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September

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Stiles wasn’t supposed to be the one getting hurt.

He was human. He was fragile. Derek knew the boy would deny that to his dying breath if he ever said it out loud, but it was true. Stiles was so human it hit Derek like a blow. And he wasn’t supposed to be the one getting hurt.

But in the end, he did. And in the end, it wasn’t the supernatural that came for him.

When the symptoms first started, Derek was terrified that once more, Stiles was possessed. From the lack of sleeping, to the weight loss, to the sick smell of his scent. And Derek wasn’t sure he could go through all of that again; the pain, the terror, and the death. But then when Stiles came to his loft one day, pale-face and shaking, Derek realized it was much worse.

“This was the only way I never wanted to be like my mother.”

And Derek’s heart had broken.

Stiles wasn’t supposed to be the one getting hurt. He was kind, and brave, and good. Stiles was everything that kept Derek anchored and the day he learned he might lose the boy, Derek thought maybe he’d lose himself too.

“It took my mom pretty quick. They’re not sure how long I’ll have either.”

Stiles deserved to live a long life. One where he could sleep a full night, be safe for longer than a few days, and grow old with someone he loved. Stiles deserved everything and Derek kept realizing over and over again that he wouldn’t get.

“My dad is, uh… coping.”

Derek blinked at the boy. Stiles’s amber eyes were teary and his face was pale, but there was still a smile on his lips. Somehow still a smile on his lips. His fingers were trembling. He looked down at them as he talked, as if he had forgotten Derek was there but the words continued to come anyway.

“He’s not going to be able to watch this though. I, uh, don’t think the next few years are going to be very great. For either of us.”

Derek just stared. Amber eyes finally flicked back up, meeting his own.

“But you’ll take care of him, right? When I’m gone?”

Derek didn’t say a word. Didn’t move a muscle. Stiles continued to look at him, tear streaks tracing lines down his face, and Derek just stared. Because this wasn’t right. This wasn’t happening. Maybe he’d fallen asleep and this was a nightmare.

Something was wrong.

“Oh,” Stiles said quietly. “I, uh, get it dude. I shouldn’t have come.”

When he stood up, giving Derek one last look, his expression was silent. Pleading. Derek continued to stare at him like he was seeing a ghost, thoughts moving slowly, and Stiles nodded before turning away. He crossed the loft without looking back and carried the scent of sickness with him.

When the loft door opened, closed, and Derek was left alone, he figured he had to be dreaming. Because none of this had just happened.

He got a text from Scott later that night. It was all happening. 

It was all happening. 

The betas came back that night to an empty loft and Derek took off into the preserve feeling like he’d already lost something. Something more than a pack member. Something much more than his anchor.

Derek felt like he’d lost his heart.

 

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November

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The thing about dying was that Stiles was suddenly so much more aware of everything around him. The cold temperatures as winter slowly came. The lack of color to his face that he didn’t think had been a problem a few weeks ago. The way the house was so much quieter when his dad spent a solid three days at the station.

The thing about dying was that Stiles was terrified. But at the same time, he’d never felt calmer in his life.

Scott came to his house first. The boy looked at him like Stiles was already gone and then he hugged him close, sobbing into his shoulder. Except unlike at the loft a week ago, Stiles didn’t shed a single tear of his own.

He didn’t think Derek told the betas. Because when Erica came, she’d learned from Isaac who had learned from Scott, and she was downright pissed off.

There was always someone sleeping on his floor. For the next two months there was always someone sleeping on his floor. As if they thought he’d die in his sleep or something.

Stiles hadn’t talked to Derek since that day. The one time he’d seen him in the grocery store, Derek had gone stock-still, Stiles had felt sudden pain like a blow to the stomach, and then Derek had fled without looking back.

In a perfect world, Stiles would have confessed his feelings in the loft two months ago and Derek would have returned them. It would have been a love story with a heart-wrenching ending.

But it wasn’t a perfect world. The only thing Stiles had gotten out that night was realizing how fucking unfair everything around him was.

It was so fucking unfair.

