Derek knew, probably better than most, what Wolvesbane poisoning felt like. Wolves couldn't get hungover of course, but Derek imagined it felt a lot like this: heavy limbs, headache, lethargy. There was an acrid, heavy bite in his throat. And for him, everything tasted like anise-flavored burnt Fritos.
When he woke up, it was all at once. Derek snarled at nothing with every sense dulled, then all at once overwhelmed. The burnt Frito taste in his mouth immediately made him nauseous, but when he turned his head he froze in shock.
His scent was saturated throughout the small shelter, and as he swung his legs to the floor, Derek sucked in another greedy breath. Stiles’ spicy sweet scent practically wafted off the pillow, reminding Derek of the kid in the Peanut cartoons, and he breathed in, feeling a little drunk. The scent was equally strong on the blankets and sleeping bag on which he’d woken up. There was another scent that mixed with it, and that made the wolf in Derek’s chest pace and rise up with a satisfied rumble, but when Derek realized what it was he froze again, heart thundering in his chest with something very close to panic.
His and Stiles’ come, musky and heavy in the confined air.
“What the fuck?”
Derek both wanted to scramble away from the bed and press his face into the covers and breathe it in, but the horrified shock was sharp, followed by the sick slide of shame. Had he. . .. had they . . .
Well, very clearly, someone had. Two someones.
He blinked, trying to remember. Derek couldn’t shake the sick feeling. He didn’t like that he couldn’t remember everything in detail and forced himself to go through it all. It was a trick Laura had made him do when the anxiety and fear got too bad, and Derek found himself doing it indiscriminately whenever he needed to calm himself down.
He knew they were on Great Bear Island. He remembered the pants-shittingly terrifying panic of his little plane bucking in the air, then stalling with a shudder as the electrical failed. There was something else- something. . .. no. He lost it. Derek tried to shake the feeling of almost remembering something important, but the memory fizzled away. His mom, who had for some reason liked the Harry Potter books more than all of her kids put together, used to say it was because Derek had lost his Rememberall, but Derek couldn’t shake the feeling that whatever he had forgotten was important- elusive and out of reach.
Derek forced himself to his feet. His senses told him that he was alone; the familiar thumpthump of Stiles’ heartbeat was nowhere close. And that? That was even more terrifying than realizing his plane had been dead in the air.
He suddenly winced in shame, remembering.
The litany of ways he’d failed his pack crowded his head for a moment. He’d overheard Stiles once call him a ‘failwolf’ to Isaac. It hadn’t been meant as something cruel. Stiles had said it jokingly, in much the same way that he called him Sourwolf when Derek got too grumpy. Failwolf seemed to fit. He’d fucked up in so many ways, with so many cowardly, dickish moves, that Derek felt incredibly lucky that any of his pack had bothered to stay after Stiles, then Lydia and Jackson had all left. Erica, Isaac, Boyd, Scott, and Allison might not have been much, but Derek appreciated their loyalty if nothing else.
If his pack knew that he’d lost Stiles. . . especially after just recently getting him back?
They would murder him in his fucking sleep.
None of them had really blamed Stiles for leaving. And, Derek knew they’d all gone out of their way to keep in touch with their Spark. It hadn’t been all that long ago that his already splintered pack had been allowed to break. Derek could never, would never forget that it was his ineptitude that had resulted in Stiles “death” and subsequent possession by the Nogitsune.
Derek looked blindly at the room again, thinking. The intoxicating StilesandDerek scent was something that Derek had never smelled before, but Derek knew that he’d go out of his way to smell that again. It seemed impossible that Derek and Stiles had had sex, but the sensory evidence was undeniable. He and Stiles had---
Oh God!. Derek had no memory of anything. If he had done something to Stiles. . . and that was the reason Stiles had left. . .
Panic squirmed low in his gut, and Derek jumped to his feet, pacing around the small space, then forced himself to think. It was only after a few minutes that he realized that there was no overscent of fear or pain. Derek’s panic receded, but just lightly.
