Title: Service Weapon (2/3)
For summary, warnings, and author's notes, please see part one.
One / Two / Three
When Stiles comes back to Derek’s apartment after hanging out with Scott, he looks calm, maybe just a little bit pale. But Derek can hear his heart racing, smell the anxiety in the sweat on the back of his neck. Thankfully, he doesn’t try to talk around it, just spits out “Allison has an aunt named Kate” as soon as Derek closes the door.
When Derek doesn’t immediately say anything, Stiles flops down on the couch. “Her parents are Chris and Victoria. They moved to Beacon Hills just before Allison’s senior year of high school, so about a year and a half ago. She was in my graduating class, but… well, it wasn’t like I spent much time with my graduating class. I’m not entirely sure where they were before that, but I get a sense that they move around a lot. Kate rarely even stays in one place for a year at a time – Allison’s not sure where she is now, they don’t talk a lot, but she thinks maybe San Diego.”
Derek’s still standing dumbly by the door, trying to process all of it. Chris must have been the brother that Kate mentioned but never named. “How did you get all of that? You didn’t interrogate Allison, did you? Did she seem suspicious?”
Stiles rolls his eyes. “Give me some credit here. I got Scott to go off on a rant about his crazy cousin that monitors his every move on Facebook, and from there we started talking about our more eccentric family members. The rest was just basic conversational skills. You know, for when the growling and the threatening just isn’t going to cut it.”
“I don’t always—” Derek starts, even though he does sometimes, but there are more important things to focus on. “You’re sure Allison didn’t suspect anything?”
“No, I’m not sure sure. But I never said your name and Scott just refers to you as ‘Creeper Cop.’ Well, he tries not to refer to you at all. But if Allison knows about the hunting thing – or anything weird about her family – she’s doing a pretty good job of hiding it.”
So did Kate, Derek thinks, but he doesn’t say it.
“I mean, I don’t know her all that well,” Stiles continues, “and believe me, I know that appearances can be deceiving, but I didn’t get that gut feeling that there was anything off about Allison. It sounds stupid, but she seemed so… nice. Like, a genuinely kind person. Is there a chance she really doesn’t know about the hunting?”
“I don’t know,” Derek says softly, coming to sit down on the other side of the couch. “All I know is there’s some type of code. I think the children aren’t told anything about it until they turn 17, and then they’re given a choice. They’re supposed to be free to say no as long as they keep the family secret, but… they’re also not supposed to take the life of a supernatural being unless it’s spilled human blood.”
Derek hears Stiles shift around on the couch, but he doesn’t come closer, doesn’t try to touch Derek. When Derek looks up, Stiles seems to be fighting with himself whether to go to Derek or give him space. Derek can practically see the wheels spinning. He knows he’s only given Stiles pieces to go on, and also that Stiles won’t rest until he’s put them together. But as much shit as Derek has worked through and come out the other side, he’s not sure he can say it out loud. Shame that he hasn’t felt in a long time rushes in and closes off his throat until he’s having to fight for air.
That must make up Stiles’ mind for him, because he slides next to Derek on the couch, looping an arm around Derek and resting his head on his shoulder. “Okay,” he says softly. “If I’m around Allison again, I’ll be really, really careful.”
“Thank you,” Derek manages to get out.
“The rest of it you can tell me on your own time, when you’re ready. But do me a favor. If there’s something you need from me, something I can do to help, tell me. I’ll do anything I can if it keeps you safe.”
That, Derek thinks, is the problem.
They have the day off, but it’s time for Derek’s handgun recertification, and he figures he might as well get it over with in the morning. He’s kind enough to let Stiles sleep in, even though Stiles makes a whimper and a weak grab for him when he gets out of bed. But by the time Derek’s out of the shower, Stiles is out cold once again.
Derek envies that, how easily and deeply Stiles can sleep.
It takes longer at the firing range than he anticipated – of course it does, anything involving weapons and paperwork takes longer than it should – and by the time he’s free, it’s lunch time. He swings by the deli that they always manage to stop at during shifts; Derek is a creature of habit, and though Stiles occasionally begs to go somewhere new, Derek knows for a fact that, when they have to go long hours without eating, Stiles develops feelings for this deli’s chicken salad sandwich.
Feelings which he sometimes sings about. Thank god it’s Derek, who can focus his hearing on ambient road sounds, in the car with him, because otherwise Stiles would find his mouth duct-taped shut on a regular basis.
