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Don't Forget Me

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"You know you don't have to go, right?" Stiles reminded his mate.

Derek looked up from where he was packing and sighed heavily, "Babe, we are not having this argument again. I am going. This pack needs my help, they're desperate, I'm doing the right thing."

"I just wish the right thing wasn't leaving me," Stiles mumbled. He turned away and started fiddling with the photo frames on the dresser to distract himself.

Stiles heard some shuffling behind him and then an arm snaked around his waist, pulling Stiles' back against Derek's chest. "Hey, I'm not leaving you, as soon as the threat is taken care of, one which could soon threaten our pack if we don't stop it now, I will be back. And everything will be fine. Promise." He placed a gentle kiss on Stiles' neck, rubbing comforting circles into his hips with his fingers.

"You can't promise me that. After everything that's happened, we can't have promises like that," Stiles said, spinning round to face his lover.

"Screw that, I'm making this promise: I'll be fine. I'll come back to you," Derek assured him.

"You'd better," Stiles threatened, then closed the gap between them and pressed his lips to Derek's.

He opened his mouth to let Derek lick his way inside, pulling a broken moan from him. The sound was enough to drive Derek to start unbuttoning Stiles' shirt and push it off his shoulders without ever breaking their mouths apart.

Stiles repeated the same action on Derek, still marvelled by the expanse of strong, muscled flesh he could gain access to. He was the most beautiful man Stiles had ever laid eyes on. He trailed careful fingers over the tanned skin, letting his tongue follow the same path and helping elicit a groan from his mate. He paid special attention to each nipple, nipping and sucking until they became firm and swollen.

Derek dragged Stiles' mouth away from his sensitive skin to reattach their mouths and start moving Stiles towards the bed. Each action was soft and unhurried, as if they had all the time in the world to enjoy each other. Stiles wished that were true.

Derek removed the rest of their clothing and took a moment to stop and appreciate the man laying beneath him, giving him full submission, letting him have everything because he trusted Derek that much.

Derek grabbed the lube from the bedside table while Stiles spread his legs wide open, making Derek's mouth water with what was on offer. Derek slathered his fingers then began to circle Stiles' tight pink rim before gently inserting one. Stiles gasped at the intrusion, but only in pleasure, Derek made sure he never felt pain. Derek watched as the younger man writhed underneath him, erect cock leaking pre-come. He added another finger, scissoring him to oblivion.

"Derek, p-please..." Stiles whispered, the overpowering need to come taking root deep inside him.

"I know, baby, just one more," Derek promised. Another finger stretched him. It felt so damn good, like being taken apart and put back together again.

Stiles relinquished his harsh grip on the sheets to grasp Derek between his fingers, marking him with purple bruises that Derek wouldn't let heal for a while. Meanwhile, Derek continued to fuck Stiles open with his fingers and make similar claiming marks over his chest, coming close to the mating bite that rested at the base of his neck. Possessive bastard Derek may be, but that didn't mean Stiles didn't love every second of it. Each time he marked him, it felt like he was directly connecting himself to Stiles, as if they were one person.

Derek curled his fingers in just the right way to make Stiles cry out, begging Derek to hurry up and fuck him. Derek shook his head fondly at Stiles' lack of romanticism but did as asked and withdrew his fingers.

He lined the head of dick to Stiles' flushed hole and pushed in, filling him up in one forceful thrust. Stiles' breath caught in his throat at the magnificent feelings of pleasure he received, matching Derek's own expression of pure bliss. Stiles met each of Derek's thrusts with a roll of his hips, their bodies already knowing the rhythm they liked, how they could make each other melt, make their skin slippery with sweat, make their heartbeats race and breaths hitch. Derek reangled his hips to hit his prostate, setting Stiles right on the edge. Then, all at once, Stiles' orgasm hit hard, and the look Stiles' face brought Derek to that same pleasure.

As they shuddered through the last of their aftershocks, Derek placed small kisses on Stiles' lips, cheek and glistening forehead. Derek pulled out then lay next to his mate, wrapping his arms around Stiles so he could rest his face on Derek's chest. They took some time to breathe, only exchanging feather-light kisses.

"If something happens - " Stiles started to say.

"It won't. Stiles, I - " Derek interrupted, already trying to argue, but Stiles reacted swiftly.

"No, listen, please. Just listen," Stiles shuffled to rest on one elbow and look Derek in eyes. "I love you, so much, I don't want anything to happen to you. If things go south, please swear to me that you will get yourself out. I don't want you acting all noble. No heroics. I want you alive. So, please just do as I ask. Please?"

Derek moved to rest on an elbow as well, replying quietly, "Stiles, I swear if something happens, I will get out of there, but you know if I saw someone who needed help, I would help them. The same as you would." He reached out and smoothed some of Stiles' hair back that had fallen into his eyes. Derek liked Stiles' hair like this, liked running his fingers through it and gripping it in moments of euphoria. Longer hair trumped buzz cuts in Derek's mind every day.

Stiles growled a little at Derek's words but resigned himself to the facts. If in a bad situation, Stiles would gladly sacrifice his own safety, his own life, if it meant saving someone innocent. It's one of the traits Derek loved and hated about him, but the same went for Stiles because Derek was the exact same.

"Can't things ever just be normal?" Stiles asked, not really expecting an answer. It was one of those big questions that only the universe could answer, but when speaking to the universe it was usually a one-way call.

"Stiles, I'm a werewolf, you're my mate and a deputy of the Beacon Hills Sheriff Department, not to mention their head for investigation of supernatural occurrences. Our pack consists of your best friend, the true alpha, his wife, a hunter, multiple betas, a werecoyote, a kitsune and a banshee. Your life is a crazy, mixed-up world of insanity. There will never be any normal for us."

Stiles sighed yet nodded in acceptance as well. "Yeah, yeah, I get that. I guess my life was never going to be normal, even before Scott became a werewolf. Do you know I once dressed up as Superman and tried to fly off my roof? I ended up with two broken legs and a severe concussion. Normal kids don't do shit like that."

"Yeah, you were always destined to be a weirdo," Derek told him with a wide grin on his face. Stiles grabbed a pillow and thwacked him with it, giggling at the ooph! Derek made. The action ended with the two of them having a pillow fight, smacking each other in the face until Derek seized hold of him and flipped him on his back to hover above him with a triumphant look on his face. Stiles didn't like defeat. He twisted his hips and tightened his grip on Derek to switch them, but he overshot and sent the two of them tumbling off the bed with a loud thump. As soon as he looked down on the werewolf, he burst out laughing at the startled expression on his face.

"You are so going to pay for that," Derek warned him, already reaching up to tickle him.

Stiles smiled at him. "Bring it on, mister." He kissed Derek quick before the tickle war commenced.

***

Stiles wouldn't let go of Derek, kept kissing him and touching him because if he let go, he would lose him. All the pack were gathered outside, the cars ready and waiting to take all the pack away apart from Isaac, Erica, Allison, and of course, Stiles. Stiles advocated his usefulness multiple times, but Derek insisted he stay behind. They needed people they trusted in charge of Beacon Hills and with Allison pregnant there was no chance of her going anywhere dangerous. Isaac and Erica would help provide the manpower in case anything decided to wander in Beacon Hills while the alpha was out of town.

Everyone said their final goodbyes, leaving Derek as the last to get in one of the cars. Stiles jumped into his boyfriend's arms and buried his face in his neck. He usually wasn't so clingy, but with the added mating bond and Stiles' knowledge of the magnitude of this threat, it meant he wasn't really enthusiastic about letting go. Not to mention, Stiles had been thinking about proposing lately, and while the mating bond was essentially the werewolf equivalent of marriage, Stiles wanted to do everything. What can he say? He was an all-out kind of guy. Ain't no half assing in this house.

"Stiles, you have to let go," Derek whispered into his hair, but he didn't lessen his clasp on the human.

"I know," Stiles answered, finally releasing the werewolf, especially after noticing the irritated look of best friend sitting in the driver's seat. Stiles kissed Derek one last time. "I love you. Come back safe."

"Promise. I love you too." Derek moved away, dropping Stiles' hand and getting in the car.

The four members of the pack watched as the others drove away, all standing in front of the renovated Hale house where Derek and Stiles were permanent residents, but the rest of the pack often stayed in so they could be closer to each other.

Erica stepped up behind him and draped an arm over his shoulders. "You know the two of you are fucking disgusting to watch right? Like seriously, the whole sappy romance thing makes my stomach turn."

Stiles chuckled at that, momentarily distracted from the pain of his mate being away from him. "You're just jealous, Catwoman. Just because you and Boyd don't possess that Disney level cuteness that we do, doesn't mean you can shit on our relationship. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, have nothing on us."

"Gotta love that you're comparing yourself to Disney princesses, always knew you were the prissy, girly type," Erica told him, flicking him on the nose at the same time.

"Damn straight, have you seen how badass some of those ladies are? It would be an honour to be compared to them," Stiles said, happily flicking Erica right back. Their chat sort of devolved into a flicking contest with Erica winning because of her stupid werewolf powers, so she could put some real strength behind the flicks. He would probably have little bruises on his face and arms for days.

"Hey! Dumbasses! We're making lunch, get in here before Allison decides to feast on all of us instead," Isaac called from the doorway. Stiles and Erica smiled at each other, then deigned to go save Isaac from the wrath of a hormonal, pregnant Allison.

