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Holy hell, he was going to throw up.

“Scott, Scott, stop for a minute.” Stiles groaned. “I need to puke.”

Scott looked over at him, tightening his fingers around Stiles’ wrist where it was slung across Scott’s shoulders. “No, just hold on for a little bit longer, okay? Do you want me to carry you?”

“God, no. I’m not a fucking princess. Can you hear anything?”

“No. I can’t… I can’t really feel anything right now.”

Stiles stumbled, leaning more heavily on Scott for a minute. “Well… you did get shot a couple times with God knows what. Makes sense that your wolfy senses wouldn’t be tingling like normal. How bad is it?”

“I’m fine.” Scott tightened his grip on his waist. “Are you… just hold on, okay, Stiles? We’re gonna… we’re gonna be okay. We’ll find the others and it’s all going to be okay.”

For a moment, Stiles dropped his head against Scott’s. “Dude. Scott. You can’t save everyone, you know.”

“We had this conversation before. Still gonna try.” Scott squeezed his wrist. “And you are going to be fine.”

For a moment, Stiles debated if Scott was the most stubborn werewolf he knew. He hadn’t quite decided between Scott and Derek when his side gave a vicious throb and he remembered an old promise.

“Scott.” Stiles swallowed thickly. “Hey. You remember when we were thirteen?”

“Stiles–”

“No, listen. You remember, right? After my mom died and after your dad moved out, you remember when we spent three days living in the tent in your backyard?”

With Melissa working doubles at the hospital to try to make ends meet in a suddenly one-income household and Stiles’ dad’s new promotion to sheriff, their only supervision had been the lady who lived next to Scott’s house checking in on them a few times a day. Between comic books and board games they’d never admit to playing, way too much junk food and actually being allowed to have a campfire on their own, it’d been awesome.

“Yeah,” Scott said, a note of fondness in his voice even now, even like this. “Yeah, I remember.”

Stiles inhaled slowly. “Yeah. So you remember the promise we made?”

“Stiles–”

“I just need to hear it, okay?” His voice cracked and he had to swallow before continuing. “Just tell me so I can hear it.”

Scott made a distressed noise, pressing his nose against Stiles’ hair. “I – okay. Okay. I promise I’ll look after your dad and I promise I’ll tell him that you love him. And I promise I’ll delete your porn.”

Stiles sighed. “Thank you. And… I promise I’ll look after your mom. I’ll tell her you love her. And I’ll throw out the magazines under the floorboard in your closet. But you seriously need to go digital, man.” He pulled away enough to look at Scott. “Hey, you too, okay?”

“Yeah, love you too, asshole,” Scott said. “Okay, let’s go… let’s go find the others.”

Blood dripped and stung in Stiles’ eye from the gash across his forehead. His side burned and he gasped despite himself whenever Scott’s fingers brushed against the wound there. And he was certain now that his leg wouldn’t hold his weight if he tried to stand without Scott’s support.

Scott stopped and Stiles almost fell over. “Shit, sorry,” Scott whispered. “I thought I smelled someone… Derek?”

A dark shape melted out of the shadows. When the light from the moon reflected red off a pair of eyes, Stiles caught himself holding his breath, but it was the Alpha that didn’t want them dead – at least not mostly of the time – and he slumped against Scott in relief.

Derek crossed quickly to them. “How badly hurt are you two?”

“Scott got shot a couple times, dunno with what,” Stiles muttered.

He feels Scott’s frown more than sees it. “And I found Stiles bleeding like this. We need to get him to the hospital.”

Derek moved even closer. “Let me take him. I can protect myself and him better than you can if you’re injured.”

“I… okay.” Scott eased Stiles’ arm off his shoulders, letting Derek take his place. “Can you get him out of here?”

“I can try. Time for Plan B?”

“No, this is a stupid plan,” Stiles announced, leaning into Derek’s side. The werewolves were fucking warm and he was freezing. “We’re gonna get caught and murdered and they’re going to kill you and Plan B is a terrible plan.”

Scott pressed his hand against Stiles’ shoulder. “Hey, trust me, okay? Plan B was my idea.”

“Which is why it’s a terrible plan,” Stiles muttered. “Your plans are only slightly better thought out than most of Derek’s plans. I’m the mastermind here.”

“Hey,” Derek said mildly.

Stiles turned to frown at him. “Well, come on. Half your plans either involve murder or biting people. You make very bad decisions because you panic and don’t think things through.”