 

-

December

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Derek thought he’d waited too long. But that didn’t stop him from showing up in Stiles’s room one day and startling the boy so hard, he fell sideways out of his desk chair. 

The smell of sickness was heavy in the air, mixed with that of the pack, and Derek just stood there for a moment, fighting every instinct to turn back around and flee.

Stiles stared at him from the floor for far too long. Then he climbed to his feet, dropped back into his desk chair, turned his back on Derek, and proceeded to pretend like he wasn’t there.

Derek figured he deserved that. Or a lot worse.

“Stiles—”

“What the hell are you doing here?”

“I wanted to check on you.”

Suddenly, Stiles was shoving himself back up. He was paler than usual, Derek thought, and the circles underneath his eyes seemed darker. A finger jabbed into his chest and Derek looked down at it before glancing back up.

Stiles’s amber eyes swam with tears. 

“Why now, huh, Sourwolf? Why the hell come now? It’s been nearly three months!”

“I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorr— no. Get out.”

Derek tensed, regret crashing over him in an icy wave and Stiles jabbed at his chest again. The tears were slipping down his cheeks now. All he smelled like was sickness, anger, and pain. And it made Derek want to curl in on himself. 

“I needed you here , Derek,” Stiles said, voice cracking. “I needed you by my side. Do you understand that? Does anything in your little wolfy brain understand that?”

Derek clenched his jaw and nodded quietly, even though everything was screaming at him to turn and leave. He wasn’t sure what would be more painful; leaving first or waiting for Stiles to leave him later. He supposed only one part of that thought was selfish.

So Derek didn’t move. 

“I needed you,” Stiles said. “Dammit, asshole, I need you!”

“I’m here.”

“And are you staying?”

Derek didn’t say a word for a second. Then he nodded, the ache in his chest coming back full force. Stiles looked at him for a long moment and then his Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed.

“If you vanish again—”

“I’m sorry, Stiles.”

The boy’s scent dropped. For a moment, all Derek could smell was sickness and pain, and then there were faint hints of cinnamon. Stiles nodded with a tear-streaked face. “I know.”

“I should have stayed.”

“You should have.”

“I’m not going anywhere. Not again.”

Another tear slipped down Stiles’s cheek. The boy met his gaze mournfully and then before Derek could react, there was a warm bundle in his arms. He blinked for a moment and then held the boy tighter, a million scents filling his nose as Stiles pressed against his chest.

I’m so sorry.

Derek lost the floor beneath his feet all over again as he held Stiles while he cried.

 

-

January

-

 

Derek had never seen all the Star Wars before.

Stiles changed that.

 

-

February

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“Have you ever been stargazing before?”

Derek shook his head quietly. Stiles’s eyes hadn’t left the night sky but Derek hadn’t been able to tear his own from the constellation sitting right next to him. They sat on the hood of the jeep on the edge of the preserve, after Stiles had basically dragged him here spouting things about a meteor shower. As if a shooting star was the most interesting thing to happen in Beacon Hills.

You know, other than werewolves.

But Derek had been spending the past few months attached to Stiles’s side and he wasn’t about to break away. Sometimes, it was like he could forget why he’d grown so attached. Other times, when he was sleeping on the boy’s bedroom floor while Stiles snored in the bed, it hit him like a punch to the throat.

Stiles didn’t look like he was dying.

Not now, at least, eyes bright and fixed on the night sky. There were some days that Derek was terrified to enter his bedroom, the scent of grief and grey so strong that it made him feel sick. Stiles would wake up screaming from nightmares and Derek would spend the rest of the night cradling the boy in his arms while Stiles begged not to end up like his mother.

Not for the first time, Derek was struck by the sudden urge to bring up a certain topic that he was still surprised Stiles had avoided. One involving Derek’s red eyes, Stiles’s amber ones, and the one thing that could either save his life or end it early.

Derek hadn’t said a word. Neither had Stiles.

But he thought about it far too often.

“My mom knew all the constellations,” Stiles said, eyes still fixed on the sky. “My dad would drive us to the most secluded area on the darkest nights just so she could point them all out. I don’t… remember many.”