The remaining pack members had decided to stay in the Hale house until the rest of pack came back, so after lunch, they all huddled in the den and watched old movies until the sun set. Stiles texted Derek relentlessly, asking for any and every kind of update. It ended with Derek demanding Stiles go relax and that he would be fine if he didn't receive persistent messages from him every two minutes. Stiles just sent him rude emojis in response. He really did enjoy being a little shit.

For dinner Stiles set about making spaghetti and meatballs, even allowing Erica to handle the simple task of boiling the pasta because he was feeling kind (Erica hadn't had the best experience in the kitchen - he had tried to make cupcakes with her once and she had set his hair on fire somehow). Allison and Isaac were discussing baby names while Stiles dished up the food.

"I still maintain that Juliet is a great name," Isaac insisted. "It's a classic, beautiful."

"Isaac, I'm not naming my baby after a Shakespeare character that killed herself, not that I don't love the story but considering the lives we lead, I feel like it would just be piling on the bad luck," Allison explained with a knowing look in her eye. Stiles placed her bowl in front of her and she gave him a grateful smile. As he sat down, Stiles opened his mouth, but Allison stopped him before he could speak, "And no Stiles, even if she wasn't a girl, we would not be naming her Stiles Junior."

"Hey! That's my godchild in there, she would be honoured to bear my name," he protested.

"Shut up, Stilinski. It's bad enough you're saddled with that name, don't torture a new born with it as well," Erica said with a mouthful of pasta.

He huffed but decided to eat his meal instead of arguing. They talked throughout the night, still debating on the baby's name but Allison vetoed every idea they produced, wanting to wait until Scott returned. Stiles sent one last message to Derek, asking him what had happened and telling him he loved him. Derek replied in record time, saying they had found the invading pack - one which consisted of a multitude of different creatures, not unlike their own pack, but this time they had malicious purposes and wanted to decimate any pack in their way to gain more territory - and that Scott was getting the others ready so they could make their move. Stiles wished him and the pack luck and told him to be careful.

Derek simply texted back:

Always

***

A week later, Stiles went over to his dad's house to have dinner with him like he did every Friday, ensuring his dad was eating well, because although they worked together, there was no telling what kind of junk his dad could gain access to behind closed doors. He would live on a diet of burgers and pizza if Stiles wasn't there to stop him. The guy was just asking for a heart attack.

He arrived around eight, exhausted after working since seven in the morning, but more than ready to spend time with his dad whom had the day off.

"Yo, pops, I'm here," Stiles announced, dumping his coat at the door and tugging off his shoes. His dad yelled that he would be down in a minute, so Stiles started grabbing stuff from the fridge to begin making a dinner of chicken caesar salad. Any salad he got his dad to eat was a battle won in Stiles' mind. His dad entered the room just as Stiles was picking plates from the cupboard.

"Hey, how's your day off been?" Stiles asked, sending his dad a goofy smile.

His dad ruffled his hair and answered, "It was boring as hell, but Melissa dropped by and kept me company for a while."

"Oh, I bet she did," Stiles muttered with a devious twinkle in his eye. Thankfully, his dad either didn't hear or didn't care to comment and just sat at the small kitchen table while Stiles dished everything up. They set about eating for a while, not saying much until his father asked about Derek. "He called me yesterday. They were having trouble with some witches in the invading pack. We couldn't talk for very long because they attacked again. But I think he's okay. Lydia tried her best at a diplomatic approach but that fell apart pretty quickly. But she's a badass banshee, so I think she'll more than hold her own against the creatures."

"I'm glad he's okay. Did he say how long he think he'll be gone? That has been a week now."

"Nope, no one knew the timeline, not even Scott, kind of up in the air. Unfortunately." Stiles bit his lip a little, worry starting to set in once again. His dad gave him a sympathetic look, helping Stiles to soldier on. "But, one good thing has come from this," Stiles said with a small smile on his face. He took a deep breath before uttering the next words, "I've decided, that when Derek comes back, I'm going to propose."

His dad looked ecstatic. "Oh, son, that's fantastic." He launched forward and wrapped his arms around his son in a tender embrace. "I'm so proud of you," his dad whispered.

"Thanks dad."

The rest of the night they spent sitting on the couch and watching reruns of his dad's favourite tv shows, like they would do when he was a kid. At one point during the evening, Stiles felt an odd tugging sensation running up and down his body and unconsciously found himself reaching for the mating bite. Stiles told himself not to freak out, it could mean anything, and the feeling was gone as soon as it came. Feelings like that had happened many times before when either of them were in high stress situations. The bite was still there and there was no pain. Trying to rationalise things in his mind, he finally told himself Derek would be fine, and settled down. He chose to stay the night, falling asleep as soon as his head his old pillow, slightly musty because he hadn't slept there in a while.

He left early the next morning, leaving a fruit salad for his dad to eat for breakfast. He worked a relatively short shift that day, arriving home around five and finding his pack lounging in the den, eating their way through his fridge. Dicks.

Stiles snatched the bag of popcorn from Isaac's hand who made an indignant noise at the theft, then plonked down next to Allison. He questioned her about her pain and the baby's movements that day, but she assured him the little one hadn't caused her any real problems all day, only kicking lightly a few times. She rested his hand upon her rounded belly and he felt her kick, making his heart swell. He couldn't wait to meet her.

"She's going to be perfect, Ally," he told Allison, feeling one last kick before removing his hand.

Allison blushed a little, but agreed, "Yeah, she will be."

As Stiles was contemplating ordering some pizza for dinner, the two werewolves suddenly sat up, sniffing the air. Stiles was on alert immediately. "What's wrong?"

They didn't answer, only rushed out of the house, slamming open the front door without pause. Allison and Stiles traded a look and followed the others as fast they could. They gathered on the porch and saw two cars speed up the driveway and grind to a halt right in front of them. Scott jumped out along with Kira, Malia, Lydia and Boyd, but no Derek.

Stiles' heart dropped. No. This wasn't happening. It couldn't.

Everyone greeted each other, respective partners and packmates clutching the other, thankful they were alright. But the sombre look on each of their faces stopped anyone from really celebrating the return. Scott walked up to Stiles, Allison right behind him, and hugged him tightly. Stiles barely felt it.

"He's dead." There was no emotion in his tone. The world was falling apart, and he didn't want to feel it, if he did he would break into a million pieces and never have any hope of coming back.

"Oh God, Stiles no. He's alive," Scott rushed to say. "He was hit by a spell by one of the witches and he hasn't woken up since. We took him to Deaton straight away and then came here. But he's alive. Stiles, he's alive and Deaton is going to help him."

Stiles let out the largest breath, relief filling him to the brim. He realised how stupid he had been, if something serious had happened to his mate, he would have felt it, it would have ripped him apart inside out. He hadn't felt that. Except... No, Derek was alive, Deaton was helping him. It would be alright. It had to be. "Okay, okay, take me to him. Now." Scott nodded, the rest of the pack all joining him as well, needing to be close to their hurt pack member.

Lydia reached out and squeezed his hand. He squeezed back fiercely before sliding in a car. They whizzed through the streets, arriving at Deaton's clinic in record time. Stiles didn't wait for anyone, rushing out and bursting through the entrance way. Deaton looked up from where he was sitting at the front desk filling out forms.

"Mr. Stilinski, I've been expecting you, he's just through here," Deaton said, standing up and directing him towards the back room.

Stiles found Derek lying motionless on the examination table. His breath caught in his throat. He dashed forwards, desperate to touch skin and prove to himself Derek was real. This was not how Stiles imagined their reunion. He cradled Derek's beautiful face between his shaking hands, shocked by how cold Derek's skin felt. Derek was always warm, this was wrong. So wrong.

"Derek," he whispered. "Derek." He could hear his own despair laced in his voice. It was physically painful to see his mate look like this.

Stiles turned with tears in his eyes when he heard Deaton cough behind him. "Mr. Stilinski, try to stay calm, I'm doing everything I can for Derek. I don't see any lasting physical damage, so as far as I can guess, he should be waking up within the hour, if we just focus on the physical."

"And...and any mental damage?" Stiles carefully inquired.

Deaton gave him a pitying look. "I'm sorry, but unless I know the exact spell that the witch used then I can't tell you about any effects it may have had. But I'm hopeful that any changes would be temporary. If not, I promise I will try my best to reverse the damage with any method I can find."

Stiles nodded and looked away, not wanting to remove his gaze away from Derek if he could help it. The rest of the pack entered the room, all surrounding Derek and giving Stiles varying touches of comfort. Their presence helped somewhat, especially when Lydia moved next to him and rested her chin on his shoulder. She didn't say anything, none of them did, as if breaking the silence could somehow inflict even more harm upon their fallen packmate.

They stayed that way for the next sixty-four minutes until Stiles finally had the strength to ask asked what had had happened. Scott and the others had been approaching the last of the invading pack, a small circle of powerful witches, when Derek had noticed something before Scott, one of the witches approaching from behind Scott's line of vision poised for attack, so he jumped in front of his alpha and was hit by whatever spell that witch (literal and figurative) had cast. A mixture of anger and sadness swirled inside Stiles, wishing that Derek could have kept his hero impulses to a minimum. After that, the fight had ended with one of the McCall pack's allies jumping in and defeating the witches. Great. Hooray. Happy ending. Pack saved. Except...

"He saved my life," Scott said, wringing his hands together as he went to sit down in one of the chairs by the table.

"It's not your fault Scott," Allison told her husband, coming to sit down next to him, a gentle hand laying on her protruding belly. Scott's hand moved to overlap Allison's.

