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Remedy For Memory

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Derek opened the window and stepped into Stiles’ bedroom.

“You know, Derek, you could knock.” Stiles smiled as he leaned back in his computer chair, bright screen reflecting off his face.

“If you meant that, you’d start locking your window,” Derek replied easily, used to the familiar argument every time he showed up in Stiles’ room unannounced.

Derek walked across the room, sitting in the chair pulled up beside Stiles’ desk. Derek noted how it hadn’t been moved since the night before, when he and Stiles had spent hours pouring over the Banshee legends.

“What you got for me tonight? Some new book Deaton managed to procure from one of his mysterious sources? Or did you just miss my witty dialog?” Stiles grinned at Derek, turning around in his chair to type out a few words on his keyboard.

“I finally got in touch with that contact Deaton gave me. He sent us this.” Derek pulled a jump drive out of his pocket, dropping it in Stiles’ outstretched hand. He stuck the drive into the side of his computer, pulling the file up on the screen. Derek leaned over toward the screen, noticing the light smell of dirt coming from Stiles.

“Did you and Scott practice lacrosse today? You smell like you rolled around in the mud.”

Stiles’ laughed, scrolling through a few pages on the document.

“No. Didn’t really see the point.”

Derek stopped reading and turned toward Stiles, noticing for the first time a leaf in Stiles’ hair. “Why not? I thought you were trying to get better for next season.”

“You know as well as I do, Derek, I won’t be playing next season. Or any season.”

Derek closed his eyes, shaking his head. “Don’t be an idiot, Stiles.”

“I’m not being an idiot, Derek. A little hard to be anything when I’m dead.”

The scent of decay and blood hit Derek, but he couldn’t open his eyes. He knew what he’d see. “Don’t say that, Stiles. Please.” Derek clenched his fists, trying to block out the smell. “I can’t lose you, too.”

“You already have.” He felt a hand on his face and finally opened his eyes. Stiles was still sitting in his chair, but was covered in blood and mud. His face was unrecognizable through the slash marks that cut through the skin, revealing the bone and flesh underneath.

“Stiles.” Derek reached toward Stiles, but they had been transported to the forest, Stiles on the ground in front of him. He fell to his knees beside the body, grasping at the front of his red hoodie. “No, not again. Please. Don’t leave me.” Derek heard the now familiar screech in the distance as his claws ripped through the fabric in his hands.

*

Derek shot up, gasping for breath, screech still ringing in his ears. He’d wolfed out sometime in his sleep, ripping long lines in the sheets wrapped around him. Derek threw the mangled top sheet on the floor, feeling the cool air hit his sweaty chest. He took a deep breath, trying to get the phantom scent of death and dirt out of his mind as he felt his heart start to slow. The panic and despair from the dream were still hanging in the back of his mind, but after a few more deep breaths, he felt his claws and fangs retract.

Rubbing his hands over his face, Derek listened intently to the sounds of his loft. He could hear Peter’s even breathing in the room downstairs and Isaac snoring softly in the room across the loft. Isaac had lived with Scott for awhile, Mrs. McCall taking him in once she knew Isaac didn’t really have any place to go, but he’d started spending more time with Derek after the Alpha pack fiasco and moved in after Erica died. Derek liked having them around, especially after everything that had happened with Erica and Stiles. Liked having pack around. He’d grown up in a house with all of his pack and it just felt weird to live somewhere alone.

He tried to let the familiar sounds and smells of his loft calm him, but he knew there was no use. He’d been having nightmares for years, so he knew from experience that he never could get back to sleep after he had one.

But this was a nightmare that his brain had cooked up as a new form of torture for him. He’d had it so many times in the past week, where his mind twisted something that Derek used to enjoy into something he feared. Going to Stiles’ house had become habit in the months before his death. Derek had started spending more time there when the Alphas came, but was there almost every night after everything with Erica. He had constantly needed information about something, whether it was something Stiles could research or some police investigation Stiles managed to parse out from his Dad.

Derek would never admit it to Stiles, but he also wanted to make sure Stiles was safe. Being a human right in the middle of werewolf drama was never a good place to be, but someone like Stiles, so quick to run head first into danger, could so easily get hurt. Hell, Erica was gone and she was a wolf, so there was no telling what kind of trouble Stiles would manage to get himself into.

Once the Alphas left, things got back to normal, or at least as normal as things ever were in Beacon Hills. They’d dealt with a few errant supernatural things, nothing too intense, but Derek found himself looking for research projects just to have a reason to go to see Stiles. He and Stiles had managed to assemble quite a database, what with them combining all the information from the bestiary with the information that the Hale family had collected from the laptop Peter had given him.

Derek sighed and got out of bed. No use tossing and turning when he knew there was no way he’d get back to sleep. He pulled on a pair of jeans and shirt, grabbing socks and shoes on the way out of his room. The dim light from the crescent moon outside provided little illumination in the large living area, casting everything in shadow. Derek walked across to the kitchen, sitting on a bar stool to slip on his socks and shoes. He wasn’t sure where he was going, but as much as he tried to calm his breathing, he felt like he was suffocating. He was still breathing heavy as he grabbed his jacket and keys. He just needed to get out of there.

*

Derek drove without thinking and it wasn’t until he turned onto a familiar street that he realized where he was going. He wasn’t really surprised. He’d ended up at Stiles’ house on numerous occasions on nights like this, even before Stiles died, when the nightmares just got to be too much.

He parked the Camaro a few streets away on the off chance the Sheriff recognized his car and ran through the trees until he got to the Stilinski house. He took the familiar route up the side of the house, opening the window that was still unlocked.

It almost felt like old times, like Stiles’ would still be waiting at his desk with some witty comment about Derek’s intrusion. Derek looked around the room and took a deep breath. The room still smelt so much like Stiles. His scent had lingered around the loft for a few days but quickly faded with all the other people filing in and out. Derek didn’t even realize how much he missed the smell until he ended up back here and was surrounded by Stiles.

Everything was still in the same place it was two nights ago when Derek was last there. The Sheriff still hadn’t come in there, his scent only a vague hint now underneath Stiles’. Derek paused, listening for the Sheriff. He could hear the sound of his snoring softly from the chair in the living room, faint smell of alcohol apparent even from upstairs. Derek couldn’t say that he blamed the Sheriff, getting lost in the mind numbing pleasure of alcohol induced sleep. There had been many times in his life, when his family died, with Laura, after Kate had come back, hell, even now, when he’d wished he could get drunk to dull everything. His senses, his memories. Derek shook his head. Too bad he couldn’t. He was just stuck in his own personal hell filled with the smell of smoke and wet earth.

Derek walked across the room, trying to be as quiet as possible. Although the Sheriff was out cold, he didn’t really want him to find Derek skulking around Stiles’ bedroom in the middle of the night. His relationship had gotten better with the Sheriff, especially once he found out about the werewolves. There really hadn’t been a choice, considering one of the Alphas attacked the Sheriff while he was on his way to a crime scene, but Derek was glad when he finally knew. It made it easier for Stiles, not having to lie so much to his dad. It was also better for Derek, who was able to explain more about what happened with Laura. The Sheriff wasn’t his biggest fan, but he did look at him less like a criminal. Not sure how long that would last if he found Derek breaking and entering.

Derek sat on the side of the bed near the window. He looked around at the random assortment of Stiles’ stuff scattered across the floor. A lacrosse stick with the net frayed along the bottom. A few books and magazines strewn next to the bed. Derek reached down to pick up a leather bound book among the pile. He traced the intricate pattern on the front before untying the strap that held it closed, opening it. He saw Stiles’ familiar script written across the pages.

‘Popular in Irish Folklore, the Banshee is usually considered a non violent messenger of death omens. She is a fairy woman who wails when someone’s about it die. Some legends say she appears as a beautiful woman with long, pale hair. Others say she appears as an old hag covered in rags. They’re not traditionally considered violent, but there are some instances in American folklore that suggest she’s not simply the messenger of death but also the enforcer.

Of course. Leave it up to Beacon Hills to get the violent, ugly one. As if we don’t already have enough violent creatures in this fucking town.’

Derek laughed softly. It figured Stiles was keeping his own bestiary, complete with his own rambling commentary. It made Derek ache to hear him ramble again. He’d spent so much of his time rolling his eyes at Stiles’ hyperactive chitchat in all the time they spent together, but he would give just about anything to hear it again.

Stiles and Derek hadn’t been a couple, not really. They’d only kissed once. It was at the first pack meeting without Erica. He hadn’t been sure who brought the bottle of Jack, probably Stiles because he’d sipped straight from the bottle through the whole meeting while Derek discussed pack business. It wasn’t a huge meeting; there wasn’t much to say, but Derek had wanted a semblance of normalcy to calm the pack down. It really hadn’t worked, but at least they were all together. Allison and Scott were off in a corner snuggling. Things had been tough for them, but the loss seemed to have brought them closer again. Boyd and Isaac sat on the couch and played video games most of the night, mindlessly yelling at the TV as they took out their frustrations with the world on the large blue aliens in the game.

Stiles had been sitting on the love seat next to Derek. He spent most of the night reading, trying to keep his mind from straying to all the ways he might have been able to save Erica, knowing nothing could change the outcome. Stiles would randomly talk to Derek about silly things that he’d miss about Erica, like how she always knew the kind of sauce to bring him at lunch to eat with his meal depending on the kind of chicken they had that day. Scott could never remember that he liked honey mustard with the strips but liked ranch with his sandwiches. Or how she had waited in line with him for hours for the midnight showing of the new Marvel movie because Scott had been busy with one of his and Allison’s epic break-ups and Isaac had to work.

He’d continued to sip on the Jack as the night continued, his tone getting quieter and his body more slumped toward Derek with every drink he took. After Stiles had been quiet for longer than Derek thought possible, he had glanced up from his book to find Stiles staring at him. He had a look on his face like he was trying to figure out a puzzle but just couldn’t get the pieces to fit together right. Derek had been about to look away when Stiles leaned over and kissed him. His lips were chapped and he smelled like the liquor he’d been drinking all night, but it wasn’t bad. Far from it. His lips had been soft and the first Derek had felt against his in years. Plus, he still smelled like Stiles.

Derek had kissed him back for a minute, enjoying the way his lips felt against him, before Stiles pulled back and squeaked, “Please don’t kill me.” He looked terrified, like he was afraid Derek might kill him in a room full of their friends. Derek shrugged it off, clapped Stiles on the shoulder, and told him to sleep it off on his couch. Derek had wanted to say more, maybe lean forward and be the one to kiss Stiles this time, but he blamed the urge on his grief and held back.

He had spent the entire night thinking about the kiss, barely getting any sleep as he replayed the moment over and over again in his head. Derek never let himself think about Stiles like that because he knew that once that avenue of thinking was open, he couldn’t close it, and he didn’t want to go there. The pack had been working well together for almost a year and Derek didn’t want to mess that up. Plus, Stiles was still in high school and Derek was his best friend’s sometimes alpha. Not exactly the best recipe for a relationship. But the kiss had changed that. Now Derek couldn’t help but think about the way his lips had slid so softly against Stiles’, the way his heart accelerated with each passing second.

The next morning, Stiles had woken up, surprisingly, without a hangover. Maybe it was the Advil and four glasses of water he and Scott had made Stiles drink before he passed out on the sofa. When Stiles came padding into the kitchen, Derek had just been pouring himself a bowl of cereal. Stiles froze when he saw Derek at the counter, but instead of reacting, Derek just pulled an extra bowl out of the cabinet and poured Stiles some Cinnamon Toast Crunch. With a small smile, Stiles walked to the fridge, grabbed the milk, and poured it in both their bowls.

They ate their cereal sitting next to each other on the couch watching reruns of Friends.

After that, something between them shifted. He’d already been spending plenty of time with Stiles by that point, but it was the next week that he came up with the plan to combine their bestiaries, which meant he was with Stiles pretty much every night. They sometimes met in the loft but mostly at Stiles’ house. Derek didn’t really want any of the others bothering them, especially Peter, who still made Stiles nervous.

When the Sheriff was on the late shift, they’d end up down in the kitchen, Stiles always getting hungry about an hour into their work sessions. Sometimes they’d call for take out and eat it in front of the TV watching reruns of procedural cop shows. Sometimes Stiles would make recipes of his mother’s, like her famous homemade banana bread. Stiles talked about her the entire time he cooked, Derek feeling the mixture of affection and sorrow coming off him in waves.

“When I was a little boy, I would always run around the kitchen while my mom made this bread.” Stiles had smiled, stirring the batter slowly. “I would make up stories about how I was a secret agent working for the British government with cool gadgets and fast cars.” Stiles smiled at Derek’s look of confusion. “My grandfather was a big James Bond fan. Whenever my parents left me at his house, we’d end up watching Sean Connery as Bond. I got really into the idea, too. I would make up all these elaborate stories about running from villains. I knew I must have driven my mom crazy, but she just laughed and played along, asking how I was going to get out of whatever situation I had made for myself. She was always so good at deciphering my rambling, even when I was so young half the words were jumbled together and made no sense.”

“But that implies that you’ve gotten clearer now that you’re older, right?” Derek had smirked at Stiles, chopping walnuts for the bread. “I’m not sure you have.”

Stiles had stuck his tongue out at Derek, whacking him with the spoon he’d just pulled out of the drawer. “You hush, ass.” Stiles folded in the walnuts carefully. “She would put me on a stool and let me stir the milk into the mix, telling me that half of what made the recipe work was the patience it took to make the bread and the love between those who made it. Not that patience and love are something you can put into a mix or write on an ingredient list, but she always insisted they were in it.” Stiles poured the bread mix into the pan on the counter, eyes a little watery. “I think she may have been right. I’ve gotten the bread almost right, but it still never tastes like it did back then.” Stiles walked the bread over to the oven. “I think she’s the missing ingredient.”

Derek had wanted to hug Stiles, let him know that he understood what he meant, how there was some imperceptible element that was always missing in situations like these, but instead he’d just gathered up the dishes and took them to the sink. They washed them side by side, shoulders bumping as they shifted the dishes from the sink to the counter once they were washed.

When the bread was done, they’d eaten it on Stiles’ back porch. He told Stiles that the bread tasted great; what he wanted to tell him was that it tasted like home.

Once, Derek made them the only recipe of his mother’s he could make, chocolate cake with butter cream frosting. While he stirred the ingredients he’d brought with him that night, Derek had talked, opening up for the first time in years.

“Life in my house growing up was chaotic. There were thirteen of us in the house, which essentially meant there was never a dull or quite moment. My younger sisters and brothers were always running around, pretending to be super heroes or knights and ladies. My baby sister, Fran, hated being the youngest because she was always the side kick or the damsel in distress. She always wanted to be the hero.” Derek had cleared his throat, thinking about Fran’s endless curls flowing behind her in their old house as he greased and floured the pans for the cake.

“How many siblings did you have?” Stiles had asked, looking curious but also hesitant as he stirred the last ingredients into the icing.

Derek had quirked a small smile. “There were six of us, including me and Laura. Laura was the oldest, then me, Josh, Cora, Liam, and Fran. It was nice, being in the midst of all of those people. It made the fact that I really didn’t talk much easier because there was always someone else talking.” Derek added the cocoa to his mix, stirring it into the wet ingredients in his bowl. “Liam was a lot like me, always walking around in my shadow, observing everyone and not saying much. Isaac reminds me a little of him; his big eyes, the tough bravado that covers up the tiny puppy inside.” Derek gave Stiles a smile as Stiles laughed.

“I’m really not going to be able to get the idea of Isaac as a little puppy out of my head now. It’s just too priceless. Do you think he’d rip me in half if I bought him a little dog collar with his name on it? Maybe a little chew toy?” Derek had laughed softly as Stiles stuck his finger in the icing, tasting it. “Wow, this tastes amazing. I’m going to have to remember the ingredients to this icing. I need to make jars of this stuff just to have around.”

“You want to make jars of icing?” Derek had raised an eyebrow at him in disbelief.

“Hell yeah, just the icing! This stuff is like liquid amazing! I could eat this on anything. Do you think it’d be good on chicken or fries or something? I bet it would be on curly fries. Ice cream and curly fries is a really good combo, so I bet this icing would be magical on it.”

Derek looked at Stiles incredulously. “Ice cream on fries? Really?”

“Oh my god, have you never had it?” Stiles’ arms had flailed around his head as he jumped off the stool. “We have to make some fries right now. You have to try it. It would go great with chocolate cake.” Stiles walked over to the freezer, grabbing a bag of fries. “Just don’t tell my dad I’m eating all this in one night. He’d try and make me let him eat something just as awful for him, which is not going to happen.”

Derek had smiled to himself as he poured the cake into the pans and Stiles threw the fries into the hot oil. Once the fries were done, they had taken them into the living room and dipped them in vanilla ice cream and played Halo as they waited for the cake to finish baking. Derek admitted that the ice cream really did make the fries better. Stiles just beamed at him, popping another fry into his mouth as Derek went to pull the cake layers out of the oven.

When the cakes had cooled, Derek started frosting the first layer. Stiles tried to help him, but he just ended up with frosting all over his face because he kept sneaking tastes from his knife. Derek kept sneaking glances at Stiles, trying to keep himself from looking at Stiles’ mouth. Bringing his eyes back up from Stiles’ lips, Derek caught Stiles’ eye. He could feel the nervousness coming off Stiles, could feel the uptick in this heartbeat as they stared at one another over the icing bowl. Derek had really wanted to kiss him then, to see what the icing would have tasted like alongside the flavor of Stiles’ lips. He probably would have, but the Sheriff came home and the moment was broken. The Sheriff helped them eat the cake as they watched Wheel of Fortune before Derek and Stiles got back to work.

Derek shook his head, pulling himself from the memories and flipping through a few more pages of Stiles’ journal. There were entries about the Alphas, about the mercenary hunter they’d run across a few months ago. Derek was struck by how detailed the entries were. He imagined that Stiles would have been more of a blogger, not a traditional journalist. But there was so much that Derek never knew about Stiles. Never would know.