When he turned to chew out Scott again, he cursed at the empty air. “I hate werewolves. You all cheat.”

The werewolf holding him up snorted. “Mountain ash. You need a minute before we get moving.”

There was no point in answering. Derek was already pushing him back against a tree. Gently, though, and maybe he’d admit to partially falling against it. He was scared to look at his leg right now, scared of what he’d see.

“So what happened?” Derek asked. “Where are you hurt?”

Stiles exhaled. “If I tell you, you have to promise not to run off and get yourself killed.”

After a second, Derek took a step closer. “Stiles, just tell me.”

He exhaled and lifted his shirt, showing the bite above his hip. “I went to your place looking for you. Peter hit me over the head with something. When I woke up, we were here. Well, about a hundred yards that way. Then he bit me. Said it wouldn’t take, wouldn’t turn me this time because he wasn’t an Alpha anymore, but the blood would attract them.”

Derek cursed. “Okay. We need to move. You gonna be okay?”

Stiles gave a tight smile. “Werewolves can hear lies. You don’t want me to answer that.”

It was slow going, with Stiles leaning on Derek far more than he supported himself. They’d barely made it thirty feet before he had to stop, gasping for air and black spots dancing in front of his eyes. This was worse than lacrosse, worse than holding a two-hundred pound werewolf in a pool for two hours, worse than being beaten by Gerard Argent.

“Stiles? Stiles, come on, answer me.” Derek shook him. “You can’t walk like this. Take a breath and I’m gonna pick you up.”

How many times had Derek said his name?

“Wait, wait.” He stumbled around to face Derek, still leaning on his shoulders to stay upright. “Just… don’t hit me because I’ve probably already got a concussion, okay?”

He took Derek’s advice and drew a breath, but for courage, then swayed forward and kissed him.

It was softer than he’d expected, despite the scrape of stubble against his chin. Derek’s mouth, Stiles was shocked to discover, was soft when he wasn’t scowling or frowning or pressing his lips into that flat line of disappointment.

Gentle fingers nudged him back. “Stiles…”

His eyes were closed, Stiles realized. When had that happened?

“I just…” He swallowed. “You told me I had a pretty mouth that night in my room and I’ve kind of been wanting to do that since I met you and I’m probably going to die tonight so–”

Those soft lips covered his again, pressing back this time.

Which, of course, was when he finally passed out.

 

 

Warm. Warm was nice. Warm was awesome.

“Waaaarm,” Stiles groaned, flailing one arm in the direction of the warmth. It worked reasonably well with the covers in the morning. He either grabbed them or he fell off the bed, but falling off only happened maybe once a month.

“Ow!” the warmth complained. “And this, this is why I started sleeping on the floor around you.”

Stiles cracked one eye. “Oh. Scott. Hi.”

“Hey,” Scott said, rubbing his ribs. “How are you feeling?”

He closed that eye for a second, then opened both, wincing at the light. “Like I got hit by a truck. For the record, ouch. What’s the official story?”

“Fooling around in the woods. A wild animal attacked you. You didn’t see what it was.”

“Right.” Stiles scrubbed his hands over his face, already irritated at the IV. “Is my dad okay?”

“Yeah, he’s fine. Dealing with all the police crap, but he said to call when you woke up.”

He nodded, some of the ache in his chest loosening. His father hated hospitals as much as he did. At least there was something keeping him busy instead of them being guilty and sad at each other. “Right. Okay. Tell me two things and then you can. What happened after I passed out and why are you in my bed?”

“Ah.” It was kind of cute how Scott’s ears turned red like that, Stiles noted absently. “You have to promise not to freak out.”

“Oh, God, what happened?”

Scott inhaled, glancing at him. “Just don’t freak because if your heart monitor starts going crazy, my mom’s gonna kill me.”

With a quick glance at the door, Scott let his eyes bleed –

Red?

Stiles sucked in a surprised breath. Okay. That was new. “Who?”

“Peter.”

But Peter wasn’t an alpha anymore. The power had gone to…

“Who did Peter kill? Scott!

“Heart monitor, Stiles, heart–”

“I don’t care!” He shoved himself up on one elbow, staring down at Scott. “Did he – is Derek okay?”

Scott caught his shoulder and shoved until he was lying down again. “He’s fine. He’s helping your dad right now, actually. Everybody is fine.”