"She's right," Stiles agreed, anger bleeding into his voice. "It's not your fault, Scott. No-one could have stopped Derek's hero boner, he's an idiot like that. A stupid, self-sacrificing lunatic that really likes to screw around with death. A fucking, fucking idiot." But the anger left as quickly as it arrived, because that wasn't the real emotion Stiles was feeling, it was a distraction. Stiles took a breath and turned to his mate, whispering with a voice so low it wouldn't disturb sand, "It's okay, I forgive you. Just wake up so I can tell you that."

For once, Derek did as he was told.

With a loud gasp, Derek's eyes shot open. "Where-where am I? What happened?" he demanded, struggling against the grip of his betas and mate.

Deaton stepped forward, shining a bright light in Derek's eyes and squeezing his muscles to test his reflexes. "You're alright. You're fine. My name is Alan Deaton and you're in my veterinary clinic recovering. Now, can you tell me your name? Where you are? Your age?"

Derek calmed down, looking directly at Deaton. "My name is Derek Hale. I'm in Beacon Hills, but I was in San Francisco before dealing with another pack that were threatening our allies. I'm twenty-eight years old. And now, I really want to know what the hell happened to me."

Stiles moved back into Derek's field of vision, smiling because there didn't seem to be any mental deficits yet. Derek knew himself. Thank God. "Hey, babe, how you feelin'?"

Something like confusion washed over Derek's face. "'Babe'? I don't understand. Who are you?"

Those three words stopped Stiles heart.

No, please, no.

"Derek, tell me you know who I am," Stiles nearly begged.

Derek looked around the room, his eyes falling on each of the pack before settling on him. "I'm sorry. I have no idea who you are."

***

Knowing that Stiles was on the verge of a full-blown panic attack, Scott grabbed his best friend by the shoulders and steered him out of the room. Once they were in the little side room, Scott forced Stiles to look at him in the eyes. "Stiles, you have to breathe, you have to stay strong. Deaton will find a cure and Derek will remember you. Everything will be fine. But right now, you have to breathe."

"Don't lie to me Scott," Stiles snarled. "Things are not fucking okay! My mate doesn't remember me! He doesn't even fucking recognise me!"

After everything they had been through, to be handed this was just cruel. No, it was more than that, it was barbaric.

"Hey!" Scott yelled back. "You need to stay strong. While Deaton finds a cure, Derek is going to need help. Your help. I don't know how long it's going to take so until then, don't think about yourself, think about Derek. He's scared, a bomb has just been dropped on him and you freaking out will not help. So, Stiles, please, for his sake, don't hurt him, help him."

Under typical circumstances, Stiles would argue until the day turned dark, but Scott was right. Stiles didn't have a reason to argue. "You're right," Stiles admitted.

Scott smirked. "What was that?"

"Shut up, I'm not saying it again. That was a one-time only kind of thing."

"Uh huh." Scott nodded, still grinning like an idiot.

Stiles smacked him over the back of the head. "Excuse me, I'm suffering some severe trauma here, no joking allowed."

The alpha werewolf ignored him.

Stiles slowly re-entered the room, cautiously surveying things, seeing Derek look up from where he was engaged in an obviously important conversation with Dr. Deaton. The rest of the pack were off to the side, seemingly just waiting to make the next move. Stiles and Derek locked eyes, the vacant stare of his mate punching a hole through Stiles' heart, but he tried to remain calm and walked towards his lover, plastering on the biggest smile he could, fake as it may be.

"Hello again. Sorry about running off. I was a bit...um...overwhelmed?" Stiles half-heartedly explained.

Derek gave him a sharp nod. "Deaton and the pack have been catching me up on things, but I think the story would be better coming from you."

Stiles knew that would be the only way to go, but it still made his heart stutter.

"Mr. Stilinski," Deaton cut in, "I've informed Derek of your relationship, what I know of it anyway, so he has a basic understanding. As much as I can decipher, all his other memories are intact, every event that happened has still happened, everything apart from - "

"Me, apart from me," Stiles finished for him.

Deaton gave him a sympathetic look. Erica stepped up from behind them making the three turn and re-join the rest of the pack. "Okay, so why would the witch bitch do this? What's the point?" she asked.

"I assume that the spell was most likely meant to take away the thing that person loves most, and considering this spell was meant for the alpha, a true alpha, it would be the ultimate form of hurt and pain, meant to torture both alpha and mate. If it continued, it was possible it would cause untold pain, physical and emotional to both parties and even the pack due to the distress of the alpha. Now, this could be temporary, but with everything we now know about the nature of the spell and what was taken, it is probably permanent." Everyone heard Stiles sharp intake of breath. "But, I promise I will do everything in my power to reverse this. I have contacts in Mexico that I believe may have information on this type of occurrence, so I will travel there and get as many details as possible, meaning I'll be gone for a few days. In the meantime, Stiles, take Derek home, make sure he's surrounded by you and your scent. The pack should remain close as well because Derek knows and feels safe around them."

Stiles looked to Derek again, finding his mate already looking at him. Stiles wished he could kiss the helpless and lost expression off his face. They were supposed to be happy right now. Derek promised. Stiles had been planning to propose tonight, as soon Derek had returned and everyone was deemed safe and healthy, Stiles was going to take Derek into the preserve where they first met, light candles, drink wine and get down on one knee asking for Derek's hand. He had even called Cora earlier in the week wanting her blessing, which she gladly gave. It should have been perfect. It would have been perfect. But nothing in his life ever turned out like that no matter how hard he tried.

It was decided that Stiles would take Derek back to their house, allow him to settle in and show him everything. Awkwardly, Stiles placed a hand on Derek's back to guide him towards one of the cars outside, Scott and Allison following them, hoping the alpha presence would give Derek some comfort. He had just been forced into a world with a mate he had no memory of. It was a lot to take in all at once.

The rest of the pack walked them outside and once Derek was inside the car, Stiles spun towards them. "So, how are you guys by the way? I didn't really ask before."

"Stiles, we're fine. We're just worried about Derek and you," Kira said, rubbing her small hand up his arm. Malia stepped up behind Kira, slid her arm around the kitsune's waist and nodded in agreement at her words. Stiles appreciated the gesture.

"I'll be okay. Especially after Derek is cured," he answered. The pack all agreed, promising they would drop in intermittently to keep Derek's wolf happy, while also giving Derek some time to adjust to Stiles and their life. Lydia got into the other car, ready to take everyone else home. Stiles prepared himself for the most uncomfortable car ride of his life, and that was surpassing the time that Scott and himself had been trapped in Roscoe in a snowstorm while on a road trip around the states. They had had to huddle together practically naked for warmth and pee in bottles with barely a centimetre between them. They swore never to speak of those horrible days again.

Stiles carefully slid into the driver's seat, feeling Derek's gaze on him, but not the one Stiles knew. They drove in complete silence until they made it to the Hale house. Once rolled to a stop, Derek took in lungful after lungful of air, no doubt smelling him and Stiles together. The two of them had pretty much fucked on every surface in the house (much to the disgust of the pack) so it was unsurprising that Derek was being overcome with the scent of them. Stiles wondered if he should apologise.

"Okay," Stiles started, "Let's go inside and I can show you about the place."

Derek grunted then got out the car. Stiles was about to follow him when Scott held him back. "Stiles, I want to say that I'm sorry." Before Stiles could protest, Scott carried on, "I know you forgave me and you don't blame me, but I'm still sorry that Derek took that spell for me. I'm sorry you have to go through this."

Gently, Stiles replied, "In all honesty Scott, maybe it's better it happened to us. Derek would never have forgiven himself if something happened to you, especially not with you and Allison expecting. We'll be okay. And by the time our godchild is here, Derek and I will be happy again."

Allison moved forwards and hugged Stiles, whispering into his shoulder, "Good luck."

Stiles watched as the couple drove away leaving Stiles to deal with disaster awaiting him inside.

Derek was searching through the fridge when Stiles found him, pulling out leftover spaghetti and meatballs, yoghurt and chocolate mousse all in one go. He stopped scavenging when Stiles entered the room.

"Um, sorry? I was hungry. Thought it would be okay," Derek excused himself.

"No, no, that's fine. You paid for everything in this house as much as I did," Stiles rushed to assure him.

"Right," Derek muttered, self-consciously picking up the food and taking it into the dining room. Stiles tried to follow him without it seeming like he was following him, noticing his every move. They sat on opposite sides of the table, both not speaking as Derek ate his way through all the food he brought.

As Derek was spooning the last of the yoghurt in his mouth, Stiles blurted out, "So you really remember nothing?"

Derek dropped his spoon and gulped. "I, uh, no. As far as I know everything that has happened still happened." Derek paused. "My family, the fire, Scott being bitten then becoming the alpha, Peter killing Laura, the pack, all the creatures we fought. I know about all of that. But, you're not there."

"So, it's like I've been erased from existence," Stiles reiterated. Derek nodded. "Wait, what about the nogitsune? Do you remember that?" Derek shook his head no. "So, all of that time is gone as well? Jesus, that witch really did a number on you. What happened...that's not something you can easily forget."

Stiles hated thinking about any of that. There had been so many close calls, so many hospital visits, Allison had nearly died (thank God the oni's sword hadn't stabbed anything vital and the ambulance had gotten there in time). Apart from his mother dying, it had single-handedly been the worst time of his life.

Derek had been the one to help Stiles through it.

