out one of his feet in Derek’s general direction. Derek automatically catches Stiles’ heel in his hand and when he examines it, trying to figure out what Stiles wants him to see, he catches sight of Stiles’ swollen ankle peeking out from under the hem of his jeans.

Fuck, how are they going to get him through the narrow sections of the cave?

“Okay, walking’s out. Will you let me pick you up?”

Stiles hunches up one shoulder in a half-shrug and pulls his foot away from Derek.

“Stiles, I swear I won’t hurt you.” He shuffles a little closer to Stiles’ chair, pleased when Stiles doesn’t try to move away from him.

“I need you to put your arms around my neck, okay?”

Derek holds extremely still while Stiles hesitantly uncurls his arms from around his knees and settles them around Derek’s neck.

“That’s it. Good. Ready?”

He stands up, looping one arm under Stiles’ knees and the other around his back, and Stiles exhales noisily as he’s lifted and clings to Derek’s neck with a death grip.

“Stiles?” Scott asks. Christ, Derek hadn’t even noticed that he’d rejoined them. “Dude, what’s wrong?”

Stiles turns away and hides his face in Derek’s chest.

“He’s hurt,” Derek says. “Can’t you smell the blood?”

*
The first part of the journey back is easy. They don’t bother stripping to cross the lake, in too much of a hurry to get Stiles out of the cave. Derek hoists Stiles up as high as he can and manages to keep him out of the water. Given the dampness of Stiles’ clothes, he must’ve been forced to wade across on the way in.

After they cross the lake, things get tricky. The only way to get Stiles out is to have him crawl. Stiles balks when Derek tries to put him down and it takes several minutes of coaxing to get him to enter the tunnel. They put him in the middle, with Scott in front and Derek behind, both constantly talking him along. At one point Stiles just comes to a halt and trembles, and Derek is terrified that they won’t be able to get Stiles going again, and they’ll be stuck in the tunnel.

He wants to kiss the ground when they finally make it to the steep upward climb to the surface. Of course, then they have a new problem to solve, because there’s no way Stiles can make the climb, not in his current condition.

Eventually they manage to rig up a kind of harness out of the rope, so Stiles can ride to the surface on Derek’s back. Stiles clings to him like a monkey while Derek hauls them up. By the time they get to the top, Stiles is clearly exhausted. Scott helps him off Derek’s back and has to catch him to stop him from falling over once his feet are on the ground.

They sit him down against a tree and manage to get a little water into him by holding the bottle up to his lips.

“Stiles?” Scott says anxiously. “Say something, dude.”

Stiles blinks at them, like he’d forgotten they were there. “Where’s my dad?” he says. It’s first thing he’s said since they found him.

“On shift,” Derek answers. He waves his cell phone at Stiles. “He’s not answering so he must be on a call, but we’ll let him know we found you as soon as we can.”

“I want my dad,” Stiles says again. His teeth chatter.

Derek frowns at him and reaches down to pick up his hand.

“Shit, he’s fucking freezing,” Derek says.

Stiles tries to tug his hand away. “What’r you doing,” he complains.

“Warming you up, idiot.”

He starts chafing Stiles’ hand between his own. Scott catches on and gets to work on his other hand; Isaac hovers nearby.

Ow,” Stiles says after they’ve been at for a few minutes. “Lemme go.”

“Fine,” Derek says. The sooner they get Stiles inside, the better. It’s warmer out here than it was in the cave, but still chilly. He drops Stiles’ hand and scoops him up into his arms instead. Stiles wriggles when he’s picked up, but weakly. “Time to get you out of here.”

After a brief (and quieter than usual, because Stiles, wavering back and forth between lucidity and disorientation, doesn’t take it too well when Scott raises his voice) argument on what to do next, they decide to take Stiles to Scott’s house first. There’s no way they can go to the hospital in the clothes they’re wearing now. At best, there’d be awkward questions, at worst, they’d be taken down to the police station for questioning. They’re already going to need a cover story to explain how Stiles got injured; there’s no need to make things unnecessarily complicated by showing up at the hospital covering in mud and blood. Scott’s hopeful that maybe Stiles won’t even need to go the hospital, that his mom can patch him up and he’ll be good to go. Derek’s not so optimistic. The confusion, the way he moves, his cold skin—Derek knows what the early stages of hypothermia look like.

It was a long walk back to Derek’s house. Stiles either passes out or goes to sleep. It’s hard to tell.

“Is he gonna be okay?” Isaac asks after a long period of silence.

Derek wants to say yes, yes of course he’ll be okay. Instead, what comes out is:

“I hope so.”

“D’rk,” Stiles slurs, moving in his arms. Derek nearly drops him in surprise. He hadn’t even noticed Stiles waking up.

“Stiles? How do you feel?”

“’M cold,” Stiles complains.

“I know. I’m sorry. Do you remember what happened?”

Stiles thinks about this.

“Was goin’ to the store.”

“Yeah, you were,” Derek says. Stiles doesn’t say anything else and Derek doesn’t press him.

*

Derek tries to put Stiles down so he can drive, but Stiles refuses to let go. He doesn’t exactly have a very strong grip, but he’s still cold and clammy to the touch, and half of what he says doesn’t make sense. And it’s freaking Derek out, to be honest, so he’s inclined to just go with whatever Stiles wants, which means digging his keys out of his pocket and handing them to Scott. Then he has to squeeze himself and Stiles into the Toyota’s backseat. It’s much roomier than the Camaro was, but it’s still not an easy task and Stiles whimpers when Derek accidentally jostles him. Once settled, he relinquishes his hold on Derek’s neck only to fist his hands in Derek’s t-shirt.

“Stiles,” Derek says, and Stiles blinks up at him. “I’m going to take away some of your pain, okay?”

He slides his hand just under the hem of Stiles’ battered, bloodstained shirt and flattens his palm against Stiles’ side, watching as the blood in his veins runs black and Stiles relaxes minutely against him.

There’s a noise, and Derek looks up. Isaac’s watching him from the passenger seat with a dumbfounded expression.

“I thought we could only do that to animals,” Isaac says.

“No, people too. It’s just…different, with humans,” Derek says. “Harder. You shouldn’t try it on your own, not yet. It takes more control. I’ll teach you sometime.”

Isaac nods. “Why is he so quiet?”

“Shock, maybe? Or because of the cold? I don’t know.”

Stiles doesn’t move or speak during the entire trip to Scott’s, just lays curled-up, half in Derek’s lap with his eyes closed.

*

Melissa takes one look at the four of them and covers her mouth with her hand. They’d called ahead to warn her, but she still looks shell-shocked.

“Jesus Christ,” she says quietly. “Okay. Take him upstairs to Scott’s room. I’ll examine him there and we can decide whether or not he needs to go to the hospital. Scott, get some clean clothes and go hop in the shower. Isaac— there’s food in the fridge, fix yourself something to eat and stay out of trouble while I’m with Derek and Stiles.”

Scott hurries upstairs and Derek follows behind with Stiles. He can already hear the shower running by the time Derek’s settling on the edge of Scott’s bed with Stiles. Melissa follows behind and closes the door.

“Have you called John?” she asks. Shit.

“We tried his cell, but he didn’t answer. I meant to try again, but-- ” Derek shrugs. He'd been so focused on Stiles that he'd completely forgotten.

“He’s been worried out of his mind.”

“Yeah, I—I know.”

She kneels by Derek’s feet and tries to get Stiles to look at her. “Stiles?”

“Don’t wanna,” Stiles mumbles.

“He’s been a little disoriented,” Derek says. “He kept saying he was cold.”

“Oh, honey,” Melissa says. “What happened to you?”

With gently coaxing, they get Stiles to sit up—or rather, to list against Derek’s side—and Melissa checks him for concussion and takes his pulse. She keeps talking to Stiles the entire time and persuades him to tell her where he hurts the most and how he feels. She cuts Stiles’ shirt off with a sharp pair of scissors, exposing, among other things, a long, nasty cut on the inside of his upper arm that’s still bleeding sluggishly, and a bloody scrape along his ribs.

She frowns at his jeans, which frankly smell disgusting.

“Let’s get you out of these,” she says. “Is it okay if I help you change your jeans, Stiles?”

“’Kay,” Stiles says. He reaches down and fumbles with the button, but his coordination isn’t quite there yet. Melissa takes over for him and efficiently undoes the button and zip and tugs them off his hips. Getting a fresh pair on him is a little more difficult, but Stiles helps as best he can.

“He’s dehydrated and roughed up, but he’ll be okay,” Melissa says at last to Derek. “He probably has a case of mild hypothermia, but he shouldn’t have suffered any lasting damage and as he warms up he’ll get more lucid. Your higher body temperature will help, if you keep sitting with him.”

She’d cleaned all his cuts with a firm hand, despite the way Stiles tried to flinch away from her, and temporarily bandaged the worst one to help stop the bleeding.

“That cut on his arm definitely needs stitches, an IV line wouldn’t be out of place, and they might want to monitor him overnight if he doesn’t recover quickly enough from the exposure. Not to mention that his ankle appears to be severely sprained. I don’t think he’s broken anything, but it’s never a bad idea to get an x-ray done, just in case.”

She turns to Stiles again, crouching down to eye level.

“Stiles, sweetie, I’m going to go call your dad, okay? He’ll come over and then we’ll take you to the hospital to get checked out. Will you be okay here with Derek for a few minutes?”

Stiles looks at Derek.

“Yeah,” he decides.

“I’ll be right back,” Melissa promises, and hands Derek a bottle of water. “Try to get him to drink a little. Not too quickly or too much or he might vomit. Oh, and if you plan on going to the hospital, try to look a little less suspicious. Help yourself to Scott’s clothes, he won’t mind.” She steps out of the room, leaving them alone.

Stiles is quiet and still at Derek’s side.

There’s a loud clatter from downstairs and Stiles visibly startles, his shoulder thudding into Derek’s as he tries to move both farther away from the door and closer to Derek.

“It’s all right. It’s just Scott and Isaac.”

Derek unscrews the cap on the water bottle and offers it to Stiles.

“You want a drink?”

Stiles takes the bottle, but his hands are shaking and water sloshes over the sides. Derek reaches over and steadies it, helping Stiles hold it up to his mouth to drink.

“Not too much,” Derek reminds him, and is relieved when Stiles lets him take the bottle back without protest after a few swallows. Stiles’ blanket has fallen off his shoulders; Derek tugs it back around him and drapes his jacket over him for good measure. Stiles sinks down into it and leans against him. He looks exhausted, like drinking the water took the last of his energy. He’s letting Derek support almost all his weight, and his eyes keep sliding shut only to open when he startles himself awake moments later.

Melissa comes back to tell them that John’s on his way. She tuts at Derek when she notices he’s still in the same grimy clothes as before and rummages through Scott’s clothes, coming up with a plain green t-shirt that looks like it’ll fit and a pair of jeans. Derek’s glad to change out of his wet clothes, covered as they are in dirt and blood.

Sooner than he’d expected, Derek hears the familiar noise of John’s car.

“Your dad’s here,” he tells Stiles, and Stiles immediately perks up and looks anxiously at the door.

A car door slams shut, rapid footsteps sound on the stairs, and John flings the door open.

“Stiles!” he says brokenly, and Stiles pushes off the bed and takes a weak, limping step forward, both jacket and blanket falling off of his shoulders.

John envelopes Stiles in a hug and Stiles clings to him and started to cry. The salty smell of his tears permeates the room, and Derek watches as John rubs Stiles’ back and whispers soothing things in Stiles’ ear that Derek tries not to listen to.

“Melissa said we need to take him to the hospital,” John says eventually, looking over Stiles’ shoulder at Derek.

“Yeah, for stitches and stuff,” Derek says, hastily changing out of his ruined shirt and pants. “And his ankle. Don’t let him walk on it, it’s pretty messed up.”

Stiles lets go of John and turns at the sound of Derek’s voice.

“Hurts,” he rasps out, and starts coughing, doubling over under the force of it.

“Easy,” Derek says, catching him by the shoulders. He grabs the bottle of water and helps Stiles take a drink. “You want me to take some of your pain away?”

Stiles nods, and Derek spreads his hand low over Stiles’ stomach.