Derek rose from the bed, attempting to change the way his thoughts were going. He noticed a stack of DVDs on Stiles desk and walked over to pick them up, sitting down in the chair to flip through the stack. As soon as he was settled in the chair, Derek was suddenly struck with how similar the movement was to his dream. He heard traces of Stiles’ laugh in his head, saw his bright eyes in the glow of the computer screen. Then, just as in the dream, the images morphed into Stiles’ dead body, gaping wounds and torn flesh.

Derek squeezed his eyes shut, trying to get Stiles’ slashed corpse out of his head. He stood suddenly, knocking the DVDs on the floor in his haste to move away from the images in his head. He cursed as he heard sounds from the living room, the Sheriff stirring at the sound in the otherwise quiet house. Derek moved as fast as he could, putting the DVDs back on the desk and jumping out the window when he heard the Sheriff move up the stairs. He had just closed the window when he heard the Sheriff throw the door open.

“Stiles?” Derek could see the Sheriff moving around the room, reaching behind him for the light switch to get a better look at the room.

Derek saw the Sheriff’s shoulders slump as his face crumbled. “Oh Stiles. How’d this happen?” Tears streamed down the Sheriff’s face as he slumped into the desk chair.

Derek leaned closer to the window, taking a good look at the Sheriff. He looked ten years older than the last time he’d seen him. He obviously had not been sleeping much and Derek thought he looked like he could use a good meal.

He understood what the Sheriff was going through, the grief he felt. He knew what it was like to lose everyone he’d ever loved, to be left alone. Knew about the feeling of loneliness that became part of his soul, that he thought couldn’t get any worse until he’d lost Laura. The Sheriff had lost his wife, which took part of his soul, but then he’d lost Stiles. Now there was nothing left to take, there was just a man going through the motions of his life in the hopes that something would make it better.

Stiles had started to make it better for him. And he hadn’t even realized just how much until he was gone too. Now the loneliness was all he had. The empty feeling in his chest that threatened to overwhelm him. There was so much Derek had wanted to do with Stiles, to say to him and learn about him. So much wasted time just waiting for the right moment. It had been the right moment, that night when Stiles had icing all over his face. But then the Sheriff had interrupted them. Although disappointed, Derek had thought they would have more times like that, more moments to finally take their relationship a step further. But Stiles had died a week later. Had put an end to more nights filled with icing and possibilities.

Derek felt water fall onto his hand. He reached his hand up and felt the tears streaming down his face. Derek didn’t like to cry, had cried enough that he thought there were no more tears left in him. But he let himself go, crying for Stiles, the Sheriff, his family, himself, and for all the missed opportunities in his life that he’d been too scared or stupid to take advantage of.

Once the Sheriff had wiped his eyes and left, Derek let himself back in. He was tired but just couldn’t bring himself to go back to his empty bed at the loft. He toed off his shoes and laid down on Stiles’ bed, snuggling into the scent that still clung to the sheets. After a few deep breaths, Derek felt the knot in his chest loosen. He snuggled his head further into the pillow and fell asleep.

*

“Oh My God, Derek, you have to be kidding me!” Stiles laughed, throwing his head back against the couch.

Derek scowled at Stiles. “Don’t make fun of me, ass.”

“But come on! How have you never played NES? It is like a right of passage for any teenage boy to play Zelda and Super Mario Brothers on the original gaming system!” Stiles’ arms flailed around his head. “I mean, I know I wasn’t born when they originally came out, but at least my cousin was awesome enough to give me his old system before they moved away to Connecticut. I guess I would have played it eventually somewhere else, but I was just six when they moved so I was a pretty earl –“

“Stiles,” Derek reached out, grabbing one of the flailing arms. “Just start the game before you turn sixty.”

Stiles grinned. “Right.” Stiles grabbed Zelda II: The Adventures of Link from the shelf and blew into the end.

“What the hell are you doing?” Derek asked as Stiles stuck the cartridge into the console.

“Blowing on it. It’s the only way to get it to work. Now cross your fingers and hope that it starts up.” Stiles crossed his fingers and looked at Derek expectantly. Derek rolled his eyes but crossed his fingers as well.

Stiles clicked the button. The start screen appeared, but only a moment before it blinked in and out.

“Shit.” Stiles turned the button off and opened the door, pulling the game out. He blew on it again and reinserted the game. When he got the same result, Stiles opened the door and started flicking the cartridge up and down, locking and unlocking it from the console.

“Is all this really necessary?” Derek asked, raising an eyebrow at Stiles as he flicked the game a few more times.

“Yes. I told you, this is how it’s done. You blow on it and flick it until it works.”

Derek waited a beat before he said, “That’s what she said.”

Stiles stopped and looked over at Derek, eyes wide. “Did you just say what I think you said?”

Derek felt himself blush. “Maybe.”

Stiles bust out laughing, falling backward on the floor. “I can’t believe it! Derek Hale made a ‘that’s what she said’ joke. I think the world may be ending.” Stiles inhaled deeply a few times, trying to catch his breath.

“Don’t be so melodramatic. It’s not ending. Tilting on its axis? Possibly.”

Stiles looked at Derek and started laughing again. Derek tried to hold his scowl, but started laughing along with Stiles. Wiping his eyes, Stiles sat up and looked at Derek.

“You should laugh more. It suits you.” Stiles smiled, catching Derek’s eyes. After staring for a moment longer than necessary, Stiles turned his attention back to the game, pushing the start button again.

“Dammit.” He handed the game over to Derek. “Here, blow on this. Maybe some of your werewolf lung capacity will help.”

Derek just looked over at Stiles and tried to control his smile as he grabbed the game. Before he could blow into it, both he and Stiles started laughing again.

“I left you open for that one, dude. It was all primed and ready.” Derek finally calmed enough to blow on the game and handed it back to Stiles.

Stiles stuck the game back into the console and loaded it up. They both looked at the screen and waited for the screen to flicker, but when it didn’t, Stiles pumped his fist in the air. “Werewolf blowing for the win!” He grinned. “I would make a three little pig joke right now, but I’m not sure it’s in good taste.”

Derek smiled and looked back at the screen. Instead of the game screen, he saw a rundown, barren warehouse with broken windows. It was dark outside the windows and wind seemed to be blowing through the open glass.

“Did you change the channel while you were rolling on the floor?” Derek asked Stiles, eyes never leaving the screen. He didn’t like the feeling the image gave him.

“No. Why?” Stiles sounded confused.

“Because there is a random abandoned warehouse on the screen instead of the start menu for the game.” Derek kept looking around the screen, searching for some detail as to what was going on.

“All I see is Link, dude.”

Derek finally pulled his eyes from the screen to look over at Stiles, but he was no longer sitting beside him. Instead, he saw him lying on a dingy old cot in the middle of the same warehouse from the TV screen.

“Stiles?” Derek said his name, trying to get his attention. “Stiles! Can you hear me? STILES!”

*

Derek woke up for the second time that night covered in sweat. He bolted up in bed, searching around the covers for Stiles. Realizing where he was, Derek laid back onto Stiles’ pillow, taking a deep breath.

That was new. He’d never had a dream like that. He’d dreamed in snatches of memories before, but nothing like that. It was so vivid. It was exactly like he remembered it but seemed almost like he was reliving it. He still felt the flush on his cheeks from when he’d blushed.

The end of the dream was different. His dreams often turned to nightmares, but it was usually scenarios that Stiles had actually been in before. He’d dreamed of him being taken by Peter, tortured by Gerard, paralyzed by the Kanima, taken by the hunters, killed by the banshee, but he’d never dreamed up some new torture for him.

But it didn’t feel made up. The warehouse seemed just as real as the rest of the dream, just removed slightly. Like he was seeing it for the first time but real none the less.

Derek rose up and grabbed a composition notebook lying beside the bed. He pulled the pencil from the spiral and flipped to the first blank page. He didn’t know why, but he needed to get the images and details down before he forgot them. He thought they might be important.

After writing all he could remember and drawing a rough sketch of the layout of the warehouse, Derek pulled his shoes back on, grabbed the journal and composition book, and left through the window.

The sun was starting to come up and he could hear the Sheriff shuffling in the house, getting ready to go to work. As he ran back to his car, Derek thought about the Sheriff in Stiles’ room the night before. He made a plan to come back that night and see him after his shift at the station ended.

Stiles’ Log: Day 8 in this hell hole of a warehouse. At least he thought it was day 8. He wasn’t quite sure how many days he was out before he first woke up, but two sounded about right, given how hungry he was and how much he had to pee. Which meant this was the start of Day 6 of Stiles’ waking nightmare. Not that he wasn’t having sleeping nightmares as well. But there was a difference.

Stiles looked out the windows high above the bed his leg was chained to. It looked like it was sometime mid morning. Just about the time that he’d be having breakfast if he were still home. Unless he’d been up all night playing Halo with Scott, or spent all night combing through the bestiaries with Derek. Then he’d be in bed for at least another few hours.

But that was before his life went all to hell.

He’s not sure what happened exactly in the woods. He was just standing there one moment, trying to warn Derek and the rest of the pack about what he’d found, then he’d felt this crazy pain in his head and had woken up a few days later in this warehouse.

There wasn’t anything special about the warehouse. It just seemed like the kind of shitty abandoned warehouse you see some busty blonde running through in the climax of some crappy slasher flick. What would he do for some busty blonde to come running through here right now? And not for the pervy reason that a normal seventeen year old boy would want her for. Because really, the last thing on his mind right now was anything sex related. He hadn’t bathed in over a week and was pretty sure it was impossible for him to get excited in his manly parts right now.

He heard a noise behind him and he jumped up, moving into the corner closest to the bed. It was about as far as the chain tied to his ankle would let him move. He could stand (or cower, as the case may be) in one corner or he could use the poor excuse for a bathroom in the other corner. That was about it. He’d tried pulling the chain out from underneath the bed rail during his first day, but after scrapping the hell out of his palms and slicing a cut into his ankle bone, he’d given up. The bed was surprisingly sturdy in a building that looked like a harsh wind could tear it down. Was even bolted to the fucking floor. Who bolted a bed to the floor? His crazy kidnapper, that’s who.

Speaking of the crazy, he walked in, carrying a plate of food for Stiles and a jug of water. It wasn’t much, but the guy obviously wanted to keep him alive for something. He just wasn’t sure what.

“Nice to see you again. What’s on the menu today? Looks like stale bread, dried meat, and water. It seems you pulled out all the stops for me today, good sir,” Stiles babbled, watching him set the food down on the edge of the bed.

The guy was tall and lanky, with tanned skin and his hair back in a ponytail. Stiles would probably find him attractive if he wasn’t some creeper holding him hostage in an abandoned warehouse. And Stiles was definitely not going to develop Stockholm Syndrome. He’d already been through enough life or death situations to know that captors always wanted to hurt you.

He’d only said one sentence to Stiles the entire time he was there. The first day he had been awake, Stiles had tried to rush the guy and knock him out. The plan had worked perfectly in Stiles’ head; he’d run towards his captor, catching him by surprise, and throw the chain around his neck and suffocate him. It’d worked for Princess Lea, why not for him? But, as it turned out, this guy was a lot spryer than Jabba. It would be his luck, getting captured by a guy that probably ran triathlons in his spare time. If they had those for supernatural creatures. Or maybe he used his supernatural powers to win them. That just seemed unethical to Stiles. But since he’d kidnapped Stiles, he wasn’t sure ethics were really his strong suit. When he’d caught Stiles that day, he wrapped his hand around Stiles’ wrist and squeezed so hard he’d left bruises.

“Do that again and I’ll kill every last person you’ve ever known.”

Stiles had to admit, that had been a pretty effective tactic. It was like the guy could read his mind and knew just which buttons to push. If he had threatened Stiles’ life, he’d probably have tried again and again until he’d gotten out. But the guy had threatened Stiles’ family and friends. He’d seen enough people get hurt and die; he wasn’t about to provoke this guy to go anywhere near them.

So he’d just have to wait until his dad, Scott, Derek and the rest of the pack figured out where he was. It wasn’t like they wouldn’t realize he was missing. It would be pretty obvious once the fight was over and everyone went back to their cars and Stiles’ Jeep was still parked beside the Camaro that he’d been taken.

He wasn’t actually quite sure why it was taking them this long to find him. It wasn’t as if they weren’t familiar with his scent. They should be able to follow it, right? Or at least canvas the entirety of Northern California trying to figure out where this guy ended up taking him. Stiles knew this guy was a Trickster, had figured it out on the night he was taken. That’s why he was in the woods in the first place. He’d missed the lore that mattered and sent the pack into the woods with the idea that it was just a Banshee.

He hadn’t gotten the book he needed from Amazon until that day. He’d spent all afternoon pouring through the eleven chapters about Banshees across cultures, trying to figure out which one fit the one they were working with. Of course, it wasn’t until chapter ten that he’d found the vital piece of information that he’d needed, the part that explained the Banshee they’d been dealing with the whole time.

Their Banshee wasn’t the bringer of death like they’d first thought. She was just warning them that death was coming. She worked in conjunction with the Trickster, as a sort of supernatural symbiosis. It was a shape shifter that could appear as both a young handsome man and a coyote, and he typically changed reality to teach people lessons. Not sure what he was trying to teach Stiles other than how to survive on a model’s diet. Maybe he’d been related to one of the ghouls that they’d killed a few weeks before the Banshee showed up or some other crazy vendetta that Stiles just got caught up in. He really wasn’t interested in the psychotic babble of a supernatural shape shifting kidnapper.

“So, still playing mute with me, are you? I see how it is, you’re just playing coy with me. I bet you play coy with all the teenage boys you have tied to a bed. Or am I just special?” Stiles stared at the man as he walked near the door again.

He wasn’t sure what made him yell after the Trickster, but before Stiles could contain himself, he said, “What do you even want? Have you even tried to negotiate with the pack? My dad?”

The man stopped and turned around, smirking a smile that would haunt Stiles for years to come.

“There is nothing to negotiate. They think you’re dead.”

They weren’t looking for him. His dad wasn’t coming. Scott, Derek, his dad, no one. He was going to be chained to this fucking bed until either the Trickster got tired of him or he starved to death.

Stiles was alone.

Stiles crumpled to the floor as he heard the door to the warehouse slam closed.

*

“Derek, you’re out of your mind. There’s no way Isaac could beat Boyd in a fight.”

Stiles was sitting on his bed, leaning his head against his headboard. Derek was lying beside him, head propped up on his hand at the foot of the bed.

“Oh come on, Stiles. Think about it. Boyd may have brute strength on his side, but Isaac’s surprisingly wily when he wants to be. You should have seen him last week. We were training in the woods and he was able to sneak up behind Boyd without making a sound. Boyd jumped so high his feet left the ground. Isaac had him shoved against a tree in two seconds. It was quite impressive to watch.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Yeah, maybe he could beat Boyd when he snuck up on him. But not in a face to face, no holds barred fight. I mean, have you seen Boyd’s shoulders?”

Derek sighed. “Of course I’ve seen his shoulders. He is part of my pack.” Derek rolled over onto his back, staring at the ceiling. “Can we stop playing Mortal Combat: Pack Edition? I have to spend so much time thinking about fighting tactics when I’m with them that I’d like to talk about something else.”

“I’m impressed with your pop culture reference, oh wise Alpha.” Stiles made a bowing gesture toward Derek. “Well, what would you like to talk about then, sensei? Migratory habits of the long necked swallow? The likelihood of Scott and Allison figuring things out before one of them ends up in a body bag?”

Derek glared at him. “How about the probability of you getting off this bed without me ripping your head off?”

“Oh, I’m shaking Derek, really. So convincing.” Stiles grabbed the remote to his PS3. “Want to watch a movie?

“Not if you insist we watch one of those stupid documentaries you’re so obsessed with.” Derek shifted around on the bed so he was lying beside Stiles, mirroring his pose.

“They are not crappy.” Stiles huffed as he flipped through his instant queue.

Derek rolled his eyes. “I wouldn’t call two and a half hours about magma quality cinema.”

“Shut up. I have you know that I learned a great deal about the fluid properties of molten rock that day. Besides, volcanoes are cool.”

“Oh yeah, Stiles. Volcanoes are so sexy.” Derek chuckled.

“I’ll show you sexy.” Stiles threw the controller aside and pounced on Derek, tickling his sides. Startled by Stiles’ sudden movement, Derek didn’t manage to dodge Stiles’ hands until they were already tickling him.

“Stiles, stop. You know I hate to be tickled. Stop!” Derek continued to squirm, trying to get away from Stiles’ frantic fingers.

“Mwahaha. You cannot escape Dr. Stilinski’s Fingers of Doom!” Stiles giggled as he continued to torture Derek.

“Stop, or I’ll make you stop!” Derek tried to grip Stiles’ hands, but he kept wiggling just out of his reach.

“No way, Mr. Badass Alpha. And no using your wolfy powers. That’s not fair!”

Finally grabbing Stiles’ wrist, he used the momentum from his hold to grab Stiles’ waist and flip them so Derek was above him, trapping his hands by his hips. They were both still giggling and breathing heavily.

“I got you, now!” Derek panted as he tried to regain his breath.

“Hey, no fair. I told you no wolfy stuff!” Stiles huffed indignantly as he tried to get his hands from Derek’s grip.

Derek laughed. “All’s fair in love and tickling.” Derek stopped short when he’d realized how that sounded. Stiles was staring at him with an unreadable look on his face.

Derek’s eyes flicked down to Stiles’ lips, which he licked unconsciously. Derek began to lean down when Stiles yelled, “Hungry!”

Derek leaned up and looked confusedly at Stiles. “Huh?”

“I’m hungry. Want some banana bread? I think I want some banana bread. My mom has this great recipe I’ve been craving for a while. How about I make that now?” Stiles babbled, his eyes darting around as he talked.

Derek let go of his hands. “Yeah. I could eat.”

Derek climbed off the bed and followed Stiles down the stairs to the kitchen.

