Stiles hears Derek fall before he sees him, writhing on the ground as the Faeries spin closer. It’s just the two of them, caught unawares on a recon mission to find out about the stone circles suddenly appearing on the Hale property.
The Faeries are more terrifying than he’d thought they would be. When you look at them straight on, they’re beautiful. Tall, lithe men and women with flowing white-blond hair and eyes in shades of emerald and topaz and sapphire. But from the corner of the his eye, they become too long, mouths smiling too wide with too many teeth. Their eyes flash with fire and death, and Stiles does his best to keep them in his direct line of sight and not scream.
Now, the group of five are in a circle around them, Stiles crouched over Derek’s still-writhing form. The woman in the group, wearing a circlet of holly and apple blossoms, steps forward, then leans down to trace a delicate finger down the line of Stiles’ cheek. She smiles softly, letting her hand linger on his racing pulse.
“You care so much for your little wolf, Twyllwr. You are nothing to us, yet you stand and fight.”
She presses her finger against his jugular, her sharp fingernail digging in and drawing blood. She pulls her hand back, a red drop perched on the delicate curve of her nail. She brings it up to her too-pale lips and blows. The drop vibrates, then turns into a mist that sprays over Stiles and Derek, tiny flecks of red that disappear on contact.
“Perhaps he’ll know what he means to you, now.” she murmurs, pressing the finger to her mouth. She stands, and the rest of the group falls in behind her.
“We will leave your land now. Our presence is no longer needed here.” She sketches a short bow, then turns. In seconds, they’re gone.
The woods are silent and dark, and Stiles is panting and terrified, Derek still groaning on the ground.
“What the fuck was that.”
He looks around, desperately searching for any signs of where the Fae have gone. When all he’s greeted with are the quiet sounds of the forest, he spins around, grabbing Derek.
“Are you alright? Where’d they hit you?” He fumbles over unbroken skin, looking for an injury. Derek groans and pushes at Stiles’ hands.
“I’m fine, I’m fine. Just... Stop, Stiles.”
Stiles stills, his hand pressed to Derek’s arm, as Derek rolls onto his side and starts to rise. He brushes Stiles’ hand off his arm, and then he’s falling to the ground again, screaming.
“Jesus!” Stiles fumbles, tries to catch him, and as soon as his hands are on Derek again, the screaming stops. Derek’s eyes are wide, and he’s panting on the ground.
“Stiles. Stop touching me.”
“Fine. Whatever. Just trying to help.” He pulls away, and Derek doubles over, groaning.
“Come back, come back.” Derek moans, reaching towards Stiles. As soon as their skin touches, Derek relaxes, falling back onto the forest floor.
“What’s going on?” Stiles asks, his hand slipping in the sweat that coats Derek’s skin. Derek twists his arm and grabs Stiles’ wrist.
“If I stop touching you, it feels like... It hurts, like wolfsbane.” He sits up. It twists Stiles’ arm into an awkward position, and Derek lets his grip loosen just enough for Stiles’ arm to slide against his fingers.
“You can’t let go.” Stiles says, wrapping his free hand around Derek’s arm.
“I can’t let go.”
They get back to Derek’s house, Stiles stumbling a few times as he trails after Derek, wrist still clutched tight in his hand. Derek grabs a couple changes of clothes because, as Stiles keeps insisting the whole walk to the house and to the Jeep, there’s no way he can disappear for a few days without his dad freaking out over it. Thankfully, school’s out on spring break, so Stiles won’t have to fake sick or drag Derek around from class to class for however long it takes to fix this.
They run into their first uncomfortable moment when Derek grumbles about having to use the bathroom. Stiles stares at where he’s holding Derek’s wrist, then looks up at Derek like a deer caught in headlights.
“Just don’t look,” Derek mutters, then walks into the bathroom, Stiles dragged behind him.