With everyone recovering, Derek had gone out of his way to comfort Stiles, soothe him as he screamed his way through nightmares and hated the sight of himself.

They had kissed for the first time whilst walking in the woods together. It was the craziest thing. Derek had made Stiles laugh. They had locked eyes, both unconsciously leaning until their lips touched. It had been the softest kiss Stiles had ever received, full of safety and promise. They hadn't let go of each other since.

Stiles was brought back to the present by Derek uncertainly calling his name, "Stiles? Stiles! Are you alright?"

Stiles blinked away the fog to give Derek a watery smile. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just thinking of sad animal adverts. It's like they breed puppies with the biggest eyes and saddest expressions possible. Do they create them in a lab? Could you imagine walking into work like, 'Hey Jim, just created a new formula to make puppies simultaneously the cutest and most sorrowful creatures on the planet to encourage more people to adopt them and donate money. We're freaking business geniuses! Fuck yeah!'"

Derek looked terrified, no longer used to Stiles incoherent babbling. Incredulously, he asked, "Are you always like this?"

"Yep, yet everybody loves me anyway," Stiles said with a wink.

Derek looked over him, as if he was carefully contemplating his next words. "Me too?"

"Especially you," Stiles whispered shyly.

Stiles saw the gears turning in Derek's head, desperately searching for any memory of the two of them. But he couldn't find anything.

Fuck. That. Witch.

After that, neither of them could really find anything to say so Stiles suggested they go to bed, then he blushed furiously, realising what that sounded like and rushed to assure Derek he didn't mean it like that. Derek blushed as well but dismissed it with a wave of his hand. God, those hands...

Stiles mentally slapped himself then led Derek upstairs.

Outside their bedroom door, Stiles hesitated. "So, um, uh...this is our bedroom. We have guest bedrooms, so I could, or you could go stay in one of them if you'd like. Whatever makes you more comfortable."

"We can stay in the same bed Stiles," Derek told him, already moving inside the bedroom. Stiles only blinked in shock.

They got ready for bed and were under in the covers in record time. Normally, Stiles would snuggle up to his mate, rest his head on his chest and listen to his heartbeat like a lullaby. But these were not normal times, so Stiles stuck to his side of the bed, leaving that space between the two of them as he didn't want to make Derek uncomfortable. It was like a punch in the guts when Derek turned to the wall and created an even bigger gap between them. It took a long time before sleep claimed Derek and Stiles, loneliness and hurt resolutely clinging to their minds.

***

The next four days were some of the worst of Stiles' life. Everything that he tried to engage Derek caused nothing but pain for the both of them. He tried to show Derek photos of them together - it ended with both men miserable and Stiles wanting to burn the photos. They tried to share a meal together - they barely spoke, every conversation stilted. They slept in the same room - the middle of the bed always lay cold. Even the pack's presence didn't help.

The morning of the fifth day, the pack were already making breakfast by the time Stiles and Derek had tumbled downstairs. It was a relief for them both to see other people.

The conversation with the pack was strained, until Kira told them that they had plans to go to the lake after breakfast because it was one of the sunniest days they had had in a long time. Derek and Stiles went to get changed and grab their stuff, neither particularly excited, for different reasons, or maybe it was the same one just from another angle. After, Stiles jumped into the Jeep along with Isaac and Scott, because Malia had cited that she needed some time with her favourite cousin, so Derek rode with her.

As soon as they all arrived at the hidden lake, one which Derek had found as a kid, they all stripped down to their swimwear and waded into the crystal water. Stiles caught sight of Derek shirtless and a flush of arousal washed over him. He remembered licking and biting those huge planes of muscled skin, scratching over the taut flesh to make his mark, playing with those pink nipples until Derek lost himself under Stiles' touch. Derek looked up after evidently catching the scent of Stiles' arousal. Stiles blushed like a fool and quickly dove into the water to hopefully stop assaulting Derek with his smell which was surely weirding him out. Stiles felt awful.

Stiles swam about the cool water, the pack splashing about the place with large grins on their faces. He remembered all the other times Stiles had been here with Derek. The times where they had pushed each other in, kissed underwater and made love on the sand, even though it meant they go sand in inappropriate places and Stiles complained about it for days after.

After a time, Erica swam up to him. "You need to talk to Derek."

"Erica, I do talk to him. I'm trying my best," Stiles tried to defend himself, even though the words felt hollow in his mouth.

"You need to try harder. You barely even look at him, your conversations are tremendously awkward from what I've seen, but you stink of arousal anyway, do you know how confusing that must be for him? Please, you have to try harder."

Stiles knew Erica was speaking the truth and despite him wanting to say that he was suffering as well, that this entire thing was eating away at him, he didn't, because she was right and that he had to do better.

So, he pushed away his hurt feelings and smiled a weak smile at Erica as he started to swim to shore. Stiles noticed that Derek was having a rather in-depth talk with Isaac as they relaxed on the sand. Derek and Isaac had always had a close relationship. Stiles often came home to find the two them huddled together on the couch fast asleep, which Stiles believed was absolutely adorable as he saw the content looks on their faces, but he never told them that, lest he wanted to be decimated. The one time he had vaguely mentioned the idea of the two of them being cute, he had woken up with bleached eyebrows. Assholes.

The talk between the two werewolves paused as Stiles walked up, making him wonder about what they were talking about, but it wasn't his business. "Hey Isaac, mind if I steal Derek for a while?" he asked.

Isaac shrugged with a smile on his face and accepted Stiles offer of a hand to get up. Stiles replaced Isaac's spot, their bodies closer than they had been in what felt like a lifetime. What Stiles wouldn't give to close that distance. Damnit.

In order to distract himself from his feelings, Stiles lamely blurted out, "So, how are you?"

To which Derek's reply was: "Fine."

"Good, so, uh, do you have any memories of this place?" Stiles turned to Derek, trying his best to maintain eye contact, but the confused and slightly guarded expression of his mate made his heart ache, because usually, his expressions were ones of love and fondness whenever he looked at Stiles. The change was difficult to bear.

"Some. The times when I've come here with the pack." Derek's eyes tracked the pack as they had a diving competition by the side of the lake.

"Right, well, uh, we used to come here a lot together, so we could get away from everything. We loved it here," Stiles said a little wistfully and Derek swivelled his head to give Stiles a small smile. "On my twentieth birthday, we came here after a really nice dinner and you told me the story about how you found and claimed this place. You were so mad when Laura followed you and tried to take it from you. You threatened to drown her," both of them chuckled, "then, we swam for hours, and...did some stuff..." Derek blushed right on cue and Stiles laughed at how cute Derek looked with his ears tinged pink, "afterwards, you dropped me off home and told me you were rebuilding the Hale house. You asked if that once I finished college, I would move in with you. I said yes."

"So, this place is pretty important to us then?" Derek asked, keeping his eyes trained on Stiles, as if he was hanging onto his every word. Stiles smiled at the thought.

"Yeah, really, the entire Preserve is key to our relationship. I mean, we met here for the first time, the lake and our house are here, you asked me to be your mate in these woods..." Stiles drifted off, not meaning to reveal so much all in one go.

But Derek didn't want him to stop, not now that he was really learning about the two of them. "Please, tell me. I need to know."

"You know you're a romantic right?" Derek looked at him dubiously, like 'What? Me? Derek Hale, a romantic?' Stiles grinned at the expression. "Yep, you're a total romantic sap, using every cliché in the book, not that I mind of course. I'm hopeless when it comes to you." Stiles found himself leaning into Derek without knowing it. It could have been a trick of the light, but he thought Derek leaned in as well. "On the night of our anniversary, you came out here, spelled out 'Will you be my mate?' in rose petals and hung fairy lights in the trees. We both cried by the way, big, manly tears."

"Wow, just wow. Our friends must hate us."

"Sometimes, but that's just their jealousy talking," Stiles informed him, scooting even closer to Derek, the smell of his mate was so enticing, like pine needles and petrichor. He couldn't draw his instincts back, reaching out to slip his fingers down Derek's beautiful face, feeling the contrast of smooth skin and rough stubble.

"Stiles," Derek whispered, and it sounded so much like his Derek, his mate, like how they would whisper to each other in the early hours of the morning. He moved impossibly closer. "Stiles, stop. Stop."

Stiles withdrew himself lightning quick and rushed to apologise, "Oh my God, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean-I couldn't-I was...I'm so sorry." Stiles scrambled to stand up and as soon as he did, he grabbed his bag and ran to his car. He could hear the pack yelling his name, even Derek, but he ignored them. He sped out of there with his heart falling into the abyss.

He drove about the town for a long time, switching off his phone when it kept ringing, letting the bleached buildings of the once sleepy town of Beacon Hills blur in his vision. Eventually, he arrived at his dad's house but there was no car outside. It made Stiles frown, because in that moment, he really needed his dad.

Sighing, he turned off the engine, unlocked the door and threw himself on the couch. How did things go so wrong already? Stiles tried, and he messed it up. He was such an idiot. He was supposed to take things slow and instead he acted like a hormone-fuelled teenager and scared Derek. It was wrong. He had almost forced himself upon him. For one terrible second, Stiles believed he was just as bad as Kate.

He slammed his face into the pillow and hoped it would swallow him whole.

That's how his dad found him, hidden under a massive pile of pillows and a fluffy blanket, not one part of his body showing. He was so lost in destructive thoughts he didn't notice his dad's return until he felt a hand on shoulder. He peeked out behind the blanket to blink at his dad. "Hey there, son. What's wrong? Haven't seen you like this since you lost that spelling bee in third grade to Lydia Martin."