*

Stiles opened his eyes to the same damn ceiling he was beginning to think was burned onto his retinas. It never changed, just stayed stupid and dismal.

He’d dreamed about Derek again. He’d dreamt about him every night since he’d been in this stupid warehouse. Not like he didn’t dream about him before he was kidnapped, but not quite as much as he was now. It was like his brain was torturing him. He wasn’t even dreaming the fun sexy dreams that he’d wake up from and have to barely touch himself before he came inside his boxers. These dreams were different. They were just parts of his memories, those moments between him and Derek that had piled up over the past six months or so. But then they more often than not kept turning into nightmares. Where he was dead and Derek was left with his dead body. At least this one hadn’t ended with him in a pool of his own blood. But it did end with him missing Derek so much it almost hurt.

He wasn’t sure why he’d stopped Derek from kissing him that night. He thought about Derek’s lips more than he knew he should, but the idea of kissing him, well, kissing him again, but while sober this time freaked him out. What if Derek was only kissing him because he was there, because there was no one else for him to kiss that wasn’t his pack or his creepy uncle? What if he did want to kiss him and they got together and it was great for awhile, but then Derek realized that Stiles was just some stupid hyper active teenager and he was a super hot alpha werewolf of hotness that could do better than Stiles’ skinny ass? Or what if it was great and they ended up married and they had a whole litter of werepups and he was forced to stay at home and change all the werediapers all day long while Derek ran off with his pack? Stiles just couldn’t take the pressure of any of those scenarios, so he’d panicked and said he was hungry. But he’d thought about that for days afterward and kicked himself for pulling back.

It was over a month later when Derek made his mom’s chocolate cake that he’d thought they’d get their chance again. But then his dad had to be the biggest kiss blocker in Beacon Hills and interrupted that moment too. That was only like two weeks ago, though it felt like a lifetime. Maybe they could pick it back up once he got out of this hell hole. If he got out of this hell hole.

Fuck, he really needed to stop thinking about this.

Stiles rolled over, groaning as his body protested. He hadn’t meant to fall asleep on the concrete floor in the corner, but the news of his death had hit him harder than he expected. Not that he ever thought about what it would be like to hear he was dead. Hell, he’d be dead, what would he care? But here he was, contemplating his reaction to his death. Damn Beacon Hills and its propensity for unexpected situations.

Stiles slowly rose to his feet and walked over to the toilet in the other corner near his bed. He was thankful he didn’t have to go in a bucket and have Mr. Trickster come and take it out like he was some sort of overgrown cat. There was even running water, so it flushed and everything. He had thought about trying to wash up the day he woke up since he was covered in dirt and a little blood from where he was hit on the head, but the water that came out of the tap had a brownish tint so he figured it was pointless to make him dirtier than he already was.

Stiles walked back over to his bed and sat down, pulling his tray of food over. Although he’d made a crack about it being stale, the bread was actually decent. Or that could just be the hunger talking. He was sure he’d even eat his father’s cooking at this point, and his father burned almost everything and oversalted what he didn’t.

Stiles’ stomach leapt at the thought of his father. He thought he was dead. He couldn’t even imagine what his dad was going through right now. He thought he’d lost his son. He just hoped someone was taking care of him and making him eat well.

Things had finally gotten back to normal between him and his dad. After sophomore year, things had been tense. He’d lied to his dad so much and done so much stupid shit that he didn’t blame his dad for not trusting him anymore. The summer between sophomore and junior year had been tough. He made meals for his dad, still insisting that he eat healthy despite his dad’s continual protests. When his dad was home, they barely talked. They’d eat dinner together, making small talk about their days as they ate. When he had to work, Stiles just made him meals to take to work with him. He didn’t think it would be appropriate for him to show up at the station when his dad was still trying to get things back to normal after his suspension. By the end of the summer, things had eased up a little because Stiles wasn’t lying and leaving the house at all hours. They started talking a little more and the tension around his father’s eyes had subsided.

When the Alpha pack came to town, everything went to hell again. He was gone more, and since school had just started, he barely saw his dad, what with all the running from Alphas, the training with the pack on how to deal with them, and the massive amounts of homework he had to keep up with that his teachers decided to give him. It was after a particularly long night dealing with the Alphas that his dad just stopped talking to him. They ate together and lived together, but other than the things that he had to say to Stiles, his dad just didn’t say anything.

It was a week later that his dad was almost killed by one of the Alpha pack. He was on a call to a disturbance on the edge of the Preserve when his squad car was thrown off the road a half a mile from where Deucalion was fighting with Derek and the rest of the pack. He woke up in the car and saw an Alpha fighting with Boyd, who’d run to help when he heard the car go off the road.

Suffice it to say that he had tons of questions. He was still under observation for his severe concussion when Stiles had told him everything. About Scott, werewolves, the Alpha pack, hunters. The Kanima had been the hardest to convince his father of; he just couldn’t quite wrap his head around the idea of Jackson being a giant lizard who was being controlled by a teenage lacrosse player with a thirst for death. Hell, it seemed ludicrous to Stiles and he’d lived it. Though it did make his dad feel slightly guilty about giving him so much grief over the restraining order when Stiles explained he was trying to save people from being murdered. To death.

It didn’t get better right away. His dad still had a hard time coming to grips with all the information he’d received. Stiles understood because if he hadn’t lived it, he wasn’t sure he’d believe it either.

It was a Wednesday night around Thanksgiving when Stiles realized that he and his father would be fine. They were sitting in the living room watching a baseball game while Stiles finished up his AP Psych homework when his father asked, “So, if you rub Scott behind his ear, does his leg shake?”

Stiles looked up from his homework and said, “I don’t know, but next time I see Allison, I’ll ask.”

Stiles and his dad had laughed for 5 minutes straight.

After that, it was pretty much back to normal. But that was over now. His dad was all alone. Stiles just couldn’t bear to think about his dad in their big house all alone. He would not leave his dad. He had to do something to get out of here. Although he’d let it get the best of him at first, this new information was good. He knew now why his dad and the pack weren’t looking for him. Now all he had to do was make a plan. And making plans in an impossible situation was something that Stiles was an ace at.

He could fix this. Hell, he was trained for this. Stiles grabbed the piece of beef jerky off his plate, taking a bite and thinking about his next move.

*

Stiles had been trying to get to sleep for what felt like hours. He wasn’t sure how long it had actually been, since the Trickster wasn’t nice enough to give him a clock or anything, but it felt like forever.

Stiles had finally gotten his plan straight. He spent the majority of the afternoon going over what he and Deaton had spent the last few months doing after that particularly horrible incident where the rogue hunter had kidnapped him. Come to think of it, Stiles was always getting kidnapped. Why was that? Did he just give off a vibe that said, “Hey, evil thing, come and kidnap me because I’ll be a wonderful victim!”? He was like catnip for kidnappers. He was napper nip! Which brought Stiles back to why he was trying to focus so much on sleeping.

When the hunter had taken him, he had never been so scared in his life. He’d been taken by Gerard, who was a hunter, but he didn’t think Allison’s homicidal grandfather was really looking to kill some skinny human kid; he’d just been used as a means to an end. But with this hunter, he’d already killed two humans in neighboring towns who associated with the werewolf packs there. He was trying to eradicate those who willingly associated with werewolves, the lunatic. He was all alone, with no way to defend himself and no powers or supernatural ability to let the others know how to help him. Or any way to help himself.

After hours of being tied to a chain hanging from the ceiling, Derek, Scott, and his dad stormed into the apartment where he was being kept while Boyd and Isaac took out his hunter friends in the hall. He’d never been so glad to see anyone in his whole life.

That night, Derek and his dad wouldn’t leave him alone. His dad kept checking to make sure he was resting and Derek just kept grunting in his direction every time he winced as he tried to get comfortable on the bed. It was surprising how sore his muscles got just from hanging around an apartment for 6 hours. When Derek finally left, he snuck out of his house to find Deaton.

Deaton had been surprised to see him again since he’d just checked him over a few hours before. He’d explained that he hated feeling helpless and he wanted to know a way to defend himself.

“I’m not a trainer, Mr. Stilinski. If you are looking for a way to learn the interworking of fighting, I believe there are many other more qualified candidates for you to choose from.” Deaton kept restocking the cotton swabs as he stared at Stiles in mild annoyance.

“Well, I know that, Captain. I was thinking more along the lines of something badass and supernatural that I could use.” Stiles winced as he tried to throw his hand up in emphasis.

“I am not a captain, Stiles. I’m a veterinarian. And I might have something that will work.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “I wasn’t calling… it was a joke, Deaton. As in Captain Obvious? You really need to work on your sense of humor.” Stiles leaned gently against the exam table behind his back. “What did you have in mind, Doctor?

Deaton looked amused for a second before he turned toward the cabinet in the back of the room. “I think you should read this.”

Deaton had handed him a book about dream projection. Deaton spent the next two months advising Stiles on how to channel ideas and facts into dreams that he could project to another member of the pack. He hadn’t told any of the pack that he was doing it. It was just something that he had to do on his own. They were always training, so why couldn’t he?

He had gotten to the point where he could focus pretty well in his dreams but he’d never gotten a chance to try it out on anyone before he was taken. Now was his chance. If he could ever go to sleep.

His mind kept drifting to the night before he was taken. Derek had come over to check on his progress with his research about the banshee. He’d seen him earlier that day at the pack meeting, but Derek said he just wanted to make sure he was kept up to date on what Stiles found.

Stiles wasn’t a werewolf, but even he could see through that flimsy excuse. Derek just wanted to come over and bug Stiles with his stupid werewolf face and werewolf muscles and stupid clear eyes.

Stiles had ordered pizza because his dad was at work and he could get away with having pepperoni without worrying about his father’s cholesterol. Derek had kicked off his shoes and joined Stiles on his bed when the pizza came.

“I never used to eat pepperoni on pizza. Laura and Peter hated it. She always said it tasted like freeze dried meat.” Stiles had heard an explosion on the crappy action movie that was on the screen, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from Derek. No matter how many times he heard Derek talk about his family, he was totally enraptured every time. “She always got Canadian bacon and mushrooms. Since we were the closest in age, we always had to share and she never let me pick my own toppings. My parents were black olive and green pepper, Liam, Josh, and Cora were beef and onion, and Fran always got a personal pan with extra cheese. When I got older, I could have probably gotten my own pizza, but by that point, I had gotten so used to those ingredients that I didn’t bother to change.”

Derek looked thoughtfully down at the pizza in his hand. “The first pizza I ordered after Laura was killed, I got our usual. When I realized that we’d never eat it together again, I puked and threw the rest of the pizza across the room. I didn’t eat pizza again until I started eating it with you.” Derek looked up at Stiles. “I’m not sure why I told you that.”

Stiles had seen a slight blush rise on Derek’s cheeks as he took another bite of his pizza, chewing very deliberately. “I’m glad you did.” Stiles felt his face grow hot from his own blush. Why was he blushing like a school girl with a crush? He knew he had been having more than friendly feeling toward Derek recently, but that didn’t mean he wanted Derek to know that.

Stiles had cleared his throat as he grabbed another piece of pizza. “I always loved pepperoni, but I refuse to let my dad eat it. There is way too much cholesterol for him to eat it. I can get away with it because I’m young and hyperactive and spend half my time running away from something crazy and supernatural. I really should start some online fitness blog that gives my readers exercises like ‘How to strengthen your core while running from a ghoul’ or ‘10 ways to get rock hard abs while fighting with fairies’. I could become an internet sensation and end up–“

Derek laid his hand over Stiles’ mouth, effectively cutting him off mid sentence. “Stiles, just watch the movie and enjoy your pizza.”

Derek had removed his hand and went back to watching the movie. Stiles stared at him for a minute longer then turned back to the TV to see Tom Cruise walking away from a group on unconscious guys covered in blood, trying to avoid glancing back over at Derek.

His lips had tingled for half an hour.

Stiles knew that something had been happening between them for months. Ever since that night he’d kissed Derek after Erica had died. They had never talked about it, but he and Derek had been spending a lot more time together since then. Months of dancing around each other and talking and getting to know one another. It was also months of Stiles’ being sexually frustrated and wanking more than usual, especially after Derek left his house or he came back from the loft. It was worse than with Lydia. She had never spent time on Stiles’ bed and in his space like Derek did.

Stupid Derek and stupid leather jacket and his insanely too tight pants and perfect hands and stupid beautiful smile.

Stiles sighed. He hadn’t stood a chance.

But now was not the time to think about Derek. He should be focusing on Scott so he could try this dream projection thing. Deaton had thought Scott would be the best choice since they had known each other longer than the rest of the pack. Made sense to Stiles. But he was doing a really shitty job of keeping his mind focused on anything besides Derek.

Stiles took a deep breath and tried to think about all the times he and Scott had played video games and had sleepovers and everything else over the course of their decade long friendship. He could do this. This had to work because he had to get out of here.

When Stiles finally fell asleep an hour later, despite his attempts to think about Scott, his last thought was about Derek.

*

Isaac sat down on the couch next to Derek. He was reading the end of an Agatha Christie book Peter had left on the coffee table. He’d been tired of watching the endless drama of daytime soap operas, so he’d picked it up that morning and had gotten sucked into the ways Miss Marple was unraveling the intricate heist.

“Derek, are you okay?” Derek looked over at Isaac as he picked at a thread on the hem of his shirt, not looking Derek in the eye.

“Yeah. Why would you ask that?” Derek sat the book across his leg, keeping his place.

“It’s just, you’ve been really withdrawn and quieter than usual. And there have been waves of all kinds of emotions coming off of you the past week. I just want you to know that I’m here for you if you need to talk.” Isaac finally looked up at Derek. “We all miss him, Derek.”

Derek took a deep breath and laid his head against the back of the sofa. “Fuck, Isaac. You have no idea.” Derek didn’t know why he was talking, but he was tired of not saying anything about it. “I used to get so annoyed with him, with his stupid rambly conversations and inane references, but something had changed between us the last few months. It’s like I’d finally gotten past all those things and gotten to see the real Stiles. And now I think I’d give just about anything to hear him make some veiled pop culture reference while shoving curly fries in his mouth.”

Isaac laughed. “He did have a way of wearing down your defenses, didn’t he? I think he’s the only person I ever knew who could talk just as enthusiastically about the military tactics of the Allies during World War II as he could about the new Marvel movie.” Derek chuckled, thinking about the one time Stiles had spent twenty minutes debating the costuming choices in X-Men verses The Avengers in response to Derek asking him about his psych test.

Fuck, he really did miss Stiles.

Sighing, Derek scrubbed his hand over his face. “I’ve lost so many people in my life; my family, Erica, now Stiles. I’m not sure I can lose anyone else.”

Isaac grabbed Derek’s shoulder and squeezed. “Just like with Erica, we’ll get through this, Derek. It’s going to hurt like fuck for a while, will always hurt a little. I went through the same thing with my mom, my brother, hell, even my dad. But just know that if it gets too much to handle and you need someone, I’m here, man. We’ve still got each other.”

“Yeah, we do.” Derek sometimes forgot how similar his and Isaac’s lives were. They’d both lost so many people they’d loved. Derek patted Isaac’s leg as he rose from the couch. “Same goes for you, too, you know? If you need to talk, I’m here.” Derek rubbed his hand over the back of Isaac’s neck as he walked toward kitchen to fix himself some lunch.

*

Derek pulled up outside the Stilinski house, parking along the road. He saw the cruiser in the driveway, so he knew the Sheriff was home.

Derek grabbed to containers from the little Italian place in town that he knew the Sheriff loved and stepped out of the car. He listened to the sounds inside the house on his way up to the door, hearing the faint sounds of a baseball announcer coming from the TV. Derek knocked on the door and heard the Sheriff grunt as he got up from his recliner.

Pulling open the door, the Sheriff looked shocked. “Derek. What are you doing here?”

Derek held up the containers in his hand. “I was craving Italian food and thought you might like some.”

The Sheriff opened the door wider. “Well, in that case, come on in.”

Derek walked through the door and toward the kitchen. The Sheriff entered the room behind him and walked over to the fridge. “Want a beer?” The Sheriff held up two he’d pulled out.

“Sure.” Derek took the containers out of the bag, opening them to see which one was his. “I got you the spaghetti and meatballs. I know Sti – you don’t get to eat it much.” Derek heard the Sheriff’s heart skip a beat when he almost said Stiles’ name, but it smoothed out as he walked over to grab the container.

“Thanks. I’m starving. I feel like I haven’t had a proper meal in forever.”

You haven’t, Derek thought as he watched the Sheriff walk back toward the living room where the game still played. Derek grabbed his food and beer and followed.

A few innings later, the Sheriff rubbed his stomach and pushed his empty container onto the coffee table. “That was so good. I’m stuffed.” He turned toward Derek. “Thanks for bringing it over. It’s nice to not eat alone.”

Derek pushed his empty container along side the Sheriff’s. “I know what you mean.” Derek looked over at the Sheriff, who had a far away look in his eyes. “It was the same way for me after my family died. I had Laura, but neither of us were really much company for a really long time.” Derek cleared his throat as the Sheriff finished off his second beer.

“Want another one?” The Sheriff stood to go back toward the kitchen.

“No thanks.”

The Sheriff disappeared into the kitchen, returning with a tumbler of what smelled like Jack. He took a sip as he looked back toward the TV. They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes before Derek spoke.

“They call that guy their best pitcher? They have to be kidding me!”

The Sheriff looked over at Derek. “You know baseball?”

“Love it. My dad and younger brother were big Dodgers fans when I was growing up. I spent so many nights yelling at the TV with them about bad calls and stupid decisions from the coaches.” Derek smiled slightly at the memory.

“Stiles and I fight about the Dodgers all the time.” The Sheriff stopped short. “Or at least we used to.”

Derek could feel the sorrow pouring off the Sheriff. He knew how this felt, the moment you had to readjust the way you talked about someone. But Derek also knew it wouldn’t get any better if he didn’t talk about it.

“We did, too. I mean, come on. The Mets? How could he like the Mets? Their batting stats alone are reason enough to make them subpar.”

