For Marie, who had a bad day and wanted a fic to accompany this stunningly gorgeous piece of artwork. This fic is a) going to go up on Ao3 in the near future and b) canon-compliant. As such, warning for underage romantic entanglements. <3
If someone had told Stiles a year ago that his life was soon going to feature heavily in traipsing through the woods after occult creatures in the dead of night…
…well, he probably would have thought that was pretty cool, actually. There’s the decent chance he would have asked a number of probing questions, and maybe had the time to buy one of those water bottle backpacks he keeps meaning to order. Possibly, if whoever had told him had made a convincing enough argument, Stiles would have had the foresight to invest in some comfortable hiking boots. It would have been a good thing, really, if someone had thought to mention it to him before this all started, because lately Stiles is spending so much time actively trying not to let anybody die that some of his plans are falling through the cracks. Usually they’re the plans that deal with his own comfort; that, Stiles thinks, is Not Right. He’s the human, after all. He’s starting to think he may be the only human in the entire goddamn town—his comfort should be paramount, since it’s not like he can heal away blisters and dehydration and his thousandth freaking mosquito bite of the night.
Grimly, Stiles wonders if he’s going to wake up tomorrow as a weremosquito. It wouldn’t really surprise him.
“If I wake up tomorrow as a weremosquito, it’s your fault!” Stiles yells into the darkness. He can’t see Derek anymore, because Derek’s the sort of dick who wolfs his way into avoiding you when you’re chasing after him trying to save him from himself, but Stiles knows he can hear him. Derek could probably hear him from his bedroom, which, actually, is a pretty convincing argument for returning to his bedroom. Shame he didn’t think about that until now—which, actually, only proves his point about the planning thing.
“Go home, Stiles,” Derek yells back. He sounds far away and angry, but Stiles is only concerned about the far away part, really. The day Derek doesn’t sound angry will probably be the day Stiles actually manages to play in a lacrosse game under the heavy cloud-cover of flying pigs.
Still, the bastard’s got a lot of nerve. Stiles scowls at a nearby tree, and then wonders who, exactly, he’s trying to fool.
“Don’t like being followed, that it?” he calls, on the theory that getting a proper rise out of Derek will make him show his stupid, scowly face. It’s not like it hasn’t worked before. “Shoe’s on the other paw now, isn’t it, Derek? Maybe I’ll start appearing out of nowhere too, huh, would you like that, give you a couple of friendly heart attacks? I bet my weremosquito powers will make that so easy, and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself!”
There is a pause. It is, Stiles notes with satisfaction, the sort of pause that’s accompanied by a distant rushing sound, like someone out there in the darkness is running faster than living things are supposed to. He leans against a nearby tree, folds his arms over his chest, and hopes whatever’s charging for him is Derek. If not, things are probably going to get awkward. Or deadly. Or awkwardly deadly; Stiles doesn’t really put anything past his life, not anymore.
“There is no such thing as weremosquitos,” Derek says, flat and not at all out of breath, from behind Stiles.
Stiles maybe shrieks and jumps a little—a little, okay, a little—before he whips around and glares. He’s expecting Derek to be wearing that smug little I-have-developed-a-human-expression-that-almost-isn’t-a-frown face, because he always gets all superior when he scares Stiles half to death; instead, he’s modeling what Stiles has privately come to think of as the “No One Is Amused, Stiles” face. Which isn’t even fair, because there’s usually at least one person who is amused by Stiles. So what if they tend to be the villains? A laugh is a laugh.
“There could be,” he says, instead of getting into that. “You don’t know.”
“I’m pretty sure I do, actually, know.”
“Um,” Stiles says, raising an eyebrow. “Point the first: werelizards. Point the second: werelizards. Point the third: the whole reason we’re even out here is because you’re afraid you’re going to go all like, neither can live while the other survives and start murdering people because you’re not the only alpha in town anymore. I’m thinking the list of what you know is a questionable resource at best.”
“Neither can live while the other…” Derek starts, clearly confused. Then he shakes his head and growls at Stiles, which is adorable, because Stiles has totally outgrown being afraid of Derek’s growling. If he’s grown into having some other emotions towards it, it’s not like he has to bring it up. In front of him, Derek’s glare intensifies. Stiles gives it a thumbs up, which doesn’t seem to help much. “You shouldn’t be out here, Stiles. It’s not safe. Go home.”