He goes a little wobbly after that, barely able to stand on his feet, so Derek loops an arm around his waist and lets Stiles lean into him and turn his face into Derek’s chest.

“You and Stiles,” John begins. “Never mind. Can you carry him out to the car?”

*

Derek ends up not only carrying Stiles to John’s car, but sitting with Stiles in the backseat on the way to the hospital, helping Stiles inside, and holding one of Stiles’ hands while the nurse stitches him up. Scott wanted to come too, but in the end relented under parental pressure, promising to visit Stiles tomorrow.

They take Stiles’ vitals and give him some painkillers and an IV line to help speed up the rehydration process. He isn’t completely online yet, but he’s talking more now, if not a lot, and they aren’t going to keep him overnight. Most of his injuries are minor.

Stiles falls asleep still clutching at one of Derek’s hands, leaving Derek and John uncomfortably faced off across Stiles’ cot.

“All right,” John says. “We may as well get this over with now. Are you dating my son, Derek?”

Derek winces.

“No. I’m not dating him.”

John raises an eyebrow at him.

“Are you doing other things with him?” John asks. “Because if you’ve touched my son in any way that isn’t strictly platonic, I’ll have you arrested and charged with statutory rape before you can even think to get those pointy teeth of yours out.”

No,” Derek says, too loudly. He pauses, and when he speaks again his voice is quieter, if not completely calm. “I wouldn’t. I know the laws, I know he’s underage, and I wouldn’t do that to him.”

He’s shaking, he realizes, and forces his body to stop, closing his eyes and focusing on the warmth of Stiles’ hand in his. It helps. When he looks up again, John is watching him thoughtfully.

“Okay,” he says. “I’m inclined to believe you. So you two are just…friends? Does he know how you feel about him?”

“I don’t know,” Derek says. “I haven’t—I’ve tried to keep it from him, but he’s Stiles. He’s good at figuring things out.”

John rolls his eyes.

“You’ve got that right.”

They sit in a mostly peaceful silence until John’s stomach rumbles, loudly enough for both of them to hear.

“I can get you something to eat,” Derek offers, standing up and untangling his hand from Stiles’ grasp. Stiles will want his dad there when he wakes up.

“I’d appreciate that. Thank you. And I should have said this before, but- thank you for bringing Stiles back. I won’t forget it.”

*

When Derek gets back thirty-five minutes later with burgers from the best burger joint in town, Stiles is awake and radiating anxiety.

“Oh thank god,” John says as he enters the room. “He’s been asking for you, and I don’t think he believed me when I told him you’d be back soon.”

“Derek?” Stiles says from the bed, peering out from under the thin sheet covering him. Derek hands the burgers over to John and goes over to Stiles.

“I’m here. Your dad’s going to take you home soon, okay? But I can come visit you tomorrow, if you like.”

Derek says this last sentence with a questioning look at John, who nods.

And crap, there goes Stiles’ heart again. Even John notices, since Stiles is currently hooked up to a heart rate monitor. Stiles struggles to sit up and Derek holds him down with a gentle hand on the middle of his chest.

“Use your words. What’s wrong?”

“I don’t-” Stiles gasps out, twisting under Derek’s palm. “Derek. Don’t leave.”

“Hey,” Derek says sharply. He grabs Stiles’ chin to force eye contact. “Stiles. Settle. You’re going to have the nurses come running in if you keep this up. Look, you’ll be safe with your dad, if that’s what you’re worried about. It’ll be all right.”

No,” Stiles says. His breath catches on a sob, and when he tries to turn his face away into his pillow, Derek lets him. He makes out a muffled ‘fuck’ and then Stiles is quiet, save for his ragged breathing. Derek shoots an apologetic look at John, who puts down his burger to perch on the side of Stiles’ bed and rub his back.

“Sorry,” Stiles mumbles.

“It’s fine,” John says. “I may not know exactly what happened to you yet, kiddo, but I know you’ve had a rough couple of days. If you’ll feel better with Derek in the house, he’s more than welcome to spend the night with us. He can sleep on the couch. Derek?”

Derek nods. “I can do that.”

He’s been feeling nearly as anxious as Stiles about leaving him alone, to be honest. Stiles will be safer with Derek around to monitor his heartbeat and smell if his wounds get infected.

Stiles sniffles noisily and bumps the back of his hand into Derek’s. An hour ago he would have just gone for it. Derek figures he’s probably gaining his inhibitions back as he warms up. Fuck it; if Stiles wants to hold his hand, Derek isn’t going to say no. He slips his fingers between Stiles and squeezes gently.

“I want to go home,” Stiles says, sounding grumpy. Grumpy is good. Derek can deal with grumpy.

Stiles scrubs at his face with his free hand, trying to pretend he isn’t wiping away a stray tear, and Derek is struck with the sudden urge to just take care of him. He wants to feed Stiles soup and buy him scones and make him wear hats when it’s cold out.

Well, shit.

Luckily, the doctor comes in and provides a welcome distraction. He pronounces Stiles good to go, removes the IV, and gives him a pair of crutches.

“Keep off that foot for a week or two, okay? Let it heal.”

Stiles nods. He’s gone stubbornly quiet in the presence of the doctor, who attempts once more to get Stiles to talk—even asking Stiles if he’d like to chat with him in private (Stiles declines)— before pulling John aside. Derek, listening in, hears the doctor questioning John again about how Stiles was injured, and John repeating the same cover story he’d offered earlier (Stiles was on an overnight backpacking trip, sprained his ankle tripping on a treacherous stretch of rock, and hurt himself when he fell). The doctor doesn’t seem entirely satisfied, but at last he leaves.

“What was that about?” Derek asks.

“I can’t be sure, but I think he was worried about domestic violence.”

“He thinks you hurt Stiles,” Derek says flatly.

John sighs. “Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for cops to have short tempers. Sort of comes in the line of business, and sometimes it carries over to the home. Don’t get angry on my account. He was just doing his job.”

Stiles give the crutches a go, but he’s obviously tired and in pain, and doesn’t argue when Derek takes them away from him and hands them to John, just loops his arms around Derek’s neck and lets Derek take his weight.

They get Stiles home and Derek carries him upstairs and sits him on the edge of the bathtub before retreating uneasily to the family room to wait while John helps Stiles change into a clean pair of pajamas. Derek can hear the bathwater running and low murmuring. Eventually John comes back downstairs and fetches a glass of water and some ibuprofen to take to Stiles. He also makes up the couch for Derek with a couple of blankets and a pillow, and lends him a spare pair of sweatpants and t-shirt to sleep in.

By midnight, Derek is more or less asleep. At half past two, a noise on the stairs wakes him up. Stiles is trying to maneuver down them, holding on tight to the banister and resting all his weight on his good leg.

Derek sits up.

“Stiles?”

“I can’t sleep.”

Derek watches as Stiles hops down another step, wobbles, and has to clutch at the railing to stay upright.

“Jesus, don’t—just stop, okay. Let me help you before you fall over.”

He helps Stiles over to the couch and then, for lack of anything better to do, gets him a glass of water.

“How’re you feeling?”

“Better. Before, it was… everything was kind of fuzzy. And loud. I didn’t like it. Do you mind if I turn on the TV? It won’t wake my dad up, as long as we keep the volume low.”

“Go ahead.”

Stiles turns the TV on and flips channels until he lands on some cooking show that Derek doesn’t recognize.

“Is this okay?” he asks, and then seems to realize for the first time that that he’d woken Derek up by coming downstairs. “Um. You don’t have to stay up with me, if you’re tired.”

“I’m not tired,” Derek lies. He tosses one of his blankets at Stiles. “Here. Now stop shivering.”

“Oh,” Stiles says. “Thanks.”

Stiles wraps the blanket around his shoulders and shuffles around in a complicated rearranging process that ends with him right next to Derek. He smells much better than before, thankfully. Apparently content, Stiles settles in and becomes engrossed in the cooking show. Derek doesn’t really have any interest in learning how to make the perfect soufflé, but he idly watches along anyway.

Stiles starts yawning during a commercial break.

“Want me to help you back upstairs?” Derek offers

“No!” Stiles says. “Um. I mean, I like it here. Here is good. So I’ll just, you know, stay. Here.”

Then he hiccups.

Stiles takes a large drink of water and promptly hiccups again, his blanket falling off his shoulders.

“Crap,” he says, or tries to say, but he hiccups again in the middle of saying it.

“You’re ridiculous,” Derek says. He tugs Stiles’ blanket back up, wrapping it firmly around him. “Try holding your breath.”

“Why would, hic, that help?”

“Don’t argue, just do it.”

They sit in silence for a good ten seconds as Stiles holds his breath, and then for another thirty seconds to see if Stiles is going to hiccup again.

“I’m cured! I’m totally cured! Hallelujah!”

Stiles throws his arms up in celebration, and immediately winces.

“Ow, fuck, bad idea.”

“Pulled your stitches?”

“Yeah,” Stiles says, cradling his bad arm.

“Do you want me to help?”

“With your wolfy magic?” Stiles asks. “Yeah, go ahead.”

“Can I— it’ll be more effective if I use both hands.”

“Okay, um, how do you—”

Derek reaches out and takes Stiles by the shoulders, guiding him to sit sideways on the couch with his back to Derek. He shifts too, settling into the corner of the couch and stretching out one leg along the back of the couch so Stiles is framed by the vee of his legs.

“Like this is good.”

Stiles shivers when Derek slides his hands up under the front of the loose gray t-shirt he’d been sleeping in.

“Cold hands,” Stiles offers when Derek stills. “I’m good, keep going.”

He presses his palms flat to Stiles’ skin and feels the familiar sensation of Stiles’ pain running through his veins.

Then Stiles’ fingertips trace lightly over his forearm, and Derek tenses momentarily under the unexpected touch. Stiles’ fingers sweep up and down Derek’s arm—over his blackened veins—before Stiles settles with his arm over Derek’s, his hand over Derek’s hand.

“Does it hurt you?” Stiles asks suddenly, sounding worried. He tugs at one of Derek’s hands. “Derek, I don’t want you to do it if it hurts you.”

“It doesn’t hurt,” Derek says. “It’s physically exhausting, but nothing I can’t handle. Makes me feel like I’ve gone for a long run. ”

It also gave him a bit of a high, in the same way that a long, satisfying run could.

“’kay,” Stiles says, and Derek hears him yawn as the effects of what Derek’s doing started kicking in. “It makes me feel like Jell-o. Sort of floaty and…”

Stiles trails off and leans back against Derek’s chest.

“Derek?”

“Mmm?”

“What happened to, um, y’know…”

“The thing in the cave? I killed it.”

“Oh. Good.”

He turns his head and nudges Derek with his nose.

“’M sleepy. ’Night,” he says, and then his eyelids droop down and yes, he actually is going to fall asleep on Derek. Great.

Derek takes his hands out from under Stiles’ shirt (it was weird enough touching Stiles’ bare skin when he was awake; he could really do without feeling like he was groping Stiles’ unconscious body) and snags the discarded blanket off the floor, draping it over them. He curls awkwardly around Stiles and rests his head on the back of the couch, and closes his eyes. The right thing to do would be to bring Stiles back up to his bedroom, but A) trying to get Stiles upstairs will definitely wake him up, and Stiles needs all the sleep he can get, and B) to be honest, Derek isn’t really up to carrying Stiles at the moment. Or even getting off the couch. He’s exhausted. He’s never taken someone’s pain three times in one day before, and it’s pretty much drained all his energy. It feels like moving anywhere right now would take a lot of effort.

Besides—and Derek feels ashamed of himself for even thinking this, because he knows it’s wrong, would still be wrong even if Stiles wasn’t injured and drugged up and practically passed out on him—but it feels good to hold Stiles like this. The weight of him is probably going to put Derek’s leg to sleep, but Stiles is solid and warm against Derek’s chest, and it’s comforting to be so close to him and hear his heartbeat and smell the medicine on his breath and know that he is alive and well.

*

Stiles wakes Derek up a few hours after dawn, fretting in his sleep and making little noises. He was either in pain or having unpleasant dreams. Derek yawns and puts his hand up the back of Stiles’ shirt, taking enough of the hurt away for Stiles to settle back down.