The Sheriff laughed slightly, eyes slightly misty. “Right? Stiles always swore by Jose Reyes, but the guy couldn’t hit a ball thrown by a ten year old girl!”

They laughed and talked about Stiles for awhile, watching through the end of the game. By the time that Derek left after two reruns of some medical drama, the pain coming from the Sheriff seemed to have somewhat lessened.

Derek knew he wasn’t going to be okay for a long time, but it was a start.

*

“Seriously, you have to tell me the truth. I don’t have the super special wolfy lie detector you have.”

Derek laughed as he shot the guy that had popped up behind Stiles’ on the screen. “I don’t have a super special lie detector, Stiles. I just listen to people’s reactions.”

Stiles waved one hand in dismissal as he ran his character across the field with the other. “Same difference! But come on, tell me that I’m the smartest person you know and that ice cream and fries are the best thing you’ve ever eaten.”

Derek rolled his eyes. “Fine.” Derek licked his fingers as he popped another fry covered in vanilla ice cream in his mouth. Stiles got distracted for a minute by the movement before he refocused on Halo.

“They really are good.” Derek chewed as Stiles pumped his fist in the air. “But they are not the best thing I’ve ever eaten.”

Stiles punched Derek in the shoulder. “But they got damn close, didn’t they? I saw how your eyes kind of rolled back in your head when you took that first bite and how you keep licking your fingers. You can’t hide from me, Wolfy McWolferson.”

Derek couldn’t help but smile. “Wolfy McWolferson. That one’s new.” Derek heard the oven timer beep to let them know the cakes should be cooled enough. “Come on, let’s go frost this cake so you can try what is truly the best thing you’ve ever eaten.”

Stiles followed Derek into the kitchen and made a beeline for the icing.

“Hey, fingers out. We’re not going to have any left for the cake if you keep sneaking tastes.” Derek gently shook the first layer of the cake out of the pan, dropping it onto a plate.

“Small price to pay for how amazing this icing is. Screw the jars of it. I want a big tub of it I can swim around in and eat my way out.” Stiles licked another small dollop off the end of his finger. Stiles looked up to see Derek staring at him, a small flush rising on his cheeks.

“That sounds disgusting.” Derek shook his head slightly. “You’d die of a sugar overdose before you finished.”

Stiles continued to suck at his finger as Derek handed him a knife. “It’d be a hell of a way to go.”

“You’d think that, wouldn’t you?”

Derek grabbed the bowl of icing and heaped some onto the end of his knife. He ran the knife slowly across the top of the cake, spreading the thick butter cream in neat rows.

“You’re really good at that.” Stiles stuck his knife into the icing and started icing the edge of the cake closest to him. Unlike Derek’s smooth lines, Stiles’ edge had zigzags of frosting with little peaks where he kept picking up the knife to slide a little onto his finger.

“Stiles, you have to make smooth back and forth motions. You can’t just chop at the cake like that.” Derek started smoothing over the parts Stiles had already iced.

“Fine. You do it. I’ll supervise the bowl.” Stiles smiled and stuck the tip of the knife back into the bowl, grabbing more icing. He stuck the knife into his mouth and tasted the now familiar burst of sugar on his tongue. He groaned in appreciation.

“I think you’re right, Derek. This might be better than fries and ice cream.”

“I feel like I should write this down on the calendar. You said I was right about something.” Derek smirked as he pulled the second layer out of the pan, gently laying it across the top of the partially iced one.

Stiles watched Derek’s gentle movements, the way his hands glided across the cake as he slid the icing in thin layers across the top. Stiles kept idly eating the icing as he watched Derek work, not paying attention to how much of it had gotten onto his face. When Derek looked up to grab more icing to finish off the cake, he stared at Stiles with an odd look on his face. His eyes kept darting down to Stiles’ lips, which made Stiles lick them unconsciously. Derek leaned toward Stiles, clenching and unclenching his fist.

Stiles’ heart rate sped up. Oh God, Derek’s going to kiss me, Stiles thought as he watched Derek move slowly toward him. He felt his cheeks heat up as his mind raced. He wanted to kiss Derek again, had ever since he’d accidently kissed Derek that night he got drunk at the loft, and especially since he pulled back from Derek the night he made banana bread. But the inevitable rejection Stiles knew would follow any attempt at sober kissing kept Stiles from making a move. But if Derek made the move, then he couldn’t reject him if he was the one initiating it, right?

Stiles was about to lean forward and close the final few feet between them when he heard his dad’s key in the lock. He and Derek both looked toward the door, but instead of Stiles’ living room, there was just the warehouse. He saw himself lying on the bed, the broken window high above the ceiling, the hint of a sign outside the window just out of his line of vision.

He turned to look back at Derek to see if he was seeing the same thing, but instead of Derek, the Trickster was there, grinning just like he had that first time he’d told him he would kill his family. Stiles tried to scramble away from him, but his feet felt glued to the floor.

As the Trickster reached out to grab Stiles, he opened his mouth and let out a wail.

*

Derek awoke with a start. He shook his head and wiped his hand across his face. He really was getting tired of waking up like this. Groaning slightly, Derek rolled over and grabbed the notebook beside his bed, the one with the sketch of the warehouse in it. It was in his dream again and he’d remembered a few more details, plus he’d seen a man’s face, so he sketched them out and wrote down everything else he could think of that was relevant.

Throwing the notebook on the floor, Derek accidently knocked Stiles’ journal off the table by his bed. It dropped to the ground, flopping to a page near the back. Derek reached down to pick it up, looking at the entry.

It was dated the day Stiles died.

‘Not sure the Banshee is working alone. None of the research suggests that they slash through the faces of their victims. Most of the violent death accounts say the Banshee’s wail causes the victims to bleed out but say nothing about large claws like the last victims, despite all the reports of screeches near or at the time of deaths. Also, Dad found a hair fiber at the last scene. Once it’s analyzed, maybe we will know more.’

Derek looked down at the notebook, shocked. Stiles never told him he suspected that the Banshee wasn’t the killer. But then again, he knew Stiles would never tell him something like that unless he was certain. Derek looked down and kept reading.

‘According to this chapter I’m reading, it’s possible that the Banshee has an accomplice. The book describes how certain types of Banshees sometimes have symbiotic relationships with other supernatural creatures like Tricksters, Djinns, and Ghouls. Since we’ve dealt with ghouls before, I don’t think they’re what we’re dealing with here. Not sure about the other two, but I’ll keep doing some research.’

That was the last thing written in Stiles’ book. Derek stared at the page, willing it to tell him what Stiles had found.

This had to be why he was in the forest the night he was killed. He’d figured out that the Banshee wasn’t the only thing they were dealing with. But that didn’t make any sense. There was nothing else in the forest other than the Banshee.

They’d killed the Banshee that night. Derek and Boyd had chopped off her head with the bronze plated dagger, just like Stiles had told them. Then they’d found Stiles’ body and the world went to hell.

There hadn’t been an attack since that night, so Derek and the pack had no reason to think there was anything else besides the Banshee. But if Stiles was right, maybe something was still out there. He’d have to go back to Stiles’ room and get the book he referred to in his entry to make sure he wasn’t missing something important.

Derek sat the journal back on the table. Scrubbing his hand through his hair, Derek got off the bed and headed to the bathroom for a quick shower.

While he was in the shower, his mind drifted back to his dream. This dream was different from the others he’d had in the past week. Although it was from a familiar night, there were parts of the dream that he didn’t remember having witnessed. Like the way he could see the little details about himself that he couldn’t possibly know. Like the way he unconsciously flexed his hand as he leaned toward Stiles across the counter. He also felt things in those moments right before the Sheriff walked in that he knew weren’t his emotions. He’d felt them somewhat that night coming off of Stiles, like nervousness and fear, but this was different. It felt like the rejection and panic were his emotions in the dream. It was like he was feeling Stiles’ emotions, living the dream from Stiles’ perspective.

Derek stopped washing his leg. That was it. That had to be the explanation for the images he kept seeing of the warehouse and the memory dreams that felt so real. He wasn’t dreaming of Stiles, he was dreaming with him.

But that was insane, right? Maybe there was some kind of memory transference when he’d died. Or his spirit was haunting Derek at night as a way to punish him for letting him die. Or maybe Derek was going crazy. Because Stiles was dead.

Derek sighed. He just wasn’t sure. Never had been. That’s why he kept going back to Stiles’ every night. If he waited long enough and kept trying to find answers, maybe Stiles would come back and he wouldn’t have to lose anyone else.

The last page of Stiles’ journal popped into his head. It’d said that the Banshee sometimes worked with a Trickster. Derek had read something about a Trickster before, but he couldn’t remember where. It had to be in his family’s bestiary, he just had to remember what it said.

Derek thought hard, trying to go through the hundreds of entries he and Stiles had worked on over the last few months as he poured shampoo into his hair. He remembered something about how they tried to teach lessons, and how they liked to mess with people by altering reality.

Derek stopped rinsing the shampoo out of his hair. Altering reality. Like making it look like someone was dead. Like Stiles was dead.

Derek finished rinsing the shampoo out of this hair and shut off the water, grabbing a towel from the rack next to the tub. Some part of Derek had been looking for any sign that Stiles wasn’t dead since he’d found his body over a week ago. And now he’d found it.

He had to get dressed. He needed to talk to the Sheriff.

*

Derek drove over the speed limit on the way to the precinct, but he just had to get there as fast as he could. He walked swiftly through the door, stopping at the front desk. The new front desk cop held his hand up as he finished his phone conversation.

“May I help you?” He looked at Derek as he hung up the receiver.

“I need to see the Sheriff.” Derek cracked his thumb knuckle, trying to fight the urge to just bust through the door and run into his office.

“May I ask what this is about?” The cop, Corley according to his nametag, pulled out a form. “If this is some sort of a complaint, I can take down all the information necessary and get it to – “

“Listen, just tell him it’s Derek and it’s important,” Derek interrupted him, trying to suppress a growl.

“Fine.” Corley rolled his eyes and pressed a button on the phone and picked up receiver. “Sheriff, I’ve got a Derek out here that says he needs to see you.” He paused, listening to the Sheriff’s response.

“He said you can go on back,” he told Derek as he hung up the phone a little more firmly than necessary.

“Finally,” Derek huffed out as he stalked through the side door, heading to the Sheriff’s office.

“Derek,” the Sheriff said as Derek walked through the door, “twice in two days. This seems to be becoming a habit. I hope you aren’t in any kind of trouble.” The Sheriff signed a document on his desk and looked up as Derek sat in the chair across from him.

“No, it has nothing to do with me. But I am going to have to ask you to keep an open mind here.”

The Sheriff rubbed his forehead. “I’ve been pretty open-minded over the past year. I’m not sure how more open my mind can get.”

Derek chuckled softly. “Well, you might be surprised.”

The Sheriff sighed. “Fine. What is it?”

“I think Stiles is still alive.” The Sheriff’s eyes got wide as he looked at Derek incredulously. Derek threw his hand up, halting the Sheriff’s protests. “Just hear me out.”

The Sheriff breathed in and out deeply, then looked at Derek, waiting for him to continue.

Derek relayed all the information he had, about the dreams and the Trickster, showed him the entry in Stiles’ journal and told him about the warehouse images he kept seeing. Through it all, the Sheriff never said a word or reacted to any part of Derek’s tale. When he was done, the Sheriff sat back in his chair, hand still on Stiles’ journal were it sat on his desk.

Looking up at Derek, the Sheriff steeled his shoulders. “What do we have to do to find my son?”

*

Stiles’ Log: Day 9. Still in this fucking hell hole. Walls still look the same. Had another dream about Derek. Which probably means he didn’t project anything to Scott. Same ol’, same ol’.

He wasn’t exactly sure how he was going to know if he did project his dreams, but since the only thing he remembers dreaming about was icing and almost kissing Derek, he was pretty sure it didn’t work. The Trickster had been there, too, but he chose not to think about that guy. He’d show up soon enough.

Stiles sighed and rolled over on his back. Stupid ceiling. Why didn’t it ever change? If Stiles was going to be here a while, maybe he should start thinking about decorating. Maybe fashioning a little privacy curtain out of the extra sheet on his bed. That way, he’d be cut off from the rest of the room when he finally broke down to take a shower because he couldn’t stand the smell of himself anymore. Didn’t want Mr. Trickster to try and sneak a peek. He bets the Trickster was a voyeuristic perv, looking into unsuspecting girls’ rooms late at night.

Stiles laughed. If the Trickster really wanted to see naked people, he could just make them appear out of thin air. That was how he worked, right? He could just conjure up a whole group of ladies (or gentlemen for that matter) who would just be dying to get all up on them some Trickster. Stiles giggled at the thought and couldn’t stop. He just kept giggling, hand held to his stomach as it began to ache from his convulsions.

Finally calming down, Stiles walked over to the sink and ran some cold water over his face from the tap. It may be a little murky, but his face felt like it was covered in about a thousand layers of gunk.

After peeing (without flushing, he might add; just because he was locked in some warehouse didn’t mean he didn’t care about water conservation. Just like at home, if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down), Stiles walked back over and sat on the middle of the bed, pulling his chain behind him. Looking around, Stiles tried to look closely at the warehouse for anything he’d missed in his previous examinations. He couldn’t research any way to get out of here, but he could do all he could to make sure the image he would eventually project would be the best damn researched images ever. Cause as of right now, he just knew he was in a generic warehouse and he was sure there were about a million of those in California alone.

So Stiles started at the corner closest to him, gazing carefully at each inch of the siding and noting the shape, color, and any anomalies that might make it stand out.

He was on the second wall when the door to the warehouse opened. The Trickster walked in carrying his usual. Instead of walking to the corner like he usually did, Stiles stayed seated on the bed.

“Good to see you today, Mr. Trickster. I hope the night didn’t treat you badly. Well, I really do kind of hope that something treated you badly, even if it was just a loud neighbor or noisy crickets, but that’s neither here nor there.”

The Trickster laid the plate on the edge of the bed and turned to leave.

“Wait. Can I get some more toilet paper and maybe a towel? If I’m going to be here forever, I’d really like to be able to shower or clean off at some point. And I’m almost out of toilet paper, and I’d really rather not have to use the sheets or my shirt when I have to go.”

The Trickster paused his stride when Stiles started talking, but continued to walk out the door, never responding to Stiles’ request. Stiles stared at the closed door for a beat.

“Fine. Be that way. It’s going to be your problem when I start throwing my soiled sheets at your face when you walk in the doors. I’ll be like those howler monkeys I saw at the zoo that one time Scott’s mom took us to see them. I’ll just make little presents to leave for you and play Wack a Trickster whenever you come to see me.”

Stiles dropped back onto the bed and sighed. He really was losing it. He was talking to himself about throwing poo at his captors. How had his life come to this?

Groaning, Stiles rose back up and grabbed a piece of meat off the plate and started where he’d left off on his ‘research’.

*

Stiles had scoured the walls and structures around him for most of the day. He really hadn’t found anything interesting except he finally figured out that the big blob across the room was actually a grouping of three barrels with faded ‘flammable’ stickers across their sides and that, if he laid upside down off the side of the bed and looked across at the broken window, the trees outside looked like a pig. That didn’t help much except it made him want some bacon. With cheese on top of a huge hamburger with ketchup and tomato and lettuce. And curly fries! Man, he missed curly fries.

Stiles’ stomach growled. Which meant it was time to stop thinking about curly fries and think about something else less tasty. He had another piece of bread left, but he was saving it to eat closer to what he guessed was dinner time.

In an attempt to move his mind past magical greasy things, Stiles assumed the position he’d been in earlier and tried to find more barn yard animals outside the windows.

His head was still hanging over the side when the door opened for a second time that day.

Now this was different. The Trickster had never come into the warehouse twice in one day before. Stiles watched his progress upside down as he walked across the warehouse floor and sat down a four pack of toilet paper on the edge of the sink. The Trickster turned around and headed toward the door.

“Wow, look at you. Bringing me a present. Does this mean we’re friends now? Do I need to start weaving us friendship bracelets or something? I can braid your hair if you like. Mine would be hard to braid, but you could always give it the ol’ college try. Thanks again for the lovely present. Please come again to my humble abode.”

The door clicked closed behind the Trickster.

Well, so much for bating him for information today. He’d just have to try again tomorrow.

*

“Have you seen Scott today?” Derek asked Isaac as he folded up the copy of the map he and the Sheriff made at the station. They had laid out where all of the abandoned warehouses were within a thirty mile radius. It was as far out as they had time to plan before the Sheriff’s shift had ended, which had been seven hours after Derek had gotten there. On his way out of the Station, the Sheriff had gone to his head deputy and told him he was taking a few days off.

“I just don’t think that’s going to work, Sheriff. We’re running a half crew as it is, what with all the vacations now that summer is officially underway. I don’t think we’ll have enough people to cover everything.” The deputy flipped through the schedule on his desk.

The Sheriff stared at him for a beat. “Well, in that case, I’m going back on leave. I only took three days when my son died, and I just don’t think it was enough. I’ll have the paper work on your desk as soon as I can. You’re acting sheriff now, Johnson.”

The Sheriff had turned and walked out the door, Derek hot on his trail, with Johnson still sputtering his protest as they walked out of the station. They’d decided to split up the quadrants on the map and Derek was just grabbing a few more things before he checked his first. Derek turned to Isaac, who was chewing the bite of sandwich he’d just taken.

“No. Why?” Isaac took another bite of his sandwich, leaning up against the table Derek was working on.

“I sent him a text about the pack meeting tonight at 8, but he never texted me back. I haven’t really talked to him since Stil – since the funeral, but this is important.” Derek shoved the papers in the pocket on the inside of his jacket and checked to make sure he had his phone and keys.

“What’s so important?” Isaac looked over the few papers Derek had left on the table, picking up the extra copy of the warehouse location map that he’d made at the precinct. “You’re acting different than you were yesterday. I don’t know what you’re doing, but it’s made you seem… hopeful.”