After a moment, Stiles nodded and let himself relax again, taking slow breaths to calm his racing heart. And he was not going to examine the amount of panic that’d hit him when he thought Derek was dead. That was so much worse than the last time he’d thought the same thing.

“Okay,” he said. “Start from the beginning and tell me everything.”

“Well, you actually started it. I mean, Peter did when he attacked you. He used you to attract one of the alpha pack and then… well, you can figure that part out.” Scott leaned into Stiles a little, bumping their shoulders together. “Everybody was looking for you, by the way. I just got to you first.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Everyone was worried about you. Okay, so you know what happened next.”

“Yeah, bullets, me braining a hunter with a tree branch, us both bleeding, trekking through the woods, the grumpiest engine that could, more trekking, and then I passed out.”

Then there was the part where there’d been making out before the passing out, but Stiles wasn’t sure he wanted to mention that yet. Especially since that was dangerously close to swooning and that was just embarrassing.

“Right. Well, Derek told me the rest of his part so I’m not sure how right everything is, but apparently one of the alphas caught you two coming out of the woods.” Scott looked away for a moment, a muscle in his jaw working. “All he said was that the alpha was dead. I went by the area later and… the body was gone but there was blood… some of it was yours.”

Slowly, Stiles nodded. “Between the alphas who want us dead and the one who mostly makes bad decision and glares, I’m going to go with Derek probably making the right choice here.”

“Same. Honestly, I don’t care what he did. He got you to the hospital. That’s all I care about.” Scott cleared his throat. “So while that was happening, the other three alphas found me and the others. Isaac, Erica, Boyd, and Lydia.”

“Lydia?”

Scott grinned. “Wait for it. So we’re doing the usual face-off thing that never ends well when Lydia goes, ‘Oh, I am over this.’” Scott did a pretty decent Lydia impression. Stiles made a mental note to never, ever let Lydia know about said impression. “And she shot one of the alphas. With a dart, you know like a tranq dart?”

Yeah, Scott needed to never do his Lydia Martin impression around Lydia. Stiles didn’t particularly want his best friend to become her new rug.

“And the crazy thing is, he looks at it like it’s nothing – and then he stumbles.”

“Slower reflexes,” Stiles murmured.

“Then she shot him again… that time it wasn’t a dart. And he didn’t get back up.” Scott rubbed his shoulder against Stiles’. “That was when Derek and Peter showed up. And that was terrifying for a couple minutes where I wasn’t really sure what would happen. I mean, Peter was Derek’s uncle and technically his Alpha. And Peter was my Alpha, for a while there.”

For a second, Scott reached up and petted Stiles’ hair. He hadn’t reached to done that in years, not since Stiles had first gotten it buzzed and it’d just been neat, not since he’d done it to soothe Stiles’ tears after…

For a second, Stiles missed his mother more than he could stand.

“Yeah,” he said, his voice slightly choked. “I get that.”

Scott squeezed the back of Stiles’ neck. “But… Derek had blood all over him. A lot of it was yours. And I could – you remember how when Peter was feral and there was the connection? I could feel that with Derek… only I was feeling what he was feeling. And he was pissed.

“The alphas said that after taking out three of their own, they didn’t exactly want our territory anymore. One of them said if our humans could take out their leader, they’d never be safe here. Lydia waved her dart gun and they basically ran off with their tails between their legs.”

Stiles laughed. “That’s my amazing strawberry blond goddess. What happened after that?”

Scott gave the back of Stiles’ neck another gentle squeeze. “Derek told us what happened. What Peter did to you. He called him a risk to all of us, that he’d be drawing hunters down on all our heads. Peter laughed and said – well, he said Derek wouldn’t be so pissed if it wasn’t you.”

Stiles’ cheeks were not turning red. He was not blushing. He wasn’t.

Scott glanced at him. “How about we skip over the details of this part? ‘Cause you’re looking kind of tired. Peter’s dead. I did it. Now I’m an alpha. The end.”

He looked back at Scott, frowning a bit. “Okay. You’re also getting really close to bad-touching me. And that’s kind of freaking me out because of how weird making out with you was that one time we tried it.”

Scott laughed but pulled away slightly. “Sorry. Alpha thing, I think. You smell a lot like Derek right now but my brain keeps saying that you’re my pack, you’re supposed to be mine, yada yada.”