“You’re right,” Stiles says, rolling his eyes. “Me and my fragile human frame are just going to turn around and walk two miles through the woods unaccompanied now. Why stick with the undead you know when there’s the undead who’d have no compunctions about ripping your throat out to contend with? Leaving is obviously the safe choice.”
“Who says I have compunctions about ripping your throat out?”
“The continued existence of my throat, mostly,” Stiles says, and shrugs when Derek narrows his eyes. “What? There’s only so long you can threaten to kill me before I recognize that you’re not actually going to do it. They should call you Empty Threat Hale, it suits you better than Derek.”
“I,” Derek says, and makes another snarling noise. His eyes flash red in the darkness, but Stiles doesn’t worry about that; it’s been happening so much lately that he’s accepted that he’ll just have to get used to it. “I’m not—this isn’t just me, you know.”
“I know,” Stiles agrees. “It’s you and your crazy uncle engaging in a mental war for dominance, which, as cool as it sounds, is pretty much the least entertaining dog fight I’ve ever witnessed. I know! I got it! I am very up to speed—you’ll notice me here, in the woods, following you to make sure you don’t throw yourself off a cliff in a fit of machismo or something.”
“That wouldn’t work anyway,” Derek snaps. “It’s not physical displays of courage. It’s—tactical finesse, or personal risk for the sake of the group, or—”
“First one to demonstrate practical leadership skills wins?”
“Something like that,” Derek admits.
Stiles turns that one over in his mind, bypassing the How long has Derek known this and not mentioned it while I ran around trying to solve his cryptic and vaguely threatening riddles factor as too routine to bother with. After a second, he says, “So you’re pretty much screwed, then.”
“You think I don’t know that?” Derek’s eyes flash red again, and he shakes himself all over and lets out a weird, animal sort of noise that definitely does not at all in any way force Stiles to consider if werewolves can smell a boner. “It’s too late now anyway. He’s older, he’s stronger, he’s risen from the dead and he’s going to win, and when he does the shift will break my mind. At which point,” and here Derek’s glare drifts down to Stiles’ neck, causing Stiles to become unusually aware of his own jugular vein, “no one around me will be safe.”
“So you’re…running away,” Stiles says. “To…save the lives of those who might get caught in the crossfire? Isn’t that a good leadership decision?”
“It’s not a decision at all,” Derek says. He sounds old and weary and like he’s cracking under the weight of his own angst, which would be harder for Stiles to deal with if he hadn’t gotten used to it by this point. It still kind of makes something shift uncomfortably inside him, draws up that itchy feeling he gets when something’s too heavy to joke about; Derek’s still talking, though, so he tries to ignore it. “It’s the only option left, and I don’t have much time, so please, Stiles, go home. Go home before I kill you.”
“There’s probably hours left until that happens,” Stiles points out. “Because, you know, if there weren’t, you’d never have let me come this far. Also, running away isn’t going to be enough to keep you from—oh my god, you’re going somewhere horrible, aren’t you? Oh my god, this is like. Your death run. Isn’t it? And at the end of it there’s a terrible cellar or an Argent or—”
“Right,” Stiles says, and is surprised when it comes out shaky and small. He takes a deep breath, and Derek’s shoulders are hunched and miserable under his leather jacket; it’s not like it’s particularly new, seeing Derek Hale miserable, but it occurs to Stiles that this is probably the last time he’ll ever see it. This is probably the last time he’ll see Derek Hale doing anything, and even if it’s just him staring at the ground and looking for all the world like a dog with its tail between its legs, Stiles can’t look away. Once he does, Derek will be gone and and it’ll be Stiles and four untrained teenagers against his crazy murderer of an uncle. Worse, it’ll be Stiles and these stupid, uninvited feelings, these feelings he never asked for or expected, these feelings he has no idea how to deal with, and no one at the other end of them.
Stiles had kind of thought he’d have some time to work through all of that, how “This dude is going to eat my family” had become, “This dude is the star of all my fantasies, even the awful sappy ones I try to forget about.” He’d figured there would be some wiggle room. Derek’s untimely death had not been at the top of his radar screen as something to prepare for—plans, Stiles thinks distantly. He’s really going to have to work on that.
“So,” Stiles says.
“Yeah,” Derek says.
“Um,” Stiles says.