It seems to Derek as though he had only just fallen asleep again when he’s rudely awoken as John comes rushing downstairs after having checked Stiles’ room and found him missing. John pauses at the couch, clearly needing a moment to take in the way that Derek’s stretched out flat on his back with Stiles splayed out over him, snoring softly, half on top of Derek and half wedged into the crack between Derek and the back of the couch. Derek has one hand on the small of Stiles’ back, which he hastily removes. Stiles is on top of his other hand, and Derek’s sure he’s going to get a hardcore case of pins and needles the instant it’s free. Which Stiles will likely laugh at, because Stiles always thinks it’s hilarious when ordinary, ‘normal people’ things happen to werewolves. He’d run into Derek at the grocery store once and nearly had a fit laughing when he caught sight of the toilet paper in Derek’s cart.

John does not look pleased.

“When I said you could sleep on the couch, I did not mean sleep on the couch with Stiles,” John says, quietly so as not to wake Stiles, who’s miraculously still fast asleep.

“I know. He came downstairs because he couldn’t sleep, and when he crashed I thought it would be best to let him be. He needed the rest. And we—this isn’t how we fell asleep, not like this.”

“That’s all?”

“Yes.”

“I still don’t like it.”

Derek waits him out, and eventually John sighs and says, “Fine. I’ll let you wake him up, I need coffee. You want a cup?”

Derek nods. “Black, no sugar, please. And could you bring him his crutches? They’re by the door, I think.”

Once John had fetched the crutches and was safely out of hearing range in the kitchen, Derek gently shakes Stiles awake. When Stiles lifts his head and blinks blearily at him, seemingly unsurprised to find himself on top of Derek, Derek says, “Your dad’s up. He’s in the kitchen.”

Stiles just blinks at him again.

“I feel weird,” he says eventually. And then: “He saw us like this?”

“Yes,” Derek says patiently, waiting for Stiles to wake up more fully and wondering what he was usually like upon waking, when he wasn’t injured.

“Aw, crap,” Stiles says, as if his brain has finally processed the information. He lets his forehead thud down into Derek’s chest. “Is he mad at me? No, wait, are you mad at me? Sorry I fell asleep on you. I didn’t mean to.”

“It’s fine.”

Stiles props himself up on his arms with a bit of careful effort and gives Derek a considering look. “Does that mean I don’t have to get up? Because you make a pretty nice pillow, for a grumpy werewolf with abs of steel. And it feels early. I wanna sleep some more.”

“You absolutely have to get up.”

“Yeah, okay,” Stiles says, blinking slowly. He still looks sleep-rumbled and puzzled, his face creased with lines from Derek’s clothing. “Hmm,” he says consideringly, as if talking to himself. “I wonder… don’t kill me for this, ‘k?”

Stiles leans down, steadies himself with two fingers on the edge of Derek’s jaw, and presses a fleeting kiss to the corner of Derek’s mouth. His lips are dry, and maybe a little chapped, and Derek’s too shocked to do anything but stare dumbly up at Stiles. Shit, is John still in the kitchen? Derek’s going to be shot if he ever finds out about this.

“Stubble,” Stiles says, and makes a face. “Thanks, though,” he adds, just inches from Derek’s face, so close that Derek can feel Stiles’ breath on his face. “For finding me and shit.” His fingers are still on Derek’s jaw, and he lets them linger there briefly, stroking back and forth in a movement that’s almost a caress. Derek opens his mouth to say something, but before he can even begin trying to gather his thoughts, Stiles gives Derek a smile that’s almost shy—and Stiles is never shy— drops his fingers, and pulls away.

“Stiles, you up?” his dad yells from the kitchen, and then Stiles says “Oh my god,” and sits up like a shot and makes a stifled yelp as he jostles his hurt arm. If he wasn’t quite awake before, he’s definitely awake now. Derek instinctively reaches out to him, but Stiles holds out a hand to stop him, adjusting himself until he’s on the edge of the couch, his hip pressed up against Derek’s thigh, his hand gripping Derek’s knee.

“No, it’s fine, I’m okay. And. I can’t believe I just did that. It’s okay if you don’t—it’s okay. I don’t know why I did that. Just forget about it, yeah?”

“It’s okay?” Derek repeats, confused as to what exactly is supposed to be okay out of all this.

“Yeah,” Stiles says, and pats Derek’s knee.

Then, apparently satisfied with their conversation, Stiles levers himself up off the couch, grabs his crutches, and awkwardly makes his way into the kitchen. Derek hears him nonchalantly greet his dad and start complaining about how he isn’t going to be able to practice lacrosse with Scott until his ankle heals up. He sounds normal, but Derek can hear the slight unevenness to his breathing and Stiles’ quicker-than-normal heartbeat. Jesus, Derek’s heartbeat is quicker than usual.

He takes a long, deep breath, and fights the urge to touch the place where Stiles’ lips had been for at least five seconds before he gives up and brings his hand to his face.

*

When Derek gets up and joins John and Stiles in the kitchen, Stiles is sitting on the counter, swinging his legs, his crutches propped against the fridge. He meets Derek’s eyes, blushes ever so faintly around the ears, and then refuses to look at him thereafter.

John invites Derek to stay for breakfast, and when Derek hesitates, insists that it was the least he can do to thank Derek for bringing Stiles back home.

But it’s my fault he got hurt in the first place, Derek wants to say. He should do the right thing for once and stay out of Stiles’ life, let him be a normal teenage boy. But John’s looking at him expectantly and Derek has never been good at saying no.

“Thank you,” he says instead, and helps crack eggs and chop up peppers for omelets. When their food’s ready and they’re about to head over to the table to eat, Stiles scoots over to the edge of the counter like he’s going to jump off, then pauses, looking dubiously at the drop.

“Uh, dad? Could you maybe help me down?” he asks.

“I could…or I could just leave you there. Maybe it’ll teach you a lesson in not getting into things you can’t get out of.”

“Dad!” Stiles protests, and John grins.

“My hands are full, kiddo. Maybe Derek will help you, if you ask nicely,” John says, and carries their plates out to the small wooden table where they usually eat their meals.

“Ugh,” Stiles says, and covers his face with his hand, completely missing the look John gives Derek. Derek doesn’t miss it, or the fact that John can easily see into the kitchen and keep an eye on them from the table.

“Oh, jesus,” Stiles says, his heart rate rocketing when he looks up and finds Derek in front of him, a lot closer than he’d been before. “Give a guy some warning before you do that.”

“Sorry,” Derek says, backing up a step.

Stiles waves him forward again.

“Nah, it’s cool. I’m just a little jumpy, I guess. So, uh, how should I—”

“Woah,” he adds, clutching at Derek’s arms as Derek picks him up by the waist and carefully sets him on the floor. “That works.”

Derek doesn’t touch Stiles a second longer than he needs to. Last night had been a mistake. Stiles has medication for his pain; he doesn’t need Derek’s help. Taking someone’s pain was an intimate experience and Derek wouldn’t do it to just anybody. But he hadn’t even thought twice about doing it to Stiles, over and over and over again. He’d let Stiles get so close to him. He’d let Stiles kiss him, out of what was probably a misplaced sense of gratitude— Stiles had never before shown any sort of indication that he might be interested in Derek that way— and Derek hadn’t even had the willpower to push him away.

Fuck, Stiles is seventeen. Derek remembers being seventeen. He’d been an immature little shit. Stiles isn’t any different, but that doesn’t make Derek want to touch him any less. He still wants to kiss Stiles and take his clothes off and find out what kind of faces Stiles would make if Derek sucked his cock. He wants to find out what it would feel like to touch the soft skin on Stiles’ inner thighs; to feel Stiles’ hands in his hair, Stiles’ cock in his mouth. And that’s all kinds of fucked up.

“Derek?” Stiles is saying. “You okay?”

Derek blinks. “What?”

“You kind of spaced out just now, dude.”

“I’m fine,” Derek says shortly. He shoves Stiles’ crutches at him and walks out of the kitchen.

He eats his breakfast quickly and leaves as soon as he can without having John think him rude, ignoring Stiles’ look of confusion at his hasty exit.

*

Derek successfully avoids Stiles for the next three days. The afternoon of the first day, Stiles texts him.

Text from: Stiles
Dude, do we need to talk?
Received: 2:53 PM

Derek stares at the screen. It isn’t that he thinks Stiles would try to manipulate him into anything if they talked— Stiles is good at circumventing the truth and he definitely has a devious streak, but he isn’t the type to pressure someone, not like that— Derek just doesn’t trust himself.

He’s staring at the text for so long that the screen goes dark. He sets his phone down and tries to ignore it, picks it up again five minutes later and re-opens the text. He doesn’t text back. Eventually he goes for a run in the woods, leaving his phone behind on the coffee table.

Stiles texts again a few hours later, clearly puzzled by Derek’s failure to reply. Usually Derek is quick about replying to texts, especially to Stiles’.

Text from: Stiles
Derek? You okay?
Received: 8:19 PM

Derek goes through the same routine as with Stiles’ first text, minus the run in the woods. If he doesn’t answer, Stiles will be pissed at him, and that’s probably for the best. It’ll be easier to stay away from Stiles if Stiles doesn’t want to see him.

Text from: Stiles
Are you ignoring me? Is it because of what I did? I’m sorry.
Received: 11:01 PM

Late that night, Stiles texts one last time. Derek wakes up when his phone beeps and opens the text.

Text from: Stiles
Fuck you too.
Received: 3:40 AM

His phone creaks in protest under his fingers; he’s holding it too tightly. His chest feels tight and he drops the phone, turns over onto his side and shoves his pillow under his head.

*

That’s it until Wednesday, when he gets a call on his cell from an unknown number. He shuts the lid to the dryer (he’d been in the middle of doing a much-needed load of laundry) and warily accepts the call, a little bit afraid and a little bit hopeful that somehow it might be Stiles.

“Hello?”

“Derek? This is John. Listen, I could use your help.”

“With what?”

“It’s Stiles,” John says, and Derek’s stomach lurches.

“What’s wrong? Did something happen? Is he hurt?” he asks urgently.

“Oh no, it’s not like that,” John says, and Derek sits down on his couch with a thump. “In fact, his injuries are healing very well. I let him have a few days off from school to keep him off his ankle, but he’ll be walking soon enough. No, it’s just— he won’t admit it, but I know he’s barely been sleeping since he came back. I’m worried about him.”

Derek frowns. “So why are you calling me?”

“To invite you over for dinner tonight.”

“To what?”

“Look, I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think it was important. I realize that you’ve probably been staying away from him on purpose, and I appreciate that. I know it must be hard for you, having…feelings for him. But, lord help me, I think it would be good for Stiles if you spent some time over here.”

“Does he know you’re inviting me?”

“I haven’t told him. He’s been a bit of a hermit these past few days, staying up in his room all the time and only coming down to eat. Doesn’t even want to hang out with Scott. And he won’t talk to me about what happened, tells me not to worry about it. No, I think it would be better if you just showed up.”

“I— I don’t know how much help I’ll be. Or if he’ll even want to see me,” Derek says.

“You’re important to him, Derek. And you saved his life. Of course he’ll want to see you.”

“I thought you wouldn’t want me around him anymore.”

John sighs.

“I’m not prohibiting you from ever seeing him again; I just don’t want you to date him. You’re welcome to see him occasionally. I know he has some sort of unofficial role as researcher of the supernatural for you all. I’m asking you this as a favor. Come over tonight.”

Derek’s willpower has reached its limits.

“Okay. I’ll come.”

“Six o’clock, don’t be late.”

*

Derek arrives at what Stiles likes to call the ‘Casa Stilinski’ a few minutes before six and knocks on the door. He hears John yell, “Stiles, would you get that?” from somewhere inside, and Stiles complaining that he was injured, thankyouverymuch, and did he have to? After an extraordinarily long minute of waiting, there’s a noise just on the other side of the door, and it swings open to reveal a rather grumpy-looking Stiles, balanced on his crutches, who only gets grumpier when he sees Derek.

Derek?” Stiles says, his pitch rising drastically in disbelief. “Why are you here? No, wait, I don’t even want to know. Just go…somewhere else. Somewhere not here.”