Stiles sighed and rubbed his hands across his face. “And how much do you want to bite me right now?”

“A little more than usual,” his friend admitted. “My instincts keep telling me that I should do it because you’re hurt and the bite would heal you. But you don’t want it, do you? And I wouldn’t do it if you didn’t want to. I’m not Peter.”

“Okay.” Stiles pulled at the covers, pushing back towards Scott. “You can stay in my bed, then, ’cause you’re warm and I’m tired now. ’Nything I need to know?”

“I’m supposed to get my mom if you wake up.”

Stiles yawned. “But sleeping…”

Scott sighed and leaned closer, doing something to the top of Stiles’ head that neither of them would admit to calling nuzzling later. “Okay, half an hour and then I go get my mom.”

“’Kay.” Stiles smiled, vaguely patting at Scott’s general warmness. “You’re awesome, man. Hey, are we still pack? Do I get two packs now? You gonna share custody of me?”

Scott shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t think I want one yet. Not… not really, you know?”

“Yeah, instincts and all that.” Stiles yawned. “Maybe you can co-alpha with Derek. Wolves… wolves don’t do this in the wild, you know. In captivity, it’s a lot like that, a pack made of wolves because they have to, but in the wild the alphas are usually parents and the betas are their kids. ’S’what the Hale pack was like. Scott?”

“Yeah?”

“Would… would you think… think it was weird if I liked Derek?”

Scott went quiet. Stiles tried to stay awake for his answer – it was an important question – but sleep snuck over him before Scott answered.

 

 

The Sheriff set a coffee mug in front of Derek and sat down at the other side of the table. Derek took a moment to appreciate that, this time, he wasn’t being charged with anything.

It was nice not being a fugitive, he thought, and took a drink of his coffee.

“Does it do anything for you?” the Sheriff asked.

Derek shrugged. “Not really. Maybe for a minute or two before it metabolizes. Mostly I just like it.”

The Sheriff frowned at him and Derek barely kept himself from shifting uncomfortably in his seat. The last time he’d been on the wrong side of that kind of frown, the Sheriff had been asking about Laura’s body. “How tired are you, kid?”

“I – we can heal a lot of the physical side effects. We can run without a lot of sleep without feeling–”

“Derek, I asked how tired you were, not if you could heal it.”

He pressed the palms of his hands to the warm sides of the mug. “Exhausted. I don’t… I don’t always sleep well and someone’s always got some problem. Kanimas or alphas or immunity or hunters or… there’s just always something.”

The Sheriff gave him another of those long looks. “And it’s always your responsibility, is it?”

Derek shrugged. “None of them would be involved if it wasn’t for me.”

“But you didn’t bite Scott.”

He stared at his hands. “I… Peter – he bit Scott because the fire burned away his sanity.”

“So exactly what did Kate Argent do to you to convince you the fire was your fault?”

His head jerked up as his stomach sunk. “I – what?”

The Sheriff leaned back in his chair, sipping at his coffee. “She was a werewolf hunter. You’re a werewolf. And you were born one, weren’t you?”

Derek nodded.

“I can connect the dots, Derek,” Sheriff Stilinski said gently. “You don’t have to tell me, but maybe you should tell someone.”

Derek closed his eyes for a moment. “I – she told me she loved me. She was older and beautiful and I thought – well, I was wrong. She was using me.” He felt his mouth twist in a sick smirk. “And you know the rest.”

He opened his eyes, but kept them on the coffee mug in his hands.

The hand on his shoulder almost made him jolt. He thought, for a second, about shaking off the touch. It was what he did, after all, shoving people away when they touched him. Except Stiles, but Stiles stopped touching when he glared. He didn’t push when Derek didn’t want to be pushed. Not about this.

The Sheriff pulled away before he could do anything. “Kate Argent was bat-shit insane and a predator. She could have gotten to your family without involving you like that. And that is my personal and professional opinion.”

“I should have–”

“If it had been Scott or Stiles or one of yours that it had happened to, would you blame them?”

“Of course not. But–”

“But nothing. Now, I think you should get some sleep.” The Sheriff laughed. “I’m pretty sure Lydia Martin stole my bed, so I am claiming the pull-out couch in the living room, but there are a couple of camping mattresses in Stiles’ room with the rest of your group. How about I grab you a pair of sweats and you can get some sleep.”

It wasn’t really a question. In fact, Derek knew very well that it was an order.