Margene grins at him from behind the counter as she wraps up one roast beef on rye and one chicken salad on sourdough to go. “What did you do with the cutie, Officer Hale?”
“We have the day off. Stiles is probably still asleep.”
“Ah, well,” she says, handing him the bag of sandwiches, “you go give him a nice surprise to wake up to.” And then she gives him the filthiest wink he’s ever seen. Margene is at least 70, but she could give leering lessons to Connie Lingus. Derek drops a ten on the counter and zips out of there.
Derek figures it’s a fifty-fifty shot whether Stiles is awake, but he doesn’t expect to find Stiles hard at work on something at the kitchen table, papers and photographs spread out in front of him and earbuds in. He’s playing his “thinking” music, which Derek doesn’t need werewolf ears to hear from across the room.
Derek plops the paper bag down on the other end of the table and Stiles jumps about a foot in the air. “Jesus!” he yelps, scooping up a pile of photographs and shoving them under a file folder even before he yanks the earbuds out. “You could try making some noise when you come in next time.”
“Or you could try not listening to your Swedish death metal cranked up to eleven. What are you looking at that you don’t want me to see, anyway?”
Stiles flushes, biting his lower lip as he quickly shuts his iPod off. “It’s not that I don’t want you to… I mean, you’ve probably seen it before, but…”
Derek rounds the table just enough to see HALE written on the official police file and stops cold. “I haven’t seen it before.”
Stiles’ face immediately morphs into confusion. “You mean you never looked at the case file on your family’s— on the fire?”
Derek shakes his head. He knows who did it and why. “There was never enough evidence to even make an arrest.”
“Yeah, but you could still have—”
“What did you hide?”
Now Stiles can’t meet Derek’s eyes. “There are pictures. Photographs of the scene. Even I couldn’t look at all of them.”
Derek doesn’t know how to feel about this. Or rather, he feels everything at once – anger, fear, grief, anxiety, and worst, that last tiny shred of hope – and he can’t pick just one. Stiles has access to all the old police files, and he’s allowed to check them out of the station. He’s only trying to help, Derek knows that, but it might as well be blood spilled all over the table for what it does to Derek’s insides.
Eventually, he realizes that he’s been quiet for a long time and Stiles is glancing cautiously at him, reeking of worry. “Are you mad at me?” he asks, voice cracking.
With a deep breath, Derek says, “No. Not at you. But I wish you had asked me first.”
Stiles nods, some of the tension flowing out of his shoulders. “I’m sorry, I should have. And I didn’t mean for you to walk in on all this, I just wanted to take a look at what there was on record before I talked to you in any detail.”
All Derek has told Stiles about the fire has been a few vague comments about hunters and the night he let slip with Kate’s name. He’s told himself he’s been protecting Stiles – he’ll never forget what happened when Stiles found that old newspaper photo of his father practically hugging Derek the night of the fire. But obviously Derek’s also protecting himself from a wound that will probably never heal.
Stiles pushes out a chair for Derek: a peace offering, maybe. “If you’ve never looked at the file, you probably didn’t know… Derek, Kate was a suspect.”
“What?” Derek sits down and pulls the file toward him.
“Yeah. About a month before the fire, a woman matching Kate’s description sat down at a bar next to, get this, my high school chemistry teacher and started asking him all these weird questions about combining chemicals to make a fire that would be nearly impossible to put out. Apparently, he was half in the bag and lonely – because he’s a dickhead – and told her a bunch of stuff to impress her. At least he came forward after the fire and sat down with a sketch artist who drew her face and some detailed pendant she was wearing. They showed the picture around and eventually got a name to go with it.”
Derek shuts his eyes, his insides clenching, but when he does, all he can see is the pendant. He’d asked about it and she’d never told him what it meant, but he remembers it swinging above him as she—
“Derek. Derek. You okay?”
When Derek opens his eyes, Stiles’ face is raw with worry and his arm his half-outstretched, like he wants to touch Derek but isn’t sure if it’s a good idea. Derek pulls away a little. He sees the brief moment of hurt cross Stiles’ face as he pulls his hand back, but Derek can’t quite deal with being touched at the moment. Instead, he asks, “Was she brought in for questioning?”