And then he actually tries to close the door in Derek’s face. He almost succeeds, but Derek sticks his foot in the door at the last second.

“Your dad invited me for dinner.”

“He what?” Stiles says indignantly. “Dad!” Stiles yells, half turning to look backwards into the house. “Dad, did you really invite Derek for dinner?”

Derek takes advantage of Stiles’ preoccupation to push the door open and slip inside.

“That I did,” John says, coming out of the kitchen. “Glad you could join us, Derek.”

Stiles whips his head around to glare at Derek. Then he glares at his dad.

“I’m not hungry,” he announces.

“I’m not going to make you eat, but you are going to sit down to dinner with us or lose your computer privileges.”

Dad,” Stiles says, but when John refuses to yield he slowly crutches his way over to the table and sits.

Dinner is tense. Stiles slouches in his chair, picking his way through a plate of stir-fry, while John and Derek attempt to make conversation that Stiles essentially refuses to participate in. About halfway through, John excuses himself to use the bathroom, shooting Derek a look on his way out of the room that clearly says please will you talk to the asshole that is my son.

Derek watches Stiles angrily stab a piece of broccoli with his fork and snaps, “What is your problem?”

My problem?”

“Yes, Stiles, your problem. I’m sorry I ignored your texts. That was an asshole thing of me to do and if you hate me for it, I understand. But stop being such a dick to your dad. He doesn’t deserve it.”

Stiles slouches down further and the anger seems to drain out of him.

“I don’t hate you,” he says, pushing his vegetables around on his plate.

Derek gives a mental sigh and leans across the table. He really isn’t cut out for this sort of thing, and he definitely doesn’t understand why John thought it would be good for Stiles to have him around.

“Then what’s going on?”

Stiles puts down his fork and looks up, exasperated by Derek’s relentless pestering.

“I’m embarrassed, okay?”

“Embarrassed by what?”

“Dude, I kissed you! Yeah, maybe I was still kinda drugged up at the time, but I kissed your face. And then you were so, I don’t know, disgusted, or pissed off or whatever that you ignored me for three days! And my memories of everything up to that morning are a little fuzzy, but I’m pretty sure I was a whole new level of pathetic. I’m the Sheriff’s kid. I should be able to defend myself and not, like, get kidnapped and have to be rescued and then freak the fuck out so badly that I need you to stay over just in order to feel safe!”

Derek winces, hoping that John hadn’t been able to hear all that from the bathroom.

“Stiles, no one expects you to be able to hold your own in a fight with a supernatural creature.”

“Can we not have a discussion about how you realize that I’m a flimsy human? So not helping.”

“Jesus, you’re impossible,” Derek complains. “Stop twisting my words.”

Stiles opens his mouth, probably to say something obnoxious, but John walks back into the room and the conversation is thankfully cut short. They continue with their meal, and Stiles, while still a far cry from his normal exuberant self, is definitely making an effort to be less sullen. At least with regard to his dad. He glares at Derek whenever he has the opportunity, clearly resenting Derek’s presence in his house.

John corners Derek at the door when Derek tries to make his escape. Stiles has already retreated to his bedroom.

“Derek,” he says carefully, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but why in the hell is my son mad at you?”

“I—” Derek starts. “He’s embarrassed.”

“And why is that your fault?”

Derek fidgets and prays for a miracle to save him from answering. Unfortunately, the earth does not open and swallow him whole.

“Spit it out, it can’t be that bad.”

“Stiles kissed me,” Derek says.

“He what?” John says, very, very quietly. The kind of quiet that’s far ominous than yelling or shouting.

Derek stares at his feet and doesn’t say anything.

“Jesus Christ.”

“He— it was the morning after he got back from the hospital. Don’t be mad at him. He didn’t know what he was doing; he was still pretty drugged up.”

“And?” John asks.

“And…I didn’t kiss him back?” Derek tries, unsure what John wants to hear. He listens carefully and determines that Stiles is still safely in his room, unable to hear their conversation. He can make it through this as long as he doesn’t have to face Stiles again.

“You didn’t kiss him back,” John repeats. “In a perfect world I would be overjoyed to hear you say that, Derek. He’s spent years crushing on that Martin girl; he can handle a little rejection. But you know what, in a perfect world he’d wouldn’t have been kidnapped, and from the way he’s been acting I’m inclined to say that this was pretty much the straw that broke the camel’s back. So that hissy fit he threw over you showing up to dinner was about a kiss? Oh lord. What did I do to deserve such ridiculous teenage drama?”

Derek makes a protesting noise, but John says, “Hush, you might as well be a teenager, the way you act. I suppose this means he hasn’t figured out how you feel about him?”

Derek shrugs. “I guess.”

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think you need to go upstairs and talk to him. Stiles tends to hold on to things; he has trouble letting go. If you don’t smooth this over with him it’ll eat away at him for weeks and right now he needs to focus on getting better and not on your sorry self, Hale.”

Aw, fuck. Talk to Stiles? Again?

“You want me to—”

“Talk to him, yes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to confess your feelings for him and this isn’t me giving you permission to date him. You’re too old for him. He’s still underage and you’re—” John waves a hand at Derek’s face. “Just fix this, will you?”

Derek seriously doubts in his ability to fix anything. His talents lie more in the make-a-mess-of-my-entire-life-and-then-fuck-it-up-some-more side of things. He sighs and closes his eyes for a second. When he looks up, John is still watching him. Derek shoves his hands in his pockets, finds some loose change and what feels like a starburst. He rubs a finger against the wrapper, knowing without looking that it’s orange. It’s been in his pocket for weeks. It was Stiles who had bought the starbursts, eaten them in Derek’s car and left wrappers littered all over the floor. Derek had found a lone survivor tucked into the cupholder after he’d dropped Stiles off, had put it in his pocket, fully intending to throw it out as soon as he found a trash can. But he keeps forgetting only to find it again at the oddest of times.

Somehow, it gives him courage.

“I can try,” he says, and John nods approvingly.

John goes into the kitchen and Derek goes up the stairs and knocks on Stiles’ door.

“Dad, I don’t want to talk!” Stiles says loudly. From the noises, it sounds like he’s playing a video game.

Derek tries the handle—it’s unlocked—and pushes open the door.

“It’s me,” he says.

“Holy—ah no, shit, fuck, you just made me die, dude. Thanks a bunch.”

“Can I come in?”

“Yeah, whatever.”

Stiles shuts his laptop, flops back onto his bed and tucks his hands under his head. Derek sits in Stiles’ vacated computer chair. It’s pleasantly warm from Stiles’ body heat.

“All right, talk,” Stiles says. “I’m assuming that’s what you’re here for.”

Stiles’ shirt has ridden up, just a tad, and Derek can see a smooth strip of pale skin above his belt. He wants to— no, wait, he definitely does not want push Stiles’ shirt further up, to put his hands all over Stiles’ skin—fuck, he’s so fucked.

Stiles lifts an eyebrow at him.

“Real convincing argument,” he says dryly.

“Could you not?” Derek says. “Some of us like to think before we speak.”

Stiles sighs, aggravated.

“Fine, have it your way. It’s not like I have anything better to do,” he says, his tone indicating that anything would be better than forced conversation with Derek.

Derek already wants to smack him. This does not bode well for their conversation.

He tries anyway.

I think you might’ve gotten the wrong idea, earlier,” Derek says.

“About?”

“I wasn’t disgusted.”

“Dude, what are you talking about?”

“You thought I was disgusted, when you— when you kissed me. But I wasn’t.”

“Okay, you weren’t disgusted. Thanks for sharing. Are you done yet?”

“No, damn it,” Derek says, because Stiles doesn’t seem to be getting the message. He doesn’t look like he believes Derek at all. “You make everything so hard. I’m trying to tell you that—if you’re into men, that’s okay with me. I’m not grossed out by it, or by you kissing me.”

“Oh,” Stiles says, like a light bulb has just gone off over his head, and he abruptly sits up. He looks—well, he looks angry, which was not quite what Derek had expected. “Christ, I can’t believe you, Derek. Is this—is this your way of coming on to me? You must be really fucking lonely if you’re willing to have anything to do with me. What, I am just supposed to fuck you now? He’s not grossed out, what a relief, lemme hop on his dick. No, you don’t get to do this. Fuck off.”

“What?” Derek says incredulously, because, um, no. He certainly isn’t trying to coerce Stiles into having sex with him. How the fuck did Stiles even leap to that conclusion? Is he actually brain damaged? “No, Stiles, that’s not it at—”

“Just go,” Stiles says, his voice rising. He throws his pillow at Derek. “Get out of my room, get out of my house, get out of my life.”

“No,” Derek snaps, tossing the pillow aside and standing up. “I won’t go. I spent nearly two days worried out of my mind because of you. You don’t get to toss me out because you don’t like what I have to say. You owe me more than that.”

Stiles goes very still.

Because of me?” he says. “I owe you? I didn’t ask for this, Derek!”

“Fuck, I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Funny, because that’s exactly how it sounded.”

Derek watches as Stiles presses a hand to his forehead and closes his eyes. He automatically takes a step forward because yes, Stiles is intensely frustrating and confusing, but he’s in pain, he’s hurting, and Derek can help—but he aborts the movement before it really goes anywhere. This is Derek’s fault, and Stiles doesn’t want him here, won’t want Derek to help him.

“Could you just go,” Stiles is saying, quieter now. His anger’s run its course, and left him tired and huddled in on himself. Stiles doesn’t get angry like that often, but Derek’s seen it build up him before. His anger’s like a match, quick to flare and just as quick to burn out. “I have to go back to school tomorrow. I can’t deal with this right now.”

Derek rescues the pillow from where it had fallen. He holds it out to Stiles like a peace offering.

“I’m sorry,” he says, and feels a deep visceral relief when Stiles reaches out and takes it from him. “I’m not good with words.”

Stiles huffs out a dry, humorless laugh.

“No kidding.”

Derek cautiously perches on the edge of Stiles’ bed.

“You’re important,” he says. “To the pack. To—me. Don’t forget that.”

Stiles sighs.

“I feel like crap right now, Derek. I get that you want to fix this, but can we just leave it for later?”

“Can I come back tomorrow? Or this weekend? I mean—” he cuts himself off, well aware that he probably could not have sounded more pitiful. “I know you probably hate me right now, but…” He trails off, drawing a blank on Reasons Why Stiles Would Ever Want to See Derek Again.

Stiles hugs the pillow to his middle and looks suspiciously at Derek.

“You won’t ignore me anymore, if I text you? Not that I will, because you’re an asshole and I’m mad at you.”

“If you text me, I’ll answer. I promise.”

“Okay,” Stiles says. “Well. Then I guess I might text you. Send my dad up on your way out, will you?”

Derek nods.

“Stiles…I know this isn’t the right time, and I don’t want to push, it can wait until you’re ready—but I do need you to talk to me about what happened. Or Scott, it—it doesn’t have to be me, Scott’s your friend, I’d understand if you’d rather talk to him. But I need to know.”

Stiles’ gaze slides over him and away.

“But—you said it was dead, right? The thing that took me? You killed it, right?”

His heart rate increases, his face anxious, and Derek’s hand lands on Stiles’ knee without his approval.

“It’s dead,” he confirms, and Stiles lets out a soft exhale, reassured. Then he seems to realize that Derek’s touching him and looks pointedly at Derek’s hand on his knee. Derek hastily withdraws it.

“It’s just that I need to know…”

“I get it,” Stiles says quietly. A grin tugs at the corner of his mouth, not quite escaping but too stubborn to be completely hidden. “And it’s okay. I don’t need Scott as an intermediary.”

“I—okay.” Derek pauses. He doesn’t want to leave with things so very obviously weird between them, but Stiles wants him to go, so he stands up. “Feel better,” he says, and walks out the door.

John’s waiting for him downstairs.

“Your son is impossible,” Derek tells him. “I have no idea what just happened. Also, he wants to see you.”

“Didn’t go too well, huh?”

Derek’s always been crap at hiding his feelings, and apparently he still is, because John takes one look at his face and winces.

“That bad?”