“You should probably—” Derek starts, and then Stiles is stepping forward and grabbing Derek by the back of the neck and closing his eyes and kissing the shit out of him, because, well. Stiles knows how death works, doesn’t he? Stiles knows what it is to wake up and remember all over again that someone’s gone, and the thing is, he’s going to have time, later, to be sad or heartbroken or confused or messed up about it. If Derek goes off and doesn’t return, Stiles will have plenty of hours available for him to wallow in his own feelings, plenty of late nights to stare up at the ceiling and ache, plenty of long drives that never provide escape—if Derek dies, well, Stiles knows the drill.
What he won’t have, though, what he will literally never have again, is the chance to do this, this stupid crazy thing he’s been trying not to do for weeks now. This is Stiles’ only shot, and it’s not like he thinks he’s going to kiss Derek and it’s going to magically solve anything, but at least he won’t have to dwell on it. At least he won’t have to think about the could’ve/would’ve/should’ve’s of tonight, because those are the most painful barbs, at the end of the day. You can work through heartbreak, you can swallow sadness, you can get to the root of confusion, but there’s no fixing “There’s something I wanted you to know before you died.” That’s permanent. That’s forever. That’s really death’s big problem.
So he closes his eyes and he kisses Derek the way he’s been wanting to for awhile now, and he thinks…well, he thinks he’s probably not very good at it. It’s not like Stiles has much—or, uh, any—experience with kissing, so he just kind of mashes his lips against Derek’s and frantically tries to emulate the sort of things he’s seen in porn, or movies, or porn movies. It doesn’t really work, and Derek doesn’t really react, just makes a shocked choking kind of sound and stays very still, and then Stiles can’t pull away because when he does everything’s going to be awkward and deadly and awkwardly deadly—and would you look at that, the night’s turned out to go that way after all.
But then Derek kind of growls into his mouth and moves, and hey, there’s some good news, he turns out to be good enough at kissing for the both of them. Stiles doesn’t even really know what’s happening, except that Derek’s got a hand on his back and another on the side of his face and their bodies are crushed together in a way that’s almost uncomfortable but is mostly really great. There’s a tongue in Stiles’ mouth that isn’t Stiles’, moving around with speed and skill that Stiles is kind of helpless to keep up with, but it’s hot enough that he doesn’t much care about that.
He kisses Derek until he’s not only having trouble breathing, but actively not breathing, because while there’s a lot of tongue and teeth and lips and potential lycanthropy in Derek’s mouth, he’s not exactly long on air. Stiles pulls away gasping, and then Derek steps back and he’s gasping too, and it is not fair that he’s going to die before they can have sex about this.
Talk about this. That’s what Stiles meant—talk. About this. That’s what he meant. He definitely meant talk.
“Okay,” Stiles says, and it sounds kind of choked and wrecked and broken but whatever, he thinks they’re probably past the point where that matters now. “So, uh, now you know. About that! And I know, uh, about that, which is great, except for how you’re running through the forest to your doom. Um. It’s not…certain doom, is it?”
“It…might be,” Derek says. He’s blinking at Stiles, in that slow way people have where the blinks themselves are slow, but the rate of blinking is fast—Stiles thinks there’s probably a word for that, but he’s a little overloaded at the moment. “It’ll, uh, depend—did you really have to do that right now?”
“As opposed to when you are a corpse, yes, I really did,” Stiles snaps. “Jesus, you’re so—just—what do you mean it’ll depend?”
“You’re—I—you have to go now,” Derek says, in stunned tones. “Because I have to go, and so you…have to go. Go. Leave. Goodbye.”
“No, I think you should tell me your plan first, because your plans are not known for—”
“Goodbye, Stiles.” And then Stiles has to turn around and go, doesn’t he, because Derek sounds like he’s going to fall apart, like he’s doing everything he can to hold himself together, and he kissed Stiles back. He kissed Stiles back, so he must not hate the idea of kissing Stiles, must not hate the actual act of kissing Stiles, which makes him not only a unique event in the history of Stiles’ largely unrequited life, but probably a torture victim now. Stiles kissed him to make sure he knew about the wanting to kiss him, but he hadn’t thought about how much more it would suck for Derek if that want wasn’t as one-sided as Stiles has kind of been assuming this whole time. Derek’s going to have to go die now knowing that he could be kissing Stiles instead, and that’s…jeez. This whole thing is such a mess, and Stiles knows it’s going to hurt like hell tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day. It’s probably going to hurt forever, if he’s honest; he knows the only reason it doesn’t hurt right this second is because he’s not really letting himself feel anything at all.
