“Hi, yes, this is Stiles Stilinski, but I’m not at the phone right now! Please a message or call back later and I’ll debate not letting the phone ring. Social anxiety, dude, don’t judge me for it.”
Derek gasped wetly into his chest, fingers curled around the phone. He leaned against the wall of the loft, one arm wrapped around his stomach. He was pretty sure Stiles was still in class. Or maybe at lacrosse practice. Derek didn’t remember from one moment to the next; before his loft door had been kicked open and the hunters had come in.
Normally, Derek would have been a lot more on his guard. He hadn’t started relaxing until… well, until Stiles, really. Normally, he wouldn’t have let himself get so lost in the silence. The pages of his book. Lounging on the couch and waiting until Stiles and the betas came back from school.
Derek couldn’t remember a time when he’d been so relaxed. Turns out, that was his downfall.
They had known hunters were in town. But the pack was always dealing with threat after threat and for once, Derek had told them to take a break. The hunters could be passing through for all they knew. They could be in Beacon Hills for Chris Argent. It didn’t always have to be a problem that involved a bunch of teenagers.
It was Derek’s fault. He told the others to let down their guard. And then he let down his too.
It was his fault.
Blood covered his screen as Derek tapped Stiles’s name again. The phone rang a few times before going to voicemail once more. Derek dropped his head against the wall, hand pressing even harder against the bullet wound in his stomach. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t— he couldn’t—
“Hi, yes, this is Stiles Stilinski, but I’m not at the phone right now! Please leave a message or call back later and I’ll debate not letting the phone ring. Social anxiety, dude, don’t judge me for it.”
He needed Stiles. He needed to talk to Stiles.
One last time.
Derek hit the call button again, despite his gradually sinking heart. The dial tone was like the laughter of death itself. Tears stung at his eyes and he wasn’t sure if it was because of the ache in his chest or the pain of his wound.
“Hi, yes, this is Stiles Stilinski, but I’m not at the phone right now! Please leave a—”
The message cut off. Then, a hesitant voice came through and Derek nearly sobbed out loud. Instead, blood just bubbled at his lips and he swallowed hard, trying to find his voice again.
“Derek, dude, I’m in class. What’s wrong?”
“That’s me,” Stiles said, suddenly sounding a little concerned. “Derek, what’s wrong? Did something happen? Oh my god, was it the hunters? Let me get Scott and the others and we can head over—”
“It’s fine, Stiles.”
Silence reigned for a moment. Derek swallowed again.
“Okay,” Stiles said, more subdued now. “Can you tell me what’s up then? Cause Harris will have me in detention for the next month if I don’t get back to class soon. I told him it was a family emergency but you know… I’m kind of a terrible liar.”
Derek huffed despite himself. “You are.”
“Oh shut up, Sourwolf, you’re not very good at lying either.”
“I guess not.”
“So what’s up? Pack meeting tonight?”
“Not tonight,” Derek said, feeling blood start to stain through his fingers. He closed his eyes for a moment, taking a shaky breath before speaking again. “Stiles, I need you to promise me something.”
Once more, silence reigned. Derek heard Stiles’s heartbeats picked up before the boy answered again. “Okay, dude, you’re kind of scaring me.”
“Get out of Beacon Hills.”
Silence. Complete and utter silence. Then, “what?”
“Once you graduate,” Derek said. “Get out of Beacon Hills. Go somewhere far away where you can be normal and safe again. You weren’t supposed to be caught up in all of this, Stiles. Promise me you’ll get somewhere far away.”
“Derek, tell me what’s wrong.”
“Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine. But do you understand me?”
“No,” Stiles said, and Derek’s heart stopped for a moment. “No, no, you’re not fine. And I don’t understand! What’s happening, Derek? You’re lying to me, I know you are. You know what— I’m coming to the loft. Are you there? Harris can suck it.”
“Don’t come, Stiles,” Derek said, panic making his voice catch. “Just listen to me. I’m fine, I’m— never mind about what I said earlier. I don’t need a promise.”
He heard Stiles sigh. Derek could almost see the boy pacing the school hallway, running a hand through his hair as he tried to figure Derek’s words out. The way his brows would furrow, he’d worry his lower lip, and his amber eyes would be a little dimmer than usual.
The ache in Derek’s chest came back.
“You’re going to be fine,” he said softly. “The pack is going to be fine.”
“Derek, please talk to me. Tell me what’s wrong.”
“I love you, Stiles.”