Stiles places a hand on Derek’s shoulder, his fingers brushing against the skin peeking out from his collar, then lets go of his wrist, turning around awkwardly. Stiles stares at the blue shower curtain, making a careful note that he needs to clean the tub and doing his best to not think about Derek pissing behind him.
It’s just like using the urinal next to a guy. No biggie. You’re just touching him. That’s not weird. Just resting a hand on a guy’s shoulder while he pees. Totally normal behavior for a seventeen-year-old on a Friday night.
He feels the panic creeping at the edges of his mind, but then Derek’s zipping up, and it passes. Stiles keeps his hand on Derek’s shoulder as Derek washes his hands. Derek turns, frowns, and then grabs Stiles’ hand, pulling it from his shoulder.
“We need to see how long I can go before it starts to hurt,” Derek says, pulling Stiles out of the bathroom and towards Stiles’ bedroom.
“You’re going to let me go, and keep count until I tell you to stop. Got it?”
Stiles nods, then waits for Derek to let go of his arm. There’s a long pause, then Derek takes a deep breath and lets go.
There’s a moment, just a heartbeat, before Derek is hunched over and groaning. It only gets worse the longer they’re apart. Stiles steps forward, hand raised and heading for Derek’s shoulder, but Derek steps back, shaking his head.
“No, just wait.”
Stiles gulps and stops, hand still raised.
Derek gets worse. He starts shifting, and Stiles can see where his claws are tearing into his jeans and thighs. Blood is starting to stain the fabric before Derek gasps out Stiles’ name.
Stiles grabs him with both hands, getting as much skin-to-skin contact as he can. Derek sobs out a sigh of relief, then sinks to the ground next to Stiles’ bed, leaning against it weakly.
“That was about fifteen seconds,” Stiles says, mouth dry.
Derek nods, face white.
“We need to find Deaton.”
“Did she get any of your blood?” Deaton asks, checking both Stiles and Derek over while they hold hands awkwardly.
“Yeah, some of mine, Stiles says, tilting his head up to show the healing cut on his neck. “She scratched me.”
Deaton nods, then sighs and steps away.
“Well, she’s placed a pretty powerful spell on you two, and it’s linked to Stiles. She must have seen something in you that made her act. It’s never a good idea to mess with the Fae, but obviously, that’s knowledge you should have had before rather than after. In the meantime, you’re going to need a couple of things,” he turns away and rummages through a filing cabinet.
He hands Stiles a stake and sets a burlap bag on the exam table.
“This is mountain ash,” he says, pointing to the bag. “And this is a stake made of oak, ash, and thorn. They’re powerful trees by themselves, but when they’re woven together like this, they’re especially so. You’ll also need to draw her out if you want to break the spell.”
Stiles nods, feeling the heft of the stake in his hand. It’s heavier than it looks, and he swears it’s vibrating in his hand. He stuffs it into the front pocket of his hoodie.
“How are we supposed to draw her out?” Stiles asks. “She said they were leaving, and we don’t know why they were even here in the first place.”
“She gave you a gift, Stiles. The Fae don’t do that lightly. If you reject it, she’ll come back to find out why.”
Deaton frowns and meets Stiles’ eyes. He’s staring at him intently, and Stiles is starting to feel uncomfortable when Deaton starts talking again.
“You need to be careful. The Fae are well known for trying to make deals, and she may try to trick you or force you into making one. If she offers you anything, you need to turn it down.”
Stiles feels Derek stiffen next to him, can feel the tension in the way Derek’s hand grips his tighter. Stiles nods, then grabs the bag of mountain ash.
“Just tell me what we need to do to fix this.”
Deaton nods, then starts explaining. The best time for it is three days from now, at the height of the spring equinox. Stiles makes mental notes and hopes he remembers everything, and then he and Derek leave, the stake a heavy weight against his stomach and Derek’s hand cold and clammy in his.