Okay, so first. Plane crash. Great Bear. Wolvesbane. He’d been out of it long enough that he’d instinctively chosen to use only his wolf and beta form. Derek had no idea why he didn’t remember from point A to point B, but it was a great, frothing mass of mass confusion. The wolvesbane was a good enough place to start as any. Unfortunately, Derek was all too familiar with this lethargic, stuffed up feeling. Kate had used it to keep Derek sluggish and confused. 8 years ago he’d curled in that fucking bed, burrowed into the warmth and fake comfort Kate had gone out of her way to provide. The anise-burnt Fritos had been bad, but comparing then to now was like comparing a firecracker in a bathroom to a live shootout ten feet in front of him.
Okay, so fact. He’d been given enough wolvesbane that he’d actually lost time.
Fact. Stiles was missing, but he’d spent some time in the cabin with Derek, who’d either been in his beta or wolf form for the majority of that time.
Given their reasons for being here on Great Bear in the first place, it was hard to think that the two weren’t related, somehow.
Derek breathed deeply and walked to the door to open it, desperate to see if his senses were at least giving him the right information. Derek could barely see out of the swirling snow. The cabin was hardly weather or sound proof, but the sound of the wind had been so constant that Derek hadn’t even realized how loud it actually was. For the first time, Derek realized that he was wearing only jeans and his long-sleeved Henley and woolen fisherman sweater he’d flown out in.
A sudden spike of shame made Derek want to whine a bit in the back of his throat. He felt sick when he remembered that Stiles had at one point asked for Derek’s warmer parka. Derek had been petty and shitty, and had refused, despite the fact that he didn’t need the fucking thing. Hell, he only wore it because in these parts, people liked to keep to themselves, but they sure as shit would have asked questions if he turned up without a coat in the dead of winter.
Now, Stiles was without proper clothes, god knew where, possibly hurt, and most definitely alone.
. . . all because Derek was a dick.
Derek sucked in a slow breath, trying to scent the air for any trace of Stiles. He caught a whiff of rabbit, and some of a woodfire that had burnt down to embers, buried under the snow. So, for whatever reason, Stiles had stayed in the cabin for one, possibly two nights. He went back inside to shove his feet in his boots, and went outside to investigate further.
If he’d woken up with his clothes, that meant one of three things. Either he’d shifted in the cabin, which didn’t seem right. Derek couldn’t remember specifics, but he did get fuzzy impressions of snow and smoke. He remembered the plane crash, and Stiles flying through the air after the belt broke. So, Stiles had dressed him. . . or, he could have shifted, gone back to where he’d shifted and changed into his clothes, and then stumbled upon the cabin, but Derek thought that sounded a little too far-fetched, even with the wolvesbane poisoning him.
Derek could smell his own, rank, panic.
He couldn’t waste anymore time. Derek had to go find Stiles. Derek frowned at the realization that there had been three. . . no. Four wolves near the cabin’s entrance, but the rancid scent of their blood turned his stomach. The only thing that kept Derek from wolfing out then and there was the realization that the Stiles smells were much more recent than the wolves smell.
Derek set off to follow the train, but even for him, the storm was difficult to maneuver through. Weres didn’t get cold as humans did, but even they could freeze to death. Derek had to find Stiles, but if he didn’t find some kind of clothing, he’d not be able to help Stiles at all.
There was a small frozen over stream running perpendicular to the small cabin, with a larger area in front of him, behind the stream. Stiles’ scent went in two directions, and after a bit of deliberation, Stiles went straight. Stiles must have come into the cabin from one direction, and walked out from another.
Shit. Stiles could have been wandering out here for hours. Derek set off towards the stronger of the two scents, the one that smelled the most recent.
The landscape, even through the swirling snow, was breathtaking. Derek’s careful gaze caught the broken “Bear Campground” sign, and he could see that the land leveled out for a few feet in every direction; this must have been a fairly popular campground back in the day if the allotted space was any indication. Now though, Derek could see through the snow that there were several snow-covered concrete areas, and some snow covered lumps that must have been fire pits or grills. After the flat, paved area that once held campers or tents, the area sloped dramatically, and Derek frowned, sniffing at the air again for some trace of Stiles’ scent. Here, Derek saw the first actual sign of Stiles. It was easy enough to see what must have happened: the broken rail and messed-up snow told its own tale.