Once more, sadness hit Stiles’s scent like a tidal wave. Derek swallowed hard.

“I’m so scared, Derek,” Stiles said, voice shaking. “Scared I’ll forget about that. About my dad. About… about you.”

Derek swallowed hard. Stiles brushed at his eyes.

“I don’t want to forget.”

And what was Derek supposed to say to that? He resisted the urge to gather Stiles in his arms and just hold him close. Because he didn’t want the boy to forget either. If the day came that Stiles didn’t recognize him, Derek might very well shatter.

“I’m so fucking scared.”

Derek’s eyes burned. A single tear made its way down his cheek, feeling like poison against his skin. And, finally turning his gaze upward, he just silently wished. Wished Stiles would be okay. Wished everything could be alright again.

Wished that if Stiles died, maybe Derek would die with him.

 

-

April

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The first time Derek kissed him, it was underneath the covers as Stiles trembled. 

At some point or other, Stiles had started curling up against him when the night was at its darkest, and Derek would never say no. He was used to Stiles plodding across the loft, feeling the bed dip as he lowered himself onto the mattress, and brown hair would tickle his nose as Stiles buried his face right into the crook of Derek’s neck.

Tonight was one of those nights. Derek blinked himself out of sleep as Stiles crawled into bed next to him, body shaking as he curled up against Derek’s chest.

“Nightmare?”

“No.”

“Are you okay?”

Stiles just laughed; a sad, empty sound. The first time Derek had compared this Stiles to the old Stiles, he’d vowed to never do it again. But when Derek heard a laugh like that, so completely void of anything that used to be Stiles, he couldn’t help it.

Stiles turned his gaze upward, amber eyes searching his face. He looked haunted.

“I want to do something stupid.”

Derek raised an eyebrow and Stiles flushed a little. 

“But I’d have to be a terrible person to do it and make someone else suffer the consequences of whatever happens. I’m not a bad person, Derek. I… I don’t want to be a bad person.”

“You could never be bad.”

“You don’t know me that well, Sourwolf.”

Derek’s heart ached. He wanted to tell Stiles that yes, he knew him. He knew him so well, sometimes Derek thought his chest could explode. 

He knew Stiles was the idiot to nearly brain himself in a rush to get curly fries. He was the genius that could recite the most random facts just because he thought they were neat. He was the brave one— the one that would risk himself a million times over for his friends. The one that would throw himself underneath the bus to protect those he loved.

Stiles was so good and Derek hurt just thinking about it. Because bad things always happened to good people.

“I want to do something stupid,” Stiles said softly. “Before it’s too late.”

Quietly, Derek nodded. Stiles’s scent turned nervous.

“Please don’t rip my throat out for this.”

When soft lips brushed against Derek’s own, he was pretty sure his mind went blank. He froze for a moment too long, something short circuiting in his brain, and then Stiles was drawing back, apologies already falling from his mouth.

Derek blinked once. Twice. Stiles pushed himself up and looked downright terrified and then, before Derek could think again, he was moving forward and capturing Stiles’s lips once more.

He missed the sound of Stiles’s surprised squeaks.

The first time Derek kissed him, it was out of hungry desperation. On which side, he wasn’t sure. Maybe both. Frantic hands in the darkness and feeling Stiles shiver underneath his touch was never something Derek had expected. Imagined, maybe. But not expected.

It was probably a stupid idea on his part too. Even more so when Stiles kissed him back, hard and hungry, as if he was trying to pretend like the situation was because of anything else.

Derek thought he could pretend too.

Stiles was staying over after too many hours of research. They’d survived the current Monster of the Week and Derek was pissed at him for being his usual self-sacrificing self. Or maybe there was no reason at all. No reason other than Stiles was here and Derek had always known he could lose himself in the taste of him.

But then he realized Stiles was whispering something against his lips. Over and over again like a plea. And for a moment, Derek was so lost in his own head, he almost didn’t understand it.

But then he did. And some part of him shattered.