Getting undressed for bed is like a ridiculous game of Twister, only minus the floor mat and with the added difficulty of unwanted and constant touch. Stiles juggles Derek’s arm and hand as they move in and out of his henley, and Derek just presses a hand to Stiles’ back while he gets his shirt off. Pants are significantly easier to remove but also more difficult for Stiles to process. Stiles has seen Derek shirtless before, but never without jeans or sweats or basketball shorts. Now, with both of them just wearing boxers, Stiles feels uncomfortably warm and embarrassed at his reaction.
Definitely not the time, he thinks.
Stiles climbs into bed first, then turns on his side, back to the wall, Derek’s arm stretched out over the bed from where it’s grasped in Stiles’ hand.
“C’mon, you’ll be little spoon, and we’ll be fine. Just wiggle in here, get comfy, and I’ll try to keep the touching to a minimum.”
Derek scowls and mutters something Stiles can’t hear, then climbs carefully into bed. They lose contact for a second, and Derek gasps in pain, then curls his back into Stiles’ front, desperately pressing as much skin together as he can.
“Sorry,” Stiles apologizes, then tries to frantically ignore the heat seeping into his body from where Derek’s skin rests against his.
Finstock in a thong. Harris naked. With Finstock. While my grandma and dad watch.
Stiles breathes a quiet sigh of relief as his dick stays soft, the mental image enough to counteract the amazing feeling of Derek pressed against him. The guilt also doesn’t hurt.
It takes Stiles a long time to fall asleep, arm draped carefully over Derek’s waist. He can tell when Derek falls asleep, his breath coming slow and even. For a second, Stiles almost lets himself believe that this is like his fantasies where Derek wants him back and they’re more than just cautious friends.
Then he remembers the sight of Derek thrashing in pain, of the terrifying grin of the Faeries, of the uncertainty and unwillingness in Derek’s eyes as he reached for Stiles’ hand.
When he finally drifts off to sleep, it’s to nightmares of Derek, unreachable and dying, of too-wide mouths and rotten smiles, of longing and loss.
The next couple of days are torture for Stiles. He’s constantly touching Derek. Their hands are entwined almost constantly, with the exception of when they’re using the bathroom or showering. Then, Stiles keeps his hand pressed to Derek’s shoulder. The feel of his wet skin beneath Stiles’ palm forces him to think about Scott stripping in order to get his body to stop reacting, and he feels shame, hot and insistent, steal over him when he realizes Derek can probably smell the arousal on him.
Avoiding his dad is the hardest part. He claims illness, coughing and hacking, and places himself on quarantine. His dad leaves him soup and cough medicine on a tray outside his door, and sounds puzzled when he checks on Stiles. Derek is quiet, unnaturally so, when he eats his share of the soup, not even slurping a little bit. They sneak out of his room through his window to get something real to eat, and Derek loses his grip on Stiles’ arm, falling to the roof and sliding off, groaning and twisting through the pain. Stiles jumps down after him, heedless of his own safety and, surprisingly doesn’t break anything. He calms Derek through the aftershocks, running his own shaking hands over Derek’s hair and neck, until Derek’s able to stand.
Stiles pays for lunch.
The night of the vernal equinox is cloudless and bright, the moon a perfect half-circle above the trees. Stiles follows Derek to the center of the Hale property, then starts pouring out a thick line of mountain ash in a careful circle around Derek. With his grip on Derek’s arm, and the way Derek rotates around as Stiles moves, it’s like a compass in geometry class. Stiles leaves a tiny break in the line, then meets Derek’s eyes.
“I don’t know if I can keep touching you and close the circle and have it work.”
“Close it, and I’ll test the edge.”
Stiles closes the last of the gap, Derek’s hand still clenched in his, and Derek steps over the line like there’s nothing there.
Their eyes meet, and Derek steps back into the circle, then slides his hand from Stiles’ now loose grip.
He’s bent double almost immediately, and Stiles has to dig his fingers into his palm to stop himself from reaching out. He feels blood well beneath his nails, and then the Fae is standing in the trees, skin and hair glittering white gold in the moonlight.