"My front tooth was loose, so I had a lisp. It wasn't my fault that the stupid judge couldn't understand the difference between a 's' and a 'f'. I should have won, and everyone fucking knows it, even Lydia," Stiles growled, then promptly fell back into couch. "Thanks for reminding me of that tragedy as well," he muttered into the pillow.

Even though he wasn't looking, he knew his dad was rolling his eyes, but he kept his hand on Stiles' shoulder, giving him a squeeze. He waited until Stiles was ready to talk but manoeuvred himself so Stiles' head was sitting in the Sheriff's lap.

"Dad, do think I'm a bad person?" Stiles murmured.

"What? Of course not," he argued while knocking Stiles up so he could look in his eyes. "Stiles, you're the best person I know, and no, I'm not just saying because I'm your dad," he said when he saw the look of protest on his son's face.

"I did something terrible today though..."

"Nothing you couldn't make up for I'm sure."

"Dad, I nearly forced myself on Derek," Stiles winced as he said it. "I wasn't thinking. I just missed him so much and he was sitting so close, I couldn't help myself. I'm just as bad as that psychopath Kate. You should lock me up right now."

"Stiles! Calm down!" His dad grabbed his face between his palms. "First off, you are nothing like Kate. You are wonderful and caring and would never intentionally do something to harm someone else. Two, from what you've told me, you made a mistake and that's all. You can apologise for it and win Derek's trust back. He was probably just overwhelmed. He's still Derek underneath it all. He'll understand."

"You think so?"

"I know so," his dad assured him then pulled him forward into a hug. "It doesn't matter what happens, deep down, Derek Hale is in love with you and would forgive you for anything."

"He nearly didn't forgive me for The Great Paint Incident of 2016. It took you, Scott, Isaac and Boyd to convince him to speak to me," Stiles grumbled, smooshing his face into his dad's shoulder.

"In all fairness, I think anyone would have found it difficult to forgive you if you'd managed to paint bomb their entire house and then left without apologising and made him do all the cleaning up."

"He was being mean. He needed to do some manual labour as punishment."

"Whatever you say son." His dad was probably rolling his eyes so hard they were about to pop out of his head. "You staying for dinner?"

Stiles said something under his breath, but his dad took it as a yes anyway. His dad went away and began making the food in the kitchen while Stiles let himself be absorbed into the world shit TV. He thanked his dad when he pressed a bowl of pasta into his hands, proud to see a variety of vegetables in there as well. Stiles told his dad that Deaton had sent him a message a couple of hours ago, telling him he was on his way to his contacts and he would try to be back as soon as possible. They also agreed that Stiles needed to take some time off work to sort out the situation. Stiles had already called in for Derek, who had a part-time job at the local gym.

His dad had just gone to bed (he had the early shift the next day) when the doorbell started ringing. Stiles heaved himself up and stumbled to the door. It revealed the magnificent Lydia Martin.

"Lydia, what are you doing here?" Stiles asked or groaned depending on your standpoint.

"Coming in," she said, pushing Stiles out of the way and stomping up the stairs, not even checking to make sure Stiles was following but already knowing he would be. Nobody said no to Lydia Martin, unless they wanted to die in a fiery explosion.

She was standing in the middle of his old room with her arms crossed over her chest when Stiles came up. Even with the murderous glint in her eye, Stiles could remember why he had once been in love with her. But after sharing a few kisses in the locker room, they had both decided they were better off friends. It was a good thing actually because as soon as he let go of his ridiculous adoration of her, she became one of his best friends. And it allowed him to find the right person for him within the next year. It was a win-win.

But knowing that Lydia wasn't here to chew the fat, Stiles swallowed nervously, waiting for her to speak.

But she didn't yell. Thank god, but the barely contained seething laying underneath the skin made sure Stiles was left feeling rather uneasy. "We have a problem," she stated.

Stiles resisted the urge to say, "No shit." Instead, he asked, "What do you mean?"

"That witch that attacked Derek, her and a couple of her cronies survived and are heading our way. The Davidson pack warned us and are willing to help if we need it, but I think everyone in our pack would like a good, long moment of fierce revenge against those bitches for what they did to Derek before we pull in reinforcements," she said the words with a pointed look at Stiles.

"Okay, what do we do?" Stiles demanded, mind reeling with all the possibilities, plans and back-up plans already forming.

"Oh, we are doing everything in our power to make sure they get a one-way ticket to Eichen House, but you are going to go home and comfort your mate, instead of being the complete dick you're being right now. Understand, asshole?"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Stiles' arms flailed as he spoke.

"You're not the only one that's hurting Stiles. You're acting like this event is only affecting you, when in fact, the one that this is really affecting is your mate. Derek is feeling confused and alone and scared, and as his mate, you have a responsibility to help him even when you're in pain. Running away after he rejected you? Yes, I know it must have been painful. But you know why he pulled away? Because he didn't think he deserved you. He's not the same man as before so he didn't think you should be with a man that has no memories of you. Even with no memories, he always puts you first."

The only word that Stiles could think of in that second was: "Fuck."

"Yeah, fuck," Lydia repeated, the hint of a smile on her face, as if she had burnt through all her anger through that speech and was now resembling something close to one of his best friends, and not a vengeful, demon Banshee. "Now, come here, you dick-for-brains." Lydia waved her arms outwards, leading Stiles to sort of sag into her, body completely limp as she wrapped her arms around him.

"You know, you're kinda starting to sound like Erica," Stiles muttered into her shoulder.

Stiles felt Lydia's shoulders jump as she chuckled. "I know. We've been sharing notes."

"You've been trading notes on how to torture me the most?" Stiles questioned, scandalised, pulling back to look her in the eye. "You guys are cruel. I need some new friends."

"Oh honey, I don't think anyone else would take you at this point," she said with a pitying look and pat on the arm. Stiles tried to glare at her but ended up laughing as well.

Leaving a note for his dad explaining what happened, Stiles was ushered out of his old house, shoved into his jeep and forced to drive home. Lydia texted him to say the pack would be over early the next morning to go over their plan for the witches.

There was only one light on in the Hale house when Roscoe finally rolled to a stop. It was times like this that Stiles almost wished that Derek wasn't a werewolf, because if he was human it would give Stiles some more time to think through what he was going to say, but Derek was able to hear his heartbeat as soon as he drove down that road, and it would insanely awkward if he just sat in the car while Derek waited inside.

Stepping out of the car, Stiles took a deep breath, as if the air would somehow give him the confidence to face Derek. Stiles had never thought of their house as imposing or daunting before, but knowing what was about to happen, the four walls that he called home looked as inviting as Hell's gates.

Following the light into the main bedroom, Stiles found Derek sitting comfortably on the bed, back against the headboard, watching the television. It was turned off as soon as they made eye contact.

"Hi," Stiles whispered.

"Hello." Derek shuffled so he was sitting up straight. They stared at each other for a while, Stiles hopping from one foot to the other at the door.

"Stiles, come in. Your twitching is getting on my nerves." Derek frowned at him. Stiles' heart twinged, those words sounded like something his Derek would say. No, he had to stop thinking like that. This was his Derek and he deserved to be treated that way.

Stiles treaded carefully into the room and sat on the other side of the bed, so they could face each other. Unsure of what to do next, Stiles looked over Derek, noting that he had changed into more comfortable clothes, but not any clothes, a graphic t-shirt that Derek had begrudgingly worn after Stiles bought it for him as a Christmas present. It had a winking wolf on it saying: Are u my backyard? Because I really dig u. Stiles still laughed when he remembered the expression on Derek's face when he had first seen it.

"Why that t-shirt?" Stiles asked with a soft voice.

Derek shrugged. "Don't know. Felt right, I guess." He glanced down. "Even if it's fucking horrific."

"Hey, that's a great shirt. They don't make puns like those these days," Stiles told Derek with a lofty voice.

"Uh huh, of course you would think that," Derek superficially agreed, a smirk gracing his lips.

The easy banter was a nice distraction from the very real conversation that they were both avoiding. But Stiles couldn't put it off any longer.

"I'm sorry about earlier. I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable, but that's not the point," Stiles began. "It was wrong. I shouldn't push you to feel things for me that I've spent nearly ten years feeling. I need to give you space and time to get there, if that's what you want."

"Stiles, I..." Derek looked frustrated, as if the words were on the tip of his tongue but he couldn't figure out how to say them. He sighed heavily. "Stiles, please understand, I want to be with you. Every instinct inside me wants to be with you, but I can't do that to you. If Deaton can't help, then you would have to spend your life with someone that doesn't have the same memories as you. It's unfair. You deserve better."

Stiles couldn't take it anymore. He raised himself to his knees, making Derek do the same. He reached to cup his mate's face in his hands, while Derek lifted his arms to circle around Stiles' waist. "Derek, you are everything I have ever and will ever want."

The beautiful smile that Derek reserved for only him in their most private moments resurged and made Stiles weak all over.

Slowly, as not to startle Derek, Stiles leaned in until they shared the same air. He paused right before their lips touched, letting Derek acclimatise, but obviously Derek had grown impatient, so he rushed forward and kissed Stiles passionately. It was like electric shock to his system, jolting him forward into Derek's body until they were pressed at all angles. Derek's tongue licked at the seam of his lips, prying them open so they could dip into the sweetness of the other's mouth. The battle for dominance lasted only moments, ending with Stiles submitting to incredible feeling of Derek's tongue sliding against his own. When they finally broke apart, both of their chests were heaving as each breath burst out of them. They didn't let go of each other.