“Don’t forget, don’t forget, don’t forget—”

 

-

May

-

 

The first time Stiles screamed when Derek came through his window, he nearly had a heart attack of his own. One moment, he’d been halfway into Stiles’s room, the boy’s eyes glued to his laptop and the next, Stiles was coming at him with a baseball bat in hand.

Derek barely managed to catch it. Stiles’s eyes were wide and full of terror.

“What the hell do you want? What are you doing here? My dad’s the Sheriff, asshole! I swear to god, if you even try and lay a finger on me—”

“Stiles.”

The boy blinked at him. Trembling, poised, and ready to run. Derek felt his throat tightened.

“Stiles, calm down. You know me.”

“No.”

“Stiles, you know me. It’s Derek.”

“N-no. Please leave.”

“Look, I’m going to call your dad, if you can just go over to your bed and wait—”

“Please leave.”

Derek’s heartbeat stuttered. He looked at Stiles for a long moment and then nodded, pulling himself back out the window. He heard the sound of it slamming behind him and dialed the Sheriff’s number, despite knowing Stiles was probably already calling the station.

He felt a little sick. A little dizzy.

By the time Derek heard the faint sound of sirens, he was already moving back into the shadows. Away from the Stilinski house. Away from Stiles’s thundering heartbeats.

Away from the boy that didn’t know him tonight.

 

-

July

-

 

“You’re not a werewolf.”

“What?”

“You’re not a werewolf,” Stiles said, turning Derek’s hand over in his, their fingers intertwined together. “I used to think you were though. God, how did you even tolerate me?”

Derek swallowed hard, forcing a smile. “You’ve been weirder.”

“Yeah, but dude. Werewolves.”

The rest of the pack was silent. The TV continued to blare whatever movie Stiles had picked out and Derek was pretty sure none of them were paying attention to it. He met Stiles’s eyes and managed to chuckle.

“You wrote a paper on the male circumcision for your economics class. I’ve learned not to underestimate you.”

“Oh my god, you’re too perfect to be real.”

Derek's heart twisted. He leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss against Stiles’s forehead and the boy all but melted into it. Derek wanted to close his eyes and stay in that moment. Stiles right up next to him. The boy’s scent filled with cinnamon and warmth.

Even if it wasn’t all that real.

“Werewolves,” Stiles said again, laughing as he turned back toward the TV. “How did that even come around to be a thing?”

Derek closed his eyes to the sorrowful glow of red.

 

-

August

-

 

“What if I wanted the bite?”

Derek stiffened on the couch, slowly closing his book. He hadn’t heard Stiles’s heartbeats or scent approaching the loft and that twisted in his gut more than he would ever admit out loud. Stiles stood in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest, and he looked downright pissed.

Derek stood slowly. They hadn’t talked about this yet. He’d been too terrified to bring it up and Stiles had never once said a word.

“The bite?”

“I’m selfish,” Stiles said, voice trembling. “I’m a selfish person and I never wanted to be a werewolf. But I’m not a bad person, Derek. I don’t want to be a bad person. I can’t leave my dad.”

A knot formed in his throat. “Stiles, you’re panicking.”

“Yes, I’m fucking panicking!” The boy’s scent flared and he slammed the door behind him, stalking across the loft. “Do you know what I did this morning, Derek? I got ready for school. I’ve fucking graduated and I still packed my things thinking it was the first day of high school. Do you know how many sticky notes I have on my walls? It’s like the literal Good Place of “Welcome! Everything is fine!” Except everything is not fine!”

“Stiles—”

“No, don’t ‘Stiles’ me! What if I wanted the bite, huh? What would you say then?”

“I’d give it to you.”

“Then why haven’t you offered before?”

Derek swallowed hard. Stiles searched his face, looking both broken and angry. The circles beneath his eyes were as dark as they had been during the Nogitsune. That shook Derek to his very core. “I didn’t want to scare you away.”

“What, by offering me something that could save my life?”

“By offering you something that could end it.”

Stiles straightened, a flicker of fear entering his scent. Derek closed his eyes and took a deep, trembling breath before meeting the boy’s gaze again.