Derek heard the sharp inhale of breath and the boy’s movements stop. For a moment, Stiles was silent on the other end. But then suddenly, fumbled words were pouring through the speaker. Derek took a gasping breath and closed his eyes, head tipped against the wall. He could barely breathe. Barely hear them. And it hurt. It hurt so bad.
He didn’t think it was from the current wound that hurt the most.
“Derek? Derek, you asshole, get back on the phone!”
There was this boy Derek could always see wherever he closed his eyes. Sharp amber eyes, pale mole dotted skin. Stiles always had the brightest laugh. The most annoying grin. Derek hated him— until he didn’t. And this was completely unfair. Everything was completely unfair.
Derek calling him. The blood pooling on the floor as the seconds ticked on. Stiles’s terrified words coming through the speaker of his phone.
It slipped out of his hands, then, sparking once and going silent as it hit the floor. Derek’s chin dropped to his chest and his breaths turned into pained rasps. He swallowed hard again, trying once more to reach for the phone. To call Stiles and apologize.
But he couldn’t— he couldn’t—
His hand dropped. Complete and utter silence fell over the loft.
Derek’s phone began to ring.
Stiles stumbled out of his jeep, trying to stave off another panic attack. Derek’s words kept ringing through his ears and he couldn’t breathe right
“Get out of Beacon Hills— You’re going to be fine— I’m okay—”
“I love you.”
Something was wrong. Something had happened.
Suddenly, there was a hand on his shoulder. Scott pulled him to a stop and nodded once, the rest of the pack filing ahead. The other boy’s expression was gentle, despite the worry in his eyes.
Stiles swallowed hard and nodded back. Slowly, Scott let him go.
Stiles raced after the rest of the pack.
Something was wrong but… but nothing could have happened. It was Derek Hale. He’d faced a million terrible things and always come out fine. Derek was just being an idiot. Maybe he’d found Erica’s wolfsbane laced whiskey and had gone to town. Maybe this wasn’t even Derek at all. They’d deal with witches, wizards, and other supernatural oddities before.
Maybe it was a shapeshifter or an incubus or whatever.
But then Stiles heard the broken howls. The shriek that filled the air and Stiles’s heart stopped. He raced up the rest of the stairs, barely aware of hands trying to grab him as he shoved past.
Then a scream tore from his throat too.
Because Derek was there. Derek was there, head lolled to the side, blood staining the floor around him. There were limp fingers stretching for his phone and a still-glowing bullet embedded in his stomach. Stiles screamed, wrenching away from the hands that tried to catch his shoulders as he stumbled across the loft, dropping to his knees in front of Derek and cupping his face.
“Derek, no, no. Derek, no! You giant furry asshole, don’t fucking do this to me, don’t you fucking do this to me. You can’t— you can’t—”
Stiles broke off, tears filling his eyes and streaming down his face. He cupped Derek’s face and then let go, bloodstained fingers fluttering all the way down to the bullet wound in his stomach. He pushed the man’s shirt up and choked on a sob, nearly yanking right back.
Black lines spiderwebbed around the bullet. Traced up blood crusted skin and went straight toward Derek’s heart. And suddenly, all Stiles could hear were Derek’s words from two years ago, spinning over and over again through his mind.
“If the infection reaches my heart, I’ll die.”
Stiles croaked out another sob, rubbing a hand over his face. Derek’s blood smeared across his skin then, and felt like poison. He touched the man’s face again, before curling in on himself.
“Don’t fucking do this to me, Derek. Don’t do this.”
Someone touched his arm. Stiles snarled and yanked away, cupping Derek’s face again. But then the grip tightened and someone else took his other arm. Stiles screamed and thrashed, trying to yank away as he was dragged back from Derek’s body.
Scott moved over to kneel in front of the man. Stiles stopped fighting, slumping back to the floor as another cry wracked through his body.
He couldn’t survive this. He couldn’t.
Scott didn’t move for a moment, searching Derek’s face. Then his shoulders slumped and he glanced over his shoulder again.
“Someone call the Sheriff.”
Stiles’s heart dropped into his shoes. The rest of the pack’s movements were slow. Blurry. Boyd and Isaac let him go again and Stiles dropped to the floor, boneless. Everything around him was nothing more than a dull scream of agony. His heart felt like it’d been ripped out of his chest and shoved back in all torn apart.
He couldn’t lose Derek. He couldn’t— he couldn’t—
Standing next to Jackson, Lydia suddenly swayed. Her eyelashes fluttered and she stumbled, the beta just barely catching her. The other werewolves straightened and Lydia’s head dropped for a second before her eyes snapped back open.