“He’s still pissed off, but I still need to go over what happened with him, and he’s agreed to talk to me about it. So. uh, I’ll have to come back soon.”

John sighs.

“Yeah, all right. You’re not half bad, kid.”

Stiles’ voice comes floating down the stairs.

“Dad?”

“Coming, kiddo!”

John claps Derek on the shoulder.

“Guess I’ll be seeing you,” he says, and goes upstairs to check on Stiles, leaving Derek to show himself out.

*

Derek checks his phone obsessively. He just…can’t help it. And every time it chimes with a text he practically throws himself on it. The third time his phone goes off and it’s just Isaac, again, Derek nearly throws his phone against the wall. Instead, he sets it down very very carefully, like it might explode at any second, and backs away from it. Then he goes into the kitchen and fixes himself a sandwich, which he eats on the couch, pretending to ignore his stupid phone.

But when it goes off again he still checks it within five seconds.

Text from: Stiles
School sucked balls today.
Received: 4:40 PM

Text to: Stiles
Finstock being a dick again?
Sent: 4:43 PM

Text from: Stiles
Yep. Wouldn’t stop making cracks about my ‘hiking accident’.
Received: 4:52 PM

Text to: Stiles
Asshole.
Sent: 4:54 PM

Text to: Stiles
Him, not you.
Sent: 4:55 PM

Text from: Stiles
Got it, dude.
Received: 5:02 PM

Text from: Stiles
I was thinking about what you said. Dad’s making spaghetti for dinner. Come over and we can talk.
Received: 5:17 PM

Text to: Stiles
You sure?
Sent: 5:20 PM

Text from: Stiles
Yeah. I want to get this over with.
Received: 5:24 PM

Text to: Stiles
Okay. What time?
Sent: 5:25 PM

Text from: Stiles
6:30?
Received: 5:27 PM

Text to: Stiles
I’ll be there.
Sent: 5:30 PM

*

Dinner is careful, for lack of a better word. Stiles complains about schoolwork and Derek nods along and tries to say the right things.

When they finish eating, Stiles turns to his dad.

“We’re gonna go up to my room now,” he says. “Derek needs me to tell him about, uh, y’know.”

John nods.

“I don’t want you staying up too late, you’ve got another day of school tomorrow.”

“This won’t take long,” Stiles promises. “C’mon, Derek.”

They take the same positions as the night before, Derek in Stiles’ chair, Stiles sitting cross-legged on his bed.

“Okay, have at it,” Stiles says grumpily.

“Just start at the beginning. That night you went to the store. What happened?”

Stiles fiddles with the sleeve of his hoodie.

“Uh, I think that thing followed me there? As soon as I got out of the Jeep, it was right there. I thought it was just some weird little old lady at first until I saw all those teeth. Then when I tried to get away it pushed me up against the Jeep. Dented my poor baby’s door. Do you know how much it’s gonna cost to fix that? Because it is a lot. Fuckers.”

“And?” Derek prompts.

“Jesus, would it kill you to have a little sympathy? Okay, so it said it was gonna rip my heart out if I screamed or tried to get away, and, well, you saw the talons that thing was sporting, right? So I went with it, and it took me to that freaky cave.”

He pauses, brings his sleeve up to his mouth and chews on it absentmindedly.

“Did it say what it wanted?” Derek asks.

Stiles mumbles something around his mouthful of hoodie.

“What?”

“I think it was going to eat me,” Stiles says, shuddering. “For some kind of ritual. Only I guess it didn’t have all the ingredients or whatever, because hey, I’m still here.”
Derek is half out of the chair before he knows what he was doing.

“It was going to eat you?”

“Yeah. Well, parts of me, anyway. Want a list? It, uh, was kind of talkative.”

“I really don’t,” Derek says.

“Are you okay?” Derek asks, watching Stiles chew on his thumbnail. He has a kind of far-off stare going on. It’s creeping Derek out. He gives Stiles a couple seconds to see if he’ll answer, but Stiles just sits there, lost in his head. Derek waves a hand in front of his face.

“Stiles?”

“Huh? Oh. Sorry, guess I spaced out a little. Did you say something?”

“I asked if you were okay.”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

Derek wavers for a second before sitting down on the bed next to Stiles.

“Do you know why it took you?” Derek asks.

“Probably because I’m so pretty,” Stiles says.

“Stiles, I’m serious.”

“So am I!” Stiles retorts.

“Just answer the question,” Derek says, and it isn’t until Stiles pushes at his shoulders, hard, and snaps “Back off,” that he realizes he’s invaded Stiles’ personal space to an embarrassing degree.

“Shit,” Derek says, letting go of Stiles and sitting back rather abruptly. “Sorry.”

“You better be sorry,” Stiles mutters. “I thought we were over this shit. And I’m telling the truth. I have no idea why it took me.”

Stiles is touching his ribs gingerly and wincing.

“I didn’t think it had hurt your ribs,” Derek says.

“Nah, that’s an old injury, courtesy of Gerard. It just acts up sometimes?

“Gerard hurt you?”

“Yeah, back when that whole thing with Jackson was going down.”

Derek clenches his hands into fists. “I remember that,” he says, the memories springing to life. “Your face, you had a bruise, right here,” and he reaches out and when Stiles doesn’t object, carefully traces along Stiles’ cheekbone. “And your lip was split.”

Stiles holds very still under Derek’s touch, almost tensed.

“Asshole bruised my ribs,” he says at last. “The doctor said I was lucky they didn’t break.”

If Gerard wasn’t already dead, Derek would kill him.

“Do you have any idea what that thing was?” he says instead.

Stiles frowns.

“Not really. I never had a good chance to look at it; it was dark in the parking lot and from what I could see it mostly just looked like some old woman. And then there weren’t any lights in that freaking cave. Though by the time you guys got there, I was pretty out of it, so I could have missed some clue or something. My memories get kind of fuzzy near the end. I remember being really cold and then suddenly you and Scott were there. I didn’t really understand what was happening at the time. How did you even find me?”

“Luck, mostly. I went for a run in the Preserve and caught the smell of the thing.”

“Could you smell me?”

“No, but once I got close enough I could hear your heartbeat.”

“But how’d you know it was my heartbeat, if you couldn’t smell me?”

“It’s harder to identify someone by their heartbeat, but not impossible. Everyone’s is a little different.”

“And you know mine,” Stiles says. “Okay.”

Derek shifts uncomfortably on the bed.

“It’s not a big deal,” he tries.

“Oh? Do you know my dad’s heartbeat? How about Lydia’s? Allison’s?”

Derek shakes his head to each name and braces himself for Stiles to make some kind of accusation, to try and figure out what it all means. But Stiles just nods thoughtfully and leans back against the headboard of his bed.

“Can you hand me my water bottle?” he asks. “It’s on my desk.”

“Sure,” Derek says, confused.

Stiles takes a couple pulls from it when Derek hands it over, his head tilted back and his neck a long smooth line. He swipes the back of his hand over his mouth when he’s done and drops the bottle onto his bed.

“Derek?”

“What?”

Stiles turns towards him and looks him straight in the eyes.

“I’m sorry for some of the shit I said last night. You didn’t deserve it.”

“Uh,” Derek says, taken aback. “That’s okay.”

“It’s not okay. Everything’s been weird between us because of what happened, and I could really use some normal in my life right now and instead I keep acting like you’re still the asshole I thought you were eight months ago. You’re not responsible for my total craziness.” Stiles yawns. “Anyway, I just wanted you to know. Are we done here? Because I’m already tired and I’ve still got makeup work that needs doing. I missed a physics problem set while I was lounging around here at home.”

“Physics?” Derek says. “I could help you with it, if you wanted.”

“You know physics?” Stiles says incredulously. “No offense, dude, but you don’t really seem the type.”

“Yeah, I—” Derek pauses. Talking about this hasn’t gotten any easier with time. “I never graduated, but Laura made me enroll and start taking classes…I liked physics. I was good at it.”

What the hell is he doing, telling Stiles stuff like that? He never talks about Laura, not with anyone. And he’s an idiot for doing it.

“Forget it,” he says, and stands up to leave.

“No, wait, you can’t just offer help and then retract it. Come back here.”

“I’m not doing your work for you.”

“Would you just come here?” Stiles says. “And bring my backpack. I’d get it myself but I’m not off the fucking crutches for another three days and it’s a bitch trying to carry stuff and not fall over.”

*
Stiles is a quick learner. Derek only has to explain a concept to him once and he gets it. He attacks each problem methodically, only occasionally needing Derek’s help to point him in the right direction.

It’s almost 8:30 PM when John raps at the half-open door and pushes it open without waiting for permission to enter. He looks puzzled to find them bent over a textbook.

Stiles doesn’t notice his dad right away. Derek nudges him and Stiles bats his hand away.

“Quit it,” he says.

“Stiles,” Derek insists, and finally Stiles looks up and sees his dad.

“Hey, dad. Did you know Derek’s actually a genius at physics?”

“No, I can’t say I did,” John says slowly. “Stiles, could I have a word with you for a minute?”

Stiles makes a rather unattractive face.

“Seriously? Because you know we’ll have to go downstairs if you don’t want Derek to hear us, and I was kind of hoping I was done with stairs for the day; you know they’re a bitch—um, a pain, they’re a pain, sorry— with the crutches.”

Stiles gives his dad his best puppy dog eyes.

“You stop that,” John says, and sighs. “Fine, we’ll talk later.”

“Thanks!” Stiles chirps. “Works every time,” he says gleefully once his dad’s gone, smirking at Derek.

“You little asshole,” Derek says. Jokey insults are the better part of how he and Stiles operate, a hangover from the days when they were real insults.

Stiles punches his shoulder.

“Jerk.”

“Hey, I’m not the one milking my injuries.”

“I’ll show you injuries,” Stiles says, but he’s smiling too much to sound threatening.

“As if,” Derek says. Stiles responds by head butting him in the shoulder. Derek recovers quickly and digs his fingers into Stiles’ armpits, where he knows he’s ticklish. Stiles gasps and flails and tries to—to do something, Derek isn’t quite sure what—and it ends with Stiles overbalancing and falling backwards. He waves his arms to try to compensate, but Derek can see in Stiles’ face the moment he realizes he’s going to fall off the bed. His face goes open and panicky, eyes wide. Derek catches him under the arms and yanks him up.

“Thanks for that,” Stiles says from his position half sprawled in Derek’s lap. Derek helps him up. “I really don’t need a concussion on top of everything else. It would have been all your fault anyway.”

“You were the one flailing around like a deranged windmill.”

“Yeah, because you were tickling me, jackass!”

Stiles looks about ready to have another go at him. Derek decides to forgo pointing out that Stiles had been the one to head butt him in the first place. John will not be pleased if Stiles reinjures himself trying to beat Derek up.

“I should go,” he says instead. “Your dad’s right, you have school tomorrow and I’m keeping you up.”

“Dude, it’s not even nine yet.”

“You’re still healing. You need to take it easy, get plenty of sleep.”

“You’re worse than my dad,” Stiles groans. “And he’s barely let me out of his sight these past couple days.

Derek frowns.

“Your dad said you were the one who refused to leave the house,” he points out, and watches as Stiles’ face goes unhappy and withdrawn, just for the briefest of moments. Goddammit, will he ever stop putting his foot in his mouth?

Stiles has already schooled his expression into something more neutral, turning away from Derek to fuss with his backpack. Derek touches his shoulder and Stiles reluctantly stops, turns back to him.

“What?” he snaps.

“Just—there’s nothing wrong with needing to stay close to home.”

“But I don’t want to need it,” Stiles says petulantly. “I’m fine and it’s dead and I just want everything to go back to normal. I want to be normal.”

“You’ve never been normal,” Derek says, with as straight a face as he can manage.

Stiles gapes at him, then snorts out a laugh.

“Okay, point.” He shifts and busies himself organizing the pages of his problem set. “But… it’ll get better, right? I won’t feel like this forever?”

“Just give it time. Go to school. Hang out with Scott.”

“Right. Scott,” Stiles says, and makes a face.

“Why don’t you want to see Scott?”

Stiles shrugs. “I don’t know. I’ve never wigged out on him this badly before; I don’t really know what to say.”