“Hello, little one,” she says, her voice like chimes on the wind. “Do you not like your gift?”
She flows towards them, footsteps silent on the ground. Plants burst to life beneath her feet, then curl into blackened stems when she moves on. Stiles feels helpless rage bubbling in his chest, and he steps between her and Derek.
“Take it back,” he says. “I don’t want this gift.”
She frowns, looks down at Derek, then reaches out to spin Stiles around so they’re both facing Derek. He’s curled into himself, arms wrapped tight around his body as he fights through the pain.
“But he’s such a pretty thing, isn’t he?” she asks, her breath rancid where it flows against his cheek.
“He’s yours to touch now,” she whispers, her hand like claws on Stiles’ shoulder. “He wants your touch, craves it. Seeks it out, asks for your hands on his skin. Isn’t that what you wanted, Little One?”
Stiles is shaking, staring at Derek where he’s hunched inside the ring of mountain ash. His shirt is stuck to his skin with sweat and blood from where his claws have dug into his skin. The ground is a churned up mess, mud and blood mixing with dead leaves. Derek keeps transforming, but it’s wrong, just pieces - eyes, then hands, then teeth, back and forth and broken - shifting from human to wolf. His body contorts into spine-breaking shapes, carefully hemmed in by the circle of mountain ash that surrounds him. Derek is growling, eyes flashing up to look at Stiles and the Fae between the waves of pain.
“No,” Stiles says, throat tight. “Not like this.”
“Take what is given, Twyllwr,” she commands, fingers biting deep into his skin. Stiles falls to his knees, gasping from the pain. She leans forward, over his shoulder, edging closer to Derek. From the corner of Stiles’ eye, her hair is falling in clumps, her mouth split in a grin filled with rotten and broken teeth. Her eyes are sunken and dark and hungry.
“Would you rather he love you?” she asks, and Stiles starts to shake. “I can make him love you, little one. I can make him desire more than your touch. Would you like that? Would you like him to love you back?”
Derek starts screaming. He’s tearing at his hair. It comes out in clumps in his hands, then slowly grows back in. Stiles thinks he can see pieces of Derek’s scalp coming away with the dark curls and fights against the urge to vomit.
“No,” he whispers to the Fae. “Not like this.”
Stiles eyes the ring of mountain ash, all that keeps Derek safe. All that keeps him from Stiles’ touch. All that keeps him from the Fae.
If I reach in he thinks, I can make it stop. I can take away the pain.
Instead, he lets his hand drift past the hem of his jeans, grabs onto the stake, and then he’s stabbing it into the Fae’s chest with all of his strength. Her flesh gives way like rotten fruit, and the stake and his arm are buried in her chest (oh god, is that a rib, oh fuck) as her skin starts to bubble and smoke. He pulls back, his arm coated in gore, as she bursts into flames, screaming. Her eyes are locked on his as she’s consumed by the fire, emerald green and beautiful in the bright light.
He crawls backwards, fumbling his way towards Derek. Leaves and mountain ash cling to the blood on his arm as he breaks through the circle, and then he’s reaching out to Derek, almost out of habit. Derek shrinks away, dodging Stiles’ touch.
“No, I’m fine. Just...” He staggers to his feet, exhausted and ungainly. Stiles, still crouched on the ground, looks up, feels something digging its way through his chest. He can’t breathe.
Their eyes meet for a long second, a heartbeat, fifteen seconds, and then Derek is stumbling off into the woods. Stiles is left in a broken circle of mountain ash and mud, the Faerie’s body smoking behind him, and Derek a dark blur in the distance.
It’s two weeks before Derek is in the same room as Stiles again. He’s pretty sure Derek’s been avoiding him, but it’s not like Stiles blames the guy. The whole thing was his fault to begin with, and Stiles feels the guilt weigh heavy on his shoulders the whole time Scott chats with Isaac and Boyd. Stiles does his best to avoid eye contact with Derek, to stay as far away from him as he can.