“Something isn’t right—”
The screaming in Stiles’s ears grew louder. Grief, loud and dangerous, exploded from his chest. Like the crackle of electricity. The scream of a banshee rewinded through the air before dropping into pure silence.
Stiles wondered if this would kill him too, seconds before he passed out.
There was a warm body curled around his own. There was a hand threaded through his hair. Someone was breathing softly against his skin and Derek felt like he’d been to hell and back, groaning softly as his eyes fluttered open again.
And something was wrong. Something was off.
Suddenly, the body moved.
In a moment, there were warm amber eyes blinking down at him. Stiles’s face was tinted with pink and there was blood on his face. Derek’s heart hurt for a moment, seeing the cracked pain behind Stiles’s eyes. And he knew he would kill whoever had caused it.
But then the memories came flooding back.
Derek jerked, hand flying down to claw at his stomach. But there was nothing there. Flat, unmarked skin, as Stiles shied back and slowly pulled himself out of the hospital bed. The boy’s scent smelled wrong as he sunk into the chair next to the bed, watching Derek apprehensively.
Derek tried to say something, but all that came out was a croak. He swallowed hard, shaking his head, and then stared at Stiles again.
“You goddamn asshole.”
Derek flinched back like he’d been hit. Panic threatened to overcome him and he tried to focus on Stiles. Stiles’s scent, Stiles’s heartbeats. But something was different. Something was wrong.
He still smelled like cinnamon. Stiles always smelled like cinnamon. Cinnamon, apple spice, hints of autumn leaves. But he also smelled electric now. There were hints of electricity to his scent and his heart beat a little too fast. It was confusing. It was wrong.
“You died,” Stiles said, voice cracking. “You died, Derek, and you tried to leave me. You tried to leave me alone.”
Derek stared at him, heart twisting. But if he’d died, how the hell was he here?
“You tried to leave me,” Stiles said again, face crumpling. “After a;; the things you said, you goddamn asshole, how could you do that?”
A knot formed in his throat. Derek looked away, realization crashing over him, but then there was a hand on his. Fingers that threaded through his own as Stiles leaned forward and touched Derek’s chin, turning his face back. Derek looked at him carefully. Prepared to see the anger or hate.
But Stiles just looked a little terrified. A lot nervous.
He smelled… scared.
“Derek,” he said softly. “Derek, I’d never leave you. So you can’t leave me.”
“If you ever make a call like that again, I’ll kill you myself.”
Derek was startled by the hint of a smile that tugged at the corners of his lips. He blinked hard and nodded. Stiles traced gentle fingers over his jaw and his expression turned nervous.
“I.. you’re mine, Derek. Mine. You can’t leave me.”
Derek’s chest ached. He closed his eyed for a moment, just holding onto that, and when he opened them again, Stiles was watching him carefully. Silently, he nodded and the boy’s expression softened.
“I love you too, you know.”
And maybe this was death. A hallucination or a dream. Derek was almost scared to ask and break it. Once more, he nodded, before inhaling Stiles’s scent again. It was the same. Cinnamon with faint hints of electricity. He felt his eyes flash a little and Stiles straightened, before relaxing again.
“I uh, Sparked a bit.”
“Deaton said it was a reaction,” Stiles said, looking sheepish. “Uh, like a panic attack, if you will. I Sparked. Had a minor freak out. Kind of jump-started your heart.”
Derek stared at him. Stiles chuckled.
“So you’re welcome, or whatever.”
“You saved my life.”
“I told you,” Stiles said, amber eyes suddenly sparking with hints of gold. “You’re mine.”
And all Derek wanted to do was kiss him. He sat up, Stiles’s hand falling from his face as he leaned forward and tangled a hand in the boy’s hair.
Stiles made a surprised noise as Derek’s lips crashed against his own and then he all but melted into the kiss. Small rumbles of agreement vibrated through his chest and Derek growled, leaning so far over the hospital bed he almost fell out of it.
Stiles smelled like cinnamon, apples, and autumn leaves. Like electricity, power, and his. Sparked, minor freak out, whatever. This was his human. His spark.
Derek kissed him with a promise to never leave again and a promise to never let go. Derek was his and he was Derek’s.
“I love you,” Derek said, the second their lips broke. Stiles smiled fondly.
“I know, you goddam asshole.”
“Your goddamn asshole.”
“Yeah,” Stiles said, fisting a hand in Derek’s shirt and pulling him forward for another kiss. “Mine. My Sourwolf. My alpha.”
And Derek did fall out of the hospital bed this time.