Ten minutes later, he found himself wearing a pair of the sheriff’s sweats and an old T-shirt after having been talked into taking a shower and being given a toothbrush. He counted the brushes on the counter absently, fairly certain he knew which was whose. Red for Erica, blue for Boyd, purple for Lydia, and a… was that a dinosaur toothbrush? That was Isaac’s. Scott seemed to already have a toothbrush in the holder.

He frowned for a moment when he was done, then set his next to the dinosaur toothbrush. It could stay there, for the night at least.

And, he thought, opening Stiles’ bedroom door, apparently so could he.

The night-light in the corner was the only light in the room, but he could see fine. For a moment, he wondered if it was left over from when Stiles was a kid or if he just needed it to keep from tripping over all the crap on his floor at night.

Derek checked on Boyd and Erica first, wrapped up in each other and a pile of blankets on a mattress next to the bed. They were quieter lately than they’d been before they’d left, but safe and home again. For now, that was enough.

When he looked at the bed, he couldn’t help but snort in amusement. Three people were not meant to sleep in a double bed.

Stiles was on one side of the bed, with Scott on the other and Isaac… well, Derek didn’t want to examine how exactly Isaac was bent to be curled at the end of the bed, head on Scott’s stomach.

They were just like cubs sometimes, honestly.

He smiled, a little, at the sight of Stiles’ hand buried in Isaac’s curls.

“Heeey there, dire wolf.”

Shaking his head, Derek stepped around the mattress to the bed. “Hey. They let you out early.”

“Hospital anxiety. Doctor agreed I’d be better recovering at home once I got to the resting part.” Stiles grinned. “You gonna stand there and loom all night? I know there isn’t a treeline like you’re used to, but you could use my closet if you really wanted.”

He gave a soft snort. “No, your dad is making me crash here. He’s very persuasive.”

“I know, right? It’s kind of scary, really.” Stiles yawned. “’M on the good drugs, by the way so don’t get me rambling. Do you wanna crawl in to this whole puppy pile thing, too?”

“Uh… you realize all of you are underage and your father has already arrested me before, right?”

Stiles laughed softly. “He’s not gonna arrest you now. Tell him it’s a wolf thing if he doesn’t get it at first. Do you wanna or not?”

“There is so not room in that bed.”

A warm hand reached out and caught his wrist. “Sure there is. Isaac’s already half on top of Scott and I’m pretty sure my feet are between his thighs. You people are very warm, by the way.”

“Will it shut you up?”

“Possibly. Good drugs, though, man.”

He rolled his eyes, but after a moment sighed. “Alright, sure. But just as a warning, I’m shoving Scott out long before I fall.”

“As it should be.”

It took a couple minutes of shoving and wiggling. Stiles nearly pushed Scott off the bed – completely shamelessly, Derek thought – and he really didn’t want to examine exactly what part of Isaac his feet were resting against, but in the end, most of him was on the bed. Who needed right elbow support anyway?

He was pressed way too close to the sheriff’s seventeen year old son. Way, way too close. But then Stiles let out a long exhale, tension leaking out of his muscles.

“Wow, you are warm,” he whispered. “Like a heat pack. That’s nice.”

Derek swallowed. “You hurting?”

“Eh. Not really. Just my shoulder a bit. And, you know, the general achiness that comes from having somebody bite the crap out of you in the not-fun way.” Stiles reached over and patted Derek’s arm. “Hey, I’m sorry about Peter, by the way.”

Derek started to shrug, then stopped himself to keep from jarring Stiles. “He was insane and homicidal.”

“He was also your uncle. Maybe not at the end, but before. Still sorry.” Stiles made a noise. “Dude, you’re gonna fall off with your arm like that. Look, Scott woke up chewing on my shirt once when we were eight. You don’t need to – Just… here.”

He caught Derek’s wrist again and pulled it over until his arm was around Stiles’ stomach.

“Okay,” Derek whispered, letting himself press his nose against the short, soft hair at the back of Stiles’ head. “Now shut up and go to sleep.”

“Sweet talk me, baby,” Stiles mumbled, amusement clear in his soft voice.

“Shh,” Derek soothed, surprising himself with the softness. He stroked Stiles’ stomach, the worn T-shirt soft under his palm. The bite on Stiles’ hip was only a few inches below the place where Derek’s arm rested, held, was held in place by Stiles’ own hand still wrapped around his wrist.