Derek growled and leapt over the broken rail, running carefully down the slope of the mountain. He saw several areas where it looked as though Stiles had bounced and the ground cover was saturated in Stiles’ scent. Derek was too panicked to worry about the biting cold, or the snow still swirling in the blizzard-worthy winds. Stiles had nothing to protect him, and had fallen, and could be hurt and---
Derek almost tripped when he caught the familiar sharp-spicy sweet scent. The snow was impossible to see through, and Derek only realized he was on ice when the texture of the snow beneath his boots changed.
“Stiles! Stiles !”
He wasn’t even sure if Stiles could even hear him over the sound of the wind. It was a constant roar, confusing and unending. Derek knew he was moving quickly, but he had a bead on Stiles and he refused to let anything distract him. Ah! A shape, moving away from him, further out onto the ice. . . “ Stiles !”
He ran hard, only to freeze, windmilling his arms when he heard the lake surface crack. With his hearing, Derek could easily hear the rabbit quick thumpthumpthump of Stiles’ heartrate pick up as the figure in front of him slowly moved, attempting to redistribute his body weight so that he wouldn’t fall through. Derek knew what was going to happen a split-second before it did. The crack was monstrous, and Stiles was helpless in its wake. Derek thought he bellowed something, thought he heard Stiles say his name before the human fell through the cracked ice into the freezing water. Derek forgot caution, forgot that the ice was unstable. He felt like he was seeing events unfold in slow motion: Stiles’ temple whipping against the cracked ice, then him falling without a splash through the ice, bumping up against the underside of the surface about three feet from where he started.
Derek howled , leaping again towards the hole in the ice, covering the few feet in seconds. He could see the lump of Stiles' body and without thinking of the repercussions, drove his clawed fist through the ice, grabbing a hold of Stiles’ jacket and then using his other clawed hand to bust up the rest of the ice around where Stiles had slipped under the surface to pull him up and through. Derek could hear the cracks and groans as the ice shifted, and as much as he wanted to check on Stiles-- his heartbeat was slow, sluggish, his breathing even slower-- Derek’s instincts had him swinging Stiles’ body into his arms and running hell bent for leather towards the opposite side of the lake, the cracking and groaning behind him loud and terrifying.
The swirling snow and screaming wind made it difficult to see, but Derek had reflexes and he used them to make sure he could get Stiles someplace warm. As he ran, Derek’s ears picked up the sound of wood creaking nearby. With as fast as he was moving, he could still discern the sound was coming from a higher elevation than where he currently was, and that had to be safer. Maybe he could burn the wood, find some kind of protection to make a fire. Fortunately for them both, it was child’s play to follow the sound. There were rocks on either side of him and the crunch of snow under his feet. Derek slowed, then listened hard, for anything. He didn’t care for the even slower sound of Stiles’ heartbeat, and the only reason Derek wasn’t completely losing his shit was because Stiles needed him. But it was clear that hypothermia had started to settle into Stiles’ fragile human state..
Derek squinted and could smell the deer trail well enough, although there hadn’t been any game on the trail in awhile. It still inclined, and to Derek’s mind, that was all to the better. He’d rather be up at the top of an easily defensible position, than down on the ice, waiting for it to sweep away or drown Stiles. Either the storm had slackened, or the rock formation on either side of the land provided adequate cover, but the wind abated slightly. He could see sticks and limbs from the storm, and rising up almost out of nothing was the knocking sound he’d heard. Had the storm not been so strong, it might not have knocked the branch of the cedar into the wooden trim.
Derek moved quickly, and saw that there was a door to his left. He opened it and walked through, still clutching Stiles’ almost frozen body to him. Derek glanced around in the dark. He could see clearly that this door lead to a kitchen. The room was gloomy even to Derek’s enhanced eyesight, but he could see a stove and a fridge.
Later. All that could wait until later.
He listened for another heartbeat, relieved that he heard nothing. If it was empty, Derek would use what he needed to get Stiles safe. If it was occupied, Derek would apologize, but he was still going to use what supplies he needed. The temperature in the cabin wasn’t warm- but it definitely warmer than the temperature outside. Derek moved through the dark kitchen into what looked to be a living room, his nostrils flaring at the scent of old woodsmoke, mothballs, and dust, and wasted no time in setting Stiles on the couch. Derek turned to the fireplace and searched for any supplies.