"Wow," Stiles said, his lips still brushing Derek's.

"Yeah," Derek replied, nose nudging Stiles' so he could place another small kiss on Stiles slightly swollen lips.

"Come on." Not wanting to rush things between them, Stiles led Derek back down on the bed. Derek pulled Stiles onto his chest until half of his body was laying on top of the werewolf's.

That night, both Derek and Stiles slept better than ever before, secure in each other's arms as the light of the moon washed over them.

***

The pack could tell that something had changed the moment they walked through the Hale house door. For one, Stiles and Derek were sitting rather close to each other, not expressly touching but bodies just grazing each other. Second, they were smiling, not just at the pack, but at each other.

"Isaac, you owe me ten bucks," Erica said as she entered the den, wiggling her fingers at her packmate.

Isaac sighed but moved to get the money out of his wallet, while the rest of the pack sat in different spots about the room.

"Wait, what?" Stiles spluttered.

"I bet Isaac that you guys would be boning within a week, therefore he has to cough up the cash," Erica explained haughtily, as if it was obvious.

"Haha, well joke's on you, because Derek and I have not done of anything of that sort, so Isaac take your money back, or you know, maybe shove it up Erica's ass for betting on my sex life. Either works for me," Stiles said, leaning back in such a manner that was meant to look superior.

Erica looked ready to make a biting comment, but Malia interrupted her, "Alright bitches, we're here to discuss our game plan for the witches. Can we do that?"

Everyone muttered an agreement, but Erica sent him the stink eye the entire time. He returned it gleefully.

Some of the pack argued for an upfront method, bringing the fight straight to the witches and kicking their asses. Others, for a subtler approach, letting the witches lull themselves into a false sense of security and then surrounding them as they were the ones with the knowledge of the land and an established pack.

Stiles saw the concern on Derek's face, already knowing that he wished none of the pack would get involved in case they got hurt. But there was not a chance in hell that they wouldn't help. And Stiles would be first in line to punch that witch in the face.

When the conversation got too loud, Stiles decided to take control of the room. "Alright, we take a vote. Decide on a basic method and then we can build the real plan around that. Option One: Kick Ass. Option Two: Subtle. Now, vote." He clapped his hands together to accentuate his words.

Stiles saw Lydia roll her eyes at his breakdown of everything, but after a couple of seconds they made their choice and Option Kick Ass was chosen. Good. Stiles liked Option Kick Ass. Gave him the most opportunity to channel his anger.

The Davidson pack said that they had been heading to Beacon Hills but had not made it yet, but with the speed of witches it was safe to assume they could be here any second.

Scott decided to send himself, Boyd, Malia and Kira out to parole the perimeter, because without Deaton they wouldn't be able to know when the wards had been breached the way Deaton would have been able to. Once they found the witches they would corner them and take them back to the Hale house, voluntary or not. Stiles would lay the mountain ash line around the property of the house before the witches were caught and then closed when they were brought back.

Once there, the remaining pack members now included, they could take out a little bit of their aggression on them, "apart from homicide or excessive torture," Scott had said sternly, as there were still some lines that Scott wouldn't cross, despite his best friend's objections. They would encourage the witch to reverse the spell or at least give the name of it to help Deaton with his investigation. They would then be packed away to Eichen House with the help of Chris Argent, who would be on standby but not directly in the fray. The pack considered involving Stiles' dad, but Stiles didn't fancy bringing his dad into any more danger than he already was in by being the town Sheriff. Even if they got nothing, they still had Deaton and it would mean the pack and surrounding packs would be safer without these witches about the territory.

After everyone is assigned jobs, Stiles got up and went to bring some snacks for the pack before they all had to separate. As he grabbed some chips from the cupboard, Stiles felt hands on his waist and warm breath on his neck. He smiled.

"You smell so good. Do you always smell like this?" Derek asked softly. Stiles stifled a moan as Derek's travelling lips wandered down his skin.

"Mmm, I'd like to say yes, but you haven't smelled me after I've come off a twenty-two-hour shift. Last time, you literally grabbed me, threw me over your shoulder, fireman-style, and quite unceremoniously dumped me in the shower. Without even waiting for the water heat up! I was freezing. It took you a batch of your famous triple chocolate fudge brownies to get me to forgive you," Stiles said with a wide grin on his face. It dropped when he saw the light in Derek's eyes dim a little. "Hey, what's wrong?" Stiles moved to hold Derek's face between his hands, thumbs idly tracing his cheekbones.

"I don't remember that. I don't remember our anniversary. I don't remember our first kiss, our first date, our first time," Derek said miserably, eyes trained on the ground.

"Stop, stop thinking like that. I know it's not the same, I know that. But you need to understand that. If Deaton finds a cure or these witches somehow help, then this conversation will be useless. But if that doesn't happen, remember this, I love you, in any shape or form. Wolf, human, it doesn't matter, because you are my mate and you are everything to me." He takes a deep breath. "It sucks, I get that more than anyone, but this isn't our forever. Our forever is going to look very different. Promise."

"Promise," Derek repeated, then an odd look crossed his face. Stiles didn't recognise it.

Before he could ask, Allison popped her head through the doorway, demanding to know why the snacks were taking so long. The vehemence in her voice made Stiles decide that pregnant Allison was a million times more terrifying than the regular, badass, bow-and-arrow wielding Allison, and that Allison was already the stuff of nightmares on her bad days. Good days, she was an angel. Bad days, you don't look her way.

Argent was going to drop her off at his house for safety, then come back himself. This was despite her complaints, even though she knew it was in the best interest of their baby. She would have gone to her and Scott's own house, but it was still being built. They were living in an apartment in the centre of town until it was ready. The reason it was taking so long was because it was so big. It was still on Hale property and not all that far away from the Hale house, which was consistently used as the base as a temporary measure. The McCall house would be the new home for everyone, and while they all had homes elsewhere in Beacon Hills when they needed privacy, a pack house would be great for all of them.

The pack ate in the den, drawing strength from the closeness of their pack. Nobody said much, a mixture of nervousness and hope swirling in their minds, wondering if this was how they were going to get the cure.

Finally, Scott decided they had to leave. Kisses and hugs were exchanged. As they started to run off into the forest, a feeling of dread settled in Stiles' stomach, like it did before every fight the pack had. Even though Stiles was more than capable of protecting himself nowadays than he was at sixteen, this fight felt far more significant than any other. This wasn't simply about protecting their territory or the townspeople, or even the pack, this was about Derek, his mate.

Sensing Stiles' mood change, Derek held out his hand for Stiles to take, which he gladly accepted. The rest of the pack, Stiles, Derek, Lydia, Isaac and Erica all began their preparations. Stiles circled the house with mountain ash, Derek and Isaac gathered all the iron from the basement where they kept most of their supernatural weaponry, and while some witches had individual weaknesses, nearly all were susceptible to iron, and Lydia went to call Argent to update him and Erica kept in touch with Scott and the others.

As the sun fell, Erica received a message from the pack saying they had caught three witches trying to enter the forest. They were coming back.

Armed with different weaponry, Stiles with an iron bat, because of course, they waited on the porch. He also had a gun strapped to his hip in case he needed it. Derek didn't leave his side. Stiles fiddled with the container of mountain ash he held, feeling the nervousness and dread kick in like a drug. Stiles didn't know the outcome of this, he could only hope it was a good one.

Stiles knew when they were close as all the werewolves lifted their heads and looked in the same direction. His heart jumped at the sight of them. All three witches were female and looked a little worse for wear, clothes ragged and blood on varying places on their bodies. All their hands were wrapped in iron gloves, as covered hands meant they couldn't use their powers. Stiles hoped this would mean an easy fight for the pack.

Once they crossed the border, Stiles closed the circle. Scott forced the witches to their knees then moved to stand in front of them, wanting to keep their eyes trained on him. The one on the right held his attention more than the others. Stiles could easily guess why.

"You harmed my beta, and by extension, my entire pack. Committing such a foul action against us gives me instant rights to decide your fate, and no other pack would see fit to intervene as it would be within my right. However, we are not a malicious pack and you will be taken to a facility to live out the rest of your days. But first we need to know what spell you used and how to reverse it," Scott said with his alpha voice, red eyes flashing inconsistently. Scott had truly grown into his role as true alpha over the years, yet it was still impressive to see the boy he had known since he was four years old become a rather awe-inspiring leader. But Stiles knew from one look at them that they would never give up the spell, even if they were on death's door.

"Your stupid beta got what he deserved. Even if it was meant for you, any harm caused is good in my book. You don't deserve this territory, and thankfully, it won't be yours for much longer, you pathetic excuse for an alpha," the witch spat, and at the same time broke the bonds holding her hands. Before the pack could even blink, all the witches' hands were free, and the pack were being thrown backwards by an unseen force.

Stiles landed with a harsh thump, pain zipping up his spine. He didn't waste any time, fumbling around for the bat and jumping up. He saw that Scott was already engaged with one of the witches, Derek with another and Erica and Boyd were tag teaming with the last. Malia tried to sneak behind Scott's witch, but she somehow sensed her and was shoved back into the mountain ash barrier that shook violently when she hit it.