“Not everyone survives the bite.”

“I know that.”

“No, Stiles. If you don’t want to live and I give you the bite, it won’t take. You won’t survive it.”

Stiles looked at him for a long moment. Then a dozen emotions warred across his face and he stepped back, nostrils flaring. “What?”

Derek was scared to meet his gaze. Stiles’s breaths trembled.

“Do you think I want this? Do you think I want to die?”

“No,” Derek said. “No, Stiles, I know you don’t want this. No one wants this. But you are so damn guilty . You don’t scream in your sleep, you apologize. Over and over again. And if I give you the bite without you wanting it, you will die.”

“Why would I want you to give me the bite?”

Derek flinched.

“Scott is my alpha. Scott would be my alpha. I came because I wanted to hear what you thought, Sourwolf, not because I need anything from you. I don’t need anything from you.”

Derek couldn’t look at him. Stiles’s scent wavered.

“I don’t need anything from you.”

“Okay, Stiles.”

“I don’t want this.”

“I know.”

“... I don’t want to die, Derek.”

Derek’s heart snapped in two. Stiles was trembling again and, without a world, Derek stepped forward and wrapped Stiles in his arms. The boy didn’t cry. Not today. But his heart thudded loud enough against his chest that it sounded like he was having a heart attack.

“I don’t want to die, Derek.”

“I know.”

“Don’t let me forget that.”

Derek closed his eyes, his throat tightening. It took almost all of the willpower he had left to just nod. Or at least attempt some sort of semblance of that. “I won’t.”

“Promise?”

“I promise, Stiles.”

 

-

October

-

 

“Sooner or later, the bite won’t be able to help.”

Derek closed his eyes, those words hitting too close to home. The rest of the pack was gathered in the clinic and everyone had their eyes fixed on Deaton, Stiles, or Derek. He hated the weight of their stares. Like he could do anything without Stiles agreeing to it.

“You could have two years or ten. But if you wait and it’s not that long, nothing will change.”

“Could I still die from it?”

“Possibly.”

Stiles scoffed, the sound full of hopeless grief. Derek could smell his fear too and he didn’t know which one was more overpowering. “So I could die from the bite or I could die after I lose my mind.”

Standing across the room, the Sheriff flinched. But Deaton didn’t look fazed.

“Or you could survive.”

“So what are the chances then, fifty-fifty?”

“If you wish to survive the bite, they are much greater than that, Mr. Stilinski.”

Stiles’s eyes tracked over to where Derek stood, his expression betraying nothing. But Derek caught the rest of the pack’s confused looks as they listened to Deaton’s words. And Derek kind of wanted to wring the man’s neck.

“I could give it to you, Stiles,” Scott said, stepping forward. “I would do it.”

Stiles looked at his best friend with a small smile tugging at the corners of his lips. And Derek’s heart sunk as Stiles’s words from two months ago rang through his ears.

He would take Stiles living over anything else in the world. Over being Stiles’s alpha, over being the one guiding him through Derek’s side of the world. But that didn’t mean it wouldn’t hurt. Just a little bit.

“I know you would, Scotty,” Stiles said. “But you know what I want.”

Derek blinked. Scott slumped a little as he nodded. Fear, cold and sharp, wrapped around Derek’s heart and he studied Stiles’s face.

“You won’t take the bite?”

Stiles looked at him quietly. Derek shook his head, uncrossing his arms, and all but fled the room. He thought someone said his name, but it was washed out by the heavy buzzing in his ears. The way the world threatened to come apart around him.

Because Derek couldn’t— he couldn’t—

He couldn’t watch Stiles die.

Stiles wasn’t supposed to be the one getting hurt. But he was. He was human; he was fragile. He was going to live as a boy and he was going to die as one. And there was nothing Derek could do to stop that. He’d never felt more helpless in his life.

Derek had promised he wouldn’t let Stiles forget; forget he didn’t want to die. But maybe that had been a broken vow from the start. From the start— from the beginning. Trembling confessions in the loft, studying constellations in the darkness, holding each other close underneath the covers.