Derek realized his hands were shaking when he set the firelog near the hearth, and saw the box of wooden matches in the fire bucket off to the side. Whoever lived here already kept woodshavings at the bottom of the bucket, and Derek started a fire. He built it up carefully, using all the kindling he could find. Some of the sticks were pretty large, but they caught quickly. As an afterthought, Derek checked the flue, and then pushed back onto his feet.
The cabin wasn’t large by any stretch of the imagination, but it was much larger than the one-room shelter he’d woken up in. Derek walked quickly through the living room into a bedroom. He didn’t really have time to explore, but he did snap the blanket off the bed, sneezing once at the plume of dust that poofed off the blanket.
Whoever this cabin belonged to hadn’t been here in awhile.
Derek stuck his nose into the bathroom to look for a few towels, but only found one. Even with as quickly as he had been moving, Stiles had still been too cold for too long. Derek hustled back to the living room and sighed at the already warmer temperature as the blazing fire battled back the ambient temperature of the small room. He set the firelog and what looked like a piece of cedar in the fireplace, arranged carefully so that neither of the bigger logs would smother his cheerful little fire. Derek dropped the towel and blanket near the hearth, and turned to Stiles.
The clothes crackled with ice as he stripped Stiles down to his skin. Derek was alarmed at the slightly bluish tint to his lips. He had to get him warm, and get him warm fast. He tossed aside his coat, Stiles’ clothes, and a backpack, and began vigorously towel drying Stiles hair and body. There was ice in the strands of hair. Derek tried to move faster, careful not to hurt him, but rubbing the skin of Stiles’ body as much as he dared to stimulate some sort of heat.
Derek stood, stripped down to his skin, kicking aside his clothes and boots, and pulled Stiles into his arms again. Derek arranged himself so that he was facing the fire, with Stiles in his lap getting the brunt of the heat, and cocooned them in the heavy blanket. Stiles was just as lean and lanky as he’d been in high school, so it took some arranging to get Derek wrapped around Stiles’ body to share his higher-than-human body heat and manage to get all of Stiles under the dust blanket. . . but he managed.
Stiles made a small sound, and Derek was so relieved to hear it that he felt his body sag, the release of tension almost palpable. Stiles shivered violently, and Derek held him more tightly, listening to Stiles’ chest. Derek didn’t hear anything rattling, but he also didn’t know what pneumonia sounded like. Maybe they’d gotten lucky. Maybe Derek had gotten to Stiles in time. With Stiles, one never knew.
The sharp, coppery scent of blood made Derek’s heart stop beating for the split-second it took for him to freeze in shock. He clutched Stiles to him in shocked instinct, then pulled away to look at his head. How had he forgotten that Stiles had hit the crust of the ice? Derek berated himself as he pulled the hair away to see the damage. It was bleeding slowly, but heavily as Stiles’ body warmed more thoroughly. Derek needed supplies, and he needed them quickly. He reached over to his clothes and grabbed his t-shirt. It wasn’t clean, but it was drier than Stiles’ clothes, and would do for a few minutes while he found a bandage. Derek folded it and pressed it gently against Stiles’ temple, arranging Stiles on the floor under the blanket so his head applied the pressure.
Derek started to walk towards the small bathroom, but instead swiped a stick and made a half-assed torch. Maybe it was a bit pathetic, but he wanted the comfort of the light. He didn’t think that he’d make a mistake and miss something with his werewolf eyesite, but he wasn’t willing to take a chance.
Derek smelled water in the toilet tank and frowned. He had a fire; he could melt snow. He supposed he could use it if they needed to, but he wasn’t quite that desperate. Yet. For some strange reason there was an unused flare in the middle of the shower. Derek saw a newspaper near the toilet, and a pair of socks on the other side of the tub. Those weren’t particularly clean, but they looked to be made of a thick wool, which could come in handy. There wasn’t anything in the medicine cabinet, but a small first aid kit on the wall held what looked to be a silver emergency blanket folded up into a tiny square, four matches in a tiny waterproof plastic container, and a half-full bottle of antiseptic.