He falls silent.

“But didn’t you see him at school yesterday?” Derek asks.

“Yeah, but we didn’t really talk. I kind of went to the library during lunch.”

“He’s worried about you. You should talk to him.”

“Has he been talking to you?”

“Not me. Isaac.” Derek studies Stiles’ face. “You’re jealous of him, aren’t you.”

Stiles remains stubbornly silent.

“Talk to Scott,” Derek says again. He stands up. “Good night, Stiles.”

“’Night,” Stiles says.

*
After that night, Stiles starts texting him again on a semi-regular basis. Derek always texts back. They don’t see each other that much, since Stiles is still sticking close to home, but he’s been to Derek’s a couple times to hang out with Scott and Isaac. Derek’s glad that Stiles and Scott seem to be back to normal.

A month passes like this. He runs into Stiles a couple of times in the grocery store (though never at night), twice at the public library, and once at Beacon Hills’ least crappy pizza parlor.

Stiles and his dad make dinner for Isaac on his birthday and invite Derek, Scott, Melissa, Allison, and Lydia. The food is good and Stiles looks happy. Derek watches him laugh and can’t remember if he’s ever seen Stiles laugh like that before. There’s ice cream cake from the store for dessert and Stiles presents it with a flourish and dishes it out. Within half an hour, only crumbs are left.

Derek’s the first to leave. Stiles walks him to the door.

“I’m glad you could come,” he says, looking Derek straight in the eyes.

Derek shrugs. “I knew you’d be a pain in the ass if I didn’t.”

Stiles looks pleased, like Derek’s given him some kind of compliment.

“See you around,” he says.

It’s a windy February night when Stiles shows up at Derek’s a couple weeks later for impromptu takeout with Scott and Isaac. And Derek, since he’s there. Only there really isn’t good takeout in Beacon Hills, so Scott—and Isaac—end up going to pick it up. They ask if Stiles wants to come too and he waves them off. Derek watches him lounge on the couch, poking at his phone, and goes back to reading his book.

Derek watches out of the corner of his eye as Stiles mutters to himself, shifts around in half a dozen different positions, and finally get up and wander into the kitchen. He’s still in there when all the lights go off without warning.

“Fuck,” Derek says to himself. Goddamn power outages. The moon’s not out tonight and it’s basically pitch black in the apartment. “Stiles?” he calls as an afterthought. He hears a noise in the kitchen and heads over, banging his shin on a chair as he goes.

“Derek?” Stiles says, and he sounds fucking terrified.

“I’m right here.” Derek remembers that his phone’s in his pocket, and he takes it out. The light’s not much, but it’s enough to show him Stiles crouching on his kitchen floor, back up against the cabinets.

“It’s just a power outage. It’ll be okay,” he says awkwardly.

“I know,” Stiles says, breathing harshly. “It’s just—I don’t—I don’t like the dark much.”

“I think there’s a flashlight in the closet. I can go get it.”

“No!” Stiles says.

He’s afraid of being left alone. Derek can understand that. He crouches down in front of Stiles and tentatively reaches out and touches his shoulder. Stiles tenses and Derek’s about to take his hand away when Stiles just...tips forward, reaching out for him. Derek kneels on the floor and holds him, there in the dark. The tile digs into his knees and Stiles’ hair is tickling his chin and he can hear Stiles trying not to cry.

“We’ll go together,” he says, long minutes later, because Stiles will feel better if Derek finds the flashlight, right? If it’s not so dark anymore? “Up you get, c’mon.” He helps Stiles to his feet and then it’s easiest to just hold on to his hand as he propels them through the kitchen. Stiles’ grip is tight and he walks so close to Derek that he keeps bumping into him.

They reach the closet without tripping over anything and Derek finds the flashlight. It’s fairly big and lights up the hallway well when he turns it on. Some of the tension goes out of Stiles’ grip, although he still doesn’t let go, and he doesn’t complain when Derek leads him over to the couch and sits them both down, propping the flashlight on the table.

“You okay?” Derek asks eventually, listening as Stiles’ heartbeat slowly returns to normal.

“Yeah. Uh, sorry for freaking out,” Stiles says. “You know I’ve been sleeping with a fucking night light every night? I’m seventeen years old and I’m fucking scared of the dark.”

“It’s better than being scared of clowns.”

“You’re shitting me,” Stiles says incredulously. “Derek Hale, werewolf extraordinaire, is scared of clowns.”

“When I was five my parents took me to the circus and I thought clowns were evil and I tried to bite one.”

“Oh my god,” Stiles says, snickering. “That’s the best story I’ve ever heard.”

The lights flicker back on and they both startle.

Stiles is sweaty and pale in the light. He leans back against the couch cushions and sighs. “Ugh, I feel a major adrenaline crash coming on.”

“You want to take a nap?” Derek offers. “You can use my room. We’ll save you some food, for later.”

Stiles looks faintly surprised at the offer and Derek has to fight with himself not to try to take it back or turn it into a joke.

“Okay,” Stiles says at last. “Thanks.”

He gets up and disappears into Derek’s bedroom. Derek hears him rustling around, getting under the covers, rearranging blankets. Stiles falls asleep quickly, his breathing going soft and steady in less than five minutes. Derek settles back down with his book in his favorite armchair.

He can tell Isaac and Scott are surprised when they burst back inside with bags of takeout and Derek tells them Stiles is asleep, but they don’t ask questions. Stiles gets a lot of leeway these days and taking a nap at dinnertime is hardly the weirdest thing they’ve seen him do.

Derek hears Stiles wake up after an hour and a half, but when he doesn’t emerge from Derek’s bedroom within five minutes, Derek goes to check on him. Stiles is sprawled on his stomach across Derek’s bed, playing a game on his phone.

“Hey,” Stiles says. “What’s up?”

“Just checking,” Derek says. “Making sure you’re not getting into trouble.”

Stiles rolls over and stretches, his shirt riding up to reveal a thin strip of pale skin. “Me? Trouble?” He hesitates. “Derek?”

“What?”

“Can I stay here tonight? Not like, here here--just, you know, on the couch or something.”

“Why?”

“I just want to. Please? My dad’s out of town tonight; he won’t mind.”

Derek’s pretty sure that John would in fact mind. On the other hand, there’s no way he can send Stiles back to an empty house tonight. What if the power goes out again? It’s still windy out.

Shit, he’s going to have to let him stay here.

He tries for an out anyway. “You wouldn’t rather stay with Scott?”

Stiles just looks at him.

“Fine, whatever. You can stay.”

“Yes!” Stiles bounces upright on the bed. “Thanks, Derek! You guys saved food for me, right? I’m starving.”

*

Stiles scarfs down a huge plate of food and then bullies them all into playing Carcassonne with him. By the time he wins round number two, it’s almost 11:30 and time for Scott to head home to make his curfew. Isaac disappears into his room and Stiles drags Scott into the hall for a long, whispered conversation that Derek definitely does not try to listen in on and then comes back inside and flops down on Derek’s couch. Derek’s already dumped a couple of blankets and a pillow onto it for Stiles to use, and Stiles burrows into them.

‘Watch a movie with me,” he says. “I’m not tired yet.”

“It’s not my job to entertain you.”

“Is to,” Stiles whines. “I’m your guest.”

He’s been more obnoxious than usual tonight, and Derek doesn’t hesitate to snark back at him.

“You’re a pain in my ass is what you are.”

They watch Skyfall.

Stiles falls asleep and snores in his blanket nest. Derek keeps watching the movie anyway; he wants to see what happens.

When the credits roll, he turns the TV off and gets up. He locks the door and turns off most of the lights, leaving the one in the kitchen on. It casts enough light into the living room so that if Stiles wakes up in the middle of the night, he’ll have more than enough light to see by.

His bed smells like Stiles when he climbs into it. Derek lays quietly for all of fifteen minutes before he gives up and reaches into his boxers. He’s soft, but all he has to do is palm his dick and think of Stiles in the other room, asleep on the couch, and he starts getting hard. He turns his head and presses his face into the pillow, inhaling. It smells like Stiles is right there. And Derek wishes he was, wishes Stiles was in his bed, on top of him. Stiles is tall, just about as tall as Derek, and he’d fit perfectly stretched out over Derek.

He wants Stiles to kiss him and touch his face and press him down into the bed. He wants to push his hands up under the back of Stiles’ shirt and pull him closer.

Derek’s fully hard now and he squeezes his eyes shut tight, imagining that it’s Stiles who’s reaching down his body and jacking Derek in long slow pulls. He’d let Stiles fuck him, if he wanted. He wants Stiles to fuck him.

Derek pushes the sheets away and lets his legs fall open. Stiles is there, coaxing him open wider, rubbing the head of his dick over Derek’s ass. It’d feel so good. He’d press his dick against Derek’s asshole, and Derek would be nervous but Stiles would go so slow, slipping into Derek an inch at a time.

Derek stifles a moan into his pillow, bending his knees to his chest and pretending it’s Stiles who’s holding them up and out of the way. He’s not going to last much longer, not with Stiles inside him. He strokes himself off faster until his hips are coming off the mattress in tiny, uncontrollable thrusts and fuck, fuck, he’s coming all over his chest, all the way up to his nipples.

It feels amazing, but the high doesn’t last long and then he’s just cold and sticky and completely alone. He sits up and fumbles for a tissue to wipe himself off with. He thinks he should probably feel bad about jerking off to Stiles when he’s sleeping in the other room, but instead he’s just--tired. Deeply, bone-achingly tired. He curls himself around a pillow and goes to sleep.

*
In the morning, Derek walks into the kitchen and finds Stiles at the breakfast bar, helping himself to a bowl of Derek’s cereal.

“Morning,” Stiles says.

Derek nods at him and fixes himself a bowl of cereal. He’s not much of a morning person and really, why did the world see fit to punish him with a slightly rumpled, hair sticking up Stiles in his kitchen so goddamn early? He’s not prepared for this. He pours his milk and starts eating, standing on the other side of the breakfast bar. It makes a decent barricade.

Of course, the barricade loses a good deal of its effectiveness when Stiles finishes his cereal and carries his bowl around to put it in the sink. Stiles rinses his bowl and then turns and fixes Derek with this look that Derek knows means he has something to say and he’s gonna say it if it’s the last thing he ever does. In the past, this look has usually precluded Stiles yelling at Derek about something. Derek searches his mind, but he can’t actually think of anything he’s done recently that merits yelling.

“Derek,” Stiles says.

“Stiles,” Derek says back, setting his bowl on the counter, just in case.

“I wanted to say thank you,” Stiles continues. “For yesterday, and for letting me stay, and just--I know I’m an asshole sometimes, but you still--I’m going to hug you now, if that’s cool.”

And then Stiles’ arms are around him, and Stiles’ chest is pressed to his. It’s similar to when he was holding Stiles yesterday, except this time nobody is freaking out and Derek has the opportunity to appreciate just how good it feels to be close to Stiles like this.

“Hug me back, you jerk,” Stiles says, and Derek realizes with a start that his arms are still hanging limp at his sides. He gingerly fits them around Stiles’ back.

“That’s more like it,” Stiles murmurs. His cheek brushes against Derek’s and then he turns his head and they’re kissing. Stiles smells like Cheerios and his lips are soft and he kisses Derek like it’s natural. Like it’s just a thing they do.

And Derek lets him.

No, he does more than let him. He kisses back. Stiles’ mouth is warm and insistent on his and Derek feels lightheaded with it. He only surfaces when Stiles pulls back and breaks the kiss.

“Please don’t freak out,” Stiles says, his hands gripping the sides of Derek’s shirt. “I know I’m too young for you, or you’re too old for me or whatever, and if you’re going to reject me just do it, okay. Do anything, just promise you won’t ignore me again.”

“I--” Derek tries. “I--Stiles, we can’t. You’re seventeen.”

“If I were eighteen, would you--would you say yes?”

Derek closes his eyes. “I’d want to.”

He hears Stiles let out a relieved sigh, and then Stiles’ hand is on his arm.

“Can I kiss you again?” he asks, stroking Derek’s arm. More like petting it, really, like Derek is a nervous housecat that needs to be soothed. Jesus, did Stiles not hear anything he just said?