Stiles shakes his head, all business again. “That’s the weird thing. She had skipped town by then and gone to Seattle. Which would ordinarily not be a problem, but everything they dug up indicated that she’d moved there two weeks before the fire. She had moved into an apartment, there are credit card receipts, everything, even for the night of the fire.”
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Derek notes the fact that Stiles keeps using the generic “they,” even though his father probably worked on the case. “I’ve always known she didn’t act alone. There’s an entire network of hunters, and not all of them follow the Code. She could easily have gone up there to be seen moving in and then come back. What are the receipts for?”
Stiles quirks a little grin like he always does when they’re following the same train of thought for once. “Gas stations, self check-outs at grocery stores. Always small purchases. Always things—”
“—that wouldn’t require a signature or ID,” Derek finishes. “Anyone could have been using that card.”
Suddenly Stiles’ face drops again. “Did, um. Did you see her? I know you weren’t at the house at the time, but was she around that night?”
“I saw her earlier in the day.” He remembers eating lunch outside that day, seeing her leaning against her car and watching him from the parking lot. She did that sometimes, but this time when he waved, she didn’t wave back. “But I know she was there. Even if she got some lackeys to set the actual fire, she would’ve wanted to be there to watch it burn.”
Stiles tilts his head ever so slightly, his expression faintly curious. Derek can tell he wants to ask how he knows this about Kate. Hell, Derek hasn’t even explained how he knows that Kate was the one who set the fire; Stiles has just been taking Derek’s word for it without any evidence, however circumstantial, until today. And yeah, he pulled that file without asking Derek first, but the trust he puts in Derek, not just to protect him but to tell him the truth, is kind of staggering. Derek has no idea what to say.
But Stiles doesn’t ask. He just carefully puts the papers back in the folder, turning the photographs face down, and sets the whole thing aside. “I think that’s enough of that for right now.” He nods at the paper bag still sitting at the other end of the table. “You brought lunch?”
“I… yeah.” Derek shakes his head a little to clear it. “Margene from the deli says… terrible things. Honest to god, does everyone in this town know we’re dating?”
Stiles grins. “Pretty much. It’s the way you make googly eyes at me in public.”
“I do not—” Derek starts, realizes it’s futile. “Fine, I’ll eat both sandwiches.”
“No! I apologize. I am filled with remorse and contrition.” He makes grabby hands when Derek brings the bag over. “As long as you got me chicken salad.”
When Stiles unwraps the sandwich and takes a huge bite, he sighs deeply with pleasure as Derek watches. Then he fixes Derek with a look. “See?” he mumbles, food stuffed in one bulging cheek. “Googly eyes.”
They spend the rest of the day goofing off in their own ways, comfortable enough with each other to spend time together without actually being together. Derek reads while Stiles plays games on his phone. Eventually, Stiles goes over to Scott’s (no Allison this time, he’d assured Derek) and after dinner, Derek goes on a run. A long, hard run through the Preserve, using his muscles in ways he hasn’t done in weeks, trying to push the what-ifs out of his head. It only partially works
Kate had been a suspect all along. Derek could have had copies of the file sent to him in New York, maybe used some of his clout to get the case re-examined by the Beacon Hills police once he realized that Kate’s alibi was shaky. In truth, he never even tried to find Kate. At first, he and his sister were so busy trying to stay safe and hold themselves together that nothing else mattered. Then Derek went into the Academy and found a way to do penance and good at the same time, while Laura remained wrapped up in the pain in a way Derek could never quite break through. If Derek had bothered to find out that Kate was on the BHSO’s radar, he might have been able to make a statement, keep the investigation going…
He still could, in theory, but the case had gone cold and then-Officer Stilinski – who had in fact been the lead investigator on the case, according to the file – was dead. If Derek said something now, if he could bring himself to say something now, his colleagues would wonder why he’d never said anything before. And his colleagues, including Stiles, would know.
Derek lives with himself because he has to. It doesn’t mean he’s forgiven himself.
When he returns to the apartment, it’s later than he’d intended and Stiles is already back. He’s actually already in bed, reading by lamplight, when Derek tromps in, too sweaty and exhausted to be stealthy. Stiles gives him a look of concern, but Derek just nods toward the bathroom and starts stripping off and Stiles keeps reading.