Derek sighed. “I was going to wait until the pack meeting, but I guess now is as good a time as any.” Derek grabbed the map from Isaac as he heard Boyd come into the loft. “Boyd, come here. You might as well hear this now, too.”

Derek relayed, for the second time that day, all the information he had. Half way through his explanation, Peter wandered in from his room in the back of the loft and leaned against a pillar.

“So the Sheriff is already out searching one quadrant. I wanted to come back and get ready for the pack meeting before I took the closest area to here that I thought I could cover before 8.”

Derek steeled himself as he looked up at his betas, seeing Peter had walked over to the table when Derek had finished talking. They all looked thoughtful, but Isaac was the first to speak.

“Do you have another map? If we split up, we can cover a shit ton more territory that way.”

Boyd nodded in agreement. “If we take adjacent squares with multiple warehouses, we can make sure we cover the whole area without the threat of the Trickster moving around if he hears us.”

Derek released a breath he didn’t realize he was holding. He walked over and clapped them both on the shoulder.

“Thank you.” Derek squeezed their shoulders and walked back to the table, pulling out two more copies of the map. Peter pointed to three areas close together that held at least two warehouses each.

“If I drive the boys to the first two areas here,” Peter drew a circle around two quadrants about five miles from the loft, “then I can check the furthest one out and pick them up on my way back.”

Derek looked up at his uncle. They had had their problems in the past, hell, he’d killed him for fuck’s sake, but this was the uncle that Derek remembered from when he was little. Smart, tactical, and willing to go out of his way to help his pack.

Derek smiled softly at him. “Thanks, Peter.” Derek didn’t know if he could ever forgive Peter for killing Laura, but this was a step on the direction of them building something new.

Isaac looked up from his phone. “Scott said he’ll be here at 8. I didn’t tell him anything. I figured you needed to do that.”

“Thanks, Isaac. I’ll take this route and should be back here in time to talk to Scott and the Sheriff.” Derek handed all of them a map. “If you find anything, call me. Don’t try and take him on by yourself. He’s obviously dangerous and cunning.” Derek’s eyes flashed red. “Be careful.” He rubbed his hands over the back of Boyd, Peter, and Isaac’s necks as they gathered their things, silently hoping no one else would get hurt in this fight.

Derek turned and walked out the door, his betas behind him. For the first time in over a week, Derek felt some of the tension ease around his heart.

This was going to work. They were going to find Stiles.

*

Derek walked into the loft at five minutes to eight. Scott was already waiting on the couch.

“What’s this about, Derek? Isaac said it was important.” Scott got up and walked toward him.

Derek threw his map on the table and grabbed a marker, drawing huge Xs on the five quadrants they had checked. No one had found anything. But that didn’t mean they weren’t going to. There were plenty of warehouses left in California for him to check.

Derek turned around to face Scott. “Like I told the Sheriff, Boyd, and Isaac, you’re going to have to hear me out before you freak out.”

“What the hell does the Sheriff have to do with this? You shouldn’t drag him into whatever supernatural thing we’re fighting. The man’s got enough on his plate right now.” Scott voice rose higher the longer he talked.

“He needed to be a part of this. Just let me explain.” Derek looked Scott. He looked rough. He had dark circles under his eyes, his face was paler than usual, and his clothes were rumpled.

“Fine. What is it?” Scott sat on the stool across the table, Derek following suit.

As he explained, Scott got more and more agitated. Right when Derek was about to explain the page in Stiles’ bestiary, Scott jumped off his stool, knocking it over.

“You have to be fucking kidding me! This is what you’re having everyone do? What you drug the Sheriff into?”

“Scott, just let me fini – “

Scott slammed his hand down on the table. “I’ve heard enough. Can’t you just leave this? You’re just grasping at straws, trying to change the past.”

“I’m not trying to change anything. I’m trying to find Stiles. He’s out there somewhere in a warehouse being held by some mad man!” Derek’s eyes flashed red at the thought of Stiles chained up.

“There is no Trickster, there is no warehouse. You’re out of your fucking mind.” Scott shook his head, eyes turning gold as he stared straight at Derek. “You’d think you of all people would handle death better than this.”

Derek stood up, eyes flashing red again. “Fuck you, Scott. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Stiles is out there. I know it.”

Scott advanced on Derek, getting right in his face. “Stiles is dead, Derek. We all saw his dead body. Stiles –“ Scott’s voice broke over the name. Scott cleared his throat and continued. “He was my best friend. Don’t you think I’d know if he was still alive?”

Derek growled at Scott, backing them up until Scott was up against the table. “You can believe whatever the fuck you want. I know Stiles is still alive and I’m not going to stop until I find him.”

“And what happens to the Sheriff when you don’t find him? He’s going to lose his son all over again and that will be your fault. I’m not sure he’ll survive that.” Scott scrubbed his hands through his hair. “Just because you two spent some time together, just because you’ve made up some deep connection between the two of you where you can see into his dreams, doesn’t give you the right to drag his father into this. He’s lost everything. You’re just making it worse.”

“You wouldn’t know shit about Stiles. You’ve been so far stuck up Allison and Isaac’s asses the past year that you barely knew what he did.” Derek felt his claws dig into his palms as he turned away from Scott, fighting the urge to punch him.

“How dare you say something like that? I was friends with Stiles way before your stupid shit fucked up our lives. We spent plenty of time together.” Scott started walking toward Derek again.

Derek matched Scott’s stride, leaning close. “Sure, Scott. At school and when it was convenient for you. But if the two of you were so close, then why was he spending time here and why was I over at his house almost every night?”

They heard the loft door open and the Sheriff walked in. Seeing their stance and eyes, the Sheriff halted his steps.

“What’s going on, you two?” The Sheriff walked slowly toward the desk, eyes flicking between them.

Derek ignored the Sheriff, looking Scott straight in the eye. “You can help or you can get the fuck out of my face. It’s your decision.”

Scott growled at Derek. “You know what, Derek? Fuck you.”

Scott turned around and stormed out of the loft, slamming the door behind him.

The Sheriff walked over to the table, throwing down his flashlight and map.

“What the hell was all that?”

Derek held up his map, finding the next quadrants he wanted the pack to search. “Nothing. If Scott wants to be a shit, then let him. I’ve got bigger things to worry about.”

If they kept at the rate they were going, it would still be days before they covered the areas he’d already plotted. He just prayed to whoever would listen that Stiles could hold on that long.

*

Stiles’ Log: Day 10. Fuck, this place was really starting to get on his nerves. Even the fucking light shining through the fucking windows was getting on his nerves. He just wanted to be home, eating a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch while watching bad reruns of competition shows and playing his favorite online games. He’d have leveled up at least ten times by now. And that, along with everything else, just pissed Stiles off this morning.

It didn’t help that Stiles didn’t dream last night. How was he supposed to dream walk with Scott if he couldn’t dream?

Stiles heard the door to the warehouse open, looking over to see the Trickster with his daily dose of food.

“Oh, look. The stupid Trickster and his stupid face are here.” Stiles swung his feet over the side of his cot, sitting up.

He usually tried to be nicer to the guy, but he’d had a shitty night’s sleep and hell, he was being held prisoner. He didn’t owe him any common decency. He was sure there was a rule about that. If not, he’d have to talk to his dad about trying to make it a law. ‘A prisoner is not required to be courteous or kind to any man or woman who holds said prisoner captive for more than a day’s time.’ They could call it The Stiles Proclamation.

“Looks like I get the same crappy food as always. Do you really have no other options besides stale bread and tough dry meat? I mean, it wouldn’t kill a guy to go to the grocery once in a while, would it? Or are you still living with your mother? Does she do all the shopping for you? Does the mean old Trickster need his mommy to make his food?”

The Trickster walked toward Stiles, sitting his food on the floor beside Stiles’ cot.

“No response again today, huh? Just makes you seem really lazy, there, Trickster.” Stiles stood up, facing the Trickster as he was about to walk away. Maybe it was the crappy night sleep, maybe he was starting to go insane, but Stiles just finally snapped.

“What the fuck are you doing with me?” Stiles yelled, walking toward the Trickster. “What the fuck is the purpose of having me if no one knows I’m here? Are all your plans this fucking dumb or I am just a special case?”

The Trickster turned around, smiling the same creepy smile Stiles had seen before. “I found you amusing at first, boy, but now you are beginning to grate on my nerves.” The Trickster advanced on Stiles, but Stiles stood his ground. His heart was hammering in his chest, but he’d faced down scarier things than a nut job Trickster with a ponytail.

“Yeah, I get that a lot.” Stiles stepped a little closer. “But you still didn’t answer my question. Are you dumb or am I just special?”

The Trickster’s hand flew at Stiles, catching him across the cheek. “Want to see me do something?” The Trickster grabbed Stiles, punching him in the face. When Stiles doubled over, the Trickster punched him in the stomach.

Stiles was beginning to think that this was a bad idea when the Trickster’s knee came up and knocked him in the head. Yelping in pain, Stiles fell to the concrete floor, one hand clutching his head while his other was wrapped across his stomach.

The Trickster leaned down, speaking softly into Stiles ear. “Is that better?”

Stiles shivered, smelling the sickeningly sweet scent of his breath. “I’ve been beaten worse. I got kidnapped twice by rogue hunters, so really, this is a cake walk.”

“Is that so?” Stiles saw the Trickster move around his body out of the corner of his eye right before he felt his foot connect with his back. Stiles cried out in pain, flinching away from the blow.

Stiles wheezed, wincing as he tried to regain his breath from where it’d been knocked out of him.

“I guess I do owe you an explanation, don’t I, Stiles?” The Trickster walked around to his front again, kicking him in the stomach.

“You see, Tricksters feed off of the misery of others. I was just passing through Beacon Hills when I ran across your alpha in the forest.” Stiles’ heart clenched with the mention of Derek. “I could sense a low dose of misery radiating off of him. It wasn’t hard to find out that he’d lost his family to such tragedy. Now you see, I haven’t ever had the pleasure of playing with a werewolf, but the more I followed your alpha, the more I realized how strong his emotions were, especially when he was around you.”

Stiles’ eyes popped open, but he winced when his head throbbed at the sudden brightness. “You made his misery lessen. Whenever he was with you, he radiated lust, annoyance, affection, and love. It was a dizzying combination. So, being the kind of guy that I am, I decided to see what would happen when I started killing people in his territory.”

Stiles saw the Trickster’s fingers lengthen into gnarled claws as he knelt down.

“He was distracted, but the random people I chose to drop into his territory didn’t increase his misery. He just kept going to you for help and spending more time with you with every kill I made. Then it finally dawned on me.” The Trickster ran his claw across Stiles’ jaw, lightly caressing it with his sharp nail. “I needed to take the one thing that would make him more miserable, needed to rip away the most important thing in his life.”

The Trickster pressed his nail against Stiles’ cheek, making shallow mark. Stiles’ hissed in pain.

“That was you. I’m not sure I understand why, but werewolves have always been strange creatures.” The Trickster stood back up as Stiles felt a small trickle of blood fall down his cheek. “It was just luck that you showed up in the forest that night. I was looking for you, following the Banshee. I knew you and your pack had no clue it was a Trickster you were dealing with and were instead looking for my little parasite shadow. Thanks for leading them to kill her, by the way. It got really annoying having her howl every time I was about to kill something.”

The Trickster walked over to Stiles’ bed and grabbed the bread off the tray, taking a bite. Stiles felt the bile rise in his throat, thinking about how it was his fault the pack had even been wrong in the first place. He was the one that had been so convinced it was a Banshee.

“I was just about to leave and come to your house to kill you when you stumbled right past me in the dark, trying so hard to find the others. I heard you murmuring to yourself about how stupid you’d been and beating yourself up for missing the obvious signs it was something other than a Banshee.”

Stiles groaned as he pushed himself into a seated position. “Why didn’t you kill me if that was your plan?”

The Trickster threw the bread back on the tray and turned back toward Stiles. “I almost did, but then I thought about what fun I could have with you still alive. I conjured up a body that looked and smelled just like you. Your pack was so devastated. Oh, all the misery coming from them right now is blissful. But I knew that one day they’d start to heal. See, once your pack started to get used to the idea of you being dead, their misery would lessen. When that happened, all I would have to do it chop off some body part of yours and leave it lying around and then they’d be miserable all over again.”

Stiles rubbed his sleeve gently over his cheek, wiping some of the blood off. “But why can’t you just kill a bunch of people somewhere else and feed off the misery that way. Or hell, people die all the time, why don’t you feed off just normal everyday misery?”

The Trickster barked out a laugh. “You are right, Stiles. People are miserable. But what fun is it to just feel normal misery? Plus, there is nothing better than misery that I had a hand in creating. The longer I deal with the people, the stronger their misery is for me. And you, your misery is like my dessert. Ever since you found of they thought you were dead, you’ve been even more miserable than before. It’s like a buffet of emotions, all for me.” The Trickster smiled.

Stiles laughed darkly, shaking his head. “You really are a sick fuck, aren’t you? And where is the lesson in this? Isn’t that what Tricksters do?”

The Trickster turned sharply toward Stiles, crouching down to face him again. “I am what I was born to be. That doesn’t make me sick.” The Trickster stood up. “And don’t believe everything you read. I’m doing this because I can.”

Stiles felt a surge of pain as the Trickster kicked him again. He dropped back onto his side, trying to roll into a ball as the Trickster’s foot connected over and over again with his stomach and back. Stiles winced as he felt a blow graze across his head. He couldn’t die like this, not on the floor of some abandoned warehouse in the middle of nowhere. He’d never get to go on patrol with his dad again, have Halo marathons with Scott. He’d never get a chance to kiss Derek when he was sober enough to remember what his lips felt like pressed against his.

As he felt himself passing out, Stiles knew he had to make it through this. He just had to hold on a little longer.

*

Derek threw a marker against a wall, watching the casing shatter and fall to the floor. Another five miles covered and still nothing. Derek was still hopeful, but the farther out they got from downtown Beacon Hills, the more anxious Derek got. They hadn’t found a trace of anything, not even a faint reminder of Stiles’ scent. It was really starting to piss Derek off. Where the hell had the Trickster taken Stiles?

Derek hadn’t slept or stopped and had barely eaten since he’d figured out Stiles wasn’t dead. That was almost 48 hours ago. It felt like a lifetime. Grabbing another marker from the table, Derek crossed two more sectors off the map.

Hearing the door open, Derek turned around to see Scott walk through the door.

“You’re the last person I expected to see.” Derek leaned back against the table, crossing his arms over his chest.

Scott walked toward Derek, looking as if he hadn’t gotten much more sleep than Derek since he’d last seen him.

“Ok, so I know what I said, and I’m not sure I fully believe this theory you have, but I’m willing to help if there’s any way I can find Stiles.” Scott paused, looking Derek in the eyes. “I just want my best friend back.”

Derek could feel the sorrow radiating from Scott. He turned around, looking back at the map.

“Come on Derek, we were both dicks, so I don – “

Derek turned around, throwing a map at Scott, cutting him off.

“Here’s a map. Isaac, Boyd, Peter, and the Sheriff are out right now, but I was about to check the quadrant that’s circled on that map. Just look for anything out of place in the area and search the warehouse that’s marked with an X.” Derek walked over and grabbed Scott’s shoulder, squeezing it as he passed toward the kitchen. “Now make yourself useful so we can get him back.”

Scott scoffed as he looked at the area on the map in his hand.

“I hope you’re right.” Scott sighed and walked back out of the loft.

“So do I.”

Derek walked to the sink, pulling out a glass and filling it with water. He was just finishing the glass when he heard someone walk into the loft.

“Derek?” he heard Boyd yell from the living room.

Derek sat his glass in the sink and walked into the entryway. “I’m here. Find anything?”

Boyd shook his head. “Same as everywhere else. Just an empty warehouse. No sign Stiles or anyone else had been there in a long time.”

Derek walked over to the table, marking another section off the map. He rubbed his temples, feeling drained.

“I’ve already planned out the next five areas to check. I need to assign another one; Scott’s taking one, so now I’m one short.”

Boyd walked into the kitchen and came out a minute later with a bottle of water. “Scott’s helping now?”

Derek nodded.

“Bout damn time.”

Derek’s lips lifted in a small smile. He just didn’t have the energy for anything more than that.

After plotting another area, Derek folded up his map and turned to grab his coat.

“I’ve left a list for Isaac and Peter for when they come back and here is where I want you to go.” Derek pointed to an area on the map still lying on the table. “The Sheriff already called and knows where he’s going next. The area I’m covering is a little farther out than the others, so it may take me a little longer.”

Derek walked toward the door, grabbing his jacket. Boyd grabbed his elbow, halting his movements.

“Derek, you need to sleep. You haven’t stopped to do anything but plan since this all started. You’ll be no use to Stiles if you try to fight the Trickster when you’re dead on your feet. You really need to get some rest.” Boyd looked at him, a stern look in his eye. “You may be the alpha, but we can handle the search for a few hours while you sleep.”

Derek scrubbed his hands over his eyes. “I don’t know if I could even if I tried. I just keep thinking about him out there, tied up, alone and scared in the hands of a psychopathic shape shifter.” Derek looked at Boyd, fear evident on his face. “I just have to find him, Boyd.”

Boyd pulled the jacket from Derek’s grasp, laying it back down on the table by the door. “And you will. But now, you sleep.” Boyd grabbed Derek’s shoulder and pushed him toward the staircase. “I promise, I’ll call if we find anything.”

Derek slowly walked up the stairs. He didn’t want to sleep. Every cell in his body was telling him to find Stiles. But Boyd had a point. If he tried to fight anything right now, he’d lose. His vision was kind of blurry and he felt like a strong wind could knock him over. He’d gone longer than two days without sleep, but really, Derek hadn’t had a good night’s sleep since before Stiles was killed.

Derek’s heart clenched. No, not killed. Taken. Taken to a warehouse where he was tied to a bed in the cold without any –

Derek shook his head. He couldn’t think about that right now or he’d never get to sleep.