He breathes through the ache in his chest, waits until Scott is heading towards the front door before Stiles turns to Derek.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbles, awkward and uncertain. “I don’t know why she picked me, maybe my ‘spark’ or whatever, but I’m sorry you got dragged into it. It won’t happen again. I’m gonna... I’ll just let myself out.”
He turns and walks out the front door. Part of him hopes that Derek will burst out onto the porch, chasing after him, but Stiles starts the Jeep and backs away from the Hale house and onto the main road, and the door stays shut, the porch empty.
Stiles is lying in bed, eyes wide in the darkness, when he hears his window slide open. It’s suddenly difficult to breathe, and he feels every muscle in his body freeze. He slams his eyes shut, tries to pretend like he’s asleep, tries to ignore Derek’s heavy presence standing next to his bed.
“What did she offer you?” Derek asks, disembodied voice echoing through the room.
Stiles doesn’t answer, keeps his mouth shut for the first time in his life, and tries to keep up the illusion that he’s not awake, not hyper-aware of Derek.
“I can hear your heartbeat, Stiles. I know you’re awake. What did she offer you?”
Stiles opens his eyes, meets Derek’s where they’re glowing red in the darkness.
“Love,” Stiles says. “She offered me love.”
He closes his eyes again, unable to keep his gaze locked with Derek’s.
He feels the mattress shift as Derek sits down. The blankets pin Stiles’ arms to the bed, and he clenches his hands into fists beneath the sheets. He aches, desperate for Derek’s forgiveness or touch or anything besides this quiet nothing. Tears prick at the corner of his eyes, and he fights against the urge to sob.
The first brush against his short hair has Stiles’ shuddering. Derek’s hand is warm where it brushes against Stiles’ buzz cut, the touch gentle and tentative. It slides down to his check, Derek’s thumb brushing against the corner of Stiles’ eye. It drops further, until it’s cupping his neck, fingers resting against the still healing cut.
“That wasn’t hers to offer,” Derek murmurs, his thumb rubbing gentle circles into Stiles’ skin.
Stiles nods, breathes carefully in and out through his nose. Fire is racing from his pulse point where Derek’s fingers rest, flowing into the rest of his body. He skin feels too tight, the blankets a painful constriction. Still, he does nothing to free himself. It’s Derek’s right to touch Stiles now, to know that it is his choice and not necessity that compels him.
“Open your eyes, Stiles.” Derek says, hand stilling.
Stiles waits a long moment, then opens his eyes. Derek’s face is close to his, eyes lidded and crinkled at the corners with a small smile. He leans in, eyes still locked with Stiles, and presses a soft kiss to Stiles’ lips.
“It wasn’t hers to offer. But it is mine,” Derek whispers against Stiles’ lips, and Stiles gasps. Derek slips his tongue between Stiles’ lips, presses in close and warm. Breath stutters from Stiles’ lungs in a rush, and he’s kissing Derek back as well as he can with his arms trapped. He wants to thread his fingers through Derek’s hair and pull him closer, but he remembers Derek hunched in the circle and the urge passes in an instant.
Instead, he lies still and placid beneath Derek as he ravages Stiles’ mouth. When Derek pulls back, his lips are red and swollen, his pupils almost blacking out the soft red glow of his eyes.
“Go to sleep, Stiles. We’ll get this figured out in the morning.”
Derek brushes his hand against Stiles’ hair again, then presses a kiss to his forehead. Stiles lets out a faltering breath and nods, eyes closing again. He feels the ghost of Derek’s lips on his as the mattress shifts again and the window slides closed.
He rolls onto his side, breathing heavily, pulse thrumming through him, and then feels the mattress dip again. There’s a warm presence against his back, hot even through the blankets, and an arm is tossed over his body. Derek pulls him close, then weaves their fingers together when Stiles slips his hand from underneath the covers.
Stiles falls asleep to that sight, his pale fingers entwined with Derek’s.
Yes, he thinks before drifting off. Just like this.