When did the kid start trusting him?

Stiles squeezed his wrist. “Told you, you could stay. Stop over-thinking and go to sleep.”

Derek inhaled, smelling and hearing pack all around. He could hear the heartbeats of Lydia and the Sheriff not far away, both asleep, hear Erica and Boyd sleeping safe and nearby for the first time in months. He could hear Isaac not being afraid for once, could reach out and touch both him and Scott if he wanted to.

And, soft and warm against him in sleep, heart tripping steadily along and smelling sweet under the vague smell of hospital and pack, was Stiles. Stiles who risked his life doing stupid, amazing things to protect the people he cared about, Stiles who was human and breakable and didn’t seem to get that, Stiles who he was beginning to realize he…

Derek touched his mouth softly to the back of Stiles’ neck and closed his eyes to sleep.

 

 

“If you want pancakes so badly, go downstairs and help my dad out.” Stiles’ whisper drew Derek out of sleep, but he stayed still, listening for a moment. “Don’t wake Derek up. He never sleeps.”

“Derek’s already awake,” he said into the pillow that smelled like Stiles. “Scott, go help the Sheriff.”

“But–”

“I will throw you out the window.”

“Fine,” Scott muttered, and the mattress moved as he stood.

When his footsteps faded down the hall, Stiles let out a low groan. “Okay, Isaac, shove over a bit. You guys are making me sweaty. You’re like freaking furnaces.”

A sudden burst of anxiety from Isaac had Derek pushing up on one elbow as Isaac sat up and Stiles wiggled into the empty space left by Scott.

“I think–” Isaac swallowed. “I should go home or… something.”

Derek reached out when he was halfway off the bed, then caught himself. “Isaac, stop.”

Only when the boy froze did Derek reach out and rest a hand against his shoulder. A firm touch, but not hard. Not cruel. Just firm enough to say he wasn’t going anywhere.

“You don’t have to leave,” Derek said, carefully squeezing the shoulder under his hand. “You really don’t.”

Stiles bumped Isaac with his knee. “Dude. I’m pretty sure I got to like second base with you last night with my feet. You should at the very least allow me to provide you with breakfast after that.” He bumped Isaac’s thigh a second time. “My dad likes you, you know. And you’re safe here. Go get some pancakes, dude.”

“Yeah, okay.” Isaac nodded. “Okay.”

Derek rolled over onto his back, glancing at the floor. “Take Erica with you.”

“And make sure my dad doesn’t eat more than three pieces of bacon,” Stiles added.

When Isaac and Erica left, Derek looked down at the mattress on the floor again. He was almost certain there were several more blankets on it than there’d been when he fell asleep last night and all of them were wrapped around Boyd.

He reached out with one foot and nudged Boyd in the… something. Ribs maybe? Or leg?

“No,” the lump on the mattress said, muffled. “It is Saturday. Saturday is for sleeping in.”

“Then go sleep on the couch. I can shove you out the window, too.”

Muttering things that Derek pretended to not hear, the lump that he really hoped was Boyd stumbled to his feet and across the room, still wrapped in blankets. He bumped the doorframe on the way out and Stiles winced.

“Do not fall down the stairs!” he called. “My dad does not need to be scrubbing your blood out of our carpet.”

The lump slammed the door behind him, the unspoken “fuck off” very clear.

Stiles looked over at Derek. “Hey. Thanks.”

Derek stretched. “For what?”

“Kicking everybody out before I had to move much. I’m on to you, Hale.” Stiles carefully moved his injured leg, letting out a surprised exhale. “Yeah, that’s not so fun. Okay, can you grab the bottle of water and the little wooden basket off the shelf of my headboard?”

“Sure.”

He reached up for them as Stiles eased himself into a sitting position, wincing most of the way. “Do you want help?”

“Nah.” The kid flashed a quick grin at him and leaned back against the headboard. “I’m mostly just stiff.”

Derek looked down at the basket and frowned. “What is all this?”

Stiles took it from him, pulling out a couple bottles and setting them on the mattress between them. “Painkiller. Antibiotic. Advil, Tylenol. Painkillers make me a bit weird sometimes. Ah… you know I have ADHD, right? Do you know what that is?”

“I’m not stupid, Stiles.”

The kid shrugged. “Hey, a ton of humans don’t even know what it is, not really. Harris just thinks I’m stupid.”