He laid down on his bed, kicking his boots over the edge. Turning over on his side, Derek tried to clear his mind, but images of maps, warehouses, and Stiles kept popping into his head.

Despite his racing mind, it only took a few minutes for Derek to fall asleep.

*

Derek awoke feeling panicked, dizzy, and sore all over. He tried to open his eyes, but he felt like his eyelids were made of lead. He didn’t know where he was. The smells and sounds were different from the loft and nothing seemed familiar.

Hearing a door open, he was finally able to open his eyes, but everything was blurry. Searching out the sound, he tried to blink, but his eyes wouldn’t cooperate. What the hell was going on? Why wouldn’t his body do what he wanted it to?

He finally blinked a few times, bringing the room and the source of the noise into focus. He noticed a heartbeat for the first time, slowly picking up tempo. Focusing on the walls around the room, Derek gasped, or he would have if he was in control of his body. It was the warehouse he’d been dreaming about. Focusing on the man in the room, the same one from his dream, Derek guessed this was the Trickster.

Oh fuck, I’m dreaming with Stiles. But this feels different. Then it dawned on him. I’m not dream sharing with him. I am him.

Derek heard a scraping noise as the Trickster slid the tray he was holding onto the floor out of Derek’s vision.

“What, no witty remarks today, Stiles? Did beating the shit out of you finally shut you up?”

Derek felt his (or, he guessed, Stiles’) panic getting worse, singing through his veins.

“That’s what I thought.”

The Trickster turned and walked out, door slamming closed behind them.

Derek felt sorrow rush over Stiles, building as his breathing picked up. He tried to help control the breathing, but it was no use. He couldn’t calm Stiles down. He heard Stiles heart beat faster, thumping so loudly that it filled his head. Stiles closed his eyes and Derek felt Stiles’ body curl in on itself.

“Derek, please find me.”

Derek wanted to scream, tell him that he was trying, that he and the pack were going to find him. But nothing came out. It was just the beat of Stiles’ heart, getting louder and louder. Derek tried to focus on the noise, willing himself to wake up.

*

Derek woke up, gasping. As Derek calmed his breathing, he listened to the loft, trying to figure out what time it was and if anyone else was there.

Derek shot up in bed. This couldn’t be. He wasn’t still dreaming. He knew that. But something was different.

He could still hear the heartbeat. Stiles’ heartbeat.

He focused on the heartbeat, still thumping faster than was normal. Listening to the beat, Derek felt a tug, almost like an instinct telling him he needed to be somewhere else. Images of the warehouse, of a forest and roads, flashed through Derek’s mind.

Derek stood up, grabbing his shoes off the floor, shoving his feet in them as he stumbled down the stairs. Scott was sitting on the couch as Derek raced across the room, grabbing his keys and jacket.

“Hey, Derek, what’s going on?” Derek spun around towards Scott, who looked bewildered.

“I know where Stiles is.”

“How do –“

“I just do. Now get in the fucking car.”

*

Derek pulled the Camaro over to the side of the road, shutting it off and climbing out.

“He’s here?” Scott asked as he followed Derek.

The heartbeat was getting louder the closer her got. He wasn’t sure how exactly he knew where to go, but like the pull of the full moon, his instincts were telling him that Stiles was just over 3 miles through the woods in front of him.

“This way.”

Derek took off at a run, heart beating alongside the thumping in his head. He didn’t know if Scott was following him or if he was talking. All he could hear was Stiles’ heartbeat growing closer and louder with each foot he ran. He sped up, running with everything he had.

Just hold on Stiles. I’m coming.

*

His head hurt. That’s all Stiles really knew right now. The pain in his temple was making it hard to focus, and every time he opened his eyes, his vision was blurry. He’s pretty sure he has a concussion, but that could be the concussion talking. Wait, that doesn’t make any sense. So yeah, he definitely had a concussion.

Stiles tried to focus on his breathing, willing the pain to stop. He’d kill for some meds right now, but in order to function enough to kill anything, he’d need the meds. So yeah, Catch-22. Stiles had never read that book, but it’s on the AP reading list for senior year, so he might read it. If he ever got out of this damn warehouse.

Stiles heard a commotion outside the warehouse. It sounded like someone had crashed into a huge pile of wood and knocked against the side of the warehouse walls. The loud clanging was making Stiles’ headache worse, but he slowly opened his eyes, trying to figure out where the noise was coming from. He blinked a few times, clearing his vision as much as was possible in his current state. The room looked the same, just blurry around the edges.

It had gotten dark while he slept. Well, passed out was more like it. He shifted his arm, trying to push himself up on the cot, but yelped as a sharp, intense pain shot through his ribs. Must have broken some ribs, then. Great.

The sounds from outside seemed to increase, and Stiles recognized the sound of growls.

He knew those growls. It was the pack. They’d finally found him.

The door crashed open and Stiles saw the Trickster and Derek in his Alpha wolf form fall through the door, Scott in his beta form running in behind them. Wolf-Derek tore scratches into the Trickster’s chest, which was already littered with bloody claw marks. Pushing his legs out, the Trickster kicked Wolf-Derek off and scrambled away, trying to stand up. Wolf-Derek turned around, motioning with his head at Scott. He ran at the Trickster, punching him in the face to keep him on the floor.

Wolf-Derek lunged at the Trickster, growls emanating from deep in his throat. His teeth closed around the Trickster’s neck, blood squirting from where his teeth punctured his skin. Wolf-Derek wrenched his head to the side, taking a large chunk of skin and muscle with him. The Trickster fell backward, blank eyes rolling toward the ceiling.

Now it’s your turn to stare at the fucking ceiling, you bastard.

Stiles looked to where Wolf-Derek stood over the Trickster’s body. If he was in a better state of mind, he might be freaked out that Derek just ripped a guy’s throat out in front of him, but right now, he couldn’t help but be amazed by how graceful he looked standing in the warehouse, even with blood on his teeth and muzzle. He’d only seen Derek in his alpha form a few times, but it was nothing that he’d ever forget.

Stiles jumped when the door slammed open again, his dad running in waving his gun around as he surveyed the warehouse.

Stiles felt relief wash over him. It was over. Derek had killed the Trickster and his dad was here. Stiles almost wept with joy.

“Dad.” Stiles tried to yell, but his throat was too scratchy.

His dad rushed over to his bed, kneeling beside him.

“Stiles.” His dad gently wrapped his arms around his neck, laying his forehead against Stiles’. “Fuck, son, it’s good to see you.”

“Language, Dad.” Stiles tried to chuckle, but he didn’t have the strength.

His dad laughed, clutching him closer. Stiles winced a little at the movement, but didn’t tell his dad to stop. He didn’t care how painful it was. He just needed to feel his dad’s arms around him right now.

“Leave it up to you to say something snarky at a time like this.” His dad pulled back, looking over his face and checking for injuries. Stiles could hear movement on the other side of the warehouse, but it seemed so far away compared to his dad right now.

“What did that son of a bitch do to you?” His dad kept running his hand gently over Stiles’ arms, his head, as if he was afraid he’d disappear.

“Dad, it’s ok. I’m here. I’m hurt, and am pretty sure I have some kind of head injury and some broken ribs, but I’m here.” Stiles tried to grasp his dad’s shoulder, but the movement felt too difficult. He closed his eyes, trying to ease his headache, which was getting worse by the minute. “I’m here.”

Stiles felt his father stand up, cold where his arms had been around him. Stiles cracked his eyes and saw Derek above him, back in his human form, chest glistening in the dim light.

“Hi, wolfy.”

Derek leaned down, gently putting his arms under Stiles’ body. Stiles groaned as pain shot through him.

“Hey, watch it. Fragile broken human here.”

Stiles felt Derek’s hand brush against his side as he rose up. He suddenly felt some of the pain drain out of him, easing the tension in his ribs. Stiles opened his eyes and glanced at Derek.

“Are you using the freaky werewolf pain sucker thing on me?”

Derek leaned down, gently sniffing at Stiles’ hair as he started to move across the warehouse. “Yes, Stiles.”

He tried to stay awake, but between the pain and the exhaustion, he just couldn’t keep his eyes open. As he was drifting off, Stiles heard Derek whisper, “I knew you were alive.”

*

Stiles’ New Log: Day 14. Man, did he love his ceiling. He’d never given much thought to his ceiling before this, but after spending so much time staring at a crappy metal ceiling, he was thankful to see the wonderfully ordinary sheetrock, complete with a silly string stain from when he and Scott had had an epic battle that had gotten out of hand in the fifth grade.

Stiles rolled over, enjoying the mostly pain free movement. The Trickster had really done a number on him, but between the werewolf pain sucker, the meds, and all the rest he’d gotten over the last two weeks, he was definitely on the upswing of the healing process.

He was kind of fuzzy on the first few days of his recovery, but he knew that Derek, Scott, and his dad had taken Stiles straight to the emergency room after they’d found him in the warehouse. Where Derek was naked, now that he thought of it. He’d been carried out of the warehouse by a buck naked Derek. He would never forgive the Trickster for making him too dazed to see Derek in his full glory. Well, he’d hate him forever for a lot of things, but that was up there on the list. He vaguely remembered waking up on the way there and hearing Derek whispering “You’re ok” over and over again in his ear as he fell back asleep. Well, he was most likely passing back out, but whatever. Semantics.

He’d had a severe concussion, three broken ribs (ha, just like he’d thought), bruised almost everything, and a fractured wrist. Mrs. McCall had told him that he was lucky he didn’t have any other broken bones. Stiles chalked it up to his wiliness, but it probably was more because of all the layers he wore. Lots of padding.

Stiles shifted gently to sit up; although he was mostly healed, his ribs twinged. He leaned over to his nightstand, grabbing his phone. There were three texts from Scott and one from Lydia. They’d told him she’d flown back for his funeral, but since she was back in London with Jackson and taking summer courses (she’d gotten into university a year early over there, so she was getting a head start on college), she kept texting him to make sure he was okay. That didn’t really explain why Scott kept texting him, especially since he’d seen him everyday since he’d been rescued. Well, so had most of the pack.

That first day in the hospital had been rough. When he’d first woken up, he’d felt like he’d gotten hit by a bus, well what he guess that felt like, and it hurt every time he breathed too deeply. He saw newspapers and empty coffee cups littering the table and chairs by his bed, but before he could see anyone, the nurse came in and gave him some sedatives that she said would “help him heal more.”

When he’d woken up again, he’d found Derek asleep in the rickety chair next to his bed, clenching Stiles’ hand in his even in his sleep. Stiles shook Derek’s shoulder and he’d popped up, eyes flashing red for a moment before his eyes focused on Stiles. Derek’s face broke out in the biggest smile Stiles had ever seen.

“You’re awake.”

He had trailed his hand not still holding Stiles’ across his jaw and around the back of his head. He rested his palm gently against the back of Stiles’ neck.

“We thought we’d lost you.”

Stiles had smiled back at him, though it kind of hurt. “You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”

Derek’s face had fallen, his grip tightening on his neck. “Believe me, there was nothing easy about it.”

Before Stiles could reply, the door to the hospital room had opened and his Dad and the entire pack walked in. They all spent the next three days filing in and out of his room. Because Mrs. McCall was on night shift while he was there, they didn’t have to pay attention to visiting hours as long as they weren’t too loud. His dad slept there with him and only left to get food and changes of clothes, but only after Stiles forced him. He’d still insisted that another pack member be there to stay with Stiles.

His first day at home had been great. Isaac had gotten his dad to agree to have a “Welcome Back From The Dead” party; it was zombie themed, of course. The plates and cups had cartoon zombies on them and Isaac had even dressed up like Daryl from The Walking Dead to give the party authenticity.

The pack, his dad, and Mrs. McCall had cooked out in the backyard. They set Stiles up nicely in a huge lounger, this cushy thing that didn’t exacerbate his injuries too much. The plus side? He got to have everyone at his beck and call. It was kinda swank.

He’d eaten until he didn’t think he could eat any more. Living off bread and jerky and then hospital food for over two weeks had left him starving. When Boyd had seen him pile a third helping of Mrs. McCall’s macaroni salad on his plate, he’d told him he’d never seen so much food go into such a small guy.

“That’s because you never watched me and Scott on our all night Call of Duty-athons. This one time, over the course of a night, we finished three large pizzas, four bags of Doritos, a box of Twinkies, and a large bag of Skittles. And we still managed to have pancakes with his mom before her shift in the morning.” Stiles grabbed a spoon full of salad, sticking it in his mouth as Boyd gaped at him.

“Where does it all go?”

“He probably burned it all in calories annoying someone,” Derek said as he walked up, grabbing a roll and taking a bite.

“Well, it was before we knew each other, so there weren’t nearly as many people to annoy as there are now.” Stiles smiled, grabbing another fork full of macaroni salad.

“Make sure to leave room for dessert. I made chocolate cake with butter cream icing.” Derek shifted his eyes to the table, grabbing a napkin awkwardly.

Stiles halted his movements, fork half way to his mouth. Derek had made him cake. The special, full of motherthly love cake. The we-almost-kissed-while-covered-in-icing cake.

Stiles had looked at Derek to find him looking back at him, small smile on his lips and a slight tinge of pink on his cheeks.

Boyd looked between the two, perplexed. “Did I miss something?”

Stiles dropped his fork and smiled. “Nope, Boyd old boy, I just really like cake.” Stiles saw Derek smile out of the corner of his eye.

The cake had been delicious.

Stiles sighed. Since he’d gotten back, Derek had seen him almost every day, but something was different. They were never alone, for one. He always came with someone else from the pack, or when his dad and Scott were around. They would talk with everyone else around, but it just wasn’t the same.

Stiles had tried to get him to stay after the others left, but Derek always had an excuse, like he was still helping the Sheriff and Mrs. McCall with the cover story they’d come up with the explain Stiles’ “death”. After they dug up his grave, they’d forged some documents at the hospital saying that it was a John Doe’s body, not his. In truth, the coffin had been empty when they dug it up. Deaton explained that when the Trickster died, all of his illusions faded with him. The Sheriff had made up a criminal history for the Trickster and given him a name. Since the Sheriff had found Stiles and shot the Trickster himself, a “fact” that was again corroborated by Mrs. McCall’s handy work, the case was open and shut.

Once that was taken care of, Derek came up with other excuses, like pack training or some other thinly veiled attempt to leave. Stiles was getting pretty annoyed at this point. He’d thought that this whole thing would bring them closer, especially after he held his hand in the hospital and made him kissing cake. But no, Derek was being his stupid stubborn self.

After typing a short message back to Scott to meet him at his house when he got off work for their newly instated daily video game session, Stiles tossed his phone back on his night stand. It clipped the edge, falling onto the floor with a ‘thunk’. Groaning, Stiles bent over to pick it up off the floor.

As Stiles leaned back up, his door flew open, his dad rushing in.

“Stiles!” His dad was flushed, looking around the room franticly. When his eyes landed on Stiles, he visibly settled, face morphing into a look of relief.

“Have another dream?” Stiles’ heart ached for his dad. He knew how hard it must have been on him. It would have been just the same if their roles were reversed. He didn’t know what he’d do without his dad.

His dad walked across the room, sitting on the edge of Stiles’ bed and laying his hand on his leg. “Yeah.” He sighed, squeezing Stiles’ thigh. “I was talking to you in the kitchen, and I looked up when you didn’t answer to find you gone. I looked everywhere; in the house, in the yard, I even drove back to the warehouse. There was nothing.”

Stiles laid his hand on top of his dad. “I’m here now, Dad. I promise, I’m not going anywhere.”

“I know that, Stiles. I really do. I just can’t seem to get my brain to realize that.” He took a deep breath. “I just can’t seem to shake this feeling.”

“It will get better. You start back to work full time next week, I’ll be back to my bouncy, uncoordinated self in no time, and things will get back to normal.”

His dad looked at him, mischievous glint in his eyes. Stiles knew that look; it was his dad’s “I’m going to make you uncomfortable” look.

“Does getting back to normal mean Derek’s going to be over here almost every night?”

Stiles groaned and flung his head back on his pillow. “Dad, come on. I don’t want to talk about this.”

“Well, we are. I don’t care if you’re dating him. You should have seen the way he was when he thought you were dead. I’ve never seen a man look so lost. Except maybe me after I lost your mom.”

Stiles shook his head. This couldn’t be right. He knew him and Derek might have more than friendly feelings for one another, but Derek being that upset? Didn’t seem likely.

“You’ve got it all wrong, Dad. I’m sure he was just feeling guilty because I got taken on his watch. It doesn’t mean anything.”

His dad looked at him incredulously. “I know what guilty looks like and that wasn’t it. He was walking around as if he’d lost something he couldn’t live without. When he came to talk to me about you maybe being alive, he had this frantic look in his eyes, like a man possessed. He didn’t sleep for damn near three days.” His dad scratched the back of his head, looking thoughtful. “I’m still not sure how he knew. I know you said it was some dream projection thing, but how does that even work?”

Stiles shook his head. “I’m not really sure, Dad. I just know that Deaton showed me some tips on how to focus my mind and stuff, and it was supposed to link my mind with someone in the pack. It makes sense it was Derek; he is the Alpha and all.” He couldn’t bring himself to tell his dad that he didn’t really understand exactly what happened either. He’d never figured out any specific things to help Derek find him; all Derek would say was that he just knew where he was.

“Ah, who knows. Just glad it worked and that you’re back, safe and sound.”

Stiles smiled. “With minimal damage, at least.”

His dad smiled back at him, standing. “Which reminds me, you need to take your meds.” His dad walked out of the room and returned a minute later holding a glass of water and a pill bottle. “This is your last one, kiddo.”

Stiles took the glass and pills, swallowing them down with a gulp of water.

“Thanks, Dad.” Stiles sat the glass on the table beside his bed.

His dad sat back down on the bed beside him. “You sure the pain isn’t too bad anymore? I could get Melissa to refill your prescription.”

Stiles smiled. “No need. I feel better than I have since I got back. Barely a twinge when I move now.”