The others tried to do the same, but it was like the witches could see all their actions before they did them. Derek tried to swipe at the witch's neck, she grabbed his arm and snapped it right in half before launching him through the window of the Hale house. Stiles ran up and whacked a witch that had her hand a second away from pushing into Kira's chest cavity and for his efforts, he was punched so hard in the stomach that he could feel his intestines concave. Stiles could taste blood in mouth. Before he could get up, he was grabbed by the throat and lifted off his feet. The witch that had caused Derek to lose his memories smirked viciously up at him.

His eyes caught the rest of the pack, in rather dire situations of their own. Erica had part of the wooden porch stuck through her abdomen. Boyd had glass shards covering all parts of his body, pinning him to the door of the house. Malia and Kira were being continually smashed into the ground and Scott and Derek were being pounded into the barrier, their bodies convulsing as the mountain ash wracked their bodies, while Lydia was fist fighting with one witch because her mouth was being firmly held shut. Stiles had never encountered witches this powerful before, at least not ones that were capable of using more than one spell at the same time. This was insane.

The witch holding him swung back and yelled at her comrades. "Enough!" All of the pack stopped struggling and the other witches turned to their leader. "Your pack has been defeated, your territory is ours and your lives are in our hands. Submit now and we'll kill you quickly. If not, we will destroy you, starting with your pitiful pet human." She squeezed Stiles' neck tighter, cutting off his airway. He saw Derek's terrified eyes. He couldn't die here. Not now, not like this.

Suddenly, he remembered the gun hidden in his pants. He subtly reached for it and had a hold of it by the time witch turned back to Stiles and demanded, "You will break the barrier. Now." She dropped him, and as fast as humanly possible, he pulled out the gun and shot her in the chest. She collapsed to the ground as the iron poisoned her bloodstream.

The action left the other witches in a state of shock, waning their clutch on the pack. Scott launched forward and sank his claws into a witch's heart, not enough to kill her but enough to incapacitate her. Malia did the same to the other. As soon as they were sure they were safe, Scott called Argent in and the others set about healing themselves.

Derek and Stiles caught each other's eye. They didn't waste a second. Stiles ran into Derek's arms and hugged the living daylights out of him.

"Are you okay?" Derek asked, eyes scanning him up and down, noting every injury. The gash on his forehead, the blood at the side of mouth and the way he clutches his right side as if it hurts.

"I'm okay. Are you?" Derek just nodded and then pulled Stiles closer to him again. They stayed that way for a long while, absorbing the other's presence. The others surrounded them and hugged them too.

Once they'd separated, Scott mournfully said, "I'm sorry we couldn't get the answer we needed." Then he paused and tried to sound more positive, "But I'm sure Deaton will have something. I'm sure of it."

Stiles looked to Derek, finding his eyes full of love, just like they used to be, and it really hit Stiles then. It didn't matter if Deaton found a cure or not. This was Derek. Memories or no memories, he would love this man until the day he died. "It's okay, Scott. Whatever happens, we'll be fine."

Derek smiled widely and leaned to plant a kiss on his lips that quickly escalated. Erica pinched his side when it got too nauseating. Stiles just giggled, smooshing his face into Derek's chest. After the fight, the pack were reluctant to leave each other, so they all piled into the house and flopped over the couches to rest up. Derek went away and tried to clean up some mess made by the broken window, porch and door. Scott left for a while to collect Allison, but soon enough they were cuddled together, all reaching out so they could try to touch everyone.

Lost in a haze of contentment and tiredness, Stiles didn't even hear the phone ring, but thankfully Scott did and after a couple of minutes came back to tell everyone that Argent confirmed that the witches were locked away in containment cells in Eichen House. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. After that, nobody lasted long, and Stiles fell soundly asleep with his head on Derek's chest, hands in Scott's hair, feet in Lydia's lap and Erica pressed against his side.

The next morning, Stiles got up early and began making breakfast for everyone, including pancakes, bacon, eggs, toast and cereal and a thousand other things, because his pack's appetite was one that could never be satiated.

Realising he was still covered in yesterday's grime, he left Boyd in charge of the cooking as he was the most responsible, and went for a shower. Stripping out of his clothes, he stepped into the shower and nearly moaned at the feeling of hot water cascading over his bruised body. He was so lost in the pleasure of being clean, he didn't even hear the door open.

Hands landed on his wet shoulders and traversed down until they rested on Stiles' hips. Stiles knew those hands better than he knew his own. The gentle touch of their skin together made Stiles heart race. It had been too long since their flesh had touched like this. Derek moved closer, tracing the path of his finger now with his lips. He followed the rise and fall of Stiles' skin, slippery with water, sucking marks indeterminately. It felt like heaven.

Derek's hands were clearly hesitating before going further, only gently feeling his skin. Stiles decided for both of them. He twisted his head and kissed Derek, wrapping his hand around Derek's neck, trying to keep his mate as close as physically possible. His tongue swiped over Derek's and Stiles nearly collapsed at the incredible feeling it created. It all led to a heat he knew well pooling in his belly.

Derek could obviously sense Stiles' increasing arousal, so he let his hands wonder down even further. The first touch of Derek's hands on his dick was wonderful, just the right amount of pressure and his cock was brought to full hardness, weeping pre-come like it couldn't stop.

"Oh, Derek," he groaned, bucking up into the werewolf's hand. Stiles could feel Derek's own hard cock jutting into his ass, clearly trying to bring himself to same pleasure that Stiles was receiving. Stiles clutched Derek's hip behind him and moved with him, bodies sliding against each other.

Their mouths found each other again, barely even kissing, just panting into the other's mouths, one breath being passed back and forth.

It could have been minutes or hours later when Stiles felt his orgasm approaching. "Don't stop," he whispered. Derek did more than that, he increased the wet suction on Stiles' dick, rubbing his thumb over the head and gathering Stiles' juices on his digit to then bring it up to Stiles' mouth so he could suck on it. Stiles moaned around it, chasing the taste of himself. He heard Derek make a choked sound behind him as Stiles continued to suck like his life depended on it.

Then, like being hit by a freight train, Stiles' orgasm wrecked through him, come spilling over Derek's fingers as he gave a loud moan of pleasure. Not long after, Derek's hips stuttered to a stop and his come splattered all over Stiles ass and back. Stiles smiled lazily, relaxing in Derek's arms, fully satisfied.

He turned around to find Derek gazing at him with soft eyes. Derek placed a hand on Stiles' cheek before leaning in to kiss him so gently, almost with reverence. It took a long time before they actually started to wash.

Eventually, they finished and got dressed in new clothes. Derek kept Stiles' hand clasped in his as they walked down the stairs. The pack were all clean and dressed in new clothes and eating their way through all the food Stiles had prepared. Erica winked at Stiles as he sat down, undoubtedly knowing what the two of them had been up to in the shower. Stiles blushed but didn't comment.

As they tucked in, the easy atmosphere that hadn't been present since Derek had left for San Francisco returned. Trading jokes and stories. They talked about the baby and Erica and Boyd's trip to Berlin next summer and Lydia's speech at some smarty-pants conference in New York in a month's time.

Stiles' phone rang as he was gorging himself on a stack of chocolate chip pancakes, so he regretfully abandoned them and took the call out in the hallway.

He saw that it was Deaton's number and pressed answer immediately. "Deaton, what's happened? Did you find something?"

"Stiles, it's alright. I'm calling to tell you that I'm on my way back. My contacts did prove useful and I have an idea on how to rectify Derek's problem. Meet me at the clinic tonight about ten o'clock."

Stiles realised he was nodding, but not actually saying anything, so he speedily agreed and ended the call. He retreated back into the dining room, finding all of the pack sitting up straight and waiting for him to tell them the news. "So, Deaton's coming back, and he thinks he's found something. We're supposed to meet him at clinic around ten. That alright?" Everyone nodded, hopeful but cautious expressions on their faces.

Stiles caught Derek's eye, who was being just as wary as everyone else, but tried to smile when Stiles looked at him. He sat down again, placing a hand on Derek's thigh as he continued to eat. The conversation didn't flow as easily as it did before, but they tried their best. Once they were finished, Scott opted to take Allison home, so she could rest properly as the baby was giving her hell at that moment, perhaps sensing all the stress of the past day. Stiles embraced both Scott and Allison tightly. They promised they would meet them at the clinic later that day.

The rest of the pack left in increments until it was only Derek and Stiles left. Derek did the dishes while Stiles watched on from the doorway. Tasks all done, Stiles suggested they go for a walk. Derek said yes.

It was calming, listening to wind swirling through the trees and the birds singing, and it was nice to be near something natural after so many encounters with magic recently. They walked for a long time, hand in hand, until they came to stop at the lake. There were so many memories here, but the latest was the one that haunted Stiles the most.

With a quiet voice, Stiles said, "I really am sorry for what I did here."

"Don't be. Seriously," Derek replied. "I knew from the moment I woke up you were my mate It was instinctual. But I had no idea who you were, and you were all telling me about my life that I had no memory of. It was a lot to take in. And when you tried to kiss me, it was like my system was being overloaded. I couldn't handle it. I'm sorry I couldn't just tell you that."

"Hey, if I have no reason to be sorry, neither do you. We both made mistakes and we're both learning from them." Then Stiles grinned. "But... you know, if you really want to make it up to me, you could kiss me right now. And make it a big one."

Derek grinned right back and swooped down to give Stiles the big kiss he desired. And if he gave Stiles more than he originally desired, who was Stiles to complain?

By the time they made it back to the house, it was lunch time. After eating, they spent the rest of the day watching movies, until the clock finally neared ten and they got ready to leave.