“We can’t,” Derek says again.

“Why not?”

“Your dad--”

“My dad likes you,” Stiles says. “You saved my life, dude, he thinks you’re like, the bee’s knees.”

“How much do you think he’s going to like me if he finds out I’ve been molesting his son?”

Stiles makes a face. “Don’t say it like that.”

“That’s what it would be.”

“Not if we don’t do any of that stuff,” Stiles argues. “We can go slow. Like, snail pace slow.
‘Till I’m older.”

“I’m not doing anything behind your dad’s back,” Derek says, because apparently he’s actually stupid enough to try this thing with Stiles.

And that’s how he gets hugged for the second time this morning, when Stiles figures out what he’s saying and hugs him so hard he could swear he feels his bones creak.

“I promise I’ll tell him,” Stiles says. A mischievous look steals over his face. “Does that mean we can make out some more now?”

“I don’t know why I put up with you,” Derek says, but he maybe widens his stance a little, palms Stiles’ waist, and Stiles grins and leans in.

Derek’s not sure how long they kiss, but the next time they pull apart Stiles’ cheeks are flushed pink and his mouth is red.

“You’re good at that,” Stiles says, licking his lips. “That was...wow. I think I need to sit down.”

It turns out that by ‘sit down’ Stiles means ‘make out on the couch with Derek’.

Things get intense quickly and Stiles is halfway on top of Derek by the time Derek comes to his senses and realizes that he’s going to have to be the one who makes sure they actually do take it slow, because Stiles? Stiles smells like he wants to push Derek down and hump him into oblivion and Derek’s not even sure Stiles is capable of rational thought just now.

“Stiles, wait,” Derek says, pushing at Stiles’ shoulders. “Stop.”

To Stiles’ credit, he sits up so fast he falls over backwards and Derek has to reach out and right him.

“You need to back off,” Derek says firmly. “Snail pace, remember?”

Stiles winces. “Shit, I’m sorry. I got a little carried away, huh?”

“I don’t want to rush into anything,” Derek says, determined to get his point across. “I--that doesn’t usually end well. For me.”

“Oh my god, I am an idiot,” Stiles says. “I wasn’t even thinking about--I’m sorry. I’ll shut up now. I should go.”

He’s been huddled into one corner of the couch, looking miserable, but now he gets up and fidgets, taking a step towards the door.

“Wait,” Derek says, standing up and reaching out for Stiles. He pulls him in close and sees Stiles’ eyes widen just before he kisses him. He keeps the kiss short but thorough, leaving Stiles looking more than a little discombobulated.

“Now go home and think of me while you jerk off.”

Stiles gapes at him. “Yeah, okay,” he manages after a minute, and then he practically runs out the door.

John

It’s been two hours since John got home from his trip, and Stiles is acting weird. He keeps hovering around like he has something to say, and when he’s not hovering he’s been strangely helpful, volunteering to help John unpack and offering to make him a sandwich. John tries to wait him out, but eventually he just can’t take it anymore.

“Stiles!” he barks, and Stiles jumps.

“What, dad?” he says in that faux-innocent tone of his.

“You’re driving me crazy, that’s what. Sit your butt down and tell me whatever it is you have to say.”

Stiles sits.

“Um,” he says. “It’s about Derek.”

“Oh my god,” John groans. “Please tell me you did not have sex with Derek Hale while I was gone.”

“I didn’t!” Stiles yelps. “I just, ah. Want to.”

“If you’re asking my permission to have sex with Derek--”

Stiles cuts him off.

“Ew, no. Don’t be mad, but, well, I kind of stayed over at Derek’s yesterday?”

“You what?”

“It’s not what you think! I was there for dinner last night with Scott and Isaac and they went to go pick the food up and then there was a power outage and I kind of...panicked. It was dark.”

Stiles’ voice has gotten very small, and John resists the urge to wrap him up in a hug. He doesn’t want to derail Stiles’ story.

“And?” he prompts.

“And Derek helped me. He made me feel better. And you weren’t home, so I asked if I could stay the night and sleep on the couch. And then this morning...I don’t what I was thinking, ‘cause it didn’t go so well last time, but I kissed him and he kissed back and it was amazing. I really like him, dad. And I know he’s a lot older than me but I swear we won’t do anything, like, arrest-worthy. We’re gonna go slow.”

Stiles runs out of words and just looks at him beseechingly.

John sighs. “I wish you’d found someone your own age, kiddo. What does Derek think about the age difference between you two?”

“He’s worried, I guess. And he said I had to tell you about us.”

John nods approvingly. “Okay. Then this is how it’s going to be. I’m not going to tell you that you can’t see him because one, I know you’d never listen to me and two, I think Derek’s a good boy, despite all the messes he’s gotten himself into. So instead I’m going to tell you that I expect you to obey the law, Stiles. I know you have trouble with that sometimes, so you can tell Derek that I am holding him responsible for your well-being. That means no more sleepovers until you’re at least eighteen. And I expect you to bring Derek over for dinner once a week. Understood?”

Stiles nods. “Thanks, dad,” he says, and reaches out to hug him. Stiles has been a hugger since he was little, but these days he seems to need it more than ever. And John needs it too. In the months before the alpha pack trouble came to a head, he’d felt Stiles withdraw from him, and worried. He hadn’t been able to figure out why Stiles kept lying to him and sneaking around, coming home late and looking pale and exhausted the next morning. He’d wondered what it was that Stiles couldn’t confide in him, and he’d worried that it was drugs. Or worse, given the way Stiles kept showing up at crime scenes. He’d had nightmares about having to arrest his own son.

They’d had a long, difficult conversation the day after Stiles found him in that sacrificial root cellar. Stiles had basically broken down in front of him, apologizing through his tears for all the lies. Stiles was too old now for John to be able to hold him like he used to when he was small, but he’d pulled Stiles close nonetheless, rubbing his back while Stiles cried.

Now John ruffles Stiles’ hair as he pulls back, and Stiles makes a face at him and pats it back down.

“All right, now get out of here, I’ve got work to do,” he says. Stiles laughs and heads up the stairs, pulling out his phone and starting to text as he goes.

Derek

Dating Stiles is weird. Derek’s never really dated anyone before. He usually just...rushes into things, and then regrets it horribly. Instead, he’s going on dates. With Stiles.

He takes Stiles out for pizza and Stiles is excited and nervous and horny and shy all at once, and he eats five pieces of pizza and horribly mangles the straw of his soda.

They go to the movies and Stiles eats popcorn and sneaks looks at Derek and drums his fingers against his leg until Derek takes his hand.

He has dinner at Stiles’ house and Stiles kisses him goodbye on the porch until John starts flicking the porch light on and off.

“Mmm,” Stiles says, looping his arms around Derek’s neck. “Guess you better go.”
“Yeah,” Derek agrees.

Stiles kisses him right at the corner of his mouth and untangles his arms from Derek. “Text me.”

“You know I will.”

“A little reminder never hurt,” Stiles says.

The porch light flickers again.

“All right, dad, I’m coming!,” Stiles yells. “Sheesh, it’s like he thinks you’re going to devirginize me right here on the porch.”

Great, now Derek’s thinking about having sex with Stiles on his front porch. Stiles grins at him like he knows what Derek’s thinking.

“By the way,” he says in a near-whisper, “I expect the actual devirginization to take place somewhere with a lot more pillows.”

Derek almost forgets how to breathe.

Epilogue--Five months later

It’s been three weeks since Stiles’ eighteenth birthday. They’ve been a pretty amazing three weeks. On his birthday, Derek gave him his first-ever blowjob. Stiles would like to say he didn’t come embarrassingly quickly--but he’d be lying. But it totally wasn’t his fault! It was Derek’s fault for being ridiculously hot and taking off his shirt and kneeling between Stiles’ legs and blowing him like Stiles’ dick in his mouth was all he’d ever wanted.

And after that, once Stiles had recovered from the best orgasm of his life to date? Derek had let Stiles jerk him off. It was the first time Stiles had gotten up close and personal with a dick that wasn’t his own--and he’d never even seen an uncut one before--and Derek didn’t even complain when Stiles spent way too long just exploring before getting down to business. He did get a little twitchy eventually, and then Stiles took pity on him and wrapped his hand around Derek’s cock, pleased at how nicely it fit in his hand. It felt awkward at first, trying to find a good rhythm, but then Derek put his hand over Stiles’ so they were stroking him off together and that meant Derek could show Stiles exactly how he liked it. After that, Derek’s breathing got loud quickly and he started making these soft little moans that had Stiles’ dick making a valiant effort to get with the program.

When he came, he made a mess all over Stiles’ hand, which was equal parts hot and gross. Stiles wiped it off on his shirt. By the time he realized he had no idea what people usually did after mutual orgasms--take showers? go to sleep? have a snack?--Derek was leaning into his space and kissing him silly.

So yeah. It’s been a good three weeks. But it’s gonna get even better today, because he gets to spend the whole day at Derek’s and they’re going to do butt stuff for the first time. By now Derek’s coached him through giving his first blowjob and Stiles has gotten pretty good at it through diligent practice; good enough that Derek accidentally came on Stiles’ face during his most recent attempt. He started apologizing while he was still coming, which was frankly hilarious.

But they’ve never done anything to each other’s butts. This is thanks to Derek, who is one stubborn asshole when he wants to be. If it had been up to Stiles, he would have gotten fucked weeks ago. Derek, on the other hand, wants to go slow. In fact, Derek loves to go slow. One of his very favorite things is to go down on Stiles like he’s taking a nice leisurely walk, all lips and tongue and gentleness, until Stiles wants to cry from frustration.

The point is, Derek’s finally decided that butt-touching is a go. They’ve read up on the internet (well, Stiles sent Derek some helpful links) and they’ve got plenty of lube and condoms. Stiles Stiles hopes that he’ll go home tonight knowing what Derek’s dick feels like in his ass, if things go well. He’s never put anything bigger than a finger or two up there before, but he’s ready. He loves Derek’s dick and his foreskin and how sensitive it is and the way it feels when he gets hard under Stiles’ hands or mouth and Stiles can’t imagine anything better than having that inside him.

He’s twitchy all through breakfast with his dad, accidentally spilling the milk on the table and checking his phone constantly to see if Derek’s texted him.

“Stiles--” his dad says, and sighs. “Nevermind. I probably don’t want to know, do I?”

“Definitely not,” Stiles says.

“Just make sure you’re home for dinner, okay, kiddo?”

“That was the one time,” Stiles protests. The one time when he and Derek both fell asleep after a couple of amazing orgasms and woke up to his dad calling his phone non-stop because he hadn’t come home on time for dinner. Yeah, he still feels bad about that one.

He throws his bowl in the sink and grabs his bag, packed with a change of clothes, condoms, and lube.

“See you later!” he calls, heading out the door and pretending he doesn’t hear his dad grumbling to himself.

*
Derek answers his door on the second knock and kisses Stiles as he tugs him into his apartment. Well. Good to know that Derek’s just as keyed up as he is. Derek gets a hand under Stiles’ shirt and tweaks one of his nipples and Stiles jolts forward, right into Derek’s arms. That only encourages Derek to do it again to the other one. (He kind of has a thing for Stiles’ nipples, and fortunately for Stiles his are pretty sensitive. He’s let Derek suck on them before, which was weird for him at first--he didn’t understand why Derek wanted to do it and he was half-worried that it meant Derek wanted him to have boobs--but it felt really fucking good, especially when Derek took them between his teeth and tugged. And Derek was definitely into it, one hand jerking himself off and the other holding Stiles in place for his mouth.)

“Heyyyy Derek,” Stiles says once he gets his mouth free, already a bit breathless from the kissing. “Good to see you too.”

“Oh--fuck,” Derek says. “I should’ve, uh, do you want to--”

He sounds flustered. It’s cute.

“I want you to take your shirt off,” Stiles says helpfully.

Derek yanks it off and crowds Stiles up against the wall. He still has his messenger bag slung over one shoulder and something--probably the lube--is poking him in the butt. How fitting. “Hi, Stiles,” Derek says softly, so close that Stiles nearly goes cross-eyed trying to look at him. “How are you?”