“Please try not to die,” Stiles says, with his back to Derek. There’s a growl behind him, and a rustle of leaves, and then cold, empty silence. Stiles squares his shoulders, hardens his resolve, and walks home.
Stiles fakes sick to get out of school the next day, because, honestly, fuck it. It’s not like faking sick is hard, and it’s not like he hasn’t earned it, and lately it feels like school is mostly just an irritating interlude in trying to prevent the untimely death of four teenaged werewolves. Five, if you count the one who isn’t teenaged, and who might, right now, be very dead indeed. Will Derek come tell him, Stiles wonders, if he survives whatever ordeal he ran off to last night? That’s just common courtesy, right, after someone follows you into the woods and yells at you and kisses you and requests that you live—even Derek Hale is not so socially inept as to skip over informing Stiles of his continued life, should he continue living. Right?
Stiles buries his head under the pillow and sleeps until noon. If Derek’s dead, then he’s dead; there’s nothing Stiles can do about it, and lying here freaking out about it is only going to make him freak out more. Derek said his doom might be certain, but a might is just a might. Also, Derek is undead. Until Stiles has proof, one way or the other, of the state of Derek Hale’s existence, he’s not going to drive himself crazy about it.
At 12:30, he eats lunch. At 1:15, he has a panic attack, which is unpleasant on a lot of different levels, not the least of which being that those always tend to make the death thing feel more real. At two, he climbs back into bed and sleeps until four, because it seems like the thing to do; at five, he sighs, pulls the covers back from the over-his-head position they’ve been in for the last three hours, and screams.
Derek, from his position just inside Stiles’ bedroom window, raises an eyebrow. Stiles takes back all of his worry—the bastard should have died, because clearly his only purpose in being alive is to kill Stiles one way or another.
“This is not Twilight,” Stiles hisses, when he’s recovered himself enough to remember basic English words. “You cannot just climb into people’s houses and lurk, what is wrong with you, oh my god! Is there some werewolf code of briefing I didn’t get, where kissing is like, an all-access personal space key or something, because if that exists I need to read it and I revoke all of your privileges, Jesus.”
“Are you done now?” Derek says, and Stiles glares at him.
“Are you kidding me, I am not even started, how long have you been alive? Or like. Known you were going to stay alive, or—you could have called me! Why didn’t you call me? I’ve been freaking out all day—”
“I did call you,” Derek says. “A couple of times, actually.” Too late, Stiles remembers that he left his phone in his jacket last night, had just shucked out of all of his clothes and slunk miserably into bed—whoops. That’s embarrassing. He flushes, and Derek’s eyebrows go even higher as he continues, “Then I called Scott; he said you were out sick, so I thought I’d come by. You don’t smell sick.”
“Yeah, well, that’s because of—reasons,” Stiles says. He says it lamely, but he’s going to go ahead and label that as Derek’s fault. “And that’s still not—the climbing in the windows is not—we’re going to have codes, okay, and rules. And. Things! About you climbing into my windows! You can’t climb in the windows unless I ask you to climb in the windows!”
“Okay,” Derek says, and shrugs. “Anyway, I’m alive. Just wanted to let you know.”
Then—like this whole thing wasn’t already bad enough, god—he goes to climb out the window again. Stiles swears and hurtles himself out of bed, nearly biting it in a big way when his foot catches on a discarded shoe and maintaining balance by the skin of his teeth. He grabs Derek’s wrist to keep him from leaving, and it’s only then that he realizes he’s wearing a t-shirt, his ratty old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles boxers, and nothing else.
He’s never actually heard Derek laugh before. Even when it’s mortifying and at Stiles’ expense and sounds kind of weird and out of practice, it’s hugely worth it; Stiles has made Derek Hale laugh, which means, doubtlessly, that curing cancer or inventing teleportation or finally playing in a lacrosse game is in his future. Impossible things beget other impossible things—when your life has as many werewolves in it as Stiles’ does, that’s practically science.
“So, I’m glad you’re not dead,” Stiles says. “For a given value of glad.”
Derek’s gives him a concerned, confused, frowny sort of look, like he’s not entirely certain how he’s supposed to take that. “Uh. Me too?”