By the time Derek’s out of the shower, Stiles has turned the lights out, but Derek doesn’t even have to listen to his heartbeat to know he’s awake. He silently pulls the covers back for Derek and reaches out to tug Derek close. Without really meaning to, Derek ends up curled in on himself, his head resting on Stiles’ chest. There’s a light scent of arousal coming from Stiles, but he’s making no move to act on it, just tenderly stroking his fingers through Derek’s damp hair. “Out running?” he asks.
Derek doesn’t know whether Stiles is asking about the run or this, right here, but the answer to both is the same. “Yeah.”
He feels the muscle under him shift as Stiles bends to kiss the crown of his head, then nuzzle gently into his hair and Derek has to bite back on a sob. In the long years after his world turned upside down, he’s found some measure of redemption and worth and even acceptance. But never this feeling of safety and freedom from his own self-judgment, no matter how fleeting. Never peace.
He falls asleep to the steady beat of Stiles’ heart.
It’s been a quiet night on patrol, all the crazies seemingly pursuing their illegal activities silently and indoors. They’re parked at a Dairy Queen and Stiles is supposed to be filling out a report for the car they stopped two hours ago for a broken taillight, but Stiles is obviously not feeling particularly focused because he types in about three words for every mini-spiel about… comic book movies? Video game movies? Movies turned into video games? Something. Derek isn’t expected to respond or even necessarily listen, but he kind of likes to tune out the individual words and just hear the rising and falling pitch of Stiles’ voice, watch him lick his lips or nibble on a fingernail.
Fuck, Derek is so far gone on Stiles. Laura would laugh her head off.
It would be worth it, to hear Laura laugh again.
Then the radio cuts in, and Stiles knows to shut his yap mid-sentence as Derek relays their location to the dispatcher, who gives them an address. It’s a domestic, and Stiles goes completely and utterly still at the words “shots fired.”
Derek turns on the lightbar and speeds to the address, only a few blocks away. He listens for more shots over the wail of the siren but doesn’t hear anything. Stiles still hasn’t said a word, and his fingers are gripping the console so hard his knuckles are white. When they pull up to the house, there’s no time to talk it over, but Stiles gets out of the car and pulls his Kevlar vest from the back at the same time Derek does.
Derek does take the time to squeeze Stiles’ shoulder, a question on his face, and Stiles just says, “You’re not going in there alone.” His heart is beating triple-time, but he flicks open the thumb break on his holster with a steady hand and walks purposefully toward the house, Derek right on his heels.
The door is locked, but a woman is whimpering and Derek rips the entire lock out of the old wood. It’ll be hard to explain, but not as hard as if he’d just taken the whole thing off the hinges. He goes in first, but Stiles is right behind him, and to his surprise, there’s a woman – bruised, bleeding, and keeping most of her weight on her left leg – holding a gun on a man on the floor across the room. When the man sees them, he tries to get up, but she screams, tells him not to move or else. Her hand is shaking badly, but she’s got her finger on the trigger. Derek can smell burnt gunpowder in the air, but not nearly enough blood for a bullet wound.
It’s Stiles who moves first, one hand hovering over his gun and the other outstretched as he walks slowly towards the woman. “Miss?” he says softly.
“I got it away from him,” she says, voice and body both unsteady. Derek is ready to jump in if he needs to, if she turns the gun on Stiles, but she keeps it and her eyes trained on the man. “He was going to kill me. I was trying to leave and he said he was going to kill me, he did, he beat the hell out of me first and when I tried to run for the door he went and got the gun and—”
She’s growing visibly more agitated and her speech is barely intelligible, but Stiles keeps moving forward. “Miss, you’re safe now. He can’t hurt you right now, not while we’re here. But you need to give me the gun.”
The man on the floor yells “Crazy bitch tried to kill me!” and Derek would love nothing more than to pounce on him, claws and fangs out, make him shit himself at the very least.
“NO!” the woman shrieks. “I didn’t shoot at him! I didn’t! I was trying to pull it away from him!”
“I believe you,” Stiles says, his tone achingly sincere. “I do. What’s your name?”
“G-Grace,” she says, her voice cracking over a sob. “Just take him out of here. Get him away from me.”
“We can get him out of here as soon as you give me the gun.”
She doesn’t seem to hear him, just cries harder, and Stiles is almost close enough to touch her. “Grace? My name’s Stiles. And my partner over there, that’s Derek. I want you to look at him for a second, okay? Just a second. We’ll make sure this guy stays right where he is. But I want you to take a look at Derek.”