“Good. That’s good.” His dad grabbed his hand. Stiles looked at his dad, still seeing worry lines around his eyes. Stiles cringed internally. He didn’t like being the reason his dad worried. He was the one that was supposed to be the worrier.

Stiles squeezed his dad’s hand. “You sure you’re ok, Dad?”

His dad laughed. “You really are so much like your mom. She would always worry about us even when she was sick. Even toward the end, when she was really frail.” His dad’s voice cracked on the last word. Stiles gripped his hand tighter, knowing how hard it still was to talk about even after all these years. “She would ask me all about you, making sure I was feeding you the right things and worrying that your school lunches wouldn’t get made.”

Stiles chuckled, heart clenching at the memory. “You never did miss a lunch.”

His dad shook his head. “To answer your question, I’m fine. Just glad that you’re back.”

“Believe me, Dad, no one is happier than me that I’m back.”

*

Derek sat in his Camaro down the block from Stiles’ house. He could hear Stiles and Scott playing video games in his room, yelling curse words back and forth. He’d been sitting there for fifteen minutes, trying to figure out what to do. What was he supposed to do with what Peter told him?

He’d been at the loft this morning, pacing around the living room. He’d been antsy since he’d rescued Stiles but he couldn’t figure out why. Stiles was back, he was safe. He’d spent time with Stiles everyday, but he never let them be alone. Ever since his dream that led him to the warehouse, Derek felt a pull to Stiles. It was like his wolf was using the same instinct that led him to the warehouse to urge him to see Stiles.

When he did see him, it was like everything he’d felt before Stiles had been taken was multiplied tenfold. All he could think about was holding him in his arms, kissing his constantly chapped lips. And that freaked him out. There was no reason that his entire body should vibrate whenever Stiles smiled and laughed. He’d been avoiding being alone with Stiles because he really didn’t know if he’d be able to stop himself from pushing his lips against his just to see if they’d feel as good as he imagined. He’d come up with every excuse, helping the Sheriff with the cover story, needing to help Isaac, being the only ride Boyd had from Stiles’ house, anything that would get him away from Stiles before he did something stupid.

He knew he couldn’t keep making excuses, so that morning, he’d been trying to figure out a way to control his instincts when Peter had sauntered into the living room.

“You look troubled, Derek. Is there anything I can do?” He had leaned against the door jamb, crossing his arms over his chest.

Derek growled, too annoyed to deal with Peter right now. “I’m fine. Just leave me alone.”

Peter quirked an eyebrow. “I know there’s something bothering you. Does it have to do with a certain human who’s currently on the mend?”

Derek had stopped his pacing and faced Peter. “Why would you say that?”

“Because you’ve been, let’s say, touchy since we rescued Stiles. Are you feeling guilty for killing the Trickster?”

Derek felt rage surge through him, eyes flashing red. “That bastard deserved to die. I would have taken my time if Stiles hadn’t been hurt.”

Peter put up his hands, stepping away from the wall and walking toward Derek. “Ok, I get it. Not guilty then. If it’s not that, what is it?”

Derek sighed. He didn’t know if he wanted to tell Peter, but if anyone would know something to help, it’d be him. Or Deaton. And he sure as hell wasn’t going to him.

“I’ve just been feeling… hyperaware since the whole thing. Especially around Stiles and I don’t know why.”

“The same thing happened to me around your aunt when we first got together. It subsides after a while.”

Derek had looked curiously at Peter. “Did that happen for every person you dated or wanted to date? Aunt Rose couldn’t have been the first woman you dated.”

“No, but she was my mate.”

Derek jerked toward him. He had to have heard him wrong. “Mates? But Stiles and I aren’t…” Derek thought about the shared dreams, the way he’d somehow known where Stiles was, the way his wolf seemed to ache to be near him.

Peter had looked at him, amused expression on his face. “You and he were spending a great deal of time together before he left, right? And you were sharing dreams. That is no easy feat, Derek. There has to be some kind of connection between two people for that to happen. Plus, from what I’ve gathered from you, Scott, and the Sheriff, you woke up from a particularly vivid dream with Stiles’ exact location. It was your wolf, wasn’t it? Telling you where he was? The strongest instinct of your wolf is to protect your mate.”

“Oh god.” Derek sat down, head between his hands. “This can’t be true. I mean, it’s Stiles. He’s 17. About to be a senior in high school. The most annoying person I’ve ever met. How is this even possible?”

Peter shrugged. “Love is a fickle bitch, isn’t she?”

Derek had glared at him and Peter chuckled. “How are mates chosen, Derek? No one can tell you. But you just know.”

That was six hours ago. He’d gone for a run, trying to clear his thoughts and figure out what he wanted to do. He still didn’t know. He’d showered and planned to go to Stiles’ with Isaac, but he had finally gotten a date with the girl he’d been crushing on from the library. After eating dinner, he’d finally given in and driven to Stiles’ house alone.

And now here he was, still in the car. Like a coward. He’d faced down Alpha Packs, Kanimas, and a Banshee, how the hell was seeing Stiles making him cower in fear?

Derek sighed and turned on the car. He drove the short distance, pulling into the Stilinski driveway and parking in a space usually occupied by the cruiser.

He was about to knock on the door when it opened and Scott walked out, almost running straight into him.

“See you tomorrow – oof!” Scott started as he turned and saw Derek. “Sorry dude, didn’t see you were there.”

Derek rolled his eyes. “Don’t call me dude.”

Scott laughed. “Sure thing, Derek.”

Derek knew he and Scott had sort of bonded after they killed the Trickster together, but the guy really could be a dick.

Stiles waved to Scott as he got into his car parked in the street and drove away. Once Scott was out of sight, Stiles turned toward Derek.

“So, there’s no one else here. Are you sure you can be here? Or do you have some clever excuse? Like maybe you have to get your fangs cleaned or take Peter to get declawed.” Stiles turned and walked back into the house.

“You seem to be walking around better than you were. How are your ribs?” Derek followed Stiles into the house, closing the door behind him.

“Oh sure, ignore the glaring pink elephant in the room. That has polka dots and neon green zebra stripes.” Derek laughed. “Laugh it up, wolf boy.” Stiles walked into the kitchen, grabbing a soda out of the fridge. “And to answer your question, they’re great. Barely a twinge. Only when I stretch too much.”

“Good. I’m glad to hear it.” Derek followed Stiles as he walked back upstairs to his room. Stiles sat down on his bed, glaring over at Derek. “I’m not going to let you avoid this. Now talk.”

Derek was expecting this, though that didn’t make it any easier now that he was here. His heart was beating faster than normal, body on edge. He was surrounded by Stiles’ scent, and now that he knew what the instincts meant, he realized he wanted to scent the room, combining his scent with Stiles’. He could smell Stiles, the pack, the Sheriff, even a little bit of himself. But he wanted the room to smell like them.

“I’ve been avoiding you.” Derek figured he’d start small.

Stiles rolled his eyes. “No shit, Sherlock. Now tell me something I don’t know, like why.”

Derek sat down in the desk chair, trying to figure out the best way to approach this. He didn’t want to freak Stiles out, but he had a right to know. “When I thought you were dead, I was a mess. We’d been on the verge of something and to have that ripped away… I didn’t really know what to do. But, even before I knew you were in that warehouse, I just didn’t believe you were dead.”

Stiles looked at Derek thoughtfully. “How did you find me? I know my dream projection worked, which makes me a badass, by the way, but I never knew anything aside from how it looked. How did you know where I was?”

Derek rubbed his hand over the back of his head. “The first few days of the search, I didn’t sleep. I let everyone else take breaks, but I just kept going. I knew that every minute I slept was one more minute you were out there, alone.” Derek cleared his throat, trying to push down the panic rising in his throat. Stiles was across the room from him, not locked up somewhere. Didn’t make living the memories any easier. “Boyd finally convinced me that I’d be no use in killing the Trickster if I could barely lift my head. While I was asleep, it was like I was inside your head. It felt like a dream, but instead of me being in it with you, like I had been for days before that, it was like I was sharing your body. I saw the Trickster, I saw the warehouse, I felt how much pain you were in and how scared you were. I could feel and hear your heartbeat as loud as I can now, if not louder.”

Derek took a deep breath, standing up and pacing in front of Stiles’ bed. “When I woke up, I could still hear your heartbeat. My instincts were telling me which direction you were in. Somehow, after the dream, I just knew where to find you.”

Derek glanced over at Stiles. He looked thoughtful, as if he was trying to process everything.

“Let me get this straight. My heartbeat, which was inside your head, led you to where I was being held?”

Derek stopped in front of Stiles’ bed and nodded.

“Is that normal? Does that happen a lot when humans are in packs?” Stiles looked at Derek, question in his eyes. Derek knew he had to tell him, but what if Stiles freaked out about the mate thing? Could werewolves live without their mates?

“In certain cases, yes.”

Stiles narrowed his eyes. “What kind of cases? What aren’t you telling me?”

Derek started pacing again. “Well, that’s the thing. It’s really only been known to happen in a certain type of situation.” Derek was stalling, he knew he was, and from the look on Stiles’ face, he knew he was, too.

“Fucking A, Derek, just tell me!”

Derek stopped again, slowly turning around to face Stiles. “It only happens with mates.”

Stiles stared at him, blank expression on his face. Derek clenched his eyes closed, heart wrenching. So this was it, he was being rejected. He couldn’t say he blamed Stiles.

Derek opened his eyes, about to tell Stiles that it was okay if he didn’t feel the same, when a huge grin broke out on Stiles’ face.

“Dude, that’s awesome! I’ve been freaking out, thinking you didn’t want to be around me because you realized I was some weak human who wasn’t good enough for your Alpha ass. This is so much better than that.” Stiles’ smile seemed to take over his face.

Derek’s heart started beating faster. Stiles may say that now, but he didn’t know what being mates meant. “Stiles, wait. You have to understand something. Being mates, it’s not dating. It’s much more than that.”

“Oh my god, Derek, do you know how much research I’ve done about werewolves? Don’t you think I’ve have come across what mates meant at some point?” Stiles looked at Derek as if he was stupid.

“But, if you know, how can you be so happy? You’re 17. You’re still in high school.”

Stiles huffed a frustrated sigh, running his hand through his hair. Derek got momentarily distracted by the movement, watching Stiles’ long fingers running through the strands.

“Listen. I’ve gotten kidnapped three, I reiterate, three times, I’ve faced Kanimas and ghouls and werewolves and hunters. I can almost vote and gamble and protect my country, if I so choose. I think I can make decisions about my own life.”

“But Stiles, you haven’t even gone to college, you’ve barely even lived – “

Stiles threw his hand up. “Derek, shut up. I’ve wanted to be with you for months, maybe longer than that, if I’d let myself entertain that idea. Me being your mate doesn’t change that. It actually makes it better. Not only do you want me, but your wolf does too.”

Derek felt a rush of feeling and his entire body tingled. “You can’t just say things like that.” Stiles couldn’t know how much that meant, for him to accept that part of Derek as equally as his human side. After all he’d been through, after Kate, he didn’t know how much he needed full acceptance until Stiles had laid it out like that. His wolf was thrumming with energy, instincts so strong, he had to physically hold himself back from pouncing on Stiles and marking him all over.

Stiles smiled at him, a gleam in his eye. “Of course I can. I’m your mate. And I love you.”

Derek’s eyes flashed red and he resisted the urge to growl, but just barely. His restraint was gone. He’d been holding himself back since he’d rescued Stiles, hell, since he’d met Stiles if he was honest with himself, but he just couldn’t hold back anymore.

Derek surged across the room and crawled across the bed, grabbing Stiles’ face between his hands and lightly stroking his thumbs across Stiles’ cheekbones. “Stiles.” Derek looked over Stiles’ face, searching for any hesitation or trepidation, but saw none. “I love you so fucking much.”

Stiles crushed their mouths together, wrapping his arms around Derek’s neck.

Derek hovered above him, careful not to put too much pressure on Stiles’ injuries. He knew Stiles said he was on the mend, but that didn’t mean he was ready to have a heavy werewolf all over his chest.

Derek slowly traced Stiles’ lips, feeling the soft skin under his tongue. Derek deepened the kiss, Stiles’ tongue rubbing against his. Derek trailed kisses over Stiles’ jaw and chin, Stiles panting above him. Stiles’ hands roamed all over Derek’s back, fingers flexing whenever Derek hit a particularly sensitive spot.

“Come on, Derek, can you lay on top of me already? I’m not going to break.” Stiles pulled back from Derek’s mouth, looking at him with an annoyed look on his face. The flush in his cheeks and light in his eyes kind of ruined the effect, but Derek finally closed the distance between their bodies, careful not to jostle Stiles too much.

“Oh, thank fuck.” Stiles’ pulled his left leg over Derek’s, grinding his hips up into him.

Derek groaned, feeling Stiles’ mostly hard length alongside his. Burying his face in Stiles’ neck, Derek trailed his tongue over the shell of his ear and along his jaw line.

“Fuck, Derek, who knew your tongue was so awesome? You barely use it to talk, so I just figured it wasn’t very strong.”

Derek chuckled, running his nose along the skin behind Stiles’ ear. “You have no idea what my tongue is capable of.” Derek felt Stiles’ hand clutch his back, moan escaping his lips.

“Warn a guy, Derek. That was like the hottest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

Derek smiled against Stiles’ neck, relishing in the smell of arousal and excitement coming from his skin.

“Now where would the fun be in that?” Derek moved across Stiles’ neck, licking over his Adam’s apple. When he heard Stiles’ breath catch, he sucked lightly on the protrusion, teeth grazing along the edges.

“Fuck. How is that sensitive?”

Derek kept moving along Stiles’ neck, enjoying his random smattering of curses and exclamations as he worried Stiles’ flesh over his lips and between his teeth. Stiles gasped as Derek sucked hard at the skin where his shoulder met his neck. Pulling back, Derek gazed down and smiled. Derek nosed along the bruise that was forming, humming in appreciation. Now everyone would know Stiles was his.

Fingers moving along the hem of Stiles’ shirt, Derek rose up to pull off his shirt, discarding his own as well. Derek paused, looking over Stiles with eager, hungry eyes. Seeing the faint bruises that still littered his chest and arms, Derek had to suppress a growl from rising in his throat. If he hadn’t already killed the Trickster, he’d kill him again for doing this to his mate.

Derek’s heart leapt; it was weird to think about having a mate. But he could definitely get used to it.

“Where’d you go there, buddy? Did the sight of my pale, scrawny chest make you rethink this whole thing?” Despite his words, Stiles smiled up at Derek.

Derek rolled his eyes. “Just enjoying the moment of rest from your endless string of dialog.”

Stiles wacked Derek’s thigh, huffing indignantly. “Oh, I’ll show you endless – “

Derek cut off Stiles’ rant with his lips, lying back down across his body. He didn’t think he’d ever get tired of the feel of Stiles’ soft skin under his fingers. Trailing kisses down Stiles’ neck, Derek kissed along his collar bone, running his teeth and tongue along the ridge. Stiles gripped Derek’s hips, drawing him closer against him.

Stiles cursed as Derek moved down Stiles’ chest, placing soft kisses along his pecks and chest. He lifted up Stiles’ arm and ran his nose along the curve, taking a deep breath. Stiles giggled as Derek’s stubble tickled the sensitive skin.

“Is this a wolf thing? Like scenting or something?”

Derek rubbed his check along the contours of Stiles’ side, running up and down the expanse of skin. “Your smell is strongest in certain places, like under your arm, behind your ear, between your legs.” Stiles’ breath caught on the last one. Derek smiled into his side. “You smell amazing by yourself, but you’re starting to smell like us. And it’s driving me insane.”

“Well, good to know that I don’t smell like some stinky teenager covered in Axe body spray.” Stiles ran his hand through Derek’s hair. Derek looked up, seeing Stiles watching his movements. Smiling softly, Derek made his way across Stiles’ chest. Derek flicked Stiles’ nipple with his tongue, feeling it pebble under his tongue. Stiles gasped, hands tightening in Derek’s hair.

“Holy hell, Derek. Keep doing that.”

Derek continued to circle Stiles’ nipple, who squirmed under the attention. Flattening out his tongue, Derek licked a large stripe along his skin before taking it back in his mouth, gently sucking it into his mouth. Stiles bucked up against Derek’s mouth, moaning. Gently releasing the skin, Derek moved across Stiles’ chest, lavishing the same attention on his other nipple.

“Are you trying to kill me? I’ve never heard about ‘death by nipple sucking’, but there is a first time for everything.”

Derek laughed into Stiles’ chest. “If anyone could pull that off, it’d probably be you.” Stiles grabbed Derek’s face, pulling him up into a kiss. Leaning back, Stiles rubbed his finger along Derek’s bottom lip.

“You should really smile more. It suits you more than your requisite scowl.”

Derek kissed Stiles’ thumb as it crossed over his lips. “I’ll try, but only grudgingly.” Derek tried to stifle his chuckle at Stiles’ eye roll, but a smile broke back out over his face. He just couldn’t help it; he was happier right now than he’d been in a long time.

Kissing Stiles’ lips one more time, Derek continued his quest to kiss every available inch of Stiles’ skin. Leaning down, Derek slowly traced the lean muscles of Stiles’ stomach, carefully avoiding the areas that were still lightly bruised.

Images of Stiles on that cot in the warehouse flashed into his mind, his grip tightening minutely around Stiles’ body.

“Are you ok?” Derek felt Stiles brush his hands through his hair, rubbing his hand along his neck. Derek leaned into the movement, taking a deep breath. Stiles’ steady heartbeat and their combined scents helped to calm him down.

“Yeah.” Derek took another deep breath. “I am just so thankful that we found you when we did. If we hadn’t, there’s no telling what might have happened to you.”

Stiles moved his finger over Derek’s lips, keeping him from continuing. “Don’t you start that. You’re as bad as my dad. I’m right here, safe and sound. There’s no reason to think about what could have happened, because it didn’t.”

Derek loosened his grip, rubbing his finger along a bruise on Stiles’ sternum. Holding his hand steady, Derek closed his eyes and focused his energy, feeling the pain drain out of Stiles’ side. Stiles gasped, gripping Derek’s arm.