He understood how the internet work, despite how often Stiles accused him of actually living in a cave. “You have trouble focusing and a hard time sitting still sometimes. You take Adderall to help with it.”

“Pretty much. There’s an impulse control side of things… but anyway. I take an extended release form of Adderall in the mornings around eight. It usually lasts me through school, but if I get a little too easily distracted in the afternoons, I’ll have a can of coke or something and the caffeine gets me through the rest of the day.” Stiles set an orange bottle down next in the line on the bed. “That’s this one.”

Derek watched long fingers take another pharmacy bottle out of the basket and thanked God Stiles couldn’t smell him right now.

“Immediate release Adderall. It’s a smaller dose, kind of like a topper-upper thing. I don’t always take this one everyday. It just depends on how much homework I have and how hard it is to focus. I usually take it around six. After dinner or it wears off at like ten and I realize I’m starving because I haven’t eaten since lunch and drink half a gallon of milk.”

Derek nodded. “That’s why you smell like it at night sometimes. I couldn’t figure out why it hadn’t worn off.”

Stiles smiled. “You know, I like that you notice things like that. Anyways, if I take it too late, I have problems sleeping. Too early and I forget to eat or suddenly it’s 4am and I’m reading about German stamps on Wikipedia. Sometimes on the weekend, I’ll just take one of these in the morning and skip the other. Helps keep me from developing a tolerance.”

Stiles set the bottle next to the other and picked up another. When he hesitated, Derek looked at him.

“You don’t have to tell me, you know,” he said. “I was curious, but–”

“No, I know.” Stiles cleared his throat and put another orange bottle down. “Sleeping pills. I don’t take them that often – Dad worries – and I don’t even get that many in a script. But sometimes I get stressed and I can’t sleep and then I stress about that, so…”

“I haven’t gotten more than four hours of sleep at a time in almost a year. Unless I’m sleeping in your bed.” Derek dropped his gaze. “I get it.”

“Yeah.” Stiles let out a long exhale. “Okay, less depressing stuff now. Vitamins because my dad is a hypocrite, allergy meds for summer and fall because I’m crazy allergic to ragweed and Tums because peppers give me heartburn. Usually this stuff is on our fridge, but Dad brought it up last night so I could take something before I had to use the stairs.”

“What do you want to take?”

“Some Advil for now, I think.”

Derek picked the bottle up, reading the back of the bottle to check the dosing. Then he handed over a couple pills. “What else?”

“Antibiotic and vitamin. No Adderall today, I’m not going to school. And then we should talk.”

He watched Stiles swallow four pills at once, and looked away to clean up the medicines on the bed. It was so, so not a good idea to stare at the mouth of the sheriff’s underage son in his house with the sheriff downstairs.

“Okay.” Stiles set the basket and water bottle down on a lower shelf of his bed. “So. Granted I was bleeding pretty heavily, but I’m pretty sure there was a part before I passed out where we were sort of kissing. If you’re not actually into guys and you were just doing it because I was bleeding–”

“I  wasn’t. I wouldn’t.” Derek ran his fingers through his hair. “Don’t – just don’t think that. I wouldn’t have kissed you if I didn’t want to.”

Stiles smiled, just a little, and he blushed, right above his jaw, in a way that Derek didn’t think was sort of adorable. “That’s pretty much what I’ve been hoping for since you told me I had a pretty mouth and beautiful eyes.”

He groaned, covering his eyes with his hands. “I thought that was a dream. Stiles, you are seventeen. And your father has already arrested me. More than once.”

“Yeah, when he thought you were murdering people. I’m not looking to get you arrested, Derek. I’m seventeen. I’m not going to jump into bed with someone I’ve kissed twice.”

“No. You don’t get it – you can’t.” Derek dropped his hands. “I don’t – I won’t be good for you. I don’t know how to be good for you. I will fuck you up and I – I’ll ruin you, okay?”

Stiles tilted his head, honey brown eyes softening. “One day, you should really tell me who did that to you so I can make their life miserable with unwanted deliveries and parking tickets.”

Derek rolled his eyes, but the corner of his mouth tilted up despite himself. “I won’t be good for you, Stiles.”

The kid shrugged. “You’re overly grouchy sometimes, you make really bad decisions, you don’t get half my references, and you have a boat load of issues.”

Yeah. That about said it all.

Stiles turned, carefully, to sit facing Derek. Then he reached out and slid his hand across the back of Derek’s neck, lightly tugging until Derek huffed out a breath and leaned closer.