Derek sighed, grateful. The bedroom, now that he stopped to really look, bore signs of some kind of earthquake. Heavy furniture was knocked around, and Derek frowned, suddenly worried. He listened for anything that sounded off- he’d be able to hear water under a cracked foundation for instance- but nothing jumped out at him. He couldn’t be sure of course without ripping up the floorboards, but Derek wasn’t quite at that level yet. For now, this worked. He righted the heavy cabinet near the bathroom, and opened it to find a t-shirt and a pair of long-john underwear hanging up inside.
“Good enough,” he whispered. Hearing his own voice shocked him, and Derek moved quickly back to Stiles, figuring he could search the rest of the place later. He tossed the makeshift torch into the fireplace, then dropped the items near where he’d left the now wet towel and knelt by Stiles’ body.
Derek only realized he was making a low whining sound when he saw Stiles twitch towards him, one hand flailing towards Derek even in his unconscious state. The move was just so Stiles that Derek immediately breathed a little easier as he knelt and cleaned the shallow but jagged scrape on Stiles’ temple. The fact that the blood had frozen in the short time- maybe ten minutes, fifteen at the most- that it had taken Derek to run across the lake spoke to the danger of the wind chill and frozen temperatures outside.
He bandaged Stiles’ wound by ripping the thankfully clean tshirt into strips, feeling horrendously out of practice at caring for a human. Not that he’d ever cared for Stiles like this. Stiles continued to shiver for several minutes until Derek wrapped him back up in his body and the blanket.
An hour passed before Stiles stopped shivering. Derek rearranged Stiles so that he could check the fire, settling him on the hearth, burrowed in both the heavy blanket from the bed and the emergency blanket. Stiles’ hair had dried to floofy curls, and Derek couldn’t help but notice the dark spread of lashes on Stiles’ cheeks. He looked peaceful in a way that Stiles didn’t often look while awake.
Feeling a little uncomfortable, Derek turned away.
In the bedroom, Derek found a sweatshirt, a can of something called Summit cola, and what looked like a water bottle, half-filled. He also found a half-empty bottle of antibiotics, made out to a ‘Jonas Leifekson’. The kitchen didn’t have much; a few cans of pork and beans, some lantern fuel, and a box of crackers. In the living room, he found a small sewing kit and a large basin that was likely used as a washbasin. He filled it with snow and set it on the hearth to melt.
There were no phones, and while the place was wired for electric and water, neither worked. They had crashed in the middle of goddamn nowhere, that was for sure.
Derek frowned. He wasn’t too worried. The storm sounded bad enough that he didn’t particularly want to be outside in it, and in a bit he would go out and get some more wood. They had a little bit of food, and Derek knew he could hunt for meat if it came down to it.
Derek took a moment to neaten up their area. He spread the towel, his, and Stiles’ clothes over the couches,and took the cushions to make a more comfortable nest in front of the fire. Derek knew damn well that he could just move the couch closer and there would be no reason to hold Stiles as he’d been doing, but it was easy enough to ignore that little fact. Maybe it was selfish, but being close to Stiles like this calmed something in him that Derek hadn’t even realized needed calming.
Derek sighed, as he leaned over Stiles’ prone form to brush a curl of Stiles’ hair off of his forehead.
The sleepy smile made something turn over in Derek’s chest and he stared down at Stiles in shock. Derek’s heartrate increased, but Stiles just shifted, passing into true sleep. Slowly, Derek eased himself down by Stiles, arranging him so that Stiles’ head was pillowed on his arm, big spoon to Stiles’ little spoon.
The feeling he recognized. It was the same feeling that Derek had felt when Stiles was in high school, hastily pushed away and ignored, masked as indifference or outright anger. It was the same feeling Derek had felt when the Nogitsune-free Stiles had first looked up at Derek through eyes too wide in Stiles’ pale, shocky face, one tear speaking for the loss and relief of being alone in his own head again. It was the same feeling that had let Derek be talked into this crazy scheme, on some trumped-up excuse to expand his little bush service into something further north than Derek usually ventured, going out of his way on an errand for a man he hadn’t seen in years. Derek swallowed heavily and listened to the steady heartbeat next to him, comforted and lulled into finally resting.