Derek has no idea where Stiles is going with this, but the woman quickly cuts her eyes over to Derek before looking back at the man on the floor.
“Did you see how big Derek is?” Stiles asks. “He’s even stronger than he looks, and he’s fast. If that man so much as moves a muscle, Derek will have him pinned to the floor in a second. Less than a second. You did your part already. You did what you needed to do. Now let us do our job, okay? I promise you, Grace, no one’s going to hurt you any more tonight.”
There’s a long, tense moment where nobody moves or speaks, and Derek has seen this kind of thing go both ways. He can’t tell with this one; Grace smells so strongly of pain and fear, the man of rage, and part of Derek – the part that knows how these things go in court, if they even get that far – almost wants her to shoot him.
But she doesn’t. She finally presses the gun into Stiles’ outstretched hand and practically collapses on him. Derek hears him pop the clip out and eject the round from the chamber while Derek rushes over to the man on the floor. He has no leverage at all, but he takes a swing at Derek and that’s resisting arrest right there, so he’ll be charged with that at least.
He’s got the guy cuffed and on his feet and is able to spare a glance at Stiles, who’s just holding the sobbing woman and murmuring softly to her. Even Derek can’t hear what he’s saying over the man’s screaming, calling her a bitch and a liar, and Derek has to read him his rights even though he’s not listening to a word. They’ll probably advise him again before questioning, but Derek at least has to tell him he has the right to shut the hell up.
By then, the ambulance has pulled up along with their backup, and he hands the guy off to Officer Greenberg for processing. Greenberg glares at him, but Derek snaps something about being more concerned with taking care of the victim and Greenberg looks chastened.
Back inside, Grace is still half-clinging to Stiles while the paramedic checks her over. She refuses to leave the house until the man is completely gone, and Derek waits at the door to tell her when Greenberg drives off. Then Stiles walks her out the door, and when Derek finally has a chance to get a good look at the room, he can see two bullet holes in the floor not far from where Grace had been standing. There’s also a packed suitcase that looks like it made a dent where it was flung against a wall. Jesus.
When Derek goes back outside, Grace is sitting on the back of the ambulance, trying to talk to someone on her cell phone and squeezing Stiles’ arm whenever a sob leaks out. Stiles sees Derek and motions for him to come over. He does, and gently rubs his hand down Stiles’ other arm, mouthing You did good.
Stiles just nods. He looks so overwhelmed, and it takes everything Derek’s got not to simply pull Stiles into a tight hug and tell him just how perfect he is, how brave and kind and strong. But even if there weren’t other officers around, Grace is their priority right now.
“Ma’am, we can follow you to the hospital if you’d like,” Derek says after she hangs up the phone.
She looks at Stiles like she’s seriously considering it, but says, “No. No, he’s gone and my sister will meet me there. Thank you so much. Both of you, thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Stiles says, pulling a card from his pocket and handing it to her. “Call us if you have any questions or need anything.”
She nods and the paramedics finally insist on helping her up and into the ambulance. Her nose doesn’t look broken, but she’ll probably need some stitches and when she moves, her leg seems to cause her a lot of pain. There will be officers at the hospital to document everything.
Stiles watches the ambulance drive off and Derek quickly asks around, makes sure the other officers can take care of everything at the scene. Ordinarily, Stiles and Derek would have more work to do, but everyone knows about Stiles’ father, and if they know Stiles at all, they can see how uncharacteristically still and silent he is.
When they get back in their squad car, Stiles grabs for the laptop, pulling up information on the man they just arrested. “Douglas Perdue,” he reads. “Priors for assault, aggravated stalking, DV— oh, thank god.”
Derek knows what he means – Perdue’s record shows a pattern that will help Grace if she decides to press charges. Derek wishes there weren’t that if, but he knows how these things go. He knows why Stiles didn’t promise Grace that she’d be safe for good or that Perdue would never hurt her again. All Stiles and Derek can do is write their report and testify if this goes to trial, but it doesn’t feel like nearly enough.
Stiles is still ranting about what a fucking scumbag this guy is until suddenly his voice breaks. Derek yanks the wheel and pulls the car over, and as soon as Stiles is able to look at him, he bursts into tears.
Derek pulls Stiles into his arms the best he can with the console in the way, not willing to take the time to get out of the car and go around to him. Stiles is shuddering loud, wet sobs into Derek’s shoulder, but he seems to be breathing well enough and there’s none of the sour tinge in the air that precedes a panic attack. So Derek just rubs his back, lets him get it out of his system before Derek starts whispering all the things he’d wanted to say earlier.