Maybe it had all been broken from the start.

Underneath the blanket of stars, Derek threw back his head and howled.

 

-

November

-

 

“Do you know who I am, Derek?”

“I do.”

“Do I know who I am?”

“You do.”

“I don’t think that’s true anymore.”

 

-

December

-

 

“Can I drive the jeep again?”

“Not today, Stiles.”

“Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow.”

“... Did I ask that yesterday?”

“Yes.”

“And what was your answer?”

“Tomorrow.”

 

-

January

-

 

“I love you, Sourwolf.”

“I know.”

"I don’t want to do this without you.”

“You won’t.”

“I think I’m dying.”

“Don’t say that. You’re going to be okay.”

“... Derek?”

“Yes, Stiles?”

“I don’t want to die. Remember?”

 

-

April

-

 

Stiles took him out to the preserve one day. And Derek… Derek had learned not to fight these things anymore. Sometimes Stiles took him to strange places and all Derek could do was gather him up again and carry him back home. But sometimes, on the good days, it was like magic.

Stiles would be talking and laughing. Derek thought maybe he was falling in love all over again. And when the blank look came back into Stiles’s eyes, he always broke down into tears.

But something was different today. Stiles was… well, he was nervous. But he was also thrumming with energy. Old Stiles energy.

Derek always hated himself for making that comparison.

Stiles led him out to the preserve and, on the very edge of it, was a blanket and a basket of food. Derek went still, looking at it for a long moment, and Stiles’s eyes danced at his expression.

“Lydia basically did it all, but I’m taking full credit.”

“This is for…”

“One year since your Sourwolf ass kissed me, dude. Or I kissed you. Whatever. And yes, I marked it on my calendar. Shut up, I’m not that big of a mess.”

He wasn’t. He was too unfairly perfect.

Derek didn’t know what to say or how to react, so he just nodded quietly. He was painfully aware of how quickly things could change or go wrong. But he was too scared to let himself dwell on that. Stiles led him over to the blanket and then all but pushed him down.

“We’re stargazing tonight, Sourpuss.”

Derek swallowed hard. “Are you going to teach me the constellations?”

“All the ones I know.”

Derek leaned forward and kissed him. Stiles hummed in delight around his lips, one hand reaching up to tangle through his hair before playful pushing him away. And then suddenly, the nervous energy was back. Stiles kept glancing toward the basket, fingers twitching, and eventually, Derek followed his gaze.

There wasn’t only food inside. Derek pulled out a black video camera and gave Stiles a strange look, who was practically vibrating with nerves now.

“Stiles?”

“That was supposed to be the nighttime finale.”

“Do you want me to put it back?”

“Um… no. I don’t think so, at least. It’s got something important on it.”

Derek started to flip the screen open. But then Stiles caught his arm, fingers curling into the sleeve of his leather jacket. The boy searched his face before nervously licking his lips.

“What’s on there… it’s old. Old enough that I was… in my right headspace, anyway. Scott knows and my dad knows. We’ve already talked.”

“Talked about what?”

“You’ll see.”

Derek didn’t like the strangled grief in the boy’s words. When he flipped the screen open, he found himself gazing at another Stiles of bright eyes and a red sweatshirt. He looked nervous in the camera, even with those bright eyes. But he was grinning despite that.

And then the video began to play.

“Hey, Sourwolf, it’s me. Uh, Stiles? So, I feel like an idiot right now. And a little nervous, I guess. Like I’m making my final message or something. Which, I suppose it could be if things go wrong. But that would suck and I try to be a positive person, so here’s to wishing for good luck?”

Derek glanced sideways at Stiles. The boy’s eyes were fixed anywhere but Derek’s face. 

“So if you’re watching this, uh… fuck. I didn’t ask for the bite earlier. Which, you know. Shitty move on my part. Waiting until now. But maybe I had a reason! Maybe I wanted to make it special. Or I was just scared? That’s probably more like it. I’m so fucking terrified all the time, Der.”