Deaton was waiting when they arrived, as were most of the pack. They didn't start until Isaac arrived and at last Deaton told them what he'd found.

"My contacts told me of another case with one of their own. But unfortunately, this time the alpha was hit directly and lost all memory of their mate. The imbalance of memory and scent started to drive the alpha insane and when he was left alone, he murdered his own mate when she got too close. His pack eventually found a way to reverse the spell, a combination of iron shells, a rare type of healing wolfsbane and an object and word important to the mating bond. But it was too late for that man. He never recovered from what he had done. He died soon after." The story didn't instil much comfort in the pack, but Deaton continued anyway, "Thankfully for us, Derek being a beta means his mood swings are less volatile, so there was less chance of the same ending. Now, we have to submerge you in the ice bath with those items I listed, and hopefully, once you reach the correct temperature and state of mind, you'll regain your memories. However, this is a story from years ago and details are always lost with time, therefore, you must keep in mind that it may not work."

Deaton instructed Scott and Isaac to begin filling the tub, while bringing Stiles over to the side to speak with him privately. "Stiles, you need something important to you and Derek. Do you have something in mind?"

Stiles thought carefully before deciding. "Would an engagement ring work?" he asked. "Derek doesn't know but I was going to propose the night he came back. But if he doesn't know about it, would that mean it's not important to him?"

"The ring would work. It's a focus for both your love and mating bond combined and even though Derek isn't aware of it, the simple knowledge of the ring when he sees it will become an object for channelling both of your emotions towards each other. It's also a symbol of your future. There would be no better object for bringing memories back." Deaton cast a glance back at the pack. "Remember there must also be a word. But think carefully on which one. It must be the right one. No room for mistakes."

Stiles nodded, already knowing the right word. He then ran out to drive back to the house. He found the ring right where he left it, hidden away in the bottom of his sock drawer. He sat on the bed and stared at it for a while, the gold band gleaming when the light hit it. A million different emotions were trapped in the metal and Stiles could only imagine Derek's reaction when he saw it.

He drove back fast enough that if he was working he would arrest himself. Derek was stripping out of his shirt by the time Stiles arrived. Clenching the ring in his hand, he watched as Derek stepped into the water, then walked forward himself so he could kneel by his mate.

"Hey," he said quietly. "Nervous?"

"Not until you asked," Derek joked weakly.

Stiles couldn't bring himself to joke anymore, instead, he brought his hand up and pushed the ring into Derek's hand. Derek saw it and his eyes went wide.

"Stiles," he breathed. He inched forward to press their foreheads together. "I'm so sorry."

"It's okay. Just remember that even if it doesn't work, this ring will always be yours." Derek kissed him then, so deeply that Stiles felt like he was drowning.

He stepped back and let Deaton do his work. The other materials were poured in, as well as even more ice. Scott, Boyd and Isaac grabbed Derek's limbs and then pushed down until the werewolf was fully submerged in the cold water, unconsciously struggling because even if this was meant to help, it was difficult to submit to drowning. The sight was hard for Stiles to bear.

Deaton indicated with his fingers that the boys could let go, and as they did, Derek floated to the surface, eyes closed and skin tinged blue. Stiles' breath got caught in his throat. Anytime Derek wasn't in the peak of health, it killed him inside.

The vet waved his fingers towards Stiles, telling him to come forwards. Deaton placed Stiles' hand over Derek's clenched fist that had the ring inside, then nodded. It was time.

Leaning over his mate until they were almost face to face, he said the word most important to them:

"Promise."

Derek heaved out of the water with a sharp gasp, sending water flying all over the place, including all over Stiles. Taking some seconds to breathe, he turned to all of the pack before stopping on Stiles. Stiles couldn't tell anything from his face.

He waited, heart in his throat.

Then, Derek smiled like he had never smiled before.

And Stiles knew. He knew.

They both threw themselves into each other, crushing their bodies to the point of pain. Stiles nearly sobbed with relief. "Derek, it's you. It's you. Derek." It was like he trapped in a loop, all he could say were those words.

"It's me. And I remember everything." Derek moved Stiles' face until their lips found each other once again. It was like coming home. It was soft and demanding and perfect all at once. "Yes, by the way," Derek said when the kiss had finally ended.

"Yes?" Stiles was confused.

"Yes, I will marry you." Stiles could barely contain all the happiness that rushed through him. He nearly jumped his mate right there and then, but Scott tapped Stiles' shoulder and they had to turn to the rest of the pack, who all took turns to hug Derek.

"It's good to have you back. Properly," Isaac told him and hugged him.

"Good to be back," Derek replied, squeezing the other beta tightly.

Deaton checked Derek out and he was able to recount everything about Stiles, each memory remembered brightening Stiles' smile. At long last, Deaton let Derek go and after some long talks with the rest of the pack, Stiles and Derek drove home, hands entwined and happier than ever.

As soon as they crossed the boundary of their house Derek was on Stiles, ripping his clothes right in half and splaying his hands all over Stiles' warm skin.

Stiles could only watch as Derek stripped himself and then pulled his mate towards him, crushing their lips together. Stiles' dick grew harder and harder under the violent yet loving manner Derek was treating his body. He grabbed Derek's hair and pulled hard, forcing the man to expose his neck so he could bite it viciously, loving the purple bruises that swelled even if they didn't last long.

Derek was a mess of groans and gasps as Stiles relearned his mate's body, licking up his neck, nipping his collarbone and sucking on those beautiful dusty nipples. He was nearly on his knees, the musky smell of Derek's junk pulling him in like a drug. Stiles desperately needed his mouth on that amazing eight-inch uncut cock.

But Derek didn't agree. "No, no, if you do that I'm going to come in like two seconds and I need to come inside you. I need you to smell like me. I need to be inside you," Derek panted, eyes heavy and dark with lust. Stiles imagined he looked the much the same.

"Oh God, Derek. Saying stuff like that is the way to make me come in two seconds," Stiles complained, squeezing Derek's muscled flesh between his long fingers.

Derek began to tug Stiles towards the bedroom, but before he could, Stiles reeled him back in and sloppily kissed him, all tongue and no finesse, but it was one of the greatest kisses they had ever shared anyway.

"I love you," he said against the wolf's mouth. "I'm so happy you're back."

Derek grinned. "I love you so much."

They ran up the stairs hand in hand and launched themselves on the bed. Derek quickly rolled on top of Stiles, their hard dicks sliding together to create the best kind of friction.

They both knew they wouldn't hold out long, so Derek grabbed the lube from the bedside table and slathered it over his fingers in record timing. He flipped Stiles onto his stomach, then started pushing a finger into his mate's clenching hole. Derek could have come right there and then, seeing his first and then second finger being sucked into his mate's body and Stiles become a writhing mess on the bed.

"Derek, I can't..." Stiles begged, hands twitching as he tried to move to touch himself, but failing as he had no strength left.

"Okay, baby, okay." Without any further preparation, Derek pushed his cock into Stiles' eager hole, still fascinated seeing his dick drive into his mate's ass. The hot grasp of Stiles' insides on his hardness was as perfect as it always was, it knew exactly how torture yet please the werewolf.

The only sounds in the end were Derek's balls slapping against Stiles' ass, Derek's huffs and pants and Stiles' drawn out moans.

They took and took from each other, until eventually, Stiles felt that familair sensation of Derek's come splashing over his insides and heard him grunting Stiles' name. Then in a split second Stiles was spraying his semen all over the bed.

Derek pulled out and Stiles fell forward into his pillow, not even caring that he also fell into the wet patch he had created. He didn't even hear Derek move, just let himself be cleaned when he came back with a wet towel.

When they were both done, Derek spooned Stiles, his large body almost enveloping Stiles' smaller one. Their hands stayed joined, their legs tucked together and Derek rubbing his stubble back and forth on his mate's cheek in a comforting gesture.

They didn't say anything. They didn't need to. They basked in the happiness of that moment, knowing that as long as they were together, their lives would always be like this.

Perfect.

***

One Year Later...

The Sheriff fixed his son's tie that was twisted in only a way his son could have managed. Then, once he deemed that he was ready, he smiled and patted his son's shoulders. "Alright, you're ready."

Stiles smiled back at him. "I've been ready since I was sixteen, dad."

"Well, if you'd done this when you were sixteen, I would have had to arrest your husband-to-be," his dad informed him with a bright glint in his eye.

"Dad, I know the inner workings of that station, there was not a chance hell you could have stopped me being with him," Stiles laughed at his dad. He reached out and hugged him. "I love you, dad."

"I love you too, son. Now, come on, you don't want to be late."

The Sheriff directed him deeper into the forest until they arrived at the clearing next to the lake, where rows of chairs were set up with their family and friends all waiting, and best of all, Derek was at the very end dressed in a beautiful suit that made Stiles' knees weak. He was the most incredible thing Stiles had ever seen. He didn't know how he got so lucky.

His dad sat down as they made it to the end of the rows and Stiles went to stand in front of the man he loves, a never-ending smile on his face. "Hey gorgeous." Derek blushed bright pink and shook his head at his mate.

The ceremony began. The two men had decided to do everything themselves, so they could keep things as intimate as possible. They said all the words directly to each other, repeated their vows without breaking eye contact and exchanged the rings with barely any space between them.

"I love you," Stiles whispered.

"I love you," Derek whispered back.

And then their lips met and the whole world disappeared.

It was Derek and Stiles forever. It was the best kind of forever.