“I really can’t get used to that feeling. It’s just so… incredible.”

Derek opened his eyes, seeing the last dark lines disappear up his arm. “It’s intense on both ends.”

Derek leaned down and kissed the bruise, a little lighter than it was before. Kissing his way across Stiles’ stomach, Derek’s fingers played along the waistband of Stiles’ track pants. Leaning up, Derek hooked his fingers in both sides and pulled Stiles’ pants off, throwing them behind him on the floor. Derek stood up, kicking off his shoes and unbuttoning his pants, pushing them to the floor. He kicked them off his legs and leaned down, pulling off his socks.

“You could make a killing being a stripper, you know that, right?” Derek looked at Stiles, all splayed out on the bed, kiss swollen lips, flushed skin, and obvious erection tenting his boxer briefs. He really was beautiful.

“Yeah, well, you’ve never seen me try to dance.” Derek crawled back up the bed, settling back against Stiles’ legs and kissing along Stiles’ stomach.

“I’d like to. Maybe you can do a strip tease for me one day.” Stiles giggled.

Derek smiled up at Stiles, running his tongue just under the line of his underwear. Stiles leaned up into the touch, gripping Derek’s shoulder. Derek slowly rubbed his hand down, teasing Stiles’ erection through the fabric.

“Fuck, Derek. Just like… I can’t… fuck.”

Derek leaned down, running his nose along the line of Stiles’ cock. “Very eloquent, aren’t we?”

Stiles arched his back, trying to gain more friction from Derek’s slow ministrations. “You try being eloquent with a hot werewolf between your legs after more than 17 years of celibacy.”

Derek giggled, squeezing Stiles’ cock gently. Stiles groaned as Derek pulled his hand away, but moaned when Derek replaced it with his tongue, laving at Stiles’ cock through the fabric. He ran his tongue along the clothed shaft, sucking gently on the wet spot at the head.

Stiles gripped Derek’s shoulder harder. “Derek, please.”

Taking the hint, Derek leaned up and, hooking his fingers in the elastic, pulled Stiles’ boxers briefs off, freeing his cock. Derek kissed his way down Stiles’ stomach, burying his nose in the coarse hair surrounding Stiles’ length. “Stiles, fuck, you smell so good.”

Derek closed his eyes, breathing deep. Stiles’ scent assaulted his senses, driving him crazy. Mostly ignored up to this point, Derek felt his erection jump at the concentrated scent of Stiles surrounding him. Groaning, Derek reached out with his tongue and traced the V of Stiles’ hip. He tasted even better than he smelled.

Derek laved at Stiles’ skin, tracing a line to Stiles’ balls. Taking one in his mouth, Derek rolled the mass over his tongue. Stiles’ hips rose off the bed as he moaned. Derek dropped one and laved at the other, giving it the same treatment. Derek licked a stripe up Stiles cock, relishing the smoothness under his tongue. Stiles’ fingers gripped his hair, nails digging softly into Derek’s scalp as he cursed. Derek took the head into his mouth, sucking gently.

“Oh fuck!” Stiles moaned, bucking off the bed again. Grabbing Stiles’ hips, Derek pushed him back down to the bed and held him in place with one hand as the other came around the bottom of Stiles’ cock. Derek slowly took more and more of Stiles into his mouth, tongue laving at the vein along the shaft. When his mouth met his fist, Derek stopped, enjoying the full feeling of having Stiles on his tongue.

Stiles’ grip in his hair got tighter. “Derek, you gotta move. Come on, please.”

Derek hummed softly, feeling Stiles tense below him and buck against his grip. Raising his head, Derek moved up Stiles’ shaft, flicking the head with his tongue before sucking his way back down. He moved his hand along with his mouth, gripping tighter as he felt Stiles move closer to release.

“Fuck, Derek, I’m gonna come.” Stiles tried to pull Derek off, but Derek stayed where he was, increasing his movements. Feeling Stiles tense below him with a moan, Stiles climaxed, shooting come down his throat. Swallowing it all, Derek kept gently sucking at Stiles’ spent cock until he knew Stiles was too sensitive.

Derek looked up at Stiles, who had his arm thrown over his eyes and was breathing heavy. Derek kissed his way up Stiles’ body, making his way back to the top of the bed. Stiles peaked at him from under his arm, smiling blissfully at him.

“That was amazing, you know that, right?” Stiles grabbed the back of Derek’s head, pulling him down into a deep kiss. Stiles traced the edge of Derek’s lips before he pushed into his mouth.

Stiles pulled back, humming. “Huh, I’ll have to get used to the way I taste on your lips.”

Derek moaned. “Yes, you will.” Derek kissed Stiles again, hands resting on the side of Stiles’ face.

“Now it’s your turn.” Stiles began to reach down Derek’s body, but Derek stopped him. “What?”

Derek felt his face flush. Derek knew what he wanted, what he and his wolf needed to feel close enough to Stiles, but he didn’t know if he could ask. “Um, I was thinking, maybe we could, um.”

Stiles rolled his eyes, smiling. “Just spit it out, Derek.”

Derek took a deep breath. “I was kind of hoping I could be inside you?”

A huge grin broke out over Stiles’ face. “Fuck yeah!” He kissed Derek quickly. “How do you want me?”

Derek chuckled, kissing Stiles again. “Well, we’ll need something for lube.”

“Oh, I got this!” Stiles gently pushed up on Derek, raising them both off the bed. Stiles stretched over and opened the drawer beside his bed, reaching in. After searching for a second, he pulled his hand back out, bottle of lube in his hand. He laid back down, handing it to Derek.

“Now what? You want me on my stomach, my back?”

“On your back. I want to see you.” Derek trailed his hands down Stiles’ body and hooked his hands under Stiles’ knees, bringing his feet to rest on the bed. Derek moved down, settling between Stiles’ legs. Opening the lube, he poured a little out onto his hand and rubbed it between his fingers, warming it up.

“Let me know if anything hurts.”

Stiles nodded at him. Resting one hand on Stiles’ knee, Derek slowly slid one finger into Stiles. Derek heard Stiles’ moan above him. Stiles was so tight. Checking for any discomfort in Stiles’ face and seeing none, Derek began slowly moving his finger in and out. Stiles squirmed a little, rocking back into Derek’s finger as he moved it out. After a few minutes of gentle thrusts, Derek felt Stiles rock faster against his hand.

“Come on Derek, I need more.” Stiles was panting, mouth open. His cock was starting to get hard again, flushing as Derek pushed his finger deeper.

Pulling his fingers out, Derek coated another finger and slide back in.

“Yes. That feels so good, Derek.” Stiles’ back arched a little off the bed. Derek moved his hand to Stiles’ stomach, holding him still as he continued to push his fingers in and out. When Stiles felt loose enough, Derek moved his fingers apart, scissoring them. Derek felt Stiles surge against his hand, breathe coming out harshly.

“Derek, come on, I’m ready. Please.”

Derek pulled his fingers out, Stiles groaning at the loss. “Not yet. You’ve never done this before, so we’re going to make sure you’re ready.”

“I’ve tried it a little by myself.” Derek looked at Stiles’ flushed face, pupils blown wide. “I had to do something to alleviate all the pent up sexual frustration after all those nights we spent crouched close together by my computer and on my bed.”

Derek felt a surge of heat flow through him. He didn’t think it was possible, but his dick hardened even more at the thought of Stiles touching himself mere hours after they’d been together.

“Still, Stiles. As hot as that is, I’m a little bit larger than a few of your amazingly long, albeit skinny, fingers.” Derek poured more lube onto his hand, three fingers this time. Repositioning his hand, Derek slowly pushed his fingers into Stiles. Stiles moaned, hand gripping the pillow above his head. Derek pushed his hand against his erection, straining against his boxer briefs. He needed to be inside Stiles, but he wanted to make sure he was ready.

Slowly pulling his fingers in and out, Derek opened Stiles more, making him moan and curse.

“Fucking A, Derek, come the fuck on. I want you inside me now.” Stiles opened his eyes, looking at Derek with pleading eyes. Breath hitching, Derek pulled his fingers out and grabbed the lube.

“Do you want to use a condom? I can’t give you anything, but I will – “

Stiles shook his head. “No, I trust you. Now please, I need you inside me, like, yesterday.”

Derek smiled at Stiles’ eagerness, shifting off the bed and pushing off his underwear. Derek looked at Stiles, who was staring at him.

“You are gorgeous, you know that?” Stiles smiled at Derek. “Now get back over here.”

Derek crawled onto the bed and positioned himself back between Stiles’ legs. Squirting lube in his hands, he covered his erection generously. Crawling over Stiles, Derek paused.

“Are you sure you’re ready?”

Stiles looped one of his legs over Derek’s hip, pulling him closer. “Never been more sure of anything in my life.” He kissed Derek gently, fingers running over the back of his neck.

“Let me know if anything hurts.”

Stiles grinned. “I will, you big worry wolf.”

Derek laughed at Stiles, gently kissing him one more time. Shifting closer, Derek positioned himself at Stiles’ entrance and slowly pushed in. Stiles sucked in a breath, gripping Derek’s arm as Derek slowly pushed farther inside. Derek took a deep breath, holding himself back. All he wanted was to push all the way into Stiles’ incredible heat, but he knew he needed to go slow. There would be time for frenzied sex later.

When Derek was all the way in, he leaned down and kissed Stiles, giving him time to adjust to the feeling. After a minute, Stiles nudged Derek with his heel.

“Move, please.”

Derek slowly pulled out, relishing in the feelings. Setting a slow pace, Derek started rocking into Stiles. Leaning down, Derek captured Stiles’ lips, kissing him deeply, sucking gently on his tongue. Shifting his weight to one shoulder, Derek reached between their bodies and grabbed Stiles’ hard cock, slowly jacking him off.

“Derek, you feel so good.” Stiles hand gripped Derek’s ass, encouraging him to move faster.

“God, Stiles, you have no idea.” Derek whispered into Stiles’ ear, nipping at the lobe as he increased his pace. “I could stay buried inside you for days.”

Stiles moaned, bucking his hips. “We’ll have to try that sometime.”

Derek smiled, licking the sweat beading along the hollow of Stiles’ neck. Derek could feel Stiles getting closer, so he increased the speed of his hand and his thrusts.

“Yes, Derek, right there. Oh god, yes.” Stiles writhed beneath him, clutching desperately at Derek’s back. Derek was trying to hold on, wanting to make Stiles came again before he did. “Just there, yes. Derek!” Derek felt warmth spread over his hand, Stiles’ scent exploding across his senses. Stiles was all around him, on his skin, in his nose, in his head, his heart, his senses and instincts overrun with his scent. Derek fell over the edge, emptying himself inside Stiles.

Being careful not to hurt Stiles, Derek gently lay on top of him, trying to catch his breath.

“That,” Stiles gasped, breathing still retuning to normal, “was amazing.”

Derek kissed the closest skin to his lips, which was Stiles’ temple. “Yes it was.”

Derek shifted, slipping out of Stiles. Derek trailed his hand over Stiles’ chest, fingers raking through the come splattered along Stiles’ stomach. His hands continued down Stiles’ body, tangling in the thick hair at his groin and along his spent cock. Reaching his hand further down, he slipped two still slightly sticky fingers into Stiles’ hole, pushing in easily with the help of Derek’s come.

Stiles moaned and burrowed his head into Derek’s shoulder. “Fuck, Derek. That feels… good, but almost too much.”

Derek thrust his fingers in and out, mixing their come. The smell of them surrounded Derek, calming his wolf for the first time since he’d rescued Stiles. Derek thrust his fingers a few more times before removing them. He brought them to his lips, slowly licking them clean.

“Really, Derek. Your stupid wolfy instincts are going to be the death of me.” Stiles flung his arm over his eyes, not looking at Derek’s face, but he could see a flush running up the side of Stiles’ neck. Derek felt the low level of arousal coming from Stiles.

“You know you like it. Plus, I like how we taste.” Derek rose up, getting off the bed.

“Where are you going?” Stiles looked at him, Derek feeling a spike of panic radiate from Stiles.

“I figured you didn’t want to be covered in come all night, so I thought I’d get us a rag.” Derek quirked a smile, opening the door and walking down the hall. He wet a wash rag and cleaned himself in the bathroom, then returned to Stiles’ room with another cloth. Walking over to the bed, Derek motioned for him to get up.

“Come here. Let me wipe you off and change the sheets. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to sleep on soiled sheets.”

“Right, makes sense. Though I thought you might like to roll around in it for a while.” Stiles smirked as he grabbed the cloth, scrubbing the cloth over his stomach. “The sheets are in the linen closet at the end of the hall.”

Derek walked down the hall, grabbing a new set from the closet. When he got back to the room, Stiles was trying to clean himself off without twisting his ribs. It wasn’t going so well.

“Dammit. I hate being an invalid. I can’t even clean myself!” Derek smiled and walked over to Stiles, setting the sheets on the desk. “Also, you should always walk around naked. I may start hiding your clothes.” Stiles stopped for a second, looking contemplative as Derek leaned over and cleaned Stiles, wiping the cloth gently between his butt cheeks. “But then again, you’d have to walk naked around Isaac, and oh god, Peter. Yep. Never mind. Just naked around me, then. I can institute a policy that requires you to take off your clothes as soon as you enter my room. That is a great plan!”

Derek stood back up, grinning at Stiles. “What about if I come over when you’re dad is home? Do you want him to see me naked?” Derek moved over to the bed, grabbing the sheets and ripping them off, but not before he breathed in their combined scent one more time.

“Oh come on, don’t give me that image! I don’t need to think about naked you and my dad at the same time. Just, no. Gross!” Stiles watched as Derek put the sheets on the bed, whistling when Derek leaned across the bed to tuck in the top sheet. “I really wish I had a camera. You look like some fucked up domestic porn. But way better, because instead of some twink, you’re fucking me instead.”

Derek raised up after he spread the comforter back over the bed. “Does your mouth even have a filter?”

“Nope. Especially not after I just had fucking amazing sex. I am not responsible for anything that comes out of my mouth.”

Derek turned around, walking over to the bed and throwing back the covers. “Come on, let’s get you back in bed. I’m still not sure I didn’t mess with your ribs.”

Stiles followed Derek to the bed, snuggling into the covers. Derek got in after him, pulling the covers around them. He slipped his arm around Stiles’ body, drawing him closer to his chest. Stiles nuzzled his face into Derek’s chest, throwing his arm around Derek’s waist.

“They hurt a little bit, but I’m alright. Nothing that a good night’s sleep and round two in the morning won’t cure.” Derek laughed, running his hand up and down Stiles’ back.

Stiles hummed contentedly, rubbing his thumb along Derek’s hipbone. After a few minutes of silence, Stiles leaned up. “So, all the scenting and the thing with the come, is that a mate thing or a wolf thing?”

Derek felt his face flush. He’d never done anything like that before, but he’d just followed his instincts, which were telling him to make Stiles smell as much like him as possible. With Kate, he hadn’t had any urge like that. The only other person he’d slept with was a one night stand, so that wasn’t really a reliable point of reference. But even now, Derek kept running his hand over portions of Stiles’ skin, mixing their scents.

“I think it’s a mate thing. I don’t have a large sample of other partners to cross examine it with, but I’ve never wanted anyone to smell this much like me before. I mean, of course I want Boyd, Isaac, Peter, and even Scott to smell like me so other wolves know they’re protected, but this is much more intense than that.”

Stiles looked thoughtful and laid his head back on Derek’s chest. “I like it. I mean, the come smearing was new and might take some getting used to, but everything else, even that thing you did with your fingers afterwards, I liked it.” Derek felt Stiles’ face heat up, giving away his slight blush.

“You’ll have to try it on me sometime.” Derek felt Stiles’ heart beat a little faster.

“I get to top you?” Stiles’ heart betrayed his attempt at nonchalance.

“You’re my mate, Stiles. I want you any way I can get you. And that means having you inside me.” Derek rubbed his hands over Stiles’ back.

“That sounds wonderful to me.” Stiles hummed contentedly.

“Are you sure this mate thing doesn’t bother you? I mean, we weren’t even together before tonight.”

Stiles laughed. “Derek, we’ve been dating for months, just without all the fun, sexy parts. I mean, come on, we baked together. What guys do you know that do that? Scott and I never baked together, unless you count when we made Hot Pockets in the oven that one time because his microwave was broken.”

Derek thought about Stiles’ words. He thought about the late nights together, the meals, working side by side on the bestiaries, watching TV and sharing popcorn. It really was like they were dating. “I guess you’re right.” Derek kissed Stiles’ head. “I was just too stupid to make a move. I was terrified I’d lose you.”

“We were both stupid. But that doesn’t matter now.” Stiles kissed Derek’s chest.

“You never did answer my question. Does the idea of being my mate scare you? Dating is one thing, but mates are a lot more than that.”

Stiles rose up again, looking at Derek. “If it means I get to be with you, I think it’s great. I mean, it’s not like it means you own me. I’m still going to college after next year, and while the long distance thing will suck, we’ll make it work. We’ll have Skype sex and phone sex and it will be epic. Plus, I like the idea of you being here, keeping an eye on my dad and the pack. It will give me even more reasons to come home.” Stiles kissed Derek quickly. “And we have my entire senior to enjoy this before any of that even matters. We can do a lot of things in a year, Derek. Over every available surface.” Stiles wiggled his eyebrows.

Derek laughed. “You’re terrible.” He leaned forward, pulling Stiles into a lingering, deep kiss.

Stiles pulled back, grinning. “But you love me.”

Derek looked at Stiles, at smiling, wonderful, beautiful Stiles, and knew it would all work out. Sure, he still had issues with everything that had happened to him to deal with, their pack wasn’t always perfect, there would inevitably be some big bad that would come along and attack them, just like there had been since he’d come back to Beacon Hills. But with Stiles by his side, he and the pack could face anything.

“That I do.”

Derek pulled Stiles back to him, kissing him deeply.

Might as well get started on round two.