“But when you laugh I can’t breathe right,” Stiles said, his thumb rubbing against the joint of Derek’s jaw. “You keep trying to do the right thing for everybody, you like my references even if you don’t get them, and I think I’d like to stick around while you work on your issues.”

Derek couldn’t help himself from leaning forward and brushing his lips across a cupid’s bow mouth, across a lower lip he couldn’t get out of his head. This would go away all too soon and he wouldn’t be allowed to anymore. He wanted these memories, selfish as they may be.

“Why?” he asked. “You could find someone who’d be so much better for you.”

Stiles frowned. “So could you.”

Derek pulled away. “Sure. Good face, good body, right? Great for one-night-stands with strangers. If I want to go home with someone whose last name I can’t remember half the time. Pretty girls, pretty boys, and maybe coffee in the morning if they wouldn’t rather I left in the middle of the night.”

“Derek…”

“Do you think I have some huge experience on you in the relationship thing or something?”

“Well…” Stiles flicked his eyes down. “Kind of, I did. Not so much anymore.”

There was the girl who made him fall in love with her to burn his family to death, people he’d fucked when he got so lonely he couldn’t stand it, and a blowjob in a bathroom once for fifty bucks when he and Laura ran out of cash right when hunters caught up to them and they desperately needed money for a bus ticket.

He shook his head. “I don’t know how to do relationships.”

Stiles reached over and pressed his palm against Derek’s thigh. “Neither do I.”

“What do you want, Stiles?”

“Doesn’t matter. Well, no, it does, but it’s also about what you want. So what I’m putting on the table is… we’re friends, right? And I like that. So whatever happens with us, or doesn’t happen, that doesn’t change. You get that?”

Unable to speak, Derek nodded.

“Yeah. Okay. So. Friends.” Stiles ran his free hand over his hair. “But I’d also like to be the person you open up to when you need to. I’d like it if you let me need you sometimes. And I’d like to kiss you a lot more if that’s okay. And maybe we could spend some more time in bed together like this, talking, because this is nice, and you could do that thing where you touch me and you think I don’t notice. That’s what I’m offering. So. What do you want, Derek?”

What did he want? He wanted… he wanted Stiles. He wanted Stiles underneath him, wanted to take him apart, to make that pretty pink mouth red and slick. He wanted to pin Stiles down, wanted to roll over for him. He wanted to wake up like this every morning, wrapped around Stiles, surrounded by his skin and his scent.

He wanted a home that didn’t smell like ash and rot and stagnant water. He wanted a safe place to sleep at night, somewhere that he could take Stiles that wouldn’t make him sad or actually bodily injure him, somewhere Isaac could sleep and feel safe. He wanted Isaac’s nightmares to leave him be more than they didn’t. He wanted his own nightmares to do the same, wanted to sleep like he had last night, deeply and peacefully.

He wanted to watch Stiles do homework, for Christ’s sake. He wanted to watch Stiles’ brain work, wanted to see him apply to colleges even though it would take him away from Derek. He wanted to watch this stubborn, amazing boy become a stubborn, amazing man. He wanted to hope that Stiles would come back to him after college.

He wanted lazy mornings filled with soft skin and soft voices, wanted meals filled with laughter, too many people and too much talking, wanted dinners with Stiles and his father.

Derek surged forward and pressed his face into the curve of Stiles’ neck. “I don’t – everything. As long as it’s with you, I want everything.”

Stiles nudged him back, just far enough to kiss. This time, his mouth wasn’t so hesitant, was firm and confident as it moved against Derek’s, taking what he wanted like this wasn’t new between them. Like this was something he planned on doing forever.

Derek moaned into Stiles’ mouth, wrapping his hands around the back of Stiles’ neck. The kid laughed against his lips and pulled back.

Gently, Stiles pressed his mouth to Derek’s forehead, the bridge of his nose. Fluttered a kiss over the soft skin under one eye, then the other, before pressing a soft kiss to his mouth.

“Yeah,” Stiles whispered. “Yeah, you can have that. You can – you can have that.”

For a moment, Derek couldn’t breathe.

The kid grinned suddenly, wide and true and kind of amazing. “Well, today has been pretty awesome so far. Want to go see how much bacon we can steal while the others kill each other over it?”

“Yeah,” Derek said and smiled. “Okay.”