“Great, glad that’s settled,” Stiles says, and then, after a long pause that he mostly spends being painfully aware of how warm Derek’s wrist is, “So, um, was last night…a one night only kind of thing, or…?”
Derek’s frowny face goes flat and guarded. “You’re sixteen.”
“Really?” Stiles says, widening his eyes. “I had no idea.”
“Don’t play cute with me,” Derek says, warning now. “There’s not—there’s a line, Stiles. A line I won’t cross, and a line the alpha really shouldn’t cross, even I wanted to—”
“Wait, so you’re the alpha again? Like, the only alpha?” Derek gives Stiles a flat look, which Stiles meets with a roll of his eyes. “Right, sorry, obviously, not dead means all those other problems are solved—you know, the reason Scott gets mad about you not telling him stuff is that you just like, assume people are going to figure these things out—”
“Right, sorry, you were being the most noble and self-sacrificing of all cock-blocks, didn’t mean to interrupt you.”
Derek huffs out a darkly irritated breath, which surprises Stiles not at all. “I’m not being a cock-block, could you just—we’re just going to have to do this…slowly. Or not at all.”
“Or not at all slowly?”
“Right, okay, sorry, don’t like,” Stiles waves a hand in a gesture that he means to indicate do that thing with your face where I kind of wonder if your impossible annoyance is going to get etched in stone. It must not indicate that very well, though, because Derek makes exactly the face Stiles was trying to avoid. He sighs. “So, what I’m gathering from this is that you don’t object to like, dating me or whatever, just the, you know, jailbait aspect? Is that right?”
“Please do not ever use that word again,” Derek says, pained. “For any reason. At all.”
“Fine,” Stiles says, waving a hand. “So stricken. Can we go back to the line you were talking about? Like, where is it drawn, exactly? Before or after blowjobs?”
“Stiles,” Derek says, because he’s apparently come to the erroneous conclusion that saying Stiles’ names in increasingly mortified tones is a good way to communicate.
Stiles sighs. “Look, okay, I’m just trying to get my bearings here. I’d rather this wasn’t a pine-until-I-turn-18 kind of situation, because that’s going to be a long, unhealthy fourteen months for my socks,” (this wins him a small whine, which Stiles is definitely not complaining about) “but I can make that work if I have to.”
“I don’t,” Derek says, and stops. “Just. Okay. We can…kiss. And I’ll figure out everything else later. Or something.”
“Fine, great, sounds awesome,” Stiles says hurriedly, and then he’s yanking Derek forward by the lapels, because Derek’s alive and given permission for kissing, and Stiles isn’t about to look a gift werwolf in the mouth.
It’s better this time than it was last night, because nobody’s freaking out about Derek’s imminent demise and, also, Stiles maybe took some mental notes. He’s still not exactly sure what he’s doing, but Derek’s slower and more hesitant now than he was before, and Stiles could get used to this, he really could. He rides the high of Derek’s hands on his waist and Derek’s tongue in his mouth until Derek pulls back, cocks his head, and freezes for a long moment.
“Your dad’s home,” Derek says. “I’m leaving.”
“Kay,” Stiles says, which comes out kind of breathy and embarrassing, but fine. It’s a good day; he can let that go. Derek makes a weird little face and climbs back out the window, and he’s about to drop down into the bushes when Stiles thinks of something. “Hey, Derek?”
Derek turns his head, sounds exasperated already when he says, “Yes?”
Stiles grins at him. “If I do turn out to be a weremosquito, can we re-evaluate the line? I mean, I feel like that’s only fair.”
Derek’s mouth twitches, which is gratifying. “Stiles, if you turn out to be a weremosquito, you have my word that I will re-evaluate every line in my entire life. Every last one. Including the one between reality and fantasy. All of them.”
Stiles rolls his eyes. “The werewolf might have to readjust his reality goggles, that would be tragic. Go on, go before my dad comes in here and kills you. I’ll keep you posted on any and all bloodsucking tendencies that may develop.”
Derek shakes his head and drops down into the bushes, and Stiles is about to shut the window when he hears, “Bloodsucking tendencies? I thought you said this wasn’t Twilight.”
It’s pretty standard for his life at present that, in exchange for the surprising development of a hot boyfriend to call his own, Stiles has to convince his dad that his yelling into the night about vampire mythology was the result of a fever dream.
Not, it has to be said, that Stiles is complaining. Stiles is definitely not complaining at all.