“You are such a dork,” Stiles informs him, wrapping his arms around Derek’s neck. “Take me to bed, loser.”

“Your wish is my command,” Derek says, because he’s actually a giant nerd. He lifts Stiles by the waist--and really, it shouldn’t be this hot that Derek can just casually pick him up--and when Stiles hooks his legs around Derek, he shifts his hands to Stiles’ ass and proceeds to walk them towards Derek’s bedroom. Stiles ducks his head to nuzzle Derek’s neck and snickers when Derek almost walks into a wall.

They make it to Derek’s room without any concussions, luckily, and Derek sets Stiles down and disentangles him from his bag. Stiles sprawls out on his back. Derek’s bed is the best. It’s big and comfy and Derek has a lot of pillows, which makes it perfect for afternoon post-orgasm naps.

Now Derek’s kneeling over him and pushing Stiles’ shirt up and yep, he’s going straight for the nipples.

“Can I?” Derek asks, pinching one of his nipple between his thumb and forefinger and rolling it back and forth.

“Go for it,” Stiles says. He flops his arms out like a starfish for emphasis. Then Derek’s on him, sprawled between his legs, licking at Stiles’ chest. It kind of tickles, but in a good way. When Derek starts really getting into it it makes Stiles squirm and Derek pins him down harder and bites, just a little. He gets Stiles’ left nipple tight and wet and red and then he goes after the right with equal vigor while Stiles tries to roll his hips up against Derek’s thigh.

“Come on, you big weirdo,” he says eventually. “Get up here and kiss me some more.”

Derek surfaces, mouth wet, and reaches up for a kiss. He settles his weight more firmly over Stiles, pressing right against Stiles’ dick. Stiles wiggles until he can get his legs up and wrap them around Derek, and then everything’s kissing and grinding and perfection. Derek pushes against him with these slow, steady strokes, like he’s already fucking Stiles, and it’s basically all Stiles can do to hold on to Derek’s shoulders and offer his mouth up for more heady kisses. If he doesn’t get his pants off soon, he’s gonna come in them. Derek would probably like that, the fucker.

He shoves his hands down the back of Derek’s pants in retaliation and squeezes Derek’s ass. Derek moans against his jaw and thrusts down hard.

“Fuck, Derek--pants, lemme take my pants off.”

“Say please,” Derek says, working a hand between their bodies and rubbing Stiles through his jeans.

“Please, please,” Stiles moans. He’ll be embarrassed later, but whatever, if it gets Derek’s hands in his pants he doesn’t care. And it works, it does: Derek undoes his fly and yanks his jeans and boxers down his hips. His dick springs free and Derek kind of just leans in and nuzzles at it for a long moment before sitting up and looking down at Stiles intently.

“Do you still want me to--”

“Fucking yes,” Stiles says. “Uh. I mean. You still want to, right?”

“Yeah, I do,” Derek says, and he strokes Stiles’ leg, running his fingers from his knee down towards his groin. It’s like he pressed exactly the right button, because Stiles’ legs just...fall open.

Stiles feels shy, suddenly. He’s been naked with Derek before, but this is different. It’s not every day you get up close and personal with someone’s butthole. Obviously Derek has been in the general area before, what with all the blowjobs he’s given Stiles, but in a minute he’s going to be right there and Stiles washed really well but Derek has super smell and what if he thinks it’s gross?

Derek is frowning at him.

“Are you okay?” Derek asks.

“Yes?” Stiles tries. “Um. I might be a little nervous. But I’m good! Don’t worry about it.”

Derek’s fingers trail along the inside of his thigh. “Tell me why you’re nervous.”

“You’re gonna touch my butt, dude, I think I’m allowed to be nervous about that. And before you ask, yes, I still want you to.”

“Good,” Derek says, and he turns his head and presses a kiss to Stiles’ knee. His fingers are wandering lower and Stiles can’t hold back a shudder when Derek strokes just behind his balls. And fuck, that’s--that’s Derek’s fingertip on his asshole.

“Oh my god,” Stiles says, because Derek’s rubbing little circles into his skin and it feels amazing. He flings one hand out, searching for his messenger bag. Lube, where is the lube. He needs Derek to put that finger inside him right now, okay.

If Derek’s finger dry was good, it’s nothing compared to what it feels like slicked with lube and pressing gently inwards. Derek asks him if it hurts and Stiles shakes his head; he’s fingered himself enough to know how to relax into it. It doesn’t take long before Derek’s finger-fucking him Stiles is squirming under his hands.

His hair is damp with sweat and his dick is heavy and hard against his stomach by the time Derek decides he’s ready for more than one finger.

“Will you--I want to see,” Derek says. “Can I?”

He gets Stiles to hold his legs up in such a way that his ass is completely exposed, right the fuck there in Derek’s face. Derek’s still got his boxers on and Stiles watches as he pushes those down too and gets out his cock, starts jerking it as he presses two fingers against Stiles’ hole. They sink in smoothly and Stiles can barely concentrate on how it feels because he’s watching Derek bite his lip and jerk off, just fucking staring at his fingers in Stiles’ ass. Derek definitely doesn’t look grossed out. He looks like Stiles’ ass is his favorite new toy. But then Derek pulls his fingers out out and fucks them back in and Stiles moans, because damn.

“Derek,” he begs, and Derek leans in and presses his mouth right to the base of Stiles’ dick in a sloppy, open-mouthed kiss.

“Do you think you’re ready?” Derek asks, twisting his fingers.

Stiles squeezes experimentally around Derek’s fingers. “Yes?”

He thinks that maybe Derek will just take his fingers out and push right inside him with his dick, but instead Derek sits up and hands Stiles a condom.

“Put it on me,” he says, eyes dark. Stiles opens the wrapper with shaky hands and scoots forward so he can get a good grip on the base of Derek’s dick while he rolls the condom down. It looks a lot bigger and more intimidating, condom-clad and ready to go inside of Stiles. He watches as Derek uncaps the lube and gives his dick another pass and then he’s practically looming over Stiles to--oh, he’s getting a pillow to prop under Stiles’ hips.

His dick slides between Stiles’ asscheeks and nudges against his hole, leaving a sticky trail of lube. Derek reaches a hand down to line himself up and there’s pressure and suddenly Derek is inside him. Stiles tries to breathe because two fingers was nothing compared to this and when Derek sinks in another inch, it hurts. Enough to make him instinctively tense up and bit his lip.

Derek stops moving immediately. “I’m hurting you,” he says unhappily.

“It’s not that bad,” Stiles says. “Keep going, maybe it’ll get better.”

Derek looks dubious, but he cants his hips and another couple inches of him slide into Stiles and ow.

“Ow, no, bad idea.” Stiles pushes at Derek’s chest. “Off, get off.”

It hurts when Derek pulls out, too, and leaves him feeling open and exposed. Stiles curls onto his side and hugs his arms around himself, watches Derek take the condom off. Derek lies next to him and touches his shoulder and then, when Stiles doesn’t say anything, strokes down Stiles’ spine. It’s comforting and Stiles squirms forward against Derek.

“I’m sorry I hurt you.” Derek’s hand is in his hair now, gentle fingers on his scalp.

“I think we should try again,” Stiles says. “Like, in a different position.” He’s come this far, goddammit, he’s not going to give up now just because the first time they tried it it didn’t work.

Derek’s hesitant, but Stiles insists that his ass is okay, and he even lets Derek see for himself--Derek’s hands holding his cheeks apart, fingers touching lightly at Stiles’ hole--and eventually they come to a compromise: they’ll try penetration again, but not until Derek’s fingered him open some more.

Stiles lies on his stomach with his legs spread with Derek all along his side, his fingers moving slow and perfect inside Stiles. It feels like he’s getting massaged from the inside; he closes his eyes and tries to relax into it. He can’t help his hips jerking into the sheets when Derek touches him just right, but he also doesn’t complain when Derek seems content to finger him for what feels like forever.

There are three fingers working inside him by the time Derek kisses Stiles’ shoulder and asks him how it feels.

“Really good,” Stiles says, muffled by the sheets. He wiggles his ass for emphasis.

Derek laughs and slips his fingers free. “Okay, I get the hint. You know what position you want to try?”

Stiles considers and discards on all fours. He knows porn isn’t a guide to real sex, but all the porn he’s seen with the bottom on all fours has been fast and hard, a slap-slap-slap of hips. It’s intimidating, and even though he knows that Derek will go slow no matter what position he chooses, he just can’t.

“Maybe on my side?”

“Perfect,” Derek says. He arranges Stiles on the bed with one leg bent up and Stiles hears the slick sound of lube and a condom being rolled on. He snugs up close behind Stiles, his chest hot against Stiles’ back, one hand on Stiles’ stomach.

“Take a deep breath,” Derek says, and when Stiles exhales Derek nudges his cockhead inside. His breath is hot on Stiles’ neck. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Stiles says. He reaches his hand back and finds Derek’s hip. “I’m good.”

The next roll of Derek’s hips has him pushing most of the way inside. Stiles lets out a shocky rush of air and Derek’s hips jerk and god, he feels so big.

“Sorry,” Derek pants. “I meant to go slower, it’s just--Stiles, you feel so good. Did I hurt you?”

Stiles has to take a second to assess the situation. Derek’s deeper than anything else Stiles has ever put in his ass, and it’s definitely taking some adjusting to, but he’s okay.

“No,” he says. “Keep going.”

Derek’s arm around his waist tightens and pulls Stiles down and that’s it, he’s all the way inside, his pubic hair scratchy against Stiles’ ass. It’s a relief when Derek doesn’t start moving right away, curls his hand around Stiles’ dick instead. He’s gone sadly limp from penetration. But the more Derek jerks him off, the better he feels; by the time he’s fully hard again, he’s pushing back against Derek with tiny hitches of his hips, testing the waters. He feels kind of drunk. Nothing could ever have prepared him for how it feels to have someone else inside of you, taking up space in your body.

“Okay,” he says to Derek. “You can--you can move.”

Derek’s still careful with him, limits himself to gentle rolls of his hips, an inch out and an inch back in. As Stiles gets used to it, Derek starts lengthening his thrusts, giving Stiles more of his cock each time. The lube squelches and Derek moans and latches his mouth onto Stiles’ neck, sucking hard enough that he’s definitely going to leave a mark.

“God, Stiles,” Derek pants. He’s half on top of Stiles by now, one leg between Stiles’, and it’s easy enough for Stiles to twist so his upper body is flat on the bed, and then they’re kissing. It’s sloppy and messy but Derek must like it a lot because he starts humping into Stiles faster, his thrusts needy. They break for air and everything’s sweaty and hot and Stiles feels like he’s about to fall apart under Derek’s hands. Derek keeps brushing over something that must be his prostate because it feels amazing and also like he really needs Derek to touch his dick right now.

Suddenly Derek’s groaning and he thrusts up hard into Stiles and stays there, grinding against him, his face pressed into Stiles’ neck. He’s coming, Stiles realizes, and he palms the back of Derek’s head and keeps still while Derek rides out his orgasm in Stiles’ body. It stings when Derek pulls out, but he makes up for it by getting a hand on Stiles’ dick and jerking him off with quick, efficient pulls. It only takes a minute before Stiles is shaking in Derek’s arms and coming all over his hand.

He feels completely wiped after, a soggy pile of Stiles-noodles. He flops over onto his stomach and the bed creaks as Derek gets up and disappears somewhere. The toilet flushes and then Derek’s back in bed with him, wiping away the lube that’s sticky on the inside of Stiles’ thighs.

“Stiles?” Derek asks, sounding a little worried, and Stiles takes that as his cue to roll back over and cuddle shamelessly up to Derek.

“We definitely need to do that again,” he says, and feels Derek relax against him.

“Sorry I came so fast,” Derek says ruefully. “It was--you were amazing.”

“I didn’t even do anything. You’re the one who did all the work.” He feels kind of bad about that, actually, but since it was his first time he thinks he deserves a little slack. Next time he can--

“You can ride me next time,” Derek says, rudely interrupting Stiles' thought processes. Stiles’ face goes hot and Derek smirks at him.

“I’m going to sleep now,” Stiles announces. “Wake me up when there’s food.”