He hopes one day that he’ll be able to say Your father would be proud. He doesn’t know if Stiles is ready to hear it. More than that, he doesn’t know if Stiles is ready to hear it from him.
Derek expects Stiles to want to stay with his mom that night – he certainly wouldn’t blame him – but Stiles doesn’t let go of Derek’s hand all the way back to the station, nor when they’ve traded the cruiser for the Camaro.
Back at Derek’s apartment, Stiles presses him up against the bedroom wall, kissing him deep and desperate, and Derek has to slow them down. “Is this what you want?” he asks, wiping away the tears that have started to silently fall down Stiles’ cheeks again.
Stiles nods firmly, his eyes clear even though the sheen of wetness. “I need you.”
“You’ve got me,” Derek whispers. “However you want me.”
Again, Stiles bucks all of Derek’s expectations by pushing him down on his back, slicking his own fingers and opening Derek up with fierce precision. Derek’s experience hasn’t been as broad as most people assume, and he’s certainly never been with anyone like Stiles, who – among many other things – is more vulnerable when he’s topping, every need and fear and desire perfectly evident on his face. Derek lets Stiles take what he needs, never stops touching Stiles’ face or neck or chest, rocks with the rhythm Stiles sets.
Afterwards, he holds Stiles close, pressing his nose into Stiles’ hair and breathing in his scent, hoping Stiles feels the same kind of peace Derek does when they’re together like this.
The peace doesn’t last. Of course it doesn’t.
Stiles has been acting strangely all day, mostly due to the fact that he hasn’t been acting strangely. No non sequitur outbursts or rambling tangents. He’s barely spoken at all, in fact, and his whole body is rigid with tension.
“All right, spill it,” Derek says when they’ve stopped for dinner. There’s still a few hours left on their shift, and Derek’s not sure he can deal with Stiles like this for that long. He stinks of worry.
Derek gives him The Eyebrow and Stiles sighs. He has to know he’s doing a shitty job of acting casual. “Okay, there’s something I need to tell you. But I can’t tell you now. It’s not something I can just drop on you while we’re working.”
Derek feels his face drain of color. No, Stiles wouldn’t. Things have been going so well, and yes, the other night was bad, but Derek thinks he did a pretty decent job of taking care of Stiles without treating him like he’s fragile. Okay, so maybe there are lingering effects that Derek isn’t aware of and Stiles is still dealing with the emotional repercussions, but Derek just kind of assumed that they’d deal with them together—
Eventually he realizes that Stiles is waving his hands right in front of Derek’s face. “Derek. Derek. Don’t freak out. Why are you freaking out? I haven’t even said anything yet.”
“Don’t go,” Derek says weakly. “Whatever I did – or didn’t do – just tell me, and we’ll work through it. Please don’t just—”
“Oh, shit,” Stiles groans, glancing around quickly before grabbing Derek’s hand. “No, it’s nothing like that. It’s nothing about us. I’m not going anywhere.”
Derek almost whimpers with relief, sinking down in the booth and gripping Stiles’ hand harder. “Why was that your first thought?” Stiles asks, looking confused. “You know what, never mind. Just… don’t go there in your head, okay? It’s nothing like that, and we really should wait until after work to deal with it. God, Derek.” He rubs his cheek against the back of Derek’s hand.
It’s still hard to focus for the rest of the night. Luckily, it’s all routine traffic stops and a gas station robbery where no one got hurt and the idiot’s face is clear on the surveillance tape. But the tension keeps growing between Derek and Stiles until they’re back in Derek’s apartment and he has to stop himself from physically shaking the words out of Stiles.
“Do you want some tea?” Stiles asks. Derek growls. “Okay, no tea. At least sit down.”
Derek forces himself to sit on the couch and keep his hands to himself. Mercifully, as soon as Stiles joins him, he blurts out, “She’s back. Or at least she’s coming back.”
“Kate?” Stiles nods. “How long has she been here? How do you know? Have you seen her?”
“Derek, sit down!” Stiles yelps, and Derek didn’t even realize he’d gotten to his feet, claws already starting to slide out. “No, I haven’t seen her. I wouldn’t have waited to tell you if I had. I don’t even know if she’s here yet.”