Derek tried to smother a choked sob. He didn’t think he did a very good job.

“But, this is me and hopefully, you’re there too. And you know, we’re doing something disgustingly romantic like watching the stars or whatever. I’m gonna ramble for a bit, you’re gonna give me one of those ‘I can’t believe I love you’ looks and then I’m gonna do something stupid. Just like that one night when I first kissed you. That was stupid, right? This might be too.”

Derek could barely breathe. The Stiles on camera took a shaky breath.

“I never wanted to be a werewolf. You know that. And Scott’s my best friend. But if I ever went to the fluffy side, he wouldn’t be who I called alpha. And he knows that. We’ve come to an agreement of sorts. Or… I told him to accept things and I think he did. Eventually.

I want you, Sourwolf. You know, not just you, but yeah, you. If I was to take the bite from anyone, it’d be from your fluffy ass. And I know that’s kind of terrible to ask, I mean. Knowing I could die and all, but… I’m dying anyway.

And I don’t want to die.”

Derek slapped the camera screen closed, his eyes burning. Stiles startled at his side and amber eyes finally snapped upward. The boy looked downright terrified. And Derek could barely think straight for a moment.

“Derek?”

“You want me to give you the bite?”

“I do.”

Derek looked at him for a long moment. He kept trying to tell himself this was real, this was happening, but suddenly, it was too fast. “Do you want it?”

“Isn’t that the purpose of saying I do?”

“Stiles, do you want it?”

The boy’s throat bobbed as he swallowed. “I meant what I said. On there. I, uh, want you. Fuck, I want you, Der. And I know that’s kind of shitty in case I die because you’re a big fluffy asshole who will blame yourself. But—”

Derek studied his face, searching for a lie in Stiles’s voice. But he couldn’t find a single skip to his heart. His own chest felt strangely tight.

“Derek, you’re the one I’d call alpha. No one else.”

“If it doesn’t take, I’m the one that killed you.”

“I know. But if it doesn’t happen, I’m going to die anyway. And not before I’ve forgotten everyone I love. Not before I’ve forgotten you.”

Derek didn’t know which sounded more painful. He started to open the video camera again, just to see the message once more time— to make sure it was Stiles, it was his Stiles, it was true— when the boy brushed gentle fingers over his face and offered a small, sad smile.

“I’d call you alpha.”

Derek closed his eyes. Stiles traced his fingers underneath his chin and moved forward, kissing him softly. As if it were both a promise and an apology; whichever came first.

“How do you want it?”

Stiles pulled back a few inches. “My neck.”

“When do you—”

Stiles curled his hand in Derek’s hair and guided his head downward. Derek’s heartbeat stuttered in his chest as Stiles turned his throat upward, baring white skin for him. He’d seen this a million times, but Derek had never felt so terrified before.

“Stiles...”

“Please, Derek.”

Derek didn’t think he could face the Sheriff or Scott again if the bite didn’t take. If Stiles died in his arms out here, underneath the moonlight with a video of a smiling, bright-eyed boy in his lap, Derek didn’t think he’d be able to look himself in the face again.

“Derek, please.”

And Stiles was human. Fragile, wasn’t he? Except he’d always been the stronger one. Derek wasn’t ashamed of how terrified he felt as his sharp fangs brushed along the place between Stiles’s shoulder blade and neck. The boy shivered but didn’t pull back. Between the two of them, Derek was probably more afraid.

“I love you,” Stiles said softly. Derek shuddered and before he could stop himself, bit down. The hand in his hair tightened as Stiles startled. The other rubbed gentle circles over his back.

I’m so sorry.

Derek tasted blood, Stiles jerked against him, and in Derek’s lap, the video began to replay.

“Hey, Sourwolf, it’s me—”

 

-

June

-

 

“Do you remember him?”

“Him?”

“Old Stiles.”

“Shut up.”

“Cause this is fluffy Stiles now and that means I’m no longer inclined to be your go-to research guy—”

“Stiles.”

“Yeah?”

“Shut up.”

“Oh why yes, alpha — wait, bad wolf! I’m sorry!”