“I’m Allison’s friend on Facebook. This morning, she posted something about getting to see her favorite aunt. It’s the middle of the semester, midterm time, so I don’t think Allison’s going out of town, and I don’t think she has any other aunts.”
“Did she say when? Or what she’s doing here? Or how long she’s planning on staying?”
“It’s Facebook, not a travel itinerary,” Stiles says with an eye roll, but he drops the snark when he sees the expression on Derek’s face. “No, it was just a very vague statement. That’s why I didn’t want to tell you until after work, because I didn’t want you to spend all day wigging out when we have no specific information.”
Derek opens his mouth to deny his very capacity to “wig out,” but Stiles is right; Derek would’ve been obsessing about nothing else all day, worse than just being a bit distracted. Of course, there’s always tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after… “Okay, we need a plan.”
Stiles bites his lower lip, looking like he really doesn’t want to say what he says next. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but… are you sure? I don’t want to immediately take this to DEFCON 1 if we don’t have to. She really might just be visiting Allison and Mr. Argent. Does she even know you’re in town?”
“She has to. I can’t think of any reason why her brother would’ve moved here other than to keep an eye on me.”
“That sounds pretty paranoid.”
Derek feels a sudden surge of annoyance and has to stand up and start pacing the room. If Stiles really understood any of this, how serious it is… “You told me yourself – Chris came here a few months after I did.”
“If he’s a hunter, why hasn’t he come after you?”
“As far as I know, he follows the Code. She must have convinced him that I’m some kind of risk, but not enough to take any action.”
Stiles nods, his face and heartbeat infuriatingly calm. It’s getting Derek more worked up. “Okay, but why now? And why you?”
“Why me?” Derek practically shouts. “Are you seriously asking me that question? You know what she did.”
“Yeah, I do,” Stiles says, his voice placating, and Derek wants to put his fist through the wall. “So why would she risk committing murder again in the same small town, especially when she went through such pains to cover her tracks before? And why not come after you in New York?”
“I was too visible there. The attention actually kept me safe, for a while.” How to make him understand without revealing too much? “Stiles, trust me, this woman is dangerous. She’s smart and she’s manipulative, and if she gets inside your head, you’re already fucked.”
Stiles narrows his eyes a bit and Derek’s insides turn cold. “How do you know all this about her? I thought she was just some rogue hunter, but you didn’t just know about her. You knew her, didn’t you?”
Derek means to say something like That’s not the point or I’ll explain later, but what comes out of his mouth is “It’s none of your business.”
“None of my…” Stiles gapes. “Derek, two minutes ago you were telling me we needed a plan, like you were in immediate danger. And if that’s what you think, I believe you. You don’t have to tell me everything, but if you don’t tell me anything about what happened between you two, I’m going to have a hard time helping—”
“I didn’t ask for your help,” Derek snaps, because there’s no way to tell Stiles anything more about Kate without telling him everything.
“Um, who was the ‘we’ in ‘we need a plan’? You got a mouse in your pocket?”
“Okay then, I don’t need your help,” Derek says, and he’s not even sure where this is coming from, just that Stiles’ glib tone is like claws on a chalkboard. “I shouldn’t get you involved anyway.”
“I’m already involved, Derek.”
“Yeah, you went and dug up the case file without so much as asking me.”
Stiles groans. “I thought you didn’t have a problem with that, and it’s not even what I’m talking about. Everyone in town knows that we do more than just work together.”
“Yeah, well, maybe…”
Stiles is up off the couch and in Derek’s face in a second. “Maybe what?”
“No. A few hours ago you were begging me not to leave you, and now it sounds like you’re saying…” His eyes dart away for a split second. “So finish that fucking sentence, Derek, or I’m walking out of here. Maybe what?”
Derek knows what he almost said, even though he didn’t – doesn’t – mean it. There’s no way he’s actually going to say it now, but there’s also no way to backtrack, not with the headspace Derek’s in, so he just glares at Stiles, daring him to make good on his threat.
But Stiles doesn’t back down either, anger pouring off of him and his heart beating fast and hard. He stares Derek down, not even blinking, for several more seconds, until it’s obvious that Derek isn’t going to say anything.
“Fuck this,” he mutters, spinning away and going to pull on the sneakers he left by the door.
“Where are you going?”
Stiles laughs drily. “That’s none of your business.”
He grabs his jacket and leaves, slamming the door behind him.
On to part three